Wednesday, January 24, 2018
After a weeklong hiatus following Montecito’s devastating mudslides and tragic loss of life, Crane Country Day School students headed back to class on Jan. 18.
 
Unlike too much of Montecito, Crane’s San Leandro Lane campus came away from the disaster unscathed. Nonetheless, the facility will remain closed until all utilities have been fully restored at the school, Crane said.
 
Thanks to the efforts of Joel Weiss, head of school; Don Cook, director of finance and operations; and Crane’s administration and board of trustees, alternate sites throughout Santa Barbara County began welcoming Crane students last week.
 
The goal was to accommodate all of Crane’s 254 students and maintain its commitment to small class size and feel of community, the school said.
 
To that end, the Crane opted to use four different host sites, each of which opened its doors to the school.
 
In an information meeting for Crane families held last week at the Granada Theatre, Weiss said: “We, the people here, this community, we are Crane, and Crane is more durable than anyone can imagine.”
 
Despite the larger, fancier venue, the event largely followed the format of Crane’s daily assembly. Birthdays were celebrated with the singing of "Happy Birthday,” accompanied by Crane music teacher Konrad Kono on piano.
 
Student Council President Charlotte Weis delivered an eloquent speech, the school said. Third-grade teacher Donna Brown played guitar and sang Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” then led the audience in a sing-along.
 
Debbie Williams, Crane’s director of development, presented a slide show featuring a glimpse of Crane’s nearly 90-year history. Included were anecdotes of some of the school’s more difficult moments.
 
“Crane’s path shows perseverance, grit, determination and flexibility,” Williams said, noting one point in the school’s long history when a hat was passed to collect funds to pay teachers’ salaries.
 
Through its ups and downs, Williams said, “Crane has stayed true to its mission of giving our students the best academic education possible, with an emphasis on experiential learning and creative expression.”
 
Each temporary site is carrying on the Crane tradition of the daily assembly, evidence, the school said, that Crane's sense of community transcends the bounds of its San Leandro campus.
 
Congregation B’nai B’rith is hosting Crane’s kindergarten through third-graders. The B’nai B’rith facility has multiple classrooms, as well as playgrounds and outdoor space.
 
Crane said it thanks Rabbi Steven Cohen, the B'nai B'rith Board of Trustees, Elizabeth Gaynes and Jennifer Lewis, as well as temple member and Crane trustee, Nancy Sheldon for the arrangement with Congregation B’nai B’rith.
 
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s McCormick House now serves as Crane’s campus for its fourth- and fifth-graders. McCormick House contains plenty of classroom space and is walking distance to a host of cultural and outdoor resources.
 
Crane said it acknowledges Patsy Hicks, SBMA director of education and a former Crane parent; and Cyndee Howard, SBMA trustee, Crane trustee and grandmother, for their help in bringing Crane to McCormick House.
 
Crane’s Upper School (grades six through eight), has found an ideal temporary home at 27 E. Cota Street. The downtown, multi-story building houses Kaplan International and Activelife, along with an abundance of classroom and activity space.
 
Crane said it is grateful to both organizations for their welcome of the school’s oldest students.
 
The United Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara County — Carpinteria is hosting those Crane students and faculty who were south of the Hwy. 101 closure before it reopened on Sunday.
 
Beginning Monday, Jan. 29, however, all of Crane’s Upper School students (grades six-eight) who have been attending at the Boys and Girls Club in Carpinteria will be integrated into the Cota Street campus.
 
Lower School students (grades K-five) will have the option of continuing at the Carpinteria site or joining their classmates at either Congregation B’nai B’rith or McCormick House.
 
Finally, although Crane’s drop-off and pick-up locations have changed for the time being, Weiss said, “I have no doubt that our culture and education are thriving while we are away from our beloved campus.”
 
— Elizabeth Karlsberg for Crane School.