As the Belmont Day admissions team ties a bow on its second virtual season, I appreciate this opportunity to reflect on the past year and a half since I first joined Belmont Day. Amid the pandemic, arriving as a new director of admissions in August 2020 was a unique and challenging experience. The campus was very sparsely populated. My new colleagues and I were socially distancing from one another, and without any summer campers filling the hallways, I felt I had walked into an invisible storm.
As I glanced out of my office window at a beautiful, sparkling pool and the sun bouncing off a giant blue play structure, all seemed quiet and calm. What I soon discovered, however, was that beyond the walls of BDS, families were scrambling to make decisions for their children. A flurry of schools announced that they would not be reopening in person that fall. As I started to better familiarize myself with the school, our classrooms, and our community, the phone started ringing immediately. The calls often began with a breathless question: “Do you still have spaces for a (insert any grade level) student for September!?” No introduction or formalities, just the heartfelt hope that we might be able to offer their child the most basic of educational experiences: the chance to walk into a classroom, learn from a teacher in person, and be together with their classmates.
Almost two years later, that panic (both mine and that of the prospective families) has calmed. Still, enthusiasm for being a part of the BDS community (again, both mine and that of prospective families) has only grown. Inquiry and application numbers have soared—up 30% and 55%, respectively, during the past two cycles—and families are accepting our enrollment offers at a rate higher than ever in the school’s recent history. Is this still the product of folks desperately trying to flee the memories of remote learning? Not at all.
This year, more students and families than ever sought out the beautiful balance Belmont Day provides—offering a rigorous academic experience in a supportive, inclusive environment. Families come to us because they have heard from friends, neighbors, relatives, and acquaintances that BDS delivers on its promise to challenge students and nurture them in equal parts. They have observed the genuine happiness that said friend, neighbor, or relative exudes when they speak about their school. They have heard BDS parents, past and present, confirm that this is a continuous experience over the course of their child’s Belmont Day journey.
As we anticipate welcoming new families in the fall, know that our entire community has had a role in their selection and enrollment. In addition to the tireless work of my admissions team colleagues Lauren McDermott, Judy Bright P ’21, and Emina Kadric, many others rallied to offer prospective families a first-rate admissions experience. The support came in countless forms, but I’ll name a significant few here:
Twelve parent tour guides kicked off the parent tour guide program’s inaugural year by giving 180 tours, customizing the experience to every family.
Faculty delivered two top-notch open house events in the fall and aced it at our spring accepted students event, with an incredible 74% of admitted families ultimately enrolling at BDS!
Our 21 seventh and eighth grade student ambassadors presented on five different student panels fielding questions from prospective families. They served as friendly hosts and guides for visiting families during our spring event.
As a result of all of the above and tremendous behind-the-scenes work by faculty, parents, and students, we have 73 fabulous new students and their families joining us in September: families who represent 14 different towns, 50% of whom identify as a family of color and who speak 16 languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Armenian, Arabic, Turkish, Cantonese, French, Creole, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Amharic, Tigrigna, Korean and Portuguese!
Thank you for encouraging every one of these new families along the way and for all you do to spread the good word about BDS. It truly starts and ends with all of you, and I could not be more grateful for your hard work and support this admissions season!