Campaign News

RAISE Y[OUR] VOICE Capital Campaign Updates

by Bradley Lewis P ’17, ’20 and Margaret Wade P '15, '15, '17, '18

June 1: End of the Road... Beginning of the Driveway

Excitement and some wistfulness characterize our emotions as we write this, our last submission to The Scoop as co-chairs of the Raise Y[our] Voice Capital Campaign. It has been a four-year labor of love, and we could not be happier to see the Barn rise like the promise of springtime on the Belmont Day School campus. As we know deeply, and hope we have expressed repeatedly, we are merely the tip of a very deep iceberg of community support for this project. We all deserve congratulations for what we are doing together.

The wistfulness is real, as well. Leading this effort has given us the opportunity to meet so many of you personally and work closely with the school’s fabulous faculty, staff, and administration, as well as a cadre of incredible parent, grandparent, alumni, and faculty volunteers. Through our efforts, we have gotten to know the BDS community intimately, and we do not relish the thought of relinquishing this privileged position. However, we are greatly comforted by the knowledge that the school and all who make up its greater community are stronger than ever and well-positioned to successfully carry out its mission for years and decades to come.
Of course, we would be remiss to omit mention of the fact that the Campaign remains “on” until June 30 and the Registry is still open. If you are one of the 323 families who have already supported the cause, thank you. If now is the time for you to focus on a contribution for the first time, we very much welcome your support. The building is going up, but our children still need equipment and furnishings in it to do their best learning. As you all know, this is a community-wide project that will benefit all the students in the school. As such, it is important that all community members help us build it, to whatever extent they feel comfortable. This is our shared responsibility.

We hope that as many of you as possible with attend tomorrow’s 90th anniversary celebration and take the opportunity to tour the building you helped build. Imagine the possibilities. What lies ahead is a very exciting chapter in Belmont Day School’s history. We are humbled to have been allowed to be a part of it and deeply appreciative to everyone who has helped us construct this new path for BDS’s future.

May 25: Our Preakness

Justify is two thirds of the way towards the Triple Crown, and we are on the verge of joining him in ours. Our first jewel in the crown was completing the $250,000 Grandparent Challenge. We now have our sights set squarely on the second jewel, the Raise the Roof Challenge. With $25,000 to go on the $450,000 challenge, we can almost see the finish line. Could we get it done this weekend? There are plenty of enticing offerings on the Registry. What room in the Barn will you support? Remember, the next $25K in gifts will be matched 1:1, doubling the impact of your gift. Go shopping with your children right from your own home, and help us pass this important milestone now. Then, we’ll truly be in the final stretch toward our June 30 Raise Y[our] Voice campaign conclusion, the $8M goal being the final jewel in our Triple Crown.

May 18: Our First View of the Barn

The two of us had the opportunity to do a hard hat tour of the Barn this morning, and it almost literally brought us to tears. We know what this facility means to Belmont Day School. We know how many people have worked extraordinarily hard for the school as the community conceived of, designed, and implemented this project. Lastly, we know that we are just the tip of the very large iceberg of financial support from the BDS community that has made this exciting project possible. We are truly humbled and grateful.

You are going to love this new building! It’s soaring ceilings will lift the spirits and aspirations of our students. It’s enormous windows will bring the outside in, connecting students in each classroom with the natural world. Its thoughtful classroom design will foster dynamic collaboration between the teachers lucky enough to work in them, spurring a new level of pedagogical creativity. And its gym, which can be viewed from the giant windows of the first floor hallway or the mezzanine on the second floor, will be a beehive of physical activity throughout the day, from physical education classes, to inclement weather recess, to afternoon sports. There is a lot to love, and there will be countless memories made within these new walls. You can sign up for your own hard hat tour during BDS’s 90th Celebration on June 2, or join the community tour during the last week of school.

On the fundraising front, you will see on the ladder adjacent to this letter that we’ve climbed a few more very important rungs, getting us over the $7.6m mark! We are thrilled to report that we have met 100% of our $250,000 Grandparent’s Challenge and over 90% of the $450,000 Raise the Roof Challenge.

With that said, we still need your help. The Registry remains open, with lots of fantastic and important items available, and any contributions continue to be eligible for the 1:1 Raise the Roof match. The Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign officially closes on June 30, so now is the time for you to act. Please join us in supporting this transformational project.

May 11: As the Ladders Come Down...

The other day I ran into Director of Operations Corrado Paramithiotti (“CP”) who has been masterfully overseeing the Barn construction project. He noted that the head house of the barn—the classroom portion—will be fully enclosed and Far Field will be seeded within the next several days. He also noted that the Barn’s internal stairs will be completed soon, so ladders will no longer be necessary to access the second floor.  

We are hoping that very soon our campaign ladder will no longer be necessary. The end is coming into sight for our fundraising for this project, just as the building is coming into shape. But, as in any construction project, the last stages of a fundraising effort are critical. Achieving our $8M goal is important not only to outfit the Barn properly, but to secure Belmont Day's strong financial footing into the future. Have you done all that you can yet? Now is the time.

Fortunately, some very cool Registry items are still available. How about purchasing the BDS branded gym floor paint? Do nets for the school's first-ever volleyball team intrigue you? Perhaps an AV system for the science classroom is more your style. Funding these items is fun, incredibly important for the school, and will give your family a tangible understanding of the impact of your generosity.   

In just a few weeks we will be taking our campaign ladder down and storing it until it is needed again. Before then, we’d certainly like to see how beautiful the view is from the top.

May 4: Spring's Promise

Every March, when the snow finally melts, I look out at my lawn and wonder how this brown, patchy mess will ever recover, thrive, and provide a space for my children to play and my dog to run. But as the weeks pass, the rains come, and the weather warms, my fears are allayed as the grass greens and grows.

