Author Archives: Santina Pitcher

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K-3 Music Education Winter Updates

Category : School Events

Hello Jensen Ranch parents (and fellow music lovers)!

Students in grades K-3 have been making and learning about music with docents from Music for Minors 2 (MFM2) since November. We sing, play simple instruments, and learn music fundamentals like keeping a beat and singing on pitch. We also explore the connection between music and social studies, mathematics, science, and language arts to better understand our world. (Details by grade at the end of this message.)


Why Music Education?

Research has unequivocally shown that the study of music has these benefits and many more:

  1. Helps develop language and reasoning skills
  2. Helps mastery of memorization and pattern recognition skills and spatial intelligence
  3. Promotes the desire to improve work through practice and discipline
  4. Builds coordination and self-regulation
  5. Provides a sense of achievement, builds self-confidence, and helps kids conquer fear and take risks
  6. Builds imagination, intellectual curiosity, and creative thinking
  7. Helps students learn in other academic subjects and stay engaged with school generally
  8. Correlates with better grades in high school and higher SAT scores

How the Music Program at Jensen Ranch Operates

The Jensen Ranch PTA contracts nonprofit Music for Minors 2 each year to provide music education to our K-3 students because the district does not include music ed for these grades. Grade 4 and 5 students are offered music ed through the district. MFM2 serves more than 5,000 children in Fremont, Newark, and Castro Valley by training volunteer teachers (docents) and supplying them with resources and materials. MFM2 subsidizes the cost to the schools so that more kids can receive music education.


How You Can Help Support Your Student and Music Education at Jensen

  1. Ask your student about music class — What songs do you like? What did you learn in music this week? Would you like to teach me something about music?
  2. Let the district know that the arts are important – attend the community input meeting March 6, 5:30-7pm. Your opinion matters! The district will listen if we speak as a group. Castro Valley Unified is conducting community input meetings on theirLocal Control Accountability Plan, which is a statement of goals and plan for how the district budget will be used to achieve these goals. There areseveral dates and locations around CV if you can’t make the March 6meeting at Jensen.
  3. Contact me with your ideas. I would like to hear from all parents who care about arts education at Jensen. You don’t need to volunteer for anything! I just want to hear from you. Contact me any time.      415.559.1157
  4. Support Music for Minors 2 by attending the concert for familiesFebruary 11 (details next).


Music for Minors 2 Family Concert Feb 11 – Don’t miss it!

On Saturday, February 11, MFM2 presents internationally known children’s singer/songwriter Charlotte Diamond with the Music for Minors 2 Kids Choir in a benefit show for the whole family. Your kids have been singing her songs, like “Listen to the Water,” “Spider’s Web,” and “Four Hugs a Day,” since kindergarten.


This concert is the primary fundraiser for MFM2, which uses the money for instruments, equipment, music recordings, and all the other resources needed to provide high-quality music education at a subsidized rate. You can see a great show while supporting music ed at Jensen!


Saturday, February 11, 2017, at 2pm
Harbor Light, 4760 Thornton Ave, Fremont
Tickets: $12 advance, $14 door



Jensen Ranch K-3 Music Update by Grade

The Jensen kindergarteners are having fun singing, dancing, jumping, and playing weekly. Some fave songs are “Candy Man, Salty Dog” and “My Name Is Joe.” We have been singing many Charlotte Diamond songs too. We recently went deeper into beat and rhythm, which was fun.

Docent: Oren Jaffe, father of Jonah


Grade 1 classes are singing and signing songs and learning about beat and rhythm. We recently introduced bells and maracas to help explore beat and rhythm further. The students remember movements and sign language that accompany songs they learned in kindergarten, such as “See You Later, Alligator.”

Docent: Elaine Wong Eakin, community member


In Grade 2, we have been exploring basic elements of music like beat and melody. We are about to learn the difference between singing and scatting through the really fun song “I Like to Sing!” I guarantee you’ll be hearing this song around the house in coming weeks.

