T H E M AG A Z I N E F O R A L U M N I , FA M I L I E S , A N D F R I E N D S
Mini-term: Under the Bement Big Top Meet the Wilsons In the Swim at Bement
The lower school celebrates Valentine’s Day with a dress-down day (providing one wears a red or pink top) and an all-lower school photo in the shape of a heart. It’s not easy to wrangle this many children into position for a photo, but Mr. Henry managed to get everyone’s attention from the balcony to make it work!
The year of sorbet A year ago, the Bement Bulletin was about bidding farewell to Shelley and Rob Jackson as they set forth to New York City, where Shelley founded the New York International School. This issue welcomes Christopher Wilson, of Esperanza Academy, as he assumes the headship of Bement. In the year in between, we had sorbet. Andy Beall P’15, chair of the Head of School Search Committee, coined that term for me, and it has stuck. This issue should illustrate that the metaphor is accurate. Bement had sixteen productive, constructive years under Shelley’s compassionate stewardship, and the careful work of the search committee has identified Chris as the next steward who can build upon all that has been established at Bement. Meanwhile, sorbet kept the place humming and asking itself questions and leaving it as neat and tidy as he possibly could for the next head of school. I think the array of activities and the gallery of photographs in this issue will assure you that while leadership was being shifted, the essential Bement has continued to function as well as it ever has. The commitment to reading books persists in KBAR, reading buddies, and Battle of the Books. Warm, supportive relationships between students and teachers can easily be seen in Ms. Wetherby’s celebratory cakes. Bement’s interest in the world beyond itself is evident in the Syrian hat project and more recently the well-attended banquets in Seoul, Beijing, and Shanghai when Kim Loughlin P’18, FA, Kate Loughlin ’18, Leif Riddington P’18 ’20, FA, and I visited with international students and their families in their hometowns. We often use the metaphor of family when describing Bement, and the heartfelt commendations for former trustee David Neumeister PTT, P’98, and retiring faculty members remind us that Bement is nothing more than the devoted people who have given their service to it. The other metaphor that guided us at Bement this year was that of being a giraffe! According to the understanding we adopted, giraffes keep the big picture
in view, care for others, and stick their necks out. I watched students in both the lower and upper schools stick their necks out daily as they learned to help one another with challenges and difficulties. In fact, every day at lower school lunch Mrs. Mullens asked, “Are there any giraffes today?” Students would announce giraffe achievements, and if we had no giraffes yet, Mrs. Mullens would remind them, “There’s still a lot of day left to be a giraffe.” We had a lot more spontaneous giraffes in June than we did in September! If I have one urgent recommendation to the school as I leave town, it is to heed Ms. Keddy’s advice about pausing and pondering. “In meditation, we give ourselves the space to develop a relationship with time, and the experiences we have in minutes seem as if they ought to have taken days to become.” I hope Bement continues to thrive because the adults and the children pause, contemplate, make thoughtful choices, and then pursue their decisions deliberately and confidently. I thoroughly enjoyed my year at Bement in the role of head of school, but now I eagerly look forward to what will happen next and following bulletins from Bement.
FRANK HENRY PTT, P’05 ’08 Interim Head of School
contents FA L L 2 0 1 6
The Bement Bulletin is published yearly by the communications office for current and past parents, alumni, grandparents, and friends of The Bement School.
FE A TUR E S
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
Meg Britton Clark P’17, FA WRITERS
Sara Becton Ardrey P’22 ’24, FA Dave Belcher P’05, FA Marcia Bernard FA Ken Cuddeback FA Tom Easton FA Dean Fusto P’17, FA Alice Gearhart FA Frank Henry PTT, P’05 ’08, IHOS Amie Keddy FA Emily Lent Hemingway FA Dorothy Milne PF Theresa Mullens P’99, FA Martha Price P’07 ’10, FA Louise Smith P’95 ’97, FA Deborra Stewart-Pettengill P’01 ’03, FA
UNDER THE BEMENT BIG TOP
ARE YOU A GIRAFFE?
Meg Britton Clark P’17, FA Emily Lent Hemingway FA Amie Keddy FA Kimberly Loughlin P’18, FA DESIGNER
Penny Michalak P’14
IN THE SWIM AT BEMENT
Ben Bensen P’86 ’92 ’98 ’01 ’02, FA Ross Feitlinger FA Tim Young ’61, FA KEY GB ’00 TT PTT P GP FA PF FR HOS IHOS FHS GGP
Alumna/us from Grace Bement era (1925-1947) Alumna/us Class Year Trustee Past Trustee Parent Grandparent Current Faculty or Staff Past Faculty or Staff Friend of Bement Head of School Interim Head of School Former Head of School Great Grandparent
stay connected Bement is on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter @BementSchool
Follow us on Instagram
MEET THE WILSONS
A D D I TI ONA L
TIME AND THE ODDBALL
F E A T U R E S
34 Alumni Spotlight
36 Ninth Grade at Bement
D E PA R TM E N T S
6 @ Bement 11 Board of Trustees 42 Faculty & Staff Notes
6 Class Notes 4 50 Notes from the Alumni and Development Office 51 Business Report
LOOK FOR THIS SYMBOL FOR ADDITIONAL CONTENT ONLINE.
a year in pictures @BEMENT 2015-2016 First Day of School SEPT. 10
Candidate Visits LATE SEPT.
Parents Day OCT. 9
Hat Day OCT. 31
Gettysburg OCT. 29
Physics Class NOV. 19
Holiday Tea DEC. 16
Swim Meet FEB. 15
Grace Bementâ€™s Birthday
Colonial Ball FEB. 26
Biography Fair MARCH 3
Spring Fling MAY 6
Lacrosse Champs MAY 14
Fall Bazaar OCT 24
HOS Announcement OCT. 13
Field Hockey Jamboree OCT. 17
Giving Tuesday DEC. 1
Gingko Day OCT. 19
Dartmouth Aires DEC. 9
MLK Day JAN. 18
Skating Party JAN. 17
Ninth Grade to the DR JANUARY
Sledding FEB. 9
Dr. Seuss Day MARCH 4
Surprise Visitors APRIL 1
Pringles Challenge APRIL 13
A Grand Day MAY 27
Memorial Day MAY 30
Commencement JUNE 10
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 5
BY T H E N U M B E R S
on the move Just as Grace Bement envisioned, we are still a school full of hardy, active learners. Bementers cross the campus and climb the stairs many times each day, augmenting the exercise they receive from daily physical education classes and athletics!
steps for the third grade PE class to walk over to Deerfield Academy’s track
2 RECESSES PER DAY for grades K-3, 1 recess per day for everyone else
for Ms. Burnham’s first grade to get from Keith Schoolhouse to the library
steps for boarding students to reach the dining hall from their dormitories at the north end
UP & DOWN
STAIRS each day for our upstairs Drakesters and 16 daily trips on average for Mr. Bensen!
jog for upper school athletes from the Kittredge Building to the north end athletic fields
355 steps for parents to navigate to six upper school conferences in the Kittredge Building
SYRIAN HAT PROJECT Early this winter, Mr. Bensen began wearing a fringed, fleece hat around campus. If you asked him about it, he was happy to show you how easily it was constructed: a single piece of felt, folded, snipped, and stitched. In addition to being easily constructed, it was also warm, and Mr. Bensen and Mrs. Pennock saw the opportunity for a craft project to become a simple gift. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Pennock, the students of the upper school community service group spent an afternoon folding, measuring, and cutting pieces of colorful fleece into what would become more than 100 hats for Syrian refugees in our area. The following week, the community service group was joined by students from the Drake Building to make the simple stitches, cut the fringe, and turn their pieces of fleece into finished hats. Much like an old-fashioned sewing bee, the students worked happily together, and the work was completed more quickly than anyone expected! The next step was to deliver the hats to the mosque at the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts in West Springfield. Having packed the hats into a large box, the community service group set out one Friday afternoon to make the delivery. At the mosque, they were given a tour and learned how Muslims worship and attend school there. “Delivering the hats to the mosque in person was a great way for our students to connect service to a current event,” said history teacher and community service leader, Katrina Spicer-Lindquist. “To discover there could be an Islamic school, just as there might be a Catholic or Hebrew school, was surprising to the students.” Making hats to warm those in need presented a perfect winter term opportunity for lower and upper school students to work and learn together. All thanks to the warm hearts of Mrs. Pennock and Mr. Bensen, who may have just started another Bement tradition with this effort!
MAKE YOUR OWN SYRIAN HAT AT BEMENT.ORG/HAT.
Celebrating on a Celebrating on a High Note High Note Upon reaching ninth grade, students at Bement look forward to certain privileges: to drink hot cocoa in the dining hall, to petition for dress down Fridays, to be celebrated at Farewell Evening. But among the special honors bestowed upon ninth graders, there is an even rarer reward, only for members of Anna Wetherby’s string orchestra. Several years ago, Tommy Song ’14, then a ninth grade cello player, mentioned his upcoming birthday during strings class. Birthdays can be a challenging time to be away from home for a boarding student, as anyone can imagine. It wasn’t that his birthday wasn’t celebrated—we celebrate with bookmarks, singing, and a cake at dinner in the dining hall—Bement is home, too, after all. But we can all understand that sometimes it’s that special cake that Mom or Dad made just for you that elevates a birthday. Enter Ms. Wetherby, who baked Tommy a cake. Not just any cake, a personal cake, and a tradition was born. Each year, Ms. Wetherby bakes a personal cake for her ninth grade orchestra members’ birthdays. Sometimes students make very clear “suggestions” about their cake. Robert Stark ’15 wanted a loaf of bread for his “cake.” Many let Ms. Wetherby surprise them with her interpretation of their personality crafted from flour, sugar, and butter. As
ninth graders work throughout the year to find their voice, Ms. Wetherby is sometimes inspired by their ninth grade self-portrait boards. The flowers on Isobel Mackinnon ’16’s board made a reappearance on her birthday cake. The many-layered images on the board of Lily Beaubien ’14 inspired a many, many layered cake. Most cakes are chocolate, unless the student has a different preference. Victoria Bagley ’16, not being a fan of chocolate, received a beautiful berry-filled pavlova. Has anyone ever declined? “No. It’s birthday cake,” says Ms. Wetherby. Ms. Wetherby’s drive to create a fitting cake for each orchestra member doesn’t keep her from attempting challenging baking techniques. Caramel cages and spun sugar have adorned several creations, and this year brought a successful experiment with a checkerboard cake for chess player, Eli Ji ’16. And yes, Ms. Wetherby admits on occasion there is a failure: “Min Ju Lee’s first cake had mousse-filled swirls which didn’t set properly. When I unmolded it, it basically melted all over my feet. The class enjoyed the mess…but I made her another cake.”
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 7
MASSACHUSETTS CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD (MCBA)
BATTLE OF THE BOOKS For the last four years, Ms. Bernard has led Bement readers into the Battle of the Books. The Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (MCBA) program is a voluntary reading program sponsored by Salem State University. Each year, librarians across the state nominate books representing a diverse range of reading levels and genres, resulting in a 25-book reading list designed to promote reading for pleasure in grades 4, 5, and 6. Participants must read five nominated books to be eligible to vote for their favorite in March, and the state winner is announced in April. Bement’s MCBA program kicked off with an assembly in the library, where Ms. Bernard introduced students to this year’s book list and the activities leading to the climactic Battle of the Books in early March. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Ms. Bernard posted a T-Day trivia question, culled from one of the books, at the circulation desk in the library. Solving weekly trivia questions helped competitors stockpile
the kinds of details they would need to recall from their readings for the Battle of the Books. On Tuesday afternoons, the MCBA Book Club gathered in Mrs. Mullens’ room to read and discuss each book. A highlight of winter term was the opportunity to Skype with Nan Marino, author of Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace. In February, the Battle of the Books began in earnest. In preparation, Bement’s seven teams read 510 total books. Every student in fourth and fifth grade read at least five books and was eligible to compete. Nine readers read all 25 books. Which team would be able to recall the most details as the battle progressed? The finale was a heated competition: “…one of the
CHECK OUT THE 2015 AND 2016 BOOK LISTS AT BEMENT.ORG/MCBA.
closest, most well-fought Battles I have witnessed,” according to Ms. Bernard. The fourth, fifth grade, and sixth grade champions competed with the fifth grade wildcard team and a faculty team of Mrs. Pennock, Ms. Lent, Mrs. Ames, and Mr. Feitlinger. Spectators squeezed into the library to watch, including several eager third graders anticipating their opportunity to join the battle next year. The reigning champions, this year’s fifth grade team of Will Sussbauer, Aaron Burstein, Myalin Lawrence, Ryan Blanchard, and Tea Sweeney, were able to defend their title and received engraved medals from Ms. Bernard. The two-time champions will have one more year, as sixth graders, to try and sweep the Battle of the Books. And the winning book? The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate took the top honor at Bement, and statewide.
RECIPE FROM THE BEMENT KITCHEN
fresh • local • healthy In the Bement dining hall, we pride ourselves on using the fresh, local ingredients available to us here in the Pioneer Valley. During the school year, we are able to locally source about 30% of our food in season. In our dining hall we display a chalkboard listing our many local suppliers. From the early summer to the middle of fall, we often get vegetables from Steven and Poppi Kelley GP’20 ‘22 of Bloody Brook Farm in South Deerfield to make this dish and many more. In addition to using healthy ingredients, we also need to meet the dietary restrictions of some of our diners. This “strata” is both gluten- and egg-free, besides being a delicious addition to the menu.
