Thornhill Elementary PFC Newsletter

Volume 26, Issue 1, August 7, 2018

From the Principal

Dear families,

I am hopeful that everybody had a fun and rejuvenating summer. Perhaps you got out to nature and enjoyed California’s great parks. Or maybe you went to museums and camps or just enjoyed your backyard! Either way, we love to know. It’s always great to hear our kids re-tell their summer adventures and travels and learn about what excites them. If you are wondering about me, you’ll be glad to know I got in the water whenever I could and I am recharged.

Moving forward, I am excited to introduce to you our new 3rd grade teacher Kristy Van Ostrand. Kristy comes to us from Havens Elementary in Piedmont where she taught 5th grade. I am thrilled for us to have her as part of our team.

Another new staff member who I am excited to introduce to you is Bree Lancaster. Bree will be a part-time support staff member (stip sub) and is a long-time member of our community. She was formerly the PFC president.

Both Kristy and Bree’s bios are on the school website and will be on the hallway bulletin board, and you can read a bit more about them below.

A few reminders, see below for more details:

  • Always read the newsletter and Konstella and refer to the website as much as possible. The website calendar will be updated regularly.
  • The first two weeks are minimum days.
  • Back to School Night is Wednesday, August 22 from 6-7pm (adults only).
  • Friday Science Minimum Days (three this year) are November 2, February 1, and May 3.

We are so excited to see you all and welcome our new Thunderbirds. Have a great weekend and we will see you Monday, August 13 for the first day of school!


Mr. Daubenspeck



If you were unable to make it to registration on Monday or Tuesday this week, you can register your student on the first day of school starting at 8am (leave lots of time to park!). There is also registration time for new TK/K students only on Friday, August 10 from 10-11am, as part of their “Meet the Teacher” experience. To save time at registration, download and fill out the enrollment forms on the enrollment page of the school website. Also see the website for all the info you need about parking/drop off, bell times, and more.


Minimum Days - First Two Weeks of School

Please note that the first two weeks of school are all minimum days! The reason is a good one: teachers will be spending those afternoons doing small group assessments to make sure every child is set up for success for the year.


Back to School Night (Adults Only)

This year’s Back to School Night is Wednesday, August 22 from 6-7pm. Meet teachers and other parents, get a preview of the school year's major events, and more. Note: This is a no-children event, so please arrange for care for your child(ren).


Konstella Is Back!

For the second year, Thornhill will be using Konstella as the primary way to communicate with parents. If you’re new to Konstella, it’s a private community that allows you to communicate with teachers and other parents, and get the latest information about everything going on at school. You can get the app at, and it’s available for both desktop and mobile. You will be able to join your child’s new classroom(s) after you have registered at the school. Simply login to Konstella, and you will be prompted to select your child’s classroom. You can also join from the Settings Icon in the app or on the website. If you have a new child joining Thornhill, this section is where you can add them as well.


Enrichment Classes

There are a lot of great after-school enrichment classes planned for this year, including some exciting new options. Information will be available at school and on the website starting Monday, August 13, and registration begins that day.


Welcome New Staff!

A warm Thunderbird welcome to our new educators! We’ll let them introduce themselves.

Hi! I’m Kristy Van Ostrand (Ms. Van Ostrand or Ms. V) and I am the new third grade teacher here at Thornhill!! I couldn’t be more excited and lucky to be a part of this awesome community. All throughout Elementary School I dreamt about becoming a teacher; I would spend hours in my room “teaching” my students; who were really just my stuffed animals. The Christmas of fourth grade, the only gift I asked for was an overhead projector—for those of you too young to remember, it includes a lightbulb and projects onto the wall—and my mom got it for me! Less than 30 days after graduating from UC Berkeley, I entered the classroom in Piedmont, CA working in Special Education, while simultaneously pursuing my teaching credential at Notre Dame de Namur University on the Peninsula. After completing my credential, I was hired to teach fifth grade at Havens Elementary School. This summer I started my Masters in Teaching at Saint Mary’s College of California with a focus on arts integration and writing. As you can tell, I must have a passion for education or something because I can’t stop being a learner myself. However in my free time, I enjoy being outside, trying new restaurants, running, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. I am currently training to run the Chicago Marathon for my second time in October in support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Wish me luck! I can’t wait for a wonderful year!

