Covid-19 updates

Special Announcement Regarding Campus Closure

October 9, 2020
Dear Bentley Community,
As we approach Fall Weekend, we are happy to pause and reflect on the many good things that have come Bentley’s way since we reengaged with Remote Schoolhouse once again in late August. With conferences scheduled for next week, we are well into the new school year and looking forward to the road ahead. 
Along with the change of scenery as we watch trees turn to autumn colors, comes the time of year when we ask each of you to consider your gift to the annual fund. We have already received gifts from 100% of our faculty, staff, and administration, and once again the Board of Trustees continues to offer their leadership gifts as we start the new school year rolling. Last year, your donations allowed Bentley to develop and implement Remote Schoolhouse, now a recognized signature Bentley program. This was followed by Summer Strong, an experience offered to every Bentley family designed to increase the joy of learning remotely by developing remote learning skills and learner confidence, which are critical to success in a virtual learning environment. In addition, every Bentley faculty member received training in the nationally recognized One Schoolhouse program during the summer weeks. I have no doubt that you will be amazed at facilities improvements on the Hiller and Lafayette campuses, designed to increase safety and hygiene. We share just a few photos with you here
Going forward, we need your philanthropy more than ever, as we continue to find ways for greater enhancement in teaching and learning both on and off campus or in a hybrid environment. Excellence is expensive. Independent schools depend almost exclusively on their immediate communities for donations; the annual fund is the vehicle that moves Bentley to even greater achievements in delivering the best possible programs within and beyond the classroom. For generations, donors have “paid it forward” to keep the spirit of the Phoenix rising. Eighty percent of every dollar donated goes directly into the classroom. We need YOUR support now more than ever.
As you know Bentley’s re-entry to campus plan is a gradual and well-considered effort based on compliance with local ordinances and our own assessment of our considerable safety protocols and training initiatives. With two campuses in two different counties, we are moving at different paces across the three Divisions with our K students being first to return on October 21st following several days of reacclimation to new campus spaces and health procedures by faculty members. To strengthen our partnership with you, our Bentley parents and guardians, we are hosting our next Parents in Partnership virtual event, “Stepping onto Campus,” on Thursday, October 15th at 6:00 p.m. It is critical for Hiller Campus parents in K through 6 to attend, as we will be discussing and demonstrating best practices that you can review with your children at home to better prepare them for the new requirements of on campus life. We will also focus on what it will be like to be on campus, how spaces will be used, and how new habits will help enliven a campus culture attentive both to health and safety and to the delight of being together.
We wish you a fine and safe fall weekend and look forward to greeting many of you at Conferences and for the “Stepping onto Campus” webinar on Thursday, October 15th.
Wishing you well,

Previous Correspondence

List of 18 items.

