Charter News  • May 31, 2020

“Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you imagined.”  - Anonymous

Dear Charter Families,


The end of the year is always a bittersweet time for all of us as we say goodbye to our graduates and to the students who are moving on to other high schools, to other towns, states, to futures that we will no longer be a part of.  


I have had the privilege to participate in a variety of Zoom celebrations this past week where our fabulous teachers honored each of their students, especially those advancing to high school or post-secondary life options.  As always, the teachers’ talks were personalized for our students’ whom we have known for many years, thus knowing and appreciating their full ‘humanness’.  Each program has the tradition of recognizing students for their growth in the development of Life Skills and/or School-Wide Outcomes, along with their academic achievements.  Commendations and recognitions about each student include input from the teachers, peers, or a combination of the two.  


It was so nice to see the smiles on students’ faces when their teachers praised their growth and recognized their strengths.  It brought tears to my eyes and lightened my heart.  What great students we have!  They are so resilient, so curious, creative, so wanting to do their best.  Thankfully it is evident that students have supportive friends and community to help them hold onto their resilience right now.  (Please read further to find out about additional Mental Health support from our own Robin Bates, and from the California Department of Social Services.)


Strangely enough this year, even without being together in the same space, the ceremonies felt a bit more intimate. Through Zoom we got to see inside each other’s homes; to see the families, pets, personal spaces, the homes where students’ lives are cared for.  ….And the love was noticed.  What great families we have!


Thank you for all your efforts in supporting your children and the Charter program of your choice this year.


Take care everyone.



Lean On Me: Here is the Music Video that Amber Walker created with a little help from some friends! Music Video:  A Message from your teachers...



Returning School Materials: Last Week of School

Only the students who will not be returning to Charter need to return Chromebooks and chargers. 

Everyone else who has checked out a Chromebook from us may keep it at home through the summer and into the next school year. This also will allow us to start the year more prepared for any possible distance learning we may need to do.

Textbooks, novels, graphing calculators, etc. will need to be returned, and I know that you have been doing this with your program’s teachers already.  Your teachers will be providing you with any materials you may need for the start of the new school year once we begin.

No Formal Classes will be held online the last Week: This week will be for:

  • Last-minute return of school materials.  (Please contact your teacher or our office 335-0932 if you need help with this.)
  • Turning in any make-up work and missed work to help raise grades (Contact your teachers if you need support)
  • Student Conferences (Your teacher will be emailing you if this is needed or requested)
  • Nature Academy, Coast Redwood Middle School, Fall Creek Home School advancement ceremonies. (I’m so excited to get to see our last batch for the year)

Charter Next Steps: In thinking about next year and beyond, we get to re-imagine the future together.  As we plan for next year, we have both certainties and uncertainties as always; though this time they are a bit harsher than any other we have had so far.

Please take the time to read the updates that you receive from Laurie. Bruton and Faris Sabbah regarding potential scenarios around the start of school and the budget.  Let them be the ones who share what is out of our control.  


For me and all of the SLV Charter staff, we will begin our re-imagining with a positive focus and your children’s learning front and center!  What new things can we develop in order to maintain the core foundations of each of our programs? How will the students and families lean in with us to re-imagine and co-create a 'whole-human' educational community for each Charter program during these times?


We can presume that for some of the time we will work with Distance Learning. Just like this year, using this COVID safe learning environment at home, students can participate in instruction, have discussions, AND be a part of group projects via google classroom, Zoom, and other formats. While working online, teachers will reach out to students regularly by phone and emails, and they will be available to help students and parents as needed. Teachers will work collaboratively as much as possible to continue to accentuate their creative and social-emotionally rich academic curriculum and activities.


We can also expect that students will meet with teachers and classmates online, AND in the classrooms, AND out ‘in the field’.


Most of you read my previous letters and so know that many of the Charter programs will be moving to our Quail Hollow site next year. In two years all of the charter programs will be at Quail Hollow with the ability to have an upper, middle, and lower ‘campus’.


