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Lower School Blog

Aprll 18, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue #32


Dear Lower School Parents:


It did seem this year that it took our Spring Break a long time to arrive, but the surprising news is that there are only 38 days left in the 2015-16 school year.  Brace yourselves... the pace will be fast and furious, but also packed with a lot of fun and fulfillment...

For example... This coming Friday, in keeping a promise made by our first-term student council for massive amounts of win tickets collected during our Halloween Carnival , a teamball game will be held during each morning p.e. rotation. Parents and staff are encouraged to join the fun during students' regular p.e. times, and to sweeten the deal, the day will be a dress-down day with a bbq.

Welcome back!


Bob Gillingham


Black & White Ball Auction Preview

Click here for a preview of  all the amazing silent, premium and live auction items up for bid at the Black & White Ball. Bidding opens up for silent and premium items on April 24 and concludes during the Black & White Ball on May 7You can bid on and win items even if you are not attending the Ball. For  those of you not attending the Black & White Ball, you will be able to register to bid remotely on April 24 when the silent and premium auctions go live. For those of you attending the Ball, watch for an email later this week with your bid number so you can also begin bidding on April 24.  


Late Start Day


This coming Wednesday, April 20, is a late start day.  Students are welcome to be on campus as early as 7 a.m., but they may also choose to arrive as late as 8:55 a.m.  Buses will run on their normal schedule.


Town Hall Meeting


This coming Thursday, April 21, Kevin Yaley will host a Town Hall Meeting in the Considine Library from 8:30-9:30 a.m., and everyone is welcome to attend.


This Friday (Earth Day)


Just back from break, we're looking forward to a bbq and dress-down day this coming Friday.  It also happens to be Earth Day, and the student council is challenging everyone not only to save as much water as possible, but to generate as many ideas for doing that as possible.  How many can you and your children think of?

Parker Blood Drive


Whose life will you save today? Will it be your co-worker? Someone's sister, wife or child? You never know who you will save. Please donate at our blood drive.

Francis Parker School

Upper School Commons

6501 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA, 92111

Wednesday Apr 27, 2016
8:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Sponsor Code: FPS
Click here to make an appointment

All donors must show picture identification.

Appointments honored first. Walk-ins are welcome.

Thank you!

Program DVDs

Attention Parker Parents---4th grade parents can order a DVD of the 4th grade play “Oh California” and SK parents can order a DVD of the all of the “SK Open House” activities and performances.  Please place your order as soon as possible by visitingwww.FrancisParkerDVD.com 
Also, it’s not too late to order your DVD of the fabulous 5th Grade Environmental Plays as well.


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of April 18


Posted by ls-newsletter on Sunday April 17 at 11:15AM
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April 4, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue # 31


Dear Lower School Parents:


Many thanks to the army of parents (and our very own staff) who helped to make Language and Culture Week such a success.  Under the skillful guidance of Lower School VPs Noelle Ludwig and Julie Turner, and especially L&C chairs Romina Kelly and Camille Dunbar, we all enjoyed fabulous presentations from so many parents, grandparents and friends; joyous opening and closing ceremonies featuring countries and cultures from around the world; musical performances in multiple languages; a great fashion show; and an unbelievably bounteous array of food from so many different countries. Most importantly, there was a great feeling of family as so many people came together in mutual appreciation.

Also, as if to test both our family mettle and appreciation of water, the city let us know that our water would be turned off last Tuesday. We prepared, we communicated, we problem-solved and ultimately, the water was never turned off.  Nevertheless, we learned some important lessons about our community, its positive resilience, and its amazing ability to eat pizza... 1,500 slices in 90 minutes! 

The week proved another reason that I and so many others are grateful to be members of the Parker Community, where all of us can learn and grow.


Bob Gillingham


SK and 5th-Grade DVDs

Attention Parker Parents--- don’t forget to order your DVD of the fabulous 5th Grade Environmental Plays and SK parents can now order a DVD of the all of the SK Open House activities and performances.  Please place your order as soon as possible by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com
Thank you very much!

Fourth-Grade Play

The fourth-grade play, "Oh, California," will be performed in the Szekely Auditorium this coming Friday morning for students and Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for parents.

What You Miss After Your Child Learns to Read

Long-awaited milestone may subtly shift family dynamics, bedtime rituals; no more spelling ‘ice cream’

Annalee Svoboda, 7, cracked the code around Thanksgiving. Before then, she would sit on the couch next to her mom, struggling to sound out every T, H and E of the word “the.” Her mother, Andrea, described the process as “painful.”

Then one day, it clicked. Annalee read on her own. She started bringing home from school small chapter books, with characters and stories. At bedtime, she said good night and settled under the covers on her own with her favorite “Elephant and Piggie” series book.

