About UsAdmissionsAcademicsCampus LifeAthleticsAlumniParentsGiving

Lower School Blog

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
0 comments get link

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
0 comments get link

March 7, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue #27

Dear Lower School Parents:


Many thanks for your great attendance at our most recent music program.  We attempted a new format that was a bit more succinct, and many of you apparently appreciated it.  We're trying to highlight the best of our musical genres, and the kids are really rising to the challenge.  You can expect that our last program will observe a similar approach.

In the spirit of design, we'll be enjoying in this coming week our first fully-integrated theatrical performance featuring our fifth graders.  Our design team composed of our library, science, drama, design, tech and classroom teachers guided the students as the kids conceived, wrote, composed, programmed, produced, and directed an original play focused on what they've learned about the environment.  

We're all very excited about this first full manifestation of our design-thinking approach, and we've already noted the students' elevated engagement, collaboration, creativity and joy in learning. As we continue this school year and look to next year, we'll be honing our ability to assess what the students are learning even as they are learning so we can not only meet their individual needs but also ensure that they are well-prepared for all of the academic and social challenges they'll face throughout their Parker journey.


Bob Gillingham 


Flu Alert


There is an increase in influenza and other illnesses in the San Diego area, including on our Parker campuses. Please open this link (http://www.revereps.mec.edu/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/when-to-keep-sick-children-home-from-school-8-27-09.pdf) concerning guidelines about when to keep a sick student home from school. Please note that our policy is to send home/keep home any student who has a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and above. That student is to stay home until fever free for 24 hours. Please contact me with any questions or concerns atwest@francisparker.org or 619-717-0235

Summer School


2016 Summer Program courses, afternoon activities, and sports camps registration kicks off next Tuesday, March 8 at 9 am.  Registration will be completed in the main, online.


This Friday is a bbq/dress down day, and parents are welcome to join us for the bbq during their children's regular lunch time.

Fifth-Grade Play


The fifth-grade students very original play will be presented to students this coming Thursday and to parents on Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Szekely Auditorium.  The play was completely conceived, written, directed and cast by the fifth graders who also designed and built all of the props and technical support.  The environmental theme was supported in all of their classes, and the event marks a triumph of the school's design team to fully integrate student learning.  You'll be amazed and greatly entertained.


Parent Mixer


This Friday, third-grade parents are invited to a mixer in the Nicholas Commons on the Linda Vista campus from 6-7:30 p.m.  Come enjoy good food and drink and the company of parents at the same grade level.


River Kids Discovery Days

This event will build upon the success of last year’s event with a two-day celebration of the San Diego River featuring service learning and educational opportunities specially planned for youth! There are opportunities for groups of families and kids from across the county to gather at sites along the River to complete service projects to help create the San Diego River Park! Kids will take a leading role in protecting our natural resources and creating parks and green spaces for the community.  For more information, follow this link.

Language and Culture Week

This year, Language and Culture Week will be held the week of March 28.  Following is the schedule:
Dress-down all week long in L&C shirts from any year or culturally-specific clothing (that will not hinder any normal activity).

3/28- Opening Ceremony at flagraising including a welcome, flag parade, JK Spanish song performance, Chinese song performance, and 5th-grade choral performance
3/29- Trifolds displayed in Szekely Auditorium with classes visiting whenever they can throughout the day
3/30- Food festival in the courtyard during lunch rotation with a performance by an Aztec musical group
3/31- Upper School Global studies students visit from 10:45-11:30 to present about the countries they visited (specific classes tbd); Folklorico performance in the courtyard at 2:30
4/1- No immersion day this year; Closing ceremony at 1:30 p.m. including a performance by an Indian group followed by the fashion show, then a performance by the 4th-grade chorus; dismiss to the playground
In-class speakers (parents and others sharing in the foreign-language classrooms) will take place all week long. Check out this link if you'd like to participate.


Bake Sale Change

• The bake sale scheduled for March 11 has been cancelled.

Spring Concert DVDs


Attention Parker Parents--- don’t forget to order your DVD of the fabulous FPLS Spring Concert.
Please place your order as soon as possible by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com
Thank you very much!

Notes From Nurse Maggie

Many thanks to Nicole Dente, lower school parent, for writing this article. 

Savor the Flavor of Eating Right! is the theme for National Nutrition Month. National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.  This year’s theme encourages everyone to take time to enjoy the flavors and social experiences food brings to our lives.

Francis Parker’s Lower School will celebrate this health-conscious month on campus during the week of March 7th.  Our on-campus celebration of healthy eating will have three platforms: (1) a fruit and vegetable packed rainbow salad bar during lunch; (2) nutrition education in the library; and (3) a science lesson on a healthy plate pledge.  Our goals are to inspire students to understand why it is important to eat healthy foods and to teach them how to make healthy eating choices.

