Week in Review: Sophomore Symposium, Book Club, and Poem in Your Pocket

The library had a busy week of events. The Sophomore Symposium took place on Monday and Wednesday, a culmination of the tenth grader’s almost year-long interdisciplinary research project. Students presented on a variety of topics. Check them out below!

The Connection: Literacy and Socio-Economic Status—Jennifer F.
Concrete and Its Effects on the Environment—Sundiata D.
Quarantine Tech Transition: How Education Changed During the Coronavirus Pandemic—Linda Z.
AlphaFold: Deep Learning and Structural Biology—Ryan P.
How Barbie Has Stayed Relevant—Anniston M.

Reducing Food Waste: A Key Step Toward a Sustainable Future—Ava E.
Enhanced Mineral Weathering: The Key to Weathering Climate Change?—Saheb G.
The Social and Political Impact of Hip Hop—Garrett X.
Google’s Sustainability Efforts Against Climate Change—Aaryan G.
Applying Economic Principles to Help Solve California Agriculture’s Existential Water Crisis—Andrew B.

The library also held its monthly high school book club this week. Ms. Melinson shared that she read White Out, the companion book to Black Out. She didn’t like it quite as much as Black Out, finding it more melodramatic. Ms. Melinson is also reading The Carrying: Poems by the current U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón.

Dylan is reading a cookbook that’s part recipes and part tips for becoming a better chef. Jess read The Betrayal and enjoyed it. Suketa is reading The Joy Luck Club for English class. Siri is reading a book of poems called Allegria she picked up from the famous beat poet bookstore Citylights Books. She likes that both the English and Italian versions of the poems are side by side on the page.

Mr. Comer mentioned Borderlands, a sci-fi/fantasy/horror bookstore in San Francisco where he got the short story The Lady Astronauts of Mars and the follow-up, The Calculating Stars. Jordyn read Song of Achilles and described it as “amazing and full of angst.”

Friday was Poem in Your Pocket Day where students were encouraged to bring a poem or write one of their own and present it for a treat. We got several fun poems, including two about gerrymandering. You never know what you’ll get here!

Book Club Round-up

The High School has continued its monthly book club, where students and teachers meet in the library to discuss what they’ve read, would like to read, or get ideas of what to add to their to-be-read piles.

Here are some highlights from the last few months:

In January, Ms. Melinson talked about celebrating Jolabokaflod for the fourth year—a Scandinavian holiday devoted to reading, chocolate, and being cozy—and shared some of the books she read, including, Suggested Reading, Music is History, and The 99% Invisible City.

In February, Ms. Melinson. discussed some books she often gives as gifts, including Einstein’s Dreams, Lord of the Rings, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. The library also received new books like the graphic novel adaptation of Graceling, The Weight of Blood, and The First to Die at the End. At our most recent book club, Ms. Melinson shared some books by authors she’d seen in webinars, including, The Reading List and The Attack of the Black Rectangles.

Jess read the Blissful Masquerade series, which she found funny and scary. She also read A Good Girls Guide to Murder but advised the group to not let the cover fool them. Natalie chimed in that she loved that book and that there were also two sequels out. Natalie read All of Us Villains, which she found to be a better take on The Hunger Games. She said the story had stakes and consequences for the character and an intriguing magical system.

Suketa talked about her love for the book I am Malala because of the advocacy aspect. She also spoke about how she likes books featuring magic and that the first Harry Potter book is her favorite. This led to a spirited group discussion about separating work you like from the problematic person who wrote it. Suketa also mentioned reading The Joy Luck Club for class and how it’s the most entertaining required reading.

Jordyn read the Graceling series before moving on to The Folk of the Air series. She described the first book, The Cruel Prince, as high fantasy and fun but with dark undertones. After reading The Locked Tomb series, Mr. Comer read Escaping Exodus as a palette cleanser. Mr. Wells read The Sentence and The Matterhorn, which he described as a long war book for fans of The Things They Carried. Ms. Perla read Atomic Habits, a book on developing good habits. She also discussed how she enjoys audiobooks and looks for books that were made to be good audiobooks.

To see all the books we’ve discussed at book clubs over the years, check our Goodreads here!

Week in Review: Read Across Country Day!

