Head’s Corner

A Great School…

In my previous blog post I wrote about using the Y-Chart to delve into gaining a participant’s voice in shaping a culture. I then asked for parents to use the Y-Chart to share with me their thoughts on what makes a great school. I received some thoughtful input that we will use to help shape our path forward. Thank you to those who took the time to share your thoughts.

Below is a sampling of your thoughts.

A great school looks like…

  • sunshine and shade under a tree.
  • busy, lively, diverse, inclusive.
  • smiling, engaged people with faces full of curiosity and wonder.
  • a welcoming and vibrant place with lots of stimulating activities and areas.
  • a united community of students, parents, and teachers dedicated to cultivating a culture of learning.

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A great school sounds like…

  • a song.
  • laughter, ideas, acceptance, help, openness.
  • kids laughing and enjoying learning through hard work, experience, and fun.
  • quiet, soothing, drums, singing, questions, comments, advice, Spanish, Mandarin, laughing.
  • positive.

A great school feels like…

  • home, warm, caring, safe, an adventure, fresh, expansive, supportive.
  • a place with a vision to create and nurture world changers, from all disciplines.
  • home when you walk in the gate.
  • a good workout – some sweat, some strain, and healthy challenges.
  • a safe place where mistakes are okay and people cheer each other on to do their personal best.

Your participation helps us shape the future of Saklan. For a full list of the survey results, click here. There are some interesting trends to note.

Have a wonderful weekend,


Hoot Owls Visit Moraga Gardens

The Hoot Owls had a wonderful time on their field trip to Moraga Gardens. The Hoot Owls had the opportunity to pet, hold, and feed chickens! They also collected fresh eggs.

We toured the garden sampling herbs, tomatoes and strawberries. We paid close attention to the bee hives and talked about how important bees are to the planet.

Each Hoot owl planted their own sunflower start to take home. Thanks so much to the Avant family for having us!

Family Groups


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This month, Family Groups discussed collaboration: working as a team, taking turns, listening to ideas, doing your best, and encouraging others. Students read the book: The Dot, where a girl is encouraged to find out she is actually a great “dot” artist. She ends up encouraging others to find out what they are good and what they bring to the community. Students were then asked to create their own dot with something they are good at and bring to their community. Each family group worked together to build paper and sticky dot towers.

Life Sciences Field Trip

As the culmination of their Dinosaur Unit, the 2nd graders took a field trip to the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology yesterday. Led by their awesome paleontology docent Danny Anduza, the students got an up-close and personal tour of some unique fossils and heard incredible stories that they will surely never forget. Danny himself showed them pictures of a triceratops fossil that he himself found when working in Montana as well as a small model of a new dinosaur that has been recently discovered and not yet named.

They learned that birds and dinosaurs are closely related, they got to see the impressive T-rex, and they got to ask many burning questions throughout the experience.

The boys then got to find their own fossils in samples taken from Montana. It was a fun and enlightening day in 2nd grade!

Collaboration in the Classroom

This month the Hoot Owls have been learning about collaboration. We have been practicing working as a team and taking turns contributing to group art projects.

This is a collaboration created by the Hoot Owls by painting the bottoms of muffin tins and stamping paper on the painted tins.



Donor Support Amplifies Saklan


Last school year, members of our community came together to raise essential funds for Saklan. Many donations were made to the Annual Giving Fund and the Annual Auction’s Fund-A-Need initiative for the Arts.


The following will benefit the ongoing growth of all our students and programs:  traditional drum set from Ghana, a musician’s area rug for our kinesthetic early learners, iMac, iPads and collaboration stations for music composition, a 7cuft kiln for our students’ creative needs, math and reading curriculum review and complements, Yamaha cello and string instrument stand, robotics and science kits, storage and organization spaces for teachers and learners, SMART boards for interactive lessons, and much more.

The highlights are many because the gifts were many. Thank you very much to our generous donors and our generous community.