I am excited! How can we bring Students’ Voice through creativity and critical thinking ideas to fruition as we begin to design our new spaces? How can we build new partnerships within our various programs, with local parks and community programs?  How can we use transportation and scheduling options to maintain the use of the Fall Creek locations for hikes? PE? extracurricular possibilities during the week and school days?


This move and the ability to have our own site allows for the potential to use outdoor space for learning in new ways. What learning can we do outside? All the programs see the value of bringing learning outside of the classroom as much as possible.  We know that finding ways for us to work out of doors when possible is a cost-effective way to improve academic, mental, and physical wellbeing.  We will find ways to do as much as we can when we reopen with the required social distancing measures in place.


We know how to build and maintain our Charter communities. When parents take an active role in education, students prosper.  We will continue to listen to, collaborate with, and rely on each other. 

I look forward to hearing your ideas about the coming year. 




Measure S Bond Oversite Committee:

The San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District is now accepting applications for the Citizens' Oversight Committee for the Measure S Bond that was passed in March 2020.  Please access the following weblink for additional information:




From our Mental Health Counselor: Communities All Around Us

Hello families! As Summer is approaching and the school year is winding down, I found myself experiencing a new wave of grief. Summertime is all about community for our family - our childrens’ theater community, our family friends on camping trips and beach days, an extended visit by my parents from North Carolina, our extended Bates family community on our yearly vacation together, and gatherings at the local pool. All of these summer experiences I have relied on to contribute to our family memories of the boys’ precious childhoods. It’s a different kind of education in the summer - it’s learning how to love our community and come together in joy and love for each other and the beauty of nature surrounding us. That’s probably the most important education of all. I guess I had been in denial and just assumed in the back of my mind that this would still happen this summer. And, one by one, these traditions have all but vanished from the plans. What now? Our charter family holds us together during the school year, with teachers and staff who love all of us with big hearts and guide us each step of the way through our children’s successes and challenges. But what about this Summer? 


I guarantee you our staff and teachers will be working hard behind the scenes to prepare for the new year ahead, but our family will be taking summer respite without most of the things we’ve Cherished.


When I reflect on this whole shelter-in-place experience, of course I see all of the incredible challenges we’ve faced, but I can also lean in and see so much gain through new experiences. New communities have emerged - our backyard birds have become familiar characters, our new chickens like new family members - each with a very unique personality, our garden an artistic expression for the kids, and stronger bonds with each human and non-human member of our family. We’ve navigated a large portion of the miles of private trails through the mountains behind our neighborhood, and learned about the trees. I even have a friendly bat that flies up in the evening and perches above my favorite seat on the deck! I would have NEVER known this was happening in my busy life before this SIP happened! The other night Jackson and I talked for hours while waiting to get a glimpse of the meteor shower and make wishes on shooting stars. 


We’ve grown close to our neighbors on both sides (we’re all raising chicks at the same time!) and through social distancing, we share stories, successes, challenges, homegrown food and recipes and support. It turns out, there’s a lot that happens right in and around our home that I wasn’t really that aware of. These gifts are all for us to keep, and to cherish this summer. This doesn’t mean it hasn’t been tough. I’ve had my share of lone tearful walks, deep exhaustion from working and homeschooling two children, losing my grandmother without having a funeral, worry about my husband’s job (thank goodness he’s working again, but not at home!), and trying to support my children through all of this craziness the best that I can. But in spite of it all, these precious awarenesses have happened. 


In our theme of “You, Me and The World”, I would have been talking to our students about the world community in the classrooms. But, now our worlds have turned inward towards home. 

My question for you is: what new communities have you learned about? What things do you want to keep in your lives when the world opens back up again? Sometimes it takes some “leaning in” and looking with a keen eye, but you might be surprised at what you come up with. These are the things we can nourish us this Summer. I have realized there is always a community around us, it’s just that we sometimes don’t see it in our busy lives. AND...these are the things we get to bring back and share with our Charter community when we start our new year in the Fall.


