PLURALISTIC SCHOOL ONE
Almost 50 Years Young! Decade Spotlight: The 1970s
In This Issue:
SPECIAL SECTION: CENTERFOLD
Almost 5O Years Young! Decade Spotlight: The 197Os PAGE 1
Head’s Column PAGE 2–3
Traditions Old and New PAGES 4–11
Curriculum Connections PAGES 22-23
Alumni Corner BACK COVER
Alumni Events Connect With Us!
THE PERISCOPE Volume 30, Number 1 Editors: Amanda Perla Alan Ball Designer: Mary Cay Walp PS1 Pluralistic School 1225 Broadway Santa Monica CA 90404 (310) 394-1313 (310) 395-1093 fax To learn more about our school, visit our website www.psone.org
The Importance of Perspective
This issue of PeriScope is organized around the theme of perspectives. Ellie Pelcyger, PS1’s co-founder and my wife of 35 years, wrote a piece in the insert of this special issue about the origins of PS1 in the 1970s. We both have the perspective of seeing our school for each of its 49 years.
If you know her work, you know that Diane Arbus’s world view was dark; mine is not. I believe in the great possibility for each person to feel success and fulfillment, especially when they have a good start in life. That is why Ellie and I started an elementary school.
A unique feature of each of the next five PeriScopes is a focus on a different decade of PS1 students and families. Each period in the life of the school certainly has its differences; what you will likely most come to realize is that ongoing threads, devotion to mission, common language describing the experience, and even many of the traditions have remained much the same. I can think of the school as an organism whose body changes over time, as does a person’s, with the soul remaining the same.
When you think of all the different perspectives that can be brought to one situation, one place, and one community, you realize that it can be considered a real gift to help someone else hear, appreciate, and understand another person’s point of view. One of the most important teachings I hope I have provided for others in my life’s work is perspective - helping a child settle a difference with another child because they see things differently and that their real problem was one of a lack of communication; helping a teacher understand a parent’s legitimate though differing point of view and vice-versa; helping a parent understand another parent’s or another child’s perspective about how the same situation can be seen and understood in different ways from you; helping an administrator appreciate that even though they thought they had been as clear as possible in explaining not only the rule and policy, but also the whys and wherefores that led to that procedure and course of action, there could still be misunderstanding; and, perhaps most of all, teaching myself discipline to apply those teachings to my own actions! PERSPECTIVE.
My column today is about the importance of perspective in our daily lives. Charles Dickens wrote in 1859, 161 years ago: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. All can be true when you think about any time and any place— it all depends on your perspective. When you have started and run a school for almost five decades, and have lived on this planet for many more, you come to realize that all periods can be thought of in these different ways. So can each day, every month, year, decade, and generation when applied to your own personal and work life, that of the people around you, the nation around you, and the world around you. It depends on your PERSPECTIVE. What about for individuals? What’s most important to me in my personal and professional life, and in my own world view, is the realization that we are all different from each other. It has always been my fervent hope that the leaders of the world could slowly learn that because two people think differently, neither may be wicked. That may be at the root of my starting a school whose mission was pluralism or even, a few years earlier, that helped me realize that I was a conscientious objector to war. PERSPECTIVE.
Let me close with two quotes from Mark Twain: So let’s be honest with ourselves and not take ourselves too serious, and never condemn the other fellow for doing what we are doing every day, only in a different way. A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people. We have now had almost five decades of building an inclusive community of adults and children. Take advantage of it. Work to see and understand the world from someone else’s point of view. See and understand the world from a child’s point of view. There are smarter people than each of us on the PS1 campus every single day, young and old alike. We learn from each other. We each have a story to tell, and it’s a story different from every other person’s on Earth. May we all benefit from each other’s perspective … keep our associations alive … forever!
Diane Arbus, who grew up to be a world-class portrait photographer, wrote this in 1939 when she was 16 years old: There are and have been and will be an infinite number of things on Earth. Individuals, all different, all wanting different things, all knowing different things, all loving different things, all looking different. That is what I love: the differentness, the uniqueness of all things, and the importance of life.
—Joel Pelcyger, Head of School
< Clubs It was another exciting and innovative year for the PS1 Clubs Program. Clubs is PS1’s all-inclusive, multi-age enrichment program during which students and staff build new friendships while participating in themedriven activities. Students were assigned to one of their favorites; choices spanned the wide range of interests and talents on our campus from Student Council to Sudoku to Yoga to History of Hip Hop. Clubs convened four times during the school day this fall.
Traditions Old & New
Family Festival and Book Fair Our annual Family Festival presents a joyful opportunity to come together as one pluralistic community as we celebrate, play, eat, and CONNECT! This year’s Festival transformed our campus like never before. Between the many smiling faces, all of the delicious food, and the fun of the carnival games, we all shared in the spirit of togetherness at PS1.
> Holiday Gift Exchange PS1 students celebrated the holiday season together during the annual Holiday Gift Exchange, where each student makes one gift to give to another (preassigned) student. The purpose of the Gift Exchange tradition is to help children appreciate a thoughtful, homemade gift over a store-bought one. Students created board games, Lego designs, hand-sewn pillows, works of art, and so much more to surprise their recipient. It was a joy to watch their faces as they presented (and opened) their gifts.
