Charter News  • Oct 6, 2019


Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way. -Mavis Mazhura

Dear Charter Families,


I can’t believe that we are in October!  We are seven weeks in the school year and our middle and high school students progress assessments are just around the corner. Our programs are encouraging students to find their passions and help their classmates to do the same.

The rhythm of turning assignments in on time should be solidifying.  We thank you for all your help at home to ensure that your student is doing their personal best work and turning it in on time.


Please read on to hear from our counselor about Identifying emotions, emergency procedures, our Parent Advisory needs, news from our gardens and bits from our programs. 


Thanks for all you do with and for sharing your children with us. 





PARENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE: IMPORTANT PARENT INVOLVEMENT: The parents that were consistently involved in participating in the Parent Advisory Committee have had their children graduate form our Charter.  Thus it is very critical that we have a parent from each program come and participate in these PAC meetings. These meetings are designed to ensure we have parent input into critical documents that are the backbone of the Charter.  Yearly this committee gives input to our Local Control Accountability Plan (includes our school goals and funding) School Safety Plan, Annual Parent Survey as well as our 5 year Charter Petition Renewal and Accreditation review.

We have determined six meetings within the school year for these important meetings. The first meeting will be; Tuesday, October 8th, 3:00-4:00 pm in the Fall Creek Charter office.


FROM OUR COUNSELOR:  Identifying our Emotions

Hello families! 


Here we are in October, settling into the new year and getting the ball rolling.  I have been in many of the classrooms to meet kids, talk about the brain and observe how they are settling in.  I spoke with some classrooms about the purpose of the midbrain when it comes to feelings - the amygdala (feelings and safety), the hippocampus (memory and learning), the pituitary (hormones) and the prefrontal cortex (reasoning and executive functioning) - to help children understand just how hard their brains work in school (especially at the year’s start when they are adjusting to new schedules, teachers, etc). 


I must say, I’ve had HUGE moments of pride for our Charter school over the past few weeks!!  I challenged a K-5 class to come up with as many emotions as they could (who I thought might name 10 or so emotions) and they named 50 unique emotions before I just had to stop them!!  They had more on their list than I did! I listened to a middle-schooler make amends with grace, empathy and humility, without making excuses. I saw a 4th grader learn how to receive feedback from a friend about his behavior with openness and kindness.  I’m seeing these signs everywhere that we as a community are holding hands around these kids and supporting their social/emotional growth at home, and in/outside of the classrooms. 


This month we will dive into the first portion of the “Me” in “Me, You and the World” and talk about identifying our emotions.  Awareness of emotions is often the first step in supporting our mental and physical health.  So many of us lose contact with our true feelings after repeatedly avoiding them. This type of dis-ease can be the start of habitual behavior that can lead to physical and emotional problems. I will offer tools for “checking in” and recognizing just how precise and powerful our emotions are!  

I will talk to your student about what emotions really are and how they are expressed.  Fun fact I learned recently - an emotion only lasts for 60-90 seconds!  I will ask students why they think an intense emotion seems to last much longer than that! 


Emotional problem solving is a big task as an adolescent! The forebrain is often overpowered by the emotional/hormonal midbrain!  We know this all too well! In our high school, we have started lessons from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which is all about practicing tools to help get us unstuck from emotional/cognitive dilemmas and hopefully establishing habits that will help these kids for a lifetime.


Things to consider practicing or discussing with your children at home:  


The Wave Skill -  When an emotion arises, imagine it is a wave that is simply passing through you.  Just like a wave in the ocean, it’s pointless to try and stop it, get rid of it or push it away.  Just simply follow it all the way through until it lands gently on the shore. You could synchronize this visual with the breath - “breathe out as you watch the wave all the way to the shore, breathe in as the water returns to the sea”. Some people even imagine they are surfing on top of the wave!


Emotions in the body - Using mindfulness - notice where in your body you are feeling emotional sensations.  Experience them fully. Allow your body to move in ways that allow the feelings to pass through without getting stuck. Feelings of fear or anxiety can be supported by hugging yourself tightly for a sense of safety.  Feelings of anger could be supported by doing jumping jacks or running in place, pushing against a wall or yelling into a pillow. Feelings of sadness can be supported by placing your body in water (warm bath, shower, river, pool). Be mindful of your environment and what actions seem appropriate!


Remember:  YOU ARE NOT YOUR EMOTIONS - They are simply a part of you. There are times when you don’t need to ACT on them! Check the facts. Are your feelings coming from an erroneous thought or set of ideas?  Remember times when you have felt differently. We will touch more on this next month when we look at thoughts!


Fact-Checking:  For older children/adolescents (learning how to fact-check is a powerful tool that they can use for a lifetime!).  We will practice some fact-checking next month when we explore our thinking...

