BCD is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 2023. We started with an assembly that included a lively performance by Mariachi Los Viajeros De Denver and recognition and education around famous Hispanic figures by the Middle School Student Council. Mr. Lopez, BCD's Coordinator of Equity and Community Engagement, also compiled stories from some of our students captured in the below video. As the month continues, so will our engagement of students in celebrating and honor Hispanic heritage.
It was a beautiful ceremony for the Class of 2023—filled with heartfelt "thank yous," "goodbyes," and "until next times." We wish our graduates the best of luck in their next adventure. They are an amazing group of people who we know will go on to do great things and bring their own unique excellence to whatever it is they choose to tackle. AND, they were the last graduating class to get their picture taken in front of the classic castle play structure. Congratulations and don't forget to come back and see us, Bulldogs! You will be missed.
"I enjoyed so many things in DC. One thing I particularly enjoyed was Mount Vernon because it was cool to see where George Washington lived. Another memorable thing was all the memorials, because it was cool to see how people were honored. I learned a lot about the history and culture of different people and places during all the museums, which was really fun. Overall I made so many fun memories during the trip that I will never forget."
"I think that my favorite parts about Washington DC were getting to visit all of the museum and getting to see all sorts of interesting things. I also liked touring Mount Vernon because of the interesting history."
"Last week our eighth grade class went to Washington DC for the week. We explored a lot of famous landmarks and locations, such as the Natural History Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. My favorite place was the Air and Space Museum because there were many interesting exhibits to look at and people to meet. The most meaningful place was the Holocaust Museum because it was so interesting and the exhibits were very immersive."
"I enjoyed going to the capital. I liked seeing all of the places inside and going on the tour. I learned that depending on if the flag is up on a certain side that the house or the senate is in a meeting. I loved hanging out with my friends and seeing all of the museums. I made so many great memories and had an amazing time."
This spring’s issue of the BCD Magazine highlights some of the students and alumni who we think represent the attributes outlined in the Portrait of the Graduate. In a sense, they are some of the best examples of students whom we’ve helped to “discover their excellence.” You’ll note from their stories that we choose to define excellence broadly, beyond the traditional academic to include leadership, service, social justice, and more.
On Thursday, April 20th at 8:15am we held the Groundbreaking Ceremony for our new Dining Commons and Center for Innovative Learning.
“Our new Center for Innovative Learning will spark collaboration among the arts and technology, accelerating our student experience beyond the norm and placing BCD at the forefront of creativity in the Boulder Valley and beyond,” John Suitor, BCD Head of School.
“The Commons Building will be a thriving hub for our community. As a place for parent coffees, meetings, and a home for small gatherings, we will have a physical space to grow and support our Bulldog spirit,” Julie Griffith, BCD Director of Development.
On April 4, 2023, BCD will host the first Day of Affinity for BIPOC students. Fifth through 8th grade students from various Boulder-area and Denver-area independent schools will join together for a day designed to help BIPOC students to feel loved, empowered, and celebrated. We are grateful to our faculty and staff who serve on our DEI committee for their hard work on this project. Special thanks and congratulations to the 8th grade student pictured here who used his Capstone project to initiate and coordinate this event. He is holding the bottle he designed for students to take home. Well done!
Last week was Arts Week at BCD and our campus came alive with the thrill of artist energy and the anticipation of spring. Each year we welcome visiting artist to work with students in all grades from preschool through middle school. Students experience a fresh perspective on art forms ranging from music to theatre to visual art.
“What are you doing here?” Unclear, I responded “Waiting for math class like everyone else.” “But what are you doing HERE?” he asked once again. Confused, I repeated the same answer. Now visibly upset and frustrated at my lack of understanding, he speaks much slower and in an exaggerated tone and asks, “No, but what did you do to get in HERE?” All I could answer with was a bewildered look. Later that semester in middle school it was made clear to me that what my fellow classmate really meant to ask was, “how did an immigrant get into an advanced math class?”