The Bement Dining Services team: from left to right, Liz Smith ’03, Zack Caloon ’04, Donnell Jackson, Ann Caloon P’04, Tom Easton
Summer Vegetable Strata 2 fresh eggplants 3 summer squash 2 zucchini 4 vine-ripe tomatoes 3 ounces olive oil 2 ounces balsamic vinegar 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
2 ounces real maple syrup 2 sprigs of fresh basil (about 12 leaves), chopped fine salt and pepper to taste 1½ cups shredded Parmesan cheese
Cut all vegetables into ¼ to ½ inch slices. Layer vegetables in a repeating pattern in a greased 9 × 11 inch baking pan. Combine olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, basil, salt, and pepper to make the dressing. Drizzle dressing over the vegetables. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, the cheese is melted, and the sauce starts to bubble. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Bement buys locally whenever possible. Here is a sampling of some of our local suppliers. Atlas Farm, South Deerfield MA Bar-Way Farm, Deerfield MA Ciesluk Farm, Deerfield MA Diemand Farm, Wendell MA Fairview Farms, Whately MA Foster’s Market, Greenfield MA Greenfields Market, Greenfield MA Bob Spencer Farm, Shelburne Falls MA
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 9
BY CHARLES SANFORD P’12 ’14 ’17 ’19, PRESIDENT, BOARD OF TRUSTEES
I WANTED TO THANK A TRUE BEMENT “GIRAFFE”—FRANK HENRY.
This year the lower school used the giraffe as a theme to teach students about people who stick their necks out to help others and to make a difference. Frank is a great example. Frank has served the Bement community in many ways over the years. His children, Clare ’05 and Will ’08, were students at Bement, he served on the board of trustees for many years, and he served as president of the board of trustees for eight years. While there were many accomplishments during his tenure as president, the most significant achievement was the building of our two beautiful dormitories. It took significant courage and vision to advocate for and to build these dorms. For a small school like ours, they were expensive and not without risk. But Frank saw that they were critical to the success of the boarding program and to Bement in general. He worked tirelessly for their completion. Now, in retrospect, we can all see what a clear difference they have made to the boarding community and how important they are to Bement’s future. While Frank “stuck his neck out” a lot during this period to make a difference, I would argue that this last year as interim head was perhaps the best example. Being a head of school is a complicated, difficult job. Most heads do not hit their stride for a few years and look back on the first years as semi-successful experiments with a lot of mistakes made along the way. Frank took on the job, having never done it in the past, and did not miss a beat while heading a lower school lunch table, teaching
C A Sharing the photo wall in his office with lower school visitors B Leading the all-school morning meeting C Awarding a diploma to Xavier Santiago ’16
D Lunching with lower schoolers
eighth grade English, reading aloud at Friday all-school meetings, and handling all the traditional duties of a head of school. The administration of the school was very smooth this year, and the transition work needed to help Chris Wilson’s first year be successful has been done well. Frank also took on several projects that were not part of his “job description.” Bement is in the process of making a significant technology upgrade and much work has been done on both the policy and technical front this year. Frank was instrumental in this work. The mundane but important project of untangling the data flow of a student’s information from admissions to the business office to the registrar was another project that Frank championed, and it would not have advanced without his help. So, for this, and for all the love and dedication that Frank has shown Bement over the years, I would like to offer my thanks and appreciation on behalf of the Bement community for sticking his neck out to help others and to make a difference. He has truly done both.
BY FRANK HENRY PTT, P’05 ’08, IHOS
With Gratitude…David Neumeister
E E At Baccalaureate F Reading to the third grade
G Dancing with fourth grader Tiri Isenberg ’21 at the Colonial Ball
I first became acquainted with David Neumeister P’98 at a Spring Fling auction when I went up against him for a handmade strip-plank open kayak. Slung up in the tent it was sculptural, gleaming, bright wood; a stimulant for any dreamer who could imagine a lake, even a pond, and time to take a boat off the roof and slip it in for a short paddle. The promise of serenity. What I learned that evening about David has been confirmed by his care and affection for Bement. The kayak was simple, designed for efficiency, beautifully constructed, and excellent value for the money. Just as David appreciated the kayak, he has expressed time and again his admiration for and support of the Yankee frugality that characterizes Bement, the sincerity of its mission and steadfast loyalty to its essential identity, and encouraged all the crucial steps taken during his career on the board to improve the safety and quality of the physical plant. For much of his tenure, David has chaired the Academic Affairs Committee, which is the board’s liaison committee to the faculty. Through the Academic Affairs meetings and David’s concise, insightful reports, the board has been apprised of the condition of the fine arts department, secondary school placement, the ebb of standardized testing within the school, the challenge of educational technology, and the direction of curriculum. He usually takes his own invitation and advice and visits classes throughout the school on the day of a board meeting so that he comes into the room with his mind filled with what actually occurs in the classroom and how our students encounter their teachers. A quality about David that I both admire and envy is his gentlemanliness, an old-fashioned term perhaps, but one that we can ill afford to forget if we ever hope to trust again in civil discourse. David is more modest than most in the room can know. He asks questions rather than professing and then listens carefully to generate more clarifying questions. He gathers data and researches ideas, and when he is confident, he makes his points quietly, but irresistibly. In natural terms, David is no volcano or avalanche; he’s as reliable as the tide. Schools need people who care profoundly, work assiduously, focus acutely, and speak with authority when they finally speak. David has performed his role as trustee at the highest standard. For me, a relationship that began nearly twenty years ago is hard to relinquish, and I hope I don’t have to. But Bement today commends one of its best friends, most vigilant guardians, and most loyal supporters. After nine years of dedicated service to Bement, David Neumeister retired from the board of trustees in October 2015.
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 11
New Trustees THE BEMENT SCHOOL
In October 2015, we welcomed four new trustees to the board for three-year terms.
Board of Trustees 2015-2016 Riché Barnes P’15 Andy Beall P’15 Kimberly Petelle Butz P’19 Raymond Chen P’15 ’17 Stephen Chen P’12 Mary Cohn P’03 ’06 Lea Emery P’10 John Gardiner P’14 ’18, Secretary Lauren Glennon P’08 ’11 Caroline Haines ’04 Howard Harrison Jr. ’92 Anthony Kwame Harrison ’85, Vice-President Christine Hart P’02, Treasurer Sheehan Lunt Jenkins ’00 Lisa Kittredge P’18 ’21, Parents Association President Pamela Klonaris P’11 ’13 Wendy Moonan ’60 Lad Nagurney P’09 Jane Plager P’12 ’16 Rebecca Pond ’95, PF Charles Sanford P’12 ’14 ’17 ’19, President Rich Shuman P’10 ’14 Littell “Tell” White ’GB, Alumni Association President Wayne Wilkey P’11 ’16 Yi Zhang P’12 ’15
Kimberly Petelle Butz P’19 has been involved with Bement for several years as parent co-chair of the Annual Fund with her husband, Joe, and is mother to Brendan, a rising seventh grader. Kim works at Deerfield Academy as the Director of Information Technology Services, a position that is of especial interest as Bement begins assessing and planning its own intersection with the digital world.
Raymond Chen P’15 ’17 maintains residence in both Hong Kong and South Deerfield. He and Julia, the after school ballet instructor at Bement, have two children. Amelia graduated in 2015, and Ben will graduate in 2017. Raymond brings international perspective and experience in the financial sector. He is currently Managing Director at Barclays Capital Asia Limited in Hong Kong and Vice Chairman of New China Trust in Chongqing, Peoples Republic of China.
Caroline Haines ’04 brings youth and keen familiarity with fundraising and social networking as it is practiced among those who have grown up in the digital age! Caroline is an account manager of Taykey, a research company that both tracks trends and issues projections, in New York City. Originally from South Dakota, Caroline has adapted well to life in the Big Apple.
Lisa Kittredge P’18 ’21 has been a member of the board as the president of the Bement Parents Association, but is now an elected member, too. Her own involvement with the school centers around her volunteerism for all events Bement and her vigilant care of her daughters, Kylie ’18 and Casey ’21, her stepson, Mick Kittredge III ’06, and their friends. Lisa is also the founder of Sounds of Recovery, a charitable organization working to increase public awareness of music therapy for those in recovery through a combination of advocacy, information, events, and programs.
Sara Becton Ardrey P’22 ’24, FA Kenneth Cuddeback FA Dean Fusto P’17, FA Frank C. Henry Jr. PTT, P’05 ’07, IHOS Kimberly C. Loughlin P’18, FA Carole Pennock PTT, P’90 ’94, FA HONORARY TRUSTEES
Joseph T. Bartlett ’49, P’80 ’82 ’87 Cathy Esleeck ’GB, P’62 Mike Kittredge P’06 ’18 ’21 Xingping “Simon” Lu P’09 Stephanie W. McLennan ’85 P. William Polk ’52 J. Peter Spang
BY EMILY LENT HEMINGWAY, UPPER SCHOOL ENGLISH, HISTORY, AND COMPUTER ARTS, INCOMING LOWER SCHOOL HEAD
circ zing activi us ties!
Bement Big Top Dec. ’15 •
Anyone who said, “It feels like a circus in here!” in December was giving Bement a huge compliment. During mini-term, all students and teachers at Bement devoted themselves to a school-wide, interdisciplinary study of the circus, from its history, art, and traditions to its skills and performance. That’s a lot of material to cover in just three weeks, and with everything going on in kindergarten through ninth grade classrooms, campus truly did feel like a three-ring—or maybe a ten-ring!—circus.
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 13
Mini-term has long been a favorite tradition at Bement because of the many ways it encourages collaboration across the entire school. For instance, lower school homerooms and upper school advisory groups paired together for cooperative arts sessions. Teachers led these groups of younger and older students through three activities: creating wire sculptures inspired by the work of Alexander Calder, turning photographic posters of their own faces into traditional painted clown faces, and learning the principles of clowning through skits and activities. In both divisions, students read and discussed circus-themed literature and experimented with the physics behind circus acts like juggling and gymnastics to extend our study of the circus into the classrooms and labs. Electives in the upper school focused on the circus, as well, and included creating balloon animals, designing toys on the 3D printer, and developing clown characters.
Mini-term has long been a favorite tradition at Bement because of the many ways it encourages collaboration across the entire school.
A unique element of this year’s mini-term, and certainly the highlight of the three weeks, was our work with Circus Smirkus, an award-winning international youth circus based in Greensboro, Vermont. Bement hosted Smirkus Resident Artist Josh Shack on campus for eight days. This residency was made possible by a generous grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which provides STARS Residencies (Students and Teachers Working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars) to schools to support creative learning residencies in the arts, sciences, and humanities. During his time with us, Mr. Shack truly transformed our students into circus performers. He worked with small groups of students to teach them the basics of body movement, juggling, using diabolo and devil sticks, balancing feathers, spinning plates, and more. These sessions culminated in an all-school circus performance held at Deerfield Academy’s Hess Center for the Arts. The performance showcased every single Bement student, with upper school band members providing live music and Mr. Henry serving as ringmaster!
While many of our students finished mini-term with new-found skills in juggling and tumbling, all of them left with the confidence, dedication, and patience they need to persevere through future challenges.
Audience members at our final mini-term performance were undoubtedly impressed with the skills our students had acquired, but perfecting these skills doesn’t happen overnight. They take practice and commitment over months and years to truly do well, and it is often frustrating to try to pick up a new skill like this, especially in the short time frame our students had available. As he provided instruction in those circus skills, Mr. Shack also taught our students Circus Smirkus’ “circus secrets,” a series of steps to help students take on challenging tasks—both under the big top and in life—without giving up. The steps are: try, try again, try a new way, watch, listen, step-by-step, go slow, and read. Even after mini-term ended, we often found ourselves repeating these steps to each other in the context of different tasks in the classrooms, in the art studios, or on the athletic fields. While many of our students finished mini-term with new-found skills in juggling and tumbling, all of them left with the confidence, dedication, and patience they need to persevere through future challenges. Those qualities are what make Bement’s Big Top the greatest show on Old Main Street!
SEE MORE MINI-TERM ACTIVITIES AT BEMENT.ORG/CIRCUS.
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 15
Are You a Giraffe? Do you see the big picture? Do you stick your neck out for others? Do you share and put friends first? Are you open to new ideas and trying new things? Are you a good listener? 16 BEMENT.ORG
This coveted pin, worn by faculty, reminded everyone to be alert for giraffes!
