News about Burgundy's 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes.
The teachers and Elizabeth, Jared, Pat, and I are back from the annual faculty retreat, which took place at the Cove Monday and Tuesday. We had a wonderful kick-off with teachers, with ice-breakers, great meals, and recreation time, along with a slate of team meetings and great professional conversations on diversity and differentiation, two of our summer reading topics! We are fortunate to have such an incredible mountain campus and academic program there! And, yes, it was hot even there! Big thanks to Burgundy Center for Wildlife Studies Director Vini Schoene ’73, David Sicree, and Jennifer Smith for hosting us!
Teachers, administrators, and staff are on campus this week here in Alexandria, in coordinating meetings, setting up classrooms, and generally getting ready for the first day of school, next Wednesday! Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, is the orientation day for new parents and students.
We'll have the long weekend coming up to contemplate our hopes and dreams for the coming year and for teachers to put final touches on their classroom spaces. And then, beginning with the preliminary activities Tuesday, we will be greeting your children with open hearts, minds, and arms. We look forward to seeing you and your students! Don't forget the BPA First Day Coffee on Wednesday and the Burgundy Back to School BBQ on Friday next week!
See you soon!
Thursday evening we held our 8th Grade Graduation in the Gym. As always, it was incredible!
Burgundy's graduations feature the graduating 8th graders; a very small portion of the ceremonies are adults speaking! The program for the graduation each year is designed by the graduating 8th graders themselves, with a minimum of facilitative help from their teachers and the ‘bones’ of the traditions carried forward from previous graduations. The graduation typically consists of speeches and musical and artistic performances by the students, along with an opening video, with a skit or song from advisors, comments from the Middle School Head and short remarks from the Head. As a result, each year's graduation manifests the particular character and talents of that class. They typically run, including a lengthy but poignant processional and video, less than 80 minutes and are superbly entertaining and most of all, beautifully reflective of the Burgundy mission and spirit!
Last night, the students expressed their strong connections to Burgundy and sense of Burgundy as a second home, their respect and affection for one another, and their appreciation for their teachers and parents who have helped them become the people they are today. Very moving, and sprinkled among a set of dazzling musical performances.
In my own brief remarks, I spoke about the ‘gift of time’ children receive at Burgundy. It is a gift that is patient and respectful of children’s developmental variety and needs. It is the crux of the student-teacher relationships. And it makes all the difference!
We wish the best to the Class of 2018! We will miss them. But we know they're going to continue to be amazing people in high school and beyond!
This morning, with the now graduated 8th graders on a class outing to King's Dominion, we gathered the rising K-8 students and faculty in the Gym to celebrate the close of another school year. With thunderous cheers we 'installed' the rising 8th graders as the new student leaders of the school, and we honored each class's 'graduation' to the next class. We also offered heartfelt farewells to departing teachers and staff before Assistant Head of School Elizabeth Lener and Cathy Manley led us in song.
Thank you for all of your support this year! And thank you today and always to the Burgundy teachers and staff for the incredible amount of work they have put in and for the love they've afforded our students.
It has been a great last week of school, capping off a great year. Next week, while teachers and administrators wrap up with faculty work week, there will be an exciting Gap Camp. The following week, Elizabeth and many teachers will continue work to plan improvements to our curriculum. Many of our staff will be on campus working much of the summer, please say hello if you're around!
We hope to see many familiar faces at Gap Camp, Summer Day Camp, or BCWS Camp! Regardless of your summer plans, have a wonderful summer!
On Thursday, June 7, Burgundy celebrates the graduation of the 8th grade Class of 2018. The graduation ceremony is a student-directed event, and each member of the class will play a role.
