The Power of a Single Individual

On September 20th, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico with 155 mph winds and 40 inches of rainfall. The small community of Villa Del Rio was impacted like much of the island; houses blown off foundations, roofs torn off, down trees making roads impassable, and no running water or electricity for months. For Villa Del Rio, the worst thing may have been the isolation. For eight months, no one from the U.S. or Puerto Rican Government showed up to help. The community of Villa Del Rio was on its own. That meant rebuilding houses, fixing power lines, clearing roads, and sourcing clean water. It meant putting the community’s needs before the individual’s. 

There are so many things that we want our 8th graders to take away from their service learning field experience in Puerto Rico. The confidence from succeeding in an environment well outside their comfort zone. The reward of doing hard manual work shoulder-to-shoulder with those rebuilding their lives. The understanding that even in a community that has lost so much, generosity, kindness, and warmth are still a key part of the social fabric. 

But the stories from people like Angel created the most significant moments.

Angel and his wife Maria were one of the founders of Villa Del Rio. He and his family had homesteaded in a tent for years until the Puerto Rican government issued land deeds. As a carpenter, he built his house from the ground up and raised his family. On September 20th, 2017, Hurricane Maria ripped the roof off his house and drenched his family’s possessions.

After the hurricane, Angel and his family lived under a flimsy blue tarp that covered what was once a beautifully crafted wooden roof. While Angel could have chosen to repair his roof after the storm, he saw others in his community that had greater need. Over the next four years, Angel used his carpentry skills to help his neighbors pick themselves up and rebuild while still sleeping under a leaky tarp roof. It was only when GlobalWorks insisted that the next project be his home that the tarp was replaced with a concrete roof. 

To work alongside people as selfless as Angel was transformational. It was a masterclass in the power of gratitude, love, and putting others first. Most of all, though, it was a life lesson in the power of a single individual to make the world a better place. 

With gratitude,


If you’d like to learn more about our students’ experience from their perspective, click here.

#HeadsCorner #SaklanFieldExperience

Holiday Cards

In honor of Giving Tuesday, all Saklan students participated in a project to spread joy within the Moraga community. 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 Moraga Royale, a senior living community just around the corner from Saklan.  

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

#SaklanCompassionate #SaklanCreative

Winter Weather

Brrrr! With the weather getting so cold and icy in the mornings, the Owlets have been very interested in winter weather. Taking their lead from the students’ interest, the teachers read Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak and No Two Alike by Keith Baker, aloud to the class. The Owlets learned that snowflakes are unique, which means they are all different, just like people! The students made snowflakes using different mediums: pipe cleaners and beads which they hung on their classroom tree, and white crayon and watercolor to make resistance paintings.

The Owlets have been practicing their creative storytelling. They read The Gingerbread Man, and then each Owlet collaged their own gingerbread person and made up a story about them. They also made melted snowmen art and told stories about how their snowman melted. The students were proud to have their art, and the stories they represent, hung up in their classroom!


Seeking Auction Swag

Saklan’s Auction Committee is looking to acquire irresistible auction items for our upcoming Auction Fiesta! Here are a few specific things we are looking for:

  • Vacation homes – Do you have or know someone with a vacation property, timeshare or other access to destination properties? 
  • Event Tickets – Do you have season passes for the Giants, A’s, Warriors, theatre, symphony, or live music venues?
  • Adventure Experiences – Hot Air Ballooning, Horseback Riding, and Cooking Classes are always popular items. 
  • Wine – Do you belong to a winery and have a few extra bottles of your favorite Cab you would be willing to part with for a good cause?
  • Gift Cards – Your unused gift cards can enhance a basket of themed goods.
  • Parent Socials – Are you willing to host a dinner or party at your house?

Please let us know if you have any other ideas for amazing auction items. As our mission says, think creatively! Click here to download the complete the donor form online, or email to give the committee the 411!

Volunteers Needed! 

Saklan is looking for volunteers to help us procure great auction items and plan the event! We have roles big and small, including reaching out to potential donors (generally via email to local businesses you love to visit!), helping with decor, and setting up for the auction. Click here to see available volunteer positions

Want to help with the event but don’t see a role that suites you? Email Emily at and let her know. 


Food Drive Success

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our food drive in support of Monument Crisis Center. Together as a community we were able to supply a holiday meals to 15 families in need. Additionally, many more cans of soups and veggies are being donated to help others as well.

Special thanks to the Student Council for sorting and counting all the donated items.

A big thank you to the all students who helped decorate the boxes and to those who helped pack and load the boxes.

Thank you to the PA for their help with this project, especially to Erin Moorhead and Amy Perkins for providing the boxes to pack the items in, and to Lolo O’Keefe for delivering the boxes to Monument Crisis Center.


