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A new school year 2019-2020

Welcome back to all our returnees, and a warm welcome to our new families. It sure has been a very hot summer in Japan, but hope you all had a wonderful and exciting summer wherever you were. With much cherished memories, we are back in school to reunite with our old friends and to make new friends.

As you enter the Montessori foyer, the first thing welcoming you is the colorful Truffula trees fenced in by a colorful crayon gate, all kindly built for us by Mr. Levy, an Elementary School teacher.

The construction of the school’s new Activity and Sports Center and also Cougar Café has progressed during the summer, and huge dump trucks are now busy going back and forth in front of our classroom carrying soil dug from the school site. Once the foundation is completed, then the new building construction will noticeably commence.

Another change during the summer was the resurfacing of the Montessori roof. The ground has been enhanced with colorful playing designs, and the logs of the play structure have been replaced, along with colorful new playground equipment.

One afternoon, there were workshops held for the Montessori parents, introducing “What is Montessori School at Saint Maur?”, followed by other workshops for Language Arts 1 and 2 .

In the month of September, the entire school from Montessori through High School had practice drills for earthquake, fire and lockdown.  The children listened and quietly followed the instructions over the P.A. system. They did a great job, knowing they will be safe together with their teachers and classmates.

“What the hand does, the mind remembers.”
by Maria Montessori

The children are now busy in the classroom, eager to discover and learn new things everyday using their “hands”.

Taking care of oneself …

Spooning carefully …

Socializing, cooperating, communicating …

Weaving

Some children are getting older and losing their teeth.

“Show and Tell” time gets children involved with each other.

A visit to the library is an opportunity for self-discovery … The children get to choose their own books.

Celebrating birthdays with classmates …

This year we have a classmate from The Democratic Republic of Congo.  Do you know where this country is on the world map? It is a country on the continent of Africa. We searched for the flag of the DRC, and colored the flag in three colors; red yellow, and blue.

Now we know another new flag of our classmate!

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2018-19 school year in review

Another school year is completed, and on June 10th, 2019, ten of our classmates, along with 23 students from Ms. Sallie’s and Ms. Catherine’s classes, participated in their completion ceremony.  The children stood on the stage of the Saint Maur Fine Arts Auditorium, as parents and Elementary school students witnessed the ceremony.

The children started with a prayer of thanks. They received their certificates one by one on the stage, and shook hands with Mrs. Levy, our Montessori principal.

The children sang a song accompanied by Mr. Levy’s guitar. They are now ready to move forward as First Graders, whether at Saint Maur or in another school in another country.  Well done, and best wishes in the future.

Looking around the classroom at a glance:

The children presenting and sharing the experience of discovery with each other:

The children discovering in pairs or in small groups of their choosing:A marvelous sense of accomplishment to build self-esteem and self-confidence.The children building a Roman Arch followng a diagram:

The children studying Geography throughout the year: Making maps and learning about the world we all live in.

The children love flags: They are so colorful.

The children building their concentration and working on their own:

The children working with numbers:  Numbers are everywhere!

The children making combinations of ten: And the numbers get bigger:

The children reading and writing:  Tracing with Sandpaper Letters.

The children using the Large Moveable Alphabet:

The children matching what goes together:

The children sound it out:  You read it!

The children learning about Honeybees:  Did you know that bees cannot see the color red?

The children and crafts:  Coloring and cutting.

The children beading:

The children grooming their hair in front of a mirror:The children cleaning up:

The children at play on the roof: The play area is being redone during this summer!

Learning tasks and various materials:

Moms, not only the children, are also taking classes and discovering.  One of the Adult Enrichment classes offered at Saint Maur is how to wear a Sari. Moms had fun taking this course led by one of our Indian moms, and they wanted to show us their pretty Saris. They came to visit our afternoon Language Arts class, and explained to us the fabric used for their Saris.

The children’s birthday celebrations:  Understanding that the earth goes around the Sun one time while the child  turns a year older—a child turning five would circle five times.

