About UsAdmissionsAcademicsCampus LifeAthleticsAlumniParentsGiving

Lower School Blog

June 9, 2014; Vol. #23, Issue #36

Dear Lower School Parents:


As the Class of 2021 approaches their Lower School Promotion, the faculty and I are feeling increasingly excited about the future of Francis Parker School and the students who will grow and thrive through its program.  The nature of education is changing, and we've a strategic route mapped out that promises to immerse students in experiences that will take them "... as far as the mind can see."

If that paragraph seems a bit hyperbolic, it's only because I caught a glimpse of the future this week on one remarkable day, Wednesday.  It began with the most delightful science fair I've ever seen.  Working collaboratively, a number of our teachers guided our fifth graders over several weeks to identify real environmental problems, to thoroughly research them, and to create effective solutions.  The kids explored such things as urban planning, biodegradable packaging, acid rain, voltaic piles (new vocabular for me!), and cabbage chemistry.  All of their work was completed at school, and the collective expertise of the faculty informed what turned out to be the very best of project-based learning.  I literally had tingles in my spine, and I wanted to shout out with joy (but didn't).

I then walked up to hear our student musicians performing the most beautiful rendition (to my ears anyway) of Ode to Joy, and I marveled at the capabilities of these 9 and 10-year-olds.  Later that afternoon, I visited my first Chinese Open House, and I listened to students conversing in Mandarin... really, really well.  Leaving that venue, I walked right into a robotics demonstration for which students had built and programmed their creations.  

Through it all, I kept noting just how articulate our students were, how engaged they were in their legitimate learning, and how beautifully the entire day underscored our goals for students in this century: clear, critical thinking; effective communication; constant collaboration; and oodles of creativity.

The day may have been one of the best of my educational career, but I suspect, based on what I see around the corner, there will be many more.

All the best to you and your families, congratulations to the Class of 2021, and have a wonderful summer!


Bob Gillingham


Calling All Potential Room Parents!

It's not too late! Don't miss this chance to sign up to be a room parent next year.  It's a great way to be involved in your child's classroom and support the school. If you would like to sign up for the 2014-2015 year, please click the link below.  

Any questions? Just ask your LS VP's:

Dress-down-Week Changes


Some of our very wise fifth-grade students pointed out, rather passionately, that Crazy Hair and Sock day is the same day as water day (Field Day).  Apparently, those with elaborate hair plans are concerned about ruining their elaborate coiffures (not to mention their socks). So... we've moved Crazy Hair Day to Thursday, the last day of school. Everything else remains the same:

Monday- regular dress-down clothes 
Tuesday- twin (Class) day
Wednesday- regular dress-down clothes (JK- crazy hair/sock day)
Thursday- crazy hair and sock day (SK-5)

Summer Music Program DVDs

Attention Parker Parents --- Don’t forget to order a DVD of the fabulous Lower School Summer Concert that took place June 6th in the school courtyard.  If you would like a copy please order by Friday, June 20th by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com Also, if you are a parent of a 5th Grader, be sure and get a DVD of the 5th Grade Promotion which will be available soon after the Promotion on Friday, June 13th!

Presidential Fitness Awards

Students in grades 1-5 will receive Presidential Fitness Awards during their P.E. classes on Monday.  The students have worked hard to improve their skills and fitness this year, and all will be recognized.

Variety Shows

Variety shows will be held this week for on Monday (JK-2) and Tuesday (3-5) at 1:00 p.m. in the Szekely Auditorium.  Come see the students dance, sing, joke, cheer, play musical instruments and even juggle. You'll not be disappointed!

Field Days

Field days will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday during P.E. classes (5th grade P.E. will be at 9:00 a.m. on both days).  Wednesday is Water Day, so students need to bring a change of clothes.  Parents are welcome to attend both days.

Last Day of School

This Thursday is the last day of school for students in junior kindergarten through fourth grade. There will be an all-school bbq on the playground during the students regular lunch times, and all parents are invited.  The day is also a Crazy Hair and Sock Day, and our JK students will enjoy their Water Day from 10-11 a.m.


The Class of 2021 will be promoted to middle school this coming Friday at 3:00 p.m.  Following the ceremony, the students will be entertained by Xtreme Fun, a party/recreation company we've enjoyed for the last several years.


Notes From Nurse Maggie


A few reminders and thoughts about immunizations!


