First Grade Guest Scientist

The first graders in Ms. Maria’s class got a special treat when they were visited by a guest scientist…Saklan’s very own Meredith Avant! As part of the first grade earth materials unit, the class discussed how rocks are natural resources that can be used in many things. To wrap up the unit, they welcomed Meredith to their classroom to learn more about the unique drywall product she invented!

Most cement products are made by cooking the water molecules out of gypsum or limestone, and then adding water back in the desired shape of a wall board. This process takes an immense amount of energy. In 2008, Meredith’s company Serious Materials created Eco Rock, a drywall product made from recycled materials and different chemical reactions. The process she patented used just 20% of the energy needed for the typical drywall process. It’s no surprise that her product was named one of the 100 best inventions of the year by Popular Science magazine in 2008, and won the Green Tech Grand Award!

Thank you to Meredith for teaching the first graders that being a scientist rocks – sometimes literally!


Summer Fun at Saklan

Sign your child up for a summer of creative exploration during Summer@Saklan! Saklan’s summer camp offers children the chance to have fun learning new languages and cultures, creating art projects, playing games, meeting special guests, and more!

This year, Saklan is offering two, four-week sessions for both Mini Campers (ages 3-5) and Explorers (ages 6-11), with both Spanish and Mandarin options. Camp days run from 8 a.m.-12 p.m, and feature activities including on-campus field trips, fun workshops taught by members of the community, and projects designed around art, music, language, science, engineering, tech, and more!

A smaller camp size this year means more opportunity for your child to engage in deep learning and creative, outdoor play on the Saklan campus.

More information, including session dates and rates, can be found here.

For fun, engaging learning and play, there’s no better time or place than Summer@Saklan. Join us!


Saklan State of the School

On Thursday, March 18, join Head of School David O’Connell, along with other members of the Saklan faculty and community, for the 2020-2021 State of the School presentation.

The State of the School presentation is an opportunity to hear updates on Saklan’s admission statistics and financials, as well as stories from throughout the school year that provide insight into everyday life on campus. The State of the School presentation also looks forward to the year ahead, sharing lessons learned and strategic initiatives.

This year has obviously been full of unique challenges, with parents and family members unable to enter campus and many special events put on hold. The State of the School address provides an opportunity for the community to learn more about how the year has progressed, and will conclude with time for questions from the audience.

Saklan State of the School
Thursday, March 18 and 7:00 p.m.
Join via Zoom
Meeting ID: 868 3525 0995
Passcode: Saklan


Saklan Students Shine in Lamorinda Idol

A huge congratulations is in order for two Saklan students, Anna Tanner (4th) and Levi Kim (8th) who have advanced to the final of Lamorinda Idol Winter Edition!

Lamorinda Idol is put on by the Lamorinda Arts Council each year, to recognize outstanding singing performances from students in kindergarten through 12th grade who live or attend school in Contra Costa County. Singers can submit performances as soloists or as part of a group, and we’re proud to have Saklan students who have done both!

Anna is currently in the finals for the 3rd-5th grade soloists. Levi is a finalist in both the 6th-8th grade soloist category and the 9th-12th grade group category, as a member of L.A.M.E. 2020.

You can view Anna’s video here, and Levi’s videos here and here.

Winners will be announced this weekend, and on behalf of the entire Saklan community, we are wishing Anna and Levi the best of luck!


Yearbook Dedications

Saklan’s 2020-21 yearbook is in progress, and we’re so excited for all Saklan families to see what this unique year has looked like on campus. We also want to make all families aware of the opportunity to place special, personalized notes in Saklan’s yearbook.

You may design your dedications digitally or they can be handwritten. Special pictures, drawings, and notes are welcome and encouraged!


  • Be sure to include who the dedication is to and from.
  • If handwriting the dedication, please use BLACK INK only; a fine line marker works best.
  • Digital dedications can be submitted to If you prefer to submit a non-digital dedication, we can scan it for you.  
  • Please use high quality photos as much as possible.
  • All files must be in JPEG or PNG format at 300 dpi with a total file size of no more than 12 MB.
  • Be creative and have fun!


Dedication pricing :
$25.00 – Quarter (¼) page
$50.00 – Half (½) page
$100.00 – Full page (8 x 10.5)

Payment can be submitted to the front office, along with any non-digital dedications.

Questions? Please email

Thank you for your continued support of Saklan!


Head’s Corner

Eighth Grade Influencers Project – and a Call for “Experts”

There are three hallmarks to a strong, student-led project:

  1. Ambiguity – A teacher can never be sure what topic students will be fascinated by and will want to pursue.
  2. Messiness – Students are bound to struggle as they try to focus their project, and teachers always have more questions than answers to students’ quest for clarity.
  3. Uncertain Outcomes – Neither the teacher or the students know what the end product will be until well into the project.

On its face, each of these three characteristics seems like a weakness of project-based learning. In reality, it’s a superpower.

Deep learning experiences are full of surprises, serendipity, fits and starts, failure and creative solutions. This process is sometimes referred to as “emergent learning” because the understanding emerges from what feels like chaos.

