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Grandparent’s Day - May 4, 2012

1791 Letter ~ May 2012



“Bully” As most of you are likely aware, Harvey Weinstein recently released a powerful documentary film entitled “Bully.” Documenting a tragic array of pre-adolescent situations, it is a compelling call to action for all of us. A number of you had forwarded me press releases leading up to its arrival, and I was intrigued to a degree that I made a point of seeking out the film in New York City when I traveled to a recent alumni event. Originally the film was only released in New York and Los Angeles. Within the past week, the movie has now made its way to the Seacoast, and I would imagine many of our parents and students have had a chance to view it. The power of the film is punctuated by the sadness of those who are systemically persecuted for being different and by the debilitating sense of hopelessness that can be felt within school cultures where bullying runs rampant and unchecked. While my primary reaction to the film was a sense of gratitude that my daughter attends a school like Berwick, I was also forced to look our culture and my leadership in some important ways. What aspects of the movie might be present in our culture – on the Hilltop? In particular, the portrayal of school administrators as mere politicians with complete ineptitude to enact change would make any Head of School wonder: Is that how our parents view us? The term bullying is unfortunately used carelessly in schools everywhere, and I have attended many conferences with other 2

Greg Schneider

Head of School

heads from fine independent schools who bemoan both the murkiness and legal context about conflict resolution between children that is now thrust into the center of this conversation. As conversations unfold among groups of thoughtful educational leaders, questions begin to emerge about who is ultimately responsible for these types of behaviors: students, parents, or school. While the legal definition of bullying refers to behavior that is specifically targeted toward an individual, is clearly repeated, and is impactful – I certainly hope that we can achieve a far higher standard at Berwick Academy. Watching the film made me proud that our Board has already taken steps to understand and proactively think about this issue at our school. In particular, I wanted our greater community to know that our Trustee Mission and Culture committee did some important work this year on the context of “mean behavior” within our Middle School in particular. A carefully crafted survey with definitions of terms was administered to every Middle School student. The results were both heartening and concerning. True repeated bullying at our school seems extremely rare but mean behavior between Middle School students may not be as rare we might like. We confirmed suspicions that adult presence matters a great deal in preventing these behaviors. Spaces like the Great Room and recess require continued vigilance, in particular. While the movie focuses a great deal on bus behavior, we were happily surprised to see minimal response from students about concerning bus behavior. While it would be misleading 1791 Letter ~May 2012

to say that we have had no incidents on the bus this year that have been of concern, it does feel as if we have made some headway compared to five years ago. As Head of School, I often remind parents that Berwick needs to provide a safe environment, but it cannot hope to provide a “stressfree” environment for children. It seems obvious to us as administrators that these concerning behaviors hit their peak in the sixth and seventh grade year and then begin to subside somewhat as our students move into the culture of the Upper School. This is not to suggest that isolated incidents never pop up throughout the community. While Weinstein’s movie certainly offered a window into parental frustration regarding inaction to perceived bullies, it is also true that our school has a responsibility to look out for all of our students, even those accused of mean behaviors. At the trustee retreat recently, our Board engaged in a thoughtful debate about the appropriate line between creating a culture where mean behavior is not tolerated vs. helping our students become more resilient and able to resolve conflict on their own. Some asked at what point we might shield our children too greatly from the real world. There was a thoughtful conversation on all sides of the issue, and it was helpful for me to watch the trustees wade into the complexity that faces school administrators each and every day. I worry a great deal about what kids do when we are not looking. I have made it a personal priority to create a professional culture of adults that will not look the other way during

BERWICK A C A D E M Y hard moments with students. Neither our students nor our employees are perfect people, but I do believe that their hearts are very much in the right place. I also know that, as a school, we can do even better in creating a healthy school culture. Under the leadership of Cindy Briggs and the input of the Mission and Culture committee, we are considering additional programs that might assist our students – particularly in the Middle School. The unveiling of our Social Thinking curriculum in the Lower School has been an important effort in this regard. Another interesting consideration for me has been to contemplate what we should do as a school regarding the arrival of this particular movie. I have even had an Upper School student suggest an all-school field trip of sorts. While powerful, the movie involves detailed descriptions of Middle School students hanging themselves, and a number of incredibly disturbing and sad deaths. While one could see value in bringing buses of our kids to see the film, I am quite sure there would be mixed reviews from our parents regarding such a decision. I would encourage you, as parents, to research the film and decide whether you would like to view it with or without your children. While I believe that it would present children with a powerful reminder of what their casual actions can become, it also offers the viewer a heavy burden to bear upon leaving the theater. While I like to think things like “that could never happen here,” I know that this is untrue. Every Head of School enters each day just a phone call away from a tragedy that could bring a community to its knees. The conversation surrounding mean behavior and the School’s approach

