Simple Machines

In December, the first graders learned about simple machines. The class discussed what work is (the transfer of energy from one object to another in order to make the second object move in a certain direction) and what makes work harder or easier. Then they learned about the six simple machines by participating in a series of experiments and activities.

The first graders learned about levers and balanced a lever on a fulcrum. They had a bubble race and learned how a wheel and axle makes work easier. They also used a pulley to avoid lifting objects, and had an egg drop challenge. The first graders learned that using an inclined plane makes it easier and safer to move a load. They also made a paper helicopter and learned how a screw works. Lastly, the class made funny faces with oranges and popsicle sticks and learned that the shape of a wedge was easier to use.

The first graders had a great time learning about simple machines through these hands-on, fun experiments.  To make the lesson even more fun, each student created and built their own inventions.

First grade has so much creativity and these inventions rock!


Talking about Transportation

This month the Owlet class is learning about transportation. They first defined transportation as “something that takes you from one place to another.” Then the students brainstormed some examples of transportation, touching on air travel, water travel, and road travel. Ms. Erin read the book If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen, and then the Owlets used their imaginations and various materials to build their own dream cars. Some of their cars could fly like planes or go in the water like submarines!

The Owlets voted as a class to decide which form of transportation to study first, and the winner was air travel! They started by researching hot air balloons and airplanes. They read Hot Air: (The Mostly) True Story of the First Hot Air Balloon Ride by Marjorie Priceman and watched a video that showed a hot air balloon launch. The Owlets had fun getting messy while collaborating on a paper mache hot air balloon. 

The Owlets read Plane Song by Diane Siebert and watched a video that taught them how airplanes fly. The students got to build and fly their own airplanes. They loved throwing them from the top of the play structure and watching them glide through the air! 

Stay tuned to learn more about the transportation adventures the Owlets have as continue their study!



During the month of January, snow is a common theme in many conversations and lessons on campus. 

In science, the third graders learned about why some animals hibernate in the winter. For these animals, the snow and frozen tundra makes finding food difficult. To preserve energy, they spend the winter in a dormant state, or hibernate.

The third graders also created fabulous snowpeople! They focused on perspective “from a worm’s eye view” and used a variety of mediums, including pastels, crayons, sharpies and watercolors, to achieve their desired look. The students took their time, thinking about what a worm’s perspective would look like, adding details to give their snow person a personality, and a background to paint a more vivid picture of who their snow person is and where they live.

Our Kindergarteners were lucky enough to touch, feel and build with real snow this week as well. They donned mittens and built snowpeople and snowballs right here in Moraga!

#SaklanCreative #SaklanHandsOn

We’re Having a Shindig!

Get your cowboy boots and hats ready ’cause we’re having a shindig! This adults-only event will be held mainly outdoors in the courtyard of Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church on Saturday, March 19th at 6:00 p.m.

Help Plan the Auction!

All Saklan community members are invited to join us for an Auction Planning Meeting on Tuesday, January 25th at 12:15 p.m. over Zoom. Look for the Zoom link in Next Week at Saklan.

Can’t make the meeting but want to help? Email Emily at and let her know.


Head’s Corner

Alumni Highlight: Levi Kim (Part 2)

Before the Winter Break, I interviewed recent Saklan graduate and current Athenian student, Levi Kim. Previously, I shared our conversation about his ballet experience and role in The Nutcracker. Below is the second part of our interview, discussing Levi’s transition from Saklan to Athenian.

Why did you choose Athenian as the high school to attend?

While researching different high schools, there were many things I was considering. Some of them included: general academics, arts programs, class sizes, and diversity, among others. Along with being the school my older sister currently attended, Athenian had all of that and so much more to offer. Athenian has a wide range of academic classes and semesters offered, something that made me very excited. While freshman year your classes are more scheduled, sophomore year and up you can pick classes that interest you. In particular, juniors and seniors can take semester-long classes on subjects ranging from women in Greek mythology to analyzing comedy writing. Athenian has a great arts program that I’ve been very fortunate to get to experience these past few months, with classes such as choir, theatre, and dance, all of which I learned so much from. Besides classes and schedules, an aspect that drew me to Athenian was their focus on the environment. One of their graduation requirements is a twenty-six day backpacking trip that many students I talked to described as life changing. This seems like an amazing opportunity to experience nature firsthand and was just one of the reasons I decided to go to Athenian for high school.

Tell me a little about the transition from Saklan to Athenian?

Going from Saklan, a very small school, to Athenian, a slightly larger school, was quite the adjustment. Being a naturally quiet person, I thought I would have a hard time talking to people. However, when entering high school, I met more people on the first day than I had in a long time. Needless to say, I was quite overwhelmed at first, but grateful for all of the kindness people were showing new students who didn’t attend Athenian’s middle school. Over time I met more new people and settled into a friend group. I made connections with my teachers and often asked them for help on assignments or for extensions when I needed more time. All of these things reminded me of Saklan’s environment when I first came in sixth grade; warm, friendly, and welcoming. That was one of the main things that made my transition from middle to high school go so smoothly.

