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Lower School Blog

Jan. 20, 2015; Vol. # 24, Issue #

 Dear Lower School Parents:

Our observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is especially poignant this year.  King's struggle to bring equal rights and freedoms to citizens of this country, no matter their color, belief or origin, was a fundamental, powerful expression which resonated deeply with all who cherish liberty.  Its echoes or perhaps those of other freedom fighters have surfaced in remarkable ways in recent days, born of horrendous and despicable acts.  But, not unlike seeds sown from the heat of a tremendous forest fire, the human spirit has flourished in astounding ways, manifesting in unprecedented displays of support and unity, most notably in Paris.

As a community, we enjoy unparalleled levels of liberty and personal choice rooted in a respect for the individual, a lesson deeply embedded in Colonel Francis Parker's philosophy and the mission and program of the school he would inspire.   Yet, that privilege hinges on a responsible, educated citizenry who truly understand what Martin Luther King meant when he said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we heed his vision that, "...one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,' "  and we recommit to the educational program that will prepare our students to make a meaningful, positive difference in the world.


Bob Gillingham

Thoughts to Ponder...


Following is a  great article which captures both our approach to and philosophy about teaching and learning.  A parent was kind enough to forward this to me, and though it's a bit lengthy, I think you'll enjoy it immensely.


Three-day Weekend

There is no school on Monday, Jan. 19, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. School will resume on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Student Council

The student council meeting this week will be held 10 minutes earlier on Tuesday at 7:50am in Senora Herold's room.

Colonial Faire

The fifth graders have been studying American colonists, and next Friday... they'll be able to experience the colonial lifestyle for themselves.  They'll arrive at school in Colonial garb, experience their classroom instruction under the strict supervision of their newly-transformed Colonial teachers, and enjoy a range of activities typical of Colonial days in the library patio.  

Many thanks in advance to the many volunteer parents who make this day come alive for the students.

Late Start Wednesday

This Wednesday, Jan. 21, is a late-start day.  Students are welcome to come to school at their regular times, though the bells will not ring until 8:55 a.m.  Buses will run at their regular times, and the playground will be supervised beginning at 7:15 a.m.


Admissions Testing


The second admissions testing session for prospective junior-kindergarten through fourth-grade students will take place this coming Saturday, Jan. 24, beginning at 8:30 a.m.  Interested families should contact Sara Knox at sknox@francisparker.org.  The deadline for application for the 2015-16 school year is Jan. 30.


Kindness Week

Parker's Kindness Week (January 26-30), a student-council sponsored event, will take place on both campuses and across all three divisions. Kindness Week will incorporate The Great Kindness Challenge, and national initiative designed to help create a culture of kindness on campuses around the country during the same week.

Currently, there are 1, 876,939 students in 3,355 schools nationwide registered to participate in The Great Kindness Challenge. Parker will become a "Kindness Certified School" at the conclusion of our Kindness Week as part of The GKC.

Students, faculty, and staff are asked to perform as many kind acts as possible throughout the week. Additionally, a variety of campus activities throughout the week will help keep the students aware of and engaged in the simple, fun, and caring ways to show genuine kindness on campus and in our community.


Parker Pays It Forward


We're having a community service event, Parker Pays It Forward, on March 21 from 8-12pm at the Serra Museum. It is a site clean up open to alumni, parents and students. We have a waiver for the students who are 17 years and younger listed on our website. 
For more information, visit this link: Parker Pays It Forward website 
We are calling for volunteers and supplies. The contact is Lizzy Bendrick '07 atlbendrick@francisparker.org
Posted by ls-newsletter on Sunday January 18 at 04:47PM
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Jan. 12, 2015; Volume #24, Issue # 17

Dear Lower School Parents:


2015 unfolded as if we had never left.  I was struck by how happy the students and teachers were to see each other, and an hour into the first school day, the campus was humming and clicking at full speed.

Administratively, it was a bit of a slower week, so I took the opportunity to wander through our classrooms.  In every space, I found great engagement... students genuinely interested in what they were doing while working independently, in small groups or in discussion with their teachers.  It occurred to me that time was being used so purposefully, and everyone seemed to know just what to do.  

And, at the very end of the week, in sort of a harbinger of things to come, John Heilman, our upper grades science teacher, came running in to the office holding a tray of his fifth-grade students latest creations.  He was so excited, I thought the room wouldn't contain him.  