  1. Ask “What is the emotion I want to change?”
  2. Ask “What is the event prompting my emotion?” (this is the point where they can challenge judgments, extremes, and black-and-white thinking.  They can describe the observable facts and challenge the rest)
  3. Ask: “Am I interpreting the situation correctly?” (are there other possible interpretations?)
  4. Other optional questions that may or may not fit the situation: “Am I thinking in extremes?  What is the likelihood of the worst thing happening? Even if the worst were to happen, can I imagine coping well with it? <--this one is a go-to for me!

“Invite the Emotion Home for Dinner” - give the emotion a name, description and a number on a scale from 0-10. Perhaps draw/paint/color or collage images or colors to help describe the emotion. Be willing to accept the emotion as part of your body’s way of taking care of itself, rather than labeling it as “good” or “bad”. Some younger children will draw characters who become “helpers” for intense emotions - characters such as unicorns, tigers, and superheroes can be important allies in children’s art as they process their feelings. Watch/listen for allies in art, stories and imaginary play (even sticks and forts become powerful helpers when kids feel overwhelmed- if the play is dangerous, they may need help creating other helpers to feel safe).  Sometimes I see children set rules for their difficult feelings, and they can feel a sense of mastery and control this way. 


We’re off to a great start!


Robin Bates, LMFT


P.S. My office is in the Fall Creek Admin building and I am available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Feel free to email me with any questions, ideas or concerns at [email protected].



Emergency Preparedness

Every year, as part of our district's safety training, our staff receives a refresher on emergency preparedness. Student and School safety is a high priority for everyone and we want to make sure that everyone is working together and is aware of all procedures in case an emergency arises during school hours. 

We are fortunate to have a School Resource Officer on our Tri-campus, ready to support us in any emergency situation. April came to our last staff meeting to review lockdown procedures with our staff.  An important reminder for all parents is that we are required to take all students' cell phones during an emergency and make sure they are turned off until the emergency is determined safe to turn them back on. You can find out more about this aspect through this link. The "Don'ts in an Emergency" Explained - Parent / Guardian Information


It is important to be aware of the District/school’s safety procedures. Here is the District link where you can learn all that you may need to know regarding our District’s emergency procedures. SLVUSD Emergency Information




From our Master Gardener Melanie Burgess - In The Garden:


QHIA 8th:    Students helped move in straw bale seating for the garden, cleared two beds of weeds and added new soil. They planted celery, mustard greens, and carrots. We discussed what students wanted to do for their class project, a birdbath. 


QH 4th & 5th:   We discussed how peas and carrots grow and we planted a few more peas at the trellises and carrots in one of the beds.  We added clarifier to the small beneficial pond to clear the water.  


Fall Creek 4th Grade:  Students learned about and tasted the herbs other students have planted in the previous weeks... lemon balm, tarragon, mint, oregano, etc.  High school mentors checked the compost bin and they added some straw and watered in thoroughly. 


CRMS 6th:  We learned about sweet peas and echinacea and planted them in the garden in new plant pots.  High school mentors added drip to the new plant pots. Students pruned strawberries and the mint while others watered all of the plants.   


CRHS: Students learned about and planted an Andean Aster and an Echinacea.  We discussed Michaelmas Daisies and how they are one of the last foods of the season for beneficials and why that is so important in an organic garden.  They added compost and new soil and then planted celery, peas, kale, beets, chard, mustard greens, and scallions. 



Resources From Our Community:

The Community Opportunity Link is provided as a courtesy for parents and students by the San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District to receive information on current local events and other student opportunities. These opportunities range from scouting, sports, arts/drama, local community events, as well as other parent resources.

In an effort to reduce paper, flyers will not be sent home to students; all approved flyers will be posted to this District-created website.



Performing Arts Opportunities for All Charter Students!:  Mark Your Calendars. New information. The following activities are After School Performing Arts opportunities available to All Students in Every Program of our charter:


1, Thrill the World! 2019 Rehearsals 

When: Thursdays: Oct. 17 and Fridays Oct. 11 and Oct. 25 from 3:00-4:00 pm

Where: Multipurpose Room on the Quail Hollow Campus (up by the Charter Office)

No need to sign up ahead of time. Just show up.


This event was founded in 2006 in Toronto and has now spread to six continents. Every October people in cities around the world dance to "Thriller" at exactly the same time.  Preparation and counting down worldwide is part of the fun, but the feeling of being connected to others and dancing together as one is a Thrill like no other! This year the event will be held in Santa Cruz on Saturday, October 26, 2018 at the Louden Nelson Center lawn at 3 pm sharp. There is also an option to perform in a flashmob on Halloween in Ben Lomond.


2. All Charter Musical: Wizard of Oz: Get Your Kicks on Route Yellow Bricks.  It is, once again, an original script written by Janinne Chadwick, our local playwright from Ben Lomond. All the familiar characters will be in this tale, and we'll also have munchkins singing everything from The Beatles to Funk, Glinda-Rockin' the Motown and Rock n' Roll, two evil witches/warlocks, Ozzy and the Osbourne family, and so much more!

Amber will have an informational meeting on Monday, Oct. 14 at 3 pm for students and parents. The meeting will be held in the multipurpose room at the Quail Hollow Campus. 

