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Lower School Blog


June 4, Vol. 21, Issue 36

Dear Parents:


Music has been a part of the Francis Parker experience since the earliest days, but several years ago, we made the decision to expand beyond our offerings of choral music and rudimentary instruments at the elementary level.  Students in grades JK-2 continued in chorus, but those in 3rd grade surveyed band, chorus and violin before choosing one musical discipline for their 4th and 5th-grade years. 

Since that time, there have been many positive outcomes including students' ability to read music, the increasing depth and complexity of compositions students are able to perform, and a virtual boom in the music program on the Middle and Upper school campuses.

However, in my opinion, the most satisfying development has been the seriousness and devotion students have demonstrated as they've become more competent as individual musicians and more collaborative as members of a group whose production gives them pride.  Tangentially, I've seen the same kind of discipline permeate Lower School daily life with fewer behavior problems, more attention to tasks to be accomplished and delightfully, children remaining children longer.

Surely that's too much to attribute solely to the music program, but last week as I watched our students accompany Buster Keaton's Silent Movie, I couldn't help but notice their focus, their proficiency and their joy in performing so well.  Clearly, the value of music in positively shaping our students' lives is undeniable.

Join us next week at the Summer Program to see just what I mean.


Bob Gillingham

Transit of Venus


Phil Dykstra, a Lower School parent of 2 boys, Jason and Andrew, has made available an amazing opportunity.  Tuesday, June 5, will mark a rare "Transit of Venus" crossing where the planet passes between the Earth and the Sun.  Venus will appear as a red dot traversing the Sun's surface.  Phil plans to bring in special equipment on Tuesday, and we may even be able to stream NASA's coverage in the Szekely Auditorium for anyone who can remain after school (estimated time: 3:06 p.m.). Viewing will be available until 4pm. 

Phil writes:" A big reason to celebrate the event is because of the part it has played in history over the past several centuries. Captain James Cook's voyage on the Endeavor was to observe
the event in 1769.  Ben Franklin (as a member of the British Royal Society) encourage Mason and Dixon to make a similar voyage.  In the 1860's, Congress sent the US Naval observatory on an expedition to Hawaii to observe the event.  Etc.  A recent book I've enjoyed covering the 1760's expeditions is "The Day the World Discovered the Sun."  One web site with additional
info: http://transitofvenus.org/."

If any families have telescopes with solar filters and would like to participate in the event, please contact Phil Dykstra, phil@sd.wareonearth.com, 619-279-3064.

Summer Concert


The last concert of the year will take place this Friday at 1:30 p.m.  Special seating will be available for parents of fifth graders who will be dancing around the Maypole (girls) and offering a special surprise performance (boys)... in their last appearance at the Lower School.

And now for a special 21st century request… If you're bringing an ipad to the concert with the intent of recording the program, please arrange yourself such that you're not blocking those behind you.  Thank you.

Visual Arts Exhibition


The Visual Arts Department takes great pleasure in hosting the Faculty & Staff 2012 Art Exhibition in the James Alan Rose Gallery on Saturday, June 9th from 10am to 3pm.  This will be our last gallery show of the school year, and coincides with the Parker Alumni Reunion taking place on campus that day.  We are excited to have the gallery open for viewing, and hope to see you there.

All American Sports Camp


The All American Sports Camp would like to extend an invitation to Parker students to join their camp. They are still accepting registrations with the added bonus of a 40% off discount for Parker students.

If you would like more information, feel free to let me know or you can check out the camp info at www.allamericansportscamps.com.


Promotion is just around the corner (June 15, 3 p.m.), and you'll surely want a copy of the official Promotion portrait.

Click here  to download the 5th and 8th-grade portrait order forms.  Please note that our 5th-grade students need to arrive at the Lower School no later than 2:30 p.m. on June 15 so the portrait can be taken.  Promotion begins at 3:00 p.m.

Thoughts to Ponder


The Importance of Music Education

by Patricia Guth

For decades, music was an important part of the school day for each and every child in America. Nearly every classroom in the nation’s elementary schools had a piano and most teachers were able to play simple songs so that the students could sing along to their favorites. Learning patriotic songs, like the National Anthem, was a must and religious songs were sometimes included in the repertoire, even in public schools. Students looked forward to performing in concerts and showing off their talents.  

Today, the trend towards cutting funds for music programs is an alarming one. While athletics are rarely touched, music is often the first to go. Elementary students no longer have the opportunity to learn an instrument or sing in a chorus. Because of that, programs in middle and high schools are affected and soon eliminated as well. 
What a shame! More and more scientific studies have touted the advantages of a music education and the reasons for saving these programs, yet unless parents make a fuss about cutbacks, little is done to spare them. 

Music and Its Affect on Children 

Children who are fortunate enough to be exposed to weekly music lessons, choir rehearsals, creative movement, or general music classes reap many benefits.  We all love watching little children dance around the room with little or no inhibition, singing along with their favorite songs in a voice that’s clear and strong, though maybe a little out of tune. Music is an obvious outlet for self-expression and creativity. 
But far beyond providing an opportunity to sing and dance, researchers have shown that a strong musical education provides so much more. Music, for example, develops self-discipline. The child who allots time for practicing each day is known to develop similar habits in conjunction with other subjects as well. Organizational skills increase and the child learns what it takes to be “good” at something. 

Ensemble experience also builds teamwork. Band members or choristers learn the importance of being a reliable member of a group and are educated as to the importance of being a team player and not necessarily always “the star.” Participation in music ensembles also promotes responsibility. For example, if you’re the only tenor in the middle school chorus, you need to be sure that you show up for rehearsals! 

Scientists have also discovered that learning to read music or play a musical instrument develops higher thinking skills. The child who is skilled at music excels at problem-solving, evaluation, and analysis. Music reading uses the same portion of the brain that’s used in mathematical thinking. That’s why so many adept musicians are also quite good in math. 
For those who don’t excel academically, however, music can serve to build self-esteem. For some children, music is their one chance to shine in the middle of a day that’s filled with academic subjects that fry their brain. Singing the solo at the annual holiday concert may provide one particular child with the only kudos they receive all year long. That’s why school music programs are so important. 

Studies also show that “music kids” are less likely to become involved with inappropriate habits, like drinking or drug use. A child that spends his after school time in the band room with others who enjoy similar interests rarely gets entangled in destructive habits. 

Lower School Menu June 4-8, 2012


Mon.                Whole Wheat Spaghetti W/Meat Sauce Or Marinara

                        Gluten-Free Pasta
                        Pb & j
                        Garden Salad
                        Caesar Salad
                        Fresh Fruit & Yogurt               
Tues.                Oven Roasted Turkey
                        Pb & j, Bagel W/Cream Cheese
                        Garden Salad
                        Fresh Fruit & Yogurt
Wed.                Macaroni & Cheese
                        Pb & j, Sausage Muffin
                        Garden Salad
                        Fresh Fruit & Yogurt
Thurs.              Chicken Or Garden Sandwich
                        Tater Tots
                        Pb & j
                        Garden Salad
                        Fresh Fruit & Yogurt
Fri.                   Fish Tacos
                        Brown Rice
                        Pb & j, Roast Beef Sandwich
                        Garden Salad


Posted by on Friday June, 1, 2012 at 03:27PM


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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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San Diego, CA 92103
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