“Part of me likes their independence. We can say ‘OK, it’s time for bed. If you can’t sleep, read for a half-hour,’ ” says Ms. Svoboda, of both Annalee and her older brother Adam, 9. “Part of me misses the snuggling up and being able to cuddle and read.”

The day a child learns to read independently is among the most anticipated and important childhood milestones. Parents who have been reading aloud to a child since birth, and sometimes before, have been eagerly waiting to see him or her develop the confidence and understanding to read on their own. When that moment finally arrives, however, many parents are caught off guard, and feel a little melancholic. Rituals change as their children’s horizons broaden.

Most children can read independently, if slowly, by the end of first grade. Once they do, many parents quit reading to them. Nearly one in four parents of children ages 6 to 17 stopped reading out loud to their children before they were 9, saying their child was old enough to do so independently, according to Scholastic Corp.’s Kids & Family Reading Report, released in 2015.

The survey, of 2,558 parents and children, found many children wished the parents hadn’t stopped. Eight in 10 children ages 6 to 17 said they loved or liked being read aloud to because it is a special time together with their parents. Among children ages 6 to 11, 40% wished their parents would continue.

“There is nothing a child of any age wants more than a parent’s total attention,” says Mary Brigid Barrett, founder and president of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance in Wayland, Mass. She read to her three grown children until they were teens, sharing the adventures of Harry Potter.

Once children can read, they begin picking books that interest them on their own. Sergio Ruzzier, an author and illustrator of young children’s books, struggled to read as a child and preferred comic strips and picture books. He remembers being embarrassed when a bookstore salesman told him and his mother that Sergio, then about 6, was too old for a picture book he requested. His mother, he recalls gratefully, bought the book. “There are so many reasons why a child might like a book,” he says.

The Svobodas, Andrea and Nathan, have fond memories of their parents reading to them as children. Ms. Svoboda recalls books from her childhood, such as the “Grandma’s Attic” series, about a grandmother who has many treasures in her attic, each with a story. “I remember sitting for hours and listening to my mom read those books,” she says. Mr. Svoboda, home-schooled by his mother, remembers her reading the entire “Little House on the Prairie” series out loud.

They began reading early to all of their children, starting with Adam. Ms. Svoboda went to garage sales, bought books by the boxful and loaded up the bookshelf in their basement. They covered Adam’s walls with murals from “Fidgety Fish” and “The Little Engine That Could,” his two favorite books, and savored the special one-on-one time, book in lap, son at side, together turning pages filled with whimsical images and words.

She took him to the library frequently. “With the first, you go to the library all the time. You’re desperate to get out of the house. It’s free and there are other mothers there with cranky children,” she says. She did that less with Annalee and even less with her youngest, Reesa.

When it came time for Adam to learn to read, he preferred sitting with his mom and taking turns–she read a page and then he did. At the beginning of second grade, when he realized he could read 90% of “Diary of A Wimpy Kid” on his own without stopping to ask what certain words meant, he took off, reading all types of books.

One of his favorites, “The World Encyclopedia of Locomotives,” inspired a book of his own, consisting of 21 loose-leaf pages with pencil drawings of trains and locomotives. “I’ve been working on it since the beginning of school,” he says.

His dad smiles. As a boy, he recalls, he would stretch out in his top bunk, a small night light on his bed, and read the “Hardy Boys” series, along with a collection of 30 nonfiction paperbacks on obscure subjects like Rasputin. “I remember reading a lot as a kid, and I’m excited that he enjoys it,” he says.

Wanting to be like her brother, Annalee picked books that were above her reading level, says her mom, which was frustrating for everyone. “When I had to learn to read the words, it seemed really hard, but it ended up being easier and got funner,” Annalee says. She loves Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie characters and her “Big Picture Story Bible.” Annalee knows the stories, but never tires of it. “I go back to read it again because I can’t keep all those words in my head,” she says.

Her new skill makes her feel big. “Say I want to read this book,” she says, picking up “I Love My New Toy” from the dining room table. “I can do it. I’m not a little kid.” If friends have trouble reading the instructions in math, she says she can help them.

Life for their parents has changed, too, in unexpected ways. They find themselves spelling “ice cream” and “movies” faster, hoping Annalee can’t keep up and figure out the surprise. Driving along highways, Ms. Svoboda cringes at billboards with ads for adult bookstores. Mr. Svoboda no longer has to read prompts like “Press A to jump” on their videogames.

Annalee can play word bingo without help and read a silly book about belly buttons to her little sister, Reesa, 3, mixing exaggerated tones and whispers to make Reesa laugh.

