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Lower School Blog

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
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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
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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
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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
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May 5, 2014; Vol. #23, Issue # 31

Dear Lower School Parents:


On behalf of the faculty and staff at the Lower School, I'd like to express our sincere appreciation for the extraordinary show of love and support last week (and always!). We were treated like Kings and Queens with delicious breakfasts, lunches, tons of tasty treats, floral arrangements, and heartfelt notes and words.  It was a very special privilege, and we are all most grateful for all of your many kindnesses.

Many thanks, also, for your amazing participation in Movie Night this year.  We brought in two additional popcorn poppers, and they appeared to be a great hit.  (Last year's long lines were not non-existent!)  The good news/bad news for the evening:  We had asked the kids to pick up after themselves, and once everyone left the turf, nary a scrap of paper or candybar wrapper was in evidence.  However... our exuberance to provide plenty of popcorn resulted in a lot of it coverning our playground... like a light coat of snow.  Fortunately, the birds like popcorn as much as our students, and most of it will be gone by the time we return to school on Monday.

Thanks to all of you, the Lower School Faculty and Staff will be able to make a significant contribution to the Gala effort this year.


As referenced in Kevin Yaley's column, the three divisions have been working on scheduling for the 2014-15 school year and beyond as recommended in our last accreditation and as planned in our latest strategic plan.  At the Lower School, we're very excited by the changes we're making which retain current programming, but 1) significantly streamline our day;  2) eliminate needless transitions; 3) allow for increased collaborative planning among the teachers; 4) create a platform from which we will be able to elevate students' thinking and 21st-century skills (e.g., communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking); and 5) provide flexibility for grouping students and arranging time to foster project-based thinking and exploration.  As we finalize our plans, we'll share them with all of you.


This coming Saturday evening, the Parker Community will enjoy another wonderful Gala.  If you've hesistated to sign up, I encourage you to come.  These evenings are always a fun way to enjoy good food and drink in an elegant setting, a chance to catch up with old friends and to make new ones, and a wonderful way to support Parker's professional development of faculty and the financial aid program.  We'll all hope to see you there.


Bob Gillingham


Lancer Orchestra

The Lancer Orchestra (with students from all 3 divisions) performed on stage at Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch Arena last Saturday, April 26th.  They did an outstanding job and the group was highly complimented by park patrons - someone actually commented that they thought the music was from a recording and not a live performance!!  
Attached is a link to one of the pieces they performed - Scherzo Dance, and a group photo taken after the performance.  

Culinart Food Forum

On Monday, May 12 we will have our next Food Services Open Forum.  It will take place at 2:45pm in the Nicholas Commons (on the Linda Vista campus).  The first forum was help on the Mission Hills campus, and parents were very appreciative of the staff for their informative presentation.

Science Fair

This Wednesday from 8:15-9:15 a.m. in the Gooding Patio, our young scientists in grades 1-4 will show their scientific thinking, creations and findings.  This event is always a delight, as the kids have conceived and developed these projects largerly on their own, and their pride in their accomplishments and eagerness to share with you are delightful.

Cell Phones at School

With the increasing proliferation of cell phones and the busy pace of modern students' and parents' lives, we understand that many of the kids will have cell phones to facilitate family communication.  That said, I can tell you that, should you be hesitant about sending your child to school with a cell phone or simply not wishing to, they will be perfectly fine, as they can always use the school phones.
Should you deem it necessary to send a cell phone to school with your child, that phone must remain in their backpack during the school day, and can only be used before and after school for placing or receiving calls to parents or guardians.  Ideally, the phone would be inexpensive, limited in features, and easily replaceable.
Mrs. Gray and I mentioned to the students last week that a student had brought a phone to school early in the week and, realizing that he had it in his pocket when heading for p.e., set it down on the playground.  When he came back to retrieve it, it was gone.  
We'd ask again (it's mentioned in the parent handbook) that we'd like toys and electronic devices to stay at home, unless absolutely necessary (as cited above) or on the approval of the teacher for a special project or event.  Additionally, and as we requested of the students, if you see this particular phone (an iPhone with a bright orange/camouflage cover) or any expensive item out of place, at home or school, please bring it to our attention.  


This Wednesday, the 4th and 5th-grade Showstoppers will share their original plays with the afterschool students at 4 p.m.  Students must have signed permission slips to attend, and these will be made available early in the week.  The following day, Thursday, the kids will put on their plays for their parents, again at 4 p.m.

Parker Family Fishing Party


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 were sent home in the Monday (Tuesday) envelopes, and we have more available in the 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 boat(s) is full, so sign up soon!


Notes From Nurse Maggie


This article, Cardiac Screening for Students, provides very helpful information about preventive measures that parents can take in ensuring their teen's optimal health.


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of May 5

Posted by on Saturday May 3 at 02:44PM
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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.

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4201 Randolph St.
San Diego, CA 92103
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