Friday Notes


It's been a big week for news coverage of St. Paul's sixth grade lake cleaners who found gold and silver jewelry a week ago. "Treasure" is irresistable. Sixth graders appeared live on CNN on Monday, the story hit NPR's Morning Edition on Tuesday, and appeared in the LA Times on Wednesday. Geesh! In this week's Friday Notes, don't miss how the treasure story became big news, fifth graders doing great things in writing, and a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for Sra. Turner! Enjoy spring break. Pictured in the banner above is the audience at last week's Talent Show. In the small photo is a kindergartner celebrating Crazy Hair Day.

Close, Medium, and Far Reach: Setting Writing Goals in Fifth Grade

If you were a fifth grader writing a paper about courage, what would be the perfect writing assignment for you: a "close-reach goal," a "medium-reach goal," or a "far-reach goal"?

Hmm. In their recent study of the book Number the Stars, the fifth graders in Mr. Faulkner and Ms. Mills's classes faced this choice. Close, medium, and far reach goals are key components of our differentiated instruction teaching strategy, but, one wonders, how does it work in the fifth grade classroom? Would kids opt for what's easiest? As it turns out, the answer is no.

"I have to admit I was pretty surprised, because more often than not, the students opted for the harder challenge," said Mr. Faulkner. "As one student said, 'I chose far-reach because I felt like I could accomplish this and it would be a perfect challenge.'"

Sra. Turner Wins National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

Wonderful news for Spanish Teacher Jessie Turner! She has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to attend a NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop. ¡Felicidades!

"I'm so excited!" said Sra. Turner, who teaches Spanish in fifth and seventh graders. (Sra. Turner is pictured above at the O'OakTown auction with the auctioneer. She won a raffle at O'OakTown but the NEH grant, needless to say, is a much bigger deal.)

In late June, she will attend a one-week workshop for teachers entitled “Spanish, Mexican, and American California: Reframing U.S. History at Peralta Hacienda." The workshop, housed at Peralta Hacienda Historical Park in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, highlights the role of Mexico in shaping American history.

"This is an awesome opportunity to enhance my curriculum," said Sra. Turner. "The focus of the workshop is to re-frame U.S. history through the lens of the Mexican-U.S. war." She noted that Mr. Stern and Sr. Vallar wrote letters of recommendation to support her applications. Bueno.

O'OakTown Raises Record-Breaking Amount! Thank You

By Laurie Lezin-Schmidt
O'OakTown Embedded Correspondent

O'OakTown has come and gone but not without making a significant mark. Early reports have this year's O'Total reaching a record-breaking $135,000! As you all know by now, that money will go towards St. Paul's and our renowned Tuition Assistance program to help make our school more diverse.

We all can go forward into Spring feeling great that not only did we reach our goal, we exceeded it! As a side note, we also broke the somewhat obscure record for using O's in front of words. O'My!

The night was successful on other levels as well, as the evening provided all of us a chance to connect with each other. We shared great conversations, food, laughter, and of course dramatic bidding wars. There was even a tad bit o'dancing at the end...thanks to Ms. Connor and friends!

Annual Fund Participation: 7th and 3rd Grades Lead the Pack!

Every gift counts! Your contribution, in whatever amount, makes a difference to our School. Click here to give to the St. Paul's School Annual Fund.

With the Annual Fund campaign heading toward a finish line of May 1, the percentage of seventh grade families making a gift tops the participation chart at 79 percent, closely followed by third grade at 78 percent.

Second grade is hot on the trail with 74 percent participation, barely edging out sixth grade with its 73 percent participation. The kindergarten family participation level is just a tad behind at 71 percent.

Fifth and eighth grade are tied at a 63 percent participation, followed by fourth grade at 60 percent, and first grade at 55 percent.

St. Paul's Hats and Sweatshirts For Sale

Nothing says spring like an orange St. Paul's baseball cap and a cozy gray St. Paul's sweatshirt. Eighth grade parents, who are raising funds for the annual eighth grade environmental science trip to Catalina Island, have 24 hats and 12 sweatshirts for sale. 

