Author Archives: polk@hamlin.org

Students March To Address Climate Change

This Friday, our student-led Middle School Environmental Ambassador’s Club (EAC) led a march to address climate change. The optional march took place during recess in support of the Global Youth Climate Strike organized by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. Our girls (Grades 3-8) marched down Broadway to Fillmore to Jackson and back, in support of climate justice for all.

Middle School Field Trip Day

On Thursday, girls in grades 5-8 ventured out to various parts of San Francisco. The day provided an opportunity for our students to bond with each other in eclectic off campus locales. Girls were able to challenge themselves physically, and volunteer, while connecting with each other through shared experiences.

Students went to the following places:

Grade 5: Circus Center

Circus Center offers classes for every level of ability in flying trapeze, acrobatics, aerial arts, contortion, juggling and many other disciplines. 

Grade 6: Pier 39 
Opened in 1978, Pier 39 is favorite location to visit in San Francisco, boasting excellent views of Alcatraz, Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.

Grade 7: Stow Lake Beautification

Stow Lake is a human-made lake in Golden Gate Park with a rich history that dates back to 1893. The lake has provided San Franciscans with an outdoor escape for more than a century, as they come to enjoy the scenery. Students pulled out invasive plants around the lake.

Grade 8: Fort Miley Ropes Course

The Fort Miley Ropes Course offers a fun, safety conscious and positive environment for individuals and groups to work together to develop confidence, trust, cooperation and leadership skills through actions. 

Noe Valley Girls Film Festival Continues To Inspire

Earlier this month, Hamlin students powered the Noe Valley Girls Film Festival for a 4th year. The festival showcased short films made by girls from all over the world. The Noe Valley Girls Film Festival is especially unique in that the entire festival is planned and run by girls 16 years and under.

Some key highlights were:

-250 people in attendance

-4 Pixar representatives spoke: Lourdes Alba, Lucy Laliberte, Connie Lee, and Becky Neiman-Cobb

-Ms. Alba, Ms. Lee, and Ms. Neiman-Cobb, brought their Oscar award (shown in the photo) for their animated short film, Bao

-San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman awarded all of the NVGFF team members a Certificate of Honor for their contribution to the community

-There were 3 Hamlin School submissions this year, with Molly W. (Grade 4) winning 2nd prize for her film, Lady Tiffin’s Travel Secrets. Mollie W. also won the Audience Choice Award and had her film screened at the Noe Valley Town Square movie night on Saturday, September 14

For more information about the festival please visit: http://www.nvgff.com/

Mentoring and Making: Grades 8 and 3 Work Together

For a 3rd year in a row, our Grade 3 students are busy constructing their very own ukuleles. This project has become a class favorite, as girls are guided through the process with Mr. Louie, our dynamic Maker Teacher. This year, Grade 8 students regularly work with our Grade 3 girls, helping with the ukulele construction and strengthening sisterhood along the way.

Our students are doing the following to make the ukuleles:

-Use a band saw to cut wood (plywood for the bodies, oak for the sides and neck, walnut for the bridge)

-Cut the wood for the body

-Paint the body

-Cut the neck

-Sand the edges

-Glue on the neck, drill holes for pegs, nails for frets

-Attach strings to tuners

Later in the school year, Grade 3 students will have the opportunity to perform with these self-created instruments.

Interview with Beth Brizendine Hall: Our New Lower School Division Head

What do you love about working at Hamlin?

The people! Being surrounded by individual and team excellence. Everyone who works at Hamlin, in any capacity, works hard and joyfully. We bring our full selves to work every day and support each other to be our best selves. We know that everything we do here is absolutely for the benefit of our students, and that makes doing the work part of our passion. We are a fast paced, hard-working, fun, and successful group of people. It is exhilarating.

What are you excited about for this year?

I’m excited to learn about everything that is Hamlin beyond the classroom. I do have many classrooms to learn about and plan to be in classrooms as much as possible, but learning about all the parent run committees, such as PLAID, The Student Ventures Program, and our room parents, has really allowed me to see a bigger Hamlin picture. I’m also exciting about continuing to build our community with many new teaching teams in Lower School. Coaching and mentoring teachers has been a big part of my work for many years, and I’m excited to deepen this experience and lead an already incredible team of educators.

How does being a parent inform your work in Lower School?

Patience and empathy. I know from having my own children that things can seem dire one day and then fine the next. I pay attention to what is going on, but always allow for time to give people, adults or children, a chance to grow and develop resiliency in problem solving. There are definitely times when immediate intervention is needed, but being a parent has helped me get a sense of when these times are, and when it is better to keep the pulse and “wait and see.” I’ve always used humor as something to help me be my best self and see the best in others, and that is definitely true with parenting, and working with children. I find them both to be hilarious and daunting at times, and I know that creating the environment where children and adults can be themselves is the first step to helping everyone thrive.

You’ve had a long-standing interest in birds, what lessons have your learned from that exploration?