Docent: Shane Sharkey, community member (owner, Castro Valley School of Music and Big Toe Audio studio)


Grade 3 classes have been working hard on mastering music elements, including beat, rhythm, pitch, dynamics, and tempo. We are continuing the rhythm notation basics begun in 2d grade and starting pitch notation. In honor of MLK Day, we learned and sang “This Little Light of Mine” and talked about who he was and what the little light might be.

Docent: Erin Milnes, mom of Duncan




Music for Minors 2, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit volunteer organization
“Nurturing the love and literacy of music in children’s classrooms and lives since 1988.”

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Adopt-a-Family 2016

Category : School Events

Our annual Adopt-a-Family gift drive is now underway and will continue through Tuesday, Dec. 20. Please use the following Signup Genius link(s) to pick a gift to donate to your grade’s assigned family(ies). All gifts should be UNWRAPPED and dropped off under the Christmas tree in the library, with a tag that clearly specifies the family #, recipient’s age and gender (as noted in the Signup form) and gift item so we can be sure it goes to the right person. Tags will also be available in the library by the Christmas tree that you can attach to your gift if you’re unable to tag it yourself.  *If you are purchasing gift cards for any of the families, please bring those directly to Suzie in the office.

And…. if you are purchasing any of these gifts online, consider using the JRE PTA Amazon link!  For more information, see our flyer.

If you have any questions, please contact Nina Wallkvist ( or Nancy Hill (


Thank you for your help and generosity!

Kinder      –

1st Grade –

2nd Grade –

3rd Grade –

4th Grade –

5th Grade –

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2016 Thanksgiving Food Drive

Category : School Events

We’re excited to announce our involvement in the Castro Valley Outreach 2016 Thanksgiving Food Drive!  Each year we partner with the entire Castro Valley Unified School District to provide meals for over 150 families from our own community.  Each grade level is assigned a short list of non-perishable food items, which should be brought to school no later than Friday, November 18th.  Please check expiration dates, as expired food cannot be accepted!

We are also accepting gift cards in any denomination from Safeway, Lucky or Trader Joe’s, to help balance out the baskets.  Please leave gift cards in the office for safe keeping.

For a complete list of items and information about other volunteer opportunities, please see the 2016 Thanksgiving Food Drive Flyer.

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The 2016 Walk-a-thon is Here!

Category : School Events

Our annual Walk-a-thon is coming up on Friday, October 21.  We invite our entire Jensen Ranch family to participate – students, teachers, parents, grandparents…. it’s a great way to come out and show your Paw Pride!  Last year’s efforts made possible a full 1:1 chrome book ratio for all our 3rd graders plus mobile carts for our K-2, which now means all 3rd – 5th has a 1:1 ratio, preparing our kids for tomorrow’s advances.

This year we are working to raise funds to help support improvements to our outdoor facilities.  Projects such as enhancing our outdoor classroom, teaching garden, PE equipment and secure storage are examples we’re looking at.  Final decisions will be brainstormed and voted upon by the PTA membership.

In order to accomplish these goals we are challenging each student to raise $100.  Not only will this help instill a greater sense of Paw Pride, but students can earn individual prizes as well as contribute to helping their classroom earn prizes.

More information can be found in our 2016 Walk-a-thon Packet..

Please encourage your families and friends near and far, to sponsor your child.  It’s easy!  Just send them to and click on “Sponsorships” on the left hand side.

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Teacher Appreciation Week at Jensen Ranch!

Category : School Events

Jensen Ranch Elementary will be celebrating our teachers all week long – beginning May 9th, 2016.   As we have celebrated in the past, we ask students to bring a flower for their teacher on “California Day of the Teacher” which is on Wednesday, May 11.

This year, we would like to expand on this by asking students to bring our wonderful teachers something nice each day as they do so much for our children throughout the year.

Monday: Fruit Day (Example: a piece of fruit or perhaps another small sweet treat)
Tuesday: Beverage Day. (Example: tea packets, coffee beans, small amount Starbucks or Peets gift card, favorite soda or juice)
Wednesday: Flower Day (Example: a single flower from the store or your garden to add to others to make a class bouquet)
Thursday: Greeting Card Day (Example: store bought or handmade “Thank you” card from your child)
Friday: A Teacher Appreciation Lunch will take place after school on Friday, 5/13.

