Peninsula Heritage School

Skip to main content
Mobile Menu


Monarch Butterflies Come to School

July 19, 2019




                Peninsula Heritage School has recently been designated Monarch Waystation # 22723 by Monarch Watch, This Waystation for Monarch butterflies is officially marked with a sign posted in our butterfly garden, which is located across from the entrance to the Science Lab on our Main Campus.


                Under the direction of PHS science teacher Wendy Nguyen, students in this past year’s Third Grade began the study of all four monarch life stages in addition to tracking the monarchs’ amazing migratory cycle. These butterflies travel from Canada and the US in the fall to Mexico where they spend the winter. In the spring, the monarchs fly north, and the females lay eggs on milkweed plants. The monarch caterpillars that develop from these eggs will only eat milkweed leaves. When the adult butterflies emerge from the chrysalis that the caterpillars form, they use their long straw-shaped mouths to consume nectar from different flowering plants before continuing their northward migration.


                The Third Graders at Peninsula Heritage School began by planting milkweed and flowering plants in a section of the school’s garden that was sunny and also protected from wind. These plants and flowers grew to healthy proportions this spring, thanks to continuous watering and cultivating by the Third Graders and members of the school’s Student Council.


                “I trusted that the Monarchs would come after we did all the work,” reports one Third Grader.


                “I was happy and shocked when the Monarchs came to our garden,” recalls another student, “and I ran to tell Mrs. Nguyen immediately!”


                “It brings joy to my heart,” relates science teacher Wendy Nguyen, “to work with our students and assist in maintaining the monarch population.” These butterflies are currently threatened, due to habitat loss from the growth in suburban home developments and shopping malls, as well as the increased use of herbicides in farming.


By creating and maintaining this Monarch Waystation, our PHS students are contributing to monarch conservation – an effort that will help assure the preservation of this amazing species!

African Adventures

July 3, 2019


Every other summer, PHS music teacher Charley Miller travels to the African country of Uganda and volunteers for one month, helping at health clinics and eye glass distribution stations with the non-profit organization Loving One by One.


This summer, PHS alumna Chantell Thompson is accompanying Mr. Miller for two weeks. Chantell’s interest in this service opportunity began when she was a PHS Sixth Grader and Mr. Miller spoke to her class about his volunteer work in Africa. Recently, Chantell has worked in gathering used eye glasses to take with her to Africa.


Currently, Chantell and Mr. Miller are on a medical and humanitarian team, helping local organizations and bringing medical care to slums and villages around the city of Kampala. Wearing their PHS t-shirts, they took a minute to unfurl their PHS banner at Acholi where they are assisting with the treatment of 500 patients for illnesses including malaria and typhoid.


Chantell will begin her senior year of high school this September, and according to Mr. Miller, “Chantell is working hard here and doing an amazing job!” She’s also taken her PHS ukulele skills with her, and as the picture shows, was mobbed by young students one afternoon at the school operated by Loving One by One.


Thank you, Chantell and Mr. Miller, for so beautifully exemplifying for all of us the PHS Character Quality of Caring.

Alumni Spotlight
June 27, 2019
This week our Alumni Spotlight shines on Barrington Wilson, son of PHS Science Teacher Dr. Mary Wilson, and brother of PHS Associate Teacher Malama Wilson. Barrington returned in late May from a seven-month US Navy deployment with the United States Navy’s Fleet Logistics Support Squadron, VRC-30.

Barrington is an air crewman on Grumman C-2A Greyhounds, which are carrier-based transport planes used for the safe transport of dignitaries, personnel, and supplies between land bases and the Nimitz-class, nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis, CVN-74. The C-2A Greyhound transport planes take off and land on the Stennis carrier deck.

This deployment of Barrington’s took him around the world, through 17 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Thank you Barrington for your service to our country!

Alumni Spotlight

June 21, 2019


Last year, we regretted to see the Clemmons family move to New Hampshire. However, the Peninsula Heritage influence continues with them, according to fourteen year-old Isabella Clemmons and her mother, Ruby Clemmons.


“Isabella was recently admitted as a boarding 10th grader to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts,” relates Ruby. “She was selected from over 3,000 applicants from 49 countries and 44 states.”


Isabella comments, “As I reflect on my experiences at PHS I have to say that its Character Qualities helped shape me to become the person that I am today. I have learned the true meaning of the word ‘empathy’ early on because at PHS we were taught to celebrate each other's differences, and we were always reminded by our teachers to be kind to one another." 


Isabella also credits PHS language arts teachers Kat Banales and Eileen Mahoney for giving her a strong writing foundation and math teacher Jeff Ahn for making math fun and exciting. "He is the math whisperer!"


For one of her Andover recommendation letters, Isabella turned to her former PE teacher at Peninsula Heritage, Kim Nygaard. "I've had many great coaches to choose from, but I chose Mrs. Nygaard to write the letter because she is really the one who taught me the true meaning of sportsmanship and the meaning of winning and losing."


Isabella is a Boston homeless shelter volunteer and a staunch sustainability proponent. Last month she testified before the New Hampshire state legislature and presented a position paper in support of a bill seeking statewide ban on single use plastic bags and straws. This summer she hopes to finish writing her first novel while doing some volunteer work at a sanctuary shelter for immigrant families facing the threat of deportation.


Congratulations, Isabella, for all that you have accomplished!




College Bound Alumni

June 7, 2019


Once they were Peninsula Heritage Kindergartners:




Then they were PHS Fifth Graders:


5th Grade


And now they have been accepted at the following colleges and universities:College Bound


Here are a few of these PHS alumni who stopped past school last week:


Alumni Photo


Congratulations, PHS Alumni!


Alumni Spotlight

May 31, 2019


This PHS Alumni Spotlight shines on Gracie Edler (Class of 2012), who is excited to graduate from Palos Verdes Peninsula High as Valedictorian with a 4.9 GPA.


Additional honors include faculty-driven Department Awards in both History and Art, Scholar Athlete, and Sealbearer of National Honor Society, CSF, NAHS, NSSHS, NSHSS and CETA. She is also a CIF Champion and Team Captain for Varsity Water Polo, and was nominated for CIF Athlete of the Year 2019.


Appointed Link Crew Leader and nominated Most Inspirational Team Captain, she continues to strive for the highest level of Character Qualities instilled in her during her years at PHS.


She often attributes her love of all things history to PHS as well, specifically the "totally epic" Fifth Grade Play and "6th Gradia."


Gracie will be studying History at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the fall.


Congratulations Gracie!





Moms and Grandmoms Day

May 15, 2019


Thanks to all the moms and grandmoms who joined us on Friday, May 14, beginning at 7:30 am with our breakfast on the patio!

Your participation was outstanding, and our updated schedule allowed our guests to visit more than one grade during the classroom activity time.


Our “Head of School for the Day,” Second Grader Jack Abramson, conducted our all-school Assembly beginning at 10:00 am in the Amphitheater. In addition to honoring our birthday students and hearing our School Choir perform, the Fourth Graders each gave individual heartfelt tributes to their moms. Focusing on the Character Quality of Attitude, the Fourth Grade then performed “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” through song and dance for the enthusiastic audience.


Thanks to all for making this a delightful addition to Sunday’s Mother’s Day!


Moms BreakfastMay Assembly

Faculty & Staff Appreciation Luncheon

May 7, 2019


The island spirit permeated the PHS courtyard as the Parent Association with Aubrey Abramson and her Committee presented a stunning and delicious Luau luncheon this past Tuesday during national Teacher Appreciation Week!


