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Lower School Blog

March 9, 2015; Vol. #24, Issue #24

Dear Lower School Parents:


This year, the faculty have been quite true to our strategic plan, and all of them are searching for ways to elevate students' thinking in ways that the students find not only authentic, but highly compelling as well.  

Below, you'll see a blurb on the fifth-grade play to be held this week, an event that will truly represent the design-thinking approach we're beginning to embrace and study.  Early successes by our teachers and students, where the teaching and learning process has been re-imagined but not compromised, are giving us the confidence to continue the wondering, planning and creating that may soon change the physical arrangement of our campus as well as the way teachers teach and students learn.

We're tremendously excited about our future, particularly as it will affect our students, and all of us can sense a bit of revolution in the air.


Bob Gillingham


Pajama Day (March 20)


In support of our sleepy senior-kindergarten students who will be waking up from sharing their Open House the night before, the whole school will enjoy pajama day on Friday, March 20.  Shoes appropriate for p.e. are still required.


Lost and Found


The office staff has sorted through the Lost and Found box on the playground, returning to their owners any clothing that is labeled.  Clothing not labeled is now located in the office until this Friday, March 13.  At the end of the day, that clothing will be donated to local charities.


Fourth-Grade Business Sale


The fourth-grade students will be offering a "discount" sale next Friday at the barbeque. Items not sold at the business sale two Fridays ago will be deeply discounted for quick sales (and great benefit to the charities the kids will support).


Class Creations

Many thanks to our student artists, but also to Margo Sharp, Kristin Zeko and Libby Donalson for their superb work in showcasing Lower School students' Class Creations which were displayed at the program last Friday.  For the first time, all of the pieces sold in one day, and we're all very grateful to you for your generosity. 

Campfire Kids Bike Rack Dedication


The Campfire Kids raised money for the creation of a bike rack on the north end of the Lower School campus, artfully installed by Scott Smith, Parker parent of Addy and Mike . On Monday afternoon, the rack will be dedicated with a plaque that will commemorate the Campfire Kids' great community service effort to support healthy living and lifelong recreation.


Fifth-Grade Play


The fifth-grade play, entirely written and composed by the students themselves, will be held in the Szekely Auditorium this Thursday morning  for students and Friday afternoon (1:30 p.m.) for parents.  Conceived as a design-thinking exercise, the students have worked with a variety of teachers and in numerous collaborative groups to produce this curriculum-centered masterpiece.  The students' engagement and determination to make the event a most memorable occasion has all of us anxiously awaiting the debut. 


Summer School Program


SUMMER PROGRAM ALERT:  Registration Begins Tuesday!
This coming Tuesday, March 10, at 9:00 am, registration for all Summer Program classes, afternoon activities and sports camps begins.
The online registration system, available at www.francisparker.org/summer, becomes functional at 9:00 am that day.  (There is no advantage to seeking to access the registration system prior to that time.)
The Early Bird Registration Discount is in effect from March 10 - March 31.
Questions?  Please call Tim Katzman on 858.569.7900, Ext 4236, or Monique Velde on 858.569.7900, Ext 4109 for assistance.

Dress-Down and BBQ


This Friday is a dress-down and bbq day.  Parents are welcome to join us in the courtyard during the students' regular lunchtime rotation.


Professional Development Day


Monday is a professional development day for teachers, and the students don't have school.  Teachers will be learning about Inclusivity and fine tuning their curricular documents which define the scope and sequence of academic work on this campus.


Spring Session Afterschool Classes

Spring Session After-School Classes are here! Registration will be available next week as well as fliers for the Monday folders. I have attached the schedule so that teachers can send the Spring Session lineup electronically to parents/guardians. (It includes dates and prices). 
We are offering many new classes this session including Golf, Legomation, Creative Builders, and Animation and Filmmaking.
Thank you all so much for your help and support as we make our After-School LEAP! program the best it can be! 

Notes from Nurse Maggie

March is National Nutrition Month!