This was one of countless experiences that remind me I am often seen as an “other.” Whether the cause is the color of my skin, my home language, or my immigration status, these microaggressions can be exhausting and at times, debilitating. Microaggressions are “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to people of color because they belong to a racial minority group.” (Sue et al., 2007)
In studying the psychological experience of students of color, Michael Thompson and Kathy Schultz write, “The psychological price for being a minority student in a majority-white school is often heavy.” (Thompson & Shultz, n.d.)
They further write “six particularly difficult psychological experiences which most-not all” students of color face in independent schools (Thompson & Shultz, n.d.):
Racial visibility and social invisibility
Class and cultural discomfort among white parents and administrators
The burden of explaining oneself to white people
The challenge of completing studies at demanding schools with minimal parent participation
The burden of having to feel grateful all the time.
I am intimately familiar with these psychological pressures and while it may sound counterintuitive, I am grateful for having experienced them. These psychological pressures, while difficult and dehumanizing, have provided me with a framework for supporting BIPOC students today.
Throughout my career in education, my lived experiences have informed my efforts to be the person students need. When I was a science teacher focusing on states of matter, I brought maseca so that my newcomers and emerging English language learners could connect to the lesson in a culturally relevant way. When my students of color were receiving harsher consequences than their white peers for the same behaviors, I was able to advocate for them and help them understand they were not alone.
It seems only natural that my journey would bring me to Boulder Country Day School to be a part of the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. I take pride in our school’s mission to help support students in becoming responsible, globally aware citizens. To aid in this process, we lean on The Social Justice Standards from Learning For Justice. The standards are broken down into four domains, Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action. Within each domain, there are five outcomes which I like to refer to as goals or objectives. These standards provide an age appropriate road map for teachers to use in the classroom. As an example of how these standards play out in the classroom, one of our teachers is currently in a unit on human reproduction. This teacher adopted the various domains from the standards and incorporated the reality that mothers of color face in the healthcare industry. After discussions on equity and social justice, students are completing presentations on initiatives they would implement in hospitals to ensure a person’s cultural background is taken into account.
Beyond the classroom, we are busy organizing an event that will bring 5th-8th grade BIPOC students from the Boulder and Denver areas together for a day of affinity. The goal is for our students to feel loved, celebrated, and empowered through facilitated affinity spaces and breakout sessions. This effort was driven by one of our 8th grade students whose community service project is to bring BIPOC students together. When I asked this student what the purpose is, he responded, “I want them to know they are not alone.” I couldn’t help but recognize myself in this student and acknowledge the psychological experiences they are going through.
I am humbled by the work our teachers do day in and day out, one social justice conversation or lesson at a time. When we open up the space for these conversations and lessons, we continue to undo the impact of inequity and enable all of our students to feel empowered.
Author, Gabriel Lopez, BCD’s Coordinator of Equity and Community Engagement
The middle school years are arguably the most important years in a child’s education. The combination of changing bodies, developing minds, and complex social dynamics create a vortex of possibilities where children – if not led, supported, challenged, and inspired – can quickly become invisible, their growth held back due to missed opportunities or misplaced intention.
In the most ideal circumstances middle schools aren’t in the middle at all. Rather, middle school students are “top dogs,” the oldest and most respected members of their student community. One of the reasons I believe so strongly in BCD’s PS – 8th grade model is that our oldest students become the natural leaders of our school. They are athletes, members of student council, leaders in their Bulldog Families (comprising one student from each grade, PS – 8th), and mentors. They develop a sense of responsibility for our school culture, uninfluenced by the high school milieu, which creates more reflective, thoughtful, and grounded human beings.
To be sure there are times when the not fully developed frontal lobe of a middle school student’s brain gets in the way of what we would think of as a reasoned decision. That’s OK. They make mistakes just like we do. In the hands of a highly competent faculty and staff, middle schoolers who make mistakes emerge stronger and more fortified for later years when the stakes are higher and the consequences greater.
