The first thing many of us think of when hearing this next Senior’s name is Hockey, Hockey, and more Hockey! I’ve know Vadim since the 3rd grade and let me tell you folks, He’s a lot more than just Hockey. A twister, that used to erupt through the courtyard and Hayden Hall, he has mastered the ability to control his emotions, co-exist with his classmates, always showing the best in sportsmanship. What makes me most proud of Vadim, is his ability to accept and advocate for his learning differences, to become the best he can be. And don’t forget he’s a heck of a Hockey Player. It’s my pleasure to introduce: Vadim W.!!
Each graduating senior was asked to present a speech at Commencement 2017 describing his/her Stanbridge experience. This is Vadim's story. Below read a transcript of P.E. Teacher Mark Kelley's introduction:
I came to Stanbridge in sixth grade. Before coming to Stanbridge I was at a school called “Alpha Beacon." I fit in like trying to put a square in a circle hole. My level of learning was just not there. I came to Stanbridge, which was the right and easy call. My school life was so much better.
My math and reading skills have grown a lot. Understanding what I’m reading is now easier. My homework is easier now that I understand what I’m doing. Even if I need help on the homework I don’t feel judged for asking for help.
I would like to thank all the people who have helped me through my years at Stanbridge. Thank you Maureen, Jeff, Mark, John, Allison, Aaron, Jay, Kenny, Matt Juul, Travis, James, Camille, David, and Mary Hurlbut. I would also like to thank my mom, my dad, my bunny Benny, and all my friends. Thank you for your support.
I am planning on working at the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA Adoption Center. I have found a home there. Helping rescue animals is a great use of my time, and I enjoy it. It is the job that—at the end of the day—I can hold my head up high knowing I have made a life better. Thank you.
Each graduating senior was asked to present a speech at Commencement 2017 describing his/her Stanbridge experience. This is Sean's story. Below read a transcript of Agriculture/Woodworking/Physical Concepts Teacher Aaron Carter's introduction:
Having taught this student in two disciplines and accompanied him on several H.S. trips, I got to see firsthand the many shades of Sean: Sean the Builder, Sean the Camper, Sean the Gardener, Sean the Giver, Sean the Freedom Fighter, the patriot. The Twain quote, “they didn’t know it was impossible so they did it,” comes to mind when I think about this young man. Congrats, you are now Sean the Graduate.
For Alumna Lana Frankle, Stanbridge class of 2011, the transition to college was difficult, perhaps made more so by her desire to pay her own tuition to the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“I think I wanted to feel independent and like a "real adult,’" said Lana. “...so I took a night-shift job—3PM to midnight—which didn't conflict with my school schedule.”
While she managed to do this for her freshman and sophomore years—in part by working at Bay Photo Lab in Santa Cruz—she eventually realized that she couldn’t do it without her parents’ help.
“It was a good job, but it was too stressful for me to work full-time while going to school full-time, and it took a toll on me academically and psychologically,” said Lana. “Everybody needs help sometimes and everyone has their own struggles to overcome.”
In addition to help from her parents, Lana also received services from the University.
“At UCSC, there's a Disability Resource Center that coordinates extra time, note-takers for those who need them, and extra tutoring for free,” said Lana. “Having extra time really helped cut the pressure for science and math exams. Some tests I didn’t need my extra time, but it was nice to have anyway.”
Lana says some of her biggest challenges post-Stanbridge though were not academic but more social in nature.
“I’ve had trouble socializing normally my whole life. Unfortunately, this issue didn’t disappear in college. Sometimes I felt like everyone else was busy with all their friends and parties and I didn’t see how I could obtain that for myself,” said Lana. “I joined a sorority my senior year. It was a little awkward to join so late in my academic tenure, but overall it was a good experience. I wish I'd done it sooner.”
Although Lana had to take a medical leave the first quarter of her sophomore year, and took a reduced course load for many of the quarters following, she still finished her degree in four years and one quarter by taking summer classes from De Anza College and UCLA. Lana graduated in the fall of 2015 with a B.S. in neuroscience.
In spring of 2015, Lana was accepted to Kent State University’s doctoral program in neuroscience.
