Homes Around the World

The first grade class has been learning about the importance of shelter and what homes look like around the world. To begin the unit, the students wrote down questions they had related to homes. Culture, climate, and materials that are used to build homes were all part of the questions that were then posted on their Wonder Wall. Next, the students set out to learn the answers to their essential questions using a variety of resources.

One resource that the first graders were able to learn from was the 8th graders! Having recently returned from their Puerto Rican field experience, where they helped rebuild houses destroyed by Hurricane Maria, the eighth graders were now well versed in the building materials used and the ways homes are constructed in Puerto Rico. The eighth graders shared a presentation with the first graders about the climate and impact of hurricanes in Puerto Rico. They then shared how the houses are now being constructed to withstand the hurricane winds and water.

The first graders joined the eighth graders and Mr. Javier to get a hands-on demonstration of the home building process in Puerto Rico. The first graders helped mix cement, adding in extra rocks and sand to make it even stronger. The group then filled a preformed column, which Mr. Javier had already inserted rebar reinforcements into, with the cement.

A big thank you to the eighth graders for teaching the first graders about homes in Puerto Rico. This was a great hands-on learning experience for first grade.

#SaklanCrossGradeLearning #SaklanHandsOn

Hawaii: A Cultural & Biological Experience

Last week, Saklan’s seventh graders traveled to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. During their time in the globally recognized destination, the students distinguished themselves from the multitude of travelers by their mission: to learn about the cultural and biological evolution of the Hawaiian Islands. In Waimea Falls, the staff that handed the students their lifejackets were impressed to hear about the class itinerary and what they had already learned about the beautiful island of Oahu. One lifelong Hawaiian was particularly impressed that the students were visiting the Iolani Palace, as he had never visited himself. The 7th graders snorkeled among hundreds of brightly colored fish that call Hanuma Bay home while watching their adaptations at work for their survival.

The students spent a long and interactive afternoon at the Polynesian Cultural Center, where they learned how the Polynesian people valued the natural world and how they used the resources around them.

The students enjoyed themselves so much that they would like to open a sister school in Hawaii to continue their education!


Final Days in Puerto Rico

In March, Saklan’s eighth grade students took part in a service-learning field experience in Puerto Rico in which they helped rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Check out the student blog post from the final two days of the trip below.

March 28 & 29, 2022

We’ve never had an experience like we had in Puerto Rico. To start off the day yesterday, we woke up to a delicious breakfast of pancakes and sausage. We then hiked to a river in a luscious rainforest called Vereda Angelito, where we swam and jumped between rocks watching the water flow between our feet. After that, we went to an amazing shopping center where we dined on fish, chicken, and plantains. The class also shopped for small treats and souvenirs in that area. After shopping, we arrived at the beautiful hotel we would be staying at for the last day in Puerto Rico. At the end of the day, we kayaked at night through the stunning Bahia Bioluminiscente Las Croabas Fajardo bay. The bay is covered with bioluminescent plankton. This means if you stick your hand in the water, it will light up. Navigating a kayak in the dark was hard. There were some bumps and shenanigans that happened while kayaking, but overall, the eighth grade class did really well. Today we’re leaving Puerto Rico, and I can definitely say it was worth it.

-Ari and Milo

Thank you, Ari and Milo, for sharing your experience with us.


Bryan’s House

In March, Saklan’s eighth grade students took part in a service-learning field experience in Puerto Rico in which they helped rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Check out the blog post from the fourth day of the trip below.

March 27, 2022

Today we went to a different work site than the other days. We went to Bryan’s house and met up with William, Angel, and the team. We all had different tasks. One was shoveling sand and rocks into a wheelbarrow for Mr. Javier to take down to the cement mixer. Other people shoveled cement into buckets and then took them up to where the cement was being poured. After we did our job, we went to Maria’s house and ate a scrumptious lunch. While at Maria’s house, we reflected on our work from the past three days. William and Angel spoke about how grateful they were for us and how our work has helped their community. After we said goodbye and hopped on the bus, we went to the beach and washed away the concrete from our skin. Once we were back at the BYH (Big Yellow House), we journaled and got ready for dinner with the community. We enjoyed the food, and said our last goodbyes. Before William left, he gave out bracelets to show his appreciation and so we will never forget this experience.

-Evie, Cassidy, Thomas

Thank you Evie, Cassidy and Thomas, for sharing your experience with us.


Shoveling Sand & Rocks

In March, Saklan’s eighth grade students took part in a service-learning field experience in Puerto Rico. While there, the students took turns writing daily blog posts. Check out the blog post from the third day of the trip below.

March 26, 2022

In the morning, we woke up, got ready, had breakfast then went on the bus. We took the bus to go to the worksite and help out with rebuilding a house that had fallen due to the hurricane. There was a very nice dog there. While we were at the house, we helped make cement. The 12 of us were divided into groups of 6, one for rocks and one for the sand. We non-stop shoveled sand and rocks into buckets where the adults proceeded to place them in the mixer. If our bucket fell in the mixer and we reached in, it could take your hand off (Si nuestro balde se bajo en el batidora, se puede sacar tu mano!), so the adults took on that responsibility. After we mixed the concrete over 10 times, we had filled the hole where the septic tank was being built. After that, we went back to the Big Yellow House to get ready for a nice few hours at the beach. We found a cracked Go-Pro in a bed of seaweed, but unfortunately it stuck to the ground and could not be retrieved. After refreshing a bit, we went on a walk to a nearby island close to the place we were swimming in, where we took pictures. There were crashing waves and nice sand on our feet, with palm trees swaying around us. After that we had a nice walk back, where the water was warm, and there were fishermen near the shoreline catching a ton of crabs! We soon came back to the Big Yellow House where we had (Virgin) Pina Coladas prepared by one of our tour guides, Annika. Later that night, we had pasta with a choice of marinara or alfredo sauce. Lastly, we had games and the two teams competing were “Los Pollos Hermanos” and “yes, YES!”. The games ended in a tie because everyone is a winner at The Saklan School! We had a very nice day and we can’t wait for tomorrow!

