Raising [My] Voice

Raising [My] Voice

On Thursday, January 5, Belmont Day hosted the last of six capital campaign events in our neighboring towns. The well-orchestrated ‘speed dating’ format of the evening highlighted the three pillars of the school—academics, athletics, and arts—and the impact we expect the Barn to have on the future of education at Belmont Day. I want to take the opportunity provided by this space to thank parents Margaret Wade and Brad Lewis for their continued leadership as campaign co-chairs and director of development Mary Merrill for a very well planned, informative, and engaging event.

I also take this weekly opportunity to more thoroughly articulate a message that we found ourselves delivering at the end of each of these evenings—this notion of raising your voice. I love the name of this campaign. A former English teacher, I always enjoy when language can take on multiple meanings and interpretations, and this campaign’s mantra is no different. Where better to raise one’s voice than in the halls and on the playground of a pre-k to 8 school? Joy is a vibrant part of a child’s experience here at BDS and, from time to time, that means a raised voice or two. I have come to expect that at some point during my day in the office, I will hear the joyful shriek of a first grader caught in a game of tag, or a top-of-their-lungs impromptu music rehearsal of the latest song being sung on the deck outside my door.

But raising your voice lives well beyond the literal, too. A visit to a middle school arts sharing or an eighth grade Capstone presentation provides evidence of the voices we have been nurturing in our students since they walked through the doors here, in some cases as four-year-olds. These young people have discovered the resiliency, the opportunity, and the tools to raise their own voices in the most inspiring and surprising of ways, and as a faculty we consistently marvel at the many ways that they do. If you have a moment (I would advise waiting until applications to secondary schools are in), ask an eighth grade parent about their child’s ability to raise their voice. My guess is that you will hear a story of surprise and awe at the strength of their child’s voice that has grown from inaudible to audible in what seems like an instant.

Then, of course, there is the raising of your voice and our voice as a community. This is an experience not limited to the campaign alone, but a notion rooted deeply in the founding of our school. In 1927, a group of parents founded Belmont Day on the principle of raising their voices. To inherit that charge, ninety years later, can be counted among the many things that get me out of bed each day to lead this community. We are all committed to the cause of raising our collective voice in the name of the excellence we aspire to as expressed in our statement of purpose and core values. With each campaign event as we spoke about the next manifestation of that excellence—a new building, another proud chapter in the school’s fine history—you could hear our voices get louder and louder, more and more confident in what the future holds.

As I conclude this week’s Scoop, it is hard not to smile to myself a bit when I think of what this campaign slogan means to me. Truthfully, no one has ever needed to ask me to raise my voice before. (You are welcome to ask my parents about this.) Yet, the opportunity to lead a school that is asking me to do so is an incredible one. To crystallize my understanding of what a Belmont Day education—formed through my regular interactions with the children, their teachers, and their parents—means to our students, and to synthesize that understanding each night on the capital campaign trail has been a gift. To walk through the door of the school and be told from the very start: raise your voice, Brendan…invitation accepted. Tag, I’m it.  

It has been my pleasure in these earliest days of my headship to raise my voice with all of you as we look upon a very bright future for our school. Have a great weekend.

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On Tuesday, we will gather for our annual Thanksgiving assembly—an opportunity to express gratitude as a community.

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