The students had created machines of all kinds powered by electrical circuits they'd learned about.  The results of their conceptual applications were right in front of my eyes, and I was amazed at the engineering marvels they'd pieced together in just 60 minutes.  It's important to note that there hadn't been a blueprint... the kids noticed, focused then brainstormed before designing, creating and testing the most delightful machines, all of them different, and all of them purposeful.

2015 is right in front of us, and it's great to know that we're out of the blocks, off and running toward even greater achievement.


Bob Gillingham

Proper Shoes and Outerwear

Colder weather is encouraging the wearing of boots of all kinds which are great for warming young children's feet, but really bad for running laps in p.e.  If 1st-5th grade students want to wear boots, that's fine, but they must also bring and change into a pair of sneakers (running or tennis shoes) for p.e.  JK and SK students must wear proper shoes all day, as the time to change back and forth is prohibitive. 
Also, we have been experiencing this year a wonderful run of students wearing only Lands' End uniform garb, including outerwear.  However, the increasingly cold weather and the drastic change in temperature during the day (from really cold to really hot) has led to a much more robust lost and found box and many non-uniform "substitutes" for Lands' End outerwear when it can't be found.  Please remind your children that outerwear must be Lands' End uniform garb.

Language and Culture Bake Sale and T-Shirts

As we jump into a new year, we quickly get back to business here at school with our first bake sale of 2015!  We are asking for parents to bring yummy treats to school on Friday, January 16th at drop off or at 11:00am to support Language and Culture Week. This year we are focusing Lower School student awareness on global initiatives being undertaken by our Middle and Upper School students as they embark on their global trips in February. 

With the proceeds from the bake sale, the students will be purchasing specific animals (chosen by the student council representatives) to help change lives in parts of Africa (by helping familes to be self-sustaining), and contributing to the purchase of important supplies, including wheelchairs, which our Upper School students will be sharing with people they meet and help during the course of their global trips. 

 With all of our efforts, this bake sale can be a big international success!

Here is the link to sign up:


Please note that we'll also be sending home Language and Culture t-shirt order forms in the Monday envelopes, but they're also available here.  All forms are due back to the Lower School office by this coming Friday, Jan. 16.  Students may dress down throughout Language and Culture Week if they are wearing Language and Culture shirts from any year we've followed this tradition.

Thank you so much!

Romina Kelly & Camille Dunbar L&C Chairs 2015

 Admissions Open House


This coming Thursday, the school will host its second Admissions Open House of the year. Prospective families are invited to visit the school that afternoon beginning at 3:15 p.m.

This Coming Friday

Friday, we'll be having a dress-down day and bbq, and everyone is invited to join us in the courtyard during the regular lunch rotation times.  We'll also be enjoying a bake sale (see above).  

The day will also feature our last grade-level coffee for Junior-Kindergarten parents, beginning at 8:20 a.m. in the Considine Library.  Join us for a visual tour of the school, students and program, and we'll share lots of insights about our youngest students.

That evening, the 2nd-grade parents will gather for a parent mixer on the Linda Vista campus in the Nicholas Commons, from 6-7:30 p.m.  The agenda-free event is a great way to get to know other parents at the same grade level.


Parker's Summer PRograms

Information on Parker's summer programs can be found on the school's website, but you can also find it here:  http://www.francisparker.org/page.cfm?p=1746.  Check out the many exciting offerings in store for summer 2015.

Parker's summer program will also include a full dramatic production this year, the musical 13.  If you are interested in finding out more about this production, just visit this link:  http://www.francisparker.org/page.cfm?p=1983



The school will be observing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Jan. 19, and there will be no school that day.  School resumes on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Notes from Nurse Maggie:

Measles Outbreak: According to the California Department of Public Health, nine people, including one from San Diego, who visited Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim between December 15th and December 20th have contracted measles. Six of the nine confirmed cases were in unvaccinated individuals.

Measles is an infectious, highly contagious airborne disease that is easily spread by coughing, sneezing, or coming in contact with an infected person. Measles generally begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes. Within a few days a red rash appears, usually on the face then spreading down to the rest of the body.  If you or a family member develop symptoms of measles, contact your healthcare provider. Remember, the best way to prevent measles and the spread of the disease is through vaccination (for children, 2 doses of MMR at ages 15 months and 4 years). 

Please contact Nurse Maggie with any questions: 619-717-0235 or mwest@francisparker.org.


