Head’s Corner

Why Do We Have a GPSF Day?

Many of you know that I am the father of a 14-month-old toddler who goes by the name Finn. She came to my wife and me by what we like to call a “spontaneous pregnancy.” Children were never part of our life plan and we had absolutely no clue what an impact a child would have on us (emotionally, physically and financially). Furthermore, we had no idea of the support one needs when raising a little human.


I bring this up not because I like to talk about Finn (although I do), but because I never understood the importance of a support network when it comes to raising a family.  I have come to learn that extended families serve at least two crucial roles in my family’s well being. The first of course is the emotional and hands-on support they give. The second, and just as important, is as a role model. I have lost count of the number of times I have thought about how my siblings or parents did their child rearing to help guide me in my efforts .

I bring this up because having a child has made me see Grandparents and Special Friends Day in a new light.  As educators, we spend over seven hours a day with your sons and daughters. We work to partner with you and keep you up-to-date and support you in this complicated world of child raising. But sometimes we are unfamiliar with a key component of the equation – the grandparent or special friend. I have always enjoyed Grandparents and Special Friends Day because our visitors are such neat people, and they are always interested in what is going on at school. But, to be honest, I had not really viewed them as a critical cog in the work of creating a good person.

Hence the importance of Grandparents and Special Friends Day. They are an integral part of your child’s journey (and sometimes the key to your sanity). On the 29th of this month, we look forward to connecting, sharing and honoring those “others” who are so essential to your child’s life. #SaklanConnected

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.


Hoot Owls Grow Crystals


The Hoot Owls tried out a science experiment where they grew crystals on pipe cleaners with laundry detergent. They measured the detergent, just like “real scientists,” into plastic mason jars. Then, they twisted and bent pipe cleaners into interesting shapes that they taped to the inside of the lids. They watched as a grown up carefully added hot water to detergent and mixed it together. The Hoot Owls began creating hypotheses right away when the solution in one of the jars turned pink! They continued to hypothesize as the days went by.


They observed some pipe cleaners grew small crystals while others grew little to none. All the pipe cleaners were supposed to grow crystals…. so they might try this experiment again following a different recipe. Another teachable moment: Sometimes experiments go according to plan and sometimes they don’t, but scientists have to try and try again! #SaklanHandsOn

Third Annual Hula Hoop Contest

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Saklan’s Third Annual Hula Hoop Contest concluded last Friday. We started with twenty participants and after two contests the finalists finished off with a double hula hoop finale. Nine competitors used two hoops.


After about ten minutes there were two people left: Chloe in fifth grade and Jack D. in second grade. The tiebreaker used three hula hoops!


In the end, Chloe was the two hoop champion, Jack was the single hoop champion, and Lilia (third grade) was the no hoop champion. Good job to all those who participated! The contest was a fun way to spend time outside during recess. #SaklanWellRounded

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

Garden Makeover Project

Three weeks ago, the first and second-graders adopted the garden adjacent to their classroom for a Garden Makeover Project. The “makeover” is 100% student-led and started with a hands-on exploration and assessment of the space with a few initial sketches. In session two, students then brainstormed using what they knew about gardening and what more they needed to learn. Once they had their ideas and questions, they invited our own gardening guest expert, Javier in to share his knowledge and refine their plans. In their third session, students ventured out on a field study to the Moraga Garden Center to get more advice from a local expert and refine their plans.

We look forward to seeing what students will produce as they apply what they have learned in science, social studies, math, and literacy to their Garden Makeover Project. Just as importantly, they will be flexing those mental muscles such as presentation skills, working as a team, assessment, reflection, and collaboration. We are expecting lots of fun, lots of mistakes, lots of discovery, lots of learning, and a great garden. #Saklanexperiential

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

Kindergarten Celebrates Day 100

In Kindergarten, Day 100 was the best! First thing, the children had to hunt for 100 candy kisses. Each kiss was numbered, and after they found them the kisses had to be put on our 100 chart. Next, the children had to count 10 of 10 different foods giving them 100 food items to eat for snack.

Finally, the children visited 3 stations completing fun activities. The children had to draw a picture of them self as they would look at 100 years old, build a building with 100 cups, and make a structure using 100 toothpicks and 100 marshmallows. Day 100 is always so fun!

The Great Migration

The Middle School is learning about Jacob Lawrence’s The Great Migration series. Students researched and chose a painting from his 60 panels of work.
The series depicts African Americans from the rural South who migrated to cities in the North due to the lack of social and economic opportunities in the South. The students did a rough sketch of the painting and are finishing the project using a torn paper collage method. #Saklancreative

4th Grade Measures Grams of Sugar in Cereal

The 4th graders each brought in cereal boxes and made predictions on how many grams of sugar per serving each box contained. They got to measure on a scale the amount of grams per serving and put that amount of sugar in a Ziploc.

Students were surprised to know that there are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon(!) and many of their cereals had several teaspoons of sugar per serving. Students realized that they actually ate more than one serving size recommended by the manufacturer, and so were eating many grams of sugar. They also used their cereal boxes to identify persuasive techniques advertisers used to get people to purchase their cereal. #Saklanhandson