Volunteers Needed for Achieve on MLK Day at the Bruins
On January 15, through its partnership with the Boston Bruins Foundation, Achieve will once again have an opportunity to sell 50/50 raffle tickets at TD Garden as the Bruins take on the Dallas Stars in a 1:00 p.m. game.
Last year, our group of volunteers sold nearly $23,000 worth of tickets! (Half went to a lucky winner and half supported Achieve's operating budget.) All are welcome to help, including students.
If interested, please email Cat Kershaw.
Achieve is a tuition-free academic enrichment program serving Boston public middle school students during the summer and on Saturdays during the school year. Learn more at theachieveprogram.org.
"Hope and Expectations" by John Gifford, Head of the Middle School and Assistant Head of School
When I was last with Thulani Madondo, he tried to get the Nobles students to understand the impact of hopelessness. Thulani runs the Kliptown Youth Program (KYP) in an impoverished sector of Johannesburg, South Africa. The mission of KYP is to provide opportunities that will enable young people from Kliptown to rise out of poverty. (The Nobles students who travel to South Africa this March will work at KYP and you can learn a bit more about Thulani in a video about his nomination as the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year.)
Thulani’s point makes sense. The young people with whom he works come from nothing and have no reason to expect anything. It is a “reality check” about poverty that we too try to explain to Nobles students in various ways. But I find it hard to believe that anything could send the message home better than Thulani’s story—while standing in a muddy path among slapped up “homes” made of scavenged metal. More often than not, getting enough food to eat is the only goal that the residents of Kliptown have the liberty to pursue. Their education? That is a luxury. They have few success stories to point to that they can use as inspiration.
A lack of hope is not the case for our students. Just the opposite. Nobles students have more than hope, they have expectations. It took Thulani to get me thinking about the weighty burden of expectations.
Understand that I’m not equating the two; the struggles of many in Kliptown are survival struggles. What’s more, the impact of expectations can be powerfully positive. They can motivate and facilitate great success. But I also believe that our students are living with a constant background music; it is the assumption that success is theirs for the taking and less than perfection is an embarrassment. Students see Nobles as an opportunity and a privilege and the understanding is that they will take advantage of it. And the issue extends beyond Nobles. There is some research that suggests that technology is part of the problem. Because people tend to publish only their successes on social media, it too can have the impact of making young people feel the weight of expectations.
I write about it because I feel that acknowledgement of the burden is important. Faculty at Nobles witness the impact of expectations on a daily basis and discuss it a great deal. It is why we preach the importance of the growth mindset. It is why we push students to compare themselves against themselves rather than their peers. We understand that there are occasional inconsistencies with our message and areas where we are likely being hypocritical but we try not to be and we are always looking to improve.
Again, there is a very positive component to high expectations and there is a good component to working through any burden. You don’t get stronger by lifting light weights. The point is that young people need to understand their situation. By clearly seeing the realities of their situation and working through it, they can take a longer view of their personal path of growth.
Our students are in the thick of it. Without the benefit of the perspective that comes from experience it is hard to acknowledge and understand. They need the adults in their lives to help them see their growth in the context of the background music of expectations. In a sense, it is easier for the faculty—we are not the parents who are also feeling the same societal pressures and desire only the best for their children. But parents are essential to help young people to broaden their perspective and remain focused on the next best actions as they conduct the work to find their best selves.
Come celebrate the season with Nobles' jazz-blues musicians on Thursday, December 7 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in Lawrence Auditorium.
The online bookstore goes live on Tuesday, December 5 for spring semester courses! Parents/guardians can access the bookstore at nobles.bkstr.com or through their child's course list on the About Me page at nobles.edu.
Please contact Follett Customer Service at 1-888-382-3383 or bookstore manager Emily Tragert at email@example.com with questions.
"Seeing Each Other During the Holidays" by Erica Pernell, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
The following was an assembly talk to students before the Thanksgiving holidays.
I’m nine years old. In my childhood home, as Christmas approaches, things get really loud. Jazzy songs from Charlie Brown and Luther Vandross blast through the walls. Our cat climbs up our Christmas tree and crashes down about every other day, littering pine needles all over the living room. My brother's and my increased sugar intake and lack of stimulation result in massive sibling battles involving projectile quarters and dimes aimed at each other’s heads. My mom—my poor mom—is stressed. She has to cook and clean and make sure everyone has a perfect gift and ironed outfits when she really wants to be like those moms on TV, calmly laughing in a Christmas robe, sipping hot cocoa while the food magically cooks itself. As all the chaos unfolds, my dad simply turns up the soulful Christmas jams and relaxes on the couch. It smells like Christmas cookies and homemade pierogies and that fake evergreen Yankee Candle scent.
My mom is Polish American and my dad is African American. Each Christmas Eve, we spend time with both sides of the family, but separately.
We begin the night at my maternal grandparent’s house in Connecticut. My favorite part of Polish Christmas Eve happens before dinner: everyone gets a piece of a thin wafer called oplatek. The tradition holds that you take the time to connect one on one with each person present, and as you do this, you eat a piece of their wafer while they eat a piece of your wafer. We exchange Merry Christmas wishes and say "I love you" before sharing a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Some of our traditions aren’t Polish at all. We start the meal with some shrimp cocktail and for dessert, my grandmother makes Italian snowflake cookies called pizelles. I’m pretty sure she just added these foods because she likes appetizers and cookies. After the meal, we open gifts in a very orderly fashion, one person, one gift at a time, and enjoy a fire. Then, we head to my grandfather’s house about 45 minutes away for Christmas Eve part II.
My dad has a huge family and we all squish into my grandfather’s finished basement. He has a collection of antique slot machines and all the kids get a giant cup of quarters and try our best not to lose it all. The adults pile onto couches and watch movies, usually action or suspense. Gifts aren’t opened in a strategic way. We all tear the paper and throw it around at each other afterwards. Children fall asleep in piles wherever they end up getting tired while the adults spend the whole night catching up, and enjoying life together until three or four in the morning. I wake up on Christmas morning in my own bed, at my own house, and barely remember my dad gently lifting me up and carrying me out to the car to start the ride home from my grandfather’s house.
I love the different ways my family celebrates, but holidays can also be a time of forced conformity, as I was often required to wear a dress even though I desperately didn’t want to. As I’ve grown older, our family traditions ground me and keep me connected to my history and my ancestors. But the feeling and the excitement around holidays now also includes sadness and grief, as there are empty seats around the table because my family has experienced the loss of grandparents and cousins.
We all celebrate different holidays and some of us don’t believe in celebrating at all. Even those of us who do celebrate the same holidays, do so in different ways and assign different meanings to our celebrations. It is essential to remember that holidays are a time for joy, but for many of us, holidays also bring up pain, loneliness, grief and struggle. We have to hold all these truths simultaneously and find ways to make sure the holiday season is an opportunity for all of us to reflect our desire and drive to acknowledge and truly see everyone in our community.
There are some really simple ways we can be inclusive of each other during the holidays.
Ask others if and how they celebrate instead of assuming.
Do your own research about holidays that are unfamiliar to you.
Show your interest in and respect for members of our community by asking and attempting the correct pronunciation of any holidays or terms you’re not familiar with.
Share stories from your own traditions.
"Levitation" by Bill Bussey, Provost
During my first week of teaching back in 1980, I asked my eighth-grade class to hand in a two-page review of a book that they had read over the summer. The Bridge to Terabithia was a popular choice, as were authors like Judy Blume and Roald Dahl. There was always the middle schooler back then who tackled something like Future Shock or The World According to Garp. As I shuffled through the pile, a paper covering a 228-page novel entitled Levitation caught my eye and went to the top of the pile.
It took me only a few sentences to realize that I knew this story. About ten summers earlier, when I, too, was a bored teenager, I remember rummaging through a musty basement piled with old stuff, mostly magazines and books. I made off with a bunch of items, one of them a book that had Alfred Hitchcock’s name splashed across the cover. I recalled the book because it included a five-page short story Levitation that was set inside a carnival sideshow. The story ended with a visual that was forever burned into my brain. This little-known brain-burner proved to be the same Levitation that my young student was attempting to pass off as a novel.