The Registry is your opportunity to be the promise of spring’s regeneration. The items on it come in sizes and price tags big and small, but each item is important. The purchase of each demonstrates your commitment to and appreciation for Belmont Day School and provides Mr. Largay and his wonderful faculty and staff increased peace of mind that the Barn will, indeed, bloom into as spectacular an addition to this community as has been promised.

We heard this week—from a BDS friend and prior donor to the Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign—how much fun they had checking out and purchasing some items on the registry with their children. We encourage you to do the same. Their children’s enthusiasm was infectious, and the family’s additional contribution to the campaign (matched 1:1 by the Raise the Roof Challenge) was a truly heartfelt expression of the entire family’s deep appreciation for Belmont Day School. This was a gift that will pay dividends to them and the school for years to come. Please join them.

April 27: The Last Step!

The Barn Registry is up and running, and it is pretty fun and exciting to see the exact items that could soon be filling the Barn. From sound systems to floor paint, from stools to microscopes, from 3D printers to volleyballs, there is a lot that is going into the Barn and lots of opportunities for you to help.  

In the few days that the Barn Registry has been open, donors have already stepped up to purchase innovation kits, tape measures, basketballs, Futsol goals, stadium chairs, seedling kits, and a host of other items. Thank you to all who have contributed thus far—we are off to a great start.

With two months to go in the campaign, BDS needs you! Our goals are within reach but we need your support. We are asking everyone in the BDS community to think about what this school has meant to their family and what the Barn will mean for BDS’s future. This is our school, this is our Barn, and this is our challenge. Please give as you are able, and enjoy the shopping fun!

March 23: Why Does the Barn Matter to Y[our] Kids? 

A few weeks ago we highlighted how the Barn will impact Belmont Day’s youngest students in the fall. This week, we turn our attention to the children who will be grades 3-5 when the building opens. Not only will the Barn add considerably more curricular and extra-curricular space for these students, but reconfiguring BDS’s current building will present lots of exciting opportunities:

  • Most dramatically, grades 3-5 will have a whole new home in what is now the lower floor of the middle school (where fifth and sixth grades currently live.)
  • This clustering will allow a new community within the larger BDS community to be born, giving all of these students a stronger sense of identity. Additionally, it will more logically align the fifth grade as the upper end of the lower school, providing them more opportunities as leaders of the lower school.
  • A more robust athletics program will be available for these students due to the space in the Barn. Just get our athletics faculty started discussing the possibilities....
  • Additional space allows for more flexible scheduling which, in turn, leads to more curricular opportunities for y[our] students.
  • The Barn was designed first and foremost to allow the BDS faculty and staff to create academic and athletics programs limited only by their imagination and energy, not the physical plant. BDS’s programmatic vision has driven this project, so that our physical space will no longer drive elements of the program. For example, life science projects will now be able to live in the lab for a complete life cycle, rather than being sent home to make space for the next curricular unit. BDS could now have a volleyball team, or other such additional teams, rather than be limited to sports than can fit into Coolidge Hall or the PAC. Student sculptures, wood working projects, and other 3D objects can be publicly displayed, rather than sent immediately home for lack of gallery space. The visual arts faculty will be able to collaborate continuously, rather than having to trudge throughout the school to do so. The Palandjian Arts Center can be devoted more fully to performing arts throughout the day.

As parents of current upper school students, we are a little sad that our own children won't be able to experience the Barn during these critical formative years. However, we are thrilled to be playing a part in making this vision a reality for generations of BDS students to come.

PS: Check out the Wall of Gratitude display in the Gallery. We hope to see the name of every BDS family on this wall in the new gym as a testament to what we, as individuals joined together in a strong community, can accomplish.

March 9: Why Does the Barn Matter to Y[our] Kids?

The concrete has been poured and the steel is beginning to go up. Y[our] new Barn has been designed to impact the lives of all BDS students in multiple ways. Over the next few weeks, we thought it would be helpful to families who are new to the school or otherwise still considering a pledge or gift to the campaign to revisit the many ways this new facility will impact students by grade level. Beginning with our current pre-k and kindergarten students, the Barn will allow them to:

  • See how the things they are learning in the life science classroom “spiral” into the projects they will be working on as they grow up. Their projects can live in the classroom longer, and they can make better sense of where they've been and where they are going.
  • Benefit from a more immediate connection between the outdoor classroom and garden and their work in the life science curriculum.
  • Experience learning in an innovation space that encourages students to collaborate, take chances, make mistakes, experiment, build, and make cross-curricular connections that bring together their understanding of math and engineering with art and reading.
  • Work off more energy on rainy days with double the space for indoor recess.
  • Learn new sports and games and run and play in PE classes in the new gym.
  • Proudly show off their 3D art prominently displayed in the mezzanine gallery.
  • Spend more time in the larger and lighter woodworking shop and less time in transition. The shop can accommodate 1/2 the class rather than 1/3.
  • Walk the shortest distance between their homerooms and the Barn.

This list is just the beginning. We're excited to see how things play out when their little sneakers cross the threshold of the Barn for the first time.

February 18: It's About the Children...

From the beginning of our involvement in the Raise Y[our] Voice Capital Campaign, we have been struck by the extent to which the focus at BDS is ALWAYS and foremost on the kids.  When space was needed for a French classroom, BDS lost its conference room. When second grade needed a breakout reading room, the development team lost its office. It is clear to see BDS’s priorities.

Construction of the Barn has offered similar insights into this mindset, one that our service providers have fully engaged in. For example, last year’s test drilling for geothermal became a geology lesson for fifth graders. This year’s pre-k groupings are identified by different construction vehicles the students are seeing on a daily basis. Just recently, seventh and eighth graders learned about the chemistry of concrete and then took a field trip to the construction site to watch footings being poured. To a remarkable extent, teachable moments have been generated and capitalized on; the process has been made accessible, interesting, and exciting for everyone. To us, this seems quintessentially BDS.

