Honoring the Past &
Preparing For The Future

As a 90-year-old school, Crane has accumulated many traditions. Although we revel in our traditions, we are also not afraid to venture into uncharted territory to embrace innovative programs and teaching methods. The intentional balance of tradition and innovation is a key element to Crane School's philosophy.


Our traditions build our sense of community and provide a predictability and consistency that our students find comforting. Some of our traditions have carried through since the schools inception in 1928 such as daily assembly, and many traditions have stemmed from innovations that have become essential components within our program.

Daily Assembly

Assembly is a central ritual that has taken place daily since the founding of Crane School. Each morning, the entire school gathers to hear announcements, celebrate student accomplishments and birthdays, and be enlightened by a presentation or performance led by an individual student, group of students, or a Staffulty member. Crane has also been honored with appearances by guest speakers, some of whom are internationally acclaimed experts in their fields of study. Beyond the valuable routine, assembly is also a time to expect the unexpected and to celebrate being together as a community.

Assembly is a chance to celebrate a love of knowledge, to praise the values and practices we like, and to delight in the full spectrum of human potential. It is time for open communication, for delineation of expectations, and the promotion of cultural literacy. What is unique and special about Crane is the tone of the place, and that is difficult to weigh, to measure, to count. It is impossible to get into a bottle. In essence Crane is and has always been a student-centered school. Young learners and their learning process have been the central focus of attention at Crane since the school’s founding in 1928.
~ Selden Edwards, Head of School 1979 - 1989 

Crane Families

Every year, Crane students and Staffulty are designated into families, which gather each month for a special Families Lunch. Each family is comprised of a few students from each grade (K-8). The eighth graders of the group are considered the “parents,” and they lead activities and discussions during monthly meetings. Staffulty are honorary "grandparents" who provide additional guidance for each family. 

The goals of this program are to promote a strong sense of community, build cross-grade relationships, and provide all eighth graders a leadership role with significant responsibilities as "parents."

Being in a Crane family is like getting 10 new brothers and sisters
~ 3rd Grade Student


Music Hour

Each January, the music and drama departments coordinate a talent show in which all students have the option to participate. Similar to weekly Spotlight, the acts performed are wide-ranging. Daytime and nighttime performances are hosted for the Crane community. For two years, evening performances have been hosted at theaters in downtown Santa Barbara.


On Fridays, students are given the opportunity to perform a talent or present a topic of interest for the entire school during Assembly. Many students share their musical talents, but past performances have also included comedy skits, dance routines, magic tricks, and informative presentations.

Thanksgiving Feast

The Thanksgiving Feast is hosted the week prior to the one-week Thanksgiving break. Crane students and Staffulty sit with their Crane Families to enjoy a catered Thanksgiving feast that is coordinated and served by Parents for Crane (PFC) volunteers. It is a joyful celebration for Crane and is a time to reflect on the many things our community is thankful for.


Crane excursions have been a tradition since the inception of the school. Trips are purposefully designed to provide hands-on learning experiences beyond the classroom to enhance the understanding of classroom studies. 
Lower School (kindergarten-fifth grade) classes take day trips to local businesses, nature preserves, and historical sites. In addition, fifth grade students travel to Boston in the spring as a culmination of their colonial America study.

In the fall, the entire Upper School (grades 6-8) participate in a week-long set of outdoor educational experiences. The week is an integral part of the curriculum, during which the students follow a carefully planned program of understanding history, geography, global environmental issues, as well as developing teamwork and leadership skills. Current trips include: Catalina Island, Yosemite National Park, and a Southern Civil Rights Tour.

Service Learning

Crane's Service Learning program is designed to engage students by providing opportunities to care for each other and the world around them. Students are encouraged to pursue causes about which they are passionate, empowering them to make a difference both locally and globally.

In the Lower School (grades K-5), community service is built into the curriculum through identifying issues affecting the world today and figuring out how the students can be a part of the solution. Within a unit of study, students participate in service projects as an extension to what they've learned in class. 

In the Upper School (grades 6-8), service learning fosters a sense of civic responsibility and care for the common good. Sixth graders participate in service learning in their seminar class. As they reflect on the connection between self and community, the students receive a foundation for the service work they will do as seventh and eighth graders. As seventh and eighth graders, students work on both direct and indirect service learning projects in a designated semester long course that allows students to understand issues, research organizations, collaborate efforts, volunteer off-campus, and reflect not only on the process, but how their involvement relates to the common good.

Eighth Grade Assembly Presentations

The eighth-grade program culminates with a speech delivered during all-school assembly and followed by a Q&A session. Students explore all elements of building and performing a speech, including research and citation, writing and revision, illustration, rehearsal and audience awareness, and reflection.