– By Zoe and Alessandro

Thank you Zoe and Alessandro for sharing your experience with us.


Puerto Rico Service Learning

In March, Saklan’s eighth grade students took part in a service-learning field experience in Puerto Rico. While there, the students took turns writing daily blog posts. We will share more about their meaningful experience by featuring the posts the students wrote over the coming weeks. Check out the blog post from the second day of the trip below.

March 25, 2022

In the morning, we woke up to two roosters screaming at the top of their lungs at the peak of the morning. We then had a very nutritious breakfast including waffles, yogurt, and some scrambled eggs. Then, we got on the school bus and they took us to a construction site. We then worked very diligently on a house for Wilfredo. William and Angel instructed us on what we should do. After that we went back to the beach and had so much fun in the ocean! After ocean time, we went back to the Big Yellow House for the rest of the day. We had a very healthy and tasty dinner including cilantro rice, grilled salmon, and cooked chicken. To finish the day off, we had a 90-minute salsa dancing lesson and learned a lot about Puerto Rican salsa culture. In conclusion, the day was very enjoyable and eventful!

-By George, Conner, and Bjerre

Thank you George, Conner and Bjerre for sharing your experience with us.


Puerto Rico Field Experience

On Thursday, Saklan’s eighth grade students returned to campus from Puerto Rico, where they took part in a service-learning field experience. While in Puerto Rico, the students took turns writing daily blog posts. We will share more about their meaningful experience by featuring the posts the students wrote over the coming weeks. Check out the blog post from the first day of the trip below.

March 24, 2022

Through the fields of La Fortaleza, to the hundreds of cats along the way, Puerto Rico has been a blast that we will never forget. We started off the day early, with a breakfast buffet of sausages, eggs, and toast, leading into a tour with our buddy, Alvin, who brought us on an adventure through the cobbled streets of Old San Juan. We visited churches, museums, and of course, La Fortaleza, and loved every minute of it! The museum of an old over-achiever showed us how dedicated and driven people can be. Both the churches and La Fortaleza proved the almighty architecture of old. After a trek through the beautiful streets of this beautiful city, we went and had lunch at a Puerto Rican restaurant, where we devoured plantains, tres leches, and assorted meats. An energy boost of cultural goodness allowed us to push forward and enjoy another fort, where we ran through dungeons and climbed up old stairs.

After some rest and a long bus ride home, we got to quite literally jump in to some lukewarm water, where we continued to laugh, play, and pick up random pieces of trash, such as a chair, at the nearby beach. Other incredible moments included a double rainbow during Puerto Rico’s many weather mood swings, playing Cards Against Humanities after dinner, and spending time with, OJ, the pregnant cat who drops by us every now and then. The first full day of Puerto Rico has been amazing and we hope that each one is like this.

– By Ryan and Anessa

Thank you to Ryan and Anessa for sharing their experience with us. Sounds like an amazing start to the field experience!


Service to the Community

Cesar Chavez Day is a commemorative holiday celebrated yearly on March 31st in the U.S. The aim of this holiday is to celebrate the birth and the enduring legacy of the labor and civil rights’ movement that activist Cesar Chavez started while fighting for farm workers’ rights in the 1950s. Chavez gave people a sense of their own power by helping them discover that they could demand dignity and better wages. On March 31st each year, this day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of Cesar Chavez’s life, work, and legacy.

At The Saklan School, the kindergarten through seventh grade students supported and provided a service for The Contra Costa Humane Society by making much needed items for dogs and cats in their care, as well as learning about Cesar Chavez’s life and important legacy. Students in kindergarten, first, and second grade were tasked with making catnip sachets. The third and fourth graders made kitty pom poms for cats to play with while in their cages. The fifth grade class made several dog beds and pull toys. And finally, the sixth and seventh grade group made braided pull toys for dogs. The goal of the community service project was to show compassion and make the animals’ lives more comfortable and happy while they wait for their forever homes.

#SaklanCompassion #SaklanServiceLearning

Tracking with Telemetry Devices

Last week the 6th graders learned about an endangered species, the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog, from Southern California. They learned about the threats to their habitat and what is needed for them to survive. Using telemetry equipment borrowed from the San Diego Zoo, the students experienced what it is like to conduct scientific wildlife research out in the field. Students used the telemetry devices to track hidden stuffed animal frogs on the Saklan campus. This hands-on experience allowed the students to understand how researchers track released endangered species, in this case their frogs, and to monitor the health of the frogs over time. 


Gyotaku Fish Printing

Middle schoolers recently explored and participated in the Japanese art form of “Gyotaku,” or fish printing. Students first learned how this art form originated in 19th Century Japan, where fishermen would paint their fish and make a print onto paper in order to document their more impressive catches. Students then looked into how these same prints are being used today by scientists to document how fish populations have changed over the years.

Finally, students learned the fish printing process first hand by painting ink onto real fish, and pressing down paper on the fish to make a print.

When finished, students hand painted the eye directly onto the paper, and signed their artwork using a “chop” or personalized stamp dipped into red ink. It was a fun combination of art, science and history, and the prints turned out incredibly well!

These fish prints were also used to create the 6th grade collaborative poster that is available for purchase as part of the Shindig Silent Auction.


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