The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) bolsters student academic and social-emotional growth. Its focus on international mindedness helps our students understand the world is bigger than the “Boulder Bubble” and more complex than it might first appear. The best example of the impact of the MYP that I know is to ask the following question: How much time do teens spend online every day? Often folks respond with 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours. Maybe…if you are only thinking about U.S. teenagers. The real answer is approximately 60% of teens across the world don’t have any access at all. Opening the perspective of our pre-teens and teens is frequently enough for them to know they are part of a much larger global picture, part of something much larger than themselves.
Schools like BCD with small class sizes, caring and committed faculty, and focus on self advocacy help create high schoolers who are eager to excel. They sit at the front of the class, they ask questions, and, having learned how to learn, they produce outstanding educational outcomes. Among our recent graduates, 80% made their high school’s honor roll, over 90% participated in high school athletics, and 60% participated in meaningful community service above and beyond what their schools require. Colleges and universities often claim their incoming classes lack proficiency in writing and BCD is bucking that trend. Our middle schoolers outperform their peers in suburban public school districts and other independent schools on the WrAP, one of the most competitive writing assessments in the nation.
Ultimately, middle school students are best served at schools where nurture (love), structure (limits), and latitude (the ability to roam within those limits) carry the day, where middle school students shine as the top dogs, and where they are known and valued for exactly who they are. Whatever you choose for them, avoid the “muddle in the middle” at all costs. It’s sure to be worth the investment.
This event will include a screening of the film This Is [NOT] Who We Are followed by a Q & A session with the film's director. We are pleased to be able to support this important film and continue the discussion it has generated in the Boulder community and beyond.
Boulder, Colorado, prides itself on being beautiful, welcoming, and inclusive. However, in 2019, racially-charged and dangerous policing involving a Black university student made national news. The documentary film, This Is [Not] Who We Are, explores the gap between Boulder’s self-image and the more complex lived experiences—both historical and contemporary—of its Black citizens.
Black people have lived in Boulder continuously for nearly 150 years, but their history is not well known. Black families faced discrimination in housing, employment, education, health care, criminal justice, and social activities. By the 1920’s, Boulder had become a rallying point for the Ku Klux Klan. In the 1970s employment and housing opened up, but many problems remain. Although the particulars of Boulder’s history are unique, its social trajectory into the 21st century is nevertheless emblematic of many cities across the country that struggle to reconcile their liberal politics with the reality of their communities.
This is [Not] Who We Are braids the lived experiences of Black characters ranging in age from 12 to 78. Some stories are searing, while others are hopeful. The film seeks to open a space for dialogue among Boulderites and about cities like Boulder, overwhelmingly white, wealthy, and conflicted about issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Is a more economically and racially diverse future possible, both in Boulder and in cities like it across America?
This morning’s assembly was full of honor for Dr. Martin Luther King and the work our teachers and students have been doing around diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Second and fifth grade representatives shared the land acknowledgement they have created for BCD. They spoke eloquently about our need to take responsibility for educating ourselves and to acknowledge the history of this land and the peoples that have resided here before us. Then middle school students from the student initiated All Voices Are Heard student organization shared Dr. King’s story with the student body followed by the presentation of student group art projects featuring Dr. King quotes. Lastly, we were honored to have Minister Glenda Strong-Robinson to present to our community. Minister Glenda told of personal stories and affects the Civil Rights Movement has had in her lifetime and asked us to receive the torch she would like to pass on. We must take care of each other and love our neighbors as ourselves she implored. So, not just on this holiday in his honor, but on all days, let us remember the work of Dr. King and those who came before us as we strive to be the example in a world where all neighbors take care of each other.
Our students did a wonderful job and we would like to extend special thanks to our guest speaker, Minister Glenda Strong-Robinson, as well as all our teachers, especially Mr. Lopez, Ms. Bevins, Ms. Deuble, Ms. Woodring, Mr. Lacrampe and Ms. Mar.
BCD will hold our Days of Giving on November 15th & 16th. We are committing two days to achieve one goal. That goal is 100% participation in the BCD Fund. The BCD Fund is our primary fundraising initiative and supports Professional Growth, Diversity & Inclusion, Student Experience, and Financial Assistance. Let’s rally together and raise the funds that show our students, faculty, and staff how much we support them!