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.



The fourth graders have just finished an in-depth look at the California Mission system and its lasting impact. 

Through Indigenous perspectives in art, news articles, online resources, and historical fiction, the class explored a few essential questions: 

  • Whose land are we on when we come to school at Saklan? 
  • Where are the members of those communities now? 
  • What happened to Indigenous peoples when the Spaniards arrived in this part of the world? 
  • What are local Indigenous communities calling for now and what can we do? 

The fourth graders used Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) to explore pieces from Katie Dorame’s Alien Apostles series and video installations “City Indians” and “State of the Earth” by Kelly Caballero. The students made connections between imagery and themes in their work and their read aloud historical fiction novel, Lands of our Ancestors by Gary Robinson, about the beginning of the missions period. 

The fourth graders brought much of the conversation to present day through Indigenous voices, discussion on land back movements, and the Camino Real bell marker removal efforts in Santa Cruz. Additionally the students engaged in rich conversation connecting this unit with the themes of belonging and identity in the novels The Boy at the Back of the Classroom and We’re Not From Here

Come by the 4th grade classroom windows to see a few of the student’s answers to their essential questions if you are ever on campus for extended care pick up!


British Baking

Written by Guest Blogger, Saklan 8th Grader, Evie

During the latest session of Learning By Doing (LBD) classes, I was part of the class that learned about British baking/cooking. We learned about some of the different strategies, measurement sizes, and flavors in British cooking. We were making foods in the three general courses served for British afternoon tea. British afternoon tea is a tea-related ritual introduced in Britain in the early 1840’s. At British afternoon tea, you have three courses of small portions of food.

You start with something savory, which is usually finger sandwiches. However, we made sausage rolls as well as cheese and onion pinwheels. The second serving is scones with jam and cream. We made the dough for the scones and cut them. After they are cooked, you cut them horizontally and serve with jam and fresh clotted cream. The last serving is sweets. It can be variations of different sweet treats, such as cake, macaroons, biscuits, and more. We made a basic cake base and added our own ingredients to make our cakes unique.

A huge thank you to Saklan parent and chef, Donna Pickthall, for leading this delicious, hands-on class, and to Evie for sharing her experience.


2nd Grade Explores Family Heritage

During their Family Heritage unit, the second graders discussed their ancestors and the journey they made coming to America as immigrants. It was amazing to see how many countries around the world were represented by this class! They were also asked to think about their own family cultures and traditions and what makes each of them unique. This involved interviewing family members, finding out the meaning associated with their names and recognizing the similarities and differences between themselves and their ancestors, past and present.

To sum up this unit, the students were asked to create a clothespin doll to represent some aspect of their cultural heritage. They were given full creative license to choose fabric, paint, clothes, beads, and crafts to adorn them. Check out their creative dolls below!


Holidays Around the World

The Owlets have been learning about holidays and traditions around the world. They have spent a lot of time looking at maps and globes this month as they learn about where certain celebrations take place. The class found Russia when they learned about the Russian Winter Festival, they found Africa when they learned about Kwanzaa, and found Sweden, Norway, and Finland when they learned about St. Lucia Day.

The Owlets celebrated Hanukkah by learning to play the dreidel game and eating potato latkes with applesauce! They read Hooray for Hanukkah! by Fran Manushkin and lit the candles on the menorah in their classroom.

The class also learned about Kwanzaa, which the Owlets noticed had some similarities to Hanukkah: both holidays last several days and both light candles as a tradition. The candle holder used for Kwanzaa is called a kinara. As the Owlets have been practicing patterns, they all made patterned pasta necklaces using Kwanzaa colors.

The Owlets found the first day of winter on their calendar and watched a video that showed how cities in Russia celebrate the season. The students thought the ice sculptures at the Russian Winter Festival were amazing! The Owlets got the opportunity to build sculptures of their own using colored ice. They noticed that when salt was added to the ice, it made the ice melt quickly but then get colder, which helped the shapes stick together.

The class also learned about St. Lucia Day, which falls on December 13 and is celebrated in a few European countries. They watched a video of children dressed in traditional St. Lucia Day outfits singing songs. The Owlets noticed there were candles used for this celebration too! Some of the students wanted to make candle crowns like the ones they saw the children in the video wearing.