Tables set in full Hawaiian style, with a lei for each participant, welcomed our faculty and staff to dine in the cool porch setting. A South Seas banquet included an island fruit assortment, miso-glazed salmon, teriyaki grilled chicken, pineapple fried rice, citrus and wonton salad, and, of course, a King’s Hawaiian paradise cake with its rainbow of colors! Our Fifth Grade students provided a beautiful serenade of “White Sandy Beach of Hawaii,” as a special musical treat. Our teachers and staff dined and relaxed through the entire lunch period, as wonderful parent volunteers assisted with the children on the playground.


Our sincere thanks are extended to the parents who enthusiastically and generously made this day so special for each member of the PHS administration, faculty, and staff!


Sharing Talents

April 18, 2019

Each spring, our Talent Show offers PHS students the opportunity to present their talents at an all-school Assembly. Two weeks ago, we were once again entertained and delighted by the very talented children at Peninsula Heritage School.


“This is the only production in the school year,” explains Music Teacher Charley Miller, “where (Dance and Drama Teacher) Miss Deb and I are not directly involved in the planning or the rehearsals. Yes, I set up the microphones and have the piano in place, but the students completely take upon themselves the responsibility of the performance. They get together with their friends or siblings, they rehearse on their own, and they even decide on their costumes, if they wish to have them.”


“We feel,” continues Mr. Miller, “that they are so successful because of the many other productions in which they are involved here at PHS throughout the year. Our students know how to speak at a microphone, they know how to plan a dance, and they know they must practice their instruments prior to a performance.”


Each year’s Talent Show brings delightful surprises, and this year was no exception. Who knew the talent of a sixth grade flutist or the stage presence of a fourth grade singer? Especially heartwarming was the enthusiastic response from our student body as the children cheered on and esteemed their PHS peers!



Second Grade Science

April 18, 2019


Yesterday, our Second Graders enjoyed putting their PHS Science Lab experiences into action at the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena.


In the outdoor Robert & Mary Galvin Physics Forest, our students used the simple machines they had studied with Mrs. Nguyen (pulleys, levers, screws, wedges, wheels and axles, and inclined planes), to enthusiastically operate the interactive exhibits in the Physics Forest. They especially enjoyed the Giant Lever, a physics based version of “Tug of War” that interestingly demonstrates mechanical advantage.


Our students also explored the outdoor Arroyo Adventure, a miniature version of Pasadena’s famous Arroyo Seco, where they learned the properties of mud and clay and fashioned their own creations. Other favorites of the day included constructing a fort, whose blue building stones turned out to be surprisingly lightweight!


The children were so engaged in all the museum’s educational offerings that it was difficult for them to leave the learning and the fun!


Science field trip



Fifth Graders Make “History Come Alive!”

March 20, 2019


Our Fifth Graders recently wowed the Norris Theatre audience with last Thursday’s presentation of “History Comes Alive!” Through seventeen song and dance numbers, interspersed with historical vignettes, the children presented the individuals and movements responsible for the birth of our nation during the Revolutionary War period.


An attending alumna, who had been in the production six years ago, commented, “I now realize how very witty the script actually is!” Serious historical moments are balanced with lighthearted numbers, making the production not only educational but enjoyable for even the youngest attendees.


Starting with “Trouble” with taxes, through the Boston Massacre and Paul Revere’s ride, to the Declaration of Independence, and the surrender at Yorktown, the students performed in full costume, emphasizing both the male and female contributions to freedom.


As this era comprises a significant portion of the Fifth Grade’s social studies curriculum, ”History Comes Alive!” is several months in the making, involving numerous Peninsula Heritage School faculty and staff members led by Fifth Grade Teacher Kimarie Lynn. Starting with a yearly updated script, which includes references to current culture trends, the students benefit from instruction in singing, original choreography, and acting.


One Fifth Grader was concerned about anxiety on the night of the performance, so he took the initiative to research and share with his classmates the following stress-reducing tips: 1) You are not actually scared; you are excited; 2) Tell yourself you love your audience, as it is easier to talk to people you love; and 3) Try making eye contact and speaking to two people for a few sentences, then choose two more people and do the same.


This dramatic circle was completed the following Monday at school with the Fifth Grade’s Academy Awards presentations, building life-long memories for these young thespians.


5th grade play collage


Coming Soon!

March 8, 2019


If you have never seen it before, you’ll be amazed! If you have seen it before, you’ll still be amazed at the new music and creative twists that are inserted to distinguish each year’s play from prior years!


Of course we are talking about the famous PHS Fifth Grade Play, a musical theater presentation of the Revolutionary War period on Thursday, March 14 at 6:30 pm. This remarkable production offers a wonderful opportunity for families and friends to gather at the nearby Norris Theatre and enjoy heartwarming interpretations of the men and women who founded this country. From stage sets, to costuming and choreography, our Fifth Grade thespians wow the audience!


Younger children enjoy watching and choosing the characters they wish to portray when they become Fifth Graders, and older students often compare the current presentation to that of their own class.


Tickets are now available at the Norris Theatre Box Office or online at Don’t miss this great opportunity!


See you there!


play photo



February 28, 2019


Last Saturday’s Winter Gala at the Automobile Driving Museum (El Segundo) brought out all the stars at PHS in their beautiful “Hollywood Glamour” attire! Sincere thanks are extended to Gala Co-Chairs Louella Kim and Linda Luzan, along with PA President Emily Gutierrez and PA Treasurer Katie Toney heading up the Silent and Live Auctions. The plated dinner was delicious and many enthusiastic attendees joined in the dancing.


Thanks to all those who donated items for the Silent and Live Auctions, and thanks to those who bid and purchased them! The final paddle call, under the leadership of professional auctioneer Chuck Dukas, raised funds for PHS’s own school bus for daily transportation as well as field trips.


Again, sincere thanks are extended to all those who assisted and participated in this signature fundraiser for your children at Peninsula Heritage School.


gala collage


Weather Science

February 21, 2019


Our young scientists in the Primary Center, under the direction of Lab Science Teacher Ms. Nguyen, have embraced this rainy season as a chance to further their understanding of the science of weather.


Starting with an observation of our school’s rain gauge, each student constructed and placed in the garden of their home a small rain gauge to measure our recent precipitation. An engaging study of the water cycle with Mrs. Nguyen enabled them to understand the source of our recent moisture.


Wind was next introduced into the instruction, followed by a discussion of severe weather, including tornadoes. When wind-driven, warm, moist air is pushed against moving, cold, dry air, a vortex of spinning air is created. If this twirling funnel of air is pushed vertical, a tornado is created.


To demonstrate an easily observable liquid vortex in the lab, each child used two plastic bottles secured together with connectors and filled with colored water. Holding the bottles and swinging them in large circles, the children soon saw a vortex in the water as gravity pulled the liquid from the upper container into the lower one in a defined funnel shape.


The forces that created the famous tornado in The Wizard of Oz now come alive for our Primary Center science students!


Weather collage


Coding at PHS

February 14, 2019


Educators across the country are stressing the need for children to learn coding skills, and our students here at PHS are doing just that! In addition to promoting logical thinking and building sequential problem-solving skills, coding prepares students for higher education and adult life in an increasingly techno-centered world.


Under the direction of our computer instructor, Ms. Shanny Tasaki, even our youngest students in the Primary Center have worked with game-based learning on Instruction is tied to the classroom curriculum and often includes technology literacy at the appropriate grade level.