While our Parker community supports healthy student nutrition as evidenced by the Nutrition Guidelines found on our website, parents continue to be the most important influence on their children for developing healthy eating habits. Offering a variety of foods helps children get the nutrients they need from every food group. Additionally, children are more likely to try new foods and to like more foods if offered a variety of choices. When children develop a taste for many types of foods, it is easier to plan family meals. Cook with your children, eat together, talk together, and make mealtime a family time! Other suggestions from the United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition:

1. Be a good example: eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with meals or as snacks

2. Go food shopping with your children and help your children make healthy choices

3. Be creative in the kitchen by, for example, making your own trail mixes from dry whole-grain, low-sugar cereal and dried fruit

4. Offer the same food for everyone instead of being a “short-order” cook

5. Reward positive behavior with attention not food, especially not sweets or dessert foods

6. Limit screen time to no more than two hours a day

7. Encourage physical activity and make being active a whole family event


Lower School Menu

Menu for the week of March 9-13

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday March 7 at 03:56PM
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Mar. 2, 2015; Vol. 24, Issue #23

Dear Lower School Parents:


Greetings from Boston!

A number of Parker administrators and teachers are attending the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference this week, and as always, it's tremendously inspiring.  This year's theme is "design," with the intent of moving our schools away from the tradition-bound, relatively static curriculum of the past to a more student-centric approach which might capitalize on the unique gifts and rich talents of students in identifying and resolving all manner of future (as yet-undefined) challenges and problems.

A common dilemma faced by all of the very good institutions wrestling with this thorny but necessary change, is how to balance the shift of greater responsibility (and indendence) to the students while also maintaining rigor sufficient to prepare them for fairly traditional assessments (e.g., SATs and ACTs, etc.) and institutions (e.g., colleges and universities).

Our first attempts have been more successful than we could have hoped for with student engagement and degrees of learning at unprecedented levels, but it's a messy, noisy business and we're admittedly still fumbling in the dark.  However, I'm also proud to say that I've never seen our faculty and staff leverage the true benefits of independent education quite so well as they have in the last 10 months... all in the hope of better preparing our students for the greater complexities of their futures.

This is a revolutionary time for education, and as several of our speakers said today, independent schools have a chance to lead the way, preparing the next generation of citizens to view their world with empathy, creativity and innovation... and it's great to be on the ground floor.


Bob Gillingham


Spring Concert


The spring music performance, featuring 1st-5th grade choral, strings and band musicians, will take place this Friday, March 6, at 1 p.m. in the Lower School courtyard.


Gala Class Creation Auction


It’s that time of year again…when parents get a chance to own a beautiful piece of artwork made by their child and his or her classmates reflecting their Parker year!  We’re trying something a little different with the auction this year by showcasing it at the Spring Concert this Friday, March 6th.  We will have your children's Class Creations displayed around the courtyard and hope that you will stop to take a look and bid on these artistic creations!  All of the proceeds from the sale of the Class Creations will support current-use needs for student financial assistance and faculty development.

  • Friday, March 6th during the Spring Concert
  • Auction Opens at 11:30 am
  • Auction Closes 20 minutes after the end of the concert
For a slideshow of photographs of some of the student work that went into the Class Creations, check this link!

If you have any questions, please contact Kristin Zeko at kristinzeko@cox.net . We are looking forward to seeing you on Friday!


Summer Program Update


Since the mailing of the paper catalogue and the release of the online comprehensive version earlier this week, new courses have been added. To review course descriptions, please go to www.francisparker.org/summer.  Once again:  Summer Program registration for all courses and activities kicks off on Tuesday, March 10 at 9:00 am.

Please note the following new course titles:

Lower School

NEW! Art and Design, offered by Margo Sharpe (Session II)

NEW!  Beginning and Intermediate Guitar, offered by Darleen Herriman (Session II)

NEW! Design Thinking: Stop Motion Animation, offered by Lindsey Bushard (Session I)

Middle School

NEW! From Cool to Catchy: The Art and & Craft of Songwriting for Beginners, offered by Randy Phillips and Keven Ford (Session I)

NEW!  Paint Like the Masters, offered by Melanie Taylor (Session I)

Upper School

NEW!  Paint Like the Masters, offered by Melanie Taylor (Session I)

NEW! Summer Stock Theater: “13,” directed by Elise Marinkovich – Now open to Upper School students as well as Middle School students (Session I)

Sports Camps

Tennis Camp descriptions will be provided by the Barnes Tennis Center shortly, and then published online.