to responding to concerns need to be a continued source of open dialogue between the parents and the School. I certainly welcome this conversation in the spirit of making our School the best it can possibly be. While I know we do not catch every comment, eye roll, or offensive text, I hope you know as parents that we work hard to create a safe and supportive community here. We want to know when your child is having a problem with life at school in any way. And while it is undoubtedly our commitment and obligation to create a safe environment on campus in all ways possible, we also depend on the support of our families to partner with us towards this goal. This requires patience, an open mind, and a certain amount of trust. For all of the thinking and hand wringing I have been doing in the wake of watching this film and thinking about this topic, there is only one thing that is entirely clear to me: no one can take this on alone. Summer Camp Sign Up Just a reminder that Berwick will be offering the following summer programs on campus

emergency permission forms can be downloaded at www. For general school or camp information, contact Cindy Briggs at 207-384-2164 or Art of Seeing I am pleased to announce that we will be offering a section of Art of Seeing on campus this summer with Lynne Wildnauer to those students who are interested in creating more flexibility in their schedule by completing this graduation requirement during the last two weeks of June. It is a great option for students who plan to take a different sixth course, like choir or band, or for those who crave more immediate access to the rest of the art curriculum. Spring Concerts This year, our spring concerts will be arranged by music type rather than by grade level. This new format offers an interesting change to our regular routine and will allow for some exciting sharing and collaboration between the Middle and Upper divisions. Schedule Tuesday, May 15 5/6 Band, 7/8 Band, MS, Jazz Band, US Symphonic Band, US Jazz Band, 5/6 African, 7/8 African, US African

Multi-Day Sports Camp June 18-22; $200 Dance Camp June 25-29 K-3 $100, 4-12 $200

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Study Skills August 6-17 $400

Tuesday May 22 5/6 Orchestra, 7/8 Orchestra, US Chamber, 5/6 Guitar, 7 Guitar, 8, Guitar

Jumpstart the School Year August 22-24 $200

Wednesday May 23 LS Chorus, 5/6 Chorus, 7/8 Chorus, US Chorus



1791 Letter ~ May 2012


continued on pg 10...


Peter Saliba - Upper School Director

Upper School News It is this time of year when I receive a number of phone calls from parents about two related topics. The first comment/question/feedback has to do with the amount of homework. And the second has to do with which courses should my son/daughter enroll in for next year. I will not profess to know the answer for each situation (I have 296 unique situations), but I thought it might be useful to share some observations about these two issues. Designing the proper homework assignment remains one of the most difficult tasks for any teacher. First and foremost, we try to avoid giving assignments that are simply hoops to jump through. Although there are times when repetitive tasks are necessary, the best homework assignments over the course of the year incorporate a balance between introducing/reinforcing material pertinent to the course, and asking students to think independently. That may sound like a fairly straightforward task, but when you consider the different learning styles, abilities and extra-curricular commitments of a typical Berwick class of fifteen students, it is complex. For example, last week I gave students a short ten minute video lecture on the Silk Road to evaluate. When I asked them how long it took for the assignment, two students said fifteen minutes, a larger number said twenty, and then the remainder said close to an hour. (I designed it for about 30 minutes). A similar range of timeframes would be offered if I gave a reading assignment from our text book. My point here is that when you 4

take into consideration all the variables of your typical classroom, crafting an assignment that fits perfectly with each student is incredibly difficult.

under this scenario. You should help them manage this aspect of their lives as we head into summer and think about next year.