“With our classroom format,” relates Ms. Tasaki, “our students are able to work on a number of different projects, and I am able to really assist them when needed.”


Our students from Second Grade to Middle School have been using Scratch, a block-based visual programming language developed by MIT Media Lab. Designed primarily for children, Scratch has been translated into 70+ languages and is used in many parts of the world.


Our Sixth Graders are currently involved in using Python, one of the most common coding languages. Its versatility makes it ideal for the individualized instruction here at PHS, while its strength is obvious by its use within major corporations such as Google.





You Won’t Want to Miss This!

February 8, 2019


If you came in prior years, you KNOW! If this will be the first one for you, prepare for a GREAT TIME!


What’s the event? Just the best school social event of the year: the fabulous PHS GALA on Saturday, February 23, starting at 6:00 pm!


Who’s invited? YOU! Parents, grandparents, trustees, alumni parents, and friends of the school. Women – make it a Girls Night Out! Couples – invite your child’s friends’ parents! Dads – enjoy the male bonding!


Bring to school your response card from the mailed invitation by Friday, February 15, or go online to register for this event at 


Call on your creativity for the evening’s attire, if you wish. The Gala theme of “Old Hollywood – An Evening Under the Stars” offers great possibilities: men can sport their tuxedo, women can charm with their boa and long black dress OR wear what is comfortable for you!


The site of our Gala, the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, is easily accessible. You’ll enjoy walking among American and foreign vintage cars displayed in pristine condition while also perusing our Silent Auction items. Taste the signature cocktail or mock-tail designed especially for this event and relish tray-passed hors d’oeuvres.


Following the close of the Silent Auction, we’ll enjoy a seated, plated, three-course dinner followed by a rousing Live Auction led by professional auctioneer extraordinaire, Chuck Dukas. We have enjoyed Chuck’s tremendous enthusiasm and humor at prior Galas as he leads us through the Live Auction, and we are always impressed with his commitment and loyalty to our wonderful school.


There’ll still be lots of time to dance the night away in the best Hollywood style, knowing all that you’ve done to enhance PHS for each of your children!


See you on the 23rd!


Gala invite



Alumni Spotlight

February 1, 2019


This week’s Alumni Spotlight shines on Mia Muoneke, who was recently accepted at Stanford University as an Early Action applicant!


Mia’s mother, Dr. Cristal Lynch, shares how Stanford became Mia’s first choice. Mia had often been on the Stanford campus as her older brother, Awari, also a PHS alum, attended Stanford’s summer baseball camps. In addition, Mia’s cousin attended Stanford as did Dr. Lynch. Mia enjoyed several tours of the campus and as an AP Environmental Science student was impressed with the University’s working farm and its green power generation plant. She also loved the campus’ proximity to San Francisco.


Dr. Lynch feels that Mia’s writing talents were nurtured by PHS’s Mrs. Banales and were reflected in her admissions essays. In addition to Mia’s stellar test scores and GPA, she has accomplished 

volunteer work in South Africa, Cambodia, and Costa Rica. She also spent a semester in New York City at The Masters School with a curriculum of alternating three days in the classroom followed by three days working on projects in the city.

Congratulations, Mia, from all of your friends at Peninsula Heritage School!




Dad’s and Granddad’s Day

January 25, 2019


Last Friday’s “Dads and Granddads Day” built many lasting memories! After four solid days of much-needed rain, Friday’s sun was a welcome sight! Beginning with a bounteous 7:30 am breakfast, highlighted with our traditional and delicious tamales, our dads and granddads enjoyed activities and games with their students in the classrooms. Our guests were totally involved in these collaborative and (sometimes) competitive activities!


Reconvening outside in the Amphitheater at 9:15 am, our Primary Center children wowed us and warmed our hearts. Through song, dance, and individual anecdotes, our youngest students portrayed the PHS Character Quality of “Caring,” especially for their dads.


The sixth grade launched a new assembly feature: “What’s Happening!” They creatively informed us of all the curricular and extra-curricular projects and activities occurring this month in all the grades here at PHS, highlighting the fabulous learning in which our students and teachers are engaged on a daily basis. Truly a memorable morning!


Dads day



Visiting Author

January 11, 2019


What a treat! Yesterday our students had the opportunity to listen to a charming children’s book read to them by the author, a Peninsula Heritage School alum, Mathieu Cailler. This newly published story, The (Underappreciated) Life of Humphrey Hawley, tells of a beetle who wishes to become a ladybug in order to be loved by humans. After pretending to be something he’s not, Humphrey learns to love himself and his world.


Following the reading, many of the students easily expressed the theme of the story. They also asked questions about the writing process. “I thought of this story years ago,” explained Mr. Cailler, “and have been carrying it around in my brain since then. When I decided to write it, the actual process took about three weeks, as I went through a number of drafts.”


Mathieu’s work has been featured in national and international publications. He is the author of poetry and fiction for adults, and this is his first children’s book. It has been nominated for a Caldecott Medal, a Newbery award, and a Geisel award. The author is a graduate of Occidental College and the Vermont College of Fine Arts.


Students also asked the author about the book’s illustrations. “They were done by two women in Kansas [Carrie Louise Wood and Rebecca Wood] who I contacted on Instagram,” responded Mr. Cailler. “They were thrilled to do the work. From there, a professional designer did the layout, chose the fronts, and then it was sent to the printer.”


Mathieu autographed preordered copies of the book for PHS students. Additional copies of this wonderful story can be obtained at; it is also available in Spanish. (Remember to sign up for; a percent of each sale [numerous books and other items] benefits Peninsula Heritage School!)  Happy reading! 


Author visit



Alumni Spotlight

January 18, 2019


“He knew it the minute he walked onto the campus,” relates former PHS parent Melissa Bradley about her son Luke while on a college visit to Ivy League schools. “It was winter break, the school was closed, there were no students, it was freezing cold, but I looked at him and saw his face light up! Meanwhile I was thinking, 'But this is Harvard…’"


Since that visit, Luke, currently a senior at Palos Verdes High School, focused on Harvard as his top choice in college applications and chose to apply Early Decision. On December 13, 2018, at 4:00 pm, Luke opened his email from Harvard and learned… he was accepted!


In addition to his outstanding grades and his significant leadership experiences, his mother feels that his character was instrumental in his acceptance. It came across in his letters of recommendations, in his essays, and in his personal interview.


“Of course his family and church were key components in building his character,” relates Melissa, “but I know that Peninsula Heritage’s constant focus on Character Qualities week after week, year after year, was a major influence.”


Luke recently reflected about PHS. “I owe a lot of my character to the school. They set me on a course where I was able to excel academically and become a better person. There’s a very personal relationship between the teachers and the students… I really felt as if every teacher had a personal investment in me as a student.”


Luke is interested in a career in business and is pleased that Harvard offers an economics major while allowing him to explore a number of other interests including philosophy.


Congratulations, Luke, from all of us at PHS!


Alumni Luke












We’re on ABC7 Eyewitness News!

December 14, 2018


The following was featured on ABC7 Eyewitness News this past Tuesday! In celebration of Hanukkah, 


 Primary Center


the Jewish Festival of Lights, I read Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel to our Primary Center students. With Klezmer music (a Jewish tradition from Eastern Europe) playing in the background, and facilitated by Mrs. Deb Wilcox, the children enjoyed games with dreidels, four-sided tops with a Hebrew letter on each side: nun, gimel, hay, and shin. These students were delighted to receive gelt, chocolate coins covered in gold foil, another tradition of the Hannukkah celebration!