The Svobodas now let their children pick out their own books, but often read through them, too, and talk to their children when some characters aren’t respectful and are mean to siblings. “As much as I would love to have them snuggle on the couch with me forever, for them to grow and mature, they need to be independent,” Ms. Svoboda says.

Though Adam and Annalee love reading on their own, they turn to their parents for special books and at special times. Their parents, they say, read with more feeling and can make the story come alive. “When I read, I’m just reading silently in my brain. I can’t hear myself use expression,” says Adam.

He disappears and returns with “The Book with No Pictures,” by B.J. Novak, and hands it to his dad. “Daddy, I want you to read this book,” he says. “You have to read every word. Make sure you do the last page. That’s my favorite.”

Mr. Svoboda begins. “Kids know this is a book that makes grown-ups have to say silly things and make silly sounds,” he reads. Annalee, Adam and Reesa lean toward their dad, their gaze fixed on him. Although they have heard it countless times, they burst out laughing when their dad says “Blaggity blaggity” and “Glibbity globbity.”

After especially long days, when it is time to go to bed, Annalee and Adam ask their parents to read out loud. “I just don’t feel like reading but want to have a story read to me,” says Adam. “I kind of like being close. It’s easier to fall asleep.”


Lower School Menu


Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday April 1 at 04:27PM
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March 28, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue #30

Dear Lower School Parents:


We bring the world a little closer this week with a much-beloved Language and Culture celebration.  In support of global citizenry and with raising students' cultural perspectives, appreciation and awareness as goals, we'll enjoy visits from parents who will be sharing their stories, Upper School students who have traveled the globe, delicious food from all corners of the world, clothing representative of many cultures and authentic performances which will delight and inspire.

We encourage you to visit to share your own story, to hear those of others, and to see children relishing this planet's beauty and wonder and gaining greater understanding of the people who inhabit it. For our students, and perhaps for you, this could be another way for all of us to explore  "... as far as the mind can see." 


Bob Gillingham


Language and Culture Week


Language and Culture Week Schedule 


Fifth-Grade and SK DVDs

Attention Parker Parents--- don’t forget to order your DVD of the fabulous 5th Grade Environmental Plays and SK parents can now order a DVD of the all of the SK Open House activities and performances.  Please place your order as soon as possible by visitingwww.FrancisParkerDVD.com
Thank you very much!


Water Issue on Tuesday

We have learned that the City of San Diego will be turning off our water next Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to finish up work they are doing in the area.  Accordingly, the cafeteria can't legally cook any food, so we'll be ordering pizzas that will be served in the cafeteria by the cafeteria staff during the regular lunch rotation times (including some gluten-free pizza).  The pizza will be supplemented with cut vegetables and whole fruit, and water and milk will be stocked and ready. Students may bring their own lunches if they'd prefer, and we're encouraging everyone to bring a water bottle (labeled please!).
Bathrooms will be a bit of a challenge...  but they will be flushed regularly throughout the day with stores of water we'll prepare beforehand.  Hand sanitizer will be located in each bathroom in addition to our many hand-washing stations.

Summer School


The Summer School Early Bird Discount will be ending on Thursday, March 31, so now is the time to sign up for summer session classes.  Follow this link to ensure that you get your first choices for these exciting summer classes.

Lower School Menu

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday March 26 at 01:02PM
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March 21, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue #29

Dear Lower School Parents:


Energized by the success of our fully-integrated design-thinking projects at 3rd, 4th and 5th grade this year (units involving the coordinated work of the classroom teachers as well as our design team composed of teachers from science, art, library, drama, design and tech), the teachers are now redoubling their efforts to hone formative assessment (check-in's on the way to an expected goal) to help students "exceed their own expectations."

In recent professional development sessions, our faculty discussed research that posits that reducing variability in teaching effectiveness among teachers and the setting of ambitious goals are two of the most productive ways to advance students' progress and achievement.

In pursuing a team instructional approach with common, well-understood assessments and crystal-clear expected outcomes, we can best coordinate a program in which students are well-engaged, authentically interested and thriving.


Bob Gillingham


Senior-Kindergarten Open House


This coming Thursday evening, the SK students become their parents' teachers as they lead the way through some exciting exercises highlighting work they've been doing at school.  Always a favorite evening, parents, students and teachers celebrate the great work and progress taking place in the SK year.


Parker Parent Literary and Community Service Opportunities

Sign Up for Parker Parents Association Community Service Day We are thrilled to offer the Parker Parents Community Service Day Tuesday, March 29 from 9 am - 1 pm. Click on this sign-up survey and indicate which service opportunities peak your interest. This is a great opportunity to work together with fellow Parker parents and serve our surrounding community. The day will begin with an overview of Parker's Community Engagement Program, followed by the service experience, and will end with lunch at the Linda Vista campus.

