This week I had a most interesting conversation with the instructor of our enrichment chess activity. This is run by the Berkeley Chess School and they work with many schools in the Bay Area. The instructor, Victor, wanted to express to me how much he enjoyed working with the Saklan students and confided in me that of the many schools he has worked in, Saklan is one of only three or four that he would consider sending his own children to. He is getting married this summer and hopes to have a family soon. He went away with a school brochure and a promise to meet again in a couple of years.
The last few days have been very quiet with our eighth graders off in Washington for their annual trip to study the nation’s government and experience the feel and flavors of the capital city. A big thank you to Mr. Prestianni and Miss Parks, who have been running this trip over the years and give so much of their time and energy to make this happen for our students.
Overnight, multi-day field trips like this one, are a part of what makes the Saklan academic program so rich and engaging. Allowing our students to have hands-on and real-life experiences is a way that we broaden their understanding of the topics they study. We believe that these experiences are part of the curriculum, not add-ons, and as such, we build the cost of field trips right into the tuition. This is different from many other schools where overnight field trips are an additional expense. At Saklan everyone participates and field trips are part of the learning fabric. Other trips scheduled this year include the Grade 7 trip to Hawaii, the Grade 5 trip to the Marin Headlands, and the Grade 4 trip to Coloma. Throughout the school, overnight and local field trips enhance the learning experience of our students. The teachers at Saklan are to be commended for the extra effort it takes to make it all possible.
Lately, I have seen a variety of activities that have engaged some students or whole classes in community service or community support projects. Two students from Grade 6 (Isabel Darby and Abby Ruppert) promoted a collection of candy and tooth brushes for soldiers stationed abroad through Operation Gratitude. The Saklan Student Council is sponsoring a Holiday Toy Drive to benefit children who live in the Iron Triangle in Richmond, California. Our Grade 3 class did the Trick-or-Treat program for UNICEF and donated $180, and this morning the 3rd graders gave a presentation on activities they plan to do to make a difference. These included such things as bringing toys to a children’s hospital, sending goodies to soldiers, and even planting trees in Tilden Park to combat deforestation.
Another community based program that the Lower School classes will be supporting in the new year is the Lamorinda All-Access Playground Project benefiting all children of all abilities. This project is being promoted by the Moraga Rotary Club and supported by many Moraga community organizations and schools. This new playground will be built at Moraga Commons, a park that Saklan students are very familiar with. To support this project the Lower School classes will hold three bake sales in the new year and donate the earnings to the project. Look for more details in future blogs.
Have a great weekend!