Let’s pause here for a moment. The odds that my student would select that short story, clearly chosen for its obscurity and probably dug out from his grandparents’ attic, still boggles my mind. It certainly boggled his when I confronted him about it. He and I had a greater chance of being selected as soloists for the Bolshoi than sharing this experience. And in the nearly forty years in the classroom since that happened, nothing has ever come close to matching that bizarre scenario. He accepted his F on the assignment, read and reviewed a worthy book in the month that followed, and, with time, we put it behind us. Eventually, we both could finally let our guards down and ask each other, “What were the chances?” I couldn’t have wished for a better ending.
My colleagues would agree with me that some of our strongest relationships with students emerge following a contentious situation. Students far more often than not rebound from tough situations with a teacher or coach and often something durable and real soon follows. As parents, it’s important that we support our children during the bleak times. Trust me, they don’t want to let you down; it’s their greatest fear. But it’s equally important that we don’t allow our own words and possibly our initial feelings of shame or resentment unwittingly hinder our children’s ability to reconcile the situation in their own way and at their own chosen speed. Finding common ground with a coach or a teacher you hold a grudge against would be in a child’s eyes akin to treason.
If we can pause and honestly look back on our own lives, we will remember that some of our most challenging childhood moments with adults evolved into meaningful awakenings and relationships. Let’s give our children the opportunity to figure things out for themselves, to own their mistakes, and to move on a little wiser and ultimately with greater confidence.
Save the Date for Grandparents' Day!
Save the Date!
Friday, May 4, 2018
For further information, contact:
Special Events Coordinator Katherine Minevitz
firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-320-7009
"Sleep That Knits up the Raveled Sleave of Care" by Jen Hamilton, Director of Counseling/Licensed Educational Psychologist
"Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."
These words written by Shakespeare more than 400 years ago remind us that, for centuries, we have understood that without adequate sleep, it is very difficult to soothe and nourish our weary minds. Yet when we get stressed or busy, sleep is often the first thing to go. According to a 2015 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, only about 20% of teens are getting 8 hours or more per night. But when adults at Nobles talk about the importance of sleep, many students roll their eyes and cite their packed schedules and large workloads as the reason they cannot get enough shut-eye. Then, they proceed to talk about how exhausted and hungry they are for ways to lower their stress. While I am always eager to roll up my sleeves and work with students on strategies to reduce and cope with stress and anxiety, I frequently explain that before we do that, there is one obvious lever that we can pull that will make the work (both of managing stress and the actual school work) much more manageable: Prioritizing sleep.
It is too easy to say, "I'll get more sleep later, but tonight I need to finish this project," or "I won't be able to fall asleep if I don't finish my work first." However, if a student makes the decision to forego sleep to get work done, a few things happen. First, they have introduced the seductive idea of more time. This can become a very negative and self-perpetuating cycle: Once a student has opened up the possibility that she can create more time by sleeping less, it naturally follows that (in an exhausted state) procrastination will increase, efficiency will decrease (something that normally takes one hour when a student is rested will easily take two when he or she is sleep-deprived) and perhaps most importantly, anxiety will increase and coping skills will be massively reduced.
The most effective way to convince teens that sleep isn't "lost time" is to appeal to their intellectual curiosity and to explain the physiological reasons that sleep is so important. In an assembly earlier this fall, Dr. Hall engaged several prefects and sixies to present (game-show style) some of these facts to the community. One idea offered was that students might not realize that as teenagers, they actually need more, not less, sleep than they did as younger children (the ideal number for peak alertness is actually 9.25 hours for teens aged 13-18, with a range of 8-10 hours being ideal.)
Students may also not realize that when we sleep, a few incredibly important things happen in their brains and bodies:
Our brains prune away all of the unnecessary connections to make room for the new connections that are being laid down (this happens most in the teen years, when the brain's neural pathways are literally reconstructing in an ongoing way.)
The cells comprising the nervous system reorder, which (among other things) impacts metabolic function.
What we learn and practice is consolidated into long-term memory: Information that we take in during the day must be adequately processed during slow-wave and REM sleep. In fact, we continue to learn as we sleep, and sleeping after we learn increases the amount that we retain and understand. (In studies conducted at Harvard Medical School and Trent University in Canada, students were trained to catch a ball attached to a string into a cone-like cup. With practice throughout the day, they were able to increase their accuracy from 50% to 70%. The subjects were re-tested three days later, after either getting adequate sleep or fewer than six hours of sleep per night. For those who got adequate sleep, they found they were able to catch the ball 85% of the time. For those who did not get enough sleep, their performance either did not improve, or actually fell behind.)
