Charter News • February 29, 2020


“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”  -Pablo Picasso, Artist

Dear Charter Families,


Your student should have brought home an ‘Intent to Return’ form sometime at the end of last week. This form holds your spot for next year. Receiving a form back from everyone helps us to determine our staffing as well as our course offerings at some of our programs.


We ask that every student returns the form to their teacher; both if you plan to return to the current program, if you are applying to another one of our programs, or if your student is exiting or advancing and choosing to attend SLVHS or an out of district school after one of our 8th-grade programs.


We are holding our annual information nights on March 10 for our hybrid homeschool programs and March 17th for The Nature Academy. You can find flyers and further information on our website.


Please share these dates with any of your friends whom you believe may like to learn more about our programs. It is the best way to meet all the teachers and learn about every program at the same time. 


P.S. We are still having many students and staff members getting sick with various illnesses. If your child is sick, please have them stay home.  We have hand sanitizer in every room and remind students to use it as they enter the classrooms. Please help your child remember the importance of washing their hands and covering their month with their arm when they sneeze or cough.


P.P.S. Don’t forget to vote Tuesday, March 3!







We are all MakersOur annual All Homeschool Mini Maker/DIY Faire is scheduled for Friday, March 6, from 10-1pm at the Quail Hollow Campus in the Multi-Use Room (next to QHIA classrooms).

It is so much fun, please consider signing up and offering a "Maker Station" for our students.


How it Works: Parents and/or students come up with an easy to make project, bring the supplies, and set up a station for students to roam to, create something from scratch, and bring it home. In the past, we have had draw bots, simple books, reconstructed clothing, mechanical hands, rockets, jewelry, stress balls, bath bombs, all kinds of things!  

Check out youtube or google "DIY" creations. There are so many, inexpensive projects to make out there. Consider recycling or upcycling! QHIA students will be working in teams teaching some stations.

*Reminder: Please provide your own supplies

*This is NOT a drop off event. Students must be supervised.





March is VAPA awareness week. The teachers and students have many opportunities to share their VAPA work with others in the district as well as participate in various special events throughout the month. One opportunity is to see the the movie "Between the Folds".  It chronicles the stories of 10 fine artists and intrepid theoretical scientists who have abandoned careers and scoffed at hard-earned graduate degrees--all to forge unconventional lives as modern-day paper-folders. This movie models the intersection of math, science, and art. Between the Folds Trailer

VAPA awareness


PARENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Important Parent Involvement: Next meeting will be March 10th at 10 am in the Fall Creek Charter Office:  Topics will include: reviewing questions for Annual Parent Survey, LCAP goals, and progress, continued discussion of move possibilities.

We now have a strong group of parents that are consistently coming to these meetings.  This means that our discussions and plans can more easily be deepened and synthesized. Thank you to Kristin Ghbeish, Thuy Nguyen, Chana Landi, Jacquie Spracklen, Kelly Bradford, Lee Dean, Lauren Reedy. Any of these parents are happy to share updates to fellow parents during the parent meetings at the various programs. We would still hear from more parents from all the programs. The more representatives and input, the better!

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


Community Opportunity From our Master Gardener: Western Monarch Mystery Challenge

Greetings fellow gardeners,

A group of researchers from Washington State University, Tufts University, and UC Santa Cruz is working on a project to help halt the recent population collapse of the western monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). The western monarch overwinters in coastal California and breeds across the west. Researchers know where they overwinter and where they breed in summer – but there is a two-month gap in the spring after they leave the overwintering areas when they don’t know where they are. It’s a mystery. This gap may be crucial to developing conservation plans to recover western monarchs.