Now that you are halfway through your first year, what advice might you give to a Saklan student going to Athenian?

For any Saklan students coming to Athenian next year, try to meet lots of people and get the most out of your experience at Athenian. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help from your teachers, as they want to support you in your learning journey.

Thank you very much, Levi, for sharing your experience with me and the Saklan community.


Willy Wonka KIDS

The school musical seems to be such an integral part of American classrooms, like a rite of passage. Performances are exciting, and costumes, microphones, and sets create a kind of magic for kids. Behind all that magic and excitement, there is real work, focus, and critical thinking that transfers to other school subjects and the real world as well.

Students begin with a focus on music, reading notes and decoding symbols, then pairing those symbols with words to give meaning. They pair those words and symbols with physical action, and so the act of learning how to sing and dance lights up the entire brain! Take that, and add in awareness of other people on stage, the need to work together to move set pieces quickly, quietly, and safely, and that school musical becomes the perfect project for fostering creative thinking, compassionate social interactions, and courageous moments of risk taking and working through fears.

Thank you to everyone who made our Lower School’s recent production of Willy Wonka KIDS into that project.

#SaklanCreative #SaklanCompassionate #SaklanCourageous

Director of Teaching & Learning

This week we were excited to welcome Kim Parks back to campus. Many of you have known Kim as a teacher, Advisor, and Middle School Dean. This year, she will resume her role as Middle School Dean and take on a new role as our Director of Teaching and Learning. Whether it be through teacher coaching, driving deeper integrated projects or helping us think about how we use assessment to deepen students’ love of learning, Kim will continue creating a school-wide culture of academic excellence. The campus is already abuzz from her enthusiasm and positivity! Welcome back, Kim!

If you need to get in touch with Kim, please email her at or ext. 120.

Goals for the New Year

A new year brings opportunities to set clear intentions and goals. Having children set goals creates more intrinsic motivation, fosters increased self-esteem, and sets a positive approach to learning and growth.

Earlier this week, the second graders set their own goals for 2022. They focused on several areas of possible growth, including: academic, experiential, health and physical opportunities. 

When we voice our goals and write about them we have a much better chance of achieving them, no matter our age. Thank you to our second graders for sharing their goals below.

January Parent Education

This event will be held over Zoom. Look for the Zoom link in the January PA Newsletter (emailed to all Saklan families on January 5th) or the January 20th edition of Next Week at Saklan.

Special thanks to the Saklan Parent Association for organizing this wonderful parent education opportunity.

#SaklanParentEd #SaklanPA

Head’s Corner

Alumni Highlight: Levi Kim

This past week I was able to interview recent Saklan graduate, and current Athenian student, Levi Kim. What sparked my interest in hearing from Levi was his recent performance in The Nutcracker. The conversation was so rich I needed to break it into two blog posts. This week’s post we hear from Levi about his ballet experience.  In our next post we will talk about his transition from Saklan to Athenian. 

How long have you been interested in and practicing ballet?

I’ve been doing ballet since I was three years old. It was a very intense activity to grow up doing, with the many hours of rehearsal and shows, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Throughout the nearly twelve years I’ve danced, I’ve had many moments where I wanted to quit. While some people may see this as a bad thing, I try to focus on why I didn’t quit, instead of why I might have. I didn’t quit because I knew I would regret not continuing something that brought me so much joy and taught me so much about myself. Ballet may be very frustrating sometimes and can come off as a futile endeavor towards perfection, but it also brought me some of the greatest happiness of my life. While many people see ballet as boring and restrictive, I’ve tried to see it in the opposite way. I see ballet as a unique and beautiful way to convey stories through more abstract movements that allow people to create interpretations of beloved stories.

Can you talk a little about the role you had in The Nutcracker?

In this year’s Nutcracker, I played Drosselmeyer’s nephew/the prince. We started rehearsing the show back in October (though many people prepared for auditions months before then) and continued until the first week of December where we finally got to show all of our hard work off.

I understand it was a grueling schedule, can you share a little bit about it? 

I rehearsed my role for 2-6 hours every Sunday until one week before our show when we rehearsed every day from Friday to the Sunday of the next week. That week was one of the greatest tests of my physical and mental endurance of my life. Practicing a show over and over again until it was perfect, only to perform it six more times for an audience was exhausting. Between balancing schoolwork, warm-ups, and the actual shows, I had to carefully choose what I needed to prioritize and what I could sacrifice. This taught me where I needed to focus my energy and what I was willing to give up in order to deliver the best performance that I could. Despite how grueling the description of rehearsals sounds, it was an amazing experience. After almost two years of not being able to perform on a stage, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. I really enjoyed working with so many talented people and improving my own dancing with them.

What did you learn about yourself now that you have finished the production? 

Looking back at The Nutcracker after it’s all over, I realize that I’ve learned so many things about myself along the way. I’ve learned that I can make difficult decisions and move past them. I’ve learned that I can stay calm under high-stress situations. And I’ve learned that I’m capable of accomplishing what I put my mind to.

Thank you very much, Levi, for sharing your Nutcracker experience with me and the Saklan community.


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