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Lower School Blog

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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April 6, 2015; Vol. #24, Issue # 28

Dear Lower School Parents:


The faculty, students and I were treated to a real glimpse of our future 2 weeks ago, and... it looked to be in really good hands.  The fifth graders, under the guidance of many of their teachers and working collaboratively with their peers, hypothesized, researched, built, re-built, and tested their way to a wonderful exposition of their thinking in our second science-design fair.  The problems they struggled with represented a wide swath of real 21st-century issues, and their solutions were both authentic and impressive.

Among the designs were: human food recycled as dog food; a magnetically-levitated train; bio gas generation; cricket-flour brownies (that's not a typo); solar, hydro-electric, and wind power demonstrations; edible insects (tasted like sunflower seeds to me!); e-waste solutions; excess styrofoam recycled as glue; an iphone powered by roller skates; eco-friendly pencils, cat litter, and packaging; healthy baking; flood prevention; and even a demonstration of the best way to clean up an ocean oil spill.

Perhaps most impressive was the kids' group reflection later that afternoon in the library, in the company of their teachers.  For 30 minutes, they spoke of their failures and successes, of time wasted and plans for improvement, and when the bell rang at 3 p.m., none of them immediately got up and left (an unprecedented event).

This kind of learning looks messier and certainly less-prescribed, but the kids' ownership of their work, their legitimate learning, and the great engagment and pride they exhibited during the entire project are unmistakable signs that we're on the right track and learning together.

Coming soon... news about our plans to leverage what we've learned this year into even better outcomes next year...

Have a wonderful Spring Break!

Bob Gillingham 


Parker's Spring Gala


This year's gala, Soaring Into the Second Century, is a not-to-be-missed highlight of the year.  Parents and staff from all three divisions come together for a wonderful silent and live auction, dinner and dancing, this year at the San Diego Air and Space Museum on April 25.  For more information, to register or to donate, follow this link.


Junior-Kindergarten Spring Program


The JK students have been working hard to learn a number of spring songs, and they'll perform (rehearse) for students on Thursday and subsequently for parents on Friday from 8:45-9:15 a.m. in the courtyard.


Girl Scouts' Bronze Award


The fifth-grade Girl Scouts are pursuing their Bronze Award by promoting awareness about home safety in emergencies.  They've created a simple form to be completed by families and returned to school.  If 90% of the Lower School families return the form, the entire school will enjoy snowcones after lunch on some very hot day to come.  Please help the Girls Scouts by completing and returning this form.  Thank you. 


Spring Break


We'll be on Spring Break the week of April 13-17.  School resumes on Monday, April 20.


Townhall Meeting with Kevin Yaley

This Thursday, Head of School Kevin Yaley will be holding a Townhall Meeting in the Szekely Auditorium on the Mission Hills campus from 8:30-9:30 a.m.  Bring your questions and hear those of other school community members.

Notes From Nurse Maggie


Free Parent Summit—Parenting 2015

The County ofSan Diego is offering a free Parenting Summit on Saturday, April 11th from 8:30a.m. -2:00p.m. at the Jacobs Center (404 Euclid Ave, San Diego, CA 92114). The keynote speaker is Cheryl Charles, PhD, who will speak about the reconnection of children with nature in their everyday lives. The closing speakers are Andre Jones and Aaron Wooten who are program coordinators of the Father2Child fatherhood program.

Childcare is provided for those who pre-register. Additionally, a free light breakfast and a free lunch will be provided. Fathers are encouraged to attend.

To register for this free event: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ParentSummit2015 or call 858-


Mission Hills Menu

Menu for the Week of April 6-10

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday April 4 at 09:33AM
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March 30, 2015; Vol. #24, Issue #27


Dear Lower School Parents:


Two very unusual, very different events this week alternately raised my awareness then warmed my heart.  

On the dark side, an attempted abduction at a north county school shook all of us out of our complacency.  I received many emails and calls about this nearly-tragic event, and it drew my attention once again to how trusting we've become and how careful we have to be. Even now, we're reviewing our safety protocols, and below, you'll find information I've sent to all of our teachers that should also be very helpful to you in talking with your kids.  In the very near future, we'll be addressing these same issues with the kids, in a very age-appropriate way, and we'll hope that, should a similar situation unfold for any of our students, they'll have the wherewithall to kick, scream and run as effectively as the targeted young girl did.