“I want to become a researcher, because I have a lot of curiosity about the world,” said Lana. “Specifically, I want to probe neuropsychiatric disorders. This may be partly because I understand what it's like to see the world differently due to my ASD.”
At present, Lana is taking some extra time to decide which of the three rotations she will make her permanent home for research at Kent. Because she is interested in neuropsychiatric disorders, she hopes to find a way to apply that interest to the lab of her choice.
When asked if she had any advice for recent Stanbridge graduates, Lana replied, “It’s cliche but it’s true: find something you’re really interested in, and pursue that.”
In her free time, Lana is also an accomplished author; her short story collection titled The Dismantling was published through the Canadian publisher Gnome on Pig Productions.
Stanbridge Academy raised more than $400,000 in donations for the 2016-2017 Annual Fund.
“Thanks to the generosity of our community we were able to surpass our fundraising goal by 61%,” said Director of Marketing and Communications Rachel Baker. “We are sincerely grateful to everyone who donated to this year’s fund.”
The 2016-2017 Annual Fund was spearheaded by Rachel Baker along with Annual Fund Board Chair Gloria Principe.
“The Annual Fund is truly a group effort,” said Rachel. “None of this would have been possible without the support of our alumni, board, staff, and current parents.”
In addition to 100% participation by staff, both the Junior High and Elementary Divisions achieved 100% parent participation.
“100% community participation is vital to showing outside donors and grant-giving foundations how much we believe in our school,” said Rachel.
This year, Stanbridge Academy was able to raise an additional $43,000 from corporate matches. These donations were made by more than 20 companies, including: Google, Hopkins & Carley, Intel, Levi Strauss & Co., Morgan Stanley, PG&E, Wells Fargo, and Western Digital. An additional $70,000 came from grants.
Tuition alone does not cover Stanbridge’s annual operating costs. Donations to the Annual Fund allow the school to keep class sizes small, host community events, fund experiential learning trips, and more.
The Stanbridge Board of Trustees elected a new development chair who will manage the 2017-2018 Annual Fund. Recently-inducted Board Member Rachel Paley, parent of a 2015 alumna, is excited to be leading next year’s fund along with new Parent Chair Leslie Young.
“Financial support is critical for retaining our outstanding teachers, maintaining up-to-date curriculum, and providing essential training,” said Leslie. “I am looking forward to working with the entire Stanbridge community in meeting our Annual Fund goals and achieving 100% parent participation.”
To protect privacy, a by-name listing of individual donors will not be published online, but all 2016-2017 donors will be recognized in the 2017 Summer Newsletter. To request a copy of our 2016-2017 Annual Fund Report, please email our development office.
Click here to learn more about development at Stanbridge Academy.
Before coming to Stanbridge, I was in public schools. I was happy and outgoing, in preschool and kindergarten. But in first, second, and third grade, I had difficulty concentrating so my school gave me an accommodation to listen to music when I worked. But when I changed schools, I was no longer given that accommodation. I also had no friends. I had bullies that picked on me and made fun of me, so my mother found Stanbridge and—after shadowing—I knew it was the right place for me. I wanted to start right away, and I attended summer school, taking a baking and pastry workshop and a theater workshop. I transferred to Stanbridge as an 8th grader. My homeroom teacher was Allison, and I met so many friends.
In the 8th grade, I had a lot of friends to sit with and talk to during recess and lunch. I consider those friends my junior high friends. I have fond memories of junior high. Two of my favorite memories are the trip to Chinatown and the trip to Pigeon Point. During the Chinatown trip we looked around different stores, ate Chinese food for lunch, and took a tour by a woman named Linda Lee. During the Pigeon Point trip we went hiking, we looked at the lighthouse, we went to Ano Nuevo to see the elephant seals, and we did many other things.
When I transitioned to high school, I was very excited! In high school, I also had a lot of friends and a lot of great experiences. I attended all of the school dances, and I plan to come back next year as an alumna. I went on the experiential trips, and my favorite trip was the Web Of Life trip during my freshman year. I remember being nervous during one of the ropes courses, but after cheers and encouragement from my classmates I felt much better. I was in STAR team and the Stanbridge Choir. I even did the talent show four times.