PS Serves PS SERVES, the after school enrichment program conceived and grown through the efforts of our service-minded students, families, and staff, continues to thrive in 2019–2020. Each year we deepen our relationship with the nonprofit ThePeopleConcern through ongoing education about and service to our community partners. The fall session included another successful drive for underwear, socks, and toiletries, led by students. Hand delivery of the goods, along with a batch of fresh-baked goodies, furthered the connections. Next up are Sessions 2 and 3 this winter and spring. All are welcome!
The Book Fair coincided with the Family Festival, and families enjoyed browsing through a wide selection of books from classics to new releases, stocking up on holiday and classroom gifts, while helping to raise funds for PS1. Thank you to the countless volunteers who helped to make each of these events so successful.
ORANGE From the identity of self to understanding differences in the environment, the concept of perspectives permeates the curriculum at PS1 in all Clusters. Teachers chose perspectives as the overarching theme for the year since it is deeply ingrained in pluralism and embedded in our Teaching Tolerance curriculum standards: Identity, Justice, Action, and Diversity. Perspectives is a broad term we use to encompass multiple viewpoints, representations, and roles. At PS1 this year, we dene this term as a particular way of viewing things that depends on one’s experience and point of view, and as the ability to consider things in relation to one another. This spring, each Cluster is asking essential questions designed to deepen our students’ understanding of perspectives from their developmental point of view. In Youngers, the essential questions are: What are others’ points of view? How are they the same or different from mine? What causes them to differ? How do points of view change?
In Bridge, the essential questions are: How do we develop different perspectives / pointsof-view? How can taking on different perspectives/points-ofview create change?
In Middles, the essential questions are: What are perspectives/identities? How are they formed? How do perspectives impact society? How does the dominant culture (including media) shape our view of the world? How do perspectives change?
Youngers Cluster In the Orange Class, students explore perspectives through a variety of lenses, both literal and figurative. Our essential questions for the year include: How do I view myself? How do I view others? To start, students practiced the power of observation. Using hand mirrors to look at ourselves closely, students noticed the shape of their facial features, the eyes, the nose, and mouth and made sure to include real details that make them unique (such as a freckle, a scar, or a missing tooth). Later as scientists, we practiced the art of observation again, this time looking through magnifying glasses to study artifacts from nature. Our experiences with observation evolved into more in-depth conversations about other ways we can “view” the world besides through sight. We discussed the five senses and explored how someone who cannot see might experience the world. Instead of sight, we used our senses of hearing, smell, and touch and practiced using vocabulary to describe the sound of different objects, their scent, and their textures. Read-alouds also support students’ understanding of these concepts. As a class, we read The Black Book of Colors. Students learned that they could imagine what the book describes, even when they cannot see it themselves!
In Olders, the essential questions are: How does the environment shape culture? How does your status affect your perspective on your environment? Read on to learn how these essential questions are woven into the classroom curriculum. Nancy Harding, Ph.D. Assistant Head for Teaching & Learning
Our kitty cat lesson is a fun way we teach our students about perspectives. We tell the story of magical kitty cats that have changing whiskers. When the kitty cats want to be close to others, their whiskers are short. When they need space from others, their whiskers are long.
As we tell the story, our students practice making short and long whiskers based on different scenarios. For instance, we may say, “Show what your whiskers look like when someone played unfairly at recess.” or, “Show us what your whiskers look like when someone compliments your drawing.” Then, we let students pretend to be cats as they move around the classroom. When they meet another cat, they show their whiskers to each other. This creates a great visual representation for students to understand how a classmate may be feeling regarding personal space. When reflecting on the activity with our students, they shared what they discovered and how they were able to read others’ feelings by showing long or short whiskers.
The students in the Yellow Class explore what it means to view things from different perspectives. At the beginning of the year, students gathered together and thought about their role as a community member and what they needed from each other to feel successful. They pondered what they could do for their community and what they need to feel safe and supported. This consideration required students to view themselves as people who could impact their own experiences and the experiences of those around them. The sharing of hopes and dreams was the impetus that inspired this class discussion. The students put their heads and their hearts together to create a “Class Promise.” The purpose of this promise was to create a classroom culture of mutual respect and collaboration. To uphold this class promise, students regularly view things from many perspectives. Through this practice, they are developing an understanding of what it means to be a member of a collaborative group. They each “signed” the promise with a hand print and their signature, sealing this commitment to themselves and each other for a year of great learning.
GREEN Bridge Cluster
The Green Class is studying the environment from multiple points of view. In our study of the ocean, students took the perspective of a marine biologist, investigating the vital connections between plants, animals, and the physical environment. Students visited the Aquarium of the Paciffc, where they observed and interacted with ocean animals to learn about their characteristics and adaptations. In class, students learned about various ocean food chains to understand the interdependence between organisms. Upon discussing the ecological role of coral, a debate arose about whether coral was a plant (producer) or animal (consumer). Students were fascinated to learn coral is, in fact, an animal that primarily consumes algae living inside of it! After learning about the vast range of biodiversity that coral supports, students took on the perspective of an environmentalist. Through books and videos, students researched the endangerment of coral and the factors contributing to it, including pollution and global warming. Additionally, they took on the perspective of an activist, learning how they could impact change in environmental protection. Students joined Greta Thunberg, sixteen-yearold Swedish environmental activist, in the Global Climate Strike on September 21st. The Green Class went to the Santa Monica Pier to participate in the strike and share their protest sign which included individual student pledges for protecting the environment. Finally, students adopted the lens of a cartographer. Students made maps that tracked the route and places Greta Thunberg visited for her North American Climate Strike.
