by George J Elbaum
This was my second visit to the Seven Hills School (the first was in December 2012). The school was founded in 1962 on nine park-like acres of former ranchland as an independent day school educating almost 400 students in preschool through 8th grade. Its stated mission is “to develop the intellect, engage the spirit and foster respect for and responsibility to our world.” On its beautiful grounds or its modern classrooms one might see on any day “Shakespeare performed or Beethoven rehearsed; a rocket launched or a volleyball serve perfected.” With a student-to-faculty/staff ratio of about 6, the school augments its excellent academics and athletics with a robust after-school enrichment program, and its students rank above the 90th percentile in ERB testing.
My presentation was again to the 8th grade classes of history/humanities teacher Michael Sandberg and Assistant Headmaster Scott Espinosa-Brown, who teaches a “restorative justice” course. Attending also were Bill Miller, the school’s Headmaster, and Rhys Miller, its Curriculum Director. The students were currently one month into an in-depth project on the Holocaust and genocides, which culminates with each student producing a web-based report on some aspect of the genocide and an oral presentation to the class. The students’ awareness, sensitivity and empathy as shown in their questions during the Q&A session were quite impressive and above their grade level. (The web-based reports of the 2014 Holocaust Projects in Mr. Sandberg’s humanities classes are shown on https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/11556412/sites/shshistory/8th%20Grade/holocaust/page22/index.html.) Michael Sandberg is also a member of the Advisory Board of Facing History and Ourselves, and he and Jack Weinstein of Facing History arranged my presentation.