Making A Ukulele

Grade 3 students are making ukuleles with their own hands, hearts, and creativity. Like so much in life, this project began as an idea.

Hamlin music teacher Kate Roseman states:

The idea for the ukulele project came from a conversation I had with Mark Picketts last year. During that conversation, Mark mentioned that there was a project like this at another school, and I got really excited about the potential of bringing it to Hamlin. Originally, I was thinking about doing this project with Grade 4, but when I mentioned it to Brandy (Garcia), she immediately became excited and said we had to do it with Grade 3. Brandy’s enthusiasm and passion has really brought this project to life! Making connections to art and poetry was something I wasn’t even thinking about.

With the help of design and maker teacher, Brian Louie, the vision is now under construction.

Mr. Louie had never made a ukulele before, but he was able to watch Instructable videos about the process and was excited to model taking risks for our students. Mr. Louie knows how to play the ukulele, so he already had a feel for the instrument.

Our students are working through the following to construct the ukuleles:

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Grade 1 Students Visit Calvary Presbyterian Church

On November 7, Grade 1 students walked to Calvary Presbyterian Church on Fillmore Street to meet seniors in our nearby San Francisco community. The girls were given a tour of the church and chapel by Alison Faison (Director of Children and Family Ministries), before performing in front of seventy people who were gathered for Calvary’s Tuesday lunch program for adults over the age of 60.

Hamlin students sung “Inch by Inch” and “America the Beautiful,” led by music teacher, Kate Roseman. After singing, the girls distributed handmade cards, connecting with women and men in the audience.

One senior commented:

It was so refreshing to have you here. There is hope for the future. Please come back.

-Special thanks to Marion Stanton, (mother of former Hamlin students, Elizabeth ’98 and Anne ’00), for helping to facilitate this meaningful visit.

Vilma Molina: An Interview

Vilma Molina has been working at The Hamlin School for 19 years, supporting the kitchen that feeds our community.

Tell us something about your childhood?

I’m from Chalchuapa, El Salvador, not far from the border with Guatemala. Much of the area is Mayan, but my family only spoke Spanish. My childhood was very tranquil. I grew up with four sisters and one brother. I loved listening to music and dancing. I danced cumbia, merengue, and salsa. I also liked to go to the movies and watch John Travolta. I really liked the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, and disco music too. I graduated from a public high school in 1979. The Civil War in El Salvador started in 1980, I left that same year with my mother to go to the United States. I had a brother-in-law who was killed in the war, but the rest of my family survived.

What is your favorite part about working at Hamlin?

Being with the girls at lunch. They give me hugs, tell me about their plans for the weekend, sometimes share stories about other people they know from El Salvador. I also like the morning ritual of being the first one here to open the doors, I get here at 5:15 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. every day.

What is one thing most people wouldn’t know about you?

I have two sons, one is 35, the other is 29, they both live in San Francisco. I also have a three-year old granddaughter named Olivia. I’m a grandmother.

Do you have a favorite hobby?

I love to cook. I find recipes and cook Italian food, Chinese food, all sorts of dishes, but I can’t make papusas (a traditional Salvadoran food). I do make pan rellenos (bread covered with tomato and chile sauce) for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I also love to make bean, pork, and chicken tamales.

What advice do you have for Hamlin students?

I’m Catholic, so I believe they should count their blessings. Thank God for everything. They have beautiful opportunities that other girls don’t have. Everyday I see how the girls respect and protect each other, that should continue.

May You Be Well: Professional Development Day

This year’s theme is May You Be Well. The words are derived from a Buddhist blessing and set us forth to take care of each other and our community throughout the school year. This means we strive for balance, and work to enrich and focus on our relationships, while continuing to create an excellent academic program. May You Be Well is a theme that also encourages our faculty to model a positive example for students, demonstrating how we can live and work with less stress.

On the morning of November 1, Hamlin employees let go of their laptops and put wellness into practice. The day started with inspiring words from our Head of School, Wanda M. Holland Greene, followed by a meditation session led by Hamlin parent, Ara Goolumian. At 9 a.m. employees departed for various self-selected activities.

Personal wellness included:

Yoga, Zumba, Meditation, Hiking in the Presidio, and Mindful Eating

Two groups also visited Compass Family Services and North Beach Citizens to learn about how those organizations are helping to support wellness for people facing homelessness.