With this in mind, I would also say that students who find themselves faced with an inordinate load ALWAYS have the option of speaking with an individual teacher AHEAD of an assignment due date. We try and coordinate our major assignments across grade levels at the end of each trimester by sharing our major assignment lists. However, there are occasions when due to a unique set of circumstances, a student might be caught in a bind. They should not go it alone; they should seek some support from their teacher. Many students are good at availing themselves of this option, but sometimes they forget or are uncomfortable asking for an extension. As a parent, you can keep an eye on this type of situation and help your student with crossing this bridge if it presents itself. While student faculty relationships are something that we try to emphasize, sometimes the fear of disappointing a teacher can be a daunting thought.

Homework load is directly and proportionally related to course selection and families should keep in mind the combined effect of honors/ AP courses. For example, it might be advisable to take AP Physics, AP Biology and AP Calculus as a senior interested in math and science. However, unless the demonstrated track record under similar loads is there, you will need to compensate in other areas to make this a viable option. We do have some filters on our end (we review all honors courses requests for students requesting three or more honors/AP courses) but each student is unique and we could use your help in making sure that some unrestrained enthusiasm in the spring during the course selection process does not turn into a disaster in the fall. Every year, I usually get one or two students who sneak past our best efforts and spend a great deal of time and effort trying to get out of either a significant academic or emotional hole because they took on too much. This happens usually the last week of October and/or the first week of November.

Another role you can have as a parent in managing loads is outside activities. If your son or daughter is taking a number of honors classes, playing on a travel team, participating in a Berwick theater production, volunteering at the soup kitchen and doing SAT prep every weekend, there may be some negative effects. Teenagers might be able to get away with this as a ninth or tenth grader, but most juniors and seniors would struggle 1791 Letter ~May 2012

With all this being said, we are not a perfect school. I would encourage you to speak with the teacher or your advisor if you see a recurring pattern that is impacting your family. We can’t fix a problem in the system if we don’t know about it. If you bring it to our attention, we continued on pg. 10...

Rosemary Zurawel - Middle School Director

Middle School News Education is one endeavor that is responsible for change, but has no product to show for it. Those of us who dedicate our lives to effecting changes in the minds of children seldom see the fruits of our labors and are not often charged to dream big. That paradigm shifted for us in late April during the professional day on campus when teachers met to discuss issues that matter; ethical, practical, and curricular. Shifting a curriculum trend in a school as old as Berwick Academy is a bit like turning an ocean liner around. Sure, the longer one leans on the ship, the more movement is felt. It just takes time. Here is an example of a change in math instructional plans that has been on the collective radar since early fall along with the rationale for the changes that will impact next year’s eighth graders. Math and foreign language learning are very similar in that both demand frequent exposure, direct instruction, and daily practice to master. In foreign languages, the Middle School approach is to divide a level I high school program roughly in half, delivering part A in the seventh grade and part B in the eighth grade. This division allows students more review and deeper exploration of the target language. Exiting eighth grade students are competent and confidently prepared for level II as freshmen. Taking a page from this long and successful curriculum practice, the Middle School math teachers have worked this year in consultation with the Upper School Math Department to examine and to adapt the seventh

and eighth grade math curriculum, creating an Algebra IA for seventh grade students and Algebra IB for the eighth grade students. Knowing how important it is for teachers to achieve a pace of learning that permits frequent practice along with the integration of projects, this new two-year course will permit all seventh grade students to move through the first half of the text, covering the content that has been documented on the curriculum maps. Currently, there is significant overlap that justifies this change. Students who are not developmentally ready for the second half of Algebra IB may take the Algebra ½ in eighth grade. Precocious math learners at the end of sixth grade may qualify to enter Algebra IB in seventh grade and enroll in Upper School geometry as eighth graders. Piloting this program in academic year 2012-2013 will permit the faculty in both the Middle and Upper Schools to monitor the achievement of the students and the flow of the curriculum. As with any change, the pilot year is intended to be spent acquiring data and evaluating the impact upon students, their learning, and the challenges. The faculty members in both the Middle and Upper School divisions are particularly interested in the secure foundation in abstract thinking that this program is intended to provide. As this spring unfolds and summer lurks around the corners of each classroom, we all recognize that social changes lie ahead. A number 1791 Letter ~ May 2012

