Teddy Bear Day

Today, we are celebrating Teddy Bear Day, a longstanding MTS tradition. Students bring their favorite teddy bears to school, we have an all-school parade, and students enjoy time with their buddy bears along with teddy bear shaped popsicles as an afternoon treat. This dear tradition unfailingly warms the hearts of all involved.

Air Bear Toss.

3 Groups, 36 Miles, & 1 Head of School


Last week our 8th graders spent four days and three nights backpacking in the high country of Yosemite National Park. This annual trip is the culmination of our outdoor education program that starts in fourth grade.

This year, our Head of School, Andrew Davis, hiked with all three groups on their first day in the woods. His planned 17 mile day turned into a 30 mile day of hiking/running as he assisted an injured passing hiker out to the rangers, returning to camp in the dark.

Here are a few highlights of his trip as he describes it.

After hiking with each group Andrew remarked at how well the MTS students were handling the challenge:

Despite heavy packs, hard trails, and long days, spirits were high. As a former outdoor educator, I was impressed by their maturity and willingness to persevere in the face of challenge.
— Andrew Davis

While the 8th graders braved the mountains, our 6th and 7th graders were off on their own trips as well. More on those adventures in the weeks to come.

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Welcome Back on the First Day of School!

We are so excited to have the students back at school! We had a great turnout of parents at our Morning Coffee, and we welcomed new families at our orientation that followed. During the all-school assembly this afternoon, Head of School, Andrew Davis, shared with everyone our guiding principle for the year, "How Matters" and the ways that we will be focusing on process rather than end-product throughout this year. You can read his full welcome speech on the TGIAM blog post here. The assembly wrapped up with a faculty and staff flash mob singing and playing "Don't Worry About A Thing" on ukuleles. The 2018-19 school year is starting out on a fantastic note! 

Spring Musical Performance of Oklahoma!

Sixth through eighth graders performed an excellent rendition of Oklahoma! for the Mount Tamalpais School Spring Musical this year. Set in Oklahoma territory in 1906, this popular musical tells the story of a farm girl, Laurey and her courtship by two rival suitors, cowboy Curly and the sinister Jud Fry. One student performer commented that this was the most fun he's had in an MTS musical as it was great fun to dress up as a cowboy and talk "cowboy talk." Enjoy watching selected scenes in the video below - you 'Cain't Say No!' 

Students Have a Blast on Field Day

Field Day is an annual tradition in the spring organized by the PE teachers full of fun physical activities. Stations include games out in the field like sack races, tug-o'-war, 50 meter dash, and hula hoop, as well as indoor stations include golf putting, juggling, and musical chairs.

After a busy morning followed by an awards ceremony, students and faculty gather on the field once again for relay races. Fueled by an ice cream snack, the day concludes with the much anticipated volleyball match between the 8th grade and faculty. Rumor has it that the faculty has lost before, but nobody can remember when (10 years ago?). This year the 8th graders put on a valiant fight with raucous support from the other grades, but faculty won the first two games (out of a potential 3) to end the match. Everyone had a blast!

3rd Grade Field Trip Highlights

The third grade San Francisco field trip is an annual tradition. Students enjoyed a ferry ride to and from the city and visited the Aquarium of the Bay, highlighting the sea life right in our bay. They also explored the Presidio and Aquatic Park reflecting on the historical significance of both areas all while riding on an iconic San Francisco cable car. A super fun day was had by all!

Mandarin Class Visits Chinatown

The Mandarin Class recently took a field trip to Chinatown in San Francisco giving students a taste of Chinese culture. The first stop was the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum, where students learned about the history of the relations between China and the U.S., and immigrants’ journeys to San Francisco from China. After exploring the museum, the group went to a local Chinese market where students all purchased bags of da bai tu, a White Rabbit Candy. Next, the group walked down to the Li Xiang Can Guan or the Lai Hong Lounge where students had the opportunity to taste a wide range of Chinese dishes. Feeling content after lunch, the group stopped at a sculpture shop and a gift shop. Students also tried to speak Mandarin as much as possible when on the field trip. Agnes Li, MTS Mandarin teacher who led the trip, said she felt proud of her students, and parents raved that their kids couldn't stop talking about the trip!

