ESLA Family Newsletter, April 22, 2019

Happy Easter and Passover to all. We’re entering that famous final month and a half of the school year that’s absolutely jam packed with special programming. The spring musical opens TOMORROW, Prom is on Saturday, and there’s not a week on the horizon without something exciting scheduled. This means your newsletter will be overflowing with info from now until summer! Here we go…


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.

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Annie Opens THIS WEEK!

April 23, 24, 25, 30     
May 1, 2

4:00 - 6:00 p.m. 
Mears Stage  
First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood

Tickets are $5 for friends and family, and free to ESLA students, faculty and staff.
Tickets will be sold at the door to the theatre, and seating is first come first serve.
Doors open at 3:30 pm. The show runs 2 hours with one 10-minute intermission.

*On May 2nd, closing night, we will honor the inaugural members of the ESLA chapter of the International Thespian Society.

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Commons Talk THIS THURSDAY: Miguel Ordeñana

Thursday, April 25
10:00 a.m.
Mears Stage

Miguel Ordeñana, the influential researcher who discovered P-22, the mountain lion that resides in our neighboring Griffith Park, will be giving a talk at ESLA about his work at the Natural History Museum.

He is currently the Community Science Manager at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Prior to working at the museum he worked as a wildlife biologist for federal and state agencies throughout California. At NHM, his role as a biologist involves studying local urban wildlife species of Los Angeles and acting as a liaison between Research & Collection and the general public. His role as a community science manager involves promoting and creating community science projects, recruitment of community scientists, and community science training. In addition to his work at NHM, he uses bat detectors to study the urban bat species of Los Angeles and camera traps to study the urban carnivores of Griffith Park, where he grew up. He also co-leads a jaguar camera trap study in southwestern Nicaragua, where his family is from. Besides constantly exploring the local nature of Los Angeles, he is passionate about how education can inspire a more diverse next generation of scientists and environmental educators.

Parents and friends are welcome to attend this conversation. Please RSVP to: if you plan to attend.

Upper School FINALS Schedule!

Thursday, May 23 - Language
Friday, May 24 - Math
Tuesday, May 28 - History
Wednesday, May 29 - Science
Thursday, May 30 - English

US Lab Day #3, THIS FRIDAY, April 26

Message from Amanda Valenzuela, Upper School Coordinator:

Dear Parents,

Upper School Lab Day #3, our final lab day of the year, is soon upon on us! Please take a moment to read about the exciting interdisciplinary trips venturing out into the city on April 26 below, and be sure your student returns a signed permission slip this week. Note: for the Escape Room trip there is an $8 fee to attend; this Escape Room is the only fee-based lab day activity this year. Special thanks to our trip coordinators and leaders: Erin Bagley, Jane McCarron, Jason Brooks, Clayton Houck, and Bill Thill!

Japanese-American Museum (Grades 9 & 10)

Led by: Jason Brooks

Students will travel by rail to the Japanese American National Museum for a guided docent tour. The museum, which “is dedicated to sharing the experience of Americans of Japanese ancestry,” was founded in 1992 to celebrate Japanese immigrants’ and Japanese-Americans’ contributions to Los Angeles & California, which include but are not limited to art, artifacts, film, and oral histories. Students will also enjoy the culture offered by the ‘Little Tokyo’ neighborhood of DTLA.

Griffith Park + Planetarium  (Grades 9 & 10)

Led by: Clayton Houck

During the nature hike, students will learn about the plants & animals found in Griffith Park. Students will collect organisms to start colonies at school (water striders & crayfish colonies). With overlooks of the city below, students will learn about the sub-climates found in the extended LA area. At the observatory, students will learn about the chemistry & physics that make up the universe. Target audience is students interested in general science.

