Group 6 Studies Refugees – By: Group Six

What is a Refugee?

Today, nearly 60 million people around the world have been forced to leave their countries and homes, searching for safety. Many men, women, and children are living in temporary shelters and camps. These are Refugees. Refugees are people who live in countries experiencing  poverty and war. Because of these life threatening issues they are forced to flee their homeland. Some of the countries that are fled most are Syria, Myanmar, the Dominican Republic of Congo, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Most refugees are forced to flee on foot, traveling hundreds of miles. Some have fled to neighboring countries, and many have even made the trek across many thousands of miles, like from Syria to Germany.

Our Read-Aloud Book, Home of the Brave:  Connections and Thoughts

Group 6 read a book called Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate. This book is about a brave refugee named Kek from Sudan. He was forced to flee to the United States of America without his mother who got lost in a raid. After we read the book, we read articles about current Syrian refugees who were able to escape the war in Syria and move to the U.S. Some are still waiting to flee their countries, but cannot. The articles inspired Group 6 to start brainstorming how to help these people.  One of the articles we read was about a Syrian family whose children’s school was destroyed in a series of attacks. The family left Syria, and now the family found refuge in the U.S.


We connected the stories we read in the articles with Kek’s story. We understood that when there is a war,  there is no other choice but to flee and leave everything behind. It takes awhile to adjust to the new lifestyle of living in a new country. It is a hard adjustment because they must rebuild everything that was in their life that they once had and now lost, such as family, language, culture, traditions, and work.

When we compare our lives to the lives of Kek and the Syrian refugees, we feel grateful for what we have, and we feel inspired to do all that we can to give a helping hand.


Giving a Helping Hand

Group 6 split up into different committees in hopes to help refugees in different ways.  We are writing a letter to the President about letting more refugees into the U.S., having a bake sale to raise money to donate to refugees, helping to spread the word about these refugees by writing this letter in the Westland blog, and made a class project to remember our experiences in learning about refugees.

YOU can help refugees by donating to helpful organizations, such as the International Rescue Committee (IRC), CARE Humanitarian Organization, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and so many more. We encourage you to please give a helping hand because refugees all over the world are struggling to earn money, get food, and even clothes; so please donate today. Thank you!

Visit the following links to learn more and to DONATE:

The International Rescue Committee (IRC)

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)


From California Native Plants, to Gecky, to Sea Jellies, and Medieval Legends, a survey of some of this year’s Print Shop activities

By: Madeleine Zygarewicz

This school year has ushered a flurry of a print activity both in the Print Shop and Art studio with students from Groups 1, 3, 5 and 6 working with Madeleine Zygarewicz.

Here are some fun highlights from some of the projects they’ve created. Fun fact: students who sit at the end of the press are nicknamed “pluckers” as they help their classmate “pluck” the sheet of paper they’ve just printed. This name was coined by the 2015 Group 6!

Group 1:
Gecky , the Group 1 class Gecko, served as our figure model to create a mixed media print using watercolor, wax resist and printmaking techniques. Gecky was excited by the attention and was scampering about in her terrarium throughout the session, which proved to be fun and challenging to draw! Group 1 will be working on creating some fun upcoming projects for their trees study.

image001 (1)

Group 3:
From sea jellies, to abstract shapes and cities—Group 3 has explored some interesting printmaking techniques including use of handset type, digital printing plates and handmade glue and paper plates. Group 3 continues its printing projects this spring with some Inuit inspired prints of animals from their Alaska study.


Group 5:
From Fiesta sign making to an elaborate book of California native medicinal plants used by the Tongva Trive, Group 5 has been busy cranking the presses, binding books and making decorations for the study of California. Be on the look out for some hand printed fruit crate labels and t-shirts later this spring!
image001 (2)

Group 6:
Group 6 continues to create art as well as promotional prints for the school, such as the recent Theatricum flyers posted around school. In the fall, Group 6 wrote a pentatonic poem based on medieval legends and painstakingly set the 23 lines in black letter Old English type. Not easy to read, set or print—especially while preparing everything backwards! They are busy working on their final project of hand carved linoleum blocks of their Islamic art tiles.

Print Shop:
If you haven’t been in the Print Shop recently, we invite to stop by and check out the art work hanging above the type and on the walls. With the help of Carlos, Groups 5 and 6 and Madeleine, the Print Shop is becoming more organized every week. We have some pieces from the archives hanging and will soon have a portfolio for visitors to peruse of current and old work from past students.

image001 (3)

Group One – People as a Resource: A Visit With Firefighter Liz Curry

Group One has been exploring the topic of Firefighters and recently had the opportunity to welcome Firefighter Liz Curry from Fire Station 88.