To wrap up their “Holidays Around the World” study, the Owlets discussed Christmas traditions, and then celebrated the tradition of “posadas” with a piñata!

Holidays Cards for Our Neighbors

On Tuesday, November 30th, all Saklan students participated in a Giving Tuesday service project. Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement that aims to unleash the power of people to transform their communities and the world, and to build a world where generosity is part of everyday life. Using their creative talents our Preschool – 8th grade students crafted holiday greeting cards for our neighbors at two senior living communities just around the corner from Saklan.  

Serving others in the community helps students to mature and develop thoughtfulness and compassion, beginning the path to lifelong civic involvement and  fulfillment. Research shows it also pays off academically too! 

The cards the students made reflected great effort and care, and they were very happily received by our neighbors!

#SaklanCompassionate #SaklanCreative

Country Roads

The Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade students have been learning about song form and melody line. They explored this while learning the verses, chorus, and bridge of “Country Roads.” The students also connected Saklan’s social emotional learning curriculum to the song lyrics by discussing what it might mean to visit family you haven’t seen for a long time and “going home.”


An Interest in Insects

The Hoot Owls have been very interested in insects! Wanting to embrace this interest, the teachers designed a unit to teach the students about insects and spiders. The unit started with Ms. Traci asking the class “What do we already know about insects?” Their answers included:

“A butterfly only flies.” – Preston

“Spiders have eight legs.” – Dante

“Millipedes have so many legs. They have sticky yellow liquid. Some are poisonous. Some are venomous.” – Ian

“Ladybugs don’t sting you. There are different types. Millipedes eat ladybugs.” – Allison

“Frogs eat flies.” – Dalton

“Ladybugs can stink you. Centipedes pinch. Some butterflies are poisonous.” – Ben

“Spiders catch insects in webs.” – Ethan

“Mosquitoes will bite you in the night.” -Mira

Next the Hoot Owls observed toy insects and pictures of insects in books. They used these examples, as well as their imaginations, to create some insect artwork with markers and watercolors.

Ms. Maggie took the Hoot Owls on a Bug Scavenger Hunt! The class documented their findings like real scientists. They saw an ant, a fly, a millipede and some mosquitoes, although many of the Hoot Owls claimed to have seen butterflies, ladybugs, bees, and spiders. They decided to try the hunt again in the spring when we might really see some more insects!

The Hoot Owls made salt dough insects and spiders. First they helped make the salt dough by combining 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of flour and 1 cup water.

While making the spiders or insects out of the salt dough, the students had to carefully make two body parts for spiders or three body parts for insects. Then they also had to count out eight legs for spiders and six for insects.

This was a great way for the Hoot Owls to work on their fine motor skills and math skills while having fun!


Array City

The third graders have been learning about multiplication and the variety of ways it can be represented. One way to model multiplication is with arrays. An array is an arrangement of objects in rows and columns; the rows represent the number of groups, while the columns represent the number in each group. The visual that an array creates helps students to better understand the concept of multiplication.

The third graders combined math and art to create an Array City. The buildings have windows aglow in a night skyline.

When you look for them, you can find arrays all around!

#SaklanAcademic #SaklanHandsOn

Experiments in Microgravity

In November, Saklan’s Science Teacher, Ms. Obenchain, performed science experiments in microgravity during 10 minutes of free fall aboard the Zero-G aircraft. The experiments Ms. O conducted came from the students and curriculum she teaches here at Saklan, and helped her gain a greater understanding of how convection currents, dry ice, and a Newton’s Cradle all act in the absence of gravity.

Learn more about the experiments Ms. O conducted during her flight by watching the video below.

I know my experience and the results of my experiments on the Zero-G flight will not only be immediate but be useful for years to come. The excitement of reporting my findings with pictures, videos and observations has made my experience real for my students. I know it will continue to create new science questions, engineering ideas, and desires of Zero-G and space travel in my students’ minds. I can only hope it will also inspire my students to take risks, to step outside their comfort zone from time to time, and to learn new concepts whenever they can. 

Ms. O

Thank you, Ms. O, for helping Saklan students gain a greater understanding of gravity and our universe.

#SaklanLifeLongLearners #SaklanProfessionalDevelopment

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