  • Community Message: October 4, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    This is to inform you of next steps in Bentley’s Return To Campus Plan.
    As you know, Bentley is committed to a phased step-by-step approach in our return to campus. You are also aware that our K-12 school is regulated by two different counties. In addition, different restrictions are directed at different grade levels due to the variation in risk of transmission for students in age groups above sixth grade.
    While Bentley as a K through 12 school is equally concerned with all Divisions and grade levels, much of what we have to share right now centers on Kindergarten through 6th grade and is based on the most recent directions we received from Alameda County on Thursday, which you may read here. 
    With these considerations in mind, we are able to take the following next steps, all predicated on current information and subject to change as new decisions may be made by state and local government. The schedule below outlines alternating weeks of return that allow us to de-densify the Hiller Campus and best meet the standards for physical distancing dictated by the County. This alternating plan represents the first phase of return.   
    October 14: K-12 Parent/Teacher Conferences (Remote)
    October 15-16: K-6 Faculty/Staff Return to Campus; 
    • 7th & 8th Grade will remain remote until further notice per Alameda County Public Health Department
    October 19-20: K-6 Teachers on Campus, teach remotely, train in safety protocols and new campus arrangements 
    October 21 - 23: Kindergarten students on Campus
    • 1-6th Grade students remain in Remote Schoolhouse
    October 26 - 30: Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, 5th Grade students on Campus
    • 2nd, 4th, 6th Grade students remain in Remote Schoolhouse
    November 2 - 6: Kindergarten, 2nd, 4th, 6th Grade students on Campus
    • 1st, 3rd, 5th Grade students remain in Remote Schoolhouse
    November 9 - 13: Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, 5th Grade students on Campus
    • 2nd, 4th, 6th Grade students remain in Remote Schoolhouse
    November 16 - 20: Kindergarten, 2nd, 4th, 6th Grade students on Campus
    • 1st, 3rd, 5th Grade students remain in Remote Schoolhouse
    Families with specific questions or concerns in K-5 should contact Lower School Director, Jacquie Escher, or Assistant Lower School Director, Beth Crowley, and 6th grade families should contact Middle School Director, Lindsey Almeida.
    Concerning the Lafayette campus, Contra Costa County moved into the red tier last week. According to the tier plan, continued stability in that tier will lead to opportunities for reopening that campus in consultation with county public health officials and Bentley administration.  
    While we are not permitted by Alameda County to have 7th and 8th grade on campus for in-person instruction during this phase, we continue to examine all options that may become open to Bentley on both campuses. This may include pursuing any additional opportunities for campus improvements and flexible schedules that may positively impact these grades.
    Speaking on behalf of the Senior Administrative Team and the Board of Trustees, we are deeply grateful to the Bentley faculty who continue to show remarkable resilience and flexibility at every step during the time of COVID. Our school has been consistently successful in Remote Schoolhouse and will continue to find best ways to implement our safety-first, gradual return to campus, including a hybrid program approach and the critical monitoring of the health of all members of our community. While our teachers face their own personal challenges, they remain firmly student-centered in their efforts. Their eagerness to see the faces of their students in person is palpable. 
    As we move forward, we are always mindful of you, our Bentley parents and guardians, who share this load of change and challenge with us. Thank you for the partnership we respect and enjoy as we continue to work together in the best interest of every Bentley student. 
    Wishing you well,
  • Community Message: May 21, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    The closing weeks of the school year are always full with special events and traditions. Despite the dramatic change in circumstances as we operate remotely, this year is no exception.  Starting Tuesday, we kick off our week-long celebration of the Centennial Class of 2020. Activities include a special advisory sendoff, a chance to connect with Bentley alumni, a senior appreciation day, and one final Town Meeting in honor of our seniors before their graduation day. We also look forward to the eighth grade promotion program happening virtually on June 4 at 4:00 p.m. Reimagining the annual Step Up ceremony in a new way, during the final week of school our students in the Lower and Middle School will have the opportunity to “meet” their teachers for next year in the Remote Schoolhouse. There is so much to be proud of, and we look forward to celebrating all students K-12 as we finish this unprecedented school year.
    When members of the Class of 2020 stride one by one across the Upper School Athletic Field to receive their diplomas on May 30, it will be a first for Bentley. This remarkable class began the year by gathering in this very same place to watch the sun rise together on the first day of their senior year. The sense of unity and pride in their class that brought them together then will be a further backdrop for these celebrations. Distanced learning notwithstanding, what a magnificent year it has been for this talented, directed, and determined group. A class that truly distinguished itself academically, in its college admissions profile, and in the high esteem of Bentley teachers, will stand together in spirit even while walking to receive their diplomas individually and a minute apart. You are invited to watch their celebration live streamed on Facebook. 
    We are most grateful to the parents of the Class of 2020 for their robust support of the Senior Gift Initiative. This tradition recognizes and supports teaching excellence through the enhancement of the Endowment for Faculty Development, a tradition begun at Bentley six years ago. In addition, many Bentley parents have chosen to make additional contributions to the Centennial Annual Fund, which is our school’s main support for the extensive faculty training programs in remote teaching and learning scheduled for this summer. Our teachers have been ready to face the challenges of these dynamic times with this support behind them.
    Over the past week, several important awards have come Bentley’s way, most notably in our French and Latin programs. We share the good news with you below. 
    As we begin Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial first weekend of summer, while still adhering to shelter in place and social distancing mandates, it’s helpful to pause and consider how beautiful the days are right now as spring gives way to summer months. We are fortunate as a community to remain healthy and fully engaged in our lives even with safety boundaries.  
    Enjoy and stay well,
    Given that Bentley is currently unable to invite prospective families to our beautiful campuses, we are exploring different ways to engage parents in the admissions process. We’re asking our current families to invite any friends and neighbors interested in learning more about Bentley to join us for our upcoming admissions webinars, Making Learning Personal: A Virtual Event for Bentley School. These webinars for prospective families will take place at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26 for K-8 families and Thursday, May 28 for Upper School families. Please contact the admissions office if you have any questions.
    While athletic games are on hold, our teams are still practicing in the Bentley Remote Schoolhouse. A great example is our men's volleyball team, which took part in the 2020 Virtual Pepper Challenge. “Pepper” is a typical warmup game, usually done with only two players who bump, set, and spike to one another. Check out the video. Go Phoenix!
    K-8 DANCE
    At this time, being inspired to move and to move “with” one another feels like a gift. Students K through 8 dance live online weekly. Dancers across the world are creating, sharing, and performing dance while sheltering in place. Artists are choreographing in their bedrooms, living spaces, and outdoors. The Bentley dance students have become part of this movement and are also making site-specific dances. They are responding to prompts that have them examining, enlivening, and inhabiting a space fully. Last week students made doorway dances, and next the dances!
    During the fourth grade design unit, young scientists and inventors identified everyday problems and brainstormed innovative ways to solve them. They drew diagrams of possible devices to serve the purpose. Next, using materials found around their homes, the student engineers built, tested, and modified models and prototypes of their selected inventions. Each student also used their newly developed technology skills to create a Google Slides presentation including the purpose of the invention, the materials used to build it, their step-by-step procedure, and any problems they encountered and learned from along the way. Students were encouraged to use photographs, backgrounds, animations, and transitions to enhance their slide show presentations. Finally, as young writers, the students penned slogans, advertisements, and jingles to market their newly created products to their target audience. Over the next week, each student will present his or her invention to peers during the annual Invention Convention, modified for Remote Schoolhouse.
    Eight weeks ago, in our very first week of the remote schoolhouse, nine determined students accepted the challenge and took Le Grand Concours, the National French Contest Exam. Taking on this challenge remotely demands a feisty spirit, and many students who were hoping to be part of this exciting venture were simply unable to complete the task due to the complicated logistics. Students of French in all 50 states and abroad take listening and reading comprehension tests and compete against students with a similar educational background. There are five levels and, to secure equitable results, each level is broken into separate divisions to reflect students' French background (first-time learners, heritage speakers, and native speakers). Bentley sophomore Oliver Bock was a Platinum winner, which is the highest award in the Le Grand Concours, earning the top score in the nation in his division. Way to go Oliver!
    Each year more than 130,000 students nationwide participate in the National Latin Exam, which seeks to promote the continued study of Latin in schools and to encourage individual students in their growing passion for the ancient world. Bentley is delighted to highlight our award winners this year. First year students Maile Akioka '23, Hannes Hundt '23, and Ruby Trost-Goldhammer '21 each received a ribbon and certificate for high achievement. In the higher levels, Samantha Salazar ‘22 received a silver medal maxima cum laude, and Lukas Luby-Prikot '22 and Jack Valentine '22 each received gold medals summa cum laude. Finally, for the second year in a row, Jasmine Marshall ‘22 received a gold medal summa cum laude with the further distinction of a perfect exam score. We wish these students congratulations, and we extend gratitude to all who participated for sharing in the vibrant tradition of Latin at Bentley!
    Every Friday at 3:30 p.m., Mr. Brown and Ms. Almeida host a cooking class for Middle School students and their families. Last Friday, participants made two types of cookies. This Friday, chicken parmesan (along with a vegetarian/vegan option) is on the menu!
    Students in the virtual garden classes have been busy exploring their own ecosystems at home. In kindergarten and first grade, students receive a weekly mission that harnesses their observation skills. In second grade, students have been building miniature towns. Each week, their town receives a newsletter that highlights their accomplishments and presents them with challenges like habitat destruction or watershed pollution. Students work in their towns and make a video or take a photo to solve each problem showing how they solve each problem. Their newsletter also highlights topics that they are learning about in other classes like simple machines, National Parks, and dragon lore. Fifth graders are meeting twice a week to practice field journaling techniques and submit two field journal entries each week.
    In K-3 library class, students continue to develop as avid readers by recommending their favorite books to their peers and developing summer reading goals. One of the best ways to keep up an active reading life is to get recommendations from others about what to read next. Students recorded their own "Book Talks" (similar to a T.V. commercial) to share with their classmates. They included the major events in their books, shared their favorite parts, and gave a recommendation as to who might like to read it, all while being sure not to give away the ending! Students also looked forward to the summer and developed reading goals by creating a poster to display in their room of how many books they want to read, what genres or series they want to dive into, and how they plan to track their goals. Keep up being voracious readers!
    Nachos With Joey
    How to Make Nachos
    How to Make Banana Bread
    Banana Bread
    Again for your reference, please take a look at the list of Important Dates for the 2020-2021 school year. For the most updated events, please refer to Bentley’s website.
  • Community Message: May 14, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    As we enter the final weeks of a truly remarkable school year by any measure, we can all take justifiable pride in the smooth and deliberate transition Bentley as a school, and each of us as individuals, has made to remote teaching and learning. Teachers, students, parents, and families continue to face this sudden switch with determination. Out of necessity, each of us wears multiple hats during these pandemic days as we continue to navigate and grow through challenges.  
    As a school community, we have many things on our Bentley gratitude list. First and foremost, we have a team of true professionals in our remote classrooms, in our administration, and on our staff. Without this team, Bentley could never have pivoted so effectively in less than a week’s time to Remote Schoolhouse. Secondly, we have a strong, fully engaged community of families and friends who continue to support Bentley’s mission and PROMISE through difficult times. Finally, thanks to the work of the Board of Trustees in preserving, directing, and enhancing Bentley’s resources, our school continues to operate as a model of sustainability where the main focus of school resources is in the classroom.  
    Now we face our next major challenge as we consider best practices for moving forward in the coming weeks, months, and next several years.
    Whether school will take place on campus or remotely next fall remains an unanswerable question at this juncture. As we learned when we pivoted in March, preparation is powerful. That said, we are preparing for the possibility of opening the new school year remotely. We are also planning for what the return to campus would look like. We are considering the possibility of staggered attendance on campus. We are preparing in the event that we open on campus and then need to switch to Remote Schoolhouse as necessary throughout the year. We are exploring hybrid models, rethinking how we use campus spaces, and investigating best practices for sanitizing. In short, we are considering and training for all possibilities in order to be able to make the best decision for our school community when the time comes, assessing risks and rewards carefully and appropriately.
    With the steady leadership of Academic Dean and Director of Remote Schoolhouse, Nick Pukstas, a plan for school wide faculty professional development has been mapped out and will be implemented over the summer months in partnership with One Schoolhouse. All faculty members will participate in this important summer work. In considering the model for school wide professional development, our aim was to achieve a unified approach to the challenges and opportunities of remote teaching and learning while recognizing that developmental needs and pure mechanics require different attention for each of the school’s three Divisions. As a K-12 school, we have the obligation, along with the opportunity, to offer a program that builds on itself year over year, meeting the needs of our youngest and our most senior learners. Working closely together, we will continue to be powerfully prepared to tackle this next important chapter in Bentley’s long and distinguished history.   
    Funding for this extensive effort comes from the Centennial Annual Fund. Solicitations are continuing as we stretch to reach the school’s $1M goal and to make up lost revenue from the Centennial Gala cancellation. It is more important than ever for Bentley to reach its fundraising goals by the end of the fiscal year on June 30th. 
    Again, we are living through unprecedented times. As generations before us paved the way for the educational experience Bentley offers today, we must each do our part supporting our teachers and this hundred year old educational institution in moving forward to new heights of excellence. Thank you for the part you play in Bentley’s success.
    Wishing you well,
    It has been another great year for college admission at Bentley, with the 80 members of the Class of 2020 garnering more than 500 acceptances from 175 different colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. Current information points to members of this year's class matriculating at 53 different institutions in the fall, with some embracing the liberal arts at leading colleges, while others plan to pursue fields as diverse as Aerospace Engineering, Architecture, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Fashion Design, and more at major research institutions. 
    According to Director of College Counseling Archie Douglas, "These results demonstrate so clearly that 'success' at Bentley is not narrowly defined by admission to a handful of colleges, but rather by finding the right 'fit' — that institution where each student can apply his or her unique talents and truly thrive as an undergraduate. With that said, we're so pleased with the wide range of options available to our students this year. Even amid the great uncertainty of this spring, colleges and universities have shown extraordinary confidence in Bentley students and the Bentley program. Our results have been really impressive, a well-deserved acknowledgement of our students' achievement, talent, and hard work."
    Student cards continue to come in from Bentley students to share with our first responders, our “heroes.” Bentley was able to make a huge delivery to the Oakland Police Department this week. Thanks to generous donors, tons of tortillas and multiple boxes of Girl Scout Cookies were snatched up quickly by the officers. A little bit goes a long way during these times. Please visit Phoenix Rising Program for opportunities to give back to the community during this challenging time and make a positive impact.  Go Phoenix!
    Friday, May 22, the Middle School will be getting together for a special virtual nature day in recognition of the annual class outdoor education trips. Students will meet virtually in their grade level exploration groups and explore our Earth together. The day will be filled with fun team building games, questioning, and investigating the wonders of our planet with a close group of friends.
    Students in second grade science have been using the engineering design process to imagine and build Rube Goldberg-inspired contraptions as their culminating project for a unit on simple machines. They showed considerable ingenuity in building many different kinds of complicated devices to perform common household tasks. Project ideas included turning on and off a light switch, unloading the dishwasher, wrapping a present, watering mom’s peonies, and many, many more. Students were delighted to videotape their projects in action, and we look forward to sharing them in upcoming morning meetings.
    Bentley Theatre's student-developed theatre company, Turning Point Theatre Co., is pleased to announce the Advanced Theatre Honors class performance of Reckless, by Craig Lucas. Directed by Elaina Boyle, Reckless is filled with bizarre characters and events, and the play reflects the fractured lifestyles which have become the norm for so many in our tenuous times. “With RECKLESS…Mr. Lucas has given us a bittersweet Christmas fable for our time." - The New York Times
    Act I - May 22 at 7:00 p.m.
    Act II - May 23 at 7:00 p.m.
    *Reckless will be shown via Zoom Webinar, so please register by Thursday, May 21, to receive your registration and program for the show!
    This week K-3 musicians practiced rhythms by exploring their own kitchens. First, they looked for their favorite foods, then placed them in the order they liked, and recorded their very own unique kitchen composition. Many of the students changed up the order of the food to see how that would change the musical pattern. The students have practiced rhythms and notes with legos, flowers, fish, pennies, stories, and more. The 3rd graders have also been making tremendous progress on the recorder, requiring them to focus on breath, finger technique, sound, rhythm, and note reading. They have been challenged with singing what they play and playing what they sing!
    On Monday, May 18 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. the eighth grade will have another virtual Movie Monday: Netflix Party. They will be watching Coraline. Information on how to connect will be sent soon! Please contact lalmedia@bentleyschool.org with any questions.
    Last week, students in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade Spanish classes celebrated El Cinco de Mayo remotely. El Cinco de Mayo, (Spanish for “Fifth of May”), also called the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, is a holiday celebrated in parts of Mexico and the United States in honor of a military victory in 1862 over the French forces of Napoleon III. Students posted fabulous photos and videos of themselves making homemade guacamole.
    In first grade, we are discovering that shapes are all around us! Last week, mathematicians took part in a Geometry Scavenger Hunt. They set out to scour their homes for different shapes, but quickly realized they did not have to look too far. Indeed, shapes are all around us, from the box of ice cream cones in our cabinet to the cabinet itself, students discovered many shapes during their scavenger hunt. They gathered their favorite shapes to create a Shape Museum, and they presented their shapes in small groups. Mathematicians then worked together to categorize their shapes by polygons, polyhedra, and curved shapes.
    yoga video
    A Quick Yoga Lesson with Zaina M. '21
    How to Build a Cootie Catcher with Chloe K. '21
    Build a Cootie Catcher
    Again for your reference, please take a look at the list of Important Dates for the 2020-2021 school year. For the most updated events, please refer to Bentley’s website.
  • Community Message: July 13, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,

    Since early May, members of the Administration, along with faculty and staff leaders, have been planning for a new school year unlike any other. Having successfully launched Bentley’s Remote Schoolhouse Program in March and enrolled the entire Bentley faculty in the highly regarded One Schoolhouse program this summer, a program designed to enhance teaching techniques and boost confidence in remote education, we continue to take all steps available to maintain Bentley’s legacy of excellence in teaching and learning. 

    Each day, all of us are flooded with news about education and how, Kindergarten through college, locally and nationally, schools are making plans to go forward in the midst of the global pandemic. Independent schools have both the luxury and the obligation to chart the course that is right for each of us. In determining the path for Bentley, we considered numerous factors along with the risks and rewards associated with each. Undoubtedly, every member of our community is managing under different levels of stress from unprecedented change. Each one of us bears individual responsibilities that require different individual responses. Working from home, caring for older family members and those with health conditions that put them at higher risk for the ravages of the virus, dealing with financial setbacks, along with additional daily adjustments for remote learning: we remain mindful of all of these factors in our planning as we roll out next steps for the coming school year.

    First and foremost, our primary consideration is SAFETY. We will make all decisions to prioritize the health and wellness of our community, considering every student along with their families, our faculty, staff, and administration and the wider communities we each inhabit. Next is our ongoing commitment to the Bentley Promise: “to pursue academic excellence from Kindergarten to the threshold of college.” We will maintain the robust academic experience for which Bentley is known, whether on campus, remotely, or in a hybrid model. Finally, we will remain alert, nimble, and responsive, institutional qualities that have served us well through this time, as new data informs next steps forward.

    The academic year will begin on August 26th in the Remote Schoolhouse model with online instruction. This will provide an opportunity to build on the strengths of our community’s experience this past spring and summer, devoting fresh energy and care to meeting the needs of all of our students. Student return to campus will be phased as conditions permit in a purposeful manner. As part of a phased return, and considering safety factors at that time, groups of students may be invited to campus for opportunities of face to face connection, allowing us to stress-test campus protocols and experience new ways of being together. New students will receive distinct opportunities for engagement, as we work to welcome them to Bentley and make our campuses and our faculty members encouraging and familiar. What we learn from these critical experiences will inform a phased campus opening over the course of the fall depending largely on the continually evolving conditions of the pandemic and other possible challenges including power outages during fire season. Stepping from one phase to the next will be guided by careful assessments of relevant conditions and our shared success acclimating to campus protocols. Once again, with the health and safety of our entire community as our first priority, this conservative strategy will ensure that we have ample opportunity to train faculty, students, and staff in new habits and community norms while incorporating best practices for on-campus life.

    Sharing this news with the faculty, staff, and administration this morning and hearing from so many who expressed their confidence and willingness in executing this multi-layered plan, was gratifying. Despite the unusual set of circumstances we face in opening Bentley’s second century, we know we are fortunate to be part of a legacy that has faced unprecedented challenges in the past and, as our mascot the Phoenix symbolizes, has risen to the occasion, recovering even stronger. With all of us pulling together, this challenge will be no exception. 

    Thank you for your support during the past months in Remote Schoolhouse and for your good will and confidence as we move Bentley forward. 

