October 2018

Head of School Message
We have had a wonderful first month of school! Already having had a tremendously successful concert series of Persephone with the San Francisco Symphony, we are very proud of the diligent work, time, and dedication to excellence from our students! What an incredible way to kick off our 20th Anniversary!

Here on campus the boys have been stepping into their leadership roles by taking care of their on campus jobs, others have been stepping forward into leadership by submitting charters to start their own Student Led Clubs. We are very grateful to watch the excitement in the boys surrounding these areas of interest and opportunity to build community with their peers. We are also deeply grateful to Ms. Dittmer for helping to guide the boys in this important process. PBA is very blessed to have such engaged and dedicated teachers!

October is set to be an exciting month with field trips, middle school dances, performing the national anthem for the Warriors, and finishing with a Halloween Costume Party! October is also a great month to spread the word about everything you love about PBA and the unique opportunity here at our school for boys!

Teacher Updates


In 4th and 5th grade Humanities, the students are still studying U.S. geography and culture region by region. We are finishing the mid-Atlantic states and will soon move on to the coastal south. The students researched the history of one mid-Atlantic state and have begun making timelines of their findings, and each student has chosen a work of historical fiction - either Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Christopher Paul Curtis's Elijah of Buxton, Esther Forbes's Johnny Tremain, or Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond - to read independently. We have also begun our "State Song Showdown," which involves listening to the official song or anthem of each state and voting on a favorite from each region. So far, "Yankee Doodle" (the state song of Connecticut) and "Maryland, My Maryland" have advanced to the final round, with "Rhode Island It's For Me" and "I Love New York" earning wild-card spots.

In our writing curriculum, the 4th and 5th graders learned a new playground game called "Eagle Chase the Chicken" and wrote news articles about the process of learning this game. Once the articles are revised, we will be publishing them on a class blog before moving on to our next journalistic endeavor, the op-ed article. Below are some photos of the students enjoying the learning process!

In 6th grade Humanities , we are reaching the end of our unit on The Golden Compass and beginning our year-long study of ancient history. In our literature class sessions, we are still debating the many levels of Philip Pullman's novel while also writing original short stories inspired by "daemons," the animal companions that are central to the novel's fictional world. We are also building vocabulary skills by practicing figuring out the meanings of words in context. Once we've learned twenty or so words, we celebrate with a day of skits that put the vocabulary words in action (see the photo below).

In our study of ancient history, which is truly just beginning, we are working on the terminology of measuring time (B.C. and B.C.E vs. A.D. and C.E.) and getting used to the idea that larger numbers - such as 2500 B.C.E. - can refer to years that are further back in time than smaller numbers - such as 250 B.C.E. Next week we will begin studying the early years of Homo sapiens and the hunter-gatherer human beings of the Paleolithic era. 6th graders getting creative in their vocabulary skits:

The 7th graders are reaching the end of Bud, Not Buddy and are also deeply involved in their study of the Roman republic. During literature class sessions, they are building their skills at analyzing literature and making inferences as well as developing and explaining text-to-self, text-to-world, and text-to-text connections with the novel. During history sessions, we are blending traditional lecture/discussions on Roman history, in which the boys are rapidly becoming skilled note-takers, with hands-on activities such as building models of Rome's seven hills (see photos below) and independent research activities such as a webquest on the Roman army.

Coming soon: Poster projects on Bud, Not Buddy and an emphasis on study skills as we prepare for our first history test.

While producing somewhat fewer "Kodak moments," the 8th graders have been hard at work studying the foundations of American history and building their essay writing skills. They drafted and revised essays that addressed the question, "How did religion impact European exploration of the Western Hemisphere between 1400 and 1600 C.E.?" The students found this assignment difficult but did an excellent job rising to the challenge. Next week, after their Chapter 1 test, they will begin their study of early-colonial America, which we will supplement with a study of Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

A big thank you to all parents of 7th and 8th graders for facilitating their sign up on Quizlet. The students in both Latin classes have been enjoying vocabulary review along with a healthy dose of competition and teamwork through the Quizlet platform. In the weeks to come, each Latin class will have more opportunities to hone their skills on different Quizlet activities in class as well as at home for homework. This valuable reinforcement of vocabulary knowledge goes hand in hand with the work we are doing on grammatical forms and syntax, and provides a fun counterpoint to learning with the textbook.

