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May 18, 2015; Vol. #24, Issue #33

Dear Lower School Parents:


The dizzying pace is picking up as we near the end of the school year, and the next few weeks are packed with lots of activities and events. But truly, it's the ebb and flow of the typical school day that most appeals to us, the Lower School faculty and staff.   It's the school at its finest... the glorious cacophony of sounds and the flurry of activity: playground whistles and shrieks of delight; teachers complimenting classes for being quiet in the hallways; children skipping across the courtyard, perfectly content; the unanticipated hug... just because; and hundreds of happy kids, growing and thriving, secure in their school environment.  Honestly, it's tough to accurately characterize the feeling, but it doesn't make it any less real or appealing.

The Monday after the kids are gone is always full of mixed feelings.  While we're all relieved to have completed the school year and to have fulfilled the many responsibilities that go along with it, it's also eerily quiet... too quiet.  Dare it be said that, after these many years, I'm not alone among our staff in looking forward with greater joy to the beginning of school than the end.
Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend!
Bob Gillingham


Annual Parker Fishing Trip

Not to be missed! Fun for everyone, even the Moms! Enjoy a deluxe fishing boat cruise on the bay with your favorite friends. Relax and enjoy while the wonderful crew help your children fish! Your kids will love it and you will build memories of a lifetime! 


The event will be held on June 5, and registration materials are available here!

Memorial Day Weekend

Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and there is no school on Monday.  We'll see everyone back at school on Tuesday, May 26 (Movie Night!).


Movie Night


Movie Night has been moved to Tuesday, May 26.  Students may remain after school, play with their friends, have dinner at 6:00 p.m., then enjoy a movie on a giant outdoor screen beginning at sunset and running to roughly 9:00 p.m.  Parents are welcome to join us for dinner and the movie, but they may also wish to call the evening a date night... a terrific opportunity! If you haven't registered yet and would like to attend, registration forms are available here or in the Lower School office.


Parent Mixer


This Friday, the fourth-grade parents are invited to a parent mixer in the Nicholas Commons on the Linda Vista campus.  This no-agenda evening is a great opportunity to enjoy some light food fare, a few beverages and to connect with parents at your children's grade level.

Pali Mountain

The fifth graders leave for Pali Mountain Camp this week to experience the outdoors and to learn more about the environment and themselves.  An array of investigations and challenges open the kids' eyes to a world beyond the one they normally inhabit, but also to their own capabilities as they tackle physical and scientific obstacles.

Variety Shows

It's that time again for our talented youngsters to strut their stuff in our Variety Shows!  JK-2 grade students will display their talents on June 8 and 3rd-5th grade students will do the same the following day, both events running from 1:00-3:00 p.m. (we hope) in the Szekely Auditorium.  

If your child(ren) is interested in participating by singing, acting out a skit, doing a trick, playing an instrument, doing a dance, telling a joke, etc., they must fill out this Variety Show Form  and audition the week of June 1-5 during lunch recess in the Szekely Auditorium.

Summer Program

Tim Katzman and the Summer Program office wish to remind Parker families that the start of the Summer Program is only five weeks distant. Session I begins on June 22 and Session II begins on July 13.  There are still places available in most courses, afternoon activities and in many sports camps.  This coming summer's program features 23 new academic courses and sports camps, distributed across the three divisions.  For course descriptions, pricing and registration information, families should go to www.francisparker.org/summer.  


Assistance can also be provided by calling the Summer Program office at 858.569.7900, Extension 4109 (Monique Velde) or Extension 4236 (Tim Katzman).

Fifth-Grade Parent Meeting

Head of Middle School Dan Lang and Assistant Head of Middle School Christie Cole will meet with current fifth-grade parents this Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the Considine Library to discuss Middle School scheduling and other transitional processes.  They'll also allow time for questions parents may have about this important next step in the students' Parker careers.

Newly-admitted Junior-Kindergarten Parent-Student Ice-Cream Social

Parker welcomes newly-admitted JK families this Tuesday afternoon with an ice-cream social in the Gooding Patio (by the Considine Library) from3:30-4:15 p.m.

Book Fair Alert! May 27th - 29th!