The Green Grass Grows All Around
Making good friends Making paper machØ masks
Euclid Street Campus
Circle Time Santa Monica Library The tire swing
Trips to tide pools Quinner
The Big Room Tavi Time Moving Up Day
Story Time with Leslie
The theme of Perspectives serves as the primary focal point for our Science unit this year as we view the ocean from the lens of organisms living within its various layers. Students explored the points of view of marine animals and plants. This study has given each student a better understanding of the survival needs of the living organisms and how they each thrive in the various layers: the sunlight, twilight, midnight, abyss, and trench zones. Students are learning to make observations and give reasons why marine plants and animals have speciffc body parts and adaptations that help them survive in a particular ocean zone. We integrated art into aquatic studies to help students visualize relevant data from research. Students studied the characteristics of unique animals and their homes in the ocean. Comparing and contrasting the speciffc features of dierent sea animals inspired students to generate dierent drawings. Recent ffeld trips to the Roundhouse Aquarium and Cabrillo Aquarium provided ffrst-hand visual and kinesthetic experiences with ocean life. Students gained a ffrm understanding of ocean ecology by exploring perspectives of how and why speciffc marine animals live in the various habitats of the ocean.
Crafts with Abbie
Friday Soccer at Memorial Park Ability to solve problems
Learning to read with Ellie
The rope play structure Counting to 99 on our ffngers
The trailer in the back yard Joel reading The Hobbit’
It Started In 1971 PS #1—49 Years Ago ELLIE PELCYGER, CO-FOUNDER Em, Jessica, Josh and Jimbo
Jim, Joel, Ilona, Sherry, Ellie, Mrs. Ann: In 1971 we were a small band of six educators who joined a nation-wide movement to change the way children were schooled in America. Parents and teachers were taking back the right to decide what and how to teach children; alternative schools were popping up all over California. We had little money, 28 students, and a lot of chutzpah, energy and the conviction that we could succeed. Parents pitched in with tuition and donations of furniture and labor, supplied rides for field trips and the yearly camping trip, and made great pot luck meals. We bought additional materials for pennies on the dollar from the US Surplus Supply Store, which sold only to non-profits. Abbie joined our team, along with Kathryn, Luz, and Burton. The school moved so often in Santa Monica in the first four years that the ‘P’ might have stood for peripatetic instead of pluralistic. In 1973 we rented a shell of a building on Olympic that required so much work we had to hold school in three homes, while bringing it up to code with guidance from a contractor parent. Joel learned
how to set a wax ring for a toilet; when it rained, I swept water off the tarmac and laid outdoor carpet pieces so the kids could play outside. Memorial Park became our playground; we all walked to the Santa Monica Library, carting back arm loads of books, and the children’s librarian/puppet master, Mrs. McShane, became an honorary staff member. We helped start Santa Monica’s public alternative school (SMASH) down the street, and three of their morning kindergartners came to us in the afternoon. Then a miracle: in 1975 Santa Monica’s co-op nursery school donated their little house and property to us. Enrollment grew and we added day care; Jimbo, Leslie and Cathy joined the staff and together we built a playground structure over the sand box in the backyard. The boat we inherited from the nursery school was replaced by a trailer, and the fig tree acquired a red platform around it. Children climbed, crawled, leaped, swung, and dangled from everything in the yard. In the little kitchen, we made lunch and Thanksgiving dinners.
A tarantula, a Guinea pig, hamsters, mice, tadpoles, ducks, chickens, frogs, caterpillars, preying mantis, and fish all lived at 1447 Euclid at one time or another.
All-School Photo in front of Euclid
The little house churned with industry. Excited children wrote and produced musical plays on the back porch, learned to read with Quinner (the school dog) in our own little library. They researched shore life at the beach, and created dioramas and books in The Workshop. Circle Time was born on the floor of the Big Room; I dumpster-dived at a cabinet shop for wood pieces for the children’s workbench. Two sibling babies became the focus of our human development curriculum and a wheelchair student joined our little community. In 1978 we held our first graduation on the grass in the front yard, but still our enrollment went only from kindergarten to the end of fourth grade. Abbie, Joel and I were the Board of Directors and each of us taught a full curriculum as well. In 1979-80 we had 31 students; we knew we must plan to grow and as the 80’s began, we certainly did.
John Duganne and mom, Mary Ann
Leslie, Jimbo, Ellie, Joel, and Abbie with tools in hand
Jesse, Sammy, Ariana and Becky at Music Class
Joel and David Newhouse at Moving Up Day
Final bow at a school production.
The Creek at Temescal Canyon
1975–76 Group Photo
Graduation ceremony at the front yard of the Euclid building. Mrs. McShane with Coco at the Santa Monica Library
Dress Up Day at PS #1
(left to right) Ellie, Joel, Abbie, and Leslie
The Halloween tradition continues today C
Ellie dancing with Trinette
1 T N SA
H H IG
Y 10 WA
John Duganne, Michael Lara and Bobbie
1310 Princeton Street From September 1971 to December 1971 we rented a former school building at 1310 Princeton Street in Santa Monica, opening with 12 students and six staff. We had 28 students by June, even though we had to move after the first three months.