Escape Room & Math Scavenger Hunt  (Grades 9 & 10)

Led by: Bill Thill

Join us for an ESCAPE ROOM and Puzzle-Solving adventure! Participate in a fantastic day of teamwork, puzzle solving, and creativity. Students will walk to Sunset Boulevard and Bronson and take the Metro for a 20-minute ride to West Hollywood’s FOX IN A BOX, one of LA’s top Escape Rooms. Students will be placed in teams of 5 or 6 to unlock the keys to escape the “Cold War Bunker,”  “Tesla’s Mystery,” or “Dracula: The Final Hour.” After our escape room experience, students will head back to campus and begin a Mathematical Scavenger Hunt that will reward teamwork, creativity, ingenuity, and different ways to be mathematically smart.

Junior Capstone Bonanza (Grade 11)

Led by: Jane McCarron

The Junior Capstone Bonanza will be a day with two parallel goals. The first goal will be to interview each member of the junior class for a promotional capstone video. The capstone video will be filmed and edited by Jerry White, with Luca Rader serving as a Production Assistant, and will be released via the ESLA Newsletter to the community at large. The process for conducting 16 interviews will take the entire school day and require us to remain on campus. As students are cycling in and out of interviews, the rest of the class will compete in a number of team building activities. These challenges will take on the motto and themes of Survivor “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.” Students will compete using all of the tools they have gained as ESLA students: academics, arts, athletics, social skills, ethical leadership, etc.

Senior Tile Making (Grade 12)

Led by: Erin Bagley

A seniors only Lab Day field trip to a Clay CA ceramics studio in Chinatown. On this trip, they will design and glaze individual ceramic tiles that reflect their unique personality. These tiles will be installed somewhere in the new school building as a “Senior Gift.” The lab day should foster bonding between seniors as they work creatively on something for the new building.

Capstone Highlight

From Jane McCarron, Capstone Coordinator:

As the Class of 2019's Capstone presentations come to a close, ESLA looks to the Junior class for their freshly written proposals. The Capstone Project is the culmination of a student’s studies at ESLA. In their junior and senior year, all ESLA students design and complete an interdisciplinary project that showcases their talents, interests, and research efforts. Rooted in each individual project is a connection to the mission and the virtues of ESLA.

First up is Damaris Casildo. Damaris has been at ESLA since 6th grade. A leading member of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica, Vestry, and Yearbook, Damaris is known around campus as a loyal member of the Red Team. 

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We Want Your Input!

A message from Peter McCormack, Head of School:

Parents, please save the date: Thursday, May 2, 6:45 - 8:45 p.m. As part of putting together our strategic plan for the next few years, we want to hear from you. We’ll discuss our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges in nine different areas.

Please RSVP to if you are available and would like to attend this event. (We will also be doing a version of this with students before the end of the year.)

Areas to be discussed are as follows:

Academic, Arts, and Athletics Programming/Curriculum

  • Middle School Academics and Arts Curriculum

  • Upper School Academics and Arts Curriculum

  • STEM

  • Athletics

Climate and Community

  • Parent Association

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Episcopal Identity and Service Learning

Enrollment and Communications

  • Communications and Messaging (How to get the word out about ESLA and what we should be saying)

Other Programming

  • After School Program, Lab Days, School Trips, etc.

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ESLA Teacher Appreciation Week: May 13 - 19

From the ESLA Parent Association:

The ESLA Parent Association will be celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week (May 13 - May 19) and to make it easier to donate to Teacher Appreciation, we have created a link for voluntary contributions with a couple clicks of a button. Here is the link for you: The deadline for contributing online via the link is Wednesday, May 8. Alternatively, you may drop off cash or check with Steph Zalin at the front desk.

Also, please be on the lookout for parent volunteer opportunities that will be coming from your respective Grade Parents as the days approach! We have some really fun things planned, but it's a surprise for the teachers and staff, so "mum's the word" on the details for now!


Saturday, April 27
7:00 - 10:30 p.m.
Wilshire Boulevard Temple
3663 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Tickets are $40.00. We’ll accept cash or checks made out to the Episcopal School of Los Angeles. 