Birthday treats shared with classmates:

Pictorial celebration of each year, prepared by their parents:

It’s lunchtime!:

Too cute to eat up… :

Yes… lots of learning and lots of fun throughout our school year, on and off campus:

Reflecting back :

We had children joining us throughout the year, and we also had children who had to move and leave us during the year. The above photo of the 23 children, Ms. Mimi (far left, middle row) and Ms. Hoshi (right, back row) was taken at the end of the school year.  Of the 23 children, do you know the different nationalities we had this year?We had children from…Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Japan, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, and United States.

Isn’t it wonderful that the children are each an ambassador of their respective countries, learning and playing together in the same classroom everyday?  What a great experience they can treasure to make the world a better place as they grow.

…And more to learn, to experience, and to explore during the summer!

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The eventful month of May

The months of April and May were filled with fun and exciting events.  Annual Food Fair:  This takes place every year on April 29th, a national holiday, on the Saint Maur campus.  This was the last Food Fair of the Heisei Era, as Japan enters the new era of Reiwa, with Emperor Naruhito ascending the throne on May 1st, following the abdication by Emperor Emeritus Akihito on April 30th, both signifying the importance of the Imperial family as symbolic figures of Japan.

The two games that Montessori offered on the roof of the main building were Lucky Pencil and Fishing.  These two games had the best results, selling 1,627 tickets in total. Good job, one and all!  Special thanks go out to the Pre-first graders who helped with the Fishing game, and to the Pre-First Busy Bees Club that helped wrap the prizes.

It was a hot sunny day, and there were a lot of people who came to enjoy the international food, raffles, games, and great camaraderie.

Face-painting was one of the popular activities in the interim gymnasium.

Montessori Spring Concert: On May 3rd, we had our annual Montessori Spring Concert in the Fine Arts Auditorium. The theme was “Friends”.  We invited the parents, friends, relatives, and all of the Elementary grades to come and listen to our concert.  After Principal Ms. Levy’s welcoming address, the curtain went up, and there stood all the Montessori children in their colorful outfits singing, “Hello, Bonjour, Buenos Dias…” to start the program.  The children aged from 2.5 to 6 years old represent over 20 countries in the world.  They sang songs and danced.

The Montessori Spring Concert video:  check out

The children calmly faced the audience, and were happy to perform to a big crowd.  It was such a good experience for them.

Ramadan:  The Alisha Tahir Family observes Ramadan, and the mom came to talk to us about how Muslim families observe this important nineth month.  She told us how the adults fast from sunrise to sunset, but the young children need energy for their daily activities so they can eat.  At this time the children will try hard to show love and acts of kindness towards their friends and families.

 We then colored a picture that said, “Ramadan Kareem”, meaning have a “generous Ramadan”. It is written in the Urdu language, in a calligraphic art form, with a picture of a moon changing its shape in a month.

Kazenoko Theater: Sponsored by the PSG and arranged by Ms. Catherine, the Kazenoko Theater were invited to perform some plays for us.It was in Japanese, but their performance was very visual, as we tried to understand the stories by looking and by listening to their songs.

Children’s Day, May 5th is a national holiday, and the first one in the new Reiwa Era (令和).  We wore our Kabuto, the Japanese warrior’s helmet, made of newspaper. It is a day set aside to respect the children and appreciate their personalities, as well as celebrate their happiness.

Mother’s Day:  We all love our moms.  Thank you, mommies, for taking care of us everyday.  We made cards and little decorations for them.

Montessori Sports Day & Family Picnic at Negishi Park: It was a hot sunny day, and we had the big park to ourselves for our Sports Day, led by Mr. Hitchman, our Elementary P.E. teacher.  Ms. Julia and Ms. Robin also helped us organize this annual spring event.  We showed our parents and friends what we do during our PE / Movement classes.  We had races, an obstacle course, parachute, ball toss, rocket throwing… it was a lot of fun. Some of the photos here were taken by Mrs. Caplette.

Sports Day was followed by our Family Picnic, enjoying lunch in the open air and in the shade; later we played under the sun in expansive Negishi Park.

The school year is about to finish soon; we are now in our last stretch.

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Easter is a time of joy, and a new beginning.  ” Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again!  Alleluia!”