This Spring’s Book Fair is coming soon! 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. Please sign up for a volunteer shift (or two) on a Google doc by following this link: http://bit.ly/1KnGra2

If operating a cash register seems daunting or you need a refresher course, sign up for the optional volunteer training session on Tuesday, May 26th from 2:45-3:00 pm or 3:00-3:15 pm by following this link: http://bit.ly/1ElDn9Q

The Book Fair runs:

Wednesday, May 27 7:30 am-5 pm

Thursday, May 28 7:30 am- 5 pm

Friday, May 29 7:30 am-1 pm

Preview the book fair at: http://bit.ly/1GS9HTn

See you there,

Book Fair Co-chairs


Parking on Randolph Terrace

As a public-service plea, we're asking that everyone avoid parking on Randolph Terrace (the very narrow street north of the school).  In the event of an emergency, emergency vehicles would have a very hard time navigating the road.  Thank you in advance for avoiding this area for parking.

Student Council
Movie Night

Used Lands' End Uniform Sale

Gently-used uniform collections are happening now through June 11.  If you have uniforms your children have outgrown, consider donating them for the used-clothing sale (date tbd, most likely in late June). 

Senior/Senior-Kindergarten Coin Exchange

In a culmination of the the senior-SK relationships forged throughout this school year, the second annual coin exchange will take place this Thursday at 12:30 p.m. on the Linda Vista campus.  This special ceremony is a bit of a passing of the torch in anticipation of the seniors' commencement in just a couple of weeks.

Third-Grade Play

The third graders debut their brand new play about the U.S. Government in the Szekely Auditorium this Friday morning for students and at 1:30 p.m. this Friday afternoon for parents.  The play, written by Letty Robinson, ties into the students' studies this year, and we hope you enjoy it!

Lunch Menu




Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday May 16 at 12:05PM
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May 11, 2015; Vol.#24, Issue #32

Dear Lower School Parents:


Last week was Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week, and on behalf of the entire Lower School crew, I must say that we were absolutely overwhelmed by parents' and students' kindness and generosity. From the opening surprise parent-initiated student-council performed song at flagraising to the coffee barista on Friday, we felt the love...   Thank you so much for everything, and please know how much we also appreciate you, your families and our remarkable Lower School parents' association leadership.

The countdown has begun!  With only 23 days left in the school year, the pace is accelerating and we're all anticipating a wonderful conclusion to 2014-15.  We're also looking ahead, and recently, I shared the following with the faculty and staff, hoping to illuminate our strategic plans for next year and beyond and to plant a stake in our future:

"... in an effort to inform all of you about what we're doing with students you'll soon have the pleasure to meet, I'd like to bring you up-to-speed on some of the changes we're making, as inspired by our strategic plan.

Most importantly, we're noticing* the rapid change in what will be required of our students in this century, and we're focusing on ways to elevate their skills and understandings so that they can contribute meaningfully, thoughtfully and successfully throughout their lives.

Accordingly, we're busily brainstorming exciting curricular ideas and different ways to leverage our facilities and personnel in order to design a learning environment that will fully engage and challenge our students.  Initially, we're hoping to create a prototype that will, at the very least, capitalize on the collective talent of our staff, provide sufficient infrastructure for teaching and learning, and inspire new program to allow students to think and wonderas far as their minds can see.

In short, we're hoping to create a true design center that will include our library, a new design and technology/innovation lab (incorporating woodshop instruction), the science rooms and the art room, all in one building.  The facility will be supported by a schedule that will allow for great flexibility in terms of grouping and instructional timeframes.  Additionally, the staffing will ensure not only that students are known, supported and encouraged as they learn to take risks, explore and discover, but it will also promote closer collaboration among these teachers.
Our Lower School program has grown significantly over the last decade, and additions and enhancements in foreign language, performing and fine arts, and the academic curriculum have required the use of every nook and cranny on the Mission Hills campus.  Planning for next year allows us to realign many of these disciplines, placing then in close proximity to each other to cut down on transition times, and somehow... retaining all of the rich elements of our current program, including woodshop, art, music, p.e., foreign language, library, and science, with the goal of integrating them as much as possible in new and engaging ways for the benefit of our students and staff.
Presently we're testing our plans by working closely with faculty and staff to anticipate and refine all that we can, including the melding of all that has worked well at the Lower School and all to which we aspire...  a true design project if ever there were one..."
* blue italicized words highlight key elements in Parker's Design Thinking Process
Bob Gillingham

ERB Testing


This week, 3rd-5th graders will be taking ERB (standardized) tests to measure their verbal and quantitative achievement.  Testing generally takes 1.5-2 hours a day, and we ask that students are well-rested, well-nourished and ready to do their best.  Results will be mailed home in early to mid-June along with information helpful in understanding the scores.



