Stories from Sea Crest School

The official blog of Sea Crest School in Half Moon Bay, California.

— Head of School appointed to NAIS Board of Trustees

Dear Sea Crest Families,

I am excited to have the opportunity to share the great news with you: Our Head of School, Dr. Tekakwitha Pernambuco-Wise, was recently appointed by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) to their Board of Trustees. NAIS is the national voice of independent education, advocating on behalf of its members. The association offers research and trend analysis, leadership and governance guidance, and professional development opportunities for school and board leaders. Sea Crest School is one of the 1500+ members of NAIS, which is a major source of industry information and professional development not only for school staff and leaders but also our Board of Trustees.

The NAIS Board of Trustees, made up of 20 distinguished individuals, includes thought leaders, independent school pioneers and innovators in the field of education. This prestigious appointment is a testament to the visionary leadership Tekakwitha has brought to Sea Crest School. Tekakwitha truly lives by Sea Crest’s Guiding Principles and has shared with me that she is looking forward to giving back to NAIS, an organization that provides so much support to our school. We look forward to the insights and ideas Tekakwitha is sure to bring back from her work on the NAIS Board.

Please join me in congratulating Tekakwitha!

Amy Ramsey
Chair, Sea Crest Board of Trustees


— Students explore new areas of science

Sea Crest expands science fair categories. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on Wednesday, January 17th. By Sarah Griego Guz.

The science fair is a rite of passage for many middle school students. Many adults remember sweating out the details the night before the big day in a final attempt to consolidate months of work on a tri-fold display board.

Sea Crest School has folded this event into an open house and schoolwide science festival that is suitable for all ages.

The hands-on happening offers innovative science experiences such as a banana keyboard made courtesy of Makey Makey. The electronic invention connects everyday objects to computer programs.

The standard science fair challenge is great for students who are wired to conduct experiments and are interested in specific topics, but others view the science fair with apprehension because they can’t find a question that interests them. Sea Crest Middle School science teacher Matthew Twining decided to modify the assignment.

“Traditional science fair projects appeal to a subset of the students,” said Twining. “There are students who are interested in engineering or environmental topics. I wanted to give everybody a chance to do something more closely aligned with their interests and aptitudes.”

Taking a page from Pasadena schools’ successful Innovation Exposition, Twining added categories for Invention, Environmental Innovation, Reverse Engineering, and Science Fiction.

Seventh-grader Chase Urban has been working on a project in the Reverse Engineering category.

“I couldn’t find a project or a question that I wanted to answer,” said Urban. “I like taking things apart. I liked the idea of taking the digital camera apart and mapping it all out and figuring out how it worked.”


— Art teacher got his second comic book published

Congratulations to our wonderful, creative and passionate Art Teacher, Khalid Birdsong, on the publication of his new comic book: Livin’ In Japan Still Ain’t Easy

The second collection of his Fried Chicken and Sushi webcomic about his experiences teaching English in Japan. If you’re interested in taking a look or know someone who likes Japanese culture, here are links to his work:

Book 1: Livin’ In Japan Ain’t Easy
Book 2: Livin’ In Japan Still Ain’t Easy
Comic Strip Syndicated Online: Little Fried Chicken and Sushi
His own original website:
Interview with


— A parent’s perspective for choosing Sea Crest

There are many reasons to choose Kindergarten at Sea Crest.
For more information:


— Students recognized for academic achievement

Students receive academic honors. By Sarah Griego Guz. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on December 26th, 2017.

The end of the year is often a time for students to reflect on academic achievements. For some, the milestone marks overcoming adversity; for others, it is just one more achievement to add to their pile of accomplishments.

Six students from Half Moon Bay High School were awarded a Letter of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Siena Hinshelwood, Tatiana Ediger, Grace Carpenter, Tamlyn Schafer, Andrew Pantera and Tristan Madayag were recognized for their outstanding performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship qualifying test in 2017.

Sea Crest Middle School recognized their sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in a special award ceremony on Dec 15. Earning a place on the Crest Roll with a GPA of 3.9 or above were: Olivia Cevasco, Peyton Daley, Billy Ou, Maisie Eliashof, Ryan Marquess, Renee Casentini, Beech Basler, Ryan Rose Grout, Helen Campbell, Sydney Franklin, Alexander Koron, Mia Etheridge, Nora Flynn, Kaylani Guevara, Kay Hildebrand, Lara Keshav, Sophie Slusher, Geoffrey Guz, Isabella Murphy, Jasmine Standez, Lucas Velyvis, Ya-Hsin Dittrich-Tilton, Naomi Popple, Ashlyn Cuvelier, Cade Ford, Michael Lieu, Basel Conroy, Jocelyn Hildebrand. Receiving a place on the school honor roll were Kate Reeve, Thomas Sukkestad, Chase Urban, Kaiya Hanepen, Carla Roberts, Jordan Grisim, Emma Sandel, Harry Marquess, Jess Kammeyer, Marina Pokorny, Thomas Cevasco, Sean Andrasick, Conor O’Quigley, and India Polacek.

Dozens of high-achieving students at Cunha Intermediate School were also honored for their academic work this month.


— Oral tradition delivers life lessons

‘Bellbird and fox’ is but one of culture’s tales. By Sara Hayden. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on December 13th, 2017.

There was no electricity, but on Tekakwitha M. Pernambuco-Wise’s grandparents’ ranch in British Guiana, dark nights burned bright with candles and fireside chats. This was how her elders imparted life lessons. The Sea Crest head of school comes from the Wapishana tribe among whom stories and language are not written but spoken.

