Faculty Play Pokémandala Go

Ever wonder how Athenian faculty get ready to dive back into the school year? This year, we played Athenian-themed Pokémon Go! Which really means we had an elaborate scavenger hunt on campus framed around the Mandala, our blueprint for quality education. Just as we ask our students to get out of their seats and/or put their hands and minds directly on the materials, our Deans of Faculty designed an opening game that would get us moving, talking, feeling, and thinking. Activities included writing a haiku about the Center for the Arts, singing a ditty about the Dase Center, calculating the number of people who could lie down in the Peanut (the grassy area in the Middle School), taking a selfie with the AWE Gate, and writing a poem about the School’s campus and land. We thought we’d share some of the creative thinking that came out of our talented Upper and Middle faculty in just one short hour. See how many types of thinking and learning you can count.

Haiku About the Center for the Arts

Shine paint into fire
Sway bodies cheek to moon
Here we mold desires

Hands oozing in clay
Bodies swirling to the dance
Creating magic

Metaphor made real
Heads hidden among the trees
Student legacies

Lights and camera
Songs, music of the ages
Dance sculpt create live

Sound Movement Beauty
All of you joined In this house
Alas, no parking

Building late at night
Dancing, singing, creating
Gather and reflect

art lives here always
reflecting what’s in our souls

Clay bust enigma
Dancing acting and building
Magic happening

Methods for Calculating How Many People Can Fit in the Peanut

17 Esteban leaps across the length of the peanut, 10 Esteban leaps across the wide part of the peanut, roughly 4 people per leap, we estimate 500 – 680 adults lying down with an average person height of 5 ft 5 inches.

333 adults will fit in the peanut lying down.
9 yd radius
5 yd radius
We calculated the approximate diameter of each of the two approximate circles of the peanut. We assumed a person takes up one square yard.

Our answer is 378 people. Lying on the ground, we figured that a person fit in a square yard. We paced off the two circles of the peanut and averaged the two to find roughly a rectangle of 27 yards by 14 yards. Since our yardage is easy…one person is one square yard…out 378 square yards means 378 people.

We used computational thinking to separate the problem into parts and then wrote an algorithm to compute the solution.
3.14 x 27 squared
= 2289.06
2289 + 594+157= 3040
Avg human height = 5 ft 6 inches
3040/7.15= 425 people

350 adults (average 5.5 ft grand 1.5 ft width) lying on their backs, minimum, adjusting for curves, tree and rocks.

We think 380 adults could lie down in the peanut. We added and averaged all our guesses.

340 people
Method: Took nut, made it into 2 circles. Found area of each. Added together. Estimate area of average person. Divide.

The Land

golden rolling sacred
ground squirrels

So many stories
What’s truth?

Monte mistranslated mountain, thanks invading Spanish.

Blessed abundance
Invaders besieged
Global redemption

Alluding Spaniards; Murrieta’s hideout; inspiring growth.

Devilish beauty; “nothing gold can stay”

Mountain breeze
Our Home

College Admissions 2016

The Class of 2016 was a class known for their intellectual prowess, kindness towards underclassmen, leadership, and community spirit. This year’s class of 72 students were accepted to the following list of colleges and universities. Here are some highlights from this year’s matriculation: 

  • Three students are pursuing conservatory programs (one for instrumental, one for voice and one for dance).
  • Five students are pursuing studio art in college.
  • Two students are matriculating to service academies (both to West Point).
  • Eight students are pursuing engineering/computer science programs.
  • One student is attending Deep Springs, a highly selective two-year college that is free but requires students to live at and run a ranch while in school full-time.

