Author Archives: polk@hamlin.org

Harpist Amelia Romano Visits Lower School

Last week music teacher Kate Roseman invited her friend Amelia Romano to visit the Lower School and give a harp demonstration.

An eclectic blend of austere serenity and kinetic vibrancy, Amelia Romano takes what is known about conventional harp and surpasses every time. Pulling from first-hand experiences in South Africa and from her roots in a cultural hotbed in San Francisco, Amelia not only plays music from the repertoire but also reprises them and creates originals. Latin, gypsy, jazz are all genres that she touches, but her music defines its own path.

Our students absolutely loved Ms. Romano’s visit. To learn more about her, please visit: https://www.ameliaromano.com/

Spanish Class Visits Mission Cultural Center

As part of a Spanish Unit on el Día de los Muertos, all of Grade 5 traveled to the Mission District to tour the Mission Cultural Center and explore the murals of Balmy Alley. Docent Jesús Tecolotecpatl spoke with students about: indigenous beliefs around the concept of time, the environment, life/death, social justice, and immigration.

The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts was established in 1977 by artists and community activists with a shared vision to promote, preserve and develop the cultural arts that reflect the living tradition and experiences of the Chicano, Central and South American, and Caribbean people, and to make arts accessible as an essential element to community development and well-being.

For more information, please visit: https://missionculturalcenter.org/

Byrd Bannick Speaks About Gender Identity

November is Transgender Awareness Month. We were very lucky to have Byrd Bannick visit us last Friday to speak with middle school students in our GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) group.

Byrd grew up in the South Bay, attended private schools, and then later graduated from Stanford University. Byrd spoke about growing up as a girl, explaining how he was teased for wanting to wear boy clothes in middle school. In his twenties, after many years of hiding his identity, Byrd cut his hair and began the process of transitioning from female to male.

Byrd spoke candidly about the psychological and physical struggles that he went (and continues to) go through. He spoke about the importance of self-love and having the courage to be who you really are. He answered student questions about being misgendered, his family relationships, and forging new friendships.

The afternoon provided a powerful and profound window into one person’s journey into self-discovery and finding true happiness.

Student Ventures: Engaging Entrepreneurship

Thursday and Friday mornings the East Dining Room was packed with young Hamlin entrepreneurs and their adult mentors. Girls shared their various business plans, discussing things like market research, prototyping, identifying target audiences, and many other facets of launching a product. The mentors asked probing questions, providing guidance and encouragement.

The Student Ventures Program allows our students to sell their own creative items at this year’s Winterfest, December 7. Winterfest is Hamlin’s much-anticipated, magically festive annual event to celebrate community.

What is the purpose of this program?

-To create and develop a product
-To market and sell this product at Winterfest
-To learn about entrepreneurship
-To give back to Hamlin
-To earn a profit

How does it work?

-Interested students filled out an application
-Students applied as individuals or in groups
-All participants have a sponsoring adult (parent or guardian)
-Participants complete a business plan
-Students meet with Hamlin parent entrepreneurs to receive feedback and support
-All participants will have a selling space at the Winterfest marketplace

What products are being sold?

There are well over one hundred girls selling a variety of items. The major categories include:

-Jewelry, Hair Accessories, Food, Spa-related products, and Crafts

Our December 7 Winterfest takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so don’t miss this opportunity to support our young entrepreneurs.

Students Lead 2019 Book Drive

Hamlin students and parents have been working diligently to collect thousands of books this November. Numerous books have already been generously donated by members of our community. Student volunteers sort and stack books during lunch with dedication and care. Students also organize the drive in terms of advertising and getting the word out. The book drive runs through November 22nd, so there is still time to donate so we can meet our goal of 3001 books!

This year books will be donated to:

-Hamilton Families

-Woodrow Wilson Elementary

-Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco

-Children’s Book Projects

-Local preschools

Exploring Gender Identity with Jonathan Skurnik

On Monday middle school students, faculty members, and parents explored gender identity with filmmaker, Jonathan Skurnik.

Jonathan Skurnik is a documentary producer, director and cinematographer. Five of his films have broadcast on PBS and European Television, as well as on domestic Satellite and Cable stations. His films have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center and in art galleries in New York City and at over two hundred film festivals throughout the world. He has won numerous awards, including Best Documentary at the American Indian film festival, the Change Maker Award at the Media That Matters Film Festival, the Audience Award for Outstanding Achievement at Outfest, the Harry Chapin Media Award for films about poverty and Best Documentary Award at the UrbanTV film Festival.