We are allowing each ESLA student to bring up to three guests, making their group a party of four. Please find below both the student and guest behavioral contracts that we will require signed by the respective parties listed on the forms and returned on Wednesday, April 24. A photocopy of guest student/state ID is required; a physical ID will be required the day of the event (mandated by the Temple).

For questions, contact Shelby Bartlett ( or Emily Nuckols (

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SAVE THE DATE: COACHESLA is coming, May 16!


  • Musical performances by the seventh grade and Upper School!

  • Visual art by the sixth and eighth grades, Upper School elective students, and AP Studio Art students!

We are seeking parent volunteers to help with set up, clean up, and food. If you are interested in helping please email Erin Bagley at

Notes from the Chaplaincy

Some important notes from your Chaplain, Megan Hollaway:

Parent Council

NEXT Monday, April 29, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

RSVP here for our first Parent Council Monday, April 29 at 5:30 p.m. Not to be confused with the Parent Association (PA) or parent coffees, this is an opportunity for parents to sit in council (the same circle process we use for Advisory) and share stories about the beguiling journey of raising teenagers. The theme for this council is “transitions” and all parents/guardians are welcome (but I’ve got my eyes on you 12th grade parents). However, space is limited so please RSVP by Friday, April 19. Students are not invited to this council, but may hang out on the green or the Mears courtyard during that time. You may be wondering: Will I have to talk in front of people? No, not if you don’t want to. Do I have to prepare something? Nope, council is all about spontaneity. Will people be sharing feelings? Not really—we speak and listen from the heart in council, but it’s more about storytelling. You can read more about council here

The Sunday Slowdown and Potluck Picnic

Sunday, May 5, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

The Sunday Slowdown is the new name for our evening service that blends the ancient and modern with words, music, art, bread, wine, and silence. Ms. Hollaway will preach, we’ll break real bread (not those little wafers) in the celebration of Communion, and Mr. Johnson, Mr. Perrin, and special guest students and parents will serve up some sounds to help us raise our voices in song. Bring a picnic dinner with a little extra to share, and we’ll dine at dusk on the church green. The service will start promptly at 5:30 p.m. Please arrive on time as we have to lock the Mears gate during the service. All are welcome.

8th Grade Rite of Passage Retreat

May 6 - 8 

A heads up that this retreat is coming down the pipeline on May 6 - 8. This year, we’re going to Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree. Look for details and permission forms in your inbox during spring break. Also note that later that week (Thursday, May 9) 8th Grade Students and Parents will be in council together following the 8th Grade Rite of Passage Retreat. 

ESLA Student Portraits Available Now! 

Thanks to our school’s amazing photographer, Lisa Whiteman, your student’s school portrait is available for purchase: print or download. If you are interested in purchasing your student’s portrait, please fill out the Google Form below and an email from Lisa detailing pricing and information will be sent your way!

For immediate questions, please email Emily Nuckols (

Athletics Update!

From Mark Zalin, Athletic Director:

Both Middle School and Upper School Student Athletes are representing ESLA at Venues all through the city this week.

  • Monday: Both Middle School and Upper School Track and Field practice @ FPCH

  • Tuesday: Upper School Track and Field practice, plus Lacrosse Clinic @ FPCH

  • Wednesday: Middle School Soccer vs. Kipp @ Pilgrim School, 5:00 p.m.

  • Thursday: Upper School Track and Field Prelims  @ Washington High, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m., plus Lacrosse Clinic @ FPCH

  • Friday: Middle School Track and Field meet at Culver City High 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Sincere thanks to all our drivers and supporters. ESLA student athletes love to see you at a game wherever they compete!

Go Coyotes!

The 2019-2020 Academic Calendar

Your 2019-2020 Academic Calendar is live! This includes all the key dates for our next academic year.

You can access this calendar anytime under the “My ESLA” tab.

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

Until next week,
—Will Litton