We would also like to invite staff and parents to take on a healthy challenge of their own at home.  A few examples of a healthy challenge you can implement at home this month are: 

  • Experiment with a new fruit or vegetable each week;
  • Aim to eat meals together as a family away from the television;
  • Select and prepare a healthy recipe you have not attempted before.

Healthy changes are more enjoyable and achievable if you start out small.  For some great ideas of where to start, and inspiring, kid-friendly recipes, check out the following websites:


 www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org; and



Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of March 7

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday March 5 at 12:49PM
0 comments get link

Feb. 29, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue #26

Dear Lower School Parents:

One of the school's biggest events is approaching fast, and you don't want to miss out.  The annual Gala, this year dubbed "The Black and White Ball," is always a wonderful evening bringing together faculty, staff and parents from all three divisions.  
This year's event will be held on the spectacular Linda Vista campus, and the Gala Committee has worked tirelessly to find exciting opportunities, adventures and items for your bidding pleasure.  The evening has always been a great occasion to enjoy friends and to make new ones, to enjoy a terrific dinner and dancing, but I think my favorite part is listening to the stirring words of those whose lives were changed immeasurably through the generosity of the Parker Community.
Perhaps my most favorite gala was the one that featured Richard Virgen as the speaker.  Richard, the son of my longtime friend and Lower School maintenance supervisor, Shorty Virgen, was a Parker lifer who continued his educational journey after Parker by eventually earning a Ph.D. in BioChemistry.  I ran in to Dr. Virgen the other day at a local market, and after exchanging pleasantries, he described how he and his research team are harnessing enzymes to defeat many and varied kinds of Cancer.
Quite simply... this couldn't have happened without you and other Parker parents who recognized the immense value of supporting a broad array of young scholars for their potential in "... making a meaningful difference in the world."  Your generosity works wonders, and thanks to recipients like Richard, it may even improve and perhaps save lives.
Please join us at this year's Gala on May 7.  You'll have a great time, and you'll make a great difference.   Don't delay, however, as ticket prices go up after this coming Monday, and the event is projected to sell out, as it did last year.  You can find a direct link to purchase tickets here. 
Hope to see you there!
Bob Gillingham

Language and Culture Week

Language & Culture Week is coming up March 28 – April 1st!  It is DRESS DOWN all week if you wear a L&C week t-shirt from any year we've followed this tradition.
Orders are PRE-SALE ONLY and the order form was in your child's Monday envelope as well as attached to this email.  Sample sizes are available hanging outside the office beginning Tuesday, 2/23.
The order forms are due Tuesday, March 1st at 3:00PM.  Please turn them into the envelope labeled Language & Culture Shirts in the office.   If you need another form, they can be found in the office or email pa-vpls@francisparker.org
Any questions?  Please contact Belle Drouin at drouinfamily@gmail.com

Spring Concert

The Spring Concert is this coming Friday, beginning at 2:00 p.m. in the Lower School courtyard, and we'd like to offer you a sneak peak at the official program.  The program is expected to last 45 minutes.

New Turf

As of last Friday, brand new turf has been successfully installed on the Lower School field thanks to the generous gifts of several Parker families.  The installation company, Fieldturf, used a product called “Vintage” which does not contain any of the somewhat controversial crumb rubber infill.  Instead, the infill is sand and encapsulated cork which actually lowers the temperature of the playing surface.  There is also a pad beneath the turf to provide cushioning (our students were cheering as the 6-man crew labored to roll it out).  

New lines have also been included which divide the turf area into 4 separate spaces. Knowing this, a safety committee made up of students and one principal met to create some simple rules, and one of them is "one game, one space," to reduce the number of collisions and accidents we experience when multiple activities are happening.

This is the third generation of turf we've had over the last 18 years at the Lower School, and we're all excited to put it to use.


Parker Parent Book Discussion Series: The Great Gatsby

All Lower, Middle and Upper School parents are invited to a Parker English class experience via the Parent Book Discussion Series Tuesday, March 29, 6-8:00 p.m. Chris Harrington, Vassiliadis Family Chair in English, will be leading a discussion on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel The Great Gatsby in Upper School room 220. Interested parents can sign up here or email pa-president@francisparker.org. Attending parents should come prepared for class:  book read, copy in hand, and ready to share their thoughts.  Refreshments will be served. This first discussion group is limited to 15 parents so RSVP is required. If we have more parents interested than can be accommodated, we will add a second discussion evening.

Movie Night

Movie Night is much earlier this year to take advantage of an earlier sunset.  This coming Friday, March 18, students are invited to remain at school after school, enjoy a delicious bbq dinner, then settle in to see a movie chosen by the student council on behalf of all students (tbd).

This is also a great opportunity for parents to join us for a fun-filled afternoon and evening or to take advantage of "Date Night," secure in the knowledge that your kids are having a great time at school.

How do you sign up?  Just download the Movie Night Flyer and Registration , and return it to the Lower School office.

