Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

May 2017

Nobles Parents' Newsletter May 2017

"What I've Been Trying to Say" by Head of School Bob Henderson

This is it, the final Parents' Newsletter piece I will write as the head of Noble and Greenough School. I didn’t go back and actually count all of them, but some quick figuring led me to the conclusion that I have written well over a hundred short essays on education generally and the Nobles experience specifically over the last 17 years, between newsletter pieces, magazine columns, graduation speeches, opening remarks to the faculty and staff and various other speaking and writing opportunities. I was recently reading through many of them, part of my nostalgia tour as I close out my days here, and I realized that they are fairly consistent in message. So, while that seems like a lot of writing, they are often simply reworking the same themes. It is fair to conclude that I am stunningly lacking in originality! Here is the crux of that message: excellence in secondary education certainly has critical core academic elements, but the real measure of the quality, and indeed the critical value-added, of a school is the extent to which it marries the development of the intellect to the fostering of character.

Over the years I have often commented in public forums that you can’t simply impose character on teenagers. There is no inoculation. It is difficult to teach character in ways that are not transparently manipulative to students, inducing their cynicism. Nevertheless, it is important to try, and so we have all sorts of programs, assemblies and personal development classes that have character as at least a significant part of their agendas. In contrast, however, what really causes young people to reflect deeply and carefully on their choices and behavior is their daily experience of the tone and culture of a place. Students don’t know they are learning about character all the time at Nobles, much as a fish can’t see the water in which it swims, but communal behavioral norms of essential decency, fairness, kindness, achievement, resilience, collaboration, integrity, honesty and respect for self and others become an expectation, a view of what the life well led looks and feels like, that becomes inextricably part of a young person’s identity.

George Maley, Nobles’ chief advancement officer, sometimes relates a story about how I was once asked in a meeting with a potential donor, “What does Nobles do about character education?” Without missing a beat, George claims I responded, “I hire well.” Whether this anecdote is apocryphal or true is actually irrelevant because it is an entirely accurate reflection of my view. Students come from their families and previous schools with important notions about how to be in and interact with the world. When they arrive here they want to measure right away whether the school walks its talk. So they watch the adults. They evaluate their attitudes, opinions, behavior and commitment to their relationships. They notice everything, they rightly point out and criticize failures and shortcomings, and they talk about it all incessantly. They look for examples of what it means to be a successful adult, not in the sense of material accumulation, but rather for what it means to live well in an increasingly complicated, fractious and morally ambiguous world. This is why the goodbyes of the members of Class I to their teachers, coaches and advisors are so deeply emotional at graduation time.

For nearly the last four decades I have taught at least one history class every year. I believe studying history is an essential discipline for becoming an educated person, and I think there are elements of cultural literacy that should simply be mastered. More importantly, however, as a history teacher I believe my students should be struggling with big ideas and stories and examples, positive and negative, of how to navigate the world and what it means to be human. I think all great teachers, whatever the subject they teach, believe they are teaching people and not teaching subjects. They are developing habits of mind, ways of perceiving and communicating, paths to creativity and innovation, and modeling why a strong ethical compass matters. So the daily classroom experience is also intrinsic to character education.

I can’t emphasize enough how important Nobles’ morning assembly is to this process. How we start each day together, applauding every person and presentation, is a model for the decent treatment of all human beings. The variety of ideas, perspectives, vocations, interests and issues exhibited on the stage is a powerful stimulus. How we create a sense of community and common purpose, even as our diversity increases, and even as our broader American society seems ever more fragmented, provides a powerful paradigm for the future directions of our students.

Finally, I have always believed that one of the reasons this is a successful school is because students here feel and believe they are integrally part of something bigger and much more important than them. We assert that the central phrase in the school mission is “to inspire leadership for the public good.” Students know this phrase within a relatively short time after their arrival in this community. They buy into it, largely because they see and experience so many ways the community and its citizens try to live up to the mission. It does not bother me that they struggle with what the mission actually means and, indeed, I hope that the mission remains a challenging aspiration throughout their lives.

And that is what I have been trying to say all these years!

Spin for Achieve at CycleBar!

Please join us for the second annual charity ride to benefit Achieve on Sunday, May 7 at 3:00 p.m. at CycleBar (386 Washington Street in Wellesley). Your participation will directly support Achieve as the program prepares for its 10th summer with 80 motivated Boston public school students.

The cost is $50 per bike—read more and sign up today!  

"Mini Brain Hacks That Can Change How You Feel" by School Psychologist/Director of Counseling Jen Hamilton

If someone could offer a pill that had no side effects and could immediately reduce anxiety, shift your mindset, or increase confidence ... wouldn't everyone be lining up for a prescription? As it turns out, there are some tremendously simple activities that you can do that can actually affect your physiology and neurochemistry in subtle ways, thus improving your mood and outlook.