of students leave for lengthy summer camps, where the old-fashioned art of letter writing is the communication medium. Some families will complete a move to new schools with their children. Supporting a child who realizes that changes are ahead can be a challenge. Whether through conscious thought or not, middle school-aged students can often sabotage their own separation from a school and friends by alienating their peers. I often call this pattern, “It’s easier to leave an enemy than a friend.” The most successful transitions are supported by reassurance at home that the ties to friends can be sustained, even in a new school. A quick and simple way to sustain those ties is for a child to have an email address to share before departure. Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail are all free subscriptions, and your child may collect friends’ email addresses into an electronic address book early. The world is a relatively small place with electronic communication that includes Skype and chat features. The Middle School students and faculty will make one final trip of the year to Canobie Lake Park located in Salem, NH on Friday, May 25. This is a social event that is supervised by the entire crew of the Middle School. If parents plan to head to points south on that day, they are welcome to pick up their children prior to the bus departure for Berwick at 3:30 p.m. Those returning to Berwick will arrive in time for the 5:00 p.m. buses or for parents to pick up. We hope for a great event with warm weather. Certain dress code restrictions will be enforced continued on pg 10... 5

Joel Hawes - Lower School Director

Lower School News It seems so complex, and it is. It also appears so basic, and it is. Teaching and learning in the twenty-first century brings with it many complicating factors: using technology meaningfully; integrating diverse subject areas; documenting student growth; and ensuring students’ social-emotional development. While there are certainly other important areas beyond this short list, the aforementioned represents a reasonable beginning. As stated, teaching and learning in the twenty-first century can also be uncomplicated. Whenever you base a program around the excitement and enthusiasm of skills, concepts, projects and, ultimately, big ideas…good things naturally follow. Motivation comes from short- and long-term interactions and initiatives that at this time of year leave us wondering, “How did the year fly by so quickly?” While this column (in consideration of teaching and learning) ultimately highlights students and teachers, it clearly connects everyone who contributes to the life of the school. Parents, trustees, staff and administration…we all play distinct roles in the schooling experience. During the school year, we have taken on initiatives that connect to the brave new world of the twentyfirst century. On that list, technology assumes a lead position. In the Lower School, we have added interactive 6

white boards, we have piloted iPads, we have used devices such as flip-cameras and, of course, our bank of laptops. We have also successfully introduced online math learning programs. More importantly we have taken on these tools and resources in a manner that has added further breadth and depth to the thinking skills developed across the homeroom and unified arts curricula. Subject area integration gives students a better understanding of the relevance of knowledge and skills in the greater context of learning, rather than as isolated pockets of material. From our thematic Lower School Production to our emergent Pre-Kindergarten curriculum, we have seen a greater emphasis on this approach in the Lower School. Much work remains in terms of ensuring that cross-disciplinary approaches become a regular and systematic part of our program, yet I am pleased at the place we find ourselves in at this point in the school year. Documenting student’s academic growth remains an important part of our Division’s efforts. I appreciate the background work that has gone into changing from the Terra Nova exam to the different test components of the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) exam. The third and fourth grade students will take the skills-based CTP test in October, and the students from second grade and below will take the CPAA test three times per year (fall, winter, spring) to ascertain their progress in math, reading and writing. We have also successfully moved to a trimester report card model which has given parents more updated 1791 Letter ~May 2012

student information over the course of the year. Finally, social-emotional learning continues to get as much press as an integral component of twenty-first century schools. Certainly Berwick’s mission statement (over 200 years strong) underscores the importance of this initiative with its focus on virtue and useful knowledge. We are in such a strong place in this area with our Responsive Classroom foundation and our Social Thinking skills infused into meaningful classroom experiences. While addressing the perhaps complicated factors involved within current teaching and learning trends, the ease of jumping into a full division experience like ours becomes so… comfortable! It has been an amazing year, and while I have been in this place before (disbelief at how quickly the year has moved along), I am, once again, amazed at the fact that I am writing this entry in mid-May. Of course, some important culminating events still remain: the second through fourth grade Lower School chorus joining the other divisions for an evening concert, the division-wide Young Authors morning and our Closing Recognition Assembly, where we will honor our departing fourth grade class. Thank you to our Lower School community. You have all added to the joy and commitment found in approaching each day with support for the Lower School teaching and learning experience.