    Wishing you well,
  • Community Message: July 9, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    During our week-long break from Summer Strong, both campuses were busier than ever. Faculty, staff, and administration readied their respective spaces for modifications Bentley is making to ensure an even greater degree of sanitation and to provide open, well-ventilated spaces for teaching and learning on both campuses. Part of this upgrading process included the remodel of bathrooms on both campuses with installation of automatic soap dispensers, toilet flushers, and other enhancements to promote a more germ-free environment for all. While these steps are motivated by current COVID conditions, they will continue to enhance our environment long after these trying times become history. A great debt of thanks is owed to Bentley’s Director of Facilities, Andres Nunez, and his remarkable Facilities Team, all of whom play an integral role in the life of our school. 
    The response to Summer Strong has been remarkable. During the first two week segment over 250 students were enrolled, somewhat equally distributed across the Divisions. Current enrollment is more than 200 families and anticipated interest for the third session is expected to grow as the focus turns to readiness for the fall. As you know, this program was planned and launched to maintain and enhance students’ online learning skills. Undoubtedly, this additional time is making a real difference for participants not just academically, but also socially, as they are in remote contact with their classmates on a regular basis. Equally important, we are upholding one of the most important tenets of The Promise of The Bentley School: “to feel the enthusiasm and fun that makes learning a lifetime pursuit.” Our thanks to faculty and staff who eagerly volunteered for this important summer project and to Assistant Head for Academics, Nick Pukstas, whose remarkable leadership continues to move us forward.
    While many of our faculty are teaching this summer, all are engaged in their own online learning through One Schoolhouse, a program designed to enhance remote teaching skills and to foster confidence and greater ease for educators. Although the COVID pandemic was the unwelcome catalyst for Remote Schoolhouse, these skills, for both teachers and learners, are enhancements for on and off campus work going forward, a silver lining for all of us at Bentley. 
    Despite the urgency of the pandemic, Bentley continues its critical work in continuously improving our efforts as a school that values diversity and lives its principles of respect for every individual. As we acknowledge that this far-reaching and impactful work is never complete, we remain committed to examining who we are and how we operate, as well as  ways to uphold our school culture of continuous improvement. During the months leading up to the school closing in early March, we were engaged in the important work of investing our community in developing a Human Rights curriculum in line with the United Nations proclamation. Our efforts were being led by Dr. James Astman, former Head of School at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles and now Visiting Scholar in Human Rights at Oxford University. Jim is eager to return to Bentley this fall to re-engage with us in this process. So too is Associate Dean of Students for Diversity, Inclusion and Residential Life at Claremont McKenna College, Vince Greer, who conducted an All School meeting for us in early March on equity, inclusivity and diversity with plans at that time to continue with Bentley over a months-long engagement. I’m happy to report that Vince will be joining us next week as we re-engage with him and make plans for the coming year. 
    Next week, we will roll out plans for the opening of the 2020-2021 school year. With careful consideration, considerable information from myriad sources, and the expertise of both epidemiologists and educators who see beyond the immediate and into the longer term risk and rewards of every decision Bentley makes, we will set the trajectory for the months ahead with confidence and determination to continue our practice of making the best out of the worst in a culture that values expertise, employs a model of shared leadership, and strives for continuous improvement. 
    Wishing you well,
    Summer Strong Makes Connections!
    Summer Strong continues to provide engagement and enrichment for all enrolled students with a full range of K-12 offerings that keep academic skills sharp, gather our community together, and let learning be fun. Classes meet on the hour on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 
    With Week 3 finishing today, the Summer Strong team looks forward to the offerings of Week 4:
    Morning Meetings for
    Grades K-2
    Morning Meetings for
    Grades 3-5
    Spy School
    Creative Writing and Art for Nature Lovers
    Designing a Treehouse
    Dance Mindfulness
    Flower Power!
    Story Time
    Creative Writing Club for
    Grades 3-5
    Drawing Optical Illusions
    Drawing Faces & People
    STEM Pirate Ship (Engineering Design Challenge)
    Geography Inquiry
    Scientific Discoveries
    Rewriting the Past: A Creative Writing Course
    Think on Your Feet: Parliamentary Debate
    Dance Mindfulness
    Arabic Script
    All Kinds of Drawing
    Creative Writing Club
    Digital Music
    Mindfulness Club
    Spy School
    Mindful Movement: Strength & Flexibility
    Cooking Club
    French Club
    Brilliant Writing Techniques
    World History through Art
    GarageBand Tutorial
    Summer Writing Workshop
    Movies in Math
    Scientific Discoveries
    Rewriting the Past: A Creative Writing Course
    Race in America: an Introduction
    The 9th Grade Experience
    Cooking, Cuisine, and Culture
    Speech and Debate Team Meeting
    Mindful Movement: Strength & Flexibility
    Collaborative Gaming
    View schedules and course descriptions at the Summer Strong Website (**bentleyschool.org account required**). Stay tuned, too, for new course offerings arriving in time for Week 5 (July 21-23) and Week 6 (July 28-30).
    Students may RSVP at any time: 
    For general information, contact remoteschoolhouse@bentleyschool.org. For technical assistance, contact helpdesk@bentleyschool.org
    Email Contact Information for the 2020-2021 School Year
    Bentley communicates with families primarily through email for all school-related information. Every academic year, we update our email lists to ensure we have accurate information on file. If you received this email and someone in your household should have but did not, please send an email to communications@bentleyschool.org to update or add contact information.
  • Community Message: May 7, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    Thank you for all the acknowledgements our teachers received from parents and students in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week. It was a pleasure to read your good wishes. Undoubtedly, the past several weeks have called on every member of our community to step up as Remote Schoolhouse is refined and expanded based on growing needs. While we never expected to have to make so many changes so quickly, every Bentley teacher has expanded their teaching tools in groundbreaking ways to better meet the short and long term needs of our 100% college bound student population. Change is inevitable, while growth through change is optional. Bentley has surely chosen the path of growth.
    We are busy with end of year plans. Modifying celebrations and traditions so they retain meaning even while sheltering in place brings interesting questions and possibilities. Over the next week, you will receive end of year instructions as we wind down the third trimester. Uppermost in our planning is furthering professional development in remote learning for all Bentley professionals during the summer months. I will have more to report on these important plans in the coming weeks. We are hopeful of reopening both campuses on August 10th. That said, we are planning for the event that we may need to continue remote operations in the fall. Preparedness is powerful and we all want the new school year to start on the most positive note possible, on or off campus. 
    With Mother’s Day celebrations taking place for so many in our community this weekend, I’m sharing with you the video made by James Pannell, Bentley’s talented Middle School Music Teacher, whose work in professional development last summer allowed him to lead his choir to create something of remarkable beauty. We are grateful to all who contributed to last year’s Annual Fund allowing so many faculty members to explore and expand their areas of expertise.
    Please have a look at the many photos and videos included below as they give color and flavor to all the good things that are happening across our school community. Even while we are distanced, we come together in the most meaningful ways.
    Wishing you well,
    Last week, the Alumni Association hosted two virtual reunions, one for the Class of 2016 and another joint event for the Classes of 2017, 2018, and 2019. More than 50 alumni participated, all of whom enjoyed the chance to reconnect virtually and even say hello to a few faculty members. It was a fun way to reunite former classmates, reminding them of the community they will always have through Bentley. We look forward to hosting more in-person events soon! 
    This week, deliveries were made to several local organizations including the Lafayette Fire Department Station #15. This is the station that assists the Upper School campus in any emergencies. They were extremely grateful for the cards from our students and for the box of goodies which will allow them to have a pasta night at the station on Bentley. Please email rise@bentleyschool.org for any suggestions or questions.
    Every Friday at 3:30 p.m., Mr. Brown and Ms. Almeida host a cooking class for Middle School students and their families. Last Friday, participants made homemade flatbread pizzas (images below).
    This Friday, enchiladas are on the menu!
    On Monday, May 11 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. the eighth grade will have their first virtual Movie Monday: Netflix Party. They will be watching the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Join this google meet and you can hangout with your friends before the movie gets started, and the Netflix Party link will be shared in the chat. Please contact lalmedia@bentleyschool.org with any questions.
    3RD GRADE CELEBRATES "May the Fourth Be With You"
    On Monday the fourth, 3B celebrated Star Wars Day. Students were encouraged to come to morning meeting in costume or wearing Star Wars gear or bring Star Wars related items. Some students wore their Star Wars pajamas, some came in t-shirts, others came in Darth Vader masks. Ms. Hess brought BB8 with her! Students also had lightsabers, storm troopers, and baby yoda as well. For the morning greeting that was passed around in the virtual call students greeted each other with, "May the fourth be with you!"
    On May 1, Ms. Mulvaney and Ms. Power went on a 6 hour journey, caravaning throughout the East Bay to pass by the homes of each of their students. The Bentley spirit was on full display as teachers, students, and parents held signs and exchanged cheers, hellos, and good wishes. 
    How to Juggle
    Josie N. '21 shows us how to juggle
    Thomas R. '21 shares an in-home workout
    In Home Workout Routine
    Bentley faculty members haven't skipped a beat in delivering Bentley's hundred year legacy of excellence in teaching and learning. Many of them work even longer hours as they challenge themselves to learn best practices of teaching remotely in our Remote Schoolhouse program. 
    While we are all stuck at home, in front of our computers, online shopping has become our new way of life. One simple way you can support Bentley is to designate Bentley School as your charity when you shop on SmileAmazon.com. The AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases directly to Bentley. Go to smile.amazon.com, login with your existing Amazon Account, and then choose Bentley school as your 501(c).
    Again for your reference, please take a look at the list of Important Dates for the 2020-2021 school year. For the most updated events, please refer to Bentley’s website.
  • Community Message: April 30, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    As part of Bentley’s Remote Schoolhouse Program, faculty and administrators gathered together with parents on Tuesday evening, Wednesday evening, and will finish up tonight. The ongoing goal of our Parents in Partnership Program is to strengthen teaching and learning as the process has become by necessity much more of a shared venture between school and home. Many of you contacted the school with your questions and suggestions as we requested, which added to the effectiveness of this first effort. Stay tuned for future opportunities for all of us to go further and deeper into this important and critical opportunity to promote excellence in teaching and learning at Bentley.
    As you well know, it has been necessary for all of us, faculty, staff, administrators, and parents, to pivot on a dime, adjusting to the life-altering changes brought with the pandemic. Teachers and parents are working longer and harder than ever at what we do separately and ways in which our roles interconnect. While the pace of life has, in some ways, seemingly slowed, it is now even more demanding than ever in other ways, including providing the best education possible REMOTELY. The skills our teachers needed to develop with the speed of light serve students now and will continue to do so as we go forward, operating both on and off campus. Looking for the silver lining in all of this upheaval, these additional teaching skills are certainly a big part of it. A second aspect is the even closer partnership we are developing between home and school, one we will carry with us into whatever the next phase of this year and beyond brings for all of us. 
    On behalf of the faculty, staff, and administration, thank you all, our Bentley parents, for navigating ways to make learning at home the most positive experience possible while you yourselves work remotely, take care of elderly family and friends, and now manage your own in-home schoolhouse. Our hats are off to all of you, and our hearts are filled with appreciation and deepest gratitude for all you are doing to make the best of times from one of the worst of times. With May almost upon us, we look forward to making the most of our remaining school days as, working together, we keep students focused on moving forward academically while staying connected socially.  
    Next Tuesday, May 5th, is National Teacher Appreciation Day. While this may be a “Hallmark Holiday,” it is a well-deserved tribute to those women and men whose societal impact is finally being recognized as truly essential, admirable, and wholly impactful. Please encourage your Bentley student to send an email, draw a picture, or express thanks in their own way to those who teach them every day and are missing being with them in person as we continue to shelter in place. 
