— In the News: Coaches flag benefits of non-contact sport

Middle schools offer alternative to full-contact sports. By Sarah Griego Guz. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on September 6th, 2017.

The August sun warmed the quad at Sea Crest School as boys and girls donned blue practice jerseys in preparation for the first flag football practice of the season.

Flag football is offered at both Sea Crest and Cunha middle schools. The lessons learned on the field often can translate to stellar performances on the high school gridiron.

“It’s 9-on-9 here, regular football is 11- on-11,” said Sea Crest middle school flag football coach Craig Strong. “It’s two less linemen, that’s the big difference.

“You’re still blocking, passing, running the ball, throwing the ball, catching the ball,” he continued. “On defense, you’re attacking, when you’re pulling the flag, that’s the equivalent of tackling. You’ve got to read offenses and move your body in such a way so that you’re heading where the ball is going.”

“The biggest difference between playing high school football and middle school flag football is the competition level and the intensity,” said Gabe Giacotto who played flag football for Sea Crest Middle School before joining the Junipero Serra High School football team.

“The coaches expect more from the players at a high school level and they rely on you to keep yourself and your fellow teammates in check,” he continued. “The other big difference was adjusting to both wearing and hitting with pads. It gives a whole different feel in running and movement. You also have to learn how to hit and tackle with them if you haven’t played tackle football before.”

Flag Football Middle School Athletics

Kaiya Hanepen (7th grade) practices with athletic director Craig Strong watching during flag football practice at Seacrest School in Half Moon Bay. Jamie Soja / Review

Full-contact youth football organizations have taken great care to ensure the health and wellness of their athletes. From capping the weight requirements of heavier players to ensuring all equipment is in excellent working order, athletes par ticipating in full contact football have never been safer or better prepared.

Still, some parents are hesitant to allow their children to play. For middle school-aged children, flag football may be just the ticket for those hoping to one day step foot on the high school field.

“Flag football gives athletes the opportunity to throw and catch the football on a regular basis and get a foundation for the game,” said Keith Holden, varsity head football coach at Half Moon Bay High School in an emailed statement. “Players learn a lot about angles, schemes and about how to move on the football field.”

“The players are learning the rules of the game as well as an understanding of the game,” said Strong. “Full contact is different in terms of some techniques, such as tackling techniques. We don’t tackle, we pull flags. However, we still block, without pads. Some of the techniques and skills developed in flag football absolutely translate to full contact football.”

Flag Football Middle School Athletics

Coach Dan Halepen shows a diagram to the team at flag football practice at Seacrest School in Half Moon Bay. Jamie Soja / Review

Strong stated that a big part of the flag football season includes teaching aspiring athletes intricacies of the game, including how to move and defend the ball.

“They are learning the actual skills, laying groundwork that, if the athlete didn’t have, might present more a of challenge if they played full-contact football without the foundation,” he said.

“I learned a lot on the flag football field that helped me to recognize plays when on defense, such as the difference between a deep pass, short pass and runs both outside and up the middle,” said Giacotto.

“It also helped me to pick up and pursue a quarterback when he is scrambling,” he continued. “Playing flag football helped me on offense when getting the hang of memorizing plays and adjusting to different defensive formations.”

As to how to bridge the gap between flag and full-contact football, Holden believes that the best supplemental training is playing other sports.

“Also, I believe that strength training is beneficial to any athlete, not just football players, for preventing injury,” he said.

“My advice for kids playing flag football, who aspire to play in college, would be to stick with it and to not give up,” added Giacotto. “At first, the sport is going to seem tough and brutal, especially in a program like Serra’s.

“Although, if you work hard and stick with it, you will be surprised at how fast you catch on and make the necessary adjustments,” he continued. “The other thing would be to always hustle and give your best effort because that is what the coaches are really looking for.”


 

— In the News: Sea Crest School dives into new year

Sea Crest School staff, students and their families dived into the first day of school with a lively assembly on Wednesday. By Sara Hayden. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on August 30th, 2017.

“It’s really a day of excitement for everybody,” Head of School Tekakwitha M. Pernambuco-Wise said, recalling her own love of the occasion as a child. “My heart was just bursting with joy this morning. It reminded me of how excited I was to start school.”

Welcome Back to School CommunityIn some ways, the back-to-school festivities started before the first bell. Residents of the Half Moon Bay senior community dropped by at 6:30 a.m. to decorate with colorful handmade paper flowers and signs for the students.

