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Back to School for Mom and Dad

Parents Weekend gave parents a chance to see what their child’s life is like at Brooks.

There were some new students in a lot of classrooms last Friday and Saturday, working on math problems, conjugating verbs in French and calculating the effects of proteins in biology class.

They were the parents of current students, back on campus for Parents Weekend, the annual fall event that invites parents to check out a day or two in the life of Brooks School.

The weekend was packed with activities for Brooks families — classroom time, athletic contests on Friday afternoon, performances by student music groups in the Music Center, receptions to chat with other parents and faculty members and meetings with their child’s advisor.

“Parents Weekend is a great time of year for advisors and parents to check in with each other about how things are going for their child,” said Associate Head for Academic Affairs Lance Latham. “We always look forward to sharing in their child’s successes and talking about ways to handle any challenges they might be facing.”

Click on the photo below to see the full gallery of photos from Parents Weekend.

Parents Weekend was nearly affected by a fluke storm. This year, it was Hurricane Sandy, which caused a brief power outage on campus earlier in the week, and wreaked havoc in the mid-Atlantic states, adjusting some parents’ travel plans. But any concerns about travel this year were nothing compared to last year, when Parents Weekend was on the eve of an October snowstorm that knocked out power to campus for several days.

“The crazy weather earlier in the week subsided, and it was a great weekend for the parents and their students to be on campus,” said Erica Callahan, director of Parent Programs. “I was pleased that parents got a chance to interact with their child’s teachers, advisors and coaches.”

For the parents of newcomer Luke Nawrocki ’16 of Andover, it was a chance to check out their son’s new school.

“We really wanted to meet his teachers, and see how the classes are taught,” said Juli Stoughton, Luke’s mom.

His dad, Mark, agreed.

“I came to put a face on the stories that my son tells me about school, and to get a sense of what the classrooms are like, and what the teachers bring to the table,” he said.

In Moira Goodman’s math class Saturday morning, students were reviewing for an upcoming test, and Goodman was explaining to parents her teaching theories.

“It’s one thing to look at the numbers and do a math problem, but it’s another thing to try to explain it to someone else,” Goodman told the parents in attendance. “So we work really hard on the vocabulary of math, and aim to have a conversation about the problems.”

Cathryn and Anthony Lange, mother of Anthony ’16 of Manchester-by-the-Sea, were in class, and said they were pleased with all they had seen so far during the weekend.

“I loved School Meeting. I want to come to school here!” said Cathryn. Anthony Sr. said Parents Weekend allowed them to “get a better feel” for the school, and see how their son spends his days away from home.

Packard addressed parents right after lunch Friday, telling them that he hopes at this point in the school year, just a few months in, that they are seeing “further development” in their child, with the aim being that “in hearts and in heads, our kids feel Brooks School taking greater root.” Packard said he hoped students were beginning to foster a real love of learning.

Funny with a Serious Message
The guest speaker for the weekend was Matt Bellace, a motivational speaker and stand-up comedian. Bellace, who has a doctoral degree in clinical neuropsychology, is the author of the book A Better High, which encourages teenagers to find natural highs rather than chemical ones.

Bellace spoke to students Thursday, and to parents on Friday, explaining how chemical highs from drugs and alcohol can affect a teenager’s still developing brain. He advised parents how to be good listeners and how to talk to their children about drug and alcohol use. His topics were both scientific and serious, but all delivered with a stand-up comedian’s sense of comic timing that kept both kids and parents laughing.

Proof is in the Plastic
Director of Environmental Stewardship Brian Palm posted signs for Parents Weekend about the new “hydration stations” — water stations where students can refill their water bottles rather than buying plastic bottles. Because of them, the students and residents of Brooks has been able to avoid nearly 23,000 water bottles in just eight weeks.

“This reduction in our plastic consumption has minimized waste, reduced our reliance on the fossil fuels used to make plastic and provided our community high quality water that h not been in contact with plastics which can leach chemicals,” said Palm, who also teaches AP Environmental Science.

He urged parents to think twice before sending their students back from the Parents Weekend break with cases of single-serving water bottles for their dorm rooms. Instead, he said, encourage them to use the hydration stations.