Showstoppers and JK Holiday Program DVDs

Attention Parker Parents--- If you’d like a DVD of the 2nd/3rd grade Showstoppers plays or the JK Holiday Program, the order deadline is Friday, January 16.  For orders or questions please visit www.francisparkerdvd.com Thanks you very much!!!

Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of Jan. 12

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday January 10 at 04:34PM
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Jan. 5, 2015; Vol. # 24, Issue # 16


Dear Lower School Parents:


Happy New Year to all of you!  Weren't we just talking about Y2K? Amazing...

Before we leave 2014 too far behind, and on behalf of the the faculty, staff and students of the Lower School, thank you to all of you who helped us realize a very successful Season of Giving.  Your good spirits, your many contributions of time and treasure for those less fortunate in our San Diego region, and your attendance at all of our December programs and celebrations meant the world to us.

We'll be jumping right back in to our program, and teachers will be spending considerable time and energy working on comprehensive narrative comments regarding every aspect of your child's learning during the first semester of our 2014-15 school year.  It will be our goal to mail those out to you in the first part of February.

I hope that you were able to spend some fun, refreshing time with your loved ones over the break.   We (my wife's side of the family this time) celebrated my mother-in-law's 90th birthday in Las Vegas.  And, while generally wild horses couldn't drag me to that part of the world, it turned out to be an amazing way to honor a terrific woman who's been a part of my life for nearly 40 years.

As we move in to 2015, the faculty and I wish you and your families every success and happiness.

Happy New Year!

Bob Gillingham


School Resumes


January 5, 2015, marks our return to school and a regular schedule.  We'll see everyone bright and early on Monday morning.


Admissions Testing


This Saturday, Jan. 10, we will hold our first admissions testing of the year for prospective JK-4 students.  Families interested in participating in the testing should contact Sara Knox, the Lower School Director of Admissions at sknox@francisparker.org. 


Language and Culture Week (Feb. 2-6)


As part of the Language and Culture Week celebration, the Language Department at Francis Parker Lower School would like to invite parents, relatives and friends to share their cultural backgrounds and experiences through short presentations from February 2nd through the 5th. The students will enjoy learning about cultures and languages from around the world. Suggestions are: teaching numbers, colors, greetings, songs, poems, and riddles, playing games, looking at books, traditional artifacts, clothes, posters, videos, and tasting food.

If you are interested in giving a presentation, kindly return the attached letter to school by January 12th or sign up by using our Google Doc (http://tinyurl.com/np5puvr). For your information, please find attached the Spanish and Chinese classroom schedules.

For further questions, please call Liliana Batelman at 619-298-9110 ext. 6225.


Lower School LEAP Program

LEAP! Introduces “Drop-In” Day Childcare Service

Beginning in January, Parker families can use LEAP!’s after-school childcare service on a day to day basis. Service may be scheduled in advance or last minute arrivals will be accepted. LEAP! is offered every school day from 3:30pm- 6:00pm with oversight provided by experienced staff.

$15 per day/per child

$10 for siblings participating on the same day

To use LEAP!’s Drop-In Service please do one of the following:

1)    1) Complete a Drop-In form available in the office and return to the LEAP! mailbox.

2) 2) Email Whitney Norton wnorton@francisparker.org a completed electronic version of the form found on the Francis Parker School website under the Extended Day tab.

***Existing after-school policies: Using childcare in unanticipated situations will not incur a charge so long as such use does not exceed three (3) occurrences annually. Use of this childcare service in excess of three (3) times annually will automatically require enrollment in the program with charges at the appropriate level of use.


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of Jan. 5-9


Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday January 2 at 08:24AM
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Dec. 15, 2014; Vol. 24, Issue # 15


Dear Lower School Parents:


The pace of this year has certainly picked up... and I'm a bit stunned that I'm writing the last newsletter of 2014!  In any event, it's been a wonderful year to this point, and all of us are looking forward to even more rewarding teaching and learning when we return in January.

I'd like to thank you in advance for your support of our Student Council's community service efforts.  They have been very excited about making a real difference for real people through their various fundraisers and drives, and we certainly hope that this inspires in them a desire to continue this spirit of philanthropy throughout their lives.

As we bid adieu to 2014, the faculty, staff and I are grateful for the many blessings we've received, including the privilege of working at such a remarkable school with such a great school community, and we pledge to continously improve in 2015.

Happy New Year!

