The transition to school can be both exciting and anxiety-ridden for students and parents alike. Joy in meeting classmates may be mixed with fears of how to make new friends. The thrill of new challenges may mingle with concerns about being in a classroom away from home.
Stella Moon, an Early Learning Teacher at BASIS Independent Brooklyn, has been advising parents on separation anxiety for decades during her many years teaching preschool. She had some tips to share with families in the month before school starts.
Across both our Lower and Upper School campuses this November, the Wellness month theme was gratitude. Students and faculty explored what it means to be grateful in class and recognize the self-awareness it involves. Our students were challenged to see what they are grateful for and take it a step further—to express their gratitude in ways that would help develop a culture of service.
Today we want to feature how our school community has come together in so many wonderful ways this fall to be of service to the Red Hook community through the following programs:
Dear Families and Staff,
During the quiet months of summer, I always take time to reflect on the past year. The 2020–2021 school year sparked a period of constant introspection both as a community and country. It will stand apart for decades to come due to the pandemic and the many changes that ensued. Now I wanted to share some lessons learned, celebrate accomplishments, and pay tribute to our 2021 graduates.
What We Learned in 2020-2021
While we weathered the pandemic storm in a year that we hope will be like no other, we prioritized following the advice of scientific and public health advisors. While we learned—along with all our peer schools—that health mandates evolve based on changing data, we also realized the importance of remaining nimble with the health of the community as a priority.
Our community cares for each other. Thank you for staying home when sick and making mindful choices when thinking of travel and social plans. We are proud to have experienced minimal cases of community spread, and we attribute that to each family following our community agreement.
Primary School students pose on PJ Day last year. Note that even Baby Yoda is wearing a mask.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many things were disrupted. A large number of students, staff, and families found ways to cope and deal with the changes through service projects, which we have profiled extensively in the past year. One other trend we recently became aware of was the proliferation of businesses in our school community. While sequestered at home, some of our students and staff began to find their entrepreneurial side. Today we wanted to profile a few of these for you.Mackerel Studios
Junior Andres M. enjoyed learning AP Economics with Mr. Duwan this year, and he just shared with us a project creating nautical-themed bracelets he has been working on for months inspired by the class. Mackerel Studios gave Andres the opportunity to combine his "love for the ocean and the idea of how mental and physical restrictions should not stop you from doing anything in your life."
Growing up Andres and his family were always drawn to the water, due in large part to his father's experience in professional sailing. Andres' sister has Cerebral Palsy, and the family looked for ways to allow her to enjoy and learn as much as anyone. They worked hard to find programs that make sailing possible for people with disabilities.
Founded in 1929, the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) is an internationally renowned student organization committed to upholding the five pillars of scholarship, character, citizenship, service, and leadership within secondary schools. NJHS chapters can be found in all 50 states, and it is estimated that approximately one million students participate in chapters throughout the world. Members of this organization engage in local and school based community service projects, and meet regularly with the support of chapter advisers.
This year, 7th and 8th grade students at BASIS Independent Brooklyn became eligible to participate in our school’s very first NJHS chapter. Our school already has an established National Honor Society, and our chapter advisory board was thrilled to present this opportunity to some of our younger students. Our faculty council selected students to apply based on past academic and extracurricular achievement (students must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.5), and exemplary behavior. Once selected, students were required to write an essay outlining their interest in the organization, and their commitment to serving their school and local community.
For PreK through high school, our Student Affairs team has launched a stepped up wellness initiative in September that will span the full academic year. Our deans and directors partnered with faculty to lead the charge for a "Wellness Year" that integrates wellness themes into year round programming.
"The whole Student Affairs Team had a meeting of the minds this summer, and all deans and directors discussed ways a Wellness Year focus could span all grades with themes that are relevant for students in PreK to high school," said Dean Darcy Golka of Primary Grades (2–4). "We worked on what students in our different age bands need to hear, and we spent time ensuring messages were age appropriate."
Monthly programming themes were designated based on what deans and directors knew were happening in students' lives and thinking through what was appropriate developmentally. They wanted to create a more robust program that would spark conversations among students about themes that go beyond wellness and tap into social-emotional learning.
Dear Families and Staff,
During the quiet months of summer, I take time to reflect on the past year. 2018–19 marked a milestone year. Our school "turned five," and our first class of seniors graduated in June. Throughout the year student accomplishments across all grades also continued to reaffirm the vision behind all that we have built here in Brooklyn.
We want to recognize the individuals who have been here since our school doors first opened and those who have joined us along the way. No matter what year you began, you were—and are—intimately part of raising a school. As we like to say, “a school grows in Brooklyn,” and with it so many children and professionals. Betty Smith’s seminal work, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, serves as an iconic example for the school. We—like the characters in the book—have grown together and developed our community by facing common challenges and sharing in joys, successes, and celebrations. Like the symbolic tree, we have set down roots in order to preserve our ties to each other.
Dear BASIS Independent Brooklyn Families and Staff,
Every summer once the halls are quiet, I spend time reflecting on the school year. 2017–18 was a year defined by extremes, since it encompassed challenging times that placed schools in the national headlines, as well as many exceptional accomplishments on our campus. My note will focus on the great news that deserves celebration, since I want our student accolades to receive the recognition they deserve from the entire BASIS Independent Brooklyn community.
Across the country this past school year, student voices rose to make an impact, and our community joined in proudly. High school students, with the help of faculty adviser Ms. Das, established our Leadership Club that set the stage for organizing school social events as well as student activism.
Inspired by the blissful feeling of uncovering connections, our blog Eureka! Brooklyn is about sharing moments that capture the essence of what it is to be a BASIS Independent student, teacher, administrator, or family.