5th Grade Outdoor Education Trip to the Marin Headlands

Fifth graders spent three days at the Marin Headlands through the Nature Bridge organization.  Students hiked trails out to the Point Bonita Lighthouse, experienced hands-on marine science learning, participated in environmental service projects, and enjoyed team building activities.

Environmental Service Projects:
Harbor Seal Count at Point Bonita - Students spent an hour counting adult and pup harbor seals sunning on the rocks and swimming in the water. The data collected will be used to monitor the growth or decline of the Harbor Seal population at Point Bonita. 

Ice Plant Eradication: 
Students helped with the slow eradication of Ice Plant, a non-native species, at the Marin Headlands. They did this by rolling down hills of Ice Plant, which kills the plant slowly so other native plants grow in its place. 

Focus on Marine Science:
Students explored tide pools at Rodeo Beach, experienced Nature Bridge's touch tanks, and they saw numerous whales along the coast!

Team Building Activities:
Time for games, discussions, and reflection at Scotty’s Bluff in Marin Headlands. Games focussed on communication skills and tasks that could only be accomplished with the help of everyone in the group. 

MTS Track Teams Lead the Pack

It's a speedy bunch! Both the Lower and Middle School MTS Track Teams placed very well in the final meets of the year. Fifth grade boys and fifth grade girls won second place in their relays in the meet prior to the final races (pictured with their ribbons). Middle School runners had to qualify for the final championship races, which were held at Mount Tam High School over the weekend. See below for the final results in the Middle School races. Congratulations, Runners!

Middle School Marin County Championship Meet Results

Natalie Harle  100M  A Girls 1st place

Halle Hanna  200M A Girls 1st place
Natalie Harle 200M A Girls 2nd place

Halle Hanna 600M A Girls 1st place (tied school record!)
Marissa Lumpkin 600M C Girls 4th place

400M Relay A Girls 4th place
Piper Fleece
Halle Hanna
Natalie Harle
Marissa Lumpkin

Mile Relay A/B CO-ED 2nd place
William Bennett
Finn McKibbin
Halle Hanna
Marissa Lumpkin

Natalie Harle Shot Put A Girls 3rd place

Tara Curtin Long Jump D Girls 4th place

Author Shannon Messenger Visits the School

Grades 5-8 students were ecstatic to have Shannon Messenger, author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities and the SkyFall book series, come visit the school, talk about her writing approach, and sign some books. We learned about her love for cats and cupcakes, not to mention did you know that unicorns with wings are not actually called unicorns, but alicorns? She encouraged the students to follow their dreams and to never give up. A special thanks to the Payne, Reilly, Charkin and Estes families for bringing this popular author to our doorstep! 

Margie Burke Speech Tournament

On Saturday, April 28th, eighteen of our MTS students competed in the 36th Annual Margie Burke Memorial Speech Tournament at Ross School. Each year our students work diligently to prepare for this highly competitive and prestigious event. This year, with eleven Marin County schools participating, Mount Tamalpais School earned 18 medals. This was the 25th year that Performing Arts teacher, Deborah Marcom, took a team of students to the tournament, with notoriously amazing results over the years. Please join us in congratulating all of them! 








Community Day!

Community Day was a huge success!

Kindergarten and First Graders have been learning about the idea of community. As a way to explore what it is like to be a member of a town/city community, First Graders were given the opportunity to open their own "stores." They came up with an idea and a business plan and created a store where they would provide a good or service. Stores ranged from selling things like used books or hand-made crafts, to teaching a skill like shooting a mini basketball or learning to make a rubber band bracelet. 


While there was an economics aspect to this project, the focus was to emphasize the many services that are shared by the members of a community. With this in mind, each customer received 10 small cubes to use as currency, and each item or service cost 1 cube. The Kindergarten class was invited to come to shop, as well as parents and faculty. Fun was had by all, and customers left feeling very pleased with their new purchases and experiences! 