My name is Bree Lancaster and I am excited to join the educational team at Thornhill this year. I spent a lot of time at the school from 2004 - 2013 while my two children were students. During that time, I enjoyed being involved in the community by volunteering in the classrooms and serving on the PFC Board. My son, Ben, is now a rising sophomore at UCLA and my daughter, Emma, is beginning her junior year at Bishop O’Dowd High School. I am definitely looking forward to returning to this wonderful school environment in a different role now as part of the staff! Before becoming a parent, I graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. I met my husband, Brian, at Cal and we were married a few years after graduation. I worked in the construction and consulting fields before choosing to stay home to raise our children. I have volunteered extensively during that time, mostly within the field of education, although Emma and I have spent many hours over the past 3 years walking dogs at the animal shelter in Berkeley as well! Mathematics has always been my favorite subject and I look forward to sharing that passion with the students at Thornhill. In addition to math and dogs, I love books, music, and spending time with family and friends!

Read Kristy and Bree's full bios in our Staff Spotlight.


Traffic & Safety 101

The morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up can be very busy times at Thornhill. In order to make the drop-off time as safe as possible for everyone in the neighborhood, please adhere to the following options in the morning. Detailed information, including how to park in the St. Johns Episcopal Church lot during school, can be found on the school website. Here are a few helpful guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • U-turns in front of the school are ILLEGAL. Go 200 yards north on Thornhill to Merriwood Dr. where the road is MUCH wider making it possible for a safe and legal place to make your U-turn.

  • NO double parking in front of the school.

  • NO parking is allowed on the East side of Thornhill Avenue between Alhambra Lane and Gouldin. This is a pedestrian through way and illegal parking here makes for an especially dangerous situation.

  • Do NOT park in front of the apartment buildings on Thornhill Drive. It is private property.

  • The white-painted curb is for student loading and unloading only. By law, the drop-off can take no longer than 3 minutes and the driver must stay with the car.

  • NO parking at a red curb. (Yes, people do this). It blocks the view of cars turning from Gouldin.

  • Always stop for pedestrians at any of the three crosswalks.

  • All TK and K parents need to park and be with their children on the playground until the first bell rings at 8:20am. Because of this, please do not park on Thornhill Drive in front of the school in the QuickDrop zone.



The website always has the latest calendar information, and here's what's coming up!

  • Monday, August 13th: First Day of School!
    • Welcome Back Coffee: After drop-off on the back patio. Join us!

  • Monday, August 13th - Friday, August 24th: Fall PFC Enrichment Registration Period

    • Enrichment class flyers and sign-up information will be available online and at school starting the morning of August 13th.

  • Monday, August 13th - Friday, August 24th: First two weeks of school (minimum days, TK/K: 1:10pm, 1-5: 1:25pm)

  • Wednesday, August 22nd: Back-to-School Night (6-7pm, adults only)

  • Monday, August 27th: PFC Meeting (6-6:40pm)

Be sure also to download the OUSD District calendar here and subscribe to our google calendar here.


And Finally...

Hi there. I’m your new newsletter editor, Evie Nagy. My daughter May McQuade is entering first grade, and I’m excited to pick this up from our previous Newsletter Chair and new PFC president, Rex Crum. The newsletter will land in your inbox every Tuesday (returning families note the change from Friday), and the new deadline for newsletter submissions is each Thursday at 3pm. You can reach out to me at any time at


About the Thornhill Newsletter

The Thornhill Parent-Faculty Club (PFC) eNews team publishes this weekly newsletter each Tuesday in the school year to communicate school, PFC and OUSD news, events and information.

Email submissions to our Newsletter Chair, Evie Nagy, at by 3 p.m. Thursday for approval, including Word or Text files, with links and no formatting, and photos preferably as 150 x 150, 72 dpi JPG or GIFs only (not embedded in email or word file). Submissions may be edited for spelling, grammar, brevity and clarity. Advertising and items not related to Thornhill are not accepted.

THANK YOU to everyone who submits articles and to PFC Board Members, Teachers, VP of Communications Erin Proudfoot, PFC President Rex Crum, and Principal Steve Daubenspeck. Member of Oakland Unified School District (OUSD).