Our bodies' levels of stress hormones decrease. Without adequate sleep, we are much more likely to become depressed, stressed, inattentive, and to engage in risk-seeking behaviors.
With adequate sleep, we vastly reduce the likelihood of developing a host of serious physical ailments (including Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's Disease, recurrent headaches, and lowered immunity.) It is also worth noting that both sleep and scheduled down-time are essential for teens' physical and mental well-being. Teens need to process and reflect on big questions around their identities such as "Who am I?" "Where do I belong?" "Who do I want to become?"
In addition to sharing this important information with our teens, another great place to start is to make sure we are setting a good example for our children. (It is hard to have credibility if our kids see us burning the candle at both ends!) When we all commit to getting enough sleep, when we set a non-negotiable cut-off time to wind down and get into bed, we are much more efficient, sharp, mentally and physically healthy, and able to manage stress. We are all in this together!
“The Blessing of (Bad) College News” by Kate Ramsdell, Director of College Counseling
A number of years ago, Dr. Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist and the best-selling author of The Blessing of a B-Minus spoke to Nobles’ faculty, students and the parent/guardian body. Though at the time I was not yet a parent myself, I was captivated by her pragmatic, empathic and often humorous parenting advice—she reminded me of my mother, actually.
As we round the corner into December, a time of year that can evoke a little parenting anxiety with regard to the college process, I turned again to Dr. Mogel for wisdom to share with you—as most of you have a child who is awaiting news about early action and early decision applications. In her article, "Overparenting Anonymous: A 26-step Program for Good Parents Gone Bad," Mogel offers lots of excellent advice. Yet, the following reminders seemed particularly apt regarding the news that is about to make its debut:
Remember that kids are hardy perennials, not hothouse flowers. Let them be cold, wet, or hungry for more than a second and they’ll appreciate the chance to be warm, dry, and fed.
Before you nag, remind, criticize, advise, chime in, preach, or over-explain say to yourself: “W.A.I.T.” or “Why am I talking?” Listen four times more than you talk.
Remember that disappointments are necessary preparation for adult life. When your child doesn’t get invited to a friend’s birthday party, make the team, or get a big part in the play, stay calm. Without these experiences she’ll be ill equipped for the real world.
Don’t be surprised or discouraged when your big kid has a babyish tantrum or meltdown. Don’t confuse sophistication with maturity. Setbacks naturally set them back. They set us back too, but we can have a margarita.
Wait at least 24 hours before shooting off an indignant email to a teacher, coach, or the parent of a mean classmate. …. Sleep on it.
Maintain perspective about school and college choices. Parents caught up in the admissions arms race forget that the qualities of the student rather than the perceived status of the school are the best predictor of a good outcome.
When Mogel wove tales from the stage in Lawrence Auditorium, she deftly captured the notion that we should allow our children to experience “good suffering.” She argued, “If we want our children to learn the skills of good judgment before they leave home, they need to experience good suffering now. This means that parents shouldn’t shield their children from the uncomfortable but normal problems of their adolescence.” She supports a parenting approach that goes something like this:
1. Kid screws up or gets bad news
2. Parent or guardian stands back and waits
3. Kid figures out how to manage the problem
4. Parent sees that giving a chance for a natural consequence to occur allows for growth
In reality, things usually get a little messy somewhere in there, requiring a well of patience. But her point is that we need to allow kids the space to feel and experience the disappointment of bad news—and then be there to help them bounce back.
Someday, I hope my two boys will have the privilege of applying to college. I may or may not still be doing this work, and if I am, I pray that I will take my own advice! Moreover, I hope that I’ll remember Dr. Mogel’s sagacity when she writes: “A paradox of parenting is that if we love our children for their own sake rather than for their achievements, it’s more likely that they will reach their true potential.”