Rob Quinn - Athletic Director

Berwick Academy Alums Compete in NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Tournament Keegan Mehlhorn ’08 and Aaron Harris ’09 recently competed in the Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship Tournament at their respective schools. Keegan, a senior captain and midfielder for Bowdoin College, had a terrific senior season scoring 22 goals and notching seven assists. He missed five games due to injury during the season, but came back for their NESCAC and NCAA tournament run. Bowdoin lost in the NESCAC Finals to Tufts in double overtime in which Keegan scored a hat trick. The Polar Bears eventually lost to Union College in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. As many of you know Keegan’s mom, Zan Mehlhorn is a long standing faculty member here at BA. Aaron Harris had a stellar junior year at Western New England University being named the Defensive Player-of-the-Year in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. Aaron led his team in caused turnovers with 28 and was second on ground balls with 41. He also started in all 18 games played this season at defense. Aaron helped his team win the Commonwealth Coast conference title and earn an automatic bid to the national tournament. The Golden Bears lost to Rochester Institute of Technology in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. Please join us in congratulating two former student-athletes from Berwick Academy competing and contributing at the national level in Division III Men’s Lacrosse.

Athletics News

Big Thank You to BPC for the Fund-A-Need Project Our Athletic Department and Movement Arts Department are extremely grateful for the Berwick Parent Community who generously chose our building as the Fund-ANeed project at the auction. We are honored by such a gracious gesture and are humbled by the response. Thanks to all of you who donated towards this worthy cause. Beyond the noticeable improvements that many of you have seen in the athletic center, we are looking forward to using the Fund-A-Need towards new sound systems in the dance studio and wood gym, storage seating in the front and back entrances, classroom upgrade with video station, and upgrades to our athletic training room equipment. All of these items will benefit our student experience immensely. Golf Classic Mark your calendar for Thursday, September 20 for the 22nd Annual Bulldog Golf Classic. Last year we had a great turnout and this year with the date so close to our Alumni Weekend events at BA on Saturday, September 22, we hope to have a big crowd once again. The proceeds from the tournament fund many improvements to Berwick Academy’s athletic facilities. Last year, the Athletics Boosters purchased our custom trophy case in conjunction with the athletic center facelift. In years past we have purchased scoreboards for the softball, baseball, and soccer fields. It has been great watching our softball games this 1791 Letter ~ May 2012

spring knowing the score, inning, balls, strikes, and number of outs. In other years they have purchased an all-terrain Gator vehicle, enabling our athletic trainer to attend to and transport injured athletes. Volunteers built a storage shed to store the Gator and other athletic equipment safely and securely. Over the course of the year, the organization grants various individual team requests and plans to continue improving facilities. Again, it is the golf tournament that makes much of that possible. New Member Athletic Boosters Dinner The Athletic Boosters held a new member dinner on April 19 that was a great success. We had almost 40 people enjoy delicious selections of appetizers prepared by Bruce and Eric of Sage dining. There were some terrific discussions and many new ideas shared during the evening. We also honored the work of Peter Saliba and his commitment to athletics during his time on the Hilltop. We hope to see many of those people back at our meeting this month as we start to look ahead to new elections for officers. Our appreciation also goes out to the graduating parents of the Boosters who have been loyal, and donated countless hours and weekends for the past four years -- Lisa Farrell, Kit McCormack, and Sheila Woolley. Thanks so much for your years of service; you all will be greatly missed. We also want to recognize the amazing work of our outgoing Booster President Paula Reid. Paula has been the heart and soul of this organization the past two years and has energized this group in many continued on pg 10... 7

Deloris White - Fine Arts Director

Arts News

Arts Boosters Parents for the Arts

p.m. in the Patricia Baldwin Whipple Arts Center Theater.

Tenth Annual Silent Art Auction The visual arts faculty, members of the National Art Honor Society, AP Artists, and Berwick parents donated wonderful items for this annual event. Berwick’s Parents for the Arts kicked off the tenth annual Spring Silent Art Auction on Sunday, April 29. This year, the auction items were on exhibit in the arts center but all bidding took place online with the vision, guidance, and work for this change coming from our Parents for the Arts. The bidding closed on Saturday evening, May 12, with a final total of $2,231 generated by this new change. We are excited and delighted by this response and are genuinely grateful for the support for the arts demonstrated by the Parents for the Arts, this venture, and final result.

Senior Arts Night Members of the Class of 2012 shared their passion for the visual and performing arts during Senior Arts Night, Thursday, May 17. All members of the senior class were invited to exhibit artwork in the lobby gallery of the Arts Center and performing artists presented an evening of music and dance.