Things to Consider...

Talk to your children about communities around the home. How many do they notice? These could be bird and other wildlife communities (bees, rodents, deer/mountain lions, neighborhood feral cats) or pets (chickens, dogs, cats, etc), plants and trees, the people in the neighborhood, etc. How do we impact each of these communities? How can we help strengthen these communities? How could we cause them harm?

Mandalas: Mandala-making is an ancient practice of using a circle with patterns to tell stories, raise

awareness, and weave communities together. There are mandalas all around us! We see them in nature (flowers, patterns on animals, snail shells, spider webs, fruits, and vegetables, etc), in all kinds of art (logos, paintings, quilts), in cultural traditions (sand mandalas, cave paintings, labyrinths, etc) and even in mechanics and technology (gears, clocks, etc). We even see mandalas in geometrical and mathematical shapes! In art, mandalas can be used to express how communities fit together to create a whole, or as a round timeline (like a clock) to tell a story! I’ve facilitated many family therapy sessions where families have created mandalas together - each member contributing their own piece to create a whole circle!

A Simple Mandala Project Idea: Draw a circle on a piece of paper, and divide it into segments. I like to add another circle around the outer rim, as a visual protective boundary that holds it all together, and a small circle in the middle, where all the segments meet together! Use each segment to represent a community that shares some space with us at home (wildlife, family, neighbors, trees, gardens, etc). Some people like to let things in some segments overlap into others! You can use magazine images,

drawings, leaves, or flowers from outside, words, or anything that inspires you! Discuss what goes around the outside rim - what things do we all share to protect us - white blood cells, water, sunlight, our connections to each other (a chain or vine, etc). You could also discuss what goes in the middle - a big sun, stars in the sky, oxygen, etc.


I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see your mandalas if you are willing to share! You can send a picture to me at [email protected].


As we are presented with so many changes in our near and distant future, I hope these mandalas are reminders to “zoom out” and remember the immediate world around us.


Robin Bates, LMFT




The California Department of Social Services is supporting Parents Anonymous in the launch of the new California Parent and Youth Helpline, which provides support and resource referrals to parent and youth during the current COVID-19 pandemic.  

The California Parent and Youth Helpline provides support and resource referrals to parent and youth during the current COVID-19 pandemic, 7-days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Call or text 1-855-4APARENT (855-427-2736) for services in English, Spanish and other languages.  

For more information, please visit:



Immunizations.  Some families have questions regarding efforts to keep current on their child’s vaccination schedules to meet school requirements, specifically for our incoming Kinders and advancing sixth graders for next fall. Below I have listed clinics that are still offering well-child checks and immunization appointments. Some clinics will provide car visits. Please contact the office first. Contact me if I can be of any help obtaining further information or discussing your student’s specific progress on being up to date on their vaccination requirements.

Sarah Dahlen, SLVUSD School Nurse: [email protected]

  • KAISER - Providing immunizations to any patient who is due. Parents can contact PCP via online messaging to have the order placed.  All clinics are open on a drop in basis from 9am-5pm
  • SALUD PARA LA GENTE - Immunization Clinics are open 8:30am - 7 pm, Monday - Saturday
  • SANTA CRUZ HEALTH SERVICES - Immunization clinic is open M-F 1:30-3:30pm. Appointments preferred. At moment they have limited hours, case by case basis due to COVID
  • WATSONVILLE HEALTH CENTER - Immunization clinic is open M-F 1-3:45pm. No appointment necessary. $15/shot if insurance does not cover, All school-required immunizations available
  • E.CLIFF FAMILY HEALTH CENTER - Offering immunizations for children age 5 and under. For children over this age, it is up to the discretion of the physician on a case by case basis
  • PAMF - Existing patients can call clinics to make appointments for immunizations
  • DIGNITY HEALTH - Boulder Creek Medical - not making any immunization appointments at this time. Other offices are leaving it up to the discretion of the doctors, call the specific clinic
  • PLANNED PARENTHOOD - Not offering vaccines or well child visits at this time. Existing patients need to call after May 1 for appointments
  • PHARMACIES - Call your pharmacies for hours and current availabilities of immunizations



From our Student Nutrition Department:  Please visit the SLV District’s Student Nutrition webpage for complete information regarding ways we are supporing families’ food needs   THANKS to the SLV Nutrition Services Team for their outstanding service, dedication and commitment to students.


