On September 2, Boston University Academy officially kicked off the 2020-2021 academic year with a Virtual All-School Meeting for all students and faculty. In his opening remarks, Head of School Chris Kolovos reflected on the “chance that we all have collectively to be the national model that this country needs right now.” Mr. Kolovos challenged students and faculty to "be an upstander in this moment,” noting that “the hard part is actually not taking care of yourself, it's taking care of one another. That's what's going to keep us all safe, and that's the model this country needs right now."
Boston University Academy is one of the only schools in the nation where all students and faculty will receive routine weekly asymptomatic COVID screening tests. Before the start of the school year, all members of the school community were asked to commit to a set of shared norms and expectations that will allow BUA to maintain a safe and healthy campus environment for its students, faculty, and staff.
In the opening All-School Meeting, Student Council President Phevos Paschalidis ‘21 reiterated this message of community and shared responsibility: “Though I have always believed in community, its true power was only revealed in its absence. The spring was a hard time for us all...I am grateful that we, unlike many of our peer schools, will reopen this semester. Our in-person and hybrid interactions will strengthen this community, and thus strengthen each of us in turn. We therefore owe it to the others who have given us so much to remain diligent in following the guidelines BUA and BU have put forth so that we can protect each other and remain open.”
In the 2020-2021 academic year, BUA will hold in-person classes four days a week, with all BUA classes held remotely on Wednesdays. All students have the option to learn from home full- or part-time, joining in-person classes synchronously. Learn more about BUA’s reentry planning and health and safety protocols on our online Guide to Reentry.
Visual Arts Instructor Elizabeth Cellucci announced her retirement from Boston University Academy last month, after a 20-year career at the school. Beloved by generations of BUA students, Ms. Cellucci is known for her calm presence, encouraging guidance, and sharp eye for form and detail. Her many advisees and students over the years loved and respected Liz for her nurturing support, her kindness, and her empathy.
Ms. Cellucci is also the mother of two BUA graduates: Mia ‘06 and Stephen ‘03.
Assistant Head of School Dr. Rosemary White shared:
“Liz is as artistically talented as she is kind. Her students and advisees rely on her for her patience and support. Her students produce amazing work under her guidance, year after year.”
We are grateful for Liz’s two decades of service to Boston University Academy, and will miss her deeply. More information on Ms. Cellucci’s replacement (big shoes to fill, indeed!) will be shared with the BUA community later this summer.
View a slideshow of 25+ years of incredible BUA student artwork under the guidance of Ms. Cellucci here.
BUA officially welcomed Mr. Chris Kolovos as our new head of school on July 1. We are thrilled to officially welcome Mr. Kolovos to the BUA family, and are excited about the energy, vision, and leadership he brings to our school. Mr. Kolovos shared the following message with families on July 10.
Dear BUA Families,
As I wrap up my first full week at BUA, I wanted to reach out to say hello. My wife, Tracey, and I are settling into our new home outside of Boston. We are both Boston-area natives and are excited to return home. We have also just welcomed our first child, Charlie, to our family; our dog, Circe, is very excited to be a big sister!
One of the great things about being appointed a full year before my start date has been the chance to get to know this community and hit the ground running. I am especially grateful for that time now, as we face a global health crisis with major implications for what school will look like in the fall, alongside arguably the most significant civil rights movement in our nation since the 1960s. While I have been working closely with Dr. White and her team all year long, that collaboration intensified this spring in light of COVID-19 and in preparation for the upcoming school year. I could not have asked for better partners or a smoother transition.
This time has also given me the opportunity to meet many of you and see this extraordinary school in action. During my on-campus visits in October and January, I attended All-School Meetings, observed classes, talked with students over lunch and in class meetings, and met with every member of the faculty and staff. It was a pleasure seeing many of you at our parent event during Fall Festival and at the Evening with the Head of School in January. This spring, technology opened even more doors for learning: Zoom calls with two dozen alumni to hear their stories; calls with an equal number of leaders across Boston University, who have been wonderfully helpful as we plan for the fall; remotely judging the finals of an excellent student-organized debate tournament; doing an Instagram Live session hosted by the Student Council; and more. At every turn, this community has been so welcoming. And every interaction has affirmed for me all the things that drew me to BUA a year ago: kind, curious and capable young people; teachers who challenge and care for them; and opportunities for their learning far beyond what nearly any high school in the world can offer.
