Panther Post – January 2019

Head of School Message

Happy New Year everyone! January provides a sense of freshness, an opportunity to hit the “Refresh” button on aspects of life we hope to improve upon. A new year provides a chance to give into new ideas, growth, more happiness, and alignment.

As we look for alignment within, we also seek it outside of ourselves, taking action towards personal and professional goals and aligning ourselves more completely with our core values. Pacific Boychoir Academy values striving for excellence, helping your neighbor, listening to others, admitting your errors, and having confidence in what you are able to contribute in the classroom and in rehearsal. We recognize these values are also an integral part of our leisure time activities. With focus, we develop an alignment to and an ability to uphold excellence in small measurable ways throughout our school day.

As we reset and align ourselves more fully let us remember, singing in a Boychoir presents your son with opportunities most boys do not have. Not only does attending PBA provide those amazing performance experiences but also we also guide students as they become critical, compassionate, and motivated thinkers, as well as thoughtful contributors to society.

Please be on the lookout for a re-enrollment message from Janelle for the Fall 2019. We are excited to welcome you all back next year!

Reminder: Have you logged your volunteer hours?
Our organization thrives because of dedicated parents who geneorusly give of their time and talents. We track all volunteer hours to guage the health of the organization and to ensure families are contributing at an equitable rate in accordance to their enrollment agreement. If you have helped at an event or concert, assisted in the office, or performed some other task, please log your volunteer hours online. We will be sending out reports on hours to date for each family; send a message to if you have any questions.


Teacher Updates



In 4th and 5th grade Humanities, the students have been working at their own pace on several activities related to U.S. geography and the Native Americans of the Midwest. In addition to finishing maps of the western states, the students either have recently finished or are still working on a webquest about various forms of Native American housing, including earth and grass lodges, tipis, and the adobe dwellings of the Puebloans. The webquest is a reading comprehension activity that prepares the students for online research. Each time the students answer questions based on an online article, they also describe the website itself, look for the author’s name and credentials, and evaluate whether they think the site is reliable or not. Our 4th and 5th graders are becoming quite skeptical and savvy readers!

In our writing curriculum, we are focusing on writing reviews. After a spirited discussion of how good stories are put together, the boys are writing reviews of the novels they read over winter break. Their second review will evaluate the performance of SF Ballet’s Don Quixote that they will see on January 31. We are also reading Louise Erdrich’s The Birchbark House aloud.

Middle School Humanities has a different feel to it when we are working on our Shakespeare play. Once or twice a week, we meet in the classroom – possibly for a memorization test or cue game, or to work on individual assignments related to the play – but we also spend at least half of our time in the theatre, rehearsing scenes and preparing for our performances in March. Twice a week, the 6th and 7th grades meet together, a practice that allows us to rehearse larger scenes during the school day, and small groups of boys also meet regularly during lunchtime and after school. The boys are very committed to this process and often ask to squeeze in extra sessions with me before and after school to work on their lines and discuss their ideas about their characters.

In addition to learning their lines, the 6th graders completed an extensive webquest about Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, and they have recently begun planning the models of the Globe Theatre that they will design and build at home. Many of the 6th graders play multiple small roles in the play, and to say they are embracing this challenge is an understatement. Every single 6th grader is ahead of schedule on his memorization, making our onstage rehearsals that much more productive.

The 7th and 8th graders are in the process of creating family crests for their characters in Macbeth. Once these crests are in final draft form, they will decorate the “castle” walls on our stage set. The students are also writing essays explaining the choices they made in their crests, with the goal of showing that they understand their characters thoroughly. The first drafts of the family crests are absolutely beautiful. The boys are going above and beyond in choosing images, colors, and Latin mottos that capture their characters’ personality traits. The 7th and 8th graders hold most of the major roles in the play and are really stepping up as leaders in the rehearsal process.

Coming soon: More memorization checks, costume assembly, bios for the program, and more. Thanks to all middle school parents for all your support as the boys learn their lines and stay on top of deadlines!


In the new year in Latin, the students have been solidifying material that they started to master before winter break. For Latin 8, this has meant reviewing verb tenses and working on translating and identifying verbs in the context of sentences and longer passages. They read about the first impressions that the characters Quintus and his father Flaccus had when they saw the grand buildings of Rome. In Latin 7, the students have been strengthening their understanding of singular and plural forms of nouns and verbs, as well as reviewing key vocabulary words. In addition, they have begun the process of fully conjugating verbs, which will allow them to comprehend more complex sentences and thoughts. I have been testing out some interactive technology, using a program called “Pear Deck” to transform Google Slide Shows. With this add-on, students can join a presentation on a computer or Ipad and answer questions based on individual slides. Their anonymous responses then can be projected on the screen. The 7th graders were introduced to new verb forms in this way. I am still working out the kinks of this system, but I feel that it has a lot of potential for tracking class progress and comprehension.

Clase de Español

In all grades we ended 2018 with oral reports about different aspects of Christmas in Mexico. The students did a great job researching their topics and bringing in fun treats, and games, and holiday décor that added to the festiveness of the topic!

Grado 8: Half of the class is firming up their knowledge of the preterite tense by reading a graphic novel and summarizing the action in the novel using only the preterite. The other half of the class is making sure they are dialed in to the present tense and learning School day vocabulary.

Grados 7,6: We are continuing with school day vocabulary and present tense conjugations. We have also been singing some fun songs in Spanish including “Bebé Tiburón”

Grados 4,5: We are having fun exploring the power of adjectives in Spanish. The boys also translated their own version of “Bebé Tiburón”. You can check out the performance:


From GeomeTREES to hitting the “slopes” with y=mx+b, our young men have had a very successful start to the trimester. Our 4th and 5th graders have cut their division and multiplication time in half during our game drills and are mastering coordinate graphing, and the sixth and seventh graders have been honing their linear equation skills. Meanwhile, in 8thgrade, slope and high school placement exams have been the primary focus.

Resource of the month: GRAPHING STORIES

Graphing Stories is a series of “real world” videos by Dan Meyer and Buzz Math that have a graphing measurements theme. Why in the world would you want to show graphing videos? While that may sound boring, the videos and accompanying graphing worksheet are actually an engaging way to demonstrate these important math concepts. The videos cover topics such as height, distance, time and elevation and students get to see how these math concepts work in their world. The Graphing Stories videos are free to download and as mentioned before, they come with a generic graphing worksheet for you to use.


In Science, 4th/5th graders explored the circulatory system, learning the function of our hearts and lungs through a variety of games, diagrams and a hands on dissection of a sheep pluck (lungs, trachea, heart).

6th graders continued their Science of Sound unit, seeing sound waves create chladni patterns using the PBA Tonoscope, and they also began their Science of Sound Presentation Projects, creating instruments from common household items over break. They are currently fine tuning their presentations coming at the beginning of February 4th, from 9:15 – 10:00 AM in the Theatre, all are welcome!

7th graders are investigating how sex cells are created and fertilized. They recently dissected an angiosperm to identify the different forms and their functions. They are also investigating the advantages and disadvantages of sexual and asexual reproduction, highlighted by the M & M Lab, where different organisms were affected in a variety of ways by a changing environment!

8th graders have delved into chemical reactions, using all they have learned thus far this year to explain demonstrations and in class labs. They recently observed how controlling the amount of reactants affects the amount of products produced.
In PE, students are nearing the end of their Handball Tournament. It has been highlighted by outstanding sportsmanship and effort throughout.

Physical Education
In PE, students began their unit on the International Sport of Handball. They also recently completed their Trimester one Fitness tracker goals, getting a chance to observe and evaluate their individual fitness progress over the Trimester.


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