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Lower School Blog

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
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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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Jan. 26, 2015; Vol. #23, Issue # 19

 Dear Lower School Parents:


Creative thinking abounds and imaginations soar on the Lower School campus these days.  Challenged to solve societal and environmental problems and to present historical concepts in new, engaging ways, students and teachers are jumping into project-based, design-thinking lessons with huge enthusiasm but also rigor sufficient to ensure that legitimate learning is taking place.

We've taken this leap before, years ago sweeping away some of our traditional approaches in favor of those we felt would elevate our students' abilities to think independently and flexibly in solving the many and varied problems that came their way.  Singapore Math and Balanced Literacy have effectively shifted the focus from the curriculum to the individual student, and we can all see a tremendous difference in the students' engagement, enjoyment in learning and willingness to persevere when the going gets tough.

As we navigate this path, I must say that I've never seen our faculty and staff quite so energized about the possibilities, and their willingness to explore and try new approaches for the benefit of the students warms my soul.  They are an amazingly dedicated group, and collectively they are helping us to leverage every advantage of the independent nature of this school.

Imagine working in a place where you are limited only by your imagination...


Bob Gillingham


First-Grade Play


One of our most delightful plays will be staged this week when the first graders present "Fairy Tale Forest."  The kids have been memorizing their lines and rehearsing their parts for some time, and the excitement is sure to build this week in anticipation of the performances on Thursday for students and on Friday for parents in the Szekely Auditorium at 1:30 p.m.  Don't miss it!


Design Thinking Road Trip


Design Thinking, a learning approach now sweeping the school and elevating students' creativity, thinking and engagement, will be the focus of a professional development trip this month.

A group of 12 Parker faculty will receive two days of individualized hands-on guidance planning a design thinking project, lesson or unit. While being immersed in a making environment, they will test and troubleshoot the lesson or project, and they will leave with a project example that they make themselves. They will learn about and observe examples of meaningful integration of design thinking into classrooms and curriculum. They will learn new skills and technologies (including 3-D printing, laser cutting, and electronics).

The goal is for participants to feel empowered to implement the lesson and/or activity that they created in their classroom practice, to investigate how to make their practice more student centered, and gain comfort with design thinking integrated curriculum. 
It's an exciting time for education and the future of our students and teachers.  Representing the Lower School will be:
Blair Spearn, fifth-grade teacher
Sophia Dalton, Mandarin teacher
Chris Watson, fourth-grade teacher
Joan Anderson, third-grade teacher
Upon their return, the teachers will share what they have learned with the rest of the faculty, and undoubtedly, they'll be implementing in the Lower School program the knowledge they've gained. 

Parent Nutrition Forum

Culinart will present their second Parent Nutrition Forum (open to parents from all 3 divisions) on the Mission Hills Campus in the Szekely Auditorium on Tuesday, February 24, from 8:15-9:15 a.m.  Bring your questions and suggestions, and hear both how Culinart has incorporated our community's requests as well as their plans for the future.

Second-Grade Math Morning


This Monday morning, immediately following flagraising, Mrs. Behrens will host an interactive math session in the Considine Library for parents wishing to know more about Singapore Math.  Parents at all grade levels are welcome, though the main focus will be on the second-grade curriculum.


Kindness Week Schedule

Parkers' students are among the 1,964,683 in 3,639 schools participating in the Great Kindness Challenge this week.  Following is the schedule and activities:

Monday, Jan 26:

  1. Dress down day:  Students to wear white (not necessarily solid white) in honor of peace and kindness.

  2. Great Kindness Challenge: Students will be given bracelets as reminders of kindness and checklists of activities they may follow to show kindness

  3. Students will decorate their classroom doors with a kindness theme, and the Student Council will judge the doors on Thursday for an overall winner.

  4. Kind-Hearted Hands: Students will trace, cut out, and then decorate both of their hands on construction paper, incorporating a kindness theme, kind words, as well as the student's first name and grade. One of the decorated hands will be used to link together with Middle School & Upper School students, as well as Parker faculty and staff to create a chain of Parker hands on both campuses (to be created Tuesday morning together by LS student council and US ASB). The other decorated hand will be collected and sent with similarly-decorated hands from around the country to attempt to set 'The Guinness Record of Most Kind-Hearted Hands as part of The Great Kindness Challenge. Please join the fun and decorate your own traced hands, as well!

Tuesday, Jan. 27

  1. 8:00-9:00 a.m.- Student Council members meet with the Upper/Middle School ASB in the Szekely Auditorium to connect the kind-hearted hands that were created on Monday.

  2. Kindness station at lunch recess:  Students may fill out compliments and thank you notes for teachers, faculty, and staff.

Wednesday, Jan. 28

  1. Upper School ASB students will read stories of kindness (grades JK-2) and hold discussion groups (grades 3-5). 

  2. Kindness station at lunch recess:  Students will have an opportunity to visit the Hug/High-Five station & chalk drawing kind words or messages on playground.

Thursday, Jan. 29

  1. The Student Council will judge the kindness-themed decorated doors.

  2. Kindness station at lunch recess:  Students will be able to visit the ‘Kindness Rocks!’ painting kind words or messages onto river rocks for Parker’s planters.

  3. All-school assembly at 2:45p.m. to watch a kindness-themed movie thread created by LS students and to announce the winner of the door decorating contest.

Friday, Jan. 30

  1. Kindness station at lunch recess:  Students may make a Kindness Pledge & use chalk to draw kind words or messages on the playground.

Many thanks to Spanish teacher Jamie Herold, the Student Council, and Lower School parent Charity Byrnes for their great efforts in this second-annual Kindness Week.

Notes From Nurse Maggie

Disease-Preventing Vaccinations

Click here to read a timely article about the importance of vaccinations and the school's responsibilities.

Lower School Menu

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday January 24 at 11:23AM
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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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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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Lower School
4201 Randolph St.
San Diego, CA 92103
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6501 Linda Vista Rd.
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