Relationships are at the core of BUA. We will be talking a great deal in the coming weeks and months about the big issues that are on all of our minds: what school will look like in the fall; and how BUA will continue our work to ensure that our community is just and equitable for all. We will also talk about the longer-term vision and promise of this exceptional school. But, as the newest member of this community, it feels right to begin by getting to know each of you, hear what is on your minds, and understand how I can best support you and your children.
Head of School
On Monday, June 1, Interim Head of School Dr. Rosemary White sent the following communication to the BUA community:
Families across the country, in our city, and within our very own community are grieving today.
In the last several months, we have witnessed a spate of racially-motivated violence in America: the killings of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and George Floyd in Minneapolis; and the false report made against Christian Cooper in New York City. Over the past few days, protests and riots have broken out in cities across the nation, including right here in Boston -- an eruption of anger, fear, and pain in response to prejudice and mistreatment at the hands of those in power. All this set to the backdrop of a pandemic disproportionately affecting people of color, at a time when tensions are already running high and nerves are frayed.
These events highlight the injustices and often fatal consequences of endemic racism in our society. They affect all of us, especially our Black and African American colleagues, classmates, peers, and friends. It is important to name injustice and racism when we see it, and to stand up peacefully yet courageously for change and what we know is right. As educators, parents, and allies, it is our duty to support our students and children always, but particularly during moments of crisis and uncertainty. It is our responsibility to be open to their questions, and to try to answer them candidly and forthrightly.
Conversations about race, racism, violence, inequality, and inequity are never easy. Nevertheless, I encourage you to discuss and reflect on these issues as a family in the context of recent events. I have listed some articles that may serve as useful resources below.
Boston University’s Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground will host a special edition of their Coffee & Conversations discussion series this afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., and BUA students are welcome to join. Participants are encouraged to join to share their reflections, emotions, questions and comments. Additionally, Dr. Jennifer Formichelli will offer a special Conversations@BUA virtual session tomorrow, Tuesday, June 2 at 11:00 a.m. for students seeking a safe space to process emotions and discuss these issues with their peers. The Zoom link for that session is here. As always, School Counselor Stacey Weiskopf is available to support our students and families.
We have also created a Zoom meeting room for BUA's Black-identifying community members open Monday through Thursday of this week from 1:00-2:00 pm. This is a space for self-care and conversation amongst peers.
Although I would of course prefer to lean on each other and support one another in person in times like these, I draw strength from the closeness of our BUA community and the common values we espouse: inclusion, equity, tolerance, and respect.
Dr. Rosemary White
Interim Head of School
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker delivered the keynote address at Boston University Academy's Virtual Commencement, held Monday, May 18. In his remarks to the 47 graduates of the BUA Class of 2020, Governor Baker shared three pieces of advice:
"Stick with it. Be willing to adapt and change...And seek out great friends and great mentors. No one ever gets anywhere on their own. That...will help you become the person that you're supposed to be, and will give you a chance to build on the opportunity that this school has provided you."
Boston University Provost and Chief Academic Officer Jean Morrison also addressed the graduates and their families, remarking on the circumstances surrounding Virtual Commencement:
"Throughout history, each generation has its own set of defining experiences. These experiences can be challenging, and even heartbreaking. But they come to shape and define you -- and the world -- for years to come. Although none of us knows precisely what the future holds, we can be certain that this challenge, too, will pass."
Nearly 300 individuals from nine countries across the globe -- as far away as Saudi Arabia and South Africa -- tuned in to the live webcast of the ceremony, which also included remarks by Interim Head of School Dr. Rosemary White, student addresses and Classics orations in Latin and Ancient Greek, and a performance by Polytropos, BUA's men's advanced chorus. View a complete recording of Virtual Commencement here.
