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Sunday, February 19, 2023

Message from Ana Solorio, PBA’s new Academic Dean

Hello PBA! 
As many of you know, I joined PBA to support the academic faculty last November and instantly realized what a special community of scholars, musicians, and educators we have here. I am grateful for the trust and welcome each of you have given me. The students and I have really enjoyed our learning time together in the Humanities classroom.

I am ecstatic to now also serve as the school’s Academic Dean. A variety of experiences, such as classroom teacher, curriculum developer, school department and grade level leader, engineer, and entrepreneur have helped to influence my educational philosophy and leadership style. As Academic Dean, I am looking forward to collaborating with our faculty in the areas of academics, school systems, and culture to positively impact student success and experience at PBA. 

Though I wish I could sing as beautifully as many of you, my strongest connection to music is that I grew up playing the violin. I was part of the St. Louis Youth Symphony many years ago.  I am thankful that music was an integral part of my education and I value the way in which this community nurtures our students’ growth through choir and enrichment opportunities.

When I am not at PBA, you can find me learning something new through reading a book or watching a documentary, salsa dancing, playing soccer, planning a scuba diving trip, and spending time with my family. I am looking forward to strengthening this gem of a school community and to grow alongside you all. My door and gmail inbox are always open.

In gratitude, 
Ana Solorio

Day School Science Department Field Trip to
Joaquin Miller Regional Park

As part of Pacific Boychoir Academy’s Living Lab, on Jan. 27th, Day School students visited Joaquin Miller Park in the Oakland Hills. This park has a web of trails, creeks and breathtaking panoramic views of the Bay Area.  

Joaquin Miller Park has some of the oldest surviving redwood trees in the area. Boys inspected tree rings that keep detailed records of climate such as rainy, dry and fire scars plus the age of trees. We explored the different major aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the park while walking along the winding park trails, leading us to creek beds, the Westminster Cascade behind the Amphitheater, and puddles!  We passed many plants, including ferns, vines, lichen, bay and oak trees, then rocks, boulders and meadows.  Arriving via the Sinawik Loop Trail to the Stone Bridge for lunch, we discussed the products of photosynthesis and respiration. Getting down into the creeks was a highlight of exploration for the boys.  

The trip ended at the Juanita Miller Community Center and Ranger Center, honoring the daughter of Joaquin Miller.  Local animals and other insects and plants plus many photos of Joaquin Miller and his life are on display at the Center.

Finding a piano there, boys joined in a song or two, while volunteers were working on maps of the park and trail restorations.  We even met the father of David Brega, a PBA alum and Board member at the table!

By Carmen Martinez Utrera and Janet Ceja-Orozco

2023 Annual Winter Retreat

Among the wise redwoods; atop a hill lined with narrow roads; brown shingle buildings dot the steep terraces, blending in with the forest. This is St. Dorothy’s Rest: a respite from the bustle of the day to day and a time to put aside our devices so we may look at the world around us – there is such beauty.  This year’s Winter Retreat hosted all age groups, from our Cantori choir and Elementary Day Schoolers, to high school due to post-storm constraints at the site. It went great!

As an alumni of the after school program (Minstrels – Changed Voices/Continuum; 2007-2018), retreat was on a shortlist of things I absolutely refused to miss every year. As a younger chorister in Cantori/Trouveres I looked forward to the games and fun topography of the site – you haven’t really played capture the flag until you’ve done it here! Growing older, as a high school chorister in Changed Voices and Continuum, I looked forward to the dedicated time spent with peers and the unique opportunity to have such in depth rehearsals. 

This year’s combined Winter Retreat had all of this and more! Following morning rehearsals and a great game of “Jailbreak” on Saturday, lunch was served and appetites were properly satiated. A post-lunch rest period gave choristers time to relax, and some structured free time after allowed for ample homework time and/or indoor game time. Following dinner, a larger combined choir rehearsal allowed for great work on Misa Criolla, which was a great opportunity to finally reveal that we will be traveling to Spain this summer! 

The second night of retreat is traditionally movie night. If you ask any chorister that’s been on retreat, they’ll tell you Steel Magnolias is a must see, as it is what we tell them we will be watching until the moment of viewing. This year, for those under the age of 13, the movie actually shown was Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle” and for those 13 or older (and brave hearted), we had an optional viewing of the PG-13 horror/thriller movie “Insidious”, directed by James Wan. This film is a spine-tingling journey into the paranormal as a family battles to save their comatose son from the grasp of malevolent spirits.  On Sunday morning, after sleeping in a little, a delicious breakfast and final game of Capture the Flag, we headed back to Oakland.

It was a true pleasure to direct retreat this year, and I cannot stress how thankful I am to our wonderful parents for sending your children on this excursion. I’ve heard great feedback already, and I hope to continue to hear more. We took many pictures at Retreat. However if your child came home with a Polaroid photo of some kind, please thank Sean Hammond, who was our self-appointed photographer in residence for Retreat.

By Ike Alexander
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