My interest in this topic began several years ago, when I started using mindful breathing with students who were struggling with anxiety. For anyone who has ever struggled with anxiety, or sat with a child who is struggling with anxiety, you know that it is very difficult to "talk oneself out of" feeling stressed, panicked, or overwhelmed. But by focusing on slowing the breath, physiological changes occur in the body that can be measured:   respiration and heartbeat slow down, blood begins to circulate more to the extremities, and blood pressure goes down. And because the brain is part of the physiological system, racing thoughts also start to slow. As it turns out, a calm body is incompatible with an anxious mind! 

The realization that a simple behavior can significantly change how one feels got me wondering about other small activities that might have a powerful effect on how we experience the world around us. In my search for more ideas to share with students, I came upon a fascinating study conducted in 1988 by social psychologists Strack, Martin, and Stepper. In the experiment, two groups of subjects were asked to watch a cartoon and then rate how funny they perceived it to be. Half of the subjects were asked to watch while holding a pencil between their lips, while the other half were asked to watch while holding a pencil between their teeth. Unbeknownst to the subjects, they were essentially being manipulated to hold their facial muscles in a frowning position or a smiling position.  Without exception, the subjects who held the pencil between their teeth (the 'smilers') rated the cartoon as significantly funnier! The psychologists concluded that just by smiling, we can change our mood and outlook.  

Often, we think of smiling as something we do when we feel happy; but this research showed that there is a bi-directional effect at play. If you smile, it can actually affect your neurochemistry in such a way that you actually feel happier immediately! You don't have to wait to feel happy to smile... Even if you are having a lousy day and are in a bad mood, forcing yourself to smile (even a fake smile, or a 'pencil-between-the-teeth' smile) can significantly brighten your mindset.

One more wonderful example of this bi-directional effect comes from social psychologist Amy Cuddy, whose lecture on body language is among the most watched in the history of TED Talks.  

Dr. Cuddy eloquently explains how, in the animal kingdom, animals who are trying to exert their dominance or power make themselves big (think of a cobra before it strikes, a bear up on its hind legs, or a peacock displaying its feathers). Body chemistry is altered in these states; hormones are released (the power/aggression hormone testosterone goes up, and the stress hormone cortisol goes down) and this affects behavior. Cuddy asserts that human beings are also very much affected by our posture and body language. Imagine someone who is feeling very timid or unconfident: They may be hunched up, head down, trying to make themselves smaller.

Conversely, imagine someone who has just won a race: we can clearly imagine the 'victory' pose—head held high, arms up in the air. If we take a confident pose, if we try to take up more space, Cuddy maintains that you actually can increase your confidence! Before a presentation, test, performance, or race, she suggests that you strike a "power pose" (perhaps hide out in a bathroom stall for a few minutes) and your physiology and neurochemistry will respond, with the immediate result of increased feelings of power and confidence. 

Sometimes, when we are feeling defeated or negative, it is easy to get into a rut of thinking that creating change in negative patterns or in attitude is too difficult.  But these simple "brain hacks" might just give you the tiny kick-start you need to realize that actually, you don't need to wait around to feel better to start acting different. As psychologist Alfred Adler posited in the early 1900's with his acting "as if" theory, if you want to feel calm, slow your breathing and make your body act calm. If you want to feel happier, do what you would do if you were already feeling happy—smile! And if you want to feel confident, strike a confident pose, and the feelings will follow. You don't need to wait.. Just do it!

Visual and Performing Arts Events

Now through June 2: Annual AP Student Art Show—AP photography, drawing and ceramics, Foster Gallery

Thursday, May 4, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Jazz/Blues/Percussion Concert Lawrence Auditorium

Wednesday, May 10 & Friday, May 12, 6:30 p.m. both days: Spring Dance Show & Student Directed Play, Dance Studio (in Henderson Arts Center)

Thursday, May 11, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Wind/String/Orchestra Concert, Lawrence Auditorium

Wednesday, May 17: Class V Archival Print Showcase on view, Shattuck Lobby

Wednesday, May 17 – Saturday, May 20:  Spring Mainstage Production, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, 6:30 p.m. on May 17 – May 19 and 2:00 p.m. on May 20, Vinik Theatre, Henderson Arts Center

Thursday, May 25, 7:00-9:00 p.m Spring Choral Concert, Lawrence Auditorium

Wednesday, June 7, 7:00 p.m. Chamber Singers, New York City Kickoff Concert, Castle Library

June 8-10: Chamber Singers, New York City Concert Tour
The tour will include two especially exciting performances that are open to the public; we hope that any Nobles folks who are in or near New York will join us!