1015 California Avenue From December 1971 to June 1972 PS #1 rented church school classrooms in the Trinity Baptist Church in Santa Monica. School returned in September 1972 after an unsuccessful search for a better alternative.
3131 Olympic Boulevard In early 1973 to June 1973 PS #1 was asked to move from the church and relocated to a Santa Monica Montessori Building, which later became the location of Hot Tub Fever.
1710 Olympic Boulevard Joel found a shell of a building on a large lot overlooking the I-10 freeway. We adapted the building for use as a school—a parent who had a construction company helped us do the work.
1447 Euclid Street In June of 1975 the Santa Monica Parents Co-Op Nursery School generously donated the property to us and we moved in that summer to our first owned property.
Kids Today Kids Today, the first version of Periscope written and published by students, was spearheaded by Coco Weinraub (’75–’78).
Marla Samuel, 1972-1976
Karine “Bina” Sully, 1973–78
Brad Hecht, 1975-1978
Jopanky (Joe) Cantor, 1975-1983
Jessica Elliot, 1977–1982
David Blair, 1973–1980
Whitney Moss, 1978–1981
David Newhouse, 1978–1981
Being at PS #1 was a gift beyond measure. There were some teachers there who I felt “seen” by - such a vital experience after leaving public school after 2nd grade, where one easily disappears. I remember doing yoga with Kathryn outside on mats in my first year there (I think it was the second year of the school), and to this day remember how to do Salutations to the Sun!
The things that stand out to me were the opportunities as a class to walk to the library and the beach where we would study and write our book about the seashore animals. Just think—we actually had seashore animals down by the pier. More memories—chickens and ducks at school, field trips, hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains and as far away as Santa Barbara, having my group be more like a family than a class.
In the 1970s, Joel showed our little class how to count to 99 on our fingers. I thought this technique was the greatest development ever in mathematics and proudly showed it to others, who were invariably impressed. Over 40 years later, I still show it to others, and they’re still impressed. While some schools considered counting on one’s fingers a form of cheating, PS1 encouraged us to use all of our talents and abilities to solve problems.
I have many memories at PS #1, but the ones that stand out most were our performances and music rehearsals. I remember close to lunch time we would all sit in a circle while my dad Jim would play guitar and we would sing rock and roll classics.
I have so many great memories at PS #1 … One of them was when my dad (Dan Elliot) volunteered teaching a music class—I loved having him be involved at school.
Walking though the kitchen led you to the workshop room. This was a room with tools and a worktable. One of my memories of this room is being in Ellie’s group with the Older kids working on a book about sea life. Ellie took us on trips to tide pools where we observed the local creatures. We later did research on these creatures and wrote about them in a book we each assembled. I know most of the alumni reading this probably didn’t have Ellie as a teacher, and I feel very lucky that I did.
One of my best memories is of a day on which my classmates and I got completely engaged with a digging and building project in the sandbox after lunch. As our project grew, leaders emerged and began delegating tasks and recruiting more students to participate. I looked around and realized that every student was part of our workforce. (There were only twenty or so students in those days!) We were using all the space and all the tools available. Something special was happening. We were intensely focused, experiencing “flow”, losing all sense of time.
It’s been over 40 years and still I have many vivid memories. I started at PS #1 in 1978. I remember visiting school for the first time and feeling peaceful while playing with the multiplication table toy. I remember making good friends on walks to Memorial Park and the Santa Monica Library. I remember getting caught in the rain on a field trip to Topanga Park, sleeping during story time with Leslie, learning to read with Ellie, and making omelets in the kitchen with Abbie when I forgot my lunch. I remember Jimbo reading the Hobbit after school, and singing Johnny B. Goode and Rockin’ Robin at Circle Time.
My favorite place was definitely the trailer in the back yard—and of course “Tavi Time” was a favorite activity.
Joel and Ellie, prioritizing our spontaneous magic over whatever else was on the agenda that day, did not call us back inside for afternoon classroom activities. I have always held a deep appreciation for that decision. Knowing that I was learning in an educational environment that supported whole-body learning, collaboration, and innovation, makes me feel truly privileged to have spent my early years at PS #1.
I am now living in Washington D.C. and have two daughters, Cece and Sasha, ages 5 and 3. I am hoping they enjoy the same kind of nurturing elementary school that I did.
