— 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: A curtain call of community

The Half Moon Bay Review just published a wonderful article about Seussical, The Musical at Sea Crest School and how combined efforts from all members of our community contributed to its success.

By Sarah Griego Guz

The curtain rose on Sea Crest’s “Seussical” as whimsical monkeys, kangaroos and birds with feather boa tails bounded across the stage to the tunes of “Biggest Blame Fool” and “Solla Sollew.”

The triumph of Friday’s final production was the culmination of three months of hard work by both middle and lower school students as well as the effort and dedication of parent and community volunteers.

On stage, seasoned veteran Kai Guevara shined as Horton, the sensitive elephant who hears a sound coming from a speck of dust.

Guevara along with Macy Chase, who played Jo Jo, the mayor’s daughter residing on said speck of dust, belted out “Alone in the Universe,” executing every note perfectly.

Among many other notable moments were the appearances of the whimsical Wickersham Brothers, a band of monkeys determined to swipe Horton’s speck.

Monkeys Connor Johnstone, Roman Miele and Guido Togliatti infused humor and a bit of acrobatics into the roles, inducing many a giggle and grin from the audience.

“I thought the performance was amazing,” said technical adviser Andrew Geller. “It was a nice experience doing it at the school, having everybody here. Caleb Goh and Marcus Cooper have prepared these kids extremely well.”

Geller, who has two children who have graduated from Sea Crest, considers the annual event to be a rite of passage for students.

Indeed, as the eighth-graders tearfully take their final bow on the middle school stage, elementary-age children are getting their first taste of the spotlight by participating in bit parts that contribute to the flavor of the show.


Johnny Brozovich is ready for his cue as sea crest School students put on a musical based on the work of Dr. Seuss

Middle-school pupils are given two options when it comes to the musical. Those who hope to feel the warm glow of the show’s spotlight can take a trimester-long exploration and are assigned a part and then set about preparing for the performance. Others can choose to work behind the scenes, constructing stage sets and crafting props or controlling the light and sound.

Lead light board operator Finn La Guardia is one of those kids. He learned how to effectively operate the light control panel.

On Thursday, he was preparing to put what he learned into practice.

“I was talking to Johnny over the headset,” he said, pointing to where fellow student Johnny Brozovich was safely perched on a scaffold. “It’s fun. All I really need to do is tell him when he needs to do the spotlights.

“I’ve really learned how to use the equipment a lot better,” he continued. “This is an older light board. The new one is a lot more complicated, so this one is pretty easy.”

“Finn La Guardia is doing a great job and is very engaged,” said Bo Putnam.


Behind the scenes, Andrew Geller, Bo Putnam, Marcus Cooper and Matthew Cerza work to make Sea Crest’s “Seussical” a success.

Putnam, who has a granddaughter in third grade at Sea Crest, volunteered to be the sound technician.

“Finn will be wearing a headset, the guy up there will be wearing a headset, and they’ll talk the entire show,” he continued. “Sometimes I pick up the phone and they’re jabbering. It’s fine because that’s how production works.”

La Guardia is no stranger to the stage. His mother, Greet Jasparert, is highly regarded in the local theater community and has produced her fair share of plays. For “Seussical,” Jasparet helped craft the set as well as advise on prop design.

And speaking of props, one of the highlights was the extra large helicopter hat worn by the Cat in the Hat, who served as a sort of emcee, effortlessly tying all the scenes together.

The contraption, consisting of a large propeller attached to a blue and red dome hat, had been created on the Innovation Lab’s 3-D printer by Kai Lin, a sixth-grader at Sea Crest School.

Sea Crest instructors Khalid Birdsong and Patrick Neary guided Lin and his fellow creators in the art of crafting props of all types.

As opening day neared, Putnam graciously donated a sizable chunk of his time to ensure the sound was up to par.

Putnam, who has worked as a sound technician for the Pescadero Art and Fun Festival and was on tour for eight years with Melvin Seals and Jerry Garcia Band, was instrumental in making sure all the hard work wasn’t lost due to subpar sound.

“I carved out the week and as we got into it,” said Putnam. “You have a little bit of a skill set and you want to help the kids.”