In Science, 4th/5th graders looked into why we have seasons, exploring Earth's rotation and the effect of direct and indirect light. They dissected a bean seed, planted fresh crops in the Garden and are currently investigating how photosynthesis works in individual leaves.

6th graders created a map of PBA using Vellum paper and overlaid it on longitude and latitude coordinates, similar to a map of the world. They then were given specific coordinates individually and tasked with piecing together the mystery coordinate as a team which led them to treasure of course!

7th graders finished up their insect collection around the neighborhood, getting to know the types of insects, plants and neighbors around PBA. They will finish their unit on Entomology with a field trip to the ESSIG Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley.

8th graders witnessed a flame test on multiple elements, seeing how different elements emit different visible spectrum wavelengths when excited. They also used their detective skills to find the missing member of a periodic table themed family. Next up they will be creating Lewis Dot diagrams based on different compounds.

Physical Education
In PE, students continued their excellent work on their fitness trackers, recording their mile time and setting goals for next time. They also began the first round of the PBA 2018 Soccer Tournament.

All students were asked to participate in the Square/Square Root- athon. Afterwards, every student who scored a 90% or higher got a special treat: SQUARE-ROOT-BEER-FLOAT. Every single student in the school scored above 90%!

PBA Clubs
Congratulations to all of the newly chartered PBA clubs- LARP (Live Action Role Play), PBANS (PBA News Source), the Cooking Club and the Paintball Club. The first ever club fair was a great success!

Teacher Profile

Ms. Summer Dittmer is from Oakland, CA! She appreciated that as she was growing up, Oakland was a place where you could try anything you wanted to do. From the time she was 7 until she was 12, Ms. Dittmer was a wrestler and boxer! She also played the violin, ukelele and guitar and became very active in Musical Theatre! Summer has performed in over 30 musicals. Her favorite roles were Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Mimi in Rent. Ms. Dittmer is a huge musical theatre fan, she saw 9 Broadway shows last year!

Ms. Dittmer graduated college at the age of 20. She has been working in Secondary Education for 19 years and loves teaching Math! Summer shares that she was bad at math until 6th grade. Little did she know she was only 1 teacher away from being in honors math classes from then on. That special teacher helped her develop new strategies and confidence. Ms. Dittmer really enjoys teaching the language and vocabulary of math. She loves the small class sizes and personalities of all her PBA students.

Ms. Dittmer has two children and they are active in volunteerism. Summer helps to run the Oakland Food Pantry. When she started they went from feeding 50 families per week to 500 families per week within 5 months! She encourages others to become involved too. Ways you can help those in need include:
Summer is a tremendously enthusiastic teacher. She loves games, mysteries, and solving puzzles. She loves to engage her students through teaching “tricks” to finding solutions. In her spare time she enjoys making jewelry and creating things. Summer has been instrumental in organizing the charter process for our new Student Led Clubs here at the Day School.

Upcoming Events

October 22: Warriors Game! PBA sings the National Anthem
October 29: Day school info night
Oct. 31: Day School Halloween Costume Party, 2-3pm
November 1: Parent-Teacher Conferences, 4-7pm
November 2: Parent-Teacher Conferences, 8am-1pm
November 12: Veteran's Day - no school, YES after school rehearsals
November 12: Day school info night
November 16: End of Trimester One, school ends at 11:45am, No EDP
November 19-23: Thanksgiving Holiday (YES after school rehearsals)
November 30: Report cards mailed

Ms. Bach: bach@pacificboychoir.org
Ms. Edstrom: edstrom@pacificboychoir.org
Dr. Sarah Harrell: harrell@pacificboychoir.org
Mr. Knudtson: knudtson@pacificboychoir.org    
Ms. Dittmer: dittmer@pacificboychoir.org
Ms. Strange: strange@pacificboychoir.org
Ms. Jensen: jensen@pacificboychoir.org