Lower School Menu

Menu for the last week of school!

Posted by on Saturday June 7 at 10:37AM
0 comments get link

June 2, 2014; Vol.# 23, Issue #35

Dear Lower School Parents:


Amazingly, the Annual Meeting will be held on June 10 at 6 p.m. on the Linda Vista campus, a mere 7 school days away.  The meeting is very important in a number of official ways, including hearing from the Head of School about the state of the School and approving the new slate of Trustees, but it also always signals to me the bittersweet end of a unique journey.  

For those who dwell on the Lower School campus, it means we're but a few fleeting moments from parting with children we've known, in some cases, for seven or eight years; children who have grown by leaps and bounds in confidence, skill and perspective.  The meeting also always falls at a time when the Lower School faculty and staff are generating plans for program renewal and refinement for the next school year. This year is no exception in that regard, and we're all buzzing with ideas for elevating students' thinking in ways which reflect the goals of our strategic plan.

In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing these ideas and plans with you, and I think you'll be as excited as we are for the potential they promise for our students' future.


Bob Gillingham 


Robotics Camp


Anoushka Bose and a few other Upper School students involved in the robotics team will be hosting a week-long summer camp for rising 4th - 10th graders.  A number of these students, including Anoushka, have been working with girls at the Lower School in a program called "Girls Science."  More information on the camp can be found at: robo.camp.


Head of Middle School, Dan Lang, will visit the Lower School Szekely Auditorium on Tuesday, June 3, at 8:15 a.m. to discuss with 5th grade parents the coming transition of their children to 6th grade. 


A Fifth-Grade Petition


We are fifth graders from Mr. Spearn’s class, and we have been studying environmental issues in San Diego, including the possible ban of plastic grocery bags in San Diego County. We think San Diego County should ban plastic grocery bags. We learned that each square foot of ocean has 46,000 microscopic pieces of plastic floating in it, and much of this is from plastic bags. The ban on plastic bags in San Diego can help reduce that number. The amount of plastic bags that is littered each year around the world can circle the globe 63 times!

Even though we want to see a ban on plastic grocery bags in San Diego County, we researched the cons of the ban too. Paper bags, which would be the alternative to plastic bags, are made from trees, and cutting down trees for paper bags leads to habitat loss for animals. Also, re-useable bags will be an extra cost for people. Even though these cons are problematic and inconvenient, there are more pros to banning plastic bags.

If you agree with us, sign our petition, which we will send to City Council Member Sherri Lightner who supports the ban on plastic bags. We are going to stand outside of school from 7:50 to 8:15 next week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to collect signatures

Thank you for considering.

Erin Keith, Ian Lillie, Georgia Pasha, Ilana Delue, Tess Karras, and Audrey Chapman

Attention Fifth-Grade Parents!                            


Once again, Mr. Benjamin’s Cotillion will be offered in the San Diego area. Three generations of Francis Parker families have participated in this program.  Your child would be part of a 61 year tradition of 6th grader’s attending this class throughout the county. The program is taught by Mr. Peter G. Benjamin. The classes will start this fall, and go on an every other week schedule, ending in the spring. The class will be 1 hour, 7:30-8:30 pm.  
Each class, the children are involved in topics pertaining to manners, thoughtfulness, and self-confidence. They also dance, in order for them to become more comfortable and self-assured in talking with others. 
The cost for the 6 month program is $250. (A one time payment or a 3 payment option). 
For more information, and to receive an invitation in late August, please visit  www.mrbenjamins.com
You may also contact Mr. Benjamin directly at (619) 222-3769

Third-Gray Greek Myth DVDs


Attention 3rd Grade Parents --- Don’t forget to order a DVD of the 3rd Grade Play “The Greek Myths” that took place on May 23rd in the auditorium. 

If you would like a copy please order by Friday, June 6th by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com   

Last Week of School Dress-Down Themes

The last four days of school at the Lower School are dress-down days this year.  Monday and Thursday will be regular dress-down days.  Tuesday is "Twin" Day (which means the theme is open to everyone in a given class) and Wednesday is Crazy Hair and Sock Day.  


Summer Program


The Summer Music Program is this coming Friday at 1 p.m.  Students in senior-kindergarten through fifth grade will be performing songs and demonstrating skills they've worked on over the last 12 weeks.