“The volunteers, kids and parents, everyone put in a lot of time, but, as you can see from tonight, it was well worth it,” said Geller after Friday’s final curtain call.

— In the News: Sweethearts go dancing

DJ Beech, a seventh grader at Sea Crest School was spinning tunes for the Sweetheart Dance on Saturday night. John Green / Review

Today the Half Moon Bay Review published an article about our Sweetheart Dance on Saturday and how it opens up the fun of a time-honored tradition to all.

By Sarah Griego Guz

Father-daughter dances take on more inclusive flavor.-

For some generations, the mention of a father-daughter dance may evoke memories of young girls in ruffled white socks dancing with Dad while under a shimmering disco ball affixed to the ceiling of the school gym.

Mention a father-daughter dance to most kids attending school on the coast, however, and you might get a shoulder shrug and a blank stare.

Even three years ago, father-daughter dances were considered a relic of the past. Father-daughter dances on the elementary school level did not exist.

Sweetheart Dance Half Moon Bay Review

One reason could be that the definition of family changed. For many girls, a father may be absent from the core unit, replaced by a mother, uncle, grandmother or someone else entirely.

At Sea Crest School, a handful of parents presented the idea of bringing back the father-daughter dance. Director of Lower School Michelle Giacotto had a suggestion.

“When I was first presented the idea of a father-daughter dance, my challenge was, let’s not make it a father-daughter dance, because that’s sort of limiting. So that’s how the dance turned to ‘sweetheart,’” she said. “That was what we were trying to do, to have the tradition of a father-daughter dance that many parents remember when they were kids, but make it more inclusive.”

What happened next was such a sweet thing that many of the other schools followed suit.

Over the past two weeks, El Granada, Hatch and Sea Crest schools have hosted sweetheart dances, with little girls coming to the dance with a chosen person they consider to be their sweetheart.

“My daughter June was really excited to go because all her friends were going. So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll take you,’” said Sea Crest parent Heidi Bennett, whose husband happened to be on a ski trip with their son. “It was really nice that there was a mix of families there to celebrate the girls.

“There were a few couples, a mother and a father, who brought a daughter,” she continued. “There were maybe a handful of moms who brought a daughter, and it was totally not a big deal.”

Business trips and other travel schedules prohibited some dads from joining the dance.

In those cases, moms sprang to the rescue, getting dolled up along with their daughters and enjoying a nice meal before hitting the dance floor.

“My daughter got to wear a little bit of lipstick and a little bit of sparkly eyeshadow,” laughed Bennett. “We did our hair and our fingernails and we went out to dinner first.”Many of the pint-sized dancers were amazed by the transformation of the Kohrs Family Center, which featured a photo booth as well as a treat table laden with a plethora of sweets.

The funky photo booth, complete with oversized neon glasses, hats and other accessories, was set up in a section of the building.

Fathers, daughters — and mothers — took time out from dancing to document the evening with a funny photo.

“I think it was really good and really fun,” said second-grade Sea Crest student Madeleine Willits who attended the dance with her father, Chris. “They had cookies, cupcakes, candy and you get to make your goodie bags.

“My favorite part,” she continued, “was taking pictures and dancing with my friends.”

Besides inclusion, another benefit is that the cost of the tickets goes directly to the school.



— In the News: Annual tradition draws grandparents from near and far

The Half Moon Bay Review published an article about our traditional winter concert and grandparents and special friends day — what a spectacular celebration of community!

2016-12-16-Winter-Concert-Grandparents-Special-Friends-Day-12By Kaitlyn Bartley

The performers belted out their hearts in front of perhaps the most devoted audience ever to attend a rock concert. Even in their red plush Santa hats, some vocalists were shorter than the microphones they sang into, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd, where glowing iPhone and camera screens bobbed and waved with the music like hundreds of Bic lighters.

Clearly, the musicians had practiced extensively for their big day, but it was also clear from the proud smiles in the standing-room-only crowd that the performances brought far more joy than could be expected by just hitting right notes.

The event was Sea Crest School’s winter concert program, held the morning of its annual Grandparents and Special Friends Day. The audience included more than 100 grandparents who had traveled from as far as Texas, Massachusetts, and even the United Kingdom, for the yearly celebration.