What a week! We started with students performing scenes in Mr. Panasiti’s English class and ended with Read Across Country Day.

In 10th grade, students read the play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, which is about the Rodney King riots. Students worked in groups and acted out scenes from the play in the library.

On Friday, the whole school celebrated reading with Read Across Country Day. The library was transformed into a reading lounge with tea, comfy seating, a selfie station, and even a celebrity sighting—Waldo! At 2:15, everyone on campus stopped what they were doing to read.

Advisories sent in pictures of their groups reading at that time. Check out the gallery below!

Week in Review: Seventh grade takeover!

The seventh grade was in the library this week using databases to research some tough topics for their PSAs. Students are taking a stance and exploring topics like capital punishment, voter suppression, and plastic waste reduction.

The library was host to a Lunar New Year celebration where students got to sample some local Chinese food.

On Friday, the Leadership Lunch team interviewed members of the Black Student Union, who explained their philosophy behind the club.

Finally, our intrepid puzzlers finished another one!

It’s a Salon, darling

This week saw the return of a fun Middle School event: the Enlightenment Salon. Seventh grade students in Ms. Kahn’s history class are learning about historical figures from the Enlightenment period. Salon guests included Toussaint Louverture, Sor Juana de la Cruz, John Locke, Olaudah Equiano, Benjamin Franklin, Joseph II, Catherine the Great, Mercy Otis Warren, Phillis Wheatley, Thomas Hobbes, and Olympe de Gouges. For the salon, they acted as their figure against a roaring fire backdrop while discussing topics from the time, including equality, slavery, and women’s rights. Some students even dressed in costume! Check out the gallery below!

High school students are continuing to prove themselves as puzzle fiends. Students completed one at the beginning of the week, bringing the total number of completed puzzles for January to 6! They quickly started a new one and are making excellent progress.

January in Review

It’s hard to believe it’s already almost February, but it’s true! We had a full and busy January that flew by. The first few weeks of January were spent grading the bibliographic portion of the Sophomore Project. We managed to squeeze in a high school book club between grading, and then the library was taken over by students in temporary madness for high school finals. Some students are voracious puzzlers and decompressed from studying by completing two 1000 piece puzzles!

Toward the end of finals week, the sixth grade science students came into the library to listen to presentations by different professionals in the STEM field. First, they heard from Mrs. Frandrup’s husband, Kurt, who is an engineer for a construction company. Students learned all about the work it takes the be an engineer and the kinds of projects they do.

The following week, students heard from an array of professionals, including: Dr. Nasirov, a cardiac surgeon; Dr. Lang of Ancestry.com; and Dr. Altman, a Sacramento State professor and scientist. After hearing from their visitors, students began to research science figures and careers for a project.

During the last week of January, the tenth graders returned to debrief about their Sophomore Projects and to get ready for their presentations. Against a cozy YouTube fire, students began learning how to give good presentations via content and design.

Week in Review: The Week Before Break

The week leading up to winter break is a busy time. Papers, projects, and tests—oh my! The library happenings were no exception.

At the beginning of the week, Mr. Hobbs’ eighth grade class returned to finish up Suspicious Scoops, their unit on misinformation.

Much of the rest of the week was devoted to the sophomores finishing up their papers for their Sophomore Project. Students turn in their final final papers on Friday and let out a huge sigh of relief.

On Thursday, Ms. Melinson’s advisory decorated their gingerbread houses.

Puzzles continue to be a popular library activity. On Friday, a group of enthusiastic puzzlers started and finished a 550 piece puzzle of the heartland.

Before school started on Friday, a group of students were caroling in the quiet room in festive outfits. While not caroling, student Jesse got in on the festivities with her own fun holiday sweater.


Dogs! It’s always a good day when we’re visited by our doggo friends.

Suspicious Scoops

This week we hosted the 8th grade for their “Suspicious Scoops” unit on misinformation–how to recognize it and fact check it. At the beginning of the week we examined confirmation bias “our subconscious tendency to seek and interpret information and other evidence in ways that affirm our existing beliefs, ideas, expectations, and/or hypotheses”* as well as satire, conspiracy theory, the differences between mis- and disinformation, and what “post truth” means (“when objective facts are less influential than personal beliefs and emotion.”**) We also discussed click bait, hoaxes, media bias, and altered images/videos including deep fake technology. Then we balanced all of that with skills we all have to separate reliable from unreliable sources including common sense, searching skills, lateral reading, and OPVL, a way of looking at historical information to examine its origin, purpose, value, and limitations.

