Middle School Advance


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At the start of each school year, the middle school teachers bravely take the entire group of middle school students to a conference center in the redwoods outside of Occidental. We call the experience an “Advance” as opposed to a retreat, as we are moving forward in our lives. The Advance is unique to Saklan and gives us time to start the year working on building relationships. This 3-day field experience pushes the students outside their comfort zone and it helps create a strong  community.


Earth Day Promise

The Owlets and their 6th grade buddies got together and did an Earth Day project. They worked together to create a mosaic Earth out of small pieces of paper. Then they had to come up with ideas to help keep the Earth clean and beautiful.

After they finished their projects, they got to play together on the turf. It was a lot of fun and the Owlets sure do love their big buddies!


Saklan’s Eighth Grade Learns Financial Literacy

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In Leadership class, it is important that our eighth grade students learn about the real world. One way that we prepare our students is by bringing a financial expert into Saklan to run an hour and a half workshop. Our expert and current parent, Ana Darby, has volunteered her time for the past two years to help educate our future adults.

Ana has developed a curriculum that is accessible to teens. She teaches them about creating a budget as soon as they have any income. Within that budget structure, she advises that they put 10% of their income into a savings or retirement account, even as young as thirteen years old. Mrs. Darby also discusses the importance of giving back through charitable donations, if that is a possibility. Next, students learn to read and understand a bank statement and how credit works. Finally, the most meaningful activity the students do is to be randomly assigned a particular profession. This year’s choices were doctor, cashier, computer programmer, and veterinarian. Each student was given a set income, a list of expenses, and a budget template. They were required to make choices about how they were going to spend their money and type up a monthly budget. Needless to say, most students were shocked how expensive everything was. Overall, each student seemed to have more of an appreciation of how hard their parents work. #SaklanWellRounded

Washington DC: The Final Word

Personal reflections are one of the most powerful tools we can use to cement our learning. They compel us to quietly consider all aspects of our learning process and challenge us to clarify and personalize our experiences. In so doing, we transfer ephemeral insights to our long-term memory, and this leads to the kind of substantive growth that powers mindful action and positive change.


After nearly two months of exploring the US cultural values represented in our nation’s capital, the 8th graders came up with some profound insights and “Democracy in Action” plans in their final reflections. Here are a few excerpts…

on the WWII, Korean & Vietnam War Memorials:

“I will now make sure everyone gets an equal chance to have their voice heard. I will also stand up for what I believe in, so my voice can be heard.” – Lauren A.-C.

on the National Museum of Women in the Arts:

“I will go to more rallies to help fight for equal rights for women.” – Kyle Y.


on the National Museums of the American Indian, Women in the Arts & African American History & Culture:

“I will use what I have learned to be more respectful and politically correct by seeing past stereotypes and thinking for myself.” – Roan K.

“I will never let myself get caught up in old habits, and I will continue to look through different lenses. I will also listen to all different voices to get a full picture.” – Lily M.

on the Lincoln & Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorials:

“Hope contributes to a functional democracy by allowing people to believe and have faith in the future.” – Maile M.


“I will not allow myself to be oppressed. I will listen to others in my group (unity) and have positivity as it can only help (hope). I will have the courage to stand up for my beliefs and support those who I agree with. I will not allow myself to be weighed down but will become a better human being.” – Isabel D.

on the value of experiential learning in Washington, DC:

“I now know that you cannot judge a place by what you’ve read online.” – Juliet P.


Congratulations MATHCOUNTS Team!


The Saklan MATHCOUNTS team led by Mr. Zippin competed in the Regional Competition in Pleasanton last weekend.

Created in 1983, The MATHCOUNTS Competition Series is a national program that provides students the opportunity to compete in live, in-person contests against and alongside their peers.

This year’s team of Roan, Aidan, and Harrison have been practicing extremely challenging problems, working together as a team, and solving problems quickly every Monday after school since October to prepare for the competition. It is certainly a commitment of time and perseverance.

Congratulations to this year’s team for an amazing performance, both individually and as a team. They showed the Diablo chapter that Saklan may be small, but we are mighty! #SaklanHandsOn

Middle School Students Live the Mission

Last Thursday on Valentines Day, the middle school went to the Alameda County Community Food Bank. They worked for a little over an hour and helped pack produce to go out to needy families in Alameda County. Our students helped package 7,800 pounds of oranges to go out to those in need: seniors, families and children.
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The students also got a tour of the facility and learned how most of their clients are not who they envisioned to be hungry. Most are people with jobs, who are having to decide between rent or food, or between medicine or food. One in six Alameda County residents receive help from the Food Bank and of them children and elderly make up the largest group. In fact one in every three children are getting help with the assistance of the Food Bank.
We were proud to help such a great organization and live our mission. #Saklancompassionate

Saklan Buddies


Last week, the Owlet and 6th grade buddies collaborated their creative skills by creating Valentines for our neighbors at Aegis of Moraga. This activity tied into our January Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) theme of inclusion, as we are extending our Saklan Valentine celebration to others in our community. The buddy program at Saklan allows for students from various grade levels to build relationships, practice communication skills, and teaches the older buddies essential leadership skills. It is a well-loved tradition! #SaklanConnected #SaklanCompassionate #SaklanCreative

Washington D.C. Cultural Adventures, Part II

Exploring the world-class art museums in our nation’s capital is often one of the most challenging, mind-bending activities for many 8th graders during our DC field study. Many kids go into these places with severely limited, preconceived notions about what art is. Of course, one of the project’s goals is to vanquish (or at least diminish) such prejudices. It’s always fun to see how far students stretch their minds throughout the course of their cultural investigations. While in Washington and after we return to school, the kids process what they learned in many different ways. The extraordinary multimedia presentations below on the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn exemplify the value of our experiential learning activities and Saklan’s commitment to providing students with rich opportunities to flex their creativity.

Kyle Yasumura on the National Gallery:

His final takeaway: “I will rethink what I see as art because until now I just thought that anything could be art as long as you thought of it that way, but now I’ve realized that sometimes art is about the craftsmanship and not whether you just call it art.”

Juliet Pecher on the Hirshhorn:

“I now have a broader perspective of what art is and will apply it to my own work.”

Indeed! #SaklanExperiental

How Does the MLK Memorial Represent US Cultural Values?

For the grand finale of the Washington D.C. project this year, the 8th graders had a complete freedom of choice in terms of how they could approach a multimedia presentation on their subject matter. Just like with their essays, the primary guiding principle was that they would have to prove their argument with plenty of evidence from their research. Ari Tamkin went above and beyond with this animated video on Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. The question she was answering: “How does the MLK memorial represent US cultural values?” Check out her response above!

A Visit from a Feathered Friend

Tumbling down from the sky and landing in our play yard, our Owlets and Hoot Owls had a special visitor this week. They were deliriously excited, to say the least. A pigeon!  Close up and personal! They were amused and had many questions. Their curiosity was uncontainable. Look! He has a green bracelet! What is it? Why is it here? Is it hurt?

Our little Friend was tagged with his “name” and his owner’s information. After a little bit of detective work on the American Racing Pigeon Union site, we were able to find out that he was lost and where he came from.

To make a 2-day story short, our Feathered Friend is at home with Matt from Concord.  Matt says “Thank you” to our Owlets and Hoot Owls for showing compassion and concern for the safety and well-being of our Feathered Friend.