    The best of Bentley is based on our collective strength as a community. It is so clear to me each day just how much every contribution each one of us makes truly counts in preserving the Bentley Promise. We are a group of talented, dedicated educators, trustees, and parents. We are also unique individuals who are so much stronger when we work together in order to support the PHOENIX as it continues to rise.
    With admiration,
    Continuing our school’s outreach to the greater community through our Phoenix Rising Program (PRP), this week deliveries were made to recognize and thank the Walnut Creek Police Department and the Lafayette Police Department whose members do so much to keep our School safe under all conditions including the current challenges of the global pandemic. Bentley Lower School students made cards to share with our first responders and community members to show how much we appreciate and value their hard work during this time. See some of the work below. Each week we are discovering ways to say special thanks to our first responders. Stay tuned for a PRP webpage where you will be able to learn about upcoming projects and how you and your family may wish to participate. In the meantime, please email rise@bentleyschool.org for any suggestions or questions.
    Middle School Dance
    While our sixth graders may have missed out on their grade specific dance for the spring, Bentley hosted a virtual sixth grade dance last Friday evening that went a long way in providing a good time with great friends and laughter galore. Students dressed for a tropical vacation and were greeted by music, special lighting, and a dancing pineapple. After warming to the activities, the sixth graders got into the spirit with their own enthusiastic dancing, chatting, and thoroughly enjoying a unique get together that lasted for several hours with positive reviews.  
    Middle School Cooking Class
    Every Friday at 3:30 p.m., Mr. Brown and Ms. Almeida will host a cooking class for Middle School students and their families. A recipe is selected, with input from students, and an ingredients list is sent out early in the week so families have time to shop if needed. Mr. Brown leads everyone through the recipe while Ms. Almeida demonstrates how to adjust it if you want a vegan version. Last Friday mac and cheese was on the menu, and everyone had a blast cooking, chatting, and laughing together while making a delicious meal for the family. Tomorrow, the class will be making homemade flatbread pizzas. This class is proving to be a truly “delicious” way to bring students and families together for fun, friendship, and fine eating. 
    Upper School Peer Counselor “how to” Videos
    The goal of Peer Counseling at the Upper School has always been to support the intellectual, social, and emotional development of Bentley students. The Peer Counselor team works as a unit to help guide students through the high school experience and foster a welcoming and inclusive community. As we have transitioned to the Remote Schoolhouse, the Peer Counselors have been dedicating themselves to developing ways to build community in the online environment. Their new project is a series of “how to” videos based around different themes. This past week they sent short cooking videos demonstrating how to make their favorite recipes. Next week they will share some of their favorite skills such as juggling, for students to practice. By sharing their talents with the community the peer counselors are bringing students together even if they are socially apart. 
    Master Class - Salad
    Jake R. '21 gives a master class
    on how to make a salad
    Maddie S. '20 gives a master class
    on how to make mint chocolate chip cookies
  • Community Message: April 23, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    As we near the end of April, we begin to look at best ways for our school community to offer the strongest possible Remote Schoolhouse wind-down of the school year, particularly one as challenging and unpredictable as the 2019-20 year has been. We are developing and designing fresh versions of long-held Bentley traditions that will be rolled out in the coming weeks. This morning, I shared with the Class of 2020 plans for their Centennial Commencement Ceremony on May 30th at 11:00 a.m. on the Athletic Field where this creative, kind, and bright group started the school year together. Since their graduation will be live-streamed, you might enjoy sharing it as a family. Click here to read the information sent to the Class of 2020.
    Tomorrow afternoon, Bentley fifth grade teacher, Reona Visser will be cruising the streets where her students live to give a wave while maintaining social distancing. A devoted educator, Reona explained to me in her email, “I just have to see them!” This same sentiment was echoed this week by Debate Coach and Registrar, Kimberly Fradelis, who pulled together a ZOOM practice for several of her Upper School debaters, began her email to me with “Gosh, how I miss these kids!”
    And, as I write, Associate Director of College Counseling, Corey Marquetti, may just be pulling up to one of the eighty homes where our seniors live to photograph them in their college and university sweatshirts, a long-held Bentley tradition that takes place at this time every year. Students at Bentley know how much their teachers and counselors care. These are just a few of so many examples.
    Last week, we shared plans with you for Bentley’s Remote Schoolhouse Parents In Partnership Program. We look forward to seeing you at the Parents in Partnership Project Presentations, where you will get an inside view into a student's daily Remote Schoolhouse experience. These presentations will take place virtually next week on the following dates and times:
    Middle School April 28 at 7:00 p.m. ZOOM link for Middle School
    Lower School April 29 at 7:00 p.m.  ZOOM link for Lower School
    Upper School April 30 at 7:00 p.m.  ZOOM link for Upper School
    Last week I informed you that Bentley was launching an outreach effort we call the PHOENIX RISING PROGRAM, encouraging our students and families to extend good work and good wishes, especially at this time, wherever there is need. To date, deliveries of goodies and thank you notes have been made to Kaiser and to John Muir Health Center in Walnut Creek on behalf of the Bentley community. I want to share with you a message we received from the Norder family (see image) that illustrates our goals and aims. Please let us know of any first responders fighting the pandemic on the front lines among your family and friends in order for our students to connect with them in this way. Like our mascot the PHOENIX, goodness rises at Bentley.
    It is hopeful to want to believe that the worst is behind us, but that may not be so. With warm weather tempting us to go outdoors and socialize, let’s remember that what we do right now has a profound impact on how long it will take for us to be restored back to our more familiar lives and to Bentley School.
    Next week is typically the time that Bentley would administer the ERB standardized testing to our third through eighth graders. Since we will not be operating on our campuses for the remainder of the school year, ERB assessments will not be administered for the 2019-20 academic year. Although standardized testing is an important element of a holistic picture of our students' performance and provides year over year comparisons, we have other measures of student performance to ensure that we are aware of student progress. We have been assured by ERB that the longitudinal data tracking that is provided by standardized testing is still possible with a missing year and should not disrupt our measuring of students’ progress. We will resume ERB testing in the spring of the 2020-21 academic year. If you have any questions regarding standardized testing as it relates to your child, please contact your appropriate Division Director.
  • Community Message: April 16, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    By all indications, Spring Break was a much needed respite in the Remote Schoolhouse routine for our students. Being able to connect with each other in social ways through online Spring Break Camp and in other special ways including the 2nd grade Caravan visiting students’ homes from a safe distance to say a personal hello, provided opportunities for being together even while we must remain apart.  
    This week, faculty, staff, and administration are concentrating on several important and timely issues. First among these is grading in the Middle and Upper School. Given Spring Break, students have in fact only had three weeks to date of online learning. While the vast majority of our learners have transitioned quickly and smoothly to this “new normal,” all schools have work to do if we are to ensure that each student’s needs are being met in their best interest. That said, we are working on improving support systems as we recognize individual needs. We are also carefully considering and refining the criteria for how grades are awarded so we can tweak requirements appropriately in keeping with principles of good practices for Remote Schoolhouse teaching and learning. One immediate change is the decision to extend the date for Trimester 3 Progress and Interim Reports one week longer to Friday, April 24th. This additional time allows for more student work to be submitted and assessed, giving each student the chance to best show how they are progressing as well as where they might be challenged.  
    Secondly, we are officially launching our Parents in Partnership Project. This effort was designed to strengthen the school/home relationship so we can function together as the most productive and helpful team possible in your child’s best interest. Additionally, it will provide a means of connection among Bentley parents, all of you now being fully engaged in ways you never anticipated as you support and coach your children in their school work. Please be on the lookout for the Parents in Partnership Project announcement coming your way tomorrow morning.  
    We have also been exploring best ways to promote resilience in our students, as well as in ourselves, at a time when it is an absolutely essential quality for coping with unprecedented change on a magnitude previously unknown to us. Many changes that were unimaginable just four weeks ago are now a major part of our day to day existence. Taking a daily accounting of all that is good in our lives is one tried and true, even researched, way to help put our personal discomfort, disappointment, fear, and anxieties in perspective. Equally important are any opportunities we can each identify and implement that can make a positive impact on the lives of others, even those we don’t already know. Through our PHOENIX RISING PROGRAM (PRP), Bentley will be focusing on reaching out in the coming weeks as we share suggestions that may interest you personally, your children or even for your entire family. Stay tuned for weekly updates on this project. While on the topic of sharing, I am touched, pleased, and proud to share an article that appeared in Berkeleyside about Middle School teacher Jason Scott and how he personally chose to reach out to make a difference. Mr. Scott is an outstanding science educator, advisor, and a very caring human being. I hope you enjoy reading about his outreach as much as I did. Way to go, Jason!
    A little more sunshine has helped many of us feel a stronger sense of hope. Each day, we need to remind ourselves and those around us that we will get through this challenging time. Staying in touch with one another, even from a distance, makes the going less tough. Optimism is contagious and spreading it is a pleasure for the giver and the receiver. Let’s do our best to remember all we have instead of what we feel may have been lost. Together, we go forward.
    Wishing you well,
  • Community Message: April 9, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    Given state and local decisions made during the past few days, it is now clear that we will not be operating on our campuses for the remainder of the school year. Spring Break week has been a valuable and well-timed opportunity for faculty, staff, and administration to take a step back, assess all that has been accomplished during the first three important weeks of Bentley’s transition to Remote Schoolhouse, and begin to finalize plans through the end of the academic year. With all that in play, there were still many moments of pure delight as teachers connected with students in numerous ways, most especially through Spring Break Camp for the Lower School, along with opportunities for fun, creativity, and connection in the Middle and Upper School.  
    I can’t begin to say enough about the shared leadership among faculty, staff, and administration in creating and implementing meaningful experiences designed to keep students connected and engaged even during a holiday week. A special shout out goes to our second grade team including Beth Crowley, Robb Hedges, Jessica Delantoni, and Jyotika Malhotra who took it upon themselves to create a caravan, including their four decorated cars, that covered nearly 170 miles as they went to each 2nd grade student’s home to wave a distanced hello and share the face to face magic that each of us is longing for during these days of sheltering in place. Please enjoy a few photos (below) that try to capture the delight registered so clearly on students’ faces at being able to see their teachers once again. The power of the student/teacher connection has always been undeniable. Now more than ever, our society is recognizing the centrality of schools and the pivotal place they hold in creating and strengthening community. Cheers to all educators everywhere and a standing ovation to those who spend their time, talent, and professional treasure here with us at Bentley. You change the world for the better every day.
    On behalf of the faculty, staff, and administration, we thank you, our Bentley parents and guardians, for making the best of one of the most challenging events in our lifetimes. Partnering in your child’s education has never been more important. You are a key element in ensuring your Bentley student’s progress, not an easy task but so very much appreciated by your child’s teachers and ultimately, whether or not they realize it just now, by your children. 
    To our families who are celebrating special holidays this week, we send good wishes as you create new ways of forging meaning under difficult circumstances. To all of us, Spring, even one as chaotic and uncertain as this one, surrounds us with signs of promise and new beginnings. As we shelter in place, let’s be clear with ourselves that this most trying of times will end, that while we wrestle with unimaginable changes, there is still hope for and belief in better times to come and that, with one another for support, we will all move forward together.
    Wishing you well,

