The Franklin Academy

All School Franklin Academy Update for May 11 - May 15

Intentional Learning Continues - Science at Home!

The 2nd Grade Releases Butterflies!

Mrs. Schmidt and Mrs. L's second grade classes have been learning about the butterfly life cycle for their science unit! Over Zoom, students have watched caterpillars grow, hang in their "J" shapes, transform into pupae, and finally emerge into butterflies.

The second graders have been very enthusiastic about this project and have even given these delightful insects creative names. Click through the photos to see pictures of Kim, Mariposa, Jeffy, Larry, and Fuji - there's even a video of Fuji coming out of her chrysalis!

Mrs. Schmidt's 2nd Grade Class - Butterfly Emerges!

Early Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Pickerill shares the "Walking Water" Experiment!

A quick colorful experiment to try at home.

I am so impressed to see how she can teach and parent at the same time!

Mrs. Pickerill, our Early Kindergarten Preschool Teacher, has a fun experiment for you!

Science at home! Check out these cool experiments!

Ms. Miller shared this:

"Students in grades 5, 6, and 8 were challenged to select an experiment from to complete at home.

Students explored chemistry, physics, and biology using everyday materials they had around the house. Ice cream, lava lamps, floating boats, and hilarity resulted!"

Springtime Celebrations!

Spring is a time for celebrating! Many of us celebrated Easter last month, but how many of you know what other holidays are being celebrated by our own Franklin Academy families this time of year? Over the next few weeks we will get a glimpse into Passover, Ramadan, Nowruz, and Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations.

One of the great things about our diverse and inclusive school is how much we can learn from each other. We are excited to celebrate the varying religious and cultural identities of all of the families at The Franklin Academy. As we learn about others, our lives are enriched.

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Passover - A Look at Traditions

Passover is my favorite holiday of the year...

Hello, my name is Sarah Witte, and I am mum to Nate, Remy and Gabriel in grades 5 and 6, and also to Elizabeth, who will be joining you at Franklin in grade 3 in September.

Our family is Jewish, so every year in the spring we celebrate Passover, the holiday when we remember the time when Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt, where they had been slaves.

Passover is my favorite holiday of the year. My kids think I am crazy since many of our other holidays have much better food, and in fact, observing Passover involves not eating certain foods and having to eat a flat cracker-like bread called matzah instead. But Passover is the moment every year when I feel most proud to be Jewish, and when I feel most joyful and grateful for the life I get to lead and the freedoms I enjoy.

Passover is all about freedom. The story goes like this: the Hebrews ended up in Egypt because of drought and famine and the help they received when Joseph and his brothers were reunited there. Many years and generations passed and the Hebrews grew in number until the Egyptians felt threatened by them. The pharaohs made them slaves to keep them under control and their lives were miserable. Even that wasn’t enough and one of the pharaohs ordered that all newborn Hebrew baby boys should be killed. One woman, Yocheved, was determined to save her infant son, so she made a watertight basket and set him adrift in it on the Nile, hoping he would have a chance to live.

This baby was Moses, and he was found by the daughter of the Pharaoh and raised as a prince in the royal household. When he grew up, he discovered that he was really a Hebrew and ran away, distressed at the terrible lives the poor Hebrews suffered.

God showed Moses a burning bush and spoke to him, sending him back to Egypt to lead the Hebrews to freedom. Moses went back but Pharaoh refused to release the slaves. It took 10 plagues (terrible experiences that the Egyptians suffered) before Pharaoh finally relented and said the Hebrews could be free. The plague which finally convinced him, the last one, was the death of the firstborn, where all the firstborn children in the Egyptian households died. The Hebrews painted the lintels of their doors with lamb’s blood, so that the Angel of Death would know to “pass over” those homes.

Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt and through the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea as they fled from the Egyptians chasing them. They left so quickly and with so little warning, they did not even have time to let their bread rise, which is where we get our tradition of eating the flat bread, matzah. From there the Hebrews wandered in the desert for 40 years until they finally arrived in their promised land, a place we now call Israel.

This escape from Egypt is what we remember every year at this time, retelling the story and asking ourselves what freedoms we appreciate in our own lives today. We also remember those who are still not free, in many different ways.