Class of 2016 Colleges

Colleges students are attending as of September 8, 2016 are marked with an asterisk per student. 
American University of Paris*
American University of Rome
Arizona State University
Babson College
Bard College
Barnard College*
Barry University
Bennington College
Berklee College of Music*
Binghamton University
Biola University
Boston College
Boston Conservatory*
Boston University***
Bryn Mawr College*
California College of the Arts
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo*
California State University, Chico
California State University, East Bay
California State University, Fresno
California State University, Los Angeles
California State University, Northridge
Carleton College*
Carnegie Mellon University
Case Western Reserve University
Chapman University
Claremont McKenna College*
Colgate University
College of William and Mary*
Colorado College
Columbia University
Connecticut College*
Davidson College*
Deep Springs College*
Denison University
Diablo Valley College*
Drexel University*
Elon University
Emory University
Fairfield University
Fordham University**
Georgia Institute of Technology
Gonzaga University
Goucher College
Hamilton College
Hampshire College*
Harvard University
Harvey Mudd College
High Point University*
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Hofstra University
Howard University
Humboldt State University
Indiana University at Bloomington
Ithaca College
John Cabot University
Johns Hopkins University*
Kenyon College*
Knox College
Lafayette College*
Lawrence University*
Lehigh University
Lewis & Clark College
Louisiana State University*
Loyola Marymount University
Macalester College
Marist College
Marymount California University
Michigan State University*
Montana State University, Bozeman
Muhlenberg College
New York University***
Northeastern University**
Oberlin College
Occidental College
Ohio University
Oregon State University
Otis College of Art and Design
Pace University, New York City
Parsons/The New School*
Pennsylvania State University**
Philadelphia State University
Philadelphia University
Pitzer College
Pomona College*
Pratt Institute
Prescott College*
Purdue University
Quinnipiac University
Reed College*
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rhode Island School of Design*
Robert Morris University
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rosemont College
Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Saint Mary’s College of California*
Santa Barbara City College
Santa Clara University*
Sarah Lawrence College*
Savannah College of Art and Design
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
School of Visual Arts
Scripps College*
Seattle University
Seton Hall University
Simmons College
Skidmore College
Southern Methodist University
Spelman College
St. Olaf College
Stanford University*
SUNY College at Oneonta
Syracuse University
Texas Christian University
The American University of Paris
The Art Institute of California, San Francisco
The College of Wooster
The George Washington University
The New School
The University of Alabama
The University of Arizona
The University of Iowa
Trinity College
Tufts University
Tulane University
Union College**
United States Military Academy at West Point**
University at Buffalo
University of California, Berkeley**
University of California, Davis
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles***
University of California, Merced
University of California, Riverside
University of California, San Diego*
University of California, Santa Barbara*
University of California, Santa Cruz*
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Delaware
University of Denver
University of Florida
University of Glasgow
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign*
University of Massachusetts, Amherst*
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota*
University of New England
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
University of North Carolina School of the Arts
University of Oregon*
University of Pennsylvania
University of Portland*
University of Puget Sound
University of Redlands
University of Rochester
University of San Diego
University of San Francisco
University of Southern California*****
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
University of Vermont
University of Washington
Vassar College
Villanova University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Military Institute
Wagner College*
Wake Forest University
Washington State University
Washington University in St. Louis***
Wellesley College
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Western New England University
Western Washington University
Whitman College
Whittier College
Willamette University
Yale University

Welcome to Our New Employees

Back row left to right: Casey, Maria, Ben, Matthew, Jenny, Michael. Front row: Josie, Justin, Rae, Elizabeth, Tanya

Tanya Azari, MS Faculty – Spanish
Tanya Azari has been involved at the Athenian School since the moment that they* were born, as a faculty child, seven-year student, Summer Programs camp counselor, substitute teacher, swim coach, and finally, Middle School Spanish teacher. They graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Spanish and a minor in English, while also heading the school’s spoken word collective and editing the Opinion section of the school newspaper. Throughout their time at Davis, Tanya lived in several different co-ops, which immediately struck them as an “Athenian where you could sleep over.” Tanya is passionate about cooperative living, social justice and equity, the practice and study of education, creative writing, and above all, books and reading. Since graduating, they have substitute taught and coached the swim team at Athenian, tutoring several students on the side, and they just finished teaching at Athenian’s Summer Programs and working as dorm staff for the Summer English Language Program (SELP). Every year they gain a new perspective on life at Athenian, and every year they look forward to learning from and giving back to their community.

*Note:  As a self-identified genderqueer person (not male or female), Tanya uses gender-neutral pronouns “they/them/their.”

Josie Chapman, Associate Athletics Director
Josie Chapman is excited to join The Athenian School after eight fulfilling years at Park Day School in Oakland.  She served as the Athletic Director and Middle School PE teacher but changed hats on average nine times a day–from facilitating fire drills to feeding chickens and building Ninja-Warrior-style obstacle courses for kindergartners.  Hailing from the beautiful state of Rhode Island, she now considers herself a legit Warriors fan after fifteen years in the Bay Area. Josie lives and breathes athletics and fitness, she is a member of her high school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and she played three sports at Colby College, where she received her BA in Human Development. She is looking forward to working with high school athletes!  When not at Athenian you can find Josie on the trails running or walking her dogs, in her backyard urban farm or on her bike riding up Mt. Diablo.

Rae Goodman-Lucker, US Faculty – Science department: Environmental Sciences
Rae Goodman-Lucker has taught biology and environmental science at the Jewish Community High School and at the Bay School. She is excited to take advantage of Athenian’s expansive campus to provide a field-lab-based, hands-on, applied environmental science course for Athenian seniors, and to join an amazing team of educators in providing well-rounded, comprehensive biology instruction. Rae earned her BA in biology from Pomona College and her MS in Biology at San Francisco State. Her thesis research uncovered surprising effects of climate change on California’s resident and migratory birds. When not teaching, Rae enjoys hiking, camping with her toddler, rock climbing, long-distance bicycle trips, catching fireflies, and sitting in a tree with a good book.