BUA Classics Instructor Dr. Kristin Jewell reflection on her transition to remote teaching:
Like a lot of teachers, I went home for spring break with a big pile of books, a bag full of papers, and all sorts of plans for what we would read and discuss when we came back. I had mailed the National Latin and Greek Exams, and we had a plan for finishing the yearbook in a few days. I grabbed some extra books just in case, and cleaned my room extra carefully. . . and then the landscape changed, and the learning curve shot straight up. I participated (remotely) in training, sucked down every teaching idea I could find – and eventually had to stop, triage it all, and figure out what to do for the next 2 days, and the 2 days after that.
I was daunted!
But I had the best help from everyone at BUA – from university training, to fellow teachers who took the time to walk us through different online tools, to pop-up Zoom sessions with friends who helped talk me down to earth. I’m inspired every day by the way students and faculty have pulled together. I’ve also been picking the brains of teachers in online communities, and been amazed at their generosity.
And my students! Every day, I wave at them, and they wave back, and we do our best to keep learning. We’ve figured out how to use shared Google docs as our white board; how to wrangle new material in Greek (not so easy, when typing one letter can require 4 keystrokes – and the kids had never typed Greek before); how to give feedback (not easy, when I usually write notes on their physical homework); how to practice Latin poetry online (not easy, when it requires a way to mark lines all over a text…with a mouse/trackpad); and how to play Kahoot together in our separate homes (surprisingly easy, and a lot of fun). In the first week, they taught me all the tricks they’d observed in other classes, and helped me get better.
Granted, I’d much prefer to be with our kids in the classroom. I wish I could do more content and do it better. I wish I could see them in the hall, and listen to them talk and laugh like regular kids. They have such good Zoom etiquette that it’s almost TOO quiet when we meet! I worry about missing their little Zoom hands when they try to volunteer. Eyestrain nearly sidelined me for two days in our first week, and I had to (begin to) learn to pace myself; Zoom fatigue is very real. Online preparation makes me feel like a new teacher again. But I’m also very fortunate: I have a structure and a purpose every day, and great kids to work with. I’m more than a little proud of what we’ve managed to do together.
Dear BUA Community,
As I prepare to join the BUA family in July, I have had the great pleasure of immersing myself in the life of the school during two visits, first in October, and more recently in January -- sitting in on two dozen classes; hearing from students in grade meetings, over lunch, and in the hallways; cheering on BUA’s teams on the field and on the court; getting to know this passionate and talented faculty and staff; talking with parent volunteers; connecting with alumni; and working closely with Dr. White and her excellent team. I am so grateful for the warm welcome and for the community’s partnership in these early days.
I also had the honor of meeting roughly 60 prospective families at the Evening with the Head of School event in January and offering them some reflections about my visits to campus. I’m writing to share those thoughts with all of you as well.
I have admired BUA for many years, knowing the school for its excellent reputation. Since that day a year ago when I learned that BUA was engaged in a search for its next head of school, I have learned so much more. The more I have learned, the deeper I’ve fallen in love with this great school.
I use “great” advisedly. I had the good fortune to attend a nearby independent school that changed my life; I have taught and led at two other excellent schools; and I have visited several others as part of accreditation teams. Those experiences give you a sense of what separates great schools from the rest. At BUA, I’ve seen all the hallmarks of a great school.
Great schools inspire a culture of curiosity. During my visit last month, I spent the morning with the ninth and tenth graders. As we sat together on the gym floor, I asked students to share with me what they loved most about BUA and why they made the choice to spend their high school years here. Hands shot right up around the room, and one tenth grader offered something that will stay with me. She explained that at her old school, there were a handful of kids like her -- who loved reading, loved talking about ideas -- and those were her friends. But when she came to BUA, she explained, everybody was like that. She was not judged for being curious, bright, and engaged; here, those things are expected and celebrated. As she put it, “At BUA, I found my people.”
