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Features & Traditions

Friday Morning Gatherings

Families are invited to join the NSM community for our longstanding tradition of Friday Morning Gatherings. Students, staff, and parents come together in the gym at 8:15 to say the pledge to the American flag and to the Earth, share announcements, and sing favorite songs in keeping with the Montessori tradition of education for peace. Classes occasionally share special performances to mark the seasons of the year. Students in our Middle School program take responsibility for choosing and leading the songs. Different songs are selected each month and classes are given the chance to learn the words ahead of time; visitors can sing along to the lyrics projected on the big screen courtesy of our Stage Crew. Some favorite songs include:

  • “This Pretty Planet” by Tom Chapin
  • “Kids’ Peace Song” (People come in different sizes) by Peter Alsop
  • “Light up your Light” by Gary Lapow

Annual Traditions

Throughout the year, North Shoreview Montessori (NSM) observes a number of special events to build community spirit and enhance our curriculum.

Fall International Potluck

Kick off the new school year by attending the annual Fall International Potluck. Join NSM families for an evening of socializing, eating, and dance entertainment. Because our school is rich in cultural diversity, the potluck has always had a delicious international flair. The evening is finished with an amazing night of international dance performances put on by NSM’s own students, including American hip-hop, Brazilian samba, traditional Japanese dancing, Mexican folk dancing, and dances of the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands. It’s a show not to be missed.

Equinox Celebrations

In celebration of the fall and spring equinoxes in September and March, students celebrate the change of seasons with poems, short plays, or songs during a Friday Morning Gathering. Parents are especially encouraged to attend on these dates.

Historical Timeline

The Historical Timeline is a longtime favorite NSM tradition and is held in October before the morning Halloween parade. It is an opportunity for students in the elementary grades to choose a historical figure, living or dead, to do research on this person, and (optionally) come to school in costume as this person. Students give presentations in their classrooms about the historical figure they elected to represent, and then line up in chronological order to see history come alive.

Santa Lucia Day

The Santa Lucia festivities in December are part of the intermediate grades’ study of Europe. We have celebrated this holiday for three decades as a part of our Montessori program’s cultural work. Participating classrooms help make and distribute Santa Lucia buns for the school. Girls and boys may choose to wear traditional costumes and construct Lucia crowns and Starboy hats.

Lunar New Year

Kindergarten and first grade classes share songs and a dragon procession at a Friday Morning Gathering around the time of the Lunar New Year in January or February.

Variety Show

On the last day of the school year, all NSM students are given an opportunity to demonstrate their talents before the whole school. The accomplishments of our students are amazing. Past performances have included singing, dancing, hula hoop, piano, drums, clarinet, puppets, poems, dramatic readings, karate, gymnastics, baton twirling, mime, skits, and magic, among many other talents.

Art & Music

In 2005, North Shoreview Montessori was designated as an Arts & Music Magnet Program within the San Mateo-Foster City School District. A federal magnet school grant provided funding to furnish the school with a wide array of equipment to support instruction in the visual and performing arts, including a clay kiln, an electronic music keyboard lab, stage lighting and curtains, and musical instruments for every classroom. Art and music education continues at NSM thanks to dedicated teachers, parent volunteers, and supportive community organizations. If you can share your talents and love of the arts with NSM students, please contact the school office or any classroom teacher.

Glee Club and Musical Theater

NSM has been fortunate to be partnered with volunteers from Broadway By the Bay’s educational program for children. In this series of optional after-school workshops, students learn about various dramatic techniques, practice script reading and acting skills, and learn group songs and dance choreography. Fall performances emphasize dance and vocal music for different grade levels. Spring productions have included adaptations of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Our Town.”

Instrumental Music

With funding contributed by the SMFC Education Foundation, the SMFC School District offers students in fifth grade the opportunity to explore instrumental music on violin, trumpet, clarinet, or flute. Group lessons are offered weekly for much of the school year.

Music & Language Lab

NSM’s Music & Language Lab includes 12 Yamaha PSR-293 electronic keyboards, connected through an LC2 Music Lab controller to allow up 24 students to rehearse individually or in small groups. Playback of students’ performances and musical accompaniment, as well as language lessons, is possible through the integrated headphone system. In addition, each classroom is equipped with a Yamaha keyboard attached to a computer with Garage Band or Sibelius electronic music software to allow for keyboard practice and music composition exercises.

Stage Crew

The NSM stage has been renovated with professional quality audio-visual equipment anaesthetic improvements. Managed by parent volunteers, students in grades 6-8 may join the stage crew to be trained and then be responsible for running and maintaining the stage and its state-of-the-art equipment.

Steel Drum Bands

Originating from Trinidad, steel drums are 55-gallon oil drums hammered to produce awhole range of chromatic tones. These unique pitched percussion instruments can be used to play a wide variety of music. NSM students in fourth grade and up can learn and perform the steel drums as an after-school enrichment activity.

Japanese Language & Culture

Japanese is becoming the language of choice at NSM. Our preschool children are learning words and songs in Japanese, and parent volunteers are helping first and second graders learn Japanese characters. [Middle schoolers] have been learning about Japanese language and culture, including reading and writing in the hirigana alphabet. In October they celebrated O-bon, the Festival of Souls; for the Lunar New Year they made and wrote postcards; and in March they learned about the Doll Festival, Hina Masuri. They dined on Japanese cuisine and visited Japan Town in San Francisco. A highlight of the year was being invited by the Japanese Consulate to participate in a formal Tea Ceremony. The entire school enjoyed a Taiko Drum assembly and learned how these giant instruments are played in Japan. Looking forward, we hope to expand Japanese lessons to all of the middle school grades while sharing songs, stories, and the geography and culture of Japan throughout the school.

–from the February 2010 issue of Magnet School News

Writers’ Workshop

Inspired by the Noyce Foundation’s “Every Child a Reader and Writer” initiative, the Writers’ Workshop program aims to improve the literacy of students in grades kindergarten through five through fresh approaches to teaching reading and writing. Student activities directly related to the program include a daily writing time, the application of different writing genres, reading logs, writing of reading responses, reading buddies (where upper-grade students read to younger students), and Literacy Week in March.

Children’s Annex

The Children’s Annex provides on-site before- and after-school care for NSM students in Kindergarten through 5th Grade. Please see the SMFC School District website for more information.