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Lower School Blog


Week of Dec. 12, Vol. 21, Issue 15,


Dear Parents:


Thanks so much to all of you who have so generously contributed to our season of giving during this holiday season.  Record-setting bake, lemonade and hot chocolate/Starbucks coffee sales resulted in the purchase of almost 300 new toys for boys and girls at Rady Children's hospital.  Toys you are sending in are now overflowing in boxes set out to receive them. New and gently-used books you have contributed will make their way to boys and girls at Kit Carson Elementary who will cherish these gifts.  And, your participation in our own book fair not only puts exciting books and related materials in the hands of your children, but it also supports the purchase of new books for our library.

On behalf of the faculty, staff and students, we are most grateful for your support, and all of us wish you a most wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year!


Bob Gillingham

Season of Giving


• The toy drive continues this week through Thursday, and the boxes by the office are now overflowing with your many generous donations as well as the hundreds of toys purchased by our student council last Friday.  Thank you for helping us to put smiles on so many faces this holiday season.

• Join us this coming Friday for our annual Sing-Along at 1:45 p.m. in the Lower School courtyard. This has become a great way to celebrate the season and our community, so we hope you can join us.

• A special thanks to our students, art teacher and stealth elf, Allison Walsh, for brigtening up virtually the entire school with their original stars.  Truly, "You are a star... change the world wherever you are!"

• The book faire and book drive were very successful, and we thank you for your unwavering support of these initiatives.  Boys and girls in our school and elsewhere will thrive with the gift of reading, thanks to you.  Many thanks to book fair angels: Laurie Brae, Caroline Coats and Elizabeth Carey and their many volunteer helpers.

 Cub Scout News


Last Friday, the Lower School's Wolf Cubs took placemats they'd made to The Cloisters of Mission Hills Senior Residential Home.  The kids shared their artistic creations with the home's residents in addition to home-made cookies, muffins, and home-made cards they'd made.

Football Clinic


Parker will host a free football clinic sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on Tuesday, December 27 from 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm.  This will be done in conjunction with their support of the Holiday Bowl. Target ages for this clinic are boys and girls from 8-14.  For more information,
contact bschroeder@fca.org   619-905-1800   www.sandiegoFCA.org

Message from the Parents' Association


There is a lot coming up for Parents so click here to get all the news!

San Diego Symphony's Family Festival


Sunday, December 18, 2pm
Matthew Garbutt, conductor
San Diego Master Chorale; San Diego Children’s Choir
San Diego’s favorite family holiday music tradition returns!

Sing along to popular holiday carols and more for a musical, magical time! Perfect for ages 4-12.
Meet a Musician, Musical Petting Zoo and Young Musicians’ Corner (featuring the choir from Francis Parker Lower School).  Mr. & Mrs. Claus will be there, too!
Adult Tickets: $15 / Child Tickets: $10

Lower School Menu December 12-16, 2011


Mon.                Teriyaki Chicken
                        Jasmine Rice
                        Vegetable Medley
                        Pb & j, Tuna Salad Sandwich
                        Garden Salad
                        Egg Drop Soup
                        Fresh Fruit & Yogurt
                        Apple Cider

Tues.                Spaghetti W/Meat Sauce Or Marinara
                        Gluten-Free Pasta
                        Garlic Bread
                        Pb & j
                        Garden Salad & Caesar Salad
                        Creamy White Bean Soup
                        Fresh Fruit & Yogurt
                        Apple Cider
Wed.                Grilled Cheese
                        Tater Tots
                        Pb & j, Roast Beef Sandwich
                        Garden Salad
                        Cream Of Tomato Soup
                        Fresh Fruit & Yogurt
                        Apple Cider
 Thurs.              Oven Roasted Turkey Pita
                        Green Beans
                        Pb & j, Egg Salad Pita
                        Garden Salad
                        Carrot Soup
                        Fresh Fruit & Yogurt
                        Apple Cider
 Fri.                   Bean & Cheese Burritos
                        Spanish Rice
                        Pb & j, Roast Beef Torta
                        Garden Salad
                        Chicken Lime Soup
                        Fresh Fruit & Yogurt
                        Apple Cider

S'mores and More (Creating Advantage in College)

What summer camp can teach us
(Thanks to Marilyn Tobin for forwarding this great blog which speaks to creating independence and responsibility in children and young adults.)
Summer camp gives children meaningful advantages in college.

When I started my career as a camp director in 1993, my mother (the "Silver Fox") shared the following thought with me: "Summer camp is like college, but just a little bit early".