Middle School Advisory Starts with a Fun Activity

For the first two Advisory periods this year, the middle school students were challenged to a special ice-cream contest.

First, they had to think up as many different flavors as they could. These ranged from delicious sounding caramel and cookie dough or all grape skittle ice-cream to the more acquired tastes of Halibut or black olive. After this sustained creativity session, the kids had to think up three or four flavors per advisory that they wanted to make and try.

The next Advisory period consisted of making the ice cream the old-fashioned way, by hand. The middle-school students filled zip-lock bags with milk, sugar, and whatever flavoring they chose to make. They then put these sealed bags in a larger zip-lock with rock salt and ice. After ten minutes of shaking, the milk froze and ice cream was made.

Ms. Shay, Mr. Javier, and Mr. O’Connell helped judge which flavors best fit the four categories, Most Creative, Surprisingly Good, Most Surprising Overall, and Most Courageous.

The winners of ice cream creation contest were:

Most creative flavor – The judges were wowed by this amazing combination, Strawberry basil. It was made with fresh chopped strawberries, basil picked this morning from Lindsay’s garden, and a sprinkling of lemon and lime juice. C’est magnifique!

Surprisingly Good – Danny’s Whole Hog Ice Cream contained no hog whatsoever. It was inspired by a Winnipeg, Canada cater and was a combination of dragon fruit, smoothie, San Pellegrino soda ice cream, mango, and caramelized lemon made separately and then lovingly combined in the exact right percentages.

Most Surprising overall flavor – Canadian Max’s Special – This expertly mixed confection consisted of toasted eggo waffles, real Canadian syrup, and melted butter! Yum!

Most Courageous – This ice cream was the big winner and would have won 3 of the four categories.  BLT ice cream made with homemade bacon, real heirloom tomatoes from Clark’s garden, and fresh lettuce. The Judges raved, “ Wow! That’s good” and “Yum!”

Honorable mention – Spicy Chocolate ice cream was artistically arranged in a Gordon Ramsay type ramekin of ice cream, gently broken cone, and soft, white marshmallow.

8th Grade Chemistry

This week the 8th grade created hot air balloons that would help test the ideas of buoyancy and Archimedes Principle, along with Charles Law in Chemistry. Using paper, glue, tape and paperclips (to act as a ballast), they engineered balloons that they thought would create the largest lift when filled with heated air.

The students worked together to fill the balloon and create lift. After some on the fly design changes, and adding different amounts of air, we finally got lift off! The engineering processes was in full effect with the 8th graders, and when hitting snags in their designs, and having environmental challenges, they were able to tinker their designs and way of thinking to accomplish their goal. With the help of the wind as well, we noticed how fluids move in and push matter. Luckily, we got them all off the roof!

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Every middle school student at Saklan had already known what “National Hispanic Heritage Month” was and when it was celebrated. To expand their knowledge, they watched a video called “Mes de la Herencia Hispana” created by CNN last week. After watching the video, they were able to share some additional facts about this celebration in the United States.

  • It is celebrated from September 15th to October 15th. Independence Day in México and Chile fall within this 30-day period.
  • It is celebrated by American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
  • Hispanic Heritage week started in 1968 during President Lyndon Johnson.
  • Hispanic Heritage celebrations expanded to 30-day under President Ronald Regan .

In the 4th to 8th Spanish Class, students colored flags from 20 different Hispanic countries that celebrate this important day.

In the Art Room – Make a Wish!

At the beginning of every year, K- 8th grades participates in a group installation project. Last week, colorful pieces of paper were hanging from the walkway. Thinking globally and locally, the students have made a wish for the new school year.

Elena and Elishka wish for world peace and eternal happiness. Phoebe wishes to control water and be on Broadway!

This project was inspired by Japanese Artist Yoko Ono who has made wishing trees around the world. This year is off to a great start with all the positive wishes made!