News from the Ball Pit

—Suha Choi ‘22

Welcome to the first in a new series of interviews we will be conducting this year called “News From the Ball Pit.” You may be wondering  “what is a ball pit?”

The idea for the ball pit started during a summer Global Citizenship Institute. A group of St. Markers attending the institute was looking for a way to create more dialogue and understanding between different groups within the school. Two years later it became the project of a group of fifth-formers who built it with Ms. Belt for their Lion Term Project. Inspired by other ball pits that were installed and filmed in  New York, London, and Washington, D.C., the SM ball pit was created as a means to build community and to find opportunities to have difficult conversations in a playful setting. 

We hope to have News From the Ball Pit in every issue of the St. Marker going forward and to include videos as well. If you are interested in being featured, please contact Suha Choi or anyone from the St. Marker staff!

In honor of Family Weekend, our first “News From the Ball Pit” is a conversation between Ms. Belt (our Ball Pit engineer) and her daughter Nashua Poreda’22. 


What is the hardest thing about having to go to the same school as your mom or your daughter?

Nashua: “Every time I walk past by a teacher, I start wondering if the teacher would have talked about me with my Mom. Especially when they are teachers that I take classes from, I would hope that my mom would not have revealed anything about me,” 

Ms. Belt: “I actually think my major concern would be similar, it is always hard for the teachers and me not to mention Nashua, since she has been on campus for her entire life. If any faculty has taught at St. Mark’s for at least fifteen years, the chances are that they have seen Nashua since she was a baby and feel like they are her big aunts or uncle. It would be hard not to ever mention Nashua.  I really want to make sure I give Nashua space to be who she wishes to be at the community, instead of limiting herself as ‘Ms. Belt’s daughter’. We’re very close, and I always get so excited and want to be so nosy every time I see her, but again, I want to give her some space to feel comfortable.”

Since Halloween is coming up, maybe give us a spooky story that happened at St. Mark’s, if you have any? 

Ms. Belt: “There used to be rumors going around, and I wonder if there still are, that ghosts are living upstairs on the very top floor of the history wing. People would say that they always heard footsteps, clink- clink sounds, and some kind of banging in the wall as if someone was messing up things on purpose. And since I used to live here back then, although I wasn’t too scared, I would wake up to the loud sounds of serious banging at two in the morning almost every night. I know it may sound a little silly to say that ghosts exist up in  the history wing, but who knows, maybe I am the ghost...” 

Now, considering that you have been here each for thirty years, and Nashua for fifteen,  please give us one of the most hilarious or notable stories you have had at St. Mark’s!

Ms. Belt: “The community threw me a baby shower and Ms. McBride...this was right around when Nashua was a tiny baby- Ms. McBride rolled hundreds and hundreds of diapers, and yes, I mean the white baby diapers. Then, she stacked them all up to create this gigantic, four-tiered wedding cake– solely made out of baby diapers. Then, she gave them to me, (and I think it was meant to be funny.)  It surely was one of the craziest and most pleasing gifts I have ever received, thanks to Ms. McBride.” 

What is the most awkward moment you’ve experienced?

Nashua: “Especially since my Mom isn’t around main campus so often, a number of people around campus don’t know that we are related. There was a group of 3rd form boys this year who were telling me about what a great teacher my Mom was and they didn’t know I was her daughter. It was pretty funny. 

Ms. Belt: “I’m so glad it was that and they weren’t saying anything negative!”