Sunnyside Environmental School

Fostering responsibility, excitement for learning
and respect for all living things.

3421 SE Salmon StPortland, OR 97214Ph 503-916-6226Fx 503-916-2676

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SES News

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  • RESPONSE REQUESTED: 8th grade promotion questions

    Dear 8th grade families,
    This post includes a quick update on vehicle guidelines for Monday’s planned promotion ceremony, and one request for information. To help things go smoothly on Monday, I ask that you read through the guidelines and respond to the two questions, as appropriate.
  • Mon 6/1: Race and Justice

    Dear SES families and community,

    This is a long email. 

    I am writing today to address the current protests happening in Portland and around the world, protests that shine a light on the systemic injustice and racialized violence that is both woven into the history of the United States of America, as well as ever-present in our modern day society. I am well aware that the ongoing trauma, the unnecessary and terrorizing loss of life due to racialized violence, simply compounds the layers and layers of trauma that underpin the day to day lived experience for black folks, Native folks and other folks of color in our country. In the middle of a pandemic, one where thousands of people of color are disproportionately losing their lives to COVID-19 because of the generational, compounded impact of our country’s systems on black and brown bodies, I recognize that the world feels like it’s truly burning, and the fight for a liberated society feels more important and urgent to me now than ever before. 

    As a white principal, I literally hold the most power in the entire school. This is not only based on my personal, racial identity, but public schools--like governments and other systems of the state--were purposefully designed to separate out the powerful from the powerless. As a white principal I try to be aware of this power, but sometimes, like all white people who are born into a racist system, my blinders are on. I make a lot of mistakes, and those mistakes have and continue to harm folks of color who I love, respect and admire. The power I hold makes my mistakes not only more visible, but it makes them all that more harmful in our school community. As principal my promise to you is that I work on this every minute of every day, and I will only stop working when my heart stops beating. That is my truth. I believe each of us has only two choices--to be racist or to be actively anti-racist. I am a white person who chooses to be anti-racist, and I also recognize that because I’m born into an intentionally designed, racist system of white supremacy, my anti-racist work must be a lifelong, daily commitment. While it can be hard and messy and uncomfortable for me, that’s a tiny fraction of what folks of color must endure to simply survive in America and keep themselves, their families and their children as “whole” as possible. Because of this, for me personally, choosing to be anti-racist is the only choice. 

    When it comes to this school, if you know me you know that I believe in the work that Carter G. Woodson started almost a century ago. He taught us that the purpose of public education is to change the social order for the good of a community, and that the public education system of a country is worthless unless it accomplishes this very thing. The vision of our school is one that teaches all children, regardless of their race, that they are worthy of responsible, fierce, tender love and they are responsible for sharing this love with others in their community. At SES we aim to teach all of our students that regardless of their racial identity they are, unfortunately and fortunately, responsible for their own liberation. It’s clear to me, now more than ever, that the grown ups (myself included) have failed them in this regard. This is our aspiration at Sunnyside; however, like other public schools, I know that SES also harms children every day. I am aware that the ways in which we/I harm children varies based on their own racial identity and lived experience. Again, in both my personal and professional life, I will continue to work on being an anti-racist every day. I will continue to try to love and teach children responsibly. I know I will continue to harm them, and when I do this, I will reckon with the harm I have caused and continue to try and repair. I will never stop reckoning with my own identity and power, and continue to actively and honestly take action toward being an anti-racist white person, an anti-racist school leader, and and anti-racist parent. 

    This is a lengthy way to set a context for what I’m about to say next. Email is a tough medium, especially with a vast, diverse audience whose lived experiences fill an entire societal spectrum. Below are some immediate commitments from myself and our staff, as well as some differentiated invitations for our school community at large:

    --All of our children at SES, ages 5-15, have had an opportunity to talk about their own racial identity here at school. Each of them have already been taught that systems and rules are not fair, that they protect some groups of people and harm others. For this reason, every single one of our students can and should be talking about this with you at home. In distance learning this week, many of them will be focusing on systems of white supremacy, why protest is necessary, and actions--small and large--that they can take on their own or in their community as they imagine what a liberated society can look like and work to build this for themselves. 

    --These home conversations will look different in each of your family frames, based on your own racial identity, lived experiences and your beliefs. For white parents who are uncomfortable with these topics or who believe your children are “too young,” I call you in and invite you to reframe this for yourselves and your family. None of our students are “too young.” Being able to make a choice about when to start teaching your kids about this is a choice that is only given to those of us with societal power. Silence in your homes is harmful to your children. Please talk with your kids. 