Bob Gillingham


News From Parker's Food Service Department

Parker's Food Service has begun adding organic items to the menu at the Mission Hills Campus.  Like the Linda Vista Campus, they will be offering "Organic Wednesday" on their menus.  At the salad bar, they have switched to organic spinach, organic mixed greens and organic kale.  Occasionally, they will be offering other different organic vegetables as well. Examples are organic golden honeydew, Suzie's farm sugar snap peas, Blue Heron Farm's sweet potatoes and squashes.  Hopefully, everyone will enjoy the variety of local and organic produce being introduced.  


Season of Giving


Calling all Season of Giving "Givers" and "Bakers"!!!!

The Season of Giving began on December 1st and will be finishing up on Dec. 19th.  We have so much to be thankful for in our lives...  good health, warm homes, and nourishing food, and here at Parker, an incredible education for our children.  We are reminded, especially at this time of year, that others aren't as fortunate and how important it is to give to those in need.

Our theme this year is "Giving from the Heart," and students have been doing just that...  creating heart-themed artwork to share with the community and to display on our Giving Tree in the courtyard and in the school hallways, and last Friday morning, selling hot chocolate to generate funds to buy toys for boys and girls at Rady Children's Hospital.  However, the bulk of our "Giving" begins Monday of this week with charitable drives for canned food and new or gently used blankets and gloves running through Thursday, Dec. 18th, and a holiday bake sale on Friday, Dec. 19th (during lunch and the holiday sing-along) to generate additional funds to purchase toys (in a special early morning student council shopping trip to Toys 'R' Us) to donate to Rady Children's Hospital.  

The canned food drive will benefit the San Diego Food Bank and the blanket and glove drive will benefit the San Diego Rescue Mission, a facility that houses 85 homeless people a night, where nearly half are children in need.  Collection bins will be set up in the hallway outside the front office.

We all have a million things going on this time of year, but in addition to all the holiday fun this weekend and next week, please consider:

• Purchasing or rounding up from your pantry the following: canned meats, peanut butter, canned soup, canned or dried fruit, canned vegetables, dried beans, rice & cereal, dried pasta, powdered milk, infant formula, and packaged nuts and seeds (please no glass jars including baby food, home canned goods or baked goods).

• Bringing in a new or gently used blanket and gloves for a family in need

• Baking holiday treats for the bake sale (if time permits, bake and freeze this weekend!)

 We need everyone's help to make the Season of Giving a success!  Please use the following link to access the Season of Giving Holiday Bake Sale Google Doc to sign up to bring items to the bake sale or to volunteer to help with set-up or sales:

Bake Sale Volunteer Opportunities!

Thanks in advance for your generosity and support!

Anne Dixon McManus

Season of Giving Chair


This Friday


This Friday is a holiday dress-down day, but it will also feature a junior-kindergarten holiday program at 9:00 a.m. in the Szekely Auditorium, a bake sale, and of course, the Sing-Along beginning at 1:45 p.m. and running to the end of school.  We invite everyone to join us for this festive tradition... a great way to kick off the holidays.


Grandparents' Day and Thanksgiving Program DVD's

(Extended Deadline)

Attention Parents and Grandparents--- If you’d like a DVD of the Grandparents Day performance which includes the JK concert in the auditorium as well as classroom activities which followed immediately after, the order deadline has been extended untilDecember 12 because of the Thanksgiving holiday.  Also, the deadline for the Thanksgiving Concert DVD is now December 19.  For orders or questions please visitwww.francisparkerdvd.com


Notes From Nurse Maggie


The cold and flu season is upon us!  Read this informative article to make sure that you're prepared.


Menu for the Week of Dec. 15

Lunch Menu for Mission Hills

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday December 13, 2014 at 02:00PM
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Dec. 8, 2014; Vol. 24, Issue # 14

  Dear Lower School Parents:


I often refer to the dedication of the Lower School faculty, but I don't always give you specifics, the ways in which they manifest this quality.  However, this past week provided me with a wonderful example, and I was eager to share it with you.

In our late-start morning last week, the teachers were asked to review their curriculum documents, arguably already describing a wonderful program.  However, because our strategic plan calls for a thorough consideration of our entire academic and co-curricular program, with uniform excellence as the goal, the teachers rolled up their sleeves yet again to see where tweaks and revisions might further enhance student learning.

