We were thrilled to have Michael Franti visit our talent show assembly with a special message for the kids to speak their truth, work hard, and be nice to people. We're even more thrilled to share it with all of you on Facebook. Have a wonderful weekend, Bulldogs!
In The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey writes one thing “undergirds and affects the quality of every relationship, every communication…every effort in which we are engaged. That one thing is trust.” While trust traditionally forms the bedrock of all school-family partnerships, it is especially important this school year. From election year politics to social injustices to the pandemic, rarely have we tackled a year like 2020. Uncertainty lies around every corner, and never in my nearly 30 years of independent school education has it been so critically important that schools and families work in partnership to build trust in our communities.
It’s certainly not surprising to know that students learn best when schools and families have robust partnerships. Yet, those partnerships are much harder to develop and nurture in 2020-21 than they were a year ago. Ironically, the health and safety measures we have in place for the purpose of protecting our community result in the distancing of families from in-person connections. If school is in session at all, parents drop off their children in carline or Hug ‘n’ Go, are restricted from entering campus, and can’t participate in natural community-building activities like meeting on the playground after school. Furthermore, intentional community building efforts such as back-to-school gatherings, community socials, and all-school assemblies are also not part of the “new normal.” How, then, will we build the type of community our constituents can depend on?
Over the course of the past six months I have been collecting advice from experts across a variety of fields (education, business, psychology, and more) that will help us build trust in our community. If we consider these suggestions as the year progresses, we’ll have a much better chance at overcoming the obstacles in our way. And, who knows, maybe we’ll emerge a stronger community as a result.
Assume good intentions and operate from the fundamental premise that families and school personnel have their children’s best interests at heart. Put our students at the center of our thinking.
Forgive easily and be empathetic to others. Stress and anxiety levels are high and all of us could use some extra breathing room.
Simplify. At school we are focusing on the core tenets of our education and program. Try this at home as well to lift unnecessary burdens.
Communicate frequently, especially informally. Small gestures of gratitude can have a huge influence on trust building.
Be consistent and authentic as we parent and teach our children. They have an incredible ability to see and feel when something’s not right.
Remember, this is a temporary situation. This, too, shall pass. Be optimistic about the future and think positively.
Don’t forget to play. Our world is full of restrictions; be sure to find time for joy.
Way back in 1997 James Comer and Norris Haynes, Professors at Yale University, wrote an article for Edutopia titled, “The Home-School Team: An Emphasis on Parent Involvement.” In it they remarked, children “constantly observe how the significant adults in their lives treat one another, how decisions are made and executed, and how problems are solved. All the experiences children have, both in and out of school, help shape their sense that someone cares about them, their feelings of self-worth and competency, their understanding of the world around them, and their beliefs about where they fit into the scheme of things.”
As the significant adults in their lives, our job is to deepen our relationships and build our level of trust so that the children we love and the students we serve develop a greater sense of certainty in what are without question uncertain times. If we follow the advice of Comer, Haynes, and others, I am confident we can fulfill Stephen Covey’s assurance that “trust is something [we] can do something about. In fact, [we] can get good at creating it!” Doing so will not only allow us to navigate this school year, but it will also provide a springboard for school-parent partnerships for years to come.
Livi Gray's (Class of 2020) powerful Capstone project, Faces of America, was featured in the August issue of Boulder Lifestyle magazine. We are very proud of the work she did both in her artistry and in using her voice. Great job, Livi!
For several years running, usually around the time reenrollment contracts are due, parents have asked me about investing in PS – 8 education. “College is so expensive,” they say, “Shouldn’t we save our resources when our children are younger so that we can afford to send them to the college of their choice?”
We write to you today with heavy hearts, hurting for those members of our community and the greater world who have and continue to suffer the injustices of systemic racism. We grieve withthe people of color in our community and beyond over the continual loss of lives as a result of an unjust system, and we stand with those who are underrepresented, misrepresented, and disenfranchised, all of whom have far too much experience with prejudice, inaction, and inequality.
The events of the past weeks, beginning with the brutal murder of George Floyd, magnify the urgency of work in social justice, privilege, bias, and identity. While we reflect on and are grateful for the growth our community has experienced in these areas, we acknowledge our shortcomings and recognize we have still have so much more work to do, individually, as a school community, and as a larger, global society.
Today, tomorrow, and for years to come, we understand we must demand more of ourselves. As educators, we have a profound responsibility to work with young people daily in our efforts to dismantle the systemic racism we know exists both within and beyond the borders of our campus. We are and will remain hopeful that a BCD education will empower our students to become future leaders who will work to end racism, prejudice, and discrimination in all of their forms. We invite you to stand with us.