New Student Council President Olivia Cevasco greeted members of the community dressed as a seal, the school’s mascot, ensured posters welcomed the community in the school’s halls and left every student a handwritten welcome note in their cubbies and lockers. The eighth-grader penned them herself, inspired by similar gestures by last year’s student council members.

“It really touched me when every person had a couple encouraging words for the day,” said Cevasco.

She said she felt compelled to continue fostering that sense of community.

Olivia Cevasco Student Council President“Sea Crest is more than just a school. We’re here to learn, but we’re also here to be friends and support each other,” Cevasco said.

Since Pernambuco-Wise came on board at Sea Crest in 2013, the staff has challenged itself to think about how to take the “school from good to great, from infancy to maturity.” Much of that focus has been on innovation.

“It’s about the mindset. It’s about how we approach solving problems … really engaging the pupils’ ownership in their learning,” Pernambuco-Wise said.

Driving that forward into the 2017-2018 school year is a central theme.

“(This is) ‘Our Year to Thrive. We’re taking on less so we can go deeper,” said Pernambuco-Wise, adding that school leaders will focus on the most effective ways to assess students, cultivate a sense of inclusion and how to take care of oneself.

As faculty, staff and students hit the books, they’ll also hit the yoga mats, a quiet moment to meditate or reflect, or another activity that takes them out of their headspace in the coming weeks.

“We’re now saying, ‘What do we need to do to thrive as human beings, and how can we translate that to the children?’” Pernambuco-Wise said.


 

— In the News: Farmers market unit sprouts ideas for community, business

Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on June 14th.

Sea Crest students ground learning at farmers market. By Sara Hayden.

Farmers Market

The Sea Crest School first-grade farmers market was a chance for kids to do some hands-on learning

Out of the fog came sparks of color at Sea Crest School — blushing nectarines and cherries, blue hydrangeas in mason jars and purple eggplants no bigger than a palm. With the sharp tang of garlic in the air, first-graders gathered on a cool Friday morning to manage their school’s annual Box Town Market and sell their wares.

It was the last event of their social studies unit. They had rolled up their sleeves and dug into the dirt, planting fresh lettuce, beets and carrots, connecting the food on their tables to the ground in which it’s grown, as well as others who would eat it.

Farmers Market“It’s all about self and how we fit into the world,” teacher Stephanie Hanepen said. “We talk about what makes Half Moon Bay such a unique community to live in … We talk about seeds, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting.”

“They get a grip on and an exposure to one of the things I see as one of the miracles of the world,” said Coastside Farmers Market manager and Half Moon Bay Farmer of the Year Erin Tormey, who had the honor of cutting a ribbon to kick off the event. “It’s such a holistic, healthy thing … There’s work involved, there’s science, there’s effort and attention. I think they get that early on.”

Students managing such stands as Baking & Taking (selling gluten-free baked goods, hummus and Sea Crest-grown lettuce) and Awesome Everything (boasting duct tape wallets and packs of handmade greeting cards) carefully counted dollar bills and quarters in exchange for their homegrown goods.

Farmers Market

They donated proceeds to support Market Match, an incentive program for people to buy wholesome foods.

First-grader Autumn Seaborn showed off fresh apricots, leeks, plums and pumpkin bread.

“Everyone wants peaches,” said Seaborn, working quickly to meet queuing customers’ demands.

“It was really fun,” Paxton Holden chimed in. “When we first planted, it was really small, but then it gets really big, and it’s surprising.”

Ashleigh Evans was also proud of what she had grown with her business partners.

“I feel awesome because we grew all this for a while,” Evans said. “I hope people like the taste of them.”


 

— In the News: Sports participation nears 100 percent for 6th- and 7th-graders at Sea Crest

Sea Crest School fifth- through eighth-graders gathered in the school gym for the end-of-year sports recognition assembly last week. Photo courtesy Ambar Pina.

Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on June 14th.

A unique approach to play. By Sarah Griego Guz.

In early June, Sea Crest School hosted a special athletics recognition assembly. The Kohrs Family Center erupted into thunderous applause as the coaches reflected on the banner year.

The girls volleyball and soccer teams as well as both the girls seventh- and eighth-grade baseball teams had earned championship titles. The golf team had also won a championship.

Even more impressive than the highlights was the school’s philosophy: Sports should be accessible to everyone, and all students should be able to take risks while learning something new.

This is not an “everybody plays” approach. Students who have put in the time to master athletic techniques are rewarded with increased playing time and opportunities to play at a high level.

The athletic department, however, has mastered the art of allowing all students to participate without compromising the degree of competiveness needed to win championships.