We are collecting gently used uniforms for our used uniform sale. Please look for the bins outside of the office beginning next week, Monday, May 11. The school wide used uniform sale will be held in June. Stay tuned for the exact date and time.
Thank You! Your 2014-2015 Lower School VPs,


Attention Parker Parents--- If you’d like a DVD of the JK Spring Program or any of the recent Parker performances, please place your order as soon as possible by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com  Thank you very much!!!


Don’t miss the chance to sign up to be a room parent. 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 2015-16 year, please click the link below.

Any questions? Just ask your 2015-2016 Lower School VPs,

Book Fair Alert! May 27th - 29th!


This Spring’s Book Fair is coming soon! 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. 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 26th from 2:45-3:00 pm or 3:00-3:15 pm by following this link:


The Book Fair runs Wednesday, May 27 7:30 am-5 pm, Thursday, May 28 7:30 am- 5 pm, and Friday, May 29 7:30 am-1 pm.

Preview the book fair at: http://bit.ly/1GS9HTn

See you there,

Book Fair Co-chairs


Mission Hills Menu

Menu for the Week of May 11

Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday May 8 at 03:49PM
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May 4, 2015; Vol. # 24, Issue # 31

Dear Lower School Parents:


We had an extraordinary appeal at last Monday's flagraising by two children with direct connections to the disaster in Nepal.  With remarkable composure, Ria (2nd Grade) and Shaan (JK) Soni addressed over 500 people to talk about the toll a 7.9 earthquake had had on their mother's native country (her parents actually met in Nepal, and the father, Sandeep, earned his medical degree there).

We've since learned that over 6,000 people have died, and an equal number were injured. Perhaps even more are now homeless and quite desperate, many completely cut off from potential rescue.

As always, Parker people are looking for ways to help, and the Soni family suggested  http://americanepalmedicalfoundation  (The American Nepal Medical Foundation, which is providing trauma care, medical supplies and other services to the victims). Other vetted organizations also helping to ease this crisis can be found here


Bob Gillingham 


ERB Testing


Next week, the students in grades 3-5 will be taking the ERB tests (nationally-normed standardized tests measuring quantitative and verbal achievement).  The results from the tests serve to inform us about the effectiveness of our program, but they can also signal the need for individual enrichment and additional support.  Test results and information for interpreting the scores will be mailed out to parents in early summer.


STudent Council

Due to the PD day on Monday and flagraising this week on Tuesday, the Student Council meeting will be moved to Wednesday, May 6, at 8:00 a.m.


Science Fairs


Science Fairs will take place this week on Tuesday for 1st and 2nd graders and Wednesday for 3rd and 4th graders.  Students have been challenged to solve problems with their investigations, and you'll be delighted to see the depth of their thinking and creativity.  Join us if you can on both days from 8:30-9:30 a.m. in the Gooding (library) patio. 


Global Presentations


Upper School students have travelled all over the world this year, and they're coming to the Lower School this Tuesday to share what they've learned with students in grades 1-5.  This global connection has certainly inspired our younger students in the past, and they've become quite excited about their own future trips abroad.

For many of the older students, the trips have been transformative, often influencing their course of study following their time at Parker.  In the past few years, the program has really taken off, and by the time the Lower School students are ready to participate, there's no telling how many countries will be involved and how many related service projects will be ongoing.

In any case, our Lower School students will get a taste of it this week as they hear about and see 


Professional Development Day


This Monday is a professional development day for all faculty and there is no school for students.  School resumes on Tuesday, May 5.


