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!

01 Jul

A Message from Dr. Mirangela Buggs, D-E Director of Diversity & Equity Engagement: Family Resources to Explore this Summer

Dear D-E Families,

I write first to thank you for your patience, flexibility, and support of the school’s work to continue school life amid the challenges of a global pandemic. Thank you for lending us your children. It is a pleasure to work with them.

Many of you may know that I began my work as the Director of Equity and Diversity Engagement in the summer of 2017. It is common for schools like D-E to have a school wide leader to work full-time on many endeavors that deepen the school’s mission to embrace diversity. I am part of a network of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) leaders working in school communities around the country. Our work is similar, in that we are charged with moving forward the DEI conversation and the day-to-day work of education around those topics. We all work to support students, to structure professional learning for faculty and staff, to assist with hiring more diverse teachers and staff, and to generally support our schools to commit to practices that create inclusive and equitable school cultures, where students and adults of many backgrounds and identities can feel they belong and can thrive. And, each school has their own culture in which DEI leaders participate. The culture at D-E is uniquely diverse; we are one of the most diverse schools in the New York City metro area. With that diversity comes so much excitement and growth, as well as particular challenges.

Our current historical moment has presented our entire nation with both a fraught and promising challenge. We are living in a global pandemic. Now, a global movement against anti-black racism has emerged in protest. For the past several years our country has seen the rise of racism targeting multiple communities of color, along with the rise of violent and deadly anti-Semitism. Our world, our society is at a crossroads. Will we embark upon a national healing process to transform injustice and inequity? Will our society affirm the lives and dignities of all? What work will schools do to aid in transformation? What work can we do at D-E?

During our days away from school during the pandemic, adults from all areas of the school and several Upper School students met weekly for “Equity Checks” – presentations and conversations around a range of DEI topics pertinent to our social and school-based contexts. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, we supported Black students and students of all racial identities to meet, to express their feelings and views, and to lead their peers in dialogues about being upstanders for justice. These recent gatherings flowed from the pain and the need to create community around what has been happening this spring, and they are connected to the range of equity and diversity conversations we have as adults and that we support among students at D-E.  You have chosen a school for your children that has a clear mission that guides us all to “. . . embrace diversity in order to develop the skills, values, and courage to meet the challenges of a changing world and make it better.” How will we, as a community, live this mission more fully in 2020 and beyond?

Dr. De Jarnett has uplifted us all with his thoughtful reflections on the work we need to do going forward. Also, D-E has publicized a Community Letter that commits us to re-double the efforts in our DEI work. Over 1600 members of our community– parents/families, alumni, faculty-staff – have pledged to this work of deepening/redoubling our understanding and efforts to create a more safe, inclusive, and equitable world. More signatories from these constituents come forward each day. As I was preparing this letter to send to you, Black alumni and current students have stated a list of recommendations that are aligned with the deepening/redoubling that school leaders are involved in and planning for D-E right now. We are thankful to our alumni and students for their clarity and for their insistence that we at D-E do the work necessary for true belonging and equity.

For those of us who educate your children, we are called to commit to the life-long learning our mission inspires us to foster in our students. We intend to build upon the work of creating the diverse community that D-E has become, and to build upon the DEI-focused professional development work we’ve been doing at D-E. Before the final end of the year for employees, adults who work at D-E were given summer professional development work to prepare them for next year’s school wide conversations around equity, unlearning bias, and being an inclusive school. We are designing the work for teachers and others to engage in professional learning about race and racism, why and how it exists today, and how we all, including our students of all ages, are impacted by a legacy of racial inequity. Addressing racism and how it lives on a spectrum and how it shapes the very fabric of our nation, and of our schools, is so important in all that we aspire to do in our embrace of diversity. This work is timely now, urgent. As a nation and as a school, we all must unlearn racism in all of its forms and wholly support all of our students in this endeavor. 

We also would like to involve parents in these conversations next year. Many families in our community already have these discussions at home. Many would like to learn more and to have more of these discussions in their families. There are many, many resources that help people think and talk about race, racial identities and racism from many perspectives – history, psychology/social emotional lenses, sociology, political science, cultural studies, etc. Please take a look at the following curated list of resources that we hope are helpful and practical for D-E families wanting to explore alongside educators this summer. Some of these pieces will give insight about having conversations with your children about happenings in the world:

Resources to help you talk with your children (and adults):

Resources for adults and older students wanting to have a sense of various conversations about race, history, the present and schools:

For those interested in the conversation about what it means to be white/European-American:

Ultimately, the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion exists to create more connected, more kind communities where people from many backgrounds are able to create authentic bonds and to better bridge to each other’s worlds. Creating anti-racist cultures is core to DEI work in schools. While talking about race and racism can be uncomfortable, what awaits us on the other side of the process is a more knowledgeable, understanding and supportive community.