Justin Guerra, MS Faculty – English
Justin  finished his MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University in 2014. He has since published his first Middle-Grade novel and moved back to the Bay Area to raise his daughter, who is 8 months old. Justin has held many different leadership roles during his education career, including English Department Chair, Project-Based Learning Coordinator, Technology Integration Coordinator, and Advisory Lead. Justin’s roots in teaching were fostered within the High Tech High organization in San Diego, which is where he learned what compelling learning can look like through meaningful multifaceted projects. Before becoming a teacher, Justin was a small business owner. He owned a boutique surf shop and gallery, The Break Room, with his wife in Pacific Beach, San Diego. Justin likes to bring his business experience and the core value of high-quality final products (precision he learned while shaping surfboards) into his project design. Outside of school, Justin is always looking for time to read and write, build things, draw, jump in the ocean, ride boards of all variations, and spend as much time with his daughter as possible. Justin lives in Pleasant Hill with his wife, Bridget (who is pregnant again!), baby girl Brixtin, and their little dogs, Frankie and Lily.

Michael Heyward, Assistant Director of Admission and Financial Aid
Michael Heyward is new to the west coast, hailing from New York City.  He served as the Associate Director of Admissions at Holderness School, a coeducational preparatory school in Plymouth, NH and his high school alma mater. He is excited to join the admission office at Athenian to help and develop meaningful relationships with families and prospective students around the East Bay and the world. When Michael is not working, he enjoys working out, watching sports, and traveling. He is a big time sports fan. He loves all New York teams (in particular Knicks, Yankees, Rangers, and Giants), but since he has moved to the East Bay, he has become a big Golden State Warriors fan. After a career-ending wrist injury which he sustained in high school, Michael started coaching basketball. He has coached at the high school and collegiate level for the last seven years. Michael holds a BS in Management and Business from Skidmore College and an MA in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University Irvine.

Jenny Hogg, Director of Annual Giving – Advancement department
Jenny previously served as the Annual Fund Manager at the Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco and is happy to join the Athenian team in the Advancement office as the Director of Annual Giving. She believes that philanthropy should be fun and fulfilling and is ready to bring excitement and success to the program. Prior to working in independent schools, she worked in development at the Asian Art Museum, University of the Pacific, and the East Bay SPCA. She is known by previous employers as an expert piñata maker and the office printer whisperer, and always has a survival kit and tool box in the trunk of her car. When Jenny is not busy stewarding and cultivating donors, she enjoys hiking with her chocolate lab, Scout Finch, and spending time with her family, which mostly consist of trying to keep the twins from burning the house down. She holds a BA in Classical Studies from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College with an emphasis in Archaeology and a Masters in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University, and she is slightly afraid of owls.

Elizabeth Jurado, US Faculty – Foreign Language department: Spanish
Elizabeth came to the United States in 1994 as a Fulbright Scholar.  During her scholarship, she taught Spanish at Mendocino High School for a year.  Elizabeth is from the narrowest and longest country in the world, the beautiful Chile. She has been teaching for more than 28 years and holds a BA and MA in Education (from Universidad de Talca and Universidad de Concepcion) and has taught all levels from elementary to university in Chile.  In the U.S., Elizabeth has taught at Dorris-Eaton, Orinda Academy, and Head Royce School.  In her free time, she loves to work in her garden and attempt to cook edible food for her family and friends.  She loves to walk her naughty and funny dog, Kenji, who loves to eat her shoes.  Elizabeth has a passion for traveling, having taken students on educational trips to 14 European countries just in the last six years.  She feels a strong responsibility that as a society, we should teach our kids community awareness.  She started the Community Awareness Club at her last school where they help local and international organizations.  Elizabeth’s favorite daily job is to be a mom and spend any and all possible time with her two kids, Sophie and Stefan, both teenagers, and her husband of more than 20 years.

Maria Luca, US Faculty – Science department: Chemistry
A lifelong Californian, Maria grew up in San Mateo, CA and received her BA in Biology-Chemistry from Scripps College and M.S. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from UC San Diego. She recently moved from San Diego, where she was a science teacher at Balboa City School, as well as a tutor at It’s Academic Tutoring Center.  When not teaching, Maria enjoys hiking, running, reading, baseball games, and hanging out with her husband and cat.

