21 Sep

Message from Joe Algrant, US Principal

Dear Upper School Families,

Hoping you are doing OK after a great weekend, weather-wise (and happy new year to all our families who observe and celebrated Rosh Hashana), I just wanted to send home a quick review of the school year thus far, along with brief reports from the class deans on their perceptions of how the students are doing at this early point in the year, some photos (see above and below) and reminders of upcoming ‘virtual’ events for both the students as well as all of you.  

With the exception of one grade cohort, all students have been on campus one day, and we start the new rotation on Tuesday (tomorrow, September 22).  These first days have been gratifying in terms of seeing everyone, and a little tricky as we start to review new protocols and see how they are responding to the increased restrictions we all are facing. Rather than start them all at once, we are training them some each time, and during this second round we will start working on the pathways they take from one place to another. Used to taking the shortest route, students will now have to follow signs that direct them in ways that are not the most direct or efficient, but in the interest of safety we must insist they follow. All of us will take longer to move from class to class, and we have adjusted the schedule to allow for the extra time. As we rise to full capacity, we will also stagger the end times of classes so that the traffic is reduced.

Of equal importance to mention is that we have started to talk in School about some of the important subjects that will occupy this year. The election looms large right now, because it is coming soon, especially by school time standards. So we want to take up a school-wide conversation in a healthy and meaningful way. To do that successfully we are beginning this week and next to establish some standards and principles about how to have those conversations when there can be 1) polarized disagreement and 2) significant emotional energy. That’s nationwide of course, and to make our best efforts in that regard we are starting with more personal inspections of our own emotions and the standards that we live by at Dwight-Englewood as written in our own foundation documents. We believe that these documents provide the institutional structures to engage our students in complicated dialogue, as opposed to debate. They remind us of the importance of listening  to understand and highlight the imperative to honor our different identities and experiences. They will scaffold in important ways the work that we’ll be doing all year: about the election, about ongoing issues concerning the pandemic, about our push against racial injustice. I encourage you to ask your students about the activities we are doing during these two weeks if you want a deeper sense of our plans. 

In terms of the election itself, we will be scaffolding that discussion as well by bringing speakers about the history of political systems and ideologies, about what free speech means, about media literacy and the role of social media in public opinion and elections, trying to help us understand the particular dynamics of this election. We want to be able to understand why this election is so fraught and be able to discuss the issues constructively. It’s a lofty goal for sure, and we understand the need to address both the election itself and the surrounding reasons that make it personal and emotional. Helping ourselves demonstrate active listening and empathy are central to this working well, and will be overt parts of the program. 

Each week we will update you on this work and encourage you to check in with your students and see how they are doing with these conversations. 

Some important dates:

  • Friday, September 25: Last day to add a course
  • Monday, September 28: Yom Kippur, School closed
  • Tuesday, September 29: Ninth Grade Math Night, virtual
  • Wednesday, September 30: PA Virtual Parent Ed. Event: Dr. Richard Weissbourd (click here for a flyer)
  • Thursday, October 8: Back-to-School Night, virtual
  • LATE BUS service will start on Tuesday, September 29

Pictures featured are from the Upper School’s Community of Readers 2020 Zoom sessions. The annual all-school reading program, hosted by English Department, was held ‘virtually’ last Friday. 

21 Sep

From the Student Activities Office

This week (September 21- 25) we are excited to kick off our Activities Program. Students heard first on Monday about all of the student organizations running this year from Ms. Murphy and the Student Activities Advisory Board. There will be a digital directory of all groups with descriptions and contact information. There will also be introductory videos from each organization that will help students get to know our robust extracurricular offerings! On Wednesday and Thursday, from 5-6:30 pm, we will have a Zoom Activities Fair. Each student organization will host a Zoom room, as if it were a table at a fair, to host introductory sessions and sign up new members. We encourage students of all grades to participate in the fair this week! We’ve got a lot of fun and interesting offerings! More information will be coming soon to an updated Activities Page (www.d-e.org/activities; note that Log-In to MyD-E is required; for Log-In help, please Email help@d-e.org.)