On the lighter side, one of our teachers came to me misty-eyed holding a letter she'd received from one of her students.  The thoughtful hand-lettered text and drawings cited the misfortune of a very young cancer-stricken relative of the teacher, and tucked in the envelope was the student's savings of $171 in cash, enclosed to help the young patient.  Most astoundingly, the letter's closing had been edited to include the word "anonamos" (sic) before the word "friend." Both the teacher and I were floored at the absolute and pure beauty of the gesture.

Our students, your children, will be surrounded by good and bad their entire lives.  Our goal has been and will be to prepare them to deal with and process complex problems, in whatever form they appear, while also recognizing and appreciating the beauty around them.  And, perhaps this time around, we'll take our cue from a most remarkable young (anonymous) philanthropist.


Bob Gillingham


Child Safety


Many of you are aware of yesterday's attempted child abduction at Skyline elementary school in Solana Beach.  Fortunately, the child is safe and was not physically harmed.  Although child abductions are thankfully rare occurrences, yesterday's events serve to remind parents that "stranger danger" is a topic that we must discuss with our children.  A little girl is safe with her family tonight due to her own bravery and the quick reaction of nearby adults.

Parents may be fielding questions from their children about their own personal safety, or about what to do if such a situation arises.  We suggest answers that are as honest as possible while still being reassuring and age-appropriate. 

If you would like to read more about discussing "stranger danger" with your children, please check out the following resources:

What to Teach Kids About Strangers

Teaching Kids to Be Safe Without Making Them Scared



Teaching Student About Strangers

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, one of the most important ways parents can protect their children of all ages is to teach them to be wary of potentially dangerous situations. This will help children when dealing with strangers as well as with
known adults who may not have good intentions.  Parents can teach their children to
recognize the warning signs of suspicious behavior, such as when an adult asks
them to disobey their parents or do something without permission, asks them to
keep a secret, or makes them feel uncomfortable in any way.

Another recommendation is for parents to talk to their children about how they should
handle dangerous situations. One suggestion is to teach children the, “No, Go, Yell,
Tell” mantra. In dangerous situations, students should say, no, run away, yell as
loudly as they can (even indoors), and tell a trusted adult what happened right

Other suggestions from the NCPC include:

1. Parents should know where their children are. Make it a rule for children to check in with you before going anywhere. This is especially important with teens. Your children should have your work and cellular phone numbers available and/or memorized.
2. Point out safe places. Show your children safe places to play, safe roads and paths to take, and safe places to go if there is trouble.
3. Teach children to trust their instincts. Explain that if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable, they should get away as fast as they can and tell a trusted adult.
4. Teach children to be assertive. Make sure they know it is ok to say no to an adult and to run away from adults in a dangerous situation.
5. Encourage your child to play with others…there is more safety in numbers.

Dr. Bridgett Besinger, Parker's psychologist, also has advice to offer on this subject, and you can read about her thoughts in this article.


Fourth-Grade Play


The fourth-grade play, Oh, California, will be presented for Lower School students next Thursday morning and for parents at 1:30 p.m. that afternoon, all performances in the Szekely Auditorium.  Come join us for this rousing, historical musical favorite. 


Peanut Butter


A recent tragedy took the life of a friend of one of our Lower School teachers, and this really turned my head on the issue of peanut butter in elementary schools.  I've had many requests over the years to be "peanut free," but I always thought that our faculty and staff's excellent management made this unnecessary. However, when I learned that this very cautious 62-year-old woman had died as the result of mistakenly eating peanuts in a kale chip, it changed my perspective markedly.

Last week, I asked the food service staff to remove peanut butter for a week to see if we could operate well without it.  With very few exceptions and few complaints, we have. It was replaced with sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) which I and others found to be quite good, but some children did not.  We were prepared for this by having very plain cheese and very plain turkey sandwiches, and the kids seemed to accept this as an alternative.

We'll continue without peanut butter, because we have among us individuals who would become gravely ill if exposed.  We anticipate having to make additional adjustments to ensure that the kids are well nourished, and should we have children whose needs we haven't met, we'll take a very individual approach to ensure their wellness.