Is this an argument for supporting the Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign with a new or increased gift? We don’t know. We do know that this student-first ethos is one of the reasons we are so glad to have committed our support to this school.

February 11: Thought Experiment

One of the highlights of the sixth grade experience at BDS is their class adventure to the Farm School every September. It is a magical place where, they tell us, our children actually do all sorts of real, manual labor and come home smiling about it. They muck the stalls, milk the cows, sweep the floors, weed the gardens, slop the pigs, and do all the other work necessary for the farm to succeed. To many, it is a transformative experience.  

Now, imagine for a moment what their experience would be like without rakes, shovels and brooms, without buckets, without seeds, without hoes, even without the animals. Not much would get done, right?

In a sense, that is where we are right now with our Barn. We are building a beautiful structure with gorgeous rooms. That part is paid for. However, if fundraising were to stop now those fantastic new spaces would be empty. No furniture. No equipment. No supplies. The BDS faculty is a creative and inspiring bunch, but they can only do so much. It is up to us to provide them the tools of their trade so they can help our children reach their true potential.

The bottom line is: We still need your help. We need desks and tables. We need laser cutters. We need art display pedestals. We need pottery wheels. We need microscopes. We need 3D printers. We need gym floor paint. We need scoreboards. We need the furniture, equipment, and supplies that will make the Barn the learning, personal growth, and community mecca it can be. Please give to the Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign, and remember that, with the Raise the Roof Challenge, all new and increased gifts will be matched 1:1, doubling the purchasing power of your gift.

January 14: $7,000,000!

We decided to give ourselves a little tour of the back parking lot this week. Behind the snow mounds and construction fence we could see the footprint of the new building and the beginnings of the new driveway. Real progress is being made on the Barn! It is truly gratifying to see this community project begin to take on its actual form! 

The Capital Campaign is also starting to take shape. We are thrilled to report that we have surpassed the $7 million threshold of gifts and pledges received. To get to this level, our amazing cadre of campaign volunteers have been working hard, meeting and connecting with as many community members as possible. This entire campaign has been very much driven by the passion and dedication of volunteers within the BDS community, and to them we owe great thanks.  

Just as there is still much work to be done on the Barn and the driveway, there is still work to be done on the campaign as we strive to raise $1 million over the next six months. Please remember that your gifts are being matched by a generous challenge! Thank you for your continued support, and when you have a chance peak over the fence—it really is a sight to see.

December 15: Give Until It Feels Good

In his insightful book Getting to Giving, HBS’s Howard Stevenson cites “The Four Big Questions” as being key to securing significant philanthropic commitments:

    1) Is the recipient organization doing important work?
    2) Is it well managed?
    3) Will my gift make a difference?
    4) Will the experience be satisfying to me?

As you might guess, our personal answers were yes to all of these questions.  Having sent all of our children through BDS from pre-k through eighth grade, we know the importance of the work. Having served on the board, been married to a board member, participated in numerous ad hoc committees over the years, and worked with Brendan and his administrative team, we have experienced first-hand the careful, wise, and thoughtful way BDS is managed on a daily basis, with an eye to the school’s future strength. Having sat in on countless finance committee meetings, we know exactly how much of a difference each and every gift can make. BDS is a finely-tuned and fiscally conservative place, where the impact of each gift is leveraged to its fullest potential.

We hope that you will consider the above questions. If you can answer them affirmatively, please join us in making an initial gift or increasing your gift to the Raise Y(our) Voice Campaign. Not only will doing so allow us to make full use of the Raise the Roof Challenge match—doubling your impact—it will allow you to take full satisfaction that you have done your part and given back to this school that is doing such important work and has made such a difference in your lives.

FINALLY—We cannot tell you how thrilled we are to see the construction of the Barn begin. You bet this is satisfying. We have chosen to invest ourselves in the BDS community, and we take great comfort in the fact that we will be passing down a school that is better and stronger than the one we came to. We expect this fact will give us satisfaction for years to come.

December 1: Giving Tuesday and Beyond

When will it end? Will every day between Thanksgiving and the end of the year be given a gimmicky marketing name to try to set new patterns of consumer behavior? Who would have thought crashing the doors of Walmart at midnight after filling ourselves with turkey, stuffing, and good cheer would become a national pastime? Cyber Monday? Talk about “fake news!” And now they give us Giving Tuesday. Just another scheme, right?

Right…unless you differentiate between supporting those not-for-profit organizations whose work you care deeply about and filling the coffers at Amazon, Target, and Kay Jewelers. Right…unless you welcome the chance to take a break from shopping to focus on how you can best impact the community in which we live. Right…unless you believe that what we accomplish in life is at least as important as what we possess.

As campaign co-chairs, we ask you to think about Belmont Day School’s place in your life and the impact you can make in the lives of your own children and those of future generations with a long-term philanthropic investment in our school.  

America is, no doubt, a place of consumerism. More importantly, though, it is a place of incredible generosity, of independent people joining together to affect positive change for their communities. Giving Tuesday highlights this quintessentially American spirit. Thank you for your ongoing support of Belmont Day School and the Raise Y(our) Voice Campaign. Remember, all new and increased gifts will now be matched under the $450,000 Raise the Roof Challenge!

November 17: We're Raising the Bar!

The first new gift under the Raise the Roof Challenge is in! This BDS family’s $20,000 gift will be matched by $20,000 from the challenge grant, bringing us $40,000 closer to our goal. Just like that, we are another rung up the ladder to reaching our goal. We need everyone’s help and every gift matters!