There are so many people I need to thank for helping me get to this moment. I would like to thank my sister for helping me with my math homework, my mom for choosing a perfect school for me, my dad for always supporting me, my paternal grandmother for being the sweetest woman I’ve ever met, my maternal grandmother for all the food she cooks for our family dinners, and my grandfather for being so kind and generous. I would also like to thank my friends, including Jace for being my really good friend and Grace for inviting me to hang out with her. I would like to thank a few teachers. Thank you Kenny for helping me with my math skills, Camille for helping me with art, Jay for helping me dissect a frog and a worm in biology, and David for helping me improve my voice techniques and for letting me tell you about operas I have seen with my family. I want to also thank Claire O’Connor, an occupational therapist I worked with for seven years, and Krista Keintz a behavior therapist who helped me with my behavior issues from 2007 to 2010.
Next fall I will attend Sequoia High School’s Transition to Work Program where I’ll learn how to make doggie biscuits for my dogs. Then I will transfer to Foothill College to attend the Tools for Transition and Work program. My future goal is to work for either the San Francisco or the San Jose Opera as an usher. I am sad to be leaving Stanbridge, but I’m happy about my future and I hope to visit when I can. Thank you.
Each graduating senior was asked to present a speech at Commencement 2017 describing his/her Stanbridge experience. This is Hameen's story. Below read a transcript of Bridges Teacher & Director of Transition Mary Hurlbut's introduction:
Although some of his classmates affectionately call him by his nickname “squid,” the next student’s name should be a synonym for cheerful kindness and courageous strength. He fills every room with a smile and hands out words of encouragement generously. If the golden rule were a person, it would be this student. His teachers and peers note that, whether in the classroom, on the basketball court or at his job as a courtesy clerk at Safeway, he is a collaborative team player who always gives 110%. And whether in D.C. or on the train, he is also a great prankster who infuses life with laughter and joy. You might be impressed to know that he even inspired Stanbridge’s first one hit wonder aCapella Choir with their signature single entitled “Hameen.” Please join me in welcoming Stanbridge graduate Hameen B. to the podium.
When I was little, I went to Marjorie H. Tobias Elementary School—close to my home. I started there when I was in kindergarten. My learning skills were okay, and I had fun drawing pictures and reading books when moving into higher grades. When I first shadowed at Stanbridge Academy, the class had only seven students. This school was very comfortable and filled with new friendly kids. I am happy I finally got a new school to stay in!
When I was in seventh grade, I started my first full year at Stanbridge Academy. First, I was in Maureen’s advisory, but my advisory was switched to John Barnett. I met new friends such as Cameron, David, and of course, Kyle LaBlanc, who I really miss. During the next year, I became best friends with Hameen. I stayed in Stanbridge during high school after I graduated from junior high. I will remember these six years at Stanbridge.
I want to thank my first teachers in junior high—Maureen Zane and John Barnett—for helping me enjoy my first year at Stanbridge. I want to thank Allison St. John for teaching my first summer school class at Stanbridge. I also want to thank Camille Geraci for teaching my favorite subject at Stanbridge Academy: art! I really love how Camille taught me new art projects.
One goal for the future is to become more independent and earn a good income. After summer break, I will head to Cañada College and take a few classes there. I hope that I return to Stanbridge Academy soon next year. Thank you!
Each graduating senior was asked to present a speech at Commencement 2017 describing his/her Stanbridge experience. This is Cameron's story. Below read a transcript of History Teacher Travis Callan's introduction:
This student can almost always be found with a smile on his face followed by a hello and a fist bump. Whether he is suiting up for basketball or sharing stories of where his leftovers came from, he puts forth the greatest energy and enthusiasm. His sportsmanship sets the tone, on and off the basketball court. It has been a privilege watching him evolve over these past four years. I look forward to hearing about his great success as he takes those next steps into the wider world. I’m pleased to present, Cameron B.