  • Friday, June 9 at 10 a.m. - a concert in the Empire State Building, in the 80th floor Exhibit area
  • Saturday, June 10 at 2:00 p.m. - a concert at Flagpole Plaza on Liberty Island at the Statue of Liberty



"Reconsidering Comfort Zones" by Head of the Upper School Michael Denning

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose… — Ecclesiastes 3.1

Among the many privileges afforded to me at Nobles, none is greater than the opportunity I have to greet students in front of Shattuck when they arrive each morning. Students will sometimes stop for a moment to talk about an assignment, a game, a performance or some other activity or event. Occasionally, one will pause to express some concerns. Most often, however, the experience is punctuated by simple greetings, smiles and well wishes.

At the beginning of each year, my mornings out by the flagpole enable me to get to know new students while welcoming returning students back to what I hope is already their home away from home. However, as autumn gives way to winter, the challenges and setbacks that come with each school year begin to multiply, and this daily ritual becomes a time for me to check in with students and to be one more teacher in this extraordinary community of caring adults offering encouragement. This is rewarding work, and I am lucky to have it.

A powerful idea in schools today is that a student’s education is incomplete unless they are taught to step willingly, regularly and confidently outside of their “comfort zone(s).” I don’t know who first coined the term “comfort zone.” Some credit the psychologist Judith Bardwick and her 1991 work, Danger in the Comfort Zone: From Boardroom to Mailroom, while others trace the idea to earlier pioneers in psychology, in particular Robert Yerkes and John Dodson and their Yerkes-Dodson Law (circa 1908). What I can say for certain is that this idea is deeply embedded in Nobles’ mission and programs as well as my own educational philosophy. I have written and spoken often about appropriate risk taking, in general, and EXCEL, in particular. Yet, as I think about next steps in our academic and co-curricular programs, I find myself considering not only new ways to challenge students to step out of their comfort zones, but also initiatives to further ensure that each of them has genuine zones of comfort from which to step.

For most students, the Nobles experience is replete with new challenges that, by their very nature, are uncomfortable. Here are but a few that students encounter on a daily basis:

  • new books to read
  • new problems to tackle
  • new essays and labs to write
  • new presentations to make
  • new ideas with which to struggle
  • new opponents to play
  • new performances to learn and present
  • new people to meet
  • new situations to navigate

These challenges are endemic to the adolescent secondary-school experience; however, they are intensified by the rigors of our mission and programs, as well as the high standards set by Nobles faculty, staff and students alike. If we agree that the new and the uncomfortable often travel hand-in-hand, then could we also agree that our students spend a lot of time outside zones of comfort?

In the late 1950s, American folk icon Pete Seeger offered us "Turn, Turn, Turn," a musical rendition—made famous by the Byrds—of Solomon’s Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

...To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

Seeger reminds us of Solomon’s wisdom: that every stage of life is filled with new and difficult challenges to overcome, ones that we can and should seek and others that we would neither seek nor for which we can really prepare. Herein lies the rationale for the work we do to build zones of comfort for our students. Through relationship-based pedagogies; daily morning assemblies; advisories; and teaching and mentoring across programs, we remain steadfastly committed to the ideas that: 1) strength, confidence, wisdom and courage come from ritual, routine, friendship, community and other zones of comfort; and 2) it is the strength garnered in zones of comfort that enables each of us to tackle not only those challenges we step outside to face, but also those unwelcome and unexpected ones that pull us out, too.  

A warm sun greeted us as we arrived at school last week, offering a harbinger of long summer days right around the corner. For many of us, however, the signs of spring and summer are bittersweet because Mother Nature’s time of renewal brings our community far more endings than beginnings. For all of us, the end of the school year represents leaving important comfort zones at the behest of new challenges and new seasons of life. So as I greet students coming through the door on their way to morning assembly—that comforting place that we all love and where kids regularly take risks—I allow myself a few extra moments to reflect on how much they have grown, accomplished, experienced and overcome over the course of their time at Nobles. And I think about how far outside our comfort zones we have stepped together.

Grandparents' Day 2018

Grandparents' Day has moved to the spring!

Please save the date:
Grandparents Day
Friday, May 4, 2018

For more information, contact:

Katherine Minevitz

Nobles Night 2017

Save the Date!
Nobles Night
Thursday, November 9, 2017

For more information, contact:

Katherine Minevitz

"Give and Take" by Dean of Students Mark Spence

By the time you read this, prom will be in the rearview mirror. Seniors are doing work but always seem surprised—and even a little incredulous—that they still have more to do. The countdown to graduation has begun.

Seniors experience mixed feelings as they approach graduation—happiness, fear, anxiety, sadness, relief, excitement—just to name a few. They begin to reflect on their experiences in their high school years and to wonder, and perhaps worry, about their futures. Our hope is that they will recognize not only what they received from Nobles, but also what they have offered this community.

As a school, we want to offer students as much as we can. Whether the task is academic, co-curricular or social, we encourage students to develop their problem-solving and leadership skills, their confidence and their character. We hope they ask themselves, “What did I offer? What did I add”? Our sincere hope is that our seniors feel as though they have contributed to the school.