It is also a time to remember the importance of hope. Think of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, hoping for freedom, and having the courage to fight for it in the face of what must have seemed insurmountable odds. Powerless slaves against a Pharaoh and his entire army? If they could overcome that, imagine what challenges we are capable of overcoming!

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The kids and Murray, our dog, at our Seder this year.

Retelling the story is the main focus of the service...

Passover, or “Pesach” in Hebrew, lasts for 8 nights (Jewish holidays always begin in the evening). It starts with a special meal called the Seder, a word which means “order”. This meal is a kind of service interspersed with traditions and traditional foods representing different parts of the story. We do many things to make it “a night different from all other nights”. Retelling the story is the main focus of the service and the foods remind us of the bitter sorrows of slavery: parsley in salt water to represent tears, a paste made of apples and walnuts to remind us of the mortar used to make bricks, horseradish to represent bitterness, the shank bone of a lamb to remember the lamb’s blood on the lintels, etc. We dip our pinkies in wine and recite the plagues. We drink reclining to signify that we are no longer slaves. There are also traditional foods that celebrate the rebirth of spring, such as a roasted egg. Jews in different parts of the world have different recipes and main dishes, but all with common themes and in the same order, and served in courses as part of the service. Our family has chicken soup with matzah balls, gefilte fish, and brisket for the main meal. At the end of the Seder, the children of the family are invited to hunt for a hidden piece of matzah called the “afikomen”, and the child who finds it receives a prize.
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Meaningful table decorations and books...

Things on the table help us celebrate Passover. Note the Seder plate (hiding behind the kiddush cups (wine goblets), the Hagaddahs (books leading us through the service) and decorations on the table to represent some of the plagues. In the background, we are ceremonially washing hands.
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Our Seder last year. Note how many more people were there!

Special food and a hunt similar to how many children hunt for Easter eggs...

For the 8 days of Passover, we follow special dietary restrictions. We eat more matzah than we want to look at, and we don’t eat any flour, grains or legumes (beans), which collectively we call “chametz”. Without going into the details of what foods are and are not allowed, the general idea is that we don’t eat anything that would cause the food to rise, remembering the hurry we were in when we left Egypt. In fact, to prepare for the arrival of Passover, we clean out our cupboards and fridges to get rid any of the foods not allowed. This actually is a tradition that grew out of the springtime festivals that preceded Passover, where the old grains were thrown away before the new harvest was reaped so that the old could not contaminate the new. Think of it as the origins of spring cleaning! In our tradition, parents hide bits of “chametz”, and children hunt for them with a wooden spoon, a feather and a candle, similarly to how many children today hunt for Easter eggs.

This idea of “hunting” for something is not the only thing that might seem familiar to people who celebrate Christian holidays. The word “Pesach”, the Hebrew word for Passover, is the root for the “Paschal” lamb used in Christian traditions. Many Christians have the tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (the day before the start of Lent). Pancakes are pretty flat! Hmm, sounds a lot like the matzah at the Seder I’ve been telling you about!

Another common theme is that all three monotheistic (only one God) religions have periods of restrictions: Jews have Passover, Christians have Lent and Muslims have Ramadan. These traditions have related original roots. More about that in a minute.

This year, our Passover celebration was very different from how it usually is. Normally we have many people over to our home and it feels like a big party, with children running everywhere looking for the afikomen. Not this year! This year it was just the six of us, and much quieter and calmer. Of course, we are in a quarantine because of the coronavirus.

Remember I said that several different religions have these periods of restrictions? People often give up something for Lent, which lasts 40 days. This can feel like a long time. The bible often describes a long period as 40 of something: 40 days, 40 years, etc. For example, Noah and his Ark floated in the flood for 40 days. The Hebrews wandered in the desert for 40 years. Was it really exactly 40? Probably not, but I’m sure it felt long! Did you know that our word “quarantine” comes from this idea? The word “quarantine” comes from the Latin root for the word 40. A quarantine can feel like a really long time!

In fact, in some ways the quarantine helps remind us about freedoms we might not think about all the time. Freedom to move around, freedom to be with our friends, freedom to go to schools and shops and other places we normally take for granted. These are the freedoms I thought about this year at Passover, and that I look forward to having again, and that I wish for all of us, especially those whose burdens are far greater than this.