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of March 2

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday February 28 at 11:48AM
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Feb. 23, 2015; Vol. #23, Issue #22


Dear Lower School Parents:


The Lower School's halls were empty this week and devoid of the typical school sounds I've come to both appreciate and love on this campus.  Giggles, excited students talking as their classes file by, parents comparing notes, the occasional wail of an injured child, and the cacophony of administrative noises including phones, key tapping, and bells... all of it eerily silent.  

What struck me the most, however, was the sameness as I reported to work each day, as that was the greatest contrast.  I realized, for the umpteenth time, why I have the best job on Earth, for usually my days are never the same, each presenting with its own unique challenges and delights.  The constant change, the cycle of students through these same halls over the years, the unbridled opportunities to improve upon what we are doing, and the joyous energy that arises from these children which never fails to uplift our spirits. 

In short, though I hope all of you had a wonderful week off, it's my pleasure to welcome you back!


Bob Gillingham


Chinese New Year


The Lower School will celebrate Chinese New Year this coming Thursday from 8:30-9:30 a.m. in the Szekely Auditorium.  Students involved in the ceremony (those taking Mandarin classes this year) are asked to wear their red field trip shirts.


Fourth-Grade Business Sale


The fourth grade students have been very busy creating businesses that have conceived, designed, created and marketed a wide array of innovative products that will be sold this Friday at 1:45 p.m. in the Szekely Auditorium.  This popular event has taught the students valuable business skills, and they've learned to collaborate, compromise, persevere and try, try again.  You'll be impressed with the enthusiasm during the sale, the proceeds from which will benefit charities of the students' choice, all around the world.


 Late Start Wednesday


This Wednesday is a late-start morning.  Students are welcome to come to school at the regular time, but they may also arrive as late as 8:55 a.m.  Buses will run at the same times, and playground coverage will begin at 7:15 a.m. (the office opens at 7:00 a.m.).


Summer Programs


Parker’s 2015 Summer Program course catalogue (the condensed paper version) providing a general program overview will arrive by mail shortly. The comprehensive version holding all course and sports camp descriptions, registration information, and general policies will be available for your review online at francisparker.org/summer this week as well.  Registration begins on Tuesday, March 10 at 9:00 am. 

Tim Katzman, Summer and Extended Day Programs Director, and his assistant, Monique Velde, are happy to answer questions you may have as we approach the coming summer.

Young Art 2015, Visualizing Art Exhibition

These are the four works of art that were selected for the Young Art 2015, Visualizing Art Exhibition. All accepted works, 300 of the 700 submitted, will be exhibited in the museum following the artist reception in April.
The first piece is a 2nd-grade collaboration.  The rest, in order, are by young artists Maddie Schwab, Katie Kelley, and Jayden Haims.
The artist reception is scheduled for April 19 at 6:30.

Culinart's Nutrition Outreach

This Tuesday, Culinart representatives will meet with parents from 8:15-9:15 a.m. in the Szekely Auditorium to discuss current and future nutrition at the school and to field any questions. All parents are welcome.

On Wednesday, a Culinart nutrition expert will offer students samples of proposed menu offerings during the lunch rotations.

Kindness Week Ice-Cream Party

As the final touch to a wonderful Kindness Week, the student council voted to recognize all of the respect and warm feelings that were so evident during that weeklong event.  Because everyone participated so well, there will be a celebratory ice-cream party this Friday during the lunch rotations in the courtyard.  Bravo!

Third-Grade Parent Mixer

This Friday evening from 6-7:30 p.m., third-grade parents (no children) are invited to enjoy one another's company in the Nicholas Commons on the Linda Vista campus.  This non-agenda event, complete with food and drink, has proven a great way to unwind while also learning more about your child's friends and families.


Surf Camps with Mrs. Santini

This spring and summer, Mrs. Santini will be offering surf lessons through her endless summer surf camp.  Check out her flyer for more information.


Notes from Nurse Maggie

Immunization Personal Exemption Rates Are Low at Parker

There was a recent article in the U-T San Diego newspaper concerning private and charter schools having the highest vaccination exemption rates.  Parker, however, has a very low rate of personal exemptions with only about 2% of our student body having a personal exemption on file.