Frankly, this is what I love about this school and the people who work in it.  Each of the teachers is always seeking a better way to reach their students and to legitimately engage them in learning, and they're not afraid to take on new challenges if they sense that they'll enrich the students' experience (e.g., design thinking).  Additionally, as an independent school, we have the opportunity to make changes quickly when we know that they'll be in the best interests of our students.  Finally, it's this willingness among the faculty to work together to meet our mission that makes coming to this campus each day a most rewarding experience, not only for me, but also for our entire community. 


Bob Gillingham


Book Faire


“I Like Big Books, and I cannot Lie!” Come to Sir Read-a-lot’s Castle of Books!

The Lower School Scholastic Book Fair begins this Monday. Enjoy a respite from the
season’s stresses by stopping in to shop in Sir Read-a-lot’s medieval castle (also
known as the Considine Library).

The fair runs Monday, December 8th-Thursday, December 11th, 7:30 am-5 pm and
Friday, December 12th, 7:30 a.m. -1 p.m.

To preview the books available at the fair, visit this website:

Thank you, and see you at the Fair!

Book Fair Co-Chairs




This Wednesday, Dr. G., Mrs. Gray and Mrs. Knox will host a coffee for first-grade parents at 8:15 a.m. in the Szekely Auditorium.  On Friday, they'll do the same for senior-kindergarten parents, also at 8:15 a.m. in the Szekely Auditorium.  

Both coffees will cover the children and program at those levels, with photo highlights of the activities in which the students are engaged.

Bring your questions and curiosity and enjoy a cup of coffee as you learn more about the school.


This Friday


This Friday morning, the student council will host a Hot Chocolate Sale to raise funds to purchase toys for boys and girls at Rady Children's Hospital.  Steaming cups of hot chocolate will be sold for $1 beginning at 7:30 a.m. until the beginning bell.

Also happening on Friday, students  will be learning Zumba in their p.e. classes!

Finally, Friday is a bbq/dress-down day, and you're welcome to join us!



Afterschool Leap PRogram


LEAP! (Lancer Enrichment Afterschool Program) is pleased to announce that Winter Session courses and activities scheduled to begin on January 15, 2015, are now open for registration online.  

Along with our long-standing options including Drwaing, Yoga, Soccer, Tennis, Chess, Cooking, Chinese, Spanish, and Fencing, we are adding Youth Coding: Mindcraft and Video Game Design, Zumba, and Publish My Book.

Space in many classes is limited, so please go to Parker's Extended Day page and register your child(ren).

Questions?  Please contact Whitney Norton at wnorton@francisparker.org or Monique Velde in the Summer and Extended Day Programs office (858-569-7900 x-4109) for further assistance.




Next week, from Dec. 15-18, we'll hold a combined Food Drive and Blanket/Glove Drive.  Food collected will re-supply the San Diego Food Bank and the blankets and gloves will go to boys and girls living in Tijuana who are greatly in need of shelter and warmth as the temperatures dip.

The following week, the JK Holiday Program will be held on Friday morning, and that afternoon, we encourage you to join us for the traditional Sing-Along, which has become a real favorite. The day will also feature a holiday dress-down and bake sale, with proceeds from the bake sale supporting the purchase of toys for Rady Children's Hospital.


GrandParents' Day and Thanksgiving Program DVD's

Attention Parents and Grandparents--- If you’d like a DVD of the Grandparents Day performance which includes the JK concert in the auditorium as well as classroom activities which followed immediately after, the order deadline has been extended untilDecember 12 because of the Thanksgiving holiday.  Also, the Thanksgiving Concert DVD deadline is now December 19.  For orders or questions please visitwww.francisparkerdvd.com



Gala Committee Meeting: Calling ALL PARENTS! Join us at our next Gala Committee Meeting on Wednesday, December 10 @ 8am in the Parker Café Board Room on the Linda Vista Campus!

Come join the fun Gala team of volunteers!  We will be assigning Chairs, tasks, etc.  We’d so appreciate the help!  New to the school?  Come learn about the Gala, timing, and volunteer opportunities - a great way to meet Parker parents. The Gala this year is April 25 at the San Diego Air and Space Museum, in beautiful and historical Balboa Park.  The countdown begins!  Questions?  Contact Gala Chairs Gayle Nuffer and Randie Lettington at pa-galachair@francisparker.org.


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of Dec. 8-12

Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday December 5, 2014 at 03:34PM
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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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