21 Sep

Deans’ Updates

GRADE 9

From Mr. Jeremy Meserole, Dean, Class of 2024

It was great seeing the 9th graders online last week after our first week together in person.  Students attended class, advisory, and a class meeting all virtually, acclimating, adjusting and getting to know each other and their teachers in this online setting.  Next week the 9th graders return to campus on Tuesday (Cohort A) and Wednesday (Cohort B) – we look forward to seeing them again as we continue to practice and adjust to on campus routines and habits designed to keep the entire community safe, as well as provide opportunities for students to form relationships with each other and their teachers.  Please continue to reach out to me with any questions or concerns as we all work together to make this start of the school year a successful one.   

GRADE 10

From Mr. Shai Zacarev, Dean, Class of 2023

Last week was the first opportunity for 10th graders to return to campus and what an exciting time it was. We started the day together in the big tent and then everyone went off to their first class on campus in almost six months. During one of our breaks this morning we also once again gathered in the big tent to have some mid-morning snacks and then went right back to their lessons. The air was filled with positivity, a lot of enthusiasm, and helped build comradery in the grade. As we go into this holiday weekend I hope everyone is able to get some rest and that 10th-grade cohort B is getting hyped to get their turn to be on campus on Monday.

GRADE 11

From Ms. Kim Lalli, Dean, Class of 2022

It was so wonderful to welcome (most) of the Class of 2022 back to campus this week. Even with masks on, I could tell that they were smiling when they got to campus and I certainly shared that sentiment. It has been more than 6 months since we have seen one another in person! My sense is that though campus feels and looks different in a lot of ways, the juniors were simply happy to be back in the classroom with their peers and teachers. I was so impressed with their general good cheer, positive attitude, and graciousness. They were happy to walk the long way to go through the appropriate door and were unphased by the temperature checks and frequent sanitizing. Though many struggled to maintain distance – something we all contend with, especially when spending time with our nearest and dearest – they were understanding and quick to correct the oversight when asked to give each other more room. They have all really grown, as individuals and as a Class  and I couldn’t be prouder. I also met this morning with the small cohort of students who have opted to remain virtual this month and though we remain on either side of a computer screen, it was still nice to gather with those folks and hear how they are faring. We began the year by talking about the importance of both individual and collective responsibility – to our local and global communities – and I am optimistic that this group is embracing that challenge wholeheartedly. I wish them all a productive few weeks and am already eager to see them again at the end of the month.

GRADE 12

From Dr. Brendan McGrail, Dean, Class of 2021

The Seniors are off and running as they skillfully balance our new health and safety protocols with the time-honored traditions associated with being the new student leaders of the school. During our opening week orientation program, we talked about the challenge of “How to Lead in our Current Environment.” A handful of Senior student government reps also came to school to prepare the Senior Rock. While many things are different at school this year, the Senior leaders together with Director of Student Activities Debbie Murphy were determined to keep this important school tradition alive. The Senior leaders decided to put their own spin on this cherished tradition by writing their graduation year (2021) in large white/gold letters down the rock vertically instead of horizontally across the rock. Mr. Algrant also shared a story about the legend of the Senior rock, via video, to help the Seniors get excited for their first days on campus. When they arrived on campus for classes, the Seniors added their names in white/gold paint to the rock (see pictures above and below). It was great to see the energy and excitement as these students came to campus for the first time since last spring (March 12, 2020) when COVID-19 quarantining began. We are looking forward to great things to come with these Seniors leading the charge!

17 Dec

TEST POST: Save the Date: MLK Day of Service 2020

D-E families of all ages are encouraged to participate in D-E’s MLK Day of Service 2020, on Monday, January 20, to include both off-campus community service trips and on-campus learning and service opportunities. Additional details and sign-ups will be coming immediately following Winter Break. Questions in the interim can be directed by Email to Dr. Mirangela Buggs, D-E Director of Equity & Diversity Engagement (buggsm@d-e.org) and/or Debbie Murphy, D-E Director of Student Activities (murphd@d-e.org).  Make it a Day “On” Not a Day “Off” with D-E!