    --It is no secret that our school is made up of 78% white students and 22% students and families of color. White folks, please do not reach out to families of color to ask for help or assistance. Please don’t ask families of color to do the labor of teaching while also living through past, present and future American racial terror. I instead invite you to go back to our weekly newsletters, use the resources we have provided over the years, or search the’s never been more full of resources for you. I invite you in to do the labor of your own learning. If you’d like to talk more about this and you identify as white, please reach out to me or another white teacher/friend/community member if need be. If you are white, please do not reach out to our communities of color or our staff of color unless it’s simply to say, “I am here to step aside quietly,” “I am here to listen,” or “You are not alone.”

    --Our teachers have spent the last week in community with each other, planning instruction that responsively teaches students about the current state of our country. We know that such teaching and learning can cause unintended harm for our students of color, especially if the teacher is white. We are committed to truth-telling, committed to centering thousands upon thousands of stories from people of color, stories of love, resilience, humanity and brilliance that are often left out of school curriculum. We are committed to refraining from centering the trauma and death of people of color, and instead turn our focus toward action steps for liberation, the differing role of various members of our community at school and beyond based on racial identity, and we are working hard to ensure that our classrooms are as safe as possible for our students of color. Make no mistake--this does not mean we ignore the truth. This means we try to strike the delicate balance of truth-telling while providing hope, tangible actions for students based on age, and safety for our students of color while never nestling this in pity or white saviorism. Teachers have been hard at work thinking about our digital context right now, and what this instruction needs to look like to best meet the needs of each and every child in their classroom based on their race and identity. 

    --For our families and students of color, we continue to offer affinity spaces within the digital walls of SES. Our middle school students/staff of color group continue to meet weekly, and staff of color have been working together--without white staff--and are available to families and students of color at any time if you choose, regardless of who your teacher is this year. As a white principal I want to restate that you are not alone. I am writing this email as a white school leader. While my truth can’t be separated from my identity, I know that my work is to elevate voices of color, to listen, and to take action in a variety of ways to give away my power quietly and on the side. To help elevate voices and stories of folks of color while offering reparations in many different forms. I am taking action in this way every day right now. I intend for this to be the only communication coming from me that contains my own, personal experience. 

    --Lastly, I have attached our SES Racial Literacy Framework to this email, as well as a recent article for white families on how and why reparations are a necessary part of America’s healing. One of today’s 8th grade speakers, a student of color, ended her speech with the following message, one that I feel could not be more timely: “I think if you are not willing to acknowledge the past, the truth will always be obscured. That doesn’t mean you should dwell in the past endlessly but instead remember and acknowledge that the past has shaped the present we live in today. I think in order to create a bright future it takes strength to forgive the past but never forget it. For we are the product of the past. But more importantly, we are the producers of the future.” 

    The footer of my professional email comes from a close friend and one of my most important teachers, author Kiese Laymon. Kiese says you can not love any child in this nation if you refuse to accept that America was born of a commitment to the death, destruction and suffering of black and indigenous children and a moral annihilation of white children. I believe every word of this statement to be true, and this is the anchor I use when thinking about our school at large. 

    As principal, I remain committed to anti-racism and so do our school staff. I believe in that responsible, fierce, tender love for all of our children, and I promise you that as a school we will never stop trying to change the social order for the good of the community. Each and every child in America deserves nothing short of this. 

    In solidarity,


  • 8th grade promotion

    Español| Tiếng Việt| 中文| Русский| Soomaali
    Dear 8th grade families,
    I am happy to share some great news. A few of us have been hard at work with PPS, and have finally been given approval to hold a socially distanced, in-person, 8th grade promotion ceremony on the evening of June 8, 7 pm, at the Marshall High School campus in the upper, outdoor parking lot.
  • Monday 4/6: Resources List

    Please follow the link below to a list of resources compiled by the Congressman Earl Blumenauer team:

District News

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Weekly Messenger

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  • SES Messenger for June 4 2020