I have seen that sincere desire to learn everywhere at BUA: in the senior elective, "Democracy and its Discontents," where students were so engaged in the conversation that they were disappointed when the period was over, and so continued the conversation in the hallway; in the robotics lab (what a gift to have access to a state-of-the-art dedicated university facility), where students on their own initiative were designing, building, and iterating to get ready for the next competition; in the chemistry classroom, where a student asked for an extra homework assignment to help her explore the topic more deeply (yes, more homework!); in the Model UN club, where student leaders took the initiative to train the next generation of budding diplomats; in my conversations with seniors over pizza, as they described their senior thesis projects mentored by BU professors, BUA faculty, and outside researchers. There are many schools with high expectations and rigorous programs. That rigor, though, does not always travel with curiosity. At BUA, the two go hand in hand.
The best schools wrap that intellectual curiosity in a culture of kindness, compassion, and community. The first words of BUA’s mission statement describe a “caring high school community,” and there is a consistency here that is rare. BUA is not a place where there are pockets of kindness; treating one another well permeates the culture. Over my visits this fall and winter, I’ve seen warm smiles and genuine interest on the faces of the students as I’ve greeted them on their way into All-School Meeting -- no small thing for teenagers at 7:50 on a blustery morning. I’ve watched students around a conference table actively making room in the conversation for their classmates, listening intently, and disagreeing without being disagreeable. Seniors volunteered to lead tours on days when their BU classes were not in session and they had no other commitments on campus. I was particularly struck by a conversation with the leaders of the Student Council. This was not a group focused on the traditional topics of dress code and dance planning. Last year, concerned about access and equity for their classmates, they proposed and initiated a textbook swap on campus. Great schools care most about what kind of person a student is. These young people sincerely and consistently care about one another and about their community.
Most important, every great school is built around adults who know and care about the kids. If you take a moment to picture a special teacher from your past, someone who made a positive impact on your life, the great majority of you will think of someone whose strengths went far beyond content expertise. That teacher saw you -- understood you for the person that you were. Maybe that teacher saw something in you that you didn’t even see yourself. When I ask students to describe the best things about BUA, they invariably talk about the passionate, caring, talented adults in the community. They describe times when those teachers met with them outside of class to work through something tricky or to stoke some ember of curiosity. They also describe being understood. An alumnus shared an anecdote with me back in January. He told me a story about one of his favorite BUA English teachers who, when this alum was finishing up at BUA, reflected back on the student’s journey from a “surly ninth grader” to a “true romantic.” Colorful words for sure (and I can’t imagine that this alum was ever surly), but what a beautiful moment of being seen. We know from the research of Dr. Michael Reichert and others that teaching is deeply relational. Students learn best from people they like and trust. What a gift to have teachers who consistently live that mission.
As a young person, I was extraordinarily lucky to grow up in a school community where curiosity was the norm, kindness was the expectation, and teachers were mentors. That changed my life. The reason I do this work and the reason I am so honored to devote my career to BUA is that it offers me the chance to give back for all I’ve been given -- to preserve and nourish this culture so infused with a love of learning and commitment to community, and to make sure that this kind of education is accessible to generations of young people from all corners of the Boston area. And when I look out across BU’s campus and consider all the opportunities this world-class university offers our students beyond the typical high-school curriculum, opportunities no other high school can match, it becomes clear that BUA is not just a great school, but truly unique in the American educational landscape and a model of what kind, curious, capable young people deserve.
I am so grateful to be joining this community, and I very much look forward to building a partnership with all of you over the coming months and years.
Incoming Head of School
Aditi Deokar '21, shares the genesis of the following interview with Incoming Head of School Chris Kolovos:
I met Mr. Kolovos at Fall Festival during his October visit, and I wanted the school to get to know our incoming head of school better. As head of school, Mr. Kolovos will represent the school, and we at the Scarlet Letter, BUA's student-run blog, thought an interview with him would be beneficial to the BUA community. Below is the conversation that resulted.
How did you get to where you are now? More specifically, how was your high school experience? Did your time at Roxbury Latin influence your decision to become an educator and/or an administrator?