November 10: Showing Up

One of the greatest things about Belmont Day School parents is that we “show up.” We show up for drop-off and pick-up, for class projects and plays, for socials and coffees, for games, for conferences, and for community service. When our children and our school needs us, we show up.

A group of parents just showed up for the Barn Project!

These families have generously increased their own giving and offered us a Raise the Roof Challenge. Any new or increased gift to the campaign will be matched 1:1 up to $450,000. This is both an incredibly generous offer and a significant challenge.  

Shovels are about to hit the ground. The Barn is going up and we need to complete the fundraising for it. This matching opportunity is your chance to double the impact of your gift, whether this is your first contribution to the campaign or you are in a position to add to a previous pledge or gift. We are over 80% of the way toward our fundraising goal, and the final 20% will ensure that this facility truly fulfills its great promise. 

If you have been contacted by one of our amazing parent volunteers, please respond to them and meet with them. If you haven’t yet heard from them, be on the lookout for their outreach. If you are moved to add to a previous pledge or gift, please contact us or Mary Merrill. Our profound thanks go to those who have already supported this effort—your enthusiasm has been a gift. 

As we look to close the gap in both money and participation, all contributions matter—every single one. So, we are hoping that, once again, you will “show up.”

October 27: The Power of Collaboration

As a younger man [Margaret has the week off…] I spent seven years teaching history in independent secondary schools. It was a fun job and very hard work. In fact, I’ve never had a more challenging professional experience than my first year teaching A.P. United States History to juniors and seniors at a New Jersey boarding school. One thing I quickly learned was the power of collaborating with my colleagues. I certainly didn’t have a monopoly on great lesson plans, and I found it very helpful to discuss teaching approaches with other teachers inside and outside of my discipline, observe them teaching, and adapt their strongest methods and lessons for use in my own classroom.

The expansion of the middle school over the course of the next few years will allow more of this type of collaboration at BDS and is one of the things that excites me most about the Barn project. Importantly, Belmont Day's low student/faculty ratio will remain unchanged, as faculty numbers will expand commensurately with enrollment growth. The impact of this faculty growth will be profound. Middle school teachers, already a collaborative bunch, will benefit from an infusion of ideas from several new colleagues, an especially helpful prospect for those seventh and eighth grade teachers currently isolated within their disciplines. As BDS moves towards placing increased emphasis on constructive student collaboration, a parallel emphasis with the faculty will undoubtedly allow the whole to become greater than the sum of its parts.

October 20: Those of us who were fortunate enough to attend Friday Night Lights at Harvard last Friday got to experience a real treat—the first-ever victory of the boys' team over their vaunted Meadowbrook rivals. At BDS we talk a lot about community, and FNL is a terrific example of our community in action. We saw children, parents, and teachers from almost all of the classes there, as well as a very healthy contingent of Belmont Day’s young alums for whom FNL is a touchstone event. The evening couldn’t help but remind us that, despite the excesses that are frequently associated with sports in the world today, athletic competition has a unique way of building community, bringing people together in common cause, and helping groups forge a unified identity.

As important as fostering school spirit and community identity are, to the BDS athletics department they are of secondary importance to the program’s main objective of helping every student become her or his best self. Ideally, sports encourage children to strive towards their own personal capabilities, aspire to goals, and push one’s limits. The Barn will help achieve this objective by removing some of the constraints imposed on our athletes and coaches by the current physical plant. The school's youngest students will have more space to run and play during gym class and rainy day recess periods, learning about themselves and their bodies all the while. Middle school students will have more time for practice, because they will spend less time in buses shuttling to and from off-site practice facilities. They will have more true home games, rather than having to host games at these same off-site facilities. Even athletes in outdoor sports will benefit by being able to hold meaningful practices inside during inclement weather. Excitingly, this new facility might also allow BDS to introduce new sports that lack of space has heretofore prevented the school from offering. With the Barn, athletics offerings will be dictated more by which sports would best suit BDS students than what facilities are available to practice in.  

The Barn has been designed with all BDS children in mind, providing a wonderful new gym for them to grow as individuals and teammates. It will also give our community a space in which to recognize and honor our children’s athletic efforts together with a shared sense of purpose, just as our boys' and girls' soccer teams competed last Friday night.

October 13: It’s open house season in the independent school world, a time for schools to show off their campuses, faculty, curricula, and extra-curricular activities, all with an eye to attracting those best-fit children and families. As you all probably know, it is a competitive world out there. Some schools, like ours, have been fortunate enough to have a consistent over-supply of applicants, allowing us to be fully enrolled with terrific students year after year. This is not a given and is certainly not a fact to be taken lightly. BDS has worked long and hard for ninety years to create and maintain an excellent product in which students can be individually challenged and supported, as they become their best selves. We feel that it is our collective responsibility to continue this tradition.   

Fifteen years ago the school took a considered gamble on building a middle school. As parents of students who have graduated from BDS and who currently have students in the middle school, we can attest to the quality of the educational opportunities BDS middle schoolers are given. Being a BDS middle schooler means continuing to get a first-rate, individuated education from a terrific set of faculty who have the time, interest, and capacity to meet children where they are academically, socially, and emotionally. BDS middle schoolers are also offered leadership opportunities and time to grow and develop as individuals, so that families will be able to make informed choices about which secondary school will be the best next step. Because of the thoughtful actions of the board of trustees and the BDS community those many years ago, Belmont Day School is now a better place.
How are these two items (open houses and expanded middle school) linked? Simply put, in order for schools to remain competitive and prosper, they need to strive for continual improvement. BDS did this with the introduction of the middle school. The Barn project can be similarly impactful to our whole community. We don’t doubt that this gleaming and thoughtfully designed new facility will make Belmont Day's open houses even more successful than they already are. More importantly, we are confident that the Barn will enrich the academic, athletic, and extra-curricular lives of all BDS students, making the rest of their educational and life journeys all the more rewarding. Please join us in helping to make this vision a reality with a gift to the Raise Y(our) Voice Campaign.

