American Ninja Warrior: Hamlin Style

10-second bar hang, jumping rope, swinging across a pit, these are only some of the features of Hamlin’s version of American Ninja Warrior, where students get to test their agility, strength, balance and speed.

This lively physical education class is the creation of Hamlin faculty member, Michelle Lovejoy.

I like American Ninja Warrior, I think that it’s really cool. There are a couple of women in the show who have been doing the course as well or better than the men. The girls love participating in the class.

Students are timed going through a challenging course that includes:

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PLAID Voices: An Interview with Christopher Tan

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

PLAID fosters open dialogue through family programs, parent education, and community outreach.

We recently had the opportunity to interview PLAID Co-chair, Christopher Tan.

1) Why is PLAID’s work important to you?

My wife and I have two precious daughters, one in 2nd grade and one in Kindergarten. While they are just starting out on their journeys through life, it is likely that Hamlin will be the organization with which we will have the longest affiliation. Our girls will be spending their formative ages here, so of course we want to expend every effort to help foster a healthy school community! Also, part of our daughters’ education is learning how to operate in a global environment (notwithstanding the current lurch towards nationalism). To thrive in an increasingly connected world, our girls must:

-gain exposure to cultural, socioeconomic, and other differences
-learn how to navigate through them
-find common cause with other individuals
-but also retain their core values

PLAID’s twin goals of broadening perspectives and deepening connections within the Hamlin community are very much in line with our personal philosophy… so I don’t really think of it as “work.” 🙂

2) Tell us something about yourself as it relates to PLAID.

I grew up in Singapore and lived there for 20 years before moving to the United States. Singapore is a small nation of 5 million Chinese, Indians, Malays and Eurasians; a former British colony, it gained its independence in 1965. With no common culture and no natural resources, Singapore was “not supposed to exist” (to quote the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s first Prime Minister). However, great pains were taken to promote community—we were always encouraged to participate in birthdays, weddings, funerals, and religious celebrations of other races, for example—and to instill a sense of common destiny. I believe that this has been a key factor of Singapore’s success: people worked hard together to build a country that in 50 years has gone from mosquito-infested tropical backwater, to a first world country with a GDP per capita rivaling Norway and Switzerland.

At Hamlin, I see strong parallels that have contributed to its success. We may come from very different backgrounds, but we share a common mission (to “educate girls to meet the challenges of their time”) and espouse the same values of compassion, courage, honesty, respect and responsibility. When Judy Ching asked me to consider joining the team, and I found out that PLAID’s objective is to help weave the many threads of Hamlin families into one community, I jumped at the opportunity to contribute!

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Technology & Beekeeping: An Interview with Lawrence Fung

1. What is your role at The Hamlin School?

I’m the IT manager, I handle anything tech-related, computers, network, systems, hardware, trouble-shooting, the website and phone system. I help maintain the whole operation. I have a Master’s degree from USC in electrical engineering with a focus on computer networking, but I like the hands on stuff more than coding. With coding you have to sit in the same place for long periods of time. With my work now, I have more opportunities to run around, talk with different people and develop social skills.

2. Tell us about your connection to China?

I’m the only one in my family who came to the United States. I came to California in 1998, my parents and older sister still live in China. I’m from Heshan, Guangdong (near the southern coast, a few hours from Hong Kong). My father was a principal of a school. I try to get back to visit my family in China every year.

3. What is most similar/different about China/United States?

There are very few similarities, they both have McDonald’s, but that is about it. The biggest difference is air quality. The air here in San Francisco is pure, in China the air is very polluted because of all of the industry. There is also water pollution because of chemicals being dumped in rivers. My parents often go into the mountains to get spring water that isn’t contaminated. Culturally, Americans are more expressive than most Chinese people. I’ve slowly become more inclined to speak freely. The Chinese education system is focused entirely on academics, not on developing skills related to free speech and expression.

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Hamlin Students Host 2nd Annual Girls Film Festival

For the second year in a row, Hamlin students Ella, Maggie, Charlotte and Caitlin took the stage in Noe Valley to welcome films and filmmakers from all over the world. This year’s event had movies submitted by girls from Croatia, Germany, India, and Canada (among others). 240 people were in attendance to enjoy short films made by girls 14 years and under.

Indigo, a Grade 8 Hamlin student opened the show with her film Not on the Screen that confronts stereotypes and the lack of ethnic diversity in Hollywood. Another highlight was guest speaker and filmmaker Samantha Grant, who urged the audience to have courage, take risks, show your soul, and put your work out there. San Francisco Supervisor Jeff Sheehy presented the Noe Valley Girls Film Festival team with a certificate of honor signed by the entire Board of Supervisors, acknowledging their contribution to the community.

Establishing such a successful film festival is quite an endeavor. The girls raised over $4,000 from bake sales; cold called real estate businesses to gain sponsors, designed t-shirts, formatted films, and maintained ongoing communication with both filmmakers and judges.

