Celebrations Big and Small

This time of year is often a joyful one filled with many events and rituals, as well as opportunities for connection.  As I am sure is the case for many of you at home, there has been a lot going on at school that has brought us joy and allowed us time to connect with each other as a school community.  Here are a few of the things that have brought us joy and allowed us to connect this month.

Annual Winter Concert
Last week I was filled with awe watching our students perform at the Winter Concert.  It was all I could do to keep myself from singing loudly during the Hamilton Medley.  I did not, however, manage to restrain myself from dancing in my seat at several points during the show.  As always the choral program was magnificent, and it was lovely to see our official strings group perform for the second year.

As has begun to become a bit of a tradition here at AB, we were fortunate to experience a couple of pop-ups. The Peer Leaders and Student Council greeted students on Friday morning with candy canes. A big thank you goes to them for organizing this joyful way to greet students on the morning right before break.

Our resident school band comprised of ABRHS staff also made a pop-up appearance on Friday morning greeting students and staff with songs to kick-start our last day before break. They have been performing for a couple of years now and their spirit is one that reminds us all of how simple kindnesses, like performing for others, can bring us joy and allow us to connect.

Gladys the Gratitude Monster has been hanging out in the library since Thanksgiving and is getting very, very full. I am looking forward to seeing what she has collected.

Marine Biology/Spanish Cross Curricular Field Trip
While not a school-wide event or a pop-up, I would like to give a special shout-out to Nancy Young who teaches Marine Biology and Hye Dragone who teaches Spanish V. These teachers organized a cross-curricular field trip to the aquarium to study marine environments together. The day was a big success and surely something students and teachers will remember fondly for years to come. It is also a great example of teachers working together to help students build connections with each other and the world.

Wellness Activities
This time of year can also bring increased anxiety as it can be one that is so often busier and more hectic both at school and at home. With this in mind, we have also hosted a couple of wellness-oriented activities as well.

Our monthly Therapy Dogs and Cat visit was, as it is always, a big success.

On Thursday we hosted our monthly wellness workshop on the topic "Soothing the Worried and Anxious Mind." Jami Chiarelli from the Metro West Behavioral Center led this presentation during all four lunches and students and staff were invited to join. Thank you to the Acton Boxborough United Way and the Healthy Teens Initiative grant for making our monthly wellness workshops possible.

On a more personal note, I've been reading (well if I'm being honest listening to while I am getting my kids' breakfast and lunch together in the morning) a lot of Brene Brown lately. Her work has made me think a lot about the importance of connecting in small but meaningful ways with those around us -- especially those people who we might not think to do this with intentionally. In a recent interview, Ms. Brown noted that "We need to hold hands with strangers. We need reminders -- collective joy and pain -- reminders that we are inextricably connected to each other."

My Advisory
As I sat with my ninth grade advisory on Tuesday, I was profoundly thankful for the time, albeit short, to sit and connect with my group. Over a month ago, after addressing a particularly difficult subject, one of my students suggested that we come up with a list of "Important Things to Remember Daily" to remind us of the things that make us feel good. I put a poster up weeks ago but we never quite got to brainstorming ideas. In fact, the blank poster titled "Important Things to Rember Daily" became a bit of point of teasing in my office. Last week we finally took the time as a group to brainstorm ideas and this is what we came up with.

Things to Remember Daily
-The moon is beautiful.
-There are baguettes.
-Sleep is beautiful.
-There is a world outside of school.
-Keep your head up at all times no matter how low you feel.

I think it's a pretty good start, and I can't wait to see what else we add in the new year.

I hope you and your families have a wonderful break and that you find lots of small ways to fill it with joy and connection.

Take care,

Beth Baker and the Admin Team

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