A gentle reminder to be courteous of our neighbors when parking. 


Math Morning


Second-grade associate teacher, Christie Cunningham, will put on a math morning this Monday after flagraising in the Scripps Lecture Hall.  Christie will be demonstrating skills, strategies and concepts associated with Singapore Math, and anyone is welcome to attend.



The Lower School will be a polling site this Tuesday beginning at 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.  Don't forget to cast your ballot. 


Science Fair


The fifth-grade science fair will be held this Wednesday at 8:30 in the lower patio.  Students have been working on projects in school in collaborative teams with the assistance of a number of special teachers, their classroom teachers and their science teachers.  Come see the future of project-based, design-oriented learning!


Snow Cone Sale


The student council is sponsoring a snow cone sale this coming Thursday during the lunch rotation in support of recent fire victims.  Everyone is invited!  All snowcones are $1.


Chinese Open House


The first Chinese Open House will be held this Wednesday in the Scripps Lecture Hall from 2:30-3:30 p.m.  Everyone is invited.



Pertussis (whooping cough): The county Health and Human Services Agency announced this week that the number of pertussis cases reported in San Diego County this year has surpassed the total for all of last year. This year there have been 454 confirmed cases of pertussis surpassing the total of 431 in 2013. Many of these cases affect school age children.

 A typical case of pertussis starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild.

To prevent pertussis, vaccination is available and required for school entry. Please note that children generally receive a DPT (diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus) vaccine at the ages of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years as well as a mandatory Tdap booster going into the 7th grade. If you have a student going into JK, SK or 7th grade, please make sure your child is current on all mandated immunizations. 

Please go to: www.eziz.org/assets/docs/IMM-231 for the current immunization schedule for children in California. Additionally, if your student does receive or has received updated immunizations, please send a copy of that immunization record to the school nurse as soon as possible. If you have any questions about pertussis or the mandated school immunizations, please call 619-717-0235 or email at mwest@francisparker.org


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of June 2-6

Posted by on Friday May 30 at 08:13PM
0 comments get link

May 27, 2014; Vol. #23, Issue #34

Dear Lower School Parents:


Thanks again for your wonderful participation in this year's Gala celebration.  It was terrific to see everyone having a good time in support of such important and worthy causes... and the creative costumes were outstanding!

Guest speaker Bradney Blake's story was especially meaningful to me, because as he spoke, I could remember so many moments from his youth, many of them spent in the company of my own children.  His sincerity and clear connection to the Parker Community meant the world to everyone familiar with him, and for those new to Parker, Bradney represented a sterling example of the values we hope to promote.

Several years ago, after being similarly moved by a former student who spoke at a previous Gala, we appealed to the Lower School Faculty and Staff to set an example for our community by attaining a giving rate of 100%... and they did!  In fact, they've done it twice over the last few years, because they believe in the School, its mission, and the transformative power of highly-effective teaching and learning.

As a community, we've never achieved that same level of giving, but it's vitally important that we try.  Any gift, large or small, can make a difference, and collectively, we can build a foundation will ensure the excellence of a Parker education for generations to come.

For example, last weekend, I had the privilege of sending 8 teachers to a 2-day conference which proved invaluable in igniting interest in our strategic goal to create a design lab, an initiative which will inspire and challenge our students in new and exciting ways.  The teachers returned to school on Monday absolutely buzzing with excitement about all they had seen and so very eager to share their new ideas.  

Simply put, I wouldn't have been able to do this without the remarkable generosity of our Parker Community and the commitment of the Parents' Association to fund professional development.  Many thanks to all of you.


Bob Gillingham


The Book Fair Fiesta


¡Vámonos! The Fiesta-themed Book Fair is this coming Wednesday, Thursday and Friday! The book fair provides convenient one-stop shopping for all your summer-reading needs while also helping fund the Lower School’s wonderful library.

The Book Fair needs your help to make it a success. Find a time to shop with your child before or after school. Please sign up for a volunteer shift (or two) on a Google doc by following this link:


If operating a cash register seems daunting or you need a refresher course, sign up for the optional volunteer training session on Tuesday, May 27th following this link:


The Book Fair Fiesta: ¡Yo Quiero Libros! ¡Vamos a Leer! (I Want Books! Let's Go Read!) runs:

Wednesday, May 28 7:30 am-5 pm

Thursday, May 29 7:30 am- 5 pm

Friday, May 30 7:30 am-1 pm

Preview the Book Fair at: http://bookfairs.scholastic.com/homepage/francisparker

In conjunction with the book fair, we are sponsoring a book drive for Epiphany Prep Charter School and are asking for gently used books. Clear off space for your new purchases by donating to the book drive. Look for boxes around campus and outside the Book Fair for donations.

