Sian WittkeAugust 24, 2022
Dear Hamlin Community,
An electron cloud of passion, energy, and excitement accompanies Hamlin’s Opening Day of the 2022-2023 academic year. But before focusing on the future, I would like to take the opportunity to recognize the outstanding work of our faculty, administration, staff, trustees, and parents who made last year such an incredible success. They delivered an excellent academic and extracurricular experience during a second full year of Covid disruption while successfully reuniting the Middle and Lower schools onto our newly reimagined and renovated campus. Our admission team had a prolific campaign with an unprecedented ratio of matriculation to acceptance, our wonderful Class of 2022 graduates were accepted into and are attending a broad and highly esteemed array of local and national secondary schools, and alumni from the Class of 2018 were equally successful in their college journeys, with an awe-inspiring level of matriculation at our nation’s most competitive colleges and universities.
With a sense of pride and humility, I enter my third year as the Chair of the Board of Trustees. I am privileged to work in partnership with Head of School Wanda M. Holland Greene and a hyper-talented group of trustees and administrators. Their tireless energy, passion, courage, and conviction are instrumental in our collective success. Reaffirming my comments from prior years, the Board of Trustees is an open and engaging body whose mission is to represent the entire Hamlin community in support of our Head of School, our extraordinary faculty and staff, and our talented administrative team in the pursuit of our mission to educate girls to meet the challenges of their time and inspire them to be extraordinary thinkers and innovators, courageous leaders and individuals of integrity. We warmly invite and encourage deep dialogue and constructive feedback from the entire community. The Board of Trustees is a dynamic body that benefits greatly from strong and frequent engagement.
Sarah and I, together with our three children – Zoë ’23, Lucas (Town School for Boys Class of 2026), and Sydney ’28 – are enthusiastic and engaged members of the Hamlin family. As we enter our ninth year in the Hamlin community, we are as enthusiastic as we were on our first day of Kindergarten all those years ago. We are proud to contribute to the continual evolution and growth of Hamlin’s commitment to mental health and wellness, diversity, equity and inclusion, and academic excellence. It is reassuring to see that same passion across all grades and in our newest parents as they further the deep commitment our families have to the Hamlin culture, mission, and Creed.
The electric energy felt across our community comes from within. We have spent the last few years – yes, years! – engaged in the journey of defining, refining, and codifying our newest Strategic Plan. Throughout this process, we have invested heavily in topics at the center of our future and leveraged the strong efforts of trustee, faculty, administrator, and parent-led task forces. We have learned from the comprehensive CAIS reaccreditation process and assessed priorities within our community and our country. We are extremely proud of the resulting strategic document and invite everyone in our community to engage. The roadmap covers the next five years, and there will be countless opportunities to share your ideas, execution, leadership, and support. On behalf of the entire Hamlin community, a special thank you to everyone who joyously worked to bring our future into focus.
I am deeply honored and proud to continue my partnership with each of you. Hamlin is an exceptional institution with a long history of service to our community; let’s work together to carry the tradition forward with compassion, courage, honesty, respect, and responsibility.
Scott Gilbertson P’23, ‘28
As a culminating class project, Grade 8 students collaborate creatively on a scripted or devised performing arts production to perform for the Hamlin community in June before their graduation. This musical production offers students an opportunity to develop and share their skills in music, dance, acting, and visual design (with set, props, costumes, and lighting) while bonding together as a class. Students work on their performing arts project over the course of the spring semester. These annual Grade 8 musical productions are based on meaningful content aligned with Hamlin’s mission and Creed and have been a favorite school tradition.
Rise to the Challenge (RTC) is our Grade 7 capstone project that encourages students to think deeply about and explore solutions to the challenges of their time. As part of this project, they take service learning field trips throughout the year to volunteer and learn more about the issues facing our local community and our world, and work in small teams to identify, research, and propose solutions to a specific challenge that they are passionate about.
Grade 6 ends the school year with an interdisciplinary project focused on presentation skills, team building, and self-reflection, where students create a range of pieces to share their learnings and educate the community on social issues through research, presentations, and art. The project, typically called the Symposium, shifts its format and focus from year to year, but it will remain a multi-disciplinary research and performance project that builds on and extends the skills learned throughout the year, concluding with various performances on historical and current topics to deepen students’ understanding of the challenges in the world and encourage them to be agents of change, as they take action to improve their community.
The U.S. Magazine Research Exhibition is Grade 5’s project-based culminating venture, which demonstrates the depth and range of skills and knowledge students have acquired during the school year. Each student writes a unique article about some aspect of their group’s region of the United States, with a variety of focal points including the sciences, arts, history, economics, athletics, and more. By creating and publishing a magazine together, students integrate research, writing, collaborative teamwork, creative risk-taking, and academic skills. Finally, Grade 5 students proudly display their public speaking skills in the projects’ exhibition to the community.
The Jan Micha Influential Women in History Program is a way for Grade 4 students to learn about women who have made significant, positive, and often overlooked contributions that have changed the course of American herstory. Research, public speaking skills, and learning about different experiences through influential women’s stories are core principles of this project. Originally called the Famous American Women Program, it was renamed in 2015 to honor one of the program’s founders and beloved member of Hamlin’s faculty for over 30 years, Jan Micha.
View the Influential Women in History website our students put together!
In Social Studies, Grade 3 students spend the year focused on California: its people, its geography, and the events that have shaped it. Students study the state’s geography by looking at different regions and resources, as well as the often untold stories of California’s Indigenous People both past and present. They end the year by analyzing the movement of people throughout California and reading books about immigration.
Grade 2 students see a mini golf course through from ideation to completion. As part of this project, students work in teams to design a golf hole - they name it, make it challenging using angles, ramps, and obstacles, and even pick its par before creating a presentation for classmates using photos and videos about their design. They also visit local mini golf courses to practice their putting and learn more about the craft. Finally, students bring their visions to life and then invite parents and other grades to come try out their mini golf course! Through this project, students are able to get active while developing skills in math, robotics, creating and delivering presentations, and teamwork!
Grade 1 spends the year studying community and neighborhoods. Students ask themselves essential questions such as: What is my role as a community member? How can I help my community or neighborhood? What are my responsibilities as an individual and group member? What does safety within a community look, feel, and sound like? The study culminates with a hands-on project in which students build a model of the surrounding neighborhood, interview community members that contribute to the greater whole (i.e. librarians, mail person), and integrate the interviews directly onto the model using QR codes. Through this project, students learn about the physical aspects of neighborhoods, cardinal directions, community jobs, and developing interview skills.
Every spring, our Kindergarten classes begin their Emergent Units. The themes of these units are completely student driven, different between the classes, and vary every year. Themes are based on class discussions around interests and curiosities. Once the theme is determined, homeroom teachers get to work connecting with outside specialists and our in-house specialist teachers to integrate local and diverse activities and guest leaders to heighten the learning experience. The culminating project is then shared with the larger community through performances, public speaking, and interactive, hands on opportunities.
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