You will get a synopsis of the script, hear about characters and musical numbers, and get detailed info on the rehearsal schedule/requirements. *There are some new guidelines this year, so please make note of this meeting. Here are a few changes: 

  1. Students and Parents will be asked to sign a behavior expectation contract. Actors must be able to focus and take direction independently, without their parents being present to assist in behavior support. 
  2. Performance Week (earlier than last year): January 21-26

All January Rehearsals, beginning Monday, Jan. 6, are mandatory.

  1. Participants must sign up prior to auditions (beginning Oct. 14). They may not "drop-in" once auditions have begun.
  • K-5 Auditions: 3-5:30 pm, Tues./Wed., Oct. 22, 23
  • Middle School/High School Auditions: 3-5:30pm, Monday/Tues., Oct. 28, 29
  • Rehearsals: 3-5:30 pm, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, *beginning Nov. 4

All auditions and rehearsals through December are held in the multipurpose room on the Quail Hollow Campus.


Please attend the informational meeting on Oct. 14 for clarification and details. Thank you to The Theater Booster Club and I look forward to another fantastic production!


Contact me with any questions [email protected].



What’s Going on in Our Charter School?  ..little snippets of some of our programs. 

CRHS: Progress Reporting Week Your CRHS staff are proud of all of their students for a job well done during their first 6-weeks of school. For our new students, we are recognizing adjustments, decompression of stress and anxiety, and organization and interest in the subject matter! Engagement is strong! Our observations of the upper-classmen are showing deeper critical thinking skills, leaders, employment, college courses, and incredible and engaging creativity! We are lucky to have such well-rounded students who are caring and inquisitive!  Our academic counselor Mary Zilge would also like to add a reminder that October 11th, this Friday is the last day to register for the PSAT which is on October 16. Juniors and sophomores that would like the option of enrolling in a four-year college/university directly after graduation should take the practice SAT.


CRMS: Project Presentation Outline and Project Proposal Due.  Showed a short segment of an interview with Greta Thunberg about how she got involved with climate change activism, then discussed what the kids in our group are concerned about. Climate Science: Introduced the IPCC and what qualifies as scientific evidence. Introduced and agreed to lab norms. Completed a climate science lab: on differential heating of air and water, data to be analyzed this week. Photos:  Kids worked in pairs to take portraits of each other which included photo composition elements introduced at our photography field day.  Wednesday, 10/16, Kayaking Field Trip.


Nature Academy: 6th-grade class is learning about Mesopotamia, beginning their stone tools project and will be embarking on their Big Sur overnight for Jade Festival this week. The 7th-8th-grade class will be doing some running, hiking, swimming, and softball playing over the next few weeks. Parents, let us know if you can help. They are completing their essay on the Giver and are further defining their student choice projects within their genius hour. 


Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (QHIA): This week we got into the swing of our core VAPA program, with students alternating in two groups; one with me and Hunter Wallraff for Improv class, and the other for direct art instruction with Marie. It is truly amazing to see the collaboration, bravery, public speaking, confidence, critical thinking, and FUN the kids have in Improv class. Hunter is such a skilled teacher, we are thrilled to have him back. Marie taught a lesson inspired by Keith Haring’s art style.


Quail Hollow Homeschool: A BIG Thank You ALL Families who were able to help out with our Bake Sale - volunteering your time and energy, and making treats! Thank you! Robin came in and spoke with the class about Feelings and Emotions. 1-3rd-grade friends did a Mystery Science lesson on inventions while 4-5 grade friends went to the garden with Melanie. We solved some triad math puzzles and finished our guided drawings of the Statue of Liberty and had picture day.


Fall Creek Homeschool: We looked at our “inkblot” paintings to see if they were truly symmetrical. We drew more mandala circles, added geometrical designs to them. We listened to “The Emerald Lizard”, a folktale from Guatemala about helping and caring. We discussed mosses and learned about their qualities and how close they are to lichens. We drew an example of typical mosses in our botany notebooks. We talked about the different ways plants get their moisture and set up an experiment to show capillary action. We wrote and drew a page in our botany notebooks about capillary action and our ongoing experiment.



Dates to Remember: (Please refer to your program’s newsletter for greater detail regarding dates and details specific to your program’s Field Trips and class events.)

  • Thriller Dance Rehearsals: Thursdays: Oct. 17 and Fridays Oct. 11 and Oct. 25 from 3:00-4: 00 pm
  • All Charter Play Information Meeting: Monday, Oct. 14th, 3 pm at the Quail Hollow campus
  • All Charter Play Auditions: K-5: 3-5:30pm, Tues./Wed., Oct. 22, 23; Middle School/High School: 3-5:30pm, Monday/Tues., Oct. 28, 29
  • November 1: No School; Professional Development Day 
  • November 4th: Nature Academy 6-8 grade Picture retake day
  • November 11: No School Veterans day 
  • November 12th: Picture retake day for all homeschool programs :  (time TBD)
  • November 25-29: No School Thanksgiving Break