— Sea Crest alumna gave impassioned speech on sexism

Half Moon Bay High School students, including Sea Crest alumna Nicole Cordova, share strong words in speech. Discussion about a tough topic is well received. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on Wednesday, February 21st. By Sarah Griego Guz.

On Feb. 12, three Half Moon Bay High School students delivered their sentiments regarding sexism. As part of the Half Moon Bay branch of the American Association of University Women’s Speech Trek exercise, each student gave an impassioned speech on the subject of “How Can We Stand Up to Sexism.”

The six-minute talks capped off months of hard work as Audrey Booher, Sara Bower and Nicole Cordova stood in front of an audience and spoke.

The opportunity was announced at Half Moon Bay High School. Seven students expressed interest. In the end, only three had the stamina it took to compete. Each student crafted talks under the watchful eye of retired teacher and the AAUW member Antoinette Wrubel.

“We started before the holiday last year and it soon became a collaborative effort,” she said. “I encouraged them to have a story, start with something personal or at least relatable, that seemed to set them off on something.

“In addition to reading, they used their relatives and mothers as research,” she continued.

In addition to keeping the students on track with respect to timelines, Wrubel mentored each young woman, often spending hours with each.

“I told them that they were writing a speech, not a paper,” she stated. “Meaning, it’s spoken so they needed to consider their audience.” Read more.

 

 

— 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.”

 

— 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.

 

— 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.”


 

— Nolan develops acting chops for ‘Coney’

Coastside kid about to make her center stage debut. By Sarah Griego Guz. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on November 22th, 2017.

The current Coastal Rep production Coney Island Christmas stars our Eighth Grade student, Sadie Nolan, as Shirley a Jewish girl cast as Jesus in her school’s Christmas pageant. This Holiday show is fun for all the family and runs through December 17th.

Sadie Nolan has spent her childhood at the theater and is now set to make her center stage debut in “Coney Island Christmas.”

Nolan will play Jewish girl Shirley Abramowitz, who is cast as Jesus in her school’s Christmas play. The story unfolds in flashback fashion as a much older Shirley, brilliantly portrayed by Darlene Batchelder, gleefully recalls the scenario.

“The show is about a girl, me. She’s Jewish and basically she gets cast in a Christmas play,” said Nolan. “Her parents are not OK with it because it’s just against their religion. They don’t think that she should do that. She basically goes behind their back.” 

It’s complicated, to say the least. Abramowitz’s parents are Jewish immigrants who fled their homeland to escape persecution. Now, with feet planted firmly in America, they struggle to keep their traditions alive in a new world awash with the Christmas spirit.

“I plan to bring a little sassiness, a little spunk to the role,” said Nolan. “Her parents are strict. I think they are a good strict, but that they are too strict. The people who play them, Kelly Gregg Rubingh and Eric Berglund, are wonderful.”

As she prepared for her big moment in the spotlight, Nolan reflected on those who have offered their support along the way.

“Sea Crest School has been wonderful with offering all the different acting electives,” said Nolan, who is in her eighth-grade year at Sea Crest Middle School. “The classes I’ve taken have helped me build my confidence in my theater skills. They’ve given me opportunities to actually act in front of an audience and really just do it.” 

Her father, Doug Nolan, is a fixture on the Coastside theater circuit. Coincidentally, it was Doug Nolan who starred in last year’s Christmas program, “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some).” He is also one of the leading men of the Half Moon Bay Shakespeare Co. whose most recent performances included roles in “Romeo y Julieta” as well as “Macbeth.”

“We run lines together,” she said. “I wouldn’t have done the Christmas show if it wasn’t for him. He’s always running lines with me, giving me pointers and helping me out.”

The younger Nolan is also a seasoned member of Coastal Repertory Theatre’s children’s program, an offshoot of the theater aimed at cultivating young talent.

“I started doing shows when I was in first grade,” remembers Nolan. “I got really serious about it when I was in fourth or fifth grade. I moved up to the older class and was ‘Wow, I’m really going to buckle down, work on my lines.’ I’m just very committed.” 

Her first performance was eight years ago, when she acted in Oklahoma. She was in first grade.

“‘Beauty and the Beast’ has to be my favorite performance,” said Nolan, who was in fifth grade at the time. “That was the first time I felt the bond of the cast, the way that the cast works together. That’s when I really started to get serious about acting.”

Nolan believes her time spent developing her craft in the children’s program has prepared her for her starring role.

She credits Coastal Repertory Theatre children’s program teachers Kimberly Krol and Sabina Perlsweig for giving her the tools necessary for success.

“Kimberly Krol is the choreographer for the children’s shows,” said Nolan. “She’s such a wonderful singer and actress and she’s such a huge influence. She’s always been there for me. She’s very supportive, but she’s very firm and she really pushes us, which is what we need.

“Sabina Perlsweig is the singing teacher for the children’s classes,” she continued. “She’s really helped me become a better singer.”

Donald Margulies’ “Coney Island Christmas” opens this Friday and is scheduled to run through Dec. 17. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit coastalrep.com.


 

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