Kindergarten Robots and Recycling

The kindergarten class is learning about recycling/repurposing materials and caring for our planet and community as part of their current Social Studies unit. After getting inspiration and ideas while visiting SCRAP, a non-profit recycling, learning and art center in San Francisco, students made robots from recycled materials they brought from home. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders toured the Robot Gallery, and kindergarten students explained their robots with their "how to" guides. 



Family STEM Night

During Family STEM Night, faculty turn the school into a veritable Exploratorium. Kindergarteners through 4th graders come with their families to the school and enjoy a variety of hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math activities. 


In the STEM lab we explored robotics- there were 3 activities set up for families to try. Robo-Recycling- the challenge was to use block coding to get Dash the robot to push cups into an area on the floor designated for recycling. Dashketball- Dash the robot had its launching arm attached.  The aim of the game was to use block code to try to Dash to launch the balls into a basketball hoop to score. Xylo- Dash had its xylophone attached, and families worked together to create a song for Dash to play.

We also had a number engineering activities:  

Domino Diving Board challenged families to learn about cantilevers while trying to build a ledge of dominos that hung over the edge of a box. The challenge was to try to see how far out they could build their ledge before it collapsed.


Let's Communicate challenged families to see how well they could explain a design to a builder. Partners faced each other, but worked inside dividers so that they couldn't see what each other was doing. The engineer built a structure with lego pieces. The builder had to try to build exactly the same thing by following the directions of the engineer (not able to see the completed structure.)

Learning from Failure challenged families to make a boat out of a 4" piece of aluminum foil. Boats were judged on how many pennies they could hold before they sunk.

Inspired by Nature was a card game that involved matching human inventions with their inspiration found in nature.



Science activities included Make the Tinkering Trees for building fine motor skills, Owl Pellet Dissection to discover what owls eat and identify rodent bones, and Camouflage, where families were challenged with finding examples of different types of camouflage on a series of iPad images.

At another station, attendees could watch a video created by two eighth graders demonstrating a density column.

In Eric's room, families could enjoy both physics, chemistry, and biology stations. Your Father's Nose created by a previous MTS student plays with our sense of vision and perception with mirrors that blend two people's facial features into one. Look Into Infinity, also plays a perception trick such that when a viewer looks through a peephole, the mirrors create the effect of seeing 100's of the object (in this case, an apple) as though it goes on until infinity. Other activities included determining if chemistry "mystery" solutions were either acids or bases using indicators, as well as a microscope activity looking at protist cultures of Eugenia, organisms that have both plant (photosynthesis) and animal (motile) characteristics. 


The dice were rolled, the cards were shuffled, the coins were tossed, and a good time was had by all. Children and adults worked together thinking strategically in order to win computationally based games such as Face Off, Before and After, and Target Addition. Geometric thinking was stretched to the limits when building two-dimensional shapes such as squares and stars, and three-dimensional shapes such as pyramids and cubes with an eight foot loop of rope.

Spring Concert Performance

The Performing Arts & Visual Arts Enrichment Classes from Trimester 2 entertained on Tuesday night with a wide range of talent and disciplines including Chorus, Vocal Ensemble, Scene Study, Girls Dance, Concert Band, Jazz Band, and Physical Theatre. 

The program included scene studies from The Odd Couple, the Lemon Sisters, Sir Stanley, and Betraying the Blues, as well as Girls' and Boys' Dance Ensembles called "Take Me To The Movies" with a fun mix of classics - Singin' in the Rain, On the Town, Austin Powers, Napolean Dynamite, and Footloose. 

On display in Summit Hall as well as showcased in a digital presentation with music, are 12 Geometric Animal Compositions inspired by Ben Jones, and 8th grade micron pen drawings of Marin County Animals from the Visual Arts Enrichment Class. 

Watch selected scenes in the video below. 




Spring into Art: Student Art Show in Tiburon

Come join us! 

Artist Reception • Monday, March 26
5:00 - 7:00 PM

We are excited to be showcasing artwork by MTS students in Spring into Art, an exhibition at the Tiburon Town Hall. The show is hosted in partnership with the Tiburon Heritage and Arts Commission. On view will be a selection of 30-50 student works that display a broad range of ages, materials, and creativity. Join us in celebrating the artist reception open to all MTS families and the broader community! 

