EXCITING NEWS AS WE PREPARE FOR RETURN TO CAMPUS
A year-ago at this time our collection of opportunities specifically for Hamilton School students was deeply embedded in the lives of children. Working closely with Hamilton Administration and supported by so many of you as volunteers and donors we were impacting literally hundreds of lives by bringing opportunities to grow, build important skills, to simply participate and to have fun.
And then it just stopped.
What were we doing a year-ago? The Chess program was seeing up to 140 players a week and excited about working again with the Mechanics Institute in bringing a county wide tournament to the Hamilton Gym. With this, our second Tournament of the year, we were on our way to becoming THE chess program in the region. The mentor program was buzzing with activity, 150 kids meeting weekly with their mentors, and important relationships were building. Our plans to expand Athletics were alive, Summerhawks and Summerbridge were far along in planning with excited teachers and students already committed for the summer. Plans for the Have A Heart Fundraiser were complete, invitations in the mail and we were so looking forward to reconnecting with you all to celebrate a heartwarming impactful year.
And to cap it all off, last March we officially formed our non-profit, Rise Scholars - a new name with the same important mission!
Then the pandemic hit, and while our daily impact on the lives of so many kids was put on hold, we at RISE stayed busy. Our most important decision was to shift from a daily interaction with the kids and instead focus on the most pressing needs of Hamilton Community families. Our fund-a-need efforts in the interim focused on food, clothing and shelter for the most impacted families. Our network of volunteers and donors, YOU, even in the chaotic and unpredictable times, generously supported our effort to care for the community…thank you, thank you, thank you!
Once the community began to stabilize, we, as an organization, took advantage of being on the sideline by forming our board, refining our mission, and exploring ways to improve our tool box helping Hamilton kids become the best they can be. We are very excited to share with you the addition of our new reading and math program dedicated to second grade reading and math proficiency. Championed by Board member Amy Wilcox and her husband Kirby, the program is based on the highly successful East bay program, "Children Rising" , and will be introduced on campus this coming fall semester. This program recognizes the critical importance of having grade level reading skills by the end of second grade to the long-term academic success of students. And, this is another terrific volunteer opportunity for you to engage with kids in a meaningful way.
With Summerhawks put on hold, we looked to our returning instructors, supported by a College paid internship, to help us reimagine our summer curriculum. These talented College students, who one year earlier inspired our Summerhawks kids, did a terrific job and we will be incorporating their work when Summerhawks returns this summer.
We are always immensely grateful for your volunteer time and treasure. We are optimistic about the opportunity to reengage with the kids at Hamilton over the coming months because, well, we couldn’t do what we do if we weren’t at the very least optimistic! But we can’t do what we do with your continuing help. If you are interested in helping us provide opportunity to the kids at Hamilton, you can sign up to volunteer here and you can now donate online via this website. You might also notice a new way to give. We now accept donations of stock! Donating highly appreciated stock may include significant tax advantages, so please contact Jay Ferguson should you have an interest.
The light is at the end of the tunnel, and we are beginning to regain our footing! Kids are getting back to school, and we are making plans to join them! Our on-line virtual chess program could begin outdoor sessions soon, Summerhawks and Summerbridge, barring surprises, will be in session, safely, this summer, and ways for Mentors to meet with Mentees are close at hand. Piece by piece we are reengaging. By fall, we are optimistic, we will be impacting hundreds of lives once again.
It is difficult to keep the faith when away from the kids. Bureaucracy and the harsh complexity of life can obscure the simplicity of what we do. We engage with kids, offer them opportunity in a positive, growth environment. And in return? We are inspired.
HAMILTON'S GIVING TREE
Because of YOU, we were able to give each of the 150 families $100 in gift cards to Safeway and Target. We were also able to provide beautiful, warm, new coats to all the children that needed one and handwritten cards filled with well wishes. We gave out approximately, 300 of the 360 coats that you all donated. Wow! We loved seeing all of the beautiful coats you purchased. (see photos) The remaining coats will be kept on campus and will be given to any students that need one this winter.
Additional friends of Hamilton provided breakfast bags, toys, books, cookies, and scooters for 8 lucky drawing winners. The event was put on by Liz Feingold and Emy Macal at Hamilton School and was staffed mainly by the administration and their families. It was incredible. This is a huge statement about the school and how they care for their families and community.