Los Angeles Free Press, 1971-72
Nadeem Abuel-Haj, 1975–79 John Adams, 1971–73 David Adams, 1971–73 Caitlin Albaum, 1974–75 Shelly Albaum, 1974–75 Jeremy Alcock, 1975–78 Jennifer Astman, 1975–79 Jeremiah Bal, 1979–86 Andrea Blackmon, 1972–73 David Blair, 1973–80 Andy Blumberg, 1977–82 Jonah Braxton, 1977–78 Gabriel Briggs, 1977–78 Jason Brown, 1976–78 Brett Burris, 1971–74 Kim Burris, 1972–75 Jopanky Cantor, 1975–83 Jesse Cantor, 1978–81 Jamila Cantor, 1979–83 Sean Conklin, 1972–73 Tim Conklin, 1972–73 Yaqui Coria, 1976–77 Samantha Counter, 1977–81 Ann Cox, 1975–79 Rya Craig, 1977–78 Nell Cross, 1978–79 Roland De Lyser, 1973–74 Phoebe Dharma, 1975–76 Loren Dildine, 1971–73 David Brian Dolan, 1975–80 Richard Dry, 1972–74 John Duganne, 1976–78 Benedict Duncan, 1979–80 Bendan Eicker, 1971–72 Jessica Elliott, 1977–82 Cornelius Epstein, 1972–73 Nick Felczer, 1971–73 Rachel Felczer, 1972–73 Heather Ford, 1976–77 Ari Forman, 1974–75 Sally Fowler, 1976–78 Jill Galperin, 1975–79 Troy Garity, 1978–79 Gabby Glass, 1977–79 Em Goodman, 1975–80 Martin Gray, 1976–78 Jennifer Green, 1974–75 Sten Gundersen, 1976–77 Joshua Haffner, 1976–78 Geoffrey Hale, 1971–72 Richard Hale, 1971–72 Evan Hale, 1972–73 Curt Harper, 1971–73 Shaman Haupt, 1979–80 Brad Hecht, 1975–78 Gregory Held, 1972–73 David Helvey, 1978–79 Jennifer Hopelain, 1971–75 Allison Hopelain, 1972–75 Allison Howard, 1974–75 Jennifer Howard, 1974–75 Michael Hufnagel, 1977–78 Helen Hull, 1971–72 Sean Jackson, 1972–73 Trinette Jimenez, 1971–72 Jonathan Jones, 1971–73 Erik Jones, 1972–73 Zack Jones, 1978–79 Kaleena Kiff, 1979–80 Rachel King, 1971–72 Shannon King, 1973–75 Brehnen Knight, 1971–72
Kristian Knight, 1971–72 Susan Kumpf, 1971–75* Ariana Lambert, 1977–82 Brian Landcroft, 1972–73 Michael Lara, 1977–78 Tasha Larmore, 1972–73 Michael Leblovic, 1973–74 Justin Leeds, 1975–77 Erica Lerch, 1972–73 John Lerch, 1973–74 Sheba Levitt, 1976–78 Benjamin Litz, 1974–75 Hillary Livingston, 1972–73 Matthew Livingston, 1971–73* Malina Lopez, 1972–74 Stacy Lutz, 1972–73 Ben Madley, 1977–82 Lisa Maharam, 1975–76 Linda Majefski, 1975–77 Peter Mandell, 1974–75 John Metz, 1973–74 Michael Migel, 1971–72 Shea Mincy, 1972–73 Circe Mirano, 1979–83 Jeff Morgan, 1979–82 Whitney Moss, 1978–82 Derek Murrow, 1978–79 David Newhouse, 1978–83 Chris Noxon, 1977–78 Adam Olsen, 1979–81 David Pelayo, 1971–73 Gabriel Perez, 1979–83 Karine (Bina) Sully, 1973–78 Josh Perttula, 1975–80 Andrew Pettaway, 1977–78 Jamie Phillips, 1975–76 Lauren Replogle, 1975–76 Robert Rhoden, 1975–78 Erin Riley, 1971–72 Sean Rivas, 1975–76 Lar Rosenholm, 1971–72 Lior Rosenman, 1973–74 David Ruffman, 1971–72 Marla Samuel, 1972–76 Scott Samuel, 1973–78 Robert Saul, 1972–73 Adam Scott, 1975–79 Jonathan Sheldon, 1977–83 Tashia Sirota, 1977–82 Chris Slagerman, 1972–73 Andrew Smith, 1971–75 Amaris Smith, 1978–79 Emmy Sobieski, 1971–72 Matthew Spievak, 1971–72 Michael Stewart, 1977–80 Rob Stone, 1979–82 Noah Stone, 1978–80 Jason Tannenhaus, 1971–72 Mara Tansman, 1972–77 Lisa Taylor, 1971–73 Sarah Thompson, 1977–78 Athena Vitale, 1974–75 Bronwen Waddington, 1977–78 Serena Warner, 1978–79 Coco Weinraub, 1975–78 Essie Willett, 1972–73 Lance Williamson, 1971–74 Kim Wilson, 1971–73 Richard Winge, 1977–78 Amber Wuchitech, 1979–82 Adam Yofan, 1971–72 Michelle Zimberoff, 1973–74 *deceased
VIOLET Middles Cluster
This semester, Indigo students spent time exploring the different perspectives of characters through our Book Clubs. We selected a range of novels that expressed how the same event could be interpreted in a variety of ways, based on the perspective of an individual character. From a Thanksgiving Dinner with Chinese migrants to exploring a physical impairment at the start of middle school, students learned that we all process actions in a unique way based on personal experience. Students enjoyed reading Wonder, Yang the Third and Her Impossible Family, Dyamonde Daniel, and Because of Winn Dixie. In each novel, we asked the students to identify character traits based on the words and actions of the characters. This question fostered an understanding of the importance of students’ own words and actions and how they can be experienced through someone else’s perspective. Students developed their ability to analyze characters when reading by continually searching for text evidence to support their views. They made strong connections and showed empathy towards the main characters as they had to overcome various struggles in each novel. It has been wonderful to see each child better understand the behavior, motivation, and relationships of the characters by learning how to look at things from another’s perspective.