The Year of the Giraffe At Bement, the kind of person you are matters most. In addition to the expected academic skills a school should teach, Bement has always cultivated close connections and care for one another. We live and learn as a family. Good manners, kindness, concern for others’ welfare, leadership, responsibility, accountability… these aren’t textbook subjects, but they are lessons Bement students learn every day, in every grade. This past summer, fourth grade teacher Theresa Mullens P’99 introduced her lower school colleagues to a new way of encouraging kindness, caring, and good decision-making among their students: challenge them to be giraffes. What defines “being a giraffe” at Bement? Giraffes stand tall and see the big picture, stick their neck out for others, listen well, and put friendship first. A giraffe is willing to explore new ideas and try new things. Mrs. Mullens introduced this new initiative at a morning meeting by sharing a video in which lower school teachers explained what they do each day to “stick their neck out” and help their students. Throughout the year, teachers rewarded students for their good deeds with giraffe stickers and words of recognition. Older students helped younger students clear tables and clean up spills in the dining hall. Fifth graders picked up trash they found on the playground. At recess, students rounded up balls and put them away, instead of leaving them on the field. Nearly an entire first grade class helped search the campus for a classmate’s missing backpack. Everyone became keenly aware of “standing tall” to spot opportunities to lend a helping hand. The adults set good examples, too. Mr. Henry became our lead giraffe, working to learn everyone’s name, heading a lower
school lunch table, driving students to the health center, taking on the gigantic task of leading Bement for this in-between year. When the dining hall was short-staffed, Mrs. Pennock and Mr. Blackburn stepped in to help serve lunch (and of course, earned giraffe stickers). The lower school classes also created short movies, assisted by another Bement giraffe, Marcia Bernard, our librarian, to demonstrate how they saw the big picture and reached out to others. The kindergartners interviewed Mr. Henry to help introduce lower schoolers to our new interim head of school. The first grade showed us how hard the dining hall staff works every day to provide breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. The third grade conducted a “mystery interview” to celebrate one of their favorite Bement teachers. The fourth grade shared their knowledge of our historic location in Old Deerfield. The fifth grade collected pet food, blankets, and toys for the Dakin Humane Society, and shared a movie of their visit. And in lower school art teacher Sue Robertson’s video, the kindergarten class welcomed a new friend and made art together. Janice Currie’s second grade class also made a new friend, Jacob Norwood, a 12-year-old boy in nearby Turners Falls, who suffers from a rare genetic mutation of the FoxG1 gene. Mrs. Currie’s son Mike ’02, a Turners Falls firefighter, knew of Jacob’s family’s wish for a wheelchair-accessible van to allow Jacob to travel more
Mrs. Gage’s third grade class helped the dining hall staff clean up after lunch in December.
Jacob Norwood and his family met Mrs. Currie’s second grade class in the Barn.
easily. Mike gathered sponsors and ran in Jacob’s honor in the Clarence DeMar Marathon and raised several thousand dollars toward the new van purchase. The second graders Skyped with Jacob and his family during the school year, but the highlight was Jacob’s visit to Bement. The Norwoods were greeted with songs and dancing in the Barn, and Jacob laughed and smiled throughout the visit. The students’ connection with Jacob was immediate and their excitement to meet him in person was heartwarming. “He just has the best smile!” said one of the second graders, watching Jacob enjoy the attention. “Being a giraffe is all about kindness, and embracing something larger,” said Mrs. Currie. “The kids learned how to look beyond physical differences to see the person and make a friend.” The second grade parents joined in, too, demonstrating their own giraffe-like behavior by organizing a bake sale at an Amherst College football game. Students talked to every potential cookie-buyer they could to promote Jacob’s cause, explaining FoxG1 and the need for the special van. The bake sale raised $1,321, helping Jacob’s family get their new van this spring. “The analogy of a giraffe sticking its neck out was a concept that all lower school students were able to understand and fully embrace, regard-
less of their grade level,” said kindergarten teacher, Jane Stewart. “Students were able to see other children, as well as their teachers, earn giraffe stickers… for going above and beyond what is expected. We are surrounded by giraffes every day at Bement.” “It brought home the fact that we can all do something,” added Marcia Bernard. “At school or in the community, there are opportunities every day to stick your neck out.” Learning to be a giraffe is something students and teachers will carry forward. “My students have learned to support each other and stick their necks out for each other in the most simple ways,” said first grade teacher Jess Burnham. “They cheer each other’s successes in the classroom and…help each other when one of them has a problem…I will definitely continue this kind of work in my classrooms for years to come.” Mrs. Gage’s third grade class explained the lessons they learned from their year as giraffes: “It makes you want to help others.” “Helping people makes you and the person you are helping feel good.” “I learned that helping others is always the right thing to do.” “I learned how to be a better person by being a good friend.” So join us—stand tall, look around, and see your opportunities to be a giraffe!
WATCH A COLLECTION OF CLASS “GIRAFFE MOVIES” AT BEMENT.ORG/GIRAFFE.
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 17
BY LOUISE SMITH P’95 ’97, ASSISTING TEACHER, LOWER SCHOOL READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS TUTOR, NOTICING NATURE
Looking Back CAROLE PENNOCK RETIRES AFTER 34 YEARS AT BEMENT.
When I first met Carole Pennock, her older son, Chris, was in second grade, her younger son, Alex, was in preschool, and she, not yet on the Bement faculty, was an active member of the Parents Association. The year was 1982. One afternoon I walked into what was then the lower school library, a tiny room in Keith Schoolhouse. Carole was sitting by herself at a small student desk. Beside her was a stack of light green Parents Association notices about a holiday event. With a red felt tip marker in hand, Carole was coloring the dozen or so holly berries on each notice. Berry by berry, notice by notice, she worked her way through the pile. When she saw me she laughed and said, almost apologetically, “I don’t know why I’m doing this!”
That was such a brief encounter and it happened so long ago. Why has it stayed with me through all the years I have known and worked with Carole? I believe it’s because, brief as it was, this moment held important truths about Carole and the personal qualities she would bring to all the important roles she would play at Bement over the course of more than thirty years. Carole may not have known why she was coloring all those little berries, but the reasons are clear to me. First of all, it was because Carole cares about presentation,
When I first met Carole Pennock, her older son, Chris, was in second grade, her younger son, Alex, was in preschool, and she, not yet on the Bement faculty, was an active member of the Parents Association. The year was 1982. One afternoon I walked into what was then the lower school library, a tiny room in Keith House. Carole was sitting by herself at a small student desk. Beside her was a stack of light green Parents Association notices about a holiday event. With a red felt tip marker in hand, Carole was coloring the dozen or so holly berries on each notice. Berry by berry, notice by notice, she worked her way through the pile. When she saw me she laughed and said, almost apologetically, “I don’t know why I’m doing this!” That was such a brief encounter and it happened so long ago. Why has it stayed with me through all the years I have known and worked with Carole? I believe it’s because, brief as it was, this moment held important truths about Carole and the personal qualities she would bring to all the important roles she would play at Bement over the course of more than thirty years.
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 19
Mrs. Pennock’s kindergarten class, 1992
Celebrating Mrs. Pennock at morning meeting this June
serenade Mrs. Pennock as their “special someone” in December
Leading the baccalaureate procession in 1996
The Dartmouth Aires
We always wondered how she did so many things at once!
Mrs. Pennock’s Spring Fling attire is legendary!
Introducing a lower
Celebrating Marianne, reknowned Bement cook, with an epic Carole Pennock song
j 20 BEMENT.ORG
WATCH THE DARTMOUTH AIRES SERENADE MRS. PENNOCK AT BEMENT.ORG/DAIRES.
about tending to the details that make even the simplest ones special and pleasing, and in some cases almost magical. I’ll never forget a presentation Carole made to the children in Keith Schoolhouse during a mini-term years ago. The theme was the “new world” at the time of Columbus. After the children sat down on the floor for morning meeting, Carole entered as a Taino woman on the morning of her wedding day. She was dressed in costume and had created a monologue that revealed Taino customs through the voice and gestures of her character. The children were transfixed, captivated by her performance. Afterwards several children asked me, “Was that really Mrs. Pennock?” “Did she really get married?” Through her creativity, attention to detail, careful preparation, and dramatic flair, Carole had brought to life a distant time and place for these children. And for the teachers in the room, she had modeled inspiring teaching. Carole laughed at herself for coloring those holly berries as if the task were trivial. But of course it wasn’t. It showed Carole’s willingness to go the extra mile, to do the little things that were not part of her job description, but made Bement a brighter, happier place. I wonder if there is a head of a lower school anywhere else who has become the official (in the eyes of children) expert on loose teeth. How many children through the years have, the moment
By our estimate, Mrs. Pennock has pulled more than 1,000 loose teeth over the years!
I wonder if there is a head of a lower school anywhere else who has become the official (in the eyes of children) expert on loose teeth.
they’ve discovered a loose tooth, trotted eagerly to Mrs. Pennock’s office to show her their loose tooth and ask if it’s ready to be pulled? How many times has she patiently said, “Not quite yet,” and gently sent them back to class? And how many teeth has she adeptly pulled and placed in an envelope for a proud child to take home and place under a pillow for the tooth fairy? Carole has always understood the importance of “little” events in children’s lives and has gone out of her way to honor them. And unless she engaged in a private conference, Carole’s door has always been open to children. Carole’s willingness to go the extra mile to make Bement (and the world) a better place has extended far beyond her role as resident tooth fairy. Through the years, Carole has taken many lower school boarding students into her home for special evenings with her, providing them with lots of TLC and an overnight stay in “a room of their own.” She has enthusiastically engaged Bement children in projects that help those in need in our community and around the world, teaching Bement students the importance of compassion and generosity. All that Carole has given to lower school children she has also given to its teachers (well, except for pulling our teeth!). She has guided and supported us as educators. She has been there for personal occasions and milestones. For happy occasions she has organized surprise parties, written poems and songs, created skits, and presented gifts. For difficult times there have been thoughtful notes and gifts quietly delivered.
One day this past spring, after I learned that Carole would be retiring at the end of the school year, I stopped by her office to chat (the door, of course, was open). Carole was sitting at her desk carefully affixing a little red name tag to each birthday bookmark that would be presented at our all school meeting in the Barn on Friday. When Carole realized I was there, she looked up and laughed, almost apologetically. Déjà vu! Thirty-four years have passed since I encountered Carole sitting at the little student desk in the tiny Keith Schoolhouse library. A lot has changed at Bement since then. Buildings have been added, curricula have been updated and enriched, we have a beautiful big library that serves the whole school. Carole has worked on countless committees to bring about these changes. Hundreds of students have grown up at Bement, learned their lessons, and headed out into the wider world. Talented teachers and heads of school have made their marks and moved on. They have all benefitted from the work Carole has done. Over the years Carole’s roles have changed too—from Parents Association member to head of the Parents Association, to kindergarten teacher, to lower school head. The qualities she has brought to her work have remained constant through all the years and all the roles she has played. Her loyalty, her attention to detail, her creativity, her sense of occasion, her generosity, and her willingness to do whatever is needed to benefit the Bement community have never wavered. Thank you, Carole, for all you have done. We will miss you.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CAROLE PENNOCK LOWER SCHOOL FUND, SEE PAGE 50.
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In the Swim at Bement A Reflection by Coach Dorothy Milne
hen I was asked to help with the swim program at Bement in the mid-1980s, John Butler was head, and we used the old pool at Deerfield Academy. Janice Currie and I ran the program, which was purely recreational. I gradually introduced the idea of competing and focused on developing competitive strokes, helping those who hadnâ€™t had any competitive experience, and challenging those who had competed. In the beginning the team was mostly girls with only the occasional male swimmer. We had a lot of fun while honing competitive skills. When Eaglebrook built their pool, we were their first competing team and we won that meet, much to everyoneâ€™s surprise. Over the years the numbers have increased from about 15 on the team to 25 this year. More boys have taken up swimming, making our team more diverse and strong in competing with other schools. The focus of the program is developing competitive skills, increasing endurance, fitness, and speed. We emphasize good form in all strokes, starts, and turns. Many swimmers get their competitive start with the Bement team, then go on to compete in strong secondary school programs. Emily Gardiner â€™14 is now swimming for Loomis
Over the past 31 years, Dorothy Milne has made one of the most challenging physical sports—swimming—fun for so many. Even though she has “retired,” each winter term she returns to the pool every day, to teach Bement students to love the water. The swim team has grown from a fledgling program to the largest upper school sport in the winter term under Dorothy’s tutelage. In 2015, we dedicated the first-ever swim team records board to Dorothy, and it proudly hangs in the trophy hall in the Kittredge Building. Without question the swim team kids are some of the fittest students in the school in the winter term, and also the closest and most supportive group of students across the four grade levels, thanks to Dorothy’s tireless dedication to Bement athletics. – Martha Price P’07 ’10, FA
Chaffee School. Seth Magoon ’09 swam for Suffield Academy, where he swam on a record-breaking relay team in the New England meet. He is currently swimming at the collegiate level, for NYU. Swimmers often see former Bement students’ names on the record board at the Deerfield pool. When we have interested students, diving has been a component of the team. Whitney Lunt ’02 was our first competitive diver, followed by Amy Simmonds ’06, Sarah Dimmitt ’08, Marina Vranos ’09, and Ryann Stacy ’11. Sarah, Marina, and Ryann have competed at the college level after diving in secondary school. We currently swim against the Deerfield Academy and Northfield Mount Hermon JV swim teams, the Eaglebrook swim team, and the Athol Y team. We also participate in the Eaglebrook Nicholas Whyte Invitational where our swimmers traditionally fare very well; this year Peyton Mullins ’17 came in third of all the girls, with Nina Sanders ’17 in fifth. One of our most exciting events this season came as the result of a schedule mix-up. We ended up inviting ourselves to a tri-meet with DA and NMH, of which, fortunately, they were very accepting, and then Bement ended up winning the entire meet! For many years now, Martha Price has been my most
stalwart co-coach, working with the beginning competitive swimmers, teaching them the proper form within the strokes, starts, and turns. Her ability to push the swimmers to stretch themselves while making it fun has allowed many swimmers to swim their first competitive race, developing pride and confidence in taking risks. One of the values of swim team is the development of confidence as swimmers improve their times and stroke form as well as their endurance, speed, and fitness. We begin every practice with stretches, sit-ups, and push-ups. There is a chance for eighth and ninth graders to show leadership in leading stretches, coaching younger swimmers, and encouraging teammates in meets. More experienced swimmers teach beginning racers skills such as turns and starts. Both benefit, for the more experienced swimmers learn that it isn’t always easy to teach a skill and just demonstrating it doesn’t always work! This allows students in different grades to get to know each other better, creating closeness among team members. “The camaraderie on the swim team is super strong,” says swimmer Elven Shum ’17. “Sessions are challenging and vigorous. Everyone is expected to do their best and help each other. Three cheers to Ms. Price and Mrs. Milne—they make swimming fun!”