Thank you and see you there,

Nadine Guagliano, Maria Camacho, Tori Haberman, Jennifer Irwin

Book Fair Co-chairs



This year, the 3rd-5th grade students participated in the Wordmasters Competition, an analogy-based vocabulary program that requires an implicit understanding of words and their relationships.  Due to a several-year layoff, we were a bit rusty in our first of three national competitions this year.  However, in the second competition, our third-grade students placed sixth in the nation out of hundreds of schools and thousands of students.  In the final competition, the very competitive fourth-grade students, not to be outdone, also placed sixth in the nation, while the third-grade students, though scoring higher in their last attempt (194 out of 200 points), placed eighth in the nation. The fifth grade students also worked very hard this year, and they narrowly missed placing in the top ten on two occasions.

Variety Shows

Variety Shows featuring unique student talents (e.g., dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, telling jokes, etc.) will be held on June 9 for JK-2 students and on June 10 for 3rd-5th grade students beginning at 1 p.m. each day.  Students must be signed up by Friday, June 6, and any CD's they're using turned in by that time, labeled with their name and grade code.  Sign-up slips were sent home last Monday, but another is provided here.



The Class of 2014 will graduate this coming Saturday, May 31, at 4 p.m. on the Lancer Lawn.  We are very proud of this class and what they have accomplished, and we wish them well as they head off to continue their fine learning at colleges and universities all over the country. 


Memorial Day Weekend


Memorial Day Weekend will be observed by the school, and students will be returning to classes on Tuesday, May 27.  Enjoy the weekend, and do take a moment to honor those who have served our country.


Silent Movie Band Presentation


Mr. David Brittan and his 5th-grade band will be providing the musical accompaniment to Charlie Chaplin's Silent Movie this coming Thursday from 2:15-3:00 p.m. in the Szekely Auditorium.  You'll be entertained by the movie and music, and you'll be amazed how much these students have accomplished.  Join us if you can!


Poetry Night


The fourth-grade students have been creating original poetry which they'll share this coming Thursday evening from 5:30-7:30.  This is one of the most delightful evenings of the year, as the students so passionately share literary gems that are near and dear to their hearts.  Attend, and you'll be inspired!


This Friday


This Friday is a dress-down day with a fun-run spirit, because the student council proposed and unanimously approved this popular activity.  Break out your running shoes and join us at 2:00 p.m. for a fun, community run on several different layouts on campus.


Notes from Nurse Maggie

Summer's here... Protect Yourself in the Sun!

Mission Hills Menu

Menu for the Week of May 27

Posted by on Saturday May 24 at 02:39PM
0 comments get link

May 19, 2014; Vol. #23, Issue #33

Dear Lower School Parents:


The Parker Community has always been special to me... and by "always," I'm talking about a place that has encompassed virtually my entire adult life.  I was associated with Parker before knowing my lovely wife and having children, but over time, all of us have been deeply touched and influenced by this amazing place.  

Yet, at no time during that stretch have I felt more strongly the incredible community support this school can marshall than in the last couple of months.  Illnesses, natural disasters, and other misfortunes seem to ramp up the typical selflessness to even greater heights of caring and compassion.  In moments of deep despair or loss, the Parker community is always there to lend a helping hand or sympathetic shoulder.

Most recently, we were impacted but fortunately not heavily affected by San Diego County fires with a legacy of devastating destruction.  Had the outcome been worse, I have no doubt that the good men, women and children of this school community would have inserted themselves in the process for bringing reparation and comfort not only to our own, but to the greater community as well.

Be safe and be well, and thanks for being here.


Bob Gillingham


Spring Arts Night 

We celebrate Spring Arts Night this week on the Linda Vista Campus. The event will run from 4:00PM - 7:30PM Tuesday May 20th.  The Performing Arts will be stationed in Crivello Hall, while the Visual Art Exhibition will be in the Rose Art Gallery.  
Here is the schedule for the evening....
4:00 - 7:30 Visual Art Exhibition in the Rose Art Gallery - This will include Upper School Photography and Motion Media, Middle and Upper School 2D Art, Woodworking, Ceramics, Metalworking, Bronze Cast Sculpture, and Mixed Media.