    Español| Tiếng Việt| 中文| Русский| Soomaali
    Inside this Issue:
    • School News (NEW)
    • Community News (NEW)
    • Upcoming Dates
    • Websites to Know
    • 8th Grade Promotion (NEW)
    • Expanded Services at Multnomah Co. Student Health Center (NEW)
    • Summer Meals for PPS Students (NEW)
    • ESL Chat Time “LIVE” - Season Finale (NEW)
    • Imagine, Explore & Create: Summer Fun for K-5 (NEW)
    • Join the Virtual Rose Show on Padlet
    • 4-H Virtual Neighborhoods
    • State Program Offers Help to Pay for Food
    • Anti-Racist Reading and Resources (NEW)
    School News (NEW)
    Hello Sunnyside,
    If you haven’t already, I invite you to take a few minutes to watch the brilliant, fierce, tender truth spoken by one of the KairosPDX founders, Kali Thorne Ladd. Kali asks all of us, “look to the children for answers”. Please consider sharing Ms. Kali’s message with other folks if you’re willing and able:
    Our 3rd grade Sunnyside teacher Tiffany also created this incredible resource for teaching young students about race and injustice. 
    Community News (NEW)
    If your family or child would like to protest for Black lives but your family is unable to do so because of COVID-19 risks or other reasons, please see the attached link from the King Center, an opportunity for virtual protest for the next several days.
    Please see our Anti-Race Reading and Resources section for a list of ways to take action, donate money or directly support black lives and amplify black and brown voices, organizations, businesses, etc. this week in Portland.
    Upcoming Dates
    Check the district online calendar here.
    Fridays May 8 - June 5 No School - District Furlough
    Mon-Thu May 13 - June 8
    8th Grade Speeches
    Monday, June 8
    8th Grade Drive-Through Promotion, 7:00
    Wednesday June 10 Last Day of School
    Websites to Know
    8th Grade Promotion (NEW)
    We are so excited to honor our 8th graders at a “drive through” promotion ceremony.  This will take place at the Marshall Campus at 7:00pm Monday evening.  Unfortunately, because we are following strict ODE safety guidelines, this event is only open to families of 8th graders, and are allowed a limited number of vehicles.  We are exploring ways of recording the ceremony, and will keep you informed and share any information with you as it becomes available.  8th Grade Families:  please expect a couple of follow up emails with detailed information.
    Expanded Services at Multnomah County Student Health Center (NEW)
    The Parkrose Student Health Center is open during school closures and summer break. Phone, video, and in-person appointments are available to all Multnomah County youth ages 5-18. Call 503-988-3392 for an appointment. Translation services are also available.
    Expanded Services Include:
    • COVID-19 testing for symptomatic youth
    • Wellness checks/sports physicals
    • Immunizations
    • Asthma and other chronic illness management
    • Treatment for minor illnesses
    • Medication refills
    • Lab tests
    • Follow-up after emergency room visits
    • Contraceptive/STI screening
    • Behavioral Health

    We can also connect students/families with community resources for food or help with medical insurance. For more information, visit us at [English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese]
    Summer Meals for PPS Students (NEW)
    The Nutrition Services department will be extending current meal services into the summer, June 11th through August 21st at all locations except Rigler and Harrison Park due to extensive construction projects. Breakfast and lunch will be provided to any PPS student and any children in the community ages 1-18, Monday through Thursday. Meals for Friday, Saturday and Sunday are provided on Thursdays. Children do not need to be present to pick up the meals. Meals will be available for pickup outside the school from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the locations below.
    • Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary - 620 N Fremont
    • César Chávez Elementary - 5103 N Willis Blvd

    • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary - 4906 NE 6th Ave

    • Franklin High School - 5405 SE Woodward St

    • George Middle School - 10000 N Burr Ave

    • Grout Elementary - 3119 SE Holgate Blvd

    • Lent School - 5105 SE 97th Ave

    • Madison at Marshall - 3905 SE 91st Ave
    • Markham Elementary - 10531 SW Capitol Hwy

    • Rosa Parks Elementary - 8960 N Woolsey Ave

    • Scott Elementary - 6700 NE Prescott St

    • Sitton Elementary - 9930 N Smith St

    • Woodmere Elementary - 7900 SE Duke St

    ESL Chat Time “LIVE” - Season Final (NEW)
    Please join for an array of multilingual/multicultural guests sharing resources that are of particular interest to our EB communities. Check out the archive of shows and links to fliers in multiple languages at our ESL HD Activities Hub
    Imagine, Explore & Create: Summer Fun for K-5 (NEW)
    Three weeks of fun for current K-5th grade students!
    • Students will EXPLORE, IMAGINE and CREATE an awesome project of your choice each week 
    • Create with items from in and around their home
    • Submit a photo or video of their weekly project to be showcased on our PPS summer gallery website

