ESLA Family Newsletter, February 4, 2019

Last Friday, ESLA kicked off a monthlong celebration of Black History. This year's theme—as chosen by a group of students, faculty, and staff—is Celebrating Stories of 'Black Joy.’ For an overview of how we’ll be celebrating, click here, and stay tuned to your Newsletter:


As always, your agenda from today until the end of time is embedded below. Remember, you can always check the ESLA Agenda on this site by navigating to “My ESLA” > “ESLA Agenda” or simply plugging into your navigation bar.

A Heads Up on upcoming "No After-School Program Days": After-school activities (with the exception of any scheduled musical and athletics practices) will be adjusted on two days this trimester, as follows:

  • Wednesday, February 13 (no activities for Middle or Upper School)

  • Thursday, February 21 (no activities for Middle School)

Black Voices

From the ESLA Black History Month Committee:

This February, the Black History Month Committee at ESLA will be sharing a variety of ways to engage with Black History through curated lists that highlight Black voices. From museum exhibitions, to movers and shakers in the Twitter-sphere, our hope is to enhance your weekend plans and social media feeds.

This week, we are releasing a listing of (mostly free) local art events, lectures, and screenings AND podcasts that we love! Click the links below to check out our recommendations. The titles of each event or podcast are HYPERLINKS, so you can easily click on any item you’re interested in to learn more. This is an incredible resource, and we hope you’ll use it to incorporate Black voices further into your lives and celebrate Black history every month. Huge thanks to Erin Bagley for all the work she put in designing these documents!

Stay tuned next week for our Twitter and Instagram recommendations!



To honor Black History Month, the ESLA English and History departments will be facilitating weekly evening discussions of Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, for the month of February. Our aim here is to examine Obama’s story within personal, literary, and historical contexts.

The first meeting will be on Wednesday, February 13, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. We will meet in the main room of Mears Hall. Please bring along your copy of Michelle Obama's Becoming, and please arrive having read the first section, “Becoming Me.” If you have any questions, please email

Commons Talk with Josh Kun

THIS THURSDAY, February 7, 10:00 a.m.
Mears Hall, FPCH

Josh Kun is a 2016 MacArthur Fellow and the winner of a 2018 Berlin Prize and a 2006 American Book Award. He received a B.A. (1993) from Duke University and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley (1999). In addition to being a frequent contributor to newspapers, journals, and radio, he is the co-editor of Sound Clash: Listening to American Studies (2012) and Tijuana Dreaming: Life and Art at the Global Border (2012). Kun has curated exhibitions and installations at such venues as the Getty Foundation, the Museum of Latin American Art, the Skirball Center, and the Grammy Museum, among others, and in 2005, he co-founded the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, through which he has co-produced albums and organized several concerts of Jewish American music. He is currently a professor of communication in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and director of the Popular Music Project in the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California.

Parents and friends are welcome to attend these conversations. We request that parents and friends who would like to attend RSVP by emailing Ms. Aguiniga: 

Upcoming Commons Talk at ESLA

  • Thursday, February 21, 2019:  Babatunde Akinboboye, Nigerian-American baritone *Black History Month program

  • Thursday, March 7th, 2019: Keith Veradi, Jeopardy! researcher 

  • Thursday, April 25th, 2019: Miguel Ordeñana, community science coordinator at Natural History Museum who discovered P-22!

  • Thursday, May 16th, 2019: One Archive Foundation researcher speaks about the history of pride in the United States


On behalf of the AMBOS Project, Feminist Club, and the Service Council, we would like to say THANK YOU! We are so proud of the support we have received from the ESLA community. With your help, we were able to collect hundreds of toiletries and feminine hygiene products for migrants arriving at the US/Mexico border.

Sixth grade rainy day at the Getty Villa!

ESLA Annual Fund 2018-2019!

A message from Marcia Berman, Director of Development:

ESLA's Annual Fund drive is in full swing! Thank you to everyone who made a gift or pledge. For those who haven’t participated yet, we hope you will support this very important campaign which benefits all students throughout the year. Contributions to the Annual Fund are tax-deductible and go directly to the school's highest priorities.

Our goal is 100% parent participation and we are halfway there with 50% participation! Make a gift today to get us one step closer to reaching our goal! 

Opening This Week!

Missing Milligans by Sophia Grammer '21
February 4, 5, and 7
4:00 p.m., Mears Stage

ESLA Sophomore Sophia Grammer's debut production Missing Milligans is a dark comedy set in the halls of your average high school. Part mystery, part drama, and part comedy, Sophia's play features a not-so-average cast of characters played by Sidney Abramson '24, Joe Baldwin '20, Oliver Barnes '25, Katy Cooper '20, Sophia Grammer '21, Grace Hall '23, Cassius Hatosy '24, Caroline LaDage '23, and Stella Walsh '21.

Athletics Update!