In thinking about their contributions, students and parents will often point to achievements—games won, grades earned, theatre roles played, works of art created.  But we all need to think more in terms of experiences rather than outcomes. Many small moments characterize an experience more than big moments and outcomes; every moment is a part of the fabric of a school.

Our programs provide academic, athletic, EXCEL, theatre, community service, musical and theatre opportunities—but it is the people who provide the moments that create culture, growth and memories. The ways in which faculty and students connect with each other create moments of opportunity and partnership. For a school to function best, this partnership has to be rich with energy, commitment and honesty.

While we celebrate exceptional performances in different aspects of school life, we cannot forget the profound impact of those students who work to grow and nurture community: the students who place sticky notes on the walls of the school with uplifting statements; the students who stood on stage to offer their support for a class that is hurting; the students who shared stories about a friend they tragically lost; the students who invited a new Nobles student to lunch; the team (that rarely ever loses) that models dignity, class and graciousness when they do lose; the students in the musical who were able to show their talent and toughness by putting on a great production night after night while dealing with the absence or illness of several cast members; the students who shared their challenges onstage so that others wouldn't feel alone. All these examples add to our school and make Nobles what it is—these examples are meaningful, powerful and valuable.

I hope seniors will take the time to consider what their Nobles education meant and what it may have gotten them. But as they do, I urge them to consider what others have meant to them—their teachers, their classmates and their friends—and find ways to tell them. Just as importantly, they should think about what they meant to others. I can’t wait to see what they experience after they graduate; they have been an impressive group that has meant a lot to Nobles.

"College Counseling Notes from the Road" by Director of College Counseling Kate Ramsdell

College Counseling Notes from the Road: 680 miles. 5 colleges. 3 days. Or, “Welcome to Oxford, Mississippi, home of the Harvard of the South!”

April 5, 2017 – Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport

This morning Tom Resor and I navigated our way out of Tuscaloosa in a driving – and I mean couldn’t see ten feet in front of us – thunderstorm. Last night at 11:45 we received an email alert from our admissions officer at the University of Alabama sharing that the campus was going to suspend classes because of severe storm activity. Well, Roll Tide! Though we didn’t get a chance to see as much of the campus as planned, we affirmed what we’ve known for a long time: ask anyone you meet in a college town if they’re affiliated with the university, and you’ll gain incredible insider knowledge.

We ate in the hotel restaurant late last night, and our server was a senior communications and journalism major. We were her only patrons, so she spent the better part of an hour with us. We discussed politics and race relations on campus, social life and her future. Hoping to get a job in the PR department of a professional sports team when she graduates, Tasha was about to leave for an internship with Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, (for credit) in community relations. She had interned at Disney her first year, and had overseen on-campus recruiting events for the Alabama Football team for the last two years. Hello, experiential learning! Her classes all had fewer than 20 students once she was taking major courses starting sophomore year, and the largest class she could remember was with a professor who had taken time to get to know her in a class of 150. She gave us some good intel on the football program, too, but we were sworn to secrecy.

April 4, 2017- In a rented Sentra, somewhere in central Mississippi

ME: “Do you think Mississippi State is nearby?”
TOM: “Let’s look it up.”
ME: “You know Jen Craft went to MSU for a year before she finished at Virginia Tech?”
TOM: “Really? Interesting.”
ME: “It’s in the opposite direction on I-45. Let’s do it!”

We rolled into Starkville as the shadows lengthened, and as we pulled into campus, I spotted a sign on the median: Baseball Game Day. We took a U-turn and headed to the baseball stadium (where it was also Harry Potter night). We laughed because all five colleges we’d visited mentioned Harry Potter at some point. With an hour 'til game time, we ventured over to the basketball arena. The doors were locked. We weren’t deterred. If I have learned anything in my time as a college counselor, it’s this: don’t let a locked door stop you.

Quickly, a fellow in an MSU athletics shirt hustled over from inside an office to greet us. Turns out he was a graduate, had served as a trainer for the basketball and football teams for over a decade, and for the last 15 years had managed all of the athletics facilities and events. He was happy to share his love of the place (and some of its warts) with us. Turns out all of MSU’s championship athletic banners are made in Watertown, Massachusetts, right alongside Nobles’! Who knew.

We stayed for three innings of serious baseball (think minor-league quality in a stadium that seats 17,000) and then got back on the road after a walk through the academic quads. Engineering Week was unfolding on the grass at dusk, industrial engineers pitted against civil engineering majors in a raucous game of capture the flag. We truly hope they are better engineers than they were runners.