To prepare for the coming of Easter, the children colored in the Easter pictures with crayons, coloring pencils, and magic markers.  They also made the frames, and put up their artwork on our classroom’s glassdoor, where the sunlight came through, making them look like stained-glass windows.

The children also made Easter baskets.  The hen in the basket covering the egg was hand-crochetted by Ms. Mimi’s church friend, who had knitted thousands over the many decades.  Her hens are a testimony to sharing the joy of this special season.

“What is Easter?”  It is a sign of hope, of blessings, and of new beginnings.

Before and after our Easter break, the class has undergone some changes.  Our long-time classmates—Kento, Agathe, and Nicolas—unfortunately had to leave to join their respective families’s move to other locations.  Then we had Gaon and Sho join us from Korea and Nagasaki, respectively.  We will miss our old classmates,  and will always fondly remember them.  We also are happy to have new friends join us.  The nature of an international school involves families who come and go throughout the school year.

At the beginning of April, our Sakura tree at our school entrance gate was in full bloom.

In the month of April, we also had our class excursion.  We boarded the school bus to Nogeyama zoo. Two moms joined to assist us. 

There are actually  three zoos in Yokohama city: Kanazawa zoo, Zoorasia, and Nogeyama Zoo.

This time we visited Nogeyama zoo, located in Nogeyama Park, in Nishi ward, Yokohama, not too far from Saint Maur International School.  Here we are!

Nogeyama Zoological Gardens is an admission-free zoo that opened in 1951, covering 9.6 hectares and housing 1,400 animals of 100 different species.

We started our walk passing by the bird cages,

We saw Condor from South America.  This year we studied about animal habitats, so it was nice to see the continent map on the cages indicating origin.

The highlight of our excursion, according to most of the children, was a “petting zoo” where we could hold small animals like Guinea pigs, chickens, and mice.  Some of the children were a little afraid to touch them, but the friendly staff showed us how to hold them gently.  The little ones were so soft and warm!

 

 

Ostriches have long necks, and they are such fast runners!  It was fun just observing how they scurried from one end to the other, and back again!

Flamingos are so beautiful, and can even stand on one long leg.  How do they do that?

It’s lunchtime!  And we’re hungry!

After eating, we walked some more, and saw the giraffes.  The two giraffes were going round and round the tree, playing with each other.

Then we passed by the chimpanzee cage, and the zookeeper was about to feed these apes, who are our ancestors.  He showed us what the animals like to eat, and brought some fruits and vegetables in buckets, laying them on the floor.  And then he opened the door to let out the chimpanzees.  It was interesting to watch the chimpanzees pick what they liked and feed themselves.

Are we observing the animals? …or,  are the animals observing us?

We walked thorough the tiger room.  He was sleeping soundly.  Shhhh…. We don’t want to wake him up.

We also walked through the reptile area, and saw… the longest snake we’ve ever seen!  It was all coiled up. Is he also sleeping? He was so still.

It was a fun day, learning about various animal behavior.  Maybe the animals are checking out the children’s behavior toward them?!

 

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Spring is here

In Japan, March 3rd is Hina-matsuri, also known as Girls’ Day or Dolls’ Day. Families with daughters put up doll decorations at home. The children made their own doll displays using origami paper.

Ash Wednesday began the holy season of Lent for Christians, which lasts for the 40 days (not incuding Sundays) leading up to Easter. It is a time to focus on fast and prayer.  We had a mass afterschool in the campus chapel for those who wished to attend.  It was nice to see many Montessori families present.  They received communion and a blessing, with ashes placed on their foreheads by the priest.

Sakura season is here. There is a sakura tree on our school campus, which was planted by one of our graduate classes in memory of Sister Carmel, the former principal who had dedicated her life (over 60 years) to Saint Maur in the education of children from around the globe and of the Yokohama community.  Around this time of year, her sakura tree turns a hopeful pink, announcing the arrival of another spring in this historic port city of Japan.

One bright sunny day, which also happened to be one of our classmate’s birthday, we decided to celebrate his sixth birthday under Sister Carmel’s sakura tree, tasting his mom’s homebaked birthday cake and some ice cream.  We enjoyed our own “hanami,” sakura-viewing, enhanced by our yummy treats!