September 29: Our clever graphic aims to give a visual representation of how close we are to completing our task of raising $8M for the Barn project. We’re 82% of the way there, with the great majority of a school year remaining in the campaign. The $6.53M we’ve raised so far comes from every constituency in the BDS community: current parents, past parents, alumni, grandparents, faculty, staff, and friends. We are very proud of the BDS community for all that you have done, but we also recognize that much work lies ahead.

56% of current families have made a gift or a pledge to the campaign. Our goal this year is to boost that participation rate above 90%. Catalina Guillermety and Connaught Colbert ’79 have joined us in leading the parent outreach effort, and our entire team is excited to be picking up where we left off in the spring. We hope that all current parents who have not yet met with a campaign volunteer will do so to discuss individually what they can do to help. These meetings will be particularly helpful to families new to BDS this year or who might have been away last year. Our parent volunteers can explain what this Barn project is all about and how the campaign fits into all the other ways parents are asked to get involved at BDS. If you have already met with a volunteer or have already given or pledged and think you can do a little more to help us close the gap, please reach out to us, any of the campaign volunteers, or Mary Merrill, Director of Development to discuss your options.

Belmont Day School is our school. It is your school. It is a small school trying to reach the biggest objective possible, developing the minds, bodies, and characters of our children in a safe, supportive, and challenging environment that meets each individual on her/his own terms. This is a tall order. Please Raise Y(our) Voice now for BDS. We need you.

Click here to view the newest renderings of the Barn.

September 15: We are closer every day to The Barn becoming a reality for our children. Please take a few moments to stop outside Coolidge Hall to take a look at the newest renderings. The Barn will benefit all BDS students in every element of their educational experience.
As co-chairs of the Raise Y[our] Voice capital campaign charged with raising money for The Barn project, we want to say a few words about the school’s efforts over the last six months to win approval from the Belmont Planning Board for the building and driveway. We all have a lot to be proud of in the way the BDS community, led by Mr. Largay, pursued its objective, doing so with grace, clarity, wisdom, inclusiveness, and fortitude.
The extent to which BDS parents, alumni, and friends rose to the occasion in support of this project was remarkable. Our scores of letters in favor of the project provided a quiet reminder to the planning board that the vocal minority opposed was just that.
We are confident that with continued diligence, thoughtfulness, and professionalism the remaining regulatory hurdles will quickly be overcome, shovels will soon be in the ground, and the gleaming new building will be ready to welcome our children before we know it. This has been an extraordinary team effort.  
As far as fundraising is concerned, our hope is to wrap up this campaign by the end of this school year. Please give some thought to the impact BDS has had and will have on your children’s lives, and join us in making this dream a reality. A new world-class facility and the promise it carries for all of our children is truly within our grasp.

June 2: As this will be our last Scoop letter this year, we thought we'd reflect back on some of the highlights from the first full year of the Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign's public phase. The year began last May with a hoot and a holler at our Barn Raising campaign kick-off. Margaret loved the chance to dress up like a cowgirl, and Brad just wore his regular everyday clothes. After a summer hiatus, the hard work really began in the fall, at which time we had approximately $4.5M of our $8M goal pledged and a 30% participation rate from current parents. Throughout the fall, winter, and spring, our parent, grandparent, and alumni volunteers have been busy contacting you, meeting with you, and asking for your support. Additionally, Brendan and the administrative team, faculty, and staff helped us pull off a series of six community gatherings in the fall, sharing with you their vision for The Barn and the impact it will have on the the lives of y[our] children.

As a result of all this work and the generosity the BDS community has displayed, we now have more than $6.45M pledged and a 59% current family participation rate. Another 16% of current families have been solicited and are considering their level of support. This is great news. We have surpassed the $6M minimum threshold the board of trustees set before construction could begin, and we are beginning to see the finish line on the horizon.

However, much work needs to be done. Every dollar we raise now will improve the final product of The Barn and our current facility. Every dollar we raise now will lessen the school's debt burden. Every dollar we raise now will relieve pressure for future tuition increases and keep BDS as affordable as possible. We want to give Brendan and his team all the tools they need to implement their vision for Belmont Day School. BDS has been a wonderful home for our families, and we know that it can be and will be even more so in the future. This is our charge together. This is our opportunity. Let's all raise our voices and seize it.

May 26: Why Does the Barn Matter to Y[our] Children?

When The Barn opens, BDS's current fourth, fifth, and sixth graders will be starting sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, respectively. As we have shown in this space over the last few weeks, The Barn project will improve student life for all BDS students in multiple ways. Arguably, the middle school will see the most significant enhancements. How so? Let us share with you some of our thoughts:

  • An additional 10-15 students per grade level will expand the social and intellectual pool, while maintaining a strong sense of intimacy and community. This is, developmentally, the right thing to do at this critical juncture in our middle schoolers' young lives and is something our middle school parents have been asking for with each passing year.
  • The addition of several new faculty members will keep Belmont Day's student/faculty ratio where it is and class sizes small, but will enhance opportunities for teacher collaboration and bring lots of new skills sets to the community as well as new curricular opportunities for our students.
  • The juxtaposition of the visual arts, wood working, and innovation lab in The Barn will allow those teachers to collaborate more than ever before. Working together in this way, the whole will truly be greater than the sum of its parts.
  • The creation of new gallery space in The Barn's mezzanine level will provide y[our] children a wonderful place to display their 3D art, watch their friends play a game, or gather for a club activity.
  • The dedicated life science classroom will allow them to see their projects come to fruition over a longer time frame, with the science itself dictating the time frame rather than classroom space considerations. That paradigm shift—having program drive space, and not the other way around—is critical for healthy program and instruction.
  • Interscholastic sports offerings can be expanded, with sports offered based more on what is appropriate for students and less on what space is available for practice and competition.
  • New athletic spaces will allow more teams to practice and host games on campus, enhancing school spirit, building community, cutting travel time to off-site venues, and saving transportation costs.