    Transitioning from Zoom to Google Suite Accounts
    Student safety and security are our highest priorities, and we remain attentive to our students’ online presence just as we would on our physical campus. While the last few weeks have seen a remarkable surge of innovation and creativity in remote education, less benevolent actors have attempted to disrupt and frustrate educators’ ability to meet with their students in some virtual settings, particularly Zoom. Bentley has encountered a limited but nonetheless concerning set of incidents where outsiders have entered meetings uninvited and hidden their identities in order to sow confusion. We think there is reasonable concern about the continuing appropriateness of Zoom for teaching and student gatherings. 
    Given the close-knit nature of our community and the resources already available to us, the school will transition from using Zoom to Google Meet as our primary tool for virtual classes, student gatherings, and organizational meetings beginning on Wednesday, April 15. Google Meet will help us further embrace familiar campus tools and provide the appropriate security to keep classroom conversations protected. For access, students will simply sign in with their Bentley login credentials and access a link provided by teachers that is only available to members of the Bentley community. Families in Kindergarten through 4th grade will receive separate login instructions in a follow-up email to access Google Meet.
  • Community Message: April 2, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    It seems that on a daily basis, we are handed more and more disappointing and frightening news about what we can expect in the weeks and months to come. It's hard not to be pulled down into a well of wondering how bad things will get, what it will mean for each of us individually, and how it will affect society as we once knew it. We are undoubtedly living through the worst of times of the pandemic and some of the best of times for empathy and compassion. Juxtaposed against the suffering and fear are the images of first responders who are giving their all for the sake of others, stories of average citizens becoming heroes for those who are food insecure or homeless, often both, neighbors reaching out to one another as never before. Each of us has something real to contribute to this world-shattering event. If and how we chose to make a difference is up to each one of us, knowing that whatever we role model at this time will leave a lasting impression on those who watch us most closely, our children.Values are caught, not taught. With so many in the Bentley Community celebrating religious holidays next week, the timing lends itself to leading by example and deciding how, working together, your family can make a difference for others. These lessons will last a lifetime for our Bentley students. 
    As you know, next week is officially Spring Break for Bentley. That said, the majority of our teachers have stepped up to enhance the work they are doing through Remote Schoolhouse. Under the continued dynamic leadership of Nick Pukstas, faculty members have identified areas of growth for themselves and a plan for pursuing professional development, much of this funded through your donations to the Annual Fund. Teachers will be heavily engaged in their own learning. Given how hard this group has been working to ensure that excellence in teaching and learning at Bentley continues for your children, it is even more emblematic of their dedication that they would choose to press on in order to ensure that the rest of the school year will be the best experience possible for their students, present challenges notwithstanding.
    For families in the Lower School, Liz Lummis O'Neil and her faculty had particular concerns about social distancing and possible negative effects for our youngest learners should they be out of touch with one another all of next week. They set to work on a solution to help balance students’ social isolation. I am pleased to tell you that next week, Ms. Lummis O’Neil and Lower School faculty members will offer Spring Break Remote Schoolhouse Camp to our K-5 students. The camp will be held during the mornings of Tuesday, April 7 through Thursday, April 9, between 9:00 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. through Zoom. Please open this document to learn about camp offerings. Additional online resources curated by our Bentley teachers can be found on the last page.
    In the Middle School, students will have access to optional activities in each of their classes that they can access on Canvas. Through their class webpages, students will also have the opportunity to participate in a school-wide creative invention activity. For the invention activity, students are tasked with coming up with a creative invention that will help solve a problem that they experience, big or small. They will make the invention and document the process to share with others through videos, pictures, and/or drawings.
    Teachers and staff will continue to multiply points of contact with students in the Upper School as they have for the last three weeks in the conviction that connected engagement is of the highest importance in the remote landscape, not simply in terms of sustaining academic progress, but of maintaining a sense of humanity and community in isolation. While we do not have formal programs established for students next week, this can be an opportunity for them to take some breaks and find well being in other ways. Most teachers and staff will be available remotely if students are interested on an individual basis in advancing their studies or consulting a college counselor.
    By now, we are all well aware it is highly unlikely that we will be able to return to campus until the fall. With each passing day, we are increasingly grateful for Remote Schoolhouse and all it has to offer. In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to all parents and guardians with tips for supporting your learners and opportunities for you to share what works best in your home. While we may be physically apart, the spirit that makes us Bentley runs through all of us. This sense of belonging is essential as we navigate the emotional roller coaster ride we are experiencing right now. Knowing that we aren't alone during these daunting days lends a measure of stability for all of us. 
    In all of our lives, change is inevitable while growth is optional. We can't choose what happens to us but we can choose how we handle it. Whatever you celebrate next week and however much those celebrations need to change this year, may the gift of all that we have that is good in our lives far outweigh what we may feel has been lost right now. We will persevere through the present because we must. We will grow because we choose to make the best of all that is difficult. 
    With best wishes for our health and our continued hope,
  • Community Message: March 26, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    As we come to the end of the first two weeks in the implementation of Bentley’s Remote Schoolhouse, we have very favorable news to report, much of which is included on the new website for this signature program that I am happy to call to your attention. Key reasons for our success include all of you, our Bentley parents, who have helped ensure that students are fully participating and helping our youngest learners to be prepared and engaged. Thank you.
    I am grateful for Remote Schoolhouse for many reasons. Well beyond the continuance of excellence in teaching and learning, we have the opportunity to address Social/Emotional Learning (SEL) even with the challenges of physical separation. Having engaged in several morning meetings and lessons in the early grades myself, students’ eagerness to learn is outpaced only by their clear joy in seeing and speaking with one another and, of course, with their teachers. 
    This week, under the continued direction of Nick Pukstas, Director of Remote Teaching and Learning, Bentley is building a leadership team of faculty members whose understanding of educational technology combined with coaching ability will provide more resources for every Bentley teacher and learner. This model of shared leadership exists throughout our various programs and is particularly useful in our current efforts supporting a culture of shared leadership. 
    Undoubtedly one of the most upsetting components of our current situation is unpredictability. There is no formula or crystal ball informing us as to when we will be able to reopen our campuses. We continue to collect all information from reputable sources and to pay attention to what schools in our area are contemplating. That said, we have extended the period of school closure through May 1. We continue to plan for the possibility that Bentley will not reopen until September.
    Thank you for your continued support. Receiving encouraging emails from so many of you has made a positive difference for faculty, staff, and administration. We look forward to delivering our best to your family through Remote Schoolhouse.
  • Community Message: March 19, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    As each day goes by and we receive additional information concerning what might lie ahead for us individually and as members of the Bentley community, keeping in touch is more important than ever. Alone we may experience a sense of hopelessness but when we stay connected we have the power of an entire community behind us. This week, Bentley’s Remote Schoolhouse is off to a great start. As with any other new program or pedagogy, there are glitches to be addressed but, overall, what has been accomplished in the first few dynamic days bodes well for the future. 
    At this point, we can only best guess about when we will be returning to campus. Our initial announcement of being closed for two weeks has proven to be vastly unrealistic in light of current information. The Shelter in Place mandate is expected to last until at least April 7, and  we will continue to update you on the duration of school closure as new information becomes available. While we can’t predict the future, we remain hopeful of reopening before the end of the school year as we continue to develop solid plans for the distinct possibility that we will not be able to operate on campus until September. The spectre of a hiatus of this duration is daunting, but we are now clear that within or without the walls of the classroom, Bentley teachers will continue to teach in ways that students learn best. Following the power outages and accompanying loss of school days last fall, under the leadership of Dean of Teaching and Learning, Nick Pukstas, Bentley began to delve into the hows and whys of remote learning. This early interest, coupled with intense faculty meetings and training sessions held last week, resulted in the successful execution of Remote Schoolhouse beginning Monday which was noted in a Wall Street Journal article that we are proud to call to your attention.
    Along with the charge of meeting the academic needs of each student, we remain forever mindful that school is first and foremost a place of community. When positive, consistent contact with one’s community is interrupted, it takes an emotional toll that may interfere with maintaining hope and optimism. For these reasons - and because we miss our students terribly - each day we are providing specific opportunities for socializing and FUN. Next week we will launch our Remote Schoolhouse webpage on the bentleyschool.org site. We look forward to sharing some images and videos of the lighthearted aspects of remote teaching and learning in action at Bentley.
    So many of you have been in touch with various teachers and administrators offering congratulations, encouragement, suggestions, and support. We are very grateful for all of that and more as we see daily signs of the strength of the Bentley community. Throughout its long and distinguished history, our school has weathered downturns at critical times, most notoriously in the Oakland Firestorm that destroyed the Hiller Campus. We earned our mascot, the PHOENIX, by rising from the ashes and adding an Upper School to the K-8 experience in the process. Today the Bentley Phoenix rises yet again as the Remote Schoolhouse becomes an essential component of teaching and learning for Bentley’s second century. 
    Even remotely, I am proud to be standing among us as we create the best of Bentley out of one of the worst of times. 
    Wishing all of us well,
  • Community Message: March 16, 2020

