“You just can’t fathom it.” Truer words were never spoken. Having your children back on campus, even for short visits, has been pure joy. I know, as parents, you understand the value of these visits to your child, but you have no idea how energizing it is to us. They are the lifeblood of the school. They are the reason we show up every morning. They give us purpose.
When we received word from Governor Newsom in July that we would not be able to do in-person learning, it was a severe disappointment. Not just because all the work we had done to have students back on campus felt wasted, but also because we knew that they needed to be here for their emotional health. They needed to be connected to each other and to us. When we received permission from the county to bring kids on campus in small groups for short periods, it felt like a blessing.
Connection is one of our core values at Saklan; it is in our DNA. And it has never been so important as now. These are anxious times for students. Each of you has a story to share about how the pandemic has impacted your child and your family. You are not alone. In a survey done by YouthTruth this summer, 50% of students reported feelings of depression, anxiety, or stress. These Saklan Connect visits – as brief as they are – are vital to the health of our students.
There is an old notion in schools that they are mostly about academics. Even at Saklan, we (or at least I) have framed the importance of connection to students as something that can often be in service to higher academic achievement. A student will never achieve their full academic potential unless they are connected with others and are thriving socially emotionally. And while it is true that connection and emotional stability are a prerequisite to strong academics, I am convinced now that they are an end unto themselves.
When we have your child here for a Saklan Connect visit, it is because this is what they need right now (and maybe what we need too). We know having them “connect” will help them in their academic endeavors, but that is not why they are invited to join us. They are here because it is what we all need – full stop.
Ms. Jessica’s Hoot Owls & Owlets have had a fantastic first week of school! They spent this week exploring our new outdoor learning spaces and getting to know some new friends, as well as reuniting with old ones. They began talking about our neighborhoods and the important people who work in our communities. They looked at and drew maps of our own neighborhoods.
During their conversation about Moraga, one student told a story about a skunk they once saw. Turns out the class had a lot to say about skunks and even more questions to ask! They delved deeper and learned some facts about skunks. They even danced like skunks do when they are about to spray! It was an unexpected but fun way to discover more about some of the nature around us. Our students and teachers have been so thrilled to be back on campus learning from each other!
The Hoot Owls read the book, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, about a little raccoon’s transition to school. His mother teaches him the secret of the kissing hand. The Hoot Owls made their own kissing hands to give to their families, so they aren’t missed so much while they are at school.
The Hoot Owls also enjoyed playing in their outdoor classroom and meeting Mr. Crabtree and Maestra Ester.
According to the interweb, the “Cha-Cha Slide” was developed as a fitness routine in the Chicago area in 1996. David Wilson was looking for a new routine for his aerobics class. He went to his uncle Willie Perry Jr., better known as DJ Casper, or Mr. C The Slide Man. The rest is history.
The “Cha-Cha Slide” is part of a collection of line dances known as slides, including “The Electric Slide” and “The Cupid Shuffle.” Last spring when the school went home for quarantine we were presented with a challenge. How do you participate in physical education at a distance? All the students were shown the moves and it became part of the online learning routine. Mr. Crabtree’s hope was for all of us to come together physically in the future and dance. He was delighted to see everyone dancing during the middle school campus visit!
“Thanks for teaching me so much about fabrics. I had fun!” – Willow K.
Over the Summer, Ms. Natalie held an online fabric fun class with 2nd – 8th grade. Students learned about Textile (Fabric) Art and processes from around the world, while making each of theirs an original work of art.
Skyler B. (3rd) is filling her soft sculpture with fiberfill and was inspired by Pablo Picasso’s paintings to create her design using fabric markers on muslin.
Willow K. (3rd) holds up her one of a kind bandana which was naturally dyed with Turmeric, over a shibori resist technique, and block printed using vegetables.
Skyler shows the printing process in which they used vegetables and fabric paint to create their designs. Each student gained a new perspective on the Art of Textiles and the parents enjoyed it too!
The 8th graders culminating physics project was to design and create a roller coaster for a marble that utilized the forces we learned about in class, had enough momentum to fulfill a loop, and had a slow down stop. Each 8th grader used their creativity, math skills and the scientific method to design, redesign, start over, and eventually create their coasters.
Students also got inspiration for their coasters by watching a few 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!
We are extremely impressed with their efforts in this project – especially having to create these at home, and present and work virtually this year throughout this project. They are a great class, and we are glad to see they are ready for high school!
The Hoot Owls learned about two different artists. First, they explored concentric circles and the abstract artwork of Wassily Kandinsky. Hoot Owls were asked to talk about how the colors they chose for their artwork made them feel.
Next, Hoot Owls listened to a book about Henri Mattisse called Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter. They learned about his later life and how much he loved making art with paper. Hoot Owls created their own artwork from colorful paper cut outs. The Hoot Owls also learned about artists, Frida Kahlo and Alma Woodsey Thomas this year.
Together even while apart, the Hoot Owls and Owlets have been participating in weekly home scavenger hunts with Ms. Jessica. Some of the things our ECE students have been tasked to find: their school backpack, something that begins with the first letter of their name, a photograph, something with wheels, a favorite book, something silly they can wear, and (an all-around favorite) someone they love.
The Hoot Owls and Owlets have been so creative with some of the trickier prompts! They got a chance to tell their friends a little bit about each item they found. It’s been a blast getting to know each other better this way, while also including siblings and other family members in the fun.
The Saklan faculty and staff expressed their gratitude for the surprises, gifts and treats during Teacher Appreciation Week. Thank you for making the entire faculty and staff feel special. We are so lucky to be part of and supported by such a wonderful community. Click here to watch the video.
Towards the end of April, we asked parents to participate in a survey created by Independent School Management aimed at measuring our successes and challenges with distance learning. Independent School Management is a consulting firm that advises schools across the world. While we did do well on the survey (scoring above most other independent schools), there were two big takeaways from the results.
The first is the difference in how much more challenging lower school students (especially the younger grades) find distance learning. While this is not surprising, looking across the spectrum of all other independent schools, this was a common trend. The second finding was just how important it is to attend to children’s social-emotional needs at this time. While we were not shocked to see this as an issue – we were surprised to see just how important staying connected to others is to kids during this time. If you are interested in seeing the detail, please click here.