Archive for April, 2012

Chess Champion

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

We have many of our students competing on sports teams, but one of our Fourth Grade students competes on a different sort of team – chess! Brian Macdonal CompetingWhile athletic competitions are usually filled with enthusiastic cheering from fellow students and parents, chess competitions are very quiet, with competitors deep in thought as they analyze strategies and plan their moves.
PHS Fourth Grader Brian Macdonald began entering chess competitions way back in Kindergarten, improving his skills while playing chess with his father. In First Grade here at PHS, Brian started with our afterschool “Think Chess for Kids” program, which we offer once each week in the fall and spring. Brian just loves this complicated game, and he was chosen by Michael Angelo, of “Think Chess for Kids,” Brian Macdonald's Chess Awardto compete with four students from other local schools on a team at the Super States Chess Championship. Held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on March 24, Brian’s team placed fifth out of 15 teams in its division from all over California.
Of particular interest, Brian won three of his five matches and also beat a player of significantly higher rating. Each player has a personal proficiency rating, and Brian’s is currently 333. However at Valencia, he beat a 700-ranked player, which is quite an accomplishment! The future looks bright for our young chess aficionado!

Rawhide Ranch

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Last week our Third Graders traveled to Rawhide Ranch for a wonderful outdoor education experience. Our Third Grade teacher, Ms. Jessica Schwartz, relates the details of this outstanding experience:
“We spent three great days and two nights at Rawhide Ranch, nestled in the avocado groves of Bonsall, CA, San Diego County, east of Oceanside.Gathering at Rawhide RanchIt was a wonderful disconnect from the technological world for all of us, giving us the opportunity to connect with a bygone area focused on horses and other animals.”
“Learning was at the forefront of the entire experience for each student – the days were filled with great classes and hands-on opportunities particular to the Ranch culture: horseback riding,Panning for Gold vaulting (gymnastics on horseback), roping, horse science, horse psychology, animal science, and animal care. We also learned country dancing, took a nature hike, panned for gold, and engaged in team building exercises.”
“In addition to myself, we were accompanied by our Lab Science Teacher, Mrs. Kathy Mallon, and four dads who were terrific: Rick Edler, Ted Vetterlein, Javier Martinez, and Andre Obalek. The Rawhide Ranch staff was excellent, and they so appreciated the politeness of our students and the character qualities they exhibited.”Riding Horseback
“This ranch experience is tied to our language arts and science curriculum, and the importance of horses in our country’s history and the culture of Native Americans. Taking responsibility for the care of animals was a focus of the entire experience. With Ms. JessicaEach day, after breakfast and before dinner, the children were in charge of caring for not only the horses, but the goats, sheep, cows, and chickens at the Ranch.”
“It was interesting to see how well the students worked as a team outside the normal classroom setting, learning new skills, building personal responsibility, and having such fun!”

Alumna Update

Friday, April 13th, 2012

It is always exciting to interact with former students and to hear of their current work and accomplishments. One of these individuals is Dayna Cipolla-Jetton, or “Dr. D” as she is professionally known with her PhD. She is a beautiful example of an individual integrating art with technology while obtaining the highest level of education – so typical of our students who receive their foundation in education and the arts here at Peninsula Heritage School.Dayna Cipolla-Jetton She shares with us her recent work:
“Having obtained a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with an emphasis in Art Therapy and a Bachelor's degree in Fine Art, and after significant research on the educational challenges facing children with autism, I decided to create a unique interactive computer game designed to improve children's social skills and decrease problem behaviors.”
“Several hundred hours of research, illustration, and development later, ‘I Am A Nice Person’ and ‘Playing Games Is Fun’ came to life. (See To my great satisfaction, the results paid off. You & Me & Dr DChildren who played the computer game once a week for thirty minutes over one month demonstrated a significant improvement in all seven areas of tested social skills (self-control, engagement, empathy, responsibility, assertion, cooperation and communication) and a decrease in all four areas of tested problem behaviors (internalizing, hyperactivity/inattention, bullying and externalizing).App ScreenThe remarkable results compelled me to reach more families and children with autism by creating a mobile version of the games for tablets (the app is available on my website shown above). The journey is just beginning and I'd love for you to join me. I'm illustrating more stories every day, so stay tuned for more apps!” Dayna may be reached at

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