April 3 – End of a longer than expected day at “the Harvard of the South”

Though time is often of the essence on a college visit, Tom and I ended up staying a night and a full day in Oxford. It epitomizes a “college town” – bustling with students and locals, excellent restaurants, a great trivia night at a local watering hole (we came in 10th out of 14 teams), and one of the best independently owned bookstores we had ever visited. Dick Baker supported us on this opinion, so it has to be good! Square Books. Check it out.

Ole Miss is a gem. And though I’d long known it was an oasis in the middle of a state that is challenged by almost every measure, it was better than either one of us could have expected. We were treated to the best information session either one of us can remember. Our admissions host, William Boyles, was a recent graduate and native Mississippian who had chosen the honors program at Ole Miss over a number of excellent options all over the country. Brilliant, engaging and honest, he shared stories and facts in a way that made the university stand out. For those of you who have endured cookie-cutter information sessions, you know what a skill this is. As a member of the honors college, he had access to special classes and all the best professors, stipends for summer travel and research. In fact, William had been fully funded by the university to travel for thesis work – to Spain, the UK, Sweden and Rome. William openly discussed the university’s difficult history as it related to racial discrimination and shared, eloquently and thoughtfully, why being at Ole Miss had challenged him (as a registered Democrat in a deep red state) to listen and ask questions and to think about how and why he and his peers could have such different values and perspectives. Sign me up.

Granted, it was 80 degrees in early April, magnolia trees in full bloom dotted every corner, and the campus buzzed with positive energy, but Ole Miss had us at "hi, y’all." As Tom and I were about to leave, we were planning our own retirements to Oxford and wondering how we could get more families out on the road to see places that might surprise them, too.

Time is tight for many Nobles families; we know that. Resources don’t often allow for trips to far-flung destinations. We can fully appreciate that fact. And yet, if every student of mine could have his or her “Ole Miss moment,” I would feel I’d done my job well.

From the PA Co-Chairs

May is a busy month for all, yet there are many opportunities to enjoy some time at Nobles as the school year winds down. We hope to see you on campus soon!

The final meeting of the PA for this year will be held on Monday, May 15 from 8:00–9:30 a.m. in the Castle Dining Hall. We will hear an update on the campus building project from Mike McHugh, Director of Buildings and Grounds. He will share with us the latest about the building project, summer timeline and what to expect next year on campus. We will then thank our outgoing PA Board who gave countless hours to ensure all the PA events happened and ran smoothly for our community. It will also be our great pleasure at that meeting to vote in and welcome the new PA Board members for 2017–2018, led ably by Gina Doyle and Isabelle Loring, the incoming Co-Chairs. We know all are in good hands, and that the Nobles community will benefit greatly from their collective efforts next year. All are welcome and we hope you will come.

May is in full swing, with many performing and visual arts events on Campus.  Please see the school calendar for a full listing; between the dance concerts, music concerts, student-directed plays, the NTC Spring production and the AP Student Art Show in Foster Gallery, there are many ‘not to be missed’ opportunities to see the many talented students we have at Nobles. 

And it would not be a sports season without the Nobles-Milton Games. Please join us on Friday, May 26 to cheer on the Nobles teams—Go Dawgs!

As another school year begins to draw to a close, so too does another wonderful PA year. It has been an honor and privilege to serve Nobles in our PA Co-Chair roles. We are grateful to be part of such a strong and dedicated community of parents. To all of you who offered your time, talents, and presence in a myriad of different ways, thank you! Your involvement and enthusiasm are very much appreciated. We also want to give special thanks to our current PA Board for their tireless effort, countless hours, and invaluable help in making this year such a great success.

And finally, we want to offer our gratitude to the faculty and staff who have graced us with their wisdom and time throughout the year. Thank you for sharing your insights, and for giving us a better understanding of what, and more importantly who, makes the vibrant place that Nobles is for our children.

With gratitude and warm wishes,
Anne and Kennie

Class III Parent Letter

Dear Class III Parents,

It’s hard to believe that the school year is coming to a close and that this is our final newsletter. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as your class representatives. We have enjoyed getting to know you and thank you for all of your support and participation.
Looking back on the year we had several great Class III events, including two parent coffees and two parent socials (one coming up) where new connections were made, as well as a “Western” themed Surprise Luncheon that delighted our children.

With amazing creativity and vision, our co-chairs for the Head of School Dinner Dance, Julie Callaghan and Jennifer Palumbo, transformed the Castle into a disco-themed night that honored Bob’s last such event at Nobles and marked a milestone in the Nobles experience for our children. Thanks to the many stellar volunteers who helped make these events such great successes. We also want to extend our deep appreciation to our Class III deans, Amy Joyce and Edgar De Leon, for all they did for our students throughout the year.

We are excited to have one last parent event, the Parent Spring Social, in the Castle on Friday, May 19 from 7:00 - 9:30 p.m. We recognize that it is a busy time of year, but it would be wonderful to see many of you there.