Since my sophomore year of high school, I have attended Stanbridge. I started out my high school experience at Sterne School. My parents knew that I had a tough time there and wanted to solve the problem by having me go to a school that better fit my needs. That led me to Stanbridge.
When I started at Stanbridge, I was a little nervous. In particular, I felt like it was too small, and a bigger school such as San Mateo High would be a better fit for me. My parents then told me that Stanbridge was the right fit for me, and I started to agree. I started to like the class sizes and work load more. My junior and senior years were pretty amazing. I enjoyed having new classes and different teachers for each year, as well as some great experiential trips in both the fall and spring, especially the one to Washington DC this spring, our nation’s capital.
There are many people who have helped me at this wonderful school. I would like to thank Matt Juul and Kenny Katz for helping me out with my favorite subject, mathematics, Jay Huston for teaching me some biology and college prep physics material in science, Travis Callan for teaching me about the history of our world and everyday economics, Allison St. John and John Barnett for teaching me about some great books, and Aaron Carter for teaching me a whole new language. I’d also like to thank my mom and dad for helping me get to this point.
After I leave Stanbridge, I hope to get a great college education at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont. I wish to get a degree in computers so that I may then move on to joining a video game company. I hope to live in my own house, probably with a roommate. Thanks for listening!
Each graduating senior was asked to present a speech at Commencement 2017 describing his/her Stanbridge experience. This is William's story. Below read a transcript of Music/Maker/Drama Teacher David Hopper's introduction:
Billy. Unique, creative, caring, mechanical and full of, yes BASS! Not just a little, but a huge amount of bone shaking, organ busting bass. Every time I see Billy, we talk about cars, modding stereos and upgrading to the next level of audiophile power. With Billy it’s always about more power and more fun. Meeting Billy at his house to pick up some random electronics for the Maker class, I got to experience his car and its giant speakers. Bassnectar never sounded better. That is what Billy is doing now. He’s upgrading for his next experience in life. He triumphs over adversity and hardship with a smile and keeps his love of life that is never fake or forced. Billy may your love of music and new experiences power the rest of your life after Stanbridge. Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you, fellow music lover and master of BASS: Billy.
Students across the divisions recently completed a project in their technology classes using the music creation application GarageBand.
“Each student was asked to create a song that incorporated their own voice,” said Technology Teacher Justin Silbaugh. “There were a number of objectives for our project, including learning the ability to work with different elements of music (particularly rhythm), building awareness of different genres of music, and learning basic digital sound mixing capabilities.”
Justin said the project also helped improve the students’ hand-eye coordination, listening skills, while exploring their creative expression and having fun.
“One of the requirements of the project was to have your voice in it, so—as a joke—I threw a clip in of President Trump speaking,” said the high school student who created the song “Make Music Great Again.” “Unexpectedly, I actually liked the way it sounded with the beat, so I decided to progress further and make it a theme.”
Listen to “Make Music Great Again” and other student works here:
Similar to most other millennials, Stanbridge Academy Alumna Sarah Carlson (‘13) grew up believing the only acceptable post-secondary option was enrolling at a 4-year university.
“I was brought up always thinking that going to college is what you do after you graduate from high school,” said Sarah. “It was hard to accept that college just wasn’t going to be right for me.”
While some of her peers in the Class of 2013 matriculated to various post-secondary schools and programs, Sarah—with the support of her family—chose the road less-traveled.
“Some kids in my class did the Foothill TTW program, but I already had a job. I didn’t fit that mold,” said Sarah. “Going to a regular 4-year college wasn’t going to help me achieve any of my long-terms goals either. I didn’t need a degree to do what I was passionate about.”
Since 6th grade Sarah had been attending a summer camp at a local quilting shop.
“I kept going and learning every summer, until one day I started helping and teaching the younger kids,” said Sarah. “Based on my volunteer work, they offered me a job after graduation.”
Today, Sarah continues to work at Always Quilting in San Mateo cutting fabric, programming the long-arm quilting machine, and helping customers pick coordinating patterns and colors for their projects.
