Head’s Corner


“Impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”  ~Muhammad Ali

If you have the chance to join us for the Middle School Musical, West Side Story, take the time to read the director’s notes by Ms. Chaffey. In her notes, she speaks about the fact that she never felt she would be able to have middle school-aged students perform a musical as complicated as West Side Story. In a word, she thought it was impossible. When I read her notes, it made me think of Muhammad Ali’s quote and how it relates to Saklan.

West Side Story Ticket PosterJPEG-1 (2)

For Ms. Chaffey, she writes about the “impossibility” of adolescents pulling off intricate dance scenes designed to be performed by professionals. Of them connecting to a musical that is 70 years old and based on a 500 year old play. She worried about how they would handle the romantic scenes in front of their peers. While in her director notes she uses the word “never,” she probably thought it was impossible. And yet, here we are opening night – impossible is just a word.

At Saklan, I feel every day we do what others consider impossible. Take relationships for example. At Saklan, we believe that strong relationships between teachers and students are critical for academic success. Those students and teachers are partners in the journey of learning. This is a paradigm shift for most educators and takes an immense reallocation of resources. Smaller class sizes, taking time to know a student inside and out, making the effort to connect at a meaningful level. Conventional wisdom says that  it is impossible to increase learning by spending time on things other than academics. The opposite is actually true. Warm relationships between teachers and students lead to increased academic achievement and  improved social development.

As a teacher, Ms. Chaffey knew she could do the impossible because she has strong relationships with her students and their families. Because Saklan has a culture of compassion and courage where kids will take chances, knowing we are there to support them. From Owlet on up, we use our relationships to build confidence. That confidence helps our students overcome the pessimism of “small men” and to change our world. Our graduates see that  “impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

Warm regards,



Saklan at Moraga Rotary Field Day

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Last Wednesday, the Twenty-Eighth Annual Moraga Rotary Field Day took place at the Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School. Third, fourth, and fifth graders from all the Moraga schools participated in a variety of fun field activities. The Saklan School had twelve athletes compete in this year’s contest.


Field activities included: a sack race, softball toss, basketball toss, long jumps, steeple race, 50 yard dash, and a 4×50 yard shuttle relay. As always, this was a very fun event.


This year, Thomas (5th grade) won third place medals in the sack race and 50 yard dash. Sadie (4th grade) won the silver in the long jump (10’3″). The fifth grade finished fifth in the shuttle relay. Good job to all the students who participated this year! Thank you very much for showing up and representing Saklan!


All About the Digestive System

The first graders spent the last 3 weeks in the science lab learning about the Human Body. They discovered the digestive system, the muscular system, the skeletal system, the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the nervous system, and the excretory system and how each of these different systems play a key role in their health. It was a jam packed unit! The students got to see what happens to the food they eat and how the bones and muscles work together to help them move. They also learned how the blood circulates oxygen and that the nervous system helps them react to their environment. Lastly, and always one of the more memorable discussions, they learned how the excretory system rids the body of wastes.


Here are the first graders showing off the organs in the digestive system!


Alumni Highlight

Saklan Alum Helps Build Library in Uganda


Saklan Alumna, Tali Braun, has been spearheading an effort over the past year to build a library for a primary school in Uganda. Tali, a 2015 Saklan grad, was inspired to support the library after visiting Uganda last year. She has been collecting donations in order to construct and furnish the build, purchase books and drive book donations.


Tali was a well-loved community member at Saklan. She was fearless in her willingness to speak up and take a stand for what she believed in. She cared deeply for all those around her, and she was a great role model for every student at Saklan. In 8th grade, Tali served as student council co-president, leading the school with creativity, compassion, and courage.

Tali wrote in her yearbook “Saklan teachers were like finding a gem.” We believe Tali is quite the gem, and we are proud to highlight her project and support her in her humanitarian spirit. For more information about Tali’s project, please click here: HopeForYouth-1-1.

#SaklanCompassionate #SaklanCourageous

Did We Reach 100% Participation in Saklan’s Annual Giving Fund, Yet?

AGF hands hpALMOST! Did you know that each year we ask current families, faculty and staff, trustees, grandparents, alumni families and friends of the school to make a tax-deductible donation to Saklan’s Annual Giving Fund?  It’s true that we’re “Building Our Future Together”!