With best wishes for a restorative and healthy summer,

Dr. Mirangela Buggs

01 Jul

Message from Joe Algrant, US Principal

Dear Upper School Families,

Spring has turned to summer, and I have been looking back to see where the time has gone from March 12 to now. That was the last day we were in school together, and the time that has flown by so quickly seems simultaneously like so long ago. Our world has changed pretty dramatically in these months, and the summer does bring some time to reflect on that, much as we are already deeply into planning what the fall might look like for our school, and for society in general. 

We’ll have more to say about the fall in a few days, and you’ll hear from Dr. De Jarnett with our current thinking, but I wanted to take a moment to look back over the last few months and comment on how adept our students were at struggling through the simultaneous difficulties with which they were presented. The pandemic was certainly enough for them to process, and without a longer term perspective on world issues it was hard for them to see how this moment in time compared to other crises that the world has endured, and pulled out of in some ways better off than before. We hope this is the case with COVID-19, but that does remain to be seen, and what happens in the next few weeks nationally with the data on the coronavirus’ transmission will determine a lot about how we are able to return in the fall.

Then you add the dramatic international reactions to the horrific racist murders of George Floyd and others, and your children had a very emotionally challenging ending to an already tough semester. We tried the best we could, considering that we were all at home, to provide some safe space to talk, and many of your children took the opportunity to come to meetings and participate in the different kinds of conversations that took place. Because of student interest, some of those groups are continuing into the summer, and that will help us be more prepared for the fall when school starts again, in whatever form that takes. Please read the letter from Dr. Mirangela Buggs, our Director of Equity and Diversity Inclusion (click here), that summarizes what we have been doing on the subject of race, what we are asking the faculty to do over the summer, and what we anticipate starting in the fall. Having seen the comments from the #blackatdwightenglewood Instagram site, we know how important this work is, more so than ever.

In terms of fall athletics, we remain in a holding pattern until we see what the regulations are from public health officials and the state, and we consider what makes the most sense for the School. This will not be an easy decision, and should we be able to offer our fall competitive athletic program, there will certainly be various restrictions on what is allowed, so that we do not violate any of the necessary health and safety rules that have allowed the case numbers in our area to decline. 

That vigilance will remain critical throughout next year, and as you will hear more about in several days, our life in school will necessarily be altered to accommodate our mutual health and safety. And while it may feel quite different, at least we hope to be somewhat physically together, if in smaller groups than usual, but being able to be on campus.

Many thanks again for your support of our work with your children. Your responses to the various surveys and questionnaires were critical in the decisions we made to schedule and then reschedule the school, and to help keep students engaged while understanding the surreal factors that were impeding on our regular learning. There will likely be more moments where we check in and ask your opinions as we prepare for September.

Best wishes for some relaxation and rest, and times with less stress.

Sincerely,

Joe Algrant,

US Principal

P.S. A quick note for all Junior (Class of 2021) Families: You should have received by now an Email  from the College Counseling Office (CCO) about Summer college admissions preparations (click here to view). I encourage you to also (if you missed it) watch the video of a recent CCO-hosted Zoom session, featuring Adam Ingersoll (Compass Education Group) on the topic of standardized testing and the impact of COVID-19. 

28 Feb

Message from Joe Algrant, US Principal

Dear Parents and Guardians,

While we are closely monitoring the global public health situation as you’ve read in recent messages, we also are trying to operate school in a normal fashion, and to that end I want to remind you about important events upcoming in the next week. On Monday, March 2 at 7:00 PM, we invite parents of students currently in Grades 9, 10, and 11 to an evening to learn about the curriculum for next year and the choices that students will have. The scheduling process has begun and we will be spending the next month working on helping students choose their courses for 2020-2021. Please join the deans for this important meeting at 7:00 PM. Rooms will all be adjacent to Hajjar Auditorium so please come to the Klein Campus Center.

That meeting will be preceded by a College Roundtable at 6:00 PM in Hajjar Auditorium. The roundtable is a question and answer session moderated by the College Counseling Office that will address issues on your minds.

Other important events next week:

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

WINTER SPORTS BANQUET, 6:30 PM (Hajjar Auditorium)

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

CONNECTIONS DAY: BUILDING EMPATHY

We will be spending part of Wednesday in activity and conversation about the importance of empathy. The event, primarily designed and organized by students, includes a keynote speaker from an organization called Making Caring Common, running out of the Harvard School of Education, along with discussions and a common interest activity. This is the first of a series that we are planning to deliver over the next year or so, in part to help us learn to have more productive and deliberate conversations around difficult issues in an age where that can be complicated.

