ESLA Family Newsletter, April 9, 2019

All right, friends. Clean the sleep from your eyes, splash your face with cold water, and scream into the mirror at the top of your lungs. We’re back from Spring Break, and there are eight weeks until graduation!


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.

Tijuana Trip Recap!

From Amanda Valenzuela, Upper School Coordinator:

This spring break, over the course of four days, Ms. Contreras, Ms. Valenzuela, and twelve students from La Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica and the Service Council traveled with unbounded courage across our southern border with Mexico to experience daily life in Tijuana and gather stories about migrants and migration. Indeed, through their engagement and service with California Border Patrol, Deported Veterans Support House, Dreamer Moms, and Casa Del Migrante, this group learned about the journeys of immigrants and deportees from a variety of perspectives. We are happy to report back to the community that, by all accounts, the experience was beautiful, transformational, and affirmational. The roads, lined with massive wildflower blooms.

Every member of our group spoke Spanish fearlessly… and we talked with everyone we encountered including an exiled teacher from Ghana, police and military personnel, volunteers, valets, domestic laborers, cooks and waiters, kids, fellow travelers, artisans, docents, vendors, baristas, pharmacists, migrants, bureaucrats, deportees. The value of these connections will be evident to you when you ask an ESLA traveler to share a story about their trip--and each of us has returned with unique stories, so do ask around.  

Ask about the tortas and open-faced quesadillas, or how to order al gusto “con todo,” “sin chile,” and “con una Fanta.” Ask about the fully-personalized above-ground cemeteries with handwritten grave markers and succulent planters. Inquire about how we hacked the Mexican traffic circle and stop sign--how, as it turns out, the “Alto” (Stop) sign is a mere suggestion...! Ask about the experience of doing mental currency exchanges with vendors, or discovering new fruits and games at El Mercado Hidalgo. Ask what was it like to explore grocery and convenience stores for tasty snacks. Ask what’s written on the border wall in Playas de Tijuana. Ask how they cared for one another or about the friendships that grew. Find out what a confetti egg is.

--Was the giant Jesus statue as big as you had imagined?
--Even bigger!

We tread upon Mexican soil lightly and joyfully and people took notice. Tourists approached us. Strangers welcomed us. Nearly everywhere we went, stray dogs came out to greet us and remind us of home. You were there, too. And we want to thank you, our ESLA community for supporting their journey with your generous donations, prayers, money, and trust in our group’s impact; ultimately, endeavors like these require the full community’s support and we certainly had it!

The full list of thank yous is long, but let’s give it a shot: to Ilyana Contreras for co-organizing and chaperoning this adventure; to Karla Aguíñiga for directing us to Taquería Franc and caring for our students’ wellbeing; to the Aguíñiga family for hosting us and welcoming future travelers; to Ms. Hollaway for generously helping to fund this journey and giving it the blessing at every turn; to the members of the Service Council for always showing up ready to lend a hand to neighbors you’ve never met; to our student GPS navigators for riding shotgun in the minivans; to the members of La Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica for lending vision and form to the trip at all stages; to Martin Serrano for helping us gather our donations, Wednesday morning, at the 11th hour; to the staff at Hotel Palacio Azteca for their warmth and accommodation; to Agents Hernandez, Reedy, Gonzalves, Stopper, and Gulley at California Border Patrol for answering our questions and humanizing the experience of CBP; to Yolanda at Dreamer Moms for giving us the opportunity to serve her organization in an ongoing capacity from Los Angeles; to Liz and Valeria at Casa del Migrante for making space for us and allowing us to help; to Hector Barajas at Deported Veterans for helping coordinate our donation drive and the ongoing relationship we are working to maintain with the Deported Veterans Support House; to the folks at Enterprise Rent-A-Car for letting us take two, very sweet minivans across the border; to the Chou family, the Chinlund family, the Black family, Hugo Monterosa, the Rader family, and the Walton family for your generous donations of food, goods, technology, and cash. Thank you to Steph Zalin for logistical and administrative support. Thank you to Mr. Peter McCormack for your support and for trusting us, Ms. Contreras and Ms. Valenzuela, with 12 ESLA students in Mexico! Thank you to our ESLA colleagues, parents, and students who have cheered us on throughout our planning and execution of this trip. Lives were changed, walls were shattered, and the fire for social justice burns as brightly as ever. We can’t wait to do this again! Muchas gracias a todos!

ESLA’s first annual Science Fair was a huge success! Thanks to all who planned and participated.

Spring College Info Session TOMORROW!

An invite from Kristen Johnson and the College Counseling Team:

We’re very excited to kick off the college process with the Class of 2020! The College Counseling Team will be hosting our annual Spring College Information Session from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., TOMORROW, April 10 in Mears Hall on the FPCH campus. This is our deep dive into the process and timeline for rising seniors and their families. Additionally, we will distribute the new College Handbook and review. We will also be hosting a small reception following the meeting where students and parents will be able to ask some of our graduating seniors questions about their experience with the college process. 

Most importantly, we will have a signup sheet for the spring family meetings. All Juniors and their parents begin the process with a 45-minute individual meeting with all of the college counselors. These are currently on the calendar during the weeks of April 15 and April 22. We will have a more detailed calendar with time slots for you to sign up for at Wednesday’s meeting.

It is incredibly important for all juniors and their families to attend this meeting. We provide a detailed overview of what the next year will hold, and we review the materials each family should prepare for their individual meeting. Even though we don't officially begin the college process until the spring of junior year, we also welcome all students in 8th, 9th, and 10th grade and their families to attend so they can get a better picture of what the college process might look like for them. That said, juniors and their families have priority in questions and information, but we encourage anyone looking for a bit of clarity about what can be a daunting process to join us.

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. I am looking forward to seeing you all again and getting to know the Class of 2020!

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Save the dates for Annie!

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.

Notes from the Chaplaincy

Some important notes from your Chaplain, Megan Hollaway:

Parent Council

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. 

Athletics Update!

From Coach Zalin:

Welcome Back! Many ESLA Student Athletes  enjoyed their break and kept their games fine tuned as they prepared for the final stretch of the spring season.

MS Track and Field got a head start on the competition with a Track meet at Palisades Charter this past Sunday! The team continues workouts on Monday and Wednesday after school 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. at FPCH.

Fresh off a very successful early meet season, highlighted by a number of individual and team bests and three ESLA school records, the Upper School Track and Field Team hits the ground running with practices this Monday and Wednesday at FPCH, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m., and a meet Thursday at Washington High School, 12:30 - 3:00 p.m.

LAX clinics continue on Tuesday and Thursdays after school at FPCH. It is our hope to have the current crop of MS LAX players  transition to the Upper School and enable ESLA to field a competitive CIF Girls Lacrosse team next year.

The MS Coed Soccer Team continues practice throughout the week and has a game this Friday at Pilgrim at 4:00 p.m. Sincere thanks to our parent drivers!

Open Gym Basketball and Volleyball continue after school in the Gym at FPCH for those aspiring to play on an ESLA competitive team, or just to have fun with their friends. Many players are honing their skills in anticipation of another Volleyball playoff run in both Middle School and Upper School, as well as the always exciting ESLA Basketball teams.

Sincere thanks to our ESLA coaching staff. They put in the time to ensure our student athletes represent ESLA with sportsmanship and always with generosity, integrity, curiosity, and courage.

Something for Everyone! Go Coyotes! Awoooooooooooo! 

Seventh Grade Roads to Respect

From Laura Spencer and Jay Johnson, to Parents of Seventh Grade Students: 

This week, ESLA is offering Roads to Respect, a program designed and facilitated by the UCLA–Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center to prevent peer sexual harassment. You may read more about the program here and contact Jay Johnson or Laura Spencer if you have any questions.

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

Until next week,
—Will Litton