Head’s Corner: Much Appreciation

Dear Saklan Families, 

Saying farewell to our graduates and other students at the end of the school year is always bittersweet, and gives me pause to reflect on the year. As I shared at graduation, there are several groups of people that made this year possible, and I would like to take a moment to share my appreciation. 

The first is our parents. Without your support the year would not have been possible. You have partnered with us as we have helped your children navigate the ups and downs of the school year. You supported us as we continued to adjust to all things COVID: masking, not masking, quarantining, testing, etc. You believed in us when we decided that taking students to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Westminster Woods, the Marin Headlands, and Coloma was a good idea.   

Parents, thank you.

I also want to thank our teachers; the people on the front line. And while I am not fond of that metaphor, these days it feels accurate. 

Teachers, last year, you came back to teach in the middle of a pandemic, you dealt with masking, distancing, plastic shields, testing, etc. This year you navigated a second pandemic of sorts, one of mental health- as we all now understand the toll the pandemic has put on our children as well as ourselves.

And you showed up to give students the learning experience they deserve. From hands-on learning to a trip to the Moraga Gardens or Hawaii, from fantastic project presentations at CLAS to the musicals, whole-school concert, in-person art show- the list goes on. Thank you.

As educators we often wonder if we honestly deliver on our promise to help students think creatively, act compassionately and live courageously. But as I listened to the graduate speeches on Monday night, the evidence unfolded in front of me. Not in numbers, but in their words. Those 8th grade student speeches were a body of evidence that are an indicator of who the students have become, and the work our teachers do. As Milo said in his speech Monday night, “words matter.”  

And while our students’ words are a graceful reflection of who they are, they are also a tribute to those who show up everyday to make a difference. Their words were so powerful that I want to share some of them.

Everything at Saklan was educational but also fun at the same time. I was very worried whether or not the Saklan community would accept me. I discovered that being yourself makes talking to people much easier. I found that the students at Saklan made it so much easier to be yourself and discover yourself. Everyone at Saklan is all different, but no one lets their differences get in the way of being friends.


If you truly believe in your cause and truly believe that what you are doing is right, nobody can tell you otherwise. Remember the only person that can bring you down is you, so do the best you possibly can and always be yourself. The only way to achieve true happiness is by being yourself, not by being someone else.


I would like to thank all my friends for always supporting me and being there for me when I need it most. I know that if I cry there will always be someone there to check in and help out. Even if they give you an awkward high-five they are still trying to help. And that’s what Saklan is about.


There is no other school where children are encouraged to be their true and best selves while surrounded by incredible love and support; no other school where teachers hop in so eagerly to help you mend problems, whether big or small, to make you feel seen and heard; no other school can you find teachers who fully believe in you and will do whatever they can to help you soar; no other school that becomes another home in which you can seek refuge; no other school that can better nourish a child’s sprout and ignite that curiosity into passion.


The graduate’s speeches were spoken from the heart, but little did they know how much they nurtured our souls. Thank you, Class of 2022.

Thank you, again, for helping us all make it through another challenging year. Our community moves forward to planning for the 2022-23 school year with much strength, unity, humility, and hope.

I wish you all an incredible and rejuvenating summer.

With appreciation,


Congratulations, Class of 2022!

On Wednesday morning, we honored and celebrated The Saklan School’s Graduating Class of 2022. It was a heartfelt ceremony, in which the middle school teachers introduced the graduates, and the graduates shared short speeches with their parents, teachers and fellow students. 

One of the highlights of the ceremony was a speech by Saklan Alumna, Kylie Choi. Kylie graduated from Saklan in 2017, and just completed her first year at University of San Diego. The wisdom Kylie shared with the graduates on making the most of their path forward while remembering that Saklan is always here for them was inspiring. 

If you were not able to join us for the ceremony, you can view the graduation here.

Each year we create a slideshow that highlights the memories of our graduates from their first years all the way through the last week of 8th grade. Take a moment to watch this video and relive their journey.