4:00 - 5:00 Middle and Upper School Dance and Strings

5:00 - 6:00 Upper School Guitar and Glee, Middle School Chorus, and Middle and Upper School Drama

6:15 - 7:00 Pep Band

7:00 - 7:30 Middle and Upper School Band
There will be food and beverages for the duration of the event outside of the Rose Gallery.


Standardized testing continues the week.  Third and fourth graders will be wrapping up their tests, and the fifth grade will begin theirs.  As always, we appreciate your support in helping students to get plenty of sleep and a hearty breakfast each day before coming to school.

Third-Grade Play

The third graders will be presenting their Greek mythology plays to students this Friday morning and to parents that afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in the Szekely Auditorium.  Don't be surprised if you see a playground full of togas that morning!



One fishing boat is already filled with Parker families, and a second has been scheduled.  Don't miss out on this fun!

Mark your calendars for the annual fishing trip scheduled for June 6, leaving from Point Loma Sportfishing Store at 5:30 p.m. and returning after sunset.

Flyers are available in the Lower School office.  This has always been a very fulfilling family event, and even if you've never been fishing, you'd find the activity very enjoyable.

Registration ends when the second boat is full, so sign up soon!

Showstoppers DVD's

Attention 4th & 5th Grade Showstoppers Parents --- If you’d like a DVD of the 4th & 5th Grade Showstoppers performances on May 8th, please order by Friday, May 23rd by visiting www.francisparkerdvd.com

Memorial Day Weekend

This coming weekend is a 3-day weekend in observance of Memorial Day.  School resumes on Tuesday, May 27.

Lower School Menu

Posted by on Sunday May 18 at 10:08AM
0 comments get link

May 12, 2104; Vol. #23, Issue #32


Dear Lower School Parents:


Many thanks from all of us for your attendance at and support of the annual gala.  I've been around long enough to remember the event in its early days, so I can appreciate how the hard work and determination of our amazing Parents' Association has grown not only the number of people in attendance, but also the importance of the event to our school community.  

The bedrock of our school, the faculty, have benefited greatly from gala proceeds, as we're able to provide the training and support they need to create and refine cutting-edge programming.  Additionally, the rich diversity of our student body has, in no small way, increased as the result of the generous support provided by the gala over time.

We are most grateful for your constant support of the school through your contributions of time, treasure and talent, and our commitment to you is continuous improvement to benefit your children.


Bob Gillingham 


ERB's for 3rd and 4th Grade


Third and fourth graders will be taking ERB (standardized) tests this week.  Once the scores are submitted and evaluated, we'll make the information available to parents, including guides for understanding their significance.

We'd like to request that the students have plenty of sleep and a good breakfast each day so that we're seeing their best efforts.

Fifth graders will be taking their tests the following week, after they return from Pali Mtn. Camp.




This Friday is Bike to Work Day (my favorite), but it's also a dress-down day, a bbq, and a very special event for the fifth graders as we welcome them into the carne asada line.  Please join us if you can.

Parker's Production of Annie

Parker parents and friends are invited to go online to get tickets for the school's production of Annie, including several Lower School students.    www.francisparker.org/annie 

JK Spring Program DVD

Attention JK Parents --- Don’t forget to order a DVD of the “JK Spring Program” that took place on the morning of May 2nd in the lower school courtyard. 
If you would like a copy please order by Friday, May 16th by visiting www.francisparkerdvd.com

Big Northern Gate (on Plumosa)

Please note that the big gate at the far northern end of the school has now been secured with an electronic latch.  We would appreciate everyone making their customary exit through the office.

Lunch Menu

Posted by on Saturday May 10 at 02:11PM
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





Mission Hills Campus
Lower School
4201 Randolph St.
San Diego, CA 92103
  Linda Vista Campus
Middle/Upper School
6501 Linda Vista Rd.
San Diego, CA 92111

  Follow us on social media:


© 2013 Francis Parker School | A JK-12 preparatory school committed to sustaining a diverse, family-oriented educational community.

Home | Contact Us | Privacy Policy

email page print page small type large type
powered by finalsite