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Charter News: December 16

posted Jan 9, 2017, 7:00 PM by Rhonda Schlosser

Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless.      ~Terri Guillemets

Dear Charter Families,

The winter season is upon us, with our longest day, the Winter Solstice on December 21. We begin our Winter Break this Friday and Thursday, December 22 is our last day of school.  Many of the classrooms have been having special events together over the last couple weeks with gifts making and/or exchanges, festive parties, and potlucks; all of them marking the excitement of our coming two-week vacation and the close of 2016.  

Winter’s long cold nights are a good time to take the opportunity to slow down our pace and to take extra time for introspection, rejuvenation, and general tending of the hearth and home.  

Please read on to hear more about Gratitude, the theme our counselor, Jen Sims has for this month.  She has some good ideas to share with your child(ren), ideas that you may want to add to your holiday routine.

Also note that our Parent Advisory Committee meeting is this Wednesday, Dec. 21 from 3-4 pm.  I have important information to share about our Safe Schools plan and we will talk more about our LCAP and WASC plans.

May you all find joy in the Winter holiday, and may you have time to enjoy that which nourishes your hearts and souls best.

Have a great last week of school, and see you Monday, January 9, our first day back in 2017.


From our Counselor, Jen Sims:  THE CASE FOR GRATITUDE

November and December are months when we count our blessings.  My Facebook feed is full of it, with hash tags like #30daysofgratitude or #thanksgivingblessings.  It’s nice and possibly uplifting to spend a certain amount of time acknowledging the good things that come to us, but what might change if we make it a daily practice?   

Quite a lot, according to Dr. Christine Carter, a Berkeley researcher who has dedicated her career to studying the science of happiness.   Her work has shown that individuals who practice gratitude tend to lead happier, healthier and more satisfied lives.  They also show greater resiliency.  Children who practice gratitude are less likely to have behavior problems at school or become teenagers who abuse drugs and alcohol.  They show less entitlement and are not as bothered by small problems.  Much of this can be attributed to the very real impact that gratitude practices have on human brains.  Studies have shown that subjects who show more gratitude have more activity in their hypothalamus, an area of the brain that controls, among other things, your metabolism and stress levels.  Thus there is a connection between increased gratitude and better self-care, getting more exercise and sleeping better.   Gratitude also stimulates the release of dopamine, a ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter that makes you say, “hey let’s do that again!”  This can help establish a pattern of positivity.

The best part of developing a gratitude skill and practice is that the human brain is so adaptable that it doesn’t take long at all to set the course.  Here are some things you can focus on to get started.

Focus on the here and now: Take the time with your child to point out things that you find beautiful every day.  The changing colors of the leaves, the fog raising up over the trees, a loving interaction…it doesn’t have to be a big deal.  What are the small things that bring you joy?

I’m grateful for this…you’re grateful for that?: You might be surprised at what kids are grateful for.  In my small groups, children have expressed gratitude for things like video games and chicken nuggets.  Not what I would choose, but practicing gratitude requires authenticity and consistency; it does not have to match a certain ideology.

Give credit where credit is due: Help your children see and acknowledge the people that are helping them succeed in life.  Teens can be especially myopic and may attribute successes to themselves and blame the bad things that happen on others.  

Volunteer:   Not only does volunteering enable you and your children to give to others, it opens their eyes to the experiences and realities of other people.  This can help them expand their worldview and learn from others.

When it comes to teens, don’t be super serious: Teens may enjoy gratitude but may not enjoy a ritual of holding hands and earnestly announcing what they are thankful for.  Be flexible and keep it light enough for teens to want to participate, and also help them recognize their everyday gratitude through language, actions and involvement in school activities.

I’m hoping everyone has a beautiful holiday season!  

~Jen Sims

For more information about practicing gratitude and it’s effects:

Parent Advisory Committee: NEXT MEETING: December 21, from 3-4 PLEASE COME

Please ask your program representative about the presentation Dr. Bruton shared at our last meeting about the State of the District.  At our next meeting with will be discussing:

  • Safe Schools Plan  • LCFF/LCAP: Supplemental funds  •  WASC report update

  • Questions/ Interests/idea

Next meeting date: January 11, 2016  Jan 25th from 3-4

TRAVEL ADVISORY:  As a public health agency, Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control would like to make sure our residents are informed and travel safely.

Zika virus is still spreading throughout many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Mexico. Click here: (English, Español) to check your destination for Zika precautions.

Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, so we urge travelers to take precautions to avoid becoming infected:

-  Use insect repellent (including DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus—needs to be reapplied often)

-  If using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first, then put on repellent.

-  Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants if weather permits

-  Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside, or use a bed net if these options are not available.

- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your home or hotel room by dumping standing water from containers like flowerpots or buckets.

Here (English, Español)  is the recent notice regarding Zika and Travel from the California Department of Public Health, released  on 12/13/16. They include links with more information.

Thank you for your help. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Travel Safely!

Sincerely, Amanda Poulsen, M.S.

Vector Ecologist

Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control


Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) As part of the new accountability requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the U.S. Department of Education is requiring school districts nationwide to identify students who are armed forces family members.

Is either parent/guardian on active duty in the US armed forces: Army, Navy, Air Force,  Marine Corps or  Coast Guard or on full-time  National Guard Duty?   