Enjoy the holiday season, and please remember that we in the college office are here to help you celebrate the peaks and manage the valleys of the college process! Please lean on us in the coming month, as we believe our partnership with you and your child is elemental to helping your child reach his or her potential.
Class I Notes
Hope you all had an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving break! It was wonderful to see so many Class I parents at our Social last month. We appreciated all of you coming to make it such an enjoyable event.
December marks the countdown to the end of the first semester, and for our Class I students this means both the final push for the first semester assessments starting the week of December 11 and of course, completing all those remaining college applications!
We have no parent events planned for December. Please mark your calendar for Friday, January 12 for our Class I Winter Parent Coffee.
We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season!
Juls Dixon, (C) 781-710-3861
AE Rueppel, (C) 617-851-3491
Karen Volo, (C) 978-8705489
This is the time of the year when we reflect on that for which we are thankful. On behalf of the Parents’ Association, we want to extend our appreciation and gratitude to our wonderful faculty, staff and administrators for their dedication that they give to the Nobles community each and every day.
In addition, we would like to recognize and thank the many parent volunteers whose effort and hard work this fall have helped to bring our school community together as well as to support our students. Some of the many ways in which the Parents’ Association contributed to the community this semester include:
Raising awareness and money for Achieve at the Saturday Night Lights event as well as the Yard Sale
Volunteering time at a service trip to Cradles To Crayons as well as at the Pie Drive
Volunteering in the Admissions Office
Organizing several all-school gatherings, coffees and socials so that parents could connect with each other
Organizing student surprise breakfasts and lunches
Coordinating arts receptions, sports banquets, weekly walks and workouts, and the parent book group; planning an Italian-inspired lunch for the faculty/staff
Representing Nobles at PIN
Coordinating the Host Program to assist the transition of new families to Nobles
Educating the community on ways in which we can be less wasteful and more green.
The PA has accomplished a lot in four months!
There is no PA meeting this month but we hope you will join us on January 17, 2018 in the Castle Dining Room when our PA meetings resume. Michael Denning, Head of the Upper School, will moderate a panel discussion of Nobles teachers. Joining us will be Kim Libby, teacher of English and Class I Dean; Sue Kemalian, Chair of the Math Department; Dan Halperin, Chair of Performing Arts; Melissa Lyons, middle school history and social science teacher; Amadou Seck, coach, modern language (French) teacher and advisor to the Debate and Model UN Club; Nahyon Lee, History Department Chair; and John Chung, science and math teacher. During our discussion, these educators will talk about education, teaching, and learning as well as why they joined—and remain a part of—the Nobles community.
We wish you a very happy and safe holiday season with your family and friends, and look forward to the year ahead.
Gina Doyle and Izzy Loring
Class IV Notes
Dear Class IV Parents,
We hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving celebrations, and that December is off to a great start! We have a few dates to add to your calendar, as well as important events that we want to highlight.
Monday, December 4, 8:00 a.m.: “Surprise Lunch” planning meeting in the lower dining room of the castle. Every year, each class has a special lunch, hosted by parents/guardians. This lunch is always appreciated by students who enjoy a break in the middle of the semester to do something a little different and fun. Class IV will have their “Surprise Lunch” on February 1. We encourage you to volunteer, either in the planning stages or the day of, or both. We would love to have your help. If you would like to volunteer for the day of, please look for a SignUp Genius in our weekly Friday emails.
Thursday, December 7, 7:00 p.m.: Jazz-Blues-Percussion Concert, Lawrence Auditorium
Monday, December 11, Tuesday, December 12 and Wednesday, December 13: December Assessments. Please note that the exam schedule(s) and location(s) will vary depending on your child’s classes.
Thursday, December 14: Comment Writing Day, no classes.
Friday, December 15: Final Day of the Semester.
Wednesday, January 3: School resumes for the first day of the second semester.
We want to wish all the Class IV families and the entire Nobles community a wonderful winter break! See you all in 2018!
Class II Notes
Dear Class II Parents,
We are counting down the days until the holiday break and the students are busy finishing up the semester and getting ready for assessments. The time has certainly flown. Hard to believe there are only three semesters left of high school for our children!
