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Stories from Sea Crest School

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

— President of NAIS on Campus

On Wednesday, 21st March, Sea Crest School was honored to host Donna Orem, the President of The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Sea Crest is one of 1,541 K-12 NAIS-member schools in the USA, serving 675,115 of the nation’s children. Appointed in 2016, Donna Orem is NAIS’ first female President in its 56-year history.

Donna Orem NAIS California Assembly“What a true delight it was to visit your school. Your children are so engaged and self-directed in their learning.”

We began the day with a Coffee Meet and Greet with Faculty, Staff and Trustees, followed by an All-school Assembly and Classroom Tours led by our Middle School Admission Ambassadors: Olivia, Mayah, Mike, and Mimi.

Donna Orem NAIS California“When you ask kids about passions, you normally get very traditional roles. At Sea Crest, I’ve heard students respond with ways to change the world: explorers, scientists […] You are putting good citizens out into the world.”

— 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 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.

 

— Chemistry with a Bang!

The 8th graders finished their unit on chemistry with a bang! Teams of students worked together to research, practice and present dramatic chemical reactions to an audience of 5th and 6th graders. They also had to show their understanding of the reactions by explaining them to their lower-school audiences. The 8th graders did a great job, showing off dramatic demos safely and informatively.

Middle School Science Middle School Science Middle School Science


 

— [Video] Through the eyes of a kindergartener!

Learn about Sea Crest:

 

— Grandparents Circle knits warm, tight community

Seniors, students learn together. By Sarah Griego Guz. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on November 29th, 2017.

Grandparents Circle Half Moon Bay ReviewFirst-grader Mira Mukerji sings Bengali songs with her grandmother. Seventh-grader Aidan Popple makes food with his grandma and model planes with his grandpa. Fifth-grader Shane McGuirk watches TV with his grandparents. They’re members of multigenerational families who have the opportunity to spend time together. Sea Crest School’s Grandparents Circle seeks to strengthen that connection.

Inspired by the pleasure and privilege of having known her own grandparents, Head of School Tekakwitha M. Pernambuco-Wise said she pitched the idea to Maryann McGuirk, a Sea Crest grandparent and friend, to start the group about two years ago. Since then, it’s developed into a steering committee of six grandparents who organize socials and initiatives that weave fellow grandparents and other senior special friends into the fabric of the school’s community.

“What I was noticing more and more was the young children in our school … not (having) that good fortune to know their grandparents,” Pernambuco-Wise said. “I think it’s important for us to value and treasure our elders and their wisdom. I see them as the wise generation.”

That includes grandparents, grand aunts and uncles, family friends and other senior community members.

On Friday, people of all ages attended Grandparents and Special Friends Day that coincided with a fall performing arts showcase.

Grandparents Circle member Kay Beffa greeted these guests of honor with roses as they filed in to watch students perform musical and theatrical numbers.

“I just want to make sure it’s very special for grandparents and special friends,” Beffa said.

The circle gives something special back to her — she gets to spend time with her grandson and meet his friends, Beffa said. “It makes a nice, community feeling.”

Grandparents Circle Half Moon Bay ReviewGrandparents Circle members also led an effort to transform the school’s innovation lab into a museum that day. They curated “artifacts” from their lives including a sewing machine, bound atlases, school textbooks, and models of cars, helicopters and other means of transportation from decades past.

Denny Freezer, a former captain for the U.S. Coast Guard, put his manual aviation computers and slide rule on display.

“I love them and I’d like to increase interest in how things used to be done — I guess because I’m getting old,” Freezer said.

He and his wife, Linda, relocated to the area to be near their family, including grandson Shane McGuirk, a Sea Crest fifth-grader.

“They can experience our life and we can experience their adventures too,” she said. “It’s priceless.”

Grandchildren spoke of the unique relationship they forged with their elders during these times.

“You end up with a very special relationship,” Aidan Popple said.

Pernambuco-Wise echoed this. Sometimes, a grandparent gets the job of passing on knowledge in a gentle way, she said.

“There’s just this feeling of warmth and being wrapped in a warm blanket and having them listen to you,” Pernambuco-Wise said.

As Linda Freezer phrased it, “What happens at Nanna’s stays at Nanna’s.”

At a reception for grandparents, Jana Mukerji sat between Donna and Ankur Mukerji, enjoying the company of her granddaughter’s parents. She was visiting from India, creating not only a multigenerational connection but also a multicultural one, said Donna Mukerji.

Jana Mukerji said she missed Mira’s birth, but was with the family three months later. Since then, she’s made an effort to make the transcontinental trip every other year for three months at a time.

“He’s my only son and she’s my only daughter-in-law. We have a special bond,” Jana Mukerji said.

And she dotes on Mira, whose classroom she visited later that day to see what she was learning in school. They also snuggle a lot, her parents say.

“Just having her as a part of Mira’s life is really a blessing,” Ankur Mukerji said.

Aidan Popple’s grandparents also traveled to visit him and his siblings, this time for their dad’s 40th birthday. Coming from Park City, Utah, the journey was a bit quicker for them. They visit often.

“They’re more like secondary parents,” the seventh-grader said.

His grandparents can attest to that. During visits, Cheryl Popple said she helps make sure the three grandchildren are fed and clothed and John Popple gets them to school on time.

“I drop off the kids. I pick them up. I know exactly what time we have to be out the driveway,” John Popple said.

“I’m a real believer in extended family involvement. Just because you’ve moved away is not an excuse not to be involved,” grandmother Cheryl Popple said.

Grandparents Circle Half Moon Bay ReviewHowever, the extent to which Sea Crest opens its doors to senior generations is something that’s different from when she was a child, she said. Grandparents might have been invited to a dance recital or an Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony, but not to day-to-day activities. Later this year, the Grandparents Circle will help make a date night possible for parents as they recruit grandparents and special friends to babysit the children at Sea Crest.

“You look at how education has changed since I was in school. They just didn’t have this type of thing,” she said.

Expectations for family arrangements in the United States have evolved over generations. Pew Research data suggests that multigenerational households became less common after World War II as people moved to the suburbs as nuclear families, and aging populations had better health and economic prospects. They’re on the rise again, driven by various economic and cultural factors.

At Sea Crest, the school community is modeling a way to connect different generations in a modern context.

“I think this is one thing I like best about Sea Crest: It’s so welcoming to the whole family,” Grandparents Circle member Diane Sikes told the audience at the performing arts showcase. “It’s really important for kids to hear their grandparents stories and see the items they’ve handed down … Kids have an opportunity to place themselves in time and see themselves on that long generational line they’re a part of.”

The payoff is invaluable.

“(It’s) just the importance of knowing grandparents, their story, their journey, an appreciation of what the journey has entailed,” said Maryann McGuirk, Grandparents Circle founding member and Shane McGuirk’s other grandmother. She added that she wished she had asked the generations that came before her about these experiences. “You don’t know what you have missed until later in life.”


 

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