Serious diseases such as measles, pertussis (whooping cough) and influenza are making people very ill right here in San Diego County, in other places in California and across the United States. In fact, cases of measles and influenza are significantly elevated this year. These diseases can be prevented by immunizations.

Throughout the school year I have been sending notices to the families of those students who are noncompliant with the state mandated immunizations. There are still several families who need to send in updated immunization records for their student(s) and/or have their student receive the missing vaccines. Please note: if there is a case of a serious disease, such as measles, at Parker all students who are missing the required vaccine to prevent that disease will be excluded, by law, from school for 21 days. This includes those students whose families have opted, for personal, religious or medical reasons, to exclude their student from the mandated immunizations.

Questions? Please contact me at mwest@francisparker.org or call at 619-717-0235. 


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of February 23

Posted by ls-newsletter on Sunday February 22 at 02:08PM
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Feb. 9, 2015; Vol. #24, Issue # 21

 Dear Lower School Parents:


What a wonderful week!  Many thanks to Romina Kelly, Camille Dunbar, the Lower School foreign language teachers and all of the parents who helped us to celebrate Language and Culture Week so beautifully!  

Beginning with flagraising last Monday, which featured a wonderful opening ceremony, the students and staff were treated to an amazing array of presentations, music, art, dance, cultural traditions, and language.  On Friday, Immersion Day, nine of our classrooms were transformed into "countries" from around the world, and all of the students were able to visit each of them, learning about their unique features.


As the week came to a close, a real-world extension began as 3 of our Lower School teachers: Mrs. Hayman, Mrs. Behrens, and Mr. Heilman joined Parker's Upper School students on global service learning trips (follow them here):


They'll carry with them Lower School donations of toiletries, writing materials, books, magazines and other items to be shared with those they visit overseas. 

Hats off to our community for another fantastic, meaningful event, the ongoing development of which will directly and positively affect our Lower School students as they move through their years at Parker.


Bob Gillingham 

 Kindness Week News


Received last week from the National Kindness Challenge Team:


"CONGRATULATIONS! Because of your participation in The Great Kindness Challenge, your school is officially designated as a KINDNESS CERTIFIED SCHOOL!

We are thrilled to report that 2,193,284 students in 4,142 schools in 45 countries participated in the 2015 Great Kindness Challenge. You truly are part of a global kindness movement. Thank you for making such a positive difference at your school, in your community and in our world."

Thanks to everyone who made this week such a success!


Notes from Nurse Maggie:


Second Annual Interactive Parent Nutrition Forum:

Please plan to attend the Interactive Parent Nutrition Forum on Tuesday, February 24th from 8:15a.m. to 9:15a.m. on the Mission Hills campus in the Szekely Auditorium. We’ll go over Parker’s nutrition guidelines and Culinart, our food service provider,  will be discussing the present café offerings and plans for the future. Please bring questions and suggestions!

Parker Art News


The SDCAEA (San Diego County Art Education Association) puts on the YAM (Youth Art Month) show annually showcasing student work from all over San Diego County.  This show is normally hosted at the SDAI (San Diego Art Institute), but has been moved to Parker for 2015.  The artwork is submitted online and juried by members of the SDCAEA committee.  Not all submitted work makes it into the show.  Parker had 20 student pieces juried into the show, and it includes both Upper and Middle school work.
This is a special opportunity to have Parker student work displayed alongside the work of other schools and communities.  We will host these communities - students, parents, teachers and friends -  at the Closing Reception/Awards Ceremony (at the Rose Gallery) that will occur on Sunday March 22, from 1-2:30PM.

Late Start Day Back On!


The late start day schedule for February 25, the week after break, is still happening. Students may arrive at school at the regular time and buses will run their same schedules, but students may opt to come to school as late as 8:55 a.m. that day.


SK Hot Chocolate Sale (To Save the Koalas)

The mornings have been a little chilly lately, so this coming Friday morning before school is the perfect time to bring a dollar for a steaming cup of hot chocolate.  Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the San Diego Zoo to save the Koalas.