We distributed the coats individually to each family. As the cars drove up, one of us went to the car and asked about coat sizes and even preferable colors. At first we thought we would just pick one out for each student but the flow was moderate and we were able to give them choices and even have the kids try them on outside the car. Stacy, a teacher at Hamilton, was helping and she told me she felt like she was doing "Say Yes to the Dress!" The kids absolutely LOVED the coats and the parents were extremely grateful. Stacy was telling me that because of COVID they leave the doors open in the classroom so the students are cold. These warm beautiful coats will be essential to their ability to learn.
We find it hard to express enough gratitude for all of you through words. These families, this time, these kids, it's hard. Every time we ask, you come through. Because of you, these families feel loved and cared for during an unprecedented time in our lives. You were there for the food drives, the school supply drive, and now this. Please know that we are incredibly grateful for each and every one of you. Your kindness and outpouring of generosity is making a difference at a time when the need to make positive impacts on the world is at an all time high. So, a huge thank you on behalf of us and all of the families that feel your love.
NEW SCHOOL SUPPLIES FOR EVERY STUDENT
WE KNOW IT WAS A HUGE ASK BUT YOU DID IT! A HUGE THANK YOU to all of you very generous people out there. Mentors, Friends, Donors, Volunteers, Parents, you all came together and made this happen. Thank you so very much. The teachers and students were thrilled with the packets the students received at the beginning of the school year. For the first time ALL the students have the supplies they need to be successful in class. As you can imagine for a teacher this is a relief.
We are thrilled that we as a community were able to provide school supplies for every child at Hamilton School as they reentered in the fall. This was even more important now with concerns about COVID. Each child having supplies that they leave at school is essential.
The COVID-19 crisis has hit our families harder than most. Many parents have lost their source of income and all of the families have their children home due to school closure. Some families are doing okay, but many are really struggling to provide even basic needs. We were able to provide food and supplies through school lunches, a weekly farmers market, and our recent food/supply drive (see below). Our families feel so blessed to have such an amazing community helping them.
RISE SHIFTS GEARS TO CARE FOR HAMILTON FAMILIES
Hamilton Families Receive Community Support
Novato, CA…Over 150 Hamilton K-8 School families received generous support of food, toiletries, clothing and supplies from the Mentor Hamilton volunteers!
When it became known that school was out until June, Mentor Hamilton volunteers shifted gears from coordinating mentors and students during the school day to putting out the call that Hamilton families needed help. They gathered and distributed much needed food, diapers, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc. for families affected by the pandemic.For those families in the most dire financial situations, they were able to help with rent and bill support. This was all made possible thanks to the help of many volunteers, individual donors and a very generous donation by 2K, a locally based video game publisher. Many of these families have health problems, immigration problems, and family problems that were exacerbated by their loss of income and the difficulty of providing for their family when their small children were not allowed to go to school.
Mentor Hamilton recently formed into a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit called RISE Scholars, allowing for the tax deductibility of donations and a more expansive mission. It is RISE Scholars’ mission to help every Hamilton School student realize their full potential by providing an array of thoughtful and targeted enrichment opportunities supporting personal and academic growth through the encouragement of a growth mindset, a positive attitude, and achievement.
The efforts of Mentor Hamilton/RISE Scholars volunteers are now focused on collecting school supplies for all students at Hamilton K-8 School.School supplies are an expense that is difficult for many of families in good times.
Marin Catholic student, Thea Falvey, coordinates MC family donations essentially doubling our supplies.
CHESS PROGRAM IN THE NEWS
(Novato, CA)… How many Knights are at Hamilton School?If you go into the chess room at lunchtime, you’ll find 88 Knights, 44 students and 22 chess boards.For the last three years, Hamilton School has supported a lunch time chess club that has expanded to competitive chess after school.
It all started with volunteers Jay Ferguson and Michele Huff wondering about what it would be like to start a chess club at Hamilton.“Chess is such a great skill to have and to play well,” commented Jay. “The game teaches many important life-long skills.” Michele Huff added, “Research has found that focus and developing a growth mindset are a few of the benefits from playing chess.”Curious how it could work at Hamilton, they spoke to another Marin school, and were given numerous chess boards and pieces.There was no turning back now!
Starting with 4th and 5th graders in 2017, the program started at lunch time. Eager students learned to play chess while eating their lunch. During nice weather, they took the program outside and the students would play chess at the lunch tables. This drew more interested students so the following year the program expanded to include 3rd through 8th graders. None of the 3rd graders knew how to play ... yet. And this year the program includes 2nd graders.
However, the real Master behind the chess club is Carla Heredia, a Women’s Grand Master who played for Ecuador in the Women’s Chess Olympiads in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018. She has also represented Ecuador in 40 countries. Funded by an anonymous donor, Carla began working with the students in the fall of 2019 and added a competitive element to the program.“We want the students to have fun while learning chess,” says Carla Heredia, the Grand Master who recently joined the Hamilton team.