One of our goals is to reach 100% participation from our current families by MAY 28, 2019. The chart below shows you where your student’s class is towards reaching this goal.


Well, if you haven’t yet, it’s not too late to contribute by MAY 28th. YOU can make a difference and get ALL of us closer to 100% with your gift today!

Not sure how much to contribute? We receive gifts anywhere from $10 to $10,000. Please know that whatever amount that is meaningful and affordable for your family, Saklan is truly appreciative of your gift.

So, if you haven’t contributed yet, we want to let you know that Carol Goldman, our Director of Development, will be calling you over the next week to discuss your participation. If you would like to make a gift before she calls, you can:

  • DONATE ONLINE through our secure site; or
  • Write your check made out to The Saklan School with “Annual Giving Fund” written on the Memo line and deliver it to our office.

If you would like to discuss your gift further, please contact Carol at cgoldman@saklan.org

On behalf of all of us at The Saklan School, thank you very much for all your support.


Head’s Corner – Special Edition


Happy Friday!

First of all, I just want to thank you all for singing my favorite song “Boom Chicka Boom” at Flag this morning. What a great way to start the day!

Also thank you to the Kindergarten class for singing a beautiful Mother’s Day song. Happy Mother’s Day to all the hard working moms out there!

And thank you to the 1st grade for sharing all the pretty homes you made from around the world.

And thank you 3rd grade for telling us all about your field experiences at the One-Room Schoolhouse and Moraga Historical Society. We sure learned a lot!

We missed the 8th graders today but they are having fun learning about roller coasters at California’s Great America in Santa Clara. Next year, I declare that the whole school goes together!

Thank you for reading this and have a nice day.


Your Head of School, Lilia Ghassemi


The Spring Arts Festival Was a Success!

Last Friday, students participated in a schoolwide Scavenger Hunt before the start of the festival. The students partnered up to find the answers in the artwork that was displayed throughout the entire campus.

Following the Scavenger Hunt, the West African drumming with Mr. Isaac kicked off the start of the Festival. Before checking out all the art, families got to peruse the Book Fair while enjoying the West African music and dance. The Parent Association put on a mighty fine Barbecue to feed all the hungry people. The overall vibe of the event was wonderful and all the hard work the students put into their artwork through the year was apparent and admired.

Thank you to all the parent, student and teacher volunteers on the day of the event. You made it extra special and it is much appreciated! The winners of the Scavenger Hunt will be announced at Friday’s Flag.


“There’s a Place for Us…”

On May 17th and 18th, the Middle School students will be performing West Side Story – School Edition at Town Hall Theatre in Lafayette. They have been exploring costumes, dance, vocal music, and acting skills, but have also been doing the vital work of connecting a great work of art to their everyday lives.


West Side Story has become such a vital thread of American pop culture, and the issues that it brings to light exist in current events. Our students spent time this week connecting West Side Story to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, discussing tragedy and comedy, and making historical connections through the way characters dress, speak, and behave. Each student actor was challenged to think about how they would create a world with no hatred or violence, and what the lyrics in the song “Somewhere” mean to them on a personal level.

In one week, they will take these connections and bring their characters to life on the stage. You won’t want to miss it.

Click here for tickets.


Homes Around the World


Meet the architects and builders of fabulous homes from around the world in the first grade class! The students discussed what homes have in common, learned a lot about different countries, climate, culture and resources. The class worked very hard on this project. The students exhibited great collaboration throughout the process. It was a job well done. Way to go first grade!

Here is the list of kids with their countries:

Skyler – Singapore            Mia – Morocco             Willow – Austria

Kaylah – India                    Makena – Togo

Ochir – USA                         Camille – Greece


Spinners are Fun!

The Hoot Owls had a very special visit from a real scientist, Sarah Shaffer of Sarah’s Science who is Carson’s grandmother! Carson picked out a super fun “experiment” for his grandmother to share with the class.

The Hoot Owls wired their own battery powered spinners! They connected all the wires by themselves and had a blast turning the spinners on and off. They watched as two colors blurred together to create a new color while the device was turned on. Carson also showed us how to make art by drawing on blank paper while it was spinning.  Thanks, Carson for sharing your super smart grandmother with us!


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