Group One’s initial visit to Fire Station 109 led to many questions about firefighter uniforms. Upon returning to the classroom, the children completed an in-depth project, constructing moveable firefighters. Group One recreated the details of a uniform, revealing what they knew but also what they still needed to find out. More questions emerged as a result of this project and intensified their curiosity about the uniforms.

Does a firefighter need a new badge if they switch stations? What else is on the badge? Having Firefighter Liz available to answer these questions and being able to hold her badge to personally investigate was extremely exciting. The group learned that the badge has a phoenix on it and Liz shared about its significance – this was new information, even for Michelle!

In addition, Firefighter Liz shared her Urban Search and Rescue uniform and demonstrated how she uses a harness in this component of her job. Being aware of young children and their development, she facilitated an activity that involved movement, dramatic play, and the role playing of a rescue. The following week the group incorporated this knowledge into a new blockbuilding topic, “Rescue in the City.”

Westland students are exposed to the many resources available to them as they study the world around them and soon recognize the value of people as a primary resource. There is such richness in the people-to-people experience. Students have the opportunity to understand, in a more complex and meaningful way, the role, experience and feelings of someone else. Meeting Firefighter Liz furthered Group One’s appreciation for the role of a firefighter. Having space between meeting firefighters at Fire Station 109 and then meeting Firefighter Liz provided an element of reflection and continued investment in the information explored.

This visit also served as a culminating activity, resulting in a mutual and respectful exchange between Group One and Firefighter Liz. Just as Group One had such genuine interest in her job, she too honored their multiple discoveries through her sincere attention and appreciation for their work. It is in this way that Group One works through the beginning stages of research. This process will continue to evolve throughout their years at Westland.

“Children… need most of the same things adults need – consideration, respect for their work, the knowledge that they and the things they do are taken seriously.” – Caroline Pratt, I Learn From Children.

Fire Book Slideshow (Converted) from Westland School on Vimeo.

By: Michelle McCaffrey and Kailea Switzer


A Legacy of Openness – Written by: Chris Bray

In 1959, a Los Angeles physician sued a private school after it refused to admit his six year-old daughter. But the Superior Court quickly dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that Dr. A. Palmer Reed had accused the Hollywood Professional School of doing something that wasn’t legally prohibited. Even if the school had denied admission to Cynthia Denice Reed because she was black, the court concluded, “the anti-discrimination statutes were never designed for the purpose of regulating what strictly private groups shall do.” In Los Angeles, as in the rest of the country, private schools had every right to offer admission only to white students. They would maintain that legal right until 1976.

In the year that Dr. Palmer filed his unsuccessful lawsuit, the Westland School was ten years old – and it had prohibited racial discrimination since the moment of its founding. In a December 19, 1949 meeting, making their first rules for the operation of a new school, the Westland board of trustees considered and passed Article IX of their original bylaws:

“It was moved by John McTernan that there shall be no discrimination in the administration of any of the affairs of this corporation against any student, prospective student, member, prospective member, or any other person on account of race, creed, color, national origin or political belief.”

The measure passed, decades before the trustees had any legal obligation to pass it. From the first moments that Westland existed, the founders of the school knew what the institutional culture would be: open, diverse, pluralistic. It was a decision – and a culture – that they passed down to the generations of parents, teachers, and students who have followed. Our history is who we are.

dec 19 1949 pg 3 (1)-page-0

Service Learning in Action – Written By: Amy Gartenberg

Out of Group Four’s geography curriculum, the class started discussing the distribution of population, wealth, and food around the world.

In an activity shared by Group 1 teacher, Kailea Switzer, the class was given 100 bingo pieces, 100 pennies, and 100 paper clips. The bingo pieces represented people, the pennies wealth, and the paper clips food. The children worked together, distributing items on each continent to represent their guess of how the world’s population, wealth, and food access was globally distributed. After they shared their guesses, we rearranged the pieces to accurately represent this distribution. The students were shocked to see the disproportionation of wealth and food available to countries with larger populations compared to the excess of resources for smaller ones.


pic 2

We discussed how the world got this way and what we felt we could do to help. Some of the ideas were to send money to people in need. However, with the guidance of Nnenna Nwachuku, the class engaged in discussions regarding the cycle of poverty and what can be done to break it. The class was very interested in access to clean water. They were upset to learn that many children their age spent their days collecting water rather than going to school.



After brainstorming, they decided to raise money for a hand pump that would provide clean water to a village. As Valentine’s Day approached the class chose to celebrate the day by hosting a bake sale to raise money for the pump. As part of this service learning activity, the homework assignments that week included baking items for the sale and determining a reasonable price for their goods.


On the day of sale, the children were in charge of the entire process, from set up to cashiering and money counting and raised $596! The children felt great satisfaction in seeing this project through from beginning to end.