I feel so lucky because I am one of those people who is doing exactly what I dreamed of doing when I was a kid. My parents are immigrants from Greece; they never went to college, but really value education. With their support and guidance, I found my way to Roxbury Latin from 7-12th grade. That’s where I found my people! I was surrounded by friends who loved to read, loved talking about big ideas, loved the arts — just like I did. Plus, it’s where I made some of my best friends, who are still close to me to this day. I had incredible teachers and mentors: my headmaster, Mr. Jarvis; my chemistry teacher and newspaper advisor, Mr. Pojman; my history teacher, Mr. Ward; my art teacher and soccer coach, Mr. Buckley; my English teacher, Mr. Kerner; my theater director, Mr. Frank; my Latin teacher, Mr. Brennan; my college counselor, Mrs. Melvoin; and so many others. I loved school and wanted more than anything to devote my career to doing the kind of work I watched them do. It took me a while to do that, though. I studied history at Harvard, but rather than go right into teaching, I spent some time as a management consultant. Like a lot of kids who are in that first generation, I felt some pressure to find a career that is more lucrative and, according to some, has more social status. Then I headed back to Harvard for law school, clerked for a wonderful judge, and was all set to work at one of the big law firms in Boston. That’s when, with the help of one of my best childhood friends, I decided to take a chance. I took a job at Belmont Hill School teaching history, coaching soccer, coaching debate, and directing musicals. And I loved every minute of it! Just like I suspected when I was a teenager, teaching was for me. That was not an easy decision, but I am so glad I made it. I worked at Belmont Hill for nine wonderful years, before moving on to Greens Farms Academy in Connecticut, where I’ve been for the past seven years. Ever since I started working in schools, I have loved going to work every day. And all those experiences have made me a better teacher and leader, ready to join the community at BUA and help lead the school in this next generation.
How would you connect to the students?
I’m a teacher. The reason I started working in schools is that I love spending time with young people. At Belmont Hill, I connected with students as a history teacher, advisor, coach, director, and mentor — I still stay in touch with many of the alums I taught there. At Greens Farms Academy, I still teach and coach, in addition to my other work. It’s so important to me to stay connected to students, for two reasons. One is that it helps me lead. How can I know how to lead a community if I’m not connecting with students every day? Students are the ones who live the experience and are the experts in the culture. Another reason? Spending time with students is where the joy comes from! My best days are ones when I get to spend most of my time with students. Ask any of your teachers — they will tell you the same thing.
On my visit to BUA this October, students were my priority. That’s why I greeted every student on the way into the all-school meeting, why I sat with the juniors during their class meeting, why I visited a dozen classes, why I had lunch with students both days, and why I hung out at Fall Fest and the soccer games (way to go to both teams on their big wins!). Students will be my priority throughout my time at BUA, which I hope is a very long time!
What do you think is the most important job of a head of school?
When I have a hard decision to make, the first question I ask myself (and my colleagues) is “What’s in the best interest of the students?” My most important job is making sure that we keep students at the center of our conversations so that we move the school forward in a direction that best serves the students who are here and preserves a wonderful student experience for generations to come. That means making sure we have the resources to support the tremendous teachers at BUA. That means making financial aid a priority so that we can open the doors of BUA as widely as we can to the best students from around the Boston area. That means ensuring that the curriculum and the extracurricular program gives students the skills they will need to navigate their courses at BU, to succeed in college, and much more importantly, to live happy, successful, and purpose-driven lives as citizens of their communities. That means celebrating those core parts of BUA’s culture that make it distinctive and that we all love. And that means unifying the whole community around a vision for the future that embraces the school’s history and gets everybody excited for how we change and move forward together.
What changes would you make to BUA, and specifically to the BUA curriculum?
My first job at BUA is to learn. Like I did during my visit to campus in October, I plan to do a lot more listening than talking; fitting that we have two ears and one mouth! I have already learned so much about this beautiful community where students love learning, where young people form life-long friendships with one another, where there is such a close, mentoring relationship between teachers and students, and where students have access to the incredible opportunities at Boston University. Those are things that will not change. That is who we are. They are part of BUA and part of why I have fallen in love with the place. As I listen and learn, I also want to pay particular attention to the ways we can all make this community better. I want your ideas.