 Benjamin Paul, US Faculty – Residential Program: Live-in Residential Faculty
Ben grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he acquired a love for nature and boxcar diners. As the son of two English teachers, Ben had a hard Scrabble (and other word games) upbringing that gave him a lifelong passion for books and learning. He may often be seen using his smartphone to look up unusual etymologies. Ben obtained his BA in French Studies from UMass Amherst in 2014 after spending a year studying abroad in Montpellier and volunteering on French farms. He worked as a marketing intern for the National Repertory Orchestra in 2015, channeling his love for classical music and his interest in graphic design. Most recently, Ben returned to France to work as an English teaching assistant at two public high schools. When he is not reading a book or playing piano, Ben enjoys hiking and playing tennis. He is thrilled to be joining the residential team at Athenian this year as an LRF (Live-in Residential Faculty).

Casey Schuller, US Faculty – Residential Program: Live-in Residential Faculty and Middle School Office Coordinator
Casey is a recent graduate of Colorado College where she majored in Sociology and double-minored in Anthropology and Feminist and Gender Studies. Before attending Colorado College, she both grew up at and attended St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, DE as the daughter of two administrators. Thus, she is very familiar with the community and lifestyle of independent school faculty. While in college, she spent three summers working with children of all ages at a summer camp in Maine. In her last year at camp, she was promoted to coordinator of the sailing program. When not working with children, she interned in admission to explore her passion for school administration. In her senior year, following her semester in Australia, she worked for her study abroad agency, IFSA-Butler, as an independent on-campus college representative, promoting study abroad and coordinating events. Casey has always had a passion for travel, expressed through her three study abroad experiences and her goal to reach all seven continents in her lifetime. In her spare time, she loves to be out on the water, sailing, swimming, scuba diving, and more. In addition, she is a certified lifeguard. Most recently, she was working as a stand-up paddle boarding instructor in Maine.

Matthew Stewart, US Faculty – Foreign Language department: Spanish
Matt grew up at a boarding school in Connecticut, where his parents were teachers and ran a dormitory.  For high school, he attended Hamden Hall Country Day School. Thereafter, he earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish at Castleton State University in Vermont and then went on to earn an MA in Spanish Language & Culture from UCSB.  Matt’s most recent teaching positions were at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Massachusetts and Sage Ridge School in Reno, Nevada.  After teaching for 22 years on both coasts, in boarding and day schools, and having participated in residential life and coaching (basketball and baseball), Matt is very excited to join the Athenian community.  He and his wife, Bonnie, and their one-year-old daughter, Olivia, live in San Ramon.

Community Gratitude

Our students regularly go out into the community or engage by sending things abroad.  Occasionally, we hear back from the organizations we work with.  Here are a few messages from our community partners.

RHO Appleseed: 30 Hour Fast

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. We cannot fully express  how invaluable the support of the Athenian school community has been for RHO Appleseed and the students who attend. The food program has always been one of the most valuable things we do, but it has also been the hardest to maintain. We have been able to provide at least one meal a day to an average of 80 children per day for almost four years. This would NOT have been close to possible without the support of the students, families and staff of the Athenian school.

Joy and I were talking about how a thank you such as this is not adequate, and so we are planning a more community-based visual thank you. It is our goal to complete it during the holiday vacation. We will send it to you upon completion. (I just committed us Joy!).  Thank you so much for sticking with RHO Appleseed over the years. We are in the process of developing land for a second community center in a village about 30 km south of here. We are excited about that. Please express to your community how much your support has allowed us to continue operating and growing. We will be in touch.



White Kitty Foundation: Animal Care

I’ve wanted to contact you regarding your volunteers .

Where did you find such wonderful young people?  I constantly hear people complain about teenagers that are so privileged and spoiled.  These young men and women have been amazing.  They never complain about what we ask them to do, they’re always on time if not early and they have the most wonderful and caring personalities.  They treat our animals so well and respectful.  And they’re very respectful to us.

I wish I had more words to praise them.  Please tell their parents they are raising amazing children.  My future isn’t so bleak at all.

Thank you for everything.

Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay: Holiday Gift Drive

Greetings participants in our Holiday Giving Program 2015, with Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay!  For the 12th year in a row, families in need have again received beautiful gifts with your generosity and kindness….in all, 142 families!  Thank you, thank you!  

 JFCS East Bay provides social services to people in the community from all walks of life and religious backgrounds. Many of our client recipients this year were newly arrived refugees or immigrants from: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Africa, and Latin America. All recipients receive confidential social services from our staff professionals. You helped to make it a nice holiday season for them!  

We have been resettling refugees from many parts of the world for decades.  We know that many in the community have wanted to help and learn more about what we do.  For that reason, I am attaching our flyer, How You Can Help Newly Arriving Refugees, just in case you want to help out more.  One way to ensure assistance to refugees we serve is to donate to our Refugees Welcome Fund.  This has been set up to directly assist refugees with housing issues, training programs and other essential needs.  You can donate to that fund by clicking here:  http://jfcs-eastbay.org/refugees-welcome-fund/.
Thanks to all and best wishes for a healthy and happy new year,