“It’s the perfect place for me to work because they know me and my disabilities,” said Sarah. “I work two days a week except during the summer kids’ camp when I work all week helping to teach the kids. The rest of the time, I follow my passion for art: painting, making jewelry, and creating other projects.”
Although she has produced works of art on commission, Sarah says it’s difficult for her to sell her creations.
“We have a neighbor down the road who has three kids. She saved all of their Curious George t-shirts and onesies and then asked me to create a quilt out of them,” said Sarah, describing one of her commissions. “It's hard to let stuff go; I spend so much time and put so much of myself into each project.”
In addition to her work, Sarah says she keeps busy by participating in the Special Olympics.
“This weekend, we're going to Oakland for swimming. I’m competing in breastroke, backstroke, and freestyle,” said Sarah, who has already received a gold medal in a tennis skills competition. “I’m fairly new [to the organization], so I don't know all the ins and outs, but there are a bunch of different sports like bowling, bocce ball, and track and field.”
With another cohort ready to graduate Stanbridge in just a few weeks, Sarah says it’s important for grads to keep trying new things.
“Volunteer. Join a team. Be brave. You might find your passion,” advises Sarah. “Sometimes I still have to remind myself that I don’t need to go to college to be a smart, productive person. I already am.”
Stanbridge Senior Chris Rosales was awarded 1st Place in the video category at the EdRev 2017 Art Contest.
“The first time I heard the song “How Far I’ll Go,” it was magical,” said Chris. “I saw the movie Moana the next day, and that inspired me to make this animation.”
Chris, who is an entirely self-taught animator, said he used Microsoft Paint to create the pictures, Movie Maker for animating them, and VideoPad for video editing.
"The EdRev contest is an opportunity for students who learn differently to have their artwork galleried and judged by a professional panel," said Stanbridge Art Teacher Camille Geraci. "It's been wonderful watching Chris learn and grow as an artist these past few years, and I am so proud of the work he displayed at EdRev."
“I like to draw, but with animation I can make the drawings move,” said Chris.
As a self-taught pianist, Chris also provides the musical accompaniment for the movie.
“This is the first [video] in a series,” said Chris of the “How Far I’ll Go” animation. “I want to do my own versions of all the Disney Feature Films.”
We can’t wait to see them, Chris! Click here to learn more about the arts at Stanbridge.
Students in Lynsey Plume’s 6th grade class recently went on a tour of the Stanbridge garden. Following their exploration, the students were asked to write a news article about their experience.
“We’ve taken so many field trips that are far away, but we’ve never visited the garden in our own backyard,” said Lynsey. “Previously, we’ve written postcards or thank you letters after we visit. For this assignment, I asked them to write news articles because they are longer form and in a different voice.”
The students used Google docs to type their news articles. The following blog post is a compilation of their writings.
High School students can take an elective class during the school year. It is called Agriculture, and you get to work on the garden. You will learn how to take care of and identify different plants and trees. AB
All the veggies and fruit in the garden will be eaten by the people at Stanbridge when the food is ready to harvest. There are lemons, snow peas, tomatoes, potatoes, and flowers. OD
Planting some wildflowers will help attract bees. Bees are a important because bees help spread pollen. The more wildflowers there are, the more bees come to help the garden grow. KU
Our garden makes its own compost! We have a bin where all we do is take our food scraps and let worms eat them. It’s easy. This way we don’t have to pay for any of our soil, and it’s also excellent for growing plants. NB
I would also like to tell you, my reader, about the water for the garden. First thing that happens is the rainwater gets caught in the gutters on the roof into flows down a pipe that empties into a water tank which is connected to a hose. HW
This garden isn’t just used for plants; the students built memorials for two kids who passed away. I can’t imagine a better place for these memorials. They are the most beautiful memorials I’ve ever seen. I can tell the students put so much effort into them. Thank you Aaron for honoring Stanbridge students who have passed away. BB
Even if the garden is small, it will contribute to the school and the world if we contribute to the garden! LM
Stanbridge Academy is a caring, inclusive K-12 school for students with mild to moderate learning differences and social communication disorders. We use an individualized, whole student approach so that students thrive and develop their academic, social, and emotional capabilities to their fullest potential.
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