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.

Traveling Teddy Bear

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Last month, Jerry the traveling teddy bear, spent time on our campus. He interacted with many of our students, took part in discussions, ate lunch with the students, attended field trips, watched the lower school play, and saw how students in California live. He will take the knowledge on to Connecticut and then on to Europe before he returns to Hong Kong.

The traveling teddy bear program is designed to help encourage students to learn about other areas of the world, and to also share one of the UN Sustainable Development goals with students around the world. Jerry shared the responsible consumption and production goal. He was proud to see our students recycling and composting.

You can read about his journey here.

Saklan Toy Donations Help Bring Joy to Oakland Families


The Saklan Student Council hosted a community toy drive this past holiday season for the non-profit organization called Bananas, which is located in Oakland. Bananas’ mission is to help raise happy, confident children by providing resources and support to families and childcare providers. If you are interested in learning more about Bananas, please click here.


The Student Council officers chose this local organization for three reasons. First, the officers wanted to help other children have a joyful holiday. Second, they wanted to support local organizations that work with Bay Area families. Third, Bananas company mission is similar to Saklan’s in that we both want to raise confident children who are compassionate, happy human beings. Our Student Council Co-Presidents, Max Budowski and Harrison Leenhouts, delivered the toys to Bananas. Fortunately, our Saklan families donated so many toys, games, books, children’s clothing, diapers, and baby furniture that it filled the organization’s office. As you can see from Max and Harrison’s smiles, they are proud of  Saklan’s generosity. Thank you for supporting this worthy cause!

Thoughtfulness Is…


The Owlets had fun again with their big 6th grade buddies last week. Before they met with their big buddies, the Owlets learnt what thoughtfulness is, and then their big buddy explained it again. Then they made an ornament that said “Thoughtfulness is…”


Big and little buddies discussed how they are thoughtful and the big buddy wrote their responses on the ornament. Some of what the Owlets and big buddies said was:

  • “Thinking of others before myself.” – Brooke, 6th grade
  • “Helping with my baby brother.” – Harper, Owlet
  • “Helping others when they get hurt.” – Caroline, Owlet
  • “Treating others how they want to be treated.” – Evy, 6th grade
  • “Sharing toys.” – Catalina
  • “Picking up trash.” – Isabel

Ms. Joy made 2 Christmas trees, one for the Owlets door and one for the middle school area, that has their thoughtfulness ornaments on them.

Food Bank

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Last Thursday, the middle school went to the Alameda County 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 6,333 pounds of oranges to go out to those in need; seniors, families and children.
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.

United States’ Cultural Geography

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The 8th grade Humanities class recently wrapped up its month-long, collaborative, map-making, research project on US cultural geography. Academically, the students were challenged to understand how the way people live affects where they live (and vice-versa). On this level, the project is about making connections from the land to the people and trying to grasp the breadth of interconnections that goes into everything.

Students must work individually, in small groups, and as a cohesive class to discover and find a way to visually represent the personality of each state in an effort to understand cultural similarities and differences in various parts of the country. They also learn how to problem-solve creatively and work efficiently in a deadline situation.

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For maximum creativity on the artistic part of the project, the kids tried to employ “Think Like a Genius” methods, including looking at problems from multiple angles, making novel combinations, and using symbolism. In terms of working together, they were asked to follow a number of “Cooperation Guidelines,” including listening, asking strong questions, encouraging others with positive feedback, disagreeing in an agreeable way, and the ever-popular STAY ON TASK. They would track their progress with weekly reflections, and regular formative assessments also led to greater self-awareness and personal growth as the project proceeded.

The result is a beautiful map, a solid introduction to US cultural values, a more cohesive class, and a toolbox of powerful strategies for collaboration, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving.

Discovery Voyage

Since Ms. O., our Science Teacher, worked with NOAA this summer on a research vessel, she wanted to share that experience with her students! Two weeks ago, the 5th and 6th grade students joined the Marine Science Institute for a four-hour expedition of the San Francisco Bay aboard a 90-foot research vessel, the R.V. Robert G. Brownlee. The students discovered what lives in the estuary and how we are connected to it. They rotated through three stations using scientific methods and equipment to examine different types of life.

First, they went to hydrology to understand the water quality, and then performed a plankton tow to see the basis of the food chain. After, they used a mud grab to collect a benthic mud sample to look for invertebrates. And lastly, they worked together to deploy a 16-foot trawl net to bring fishes on board. In small groups, they studied the fishes using dichotomous keys. Students were inspired to observe and touch the live animals that they collected. Between sharks, crabs, halibut and sting rays, they saw a bunch of cool marine life!

