Thornhill Elementary PFC Newsletter

Volume 27, Issue 32, April 14, 2020

In This Issue...


New Distance Learning Page on Thornhill Website

We know you are getting a ton of information. We tried to pull the main pieces together on our Thornhill website on the new Distance Learning page. This includes the "main" google doc with links to your classrooms, PE resources, music resources, and more. You can find it from under the "Learning" tab. Thanks to webmaster Ei-Lun for quickly putting this together!!!


From the Principal

Dear Thunderbird families,

I want to thank you for your patience during these uncertain times. I am well aware that it's been hard on many of our families and students and I'm proud of how our teachers and community have positively dealt with this blow to our humanity. Many of you are working while trying to teach your kids and additionally trying to maintain some level of balance and routine amidst an ever-changing landscape. I know the airwaves at home are cluttered with Zoom conference calls as we juggle moving from room to room and not interfering with a family member’s video conference. Here at home, my wife Jessica does her online teaching of her students at both San Rafael and Albany schools and it's challenging and exciting to see so many kids learning. We can all see both the benefits of technology and the challenges of too much of it.

Today I'm elated with the summer-like weather and just enjoyed a Thornhill Leadership Team meeting with teachers outside... something I never thought any of us would be doing. So hang in there and be creative with your setups... I set up my office outside among the birds and the bees.

Speaking of bees, I thought I'd tell you a little story of what has been happening at my home in West Contra Costa County. While we were on spring break, a swarm of bees landed in our plum tree just off the deck of the house...maybe I am a little bit afraid of bees...I got a little nervous as they swarmed loudly above our tree around our yard and deck. The buzz of a swarm of bees is a very enticing sound yet I am aware I need to get inside the house. Jessica was gardening very close to the bees and I asked her to come in—which she stubbornly did as the bees got more erratic and unpredictable.

Whose bees are these?

At first I thought it was my neighbor's bees—my neighbor Adela has a beehive and we buy honey from her every year. After a few texts and calls we found out it wasn't hers, but a swarm looking for a new home. When a swarm is looking for a new home, the scout bees go and look for a home while the others stay with the queen bee. We called the beekeeper to come and he climbed a ladder with his bee outfit (I love the space-age look of a bee outfit!). He removed the hive and took them to San Pablo Bay where he has some other hives. He said we had around 15,000 bees...not sure how he counted them all! I was happy to know that the bees were well taken care of by a beekeeper who wants to support them in their pollination and not necessarily for making money selling honey.

Mr. Daubenspeck's Bees

Fast forward 10 days and ANOTHER swarm of bees landed in the same tree. At this point I was no longer nervous but excited that this could be an opportunity for me to learn more about bees. I called The Beekeeper out again and we used an oak barrel cut in half to create a space for a hive. The bees were very calm and I thought “I’m okay with this” and in no rush to send them off to another neighborhood.

I thought how cool, bees came to my house twice, are they trying to tell me something? I thought before we give this batch away maybe we should try to make a home for them. My neighbor agreed, and knowing very little about bees, I innocently walked into this endeavor. I would wake up very early and have coffee within a few feet of the barrel--they were very calm and weren’t bothering me. Then I got a call from my neighbor, who was a little upset. She said “Your bees are attacking my bees and stealing my bees’ honey, did you feed your bees??” Sheepishly said I did not know what I needed to do, I thought I had a few days grace--so she helped me get some sugar water and we're hoping that they will get their own food and stop raiding my neighbor's bees honey. Now being very protective of my new friends, I felt bad that my bees were not being good bees. My neighbor and I will be having a meeting to discuss if I should keep them or not, and perhaps if I do she will teach me how to keep bees. I also know Mr. Thompson is a huge beekeeper and has offered to help me.

I just wanted to share this story of what happened in my backyard, and if you want me to keep you updated let your child's teacher know. I am hoping that these bees, my new friends, do the right thing and are nice to our neighbors. I also thought perhaps as a family you can discuss with your children the importance of bees to our existence.