Music Spring Concert Season The 5/6 band, 7/8 band, MS jazz band, US symphonic band, US jazz band as well as the 5/6 African, 7/8 African, and US African performed on Tuesday, May 15, during Spring Concert I. Middle School and Upper School string musicians, 5/6 orchestra, 7/8 orchestra, US chamber along with 5/6 guitar, grade 7 guitar, and grade 8 guitar will present Spring Concert II on Tuesday, May 22. Finally, our choral students in all three divisions, LS chorus, 5/6 chorus, 7/8 chorus, US chorus will perform in Spring Concert III on Wednesday, May 23. Each of the Spring Swing Concerts begins at 7:00 8

Visual Art BPC Rotating Exhibit Representatives of BPC dedicated many hours to mat and frame the next exhibit. This exhibit will be in place until next December. Please stop by to view these works of art by Kindergarten through Upper School art students through this supportive program. They are on exhibit in various buildings throughout campus. Haystack Mountain School of Crafts Update A space opened in this prestigious program and junior Benn Clapp will join Amy Rawn in participating in the Student Craft Institute 2012 at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on Deer Isle, ME the weekend of May 18 - 20. Portsmouth Sustainability Fair Amy Rawn and Cam Carter each had art work included in the Portsmouth Sustainability Fair 2012! The theme of the day which happened on Saturday, May 12, 2012, was “The Natural Step Four System Conditions” which Portsmouth has adopted in their 1791 Letter ~May 2012

effort to become an eco-municipality. The art exhibit using recycled materials will be display at the Portsmouth Library during the month.


BPC Notes - from the BPC Board Members

Parent Community News

It’s hard to believe that we are in the final weeks of school. It seems as if the year has just begun. BPC has had another amazing year and I would like to thank all of the wonderful volunteers who have stepped up to make our children’s experience at Berwick that much more exceptional. As I wrap up my final weeks as BPC President, I look back in awe at all that we have accomplished in the last two years. I am so inspired by each and every one of our dedicated volunteers and I can’t thank you enough for your commitment to our mission. I look forward to seeing the growth and impact the BPC has on the school and our students in the coming years, and I am confident we are now positioned for even greater things. Personally, it’s been my honor to meet each and every one of you, and I so appreciate all your support over the last two years. Over the coming weeks, please watch for several emails from BPC. Most importantly, we will be forwarding a ballot for your approval of the 2012-2013 slate for BPC Board members. Your prompt attention is greatly appreciated, as we would like to conclude that vote prior to close of school. Again, it has been my pleasure working with all of you over the past two years. Lesli Friel BPC President

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1791 Letter ~ May 2012


Head of School News... cont. from pg 3

Spring Benefit Thank Yous I want to thank the entire community for its amazing support of BPC and our students via the spring benefit this year and also the BPC for its leadership, dedication, and tireless effort in producing such a wonderful evening.

Upper School News...cont. from pg 4

promise to take an honest look at the situation and try to figure out together the best solution. This has been a large part of my experience at Berwick with our families, and I have always found that this kind of communication is the best at solving just about any problem we face.

Athletics News...cont. from pg 7

Middle School News...cont. from pg 5

regarding modesty. Kindly check the Handbook on pages 67 through 68. Keeping with the theme of endings, please know that all parents are welcome to attend the closing ceremony on Thursday, June 7 at 11:00 a.m. in the Great Room. At this assembly, the Cogswell Book prize is presented to the highest ranking scholar in grades five through eight, the Middle School Award is presented to a boy and a girl in each grade, and foreign language awards are handed out to seventh graders whose performance in the national contests have earned them prizes. We look forward to having parents part of this last celebration.


meaningful ways. Her leadership has been inspiring and her enthusiasm infectious. We thank Paula for her commitment to the Athletics Boosters and have a good feeling she will continue to support the organization because her daughter Katherine will be a ninth grader next year. Thanks Paula! Spring Sports Awards Day/Night Plan to attend the athletic awards presentations on Thursday, May 31. The Middle School assembly begins at 1:30 p.m. with team gatherings in the Middle School classrooms followed by the awards presentation and slide show in the wood gym. The Upper School event begins at 6:00 p.m. with team/ parent gathering and at 7:00 p.m. for the awards and slide show portion of the evening in the wood gym. We moved this event in the winter to the wood gym because of a rescheduling conflict due to a snow storm and many of us enjoyed the feel of this venue.