On Wednesday people at High School Book Club (more here) shared their wishes for types of books they were looking to read over the break–let us know if you recommend a favorite series, mystery/thriller, realistic fiction where you can learn about and connect to others who live differently than you, or just a really great read.

During Thursday’s meeting, Ms Melinson’s Advisory started their gingerbread houses that they will finish next week.

Tenth graders have been working hard on their Sophomore Project papers that are due next week. Good luck, Sophomores!

*from Facing History and Ourselves; **from Oxford Dictionary

December Book Club

This month we talked about possible items for our TBR piles for Winter Break. Ms Melinson is reading (and will hopefully finish over break) Questlove’s Music Is History. While she’s been reading it, she thought it would be fun to make a playlist and quickly found out it would be a very looooong playlist, however, someone had already made one on Spotify that was all the songs in order of their appearance in the book. So now it’s like she’s taking a masterclass in music while listening along to the songs.

Jess loved One of Us Is Lying, and she’s hoping to get some good suggestions for other thriller/mysteries. The way Jess puts it “I like a book that makes me feel like I’m having a heart attack.” Natalie suggests A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.

Suketa loved House on Mango Street, and she enjoys reading books that may not be your story, but you can still connect to them. Doctora recommends The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande, which is a memoir.

Jordyn is looking for series fiction, and Natalie and Ms Melinson both suggested the Graceling series.

Natalie can’t wait for the next book in the Locked Tomb series by Muir Tamsyn. It’s on its way to the library and will hopefully be in her hands before we leave for break. She also read Angel Mage, which she said was okay, but not great–definitely for a. younger crowd.

Mr Wells read Circe, which seems to be really high on people’s lists and Song of Achilles. He’s looking for something to read so Ms Melinson suggested The Sentence for him.

Ms Melinson also shared a lot of books that have just arrived: Scattered Showers stories by Rainbow Rowell; The Weight of Blood by Tiffany Jackson; Seasparrow by Kristen Cashore, the latest in the Graceling Realm; The Final Gambit, the last book in the Inheritance series; Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo won lots of awards last year; Gleanings, stories from Neal Shusterman’s Scythe series; Sea of Tranquiity by Emily St. John Mandel, which includes a plague and colonization of the moon; and The First to Die at the End the prequel to They Both Die at the End. Non fiction picks include: the Illustrated Black History; 99% Invisible: The City, from the podcast of the same name; and Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach. Someone told Ms Melinson that science books aren’t entertaining and she introduced them to Mary Roach’s work.

We hope you find some great books to read over break. When you do, let us know! Oh, and if you’re not doing anything December 24, Christmas Eve, pick up some books and chocolate and celebrate Jolabokaflod and read like Ms Melinson has been doing for the past four years.

Weeks in Review: Classes & Visitors!

This week in the library, we saw 6th, 7th, and 9th grade classes working on various research. The 9th grade was in at the beginning of the week to begin their National History Day project. They discussed topics that would fit in with the NHD theme of “Frontiers in History,” and later in the week, they learned how to find related information in the library’s databases.

On Thursday, the 6th graders had a special visitor—Jim DeBoo, Executive Secretary for Governor Newsom. DeBoo talked to the students about his perspective on leadership in government and the private sector. This tied into the 6th grader’s English project around leaders.

Ms. Melinson’s advisory got a fun lesson in time management from Learning Specialist Ms. Adams.

On Friday, the 7th graders began their library research for their Ancient Civilizations museum project. Ms. Melinson took them on a field trip out and around the library to get their blood pumping for research.

The following week saw the 7th graders return for more research fun on their Ancient Civilization projects.

The library also hosted the Leadership Lunch with seniors Amaya and Ryan interviewing members of the Asian & Pacific Islander Alliance club. Club members spoke about why they started the club and what they plan to accomplish this year.

Finally, the whiteboard in the Quiet Room is seeing some fun drawings, as evidenced by Triangle Tuesday: