Ending the Year on a High Note…Literally

The return of school musicals to end the year has all of Saklan ready to break out in song! After so many months of uncertainty, Ms. Chaffey went above and beyond to make sure that musicals could happen in some form this year, and we’re so grateful for her creative thinking.

To start off, today the fourth and fifth grade classes performed Seussical KIDS, leaving all their hard work on the outdoor stage. Students, teachers, and the performers’ parents were treated to a spectacular display of singing and dancing, featuring favorite characters such as Horton, the Cat in the Hat, and the Sour Kangaroos.

Next week, the seventh and eighth grade students will have their chance to put their talents on display! Their film version of Into the Woods will be screened on campus for the rest of Saklan to enjoy. Stayed turned for more details on how the rest of the Saklan community can view this film as well.

Congratulations to all of our Saklan performers, and another huge round of applause for Ms. Chaffey for making this happen and to the entire Saklan faculty and staff for their support.

The show really must go on!


Eighth Grade Goes for a Ride

Last Friday, the eighth grade class headed out for a field experience to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where they put their physics knowledge to the test by riding roller coasters and other amusement rides.

While they were there to have fun, they were also there to determine speed, acceleration, and which forces were acting on them throughout the different rides.

Students applied Newton’s Three Laws of Motion to see how physics plays a key role in the design, fun, and safety of roller roasters. They timed the rides, wore accelerometers to test the amount of g-force the ride exerted on their body, and filled out a packet to record all of their physics observations.

It was a fun day for everyone, and a special final field experience for the eighth grade class.


Piñata Fun

As the academic demands of a challenging year begin to wind down, there is an opportunity to invite additional fun into classroom learning. For some lucky Saklan students, that meant exploring piñatas in Spanish class with Maestra Padilla!

Middle School students spent time making piñatas as part of their hands-on learning about Spanish culture. They used colorful crepe paper to cover piñatas made to represent familiar shapes and characters.

The fourth and fifth graders also got hands-on piñata fun! To end the day on Thursday, each student took a turn hitting the piñata in an attempt to get it to break and spill its treasures–snacks, beaded necklaces, and more–onto the turf.

While each student gave it a valiant effort–even breaking off the top completely– in the end, Mr. Crabtree had to step in to really break the piñata open!


Ending the Year with Roller Coasters

It has certainly been a roller coaster of a year, so it only makes sense that the eighth grader’s final physics project would be to build roller coasters of their own.

Students were tasked with designing and creating a roller coaster for a marble that: utilized the forces learned about in class, had enough momentum to fulfill a loop, and had a slow down stop. The groups of students had to use their creativity, math skills, and the scientific method in order to design, evaluate, start over, redesign, and eventually finalize their coasters.

Before getting started, students found inspiration for their designs from informational video clips, where they learned the need for gravitational pull to power the coasters, centripetal force and air resistance to provide thrills, and of course friction to stop safely!

This project has its challenges, including aligning creatively with your design partners, troubleshooting problems with limited time, and getting the proper speed for the coaster to work.

We are extremely impressed the effort and enthusiasm the eighth graders put into this project, and are excited to see them using the skills they’ve learned at Saklan, which will serve them well as they head off to highschool!


A Month of Poetry

Once a week, middle school students were assigned a poetry assignment that they would add to their Google Slide of Poems. Mrs. Cashen usually gave them a poem format that she wanted them to write in; and then two topics with a random fun one like Reese’s pencil, pigs, green Covid testing tent, etc. and then a more of a teacher topic like Spring.

Some of the formats were easy and some were far more challenging as time progressed. One of the most challenging formats was the ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, where lines A rhymed with lines A and so forth. Students were feeling like poetry should just flow out of their pencil or fingers from the first touch, but they were beginning to learn to erase/delete, and go back and revise their work. They were learning to write with a central topic and with meaning whether it be with emotion or a topic. 


Learning Expedition of the Bay

This past Tuesday, 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!


Sea Star Dissection

As part of the 7th grade biology unit on animals, the class looked at different phylum found within a particular kingdom. The students talked with Ms. O about the different characteristics and important adaptations each animal has for survival.

As part of the lesson, students take part in multiple dissections in order to learn and compare the anatomies of common organisms. So far in their study of invertebrates, the class has dissected a squid (part of the mollusk phylum), a worm (the annelid phylum) and, this week, a sea start (a member of the echinoderm phylum).

Each organism has a different circulatory system, number of hearts, different sequence of body parts, and some have no brain at all! These dissections are a hands-on way students have been able to see the diversity of all life!


Seventh Grade Takes a Turn at Challenge Sonoma

This week, the sixth grade class hit the road for a field experience at Challenge Sonoma! Next week, it’s the seventh grade classes’s turn!

Like the sixth graders did, the seventh grade class will spend the day participating in a ropes course challenge and other activities that will require them to communicate and work together in order to be successful.

Opportunities for field experiences off-campus have been rare this year, which is why we are so excited by the success of the sixth grade trip, and can’t wait to offer the same fun day to the seventh graders.

If you have any questions, please email Vickie Obenchain at vobenchain@saklan.org  or Kim Parks at kparks@saklan.org.


Sixth Grade Studies Climate Change

Over the past few weeks, the sixth graders have been learning about climate change during science class. They’ve gained an understanding of how climate change can impact human health, coast lines, and society, as well as ecosystems and species that cannot adapt quickly enough.

To continue their learning, the students wanted to help a species in need. Students researched several species, including the Adelie Penguin, Arctic Fox, Beluga, Red Panda, and Monarch Butterfly. They found out where each species is located, why they are important to their ecosystem, and what threats there are to the species.

In order to raise money to help these species, students are going to hold an election, and the entire Saklan community is invited to participate. Starting on Monday, you will see decorated buckets on the tables near the office, and you can lend your spare change to vote for the species you want to help the most.

Each cent you contribute will count as one vote. One penny will count as one vote, a quarter will count as 25 votes, a dollar will count for 100 votes, and so on. All of the money raised will go to the World Wildlife Fund, which is working to help these species.

We will symbolically “adopt” the species that gets the most votes, and will announce the winner to the Saklan community.

Thank you for your help!


Upcoming Field Experience

On Thursday, April 15, the sixth grade class hit the road for a field experience at Challenge Sonoma! They’ll spend the day participating in a ropes course and other team-building activities, designed to build self-confidence, improve teamwork skills, and get students outside for a day in the Sonoma Redwoods.

We are asking students to return a filled out and signed student release form by Wednesday, April 14.

If you have any questions, please email Grace Chaffey at gchaffey@saklan.org or Kim Parks at kparks@saklan.org.

We are so excited for this opportunity to take students off campus and give them a day to remember!