Milton’s performing arts faculty and students found creative solutions to bridge distances and time zones to offer a full slate of performances this fall, including the plays Macbeth, The Illustrated Bradbury, and this weekend’s Class IV play, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
Performing Arts Department faculty member Eleza Kort, who directed the Class IV play, said about one-third of the 15 cast members are international students, so meetings and rehearsals were scheduled to accommodate different time zones. Each student received a green screen and filmed themselves performing in front of it. Faculty member Shane Fuller edited the scenes together to look as if the actors were in the same place
Maintaining a sense of dorm community is a focus of house heads and faculty as boarding students learn remotely during this phase of hybrid learning. In Wolcott House, Joshua Emmott, house head and history faculty member, runs a weekly scavenger hunt for the students, who are competing by advisory group for the “grand prize” in December. The advisory that has 100 percent participation wins custom dorm gear.
Each week, Emmott posts in CampusGroups a place or item that the student needs to find and photograph. One week was a photo in front of their local post office and another was a local coffee shop. Students post their photos, from places like Beijing, New York, Michigan, and Massachusetts.
Last weekend, the Emmott family hosted a cooking Zoom, featuring “the best cupcakes in the world.” Students received the same recipe so they could cook along with their Wolcott family.
Comfort food is having a moment and science faculty member Heather Zimmer is showing students how to make it at home on a weekly cooking show. It’s part of the new Opt-In Program, where faculty host casual and fun Zoom sessions such as trivia nights and current event discussions.
The Opt-In Program started earlier in the semester after a few faculty members and student head monitors Eliza Dunn ’21 and Garvin McLaughlin ’21 thought about ways to keep the strong sense of community at Milton while in a remote/hybrid environment.
Zimmer said she and her husband, the head chef at 2nd Street Café in Cambridge, loved cooking with students when they lived in Norris House and this is a fun way to replicate that experience. On their first episode, they taught students to make mac and cheese from scratch.
Award-winning writer and investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe ’94 spoke with students and alumni about his work, particularly his New York Times bestseller Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. His talk was part of the Milton in the World webinar series.
Radden Keefe said he knew when he was a Milton student that he wanted to be a writer, but it took many years of rejection letters before he began writing professionally. Today, he is a staff writer at The New Yorker, writing long-form pieces that dive deep into a range of subjects, “from the hunt for the drug lord Chapo Guzman to the tragic personal history of the mass shooter Amy Bishop and the role that the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma played in sparking the opioid crisis.”
He said he looks for topics that have a “strong narrative spine. I want it to be a story about people, often people in conflict. It’s through that lens that I approach the bigger issues.”
Ten Milton students participated in the Harvard WECode virtual conference last weekend. Caroline Wilson ’21 and Dina-Sara Custo ’22 served as Milton’s student ambassadors, and were two of the 21 (out of 80) student ambassadors who received WECode Leadership Awards. Prior to the event, they connected virtually with the Harvard WECode board, as well as other ambassadors from around the world to spread information and help organize.
At the conference, “We had the opportunity to listen to discussions surrounding STEM majors, internships, college admissions, college life, and other opportunities for women in technology,” said Wilson. “Even after the conference, we continued to connect with women in tech from the conference via channels on the platform Slack.”
Other Milton students attending included Samantha Buonato ’24, Sofia Reid ‘’23, Audrey Howley ’23, Ella Walsmith ’23, Emma Petherick ‘’23, Sara Kalra ’23, Karol Querido ’22, and Isabelle Fitzgibbon ’23.
When planning for this year’s biology classes for both remote and hybrid learners, faculty had to get creative and choose labs that worked at home, said biology teacher Michael Edgar. And while teaching hybrid/remote science is different, he said it’s about “letting go of expectations. When I’m with my students, I like to make the best of it and I have had some really nice moments with my classes.”
In Advanced Biology, a senior elective course, students are growing C-ferns, a regular lab for the class. But this year, students, whether learning remote or hybrid, are growing them at home with kits the biology department put together and mailed out.
Milton’s teachers spent the summer months planning and training for a variety of possible academic scenarios during COVID-19. Professional development programs and other Upper School initiatives focused on student-teacher connections, technology, curriculum design, anti-racism, transparency, equity, and assessment. Although the increased summer work was prompted by the ongoing pandemic, much of the planning will serve Milton long after the pandemic ends. Indu Singh, dean of teaching and learning, provided an insight into some of the initiatives in this Q&A.
Milton Academy’s newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Commission began their work a few months ago. Please see below for their most recent announcement.
We are pleased to write to you on behalf of Milton Academy’s newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Commission. This past spring, students and alumni shared stories about racial injustices and inequities experienced at Milton. In response, current and past Milton employees, students, and alumni have demanded change through letters, phone conversations, and social media posts.
We hear you and, with humility, we take our place beside you. With gratitude for your honesty and in line with your passionate call to action, we reach out today to those of you who have spoken out, and to our entire community, to introduce ourselves and open the lines of communication. We seek to partner with you for the betterment of the school community we hold so dear.
The Community Engagement Shoparound (sign-up fair) starts today! It runs virtually through Friday via students’ Campus Groups accounts. Student co-heads Christian Westphal ‘21 and Nina Kathiresan ‘21 say interested students can take a look and sign up on the Google form if they would like to make a weekly commitment. “Visits” with the 20+ partners will all be via Zoom. Some volunteer opportunities include:
A virtual Convocation officially kicked off the 2020–2021 school year on Tuesday, with Milton students joining from all over the world to hear School leaders’ vision for the year.
The event, a longstanding Milton tradition, provided co-head monitors Eliza Dunn ’21 and Garvin McLaughlin ’21 their first opportunity to formally address the Upper School. Students also heard remarks from Head of School Todd Bland, Upper School Principal David Ball, Director of Spirituality and Community Development Suzanne DeBuhr, Dean of Students José Ruiz, and Director of Equity Vanessa Cohen Gibbons, and introductions from new members of the faculty.