Saklan Summer Reflection Fund Winners

Due to the generosity of our parent community, we were able to create a fund that supports teachers in creating their own opportunity to reflect on their teaching. This Summer Reflection Fund (up to $2500 per recipient) is meant to encourage teachers and staff to think of out-of-the-box ways to become better at what they do. In past lives I have seen teachers use this fund for anything from poetry camps to traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail. This year I would like to congratulate our two recipients, Lisa Rokas and Peta Siacor.   

As a 5th grade teacher, Peta teaches U.S. History, and as a native of the “Land Down Under” she did not feel as connected to the U.S. as she possibly could be. Hence the fifth grade states project where students researched their chosen state with an eye on persuading Peta to visit it this summer. From New Mexico, to Hawaii and Florida, students not only researched the state, but built a history laden itinerary for Peta to follow. Through an intricate voting process, one state will be chosen for Peta to travel to this summer. From that travel, Peta will bring back true hands-on knowledge of a piece of U.S. History. 

The second recipient is Lisa Rokas, 3rd grade teacher extraordinaire and one of our two Social Emotional Coordinators. Lisa spotted an exceptional opportunity to join several other educators this summer at the Institute for Social Emotional Learning. The institute’s main goal is to empower educators, young people, and parents to transform their schools into caring, inclusive communities. Through experiential learning the institute enables educators to inspire young people to be compassionate leaders and resilient learners. 

I want to thank our generous community for supporting these endeavors and look forward to learning much from Lisa and Peta when they return to school this August. 




Fun Forces

The Kindergarteners have been studying force and motion. The class began their unit learning about force and motion on the playground. They learned about pushes and pulls, and then had fun pushing and pulling each other on the swings. Next, the class discussed the force of gravity. The students were divided into groups of four and given a large piece of cardboard, a selection of toy vehicles, and told to have fun. That they did!

The noise level went up as students built ramps of various heights, trying out different inclines. During a class discussion afterwards, the consensus amongst the students was that: gravity made the cars go down the ramp, but the incline helped to make the cars go faster, but too much of an incline made the cars fall off the ramp.

The Kindergarteners next learned about different types of force. After a discussion about the power of wind and watching a video about hurricanes, the class had fun using a straw to blow a feather. Eventually, they challenged themselves to blow a feather stuck all the way into the straw. There were many red faces and bulging eyes, but the mission was accomplished!

Another force learned about was magnets. Using large magnets the children walked around the classroom finding objects their magnet was attracted to. They were challenged to move a paperclip without it touching the magnet. It was magic!

Finally, there was the discovery of the force of water. The class watched a video of water going over Niagara Falls. Then they screamed with delight as Mrs. C moved foam pieces down a ramp using water from a hose. The screams may have been more from the surprise of getting wet, but it was still a lot of fun!


Legally Blonde Jr.

On Thursday, May 19th, the Saklan Middle School students presented Legally Blonde Jr., their final collaborative project of the year for Music class. The show was fun and funny while dealing with serious topics, including: stereotypes, snap judgements, and what it truly means to be yourself without fear.

The middle schoolers had multiple conversations about the play, coming to understand the material on the deepest level and performing it in a way that allowed both themselves and the audience to experience the joy of Elle’s story.

A big thank you to Mrs. Chaffey for helping the students to gain a deeper understanding of the show’s material and providing them with a safe space to explore who they are, or even who they might want to become. Her caring guidance of the students through the production process allowed the students to truly understand the message that Elle gives us: “even if I crash and burn ten times a day, I’m going to find my way.”

Thank you to Mr. Javier for getting the stage and set pieces together and to Ms. Christina, Mr. E, and Ms. Lauren for serving as stagehands.

Additionally, thank you to all of the parents and teachers who made the production possible.

And of course, thank you to all the middle school students. Their hard work to bring Legally Blonde Jr. to the stage was evident. The show came together well and was so much fun!

#SaklanCourageous #SaklanCreative

Marble Roller Coasters

The eighth grade’s culminating physics project was to design and create a roller coaster for a marble. Each coaster needed to: utilize the forces the students learned about in class, have enough momentum to fulfill a loop, and have a slow-down stop.

Students got inspiration for their coasters by going to Physics Day at Great America, where they experienced the need for gravitational pull to power the coasters, centripetal force and air resistance to provide thrills, and of course friction to stop safely! 

Working together in groups, the students used their creativity, math skills and knowledge of the scientific method to design, redesign, and eventually create their coasters. You can see their amazing designs below! 

Ms. O was extremely impressed with their efforts on this project!”