February Break


Have a wonderful break.  There is no school February 16-20, but we'll be back to greet all of the students on Monday, February 23.


Fairytale Forest DVDs

Attention Parker Parents--- If you’d like a DVD of the first grade play “Fairy Tale Forest” the order deadline is Friday, February 13.  For orders or questions please visitwww.francisparkerdvd.com Thank you very much!!!

Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of February 9-13

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday February 7 at 10:17AM
0 comments get link

Feb. 2, 2015; Vol. #24, Issue # 20

Dear Lower School Parents:


We were awash in kindness last week thanks to the great organizational efforts of Charity Byrnes, Jamie Herold and the Lower School Student Council, and the amazing participation of Lower School staff, students and parents.

Hugs, notes of appreciation, special playground activities, beautifully-decorated doors (with lots of spirited competition), a special assembly featuring a student-created video, and visits by middle- and upper-school student leaders really underscored both our JK-12 "one school"  initiative and the essence of what makes this school so special. 

As we move deeper into 2015, the words of Henry James remind us of the lessons of Kindness Week, 2015:

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”


Bob Gillingham


Re-enrollment News


You will be receiving an email next week with an invitation to enroll your student(s) for the 2015-2016 school year, using the TADS online system.

The deadline for submitting the Enrollment Agreement and deposit for returning students is Friday, Feb. 13. Enrollment agreements will not be processed until the deposit is received.

If you do not received the email by Feb. 4, please do the following:

  • Check your spam or junk email folder for a message from support@tads.com with the subject line: “Francis Parker School 2015-2016 Re-enrollment.”
  • If there are multiple parents or guardians on a student’s account, please check with the other family members to see if they received the email.

If you are still unable to locate the email, please contact Quoc Vo, Director of Technology, at qvo@francisparker.orgor 858/569-7900 x4130.

For questions about tuition, please contact Deidra Gonzales in the student billing office atdgonzales@francisparker.org or 858/569-7900 x4129.

Many thanks,

The Parker Admissions Team

Student Council

Student council will be help in Senora Herold's room on WEDNESDAY this week at 8:00 a.m. Please note the change from the normal Tuesday schedule.

Language and Culture Week

We immerse ourselves in the food, art, history, clothing, language and traditions of cultures around the world this week as we celebrate Language and Culture Week.  Many thanks to parents Romina Kelly and Camille Dunbar, the Lower School foreign language, music and arts teachers, and all of the parents who have volunteered.
Dress code for the week is any cultural attire in which students can fully function in all school activities (including p.e.) or any of the Language and Culture t-shirts (and accompanying dress-down bottoms) from over the years of enjoying this great event.
The schedule is as follows:

Monday- Opening Ceremony at Flagraising

  • 8:15am Welcome to everyone by Dr. G and some children.
  • 8:15am Children will walk with flags from around the world
  • 8:20am Iranian dance
  • 8:30am Speech by Parker student
  • 8:32am Spanish JK children will perform a song in Spanish
  • 8:35am Chinese class will sing a song in Chinese.
  • 8:40am Children will perform a song with Mrs. Herriman (One Dream one World)

Wednesday- International Food Festival (during lunch rotation, parents welcome) and Korean Drummers

Thursday- 11:00am -12:00pm, Folkloric Dancing Group (on the playground)

Friday- Cultural Immersion Day

  • 8:30am 12:30pm Immersion Day (in classrooms)
In Courtyard (beginning at 1:30 p.m.):
  • 1:30pm Scottish Highland Dance (Parker Student)
  • 1:35pm Fashion Show: children will show their customs
  • 2:00pm Performance by Flamenco Group
  • 2:30pm Mrs.. Herriman and students will play “We are the World”
  • Entire school will participate in singing along

Admissions Testing

The final admissions testing session will take place this coming Saturday, Feb. 7, from 8 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Prospective families will be welcomed for admissions testing for their prospective JK-4 students.

Cinderella's Attic Prom Dress Drive

Parker's Director of Community Service, Carol Jensen, has involved the School in a Prom Dress Drive to benefit those who otherwise couldn't afford them.  For more information on the program, follow this link.

Lower School Menu

Menu for the week of February 2-6

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday January 31
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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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