Spark of Love

November 30, 2018


A special thanks to all PHS students and parents who donated toys and games to the Los Angeles County firefighters for this year’s 25th Anniversary of the holiday “Spark of Love Toy Drive” for underserved children in southern California. At our Family Day Assembly, the firemen thanked the assembled students and parents for their generosity, and the school community expressed its appreciation to the firefighters for their work in the recent wildfires.

Spark of Love Drive


A Taste of Reading

November 16, 2018


Last week, PHS students in all grades were introduced to various genres of reading through the creative approach of “A Taste of Reading.” Styled as a dining experience, students in their classrooms and in the Middle School sampled fantasy, fiction, mystery, biography, and other literary forms as they took turns at individual tables loaded with reading offerings. Old favorites were revisited and many new genres were discovered!


“It was such fun,” reported one Second Grader. “I discovered lots of new books. We had a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and at the end we had cookies and mango tea!”



A Taste of Middle School

Last Thursday evening, the parents of current PHS 4th and 5th Graders gathered in the Middle School’s “Taste of Reading” classroom to experience a “Taste of PHS Middle School.” Alumni students and parents of alumni joined with Middle School teachers to share and discuss how Peninsula Heritage’s Middle School program prepares students academically, socially, and emotionally for secondary school, both public and private.


“I’ve never been on this Middle School campus before,” one parent remarked. “This is all fabulous!” Additional opportunities to learn more about our PHS Middle School will be forthcoming.



Educator of the Year

November 9, 2018

Our Third Grade Teacher, Mrs. Janice DeMarti, was selected by her PHS peers and honored this past Wednesday evening at the 38th Annual Educator of the Year dinner and program.


Presented by the Rotary Club of Palos Verdes Peninsula at the Palos Verdes Golf Club, Mrs. DeMarti was one of nine teachers from this area who were honored. In her introductory remarks for Mrs. DeMarti, Dr. Chun wrote: “Janice makes learning come alive! Her individualized attention and enthusiastic, hands-on teaching style are appreciated by both parents and students alike.”


Speaking to the over 240 guests at this event, Mrs. DeMarti praised her fellow teachers here at PHS and shared her insights about the teaching profession and its meaning to her and her family.


We are so fortunate to have Mrs. DeMarti as one of our very talented faculty members teaching our wonderful third grade class!



All About Character!

November 2, 2018


Through drama, dialogue, song, and dance, the Second Graders emphatically presented about one of Peninsula Heritage School’s character qualities, self-control, during Wednesday’s all-school assembly!


The audience learned how to behave politely and appropriately at their class Halloween party, how to use self-control to avoid eating all of their Halloween candy at one time, and how to use self-control while trick-or-treating. As an additional approach to expand our knowledge of musical genres, the Princess of Rock (aka Mrs. Esturain) and her “cousin,” the Princess of Hard Rock (aka Ms. Wood) demonstrated the difference between traditional rock music and hard rock.


The delightful Halloween costume parade around the school track was followed by individual class parties, including the second graders’ creations of haunted gingerbread houses. Truly a spooktacular day at PHS!



Down on the Farm

October 26, 2018


On a gorgeous fall day last week, our Primary Center students traveled to Tanaka Farms, a 30-acre agricultural and educational family farm operating for 40 years in the heart of Irvine. As a culmination of our student’s science unit about the parts of a plant, the children experienced first-hand how fruits and vegetables are grown.

A tractor-pulled wagon ride around the farm showcased rows of growing corn, fields of sunflowers, and unique raised beds of strawberry plants. The children walked through a maze partially created with corn stalks and enjoyed docile sheep and goats in the petting zoo.


Walking into the fields, the children harvested radishes, onions, and carrots. Following an enjoyable picnic lunch, our PHS students were invited to take home a pumpkin from the extensive Tanaka patch. There was only one rule: If you can carry it, you can take it!


Back at PHS, our students have planted bulbs in our school garden adjacent to the Science Lab. Come spring, we’ll be enjoying beautiful tulips, daffodils, and paper white narcissus – another educational experience for these young scientists.



Composer of the Month

October 19, 2018


“We introduce it in bite-sized pieces,” explains PHS Music Teacher, Mr. Charles Miller. “As the students enter the room, they’re hearing an easily accessible and likeable piece by our Composer of the Month.”


What follows in class, prior to the regularly planned curriculum, is a brief biography of the composer. Mr. Miller links the composer to other writers at that time and places him in historical context, such as “about the time of George Washington.” When students recently saw the years when Frederic Chopin lived, one student immediately exclaimed, “He was only 39 when he died!”


Through Mr. Miller’s discussions about the composer, questions arise such as, “What is a string quartet? What is chamber music? How did people listen to music then?” These questions serve as a springboard for further conversations about the composer, his music, and the time period in which he lived. In a very natural manner, PHS students are gaining a broad understanding of European and later, American music from the 1500’s to the early 20th century, which can serve as a basis for a lifetime of music appreciation.


One second grader remarked, “I’m excited to learn about the composers, and sometimes when we listen to music in the car, I see his name on the screen! In September we learned about Antonio Vivaldi.”


Another student mentioned that she likes the composers’ happy music. “I take ballet. The music is easy to dance to, and we hear it when we practice.”

By the middle of each month, the students begin guessing. “I want to know who will be the composer next month,” shares a second grade boy. These young musicians can look forward to a full array of upcoming composers from Bach to the Gershwins!


Intrinsic Rewards

September 14, 2018


Parents may have noticed that “Student of the Month” and “Good Citizens” were not included in our recent All-School Assembly. While PHS continues to highly value these concepts, they will no longer be recognized with a ribbon at assemblies. This decision was reached after careful consideration of the following.


Over the past two decades, significant research in motivation has produced interesting conclusions. These are summarized by Daniel H. Pink in his 2009 book Drive, which many of our faculty and staff read during this past summer.


Experts across a variety of disciplines have recognized that the traditional “carrot and stick” approach to motivation not only produces less that satisfactory results, but often creates negative behavior and actually undermines a person’s intrinsic motivation toward an activity. Rather than teach and build positive personal qualities, rewards and punishments can even lead to unethical behavior.



Here at PHS, we are striving to promote intrinsic motivation in our students, so they can experience the satisfying and rewarding pleasures that come from within. We explain and model the benefits of good citizenship every day and offer opportunities each day for children to master the behaviors that will enhance their lives and those of their peers both within and outside the classroom.


We enable students to have autonomy in many of their learning choices, which further promotes intrinsic motivation. The rewards are not a ribbon but deeper learning, personal delight, and the desire to do one’s best. Our long-term emphasis is building intrinsic motivation in our students for their personal satisfaction now and in the future. 

The Benefits of Outdoor Education

September 21, 2018



During the next several weeks, many of our students will be away from campus on Outdoor Education trips. There are many reasons why schools, and particularly independent schools, offer their students these opportunities.