    Dear Bentley Parents and Guardians,
    Today marks the official launch of our Remote Schoolhouse program. While we all wish the circumstances surrounding the need for this endeavor were different, we can still relish the excitement that comes with new ventures.
    Reading through various communications from teachers to parents yesterday and last week, I am so grateful to our talented faculty who want the best academic and social experience for their students whether in the classroom or in remote locations. Emails to parents consistently reflected these goals. While the parent partnership with Bentley is always important, right now it is even more critical. Please read what you are receiving from the school so you can provide the optimal situation for fostering learning at home.
    Along with consistent hand washing and keeping hands away from the face, social distancing is essential in curtailing the spread of Coronavirus. At this time, do not make arrangements with other parents for play dates or study groups. Undoubtedly, this presents one of any parent’s greatest challenges, but it is essential to isolate as much as possible. During this period, we encourage you to explore alternatives to in-person contact, such as Facetime or other video conferencing and sharing apps. Even brief encounters like these can serve as encouraging reminders of connection and provide a sense of social rhythm. As we learn more from our community about what works particularly well, we will share that out with everyone during the course of regular communication. 
    As we adjust to our new ways of operating, keep in mind that this magnitude of change is hard on everyone, young and old. While we will not be face-to-face, we still have our Bentley community surrounding us and in our hearts. Working together, we will figure out best ways to access the strength and support that it affords each of us.
    Cheers to all of us as we move forward together this week!
    Wishing you WELL,
  • Community Message: March 12, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    What a week it has been for all of us! Almost minute by minute, we’ve been bombarded by information about the spread of the coronavirus. Myriad sources are supplying information that is often contradictory to other sources, causing further worry. With fear and uncertainty swirling around us, I am still able to share with you that this has been a remarkably positive and productive week for Bentley School. With faculty, staff and administration all pulling together and guided by Bentley’s Director of Remote Learning, Nick Pukstas, we are better prepared to face school closure knowing that our online resources will be able to serve students’ needs off campus as the coronavirus pandemic works its way through our communities. 
    While we have no direct knowledge of contamination within our community, based on information we have received concerning school closures and the need to socially distance in order to help prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease, I share with you the following important decisions:
    Beginning Monday, March 16, all teaching and learning will occur remotely and both campuses will be closed to students for a minimum of two weeks.
    Tomorrow, March 13, all Upper School students will attend their classes remotely from home so Nick Pukstas and Bentley’s Tech Team can troubleshoot to further ensure a smooth start on Monday, March 16. Upper School students will be receiving an email later today from Upper School Head, John Walker, which will include instructions for tomorrow’s remote learning schedule.
    Students in K-8 will attend their regular classes at the Hiller Campus on Friday, with faculty focusing on ensuring that students have what they need to fully engage in remote learning on Monday, March 16.
    After School Program (ASP) on the Hiller Campus will continue through tomorrow, March 13, at 6 p.m.
    We are well aware that changes of this magnitude require serious reorganization in all of our lives. I am particularly grateful that we have had the opportunity this week to prepare ourselves and our students for these next steps. We recognize the enormous amount of flexibility this requires from our families who have younger children.
    You should have already received the Remote Learning Survey regarding your in-home capability to support online learning. If you have not completed the survey, please do so here and let us know if you will need assistance by indicating such on the form.
    We continue to be grateful to you, our Bentley parents and guardians, for the outpouring of support we have received as we navigate these new challenges. Your trust in our decision-making process along with your acknowledgment of our dedication to the welfare of the whole child - academically, socially, emotionally, physically - helps energize all of us as we move forward. Students are genuinely excited about online learning, and they will look to you for confirmation of their feelings as they took their cues from the enthusiasm of their teachers this week.
    Thank you in advance for your support,
    Arlene F. Hogan
    Head of School
  • Community Message: March 11, 2020