Tiburon Town Hall
1505 Tiburon Blvd.
Belvedere Tiburon, CA

The exhibition will be on view through April 30, 2018.

Tiburon Heritage and Arts Commission
(415) 435-7373 (call for viewing times)
Patti Pickett

MTS Cultural Day - Brazil

Mount Tamalpais School celebrated the culture of Brazil at its 12th Annual Cultural Day. The jam-packed day was filled with fun Brazilian festivities including folk tales, samba dancers, capoeira, food, and workshops. Enjoy a recap below, as well as photos and videos from the amazing day. 


In the morning, parent volunteers visited lower school classes, leading students in projects and reading Brazilian stories. Rob Potter then kicked off the all school gathering with a keynote slide show presentation, offering a glimpse into the history, geography, and culture of Brazil that was then followed by Amor do Samba dancers Jazz Elaine Baptist and Halima Mahdee as well as a performance by the ABADA Capoeira Dance Troupe. After a lunch featuring Brazilian Cuisine of Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), Bobo de Camarao (savory chowder), Empanadas, and Feijoada (black bean stew), the Middle School attended a series of afternoon workshop presentations as described below.

Afternoon Workshops - Middle School


Brazilian Treasures and Treats - Jaiara Almeida Boudreaux shared interesting treasures and artifacts from Brazil. She talked about her experiences growing up in Brazil, and told her life stories about Brazilian food, animals (jaguars), school, Carnival, and soccer. Students also enjoyed delicious Brazilian lemonade and some treats of plantain chips. 


Brazilian Masks - MTS Art Teachers, Tyler Bewley and Evy Packer, introduced students to Kalapalo masks created by the Kalapalo indigenous tribe who live on the banks of the Xingu River in the Amazon Rainforest. The masks were made using acrylic paint and hemp on painted cardboard. 



Rainforest Reptiles - Tree Frog Treks wowed students with Trucker the red-footed tortoise (not to be confused with a turtle!), a boa constrictor named Rocky, an orange tree frog, and a tarantula, all native to the Brazilian Amazon forest. Tortoises like Trucker are "pets-for-life" as they can live up to 80 years old, and they are veritable "garbage disposals" as they will eat just about anything, including carrion.  


Samba Dance - Dancers Jazz Elaine Baptist and Halima Mahdee from Amor do Samba of San Francisco taught students some basic samba steps and then showed how to incorporate them into a short routine. 




Capoeira - Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. Diego Fretias and Lisa Silva from ABADA Dance Troupe introduced students to some simple Capoeira techniques.




Pachamama Alliance - In the final workshop of the day, Pachamama Alliance gave a presentation on their organization. The Pachamama Alliance is a global community that works to empower the indigenous people of the Amazon Rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world. 

Watch videos below to see additional highlights from the day. You can also watch Rob Potter's Introductory Brazil Day Slide Show Presentation here

MTS Eighth Grader Qualifies for Semifinal State Geography Bee


We are proud to announce that eighth grader, Rob Rudy, has qualified to compete in the 2018 California National Geographic State Bee. It's no small accomplishment as the state of California has somewhere between 3000-4000 school finalists take the standardized test to determine who will be among the 100 state finalists. Rob is the 12th student from Mount Tamalpais School to be eligible in the last 20 years. 

In December, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students competed against one another in the MTS School Bee to earn the chance to represent our school at the state competition. Rob was the last one standing with his correct response to the question, "In 1991, Abuja replaced Lagos as the seat of government of which West African country?" (Answer: Nigeria.) As school champion, he went on to take the qualifying test to earn an invitation to the State Bee. Rob was one of the 100 top-scoring students invited by The National Geographic Society to participate in the state semifinal event.

This year will be the 30th Annual National Geographic Bee, and the contest will be held at the California State University, Fresno on Friday, April 6. The top 3 state finalists will win cash prizes, college scholarships, and the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to compete in the final National Geographic Bee Championship, which will be streamed live starting May 24, 2018, at www.natgeobee.org