1791 Letter ~May 2012

Grandparent’s Day 2012

1791 Letter ~ May 2012


Cindy Briggs - School Counselor

Senioritis On Friday, May 18, 2012, the Class of 2012 completed their last day of classes at Berwick Academy. This departure was marked by many traditions; two that I am particularly fond of are the standing ovation at the end of morning assembly as the seniors exit the theater for the last time; and, the celebratory drive through campus in the afternoon. For some of the seniors it is the end of four years in the Upper School, and for others it is the end of a “lifetime” – a thirteen-year journey through Berwick Academy’s Lower, Middle and Upper Schools. It is incredible to see the level of emotion displayed during these two events. It is not uncommon to see tears in both the eyes (and on the cheeks) of the departing seniors and faculty as the seniors bound up the theater stairs for the last time. These are bittersweet moments. I am sure for many members of the Berwick community there will be both a sense of sadness and relief as the Class of 2012 completes their last official day. This will be the first in my eleven years at Berwick Academy that I missed the senior’s last day of classes. Instead, my family and I drove to upstate New York to see my oldest son’s graduation from college. When I thought about once again sharing this article with senior parents, I quickly realized how much of it was again applicable to me as a parent of a graduating college student. Like our Berwick graduates, my son is entering into another stage of transition. Instead of high school to college, he is now moving from college to “real world.” 12

We l l n e s s N e w s

What is interesting is that many of the emotions seen at this stage are similar to the stage that occurred four years ago. I guess my message to you is to brace yourself; this is the first of many transitions that you will experience with your son or daughter. So, enjoy reading about this specific transition, but you may want to tuck this 1791 Letter away for future transitions because many of the emotions are identical. Ending or transitioning from one stage of life to the next usually precipitates a number of emotional responses -- anger, fear, sadness, elation, apathy. The list is endless. Many faculty and parents dub a graduating senior’s whirling malady of emotions “senioritis.” I believe that what we commonly call “senioritis” is actually a deeper emotional response called separation anxiety. I also worry that if this anxiety is not handled correctly, problems may arise for both the senior and their family. More than one million high school students fall victim to “senioritis,” a rather common and (sometimes fatal) disease during their final year or semester of high school. Characteristics include (but are not limited to) a lack of enthusiasm, a drop in grades, fits of irresponsibility, risktaking behavior, outbursts of irritability, mild depression or moments of euphoria. Does this sound like someone you know? Teachers and parents are often puzzled, hurt, and even panicked by these uncharacteristic behaviors. Veteran teachers and parents who have weathered this “stormy life passage” remind us not to take it personally and to be vigilant. The next few 1791 Letter ~May 2012

weeks of school and the ten or so weeks of summer can lead to a pile of trouble. Kids who are typically “as good as gold” will sometimes deviate and do something stupid or even life threatening. It is clearly a time for parents to reiterate their family values and standards, and remind their senior that it is never too late for a college to rescind their acceptance. What causes this bizarre shift in behavior that begins for some at the beginning of their senior year, for others during the third trimester, and for most continues throughout the summer months? Is this dramatic change in attitude and behavior due to the realization that they’ve been accepted into college, or that they have enough credits to graduate, or that they just want to get on with their lives? According to mental health professionals, “senioritis” isn’t just a shift in attitude or behavior but instead related to a much deeper emotional response called “separation anxiety.” Separation anxiety is evoked when there is a threat of separation or loss. We commonly see this response in two-year-olds when they are separated from their primary caretaker. We see it again and again in varying degrees as children transition through childhood. The inevitability of graduation forces the reality of separation and departure on the senior. Each senior responds uniquely, and sometimes similarly to the way that they have responded to previous life transitions. Child psychologist, Michael Thompson, believes that continued on pg 14...

Rachel Saliba - School Archivist

Archives News

Introducing Crew (again)! The Upper School ran a pilot crew program this spring to evaluate student interest in adding a rowing team to our spring athletics roster. A number of students participated in the first “learnto-row” event and all signs indicate that the program is already way ahead of our short-lived crew program at BA that started back in the 1960s.