Sixth Grade Yosemite Trip


Last week, the 6th grade took off to Yosemite for a week of hands-on science, team building, connecting with nature, learning about themselves, and becoming more independent. It was one of our best trips ever. Between hiking below Half Dome, climbing through giant sequoias, seeing amazing wildlife and supporting each other when they needed it, I know they won’t forget their Yosemite trip. Here are some of the thoughts from their week away.


“Another motive of going to Yosemite, besides the educational part, is that it’s a great class bonding experience where you can hang out with people you maybe weren’t so close to and leave with them being one of your best friends! Also, it’s an awesome experience. Up close with nature you see animals and your classmates being crazy! It’s just an awesome experience!”– Elishka

“Although I didn’t have a favorite part about the trip (the whole experience was amazing), I especially enjoyed the bear cave. It was on our second day in Yosemite. I was with my trail group, and we climbed through tight spaces. We were standing in front of the cave, and our leader José led us to a small hole, and then he started going in. At first I had thought that he was just joking, because the crack looked too tiny to fit in. But soon enough, I was inside, and it wasn’t as tiny as I had expected it to be!” – Isabel S.


“My favorite memory in Yosemite was probably when Ryder, Oliver, Reese and I set the record for the most people inside of a bear box together. First went Reese, then Ryder, then Oliver and I went in. “Oh boy was it uncomfortable”- Oliver. “Worst Experience Ever”- Carson. “I was squashed against my applesauce”- Reese – Carson

“I felt connected to the rest of my class because I talked to new people and learned more about them. Specifically, I felt connected to those who were in my hiking group. We bonded over silly things and we told funny stories about our siblings. When we did the caterpillar line and the spider tunnels, we built trust for each other and learned to guide others in the right direction.”– Makenna

Student Council Elections

The Saklan School recently held an election for Student Council. The students campaigned by writing speeches and presenting them at Flag. The students voted later that day. We announced the results of the election to the middle school students on Tuesday. Here is a list of the elected officers.

Max B. (8th grade) and Harrison L. (8th grade)


                Jordan D. (6th grade)                                       Makenna C. (6th grade)

                           Secretary                                                                  Treasurer

Evy A. (6th grade) and Elishka G. (6th grade)

Co-Publicity Chairs

Lauren A. (8th grade) and Phoebe K. (6th grade)

Co-Activity Chairs

We are very proud of all the students who ran and we are excited for a great year!

Native American Conversations

The 8th grade Humanities class kicked off the school year with a dynamic, collaborative learning experience: Native American Conversations. The objectives of this weeklong project were multifold: 1) practice personal responsibility and critical-thinking skills; 2) practice cooperation/participation and teaching skills; 3) explore a wide range of Native American “fascinating facts” across 500+ years of history; 4) ask questions, make inferences, and develop a multiple-perspective understanding of Native American cultures in North America; 5) personalize and aim to put into real-world action what was learned.

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The students first partnered up in four “expert” groups to critically analyze four distinct sections of information. Each section included a range of topics, from “Young People Then & Now” to “Diverse Languages” to “Native American Creativity” to “2016 Dakota Access Pipeline Water Protection Protest.” The students worked together in their expert groups to ensure individual understanding of the material by reading closely, taking notes, asking questions, sharing ideas, and making connections (i.e., “big picture” inferences). After this research period within the context of the expert groups, the students split into “jigsaw” groups, which comprised experts from each group. Here’s a visual (each letter represents a student): Expert Groups: AAAA, BBBB, CCCC, DDDD. Jigsaw Groups: ABCD, ABCD, ABCD, ABCD.

Each student then assumed the role of teacher. So all the A’s taught everyone in their jigsaw group what they learned about the “A” topics. The B’s did the same, and so on. In this way, all of the students had to take on the challenge of being both teacher and student—and everyone was responsible for engaging with every single topic.

After each teach-in, the students wrote reflections to articulate what they learned (observations/information/inferences), how they learned (self-analysis of how their brains connected the info and ideas), and what they’re now going to (try to) do in their personal lives with what they learned. These takeaways are where you can really see the impact of what you’re bringing into the classroom.

Here are some standouts: 1) “I will now be more resourceful and less wasteful with what I have to show more respect for the Earth.” 2) “I will now be more grateful for everything that I have.” 3) “I will stand up for what I believe in and vote when I’m able to.”

This project is an ideal introductory activity to get the students comfortable with the expectations and responsibilities of 8th grade Humanities. It brings them together as a class and demonstrates the power of solidarity. It’s also a perfect intro to the Cultural Geography Project, which is already challenging—and rewarding!—the kids in similar ways. Onward…