The hats, which are adjustable in size, are St. Paul's orange in color, as previously mentioned, and feature an embroidered St. Paul's Spark of Inspiration logo. The sweatshirts are a comfy gray color with the St. Paul's spark logo on the front. The sweatshirt inventory consists of 11 youth sweatshirts and one lucky adult medium sweatshirt. Click here to download an order form, which may be returned with payment to Ms. De Bose or Ms. Lance.

Following the News: How Sixth Grade Treasure-Finders Became a Big Story

As you may have heard, sixth graders at St. Paul's found two bags of gold and silver jewelry during their weekly Service Learning clean-up of Lake Merritt at about 2:10 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, 2012. The story quickly became local, national, and international news.

The first step in launching the story happens minutes after the sixth graders find two bags of what appear to be stolen jewelry and antique gold and silver items.  As the sixth graders rifled through watches, rings, necklaces, and coins, a KGO Channel 7 TV crew happened to be at Lake Merritt.

Reporter Laura Anthony and the crew saw the action and began filming. KGO, an ABC-TV affiliate, had live footage from the scene, which aired on ABC affiliates across the country, on CNN, and on websites across the world. This was a key ingredient in transforming a local story into a media event.
We tell how this happened through a website called Storify, which allows us to track the story through video links, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and news sources.

Good Morning, CNN! Sixth Graders Talk Service on Live TV

Sixth graders appeared live on CNN this morning at 2:40 a.m. to talk about finding treasure while doing Service Learning at Lake Merritt. Here they are:

Congratulations to every student who has donned hip-waders or dragged a long-handled net.

And thank you, parents, for waking up your 12-year-olds for a 1:15 a.m. pick-up by a CNN driver and a trip to the television studio.

Los Angeles Times Reports on Sixth Graders, Loot, and Doing the Right Thing

By Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times
April 4, 2012
OAKLAND - They weren't the strangest things ever dragged from Lake Merritt, a refuge for wildlife and city dwellers alike that is patrolled regularly by volunteers who scoop up this city's ample detritus. That honor probably would go to the dead gerbil in a tiny casket, which trumped the Uzi, sawed-off shotgun and bowling ball, combined.

But during their regularly scheduled community service session last week, the sixth-graders in Susan Porter's science class pulled two canvas bags full of loot from the 140-acre tidal lagoon: Read more.


Important Dates and Reminders for Parents

Heads up, because these school dates are coming:
Car Door Opening in April:
Second Grade
Spring Break - No School/Vacation Camp Available
Fourth Grade Moving Up to Fifth Grade Coffee
8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
Location: Parish Hall
For current fourth grade parents meeting fifth grade teachers. 
Parent Education Event
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Topic: Spirituality, Science and Sustainability Discussion
Location: Parish Hall
Childcare Available
Kindergarten Moving Up Coffee
8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
Location: Parish Hall
For current kindergarten parents meeting first grade teachers.
Sixth Grade Moving Up to Seventh Grade Coffee
8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
Location: Middle School Faculty Lounge
For current sixth grade parents meeting seventh grade teachers.
Professional Development Day – No School/Childcare Available
6th and MS Talent Show
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Location: Parish Hall



Lake Cleaning Before Treasure: Leaves, Sneakers, and a Mattress

Every sixth grader who has come through St. Paul's has pulled something out of Lake Merritt.  To honor the hard work of sixth graders over 14 years (Mrs. Porter previously thought we'd been cleaning for 15 years, but now thinks it's 14 years), what follows is a photo gallery of lake cleaners of the past, in the pre-CNN era.

But first, a word from Jason Reeder '03, who noted that the most interesting find he made was "either a bowling shoe, a folding chair, or a whole grapefruit (which Mrs. Porter later helped us mummify)." He told us in 2008, "I loved it all. I was 11, and gross things were awesome.

One more thing: With the onslaught of press coverage about our sixth graders and the sunken treasure, both Mr. Stern and Mrs. Merry send their congratulations to all of the students, parents, faculty, volunteer partner organizations -- The Lake Merritt Institute and Map Your World -- and trustees who have participated in the lake cleaning at one point or another over the life span of the project.