The main benefits of Outdoor Education include the following:


  • It builds community.Outdoor education experiences build community with students from the moment the trip begins. Students ride buses, cars, and boats to reach their destinations, and oftentimes, share these spaces with people outside of school. Once they arrive at their destinations, students share living spaces and learn to care for themselves and others with whom they are in close quarters. Students also learn to have empathy and practice their PHS Character Qualities by looking out for each other during their time away.
  •  It raises expectations and standards.
    Students are responsible for themselves and their belongings from the moment they embark. They have to carry all of their belongings and set up their own beds. They serve themselves food, clean up their eating areas, repack their bags, and clean their sleeping quarters. They do all of this while immersed in a field-study program that asks them to do multidisciplinary activities drawing on prior knowledge and interacting with a variety of environments, weather, and physical challenges of mountain or ocean environments. During these three days away, expectations for student behavior and participation are raised to ensure that everyone gets the most out of the program. Students consistently rise to these standards and expectations because of their supportive classmates and the new, exciting setting.
  • It increases connection.
    Outdoor education not only increases the student-to-student connection, but it also benefits the student/teacher/chaperone connections. Sharing experiences that push everyone out of their comfort zones draws people closer together. Students see teachers/chaperones in a different light, and teachers/chaperones also see students take on different roles and behaviors outside of school. It’s a win-win for everyone!
  • It builds culture.
    Cultures share a common language, values, purpose, and connection to place as a fundamental expression of who they are. All of these things develop for a group of students in just three short days. We have cabin names, jobs, and schedules on the site that are only for our group. Themes begin to arise about working hard, being outside, and enjoying fun, food, and great experiences -- all hallmarks of developed cultures.
  • It develops positive feelings and memories around school and the outdoors.
    Outdoor education not only brings a class/group of students closer together, but it also creates memories that last a lifetime. Teaching and learning outdoors is fun. Often, the outdoors provides a change of pace from the classroom, which students and teachers enjoy. 

    Building self-confidence and self-esteem are fundamental to any young person’s development. Outdoor education experiences provide valuable alternative avenues for achievement, often non-competitive, as well as opportunities to develop independence and self-reliance. Through successfully facing up to the challenges that outdoor activities provide, overcoming fears and apprehensions along the way, young people make major strides in confidence, with implications for all aspects of their development.


Thank you for supporting your child in their participation in Outdoor Education!



 Outdoor Ed Collage



Summer Reading!

September 14, 2018


Last June, I invited our staff to read one of the following books: Drive by Daniel P. Pink or Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. Each of these volumes offers important insights that are very applicable for both teachers and parents.


During our In-Service Week prior to the start of school, our staff met in small groups to discuss our readings and document our impressions. Each group created a chart or diagram (see below) to capsulize the participants’ discussion, and then presented these to the entire staff. As I visited each group during their conversations, I noted the focus and enthusiasm of the staff members as they shared their personal conclusions from the readings.


Carol Dweck’s Mindset uses recent physical and psychological research to develop the “growth mindset” concept. Rather than the old “fixed intelligence” theory, Dweck shows scientific evidence that grit and struggle can vastly increase intelligence, especially when practice and perseverance are employed.


In a related field, Daniel Pink explores various methods of human motivation in Drive. He compares the “carrot and stick” extrinsic approach with personal motivation that comes from within and offers multiple examples of how the latter can be used in education and in child rearing to achieve positive, lasting behaviors.


Our teachers are excited about these new insights and are working at putting them into practice, where appropriate, both within and outside the classroom!


Dr. Cindy Chun

Head of School


Summer Reading Collage




September 7, 2018


A Peninsula Heritage School “Welcome” to both our new and our returning students and families! Your enthusiastic participation in Tuesday’s Family Picnic makes a wonderful beginning to what will be a great school year.


I am so glad that many of you had the opportunity to meet our new Assistant Head of School, Mrs. Pauline Rowe. We are all impressed with her gracious personality and her depth of private school experience, and we see that she is already becoming an integral part of our administrative team.


Our PHS students were warmly welcomed this week by outstanding teachers who have carefully prepared their curriculum and their classrooms for your children. Parents have the opportunity to learn more of the important details of each grade’s projects and events by joining us this coming Thursday evening, September 13th. We’ll begin with our New Parent Orientation at 5:00 pm in the School Library, followed by Back-to-School Night at 6:00 pm, starting in the Amphitheater and then transitioning to the individual classrooms. You won’t want to miss this informative and enjoyable PHS evening. See you then!


Dr. Cindy Chun

Head of School


picnic collage




Our Art Teachers's Art

June 7, 2018


Peninsula Heritage’s art teacher, Mrs. Patty Harunk, is not only a superb instructor but also an extremely talented multi-media artist in her own right. She is currently being honored by having her work displayed at the “CA 101” international art show in Redondo Beach.


For this year’s annual show, 407 artists submitted work and 54 percent were selected, including Miss Patty’s! She explains, “My piece is called ‘Circus Dreams’ which is a ceramic and mixed media sculpture of vintage circus pull toys that capture the childhood dreams of joining the circus.”


This show, entitled “CA 101  2018, Artists From CA, USA, The World” continues through Sunday, June 10th at 200 North Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach. For hours and details, access


Thank you, Miss Patty, for artistically enriching our students’ lives and now the community’s!


Patty Harunk



Alumni Spotlight

June 7, 2018


This week, our Alumni Spotlight shines on former PHS student Chantell Thompson, who applied and was accepted to be an exchange student at an all-girls private school in Tokyo, Japan.


Chantell Thompson

For this three-week exchange, Chantell is staying with a host family and taking the train to school each day. So far, she loves it! In o

 rder to participate in this program, Chantell first had to finish her 11th Grade academic work and take her finals early before she departed for Japan.

Chantell’s well-known passion for drama has continued at the high school level with

 parts in Chadwick School’s theater productions, Lip Sync Contest 2018 (which she won!), and other acting opportunities outside of school. She was elected to be a Junior Honor Council Representative and next year will be Chair of the Peer Mentors Wellness Committee at her school.


Chantell also spent many volunteer hours last summer working in our PHS Library, saying, “I just love to be here at PHS!” Her mother, Megumi Thompson, remarks, “I’m so grateful to Peninsula Heritage School for preparing her to do so well in high school! She definitely carries the Character Quality Program with her in high school years.”


Alumni Spotlight

May 29, 2018

This week our Alumni Spotlight shines on PHS graduate Greyson Leach. As a current freshman at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, Greyson was selected as a First Team All Bay League Player. He won the Bay League Championship with scores of 75 and 73. He shot 69 in the first round of California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Individuals, tying for 4th of 116 golfers. In the CIF Southern Section Final he shot 74 and advanced to the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) SoCal Regional where he finished the season with a 78. As an individual, Greyson has advanced further than any PV Peninsula High golfer of the last 15 years! Congratulations, Greyson!


Greyson Leach


Alumni Spotlight

May 23, 2018


This week our Alumni Spotlight shines on Jael Campbell, who will graduate in June from Palos Verdes High School. Jael is the daughter of Elden and Rosemary Campbell, and Jael’s siblings, Jay Lee and Ariel, are also PHS alumni. Continuing the tradition, Jael’s younger brother Aaron is currently a Fourth Grader here at Peninsula Heritage.


Jael Campbell

On May 2, 2018, Dartmouth College’s volleyball head coach announced the addition of Jael to the coming year’s team roster.  “Jael adds depth to our outside and right-side positions,” remarked Coach Gilad Doran. “She has a very high ceiling, and we are looking forward to seeing how she pushes her own limits and grows in our gym over the next four years and beyond.”

Jael shares her journey to Dartmouth, which began in January of 2017 when a Dartmouth assistant coach came to watch one of Jael’s teammates. However, the coach spotted Jael’s talent. Subsequently, Jael began receiving emails from this assistant coach, which she ignored for a while. Others, though, urged her to at least talk to the Dartmouth people and consider the value of an Ivy League education.


It was on her official visit to the Hanover, New Hampshire campus in April of 2017 that Jael met the coaches, toured the beautiful campus, and decided to commit. This academic year she has played solely with her Mizuno club team here in southern California. She is now looking forward to working at Dartmouth’s Volleyball Camp in July and starting classes there in September.


