— 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.”


 

— North Bay Fire Response

In conjunction with Kids 4 Change, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all Sea Crest families for their help and generosity in the face of tragedy. The enormous number of items donated to the fire victims of Sonoma and Napa counties was put to good use and delivered to Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa on October 17th and 22nd. The American Red Cross accepted the donations for kids and families. The workers actually said, “Half Moon Bay gives the Best Donations!”

“We found several families who were completely wiped out and struggling to find clothing and bedding for their children. Your donations helped give them a new start.” ~Stephanie Hanepen, 1st Grade Teacher who spearheaded this initiative at Sea Crest.

On November 4th, another group of our families will be heading to Santa Rosa to deliver and sort donations for the fire victims.

 

Thank you to our wonderful families for the donations!


 

— 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.


 

— Service Learning

By Wendy Connolly, Seventh & Eighth Grade History Teacher

Service learning is an important component to the eighth-grade History curriculum. The theme this year is Hunger and Poverty. Students started out learning about causes of hunger, Federal poverty lines, state poverty lines and how that compares globally.

Eighth graders did their first service at the San Francisco Food Bank where they learned about the issues of food insecurities in San Francisco and how food banks help. Each year the food bank distributes over 48 million pounds of food to over 225,000 people in San Francisco and Marin. Our students worked for four hours separating oranges. In the end, we boxed 25,000 pounds of citrus. It was a wonderful feeling and we all had fun doing it. If you are interested in working at the San Francisco Food Bank, go to their website. Families with children as young as 5 can volunteer.

Coastside-HopeThe eighth graders are currently working on Coastside Hope, Adopt a Family program. This year Sea Crest is adopting 10 families that are in need of clothes, toys and household items for this upcoming holiday season. Each eighth grader is connected with a grade level class and an adopted family from the coastside. Students are responsible for setting up all the items being asked for, meeting with teachers and classes to explain the program and organizing the items to be taken to Coastside Hope.

Each year it is wonderful to see the generosity and support of Sea Crest families for this local, charitable program!

 


 

Eighth Grade Visit to Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center

Last month, on June 9th, our Eighth Graders, now Middle School Graduates, went to the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco to play the PRRC Wildcats in a basketball game. They enjoyed the visit and came back fully energized after spending a beautiful morning with such a great community.

Photos courtesy of Deirdre Harger, Laurie Kehler, and Cindy Blackstone.

Sea Crest Basketball at Pomeroy Center - Athletics Sea Crest Basketball at Pomeroy Center - Athletics Sea Crest Basketball at Pomeroy Center - Athletics

Sea Crest Basketball at Pomeroy Center - AthleticsSea Crest Basketball at Pomeroy Center - Athletics

Sea Crest Basketball at Pomeroy Center - Athletics“Thank you so much for bringing your 38 students from Sea Crest School in Half Moon Bay to play the PRRC Wildcats in a basketball game! The comments I heard was that this was the best basketball game we have had in a long long time! It was a great game – lots of participation and lots of excitement. Please extend my thanks to all your amazing students, and to the parents who drove everyone up to San Francisco.”

– Cindy Blackstone of the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center

Sea Crest at Pomeroy Center - Athletics

 

 

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