Thank you for your partnership, and please look for an email from Sterling Kranjcec (School Counselor) and Randi Reinhold (Coordinator of Equity and Inclusion) containing resources regarding how to talk about these difficult topics with your children.
John Suitor, Kath Courter, Jill Johnson, Dan Welch, Gabe Hernan, Susan Boyle, Ann-Marie Tewey, and Julie Griffith
We are so proud of the 4 BCD alumni featured in this video project by the Wunder Collective (headed by BCD alumna Kristian Moley) about inspiring, young change makers. Sydney, Ruthie, Reese, and Elizabeth share their 8th grade Capstone projects and their passions. Well done, Bulldogs!
Good citizenship is the most important lesson Boulder Country Day teaches because good citizens become great leaders. This year, I had the chance to interview four graduating 8th Graders, all of whom will wow us one day. They will end their BCD careers this week presenting their capstone projects which focus on community service. In the midst of a pandemic, when self-management becomes mandatory and expectations become lax, these four students maintained their commitment. They have taken the opportunity to do good despite having several doors close in their face including the one that connects them with the world.
I hope you watch and consider their stories. I hope you’re inspired. I hope you know the future is bright. And I hope you make a choice to do more good, if for no other reason than because it is such an easy one to make.
On the beautifully sunny morning of Friday, May 22nd, Boulder Country Day School celebrated the graduation of their 8th grade students in a very unique way. Families, including loved ones living far and near, joined a graduation Zoom where speeches were made, students celebrated, and promotion awarded. Students and their families then came to campus and lined the parking lot facing toward the school, spaced in accordance with social distancing guidelines. The ceremony was performed from the front lawn by loud speaker by Head of School, John Suitor. From their cars, often poking out of their sunroofs, the graduates enjoyed stories from their years spent at BCD. To close the event, each student was ‘called forward’ to receive their diploma and other tokens of celebration. As the families exited the parking lot, they were waved off by teachers and other BCD families lined up along Nautilus Court as they drove through their final carline at BCD. While different, it was a spectacular morning that no one will forget.
On May 18th, BCD 3rd grade teacher, Amanda Demler, rode her bike 85 miles to visit all 13 of her students at home. She left her home at 7:00am and rode from house to house on a trip that included 7 hours of riding and 5 hours of socializing from a distance.
While her students know of her athletic abilities, when the idea of a bike ride to every single house first came up on a class Zoom meeting, they were unsure. “That is very far!,” said Ryan Welch.
Demler, who has been a teacher at BCD for 16 year, says, “All of my students know that I have a passion for endurance sports. So I asked myself, why not?” As a 12-timed competitor in Wisconsin’s notorius Birkebeiner race, a 55K ski marathon, she has exemplified for her students what passion and commitment look like.
“This epic adventure was not only a way for me to see the smiles of my students and drop off a card and treats, but a way to show them that they too can do great things to inspire even in the middle of a pandemic. No matter what storm you go through you should use your talents to pitch in and make things better for someone else,” says Demler.
Thank you Ms. Demler for making a difference and thank you to all our teachers who have gone the extra mile this spring. You’re the best!
Beginning on March 30th, BCD will launch ‘Bulldogs Connect,’ our distance learning initiative. Since March 13th, our faculty has collaborated virtually, working our hearts out for our students and families, to design a distance learning program that we hope will serve them well. For our teachers, their classrooms and their community of students are their world. Having to teach from a distance runs counter to what they know and love: connecting with students and families on a deeply personal level. They are extremely enthusiastic to maintain this positive community and connection and cannot wait to go ‘live’ with the rollout of our Bulldogs Connect, on Monday, March 30th.
We recognize that our parents and guardians are critical partners in this process and it will take a collective effort to ensure we are successful. We also understand that many parents are feeling overwhelmed and under skilled for what lies ahead. Please know we are here to support you in any capacity. There will certainly be bumps in the road and practicing patience, kindness and positivity will be essential for all of us.
Congratulations to Kath Courter, Head of BCD's Preschool, and our fabulous preschool faculty for being recognized by Colorado Shines with a quality rating of 4. Among 8 local competitor Preschools, BCD received the HIGHEST!
Each year, Boulder Country Day School welcomes artists-in-residence to work with students from Preschool through 8th grade for a week-long, deep dive share of their passions and skills that creates an environment of collaboration and inspiration for their community. All art blocks for the week are taught by visiting artist and will culminate in end project in mediums ranging from musical performances, to dance, to ceramics to paintings. Students will share their projects with our grandfriends who will attend Grandfriends Day on Friday, March 13th.