If so,  please let us know by emailing or calling Holly Thomas at 336-5167.  

Your cooperation is greatly appreciated!

COMING SOON: SCREENAGERS.  SLVUSD Charter will be hosting the screening in early February. "SCREENAGERS probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including the director's own, and depicts messy struggles, over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction. Through surprising insights from authors and brain scientists' solutions emerge on how we can empower kids to best navigate the digital world."

Students' screening and classroom discussions will be scheduled for the first week of February, with a screening for parents on the evening of February 8 at 7 pm. Tickets will be a suggested donation of $10.

What’s Going on in Our Charter School?  ..little snippets of some of our programs.

CRHS: Students are completing their semester courses and final assessments.  The Leadership class is leading preparations for their holiday party this week. The Yearbook Committee is busy gathering pictures for their various page. January is the time for end of semester conferences and students are making sure that they are ready for their second semester coursework.

CRMS: Presentations on Inventions continue in the classroom. Going out with Tim Corcoran and his co-teacher Julie to Gazo’s Creek is always something special.  We hiked, investigated the geology and biology of the of the beach, listened to stories about local history, collaboratively created sculptures out of found objects, and talked about earth stewardship.

Nature Academy: 6th grade students had a wonderful field trip to Gazos Creek last week with Tim from Headwaters.  They are beginning their unit in Egypt, which will continue when they get back in January. Art lessons continue using a variety of mediums.  7th-8th grade students are beginning their work on creating a children’s story, currently reviewing and dissecting their favorite picture books they will use as a guide when writing and doing artwork for their own. Choices in electives include wire bending and improv.  And Ms. Ragir continues to design math lessons and activities to expand their math interests and fluency.  Please make sure you ask your child to explain what they are learning in her class.

Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (QHIA):The students dissected the text of the Declaration of Independence! This is another daunting task, yet we approached it as a scavenger hunt; looking for keywords and concepts, and had an incredible discussion regarding whether or not the ideals on which this Declaration was conceived are being practiced today. It really is an outstanding piece of writing.  

Jen presented a Cyber Bullying Workshop: The discussions could have gone on for another hour. They revealed that students are fully aware of and are, in many cases, subjected to bullying via social media on a daily basis. The kids were so grateful to Jen, and are looking forward to her coming back next week. Quail Hollow Homeschool: Winter Holiday Potluck and Talent Share Thursday, December 22nd 10-1 We will begin with the talent share component and then share a meal together before friends exchange gifts with their Secret Santa.  In class we worked with different ways we know how to write numbers -standard numerals, tally marks, pictures, and the kinds that are on some clocks! Roman Numerals. We worked on two math puzzles.  One we solved easily.  The other, which still needs to be cracked, is how to make $1.09 using exactly 30 coins. We discussed how Rome absorbed traditions, holidays, foods, architecture, gods and goddesses from the regions it conquered, especially from Greece.  

Romans then modified these pieces from other cultures to fit their own ideas and needs.  We read the myth of Jupiter, Juno and Io, and matched up Greek and Roman deities. We made Roman gladiator sandals.  Students were encouraged to find a style that worked best for them.

Fall Creek Homeschool: We had a visit from Officer Koenig – the school’s safety officer. He explained his job and answered myriad questions about his work and his role at the school. We listened to an old Swedish tale, The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgren. A parent told us her mother grew up in Finland and thus she knew of the Tomten and did some of the same things that happened in the story. We used rulers to make a 10” box and  divide it into 8 equal parts. We then drew a small octagon in the middle and traced 8 circles in the wider parts. We turned this into a Moon phase chart, relating each phase of the Moon to a step in the life of a plant – from seed to compost. This was very challenging and yet they all did a very good job due to the previous work we have done this fall with rulers and geometric drawing.

MountainIS:We had a great week in IS, a visit from Santa Lucia, Greek Mythology, and more!  In Math we played a game "fishing for tens" using ten frames. We also did our first "Excellent Equation" for the number 13 (based on the date 12/13/16) which led to some great conversation about composite and prime numbers. The tradition of Santa Lucia was continued with some tasty homemade saffron rolls from Tenaya as she shared a little of her family history and personal connection to the festive event. The 5/6 class put on a fabulous performance of "Theseus and the Minateaur" - many of our students have great background knowledge of Greek Myths so it was fun to discuss the myths afterward. Mountain Holiday Sing is also on Thursday, 12/22 and all IS students are encouraged to come and participate.

DATES TO REMEMBER: (Please refer to your program’s newsletter for greater detail regarding dates and details specific to your program’s Field Trips and class events.)

  • December 23rd- January 8th: No School--Winter Break

  • January 9:  First day back in 2017.

  • January 16th: No School--MLK Bday

  • January 20th: End of 2nd quarter

  • January 27th:  No School--Professional Development Day for teachers

  • February 13th: No School--Presidents day

  • February 20th: No School--Presidents day

  • March 7: Nature Academy Information Night.  5:30-6:30

    • Lottery application window: Mar. 8-Mar. 21

  • March 14: All Homeschool Programs Information Night.  6:00-7:00

    • QHIA application window Mar. 14-Mar. 28