We feel like we're just scratching the surface here. What we are perhaps most excited to see are all the ways this project (The Barn and the renovations to our current building) will allow members of the BDS community (students, faculty, and staff) to explore new and effective ways of teaching and learning. Y[our] children's education should not be constrained by space. It should be enabled by it.

May 19: Why Does the Barn Matter to Y[our] Children?

Last week we highlighted how The Barn will impact y[our] current pre-k and kindergartners, who will be entering grades 1 and 2 in the fall of 2018. This week we turn our attention to y[our] current first, second, and third graders, who will be our rising third to fifth graders a year from this fall. Adding The Barn and reconfiguring space in our current building will present lots of exciting opportunities:

  • Most dramatically, grades 3 to 5 will have a whole new home in what is now the first/lower middle school floor (where grades five and six currently live). 
  • This clustering will allow a new community within the larger BDS community to be born, giving all of these students a stronger sense of community identity. Additionally, it will more logically align fifth grade as the upper end of the lower school, providing them more opportunities as leaders of the lower school. 
  • A more robust athletics program will be available for our students in these grades due to the space of The Barn. Just get our athletics faculty started discussing the possibilities....
  • Additional space allows for more flexible scheduling which, in turn, leads to more curricular opportunities for y[our] students.
  • The Barn is designed first and foremost with y[our] academic and athletic programs in mind. Program drives space, not the other way around. Perhaps science projects can live on in the lab for a complete life cycle, rather than to be sent home to make space for the next curricular unit. Perhaps BDS could have a volleyball team. Perhaps sculptures, wood working projects, and other 3D objects could be publicly displayed, rather than sent immediately home for lack of gallery space. Perhaps our visual arts faculty could collaborate continuously, rather than having to trudge throughout the school to do so.

As parents of current middle school students, we are a little sad that our own children won't be able to experience The Barn during these critical, formative years. However, we are thrilled to be playing a part in making this vision a reality for generations of BDS kids to come.

May 12: Why Does the Barn Matter to Y[our] Children?

From its conception, The Barn has been designed to impact the lives of all BDS students in multiple ways. Over the next few weeks, we thought it would be fun to ruminate on the different ways y[our] new facility will touch the lives of y[our] children over the course of their time at the school. We'll start with y[our] pre-k and kindergarten children and work our way up.  

In the fall of 2018 the current pre-k and K students will be members of the first and second grade classes. As first and second graders y[our] children will:

  • See how the things they are learning in the life science classroom spiral into the projects they will be working on as they grow up. Their projects can "live" in the classroom longer, and they can make better sense of where they've been and where they are going.
  • Benefit from a more immediate connection between the outdoor classroom and garden and their work in the life science curriculum.
  • Experience learning in an innovation space that encourages students to collaborate, take chances, make mistakes, experiment, build, and make cross-curricular connections that bring together their understanding of math and engineering with art and reading.
  • Be able to work off more energy on rainy days with double the space for indoor recess.
  • Learn new sports and games and run and play in PE classes in the new gym.
  • Proudly show off their 3D art with prominent displays in the mezzanine gallery.
  • Spend more time in the larger and lighter woodworking studio and less time in transition. The studio can accommodate 1/2 the class rather than 1/3.
  • Walk the shortest distance between their homerooms and The Barn.

This list is just the beginning. We're excited to see how things play out when their little sneakers cross the threshold of The Barn for the first time.

May 4: While the process of securing building permits for The Barn and new driveway may not fall within the purview of our role as co-chairs of the Raise Y(our) Voice campaign, we are certainly interested parties and have had the opportunity to witness firsthand how our community has faced the inevitable challenges of the town's political process. We couldn't be prouder of what we've observed. The outpouring of support from BDS parents, former parents, alumni, grandparents, neighbors, and friends is truly inspiring. This has come in the form of dozens of personalized letters to Belmont's Town Planning Board, several Belmont residents making impassioned comments in person at the Planning Board meeting, and countless conversations on the topic throughout the community. Clearly, Belmont Day School means a tremendous amount to a whole lot of people.
Leading the charge for us in the permitting process, Brendan Largay and his team have been fantastic. They have demonstrated an empathetic, patient, inclusive, and clear-headed approach in the face of what, at times, must be quite frustrating and challenging situations. Throughout, they have held firm to Belmont Day's core values and interests and have articulated the school's case beautifully. We look forward to the day when our students are enjoying the benefits of our beautiful new building, a facility that will have truly been made possible by his steadfast leadership. We will owe this team a big debt of gratitude when that time comes.

As you read this, the permitting process is ongoing. Please stay informed and engaged, and look forward to the excitement of construction commencing at the end of the summer.

April 14: Belmont Day School is a product of a charitable giving tradition in which community members work together to create, build, and sustain the independent institutions that make our civil society strong. BDS was founded by families who wanted their children educated in a rigorous and joyful environment dedicated to the growth of the whole child. The families who invested in the school at the beginning knew they were creating a human institution, flaws and all. They were investing their money and efforts philanthropically in the promise of better educational opportunities for their children and for generations of children to follow. And so it goes today.