As usual please check the Nobles website and Friday Notes for updates and announcements. Please contact us anytime for questions.

A few notable dates:

Monday, May 15: Final PA Meeting, from 8:00-9:30 a.m. in the Castle
Monday, May 29: Memorial Day, school closed
Friday, June 2: Graduation
June 5-7: Exams
June 8: Comment writing day, no school for students
June 9: Final day of school

We hope the rest of the school year is strong for you and your student, and we wish you a very happy summer!

Your Class III Reps,

Susie Winstanley
Heather Markey


Class IV Parent Letter

Happy May, Class IV Parents and Guardians!

It is hard to believe that this is the last monthly e-newsletter of the 2016-2017 school year.  In the blink of an eye, our children have gone from hesitant new high schoolers to confident students ready for sophomore year.

As your class representatives, we want to extend our gratitude and appreciation to all of you for your participation and support this past year. You helped make our jobs easy and pleasurable with your generous donations of time, resources, ideas and energy. Thank you to all of the volunteers who brought enthusiasm and fun, and made sure our class activities were successful. The Class IV Surprise Luncheon was a great big success. We had a lot of volunteers and the Castle turned into a beach party complete with fabulous frozen drinks by FLIK and Gilligan’s Island playing on the TV. The kids all looked like they had a great time and they loved the menu. The sliders were a huge hit.  

Thank you to all of the families who attended our Class IV Socials and Coffees. Bravo to E.B. Bartels and Kimya Charles who were terrific as Class Deans.  We would also like to recognize Matthew Burek and the FLIK staff for orchestrating all of the delicious food, perfectly placed stations, professional help and creative menus. The FLIK team is wonderful to work with as they always go above and beyond what is expected.  We salute them with a standing ovation.

Some highlights for May:

Thurs. May 4, 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. - Jazz, Blues Percussion Concert
Wed. May 10 and Fri. May 12, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. - Spring Dance Show and Student Directed Plays
Thurs. May 11, 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. - Wind, String, Orchestra Concert
Mon. May 15, 8:00-9:30 a.m. - Turnover PA Board Meeting, Castle Library
Wed. May 17, Thurs. 18, Fri. 19, 6:30 p.m. and Sat. May 20, 2:00 p.m. - Spring MainStage Production, The Marriage of Bette and Boo.
Thurs. May 25, 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. - Choral Concert.
Mon. May 29 - Memorial Day: No school

Looking ahead to June:

Fri. June 2 - No classes; Graduation (mandatory for all students).
Mon. June 5 - Wednesday, June 7 - Final Exams (the full schedule is on the website, check calendar for details)
Thurs. June 8 - No school, teacher comment writing day
Fri. June 9 - Last day of school: Exams are returned, and students receive final grades.

It has been our pleasure getting to know you while experiencing our children’s freshman year together.  We have been honored to be your Class Reps this year, and we look forward to sharing the many endeavors and adventures that await our students in the coming years at Nobles.

Have a wonderful summer! 

Best to you all,
Catherine and Deanna

Summer Green Tips for You and Your Family from the Green Team

1. Let in some light. Why waste electricity in your house or workplace? All you need to do is open the blinds and you’ve got light.

2. Start your own backyard (or front yard) garden and grow some fresh fruits and vegetables. They’re organic and they taste better.

3. Find out when your local Farmers’ Market is being held and go there to get some in-season, local produce.

4. Eat at home. Use local produce, find a local fish market, try a new recipe and plan ahead meals as to not waste/throw away foods when going away for vacations.

5. Avoid idling. Just turn off the car. Turn it back on when you are ready to go again. It’s that simple and it saves gas and harmful emissions.

6. If you can walk or ride your bike instead, then do so. Many people don’t consider this as a viable option, but just think how much you used to walk around when you were younger. Nearby errands can be done with a backpack and a bike and the whole family can join.

7. If you need to go somewhere a little further away, check public transportation options. Taking the train to Boston is fun.

8. Unplug. Declare your independence from technology. Go outside, visit a museum, volunteer locally, go to the beach, bake, read on the porch. Summer is the best time to try new things and spend less time plugged-in.

9. Make the simple change so you do all your energy-heavy chores off peak hours. Do your laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cooking, etc. at night. Doing so will cut your energy bill and help prevent your home from heating up unnecessarily during the day.

10. Give your dryer a break. Consider hanging your clothes out to dry.

11. Drink, but don’t waste water. Your body needs water to stay healthy and hydrated. Don’t waste it though. Any “leftover water” (ie: kids sports bottles) can be used to water plants, give to your pets, etc. If you are aware of what you are doing and you will probably save quite a bit.

12. Planning a hike, kayak, or overnight camping trip? Teach your children about “no trace left behind.”

13. Remember the sunscreen. But not just any sunscreen, choose a non-toxic sunscreen so you aren’t polluting your skin or the environment.

