Parent Update: Nov. 1, 2018

Thanksgiving and Winter Break Information 
As the holiday season approaches, here is some important information about Thanksgiving and winter breaks.

Thanksgiving break begins at 3:15 pm on Friday, Nov. 16. Students may leave after their final commitments that day. Charter buses will leave NMH Saturday, Nov. 17, at 9 am. All dormitories close at noon Saturday, Nov. 17, and reopen Sunday, Nov. 25, at 2 pm.

Students will be asked to complete a vacation form by Tuesday, Nov. 13, at midnight, indicating their departure and return times. Students are expected to return to campus by 7:30 pm on Sunday, Nov. 25. Charter buses will return students to campus Sunday evening, Nov. 25. View the charter bus schedule and fees. Student sign-ups for vacation forms and charter-bus reservations will be available online from Friday, Nov. 2, until Tuesday, Nov. 13, at midnight. You may also schedule your own private transportation.

Winter break begins Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 5 pm. Students may leave after their last exam or other commitment. The final exam schedule has been posted. Charter buses will depart NMH on Thursday, Dec. 20, at 9 am. Dormitories close on Thursday, Dec. 20, at noon and reopen Monday, Jan. 7, at 2 pm. Students are expected to return to campus by 7:30 pm on Jan. 7. Please plan accordingly.

Research Presented on Students’ Resilience

For the past two years, NMH has worked with researcher Dr. Suniya Luthar to gather information about our students’ health and wellbeing. On Oct. 18, during Family Days, Luthar presented a summary of her findings and recommendations. Luthar is a psychology professor at Arizona State University, and describes her research as “using science to foster resilience.”

What Was Studied
The survey explored what helps, and what hinders personal adjustment. Specifically, students were asked about substance use, a variety of adjustment difficulties, attitudes toward “hooking up,” and attributes such as empathy and commitment to personal growth. 

Luthar said that the pressure to achieve, which is characteristic of all high-achieving schools, puts these students at high risk for adjustment issues. “It’s not NMH, it’s the high-achieving pressure itself,” she explained.

Research Findings
The conclusions summarized below are based on surveys of NMH students in 2017 and 2018 (with an 85–90 percent participation rate). In each case, NMH students’ responses are being compared with those of students at other high-achieving schools. 

  • Substance use: Fewer NMH students used cigarettes or got drunk. Students’ perception of how parents would react if they broke various rules was strongly correlated with whether or not students actually broke those rules. 
  • Showing symptoms of adjustment problems: Students at all high-achieving schools experience higher-than-average rates of anxiety, depression, rule-breaking behaviors, and aggression. However, fewer NMH students were “much above average” on these measures than peers at comparable schools.
  • Attitudes toward “hooking up”: Students at NMH generally looked less favorably on this kind of sexual activity.
  • Social-media use: NMH students spend somewhat less time on social media and texting.
  • Attributes that enhance adjustment 
    • NMH students showed rates of empathy and “prosocial behaviors” such as helping others at rates similar to those at comparable schools. (NMH students were slightly higher on “prosocial behaviors.”)
    • NMH was higher on several critical “school climate” dimensions including intolerance for bullying, respect for diversity, and the presence of trusted, caring adults at school.

How Parents Can Help
Students’ resilience rests, fundamentally, on relationships, says Luthar, and the quality of parent-child relationships is powerful. When students are highly engaged with parents and trust them, they thrive. Here’s how to help that happen.

  • Foster your own wellbeing; if you’re never replenished, you can’t care for your student.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with your student.
  • Be vigilant about checking in with your student, alert for signs of distress.
  • Avoid putting excessive pressure on your student to achieve, achieve, achieve.
  • Set consistent, appropriate limits about repercussions for substance use, rudeness, bullying, cheating, and other acts of rule-breaking.
  • Be a good role model by emphasizing kindness, decency, and integrity.

How NMH Plans to Enhance Student Resilience

  • Explore evidence-based anti-bullying programs. (NMH already ranks high on intolerance for bullying, but the impact of bullying on individual students is significant, so we seek to improve further.)
  • Address the perception among some students that some teachers’ academic expectations are too high. (A focus group of faculty and administrators is recommended.)
  • NMH is exploring ways to boost the percentage of students who feel connected to at least one caring adult at school. Although 80 percent say they do feel connected, our goal is to have all students feel that way. 

Study Abroad 2018–19

Has your student been thinking about participating in a study-abroad program offered by the NMH Global Engagement Office? The first trip of the year leaves campus Friday, Nov. 2, for Brazil, where NMH students will spend time in both Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia exploring how their humanities and biology courses come to life through Brazilian culture. Whether your student is traveling with that group, or you are interested in learning more, you’ll enjoy following the group’s activities in Brazil. Here’s how. 