We hope you will join with us in supporting BDS not because it is a perfect school but because this educational community is always striving to improve, always striving to perfect itself. BDS's administration, its faculty, its staff, its volunteer board, and its very active parent body are all dedicated to providing the best education possible to our children, with a strong eye to our core values of honesty, caring, joy, responsibility, respect, and excellence. We ask those of you who have not yet done so to consider making a generous investment in the Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign, so that we can continue to move closer to the ideal BDS families and supporters have always been striving towards together.

Click here for the most recent Raise Y(our) Voice donor list!

April 7: Last night was an exciting one for Belmont Day School, as Brendan and our architectural team presented the school's application to the Belmont Planning Board for the Barn's final construction permit. They were professional, measured, and very well prepared. Because of the careful consideration BDS has put into this plan and the sensitivity with which the planning board wants to treat the neighbors who will be affected by this construction project, the board decided to delay it's final decision until its upcoming May 2 meeting to allow for further discussion.

It is clear that lots of people care deeply about Belmont Day and the precious land on which it sits. Certainly change can be difficult, and there is no doubt that a few of our neighbors have sincerely felt concerns that The Barn and our new driveway will adversely affect them. We as a community need to be especially sensitive to this and do everything we can to address their concerns and maintain good relationships with them. In the end, we hope that all of Belmont will recognize the considerable benefits accruing to Belmont by having BDS in its midst, in general, and that The Barn project will produce, in specific. At the very least, there are lots of families on Day School Lane who will be thrilled by the new traffic pattern!

I was particularly heartened to see the tremendous show of support from within the BDS community at last night's meeting. We were a large group of parents, grandparents, faculty, staff, and other supporters united behind this plan. It was fun to see each other and share in our enthusiasm for this project. Of course, we will have this opportunity once again on May 2 for the continuation of the discussion. This will be another opportunity for the school's Belmont families to show up once again to voice their respectful and enthusiastic support. We look forward to seeing you there and then getting shovels in the ground on time this summer.

March 24: Let the construction begin! This week the Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign is officially over the $6M pledge threshold the board of trustees set as the minimum requirement to begin construction. We could not be more thrilled. As you can see by our creative barn and ladder graphic, our total now stands at $6.35M. While this allows us to take a deep breath, there is still much heavy lifting to do to get us over the $8M goal threshold. In a sense, this is "crunch time." Our participation rate among current families stands at 46%. For this campaign to be successful, we need that number to double by the end of this school year. Our parent-to-parent volunteers are out there contacting folks and excited to meet. Please respond to them, grab a cup of coffee with them, and think about how you can contribute to making The Barn a reality.

We are looking for as close to 100% participation in this campaign as possible. Why? Because 100% of the community will benefit from it—both our lower school and our middle school.  

  • Every student will benefit from the new and improved arts, woodworking, and technology spaces and the teacher collaboration they allow. 
  • Every young scientist will be impacted by the dramatically improved life sciences classroom.  
  • Every student will benefit from the spaces freed up in our current building.   
  • BDS educates the whole child from pre-k to eighth grade and The Barn will be great for the mind, body, and spirit of ALL of our children.

March 10: It came to our attention that many families missed our recent message about the campaign's Grandparent Challenge, so we thought we'd revisit it and share with you some good news. Grandparents are a special part of the Belmont Day School community, and they have become a very important part of the Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign thanks to the leadership of grandparent co-chairs Ronald and Joan Pokross Curhan ‘49 and David and Jane Otte and a $250,000 matching challenge gift to the campaign made by an anonymous donor. This donor will match, dollar for dollar, every grandparent donation up to the $250K limit. Wow! So far we have raised...AND THIS IS THE NEWS...$75,000 towards this goal. Let's not leave any of this very generous challenge donation on the table.

We would be delighted if BDS parents would discuss The Barn project with their own parents to let them know how meaningful their participation in this endeavor would be to their grandchildren and to Belmont Day School. We would be very happy to speak with grandparents about this matching opportunity, so please contact us, the grandparent co-chairs, or Mary Merrill in the development office. Mary can also provide parents with packets of information regarding the campaign to pass along, if this makes the discussion easier.

March 3: One of the important and exciting elements of our impending construction project is the new driveway that will enter campus from Concord Avenue on the north side of Far Field and create a one way loop through campus. This point of ingress will initially be the service drive during construction and will be paved and opened to BDS families upon completion of The Barn at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year. As parents who have been navigating Day School Lane during drop-off and pick-up times daily for the last ten years or more, we couldn’t be more excited about the prospects of the new traffic pattern. Gone will be backups to Concord Avenue. Gone will be trying to work our way around cars waiting to pick up children at the front door to get to Coolidge or the Walkway. Perhaps most importantly, gone will be the school's vulnerability to being cut off if and when another tree falls across Day School Lane, preventing even emergency vehicles access to campus. Our new driveway will not only be safer and more convenient, it will provide a beautiful entrance to the school lined by trees, a stone wall, and playing fields.  

Our special thanks go to all BDS community members who have participated in the community forums introducing the idea of the driveway to the neighbors, as well as to those Belmont residents who wrote letters on the school's behalf to Belmont’s Office of Community Development. It takes a village to raise a Barn.

February 17: Grandparents are a special part of the Belmont Day community, and they have become a very important part of the Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign. We are thankful for the leadership of grandparent co-chairs Ronald and Joan Pokross Curhan ‘49 and David and Jane Otte and thrilled that an anonymous donor has created a $250,000 matching challenge gift to the campaign. This donor will match dollar for dollar every grandparent donation up to the $250K limit. Wow! So far we have raised $50K towards this goal. Let's not leave any of this very generous challenge donation on the table. If your child's grandparents would like to discuss this matching opportunity, please contact us, the grandparent co-chairs, or Mary Merrill in the development office.