Civic Engagement
"Our goal is to teach our students about civic engagement by giving back to a resource that we all use on a regular basis," said Mr. Stern, Director of Sixth Grade and Middle School. "This type of good fortune is a by-product of hard work by the entire school community and our commitment to service and civic engagement."
12 Images
44 Images


Parent Forms: Find here Pizza Day forms, EQ kit forms, information about music lessons, school supply lists, and more.

Health Watch

Week of April 2

Nothing reported.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact your pediatrician.

Spirituality, Science, and Sustainability: An Evening with Chaplain Luther

Please join us on Tuesday, April 17 for a presentation and group discussion about how we can all engage our children in the "adventure of learning to think ecologically."
Chaplain Luther will present on the exciting work she is doing with our children in the classroom and outside, the environmental direction in which our Service Learning program is moving, and the challenges we all face to live a sustainable and spiritually connected life today. After her talk, we will open the floor to you to learn more about how sustainability is working in your lives and what you would like to see happen at St. Pauls moving forward.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Please note that the deadline for reserving childcare is Friday, April 13. As this is during the Spring Break, we recommend you plan ahead if possible!
Chaplain Luther and the Parent Association

Grade-Level Coffees Coming Up; Mark Your Calendar

Grade-level coffees are coming up for parents to meet the teachers for the next grade level and learn about the program. Lower School coffees are in the Parish Hall. Sixth grade and Middle School coffees are in the faculty lounge on the fourth floor of the Middle School at 262 Grand Ave. The coffees are held from 8 to 9 a.m.

Here's the schedule for the remaining coffees:
  • Kindergarten coffee is Wednesday, April 18. For current kindergarten parents to meet first grade teachers.
  • Second grade coffee is Tuesday, May 8. For current second grade parents to meet third grade teachers.
  • Third grade coffee is Monday, May 7. For current third grade parents to meet fourth grade teachers.
  • Fourth grade coffee is Tuesday, April 17. For current fourth grade parents to meet fifth grade teachers.
  • Sixth grade coffee is Thursday, April 19. For current sixth grade parents to meet seventh grade teachers.
  • Eighth grade coffee doesn't happen! It's off to high school for you. Boo-hoo.

Alumni Family Picnic for Class of 2008 on April 28

Just like that, the Class of 2008 is heading off to college in the fall. Congratulations! Every year, St. Paul's hosts an alumni family picnic for the high school graduating class. It's a chance to re-connect before kids scatter to colleges.

The alumni family picnic for the Class of 2008 will be held on Saturday, April 28 at the Lake Temescal Park View Picnic Area, from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. RSVP to Kathy Brown at












Spring Break. No School. Vacation camp available.Register here.


Spring Break. No School. Vacation camp available.


Spring Break. No School. Vacation camp available.


Spring Break. No School. Vacation camp available.


Spring Break. No School. Vacation camp available.




Classes resume
Varsity volleyball v. Athenian @ Home, Oakland Y, 4 p.m. Directions.


Coffee for fourth grade parents moving up to fifth grade, Parish Hall, 8 to 9 a.m.
Parent Assoc. discussion on "Faith and Sustainability," Parish Hall, 7 to 8:30 p.m. No-fee childcare available. Register by 4/13 at 11:59 p.m.


Coffee for kindergarten parents moving up to first grade, Parish Hall, 8 to 9 a.m.
Ultimate Frisbee @ Athenian, 4:15 p.m. Directions.


Coffee for sixth grade parents moving up to seventh grade, MS faculty lounge, 262 Grand Ave., 8 to 9 a.m.


4A Chapel presentation: Earth Day, 8:40 to 9:15 a.m.
Sixth grade EBISC dance @ Bentley, 7 to 9:30 p.m.
Middle School EBISC dance @ Redwood Day, 7 to 9:30 p.m.





No School.

Professional Development Day.
Childcare available.


Teacher/Staff appreciation breakfast, hosted by SPES parents.


JV Volleyball v. Black Pine Circle @ Home, Oakland Y, 4 p.m. Directions.
Varsity Volleyball v. BPC @ Home, Oakland Y, 4:45 p.m.




1A Chapel presentation: Our School, 8:40 to 9:15 a.m.
6th and MS Talent Show, Parish Hall, 1 p.m.