Winter Concert

Winter Concert“I love the joy of the children,” said Anne Mingus, who traveled with her husband Bill from their retirement village near Modesto to hear their granddaughter. Femke, a first-grader at Sea Crest, performed Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” with her class.

At least some in the audience were relieved that rehearsing for the concert was over.

“We listened to a lot of Johnny Cash in the weeks leading up to the concert,” Femke’s father and Half Moon Bay resident Kory Mingus said with a laugh.

“We are so impressed with the school,” said Ardis Tobin, of Nevada City, who drove for five hours in the rain with her husband, Patrick, to hear their first-grade grandson sing. “It seems like a wonderful, safe place.”

With the guidance of the school’s newly formed Grandparents Circle, this year’s special event featured a morning concert with each grade singing hits from previous decades. Featured artists included Marvin Gaye, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Coldplay.

 2016-12-16-Winter-Concert-Grandparents-Special-Friends-Day-213After the concert, families gathered for a snack reception, took photos in a photo booth, and explored a then-and-now display, which featured household items from previous generations. Later in the morning, students showed off their classrooms to families and grandparents and built gingerbread houses.

Janet and Ron Reed, of El Granada, attended Grandparents Day to see their fifth-grade granddaughter perform songs by Cyndi Lauper and The Cure and visit their daughter, who herself is a fifth-grade teacher. Although this is only their second Grandparents Day, it has become one of the most special days of the year for them.

“We like to see all of the grandkids perform,” said Janet Reed. “It’s so wonderful.”


In the News: Students return to Sea Crest


The Half Moon Bay Review published an article about our wonderful Welcome Back Celebration:

The collective energy was high Aug. 31 as Sea Crest School students punctuated their first day of classes with a party.

The Sea Crest School Welcome Back Celebration kicked into high gear as sharply dressed students zoomed from face painting to the photo booth as fast as their shiny new shoes could carry them. Kids chatted excitedly, comparing notes, as they waited in line for buttery popcorn and other scrumptious snacks.

The Welcome Back Celebration has become a beloved tradition at Sea Crest. It’s a way for kids to connect with each other after the end of a successful day back in the classroom. But the intent behind the event goes much deeper that that.
“On the first day of school at Sea Crest, we came back together as a community and joined back together as a community,” said Head of School, Tekakwitha M. Pernambuco-Wise.

“We talked about the importance of welcoming and including new people into our community and that’s the mindset that we have at Sea Crest,” she said.

Indeed, the Welcome Back Celebration can be a way for new pupils to cement their decision to attend Sea Crest.

The school goes the extra mile to ensure new students are included before they even get to the classroom. During the summer, these families are paired with seasoned “buddy families” who work to share their knowledge of the school while establishing a bond of friendship before the first school bell rings.

The pairing helps ease the transition by ensuring new kids have at least one friendly face on the playground on the first day of school.

While the Welcome Back Celebration is clearly a way to end Day One on a high note, it’s also a way for the school to reconnect with the community immediately surrounding the school.

It was evident in the little touches, like beautiful handmade paper flowers that add a pop of color to the school’s entrance on the first day.

The carefully crafted, vibrant decorations were a gift from the Half Moon Village, a senior housing complex located next door to the school.

“Some of the residents from Half Moon Village came … and they decorated the front of our school,” said Pernambuco-Wise. “They baked some goodies for our faculty and staff and just expressed how happy they are that we’re here.”

The connection between the seniors and the school is one that Pernambuco-Wise has begun to cultivate.

“As the world is changing, more and more of our pupils are living in nuclear families and seeing their grandparents very infrequently,” she said. “We have a wealth of knowledge surrounding us at Sea Crest so it’s important for us to connect with the residents.”

Last year, Pernambuco-Wise started an initiative at the school called the grandparents circle. The program is intended to bridge the gap between the older generations where both parties can share ideas and learn from each other.

“I believe it’s important for the younger generation to connect with the elders,” said Pernambuco-Wise, “to learn from the wisdom of the elders.”


Sea Crest School is dedicated to providing the best in innovative education to inspire and empower our learners to engage curiosity, express creativity, act with compassion, and lead with courage.


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