Principal's Corner - Bear News

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August 2018

Dear Highlands Families,

Welcome to the start of a new school year.  Over time, I have had the pleasure of getting to know our Highlands community of students, staff, parents and community members.  I am amazed at the united spirit at our school.  The dedication of our parents to provide our children with educational support, gardening experiences, literacy opportunities, science experiences, art opportunities, classroom support, and the list goes on.  I am thankful for the amazing work that the PTA does every day for the students and staff at Highlands Elementary School.  There isn’t an area in the school that has not benefited from the dedicated work of our PTA parents.  Our school is a better place because of all of you.  Please make sure to join the PTA and help continue the work that they do for all of us.  There will be information tables set up on the first day of school in the LGI.  Parents, please come and learn about ways to help and get the information that you need.  Come by for some coffee and for our new parents, tissues will be available after you drop off your little ones, if they are needed. 

 I am also privileged to work with such a professional, caring, and dedicated staff.  Our staff cares for your children as if they were their own.  They educate, guide, coach, and nurture each and every one.  The united feeling of our staff is commendable.  I admire the collaborative work that our grade level teams do to make your child’s educational experience student centered, standards based, challenging and fun.  To see the smiles on the faces of students and staff when a new concept is learned, is rewarding and fulfilling. 

 And of course, the students, who are the reason we do what we do.  They work to reach academic goals in reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, and physical education/PMT.  In addition, our students care.  They care about each other, their teachers, the staff, and our school.  Life skills are practiced each day which makes our climate warm and friendly.  Our children are learning to be well rounded individuals with the support from all of us, as they grow to be independent leaders of tomorrow. 

 With everyone working together, we can accomplish great things.  I look forward to watching our children grow.  I thank all of you for your positive support and dedication.  I am truly grateful to be your principal.  Highlands Elementary is my home and I couldn’t be more proud.


Are you looking for employment?  Do you enjoy working with children?  Do you want to be part of our incredible Highlands staff?  Please let our office know.  We currently have the following positions still open.

Lunch Supervisors – We have two positions open for 1 hour of lunch supervision, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.  This is a paid position.
2 Student Aides needed – If you are interested in more hours, this may be the position for you.  Please inquire in the office for more information about these paid positions.  

Volunteers Needed

Our school could use a new coat of paint this year.  If you are an adult who is handy with a paintbrush, please sign up to help beautify our school.  We will have to do it in stages throughout the year, so please feel free to leave your name at the table in the LGI room the first day of school, or in the office after that.  Thank you in advance for your help with this effort.  

Summer Updates!

Two of our three playground structures, which were reaching their end of life, are being replaced. It is our hope that by the time school starts, it will be done.  Our students picked the colors and they look great.  Our new equipment will be ready for your children to enjoy.  Please adhere to the age designation on each structure and make sure very young children are not on the equipment.  If you are watching your child after 2:36 p.m. dismissal, please make sure that they play only on the Kindergarten play structure to keep them from disturbing classes, still in session, until 3:06 p.m.  There will be tables near this playground for adults to sit and supervise their children.  Children without parental supervision will be asked to go home, as we do not provide supervision during this time.  Please make sure that your children stay only in this area and keep their voices low, so others may learn.  Thank you so much for your help.   
The upper grade playground will be torn down and constructed soon.   More information to come.
The lunch court structures are being installed.  As of this letter, the work has begun and we are hoping to have them done shortly after school has started.  This means that we will be eating on our tables on the grass field until such time that they are finished.  Please provide your child with a hat and something to sit on, in the event the sun has heated the benches.  Sunscreen would also be a good idea all year.  Once the structures are finished, we will be able to enjoy our lunch court once again.

Our Focus on Safety

As always, safety is our focus.  Here are a few ways that parents can help:

Walking to school

o   Please cross your children at the crosswalks only.  They learn by your example.  Thank you for helping us out by being consistent, even when you are running late.  Thank you for being good role models for our students.  They, too, appreciate you following what we tell them.

o   Please do not walk your child through the parking lot.  Please use the pathway in front of the office instead.  If you teach your child to walk in the parking lot, they may run out at other times.  They are small and hard to see.  Please teach your child that parking lots are for cars, not people.

Driving to school

o   Please follow the rules of the road.  Give yourself enough time to get to school without rushing.  Not only does this make a better start for your child, but helps make it a good day for all. 

o   Cars backing up into crosswalks is a very dangerous practice.  We have seen too many close calls.

o   Leaving a car parked in the yellow zones impedes the flow of traffic.  The yellow zone is for active loading and unloading only. If you need to get backpacks, give kisses, or put on jackets, please park across the street and take all the time you need.   If you have to put your car in park and help your child out of the car, the yellow zone is not for you. 

o   If you plan to use the yellow loading zone, please pull forward as much as possible, have your child unload on the sidewalk side of the car, and pull out when they are safely out of the car.  Please be aware of traffic as you pull out. 

o   Stopping in the red zones is unsafe and illegal.  The Sherriff’s Department will be patrolling these areas.

o   Please drive carefully around our school.  Students are difficult to see.  Thank you for doing your best to help with following these safe practices around our school.

After You Have Said Goodbye…

o   Thank you for exiting the campus immediately when the bell rings.  This helps us get started with our school day without distractions.

o   Please do not hold the gate open for students and adults alike.  They need to check into the office once the gates are closed.

o   Please do not wait in the yellow zones to watch your child walk to class.  Please move along safely so that others may disembark, or park across the street and take all of the time you need.

Running Late to School?

o   Please help by having your child check into the office when they are tardy.  We close the gates at the start of the school day to protect your children from outsiders.  We also need to have an accurate account as to who is on campus at all times, so please have your child get a late slip from the office.

o   If you drop your child at the Bunker Hill gate, please make sure that we have not yet closed that gate.  If it is closed, please proceed to Newport Street and have your child go to the office for a late slip.  It is not safe for them to walk the perimeter of the school without supervision.

Coming to help?

o   If you are working in a classroom, please make sure that you are wearing a badge which may be obtained in the office.

o   When coming on campus to volunteer in classrooms, please make sure to check in, and out, at the office.  In the event of an emergency, we need to account for each person who has signed in on campus.  If you leave and have not checked out, we will spend a lot of time looking for you before we can end our safety drills, which means that students lose instructional minutes.  Thank you for helping out with this.


o   If your child is not coming to school that day, please make sure to call the absence line and inform the office of your child’s full name and the reason for the absence.  The office needs to hear from you so that we are aware of how to code the absence.  Please call (650) 312-7544 ext. 3, each day your child is not at school.

 Thank you for your help and support in keeping our students safe.  It is very much appreciated.  Together we make a difference.  Please have your child ready each day by getting enough sleep the night before and eating a healthy breakfast before they come to school.  Our fantastic teachers will take care of the rest.  2018-2019 will be a year full of new adventures in learning.  I look forward to all of us working together to continue to make this school such a wonderful place.

Lana Fenech
Principal, Highlands Elementary School