If you would like to learn more, the animated Dreamworks movie “The Prince of Egypt” is an excellent resource for younger children. Middle school aged kids may find it interesting to learn about actual geologic events which coincided with the historical events of the Exodus and may provide explanation for some of the miracles. For this, see “Exodus Decoded” on youtube. Another excellent, if older, movie is Cecil B. deMille’s “The Ten Commandments."

Sarah Witte

Thank you Sarah for this look into your family's traditions!

Ershig House Lunch Catch Up!

Ershig House met for lunch to catch up. We wore our colors (red), ate together, and met our pets. Hoping to enjoy lunch together on Wednesdays. Ershigers, see you all next time, come join us!
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Yearbook is asking students for specific photos to emailed to

  • Photos of you and your siblings in your HOUSE t-shirts

  • Photos of you in your activity hoodies (House Council, Yearbook, Chess, etc.)

  • Photos of what you are doing during quarantine

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Students Grade 2-8 Do you need more books from the library???

I know a number of you have voracious readers, and I'd like to offer up another round of library book drop off before we return all books on June 15 and 16.

If you can send me an email this week to with your students' requests for particular titles, authors, or topics, I can put together plastic bags of books next Saturday and then begin doing no-contact deliveries for your family.

Once I receive an email from you, I may have a few follow up questions so that I hopefully don't send books they have already read, or books that are too far above or below their reading level. I will also send you an email/text when I plan to head out to your house to drop off books.

Studies are showing that the virus does not survive long on paper and cardboard (about 24 hours), so by the time you receive your bag of books, they should be fine to use. I am also practicing social distancing at our home, and will put together the book bags using hand sanitizer and will deliver them with a mask on and more hand sanitizer.

Additionally, I am available over email to offer book ideas if you are looking to purchase books online or are using ebooks for your student.

Please know that I am in the trenches with you, with a second grader and a pre-k student. Solidarity, fellow parents and caregivers!

Thanks, Treasure Samuel, Markell Hall Librarian

Guess Who! Can you match the teacher or staff member with their picture from childhood?

Were you able to guess who was who? Great Job! Enjoy a few more this week.

Welcome to "Deep Thoughts with Chaplain Aaron!"

Hello staff, students, and parents of Franklin Academy!

This week in "Deep Thoughts with Chaplain Aaron" we will think about our love of family. I love the book, "The Kissing Hand," and share it with you. The Discussion Question this week is: What are your favorite ways to show love with your family?" And, the Weekly Service Challenge is to create and deliver something to show your love for someone you love. Have a great week!

Franklin May 10

A Sample of Fun Learning Videos!

Our wonderful teachers are sending out classwork to their individual classes and many are sharing their talents over YouTube! Enjoy a story, work on a science experiment with Mrs. Ho, art with Mrs. Richcreek, math lessons from Mr. Hedahl, or hone your recorder skills with Mrs. Snyder!
Sing-along with Mrs. Snyder our Music Specialist! "Take Me Out to the Ball Game!"
Mrs. Ho, our wonderful preschool teacher, reads "Mom's School" Happy Mother's Day!
Markell Hall Librarian Mrs. Samuel reads Edward Tulane Part 6
"On Top of Spaghetti," a read aloud with Mrs. Snyder!
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Amazon Smile

If you shop at, this is a great opportunity to raise money for Franklin Academy. Sign up at Amazon Smile and 0.5% of your purchase price will go towards the FA Annual Fund. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Amazon Smile
  2. In the “pick your own charitable organization” box type in Franklin Preschool
  3. Click on the Bellingham Franklin Academy (may still be listed under St. Paul’s Episcopal School through the summer)
  4. Very Important! Please make sure whenever you shop on Amazon you go to the Amazon Smile webpage. If you shop on we won’t receive the donation.

Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 Newsletters - Click Below

The Franklin Academy Calendar

Daily Details and Yearly Calendars for This School Year and the 2020-21 School Year

The Franklin Academy

A supportive community with STEM focused education in a safe, small class environment for all grades.

The Franklin Academy Points of Contact

Gretchen Bucsko, Head of School:

Katie den Hartog, Associate Head of School,

Dawn Regier, Administrative Assistant,

Rachel Lee, Administrative Assistant,

Sue Ann Crockett, Administrative Assistant,

Theresa Wines, Registrar,

Natalie Bennett, Admissions Director,

Intentional Learning Continues!