There are several people that made the graduation events possible this year. We would like to extend a special thank you to Geri Buhl and Katy Debasa for helping to organize the graduation dinner. It takes a lot of planning and coordination, but the dinner was beautifully orchestrated. Additionally, a special shout-out goes to Kim Parks, Shay Sager, Emoke Veres, Emily Williamson and Javier Yacarini for all their behind-the-scenes work handling the logistics of the graduation dinner and ceremony.

#SaklanClassof2022 #SaklanCourageous

Moving Up Day

This morning, all Saklan Preschool – fifth grade students participated in Moving Up Day. The students and teachers alike were buzzing with excitement!

This annual tradition allowed the students to get a snapshot of what next year will hold. The teachers planned special activities that highlighted their grade level and enjoyed getting to know their rising students a little better. Morning meeting activities, questions, stories, classroom scavenger hunts, and enthusiasm filled the classrooms! If your child “moved up” today, please ask them all about it. They will likely have something enthusiastic to share!


Thank You, Saklan Parents

As we count down to the last day of school, we are reminded of the impact that every Saklan parent had in making this year run so well. Parents, we truly appreciate your partnership and support throughout the year.

While COVID meant that there weren’t as many opportunities to spend time on campus again this year, your presence and help were deeply appreciated. Thank you to all the parents that volunteered their time and talents this year. Your help was instrumental to making the following activities successful:

  • Uniform Exchange
  • Annual Giving Fund
  • Lower School Musical
  • Auction Shindig
  • Teacher Appreciation Week
  • Book Fair
  • Art Show
  • Middle School Musical
  • Yearbook
  • Field Experiences
  • Open Houses
  • Parents Association

Additionally, thank you to everyone who cheered on and showed support for the students during the following events:

  • CLAS
  • Halloween Costume Parade
  • Fall Follies
  • Willy Wonka Kids
  • All-School Concert
  • Art Show
  • Legally Blonde Jr.

It was a wonderful year, in which we were able to bring back many traditional Saklan activities. Thank you for your help, flexibility, and partnership in making the year a success.


Los Lugares

During Spanish class, the first graders have been learning the Spanish words for the names of common places (lugares) they might visit. The students learned and practiced these new Spanish words using several fun methods, including: watching videos, singing songs, and playing games. After developing a thorough knowledge of the vocabulary, students used the words to create a map showcasing all the places they learned about:

  • La ciudad- the city
  • La escuela- school
  • La biblioteca- library
  • La tienda- store
  • El museo – museum
  • La casa- house
  • El río – river
  • El lago  – lake
  • La playa- beach
  • El bosque- forest
  • La montaña- mountain

The students then presented their maps to the class, speaking only in Spanish! Check out a few of the maps below.


Solar Oven Cooking

The 6th grade has been learning about heat transfer around our planet, especially in regards to radiant energy from the sun. They spent time learning about the different types of wavelengths the sun gives off (the electromagnetic spectrum) and how each provides a different kind of energy. The students then looked at the sun’s potential. They saw how solar power works to excite electrons on a solar panel by creating solar panel wave machines.  And then they created solar ovens, where they used the sun’s energy and a mirrored cone to cook cookies!

The solar ovens worked so well that a few cookies got a little too done!


Time Traveling 3rd Graders

Last week, the third graders traveled back in time to 1888 to experience a bit of what school and life was like for children during that time period. They started the day in the classroom with the three R’s: readin’, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.  Students read from McGuffey Readers (published in 1879), practiced their cursive writing using quill feather pens and ink, and practiced math problems on slate boards with chalk.

During morning recess, students participated in popular games from that time, like walking on can stilts, playing jump rope and hopscotch. After recess, the class went to art where Ms. Lauren taught them how to do circle weaving.

After art, the third graders listened to pioneer stories read aloud by Ms. Meredith in the library. For lunch, they walked down to the little yellow farmhouse on School Street where they picnicked under the trees and then played.

After lunch, the third graders came back to school and made butter in mason jars. The consensus was that the butter was delicious! Next, they had a three-legged race. Finally, they ended the day by learning to square dance with Mrs. Chaffey in music class. 