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Swimming isn’t just for upper schoolers, though. Bement adheres to the idea that swimming is a life skill and so each spring lower schoolers spend the month of April learning to swim. Physical education teachers Jerry Dobosz, Will Paulding, and Ben Bensen, accompanied by a large number of parent volunteers, make the often chilly trek to the Deerfield Academy pool each Tuesday and Thursday. The program has evolved over the last ten years, with certified instructors from the Greenfield Y now coming to teach the youngsters how to swim. Just as happens on the swim team, if students are already capable in the pool, the Y instructors help them refine their strokes. Fourth and fifth graders with good swimming skills are allowed to compete in the annual Bement swim meet with the Athol Y team, the only competitor with similar-aged swimmers, introducing them to the joy of belonging to Dorothy Milne and Martha Price’s swim team. Bement parent volunteers patrol the 24 BEMENT.ORG
pool deck and assist with keeping the troops on track as grade after grade parades down the street to swim. Mrs. Pennock begins every April instructing students on the required elements to make this endeavor successful: put your name on EVERYTHING, be sure to bring a bag that can hold wet items, and always bring a hat to wear on the walk back to campus. Upon reaching the upper school, all sixth graders and any new students in grades 7, 8, and 9, must take “the swim test” in early November to prove that they can safely spend time in the water. Swimming, whether competitive or recreational, is an aspect common to life at Bement. In warm weather, boarding students often take advantage of the swimming pool at Mary Hawks House, the head of school’s residence, as do Bement’s summer campers. Accomplishments in the swimming pool span both divisions, from our youngest students learning to jump into the deep end, to our older students experiencing what it means to be a teammate, and swimmers of all ages beaming with pride after passing the swim test. In the pool, just as in the classroom or on the playground, Bement students work hard and help each other succeed, guided by a dedicated and caring group of adults who always make sure there is fun along the way.
Bement adheres to the idea that swimming is a life skill and so each spring lower schoolers spend the month of April learning to swim.
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“Hello, sharks! My name is Gabe Zaccheo and I’m here to introduce my product, ‘The Homing Pet.’ ”
Welcome to Bement’s version of “Shark Tank” where sixth grade entrepreneurs pitch their inventions to a panel of “millionaire investors,” played by faculty and ninth grade students. Modeled after the hit television show, the “shark tank” is one component of the sixth grade information literacy course, leading up to a capstone Global Innovation and Inspiration (GLII, pronounced ‘glee’) conference for parents, teachers, and classmates.
Information literacy is not a subject most of us had in college, never mind middle school. Sixth graders traditionally began their transition to the upper school with a oneterm study skills class, taught by Alice Gearhart and Nancy Ames. When Dean Fusto P’17 arrived as the new upper school head in 2007, he brought his technology expertise to a companion class, introducing sixth graders to the world of internet use. The advent of the information age created a need to teach students how to navigate these waters: how to access, evaluate, and utilize all of the information that bombards us, how to use media and digital resources, how to be a good digital citizen, and how to keep information safe online. Marcia Bernard arrived in 2012 with a vast array of modern library skills and digital talents, and with this third piece of the puzzle in place, the sixth grade study skills class at Bement transitioned to a full year of information literacy in the fall of 2013.
GLII brings all different strands of literacy: information literacy, technological literacy, media literacy, and financial literacy, as well as the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, and critical thinking to the curriculum. Combining all of these elements in a decidedly fun way has made GLII a high point of the sixth grade year. Students begin preparing for GLII prior to their March break. They are sent off with the assignment to ask family and friends to identify realworld problems they face. Students may also consider their own nagging problems. My outdoor pet doesn’t come in when called at night. It’s hard to fold sheets. My glasses steam up when I eat hot foods. I don’t know what to wear in the morning. From their list they choose a problem they feel passionate about solving, and begin the long process of bringing their idea to the market. Next, they begin work on their solution. Initial ideas and sketches are brought to
a peer think tank, where students offer suggestions and critique each other’s concepts. Ideas are changed, improved, and tweaked. Next, students research their ideas. Utilizing skills they have developed over the year, students search to see if a comparable product already exists. If one does, they may continue as long as their product significantly improves
1 upon what already exists. If not, they are sent back to search for a new problem to tackle. This step can be challenging even for the most flexible student but helps to build resiliency and persistence. With the final approval from the teacher, students are ready to begin the design process. For their product, each sixth grader is required to create a catchy name, a memorable slogan, a logo, a 30-second commercial, a prototype, and an oral presentation. In class, they
Students share feedback on their products in small groups
“The LapTopper” at GLII
Neil Nie ’16, Emily MacLeod, Ross Feitlinger, Jamey Simpson ’16, and Frank Henry
“Neat Sheet 3000” at GLII.
2 In the tank! 3 Lindsay Stamler ’19 presents 4 This year’s Sharks:
5 John Solzak ’19 demonstrates his 2 examine samples of classic advertising looking at the elements that make each effective. They study graphic design to see what makes a logo memorable. Over the months of April and May, sixth graders work at school and at home to bring their innovations to life. Students may construct their prototypes out of cardboard, Legos, recycled materials, or print them on the 3-D printer. In the past, students have built backpack-carrying drones, and machines to roll laundry into wrinkle-free logs. Logos must be entirely student created, no clipart or outside images. They may be hand-drawn or use a digital drawing program. One of the largest pieces of the project is writing and creating the commercial. Students begin with a storyboard, carefully choosing the text and images that will showcase their product. Some students opt for a literal piece that explains what their product
does, others are more abstract, creating a mood, while still others take a humorous route. Some students use an infomercial format, acting as pitchman to hawk their wares. Peers and teachers review the storyboards, offering suggestions and providing encouragement. Learning to receive and respond to critiques is another key part of the project. Students learn to use a variety of video editing and slideshow programs to create their commercials. Throughout the entire process they are keenly aware of copyright implications and proper citing of sources, skills that have been drilled all year long in the class. The GLII conference itself happens during exam period in June. Students take to the Barn stage to deliver their pitches, share their commercials, and explain their prototypes. Attendees have the opportunity to mingle with the inventors while enjoying refreshments, to ask questions and learn more about the products they have seen. The students never fail to impress. Over the three-year history of the GLII projects, our students’ clever innovations have included the “Hot Blade Toaster Knife” by Jamey Simpson ’16, a knife that cuts and toasts bread in one smooth stroke, which he actually demonstrated in
4 his commercial, thanks to his father’s glass blowing furnace, “Slide On,” a snowshoe that turns into a ski created by Rosey Young ’18 following the epic winter of 2015, and the “SeeMore,” prescription screen covers for digital devices created by Brendan Butz ’19 and inspired by his father, who can’t see the screen well without his glasses. Our young innovators inspire us, and we look forward to watching them put into practice the skills they have learned in information literacy.
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Meet the Wilsons!
In July, Christopher Wilson began his tenure as Bement’s ninth head of school, taking up residence in Mary Hawks House with his wife, Stephanie, and daughters, Madeline ’26 and Lydia. The Wilsons visited Bement in April as our new “first family” for a coffee hour hosted by the Parents Association and for an orientation as parents of an incoming kindergartner. While here, the Wilsons sat down for an interview with two eighth grade students, Christina Ashenden ’17 (C), Keishi Kimura ’17 (K), and director of communications, Meg Britton Clark (M).
What are the qualities of Bement that stood out to you? What would you like to keep during your time here, and what would you like to change? CHRIS What stood out to me was the sense of a Bement education being about something more than just a test score or a grade in an individual class, but really about the way a student learns how to become a stronger human being in a multitude of ways. Not just academic and intellectual growth, but social and emotional growth, arts and music and athletics, and the whole sense of being a well-rounded student. I am struck by the power of the community at Bement. You rarely go to a school where every single interaction you have with a member of the community is positive and happy, and this community has something special in it that I’ve never seen anywhere else. So, I’d like to keep that. STEPHANIE You have such an amazing place here, and we were struck when we first came to Bement with how the ‘feel’ was so good. I remember talking after one of those early visits and saying, “Wow, this is exactly the sort of place where we’d like to send our children to school.” There’s a lot that goes into that ‘feel’—some parts that are practical and some that are intangible—and we’re excited to continue that and help it grow.
Currently at Bement, community service isn’t mandatory for all students, so I wonder if you have any plans to incorporate community service into every student’s life? CHRIS I love community service—it’s one of the most important things that schools do and is part of a well-rounded education. Do I have plans to incorporate it into every student’s life? Probably in some way, but what that looks like is one of the things we’ll have to explore as we go along.
I looked into your previous school Esperanza Academy and it said it offered a “rigorous” academic program. How does that compare to ours? CHRIS I think Bement has a rigorous academic program. What’s interesting in that question is, what does a rigorous academic program mean? From my perspective, that doesn’t mean having piles and piles and piles of homework. It doesn’t mean working until one o’clock in the morning, then waking up at 5 a.m. and working again. In my mind, it means having opportunities to stretch and grow, and engaging in the kind of work that helps you move to the next level. What we’ve tried to do at Esperanza is build a program that asks students to think about complicated questions, to do project-based learning, to grapple with real world problems. A rigorous academic program helps students connect their learning with what’s around them and what’s in the wider world. That’s the philosophy I bring with me.
Are you thinking of making any significant changes to Bement’s boarding program? CHRIS I don’t have any significant changes in mind. My hope is to be part of that community, like I’m part of the rest of the school community. I know that Ms. Jackson and Mr. Henry have played a significant role in hosting the boarding community at the head’s house and participating in boarding activities. Stephanie and I are really excited to do that. Boarding offers the opportunity for relationship building outside of the classroom, which I find
READ MORE ABOUT CHRIS WILSON AT BEMENT.ORG/HEADSEARCH.
exciting. That doesn’t mean you always have to be studying, but we all learn from each other if we’re living in the community together. Getting to share that with a group of students who are living on campus is an exciting thing.
were just talking about as powerful. So we end up having our social interactions through technology instead of through this kind of conversation, and I think if that happens it’s problematic for not only our own relationships but also society in general.
STEPHANIE What’s the best part of the boarding community, and then your favorite thing to do at Mary Hawks House or on weekends?
I read the description about you, and it said you coached baseball before. Are you planning on coaching a sport?
The fact that you’re with your friends all the time. After study hall, we will come back to the dorms and we will just hang out in the common room. That’s a really fun experience for me, just to be with my friends.
I was wondering how bullying has been dealt with at Esperanza or your other past schools? CHRIS I feel strongly that every student needs to feel safe and secure in the school, and they need to feel safe with their peers outside of school. I take the philosophy that if you’re a member of our community, you’re a member of our community not just when you’re in our buildings or on our campus, but when you go home at night and you’re interacting with all your peers. The philosophy I’ve taken is we’re going to treat each other with kindness, we’re going to treat each other with respect and politeness, and that’s a baseline for being a member of the community. When students aren’t treating each other well in that way, we address it immediately and we address it however many times we need to address it to get it to stop. That’s been pretty successful. In some situations, our culture in the wider world doesn’t always match up with the culture that we have to have at a school like Bement, so sometimes students end up doing things without even thinking about it, and that’s an educational opportunity. And then there are times when people are just being mean, and we address that differently. I’m a big believer in establishing expectations, so this is how I hope and expect that we will all treat each other and hold each other accountable for the way we treat each other at Bement. I’ve found that if you keep coming back and reminding people, and if there are issues, address them right away and make sure people know this is not what we expect in our community, you can be pretty successful at creating a community of kindness. Ultimately, who wants to go home at night and think, “I wasn’t very nice today”?
Lots of students, in the upper school particularly, have been saying that they want access to the school’s wi-fi. I was wondering how you felt about that? CHRIS My general philosophy on technology is that it can be a powerful educational tool, but it has to get used properly and teachers, administrators, students, and parents all have to have a shared understanding of what that means. My hope is yes, that students have some access to use the internet for educational purposes. What that looks like and how that actually happens during the school day is something I will begin to figure out with the faculty over the course of the coming year. Does that mean sitting on your cell phone at lunch and looking at Facebook? No. One of the things that happens if there’s unlimited access to technology is we lose the interpersonal connections that we
CHRIS I think that would be fun! I have to see what life as head of school really looks like and feels like before I take on being a head coach, but I’d absolutely like to be involved. The more opportunities to be involved with students in whatever capacity the better, as far as I’m concerned. That’s what brings us all to this work: watching kids learn and grow. Coaching is a great way to do that in a totally different context than teaching in a classroom.