Embracing the arts throughout the year and in various capacities is a priority for Boulder Country Day School and we revel in taking a special week each year to celebrate them. “We believe the Arts are a vital and necessary part of our curriculum, and the evidence shows that students who receive a robust arts education are better prepared to engage in the critical issues facing our world today,” John Suitor, BCD Head of School.
“Art Education is important in school because in art we work on our critical thinking skills; creativity is as important as literacy in today’s world. To be successful in life you need to have great ideas. You need to be able to communicate those ideas and that is what we do in art. We are learning how to find solutions to creative problems,” Londa Bevins, BCD K-8 Art Teacher.
This year’s visiting Artists include:
Working with PS: Kaleidoscope Music Studio – KMS promotes fine motor skills, feeling the music with movement, listening with your heart and ears, how to sit still, how to play a game, how to listen/take turns/accept help, how to play instruments & how to have FUN!
Working with K-2: Todd Redmond– Potter and clay-artist, Todd Redmond, has previously worked with BCD middle school students during BCD Arts Week. This year Mr. Redmond will work with K-2 students.
Working with 3-5:Cathy Faughnan, modern impressionist painter, will share her techniques for painting everything from landscapes to creatures to people.
Working with MS: Kutandara, the Boulder-based Zimbabwean marimba dance organization will enchant middle schoolers with custom workshops filled with playing, singing, and dancing.
BCD students will also have the chance to show off their artwork from this school year to their parents at an evening Student Art Show held on Thursday, March 12th from 4:30pm - 6:00pm in teh Middle School Activity Room.
On February 26th, our Athletic Director and CU Women's Basketball alumna, Randie Wirt, attended the 2020 Inclusive Sport Summit hosted by the CU athletic department. What a great opportunity for both Coach Wirt and our school to benefit from such a wonderful institution right on our doorstep.
We love this! In 8th grade health class student did something called The Compliment Project. Students take turns sitting with their backs to the whiteboard while their classmates write compliments about them. The students are studying social-emotional health and learning how we thrive when we feel a sense of love and belonging. This is the third year this activity has been done in this class and the kids LOVE it. They love to write as much as receive the compliments. They are often overwhelmed with emotions when they read what their classmates say.
A group of BCD 7th and 8th graders were invited to participate in the ACE Scholarship School Choice Civics Day. They had the opportunity to sit on the House floor while they were in session, tour the Capitol building, meet the Representative for Boulder County, Edie Hooton, and have a quick meeting with Governor Jared Polis. BCD was one of six schools who had the opportunity to participate.
On January 30th, Boulder Country Day middle school students participated in the annual Model United Nations exercise. In teams, students represented a member country by researching it, writing resolutions on current issues it faces, and defending those resolutions at a gathering called the MUN General Assembly. Through this process, students learned about international relations, developed empathy, and gained a better understanding of how issues across the world affect us all. As an authorized IB Middle Years Program (MYP), BCD uses this curricular enhancement to support the IB goal of developing globally minded students.
‘It helps you to be more aware of the world around you so that you know more than just what’s happening the U.S. - you know about the entire world. It also teaches you that history effects everything and it’s not just something you learn because you have to.’
On February 25 from 6:30pm - 8:00pm, Jenny Hecht will speak at BCD. Based on the work of Dan Peters, Jenny will lead a convesration through which we will explore the twelve primary causes of anxiety in gifted individuals, including those specifically connected to correlating overexcitabilities and will offer ideas and skills to support those struggling with them. This will be a talk however you are welcome to bring your child along so that s/he can learn tips to manage their anxieties and advocate for themselves more effectively. This event is brought to BCD by the Boulder Valley Gifted and Talented organization (BVGT.)
About Jenny: Jenny Hecht is a local Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in the area of gifted children, among others. She has a passion for supporting the specific social-emotional needs of gifted individuals, particularly the existential dilemma so many face beginning at a very young age. She is also a certified yoga instructor.
During the week of January 7th – 10th, all BCD middle school students participated in the BCD Seminar. The BCD Seminar is modeled after the Aspen Institute Seminar and is intended as an opportunity for BCD students to stretch their intellectual thinking. With over 60 years of experience, the Aspen Institute Seminar is designed to help people of all ages and walks of life to reflect upon the most important questions facing us as human beings and as leaders.