The third graders really enjoyed their time travel back to 1888!


Saklan Summer Reflection Fund Winners

Due to the generosity of our parent community, we were able to create a fund that supports teachers in creating their own opportunity to reflect on their teaching. This Summer Reflection Fund (up to $2500 per recipient) is meant to encourage teachers and staff to think of out-of-the-box ways to become better at what they do. In past lives I have seen teachers use this fund for anything from poetry camps to traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail. This year I would like to congratulate our two recipients, Lisa Rokas and Peta Siacor.   

As a 5th grade teacher, Peta teaches U.S. History, and as a native of the “Land Down Under” she did not feel as connected to the U.S. as she possibly could be. Hence the fifth grade states project where students researched their chosen state with an eye on persuading Peta to visit it this summer. From New Mexico, to Hawaii and Florida, students not only researched the state, but built a history laden itinerary for Peta to follow. Through an intricate voting process, one state will be chosen for Peta to travel to this summer. From that travel, Peta will bring back true hands-on knowledge of a piece of U.S. History. 

The second recipient is Lisa Rokas, 3rd grade teacher extraordinaire and one of our two Social Emotional Coordinators. Lisa spotted an exceptional opportunity to join several other educators this summer at the Institute for Social Emotional Learning. The institute’s main goal is to empower educators, young people, and parents to transform their schools into caring, inclusive communities. Through experiential learning the institute enables educators to inspire young people to be compassionate leaders and resilient learners. 

I want to thank our generous community for supporting these endeavors and look forward to learning much from Lisa and Peta when they return to school this August. 




Fun Forces

The Kindergarteners have been studying force and motion. The class began their unit learning about force and motion on the playground. They learned about pushes and pulls, and then had fun pushing and pulling each other on the swings. Next, the class discussed the force of gravity. The students were divided into groups of four and given a large piece of cardboard, a selection of toy vehicles, and told to have fun. That they did!

The noise level went up as students built ramps of various heights, trying out different inclines. During a class discussion afterwards, the consensus amongst the students was that: gravity made the cars go down the ramp, but the incline helped to make the cars go faster, but too much of an incline made the cars fall off the ramp.

The Kindergarteners next learned about different types of force. After a discussion about the power of wind and watching a video about hurricanes, the class had fun using a straw to blow a feather. Eventually, they challenged themselves to blow a feather stuck all the way into the straw. There were many red faces and bulging eyes, but the mission was accomplished!

Another force learned about was magnets. Using large magnets the children walked around the classroom finding objects their magnet was attracted to. They were challenged to move a paperclip without it touching the magnet. It was magic!

Finally, there was the discovery of the force of water. The class watched a video of water going over Niagara Falls. Then they screamed with delight as Mrs. C moved foam pieces down a ramp using water from a hose. The screams may have been more from the surprise of getting wet, but it was still a lot of fun!


Legally Blonde Jr.

On Thursday, May 19th, the Saklan Middle School students presented Legally Blonde Jr., their final collaborative project of the year for Music class. The show was fun and funny while dealing with serious topics, including: stereotypes, snap judgements, and what it truly means to be yourself without fear.

The middle schoolers had multiple conversations about the play, coming to understand the material on the deepest level and performing it in a way that allowed both themselves and the audience to experience the joy of Elle’s story.

A big thank you to Mrs. Chaffey for helping the students to gain a deeper understanding of the show’s material and providing them with a safe space to explore who they are, or even who they might want to become. Her caring guidance of the students through the production process allowed the students to truly understand the message that Elle gives us: “even if I crash and burn ten times a day, I’m going to find my way.”

Thank you to Mr. Javier for getting the stage and set pieces together and to Ms. Christina, Mr. E, and Ms. Lauren for serving as stagehands.

Additionally, thank you to all of the parents and teachers who made the production possible.

And of course, thank you to all the middle school students. Their hard work to bring Legally Blonde Jr. to the stage was evident. The show came together well and was so much fun!

#SaklanCourageous #SaklanCreative

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