Do you think you’ll teach? CHRIS Probably at some point. Not immediately, but I’d like to. I was a history teacher for a long time. I’ve taught Latin. So there are a couple different ways I could be involved in the classroom.
On the topic of money, Esperanza was a tuition-free school, while Bement asks for tuition from boarders and day students. What do you think of tuition? CHRIS A school has to have income to operate, so I think tuition is a fact of life. My hope is that Bement is accessible to as wide a range of people as possible. I think that balancing the level of tuition with other pieces like financial aid and accessibility leads to a truly diverse student body, which is really important. Esperanza is interesting and unique in that it serves students who are lowincome exclusively. The model at Esperanza to raise the entire budget is necessary, because we serve families that couldn’t pay any tuition at all. Prior to being head at Esperanza, I taught at an independent school in Baltimore, similar to Bement, where obviously there were students whose families were paying tuition, students who were there with some financial aid, and it was a very diverse population. I’m excited about being back in a truly diverse place, like Bement.
What are your thoughts on diversity on campus? Do you have any plans for outreach or increasing accessibility? CHRIS Thinking long and hard about how to be as accessible to as wide a range of potential students and families is important. When we look back in ten or twenty years, the schools that are deemed most successful will be the schools that have allowed their students to be part of a truly diverse population, because that’s what the world looks like outside of our walls; the workplace, communities, and universities are diverse. So how do we create an educational experience for students to match that? The best way is to make sure that Bement is as accessible as possible to as wide a range of families as possible. One of my critical roles as head is to A) figure out how to make that happen and B) make sure people really know about the school and are excited about coming to Bement.
WATCH THE NEW HEAD OF SCHOOL ANNOUNCEMENT AT BEMENT.ORG/BIG_ANNOUNCEMENT.
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 29
I have one question for Mrs. Wilson. How do you see your role as our ‘first lady’ here at Bement?
the opportunity to be one of those additional teachers for Bement students.
STEPHANIE I see myself as a full part of the community for sure. I’m going to be a mom here, with our older daughter starting kindergarten this year. I hope to be involved as much as I can in a way that’s helpful. One of the great things about a boarding community is that you have a lot of different grownups around for students to connect with and find mentors. I’m glad to have
CHRIS We’re excited to be part of the community as a family. There’s an authenticity to that, in the sense that we’re going to be living this community in the same way that all parents are living in this community, through our kids. And that’s a gift to us. In the timing of this move, and becoming head here, you couldn’t have designed it any better.
Thoughts and Advice for Mr. Wilson, from the Kindergarten
Bement’s 2015-2016 kindergarten is the class of 2025—Bement’s 100th anniversary!
SELFPORTRAITS BY DEBORRA STEWART-PETTENGILL P’01 ’03 FINE ARTS DEPARTMENT CHAIR, UPPER AND LOWER SCHOOL VISUAL ARTS
SELF-PORTRAITURE IS A KEY COMPONENT OF THE VISUAL ART CURRICULUM AT BEMENT
and assists students in developing a deeper self-awareness and a broader sense of themselves as unique individuals in the world. The value of individual reflection can offer each student a window into personal frame of reference and light a path for self-discovery. The insight gained from reflecting upon their distinctive characteristics helps build a strong sense of confidence in a student’s identity. Beginning with the basics, students build confidence in artistic ability along with their technical skills. Through exposure to masterworks in art history studies, students are more able to appreciate the differences in ways of seeing and portraying within their class. Academic areas are integrated into the visual art curriculum at every grade level to enhance the student’s understanding of broader connections and relationships between art and other areas of study. Each progressive year introduces new mediums, increasingly complex techniques, and more sophisticated concepts.
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“The insight gained from reflecting upon their distinctive characteristics helps build a strong sense of confidence in a student’s identity.”
The kindergarten class creates a series of three portraits throughout the year. The first is a pen and ink drawing, giving students the chance to explore different kinds of lines. The second is a skeleton drawing, white crayon on black paper line drawings which coincide with their classroom study of the body. Late in the year, when observational skills have grown, the third portrait, created in colored marker, focuses on using shapes to portray a fuller body.
Third grade students explore exaggerated expressions in portraits by Picasso, Munch, and Van Gogh, to create their faces with extended cheeks, blowing bubbles underwater. Looking for changes in the shapes and forms of the cheeks, mouth, and eyes can make the experience exciting and fun, as well as challenging. Mixing colors for skin tone illuminates the variety and subtlety of every individual.
Seventh graders focus on landscape studies for the year, and look closely at da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as well as other Renaissance portraits set within a landscape. They learn to appreciate subtle references to place and time, as they paint themselves in a symbolic location.
Fourth graders combine their study of rainforest creatures with the study of self-portrait paintings of Frida Kahlo, who often painted herself surrounded by animals. Students strengthen observational skills as they create shadow and highlight with value. Choosing complementary colors to create exciting combinations is an exciting part of this project. Developing an ability to see and recreate patterns and textures also defines a new stage of developmental achievement.
Value becomes a focus for eighth grade students as they map their faces into shapes of black, white, and gray to reveal the topography of a face. Students choose a symbolic hat to be photographed in, and work from this image to create a value based painting. For inspiration, they study the artists Chuck Close and Shephard Fairy. Students develop an awareness of tonal scales and learn to use those tones to create highlights and shadows of facial form.
For the first grade watercolor self-portraits, students ask themselves, “What is important to me?” Their answers to that question fill the background of their final pieces. The many selfportraits of Frida Kahlo, surrounded by the things she loved, inspire these highly personalized works.
In the second grade, students take command of point, mark, line, and shape to create contour line drawings of their reflections with pencil. Studying Matisse and his use of line as they draw their self-portraits, students learn to look for placement of features, identifiable shapes on the face, and then details. Students quickly notice that each face in the room has a different oval shape, some longer, some rounder, but all have chins, noses, and eyes.
Mastering the techniques of bamboo brush painting, fifth graders study portraits by Japanese artist, Tawaraya Sotstsu, and surround their images with Japanese symbolic patterns. They learn how abstracting a familiar image can create a design, which is read as a symbol. Using sumie ink and bamboo brushes requires different technical skills, and has a completely distinctive appearance. Developing an awareness of Asian art, techniques, and aesthetics expands the concepts of beauty and harmony in a composition.
“Each progressive year introduces new mediums, increasingly complex techniques, and more sophisticated concepts.” Maddy
Sixth grade students render their self-portraits with attention to accurate facial proportions. They finish their portrait in colored pencil, learning to use second color and contour shading.
By the time students in ninth grade are challenged to create a self-portrait based upon a selection of personal symbols, they are prepared to think in terms of symbolic language. Students analyze master works from the classical pieces of da Vinci to contemporary work by Kiki Smith, Joan Brown, John Gibson, Walton Ford, and Richard Ryan. Study of art history deepens and broadens understanding of the metaphorical aspects and power of art. Central to the ninth grade year is celebrating the power of personal voice.
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 33
BY MATT CURRIE ’99
Brahm Callahan ’99
ALUMNI Master Sommelier Brahm Callahan ’99
“The joke amongst the sommelier community is that the Master Sommelier exam is the world’s hardest exam that no one has ever heard of,” Brahm tells me. He is one of the few who can tell this joke. As of spring 2015, Brahm is a full-fledged Master Sommelier. This is not your ordinary group of glass-sniffing, wrist-twirling wine drinkers. They are the elite of the elite. In its forty-year history, only two hundred and thirty individuals worldwide have had the title of Master Sommelier bestowed upon them. In recent years their notoriety amongst the general public, coupled with a booming wine industry, has skyrocketed (now is a good time to cue up the documentary Somm on Netflix). A Master Sommelier (MS) can taste and smell things that you and I cannot. Their highly refined palates are developed over the course of many years spent globe-trotting, tasting thousands of wines and immersing themselves in a social and historical community. Master Sommeliers possess a breadth of knowledge surrounding the service of wine to a degree most individuals cannot comprehend. They are wise to tales of folklore and secrets passed down from generation to generation, stories of particular vineyards and the regions that they define. Master Sommeliers are keenly aware of the legendary years and of those that proved to be difficult for winemakers and their grapes. They are the inner circle who collectively explores the far-reaching expanse of vineyards and wine cellars across the globe (both commercial and privately owned). Completion of the rigorous MS exam takes place in several phases, the most difficult of which, perhaps, is the blind taste test. During a single twenty-five minute sitting, candidates must correctly identify the vintage (year), varietal (type of grape) and region (location) of six different wines, chosen at random, from the vast catalogue of all wines produced around the world. They must
Photo credit: Todd Mazer
Lifetime friendships start while at Bement. Matt Currie ’99 and Brahm Callahan ’99 met in second grade and have been friends for more than 20 years.
be able to say, for example, wine #1 is a 1996 Cabernet from Napa, California, USA. #2 is a 2011 Carménère from the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, and so on. Yes, wrap your head around that (I can hardly distinguish red from white). Experience is the only way to pass the exam. Through this process, MSs learn to transform taste and contextual knowledge to their customer’s glass, to provide them with a highly individualized wine experience. Becoming an MS is to achieve the highest level of distinction within the beverage community. The Court of Master Sommeliers shapes the global wine economy. Brahm and I first met during the early days of September 1991. The start of another school year, Brahm was to join the ranks of a small but fiercely loyal group of second graders (ultimately, we became the class of ’99). The majority of our rag-tag bunch spent the better part of a decade together (in some cases, longer), learning cursive, algebra, and of the particular role Historic Deerfield played in our country’s colonization. I make no claim that this isn’t essential and valuable stuff! Twenty-five years on, however, what feels present is that Bement nurtured a sense of individual learning and growth within a group context. As Brahm and I caught up recently to chat about his story it became evident that the values instilled at Bement not only remain relevant, but have proven to be an integral part of his success. “At Bement, everyone was allowed to progress through their studies in their own way, with our mentors supporting each student’s interests,” Brahm remarks. We reflect upon our ninth grade year, when Scott Smith, past Upper School Head and Assistant Head of School, allowed Brahm, Alex Platt, Nick Lawson, and me to skip lunch with frequency so that our fledgling rock band could squeeze in an extra
SPOTLIGHT| hour or two of practice each week. This was not part of a textbook curriculum. But the importance of that time spent together was paramount in other ways. It gave us an outlet to foster and grow our passion for music. That bond has lasted more than twenty years. At Bement, there exists an essential balance between life experience and classroom learning. Following his time at Bement, Brahm set a course to become a teacher. After completing his undergrad at UMass Amherst, he headed east to Boston College and received a master’s degree in classics and ancient history. However, after spending nearly a decade in the hospitality and The lunchtime-practicing band, Blues Labyrinth: (left to right) Brahm, Matt on drums, Nick Lawson, service industry and Alex Platt. to pay his way through college and post-grad life, Brahm could no longer ignore an ever-growing passion for wine culture. Teaching quietly moved to the back burner as he chose to tackle the monumental challenge of becoming a MS. I ask Brahm how one truly studies for this exam (aside from simply tasting wine). “There is no curriculum to become a MS,” he tells me. “There is not a course that you can take where you are provided all of the necessary information. You cannot simply memorize everything and then pass the exam. You have to go through the entire process and you have to do that on your own. You need to know how to learn and not just memorize information.” We talk about the learning environment at Bement and how this played a role in his preparation for the exam. “The small classes,” recalls Brahm, “and individualized focus. Teachers catered to all types of students and styles of learning. There were support systems. We learned how to problem solve. And we were all in it together. I will always remember having to ‘show your work.’ It was about the process, the methodology. The study habits I learned at Bement were crucial to my future endeavors.” Bement taught us that the community learns and advances together, and Brahm applied this to his wine studies. “Everything exists in context. This is where wine’s history and community come into play. You must have an understanding of the people and the past, and be able to put it in a present day context. Ultimately, this is how you develop the connection between yourself, the wine, and
your guest. Everything I know has a practical application to which I can help the guest relate.” Despite his many qualifications, hospitality remains Brahm’s focus. “If it weren’t for our guests, [MSs] would cease to exist.” While becoming a MS remains staunchly competitive, passing the final exam seems implausible without the support of your class. “All MS candidates go through the same process. During this time, you build lifelong friendships,” says Brahm, “Regardless of the success or failure of the individual, the group bond remains strong. Once you are in the MS Court, you are in for life.” The Master Sommelier exam has a pass rate of 3%. When I ask Brahm about a common misconception that being a sommelier is simply about tasting wine, he says, “There are so many other elements to being a MS. There is a history and a respect to the community that you are part of. Yes, you travel the world tasting wine. But also, you continue to learn. It is an industry that is constantly evolving.” The Court of Master Sommeliers website reads, “Education was then, and remains today, the Court’s charter.” In addition to many other endeavors, Brahm now teaches for the Court. As we near the end of our phone call and reminisce about the importance of our time at Bement, Brahm sums it up in saying, “At Bement, we learned how to learn.” And I agree. That foundation to success is something we were lucky to have been taught many years ago.
Master Sommelier Brahm Callahan ’99 oversees $10 million in beverage sales annually as the Beverage Director at Himmel Hospitalitay Group, Boston.