“Sea Crest Athletics has a no-cut policy and a philosophy of participation stemming from our daily P.E. program where risk-taking is not only encouraged but also celebrated,” said Craig Strong, director of athletics at Sea Crest School in an emailed statement. “We regularly ask students to take risks by giving a particular sport a try and see how it goes. We have generally had a very high participation rate because of this philosophy.

“Sea Crest Athletics relies on the participation of our fifth-grade and middle school students,” he continued. “This year, once again, we had great participation from our student athletes.”

The school experienced participation levels of 94 percent for fifth grade, 99.5 percent for sixth grade and 99.5 percent for all seventh-grade students. The total participation rate for all middle school and fifth-grade students slid in at 95 percent.

The impressive level of participation was evident when the last student athlete was called to the stage to be recognized — the section of the gym where the middle school students had been sitting was virtually empty.

“Children often play a sport because they feel part of something. They want to be included and be part of what all their friends are doing,” said Strong.

Strong also feels that including fifth-graders in the middle school athletics program not only provides an opportunity for students to get a taste of athletics, it also provides them with a foundation resulting in a stronger program overall.

“Including fifth-graders in our middle school program has proven to capture the attention of students due to the level of enthusiasm at this age,” said Strong. “Once we have them engaged, we focus on player development to give them the skills to be able to continue playing at the next level.

“As our athletes begin to develop a passion for a particular sport, we continue to encourage them to play as many sports as they can manage,” he continued. “And, as our students end up in the upper grades, they typically have an extra year of experience from their fifth-grade season, leading us to the number of competitive teams at the varsity or A level.”


 

— In the News: Coastside kids help give hope to those in need

Students from Sea Crest School gathered at Coastside Hope recently to prepare hygiene products for delivery to those in need. Sarah Griego Guz / Review

Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on May 23rd.

Students pack hygiene products for Coastside Hope. By Sarah Griego Guz.

Sixth-grade students from Sea Crest School gathered outside Coastside Hope’s warehouse in Princeton on May 17 with a clear purpose in mind. For over a month, the civic-minded children had been doggedly collecting hygiene supplies for needy families. This was the day that they would package the supplies into “kits” so that they could be given to people in need.

As they stood around a horseshoe of work tables, the students listened as Coastside Hope’s Community Development Director Keith Terry provided insight.

Terry explained that Coastside Hope was started in 1976 and is now considered to be a core agency within San Mateo County.

“Coastside Hope takes care of the Midcoast, which is basically Montara down to La Honda,” said Terry, addressing the students. “Last year we gave away 450,000 pounds of food. That’s a lot of pounds. We gave away food to about 3,400 people.

“Summertime is when we run short on food, because in November and December everyone donates food,” he continued. “And then we put that on our pantry shelves and we give it away. Then our next big dose is what we just got, the 35 barrels from the Postal Workers drive, and then, there’s not a really big one until the Boy Scout drive. And guess what? That’s in the autumn too.”

Properly educated, the students set to work unpacking the hygiene products. They labored together in groups. There were animated discussions as to the best way to accomplish their goal.

“We’re organizing all the hygiene products,” said Ben Cleary as he packed a gallon-sized bag with toothpaste and shampoo.

“We’re sorting them and organizing them into packs to give them to people so they can use them,” added Luke Aranda. “We try to maximize what we put in each pack, so usually they have some basic supplies that people might need at home, like deodorant, toilet tissue, shampoo and conditioner.

“Some other necessities that some homeless people might need are like a can opener,” he continued. “Which is very important when they get food, because if they don’t have a can opener they can’t eat the food.”

“The most needed product, surprising when you’re dealing with food, especially with a homeless person, is a can opener,” said Terry. “Can openers are really important, especially for a homeless person because they lose them and then can’t get into their food.

“As far as specific food items, we always need soups, breakfast cereals and oatmeal,” he continued. “We always need basic staples like oil, flour, sugar, things like that that people can turn into food, so they can make their own bread, their own tortillas. They make things out of that.”

Terry also stated that cake mixes are always welcome as well as any food staples.

Because of the influx of food resulting from Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, Terry estimates their supplies will last one or two months.

“We always welcome food donations, regardless of the time of the year,” he stated. “Fresh produce, if someone has a backyard tree (and) they want to pull their lemons down, those go really fast.”

In addition to food donations, neighbors wishing to support the safety net programs at Coastside Hope are invited to attend the annual barbecue scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. on June 21 at Mavericks Event Center. Tickets go on sale in early June and will cost $40 to $50 at the door.

For more information, visit coastsidehope.org.

 


 

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