“Of course,” Jael concludes, “I would not be the person that I am today without the foundation I received at Peninsula Heritage School!” 

Mother's Day

May 17, 2018


Hot cappuccino and a delicious breakfast buffet greeted our mothers and grandmothers as we began our Mother’s Day celebration at PHS last Friday. Interactive classroom activities for our guests preceded a fabulous All-School Assembly in our outdoor Amphitheater with the Fourth Grade presenting the Character Quality of Attitude. Despite the cool winds, our students’ talents and enthusiasm brought warm hearts to all.

Thank you Mothers and Grandmothers for sharing this day with your children and grandchildren as they honored YOU!






 May 11, 2018


We send bouquets of thanks to all of our fabulous parent volunteers for the wonderful Teacher Appreciation Luncheon this past Tuesday. What a wonderful opportunity for all of our faculty, staff, and administrators to gather together in the shade of our courtyard veranda and dine al fresco! Each bite was scrumptious, and the decorations and ambiance were beautiful and relaxing! We truly appreciate all of your efforts in honoring our talented and dedicated PHS teachers!


PA Collage

Rawhide Ranch

May 4, 2018

“Rawhide Ranch provided so many great learning experiences as well as marvelous free outdoor time for non-digital fun!” relates Third Grade teacher Mrs. Janice DeMarti following last week’s Outdoor Education trip to this southern California ranch in Bonsall, south of Temecula.


“With careful staff instruction, each child learned to ride a horse. They loved that experience, and you could just see their confidence soar,” continues Mrs. DeMarti. “They also learned to care for the horses, sheep, and other animals, cleaning their stalls and feeding them. Animals are very important to this age group, and it was gratifying to see the tenderness and care they showed.”


“I’ve ridden before,” shares one Third Grader, “but that was still my favorite part. It makes me feel happy! I also liked sleeping in the huge teepee with bunk beds!”


“I felt like Buddy was my own horse,” a Third Grade girl states. “It was nice and comfortable. I also liked sleeping in our girls’ cabin – I had a bottom bunk!”


Mrs. DeMarti was accompanied on this trip by Mrs. Kathy Mallon, our former Science Teacher, and an outstanding horsewoman. Thanks go to the three dads who also accompanied the students. In fact, one remarked, “This is wonderful for the children to have three full days of outdoor learning and fun with no electronic devices!”


                                              Rawhide Ranch collage



Second Graders Explore Simple Machines

April 20, 2018

“It was an amazing field trip!” Science Teacher Mrs. Nguyen enthusiastically reported following the Second Graders visit to the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena on Wednesday.

“Our students explored the principles of physics and simple machines in the outdoor Galvin Physics Forest,” continued Mrs. Nguyen. “They spun wheels while riding scooters, lifted levers, and tugged pulleys. They also created their own machines. This trip was in conjunction with the Second Graders’ science project that they are preparing for our school’s June 1st STEAM Fair.”

The children also explored the Museum’s model of Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco and learned first-hand the effects of erosion as they created small dams and used tools to control flowing water.

Thanks are extended to the parent drivers who also accompanied the children as well as to Second Grade Teacher Mrs. Esturain and Associate Teacher Ms. Wood.

“You’d be amazed at the power of simple machines!”


Second Grade Presents Shakespeare!

March 30, 2018


“When will we have rehearsal?” pleaded the Second Graders two weeks ago as excitement grew for their Midsummer Night’s Dream performance in the Amphitheater last Friday. “And please call us by our characters’ names,” they reminded Mrs. Esturain during math class!


This third annual Shakespearean production enabled these young students to become familiar with the Bard’s work in a natural fashion. The comedy was selected by Mrs. Esturain for its playfulness, its fantasy characters, and its ability to highlight each student’s attributes. The children heard the story version first and then learned their parts from the modified script that contains exact lines from the original play.


“I saw such growth in the children,” relates Mrs. Esturain. “They were brave, took risks, and worked as a team, encouraging each other. And in the Friday performance for their parents and the PHS student body, they really brought it”!


Congratulations, Second Graders! Your presentation was dreamy!


Second Grade Performance


It Was Magical!

March 23, 2018


“I don’t know where I could have experienced a greater thrill than being in the play,” reflected a Fifth Grader at the awards ceremony on the Monday following the Fifth Grade Play.


“It was being together and working as a team that was so great,” added another Fifth Grade student.


“My older son is very involved with theatrical productions, and I couldn’t believe the stage presence of these young Fifth Graders,” reported an adult attendee.


“I’ve never enjoyed a production more than this one!” declared a grandparent.


“The entire production was just magical,” mused an adult at the conclusion of the performance.


History truly came alive this past Thursday evening on the stage of the Norris Theatre, as the Fifth Graders presented the history of the Revolutionary War period through song and dance. They also made history with their amazing performances! Kudos to Mrs. Lynn, Mrs. Banales, Mrs. Wilcox, Mr. Miller, all of the parents, as well as so many others who were directly involved in presenting this production!


The lessons learned by the students during this play experience are innumerable. The joy and satisfaction they realized also add to their personal confidence in accomplishing challenging tasks. They created wonderful, lasting memories of this very special time in Fifth Grade.


Congratulations to all!


History Comes Alive Collage


PHS - Best of the Beach Private School 2018

March 9, 2018


Each year the Easy Reader newspaper and Beach Magazine, two local publications, declare the “Best of the Beach,” which is determined by online voting. These print publications, along with their online editions, reach residents of Palos Verdes as well as Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach, with a readership totaling approximately 57,000.


This year, as in 2011, 2014, and 2015, Peninsula Heritage School was honored to be voted “Best of the Beach” in the “Private School” category.


BOB2013     BOB201213      and now……BOB2018


Thanks to each of you, as well as to all those in the community, for this very meaningful honor. It indicates the high regard in which our school is held thoughout the South Bay!


Gala Thanks!

March 1, 2018


We extend a sincere thanks to each member of the Gala Committee, Tristen Moffett, Nancy Karmelich, Emily Gutierrez, Dee Edler, and Katie Toney, and to each parent, grandparent, and friend of the school who participated in Saturday evening’s PHS “Kentucky Derby” Winter Gala!


It was a fantastic event, from the video horse races to the great Silent Auction to the beautifully decorated dining tables to the delicious dinner to the rousing Live Auction to the exuberant dancing! Both male and female attendees brought their finest Kentucky Derby attire and their generosity to the event, making this one of the best-ever PHS Galas!




Gala collage


Three PHS Cheers for our Grandparents!

February 22, 2018


Miller family


Last week’s Grandparents/Special Persons/Fancy Nancy/Fabulous Fred Day was a special treat for the entire PHS community! We honored all of our visiting grandparents/special persons, with a tulip bouquet for our MOST senior citizen, “Pops” Miller, a WWII veteran, career aerospace engineer, and grandfather of Third Grader Cali Miller.


In addition to presentations by our First Graders, our Second Graders, and our Fifth Graders, this all-school Assembly featured the Middle School. We were wowed with science experiments, literary readings, a mathematical legend guesting on our talk show, and our Mandarin students sharing their language skills in conjunction with Chinese New Year! Kudos to our amazing students and all that they are learning and accomplishing!


Fancy Nancy Day


Pizza Thank You

January 31, 2018

Students in Second, Fourth, and Eighth Grades each enjoyed a delicious Blaze Pizza Party this past week as a big thank you for their classes achieving 100% household participation in this year’s Annual Giving!