From Mark Zalin, Athletic Director:

The Upper School Varsity basketball teams finished their inaugural California Interscholastic Federation, Galaxy League season this past week. There were great individual and team highlights on both squads! Student athletes and coaches were sad to see the season end and are already thinking about next year. Kudos to Coaches Shelby Bartlett, William Pearson and Walter Thorne, Janie Hannon for helping with scoreboard, scorebook, and transportation, and all the loyal fans who made it to the games. The Varsity teams represented ESLA with class and distinction and won new fans wherever they played with their spirit, sportsmanship, and love of the game.

The Middle School Boys and Girls basketball teams are well into their league season now. The Girls team plays this Wednesday and Thursday: Wednesday at Everest at 4:00 p.m., Thursday at Pilgrim at 4:00 p.m.

Fresh off a thrilling overtime win, the Boys return to the court Friday vs Kipp School at Aspire at 6:00 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you at a game. Go Coyotes!!

Eighth graders at the Jet Propulsion Lab!

Security Update

From Mark Zalin, Director of Safety and Security:

Mark Zalin, Safety and Security, attended a School lock down drill this past week at De Toledo School in West Hills, CA. The drill was a very realistic simulation organized with the school, LAPD, and first responders. More than 40 representatives from schools and organizations from throughout Southern California were in attendance and were able to follow LAPD and first responders as they worked their way through the very large campus, classrooms, and school buildings. After the drill, the entire school population, as well as the visiting guests had a lengthy debriefing session with LAPD and first responders. Coach Zalin attended with members of Joffe Emergency services, who have been instrumental in helping a number of area schools, including ESLA, as they define their security needs to ensure a safe community.


Annie Auditions!

Save the date for Spring Musical Auditions!

Students auditioning for a lead role (Annie, Warbucks, Grace, Ms. Hannigan, Rooster, or Lily) will audition Monday, February 11 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Students auditioning for any other role will audition Tuesday, February 12 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

The cast list will be posted at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13.


Intro to the ESLA Capstone

From Jane McCarron, Capstone Coordinator:

Dear Parents of the Class of 2020,

You are cordially invited to attend a brief info session on the ESLA Capstone Project, the extended research project completed by our senior students. Although the info session is not mandatory, we will be going over the nuts and bolts of the capstone project as well as how parents can best support their students. If you are unable to attend but would like set up a time to go over the material, please reach out via email to set up an appointment. We look forward to including you in the incredible work your students are doing at ESLA.

The meeting is Wednesday, February 27 from 5 to 5:30 p.m. in Mears Auditorium at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood.


The Academic Council 'Bring the Heat' Award

The 'Bring the Heat Award' and the 'Bring the Teach Award' strive to award those students and teachers who have shown outstanding efforts inside and outside of the classroom while encouraging other students’ academic success.

Bring the Heat, Week of January 31

Middle School - Fiona Duffy

“Fiona will be the next Ruth Bader Ginsburg! Her quiet, diligent focus in English class produces fiercely thoughtful academic work that inspires her peers to rise to the challenge.”

Upper School - Jay Baggett

With nominations from multiple teachers, Jay “has been excelling in her written expression. Her poetry is passionate, imaginative, and authentic.” She has asked engaging questions in Spanish II, and has shown curiosity and critical thinking in Capstone, “merging her experiences and self identity with ways of promoting diversity and prejudice reduction at ESLA.”

Bring the Teach - Ms. Stanton

This week, students wrote that Ms. Stanton has helped students discuss postmodernist theory, knows how to deliver context beautifully, and help her classes understand English and how to be a better person!

The Skid Row Trip

Last week, our ninth-grade students spent three days and two nights living in tents on the roof of the Union Mission in Skid Row, interacting with and learning from the many people who live there. This is part of both the California History curriculum and our commitment to service and justice in our city. It is a hugely transformative experience for our students, and a hallmark of the ESLA education.

As just a glimpse, below is the email Ms. Hollaway sent to Class of 2022 parents on the first night to check in:

Dear parents,

I just got back from picking up the dinner dishes from karaoke (where Mr. McIntosh gave an epic performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody”) and wanted to report that all is well. The group is settled in on the roof after a long day. Pics are forthcoming but here is an image from the day that has stuck with me…

Sam, Hank, Jihyeok, and Jack intently huddled around a boy about their age who is currently living in the mission** while he was simultaneously explaining and playing a video game on his phone. The conversation started off like this:

JIHYEOK: Oh cool—is that Smash?

NEW KID: No it’s [some name I couldn’t understand because I’m too old]. It’s like anime smash. 

Enter Sam stage right

SAM: Oh cool—is that Smash?

JIHYEOK: No, it’s, like, anime Smash. 

SAM: Cool. 

Then the conversation went deep on video games. I didn’t understand any of it, but it was beautiful to watch.

Best regards, 

Ms. Hollaway

**When we started coming to URM four years ago, there were about 20 children living at URM and they rarely stayed more than a few weeks. There are now over 200 children who are often there for several months. 

Questions, comments, or submissions? Send them my way:

Until next week,
—Will Litton