Friday and Saturday, March 5 and 6, 2020

NEWSIES, the Upper School Winter Musical, is performing 7:00 PM on Friday, March 6 and 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM on Saturday, March 7. Like the fall play Radium Girls, this show is inspired by real events that changed both the private and public lives of those involved. By showing courage, perseverance, and unity to push back against the crushing pressure of the newspaper moguls who wished to “bolster the bottom line” and guide the public narrative, the “newsies” use their own agency to change an outcome. They publish their own paper to get the word out to the public. We hope that you will all come to see our kids who are on the stage, behind the stage, or in the orchestra!

A Note about Spring Sports

And finally, a note about spring sports, which begin next week, Friday March 6. Because of the weather, the condition of the fields, and the requirement to have completed six practices before scrimmages begin, we will need to spread practices over the weekend. We will have a final schedule to you by Monday, but please know that there will be practices for some teams on both Saturday and Sunday.

21 Feb

Looking ahead to 2020-2021: Academic Scheduling Begins

As we begin to plan for next year (yes it’s that time), we are altering our process from previous years just a little, aiming to make things a little more clear and efficient. There are many steps to the decisions that students will make, and we’ll start this week with asking current sophomores and juniors to indicate which honors and AP courses they want to be considered for. The department chairs have explained the options at a meeting at the end of last week, after which students have completed their requests. The department chairs and deans will take these requests and make the final determinations on placement. We have urged them to remember that indicating preference is not admission into the course. We will place students in courses xbased on what we believe is best for them.

After working with this information, we will move more deeply into the scheduling conversation in about two weeks, and we invite you to hear from the deans on Monday March 2, 2020, at 7:00 PM. We will send a reminder the week before the event but please mark the date. This is an important event to attend for parents in grades 9, 10, and 11.

As we get to the logistics of the process, we have come to realize over the past couple of years that fewer and fewer students actually use the printed copies we produce of the Course of Studies book, so we have decided to take the more environmentally sound route and work from the online version.

Parents/guardians will learn more about this at the meeting on March 2.

10 Jan

College Counseling Office (CCO) Update

The D-E CCO is hosting several upcoming events. See below for highlights & check your Email for details.

College Roundtable
Thursday, January 23, 2020, 4 PM – 5 PM

Hulst House (in Leggett Hall)

You are warmly invited to participate in a “Roundtable” (i.e. unscripted) discussion with members of the CCO. Bring your questions about any aspect of the college process!

Questions?  Email cco@d-e.org or call 201.227.3170.

Practice ACT with Revolution Prep
Saturday, February 8, 2020, 8 AM – 1 PM

Registration Deadline: Friday, January 31, 2020

Dwight Englewood’s Revolution Prep liaison Sue Hmelovsky will be available for 30-minute score report consultations to help you interpret your child’s results after the exam. This is a fantastic resource that is free of charge for Dwight-Englewood students.

For further information and to register for the February 8, 2020, Practice ACT, simply click here.

Click here for a Revolution Prep information flyer (PDF).

Questions? Email Joseph Yung, Director of College Counseling at yungj@d-e.org

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! 
03 Jul

Nurse’s Office Update

The end of this school year brings the retirement of Sara Schulman, who has been our Middle/Upper School Nurse for the past 10 years. Sara stepped in at a critical time after the sudden passing of our previous nurse, and she has been with us since. She brought vast experience with her, both about nursing and about general aspects of health and wellbeing. She has shared advice about dealing with various kinds of ailments with anyone who was in her office, and she always seemed to appear with the appropriate cure. She has also led our work on concussion protocols that we have instituted and continue to address.

Sara will be finishing her work soon, and I am pleased to announce that we have hired another wonderful nurse to replace her. Let me introduce Allison Herriott, who will begin her work in August. Allison has been a critical care/intensive care nurse as well as a school nurse in several different settings. Alongside nursing, she has also done administrative health work in schools throughout the NYC area, so she brings with her all the important elements of the position. Most vitally, she has demonstrated already that she is an energetic and caring person who will take charge of the office when school starts, in the most positive of ways.

Allison arrives at the same time that we are implementing Magnus, our new service for health form management. She has worked with similar systems in other positions, and she will have no problem learning how to manage this one.

So far the switch to Magnus has been pretty clean. I know that several of you have been writing to Sara with questions or other comments about Magnus or your particular child. Please know that once Sara leaves, her email will be forwarded to Allison, but there may be a short time lag before you hear a response. Magnus will continue to send you requests and alerts, and we will be working on the forms during the summer, both Allison and others in the office, to be sure that we stay current during the transition. If you encounter ongoing problems this summer, please be sure to let me know, but with luck all will continue to go smoothly.