I'd like to ask all of you not to send anything peanut-related to school.  Because we're an elementary campus with children who put their hands on everything, it's just a matter of time before we have an emergency or worse.  

Thanks for your understanding. Please call me directly (619-318-9978) if you have concerns, and I will be happy to work with you to get them resolved well.


Summer Program Update

Please note:  The Early Bird Registration Discount period ends this coming Tuesday, March 31.  Be sure to take advantage of this special pricing over the weekend or by Monday evening at the latest.
If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Monique or Tim in the Summer Program office on 858-569-7900. Monique can be reached on Ext 4109, and Tim on Ext 4236.

SK Open House DVD's

Attention Parker Parents--- If you’d like a DVD of the SK Open House the order deadline isFriday, April 3.  The DVD includes the classroom activities and the program in the auditorium.  For orders or questions please visit www.francisparkerdvd.com Thank you very much!!!


Lower School Menu

Menu for the week of March 30

Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday March 27 at 04:22PM
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March 23, 2015; Vol. 24, Issue # 26

Dear Lower School Parents:


Though last week was a short one for students (teachers had a professional development day on Monday), it was, nevertheless, action-packed.  Enthusiastic fifth-grade leaders addressed the entire faculty and staff and all of the students to share the reasons they should be considered for the office of President.  Senior kindergarteners excitedly prepared for their big Open House night, then they charmed the standing-room-only crowd of parents and grandparents with what they've learned in all of their classes; and, even while planning their big science fair next week, and on the heels of their wonderful, student-created musical the week before, the fifth-grade students "shipped out," by participating in the Maritime Museum's pre-Revolutionary War living history program.

So, as I sit here in my pj's writing this on Pajama Day, I'm particularly mindful of and grateful for the article (see below) shared this week by Noelle Ludwig, one of our wonderful Lower School VPs.  The case it makes for the important things that children should master resonate (and manifest) more clearly all the time on this campus.


Bob Gillingham


Late Start Wednesday


This Wednesday is a late start day.  Students are welcome to come to school at the regular time, and they'll be supervised on the playground.  They may also choose to arrive at school as late as 8:55 a.m. for a 9:00 a.m. start.  Buses will run at their normal times.


Spring L.E.A.P. Classes


LEAP's Spring Session Classes are beginning THIS week after-school! It is not too late to join all of the exciting classes LEAP has to offer. To see the class schedule just click on this link below: 
Along with our usual outstanding classes like Chess, Yoga, Spanish, Chinese, Tennis, Soccer, Cheer, Cooking, Publish My Book, Youth Coding, and Fencing, we have added 4 new classes. These classes are Golf, Legomation, Creative Builders, and Animation and Film-making.
If you need any assistance with class descriptions or registering, please contact Whitney Nortonwnorton@francisparker.org or Monique Velde mvelde@francisparker.org or give us a call (858)569-7900 x4109. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you in the Spring Session of LEAP!

Fifth-Grade Play DVDs


Attention Parker Parents--- If you’d like a DVD of the 5th Grade Environmental Plays the order deadline is Friday, March 27.  For orders or questions please visitwww.francisparkerdvd.com Thank you very much!!!

Student Council


The Lower School students (SK-5) will elect a new president for the third trimester on Monday after flagraising.  Fifth-grade students campaignined all week last week after giving speeches at the last flagraising, and the stage is set for the election.


Science Fair


The fifth graders have been working on unique solutions to environmental problems, and they'll be exhibiting their designs in the Gooding Courtyard (by the Considine Library) next Friday morning from 8:15 - 9:30 a.m.  You'll be amazed not only by the kids' knowledge and understanding of the science involved in their work but also by their great engagement and enthusiasm.


Girl Scouts

Troop Leader (and fifth-grade teacher) Kris Stone and the Girls Scouts in Troop 3854 write:
"The girls are working toward earning their Bronze Award and will be teaching kids in grades 1-5 how to be prepared in case of a natural disaster. 
The girls will also be issuing a challenge to the 1st-5th grade kids to get prepared for a natural disaster by putting together an emergency supply kit.  Members of our troop will be coming by your classes tomorrow with brochures from the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services.  Included in the brochure is a "Basic Supplies" check list.  We are asking kids to work with their families and create a "Basic Supplies" kit at their home.  
Dr. G agreed to throw a snow cone party at lunch (later this year) if 90% of the kids complete this task.  There's a form for parents to sign and return to our troop once they've made their emergency kit.
Thanks for your help (with the Bronze Award)."