14. Skip the Charcoal:  Not all barbeques are created equal, charcoal grills are dirty and contribute to poor air quality.  Try a cleaner burning propane gas grill or an electric one to help keep the air cleaner and to lower your carbon footprint.

Class I Parent Letter

Congratulations and a hearty welcome to the last month of Senior Spring! The seniors all looked very happy and so mature at Prom—and it was a pleasure touching base with many of you at the pre-prom photo sessions. As we hone in on graduation, please take note of the following upcoming dates and the busy last week before our Class of 2017 graduates on June 2.

Friday, May 5, 6:30–9:30 p.m. – Last Class I Parent Social, Cinco de Mayo in Castle.
Wednesday & Friday, May 10 & 12, 6:30-8 p.m. - Spring Dance Concert and Student Directed Plays.
Monday, May 15, 8-9:30 a.m. - P.A. meeting, Castle.
Thursday, May 25, 7-9 p.m. - Choral Concert, Lawrence Auditorium.
Monday, May 29, Memorial Day – School Closed.

“Senior Week” Schedule:
Tuesday, May 30, 8:00 a.m -3:00 p.m. – “The Way We Were” (student celebration).
Tuesday, May 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m. – Class I Project Night, Arts Center Lobby.
Wednesday, May 31, 5:30-9 p.m. – Class I Night (6-p.m. Castle Dining, 7:30-9 p.m. Lawrence Auditorium).
Thursday, June 1, 6:30 -9 p.m. – Awards Night in Lawrence Auditorium (dress code: coat and tie for boys/ dress, skirt (of appropriate length) or dress pants for girls. No sneakers or flip flops.
Friday, June 2, 10 a.m. -12, Graduation.
7:30 a.m. Arrival for seniors at Gleason Hall to receive flower crowns/boutonnieres.
7:45 a.m. photos.
8:30 a.m. All School Assembly (no parents).
9:30 a.m. Procession to graduation.
Noon-1:00 p.m. Faculty receiving line, family photos, goodbyes.
Friday, June 2, 8:30-11:30 p.m. – Graduation Party at Elm Bank – this event is a parent-sponsored event for all students in Class I.

Looking forward to enjoying this special time together with you! Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sherri Athanasia
Rikki Conley
Sarah Keating

Class II Parent Letter

Dear Class II Parents,

Thank you to everyone who attended our Class II Spring Social! It was a wonderful evening with excellent food and company as always. We are heading into the home stretch of junior year and can’t believe senior year is looming!

We would love to see everyone at our last Class II Parent Coffee, tomorrow morning 8:00-9:30 a.m. in Foster Gallery. Please drop in at any time! We are sending all our Class II families good thoughts during the sometimes challenging junior spring and hope to see you tomorrow!

Your Class II Reps

Gretchen Filoon
Jessica Patterson

Class I Deans' Letter

Dear Class I Parents,

On a chilly day in early April, small groups of faculty and members of the senior class scattered at restaurants in and around Dedham. This annual event marks the first of many opportunities for us to join together and to reflect on the experience of Nobles’ 151st graduating class. Over dishes of pasta or lo mein or burgers, we looked forward and looked back. What do you remember about your first day at Nobles? What was your favorite moment? What advice would you give your ninth grade self? What’s still on your bucket list? The pace of these final weeks is a brisk one, and we are encouraging our seniors to take a deep breath as often as they can and to seize these moments to gather together, to show appreciation for each other and those around them, and to think about how to finish well.  

We know that as the seniors look back on the years they have spent at Nobles, they are also looking eagerly ahead to the next chapter in their lives. It is in this spirit that we host our Senior Transitions Nights. Last fall, we welcomed Katie Koestner, an expert on sexual assault and drugs and alcohol abuse. This spring, in collaboration with our colleagues in Graduate Affairs, we invited a group of Nobles alumni back to campus for our first Career Panel. Each guest shared the highlights and lessons of his/her professional journey, and then our students selected two “breakout sessions” where they had the opportunity to connect with and ask specific questions of our speakers. We hope our students realized that a professional path is rarely straightforward and often includes unexpected twists and happy accidents along the way. We also hope that our seniors walked away from this event with a better sense of the many wonderful career resources available to Nobles students upon graduation.

We know that the Class I students are not the only ones experiencing a transition, and if you are interested, we have included a list of books at the end of this letter that parents have found insightful as their students transition to college. If you know of other works and/or resources that you have found helpful, please send them along.

As we head into the final weeks, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about anything that is happening on campus. While it’s certainly a hectic time, it is also an exciting and joyful time on campus. We are proud of the way that our Class I students have set a positive tone for this school year, and we are confident that they will continue to lead the school with integrity and spirit in the final weeks ahead.

We have been honored to spend this year with your children, and we look forward to celebrating our seniors with you in the weeks to come! 