Later, on Saint Patrick’s Day, we remembered Sister Carmel, who was from Cork, Ireland.

In the classroom:   Addition strip board  

“Look, I lost my first tooth today!  There’s a hole here; can you see it?”

“I’m going to write about it!”

Writing words using the “Large Moveable Alphabet” on the floor.

Writing a story using the “Small Moveable Alphabet” on the table.

We studied about “habitats,” where animals live.  Where do penguins live?  How about lions? I live in my house in Yokohama!

At the end of March, we had Japanese culture Week.  Japanese parents volunteered to come to the classroom to show us some fun activities and to teach us more about the country we live in.  The first day involved making our own kaleidoscope, a tube of mirrors and colorful bits, whose reflection creates beautiful images.  Kaleidoscope was first imported to Japan in 1819 from England.

We made our own kaleidoscopes!   It’s so beautiful when you look through the cylinder and turn it around.

On the second day, we tried  Japanese calligraphy, Shodo.

The moms showed us how to hold the brush, how to dip the brush in the ink, and write the word こま (koma), meaning a toy top.

 

We then played with Japanese “Koma” tops.

On the third day, we played a Japanese card game, Bozu-mekuri, using the 100 cards from Hyakunin-isshu, a traditional card game often played on the New Year’s Day.

We discovered how the children could play this game on their own by looking at the pictures on the cards.  If you come across a picture of a man, you can keep it.  If it is one of a lady, you can take another card; but if you pick a bohzu (monk), then you have to return all your cards.  The person who has the most cards in the end, wins the game.

On the forth day of Japanese Culture Week, one of our dads showed us how to fold a squid paper plane. It flew well, and it was fun to fly it.  We also made paper poppers, some generating a big sound!

On the fifth day, we had our Japanese Parade, processing around the Upper Rec Hall.   There were a lot of parents waiting for us with their cameras.

We listened to Wa-Daiko (Japanese drums) in the Fine Arts Auditorium. Dako-on (literally, the Sound of the Drums) won the national championship. The members were so energetic that we could feel the vibration of the drums!

Then we went to the interim gymnasium and watched a presentation of Aikido, one of the modern Japanese martial arts.

Wow!

The Adult Enrichment Aikido class, led by an Aikido master, also gave a demonstration.

Two Montessori children who take Aikido classes also participated in the demonstration.

We thank all the parents who prepared and organized such an exciting week of learning more about the country we live in!

We sure love spring!

 

 

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Under construction

From our classroom located on the first floor of the Montessori building, we are able to see trucks and dumpster vehicles pass by, heading toward the construction site with excavators and cranes.  The old gymnasium having been torn down, our new Activity and Sports Center, as well as cafeteria and multi-purpose rooms, and the Couger Cafe will be completed next year in 2020.  The children love looking out the windows at these big vehicles.

One day, we saw a big excavator and got so excited. It was as if we were watching a big dinosaur lumber by before our very eyes!

As major construction continues outside, we also love to build things inside.  There are Legos, blocks, and … a Roman Arch!  We have to be very careful, though, or it will tumble over.

At the end of January, Ms. Kathryn Claire, a singer, songwriter and musician came to visit with our Montessori and Elementary School students from the United States.  She sang with us, taught us some songs, and presented each of the three Montessori classes with a copy of her CD.  We have been listening to her songs in the classroom.  She played her guitar, violin, and also harmonica.  Thank you, Ms. Kathryn, for a fun afternoon during your music workshop.

February 3rd was Setsubun, which comes a day before the Spring, according to the Japanese lunar calendar.  We’re all waiting for signs of the new season!

But then, guess what!?  To our surprise, it started snowing one day in mid-February, and the children went up on the school roof to play in the falling snow.

Then came our favorite Valentine’s Day,  to express our love and appreciation for our family and friends.  We also celebrated Chinese New Year’s in February.  A girl, who is from Singapore, went back home to celebrate this special occasion with family and relatives at home.  A boy who used to live in Hong Kong told us the story of the Dragon dance and about firecrackers.  He brought red envelopes for everyone with lucky chocolate coins inside and good luck charms for his classmates.