#SaklanHandsOn #SaklanFieldExperience

Library Book Round Up

The end of the year is approaching fast, which means students are running out of time to return library books! As we head into the last week and a half of school, please check in with your student to see if they have any library books at home. Ms. Meredith and Ms. Joy request that all Saklan Library books be returned by next Friday, June 3rd.

Ms. Meredith will be sending out emails next week, detailing which books each student still has checked out. We appreciate your help in ensuring your student gets their books returned on time. Thank you!


Celebrating Mrs. C

Earlier this week, we announced the retirement of our beloved Mrs. C (Karen Catanzarite). From Preschool teacher and ECE Director to Kindergarten teacher, Karen has been an integral part of Saklan’s success for almost two decades. We know there are many families whose lives she has touched, and we’d love to extend an opportunity for them to send a note of appreciation/congratulations to Mrs. C from afar. To that end, we have created a kudoboard where anyone can add a message for Mrs. C to read and keep forever. We know as parents that it’s hard to forget your child’s first teachers. Please take a moment to share a memory or thought for Mrs. C as she begins this transition.

Additionally, if you have any pictures of your child/children with Mrs. C, we would love for you to share them with us. Please email pictures to Emily at

We love you, Mrs. C! Thank you for all you have done for Saklan.

Weathering & Erosion

Last week the second graders became geologists, learning about fast and slow changes to the Earth’s surface. They began their exploration by learning about weathering, a natural process by which rocks and other minerals are broken down. The class used sugar cubes to conduct some experiments to help them gain a greater understanding of chemical weathering (changes the molecular structure) and physical weathering (which causes the minerals to crumble).

Next, the class discussed erosion, a geological process through which earthen materials are worn away and transported from one location to another by natural forces. The students then played a paper boulder game to help them better understand how erosion works.

#SaklanAcademic #SaklanHandsOn

Researching Turtles & Sharks

The Owlets have been busy biologists this month! After learning about different animal classes, the Owlets each got to nominate an animal that they wanted to research. Before choosing the first animal to study as a class, they watched a video to learn about Jane Goodall, a real animal researcher who studies chimpanzees by observing them in the wild. They also learned about other ways of doing research including using nonfiction books, internet resources, and talking to experts. 

The Owlets then voted to learn more about turtles! They read nonfiction books from the library that taught them turtle facts, including what turtles eat, where they live, and different types of turtles. The class watched this video to learn more about turtles and tortoises. The Owlets then strengthened their fine motor skills by painting turtle shells and decorating them with hexagon shapes. Lastly, each owl decided if their turtle would have flippers to help it swim or feet to help it walk on land like a tortoise.

The Owlets then got to vote for the next animal they were interested in learning about. The overwhelming winner was sharks! Ms. Jessica checked out books from the library that showcased different types of sharks, from the 30-foot whale shark to the 7-inch dwarf shark. The class read If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams and learned how important sharks are for our oceans and the world as a whole. The Owlets were very excited to cut out shark fins to make shark fin hats! While practicing their cutting skills, the students also discussed what type of shark they would want to be.


4th Grade

Last week the fourth graders blasted off into space exploration! They began their study with the big question – why should/shouldn’t we explore space? Opinions were mixed at first, but after viewing NASA videos and taking a deeper look at the real Mars Rover program, students agreed that we should explore space. The class decided to make their own mission to an unknown planet and send a remote rover to explore it for them first. They looked at how real rover “drivers” operate their machines from earth by writing code. Then, the fourth graders each wrote a working code for their partner to read and follow exactly as a “human rover.” The goal for each rover was to successfully navigate obstacles on an “alien planet” to reach a “crater”  and retrieve a “rock sample.”

The students quickly discovered that their codes needed to be very specific or they wouldn’t work. After testing and improving the codes, the class re-launched their rovers and completed several successful missions. This week, the fourth graders have been using the engineering design process to build working Mars rover models!


Book Fair Success

Saklan’s Book Fair was a huge success! Saklan received 63 brand new book donations for our classrooms and raised $330 to use towards new book purchases for the library! 

And, more importantly, our students went home with new treasures to read and adventures to have!

Thank you to everyone who supported the book fair, and special thanks to all those who purchased books from the teacher wish lists for the classrooms. As a community we purchased $3,300 worth of new books.

A big thank you to all the volunteers who made Saklan’s Book Fair possible. Tara Nemeth, thank you for taking the lead and organizing the event. Mrs. Meredith, thank you for liaising with Bel and Bunna’s Books and for working with the teachers to create their classroom wish lists. Randy Darden, Makeda Assefa, Lauren Wolf, Joy Kim, Mr. Javier and Ms. Shay, thank you for your help with the event logistics, setting up, cleaning up, and helping students and parents find books.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of Bel from Bel and Bunna’s Books. Thank you, Bel!

#SaklanBookFair #BooksAreTreasures

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