When asked if they knew why they were being treated with pizza, the students enthusiastically replied, “YES!” They KNEW all about the 100% giving!


On behalf of all of us at PHS, we extend a sincere thank you to ALL of our parents for their loyalty and generosity as expressed in their Annual Giving. These funds are strategically put to use to enhance each child’s academic and co-curricular experience every day here at PHS! Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Pizza Lunch


Kindness & Crayons

 January 26, 2018


In conjunction with this week’s Great Kindness Challenge, Mrs. Kim Nygaard, PHS Physical Education teacher, invited PHS students and families to participate in the Crayon Collection, a national charity initiative that repurposes gently used crayons for underserved children.


With the generous donation of crayons received, Mrs. Nygaard beautifully packaged and will be delivering these lovely gifts to the Head Start Center Preschool at the Learning Center on Pennsylvania Avenue in nearby Lomita. In addition to the crayons, each child’s package will include a multi-colored heart-shaped crayon created by Mrs. Nygaard. And….sh, sh, sh…. She has also most “kindly” designed one of these specially shaped crayons for all of our PHS students, which they will receive today!


Crayon Campaign


Celebrating Our Heritage

January 19, 2018


Our Fourth Graders, under the direction of their teacher Mrs. Cathy Gilbert, recently completed an in-depth project focused on the diversity of individuals. The three main strands of the unit were as follows: 1) Connecting with the commonalities of their classmates, 2) Celebrating their differences, and 3) Understanding and affirming the value of each and every individual.


Mrs. Gilbert shares the details of this project: “Students were invited to choose one country that represented their family background and create a collage showing details of that country’s culture and traditions. The children interviewed family members to discover commonly appreciated stories of their past and how our PHS Character Quality of Perseverance was important in their lives. Students also learned some of the geography and history pertaining to the country they chose.”


On Heritage Day, the Fourth Graders presented their collages, along with any artifacts and traditional dress they wished to share. This event deliciously concluded with a sharing of traditional foods in the class’s Heritage Feast!


Heritage Celebration

Alumni Spotlight

January 12, 2018


This week our Alumni Spotlight shines on Will Tilles, who shares the following:

I am a junior at Loyola High School, and I have started a company called Fruit Swell. This non-profit organization will transport donated fruit to shelters and missions around Los Angeles.

 For the few past years, I have served at the Christian Brothers Mission near Loyola High School. As I hand out sandwiches and snacks to the homeless, I see a need for fruit with their meal. My mission is to provide donated fruit from local orchards to people in need. If your orchard is overflowing with fruit and going to waste, I am happy to pick it up and transport it to Los Angeles area shelters and missions.

Alumni Will TillesMy friend and I started the “Entrepreneur Club” at Loyola High School.  We meet twice a month to discuss entrepreneurial opportunities.  This semester we will focus on promoting Fruit Swell all over the Los Angeles area.  Since Loyola High School draws students from over 200 zip codes, I am hoping the donations will increase. 

I have many teachers to thank for my excellent education at Peninsula Heritage School.  Mrs. Banales for making me think outside the box.  Mrs. Charnofsky for making me think thoughtfully and to always be caring.  Mrs. Nygaard for always promoting fun with competition. Mrs. Lynn for knowing her students so well and allowing me to be “Red Coat #2” in the 5th Grade Play, History Comes Alive

Congratulations, Will, on all the great community service that you are accomplishing!


Alumni Spotlight

December 14, 2017


This week, our Alumni Spotlight shines on Bella Martinez, a freshman at Palos Verdes High School. As a cross country runner, Bella captured first place, with a time of 19:43 in the Girls Divisions III, IV, and V Junior Varsity 3-mile race at the prestigious Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) Cross Country Invitational on October 20, 2017. This young runner placed first among 66 other females, also leading her school team to an easy first place team win.


Progressing on to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Meet, competing against cross country runners from schools throughout California, Bella placed 61st among 208 runners in the Division III Girls race with a time of 19:58. At this State Meet on November 25, 2017, at Woodward Park in Fresno, CA, Bella ran third (of seven) on the Palos Verde High School’s Varsity team, which placed fourth in the team standings.


Congratulations to Bella on her amazing accomplishments as a freshman runner!

Bella Cross Country


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… The Holidays in the Science Lab!
December 8, 2017

The Primary Center students exhibited their design skills and artistic flair as they decorated gingerbread houses in the Science Lab, along with a little munching of the delicious components!
Not to be outdone, our older students created beautiful frosted ornaments utilizing the process of crystallization. Using red and white pipe cleaners or small pieces of artificial wreath shaped as small candy canes and wreaths, these items were soaked in a mixture of boiling water and Borax for about eight hours. The finished products are covered with room temperature crystals, but they actually look just like frosty ice!

PHS Choir Performs

December 1, 2017


Congratulations to our PHS Choir and Mr. Charley Miller for their enthusiastic presentation at the highly-acclaimed Holiday Festival hosted by the Torrance Memorial Medical Center.


Thanks also for the fabulous support provided by our PHS parents who brought their students on a busy school night and cheered on these young singers! What a great way to begin the holiday season!


PHS Choir


Bells are Ringing!

November 9, 2017


Yes, “Bells ARE Ringing” throughout the PHS parent community as our fabulous volunteers contact those who have not yet donated or pledged an amount to PHS Annual Giving Fund 101.


Thanks to you, oBells are Ringning photour generous donors, we are moving toward our goal of 100% household participation in Annual Giving by December 31st of this year! For your ease and convenience, you may make your gift online at


 If you would rather pledge an amount, and then make payment prior to June 30th, just email us at


Thanks again for all that you do to ensure the sustainability and growth of this fabulous school!




Educator of the Year!
November 3, 2017

Voila our 2017 Educator of the Year… Kat Bañales, honored at Wednesday evening’s annual dinner and program at the Palos Verdes Golf Club, presented by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Rotary Club.
Mrs. Bañales is a playwright, painter, and our beloved Enrichment Language Arts Educator of the Year. The beauty of this talented woman is that she is able to instill a love of literature in every one of her students. Her passion for the humanities is contagious, and her teaching style is direct and decisive yet flexible enough to accommodate each individual's unique learning style.
We feel privileged to have had Mrs. Bañales on our staff for over sixteen years. She is an indispensable team member, the author of our acclaimed 5th Grade Play, an actress for our monthly assemblies, and most importantly an admired and esteemed educator.
Bravo, Mrs. Bañales! You are loved by all! 

"Building and Programming"

October 27, 2017


 “I’ve been working on robots since I was three,” confides Fifth Grader Dylan following his team’s recent win at the San Diego Regional VEX Middle School Robotics Tournament.Dylan


At least three times each week Dylan works with his team members in building and programming robots at Rolling Robots in Rolling Hills Estates. They began in July to work on this competition robot, and at the all-day tournament in San Diego they participated in approximately 20 rounds before capturing First Place in the Middle School level.Robotics team


“I like to build things and also to control something,” continues Dylan. “Working with a team, we can talk about the work, and it feels better as a team to win.”


Looking ahead, Dylan reflects, “Building these robots helps me to become better at engineering and programming because that’s my goal – to become an engineer!” 




"Taste of Reading"

October 19, 2017


The preparations were completed, and the tables were set for the guests’ arrival. When our Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Graders entered their Middle School classrooms last Friday, they were treated to a “Taste of Reading.”