    Photo or video project entries qualify students for a RAFFLE with great prizes-  *Books *Restaurant Take-Out Gift Cards *OMSI Family Passes & more!* For more information and to register visit PPS Summer 2020.
    4-H Virtual Neighborhoods 
    4-H would like to welcome our students to a brand new program called 4-H Virtual Neighborhoods. It's an adaptation of their 4-H Teens as Teachers program which matches Teen Teachers with 2-6 younger buddies (ages 6-13) to do a 45-minute activity on Zoom once a week. Teen Teachers are also matched with Adult Leaders (college students, camp counselors, educators, and 4-H Leaders/Volunteers) to provide support in delivering each session, building intentional lesson plans, and monitor participant safety. 4-H is currently looking for Teen Teachers as well as young buddies. Key things to know:

    More information can also be found at their Program website:
    Join the Virtual Rose Show on Padlet
    If your family has been missing the many Sunnyside traditions that were postponed this year, then we have a great opportunity for you! This year, one of our fifth graders has taken initiative and created a virtual Rose Show. If your students would like to submit photos, art work, or other rose ideas, please follow this link: Rose Show Padlet. We hope you enjoy this adapted Sunnyside tradition.
    Anti-Racist Reading and Resources (NEW)
    The following is from a PICA newsletter:
    The Movement For Black Lives, and organizers mobilizing across the country, organized a week of action June 1st to 7th in defense of Black lives. This is an opportunity to uplift and fight alongside those turning up in the streets and online. Each day of the week of action represents one of our [The Movement for Black Lives] demands.
    • Monday: The Rights of Protesters to be respected
    • Tuesday: Invest-Divest
    • Wednesday: Community Relief
    • Thursday: Community Control
    • Friday: End the War on Black People
    • Saturday: Make Meaning from Crisis

    PICA condemns the violent, racist, and militaristic methodologies of police departments across the United States and specifically in Portland, Oregon, as well as the move to increase funding for inherently violent policing in our city when it is rather a time to defund. We will actively work to dissolve our own connections to these systems. We challenge our city, state, and national government, our partner organizations, our audiences, our donors and funders, and our own organization to do better. We urge you to donate, read, post, petition, protest, and take a form of action. We are asking our white and non-Black audiences, artists, donors, partner organizations, and ourselves to find ways to show up and actively engage in solidarity and support of the Black community.
    The information below is time-sensitive and based on the demands put forward by The Movement For Black Lives. Tomorrow, we will be sharing more information as it relates to Community Control. If you have additional resources and links please let us know. This will be an ongoing and evolving process.
    The Portland African American Leadership Forum (PALLF) helps our Black community imagine the alternatives we deserve and build our civic participation and leadership to achieve those alternatives.
    Nat Turner Project (NTP) allows artists of color to go beyond the usual initial expositions inherent in presenting art borne of marginalized perspectives to a dominant culture; allowing artists of color freedom to create or express their own language within and without the parameters of racial commodification or designation.
    In two days, The Black Resilience Fund has provided $19,088.24 in immediate support for Black Portlanders, including a warm meal, groceries, and unpaid bills. Please donate to support these efforts.
    Ori Gallery is the brain child of the creative duo Maya Vivas & Leila Haile. Together they seek to reclaim and redefine “the white cube” through amplifying the voices of Trans and Queer Artists of color, community organizing and mobilization through the arts.
    Urban League of Portland is one of Oregon’s oldest civil rights and social service organizations, empowering African-Americans and others to achieve equality in education, employment, health, economic security and quality of life.
    Donate to, or, apply for a PNW Ballroom Micro-Grant by, a homebase for Lady Tournament (@jxzz_hndz) and other ballroom/club scene related projects.
    The Black Feminist Kitchen and The Black Feminist Summer School (BFSS): BFSS is an underground school dedicated to Black feminist study. BFSS offers a critical meditation on the theoretical concepts, questions, interventions, directives, tensions, and ideologies within Black feminism(s) and Black feminist thought. Donating via CashApp is most helpful. Donate to $BFKBFSSFund on CashApp and BFKBFSSFUND on PayPal.
    The Black Food Sovereignty Coalition (BFSC) serves as a collaboration hub for Black and Brown communities to confront the systemic barriers that make food, place and economic opportunities inaccessible to us.
    Equitable Giving Circle is feeding BIPOC families with food from BIPOC farmers.
    SNACK BLOC is a community resource and support for rallies, protests, community events and vigils in the greater Portland area.
    Black Futures Farm is a community farm, staffed by volunteers and two resident farmers. We sit on 1.15 acres with 17 different fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, medicinal and cooking herbs. The CSA is full, but you can donate unrestricted funds.

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