Parent Newsletter by Franny Shuker-Haines
Dear Buxton Families,
Apologies for this newsletter coming a little late. My seasonal allergies have been really aggressive this fall—is anyone else experiencing this?—and I’m afraid they slowed me down last week.
Hard to believe we are already in week 3 of the school year—week 4 for the seniors! After a slow-seeming first week, the pace has been picking up and now life feels busy and full in all the best ways. The students continue to impress us with all the ways they have adapted to this new way of doing Buxton: outdoor eating, meetings in big circles on the grass, masks and hand sanitizing, etc. We’ve been able to add some outings to the mix, so some kids have been able to get safely off campus to visit a lake and go hiking recently, and the amazing John Kalapos is organizing at least one of these adventures each week.
Classes continue to zip along. This week, I wanted to highlight for you some of what’s happening in math and science classes.
From Micah: “In Multivariable Calculus we are calculating the arc length of arbitrary curves. In Data, Probability, and Statistics, we just finished our first project and are now going to begin a deeper dive into probability—including playing poker, the lottery, and the election.
From David: “Neuroscience is wrapping up an in-depth look at how neurons function. Next class we will have our last discussion on neurotransmitters before a quiz, and then we will start exploring the structure of the nervous system.
“The Plastics class has looked at an extensive account of the history of all kinds of plastics, and started on the organic chemistry and various components of plastics. Soon we will synthesize a couple of our own plastics (in small amounts) starting with galalith. Galalith was invented in the late 1800’s and was used to make buttons and imitation ivory and pearl for a long time afterwards. It was cheap and easy to produce because the main ingredients are milk and vinegar (or formaldehyde, but we’ll use vinegar)!
“Chemistry had an intense discussion on the philosophy of science, but rapidly reviewed scientific notation and unit conversions at the same time. Now we are part-way through a two-day activity identifying metal cubes by intrinsic properties and learning to assess error in quantitative measurements.”
And from Linda: “Astronomy had our first dual-hemisphere, across time zones, hyflex presentation today when Eri and Maria (in China) collaborated on a presentation across Zoom! (Whew.) Astronomy is wrapping up our first two weeks talking about cultural and historical astronomy.
“Biology had our first lab as an introduction to the environments on campus, and then did a lab this week sampling possible sources of bacteria from across campus.
“Physics is following in the footsteps of Galileo by determining the acceleration of gravity from measurements at different angles.”
I was not into science when I was in high school. Maybe if I’d had these teachers I would have been.
Next week, I hope to report on some of our social studies classes.
In the meantime, as some of you may know, we have decided to extend our “Iron Bubble” protocol on campus for another week. This means that our day students will continue to stay on campus as if they are boarders while we wait for things to settle in the Williamstown area. As we anticipated, the arrival of a bunch of college students and the start of a few different schools has caused the number of cases in the area to spike just a little bit—but any spike was enough for us to err on the side of caution and give ourselves another week in lockdown mode. Day students and their families have been incredibly understanding and accommodating about this extension. Thank you!
We are also continuing to experience some non-COVID sickness on campus and we are being aggressive in our testing, isolating, and caretaking. If you have any questions about this, please reach out to the school.
This weekend we had our first “Play in a Weekend”: this is a hybrid activity/class run by Timothy, where students rehearse a play over the course of a weekend and present it to the school on Sunday night. Timothy chose the delightful and ambitious one-act “Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread” by David Ives. Ruby L, Mari, Evan S, and Evan H did a fantastic job with it, and watching them perform on the Main House porch with the school spread out in front of them was a highlight of the year so far. Kudos to all.
I’ll sign off for now. I hope you are all staying healthy and safe. More soon!
All the best,