Being a strong believer in my mother's wisdom, I found myself thinking about this statement fairly often. Summer camp had been a huge part of my personal development as a young man, and had even found its way into my college and graduate school applications. Yet the idea that "camp was like college" did not seem to make sense to me at the time.

Over the past 16 years, I have found that this idea is actually a profound one.

Three years ago, we were talking with a friend whose daughter was in her first year at college. Both mother and daughter had struggled mightily with the separation. "During the first semester, we would talk everyday, sometimes 5 or 6 times. She was so sad and uncomfortable away from home. It really affected her grades and social life. She is better in her second semester, and she only calls once or twice a day. I still worry about her though."

This conversation reminded me of a speech I heard by Dr Wendy Mogel a few years ago. Dr Mogel is a nationally-known clinical psychologist and educator who wrote the best-seller parenting book "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee". She shared a story about a good friend of hers whose daughter was a freshman at college at Sarah Lawrence.

Unlike my friend, this woman's daughter thrived in her first semester in college. She earned exceptional marks (making the Dean's List) and she became president of the freshman class. During Parents weekend, her mother met the mother of a senior who was president of the entire student body and was weighing various job offers. The two mothers were sharing stories about their daughter's college experience when the mother of the senior shared an unexpected thought:

"I bet your daughter went to overnight summer camp."

"She did, but what makes you say that?"

"I am not surprised. I have noticed that my daughter's friends who had strong freshman years all went to overnight camp at some point. The ones that really struggled did not."

The contrast of these two freshman experiences (our friends and Wendy's) compelled me to think about why this might be true. Here is what I came up with.

Going to college presents many challenges, three of which jump out at me:

  1. Increased academic rigor (college work is simply harder than high school work)
  2. Being away from home and your traditional support system (family, friends, familiar places)
  3. Dealing with large amounts of uncertainty (what will classes require, how will I fit in socially, can I deal with this new roommate)

Of course, overnight camp does little to deal with the first challenge of academic rigor, but it helps substantially with both of the other challenges.

Camp helps students adjust to being away-from-home by giving them practice being away-from-home. Campers coming to camp (often as young as Kindergarten or 1st grade) get to experience being separated from home successfully. Certainly, most campers have some homesickness, but the supportive camp community and the fun activities help ease them through this initial challenge. Homesickness is natural. Children will miss their parents.

Further, we live in a society that sometimes suggests to children that they are only safe within eyeshot of their parents. Yet, we parents want our children to grow in confidence and independence so that they can live productive, fulfilling and joyous lives. Camp enables children to experience successful independence. Like college, they are away-from-home. Unlike college, they are in a community committed to their physical and emotional safety.

Camp also helps campers deal with uncertainty. The first week of camp is full of uncertainty: Who are these counselors? What are these traditions? Where do I go? Who will be my friends? Will I be successful? Just like college, there is schedule-related uncertainty (where to go and when) and social uncertainty (who, among this group of relative strangers, will be my friend).

The camper gets to experience overcoming this uncertainty. I like to think of it as strengthening the "resilience muscle." Having done so, the next experience of uncertainty is easier to handle. The camper who comes to camp for several years gets multiple opportunities to strengthen his or her resilience muscle. By the time they go to college, they are much more confident and resilient.

So the former summer camper arriving at college as a Freshman can focus his or her energy on the challenges of academic rigor, but not worry about being away from home and the uncertainty of a new environment. Other students face all three challenges. Seen this way, it is not hard to understand how camp can help later with college.

Last summer, a long-time camp mom shared her thoughts about her oldest son going out-of-state to college. I asked her how she felt. "I'm going to miss him."

"Are you worried about his first semester?"

"No way. He has already gone to camp for 9 years, so I know he will be fine. He is so excited to face this challenge. Camp has also helped me - I have had practice being separated from him. He is going to shine at school!"

Later that evening, my wife and I agreed on three things: First, this was one of the nicest endorsements of camp we had heard. Second, we are so happy to think that the campers who have become such an important part of our lives will have an advantage in college. Finally, the "Silver Fox," once again, was right.

Posted by on Friday December, 9, 2011 at 12:02PM


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As Head of the Lower School and member of the Parker administrative team, Dr. Gillingham is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Mission Hills campus. In addition to overseeing curriculum and instruction, Bob also works closely with the school's Parents' Association in coordinating parent volunteers and campus activities. He also... Read more.

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