Excursion Day:  Our Language Arts class, the 4-5 year olds,  took the school bus to Hamagin Science Museum in Yokohama for a fun day of discovery.

The children walked through the floors of the Space Captain Room,the Laboratory Room, the Space Room, and the Play Room, where they were able to touch things like meteriorites and perform experiments.  There was even a big robot.  We are grateful for the two moms who volunteered to chaperone.

The teachers, as well as their students, are life-long learners. On Feb. 16-17, (Sat-Sun), Ms. Sallie, Ms.Catherine and Ms. Mimi, along with the Montessori principal, Mrs. Levy, attended a two-day workshop of Professional Development, at Seisen International School in Tokyo. The theme was “Positive Discipline in the classroom,” conducted by Ms. Cristina Varriale, a counselor at Seisen.  We learned about the tools and strategies that are positive alternatives to traditional disciplinary methods, how to apply techniques that are kind yet firm, and encouraging.  The teachers became involved in a lot of role playing, putting themselves in their children’s shoes, thinking about what the child may be thinking, feeling, and deciding to do.  Is the child excited? Sad? Upset?

Ms. Cristina Varriale will be offering her “Positive Discipline” workshop at Yokohama International School (Loft Space) on Saturday, March 2, 2019, from 2 to 4pm. It is free and open to the general public.  To register, please go to outreach@tell.jp.com   The participants will be learning strategies to avoid power struggles, while also helping their children acquire greater sef-control and self-discipline.

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New Year 2019

A Happy New Year 2019, and just one more year to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics!

The children made New Year’s cards for celebrating 2-0-1-9!

It’s getting colder in Yokohama!  We need our pairs of mittens to stay warm!

In and out…

Birthday celebrations…

More Show-and-Tell…

Geography:  We live in Japan.

Hmm,  where do penguins live?

In February, the older group of children (from Reader’s Writers Workshop and Mr. Fior’s French class) boarded two buses and went to Tokyo to visit an aquarium.

The rest of the children at school had their Theme Day of “Under the Sea,” making crafts and playing games.  They made paper fishes, and with a magnetic fishing rod tried to catch them. They also baked fish cookies with Ms. Sallie.

On the last Friday of the month, the children participated in “Fun Day”. The two and three year olds stayed at school and had fun playing with balloons, making simple kites, and also exercising, hopping from one hoop to the other.

The 4 to 6 year olds bundled up and went on a walk to nearby Minato-no-Mieru-Oka Koen.  They took their simple kites that they had made and flew them while running around the park and around the flower garden.

 

In the afternoon, the older children went to the Elementary School building, and watched the popcorn pop!  Mr. Hitchman, our PE teacher, and Ms. Beardsly helped us pop the kernels.   Oh, do we all love popcorn, especially the ones we watched pop right before our very eyes! 

“Did you hear the popcorn POP?!”

 

The 2 and 3 year olds loved their popcorn, too.

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Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth

‘Tis the season of Christmas.  For unto us the Baby Jesus was born.  He is the light of the world who gives us hope.

On the last day of school before the Christmas break, some parents were able to join us to say farewell to the Tomioka family, who will be assigned back to Singapore in January. The transfer was so sudden, we were sad to learn of Hanae’s departure to a new school.  The children made a special album for Hanae to remember us by.  Perhaps in the future, Hanae may return to Saint Maur wearing a full Saint Maur uniform.  Families may come and go; such is the life at an international school.

The month of December was a busy month. The Montessori children prepared for their Christmas concert (see photos below). The Montessori and Elementary Christmas concert started at six in the evening on Friday, November 31st, and the Montessori children performed according to age groups.  The Fine Arts auditorium was packed, and the children performed happily in front of the Elementary students, parents, and friends.  For some of the children, it was their first time to be on stage, yet nobody cried or showed any stage fright; everyone seemed to enjoy performing.  It was a meaningful stage experience, a debut for the children.

On December 14th, Mr. Agnew, the school’s religious studies teacher, invited the Montessori children to attend Christmas service in the school chapel.  We listened to the story of the first Christmas, and about God’s love that Christmas brings to us. “Thank you, God, for baby Jesus! We love you!”