Photo credit: Todd Mazer
Brahm lives with his wife, Sally, and their son Sawyer in Beacon Hill, MA. He is the Beverage Director at Himmel Hospitality Group and oversees $10 million in beverage sales annually. He is currently curbing the summer heat by drinking rosé like it is his job…oh wait…it is… Matt’s passion for music led him from lunchtime rehearsals to his current role as talent buyer for Rockwood Music Hall in NYC (rockwoodmusichall.com). Matt lives in Brooklyn, but spent his summer on the road with Twisted Sister, as tour manager for the band’s farewell tour.
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 35
CLASS OF 2016
BY DEAN J. FUSTO P’17, ASSISTANT HEAD OF SCHOOL, UPPER SCHOOL HEAD
A great school creates authentic ways to celebrate its students. Bement faculty lovingly usher their ninth grade graduates into the world in thoughtful, reflective, and meaningful ways.
The final weeks of Bement’s academic year are filled with singular events. At the end of May, the community becomes audience for the magical ninth grade play. Our ninth grade class galvanizes around the production of a theatrical work. Our students, some of whom had never imagined they would be capable of belting out a show tune, push themselves to the limit to entertain our community. We ask our most timid kids to have breakthrough moments and burst through any of the previously formed boundaries of a comfort zone. In June, our closing traditions comprise three poignant events. Farewell Evening is indescribable to those who have never experienced it firsthand. Early in the spring term, each teacher secretly chooses a student to celebrate, and begins crafting a short tribute in honor of that student. On Farewell Evening, the Bement Barn is aglow with laughter, tears, and unforgettable moments as each student learns the identity of the teacher who will pay them homage. The roasting and toasting ensues and culminates with each ninth grader being bequeathed an original and heartfelt keepsake. Our other two traditions, baccalaureate and commencement, showcase student voice. Knowing that our ninth grade students have so many poignant reflections and sage wisdom to share, we decided a number of years ago to forego inviting outside celebrity speakers at both events. Instead, our ninth graders’ words were given center stage and became the collective keynote address. Each student starts the process of giving voice to his or her Bement experience in early May when they thoughtfully craft their final speeches in their respective English classes. When baccalaureate and commencement arrive, our graduates approach the podium with poise and speak authentically about what their time at Bement has meant. Among Bement’s greatest gifts to its students and families are these distinguishing events. Our graduates depart knowing that they will always be part of Bement’s extended family, and that their contributions and connections to this community will endure forever.
NINTH GRADE MUSICAL
Into the Woods , Jr.
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 37
B A C C A L A U R E AT E
CLASS OF 2016
FA R E W E L L E V E N I N G
CLASS OF 2016
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 39
READ FRANK HENRYâ€™S COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS AT BEMENT.ORG/COMMENCEMENT2016.
Class of 2016 Secondary School Placement
CLASS OF 2016
Episcopal High School
Tecnológico de Monterrey
Williston Northampton School
Northampton High School
Loomis Chaffee School
U Jin Jo
St. Mark’s School
Northfield Mount Hermon School
Williston Northampton School
Frontier Regional High School
Northfield Mount Hermon School
Williston Northampton School
Wilbraham & Monson Academy
Miss Porter’s School
The Hill School
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 41
WITH GRATITUDE FOR NINE YEARS AT BEMENT. . .
Best wishes, Dean In Dean Fusto’s office, one of the first things a visitor noticed was a framed photo of Dean himself, as a middle school student, in prominent view from his desk. Perhaps this constant visual reminder of the pitfalls and perils of being a pre-teen influenced Dean’s ability to be a sympathetic listener—for students, parents, and colleagues. Dean’s ability to investigate all points of view in a matter and to work tirelessly to reach a solution earned him the gratitude of families and co-workers alike. If your fifth grader was uncertain about the transition to upper school, Dean was determined: “Come see me. Let’s talk about it.” He would do whatever it took to earn that child’s trust, build his confidence, and reassure his parents. For faculty, Dean presented a seemingly limitless capacity to problem solve. Dean and his family came to Bement nine years ago. He brought with him a connection to the La Suiza orphanage in the Dominican Republic, and developed the ninth grade service learning experience that is now the capstone of Bement’s ninth grade program. Dean’s interest and expertise in technology and communications resulted in the advancement of Bement’s sixth grade study skills class to a full-year course in Information Literacy (see page 26).
Dean also introduced countless students and faculty to one of his true passions: pickleball. And as the long time emcee of Farewell Evening, it was only fitting that this June, ninth graders Neil Nie ’16 and Joseph Mollo ’16 roasted and toasted him, and, with Amie Keddy, Dean’s successor as upper school head, presented him with a photo collage featuring his nine years at Farewell Evening, as both presenter and emcee, as well as a card hand-crafted by Deb Stewart-Pettengill, Fine Arts Chair, and signed by the whole upper school (above). Dean leaves us now to become president and head of school at Brandon Hall in Atlanta, Georgia. He will immerse himself in governance, fundraising, and marketing, with plenty of travel; he already has a pickleball demonstration planned in China this fall, which should surprise no one. Dean has also been appointed an advisor for innovation in independent schools to The Association of Boarding Schools/North American Boarding Initiative (TABS/ STAY IN TOUCH NABI). The gifts that Dean brought to Bement—service, Dean J. Fusto Brandon Hall School dedication, humor, humility, The River House generosity, teamwork (and 1701 Brandon Hall Drive pickleball)—will stay with Atlanta, GA 30350 us for years to come.
BY ALICE GEARHART, UPPER SCHOOL LATIN, DEAN OF STUDENTS GRADES 6 AND 7
PAYING TRIBUTE TO THIRTY-ONE YEARS OF SERVICE
Merci beaucoup, Madame Pond! The thirty-one years of service Nancy Pond P’89 ’95 has provided to Bement almost defy description, largely because of Nancy’s incredibly wide range of roles at this school. Her time at Bement has reflected her love of the French language and culture, but it has also reflected her many personal interests, such as cello and knitting, as she has embodied for her students the lifelong pursuit of passions and pastimes. Most people know Nancy as a devoted and patient French teacher, one who can move seamlessly from teaching a classroom full of exuberant first graders to reviewing passé composé of avoir with eighth graders. Nancy’s dedication to her teaching has inspired so many students to develop and cultivate a love of the French language and French culture. Mackenzie Gage ’10 writes that, “I started studying French at Bement in seventh grade, and Mrs. Pond inspired me to learn more about the language and set me on a path to continue practicing and learning French throughout the rest of my life. I traveled to Paris with Mrs. Pond’s French trip in eighth grade, and I was able to immerse myself in the culture . . . . Since then, I continued taking French throughout high school and college, most recently spending a semester studying in Paris. Without Mrs. Pond’s enthusiasm for the language, I would not have developed such a strong passion for [French].” As Mackenzie and countless other students have experienced, Nancy’s years of organizing and leading the biennial French trip have provided students with an amazing opportunity for international travel and cultural immersion. Her special, long-standing connection with L’Ermitage School in Maisons-Laffitte has allowed for the development of an exchange program: L’Ermitage students visit Bement every other spring, attending classes and staying with Bement students, and on the French trip, Bement students have homestays with many of the same L’Ermitage students who visited Bement. As the world language department chair, Nancy has shared her wisdom and skills with her colleagues and helped fellow teachers to succeed. Silvia Ribes-Mugnani, Bement’s Spanish teacher, says that “Nancy has contributed as a mentor, helping me to develop my teaching experience within a new environment, to understand and integrate this
new culture with my own, and to implement specific curricular programs.” But to think of Nancy solely as a French teacher is to do her a disservice. She spent time as a Bement parent when her two daughters attended the school; her daughter Rebecca ’95 currently serves on the board of trustees, as did Nancy’s husband, David, for many years. Nancy has been a seventh grade advisor for well over two decades, providing support and guidance to her advisees with a gentle yet steady hand. Nancy is a skilled cellist with the Pioneer Valley Symphony, but she has also graced the stage at Bement on occasion and led many strings ensemble electives during various mini-terms. Some people are aware that Nancy is an avid knitter, as she has knit through countless faculty meetings, but few know that many of her projects are baby sweaters that she donates to Knit for Kids, a program that distributes knit items to children living in poverty. Nancy has planned cotillion, the annual end-of-the-year dance, for years, and works tirelessly to make it a magical evening for students and chaperones alike. All of this, and more, Nancy has always done with her signature unflappability and positive attitude. She radiates calm and competency, and she makes even the most daunting task seem effortless. Nancy’s retirement is so well-deserved, but it will seem strange to begin the school year without her. We can only hope that we can continue in her footsteps and, by doing so, pay tribute to Nancy as an educator, as a colleague, and as a friend.
THE POND FAMILY HAS ESTABLISHED THE NANCY POND WORLD LANGUAGE FUND TO SUPPORT WORLD LANGUAGE STUDIES AT BEMENT. SEE MORE ON PAGE 50.
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BY DAVID BELCHER P’07, DEAN OF BOARDING, UPPER SCHOOL HISTORY
HONORING A REMARKABLE DORM PARENT
Thank you, Whitneys! After eleven years of service to Bement’s boarding community, Emily Whitney, along with her husband John, and three boys, Jake, Sam, and Cooper, are leaving the dorm to take up residence in their own new home. To say that they will be missed grossly understates the impact that they have had on countless children and colleagues. From 2005 to 2012, Emily resided in the back apartment of Wright House and took great care of our older girls. In 2012, she and her family moved seamlessly into Jiayi House to care for our younger boys. Throughout it all, she was the quintessential maternal figure in the lives of kids whose own mothers were very far away. When I reflect on how life will change at Bement with the Whitneys gone, I quickly realize that I will no longer come home after school to hear the familiar sound of an aluminum bat hitting a tennis ball on the lawn in front of the dorms, as the Whitney boys recruit some of the boarders for a game of baseball. I will no longer walk into Jiayi House after evening study hall to see the kids gathered in the common room, enjoying a lovingly prepared snack, as Emily begins the process of helping each of her kids, her own three as well as 8-10 of the boarders in her care, wind down from the day that has passed and prepare for the day to come. I will no longer be able to ask John, a Greenfield fire captain, to help me one more time execute a fire drill procedure. I accept these changes with great reluctance. Others will feel their departure from Bement as well. Our boarders will no longer have Emily’s uncanny ability to anticipate their needs and make sure they have all they need, whether Monday Dress or sports equipment, ready to go. Nor will she be assembling a tempting array of prizes for our cherished games of Friday night bingo. She will also no longer be there to foster community activism by volunteering her dorm to serve a community meal in Greenfield once a term. Furthermore, her colleagues in boarding will no longer have her there to ask the oft-heard and deeply appreciated question: “What can I do to help?” When I returned to the dean of boarding role in September 2007, Emily was my rock. She and I would meet
(left) Emily Whitney with Neil Nie ‘16 in Jiayi House (right)The boarders’ annual hike up to The Rock
frequently in her apartment to brainstorm about weekend planning, and she willingly took on the role of boarder travel coordinator to help ease my transition. As I grew back into the job, my need to rely on Emily abated slightly, but my deep appreciation for her essential goodness and kindness only grew stronger. It is impossible to repay Emily for her selfless service to our school. It is our hope that the two new rocking chairs that reside on the Whitneys’ front porch in Greenfield will be well used by Emily and John, as they watch their three boys grow into fine young men with the same love and attention she has provided for so many here at Bement.
Pagna Donlevy presents Frank Henry with the flag of Cambodia, her homeland, for the Barn.
More Farewells Pagna Sophal Donlevy, upper school mathematics teacher, is moving on to continue her education.
Katrina Spicer-Lindquist, upper school history teacher and department chair, is also leaving and can be reached at email@example.com
With the retirement of Carole Pennock PTT, P’90 ’94 and the departure of Dean Fusto P’17, we are pleased to have two well-respected and qualified women step into these important leadership roles. Emily Lent Hemingway, the new lower school head, taught third grade in the lower school before moving to the upper school to teach English, history, and computer arts. Arriving at Bement in 2007, she is a dorm parent and active member of the boarding community. She will maintain her role as a dorm parent in Jackson House, in addition to her new responsibilities. Amie M. Keddy, the new upper school head, joined the Bement faculty in 2002. She has taught upper school English and fine arts, also served as a dorm parent for three years, and chaired the English department. She will continue to teach ninth grade English as upper school head.