San Diego Symphony


Students in grades 3-5 are off to the symphony this coming Thursday.  Students have found these trips very inspiring, and on occasion, students have been invited to perform with the symphony.


Showstoppers Performances


Showstoppers performances will be held this week for students on Thursday and for parents on Friday, both running from 4-5:45 p.m. in the Szekely Auditorium.


Special BBQ/Dress Down Day


This Friday will be a bbq/dress-down day, with an extra special twist.  In a rite of passage, fifth graders will be invited to share in the carne asada they've long coveted and will now enjoy.  Parents are welcome to join us during their children's regular lunch times.


 Lunch Menu

Menu for the Week of May 4


Posted by ls-newsletter on Thursday May 7 at 11:11AM
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April 27, 2015; Vol. #24, Issue #30

Dear Lower School Parents:

I learn the most interesting things when I'm shaking hands at the gate, including who has new shoes, who's sporting a new hairstyle (and who needs a trim so we can see their sparkly eyes), who's ready to launch into the day, and who may need a little encouragement.  However, I also hear touching stories that often validate what we do on this campus.

Recently, a mother whose children have attended Parker for many years, and whose youngest is days away from moving to the Middle School, stopped to share an observation.  She told me that in the big projects her children had tackled of late, one in the Middle School and one in fifth grade, she was "forbidden" from helping, so much so that she didn't even know what was in a video her daughter had produced until it was first presented in competition.  When she tried to be more involved in her son's science project, he chided her (gently), reminding her that he and his partners were to work independently, without parent help.  

Looking me right in the eyes, she said, "This is why we send our kids to Parker; this is what it's all about..."

We think so, too, and we're actively involved in examining our curriculum, our classroom configuration and the way we deploy our teaching staff to ensure that our students are learning how: 1) to communicate well; 2) to access and employ their creativity; 3) to work with many and varied types of people and groups; 4) to think critically and innovatively in assessing, understanding and solving all kinds of learning challenges; and 5) to be independent, confident learners and citizens.

"As far as the mind can see..." makes more sense to me every day.


Bob Gillingham 


Summer Music Program (revisited)

The newly-arranged Summer Music Program will take place on June 5 (sorry for the incomplete date last week)  beginning at 1:30 p.m. for the students in SK-2.  At approximately 1:50 p.m., we'll take a break to allow for the resetting of performer's chairs, to allow parents with children in SK-2 only to depart and those with students in 3-5 to find their seats, and to move the older students into place.  At 2:15, the second part of the program will commence.

Lost and Found

With the variation in temperatures lately, the lost and found box is overflowing once again!  We'll return clothing we can indentify, and the rest will be donated in a week or so, so please take a look when you can.


Movie Night


This year, Movie Night will be held on May 15.  This has been a very popular event in the past and great support for the annual gala.  This year's movie will be chosen by the students (through their student council representatives) and announced next Tuesday. Children are allowed to remain after school that day, even if they are not part of the regular afterschool program, and dinner will be served at approximately 5:30-6:00 p.m. When the sun sets (generally about 7:30 p.m.), the students will enjoy a movie of their choice until 9:00 p.m.  Parents are always welcome to join us, but we certainly understand if they want to take advantage of this time for a night on the town. 

If you've missed the flyer, here it is!


 Late Start Morning, April 29


This coming Wednesday is a late-start morning.  Teachers are meeting to discuss exciting curricular changes we'll put in place next school year, so students may choose to arrive as late as 8:55 a.m. that day.  As always, students may arrive at school as early as 7:00 a.m., and the playground will open at 7:15 a.m.  Buses will run at their regular times.


Parent Mixer

This coming Friday, there will be a 5th-Grade Parent Mixer in the Nicholas Commons on the Linda Vista campus from 6:00 until 7:30 p.m.  Come join parents at your child's grade level for conversation, drinks and light dinner.


Oh, California DVDs

Attention Parker Parents--- If you’d like a DVD of either the 4th grade play “Oh California” or  the JK Spring Program, please place your order as soon as possible by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com  Thank you very much!!!

Faculty Professional Day, May 4


A reminder that May 4 is a professional development day for faculty, and there is no school for students that day.