Two weeks ago, the eighth-grade students started a project called “Influencers.” The objective of the project is to have students raise awareness about and influence public discussion and policy on an issue they care about. The first step of this project was to determine what those issues actually are. Using a survey tool and a word cloud app, we were able to “see” where their passions lay.

Once we started to understand the common interests, students grouped themselves around four of the above topics. With their topic selected, it was then time to develop a driving question that would influence a change they want to see in the world. Their driving question would be supported by steering questions that would determine the direction of their research.

For example, the group that is focusing on racism has created the following driving question: How can we influence society to be more accepting, and create a world free of hate speech and hate crimes? Guiding their research and supporting that driving question are steering questions that are built around “wonderings.” How has society influenced children to accept racism? What messages have social media sites sent to people of color? As they research, these steering questions sometimes flex, as students gain a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of their topic.

Over the next few weeks, students will begin to delve into their research and think about the best ways to present what they’ve learned, and to use what they’ve learned to influence society. Possibly the most interesting phase of their research is working with experts in the field. Students will be expected to learn from and possibly partner with others who share their passion.

As we move into this exciting phase of our work, we are hoping to interview “experts” (a term we use lightly) in the following fields:

  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Green Energy
  • The Psychology of Racism and Hate Crimes
  • Animal Abuse

If you, or someone you know, has some expertise in any of the above areas, please reach out and contact me. I have some world-changers who would love to connect.


Student Self-Portraits

In art class with Ms. Natalie, all students have completed a self-portrait. Different grades explored different processes to arrive at their completed portrait, allowing students to express their creativity and practice different artistic skills.

Kindergarten and first grade students did exercises in self-exploration, while second graders created a silhouette portrait by collaging drawn images and words that express who they are and what they love.

Third grade started by drawing their classmates, and then used a reference photo of themselves to recognize the symmetry in their face. In fourth grade, students created symmetrical self-portraits by measuring each half of their face and using pencil to create their skin tone. The fifth graders also paid close attention to the symmetry in their face, and created expressive backgrounds for their portraits.

Finally, grades sixth-eighth used the grid method, drawing pencils, shading tools, and watercolor pencils to finish their artwork. Explore just some of the incredible examples below!

To continue their exploration of self, the third-eighth graders all completed poems to accompany their portraits. Third and fourth graders wrote bio poems which shared more about them in connection to their portraits, while fifth-eighth graders wrote haikus that, while short, expressed who they are on a deeper level.

From an artistic perspective, self-portraits are one of the most challenging projects an artist can attempt. Ms. Natalie observed every Saklan artist overcoming moments of frustration and dedicating themselves to developing their skills. Congratulations to every Saklan student on this project – we’re very proud!


Parent-Teacher Conferences

Mark your calendar for third quarter Parent-Teacher Conferences! Conference times are available starting at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 18 and Friday, March 19. Both days will be noon dismissal for all students.

To sign-up for conferences, please find the correct link for your child’s grade below:
Preschool parents sign up for conferences here.
Lower School parents sign up for conferences here.
Middle School parents sign up for conferences here.

All conferences will be conducted via Zoom, and your child’s teacher will email you the Zoom link ahead of your meeting time.

Conferences are a great opportunity to ask questions, learn more about your child’s progress, and continue to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher and the Saklan community. If you are not able to schedule a time during the conference days, please reach out to your child’s teacher to arrange a meeting.

Thank you for your continued support of your child’s academic progress and social emotional learning, especially during this strangest of all years!


Eighth Grade Rockets

Since February, the eighth-grade students have been learning about physics in Science class. To start, they’ve learned about the forces on our planet: gravity, air resistance, friction, and centripetal force. They have also been thinking about Isaac Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, and working on ways to put those laws into real-life scenarios.

For example, eighth graders were tasked with creating a rocket that could fight air resistance and gravity, and that could exhibit all of Newton’s three laws. They started by designing paper airplanes, to learn how different designs could create different amounts of drag. Then, they graduated to rockets.

Working in pairs, students designed different wings and types of cones for the tops of their rockets, with the goal of building a rocket that could not only defy gravity, but also fly the highest out of the whole class.

All of their hard work culminated in an epic rocket launch in the parking lot across the street from the school. Students used an altimeter to measure the height of their rocket as it blasted into the air; while all the rockets reached great heights, one design made it an astonishing 40 meters–approximately 131 feet–in the sky!


100 Days of Hoot Owls

While most Saklan students celebrated the 100th day of school back in February, the Hoot Owls in Ms. Traci’s class marked their 100th day of in-person learning earlier this week, on March 1. From the outside classroom to the inside classroom, Hoot Owls have grown so much in 100 days, and have been eagerly awaiting the landmark!

In addition to physical and academic growth, Hoot Owl friendships have also flourished, and it is a joy to see them working together as a team. To celebrate this, and all their accomplishments over the past 100 days, students celebrated by making 100 Day crowns, which they decorated with stickers, gems, and markers.

The Hoot owls also practiced counting to 100, using some small toys and gems. The celebration capped off with an extra healthy snack, provided by Hoot Owl families. Making it to 100 days of in-person learning holds extra significance this year, and it’s great to see the Hoot Owls celebrate in style!


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