    Dear Bentley Athletic Community, 
    We want you to know that as a precaution, and in line with yesterday’s Contra Costa County Health Department’s directive of mass gathering/social distancing guidelines, we have decided to suspend all athletic practices and competitions beginning tomorrow, Thursday March 12, through the end of Spring Break on Sunday, April 12. We are applying this activity restriction to all athletic activities grades 6 to 12.
    We are taking this step in the interest of every student and every member of our community’s health, and believe that the restriction of these co-curricular activities and social gatherings is a prudent step that will be a benefit to everyone. We will continue to monitor future developments and communicate any other decisions along the way, including plans to resume athletic activities on Monday, April 13.
    If you have any further questions, please email your respective coach directly or the Athletics Department.
    Rob Rafeh 
    Director of Athletics, K-12

  • Community Message: March 9, 2020

    Dear Bentley Community,
    As you know, Bentley, along with several other independent schools, has rescheduled the Annual Gala due to concerns and directives around the spread of the coronavirus. While we were all looking forward to this once in a hundred year Centennial Gala to occur on March 21, we are pleased to announce the reschedule date of September 26, the first month of the 2020 school year.
    I will be reaching out personally to the parents of the Class of 2020, encouraging them to return to Bentley to join us as newly inducted centennial alumni parents to this momentous occasion. Additionally, we will now be able to include the new families who will be joining us for the first time in September. In the meantime….
    The online auction is open and awaiting your bids. One-of-a-kind K-4 class projects will be showcasing next week along with other new items. Centennial Online auction 
    Thank you to all of you who donated your time, talent, and treasures to our Gala efforts. The roaring 20s will be back in September in a spectacular fashion. To all of the volunteers who began the process of planning for this evening, the Commons will remain decorated with our work, to be enjoyed over the coming months.
    Change brings challenges and opportunities. We have a fantastic Gala committee and know that we will deliver an even more grand Centennial Gala in the fall.  

    Annie Hahn
    Bentley Gala Chair

  • Community Message: March 8, 2020

    Dear Bentley Parents and Guardians,
    This is to update you on several immediate changes we are making this week and beyond in response to the local spread of coronavirus: 
    • Upper School Mini-term has been cancelled
    • Field trips for second and fifth grades have been cancelled
    • Centennial Gala has been postponed
    Last week, colleges and universities including Stanford moved to online teaching and several K-12 schools (including two independent schools) closed due to suspicion of contamination. In the last 48 hours, a number of centers in San Francisco closed based on similar fears. Conferences are being cancelled and companies are insisting that their employees work remotely. While Bentley has no current knowledge of exposure to the virus among our community members, we serve over 700 students and their families from throughout the Bay Area. Our families have members who travel abroad regularly and cover a wide range of local territory in their daily lives. We remain optimistic concerning our steps to keep the campuses sanitary and our students aware of their role in hand-washing, cough and sneeze covering, etc.Nonetheless we must be realistic in anticipating that we too may have to face school closure as we become aware of any potentially harmful situations.
    All of this considered, we have, as noted above, decided to cancel Upper School Mini-term this week and to hold classes as usual until we have reason to do otherwise. The majority of the Mini-term trips were headed for San Francisco and other public spaces throughout the East Bay, and many students were to be transported on BART. These plans are no longer in accordance with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and Mayor London Breed, who have recommended a policy of “social distancing” and “cancelling or postponing large gatherings.” One of our Mini-term trips already departed this morning bound for the Lost Coast with thirteen students and three very capable chaperone teachers. Upper School Head, John Walker and Dean of Student Affairs, Ana Anderson, are working on best solutions for that particular group and those families will receive communication about their plans. All other Upper School students will meet with their T3 teachers tomorrow morning at 8:10am for an overview of the new trimester and discussions on ways to maximize online learning. 
    It is now clear that we are very likely to face school closure in the next weeks and months. This necessitates making the most of our current time together, especially in honing our skills in delivering remote education, a process that began last fall with the fires and subsequent power outage. We will continue to be barraged with contamination information on a minute by minute basis and we will all need to remain flexible. We are well aware of the toll school closure takes on families especially where both parents work outside the home as we also recognize clearly our primary responsibility for student and employee safety. Please make plans now for that likelihood.
    Our Centennial Gala scheduled for March 21st is now postponed. Having received an outpouring of generous donations from so many of you including faculty sponsorships from grateful, supportive parents. We can assure you that, under the leadership of Annie Hahn and her Gala Committee, the end product, while delayed, will be better than ever.
    Thank you for coping with these changes. We look forward, hoping for news of coronavirus abatement very soon as we plan for the possibility that the current situation may possibly get worse before it gets better.
    Wishing you well,
    Arlene F. Hogan
    Head of School


Helpful Resources

What We Are Doing

The safety and health of our students, faculty, and staff is our number one priority. Here are some measures we are taking as an institution.
  • Meeting daily to assess the situation
  • Consulting health authorities and local law enforcement
  • Disseminating information to faculty and staff
  • Reviewing hygiene with students
  • Adding more hand sanitizer units
  • Deep cleaning all classrooms and community spaces
  • Working with vendors to evaluate and increase cleaning protocols

What Everyone Can Do

As with common respiratory illnesses such as the cold and flu, you can take the following measures to minimize your risk. 
  • Stay home if sick
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects frequently
  • Wash hands for 20 seconds
  • Use 60–90% alcohol hand sanitizer, if you can't wash hands


K - 8 Campus

1 Hiller Drive
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 843-2512

9 - 12 Campus

1000 Upper Happy Valley Rd.
Lafayette, CA 94549
(925) 283-2101