Crane School Blog: Focus on Learning

Featuring articles written by Crane Staffulty

For more information about Crane Country Day School, please contact admission@craneschool.org or call 805-969-7732 x127.

Noozhawk Article
Mary Lee Wren

Hudson Harcourt was excited to share his goldfish, who just happens to be named 90 — and with good reason. The Crane Country Day kindergartner and the rest of his class were celebrating the school’s 90th day of classes in its 90th anniversary year.
 
Hudson presented his fish as part of an assignment in which all kindergarten, first- and second-grade pupils shared their collections of 90 items at a school-wide assembly.

Hudson Harcourt was excited to share his goldfish, who just happens to be named 90 — and with good reason. The Crane Country Day kindergartner and the rest of his class were celebrating the school’s 90th day of classes in its 90th anniversary year.
 
Hudson presented his fish as part of an assignment in which all kindergarten, first- and second-grade pupils shared their collections of 90 items at a school-wide assembly. There were 90 Legos, 90 pieces of sea glass, 90 math facts, 90 cheerios, 90 popsicle sticks, and even a vial of 90 tears shed due to the Rams’ loss on this post Super Bowl celebration.
 
“We want students to recognize the importance of their school’s heritage and the best way to do this with younger students is to make it meaningful to them,” said Gayle Sandell, head of the Lower School. So, in addition to the assembly presentation, students completed 90 exercises on the Crane field, recited 90 sight words, and created 90 banners expressing things they love about Crane’s teachers, classes, academics and campus. These activities, plus a campus clean-up totaled — 90 minutes.
 
Crane has been incorporating the importance of its nine decades into the curriculum throughout the year. Earlier this month, second-grade teacher Karen Ohrn set her class’ immigration unit to the year 1928 when Crane was founded. Students arrived to their classroom, transformed into the Montecito Depot, wearing long dresses, cloche hats, fringe wraps, vests and knickers to board a train to New York. Cost of the cross-country journey was $55, just as it had been 90 years ago. Newspapers lining the waiting room had headlines from the era, written by the students. The landscape, pictured outside their train windows, depicted national landmarks the students painted, studied and presented.
 
While the second-grade class reenacted the school’s history, kindergarteners got to hear from a former student who lived through it. Paul Cronshaw, a member of the kindergarten class of 1958-59, came back to campus to share his memories with Crane’s youngest who were eager with questions.  “What was your favorite thing to do here?” asked one student. “I loved playing soccer on the field, because my dad was my coach,” said Cronshaw, who said teaching is in his blood. Both his parents were teachers at Crane; his father taught fifth-grade while his mom taught science, a career path Cronshaw followed as the current science, health and PE teacher at La Cuesta High. Cronshaw’s grandfather was also a teacher, as are Cronshaw’s two daughters.  “Crane was so different when I attended school here; there were not as many buildings,” Cronshaw said.
 
The physical campus has expanded significantly over the decades. Under the leadership of its longest-serving headmaster, Joel Weiss, Crane built a new library and arts center, a new kindergarten classroom, renovated first-, second- and third-grade classrooms, and built the Oak Tree Quad, which houses an amphitheater, design and engineering building, and new Upper School classrooms and offices. “I had 14 students in my kindergarten class,” Cronshaw recalled. Despite its expansion, Crane still retains small class sizes.
 
While much has changed, the mainstays of the school, like campus-wide daily assembly, rigorous academics, plays, competitive sports and a strong sense of community remain intact. The mulberry tree that was originally planted by founding Head of School F. Arnold Lejeune to feed his beloved silk worms, still stands as a favorite gathering spot for the school’s 250 students.
 
Crane will officially celebrate its 90th anniversary in May, with an all-alumni reunion May 3 and a formal gala May 4 called Crane Coming Home.
 
Crane student artwork is currently on view at the Glenn Dallas Gallery, 927 State St., as part of an effort to promote the anniversary to the greater community.
 
For more information on the celebration or to register as an alumnus/alumna, contact Anne Perkins at aperkins@craneschool.org. For admissions information or to schedule a tour, contact Erin Guerra, 805-969-7732, ext. 106, or visit www.craneschool.org.
 
— Ann Pieramici for Crane Country Day.
 

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