What is something you do for fun, and why do you enjoy it?
Can I offer a few things? I love to do the New York Times crossword puzzles, especially on Sundays. There’s something so relaxing and fulfilling about matching wits with the puzzle creator and discovering the puns and tricks embedded in a puzzle. My wife and I like to do them together sometimes, which makes them even more fun. I also love taking my dog Circe for long hikes. She’s a 45-pound rescue dog who loves to run through the woods and chase after unsuspecting squirrels! She has never caught one and probably never will, but I admire her determination! Cooking has been a hobby of mine for a long time. I grew up cooking Greek food with my mom, and we still cook together sometimes, but I’ll cook pretty much anything these days — it’s a nice way to be creative and a great way for me to relax. And I’ve been playing guitar and singing since I was little. My father was a professional musician, so I grew up around music. He and I still play Greek music together, which I love. Maybe we’ll play at BUA sometime. What do you think?
What are three adjectives that you would use to describe yourself?
Kind, Curious, Motivated. If I say humble, is that ironic?
Will Reason '20 and Ewan Henderson '20 share the following report of the BUA Boys' Soccer team's recent winning streak, starting with the Fall Festival game:
"On a cool evening under the lights of Nickerson Field, BUA Boys' Soccer fought back to win 2-1 against Boston Trinity Academy at the Fall Festival match. In a game of great importance and greater drama, our fans rose to the occasion. Equipped with signs, cowbells, and vuvuzelas their passion made Nickerson into a fortress and struck fear deep into our opponents' hearts.
Nevertheless, after conceding midway through the first half, and fighting futilely for an equalizer, we found ourselves trailing 1-0 with just six minutes remaining. All hope seemed lost, but nevertheless our fans rose en masse and walked across the bleachers to support us from nearer our opponent’s goal.
Feeding off the crowd’s energy, Nick Reason '23 escaped his marker and flew down the right wing. As he approached the touchline, he put in a high-flying cross towards the back post. Or at least it looked like a cross before it soared over the keeper’s head and swerved into the top right corner, giving us an equalizer from the acutest of angles. Cue pandemonium. Our players swarmed our freshman hero but our resolved hardened as BTA kicked back off. We had more than just a draw on our minds.
The big clock behind their goal ticked down to five minutes and stopped, meaning the referee could end the game whenever he saw fit. With it all practically over, Will Reason '20 (and older brother to Nick) received a pass from Nico Moldovean '21 and drove into the box. As a BTA defender stepped in to block his shot, he instead cut inside on his left foot before swiveling and slotting the ball into the bottom right corner of the net. Pure elation. Our players and fans lost their minds and the stadium became a bubbling cauldron of joyous noise.
But with a short time remaining, we needed to refocused and hold out to win. BTA came close to equalizing a few times over the remaining couple minutes, but our players held firm to close out the victory. To win in such historic fashion, in such an important game, was only fitting for a team that has fought so bravely to rise to the heights of the Division 1 table, and sets the stage well for the semifinal berth we hope to claim in the next two games.
Following the victory at Fall Festival, BUA Boys' Soccer grabbed another win by beating CCA 3-1 and qualifying for the MBIL playoffs. We are still working out the scheduling details for our first playoff game, but it will likely be next Tuesday. Stay tuned, we'd love your support!
For the fourth consecutive year, BUA is proud to be an exhibitor at the Boston Book Festival in partnership with WBUR. The Boston Book Festival presents year-round events culminating in an annual festival that promotes a culture of literature and ideas, and enhances the vibrancy of our city.
This year’s event will take place on Saturday, October 19 in Copley Square from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. BUA will be a stop on the Passport to Imagination Tour, a scavenger hunt where festival-goers can make their way through exhibitors’ booths, taking part in fun activities and picking up stamps along the way. Visitors to our booth can learn more about our school’s academic program, get their hand stamped with a picture of Rhett Jr., or pick up some candy and BUA swag. Be sure to stop by!
For more information about exhibitors at the 2019 Boston Book Festival, visit https://bostonbookfest.org/.