Some were pithy and poignant. “Hard work never killed anyone,” stands out in her memory, as does, “Today is a new day. Whatever mistakes I made yesterday are in the past,” which she shares with the students who end up in her office. Others are lengthy and illustrative, filled with twists, turns and colorful characters — often tricksters. All have a nugget of wisdom to glean.

“These are entertaining stories about how you can get through life, and they’re done in a very child-centered way,” Pernambuco-Wise said.

Here is a retelling of a classic tale from her family. She first heard it from her grandfather, and now her father relays it to his grandchildren.

“He is a gifted storyteller and makes many sound effects … and so we never tire of his stories,” Pernambuco-Wise said.

She recently shared it by memory, adding that there’s a lesson in it fit for a contemporary audience.

“I think about the internet and influences children have in their lives today,” Pernambuco-Wise said. “The message really of (this) story is not to be easily lured or easily fooled.”

You’ll have to help us out with our attempt to retell it here. We’ll do our best to share the spirit of the story in the newspaper, but we can’t quite capture the sound effects, voices and gestures that accompany an oral tradition, or even the intimate feeling of sharing a story in person. Feel free to add these details yourself.

“Why the Pigeon Lays Only One Egg and the Bellbird Lives in the Bush Instead of in the Savannah”

(As told to the Half Moon Bay Review by Tekakwitha M. Pernambuco-Wise. Story has been edited for clarity.)

One day, the fox was walking through the savannah when he spotted a pigeon. She was home high up in a tree, protecting the eggs she sat on.

Now, the fox is a very cunning animal. Hungry, he hatched a plan. He straightened his tail until it looked like a cutlass and then shouted to get the pigeon’s attention.

“Drop down one of your eggs because, if you don’t, I’m going to use my cutlass to cut down your tree!” he warned.

The pigeon cowered at the sight of the cutlass and considered her options. If the fox cut down the tree, she would lose all of her eggs. She heeded the fox’s threat and dropped down just one of her eggs. Egg in mouth, the fox proudly skulked away.

This happened again and again and again.

“Drop down one of your eggs because if you don’t, I’m going to use my cutlass to cut down your tree!” the fox would shout.

Soon, only the pigeon’s last egg remained.

The mother pigeon started to cry. A “wacucu” — bellbird — flew by and took notice of her.

“Why are you crying?” the bellbird asked.

The pigeon sniffled. “This fox came by. He has this instrument, this knife — a cutlass. And he said if I don’t give him my eggs he’ll cut down my tree with it.”

The bellbird, who was brilliant and smart, shook her head. She’d seen that fox scamper away, no weapon in sight. “You silly bird! He has no such instrument as a cutlass!” she exclaimed. “Next time he comes, tell him exactly what I tell you — but don’t tell him I told you this …”

The bellbird divulged her plan, and the pigeon agreed to follow through with it.

Sure enough, the fox returned.

“Drop down one of your eggs because if you don’t, I’m going to use my cutlass to cut down your tree!” he warned.

The pigeon was unruffled and laughed. “I won’t give you my only egg,” she declared, following the bellbird’s plan. “You don’t have a cutlass … Only a fluffy tail.”

The fox’s tail fell. “Who told you this?” he snarled.

“Nobody told me this. I thought of this myself,” the pigeon replied, as the bellbird had instructed.

This couldn’t possibly be true — the pigeon was not clever enough to figure this out on her own. The fox could tell she was lying. With a gleam in his eye, he decided to try another tack. He had his suspicions. “It was the bellbird, wasn’t it?” he said.

“Yes,” said the pigeon, taken aback.

“Aha!” The fox ran fast in search of his new prey, leaving the pigeon alone with her last egg.

The bellbird loves to bathe, so the fox knew where he’d find her. At the river running through the savannah, he grabbed her in his mouth to eat her.

“Wait, Mr. Fox,” the bellbird quickly said. “When my feathers are wet, I’m poisonous. Wait until I’m dry.”

The fox obliged and the bellbird hopped over to the river’s bank under the trees and frantically flapped her wings.

“What are you doing?” the fox asked.

“I’m flapping to help my feathers dry,” the pigeon explained. “Then you can eat me.”

But, of course, as soon as the bellbird’s wings were dry, she flew away.

Now the fox was really mad. How had the cunning fox been fooled?

It was only a matter of time before the bellbird came down from her tree to bathe at the river again. This time, the fox knew that her feathers weren’t poisonous, and had no hesitation in catching her once more.

“This time I’m really going to eat you,” the fox mumbled through his full jaws.

“Wait, Mr. Fox,” the bellbird cut in. “Parade through the village first. There will be many children who will be excited to see you’ve caught a bellbird.”

The fox was a prideful creature and so he agreed.

The children screamed in excitement as the bellbird had promised.

“Look at the fox, look at the fox! He has a bellbird in his mouth!” they cried.

“Oh, yeah!” the fox shouted proudly. The fox, so full of himself, realized too late that his jaws were suddenly empty. His mouth had opened wide to gloat, freeing the bellbird.

This time, she flew far from the savannah and headed directly to the bush. She knew the fox would never follow because he feared the predators, bigger than he, who lurked there.

The brilliant bellbird had outsmarted the cunning fox, once and for all.

And that is why the pigeon lays only one egg, and the bellbird lives in the bush instead of in the savannah.


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