After their time at Burgundy, these young alumni plan to attend a variety of independent and public high schools:
- Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School
- Bishop O'Connell High School
- Collège du Léman (Switzerland)
- Edmund Burke School
- Episcopal High School
- Flint Hill School
- Georgetown Day School
- Gonzaga College High School
- Justice High School
- Madeira School
- Maret School
- McDonough High School (Maryland)
- National Cathedral School
- Ponte Vedra High School (Florida)
- Rock Ridge High School
- Sidwell Friends School
- St. Andrew's School (Delaware)
- St. George's Independent School (Tennessee)
- St. Paul's School (New Hampshire)
- St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School
- T.C. Williams High School
- Thomas Edison High School
- West Potomac High School
The tennis team made Burgundy history with their inaugural spring season! This was the first time the Burgundy Blazers made “racket” on the tennis courts, competing in four matches. The coed tennis team consisted of 32 student-athletes who embraced the fundamentals, footwork, and formations that led to success on the doubles court. The matches were abbreviated which means we played about a third or half of a high school match (first to 3 win by 2, etc.). We had a cohesive team with varying ranges of skill level and experience but one common thread—they were all excited to train every Thursday and compete on match days!
At the first match, we faced Edlin in Reston and we walked away with three doubles team victories and one match that ended in a draw (6-6) due to time constraints. In Vienna we faced Green Hedges and came away with three doubles team wins! Our heads were moving back and forth in anticipation as we watched many long rallies!
Congrats to our players for accepting the challenge on the court and their commitment allowed us to bring a lifetime sport to Burgundy! Special thanks to Ivana and Paige for assisting the program! And additional thanks to everyone at Burgundy for help along the way, including our maintenance team who provided us with water for bus trips and administration supporting our efforts too. A shout-out to our tennis parents for their support as a great fan base! We “loved” hearing from everyone and look forward to continuing with a solid group of rising 7th and 8th graders and new incoming 6th graders next year!
—Coach Bethany McCoy
Burgundy boys lacrosse 2018 enjoyed a very successful and fun season!
The team was comprised of 20 middle school student-athletes, one of our largest ever squads. We had a good group of 8th grade leaders, Nathan C., Jacob P., Nathaniel C., Marty W., Dylan S., Alex M., Sante C., Arturo S., and Andy N., and the team had strong leadership and experience, particularly on the defensive end.
As for the contests, the team traveled to Baltimore for its opener, minus 2/3 of our starting attack, and suffered a 7-4 setback on a scorching hot afternoon. Marty was a star in goal, and Nathan helped keep us in the game against a very good Crimson Knights squad. The following week we won at home in a great game versus Trinity. And the team followed up with three consecutive shutout wins, a real rarity in lacrosse, versus Congressional, Barnesville, and Edlin, to finish 4-1.
Attackman Alex, defenders Jacob and Dylan, and goalie Marty, along with midfielder Nathan, were given special recognition for their excellent play and leadership. A very promising 6th grade group along with the 7th graders have us looking forward to the 2019 season!
Great job, team! Special thanks to our parents for their support and to Coach Bethany for all of her direct support and help!
—Coaches Jamie Dorrier and Jeff Sindler
Tickets are now available for the Class of 2018’s production of Peter Pan! We’re thrilled to have four opportunities to see the show this year, beginning Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., continuing Friday night at 7 p.m., and concluding Saturday with both an afternoon (2 p.m.) and evening show (7 p.m.). All shows include an intermission and the opportunity to purchase concessions (cash and credit card).
Don’t forget that Extended Day is offering an afterschool pizza party ahead of the Thursday afternoon show, May 17. Registration is available now through midnight, Sunday, May 13. Keep in mind that Thursday enrichments will be rescheduled.
Tickets are now available via Brown Paper Tickets! With processing fees included, student tickets are $2.03 and adult tickets are $6.17. Please note that these shows in the new Logan Loft offer a mix of reserved and general admission seating.
Next week the Class of 2018 will put on this year's 8th grade musical, the timeless classic Peter Pan! The 8th grade musical is always a highlight of the school year and a rite of passage of the 8th graders’ individual and collective journeys. This year, the play is even more special because it’s the first major drama production in the new Logan Loft!
Younger students, parents, and faculty and staff will delight in the reprisal of their favorite characters from Peter to Captain Hook to Tinker Bell to Wendy Darling, and we’ll all be captivated by the themes of childhood freedom and youthful exuberance versus… growing up!
With each season we are reminded that the arts programs at Burgundy and especially these Middle School productions are signature developmental moments where students find their voices and surprise us with their talents. Some of you who know our 8th graders are in for some wonderful surprises Thursday, Friday, and Saturday! They have taken on important and impressive roles both onstage and off. I know you'll want to join me in seeing our Burgundy “seniors” next week at one of their four shows, including a special Thursday afternoon show and a new Saturday matinee. Tickets are available online. See you there!
For the most part there probably are only two types of parents right now: those who already are worrying about their kids’ online lives and those who will be. Technology is creating positive innovation, intellectual collaboration, and personal connectivity, too, and adults are as captivated as kids. Yet much of what is engaging our children can be opaque to us, even as we see technology becoming a hub for an increasing number of our kids’ lives. And how we’re going to manage this intense engagement is not totally clear!
For adolescents the apps and games often are how they socialize and relate to peers and the world. We observe and wonder about the balance of ‘direct vs. device’ social interaction they experience, and we fear the impact of exposure to the worst of humanity within a click, not to mention the reckless courage and perceived immunity of anonymous and indirect communication, and the vulnerabilities of developing brains. There is a lot that can and should raise concern. And it’s no wonder that fear, loss of focus, depression, anxiety, exclusion, fear of exclusion or fitting in are becoming prominent ailments among children. Meantime, students seemingly can not breathe without thinking about their phones — and they fully realize that neither can most adults!
So who’s going to be responsible for children’s safety, and how?
Led by parents Dori Acevedo-Gonzales, Jane Hanson, and BPA Chair Amy Heist, Burgundy parents this year have provided themselves a forum for exchanging ideas and knowledge on parenting in a digital age. This parent-to-parent connecting, many of us are realizing, must be a vital piece of the collaboration needed to establish effective parenting around technology. The final meeting of this school year, where attendees will plan next steps, is coming up next week.
For its part, the school recognizes that we not only will have to provide ongoing education for digital citizenship for students but also share lessons and intelligence with parents. To be clear, that education and sharing both must be mutual: school to children and school to parents but also parents to school, and students to school. A valuable part of what the school also can provide is "no judgment zone" opportunities for parents (and sometimes students) to rapport with the school on the latest trends and worries and, perhaps more important, to consider what sorts of shared values and limits (for lack of a better work) we may consider between home, school, or community. I hope that two parent coffees we offered in the past two weeks for 5th-8th grade parents provided some of that “no judgment” sharing.
The key operating goals of any parent-school collaboration around technology, in my estimation, are three: one, teach students how to use technology to support their learning; two, help them learn to use technology safely, both academically and socially, and as good citizens (not merely digital); and three, keep one another informed. That’s the sharing piece.
Why is sharing so important? Because children are learning and growing and testing all kinds of boundaries, and they will not always make good decisions about how they use technology. We must supervise tech use at school. Although we care deeply about our students’ lives away from school, we can’t officiate there. Parents will need the schools’ and (most of all) one another’s help. And kids will find ways to refuse or dodge schools’ and parents’ efforts to keep them safe, because ... well, that is what kids are wired to do.
We must balance the concerns we share and the desire to control our children’s phone and online lives with their needs to develop autonomy. The growing sense among colleges and employers is that one of the most valuable but underdeveloped skills, and indeed a best predictor of success, is self-regulation. Independence, practice making decisions, and evaluating risk all are important parts of learning self-regulation and developing competence and confidence. Over-sheltered children struggle to make their own decisions and manage themselves when they’re sent off to college. Our school policy of ‘away during the day’ is the most common phone policy among peer schools (and we are ramping up enforcement). But we must maintain an environment where children can make mistakes and grow from them, including mistakes with technology. If we educate our students and ourselves in a timely way, sharing information and trying to keep mutually engaged and alert to the latest ‘stuff,’ we can support one another.
The other morning as I began to speak to Middle School students, I explained we are in uncharted waters and learning how to navigate them as we go. What I did not say is that the waters are changing all the time! Because that is so true, we adults better be in this together, communicating openly, bravely, directly among ourselves, as well as with our kids.
Thank you to all the parents who joined us last Thursday night for Curriculum Night. The event gave attendees a chance to learn more about our drama program from grades 1-8, our science program from JK-8 and our Middle School math program. It is impressive to see how the curriculum builds from year to year and integrates with our subject areas. We learned about the 2nd and 3rd grade study, the Shakespeare play in 4th and 5th that connects with the Medieval unit in social studies, and the herbivory project in 6th grade math that combines science study at the Cove with statistical work in math class, to name just a few. We participated in a drama activity, tried to solve a tricky math problem, and reviewed student materials from each subject.
It’s hard to recreate the entire experience, but the faculty teams have shared their presentations, available via the links below, for those who were not able to attend. Please note that the links lead to PDFs and some elements of the presentations (e.g., videos) may not be available in this format.
We hope to see you at next year’s event!
The Burgundy Parents Association is having a Family Game Night on Friday, April 20 and all Burgundy families are invited to attend! New families enrolling this fall are also invited. Join us 6-8 p.m. in the Burgundy Gym for a fun family night out, featuring a wide variety of games to play with family and friends, and plenty of food (pizza) for all. If you can attend, please register by April 18.
On Tuesday evening, immediately following spring break, we had a good portion of our 8th grade parents in the community room of the new arts and community center for a reception and discussion of their Class of 2018 Legacy Gift. Parents spoke with a great deal of gratitude for the various gifts their children had accumulated over their Burgundy years. In various ways these gifts often add up to the sense, when one speaks to an 8th grader or graduate, of a sort of 'renaissance person' — someone with many interests, talents, and passions. Burgundy kids are able speakers and advocates for causes, as well as scholars, actors, singers, artists, and athletes! The diversity and richness of the program here contributes to both a receptivity to many domains of study, including all the arts, as well as to a genuine interest in the welfare and rights of others.
Nothing better epitomizes the kind of people we are helping to shape than seeing students in action. Before spring break, students, led by a group of 8th graders, organized a walkout in support of the victims of the Parkland, Florida school shootings. One of the leaders, Eleanor Radke, offers her perspective on the event below. I congratulate and thank Eleanor and her classmates. The walkout here was on a cold and breezy morning, but it was a solemn and moving experience, part of a greater, growing recognition that not only are our Burgundy children rightfully roused by events that impact their world, but they are prepared to exercise their agency and to be part of necessary activism and change where they see the need. All the better for them, us, and our future generations! Kudos to them.
From Eleanor Radke, Class of 2018:
When a group of 8th graders heard about the Parkland shooting we felt that something needed to be said; we could not just leave this topic untouched. Since the shooting was so tragic, we wanted to do something to honor the kids who lost their lives. We heard about the National School Walkout on March 14 and we thought that we should do one at Burgundy. To make the idea of the walkout a reality, we had several small meetings with people who wanted to help. At first we really didn’t have a solid idea of what we were going to do, and the walkout was still a work in progress even on the morning it happened.
We wanted to make sure people were informed about the purpose of the walkout. I felt it was very important that we have follow-up information with many links and sources to learn more about the March for Our Lives, gun control, and National School Walkout on April 20. It was really a group effort and we needed support not just from the students, but from our teachers and administration. The 5th-8th grade students who chose to participate were allowed to meet at the Campus Commons at 10 a.m. No students were required to join the walkout but we were impressed by the turnout of people.
The students who coordinated the walkout felt it was an important event for us as a community; having students, teachers, administrators, and even some parents made it very special. A really powerful moment for me personally was when some 1st graders saw what we were doing from where they were playing; they stopped and watched respectfully until we were done.
The feedback from students and teachers since the walkout has been very positive which makes me really happy because we put a lot of effort and heart into the event. We hope that we inspired the community to keep this conversation going in the future.