Each night, BCD students were assigned texts by various authors, both ancient (including Aristotle) and current (including J.K. Rowling). The texts were used to prompt students to think about complex human issues such as: Is goodness something that is in humans or is it something that needs to be taught and learned? Is it something we as humans are born with or must choose to act on? In-school discussion were then led by guest moderators, Todd Breyfogle, Director of Seminars for the Aspen Institute, and Allyson Sudbourough, Teacher Effectiveness Coach for Denver Public Schools.
As you can see, the texts present some really big concepts. Students were advised that while the texts are difficult, to not be discouraged because Seminar is intended to be a laboratory in which—together—they will try to figure out what the texts say and mean, both on their own terms and for us as humans today. They were also reminded that seminar discussions thrive on questions. So, very often it is the seemingly simplest questions that can provoke the most meaningful discussions.
Students began the seminar by examining the painting of “Icarus” who is seen plunging into the water after his wings have melted. The bystanders seem unfazed by Icarus’ fall and do not appear to be making any effort to rescue him. An open discussion of human nature then began on whether or not Icarus should be saved. The conversations remained lively from there on out.
Moderator Todd Breyfogle shared that his discussion of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (on friendship) with the BCD 7th grade students was one of the best he had ever had, with students OR adults! This is quite a compliment coming from the Director of Seminars at the Aspen Institute. There seemed to be a sense of pride in our students as they realized they could read, understand, and discuss Aristotle. Another thing our moderators and Mr. Welch noticed was how BCD students appreciated the opportunity to discuss big topics that do not necessarily have a right or wrong answer are not designed to lead to any particular conclusion, by rather serves to stretch themselves intellectually and challenge them personally.
“BCD students are remarkably capable. They devoured a dense selection from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and were ready to engage in conversation, armed with questions and opinions. It was one of the best conversations I’ve had on Aristotle’s understanding of friendship, whether with adults or younger people.”
–Todd Breyfogle, PhD, Managing Director, Seminars, The Aspen Institute
At the end of the week, students created personal mission statements or wrote letters to their future selves about some of the important things they had learned about themselves from the process.
We hope the seminar experience of deep learning through community discussion will remain a meaningful touchstone for these students for many years to come. We would also like to extend special thanks to alumni parent former board member, Jay Orris of Peak to Peak Management, for bringing this opportunity to BCD many years ago and for his ongoing support of the program.
Personal experience statement by Mills, 7th grade.
I thought the Middle School Seminar would be an interesting way to learn about morals and ethics, but also learn about my classmates’ opinions and ideology. I ended up learning those things in addition to learning about human inclinations when someone is in trouble. It was interesting to hear what my classmates thought about whether humans are by nature good or bad. We read a very moving autobiographical piece by George Orwell, called “Shooting an Elephant”. It ignited an hour-long conversation about whether shooting the elephant in the story was morally right, even if Orwell feared for his life if he didn’t kill the elephant. We also discussed a painting portraying Icarus flailing and drowning in the Aegean Sea, as onlookers refused to help. This initiated a conversation about whether humans are born good or bad, or whether it’s a learned behavior. I found this conversation interesting and was intrigued by my classmates’ thoughts.
I was positively impacted by the experience of sharing our thoughts. The Middle School Seminar was inspiring and gave me lasting insights into my peers, human nature, history and the world as a whole.
Texted used in 2020 BCD Seminar
6th grade: Risk and Reflection
Session 1: What is our nature?
Intro, Painting (Icarus)
Plato, “Ring of Gyges” (shortened version)
Session 2: What is success?
Ayyappa Paniker, "Horse Play" (Poem)
Sandra Cisneros “Eleven”
Session 3: What is resilience?
J.K. Rowling "The Fringe Benefits of Failure"
“An Unlucky Man?” A Tale from Nigeria
7th grade: Commitment and Community
Session 1: What is our nature?
Intro, Painting (Icarus)
Mencius, On Human Nature (short excerpt)
Session 2: What do we commit to?
“Story of Fire” A Sufi Tale
George Orwell “Shooting an Elephant”
Session 3: How do we live together?
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (on Friendship)
Luther Standing Bear, “Indian Wisdom”
8th grade: Courage and Purpose
Session 1: What is our nature?
Intro, Painting (Icarus)
Chuang Tzu, “Woodcarver”
Session 2: What gives us Purpose?
“Seneca: On the Shortness of Life” Translated by John W. Basore
Chimamanda Adichie, “Danger of a Single Story”
Session 3: What gives us Courage?
“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” Ursula K. Le Guin