7 things every kid should master

(A wonderful article shared by LS VP Noelle Ludwig which perfectly captures our current goals and aspirations. )


A noted Williams College psychologist argues standardized tests are useful, if they measure the abilities students really need... Read the rest of the article here.

Notes from Nurse Maggie


This month is National Athletic Training month. During
March, athletic trainers across America are being recognized for their commitment
to helping students prevent injuries and stay healthy and active. Athletic trainers
are health care professionals who are found in high schools, colleges, corporations,
professional sports, the military, performing arts, clinics, hospitals and physician
offices. Parker has two outstanding athletic trainers on staff: Niki Dehner and Jarrad
Phillips. Recently at a Town Hall, upper school students were educated by Niki and
Jarrad about the role of an athletic trainer as well as the signs, symptoms,
prevention and treatment of concussions (see injuredathletes.org). Thank you to
Niki and Jarrad for their dedication to our student’s health!


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of March 23

Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday March 20 at 03:21PM
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March 16, 2015; Vol. #24, Issue #25

Dear Lower School Parents:


We observe a long-time tradition this week when the senior kindergarteners welcome their parents into their classrooms to share in the excitement of a typical kindergarten day.  The pride with which the students hold their school at all grade levels is no more on display than in this special evening.

That ownership and the uncomplicated child-like joy the students bring to their learning are what we strive to preserve throughout the students' elementary journey. In these precious few years when they are truly children, we wish for them the starry-eyed wonder of learning and discovery, of being truly and authentically-engaged in their learning.

We've now peeked through the barely open doorway to a world that Col. Francis Parker envisioned long ago: learning fueled by students' interests; by their exposure to opportunities in the arts, athletics and academics; and full involvement in challenges and activities that they not only find worthwhile, but also rewarding.

Don't let the Chicken Dance (an SK Open House favorite) fool you...  it's the start of something big!


Bob Gillngham


Professional Development Day


Monday is a PD Day for faculty, and there is no school for students.  We'll see everyone back at school on Tuesday, March 17 (not a dress-down day).


Student Council


Student Council representatives will meet on Wednesday morning this week at 8 a.m. in Senora Herold's room.

Student council speeches will take place at Tuesday's flagraising, and voting will follow flagraising on Monday, March 23.


Maritime Museum


The fifth graders are off to the Maritime Museum this week (5SP on Wed., 5T on Thurs.) and next (5ST next Tuesday) as students live out the pre-revolutionary days on an authentic clipper.  Entitled, "Prelude to the American Revolution," the museum's literature describes the adventure thusly:  

"Set sail on the eve of the American Revolution! Re-live the turbulent year of 1774 experiencing the struggle of merchant mariners sailing the triangle trade route between New England and the Caribbean. Embarking on a voyage of the imagination, students will role-play with our maritime instructors, raising sails, loading cargo and protecting the vessel from pirates. Navigating their way through the political storms of the era, students will face frustrations that inspired American colonists to revolt. Ultimately, they will choose their own destiny and find out what role they will play in the war for America's freedom."

The kids always have a great time on this trip, and though they're tired the next day, the journey (the ship doesn't actually leave the dock) is always worth it.


Senior-Kindergarten Open House


The senior kindergarteners assume the roles of teachers this week when they invite their parents in to experience a day in the life of a Parker senior kindergartener.  The kids and their teachers have worked very hard to prepare for a special evening this Thursday where parents will gain special hands-on insights into what happens in the SK program.  


PJ Day


Friday is a pajama day for the entire school, as we all support our tired senior kindergarteners (who will have stayed up later than usual because of their open house the night before).  Boys and girls are requested to wear pjs and shoes appropriate for all regular school activities.


Spring Program DVDs


Attention Parker Parents--- If you’d like a DVD of the Spring Concert the order deadline isFriday, March 20.  For orders or questions please visit www.francisparkerdvd.com Thank you very much!!!

Mission Hills Menu

Menu for the Week of March 16

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday March 14 at 09:11AM
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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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6501 Linda Vista Rd.
San Diego, CA 92111

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