Find an overwintering area near you: 

UC Master Gardeners are invited to support the Spring 2020 campaign, “Western Monarch Mystery Challenge.” Be on the lookout for monarch butterflies from Valentine’s day (February 14th) to Earth Day (April 22nd). The area of interest is anywhere outside of overwintering. The call to action in 3 simple steps:

  1. If you see a monarch outside of overwintering groves, take a picture! (don’t worry, it can be blurry)
  2. Report it to iNaturalist (the app is free) and include species and location OR email it to [email protected]
  3. Be automatically entered to win a variety of prizes every week you report a sighting

These three simple steps will automatically enter you to win a variety of prizes, ranging from gift cards to REI or Patagonia to other goodies. If you don’t see a monarch, don’t worry! You can still enter to win prizes just by sharing the challenge on social media.  Become a monarch ambassador:

  1. Share the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge on social media
  2. Use #monarchmystery and tag our accounts listed below
  3. Receive multiple entries for prizes

Facebook: @monarchmystery    Instagram: @westernmonarchmystery    Twitter: @wmonarchmystery

*Please do not submit sightings from monarch rearing projects. They skew data and could jeopardize the quality and legitimacy of conservation plans. Only “wild” monarchs are to be reported. 


Community Opportunities: FREE Cyber Camps this Summer for 6-12th graders 

Santa Cruz COE is excited to launch a Summer Cyber Security camp in partnership with Cabrillo. Cabrillo, through the Bay Area Community Consortium, is covering ALL costs for students. 

There is an intro camp 6/22-6/26 from 9-3 at the COE and an advanced camp from 7/13-7/17. 

Learn more here: -- registration is also available there!!!



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

Annual King Kong Fun Run Friday, March 22: For any interested Charter Homeschool families It takes place in Henry Cowell Park. We begin at 10 am so please arrive by 9:45 am. Meet in the picnic area, first right after the kiosk and then it's the first parking lot on your left.  There is a $10 parking fee, bring your pass or carpool with a friend. This is not a drop off event.  ALL children MUST HAVE AN ACCOMPANYING ADULT for the event. Bring water for the trail that you can carry in a small backpack. The round trip is approximately 4 miles with some serious uphill hiking or running - but fun! (of course) Feel free to bring snacks or sack lunch to enjoy afterward


CRHS: Congratulations to Lauren Smith and Aden Rich who won the Sumo Bot Tournament and to Sierra Luna who made it to the final round.  Students first had to assemble a basic educational robot that could move forward, backward and turn. It needed to include a color sensor to look down at the surface below and determine the reflected light intensity to determine when the robot was on the white mat and when it was off. They also included an ultrasonic sensor to measure the distance from an object in front of the robot. They then learned how to program the robot using the Mindstorm app on their Chromebooks, building loops, and switches using the robot sensors and motion capacity to keep it on the white playing surface while searching for other robots and pushing them off the Sumo Bot playing surface.


CRMS: Circle Check-In: The kids missed having their circle check-in on Wednesday because of the field trip, so requested a short check-in on Thursday. They all really value starting our classroom time each week hearing from everyone in the group. Following on from our Alcatraz experience, the 7th & 8th graders took photos of different parts of the campus that they felt might relate to different time periods in the campus’ history. Once we have the photos gathered we’ll do some real-life archeological investigation to figure out where all the artifacts fit in the school’s history. Chemistry: We looked more closely at the periodic table of elements to see the pattern in the periods and groups.  The kids drew diagrams of the first 20 elements in order, and we discussed valence electrons and covalent bonding. Art: Two weeks ago Colleen Ruel offered a lovely mandala making activity for the kids, inspired by the Aztec calendar.  Last week Kyle led a discussion to help us define who we are as Coast Redwood Middle School as we think about designing our class mural. Writing: The Alcatraz Ranger gave us a parting assignment; to write a letter from the perspective of someone who lived on Alcatraz during one of the layers of history that we investigated, including information from artifacts that we had seen. They were serious about the assignment, too, giving me an envelope in which to send the kids’ writing back to them. 