I know this can get confusing, as many of us may have heard that last week was Teacher Appreciation Week.  Here’s the scoop:

Yes, this past week was National PTA Teacher Appreciation Week – which I know is what many of my friends around the country celebrate (even here in California). However, here at Jensen Ranch, we’ve always piggy-backed on  California Day of the Teacher, which is something out of the California Teacher’s Association, and that’s when we have traditionally held the teacher appreciation lunch and brought in flowers for our teachers.  This year, the PTA decided to expand on that week by making some suggestions on how we can celebrate all week long.  I hope you’ll join us!

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Jensen Ranch Adopt-a-Family

Category : School Events

In the spirit of giving, Jensen Ranch has adopted six local families in need.  Our task is to provide them with gifts of clothing, toys, household basics and holiday cheer.  As a community, Castro Valley Outreach is adopting a total of over 140 families this year.

  1. Please select what you would like to donate on the wish list.
  2. Bring unwrapped gifts to the Christmas tree in the library BY WEDNESDAY 16TH.
  3. Attach a Snowman, with family #, gender and age of the family member, to the gift.
  4. If you donate GIFT CARDS, please leave GIFT CARDS in the OFFICE for safe keeping.  Please write the family #, gender and age of the family member on the envelope of the gift card.

Any Questions?  Contact Connie Ma at or Nancy Hill at

We could not do this without your generous support! 

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

Kindergarten & 1st Grade:

2nd Grade:

3rd Grade:

4th & 5th Grades:


For more information on this wonderful program and how to help, please be sure to check out our flyer.

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The Thanksgiving Food Drive is Here!

Category : School Events

Our annual Thanksgiving Food Drive is here!  Each year, we come together with the entire CVUSD and partner with Castro Valley Outreach to provide much needed food and cheer to over 150 CV families in need.  Each grade level is requested to bring any of the following non-perishable and unexpired items to school from Monday, November 9th to Friday, November 20th.

Stuffing (box or bag)
Gravy (can or jar)
Canned cranberries
Canned tomatoes
Dinner napkins
1st Grade
Cornbread mix
Canned potatoes
Canned green beans
Holiday cookies
2nd Grade
Dried pasta
Scalloped potatoes
Canned corn
Canned fruit
3rd Grade
Canned mixed vegetables
Canned soups
Fruit juice
4th Grade
Canned yams
Sparkling cider
5th Grade
Canned ham 5lb.
Baked beans
Canned peas
Canned olives
Aluminum roasting pans

*Please check expiration dates as expired food cannot be accepted!

The balance of the menu is perishable and will be purchased by our Castro Valley Outreach volunteers. To create a well-rounded holiday meal for our families, we also need gift cards in any denomination from Safeway, Lucky or Trader Joe’s. Please leave gift cards in the Office for safe keeping. Anyone wishing to write a check to “Castro Valley Outreach” can also leave the check in the Office. Cash donations are tax deductible and you will receive a thank you letter.

What a great way to show our children what we all have to be thankful for. Reach out and help others. Give what is right not what is left!

Volunteer Opportunities for Parents and Children

  • Friday November 13 – Friday, November 20, Lunch Recess: Food sorting by parents and Kids Care Club, in MPR
  • Friday, November 20, 1:00 – 4:30: Parent volunteers NEEDED with trucks, minivans or SUVs to deliver collection to Mormon Church (Seven Hills & Almond).
  • Monday & Tuesday, November 23 & 24, 9:00 – Noon: Sort, box and distribute baskets at Mormon Church in CV

Please sign up using the link above.

Happy Holidays and Thanks for Your Generous Support!

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Science Night

Category : School Events

We’re excited to present our annual Family Science Night on Thursday, November 19.  Join us in the Jensen Ranch MPR from 6:00pm-8:00pm and get ready for some fun!  Try out the hands-on FUNstations from 6-7:15pm and then get ready for a Fire and Ice Show to round out the night.  Activities and the show will be provided by MadScience, with special guests from our very own local Boy Scout troop.

For questions, please contact Marina Lyubimov or Janet Tien.  See you soon!