Leighs Mills House 1959 – c. 1973 It is uncertain if the shell was used very often for crew races or practices. Crew was even listed as a spring sport in the school catalogs dating back to 1964 before we owned a shell! Previous requests to alumni for stories about racing or even rowing the shell on Leighs Mills Pond or the Piscataqua River have proven fruitless. A few alumni responded with stories about “seeing the shell in the barn,” but we have yet to hear from anyone who actually rowed the boat! April 2012 Learn-to-Row During the summer of 1969, benefactor and trustee Dr. Robert H. Morris donated a 41-foot long, 4-oar shell built by W.H. Davis and Sons in Cambridge, MA for $800. The shell was kept in the barn along with other boats and canoes at Berwick’s only “waterfront” dorm on Leighs Mills Pond. “The Mill” or Leighs Mills House was located approximately 6/10 of a mile from campus at 44 Vine Street (see photo). Dr. Morris also donated the funds to purchase the 15room Leighs Mills Pond House in 1959 for use as a dormitory for 20 boys, a faculty family, and a single master.

Approximately four years after the purchase of the shell, the Board of Trustees sold the Leighs Mills House and voted to sell the shell. The boat was eventually sold to Women’s Crew at Cornell University in 1975. That marked the end of crew for Berwick until this year. Hopefully the fledgling program will earn more notoriety and our Upper School students will embrace the opportunity to row!

1791 Letter ~ May 2012


Wellness News...cont. from pg 12

departure from home is the most traumatic separation of all the normal separations in our culture. Transitions are hard work, and for many of our seniors high school graduation may be their first “major life transition.” Not only are our seniors completing their class work, but they are also finishing their last year, their last trimester, their last week, and their last days at Berwick Academy. In short, our seniors are saying goodbye to their childhood and transitioning to the unknown world of adulthood. This life transition requires seniors to separate from the family and friends who have supported them for years. During this transition they also experience somewhat of a “time warp.” While their bodies are still in one place, their minds are racing forward wondering (and worrying) about what’s ahead, and their hearts are flip-flopping from past, present and the future. No wonder seniors behave the way they do. They are probably scared to death but fear letting anyone know, particularly their parents.

thus far. Third, be firm and clear about their newly acquired independence. You and your senior are about to enter that strange world of “not yet an adult, but no longer an adolescent.” My advice is to be attentive and vigilant. My mantra during my oldest son’s last summer at home was “nothing good is happening in York, Maine after 11:00 p.m. at night.” By the middle of the summer, he could recite these lines before I had a chance of opening my mouth. Lastly, make the most of this final leg of the adolescent/parent journey. August will be here before you know it, and when that day finally arrives and you are frantically stuffing every last item into you car, remember, a new journey is about to begin…the one into adulthood. Congratulations and good luck! Sincerely, Cindy Briggs

So how can you assist your senior with “senioritis” or separation anxiety? First and foremost, don’t take anything they say over the next three and one-half months personally. Remember that their goal is to make you dislike them so they can muster the energy to say goodbye and leave. It is a lot easier for them to leave you angry, as opposed to acknowledging their feelings of loss and sadness. I, myself remember getting into a silly fight with my mother over a wrist watch. Looking back, I now realize that this angry interchange protected me from the sadness and fear that I was feeling about leaving home for the first time. Second, allow your senior the time and space to grieve. For many of them, graduation represents a threat to their individual and collective life experience 14

1791 Letter ~May 2012

Class of 2012 Last Day on Campus

1791 Letter ~ May 2012


Jedd Whitlock - Director of Advancement

Alumni and Development News

This year our parent participation goal for the Annual Fund is 72%. We are within reach, but need your help to make our goal a reality! Please be one of the next 28 donors to help us meet our goal! As always, gifts at all levels are needed and greatly appreciated. Remember, you can designate your gift to an area that matters most to you! We hope you have enjoyed our short designation videos that highlight the impact of your investment on the Berwick experience for our students. Watch them again at and stay tuned for more! To give online, visit You may also send a check to the Development Office here at BA at 31 Academy Street, South Berwick, ME 03908 Or please contact me directly at (207) 384.6304.

Gifts to Goal

Dear Berwick Community,

Many thanks for your continued support and belief in Berwick Academy! Best, Jedd


1791 Letter ~May 2012



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