Helping the Food Insecure

Saklan’s seventh-grade class has been learning about food insecurity, both in our local communities as well as throughout the United States. Although the U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we have a staggering 33 million people, including 5 million children, that are food insecure. The term “food insecure” is used to describe someone who does not have access to sufficient food or food of adequate quality to meet one’s basic needs. The primary causes of this issue are poverty, unemployment, lack of affordable housing, low income, chronic health conditions, and lack of access to healthcare. And sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic magnified these issues. Many people who never needed food support before the pandemic found themselves waiting in long lines each week at their local food banks.

So as a way to teach our seventh graders how to make a difference and help get more food to people that need it, we decided to have them volunteer at the Alameda County Food Bank. The middle school teachers are proud to report that our students worked diligently, quickly, and with great motivation. The students understood that the more yams and onions that we bagged, the more meals and people they could help. Between Saklan and another group from Kaiser (roughly 50 people), they processed 15,902 pounds of vegetables and fruit. The students helped provide 13,199 meals, which worked out to each volunteer producing 259 meals. Our students and teachers were honored to help so many in a period of only 2 hours.

Saklan’s Middle School Teachers already have plans to take the other middle school students to volunteer at the Alameda County Food Bank in the new year.

If you are interested in volunteering, please click on this link.

Emotion Detectives

The Hoot Owls have been doing some social emotional activities inspired by the book A Little Spot of Feelings by Diane Alber. The book uses child-friendly language to talk about feelings and emotions, which it calls “feeling spots.”

The Hoot Owls have been working to become emotion detectives, practicing naming emotions and spotting their own emotions by paying attention to facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. The class first learned about their calm spot, and how to change from a difficult emotion, like sadness, anger or anxiety, back to their calm spot. They also discussed happiness, love and confidence. 

Next, the Hoot Owls painted some of the feeling spots: sadness, anger, happiness, confidence, peaceful, and loved. The students drew faces on the feeling spots and some of them wrote the names of each spot.

The Hoot Owls also turned the feeling spots into stick puppets. They then practiced role playing with the stick puppets in class.

With Maggie, the Hoot Owls read A Little Scribble Spot, also by Diane Alber. They used wiki sticks to create their own scribble spots, symbolizing when one is mixed up and doesn’t know how they feel. The Hoot Owls will continue to work on identifying their emotions as well as their friends’ emotions by being emotion detectives and looking for clues (like facial expressions, body language and tone of voice) for the rest of the year.


Land Acknowledgement

To better understand the history of our school and the land we are on, the 3rd grade class asked the driving question: “How can we show respect for the people whose ancestral land Saklan is on?”

After learning our school is on Saklan Bay Miwok territory, students wondered, “Is that where our school got its name? What would Saklan people feel is a good way to be respectful of them and this land?”

They learned about the Saklan and Bay Miwok cultures by reading articles and watching videos with local Indigenous voices before visiting Cafe Ohlone

The students asked the cafe founders, Louis Trevino (Rumsen Ohlone) and Vincent Medina (East Bay Ohlone), who both also have Bay Miwok and Saklan ancestry, about their thoughts on the driving question.

Vincent told the students that some of the best ways to honor Bay Miwok people and their ancestors today are to:

  • learn about the people whose ancestral land you are on
  • respect their culture and remember that they are still here
  • and share your knowledge with other people to tell the whole true history of the land you are on.

Vincent also said that land acknowledgments are special, but they must be written with respect and great care. He also stressed that they should include the people whose land you are on when you are writing it.

Third graders and their teachers decided one way they could answer their driving question, “How can we show respect for the people whose ancestral land Saklan is on” was to write a land acknowledgement for our school! 

Collaborating with other staff and researching a variety of land acknowledgments from other schools and organizations, students identified key aspects to include. Each picked one aspect to write in a small group before putting all the sections together to edit as a class. Students gave the draft to Saklan staff before before sending it off to Louis and Vincent and The Sogorea Te Land Trust for their edits.

The students were excited to share their land acknowledgement and the process of creating it at CLAS last week.

Click here to view the land acknowledgement.

Creating this acknowledgment is only one important step in repairing the harm and broken promises that began when this part of the world was colonized. 


Winter Enrichment Classes

Now that the fall session of enrichment has come to an end, we are excited to share the classes that will be offered during the second half of the year! For the winter session the following classes will be available:

Check out the class descriptions here. Classes begin the week of January 23rd, and have limited space available. If you are interested in signing your child up for one of the above classes, please use the button below!


Design Saklan’s Yearbook Cover

All Saklan students are invited to show their creativity by designing a cover for this year’s yearbook.

If you have any questions about the Yearbook Cover Contest, please email Lauren at


%d bloggers like this: