Orion Gazette

May 24-ay 28

School Calendar

May 2021 School Calendar

May 25 Building a Positive School Culture #2 community meeting via zoom

May 26 School Site Council at 4:30 pm

May 26 7:00pm Guest Speaker for Mandarin Immersion Families-Elizabeth Weise

May 31 Memorial Day No School

June Calendar

June 3 PTO Elections

June 5 PTO Sponsored Variety Show

June 8 5pm Grade 5 Promotion Ceremony on site

June 10 Last Day of School-Early dismissal at 1:30 pm for DL and onsite instruction (This is new information)

Community Dialogue on School Culture

Tuesday, May 25th, 7-8:30pm

This is an online event.

Join Zoom Meeting https://rcsdk8-net.zoom.us/j/89194862843?pwd=OEVHMVRjWTFBN0NaS1dVcVMwVzc3dz09 Meeting ID: 891 9486 2843 Passcode: orion1 One tap mobile +16699006833,,89194862843#,,,,*640152# US (San Jose)

Mandarin Immersion Families - Special Guest Speaker Elizabeth Weise May 26 at 7:00pm

Elizabeth Weise (it rhymes with ‘geese’) is the mother of two daughters who has been in Chinese immersion since they began school in San Francisco. Both took college-level Chinese classes in high school and are finding Chinese useful in college. Weise’s book, A Parent’s Guide to Mandarin Immersion, is the how-to guide she wished she’d had when her kids began in immersion. She also edits the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council blog. Her day job is as a national correspondent for USA TODAY covering COVID-19 vaccines.

Join Zoom Meeting https://rcsdk8-net.zoom.us/j/88308011076?pwd=TlA2bTd6eitFZi90eHlRdVByUGJ1Zz09 Meeting ID: 883 0801 1076 Passcode: Mandarin

Field Day Possibility for June 7

We would like to hold a field day for students learning on-site, Monday, June 7 in the morning and we need parent volunteer support.

Field Day is an hour-long event for students to have fun with their classmates in the stable cohort outdoor activities.

Parent volunteers must be cleared through the district office with the parent volunteer packet. Please reach out to office manager Elizabeth Araiza at eariaza to find out if you are cleared to volunteer on-site.

Sign up here for a block of time to help set up or clean up the event and run the event with another parent volunteer.


Starship Update

Calendar of Events sponsored by the PTO: Dates

5/28 Read-A-Thon Ends - need $4k to fund STEAM

6/3 PTO Elections

6/5 Variety Show

6/7 Field Day

6/8 Graduation 5pm

Sign up here:

Read-A-Thon Fundraiser: May 10th-May 28th

We have extended our read-a-thon by one week because we did not meet our goal!

Not raising the remaining $4k will have a negative impact on our ability to implement STEAM integrated enrichment next year.

Please take the time to email, share on Facebook, or text some friends and family. This is our one big opportunity to allow friends and family to support our students. All other funding needs to be raised internally.

Use this link to Register your Reader: Register your Reader

Field Day Monday, June 7th!

Classes will be rotated through different field day stations throughout campus! This should be a fun event to celebrate and close out this eventful year!

Parent Volunteers are needed!

8:15-9:45 - Set up and field day event k-2

18 slots needed

9:45-11:15 field day event and clean up 3-5

10 needed

Sign up here: Field Day Volunteer Sign Up

Multicultural Updates:

Last week Principal Katherine presented our school's Multicultural studies to the school board. It was amazing to see the compilation of all the projects and activities held this year. Thank you, Katherine!

Flamingos are on the Move!

Friends all over town are getting “flocked” by Orion. Support Orion Parent Participation and Mandarin Immersion Programs while having a little pink flamingo fun! Donate and send a flock of pink flamingos to your friends’, family members', or neighbors’ front yard! Check out the website for details.


We will also begin flocking Orion with students’ fun decorated flamingos. Please pick up a flamingo to bedazzle in the office and bring it back to school to join the flock!

Last week’s assembly introduced the amazing Kenyan Photographer, Brian Otieno. Be on the lookout in the next two weeks for Kenyan wildlife popping up on campus!

Don’t forget to check out our website where we are posting all of the amazing resources.

PTO Special Listening Sessions:

Last week’s listening session was held for the Spanish-speaking, original John Gill families. Parents had the opportunity to share the impacts of the merger on their community in an intimate setting. Parents from other communities were limited in attendance to encourage candid sharing. A summary of the themes and notes on the speakers are shared below.

The summary was written by Heritage John Gill Community

Parents of three communities lived in an atmosphere of segregation and the children of these communities were the most affected. A very tense environment was experienced, as there were great changes from one moment to another with incomplete or late information. Unfortunately, this led to many students changing schools and even leaving the district. We, adults, focused so much on not losing our program (name of a school), that we lost the most important thing, the opportunity for integration, the opportunity to grow and make a single community stronger. As a John Gill community, we lost some programs that were a tradition for our students, such as:

  • Dance with Danny G, wait for the dance show, and enjoy an afternoon with our families.

  • Art, going to the Open House and seeing our children's artwork.

  • Gardening, knowing that they were being taught to care and respect for our planet and environment.

As the Orion community, they had great programs as well, but we saw more of an effort to preserve a name than to share the good they had to offer. These are the feelings of a community that at one time felt discrimination, a community that saw our children feel ignored by a group of new students.

As a community, we feel it is time to create a healthy environment for our students, to join our skills and start over, and learn from this bad experience.

Notes from John Gill Session:

Michelle Redmond, RCSD Parent Liason: Invites heritage John Gill parents to share their experiences with the transition, in Spanish, urges them to be open and courageous. Sets norms for participation - be attentive, respectful, don’t use the chat

Parent Speaker 1 (BM)

  • While she knows that the transition has affected parents, what she is most concerned about is how it has affected the students

  • Students had some bad experiences – they felt isolated; there was a lot of competition

  • They lost everything about their school in a moment – as did the Orion students

  • The loss is always going to be there – they lost their name, their song, garden, dance

  • It has affected her a lot to watch them suffer

  • Reads a letter from another parent:

When the district discussed closing John Gill’s English program, it was devastating to learn. Couldn’t the district see that many families in our school were already struggling to stay in this high-cost area? Some were staying with family to save on rent. Some parents worked multiple jobs. Some did both. Some families didn’t have cars and so could only walk to school. When the decision was made to close our English program and also to close Hawes, I did not know what many families at our school would do.

Some parent leaders and the principal of Orion came to our school to introduce their program to us. They explained that parent participation meant that every family must contribute some hours to the school to stay on campus. They would help us figure out how to get those hours. If we could not get the hours, the principal would meet with us to counsel us. While Orion's parent leaders and their principal tried to speak Spanish to us, it was clear they did not understand us. How would any of us from John Gill fit these extra hours into our schedules on top of all our daily life struggles?

With Hawes also closing, the closest district school was farther away uphill. Some friends sent their students to a charter school because their students get picked up by bus and they did not have to worry about schooling nor aftercare for their kids. Thankfully the district understood that the volunteer hours were impossible for us, so they allowed us to stay at our beautiful school without having to do them. But we still had to agree to participate at school, and Orion's parents made us feel bad when we could not volunteer at all events because we had to work.

We care deeply about the education our children receive. Yet, when Orion came to our campus, no more homework helped my kids learn.

When Orion came over to our school, Orion's parents told us how our school should be, but they never listened to us at all about what had worked at our beautiful school.

+ We had pride in our school, Eagle PRIDE.

+ We had a Multicultural Fair that represented everyone and allowed students to learn about more than 20 schoolmates’ cultures and countries.

+ We had teachers that cared about our students and knew them. We were lucky our teachers got to stay, but they had to listen to Orion about how to do their work even though they already knew what worked with our students.

Orion parents who came to our school were also complaining all the time about our school. I’m tired of listening to the complaints. Can they focus on how we can improve the academics to support our students instead?

Also, I heard that Orion's parents had approached MI's parents to write a joint letter to the district asking for Orion to move to our campus. MI's parents did not join this letter because they did not understand how this was good for all John Gill students, including ours.

Orion's parents do not understand our students and their needs at John Gill. What can we do to fix things?

Teacher Speaker 1

  • One day – they sat us down and said that we wouldn’t jobs anymore, that JG was going to close – we’d have to look for open positions

  • This was with all the other teachers in the district who were affected.

  • We ended up having to apply for our

  • The situation was really difficult. I was super depressed.

  • I was also worried about the students – so I acted like everything was okay. Students listen to other people on campus and their parents.

  • It was a really, really difficult environment to work in – it was not fun to come to work.

  • All the teachers are great with each other now - Orion, JG, and MI.

Parent Speaker 2 (CS):

  • Has been a part of the school community for 10 years

  • Started as a volunteer

  • Saw the school’s – the teacher’s - capacity. Ms. Rivera put in a lot of work. But then the teachers were going to have to leave

  • Did a site visit with 7 other Heritage Gill at the Heritage Orion site to see the program and serve as an ambassador for the other Gill parents.

  • She was disappointed about classroom management and the math instruction in grade 3 - did not seem rigorous compared to what she saw her child doing in grade 3.

  • The district said if you want to stay in this school, you have to do volunteer hours. If you don’t sign it, you have to go to another school.

  • I can do the volunteer hours – but a lot of parents can’t.

  • I wrote a letter to the district – saying this is not right, but when the district came to our school to explain that, many parents left.

  • I went to a PTO meeting, they came and said, tomorrow we’re going to change the name – no email, nothing.

  • There was going to be two programs

  • It felt like discrimination

  • Nothing came to us about the change

  • We lost a lot of parents, a lot of the parents who used to volunteer with me at John Gill – they left. it was really sad and frustrating.

  • Dance, art, garden – they don’t exist anymore

    • The John Gill parents – we didn’t have a lot of money to give to but did figure out how to have those things

    • Some things were lost – we had good ideas…

    • It was like we were – they were so worried about their name change

    • We wasted lots of energy on the name change

Parent Speaker 3 (AM):

  • In her daughter’s first year at Orion, she came home and said, “The new kids from Orion don’t talk to me.”

  • Tried to tell her, you are just as good. Our kids reflect what we do.

  • There was a lot of separation and it hurt.

  • Why didn’t we include the two communities in the name, all of the decisions?

  • The song that we sang – it’s not there anymore.

  • It was about respect, valor

  • It’s frustrating

  • We should put energy into what makes our school good for the kids

Summary in Spanish

En resumen, los padres de 3 comunidades vivieron un ambiente de segregación, y los niños de tres comunidades fueron los más afectados. Se vivió un ambiente muy tenso, pues fueron grandes cambios de un momento a otro y una información incompleta o tardía. Desafortunadamente esto dio pie a que muchos estudiantes cambiaran de escuela, e incluso salieran del distrito. Los adultos nos enfocamos tanto en no perder nuestro programa (Nombre de una escuela), que perdimos lo más importante, la oportunidad de una integración, la oportunidad de crecer y hacer más fuerte una sola comunidad. Como comunidad de John Gill, perdimos algunos programas que eran tradición para nuestros estudiantes, tales como:

  • Danza con Danny G, esperar por el show de danza y disfrutar de una tarde con nuestras familias.

  • Artea, ir a un Open house y ver el arte de nuestros hijos, tener ese dibujo, o esa figura de cerámica hecha por ellos.

  • Jardinería, el saber que se le está enseñando a cuidar y plantar, que tienen el respeto hacia nuestro planeta y medio ambiente.

Como comunidad de Orión, tienen otros grandes programas, pero vimos más un esfuerzo para conservar un nombre, que para compartir lo bueno que tienen para ofrecer. Esto es el sentimiento de una comunidad que en un momento sintió discriminacion, una comunidad que vio como nuestros hijos se sintieron ignorados por un grupo de nuevos estudiantes.

Como comunidad, estamos a tiempo de crear un ambiente sano para nuestros estudiantes, unir nuestras habilidades y comenzar de nuevo, partiendo de esta mala experiencia.

Final PTO Special Session

Our final listening session will be from the perspective of the current teachers and staff. We thank everyone who has participated so far and we look forward to the next steps in restoring and nourishing our school community.

7-8pm Topic: What has been your experience with the schools merging?

Tuesday, June 1 -- From the perspective of the current teachers and staff

PTO Budget and Fundraising

Paypal Link for Donations: https://www.paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/2207235

We voted to pass the proposed budget on May 13th. One small change was made. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Please Review the approved Budget for 2021-2022 PTO Budget

Please review the school-wide budget survey: 2021-2022 Budget Survey

PTO Elections

Elections will be held on June 3rd at 7:30pm

There are plenty of positions to fill and we welcome participation from everyone! If you are interested in a position but aren’t sure which one, please take the opportunity to look over the current Starship PTO structure here which may change as the schools’ needs evolve. Structure of PTO: Roles and Responsibilities

Here are the overview slides from last week’s PTO orientation for new and interested families.

If you are interested in a position, we would be so happy to have you nominate yourself by emailing Starship@orionschool.org. Nominations are due May 24th.

Variety Show June 5th, 6:00 pm

We are excited to host a virtual Variety Show and Fund-a-Need community event on June 5th. Students will have the opportunity to submit video entries to be streamed live. Entries can be anything! Musical performances, jokes, magic tricks, etc.

Child Nutrition

Schoolsdistributing meals: Adelante Selby, Garfield, Hoover, & Kennedy

April 14, 2021 - June 30, 2021 WEDNESDAYS

11:00 am to 12:30 pm:


(Please use the Washington Ave. parking lot to visit Kennedy)7


once a week

pick up for all meals

on Wednesdays!

Can't come by Wednesdays or don't have room for 7 days of meals? Please call 650-482-2279 for special arrangements to pick up meals.

Please note:

Distribution schedules may vary by school site.

All families welcome regardless of income or school child attends Free meals are available to children 18 years old and younger No meal card is required

Students do not have to be present

Anyone in the household can pick up meals

Breakfast, lunch, supper & snack!