WHEN & WHERE IS SLV BREAKFAST/LUNCH MEAL PICKUP?  Each week on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9:00am to 11:00am at both BCE and the SLV tri-campus until Tuesday, June 30, 2020. *PLEASE NOTE:  Week of June 1st - meal pickup will be Tuesday, June 2nd and Thursday, June 4th to accommodate SLVHS Graduation Ceremony


Is You Family Eligible for Safeway Gift Cards?  If you have recently been laid off or have lost hours at work that result in a loss of wages, you may qualify for the Free/Reduced Lunch Program and will also be eligible for the Safeway gift cards. It is our hope that we can assist SLVUSD students in this small way by helping to buy groceries for families.


Here is where to apply to the SLV Free/Reduced Lunch Program; link provided HERE.

Safeway gift cards, provided by "SLV Food for Families," are available for pick up during the regular breakfast/lunch meal pickups as long as funds are available.


How You Can Help? If you are currently employed, please consider helping the families in SLV feed their children. This is a disturbing time for all of us, but for those who are struggling to feed their children, it is terrifying. Please help us take care of our kids and our families for a better tomorrow for all of us.   **If your company or business participates in matching donation programs, please consider supporting SLV Food for Families. Every penny of this money will go to SLVUSD families who are struggling.




Summer Reading Fun: This summer Bookshop Santa Cruz is offering a summer reading program for students of all ages. (Below is included a letter from Bookshop Santa Cruz.)

Dear SLV Families,
To help encourage your students to read over the summer and help prevent the summer slide, beginning Friday, May 29th, Bookshop will be offering our Summer Reading Program.

Our reading program encourages students to read six books this summer. Once the student has completed the reading they receive a $5 gift card from Bookshop, a free scoop of ice cream from Penny Ice Creamery, a free slice of pizza from Pizza My Heart, and a special prize from the Santa Cruz Warriors.

We also keep track of how many completed bookmarks are returned from each school. The school with the most bookmarks returned receives books for their library from Bookshop Santa Cruz. You can use the following links to download the bookmarks if you would like to print them out at home:

K-2download K-2 bookmark 2020                  3-4: download 3-4 bookmark 2020

5-6: download 5-6 bookmark 2020               7-8: download 7-8 bookmark 2020

9-12: download 9-12 bookmark 2020

Students do not need to purchase a book from Bookshop to participate in the program. But all of the books and descriptions of the books can be found at:    Summer Reading Program 2020.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you,

Kathy Ritchie, Schools Outreach Coordinator

Bookshop Santa Cruz,   831-460-3251


Dates to Remember: 

  • May 28th: QHIA 8th grade Advancement:  11:00 am Zoom,  Afterward teacher will deliver Advancement Certificate and Book to each 8th grader’s home.
  • May 28: Quail Hollow Homeschool 5th grade Celebration: 10:00 am  Zoom Afterward Parents will pick up certificates, etc.  at the classroom 
  • May 29th: CRHS Graduation: 12:30 pm Zoom honors and graduation declaration
  • June 1: Nature Academy 8th-grade Advancement: Morning; teachers will drive to each students’ home and give out their yearbook, bandanas, and LifeSkills certificates. Afternoon Zoom viewing of  advancement video 
  • June 2: CRMS 8th-grade Advancement: Zoom time 3 pm-7 pm   (Between the hours of)
    • June 4: Fall Creek Homeschool 5th grade Celebration: 12:00 pm  Zoom  Afterward teacher will deliver advancement gift to each 5th grader
  • June 4: Last Day of School