The Violet Class starts each math period with a Number Talk. These short, numbersense building routines encourage students to view math as an open and visual subject and provide a new perspective on problem-solving. Number Talks create an environment in which students feel encouraged to share their thinking and recognize that there are multiple ways to solve problems beyond standard algorithms. One example of a Number Talk is a Number String, which is a set of related math problems crafted to support students’ construction of mental math strategies. Students gather near the front of the class and present problems one at a time while providing plenty of time for the class to think. Students first solve the problems mentally, then share their strategies with the class while making sure they understand others’ thinking. During this process, teachers represent students’ strategies on a model and facilitate conversation among students about the sense they are making within and between the problems. Strings are not a rigid recipe, but a flexible routine. Students become comfortable with making mistakes and developing a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.
PS1 1970s Alumni
LH OLDERS 4
JA OLDERS 5
Our Olders 4 community has been delving deep into the world of dystopic fiction this fall. After reading a Ray Bradbury short story together and identifying some typical characteristics of the genre (such as a futuristic world that has gone awry and settings that are unusual and significant), students eagerly embarked on peer-led Book Clubs focused on seven different dystopic series by authors ranging from Suzanne Collins to Lois Lowry to D.J. MacHale. We investigated the authorsâ€™ perspectives on how environmental, governmental, and societal problems could lead to radically different futures; we discussed how characters faced personal, external, and also systemic problems in these worlds; and we shared our thoughts about how the character archetypes can help us navigate our understanding. Most of all, we read. And read. More than 120 books and many discussions, letters, and literary analyses later, we have all grown in our perspectives, not only as readers and as writers about reading, but also as empathetic members of our broader community.
In Olders 5, we use math as a vital springboard for the development of perspectives. For example, when learning formulas for calculating the volume of rectangular prisms and cylinders, our students created a three dimensional model of an ideal town to incorporate this knowledge. When studying speed and rates of migratory birds, students constructed architectural drawings from a variety of perspectives before building houses for their individually chosen bird.
CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
It is also common for us to ask our students to detail their weekend mathematically. The purpose of this is for students to consider how math influences their experiences away from school, from lengths in meters at a swim meet to the measurement of pieces of wood or cardboard used for a project, or the virtual measurement of a structure when playing Minecraft. In each case, math helps to express our experiences and thus helps to articulate perspectives.
ART This fall, Youngers students created self-portraits with pencils and markers from their perspective. Students discussed different ideas of what a family is. They all agreed that it is essential to respect all kinds of families and that friends can feel like family as well. While studying trees, Youngers shared their perspectives on why some trees change colors, and others don’t. The students had a variety of reasons why we need trees to survive and enjoyed creating colorful collages of fall trees. Another focus in Youngers is plants and insects. Youngers are growing potatoes in the garden and discussing what dishes to cook with potatoes. We are also sharing different ideas on how to be activists for plants and insects.
THE STUDIO Seeing and understanding the world from someone else’s point of view is an important life skill. In The Studio, we help children develop this essential skill through design and engineering to investigate problems and find possible solutions.
In clay class, Youngers students explore clay building techniques. The students experimented by stepping on their clay slabs with their shoes to create texture and were all very surprised by how different each sole of a shoe looked. This led to a vivid debate about whether or not we can eat out of our finished bowls since we stepped on them to create texture!
This fall, the Bridge students learned about perspectives through different sea life creatures. Oceanic animals have developed adaptations that help them thrive in their watery homes. Common oceanic animal adaptations include gills, blow holes, fins, streamlined bodies, filter-feeding, and camouflage. Students built these creatures in The Studio with our Lego robotic coding tools to demonstrate what they have learned about these adaptations. This project helped students open up their creative minds, share ideas, and develop a greater understanding of the point of view of the sea creations that they are exploring.
MUSIC We often listen to music; even sing along to the lyrics without knowing the meaning behind the words. Some songs have complicated, unusual, or even dark backgrounds tied to events, periods of history, or stories that stretch back in time. With Halloween approaching, the Olders Cluster enjoyed investigating Song Stories, also known as Folk Ballads, to unearth the twisted truth behind the lyrics. Each half-group of students learned a well-known folk ballad, translated it to instruments and/or voice, and uncovered the history behind the story. Each half-group then decided how they wanted to interpret and present the music to the community.
In physical education, students explore ways to enhance, improve, and further their skills while exercising or while participating in a sports activity. Students participate in these activities individually, in small groups, or even collaboratively as a whole class. Since we design our activities in a non-competitive atmosphere, social interaction and cooperation with others are added benefits to our children. The fitness activities challenge the cognitive skills of the children as well as the physical skills as they integrate with the classroom curriculum. Children gain a sense of personal achievement as they become more competent and confident in their movement ability. The physical education program emphasizes the values of sports manship, team spirit, accepting personal responsibility, and honoring differences.
LIBRARY Pax, written by Sara Pennypacker, is the story of a fox. Rescued as a kit, Pax and Peter, his boy, are inseparable, until a coming war separates them. The chapters are alternately written from Peter’s perspective and Pax’s perspective, as each explores love, loyalty, grief, war and peace, telling the truth, and discovering what you believe at your core. The students bring their perspectives, of course — they, in general, want the tame fox to be reunited with his boy and live happily ever after. As we continue reading, they will not find the neat happy ending they desire, but they will find a conclusion in which the two main characters have found themselves, found out where they are supposed to be, which will be with a family who loves them. With all this input, we work our way through the chapters together, discussing the fine points of plot development and the beautiful texture of the writing, as the students develop and express their perspectives through a deeper understanding of the novel.