Each child made a tiny Christmas tree out of a pine cone that Hanae and her dad picked up for us from the park.

On the last week of school, we had our annual Christmas Pizza party.  “Yummy, we love pizzas!”

This semester, many of the children made maps…

Touched and smelled Earth’s treasures…

Lent a helping hand…

Made turkey crafts for Thanksgiving…

Learned parts of an “excavator”…

Brushed our teeth…

And laughed.

The children chose the Christmas cards to give to their parents.

Merry Christmas and have a restful Christmas vacation.  See you back in school in January!

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International Week presentations (cont’d) and parade, Adult Enrichment

International Costume Parade: One day during International Week, the children all dressed up in International costumes.  It’s time for the big parade!

Wow! Lots of parents were waiting for our arrival in the Upper Recreation Hall!

    

International week presentation (Part 2):   Germany – Mrs. Boehmert came to our class to share with us how the children in Germany celebrate Saint Martin’s feast on November 11th.  They make paper lanterns and carry them in a procession.

We learned about the country’s geography, referring to a map.  We also tasted some freshly baked German bread.

We were shown different types of lanterns that the children might make for the festival.  Then we made our own lantern decorations.

The same week we learned about the United States of America:  Mr. and Mrs. Nash along with Mrs. Farmer talked to us about their native country.  We also had a quizz about sports, popular children’s names in America, food, and so much more.

Since the presentation happened to be on Halloween Day, the children enjoyed playing a Halloween-picture Bingo game.  They also received some Halloween treats to take home.

We even sampled some roasted pumpkin seeds, which, for certain classmates, was a first-time experience.

Halloween – We made jack-o’-lantern baskets and learned how to fold two strips of paper into springs for the arms and legs.

 Diwali is a Hindu celebration of the Lights held during the period between October and November.  It’s a major festival in India.  “Happy Diwali!”

One of the popular classes of Saint Maur’s Adult Enrichment Program is for the parents to dress in an Indian costume.  Our Indian moms volunteered to show any interested parents how to wear a beautiful Sari, consisting of a long strip of cloth that can be wrapped around in various ways.

The moms wanted to show the children their beautiful Indian costumes, so they came up on the roof during recess time.  The children were excited to see their moms participating in Indian culture!

The parents are excited to learn new things, just like the children!  That’s what the Adult Enrichment is all about… to promote life-long learning.

And, here is a two year old making his own discoveries in class, beginning his life-long learning.

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Class excursion: mikan-picking

As the hot summer left, and the colorful autumn leaves started to fall, the class went on its first class excursion to Shiba Seaside Farm in Yokohama.  The 20 children and two moms, along with Ms. Mimi and Ms. Hoshi, boarded the school bus. Off we went!

After arriving at the farm, we entered a patch of mikan trees where the children were shown how to pick mikans without using scissors.  The trick was to hold the mikan and… twist, twist, twist until the fruit fell from the branches.   These mikans, rich in Vitamin C, hung low enough for us to pick them.

The first part involved picking the mikans, peeling their skin and enjoying the taste and smell as the class ate near the trees.  Some children loved the sweet juicy mikan so much that they ate three, four, and even more mikans!

Then it was time for us to pick some more.  We were given a bag and could fill it all the way to the top.  We tried to pick the ripe-looking, orange-colored mikans, not the green ones which had not ripened yet.

“We love mikans, we’re still eating!”

   

     

             

 

Our backpacks on the way back to the school bus were a lot heavier than on the way to the farm.

We were getting hungry again.  It was time to have our lunches in the open air.  It was picnic time!

On the way home, some children were fast asleep, lulled by the cadence of the school bus.  Sweet dreams!  Thank you to the two mom-chaperons who helped us all day.  It sure was an exciting excursion.

Elementary sports day:  On November 2nd, the Elementary School had their Sports Day on the field at Futaba Elementary School.  Futaba school is our sister school, and we share the same school badge.  Their campus is located adjacent to ours.

We walked to the field,  watched, and cheered as many of the children have siblings in Elementary School.  They were divided into four different color groups, and they had the color T-shirt of their respective color teams.  Many parents came to cheer them on.