Filmmaker and educator Jonathan Skurnik was a gender expansive child who loved to play with both dollhouses and Hot Wheels, wear pants and dresses. Like any child, he wanted it all! Then he started to get teased and bullied and gave up “girly” things. In the early 2000s Jonathan read about children who were gender creative and transgender and were living in communities that supported them. These children and their families were doing what he hadn’t been able to do as a child. So Jonathan created the Youth and Gender Media Project, a series of short films about these modern day heroes, which are screened in schools throughout the country to make the world safe for all flavors of gender identity and expression.

Some highlights from Mr. Skurnik’s three-session visit:

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Pop Culture Mash-Up Art

Grade 7 students recently completed vibrant pop culture mash-up art pieces. The project began with students choosing and researching an iconic painting. Girls then selected a pop culture reference to incorporate into their work. This project provided the opportunity for girls to delve deeper into the mechanics of painting. They learned how to: use different size and style brushes, mix paint effectively, refine their brush work, and explore the way a painting is created.

The above piece by Annabelle L. mashes Sponge Bob with The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai.

RTC Field Experience with Grade 7

On Tuesday, Grade 7 girls left campus to explore the California Academy of Sciences and volunteer with the nonprofits Glide and City Hope. At the end of the day each group participated in reflective work, which allowed students to process their profound experiences.

The day was designed to help our students inquire as they prepare for their Rise to the Challenge (RTC) capstone project work (taking place in May). For RTC, girls will strive to identify challenges they feel passionate about, then develop action plans to address those challenges, using their knowledge, resources, and collaborative talents. Students will have the opportunity to choose their own topics, do in-depth research, then share their findings, providing short and long-term solutions to various local and global problems.

These excursions allowed our girls to investigate issues facing our environment and learn more about the intricacies of urban poverty.

-Special thanks to Hamlin parent, Bart Shepherd (Senior Director of the California Academy of Sciences) for speaking with our students about the inner workings of the Academy.

Charlotte Gould Speaks about Kindness and Doll Making

On Monday, Charlotte Gould spoke with Hamlin lower and middle students about her altruistic work making dolls for hospitalized children experiencing surgeries. Charlotte also shared an acronym that she lives by: SEW (Smile, Eye Contact, Welcome). Embracing SEW has opened her to friendships and profound connections with people from all over the world.

At a 20-week ultrasound, Charlotte was diagnosed with a cleft lip & palate — the most common facial birth defect in the United States, affecting every 1 in 700 babies.  She had several surgeries and procedures, including two before her first birthday.  Doctor visits, planned surgeries, unexpected procedures, and ongoing treatment filled Charlotte’s childhood– along with laughter, dolls, joy and lots of smiles!

Charlotte states: “I was born with a cleft lip and palate.  I’ve had several surgeries on my lip, nose, mouth and gums to create the smile you see today.  My smile has changed my life, and I want to help other children smile too, especially kids needing surgeries. I know surgeries can be scary, but hugs from family, smiles from friends, and something soft to snuggle can really help.  I founded Stitches by Charlotte to support other kids just like me.  The purpose of my new surgery companion doll line is to turn scary times into smiles for children facing surgery everywhere!”

​​Charlotte sewed her first doll to look just like her– long brown braids, glasses, and a sweet smile with a tiny scar.  She received so much positive feedback for making a doll that was perfectly “imperfect.”  Charlotte began to discover a passion for making dolls with differences. From a doll with a scar across her chest for the tiniest heart warrior, to a doll with a crown of stitches for a brain-surgery sweetie– Charlotte happily sews to make others smile.  Requests poured in from people who believe Charlotte’s little dolls can make a big difference.

Charlotte and her dolls have been featured in American Girl magazine & Scholastic News, on Good Morning America, Fox News’ The Five, Disney Radio, and honored at WE Day 2018. Charlotte finds SEW much joy in helping others.

We are honored that Charlotte donated three of her dolls to The Hamlin School.

To learn more please visit: http://www.stitchesbycharlotte.com/

Hamlin Celebrates Día de los Muertos

Our Spanish department is leading a school wide celebration of Día de los Muertos with an altar on the 1st floor of Stanwood.

Día de Los Muertos is a Latin American celebration that focuses on family and friends gathering to remember loved ones who are no longer with us. People traditionally bring food and objects called ofrendas to feast on and celebrate their cherished ones.

In our ofrenda, you will find a red bowl with paper butterflies; please feel free to write the name of someone you would like to remember on the butterfly and pin it to the wall.

Students will also be able to bring non-perishable food as part of the offerings. At the end of the celebrations, the food will be donated to a Bay Area nonprofit.