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Table To Farm Food Program

On October 24, kindergarteners visited McClelland’s organic farm in Petaluma. The field trip was part of our new Table to Farm food program. Prior to visiting the farm, students were introduced to pumpkins and various types of squash by our food program manager, Tali Biale. In Ms. Biale’s lesson she had girls identify foods that contain pumpkins and squash, then coordinated with Acre Gourmet (our food provider) to have delicious dishes appear in the lunchroom derived from those autumnal favorites. As part of the field experience, students had the opportunity to: select a pumpkin to take home, pet baby cows, and witness the milking process.

After the lesson and field trip, one kindergartener said, I’m very interested in squash now.

Ms. Biale, a Bay Area native, has worked with food in a plethora of ways, including: in a kitchen, on a farm, at farmers’ markets, and in after school programs. She seeks to show students how food connects to all these places and more.

We learn about food in the classroom, then taste it in the lunchroom. Food is a thread that connects all of us; it is a way to talk about culture and identity, as well as nutrition and the environment.

-Tali Biale

As part of her thoughtful work, Ms. Biale asked middle school students to share ways that our food program relates to The Hamlin School creed. Below is one response.

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Simply the Basics Visits Hamlin

Meghan Freebeck, the founder of Simply the Basics and CEO of Project Homeless Connect visited The Hamlin School on October 24. Simply the Basics provides personal hygiene products to those in need.

The Mission of Simply the Basics is to provide for individuals, organizations, and communities their most basic needs with dignity so that they can focus on bigger goals. We simply remove barriers, allowing people to have the opportunity to achieve.

Ms. Freebeck spoke about the following (among other topics):

-Simply the Basics supports people based on “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”

-Simply the Basics conducted extensive research before launching their nonprofit

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Learning With Hamlin University

At The Hamlin School we want parents to learn with us. We feel that a community functions best when we are all knowledgeable about the philosophical and practical approaches to educating children. With this in mind, we recently launched Hamlin University.

Parents were expressing more and more interest in learning. We wanted to create a course catalog as if they (the parents) were in college, tapping into teacher expertise to share information on a wide variety of subjects.  -Nisa Frank, Lower School Division Head

I love the idea of Hamlin U.. It emphasizes the importance of all of us learning, just like students. These classes give parents an interactive way of engaging with us faculty, learning new tips and tricks, plus participating in deeper conversations with each other. It challenges everyone to take a closer look at their existing strategies and reflect on new ways of thinking.   -Kylie Cobb, Lower School Counselor and Hamlin U. presenter

The classes are great, I want to sign up for all of them!   -Hamlin Parent

The following classes are taking place over the course of this academic year:

-“Bullying” vs. “Mean Behavior”: Understanding more through digging deeper

-Turning Struggles into Successes: Creating a growth mindset

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Cow Eye Dissection in Grade 4

Grade 4 students are studying how the nervous system and vision are connected. In the unit they are identifying different parts of the eye and how they connect to the brain. Students are dissecting the eye of a cow because it is most similar to that of a human being.

This comprehensive science lesson includes the following (among other components):

-Students take turns holding the eye and observing it.

-Students take turns cutting the eye in half around the sclera.

-Students take turns observing the front of the eye, holding it up to the light and looking through the pupil.

-Students gently remove the lens from the vitreous humor, then look through it.

After the lesson, students have the opportunity to write about their dissection experience in their lab book.

PLAID Shows The Film: Class Divide

On October 18, PLAID showed the film Class Divide as part of their ongoing film series.

PLAID’s mission is to support a vibrant and inclusive environment in which all members of the community can celebrate their authentic selves. 

We foster open dialogue through family programs, parent education, and community outreach.

Class Divide highlights the recent effects of hyper-gentrification in New York City’s West Chelsea, focusing on an intersection where an elite private school (Avenues) sits directly across the street from public housing projects.

The film made the following points (among others):

-Wealthy people can often feel poor in relation to others who are more well off

-The creation of the High Line walking area in New York City led to rapid gentrification

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Technology, Physical Education, and The Hamlin Creed

Grade 6 students are working in teams to design an app that describes what they are learning in their PE rotations and how those skills relate to The Hamlin Creed.

The apps have four screens — one home screen and one screen for each rotation (climbing, dance, and group sports). Each student is responsible for creating one screen that describes the current rotation. The team works together to make the home screen.

Students brainstormed what the app would look like, considering colors, button types, and font size, while designing a uniform appearance for all four screens.

Below is an example of a screen that incorporates courage and respect from The Hamlin Creed:

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