Birds are incredibly accessible. They are everywhere! You don’t need a ticket or a certain geographical location to observe birds. Observation is an important tool in developing so many critical skills in children: patience, focus, listening, formulation of ideas based on what you see, noticing patterns, keeping notes, sketching, and above anything else, picking your head up from whatever you’re doing and looking around you. I have seen children who struggle with focus in the classroom be able to sit and watch a bird for 20 minutes without moving, they are riveted. In my own birding practice, I find it calms me and focuses my thinking. It also reminds me to look up and around, too!

Students Design Unique Cereal Boxes

Hamlin art students are always exploring and creating highly original work. We recently visited a class where Grade 5 students are making their own cereal box designs.

Art Teacher, Ms. Feldman shares:

Students learned about some of the design elements artists use to create their work. We discussed different size and style of text, color and composition and how these elements help create an interesting and eye catching piece.  Girls honed their craftsmanship skills by learning how to use the color pencils to create smooth areas.  Students were also required to include something about themselves in their artwork.

Kindergarteners Explore Science Lab

Our youngest scientists entered the lab brimming with curiosity! We read the book, My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss and talked about how our emotions are controlled by a part of our brain called the amygdala. We also spoke about how we are in control of our emotional reactions. One student said, “We can change our attitude!”  The girls explored a variety of color-themed centers including mixing wells and pipettes, prisms, and watercoloring.

(Photo) Kindergartener, Alex L. investigates colors by using a pipette to drop colored water into a mixing well tray. Using a pipette introduces our youngest scientists to a new tool and strengthens fine motor skills.

(Guest post by Science Teacher, Konika Ray)

Grade 5 Plays Harry Potter Tag

Our physical education department provides an endless supply of creative games to get our students exercising and having fun. This morning, Grade 5 students played Harry Potter Tag. Each student was a member of one of the Harry Potter houses (Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff). Through vigorous sprinting, girls attempted to successfully visit the other three houses without being tagged, thus earning a magic wand for their team. There was a magic portal and other special features in this wonderful game. Our girls love running outdoors, surrounded by the beauty of San Francisco and the Bay in the distance.

Noe Valley Girls Film Festival This Weekend

For the 4th year in a row, Hamlin students are leading the way by sharing excellent female-made films from around the world. There has always been a Hamlin presence in the Noe Valley Girls Film Festival, but this year even more students are avidly supporting this wonderful event. On Friday morning, Claire K. and Mollie W. spoke at our Lower School assembly, encouraging girls to attend the festival. Mollie W. (Grade 4) is a finalist in the competition with her film Lady Tiffin’s Travel SecretsThe film festival is this Saturday 9/7, 4pm at the Noe Valley Ministry.

The Noe Valley Girls Film Festival is very proud to announce that the Key Note Speakers for the 4th Annual Noe Valley Girls Film Festival will be some of the Pixar members from the amazing team behind the Oscar Winning Film Bao.

Bao is a 2018 animated Pixar film released with Incredibles 2 about a mother, suffering from empty nest syndrome, who receives an unexpected second chance at motherhood when she makes a steamed bun that comes to life. The film won the Oscar for the Best Animated Short Film

Speaking at the 2019 NVGFF will be the following movie makers from Pixar Studios: 
Becky Neiman-Cobb, Producer 
Lourdes Alba, Production Manager  
Lucy Laliberte, Production Technical Manager 
Connie Lee, Lead Coordinator 

The Noe Valley Girls Film Festival’s mission is to encourage young girls to make movies with the goals of creating a new generation of moviemakers, promoting Noe Valley, and having fun.

To learn more, please visit: http://www.nvgff.com/

Students Add Diversity To Their Classroom Library

At Hamlin, students never hesitate to honor our mission and “meet the challenges of their time.” Last year students in Grade 4 discovered that many of the books in their classroom library were outdated and didn’t truly represent diverse voices. Of the over 1,000 books, not many addressed topics like: non-traditional family structures, sexual orientation, gender identity, or the nuance of cultural identity. For example, one student found that most of the books about African-Americans were about the Civil Rights Movement, and didn’t connect to her life in 2019.

Using the website We Need Diverse Books, our girls were able to find a wider range of titles for their classroom reading pleasure. Working with their teachers, students ordered these new books from Ms. Cardone in our main library and from the San Francisco Public Library. After vetting several books, students then wrote a persuasive essay explaining why a particular book was important to them. Girls also took the opportunity to share their favorite books with each other, doing some wonderful peer-to-peer teaching.

The last component of this 6-week project was an invitation to speak with Hamlin administrators at a SCOPE meeting (our Standing Committee On Program Excellence). A group of girls articulated the importance of adding these 30 books to the Grade 4 library. Impressed, SCOPE members asked for a budget to purchase the new books.

These girls, (now Grade 5 students) came back down to the Lower School and unveiled the more diverse books for their younger peers. Their thoughtful work has created a legacy that future readers will enjoy for many moons.