Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

February 2017

Nobles Parents' Newsletter February 2017

"Not Everything of Value Can Be Measured" by Provost Bill Bussey

From the sublime (David McCullough, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jackie MacMullan) to the ridiculous (The Regurgitator), we all know about Wednesday’s long assemblies. These happen every other week. But what happens on the other Wednesdays?

Many years ago, the school decided to create a block of time during the week when all students could get together. Our hope was that students from different backgrounds and cultures, students who might not otherwise connect outside the classroom could find common interests and friendship in say, the chess club or the cooking club. To put it mildly, it worked.

Some organizations like the Multicultural Student Association, Peer Help and School Life Council are made up of students who are either elected by their peers or are appointed via a rigorous process. To start a club, students must craft a mission statement and find a faculty member who will, to varying degrees, oversee and give guidance. Some students float between clubs depending on what the agenda is that week. Some clubs meet at every opportunity, some less so; some slowly fade away. Still, at least a couple of times a month, someone wants to create a new club.

Following our 20-minute assembly, clubs and organizations gather from 8:20–8:55 a.m. during an open time known as X-block. There is another X-block on Friday, but it’s the longer Wednesday X-block that most clubs and organizations rely on most. A fair number of students use this chunk of time to meet with teachers or to catch up on their work—that’s fine—but they may miss something that could change their lives.

On Wednesday, January 25, I stepped away from my own student group to visit as many upper school meetings as I could, and asked students and faculty to email me what they were up to. What follows only skims the surface of what went on that day and does little justice to the depth of the discussions that took place.

  • The Nobles Model U.N. club welcomed about 20 students from Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey. They held a Joint Crisis Simulation in preparation for the following day’s Harvard Model U.N. Conference in Boston.
  • Students for Gender Equality hosted a debrief of the Boston Women’s March. One participant said, “The discussion progressed to considering how the feelings of inclusivity, hope and momentum might manifest in everyday activities. Students took risks, modeling the kind of listening and exchange of ideas that everyone—regardless of political opinion—recognizes we need to get better at.”
  • The Multicultural Student Association discussed “safe spaces” (where anyone can feel safe to fully express without fear of being made to be uncomfortable, unsafe, or unwelcome for any reason) and “trigger warnings” (a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc. warning of potentially distressing content). ”
  • The School Life Council worked on a special Valentine Day’s surprise as well as an upcoming assembly game show presentation.
  • The Environmental Action Committee discussed a fundraiser for a new roof at the Endicott Community Greenhouse and talked about Earth Day and new signs asking people to turn the lights off when leaving a room.
  • The Asian Culture Club brought in the new year by making dumplings and writing Lunar New Year wishes.
  • The Marine Conservation Club conferred about how companies like SeaWorld should maintain the health and safety of their larger animals, and generated topics for future presentations.
  • The Young Republicans’ Club focused on the signing of President Trump’s first few executive orders; both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the construction of the wall along the Mexican border that garnered varying degrees of support.
  • The Computer Science Club debugged a scoreboard they are making for the squash courts. They also had a team working on an emergency attendance app, as well as remaking the Nobles app.

Not everything that is important can be measured. Many who have passed through Nobles over the years remember those Wednesday X-blocks with great affection. By creating a structured but informal atmosphere, the school has created a sliver of time that allows many students, without pressure and at their own chosen speed, to connect not only with their peers but also to the world at large. What happens for many during x-block—the friendships, the exchange of ideas, becoming more aware, or just having fun—are mosaics that when joined allow students to find the confidence to craft not only their own future but quite possibly a crescent of the world community as well.

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If you have questions, comments or suggestions for this newsletter, email Kim Neal at