The Olders students are now on track to study Themes and Variations, which coincides with this year’s school-wide theme of Perspectives. Using Mozart’s Variation on a Theme (what we know as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), we are dissecting what makes one version of a theme different from another. In small groups, students choose a song that resonates with them and change it in some way to make it their own. They then present their “Cover Song” or variation in a series of concerts inspired by NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series.
The PS1 Alumni Association
AlumniCorner We try to include as many Alumni updates as space allows. If you were not included in this column, and you sent us an update, please look for your feature in an upcoming issue. We love hearing your news!
Samantha Kurtzman-Counter, Class of 1982 Samantha is President at the Mother Company, a media company guided by the mission to Help Parents Raise Good People. Their award-winning shows and books are designed to “engage and entertain young children (ages 2–7), but also nurture the social and emotional skills essential to become kind, communicative, and compassionate citizens of the world.” Hallie Hobson, Class of 1984 Hallie received her BA from Yale University and MFA from UCLA. She now lives in New York and works as a poet, yoga teacher, and fundraising consultant. Previously, she served as the Director of Institutional Advancement for the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Deputy Chief Development Officer for Individual Giving at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Peter Hopelain, Class of 1987 After preparing for over a year, Peter raced at the 25 Hour NASA Race (the longest and most demanding car race in America) at Thunderhill Raceway and won his class. Peter built and managed his team, Technik Auto, with about 30 people who engaged in the planning and execution of the successful racing strategy. Peter’s dad, David, reflected, “This success is a story, not only of driving, but organizing, planning, recruiting talent, managing chaotic circumstances, and making quick and tough decisions. We cannot overlook the influence of PS1 on his life.” Joseph Blitzstein, 1984–89 Joseph, a professor at Harvard University, was recently awarded Harvard’s Fannie Cox Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching by Harvard University’s Division of Sciences. The award “honors outstanding teaching in introductory science courses. Recipients are recommended by a faculty committee and are chosen based on their ability to inspire students, instill in them a passion for science, and effectively communicate complex ideas.” 12
Jake Ehrlich, 1982–89 Jake is a filmmaker with his own company, Reel Hound Media. He won the Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary last year at the Monmouth Film Festival for The Field Afar, the life of Medal of Honor winner Catholic Priest Fr. Vincent Capodanno. He and his partner, Tara, live in New York City. Noboru Akimoto, 1988–1991 Noboru moved to Austin, Texas, in 2009 to attend graduate school at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, and the University of Texas School of Law. He worked as a policy advocate, a freelance translator, and a technical writer (the latter as a financial regulation compliance specialist). He plans to join a boutique consulting partnership, primarily for content writing/editing, as well as case study analytics. Noboru adds, “The foundation built during my time at PS1 was an important part of how I’ve learned to adapt to different situations, diverse cultures, and navigate them — along with the solid grounding in English that I’ve found to be substantially better than my contemporaries — both Japanese and American!” Zach Ehrlich, 1986–93 Zach is a partner at Vezeris & Ehrlich, Inc. in San Francisco, an accounting-plus firm that primarily works with small businesses, startups, and non-profit organizations. Zach and his wife, Amanda, live with daughter Iris in San Francisco.
Paul Henry, Class of 1994 and Nicholas Henry, Class of 1997 Their proud parents updated us while dropping off some delicious passion fruit from their garden. Pauline and Bill Henry celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this October. After graduating from PS1, Paul went on to Brentwood and then the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.), Systems Engineering. Currently living in Manhattan, NY, Paul is the co-founder of a real estate, construction, and management firm called Patoma. He married Laura Weber on September 28th in Long Island, NY. After PS1, Nicholas attended Brentwood School, followed by Washington University in St. Louis, graduating with a BSBA degree in accounting, finance, and international business. Nicholas is the Founder/CEO of Forbes Capital and co-Founder/co-CEO of Gloveworx, which has opened locations in Santa Monica, Century City, and New York City (WTC). Nicholas and Narine welcomed the birth of their son Alexander Hakop Henry this past February. Amanda (Molina) Lane, Class of 1995 In July, the Lane family welcomed baby Pax Leo Lane. Amanda also joined PS1 this year as a new parent in Youngers! Elana Besserman, Class of 1996 Elana is the CEO of PopGram Gourmet Kettle Corn. She celebrated the birth of her third child, Julian, born on Sept. 9. Julian joins older siblings Easton, 5, and Ivy, 3. Liza Preminger, Class of 1998 Liza received her PsyD from Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology a year ago and is finishing a post-doc fellowship at Bridgewater Psychiatric Hospital near Boston. Liza reports, “I had a wonderful opportunity to present my dissertation research to the APA in San Francisco with the NEABPD (National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder) and good friends! I hope this will inspire more support from physicians and help inform them about family interventions and sibling relationships.” Molly Wertheimer, Class of 2002 Molly is a producer at Vice Media in New York, a print magazine and website focused on arts, culture, and news topics.