These presentations have been a tradition at the school for over 50 years. 

Summer Reading Challenge

Independent reading is highly valued at Crane and is supported through daily silent sustained reading during the school year, as well as through the summer reading challenge. Students and teachers are challenged to read 750-1,000 pages during summer break. For the last few years, the community has read over a million pages each summer. One fall assembly is dedicated to celebrating the community’s achievements. Additionally, each year more than 30 students from across the grades reach a lofty goal of 10,000 pages or more and enjoy a celebration lunch with the head of school.


Innovations emerge both organically and by design. Hands-on learning opportunities permeate the program and include many cross-curricular integrations. Below are examples of innovative curriculum that has stemmed from these opportunities. 

Design & Engineering

Crane's Design and Engineering Program aims to empower students to build what they can imagine. The program blends the creativity of art and design with the precision of science and engineering. Using traditional tools alongside technology of the future, Crane students have the opportunity to design and build their own creations--experiential learning at it's best!

Using the dedicated Design and Engineering Center on Crane's campus, all students have the opportunity to participate in design projects. Either as a designated class, or an integrated project with an existing curriculum, students are encouraged to use their design thinking strategies to create, build, test, analyze, and build again.

Check out some of the projects our students have already created: Design & Engineering Projects

Technology & Community Building

Crane embraces technology and has integrated its use in much of its curriculum. Students in first through eighth grade have a dedicated technology class, and students have varying degrees of access to technology in classrooms. Upper School students each have a personal laptop that helps support them in appropriately accessing research materials and programs to complete assignments.

Crane values community and respectful communication. Therefore, technology is utilized for educational purposes only. Students are not permitted to use cell phones while on campus and are supported by Staffulty in building friendships and community separate of social media and online communication while at school.

Responsive Classroom

By focusing on the relationship between academic success and social-emotional learning, Responsive Classroom techniques are utilized by teachers in all grades. Teachers are trained to create safe, joyful, and engaging learning communities where all students have a sense of belonging and feel significant.


Crane supports teachers as they build innovative, hands-on learning opportunities for students. All grades (K-8) have particular culminations to look forward to each year. Students are also introduced to new culminations and projects each year, as teachers refresh their lessons, integrate innovative ideas, and build on current topics to provide students contemporary, progressive lessons that will propel them forward in their education.

For example, second grade revamped the immigration unit from the perspective of an Ellis Island immigrant to encompass all immigrants to America through the lens of a transcontinental train that visited communities representative of each student in the classroom. In seventh-grade English, students participated in a Stand Up unit that focused on social influence, personal agency, and decision making. Students designed and created graffiti art that represented global activists, and created a "Take What You Need" station on campus for Crane community members to grab pep-talk papers to add a little confidence, encouragement, hope, kindness, or peace of mind to their day.


Lower School Spring Study Week

Each year during the last week before Spring Break, the Lower School devotes an entire week to an in-depth study of a theme, culture, or time period. Traditional instruction is replaced by experiential opportunities for students to gain knowledge and learn a variety of skills while working in cross-age groups. Lower School Spring Study Week immerses the students in an interdisciplinary theme, and the week ends with a half-day culmination.

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E-Block Electives

Choice is the theme of Crane's Upper School E-Block elective program. Crane's elective program integrates experiential learning and choice. These classes go beyond text book learning and allow students to delve into a topic with active hands-on exploration, interaction with professional experts, and multiple field trips. Students have a choice of three different electives per year.  Here is a sample of the wide-range of selections offered each semester: yoga & meditation, sports, building, business design, storytelling, farm-to-table, and coding & programming. 

All electives are filled with exploration, inquiry, discovery, and fun!


Upper School students have the opportunity to join VIBES, Crane's marimba/xylophone ensemble. Participants learn a number of songs and perform for assembly, as well as to local community schools.

Seventh Grade QED Capstone Project

Seventh-grade students find their voice and pursue their passions through Crane’s QED (Quests, Explorations, Discoveries) Project. QED is a chance to explore an interest, pursue a dream, embark on a quest into a future career, or discover a new hobby. Through QED, students identify an area of study in which they are interested and are then paired with a mentor in the community who is an expert in that field. The student and the mentor work together outside of school for sixteen weeks and then students present their results, discoveries, and final projects to parents and students. Past QED topics have included journalism, radiology, sushi making, ukulele construction, computer coding, and theater make-up.

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Eighth Grade Independent Art Project and Presentation

As a culmination of their art career at Crane, eighth-grade students learn how to write a grant proposal and then create a focused body of work in the art studio. This project is known as the i@pp or independent art project and presentation. Students choose media, subject, and course of action. Emphasis is placed on the artist’s process, time management, problem solving, and perseverance as well as their final presentation and exhibition.