  • Trip leaders will post pictures and student reflections on the GEO blog every few days.
  • "Like" our GEO Facebook page to see pre-departure photos and keep up with other GEO events throughout the year.
  • Follow the GEO on Instagram @nmhglobal for posts from this trip and other GEO-sponsored programs and events.

Other study-abroad programs this year include the course-embedded trip to New Zealand, where students will also study humanities and science; the Belize healthcare, development, and service co-curricular trip for students interested in exploring medical careers; and the arts and culture program in Ghana, where students are introduced to West African culture, philosophy, and daily life through varied artistic mediums. Applications for this summer’s Ghana trip are due Monday, Nov. 26.

Don’t let your student miss this opportunity to travel with NMH! The intercultural competence students gain while abroad help them become adaptable, flexible, and self-aware global leaders. Please contact Angela Yang-Handy, dean of global, experiential, and community engagement, with questions.

Dance Concert’s Theme is Power
NMH dancers are bringing important topics to the stage. On Nov. 8–10, the NMH Dance Companies will present POWER/powerlessness, a compelling array of pieces on the themes of power and powerlessness.

This concert features choreography by dance faculty members Taylor King and Gretel Schatz P’19 ’21, and students Ella Bathory-Peeler ’20, Natalie Foster ’20, Via Schatz-Allison ’21, Aïssatou Thiam ’19, and Julia Zhao ’19. A short dance film created by Tara Brenner ’15 and featuring six students, will premiere during the concert. 

"I am immensely inspired by how NMH students take an idea and run with it," says Schatz. "In many NMH classes, our students grapple with themes of power and powerlessness in the world. The process of creating, learning, and rehearsing the choreography for this concert has been a way to process and communicate their ideas kinesthetically. We hope our audiences will make connections to their own lives and experiences, literally or abstractly."

Dances about vulnerability, wealth distribution, and cycles of socialization, isolation, empowerment, and joy will be expressed through a variety of styles including contemporary, pointe, modern, jazz, and rhythm tap. 

There will be a talkback following the Nov. 9 performance. All performance tickets can be purchased here.


Family Days survey: Thank you to all who attended NMH fall Family Days. Your feedback is important to us as we plan future events. Please take this short, five-question survey.

Get campus news, straight from students: Sign up for a digital version of The Bridge, a student-run newspaper at NMH. Share your email address and you'll receive The Bridge approximately once a month, following print publication. 

NMH Pie Race: Click here to learn how to participate in a longstanding NMH tradition with your NMH student. Hint: there’s apple pie!

New on NMH’s Flickr site: The latest galleries include photos (and some video) from Diversity Summit, Family Days, rowing, cross-country, soccer, cider-making, fall foliage, and a cappella. And get the latest news on the NMHSocial page.

College counseling reminders: An important testing deadline is Friday, Nov. 2. Read more about what you and your student should do.

NMH Christmas Vespers 2018: On-campus vespers is Sunday, Dec. 2, beginning with a 2 pm reception in Bolger House. Performances in Memorial Chapel are at 3:30 and 7 pm. Off-campus Vespers is in Boston this year at Emmanuel Episcopal Church of Boston. Get your invitation to the Boston Vespers parent event.

Free senior yearbook portraits: NMH is offering the Class of 2019 free yearbook portraits. A photographer will be available during specific times on Nov. 4, 5, and 6. Students will be given the raw file to print on their own. Members of the Class of 2019 received all details via email; students must sign up to take advantage of this opportunity. (You may want to encourage your student to sign up.)

The Gemini 2018–19: You can order the NMH yearbook, The Gemini, now. It is free to seniors but must be purchased by other students. Books will be distributed in May. Orders and ads are due Nov. 30, 2018.

Reminder from the business office: For families who chose to be billed in two installments, the due date for the second installment is Nov. 15. You received an updated statement via email on Oct. 31. Please contact Joanne Graves at 413-498-3268 or Angie Fletcher at 413-498-3189 with questions.

Athletes of the week: Congratulations to our most recent honorees, Bekah Keator ’19 (JV soccer), Kaitlin Broda ’19 (varsity field hockey), Maya Nayman ’19 (varsity volleyball), and Keel Brissett ’21 (varsity soccer). Find out why each was selected for this honor.

Host families needed: NMH is looking for day families to host Uruguayan exchange students in February 2019. Learn more about taking part in this enriching program.

Upcoming Events

11/1–3 Theater:You Can’t Take it With You
11/1–3 NMH Board of Trustees meeting
11/2–12/2 Art exhibition: Convergence: Prints and Projections by Paul Lindale P ’18 ’20 and Tekla McInerney
11/2 HUM II Brazil program departs
11/8–10 POWER/powerlessness dance concert
11/9 Fall athletics banquet
11/10 Admission open house
11/12 Admission class visit day
11/16 Thanksgiving break begins at 3:15 pm
11/17 Dorms close at noon
11/25 Thanksgiving break ends, students return 2–7:30 pm

A bird's eye view