There are only a few weeks until the fall semester comes to a close. Here are some of the important dates to remember for December:
Saturday, December 2: SAT and SAT Subject Test Date
Saturday, December 9: ACT Test Date
Monday—Wednesday, December 11, 12 and 13: Assessments
Thursday, December 14: Comment Writing Day, no classes
Friday, December 15: Last Day of Fall Semester
Saturday, December 16: Winter Break Begins
Wednesday, January 3: School Reopens.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Wishing you all a happy, safe, and restful holiday break,
Class III Notes
Dear Class III Parents and Guardians,
We hope you all had an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving break!
As we await the holiday break, December also marks the countdown to the end of the first semester, and for our students this means the final push for the mid-term assessments, starting the week of December 11. Good luck to all!
Dec. 11-13: Assessments
Dec. 14: Comment Writing Day. No classes
Dec. 15: Last day of Classes for Fall Semester
Dec. 16: Winter break begins
Jan. 3: School reopens
We do not have any events planned for December but, as we turn the calendar to 2017, we would like to remind you of a few important dates:
Feb. 8: Class III Surprise Lunch—If you are interested in being part of the Planning Committee, we will meet right after the January 17 PA meeting to brainstorm about the theme. Bring lots of ideas, the more the merrier!
Mar. 3: Head of School Dinner and Dance. This annual tradition for Class III students marks the middle of their Nobles high school career. It is particularly special this year, as it will be the first one given by Cathy Hall. Please mark your calendars as attendance is required for all Class III students. We will need many volunteers to both plan the event and help with set up and clean up on the day of the festivities. Our first planning meeting will be held in mid-January, stay tuned for more details.
We want to wish all the Class III families and the entire Nobles community a wonderful winter break and happy holidays! See you all in 2018!
Your Class III Reps.
Sylvia Kuzman Crawford
Middle School Notes
November has been a busy month filled with many fun activities and events, such as Nobles Night, Nobles-Milton weekend, the Fall Dance Concerts and the Middle School Pie Drive. Many thanks to the Pie Drive Committee, including Caroline Ryan, Natalie Willi, Michelle Jennings and Darla Soukas who worked tirelessly to make this such a successful and enjoyable afternoon for students, faculty and parents.
December also promises to be an eventful month. What follows is a comprehensive list of important dates and activities that you might consider attending and noting in your calendar now.
Key Upcoming Events and Dates for December 2017:
Tuesday, December 5: Admissions Open House from 6:30—9p.m. at the main entrance of Shattuck School House. Nobles invites prospective students and their families to come learn about our school.
Thursday, December 7: Jazz Blues Concert at 7 p.m. in Lawrence Auditorium
Monday, December 11—Wednesday, December 13: Assessments. Students will remain in the assessment area—quietly working for one full hour to complete their assessment. Unless it is the nature of the course to be cumulative in nature, (e.g. math, languages) the assessments will NOT be cumulative of all the semester's content. Students with extended time can stay up to 30 minutes additional if needed. Students should be picked up from Pratt Middle School as soon as possible after their last assessment of the day.
The assessment schedule is as follows:
Monday, December 11:
9—10 a.m. Geography & Civics
1—2 p.m. English via Latin and Class V Latin
2:30—4 p.m. Mandatory Class VI Holiday Assembly Practice
Tuesday, December 12:
9—10 a.m. Math
11:30—1 p.m. Mandatory Class VI Holiday Assembly Practice
Wednesday, December 13:
9—10 a.m. Class V English and Sixies taking Class V Latin
1—2 p.m. Science
2:30—4 p.m. Mandatory Class VI Holiday Assembly Practice
Please note: all Middle School modern language assessments will be completed the week prior to assessment week.
Thursday, December 14: Comment Writing Day—School Closed
Friday, December 15: Last day of First Semester.
The schedule is as follows:
8 a.m. Holiday Long Assembly
9:15—11:30 a.m. Mini Classes
11:30—2:45 p.m. Individual Advisor/Advisee Meetings to discuss 2nd quarter grades/comments (students are dismissed after their individual advisor meeting)
3:00 p.m. Faculty Meeting in Forum
Monday, Dec 18 —Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018: Winter Break
School reopens on Wednesday, January 3, 2018.
We wish you all happy holidays and a wonderful 2018!
Class V Reps
Class VI Reps