Parker Parent Book Discussion Series: The Great Gatsby

Don't miss your chance to participate in the first Parker Parent Discussion Group. The Great Gatsby is the topic of the first book discussion group led by Chris Harrington, Vassiliadis Family Chair in English. Parents for every divisions are encouraged to come enjoy a Parker English class experience on Tuesday, March 29, 6-8 pm. in Upper School room 220. Interested parents can sign up here or email pa-president@francisparker.org.

Parker Baseball in Petco

Once again, Parker's baseball team has the opportunity to face off against La Jolla Country Day at Petco Park!  The game will be on Thursday, April 14. For those families not traveling during the Spring Break, this will be a fun outing.  For more information, check out this link.

Mission Hills Menu

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday March 19 at 09:31AM
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March 15, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue# 28

Dear Lower School Parents:


Ultimately, we want our students to be good citizens who contribute positively to society.  In recent years, I've seen the Lower School students, and particularly the student council representatives, focus their good work on those outside of our school community.

In one recent meeting, I was sitting on the carpet of our multi-purpose room in a circle of students (not so easy to do) as ideas were being discussed about how to best use funds raised from our Boxtop collection ($140).  A range of interesting suggestions was offered on which an approval vote (vote for as many choices as desired, but not all) was going to be held.  Some were a bit far-fetched, and those issuing from the strongest voices seemed to be getting the most attention.

However, a very quiet young lady sitting next to me offered yet another choice in a very quiet voice, and her suggestion cut right through the list we had made.  She offered that she thought the San Diego Food Bank's "Backpack Program" would be a wonderful way to help the less fortunate.  

She went on to explain that she had learned that many boys' and girls' best and perhaps only meals are eaten at school, leaving them very hungry over the weekends.  The Backpack Program provides an actual backpack of food that is able to sustain a child and perhaps their family during less bountiful times away from school.

After a couple of rounds of voting, her suggestion became the unanimous choice, and everyone looked very happy about that.

The seeds of civic duty are planted at a very young age with the hope that they'll blossom in ways that will make meaningful differences in the world.  And, on that particular day, we were able to reap what had been sown.


Bob Gillingham


Professional Devlopment Day


This coming Monday, March 14, is a Professional Development Day for teachers and staff, and there won't be any school.  We'll see everybody on Tuesday, March 15.


Fifth-Grade Overnight on the Californian


This and next week (March 16, 17 and 22) the fifth graders will experience the Pre-Revolutionary War era, simulating preparations for a voyage through the triangle trade route by spending a night on the Californian docked in San Diego Harbor.  The field trip has always been a favorite for the kids, bringing history to life.  

Bon voyage, fifth graders!

Fifth-Grade DVDs

Attention Parker Parents--- don’t forget to order your DVD of the fabulous FPLS Spring Concert as well as the 5th Grade Environmental Plays.

Please place your order as soon as possible by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com

Thank you very much!


Movie Night


Movie night is this Friday, March 18, and all students and parents are welcome to see "Peanuts," under the stars.  Boys and girls may remain after school, have dinner between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., then see the movie which has a running time of 1:33.

If you plan on attending but can't find the flyer to register, you can find it here.


Mission Hills 5K Walk/Run


The Mission HIlls 5K Run/Walk is this coming Saturday, March 19, beginning at 8:00 a.m.

You can register online at MissionHills5K.com


Notes from Nurse Maggie: Food Allergies


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) one in thirteen children in America has a food allergy. Some of these food allergies can be life threatening requiring strict avoidance of the food allergen by the student to prevent a reaction (called anaphylaxis). Children can be allergic to any food, but 90% of students are allergic to one or more of the following foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. Peanut and peanut products seem to be the most prevalent food allergen that causes anaphylaxis, therefore Parker tries to be a peanut aware campus and we limit peanut products offered in our cafeteria. However, outside foods are a common cause of allergic reactions. To help reduce any form of food reaction, the National Parent Teacher Organization (www.PTA.org) recommends the following:

- Avoid using food at events and in the classroom when possible

- If not possible to eliminate all food, choose activities and foods that allow all children to safely participate

- Eliminate bringing any food item to school that contains peanut or tree nut products

- Use individually wrapped and labeled foods at all events; labels are extremely important to prevent an accidental allergic reaction

- Provide means for children to wash their hands with soap and water—both before and after eating

- Be aware that some non-foods, such as craft supplies, may contain allergens

- Engage parents of children with food allergies in event planning processes—they are invaluable resources. 

Please contact me with any questions or concerns at mwest@francisparker.org or 619-717-0235.

Mission Hills Menu

Menu for the Week of March 14

Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday March 11 at 04:38PM
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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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Lower School
4201 Randolph Street
San Diego, CA 92103
619 / 298-9110
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