Head’s Corner

T-Minus 684.5 Hours

Saklan Presents Banner sm

684.5 hours is the amount of time between the minute this blog post lands in your email box to the start of the Saklan Speakeasy Auction. There are a few things I want to mention about our fundraiser that I think are important to know:

  • Even if you do not feel you are the bidding or “auction type”, please join us. The event will be more fun than last year (and that would be pretty hard to top). You do not need to be a bidder to attend. The event is about community as much as it is about helping the school financially.
  • What do I mean by fun? D.J.and dancing, psychic reader, 1920’s photo booth, wine toss and open bar, good friends and families. Need I say more?
  • What are some of the Auction Prizes? An evening stargazing an observatory, Pixar tour with lunch and a secret bonus,  Tennis Match/Lesson with Rajeev Ram, Doubles Champion at the Australian Ope
  • Only one parent can come – should I still go? Are you kidding me? This is the perfect opportunity to live it up!
  • Do you need volunteers for the Auction? Yes, we could use help on the day of the auction. If you are interested in working the morning of the event, afternoon, evening or clean up. Please email me at doconnell@saklan.org

Speaking of volunteers, a huge shoutout to Brian and Darla Lovrin, Dabney Lawless, Daisy Coby and Audrey Collec for driving this event. It truly would not have come together without their efforts. If you need another reason to go, it would be to honor the hours they have put into this project.

Warm regards,



Alumni Corner

Jacob Martin (Class of 2014) is happily ensconced as a sophomore at Skidmore College in New York. He is double majoring in  Political Science (inspired by Mr. P) and Music (thanks to the spark lit by Mrs. Chaffey).

For fun, Jacob sings in 2 classical choirs as well as the oldest and best (and only) all male cappella group on campus – The Bandersnatchers (named after the Bandersnatch from Lewis Carroll’s “The Jabberwocky”). He has been arranging music for the Bandersnatchers and was asked to be their Music Director for next year.

The Adirondacks area is a favorite hiking destination for Jacob and his friends. During Freshman year, he went sledding for the first time. His first ice skating was sophomore year. His friends from New England love to watch him try things that they forgot could be new because they have lived in the Northeast for so long.  He is a great source of entertainment for them.

During the summer, Jacob was a cashier at Safeway, where he enjoyed making people’s days throughout his shifts. He even sang to them! He also got together with high school friends and played at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley. If you’d like to see one of their performances, here’s a video:

Thinking back on Jacob’s Saklan experience, it’s no surprise he is where he is now. But believe it or not, in second grade, he hid behind the bigger kids during his class’s recitation of the mammal poem made famous by former second grade teacher Carol Schofield. In 6th grade, Mr. Javier and Mr. P helped him overcome his seemingly insurmountable fear of the ropes course. This was a key turning point for building his self-confidence.

Ms. Chaffey nurtured his growth further by nearly forcing him to take a small role in the Middle School musical. By 8th grade, Jacob eagerly volunteered to be emcee for the first Friday flag (and was courageous enough to be extremely silly in front of everyone). He happily played one of the lead roles in The Wizard of Oz Middle School musical.

Jacob’s connections to Saklan remain strong. He comes to visit the school whenever he’s home on school breaks. And during the last winter break, he invited his whole Saklan class for a reunion at his house. It was wonderful to see those kids again and hear about their adventures.

Jacob Martin

Here’s a photo of Jacob singing a solo with the Bandersnatchers at a recent college a cappella competition. The group took first prize!


Celebrating Black History Month

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In honor of Black History month, the middle school is recognizing the important roles African American leaders, artists, musicians, politicians, writers, and so many more, have been a central part of our U.S. history.

The students created a poster highlighting those accomplishments and will present their posters each Friday at Flag during the month of February.


Professional Cyclocross Is Unequal And What To Do About It


Last year, while in 5th grade, Mac Tomkins was asked to work on a “Passion Project” in class. He chose to focus on gender inequality in cyclocross for the project. With input from several professional racers, he set out to identify potential problem areas and proposed options for addressing them.

In the spring of 2019, when I was in fifth grade, my teacher announced that we were doing a project about a passion of ours that has something we want to change. The first thing that came to my mind was cyclocross. I have been racing cyclocross ever since I was on a balance bike and have always loved it. The aspect of cyclocross that I want to change is gender inequality. You can make as many excuses as you want, but men have always been treated differently than women in this sport.

For my project, I focused on how professional cyclocross is unequal and what to do about it. I did research and contacted several people who are involved in cyclocross. Helen Wyman, Ellen Noble, Tim Johnson, Caroline Nolan, and Mary Maroon shared some facts and their ideas with me. I really appreciate their help and support; I couldn’t have done it without them.   

I started my report by explaining to my classmates what cyclocross is. And then I focused on the ways female professional cyclocross racers are not treated equally. Read more

#SaklanFor Equality

Puff Mobiles

This week, fourth graders wrapped up their Energy Unit in Science Lab. The students learnt about energy and alternative energy.

First, they looked at solar powered cars and raced them. Next, they investigated wind energy and built their own vehicles that can be moved using wind power.

Wind energy in this case came from their mouth. The students called their vehicles “Puff Mobiles.” Starting with a great design led to some amazing quick races!


Join Team Saklan Suns For Clean Air

Fight for Air Climb is American Lung Association’s annual community fundraising event. Participants climb up 52 flights of stairs within the Bank of America Center (555 California Street) in Downtown SF. All donations go into American Lung Association’s programs and efforts to reduce nicotine and tobacco use, expand cancer research and educate the community about pollutants.

fight for air climb

The Saklan School is participating in this year’s  Fight for Air Climb on Saturday, March 7th. We are calling all parent and student climbers to join Team Saklan Suns for Clean Air led by Team Captain Ryan Lo (6th grade). If you are interested, please sign up here. Our goal is to have at least 12 climbers to show our strong support for cleaner air and healthier environment.

Here is one student’s take on why he is climbing: “I am climbing 52 flights of stairs on March 7th in honor of my Uncle Doug. Uncle Doug was my hero and told me to never give up.  He was strong, he was positive and he lived life to its fullest. I miss him every day.” – Dashiell H-N (6th grade)

Please consider joining Team Saklan Suns for Clean Air on Saturday, March 7th in San Francisco to show your support for a cleaner environment!  Thank you.


Charlotte’s Web

St Marys

At the end of January grades K to 4 went on a field experience to the Children’s Theater at St. Mary’s College in Moraga.

St Marys T

The St. Mary’s students there gave a fantastic production of a classic of children’s literature, beloved by youngsters and adults alike. Charlotte’s Web is a book that all Saklan students read in 3rd grade. The acting was amazing and the sets impressive. Tears and laughter (you know how it ends…) were had by all.


Toot! Toot!

January was a toot! The Owlets had fun learning about transportation. They first were asked what they thought transportation meant and some of the responses were:

“Going to school.” – Adeline

“Playing” – Alice

“Airplanes” – Parker

After they all said what they thought it meant, Miss Amanda explained that transportation is something that takes you from one place to another place, like a car, truck, airplane, bike, and so on. They then talked about transportation and learned some fun facts. For example, the first flight was by Orville Wright 117 years ago and he flew for a whole 12 seconds! The children read many fun books about transportation like, Old MacDonald Had A Boat, I Wish I Were A Pilot, and many more. The Owlets, of course, did lots of fun projects as well. They made different modes of transportation, they made a shape helicopter, and they got to paint with cars.

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The Owlets had so much bringing their own bikes or scooters to school one day. They got to ride them around the yard and even on the sports court.

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Before they rode their bike or scooter, the children got to ride the Saklan school bus! It was very nice of Mr. Chuck to take the Owlets for a ride around the block. It was so much fun!


Doodle For Google Contest

Doodle for GoogleIt is that time of year again!

Artists K-8th at Saklan have the opportunity to submit an original Google design that will be placed on the Google homepage and the chance to win some amazing prizes including a college scholarship, a school technology package, a trip to Google headquarters, and some fun Google swag! This years theme is: What kindness means to you? In this week’s Friday Folder K-5th will receive the template Google provides with directions. It is completely optional for the artists to participate; however, there is a lot to strive for with those kind of prizes!

How it works: Create a Google Design incorporating the theme: What kindness means to you?

*No logos, copyright images, and only one submission per artist

Using any materials: colored pencil, pastel, watercolor, sculpey oven baked clay, etc.

Write: Artist’s statement – Tell us about what you have drawn and how it represents kindness to you. *All other information on form needs to be completed with a parent signature!

Submit: Online is preferred by March. 13th or turn in a hard copy by March 10th to your grade level teacher- who will give to the Art teacher Ms. Natalie to submit by mail on March 11th.

With the four day weekend ahead, this is a great way to keep the kiddos creative! For more information on judging criteria by grade levels and states, submission details, prizes, and a digital copy of the Google Form please click here.

Look forward in seeing the creative creations by the Saklan artists!


Learning Spanish Vocabulary Using Peardeck


Studying a foreign language can improve your ability to analyze and interpret information and help you succeed in many other subject areas. We start with the basics such as vocabulary, grammar and culture. As with many things you want to learn, starting out can feel slow and unrewarding. When I started teaching Spanish as a foreign language, vocabulary lists and flash cards were almost universal practices among language-learners; however, here at Saklan students are totally engaged in learning their vocabulary using interactive tools like Pear Deck-Flashcard Factory.


Peardeck is designed to transform the way students interact with vocabulary. When you play Flashcard Factory students pair up and work together to create dynamic and engaging flashcards. Students collaborate to illustrate and define terms, making learning vocab an active and social experience. Research tells us that the more social an activity, the faster learning takes place. I am always looking for better ways to have students interact with themselves and each other to enjoy learning the Spanish vocabulary. Using Peardeck technology takes language learning to the next level. I am very excited to be able to provide a way to enhance the learning experience and make it their own.