Parent Update: Sept. 21, 2017

NMH has joined the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a national organization dedicated to keeping youth and high school sports focused on the two-fold goal of developing better athletes and better people. NMH athletics endorses this coaching methodology, in which teaching life lessons is more important than winning. In 2016, NMH’s John Carroll was selected a PCA national double-goal coach of the year for the positive impact he has on youth every day.

Please join us during fall family days for a PCA seminar designed specifically for parents. We will meet Saturday, Oct. 7, 12:30–1:30 pm in Raymond Hall. A PCA trainer will join some of our coaches to discuss how NMH is committed to positive coaching and how parents can best support their student’s athletic interests.

One of the most common student complaints is, “I have so much homework.” It can be difficult for parents to discern when a child’s complaint is just a complaint and when it represents true feelings of overload. Because NMH takes academic excellence seriously, we have high homework expectations. At the same time, we want to teach students good study habits and foster a healthy lifestyle.

Each school night we hold a two-hour study hall during which students do homework and attend optional academic help sessions in mathematics, science, writing, and research. Our study-hall policies support good study habits. We encourage students to create a dedicated space that’s conducive to focusing. Often this space is the student’s dorm room, but sometimes students will use a dorm lounge or the library. During study hall, faculty and resident leaders monitor computer use, checking in with students who seem to be straying to social media or other websites that distract them from completing online work. In ninth-grade dorms, students are required to keep their phones outside their rooms during study hall.

For most students, the study hall is not enough time to complete all their work. The amount of homework varies by the course. For students in 100-level courses, the average nightly load is 45 minutes; for AP or 500-level courses, students can expect 90 minutes. Also, what may take one student half an hour may take another 45 minutes. Teachers understand this, and they regularly poll students on how long homework assignments take. Major papers and projects will require more time than a typical assignment. Teachers try to cushion these larger assignments by offering help sessions or in-class work time, or by eliminating homework on nights just before or following due dates.

Advisors will help students identify times outside study hall when they can complete work. For example, most students will have one free period during the academic day, creating an additional 80 minutes for homework. On most Tuesdays and Fridays, students have 50 minutes available during X-block when they can do homework or meet with a teacher. Developing this schedule awareness is an important step toward academic maturity. In addition, students are encouraged to use a planner to organize their time efficiently.

Homework is an integral part of the NMH experience because it allows students to master skills and prepare for class discussions and activities. The structures in place throughout the academic day and study hall help students develop scholarly habits that will serve them well in college and beyond.

Following fall family days, the long weekend officially begins Saturday, Oct. 7, after your student’s athletic, arts, and workjob commitments are complete. Students who have no Saturday obligations may leave on Friday after meeting all their commitments. There are no classes on Monday or Tuesday. Boarding students are expected to return to campus between 2 and 7:30 pm on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Return charter bus service from Boston and New York is available on Tuesday. Students may make charter bus reservations online Sept. 26–Oct. 4. After Oct. 5, call the charter bus number (413-522-3203) with any reservation changes.

Athletic and other commitments permitting, members of the Class of 2018 may return on Wednesday, Oct. 11, using the extra day for college visits. (This must be prearranged through their travel form and college counselor.) Seniors and PGs who return on Tuesday will use Wednesday to work on college applications.

The dorms will remain open during the long weekend. Students must complete an online travel form — whether they plan to leave campus or stay — by midnight on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Activities are planned for students who remain on campus; details will be posted in the Students Google group (for student viewing), at various locations throughout campus, and on the NMH calendar. Alumni Hall will be open, and meal hours will be posted online.

The NMH Parents Council is a group of current parents who assist the administration in identifying concerns and lauding accomplishments in all areas of school life — academic, residential, artistic, athletic, and extracurricular — reflecting the school’s mission to educate the head, heart, and hand. They focus on general topics, not concerns related to specific students. Parents Council meets twice a year on the Thursdays before family days. Members provide a parent’s perspective, and we encourage all parents to reach out to current council members to share their experiences as NMH parents. The first Parents Council meeting is Oct. 5. To learn more, follow this link or contact Beth Towle, parent resource director.

We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at family days on Oct. 6 and 7. If you plan to attend but have not registered, please use this link.

Once registered, you will receive an email with instructions on how to schedule your teacher conferences. Registration and conference scheduling close Oct. 1. Even if you are not registered, you are welcome to join us at the last minute, although you will need to see if you can sign up for teacher conferences by penciling in your name during an open appointment time on the schedules outside your teachers’ conference rooms. Please visit the walk-in table in Alumni Hall when you arrive on campus.

For those who can’t attend, we will be videotaping the “NMH Today” session with Head of School Peter Fayroian, and the College Counseling sessions. We’ll share the links to those videos in the next Parent Update.

View the family days schedule for details on activities and events, and review the family days tip sheet, which has information about how to get the most from your visit. Please plan to join us on Friday during family days from 10:30 to 11:10 am for “NMH Today” and 5-6 pm for the parent reception. For more information, please contact Beth Towle.

The world languages department now has workjob students leading twice-a-week language conversations in Chinese, French, and Spanish during dinner in Alumni Hall. On Tuesdays, the topics are geared toward beginner to intermediate level students, and Thursdays, topics are for intermediate to advanced level students. Language tables are beneficial in two ways: students not currently taking a language course can practice their skills before taking a spring class, and students taking fall language classes can get extra practice.
All are encouraged to participate in this easy way to develop speaking and listening skills.


Follow NMH Athletics: The fall athletics season is off to a promising start. Stay up to date by syncing your favorite team’s schedule from the athletics calendar, by following us on social media and/or our results overview page, and by catching a variety of varsity games on NMH Athletics Live. GoNMH!

Remembering 9/11:
NMH commemorated the 16th anniversary of 9/11 by flying flags at half staff, tolling the Memorial Chapel bell for five minutes at 8:46 am, and playing a brief concert on the carillon. It was also part of the chaplain’s remarks at Monday’s all-school meeting. A plaque and maple tree outside Alumni Hall memorialize the four NMH community members who lost their lives on 9/11.

Academic Excellence Rewarded:
The Cum Laude Society — the high-school equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa — elected 14 seniors on the basis of their outstanding academic records as juniors. Read more.

Hogolympics Photos:
Last week, students participated in Hogolympics, a raucous dorm-against-dorm competition that includes events such as a slow bike race, building a pyramid out of plastic cups, an egg toss, hula-hoop pass, and more. See photos.

Spring-Break Trip Sign-Ups:
Interested in traveling to Belize this March? You have two options: a trip focused on healthcare, development, and service or a trip focused on music, culture, and service. The application deadline is Oct. 2. Please contact Jensi Rovang with questions.

Applications for Model U.N. Trips:
Applications for these MUN travel conferences are due Oct. 2: The Hague, Netherlands (tentative dates 1/26–2/4/2018), Johannesburg, South Africa (tentative dates 3/18–26, 2018), and Ivy League UPenn Conference (tentative dates 1/24–28, 2018). Please contact Grant Gonzalez or Jensi Rovang in the global engagement office with questions.

Athletes of the Week
: Congratulations to standouts Siobhan Moore '19 (girls' varsity volleyball) and Richard Sturtevant '19 (boys' varsity cross-country). Read more.

Student Activities:
Students are busy organizing and signing up for clubs and activities from chess club to a cappella groups. In addition, Cris Ramirez, director of student activities, schedules a range of interesting options including dances, intramural events, trips to Northampton and Hadley, fan buses to support our athletic teams, and open time in the game room of Blake. Weekend and special activities are posted on the NMH calendar. These listings can be isolated by clicking on the down arrow next to “Agenda” at the upper right corner of the calendar and unchecking all criteria except “Student Activities.” Check out photos of last weekend’s HoggerFair, a mini-carnival with bungee jumping, “rock” climbing, and snow cones.

Upcoming Events

9/22 Improv night
9/24–25 Sustainability leadership symposium
9/29–30 Jewish high holy days events and services
9/30 TOEFL test
10/1 Memorial Chapel fall service
10/5 College counseling meeting for parents of juniors
10/6–7 Fall family days
10/7–10 Fall long weekend
10/11 Testing day

A bird's eye view