February 10: The Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign is in full swing. We are closing in on the $6M we need to secure before shovels hit the ground this summer and on our way toward our ultimate goal of $8M. Raising the remaining $2.5M will be no small feat and will not come easily, but we can do it with the help of every family in the BDS community. Broad participation is crucial.

To ensure success, we have been joined this year by an outstanding cadre of volunteers who are busy reaching out to and trying to meet with every family in the community. This group includes 25 parent-to-parent volunteers led by Catalina Guillermety and Connaught Colbert '79 and terrific co-chairs for grandparent (Ronald and Joan Pokross Curhan ‘49 and David and Jane Otte) alumni (Stephanie Kadnar '84 and Johanna Mendillo '90), parents of alumni (Susan Duff Kostro ’75 and Julie Jalelian), faculty (Amy Sprung, Larissa Rochford '93, and Nancy Fell), and past trustee (Charles Styron) outreach.

In total, our parent-to-parent team has a goal of meeting with 202 families. These folks are volunteering their time to do the fundraising work that needs to get done to make the Barn a reality. So, when you hear from a parent, grandparent, or alumni volunteer, please take the meeting and be prepared for a nice chat discussing y[our] children and Belmont Day's future. Meeting with BDS families has been both interesting and fun for us; we’re sure you’ll feel the same. Of course, if you would prefer to meet directly with the development office, we encourage you to contact Director of Development Mary Merrill.

February 3: We thought this would be a good time to share some of the most commonly asked questions we’ve addressed in our campaign meetings and neighborhood receptions.

1) We understand we are being asked to support both the annual fund and the Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign. How would Belmont Day like us to prioritize these gifts?
The school's ongoing top priority is to maintain strong annual giving. The annual fund is a line item in the annual budget, so BDS needs everyone in the community to contribute as generously as they can each year. As many of you know, tuition does not cover the entire cost of educating students. The real cost is approximately $3500 greater than tuition. Think of your gift as an annual expense to maintain the school’s current level of operation.

Schools periodically have to make investments in their physical plant or other long-term priorities that go beyond what can be covered in the annual budgeting cycle. This is why they have periodic capital campaigns. The Raise Y[our] Voice Campaign to help construct The Barn is one such effort. In addition to regular annual fund contributions, we are asking families to invest in the school’s future, as have families throughout Belmont Day's history. While The Barn will directly benefit the great majority of our current students, the campaign gives us all a chance to make an impact on the school that will endure for generations of students to come.

2) Can pledges to the campaign be paid over time, or do they need to be paid in one lump sum?
Pledges to the Raise Y[our} Voice Campaign can be paid over five years. For example, a pledge of $10,000 could be paid in a lump sum of $10,000 or over five years with a pledge payment of $2,000 a year. Payment schedules may be worked out directly with Mary Merrill, Director of Development. BDS is happy to accept a variety of payment forms, including appreciated securities.  

3) What is the construction schedule for The Barn?
We are on schedule to break physical ground on the project mid-summer 2017, with completion by September 2018, prior to the opening of the 2018-19 school year. After years of thoughtful planning, the construction process will actually be quite quick.

January 20: Making the whole greater than the sum of its parts has to be one of the holy grails of building design, and the thoughtful process through which the Barn is being designed makes us believe that this project will be a triumph by that measure. It is not by accident that the visual arts, life sciences, and technology are slated to move into these new academic spaces. Widely spread now in the current building, bringing them together in close proximity will facilitate much easier and more robust collaboration between our excellent teachers in these fields. You can view the current designs of the Barn here.
It doesn't take much effort to imagine projects modeled in Mr. Robinson's tech lab and prototyped in Mr. Smith's woodshop, or vice versa. It isn't difficult to imagine the sparks of positive and creative energy that will fly between Mrs. Armstrong and Ms. Solomon when their classrooms are connected. Likewise, the proposed dedicated life science room will foster even greater cross-graded collaboration, as the facility itself will support and highlight BDS's intentionally spiraled life science curriculum. The student experience has been the central feature of the Barn's design work from its initial stages, and we couldn't be more excited by how much Y[our] children will benefit by the hard work the entire community has put into constructing a space that will so effectively release our faculty's creative energy.

January 13: One of the great pleasures of co-chairing the Raise Y[our] Voice campaign is having the opportunity to meet so many folks associated with BDS. We are a small community, 178 families, and we are attempting to accomplish big things together. Last Thursday the campaign team completed the final of six community gatherings hosted by families in the various nearby towns.  They were all very special events, with 60% of our families attending at least one event. In addition to hearing from some of our amazing faculty about how “The Barn” is going to impact their lives and the lives of our children, we all found it fun to gather with neighbors. Usually, parent groups at BDS gather by grade, so these get togethers were a lively change of pace.  

We’d like to thank profusely our hosts for these events: the Lyttons, the McEleneys, the von Gottbergs, the Wallach/Viney family, and the Guillermety/Gauld family. You all were most welcoming. We’d also like to thank all of the faculty who devoted their evenings off to share with us their passion and wisdom about the possibilities the new space will bring: Anne Armstrong, Deborah Brissenden, Diane Foster, Carl Geneus, Liz Gray, Meg Lloyd, Kaleen Moriarty, John O'Neill, Larissa Rochford, Bill Smith, Kathy Jo Solomon, Dean Spencer, Leigh Twarog.  

Lastly, we’d like to thank everyone who attended. Beyond being fun for us, it renewed our faith in the strength of the BDS community and our potential to accomplish the amazing task ahead of us. Please take a moment to complete our four-question survey by clicking here.

May 11: Campaign Update, May 11

May 7: The BDS Barn Raising and Kick Off was a BAA-eautiful night of community celebration! Check out the fun in our BDS Barn Raising photo gallery.