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Leadership with Hamlin’s Director of Admissions, Lisa Aquino ’81

“Great leaders aren’t always front and center. And Lisa Lau Aquino knows that leaders don’t have to set themselves apart by title or responsibility.” 

This article appears in AISAP (Association of Independent School Admission Professionals).

It can be read here: http://goo.gl/M4Kfc6

Hamlin Alumna Lyla Hinkle Shares Her 9/11 Story

This article appears in Thrive Global: https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/13160-a-bright-light-on-a-dark-day-a-plane-baby-s-9-11-story

Interview with Hamlin Alumna and Teacher: Helen (Fowler) Ortiz ’03

Helen (Fowler) Ortiz graduated from The Hamlin School in 2003 and is now back with us teaching Kindergarten.

1) What are your favorite memories of Hamlin?

Outdoor Education (we sang songs to keep our morale up in the Yosemite sleet), cross-country skiing, Halloween (I loved making costumes), singing the song the Witches’ Brew, the 8th grade musical (Bye Bye Birdie), Famous American Women’s Tea, and Field Day, to name a few! My closest friends are my Hamlin friends, they are like family to me. Also, as a 7th grader I volunteered in a 1st grade classroom reading to the girls and playing games, that experience started me thinking about becoming a teacher. 

2) What is it like coming back to Hamlin as a teacher? 

It is exciting and inspiring, the longevity of the teachers is a testament to the Hamlin school community. Hamlin is a school that always strives to do more and a place where teachers help each other out. It is wonderful seeing all my old teachers: Ms. Aquino, Ms. Gustavson, Ms. Abbott, Ms. McDonald, Ms. Hillegas-Stommel, and Ms. Metcalf. I loved my Hamlin teachers.

3) How has San Francisco changed since you were a kid?

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Hamlin Students Explore Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve problems, and find desirable solutions for people. A design mindset is not merely problem-focused, it’s solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user. 

In Grade 2, students recently used Design Thinking to create stools. They determined a need in the classroom (stools that provide a unique sitting option), then made a plan for their first iteration. With the assistance of teachers, students worked with various tools (drills, staples) to stabilize plastic crates with wood, then provided padding for added comfort. In the coming days the girls will obtain user feedback, then go back to make a second improved iteration, implementing what they learned from peer comments.

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Acre Gourmet Brings Nourishing Food To Hamlin

The school year is off and running, propelled by the new nutritious energy of Acre Gourmet, a socially responsible, environmentally conscious purveyor of all that is good to eat in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

The move to Acre Gourmet was made after many months of thoughtful consideration. Below is an excerpt of a letter from Hamlin’s Head of School, Wanda M. Holland Greene.

By the time one Kindergarten girl finishes Grade 8 at Hamlin (in June 2026!), she will have eaten well over 1500 school lunches in our dining rooms! Wow. That’s 1500 not-to-be-missed opportunities to strengthen her body and mind with healthy and nutritious meals. That’s also 1500 important opportunities for her to experience new types and combinations of freshly prepared food. Perhaps most importantly, that’s 1500+ daily opportunities for a girl to strengthen her connection to her Hamlin sisters and deepen her appreciation of the incredible abundance of the natural world that we are so fortunate to live with here in the Bay Area.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the food we offer daily at Hamlin has a profound impact on the growth and development of our girls’ bodies and minds. That is why we have spent the last fourteen months taking a hard look at our food program, to understand how it can rise to the same level of excellence and positive impact that we expect from all areas of our educational program.

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A New School Year, Wisdom from Wanda M. Holland Greene

I was born in Brooklyn, New York in January 1968. I love New York City. For me, NYC is both a geographical and a spiritual home; it is a place that I navigate easily, where my loud voice, brown skin, and heavy footsteps fall right into place, and where I feel completely in my element. One of the things that native New Yorkers will admit hesitantly is that NYC is not a clean city. Vibrant, yes. Busy, of course. Multicultural and multilingual, certainly. But clean? Not so much. That’s why native New Yorkers secretly love heavy rainfall. Rest assured that it will be nearly impossible to hail a yellow taxi when it rains, but when the cloudy heavens open, the grey concrete streets begin to glisten like hematite crystals. Randomly scattered trash will find its way to the cross-hatch gutters on the street corners, and for a moment NYC will be as clean as Chicago or Seattle.

For the past few years, and more intensely in the last few weeks, I have been hoping and praying that our cities and the entire country be washed clean of the filth of bigotry and intimidation, the toxicity of police brutality, and the pollution of indifference. My fervent prayer has been “Make it rain, down Lord. May justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream, as the purest of Kings once said. Make it rain down a fire that will purify our hearts and refine the American dream so that there is truly liberty and justice for all.” I thought about the song “Make it Rain,” written by Foy Vance, a Northern Irish musician, and I thought about the robust conversations that I’ve had in the past with Hamlin girls about diversity and democracy. I then thought about our sacred mission:

“The Hamlin School educates girls to meet the challenges of their time, and inspires them to become extraordinary thinkers and innovators, courageous leaders, and women of integrity.”

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