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Principal's Corner - Bear News

Welcome Highlands Parents and Guardians,

On Monday, our TK/Kindergarten students are invited to a “Meet and Greet” with their classroom teachers from 1-2 p.m.  At 6 p.m., on Monday, parents only, are invited to come to our TK/K “Back to School Night.” 

For all of our students, we are excited to see you on Tuesday morning for the first day of school.  Please remember that 4thand 5th grade students start at 8:00 a.m., and TK through 3rd will begin at 8:20 a.m.  Once you take your child to their teacher, please come to the LGI where we will have coffee and treats provided by the PTA, and tissues for parents who need them, provided by your principal.  Informational tables will be set up.  The PTA will have a membership table, School Site Council will have a table where you can sign up for car pools or walking groups.  There will also be a table where you may access the parent portal with help from our very own Mrs. Olthof.  This year we are fortunate to have a table where you can get fingerprinted here at Highlands for a cost of $60.00.  If you ever plan to chaperone a field trip, or work with students, this needs to be done.  Having this available on site is a wonderful way to expedite the process.  The fingerprints are valid through 8th grade in our district.  Please take advantage of this service.

If your child takes the bus, please have them at the bus stop at College Park School, at 7:23 a.m. It leaves promptly. 

This year, the PTA has provided all of your child’s supplies to your child’s teacher.  You do not have to stand in the long lines at Office Depot.  The PTA has also purchased t-shirts for all children and staff to wear on our Friday Bear Shirt Day, and on field trips.  Thank you PTA!  All that you need to bring is a backpack, a water bottle, a snack, and a lunch if you are in grades 1-5. 

As you can see, the school is busy getting ready.  Postcards with your child’s classroom and teacher were mailed on Wednesday.  You should be receiving them any day now.  In the event that you do not receive your card from us in time, no worries.  Please come to the front of the office, on Tuesday, where we will have a table set up to help you with that information. 

Also, school is in session, so please drive carefully around the neighborhood.  Students are small and it may be hard to see them.  Plan to take the time you need to get to school safely.  Please do not park in the yellow zones, as those are for active loading and unloading only.  Please follow all traffic rules. 

On Tuesday, you will receive an envelope of information that needs to be filled out and returned by Wednesday in the same envelope.  Later that week, you will be receiving your regular Thursday Folder of information.  Enjoy the last few days of summer and we look forward to seeing you Tuesday.

Lana Fenech
Highlands Elementary School

February 2019

Dear Highlands Families,

CONGRATULATIONS! – We have much to celebrate!  Here are winners of our contests.


Leo Telfer-Mantouvalos    


Anjali Datt       

 GEO BEE WINNER   Leo Telfer-Mantouvalos     SPELLING BEE WINNER   Anjali Datt



                2ND Grade Essay

                                1st Place – Joel Levitt

                5th Grade Essay

                                1st Place – Oliver Levitt

                                2nd Place – Sophia Rayes

                5th Grade Poetry

                                1st Place – Kate Lin Chong

 winners of the Martin Luther King Jr contest

We are so proud of our students.  Congratulations to all who participated.

LITERACY MONTH! - We have quite a month of activities.  It is Literacy month at Highlands and many fun activities have been planned by our staff.  Please make sure to check the website for all of the times and dates.  We hope to see you at our events. 

ALERT - On the last day of last month, we were on alert regarding a mountain lion sighting in the neighborhood.  In an abundance of caution, I had the PE/PMT staff do their work inside with our students.  The Sherriff’s Department made rounds around our school and no animal was sighted anywhere near the campus.  This does bring to attention that we do live near their habitat.  Below is a link of information that might be useful to you.  Please share with your child what information you feel your child is able to handle.

SAFETY FIRST! – I am asking parents and the neighborhood community to adhere to crossing safely, only in crosswalks, teaching your children to take the time to be safe.  Also, please do not allow your child to walk through the parking lot.  This is not a safe practice, even if you are escorting them. The walkways may take an extra minute, but they are the safer path.  Finally, neighbors have been letting us know that parents are making illegal U-turns around the school.  They claim that when they are asked to stop this practice, parents get aggressive.  Let’s work together to keep our students safe.  They are small and fast, and hard to see.  Please help me by following all rules around the school.  The Sherriff’s Department will be helping us with this, as well.  Thank you for caring about our students and setting good examples for them.

Lana Fenech
Highlands Elementary School

November 2018

Dear Highlands Parents,

            Thank you, all of our staff, and students, for the flexibility they showed the last few weeks.  Due to the recent fires in Northern California, our air quality was so bad, that we had to keep our students inside.  As much as I disliked the air quality, my heart goes out to all of the families who have endured so much, and I feel humbled.  The victims of Paradise are truly without more than the shirts on their backs.  I happen to have a friend there who has lost her house, cars, cat, and all of her possessions.  She tells me that many have lost so much.  I asked my friend how we, as Highlands Elementary, could help those who need it.  She stated that the Salvation Army has been helping all in need, as are some of the churches.  The Red Cross is helping those in shelters, but with the Norovirus, many, like my friend, do not want to be exposed to yet another thing.   Now it is our turn to help where we can.

            The Student Council will be kicking off a collection for the Salvation Army to support these victims.  We will accept monetary donations through December 19th.  Please drop off any checks or gift cards only, to the office, so that we may do our part to help those in need.  I know that it will be so very much appreciated by so many.  Thank you for caring about our neighbors to the north.

Most Sincerely,

Lana Fenech
Highlands Elementary School

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Welcome back from Fall Break.  I hope that you enjoyed your time with your children.  We are happy to have them back with us and are now looking forward to an eventful Fall.  I am happy to say that our construction has come to an end.  We now have 3 new play structures, and 2 new shade structures in our lunch courts, one with lights that make it usable for our evening events.  I want to thank all of you for your patience and understanding during all of our construction.  The wait has been worth it.  

This Wednesday, Highlands Elementary School will be having Halloween activities.  Our TK/K students will be celebrating with a parade first thing in the morning.  Their parade will begin promptly after the 8:00 a.m. bell.  It is always a treat to see our TK/K students in their costumes.  Come to school a little bit earlier and enjoy the parade.

Our 1st through 5th graders will have their parade at 11:45 a.m. on the lower blacktop.  Please use the Bunker Hill gate to join the fun.  The gates will open 5 minutes before the parade to allow parents and relatives to join us.  Students will go back to their classrooms after the parade, until the dismissal bell at 12:20 p.m.  It should be a very fun day.

For those students who need help with getting a costume, we have a limited number in the office.  Please see Ms. Mary Kay and Ms. Christine in the office to see what we have that fits.  Join the fun.

For those who do not celebrate Halloween, we will have activities available to students in the library, during the time of the afternoon parade.  Please have your student tell their teacher that they would like to participate in non-Halloween activities in the library during that time.

Please join us on Wednesday, November 7th, for Family Math Night.  There will be a bus from College Park Elementary for our North Central community.  Please come and enjoy the evening with your children.  The PTA has arranged for Fletch’s to make hot dogs available for purchase on that evening.  It will be the first time that we use our brand new lunch courts with lights!  Come and check them out and help us celebrate our new lighted structures.  I hope to see you there.


Lana Fenech
Highlands Elementary School

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