(left to right) Emily Lent Hemingway, Amie M. Keddy, and Christopher Wilson
Rosemarie Gage P’10, third grade teacher, and Martha Price P’07 ’10, Science Department Chair, are now trained and certified to report severe
faculty & staff notes weather to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for our local area after attending a SKYWARN Weather Watcher Training Program at UMass Amherst in May, sponsored by the National Weather Service in Taunton, MA. Fourth grade teacher, Theresa Mullens P’99, and librarian, Marcia Bernard, have been awarded a Helen A. Murphy Mini-Grant from the New England Reading Association. Their project Hooked on Books will encourage and promote reading for pleasure in the upper elementary grades. The NERA board agreed unanimously to fund this worthwhile proposal. In the fall, Emily Lent Hemingway and Rosemarie Gage P’10 each served on an AISNE (Associated Independent Schools of New England) visiting team for schools undergoing their decennial re-accreditation process. Over a four day visit, a team observes all aspects of the school, interviews all employees, and evaluates the school based on 50 criteria. Finally, the team members collaborate to write a thorough report of the visit, providing commendations and recommendations for the school. This was the third AISNE visiting team assignment for both Bement teachers. Several faculty members received support from the Clagett Professional Development Fund this year. Upper school mathematics teacher and dorm
MILESTONES This year marked the anniversary of the following faculty and staff: 10 YEARS Alex Bartlett ’87 Blake Wilson 15 YEARS Ken Cuddeback Rosemarie Gage P’10 30 YEARS Martha Price P’07 ’10 35 YEARS Janice Currie P’99 ’02
Evelyn Rachelle Feitlinger was born in the wee hours of July 10, 2016 to Sarah and Ross Feitlinger. The new family is doing well! (photo below)
Welcome to our Bement family! Baby Lisle was born to Megan Tady and Alex Bartlett ’87 on October 27, 2015. She already wants to go to Bement, like her dad! (photo left)
parent Dan Bensen ’01 spent the summer exploring the scheduling capabilities of our Blackbaud software to improve our organizational efficiency. Orchestra Director Anna Wetherby was able to study the O’Connor Method for string teachers with worldrenowned fiddler and composer Mark O’Connor. And librarian Marcia Bernard’s grant will support the design Anna Wetherby with Mark O’Connor and coordination of a year-long faculty professional development program which will begin at our faculty meetings in August.
Kara Low Barrett and her husband, Adam, welcomed their first child, Jackson Barrett on March 16. (photo above)
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class notes ’50s Suzanne Purrington ’52 reported sad news that her husband, Al, passed away on April 29, 2016. Suzie, our thoughts are with you and we are sorry for your loss. George Withington ’52 sent in a nice note updating us on his current activities and recalling fond memories of Bement, “I hope to attend the alumni gathering in May. I turned 79 years old this past September. Bement has been a great school for me. I am still active, walking and bicycling in Nantucket a couple of weeks a year, and occasionally swimming. Keep up the good work at Bement.”
’60s Robin Whitten ’62 sent us the happy news that Grace Bement’s greatgreat-grandson, Fletcher Whitten, was born May 26, 2016. Parents, Denny and Kristin Whitten from Alexandria, VA, and grandparents, Robin Fletcher Whitten, greatand Rob Whitten great-grandson of Grace of Portland, ME, Bement, with his parents Denny and Kristin Whitten are delighted. Everyone is doing well! Carole Haigh Bilodeau ’65 has been married for 26 years and has four wonderful children. Two of her children are married and her oldest owns his own graphic design company with his wife. Her daughter is working for Apple and is also married. Her other two children are also doing well: one currently resides in New York City and works in marketing, while her youngest child is an engineer and plays polo. Carole has been teaching first grade for the past 25 years and resides in Newmarket, NH with her husband, Daniel, who works for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Keep in Touch! Recent marriage? Exciting adventure? New baby? Keep your classmates updated on the latest happenings in your life. All class notes also appear in the magazine’s online version. Phone: 413.774.3021 Fax: 413.774.4256 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Arthur Rogers ’68 wrote to us: “I have so many great memories of Bement. In fact, I now teach science to fourth, fifth, and sixth grades at the Advent School in Boston. My wife, Laura Johnson, and I live in Concord, MA. Our son, Luke, works for The Trustees of Reservations and lives in Cambridge, MA. Love to Bement! —Tooey”
’70s Gary Therien ’78 has been working for Wilson’s department store in Greenfield, MA, for 36 years now. Congratulations on this career milestone!
’90s Cecilia Jaso ’95 came back to Bement for a visit this spring and spent time with us in Snively House reminiscing about the good times she had at Bement. We had the pleasure of meeting her younger son, Elias. Cecilia’s older son, Emilio, was home in Mexico City, but we hope to meet him on the next visit! Cecilia and her husband, Victor, recently celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary. Together, they have opened a restaurant, Central de Quesos, in Mexico City. (photo below)
Cecilia Jaso ’95 with her husband, Victor, and sons, Elias and Emilio
Esme Stucker ’92, formerly known as Abby Potter, shared news about her recent work with vulnerable youth in Kolkata, India. She wrote a piece for the Tamalpa Institute spring newsletter reflecting on her teaching and learning experience. You can read it here: bement.org/esme-tamalpa.
Bobby Barrett ’96, Bernardo Carvalho ’96, and Roman Jirnih ’96 with Mr. and Mrs. OB.
Roman Jirnih, Bernardo Carvalho, Bobby Barrett, and Kate Golding, class of ’96, were back for a visit and stopped in to see Mr. Belcher, who said it was heartwarming to see them all again. Roman is a film director, splitting his time between Moscow and Los Angeles. His son, Steophan, is five years old now. Bernardo is an actor and had been living in Rio before recently moving to New York City to act, write, and direct. Bobby is a chef, currently working at Hazel in Brattleboro, VT and continues to play music. They have all remained in contact over the years and have a very strong friendship. While in town, the group also stopped by to visit their beloved history teacher and dorm parent, Mr. OB (photo above) and also dropped by to see Scott Smith P’03, PF. After visiting his family and driving past Bement recently, we received this wonderful update from Gregory Harris ’99, “I’ve just accepted a job as the Assistant Curator of Photography at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. My wife, Dania, and our 2-year-old son, Emmett, will be moving there from Chicago at the end of the summer. In addition to the new job and the move, an essay I wrote about narrative uses of photography will be published by the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio this fall to accompany their exhibition “Telling Tales.” I hope all is well at Bement!”
Zerah Jakub ’99 wrote with exciting news, “I’m still working at George Washington’s Mount Vernon in the Education Outreach Department where we provide onsite, offsite, and online professional development for teachers around the country. My fiancé, Kevin, and I bought a house just outside Old Town Alexandria in April and are getting ready to tie the knot this October in Holyoke. It’s been a busy year, but exciting as well.”
the aughts Tim O’Brien ’00 and his wife, Tiff, recently welcomed their first child, Quinn Kenneth O’Brien, on July 14, 2016. Tim and Tiff currently live in Gardner, MA. Grandparents Kenneth PF and Carol O’Brien P’95 ’00 are thrilled to have Quinn, Tim, Tiff, and Megan ’95 nearby. Megan is our new alumni and development assistant as well as a dorm parent at Bement.
Alexandra Nagurney ’09 recently graduated summa cum laude from Lafayette College this past May. At Lafayette, she was a geology major and was a four year member of the crew team. This fall she will be moving to Blacksburg, VA, to start a Ph.D. program in geology at Virginia Tech. Good luck, Allie! Henry Jenkins with his grandfather, James (Jim) Lunt ’65, PTT, P’00 ’02 ’17 ’22
Sheehan Lunt Jenkins ’00, TT, her husband, Andy, and big sister, Nellie, welcomed Henry to their family this past fall. Congratulations! We were excited to hear from Elena Tillman ’02 that she and fellow alumna Sarah Young ’02 both recently graduated with doctorates in clinical psychology from William James College. Congratulations! Jeremy Goldsher ’04 is a coNew graduates Elena owner of The Tillman ’02 and Sarah Young ’02 Arts Block, a multi-venue, historic brick-and-mortar building located in the center of downtown Greenfield, MA, offering concerts, performances, event space, a café, and more. Find a list of upcoming events at theartsblock.com.
Quinn Kenneth O’Brien
’GB ’00 TT PTT P GP FA PF FR HOS IHOS FHS GGP
Alumna/us from Grace Bement era (1925-1947) Alumna/us Class Year Trustee Past Trustee Parent Grandparent Current Faculty or Staff Past Faculty or Staff Friend of Bement Head of School Interim Head of School Former Head of School Great Grandparent
Allison Rosenblatt ’05 wrote, “Hello! This is Ali Rosenblatt, class of ‘05. After living in Colombia for a year, I have returned to Antigua, Guatemala where I am once again working for Habitat for Humanity. I moved in with my partner, bought a motorcycle, and adopted a guinea pig. I encourage everyone to come visit Antigua because it is a gorgeous city with delicious coffee and views of volcanoes. Life is good!” A sharp-eyed alumna sent us this article about Gibb Zea ’05, written by fellow alum, Tao Tao Holmes ’07:
Makai Mason ’10 is a member of the Yale basketball team and had a careerhigh 31 points, including six of Yale’s final nine points, in the first round of the NCAA No wonder Makai knows tournament in March when Yale how to beat the double defeated Baylor team...years of experience! 79-75. Cheering for a Bement alum on national television was very exciting—we’re already looking forward to the college basketball season! Eliana Goldsher ’10 and You Jin Nam ’10 reunited after 10 years, in Seoul, South Korea, where You Jin now studies. They last were together as classmates in Ms. Olson’s fifth grade. You Jin is now studying to be a doctor at Ewha Women’s University and hopes to come to America next summer to get together with that fifth grade class from Bement she thinks about so often. Eliana is a junior at George Washington University studying international affairs and Chinese. She spent the last six months living and learning in China and Taiwan. Allen Vance ’12 just finished his freshman year at the University of Vermont where he is on the track team. Allen won the 500 meter run in a meet with Hartford in December. His sister, Mira ’15, attends Mercersburg Academy, where she also performed in Into the Woods this spring in Mercersburg’s production of the play. Curt Allen ’13 graduated from Tantasqua Regional School in Sturbridge, MA. He will be attending Boston College in the fall where he will major in management.
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 47
Phoebe Pliakas-Smith ’13 on the squash court at Pomfret
Phoebe Pliakas-Smith ’13 was recently awarded the Adrienne Taylor Biggert Girls Squash Award at Pomfret. This is awarded annually to that member of the girl’s varsity squash ladder whose level of achievement, dedication, and team spirit is exemplary and serves to foster respect for the girls squash program. Way to go, Phoebe!
Nancy PF and Peter FHS Drake P’90 ’93 ’96, Joan Butler P’83 ’84, and Frank Henry PTT, P’05 ’08, IHOS at commencement this June Jiayi Lu ’09 and her father, Xing Ping (Simon) Lu PTT, P’09, at her graduation from Dartmouth College this spring.
Celine ’14 and Perry ’15 Yam had lunch this spring with Shelley Jackson P’00, FHS who lives near them in New York City. Celine was just elected by her peers as vice president of student leaders at Holderness. Back at Bement, this year’s eighth grade class tended to sweet potatoes (a lesson in nurture and care), one of which was named in Perry’s honor.
Recent graduate Neil Nie ’16 with Apple CEO Tim Cook at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June
Shelley Jackson P’00, FHS, with Hon. Juliette McLennan ’60, PTT, P’85 and Stephanie McLennan ’85, PTT at the New York Yacht Club in November
A happy Yamily!
Haley Beecher ’15 visited Bement this fall and said she was enjoying her first year at Williston, playing JV soccer, singing in chorus, and other activities. This spring, Haley came back again to cheer on the ninth graders at the musical, Into the
Create a Legacy. If you are an alumnus/a with children, let us know. We have story hours and other kid-friendly events during the year. Have you considered a Bement education for your child? Contact the admission office at 413.774.4209 or email@example.com to get more information or schedule a visit.
In Memoriam Family, friends, and Bement alumni who passed away between August 1, 2015 and August 1, 2016. Patricia Caloon GP’04 Cecil Glazier PF Katherine Glazier PF Andrew Hobbs ’GB Gary Lawrence GP’20 ’22 William McClelland PTT, P’70 ’73 John Milne
Marie Noga GP’03 John A. Pistel P’04 ’06 D.W. Pratt PTT, P’88 ’94 Norma Simpson GP’16 R. Gary Stetson GP’14 ’18 Edward Stone PTT, P’79* Tessie Yazwinski GGP’20 ’22
* Missy Stone Picard ’79 also shared the sad news that her mother, Virginia, passed away in 2008.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
In June, Interim Head of School Frank Henry traveled to Asia with Kim Loughlin P’18, Director of Admission, and Leif Riddington P’18 ’20, Director of Secondary School Placement, for an extended visit with current boarding students, alumni, new students, and their families. Each leg of the trip was capped with a banquet where the students, alumni, and their families gathered to share and celebrate their Bement connection. The hosting families in Korea and China were generous and gracious, providing personal tours of the sights in their respective cities, as well as organizing the banquets. Banquets were held in Seoul, Beijing, and Shanghai. Bement’s boarding program enhances our entire community, as Mr. Henry noted, “The world of a single classroom when it has students only from local towns is not as large as when the classroom includes those from around the world.” We are grateful to all of the families who made the trip such a memorable and joyous occasion.