The chess club held its first tournament in December 2019. Over 30 students from Hamilton participated along with another 25 students from across the county. Another tournament is scheduled for April 18, 2020, at the Hamilton Gym.The long-term vision is to make Hamilton a recognized home for scholastic chess in the county and beyond.
“Here at Hamilton, we want to provide opportunities for students to develop skills and discover their passions,” said Steve Hospodar, Hamilton School Principal. “One opportunity is the chess program at Hamilton school. It teaches skill, perseverance and sportsmanship while having fun at the same time.”
The chess program is funded solely through donations. An individual anonymous donor funded Carla Heredia's entire salary.Through their fall grant process, School Fuel was able to provide $5,000 to the Hamilton chess program. The Marin County Board of Supervisors also provided $1000 to the program.
DONOR PROVIDES FUNDING TO HIRE CHESS COACH
Hamilton Chess is pleased to announce the hiring of Women’s Grand Master Carla Herdia as our full time chess coach thanks to the continued generosity of a donor that believes in the power of teaching chess to children. Carla hails from Ecuador where she represents her country in the Chess Olympiads, has played tournament chess in over 40 countries, and is a graduate of Texas Tech, attending the school on the strength of Chess Scholarship. “We are beyond excited to work with Carla in further challenging our Hamilton chess players and look forward to establishing a competitive chess tradition at Hamilton”, commented Jay Ferguson, Director of Chess.
Fluent in Spanish, and a kid at heart, Carla is a great fit for our program offering Hamilton kids a chance to experience a new opportunity here on campus and beyond as we participate in tournament play.
Welcome Carla! Learn more here:
HAMILTON SCHOOL 8TH GRADER WINS MARIN COUNTY CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Jonnathan Rodas, in his second year as a Hamilton Cross Country team member finished 1st place in the 8th grade Marin County Cross Country Championship race with the best time of the day among all the runners from all of the county schools. Jonnathan is the fastest middle school cross country runner in the entire county for 2018! Congratulations, Jonnathan!! Jonnathan will be attending San Domenico High School as a freshman in fall 2019.
In addition to Jonnathan, the entire Hamilton Cross Country team represented Hamilton very well at the County Cross Country Championships yesterday. The results were as follows:6th grade boys: Anthony Cetti and Max Kujawa finished in the top 25 of 109 6th grade runners from the 22 county schools. Sanaa Wiley ran well against the 7th grade entrants from the same schools. Jarel Espina, Isaac Garcia-Velasquez, and Kevin Estrada finished in the top 30 of 84 8th grade runners from the same 22 county schools.
$100,000 RAISED FOR SUMMER PROGRAM
Our amazing community contributed over $100,000 in order to provide a 5 week academic summer program for the 4th-8th grade students at Hamilton School. We partnered with Bay Area Community Resources (BACR) and "SummerHawks" was created. SummerHawks is a fun and engaging place where our students currently in grades 3-7 will exercise their brain and bodies during the summer. The John Hopkins Study on Summer Learning found that students who do not participate in intellectual activities during the summer lose up to 2.6 months of Math fluency. It is about the same for reading. Low-income students experience greater summer learning losses than their higher income peers. The achievement gap in reading scores between higher and lower income students grows during the summer. If a child is already behind this can be devastating. We believe that it is incredibly important for all our students at Hamilton to participate in a program that will enhance their Math, Reading, and Writing skills while inspiring them with other activities like Robotics, Coding, and Chess. There will be many other activities including Athletics, Cooking, Art, etc. This program costs us approximately $100,000 to put on for 100 students.
Thanks to the generosity of our community and grants from School Fuel and The Marin Community Service Fund we are able to put on this program.
READ MORE ABOUT THIS PROGRAM
FUNDS RAISED TO PURCHASE TWO VANS
We did it! A big thank you to all! At last year's fundraiser the Mentors, Parents, faculty, and friends of Hamilton came together and raised enough money to purchase two beautiful new vans! They have made so much possible for Hamilton School.
A message from Steve Hospodar, Principal of Hamilton: Oh, the places we will go.… and we have! It’s hard to believe that we ever functioned without vans in the past. They have been a game changer for all of us. They have taken our kids to wrestling meets in San Francisco, cross country events at Stinson, band concerts at Six Flags, and even to San Quentin on a field trip, just to name a few. Through your generosity we have removed obstacles and evened the playing field...a heartfelt appreciation to all of your from all of us.