Nature Academy: All of Nature Academy had a skate day. It was great fun. The end of the second trimester is March 6; students will begin their self-reflections on their academic and lifeskill progress. 6th- We spent some time up in the garden. In social studies, we are learning about Ancient Israelites and their beliefs and practices. For math, we are continuing with ratios contrasting double number lines and tables. During PE this week we are playing volleyball. Right now in language arts students are working to develop their argumentative writing through strong claims about world issues that concern them. For electives, I will be starting our sewing unit and am looking for any extra hands. 7&8th-History: We will be learning about the Executive Branch this week and Article II of the Constitution. In addition, since the Primary Elections began this month, we will be learning about our current candidates and preview what will be happening in the next few months. Science: Teams will be doing the ‘shake test’ on each other's satellites. We will also be learning about gravity and orbits. Language Arts: We will be wrapping up our Personal Lesson Learned Essays.We will be having Bill of Rights debates. These debates will help us create our argumentative thesis. Electives: Designing and creating new tee signs for the Black Mouse Disc Golf course.


Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (QHIA): We closed out our Ceramics and World Dance Units this week.  Here are some examples of what was done. Jen Hennig led the students in a clay mask activity working from slabs that were already “leather hard.” Opposite the clay class, we lead the students in a Socratic Seminar, analyzing and discussing Maya Angelou’s seminal poem, “Caged Bird.” Socratic Seminars are very different from debates; it was amazing to watch the students adapt to the format and really dig deep into the many different meanings the poem can have. World Dance: Mohamed returned with his drums, one for each student. They spent half of their time holding down rhythms that he taught, while he played alternating rhythms on top. The second half of class he taught dance from Guinea. What a joyful man! His energy was so infectious that one student exuberantly, spontaneously jumped into the circle with him and they had a “dance-off”, this continued with other students one after the other.


Quail Hollow Homeschool: We were treated to a presentation from the Santa Cruz Symphony docent (Karen) and violin player (Jo). We learned a lot about the working parts of a violin and were able to ask questions and hear beautiful music. Shireen continued to work with students on play practice and the rest of the class began to work on building our covered wagon prop for the play. After morning stretch and check-in, K-2 friends will use dominoes to work on sorting, visual assessment of quantity, addition and counting on while playing a fun game with friends.  3-5 friends will continue on with their fractions project they started last week. We will continue to practice singing and adding movement to our songs. We had a Mystery Science mini-lesson about Leap Year, a short writing activity about what they would do with an extra day.


Fall Creek Homeschool: The Fall Creek class had the great opportunity to go to the SF Zoo. Since we are studying botany this year we had asked for our time there to be largely spent on seeing the plants that they grow to feed the animals their native diets. Greg, the Horticultural Manager for the Zoo led us through the grounds explaining the various plantings along the way and encouraging us to squeeze and sniff the plants without actually picking them. He explained that since we live in a Mediterranean climate, the Zoo can grow many of the plants eaten by animals from Africa, Indonesia, Australia, and Asia. We saw Koalas eating Eucalyptus, Lemurs eating assorted fruits, Chimpanzees eating pineapple, Giraffes eating coprosma leaves and nearly everyone eating acacia.  We walked through the Conservation Corner where construction materials the Zoo no longer needs are recycled into planters and tools. We sniffed our way through the Fragrance Garden and recognized a number of plants we see in Santa Cruz – like rosemary, lavender, and marigolds. One important note is that all of the animals at the Zoo are rescue animals – no healthy animals were taken from their homes to live at the Zoo. We want to go back!


MtIS: We did some Snack Math as a whole group and co-created an informational paragraph together. Snack math involved counting by 2's to 230! The children shared their ideas as to how to divide snap pea chips to make it fair for all. For our writing, we imagined that if an alien came to our class and we needed to give it information on how to be in a circle. Collectively, we composed a paragraph describing what we do and why. It was inspiring to us to hear their thoughts! During music this week we learned how to move together, find the rhythm, and develop sensitivity to a range of expression by singing Mama Pequita with rhythm sticks.



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.)

  • Monday, April 6-10: NO SCHOOL, Spring Break
  • Monday, May 25: No SCHOOL, Memorial Day
  • Thursday, June 4: Last Day of School