Parent Update: Oct. 19, 2017

On Oct. 15, seniors and juniors used their collective strength in a tug-of-war spanning Shadow Lake in NMH’s 92nd annual rope pull. Seniors again claimed the win, as they have done over the past nine decades in all but 15 rope pulls. And with the Class of 2018’s win, Interim Dean of Students Angelita Castañon had to jump into Shadow Lake.

According to NMH Archivist Peter Weis, “Inter-class and inter-dormitory competitions involving a ‘tug o’ war’ were certainly part of campus life in the 19th century, and D.L. Moody himself is reputed to have taken part in these contests. It was not until the spring of 1925 that the event resolved itself into an annual contest between the junior and senior classes. And in the fall of 1926, Shadow Lake became the venue of choice.” If the juniors had won, Head of School Peter Fayroian would have taken the plunge. Check out photos from rope pull and see the record of winners for the past 90 years.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This fitting quote set the tone for the fall diversity summit, held on campus Oct. 12–16. This line-up of events offers NMH students and faculty the opportunity to explore issues of interculturalism, equity, and inclusion.

The summit opened on Thursday night with Wantman Family State of the World speaker Dr. Nicholas J. Reo, whose talk focused on ecological stewardship on indigenous lands. Reo challenged participants to understand the various narratives of places such as Standing Rock, and encouraged us to unpack the “deeply different ideas [held] about the true meaning of land among indigenous peoples in colonial-settler societies.”

Friday night was “story night,” a popular gathering in which six selected students write and share their words about what makes them who they are. Over 100 people heard from storytellers Flo Auerbach, Philip Psaledakis, Blue Smith, Anna Creonte, Boulo Achor, and Isabel Lewis.

On Sunday, Paul Quinn College President Dr. Michael J. Sorrell was the summit’s keynote speaker. His visit was sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Rhodes Fellowship Course in Social Entrepreneurship. Sorrell asked students to talk about their dreams, and highlighted the beauty and innovation that can be found in failure. Following his remarks, over 230 students and teachers broke for small-group workshops led by members of the Student Diversity Committee. The entire school heard from Sorrell at Monday’s all-school meeting, where he received a standing ovation for comments about the importance of humility and of recognizing the value of opportunities we are given.

The summit was a success and a testament to how we make tangible the ideals in NMH’s mission statement, “engaging the intellect, compassion, and talents of our students, empowering them to act with humanity and purpose.” View photos from the diversity summit.

Today, Julia Farmer will take up the reins as NMH's next parent resource director. Julia will succeed Beth Towle and her pioneering work in this role as Beth fully assumes a new position on the NMH advancement team.
Julia is responsible for charting and enhancing the experience of new and returning students’ families at NMH. Reporting through the head of school’s office, Julia works with school departments to provide comprehensive and integrated parent communication about campus happenings, plans events involving families, and facilitates parent-related connections within and among departments at NMH. Feel free to be in touch with Julia as a primary point of contact on campus for non-student-specific questions.

Julia's superb work experience and her extensive campus relationships forged while coordinating advancement events and programs (recently including Reunion) are sure to serve her well as she shifts her focus to supporting and enhancing the NMH parent experience. While at NMH, Julia has served as an associate director of individual giving and most recently as a senior associate director of alumni giving and parent programs. Prior to working at NMH, Julia served as a development officer at the Southern Environmental Law Center, a senior development officer at the North Carolina Outward Bound School, and a development director and associate executive director with the American Cancer Society.

A message from Academic Dean Sarah Warren: “At the beginning of each semester, I have multiple opportunities to talk with our students about academic integrity. While our student body arrives to NMH from a variety of different places, integrity is in many ways a universal value. In opening-year workshops, when new students are asked to define integrity, the responses are pretty consistent. Students mention the need for honesty, ethics, morality. As one student aptly said, “Acting with integrity means doing the right thing even when it is difficult, even if no one is watching.” For me, this captures academic integrity really well. A significant part of academic work happens outside the classroom. It is during these small moments every day that students are asked to make the choice to act with integrity.

“At the beginning of the year, we take time during orientation sessions, Monday morning meeting, classes, and advising sessions to inform students about the academic integrity policy, what constitutes a violation of academic integrity, and the discipline process for violations. As a parent, you can play an important role by reinforcing the value of academic integrity. Most of our students do not approach an assignment looking for ways to take a shortcut. But many panic as a deadline approaches if they feel unable to achieve at a certain level.

There are a number of ways to support your student before this happens. First, remind your student that it is okay to struggle when grappling with new material. In addition, emphasize the value of time management so students can avoid working on a major assignment the night before it is due. Encourage your student to utilize NMH resources, including asking teachers for help outside of class, attending evening help sessions, or working with a tutor. Lastly, while students are always encouraged to discuss what they are learning in class, students should acknowledge any support on an academic assignment given by a parent or guardian. In addition, some assessments will require students to complete work without assistance. Please help your student to follow this direction, and wait to offer support until after this assignment has been submitted.”

Join Upward Bound on Saturday, Nov. 18, in Alumni Hall to commemorate 50 years of impact.

The Upward Bound program is one of NMH's most powerful and longest-running examples of highly effective social justice programming. Since the 1960s, when the civil rights movement exposed extreme racial inequality in access to higher education, NMH has been been on the front line helping first-generation and low-income college-bound youth gain access to higher education. Upward Bound is a federal TRIO program funded by the Department of Education. Programs are usually hosted on college and university campuses; NMH Upward Bound is one of only two programs hosted by independent secondary schools.

The first Upward Bound programs were established in 1965 as a result of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. In 1967, Howard Jones, NMH’s president at the time, went to Washington, DC, to meet with Sargent Shriver, President Johnson's leader on the War on Poverty, to convince Shriver that NMH could provide a rigorous, college-like environment for students. Our first grant was approved, and we have continued to provide critical college-preparation programming for 50 years.

Our talented students come from the most economically and educationally disadvantaged communities in Western Massachusetts. Students spend six weeks on campus each summer engaging in rigorous academic work. In their public schools throughout the school year, they receive intensive college-preparation services, including academic advising, tutoring, test prep, college trips, and assistance with the college application and financial aid process. Four of our Upward Bound students attend NMH full time, and we hope to welcome additional students in the future.

Through Upward Bound, NMH demonstrates its deep commitment to increasing educational opportunity. Head of School Peter Fayroian first worked with Upward Bound while teaching at Cranbrook. He shares, “I’ve always appreciated that NMH has been a home for Upward Bound and it's one of the reasons I wanted to come here. My sensibilities as a college-prep school teacher, and ultimately as a head of school, were shaped by my experiences teaching in a program dedicated to preparing students with limited opportunities for college. I'm proud to have Upward Bound at NMH." Learn more about the program.


Mid-semester Grades: The first half of the fall semester officially ends on Friday, Oct. 20. Please look for an email from Academic Dean Sarah Warren around Oct. 26 to let you know when mid-semester grades are available through NMH Online.

You Must Submit College Test Scores: Families of seniors, please note that colleges will only accept your student's test scores when they come directly from the testing agency (ACT or SAT). You must instruct the testing agency to send the scores.

ACT and SAT Registration Deadlines

To avoid late fees, students must register by Nov. 2 for the Dec. 2 SAT/SAT subject tests, and by Nov. 3 for the Dec. 9 ACT. Sophomores doing well in a fall course that ends in December should consider taking a subject test in that area. See all upcoming test dates. Contact Diane King with questions.

Fall Dance Concert: Easier Done Than Said is an evening of new dances performed by the NMH Dance Companies and created by student and faculty choreographers. Student lighting designers and technical crew have collaborated with the dance companies on pieces that explore themes of fear, hatred, growth, anxiety, and joy. Reserve tickets or follow the event on Facebook.

Sign Up for The Bridge: The Bridge is the NMH student-run newspaper, and parents can receive it via email. Sign up here to receive it approximately monthly.

Family Days Follow-up: Thanks to the 850+ family members who participated in fall Family Days. We invite you to peruse the photos from Family Days and the “performing arts on parade” showcase, or view videos of “NMH Today” with Peter Fayroian and the student panel, or the College Counseling session about financial aid for parents of juniors and seniors.

Congratulations, Athletes of the Week: Sophea James ’19 (girls’ varsity soccer) and Nolan Abeyta ’19 (boys’ varsity cross-country) are this week’s standout athletes. Read more.

Reformation 500 @ NMH, 1517–2017: Please join us for a panel discussion to think about re-formation, renewal, and protest in religious traditions and the role of young people. Student panelists and community guests from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim traditions will exchange ideas in Social Hall’s Gilmour Lounge on Oct. 25, 6:30–7:30 pm.

Thanksgiving Break Programs: Students not traveling home for Thanksgiving break should be reminded that dormitories will be closed and students are not allowed to stay on campus during during this break. Families may want to consider these non-NMH-sponsored school break options when making plans.

Flu Shots Available: The O’Connor Health and Wellness Center is administering flu vaccine to students. Free vaccine is available 9 am–7 pm Monday–Friday. Students may just walk in, or may schedule an appointment by calling 413-498-3407 or emailing the Health Center nurses. In addition, there will be a flu-shot clinic at Alumni Hall, 5–7 pm on Nov. 2.

Fall Stage Band Showcase: Join us Friday, Oct. 20, for a benefit concert for The Rays of Hope Walk and Run for Cancer. The World Music Percussion Ensemble, with special guest Trouble Times (Jacob Smith ’21 and friends ), and the NMH Stage Band will perform traditional African drumming, rock music, and classic rock and roll. A 7 pm reception in the RAC lobby for Rays of Hope will be followed by the concert at 7:30 pm in Heffernon Hall. Donations accepted.

Join Us at the Head of the Charles: From 5 to 8 pm on Saturday, Oct. 21, join Head of School Peter B. Fayroian, faculty members, and coaches Kate Hoff Shutta and David Reeder at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., to celebrate NMH’s plans for a new boathouse and the Gilder Center for Integrative Math and Science Education. On Sunday, Oct. 22, NMH has three boats competing in Boston’s Head of the Charles Regatta — at 8:52 am: women’s youth four (bow #19), at 10:01 am: women’s youth eight (bow #65), and at 12:34 pm: men’s youth eight (bow #31). Read more.

Positive Coaching Alliance Parent Seminar: During this Family Days seminar, the trainer focused on the importance of parental support in the positive coaching model. Using the example of how to talk to your child after a game, the trainer highlighted the profound impact parents have on whether their children find sports fun. The PCA website has hundreds of articles to help you navigate issues among parents, coaches and your children.

Upcoming Events

10/19 Faculty recital
10/20 Stage Band showcase
10/20 Midsemester
10/21-22 Head of the Charles
10/21 Growing Strong. Building Big.
10/23 Admission class visit day
10/25 Reformation 500 @ NMH
10/26-28 Board of trustees meeting
10/26-28 Dance concert
10/27 William Dixon art exhibition opens
10/28 ACT test
10/28 Admission open house
10/29 Concerto competition
11/2 Spain/Morocco trip departs
11/2 Registration deadline for SAT and SAT subject tests
11/3 Registration deadline for ACT test
11/3 Pops concert

A bird's eye view