Moving on, I've been sad in the last couple weeks. The amazing songwriters Bill Withers and John Prine both passed away. Both of these musicians were legends, and I found some time to hear more of their music and learn about their lives, which I highly encourage.

I miss you all and everything about our rich and vibrant community. Hang in there--this too shall pass.


Mr. Daubenspeck


Still Time To Win Wine!

We are still selling raffle tickets for 2 chances at a mixed case of wine (12 bottles!) hand selected by our own Master Sommelier Sara Floyd. Each ticket is $75 and gets you into the drawing for a case of delicious wine. (You can buy an unlimited number of raffle tickets, but 1 person/family can't win both cases.)

1 ticket. 2 chances. Average bottle value is $50+ so this is a steal… the case is worth over $600!!

Raffle tickets are on sale now through this Friday, April 17 at 5pm. We will do the drawing LIVE on Zoom during our 5pm Thornhill Happy Hour. After we pick 1 winner… we’ll give you one more chance to buy another ticket for the second case! This will be around 5:15pm if all goes as planned.



Weekly Virtual Happy Hour - Fridays at 5pm

Join us some or all Fridays at 5pm to "chat on the yard" with fellow Thornhill parents, teachers, and staff on Zoom. Keep the Thunderbird connection strong and stay sane during this crazy time. We hope to see you! Here’s the information on Konstella.

SPECIAL THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 17! We'll do the live online raffle pick for the 2 cases of wine - don't miss it!


Write A Letter To Make the Environment Better!

For the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, Thornhill's Green Team is asking each student to write to OUSD's Superintendent and Board of Education District Director telling them to prioritize sustainability and climate change education across all Oakland Public Schools.

Parents, will you help your child write a hand-written letter to OUSD officials advocating for climate action? Receiving hundreds of hand-written letters from students will make a huge impact (and, in this case, is a good use of our trees!). Our goal is to generate 500 letters. If you have friends at other schools please pass this message on!

A sample letter with suggested areas for action is provided below, but feel free to write about whatever issue is most concerning to you. It’s very important to include how living with the threat of climate change makes you feel. Artwork is encouraged!

Text a photo of your letter to 703-231-8955 so the organizer can keep a tally of how many letters we are collectively sending.


Mail letters to:

Office of the Superintendent

Oakland Unified School District

1000 Broadway, Suite 680

Oakland, CA 94607

SAMPLE LETTER (Modify as needed):

Dear Superintendent Johnson-Trammell and Director Gary Yee,

When I think about climate change, I feel….

We must (Pick one):

use less plastic at school because…

waste less food because…

use less energy and get solar panels because…

plant more trees at school because…

use less water at school because…

learn more about climate change in school because...

How will you help us make these changes?

Thank you,

Student Name




PFC Meeting + Minutes + Budget

Thank you to the parents, teachers, and staff who joined us for our Zoom PFC meeting last night where we had an important conversation about our budget for 2020-2021 (check out all the meeting minutes on Konstella here). Next year could be a very different world than we had prior to shelter-in-place, and the PFC may have to make some unfortunate budget cuts in order to support the school effectively. We brought in less money in the Spring and we are expecting less money from OUSD in the fall. We are working very hard to make a good budget and thank everyone in advance for your generosity to come.


String Music Zoom Time with Ms. Green

Our grades 3-5 music director, Linda Green, is hosting weekly music zoom get-togethers with Thornhill students by grade. Below are the dates/times. Links were sent directly from Ms. Green.

3rd: Thursdays at 2:30pm

4th - Novak: Thursdays at 11am

4th - Gustafson: Thursdays at 11:30am

5th: Thursdays at 1:30pm

Happy Stringing Thunderbirds! Questions? Email Ms. Green at


Putting the Yay! In Stay Home

We asked Thornhill families to send photos of your quarantine adventures so far, no explanations needed. To submit photos for future issues, email We'll be here.


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 8 p.m. Thursday for approval—nothing sent after this will be included in the following week’s newsletter unless there are extremely compelling extenuating circumstances. It’s fine to include text in the body of the email with links and no formatting, and attach 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, as we need to keep the newsletter focused on need-to-know info for the community.

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).