Lower School Menu

Posted by Parker Parent Test on Saturday February 27 at 10:33AM
0 comments get link

Feb. 22, 2016; Vol.#25, Issue #25


Dear Lower School Parents:


Last week, the school was very quiet, except for occasional construction noises coming from the installation of new drains by our second-grade classrooms and new turf on the playground. Ordinarily, the air is filled with a symphony of noise composed of bells, giggling children, parents catching up or checking on their children, the hum of administration, and of course, teachers zipping here and there. 

Given a bit of extra time to read, think and write, I pondered a wonderful article , shared with me by a Parker grandparent, which addressed meaning, purpose and happiness in one's life.  We often use the phrase, "Kindness Matters," even capturing it as the theme of last year's Kindness Week, but this fine article offers some research-based explanation for the claim.

Our work to help students develop as "other-focused," empathetic, and helpful may truly assist them in being happy, fulfilled adults who "... make a meaningful difference in the world."  Enjoy!


Bob Gillingham


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute Follow-Up


I had written earlier about the wonderful job the fifth-grade chorus had done in composing both music and lyrics for a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Now, we're exctied to announce that a parent has stepped forward with the offer to have music teacher, Mrs. Williams, and the fifth-grade chorus record their piece professionally in the Sisco Recording Studio later this month.  Here we come, Top 40!


Fourth-Grade Business Sale


The fourth graders will hold their business sale on Friday, 2/26, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the courtyard.  Come see the amazing array of products conceived, marketed and built by the students in their "companies."  

It is requested that student shoppers bring quarters and dollar bills for the sale to assist the sales process.


Second-Grade Parent Mixer


The second-grade parent mixer will be held this, Friday, 2/26, in the Nicholas Commons, from 6-7:30 p.m.  Parents at that grade level are invited to enjoy a relaxed, non-agenda gathering with delicious food and drink.

Late Start Day

This coming Wednesday, Februrary 24, is a late-start day.  Students may come to school as early as 7:00 a.m., and the playground will open at 7:15 a.m.  Buses will run on their regular schedules, and all students should be ready to line up at the 8:55 a.m. bell.

Spring Concert

The Spring Concert for grades 1-5 will be held on March 4, and please note that the time has been changed from 1:30 to 2:00 p.m.  We anticipate the event to last 45 minutes.

Summer Program


Summer Program Course Catalogue Release

• Paper version mailed to Parker families this Monday

• Complete electronic version available at www.francisparker.org/summer on Monday night.

• The release of the 2016 Summer Program course catalogue – paper and electronic versions – is here. Parker families will receive the condensed paper version early this coming week in the mail. A comprehensive electronic version providing course descriptions and other helpful information will be posted by end of day on Monday.

Please note:

• 2015 prices remain in effect for most courses and sports camps!

• Session I runs Monday, June 20, through Friday, July 8. Session II kicks off on Monday, July 11, and concludes on Friday, July 29.

• Registration begins Tuesday, March 8 at 9 am.

• The “Early Bird” registration discount period runs from March 8 – March 31

• 32 new courses and sports camps

Please contact the Summer Program office with any questions.

Class Creations

Artwork produced by each of the grade levels will be auctioned at three different events this year.  
Grades 1-5 artwork will be available on March 4 at the Spring Concert.  
Senior-Kindergarten artwork will be auctioned at the SK Open House on March 24.
Junior-Kindergarten artwork will be auctioned on April 29 as part of their Spring Program.
Don't miss out on your chance to own one of these priceless creations!

Fairy Tale Forest DVDs

Attention 1st Grade Parker Parents!  Don’t forget to order your DVD of the fabulous 1st Grade Play – “Fairy Tale Forest."
Please place your order as soon as possible by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com  Thank you very much!!!

Parents' Association Parent Education Opportunity

A very powerful presentation is coming to Parker on March 1. Called "Rachel's Challenge," the presentation is aimed at awakening academic achievement and social-emotional learning by focusing on the connection between students, faculty and staff.

The presenter is Darrell Scott, father of Rachel. She was the first victim of the Columbine shooting. Mr. Scott will share Rachel's story to stimulate individual hope, desire and purpose; which in turn promotes safer, more connected school communities. A program description is attached.

The event is sponsored by the Irving Group and Mr. Irving has requested RSVPs to debbie@theirvinggroup.com 

Notes From Nurse Maggie

Pneumonia can be a serious, potentially fatal illness, and recognizing the early symptoms is critical. Read this article to learn more about it.

Lower School Menu


Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday February 19 at 03:36PM
0 comments get link

Choose groups to clone to:

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.

Links & Resources

Lower School Calendar

  See more events>>

Get informed, E-mail, Watch

© 2015 Francis Parker School
Mission Hills Campus
Lower School
4201 Randolph Street
San Diego, CA 92103
619 / 298-9110
Linda Vista Campus
Middle/Upper School
6501 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA 92111
858 / 569-7900
Follow us on social media:

email page print page small type large type
powered by finalsite