ERB (Standardized Testing) for 3rd-5th Grade


Coming soon... standardized testing for our 3rd-5th grade students on May 11-15 (and perhaps May 18, as needed).  Homework loads will be light that week, and we ask that students are well-rested, have a good breakfast and are ready to do their best on these series of tests.   Results will be received in mid-June and mailed out to parents along with informational booklets that help to explain the scores.


Lunch Menu

Menu for the Week of April 27

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday April 25 at 01:08PM
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April 20, 2015; Vol. #24, Issue # 29

Dear Lower School Parents:


The School's annual gala will be held this coming Saturday at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.  This is the school's major fundraiser, benefitting student financial aid and faculty professional development, but it also serves to bring the school's parents, faculty, staff and alumni together in a most delightful way.  If you've never been, this is your chance to connect to a greater extent with a wonderful community.  And, if you've been, you can be assured that this year's event will be among the most memorable.

Personally, I'm grateful to all of you who have supported this event over the years. Through the dedicated work and generous support of the Parents' Association, the evening has become a significant factor in the success of the school.  Many of the students now and previously attending Parker have directly benefited from the proceeds of the event, and their stories, some shared at previous galas, have been stirring and inspirational.  On one occasion, Dr. Richard Virgen, son of Shorty Virgen, our Director of Lower School Maintenance, talked about how the school had changed his life and how he hoped to change others' by curing Cancer.

Additionally, I've been around her long enough to remember when funds for professional growth were scarce, and few were able to avail themselves of professional growth opportunities.  Now, through the remarkable generosity of the School, and with great support from the annual gala, teachers who are seeking new ideas, methods and ways of reaching kids (virtually everyone), can be supported in their quests. 

We've staged the event in hotels, on playgrounds, and in gymnasiums, but this year's venue should be among the most memorable, and we certainly hope you can join us!


Bob Gillingham


E-Waste Collection at Parker

It's that time of year again to do some spring cleaning!  Parker will be hosting an E-WASTE recycling event in coordination with the University of San Diego Electronics Recycling Center.  Collection will occur on the Linda Vista Campus on Wednesday April 22nd from 7:30-8:55am during drop off AND at the Mission Hills campus on Thursday April 23rd during morning drop off.

Basically, if it plugs in, they will take it. There is nothing they can't take except for things like tires, paint, light bulbs, and alkaline batteries (lead batteries or car batteries or cell phone batteries are fine).
- All Appliances including dishwashers, ovens, stoves, microwaves, etc
- TV's: Big boxy ones and flat screens
- All Computer related parts
- Vacuums, garden tools, and other old exercise equipment
- Cell phones and any type of PDA or tablet.
- DVD/VHS players and any type of audio/visual equipment
- Printers, fax machines, copy machines, scanners
- Gaming consoles (and all games and CD's and floppy disks, etc -- any type of media)
- Any type of wireless equipment or networking equipment

Summer Concert Change

In the spirit of innovation and design thinking, we're going to attempt to make a change in how we present our musical accomplishments in our last music program.  In an nutshell, the program will be split into separate SK-2 and 3-5 concerts to accommodate the wonderful growth of our music program over the last few years and to recognize the graciousness of our students' parents to listen to ALL of it, even if their children were featured only relatively briefly.   Additionally, both the rehearsals and programs have become very long, and we'd like to streamline all of it.

The newly-arranged Summer Music Program will take place on June    beginning at 1:30 p.m. for the students in SK-2.  At approximately 1:50 p.m., we'll take a break to allow for the resetting of performer's chairs, to allow parents with children in SK-2 only to depart and those with students in 3-5 to find their seats, and to move the older students into place.  At 2:15, the second part of the program will commence.

We think the more focused programs, the relief on finding parking and seating, the reclaimed instructional time, and the increased engagement of the students will prove highly beneficial. 

BBQ/Dress-Down Day


This Friday is a bbq/dress-down day.  Parents are welcome to join us during their children's regular lunch times.


Culinart's Newsletter

Read the Nutrition Newsletter here!


Lunch Menu

Menu for the Week of April 20

Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday April 17 at 11:40AM
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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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4201 Randolph Street
San Diego, CA 92103
619 / 298-9110
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