Spencer Blattel, Class of 2002 and Maggie Blattel, Class of 2006 Alumni parent Cathy Tauber writes, “We are all doing well, Maggie is still living in New York, working at a magazine as a photo editor/coordinator at Meredith Parents Network and Spencer has been back in L.A. for the last few months, playing music professionally and teaching. I hope you are well; we all have such incredibly fond memories of our time at PS1.” Cathy is celebrating the return of Vidiots, the popular Santa Monica video store owned by their family. It is set to reopen in Eagle Rock as a non-profit, video store, and movie theatre in 2020. Tyler Heineman, Class of 2003 and Scott Heineman, Class of 2005 Both Tyler and Scott play professional baseball, Tyler with the Miami Marlins and Scott with the Texas Rangers. Scott hit his first home run on September 4th vs. the New York Yankees, and Tyler also hit a home run last season to win a major league baseball game. Check out the great photo of mom Kathy Lingg with her two sons at a game they played against each other! David Gasster, Class of 2004 David is studying for a Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Emily Gasster, Class of 2009 Emily graduated from Colgate University in upstate New York with a degree in Environmental Geography. She returned to Los Angeles and is now working at a recruitment company in the finance and renewable energy sector. Haley Hill, Class of 2005; Avery (Hill) Breuer, Class of 2006; and Keith Hill, Class of 2010 Haley, Avery, and Keith reunited in St. Louis this fall. Haley lives in St. Louis, where she works as a math teacher at an independent school specializing in learning disabilities. She is studying for her Master’s degree in education. Avery is the Business and Development Assistant at PS1! Keith is a senior at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, where he is majoring in Civil Engineering and minoring in Business Management. Keith finished his second internship with Swinerton in Downtown Los Angeles and plans to move to Los Angeles upon graduating to work in construction management. Mom LiAnne Hall is in her is in her 29th year of teaching at PS1. Will Tobey, Class of 2010 Will is a senior at Johns Hopkins University, double majoring in Computer Science and Applied Math/Statistics. He spent last summer interning at Facebook.
Spencer Blattel, Class of 2002
Molly Wertheimer, Class of 2002
Former PS1 teacher Leslie Pruce visited in July and spent time reminiscing with Ellie and Joel.
Harrison Ornest-Leslie, Class of 2011 Mom Laura Ornest wrote in to let us know that Harrison joined the “Yellowstone Live” production team this summer – a television series on the National Geographic network. He was the youngest in the crew of 150. Harrison is in his junior year at Elon University. Rick and Laura spend much of their time at their second home in Maine. Lucas Haimes, Class of 2012 Lucas celebrated the launch of his new fashion line called Lameraint. He says, “There are three main goals of Lameraint 1) To make beautiful clothes, with a perfected fit. 2) To feature high quality, long-lasting staples. 3) To provide these items at a reasonable price point.” Katie Raphaelson, Class of 2013 Katie was an active participant in Brentwood’s varsity debate team for four years, finishing her high school debate career as a quarter finalist in the state of California, and 10th in the nation in Lincoln Douglas debate. She also played competitive softball, and now attends Smith College as a first year recruit for their team as a pitcher! She also got the chance to throw the first pitch at USA softball’s western national championship due to her academic achievements, recognition as an AP Scholar with distinction, after receiving an average of a 4.6 on all 5 of her APs. She adds, “PS1 helped me develop my main values around diversity and pluralism that I still hold to this day!”
Elana Besserman, Class of 1996
Haley Hill, Class of 2005; Keith Hill, Class of 2010; and Avery Breuer, Class of 2006.
Jack Tobey, Class of 2013 Jack began his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania this fall. Emily Lippman, Class of 2015 Emily attends Palisades Charter High School and volunteers at Providence Saint Johns as well as a Veterinary Clinic. Last summer she traveled to Morocco on a teen trip, and attended a summer program studying neuroscience at UCSD. She says, “PS1 helped me to develop deeper connections with teachers, people I work with, and people I go to school with, especially because of the first-name basis with teachers and staff at PS1.” Alex Hyman, Class of 2017 Alex was excited to share the news that he was accepted into a program called Teen Line, a teen-to-teen support line, which requires hours of training at Cedars. Alex is in his freshman year at Harvard-Westlake. Noah Korngute, Class of 2018 Noah stopped by PS1 this fall to say hello. He is in 8th grade and spends time swimming, playing the ukulele, and volunteering on service projects. His mom Anna wrote in to add, “Noah has continued his musical journey and is now performing with a Santa Monica based a cappella group of kids called Squad Harmonix along with fellow PS1 alum Lauren Weiskopf!”
Jake Ehrlich 1982–1989 with dad, Alan
Still running together Aman Granados-Puvvula and Wills Stratton, Class of 2019
Grad Alumni Party, November 1, 2019
Tyler Heineman, Class of 2003 and Scott Heineman, Class of 2005 with mom, Kathy
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Alumni Parent Coffee Hosts Kimberly Perttula, Susan Hoffman-Hyman, and Priya Nambiar hosted prospective families who wanted to learn more about PS1.
LIFE AFTER PS1
In October, we welcomed back 17 PS1 alumni for our annual Life After PS1 event. Students from a range of high schools (both independent and public) returned to talk about their experiences in middle and high school, discuss how PS1 set the foundation for their education, and share how they continue to be #PS1inspired. The audience was moved by their embodiment of PS1’s Portrait of a Graduate.
Two inspiring quotes from the evening: “PS1 instilled in me the desire to learn and keep learning.” —Olivia (Senior at Windward School) “The most important thing I learned at PS1 is to just be yourself.” —Eve (Senior at Brentwood School)