BEIJING, CHINA 2
SHANGHAI, CHINA 1
3 Beijing: 1 Hiking along the Great Wall 2 Bement alumni Dayang “Eddy” E ’14, Hao “Jimmy” Zhang ’15, Eddy’s mother Kemin Zhang, Shanyin Yang ’13, and Yueqi Du ’13 3 Out to dinner in Beijing with (clockwise from left) Difei “Phillips” He ’18, Frank Henry, Leif Riddington, Yutian “Tim” Fan ’18, Bruce and Anita Fan P’18, Chunliang Nie and Shuli Wang P’16, Xin Yin and Weiping He P’18, Yong Yang “Neil” Nie ’16, and Kate Loughlin ’18
Seoul: 1 Left to right, Sol Ahn ’16, Young Yoon “Peter” Won ’16, Min Ju Lee ’14, Min Jung Kang ’17, Kate Loughlin ’18, U Jin Jo ’16, and Ji Hyun Chae ’15 at the banquet in Seoul 2 Getting ready to set sail at the marina 3 Alumni Myung Geun “Tommy” Song ’14 and Keunyoung “Michelle” Kim ’12 Shanghai: 1 New students Guoran “Karina” Chen ’20, Tianqi “Angel” Zhou ’19, and Wanghaoyun “William” Yang ’19 joined current students Yuwei “Nicole” Zang ’19 and Kate Loughlin ’18 (second and third from left) on a visit to the Shanghai Natural History Museum 2 Bement parents Raymond Chen TT, P’15 ’17, Rain Lin P’18, Gillian Lu P’19, and Liqun Cai P’17 3 Leif Riddington with alumna Qi Zhu ’12
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 49
BY SARA BECTON ARDREY, P’22 ’24, DIRECTOR OF ALUMNI AND DEVELOPMENT NOTES FROM THE
Alumni and Development Office
NEW FUNDS AT BEMENT
We’re grateful for the many supporters who continue giving back to Bement and help provide this exceptional Bement experience to our students. Each gift makes a difference in our ability to live our mission at Bement. Our community’s generosity helped us to exceed our fundraising goals this year.
In celebration of Carole Pennock and Nancy Pond’s retirements this spring, we’re pleased to announce two new endowed funds, with many thanks to those who have already contributed:
(left) Sara Becton Ardrey (right) Megan O’Brien
Welcome Home, Megan O’Brien ’95
Megan O’Brien ’95 has joined our office as the new alumni and development assistant, and will also become a new dorm parent to our younger girls in Jackson House. Megan is the daughter of Kenneth PF and Carol O’Brien P’95 ’00 and grew up in the dorms at Bement. She’s living and breathing proof of how the Bement experience can shape our students! Megan brings excellent organizational and relationship management skills to our work, as well as a deep appreciation of and love for Bement. We are thrilled to have an alumna in our alumni and development office and as a new boarding parent—Megan knows Bement well and we are happy to welcome her home!
CONTACT THE ALUMNI AND DEVELOPMENT OFFICE Please send us your updated contact information so we can stay connected. Phone 413.774.3021 Fax 413.774.4256 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
THE BOSTON “B” PARTY AT THE ALGONQUIN CLUB
CAROLE PENNOCK LOWER SCHOOL FUND Established by her family, this endowed fund supports the lower school in appreciation of Carole, recognizing her 34 years of dedication to Bement as lower school head, trustee, Parents Association president, kindergarten teacher, and proud parent of Chris ’90 and Alex ’94.
This spring, alumni gathered at the Algonquin Club in Boston’s Back Bay to share Bement memories and meet Christopher Wilson P’26, our new head of school. Tell White ’GB, TT introduced Frank Henry PTT, P’05 ’08, IHOS, who shared remarks on the state of the school. Chris Wilson also spoke and expressed his enthusiasm at joining the Bement community.
THE NANCY POND WORLD LANGUAGE FUND Established in 2016 by her family, this endowed fund will support language programs in celebration of Nancy’s 31 years of dedication to the growth and nurture of Bement students and the world language department.
TO DONATE TO THESE OR OTHER ENDOWED FUNDS, PLEASE VISIT BEMENT.ORG/ OTHERFUNDS.
MORE PHOTOS AT BEMENT.ORG/BPARTY
BEMENT IS COMING TO NYC - SAVE THE DATE On February 9, 2017, Shelley FHS and Rob PF Jackson P’00 will be hosting an alumni gathering at their apartment at the New York International School in New York City. Stay tuned for more information, and make sure we have your current contact information by emailing us at email@example.com.
The Phoenix Society
Did you know that some gifts to Bement cost nothing now but will leave a lasting legacy and impact on the school? Planned gifts can be made through a trust, by making Bement a beneficiary in your will, retirement plan, life insurance plan, or bank account documents. Giving this way will help ensure Bement remains strong for years to come. To learn more, contact your attorney or Bement’s alumni and development office.
BEMENT’S REPORT OF GIVING WILL BE AVAILABLE ONLINE THIS FALL AT BEMENT.ORG/GIVING.
2016 BUSINESS REPORT
A MESSAGE FROM KEN CUDDEBACK, BUSINESS MANAGER
he 2016 school year marked a year of transition for Bement as we welcomed Frank Henry as our interim head of school and the search for the next permanent head of school was concluded in the fall. The year began with an enrollment of 206 students, of which 37 were boarders. The focus of Frank and the school was to complete the search for a new head of school and prepare operations for the new headâ€™s arrival in July 2016. The October announcement of the hiring of Christopher Wilson as Bementâ€™s next head of school completed this effort. The school began the year with a projected $5.4 million operating budget for FY2016. Total tuition revenue (net of financial aid) fell slightly over prior year results and totaled $4.5 million, combined with over $340,000 in contributions, $342,000 in student services revenue, and $265,000 in summer program and investment income. Expenses for the year are also estimated to be about $5.4 million with instructional expenses of $2.35 million, general and administrative expenses of $867,200, and other operating expenses of over $2.2 million. Cash funding for the capital plans for the year included the use of cash reserves specifically earmarked for the various projects undertaken. As we conclude the 2015-2016 school year, the board of trustees, administration, and Bement community wish to acknowledge the work and commitment made by Frank Henry on behalf of the school. We look forward to the start of the Chris Wilson era and to providing the resources necessary to support the continued mission of the school.
Student Services 6.3%
Summer Programs 2.5% Contributions and Gifts 6.3% Investment and Interest Income 2.4%
Tuition and Fees 82.5%
% of Total
Tuition and Fees (net of Financial Aid) $4,493,300 Student Services 342,000 Summer Programs 135,000 Contributions and Gifts 340,000 Investment and Interest Income 130,000 TOTAL REVENUE
82.5% 6.3% 2.5% 6.3% 2.4%
% of Total
Instructional $2,348,600 43% Student Programs and Services 921,500 17% General and Administrative 867,200 16% Development and Admissions 490,100 9% Operations and Maintenance 599,900 11% General Institutional 175,400 3% Cash Reserves 35,600 1% TOTAL EXPENSES
Period Ending June 30, 2016
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 51
Really, time is your soulmate.
Time and the Oddball We all know life is busy. What I didn’t know when I started teaching many years ago is that even a well-loved teaching career can lead us to experience the very struggles we are teaching to overcome: time-management problems, over-scheduling, organizational issues, and the almost constant lure of the internet.
And then, seven years ago, I came to realize that in a busy life I, like many of you who may be reading this piece, had betrayed time. Betrayed may be a harsh word. A condemnation, perhaps. I’ll put it another way. Time and I had broken up. That’s right. I was so distracted by my adult chores, I hadn’t realized our relationship was actually over. How can a person break up with time? I don’t blame you for asking. Before I answer, let’s travel back in time a little. No, not in a Back to the Future kind of way. Rather, I invite you to rewind your memory to an era when you are confident you remember having a firm grasp on the art of concentration. When I press the plastic rewind button on my VHS life player, I return to a person who could concentrate. Despite distractions, I could really concentrate. Not for mere minutes, but for hours. Hours without stopping to check email. Without pausing to send a text. Without Googling a thing. Now please, don’t jump to conclusions. I don’t carry an anti-internet banner or embroider Luddite on my Bement blazer. Nothing could be further from the truth. For goodness sake, I Googled Bob Dylan quotes just to be sure I had correctly worded this essay’s epigraph. When I say hours of concentration, I mean an entire afternoon sitting on a park bench reading a new novel cover-to-cover. Hours sketching a still life. More hours layering washes of watercolor that bring the entire scene to life. As a teacher of students who have grown up on the smorgasbord of choices technology offers, I am no stranger to conversations with colleagues or 3 a.m. ponderings about “what has happened to our kids and their ability to concentrate.” I don’t know for certain who or what is to blame, but I’ve recently wondered if something other than the internet may cause our persistent distraction and obsessive attraction to our smartphones and computer screens. I don’t think we can simply say, “Aha! Technology! There’s the culprit!” After all, there are those among us who are in love with technology; and really, where would we be if throughout the centuries there’d been no love of that? Typing this last sentence, I look up from my laptop screen and catch sight of my reflection in the twilightbacked glass of my writing room window. There is one window in this room. I happen to write facing it—reflected in it. I search the laptop screen. No reflection. Perhaps no room for reflection. In the words, I can see many
possibilities, but I do not see myself in those possibilities. What I do see is that the ubiquitous screens in our lives may partially block our ability to look up and reflect. *** I am not a trained meditator. Teacher, yes. Writer? Certainly…as trained as one can be. But meditator? After seven years of starting each morning with a few minutes of seated meditation, and often practicing considerably longer sessions, I’ve begun to feel significant results. More patience. Less reactivity. A calmer demeanor. An increased sense of empathy. Definitely a stronger propensity for seeing and attempting to understand other people’s points of view. About two years ago, during upper school post-lunch meetings, I and several other faculty members began to experience a steady climb in our blood pressures as day after day our 120 middle schoolers pushed, pummeled, screeched, scrambled, or otherwise made a chaotic entrance into the meeting room. What could be the antidote to this stressful transition from lunch to our fifth period class? What about meditation? I suggested. Give them a sliver of time to sit. To make friends with selfreflection. My boss agreed. “Absolutely,” he said. “As long as you’re willing to lead it.” In the classroom, over the years, I’ve gained confidence. I speak openly and directly with my students. I explain the why of things. I’m an adult who doesn’t mind answering the embarrassing questions you don’t even dare ask the health teacher. But leading 120 kids and the faculty in daily meditation seemed different from being in my classroom. It sounded scary. Even presumptuous. What if they hated it? Or thought I was bad at it? What if, I asked myself, those were some of the exact reasons I should do it? More than two years have passed since the first day I led group meditation at our school. Last fall, a trusted colleague asked if we could expand our meditation time. Could we create a setting where students and teachers have more space to sit? More encouragement to concentrate? A better configuration to hear my voice? Could we? Yes, I thought, we could. Are we starting to love meditation? I wondered. That very afternoon, I invited faculty to sit on the floor, closer to the kids. I explained to the students why having more physical space, and not touching each other— they love to lounge on each other like puppies—would help them enjoy these minutes we had to “come back to ourselves and reflect.” The students I teach lament a lack of time. The adults in their lives wonder why they “spend so much time on the internet.” Lack of time and time spent. I learned recently about a phenomenon called “The Oddball Effect.” As I understand it, the effect goes something like this: If I were
to show you a short film in which, one after another, geese fly by, but then suddenly, say five minutes in, the camera cuts to the sandy ground below and a bright pink flamingo stands there, basking in the sun for just a few seconds, the footage of that flamingo would seem to last longer than any of the geese images, not because the flamingo actually stayed on screen for a greater length of time, but because the geese were all alike, occupying time in a predictable way, until, behold! The oddball—the flamingo—asserted its difference. Neuroscientist David Eagleman, who coined the name The Oddball Effect, says that, “Time is this rubbery thing. It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up.” When we meditate, when we pause, nothing is ever “as expected.” The brain surprises us constantly. Time stretches itself. As with the Oddball Effect, time expands. In meditation, we give ourselves the space to develop a relationship with time, and the experiences we have in minutes seem as if they ought to have taken days to become.
It’s a Thursday afternoon, and I am surrounded by a room full of middle schoolers and several adults. I watch a curlyhaired, apple-faced sixth grade boy sit on the carpeted meeting room floor. He crosses his legs. His neck lengthens. His eyes remain closed and his eyelashes rest. One hour ago, this boy wriggled and squawked his way through my art class. You might be perplexed by this inconsistency in his behavior. A while back, I would have joined in your perplexity. But not anymore. Instead, I find myself smiling, and admiring a boy, who usually struggles to keep his voice below recess-decibels, relish the refuge of this quiet, reflective space. And there it is. What I think we may need to remember. What carving out time to meditate or write this essay has taught me to do: Whether it’s for minutes a day or hours a week, we can take time by the hand and return to ourselves. As a teacher and a writer, as a person, the more I pause to look back at myself, the more I catch reflections of what I need and love. After years of exploring why meditation is so valuable, I have rekindled my relationship with time. I realize: We were soul mates all along. And, perhaps, for my students, meditation is the oddball. The flamingo standing still after fifty geese have run honking by. I see that this window of time, a time to grow quiet and reflect, has become one of the most oddly important parts of their day.
BY AMIE KEDDY, UPPER SCHOOL ENGLISH, INCOMING UPPER SCHOOL HEAD
BEMENT BULLETIN 2016 53
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Parents of Alumni If this publication is addressed to a child who no longer maintains a permanent address at your home, please notify the Bement Alumni and Development Office with a new mailing address. Call 413.774.3021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Looking back at all eight of Bement’s previous heads of school and offering a warm welcome to Christopher Wilson, the newest head of our Bement family.
1 Grace Bement 1925-1947 2 Mary “Gug” Drexler and Katharine “Kay” Bartlett 1947-1971 3 Charles F. Hamilton 1971-1974 4 John N. Butler 1974-1985 5 Peter Drake 1985-1999 6 Shelley Borror Jackson 1999-2015 7 Frank Henry 2015-2016 8 Christopher H. Wilson 2016Keep up on Bement news through email and Facebook. To join the Bement Community email list, send a message to email@example.com. Alumni, parents of alumni, grandparents, past faculty and staff, and all Bement friends may be included.
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