Kim Libby and Mike Kalin

Parent Transition Resources:

  • Don't Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money: The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years, by Helen E. Johnson & Christine Schelhas-Miller (St. Martin's Griffin, 2000). Written by two women involved with parent programs at Cornell, this book touches on virtually everything from the summer before first-year to post-college planning. The format consists of pairs of hypothetical conversations between parent and child on an issue: the first disastrous, the second, based on the principles the authors espouse, more effective.
  • Getting the Best Out of College: A Professor, a Dean and a Student Tell You How to Maximize Your Experience, by Peter Feaver, Sue Wasiolek, and Anne Crossman.
  • Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years, by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger (HarperPerennial, 1997). A slightly dated but still useful summary of the psychology of late adolescence followed by practical tips drawn from students and parents from a number of colleges.
  • Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds, by Richard J. Light (Harvard, 2001). A fascinating and highly readable account of the results of a project at Harvard in which students were asked what had been most useful to them in their college careers.
  • When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent’s Survival Guide, by Carol Barkin (Avon Books, 1999). A straightforward look at the issues, from the "Summer of Anticipation" to "Advice from a College Senior."

Middle School Parent Letter

Middle School Parent Reps

May and June are busy months at Nobles with many fun events for both students and parents. Below is a detailed list of important dates to mark in your calendar, as well as some key highlights that we encourage you to try to attend.

Please consider coming to the Class V Solar Car Race and All School Barbecue on Wednesday, May 17.  Cheering for the students’ creations on the outside tennis courts is fun for the whole school and worth taking the time out of your busy day.

Also, please note that Thursday, June 8 is Comment Writing Day for the teachers and a No School Day for the students. On that day the Parents Association invites all middle school students to Canobie Lake Park for a celebratory end-of-school outing. This is a parent-led event with plenty of volunteer opportunities. More information on how to participate will be posted in future Wednesday emails.

Finally, the Middle School has a Step Up Ceremony at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 9. The event marks the transition from the Middle School to the Upper School for Class V students. All Class V students are required to attend, and Class V parents and guardians are encouraged to attend.

As the middle school class representatives, we would like to thank all of you for your help and valued feedback through out the year.  We truly appreciate your effort to attend and contribute to all of the Nobles events. It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know everyone. Thank you for a wonderful year together!

Key Events and Dates for Middle School in May & June 2017

Friday, May 5:  Middle School Day of Service. All Middle School students and faculty will be performing community service throughout the Greater Boston area.

Monday, May 8:  Middle School Orientation for New Students, Parents and Guardians at 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 9:  Class VI 'Round The World (RTW) Culminating Event at 6:00 p.m. in the Middle School Forum and classrooms. 

Wednesday, May 10: Class V Shakespeare Breakfast during R Block.
Wednesday, May 10 & Friday, May 12: Spring Dance Show & Student Directed Play will take place on both days at 6:30 p.m. in the Dance Studio.

Tuesday, May 16: Class V Student/ MS Mentor Pizza Event at 6:00 p.m. in the Middle School.

Wednesday, May 17: Class V Archival Print Showcase on view in Shattuck Lobby.

Wednesday, May 17: Class V Solar Car Races & All School Barbecue on the tennis courts. Rain dates are May 18 and/or May 19.

Wednesday, May 17 – Saturday, May 20:  Spring Mainstage Productions in Vinik Theatre at 6:30 p.m. on May 17 – May 19 and 2:00 p.m. on May 20.

Wednesday, May 24:  Middle School Milton Games.

Thursday, May 25:  Spring Choral Concert at 7:00 p.m. in Lawrence Auditorium.

Friday, May 26:  Varsity & Junior Varsity Milton Games.

Monday, May 29:  Memorial Day, school closed.

Tuesday, May 30:  Class V Survey 3:00-4:00 p.m. in Pratt Middle School.

Friday, June 2:  Graduation at 10:00 a.m. All students are required to attend.

Monday June 5 – Wednesday, June 7:  Final Exams
        Morning Sessions: 9:00-11:00 a.m.
        Afternoon Sessions: 1:00-3:00 p.m.
        Extended Time Students: 9:00 a.m.-noon & 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Thursday, June 8: Comment Writing Day, no school. Middle School Trip to Canobie Lake Park, organized by the Parents Association and chaperoned by parent volunteers.

Friday, June 9: Last Day of School & Class V Step Up Ceremony. This day consists of a long assembly, mini classes, and individual advisor/advisee meetings. The Class V Step Up Ceremony will take place in Vinik Theatre at 3:00 p.m. It is mandatory for all Class V students. Class VI students are invited but not required to attend.


Happy Summer!

Class V Reps
Kate Saunders
Kristin Welo

Class VI Reps
Melissa Janfaza
Sarina Katz

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Dedham, Massachusetts
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