Taste of Reading

Designed to foster or rekindle a love of reading and learning, this event offered books at beautifully decorated tables, designated by their literary genre. Every ten minutes, the students moved to another table and introduced their reading palettes to the various “tastes” of that genre, noting what was appealing about a particular story and making critics’ notes on available bookmarks.


Addressing the nation-wide drop in student reading due to social media and technology, this event, designed by Mrs. Mahoney and Mrs. Banales, encouraged our students to turn off technology and relish the banquet of reading material. With a plethora of books available, every Middle Schooler took home a volume to devour!        



Help Houston’s Harvey Victims

October 13, 2017


Thanks to all those who contributed gently-used clothing for the Houston, TX residents suffering from Hurricane Harvey.


“I felt sad about the people in Houston who were affected by Hurricane Harvey,” relates Dylan, a Student Council member. “I wanted to help, and I feel happy about what we did.”

             Hurrican Harvey Donations

What our students and parents did was quite significant. Our Student Council members packed 12 large boxes of clothing for babies to adults, which will be shipped to the affected area. Mr. Patrick Nguyen, owner of ICDI, Inc. and husband of our teacher and Student Council adviser Mrs. Wendy Nguyen, donated new shoes and covered the cost of shipping the clothing to Houston.


A former PHS administrator now resides in one of the hard-hit areas of Houston, and she shared with Mrs. Nguyen the urgent need for clothing for all ages. Our school’s donations will be received and dispersed in the affected neighborhoods of the city along with written notes and heart-felt good wishes from our students.




Why Outdoor Education is SO Important
October 6, 2017
Recently, our 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes went on their outdoor education (ed.) adventures. Fifth graders will return from Catalina Island Marine Institute this afternoon; Sixth graders went to Pali Mountain Adventures last week; Seventh graders went to CIMI at the start of the week; and Eighth graders went to the Channel Islands a couple weeks ago. Fourth graders will go on their journey to AstroCamp the latter part of next week. Although it may seem like we just take the kids on trips to have fun, there are many more benefits.
Outdoor ed. promotes active learning through direct personal experience and offers excitement, fun, and adventure within a framework of safety. Challenging experiences outdoors powerfully impacts a young person’s intellectual, physical, social, and moral development. Outdoor ed. can also represent many firsts for our students: their first time away from home, their first time camping, and for this generation, their first experience without a digital connection. This sometimes means that it is their first experience being completely responsible for their own entertainment.
There are many benefits to outdoor ed., but there are five main reasons that stand out.
1. It builds community.
Outdoor ed. experiences builds community with students from the moment the trip begins. Students ride buses, cars, and boats to get to their destinations, and oftentimes, have to share these spaces with people outside of school. Once they arrive, students share living spaces and learn to care for themselves and others with whom they are in close quarters. Students also learn to have empathy and practice their PHS values by looking out for each other during their time away.
2. It raises expectations and standards.
Students are responsible for themselves and their belongings from the moment they embark. They have to carry all of their belongings and set up their own beds. They serve themselves food, clean up their eating areas, repack their bags, and clean their sleeping areas. They do all of this while immersed in a field-study program that asks them to do multidisciplinary activities that draw on prior knowledge and interact with a variety of environments, weather, and physical challenges of a mountain or ocean environment. During these three days away, expectations for student behavior and participation are raised to ensure that everyone gets the most out of the program. Students consistently rise to these standards and expectations because of their supportive classmates and the new, exciting setting.

3. It increases connection.
Outdoor ed. not only increases the student-to-student connection, but it also benefits the student/teacher/chaperone connections. Having shared experiences that push everyone out of their comfort zones draws people closer together. Students see teachers/chaperones in a different light, and teachers/chaperones also get to see students take on different roles and behaviors outside of school. It’s a win-win for everyone!

4. It builds culture.
Cultures share a common language, values, purpose, and connection to place as a fundamental expression of who they are. All of these things develop for a group of students in just three short days. We have cabin names, jobs, and schedules on the site that are only for our group. Themes begin to arise about working hard, being outside, having fun, food, and great experiences -- all hallmarks of developed cultures.

5. It develops positive feelings and memories around school and the outdoors.
Outdoor ed. not only brings a class/group of students closer together, but it also creates memories that they will have for a lifetime. Teaching and learning outdoors is fun. Often, the outdoors provides a change of pace from the classroom, which students and teachers enjoy.

Building self-confidence and self-esteem are fundamental to any young person’s development. Outdoor ed. provides valuable alternative avenues for achievement, often non-competitive, as well as opportunities to develop independence and self-reliance. Through successfully facing up to the challenges that outdoor activities provide, overcoming fears and apprehensions along the way, young people make major strides in confidence, with implications for all aspects of their development. Outdoor ed. is an important part of a student’s development. Thank you for supporting your child in taking the risk of going on outdoor ed!

“When Everything Old is New Again!”

September 29, 2017


Beneath our new logo backdrop in the Amphitheater last Friday, our Fifth Graders amazed us all! Clad in the vibrant colors of our logo, these students sang and danced to Peter Allen’s showstopper, “When Everything Old is New Again!”

Of course, our beloved PHS traditions continued with Citizens of the Month, birthday pencils for birthday children and adults, and heart-felt readings about the Character Quality of “Respect.” Mr. Jason Greenwald, Harvest Fair Co-Chair, shared details of the upcoming rides and adventures while recruiting “grilling dads” for the big event on October 29th, and the Class Giving Chairs helped kick-off our Annual Giving Fund 101.

What a fantastic blending of the old and the new on a gorgeous September morning at PHS!


September Assembly



Route 66 at PHS!

September 22, 2017


As the Route 66 song goes, “It winds from Chicago to LA!” This year Route 66 is winding around our own PHS track as the theme for the PHS Walking Club!

Designed by our PE instructor Mrs. Kim Nygaard to encourage walking and physical fitness, the PHS Walking Club invites all family members to join in the fitness and fun! Parents are walking with their children before and after school, while students have additional walking time at recess and lunch. Associate teachers punch each student’s walking card as they complete laps, and the combined total of our students walking is already over 200 miles!

Congratulations, PHS walkers!


You’re Invited!

September 15, 2017


Parents won’t want to miss our first All-School Assembly of the year this coming Friday, September 22, starting at 9:15 am in the Amphitheater. You’ll be amazed that it will have only been 2 ½ weeks since school started, yet our talented Fifth Graders will be portraying the Character Quality of “Respect” through a beautifully choreographed song and dance production. We’ll also honor Good Citizens and Birthday Children (and adults!) along with other presentations. See you there!


“We HAVE a bus!”

September 8, 2017


On Wednesday, our first PHS students to arrive via bus stepped onto our campus! This bus service, provided by Mission School Transportation with its driver, Miss Turner, is available to all PHS students living near the route designed to be most efficient for families in the Beach Cities.

Traveling with seat belts in air-conditioned comfort, these students begin their day at one of four stops along the north/south route of Sepulveda/Pacific Coast Highway. Beginning in the IHOP parking area just south of Imperial Highway in El Segundo, the bus stops at pre-designated sites twice in Manhattan Beach, once in Hermosa Beach, and once in Redondo Beach before arriving at PHS. At the conclusion of the school day, the bus departs from PHS at 3:35 pm and retraces the same route.

A smiling Second Grader declared, “The bus is fun because I can talk to my friends on the way to school!”

“I like the bus,” explains one student rider, “because now my parents don’t have to spend all that time driving back and forth to take me and pick me up from PHS. Instead, they can do their work, which is for me, too!”

Please contact us for details and cost if you wish to have your student(s) use this convenient PHS bus service: 310-541-4795 or