Havens Winter Festival this Friday

Thanks to all who attended last Friday’s HPC meeting.  I hope you learned something new and enjoyed hearing from Randy Booker about the district’s goals through the beautiful infographic he shared (there is one posted in the Havens office so check it out!).  Calendar update:  there will be no HPC meeting in December so please remove the 12/18/18 meeting from your calendar.  Hope to see many of you at our January meeting.

My family and I are looking forward to the Havens Winter Festival this Friday, December 7, from 4:00-6:00 in Ellen Driscoll Playhouse.   It will be an fun afternoon of community service, arts and crafts, snacks, holiday shopping and celebrating the season with one another.  I’m excited that there will be students from the middle school (older siblings of Havens students as well as Piedmont Middle School leadership students) coming to help with activities.  If you haven’t already done so, please register to attend. It’s FREE, but we appreciate a headcount for snacks and crafts. Also, please visit our volunteer page to help with a shift. We need you!

Register: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=qihksziab&oeidk=a07efvqnss0a7a614f6

Volunteer: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409084aaca828a13-havens1

Members of the SCRIP team will be at our Winter Festival selling gift cards and See’s Candy (please remember to bring cash or check).  However, if you can’t attend the Winter Festival you can still purchase SCRIP for your holiday gift-giving needs.  SCRIP is an excellent way to raise funds for our schools at no extra cost to you.  Simply purchase gift cards at face value through our SCRIP reps, and money comes back to our schools.  It really is that easy. For more information, contact our dedicated team at:havensscrip@gmail.com.

Lastly, thank you to all grades 1-5 families who have signed up for the Holiday Giving Program of the Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay.  Your generosity is very much appreciated.  Big congratulations to Ms. Mortan’s class – they were the first to fulfill the wish list for Agara Family!  While many other lists are near full, there are still some lists that need much more participation. Please consider supporting these families in need in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties as well as the underserved preschools in Oakland that have been assigned to Havens.  It’s not too late but time is running out! If your particular class list is full or if you are a TK or K parent looking to participate, please reach out to me and I will make sure you have all necessary details to be a part of this wonderful program. The deadline is this Friday, December 7th.

See you Friday,

Laura Amen, HPC President


A Message from HPC President Laura Amen

I hope you all had a fun and restful Thanksgiving break…because as a very busy December is almost here! 

Reminders for the Week:

Our (rescheduled) HPC meeting is THIS FRIDAY 11/30 at 8:35 am in the Havens Library.  If you haven’t attend one this year, please join us.  You will hear from Principal Anne Dolid, HPC Committees, Superintendent Randy Booker and PUSD’s Facilities Director.  It will be a full and informative meeting.

We have kicked off our annual Holiday Giving Program with JFCS.  Grades 1-5 classrooms have now received details about the family or pre-school that they will be helping this season.  Detailed instructions and sign up information was emailed to all on 11/17.  I encourage you and your children to discuss and participate in this wonderful giving opportunity.  Gifts can be delivered to your child’s classroom anytime 12/3-12/7 (please not earlier) or brought to the Havens Winter Festival on 12/7.  Thank you Havens community for making a difference in pre-schools and families in need.

Looking Ahead:

We are busy planning the annual Havens Winter Festival which will be held next Friday, December 7th from 4:00-6:00 pm in the Ellen Driscoll Playhouse.  Here are 2 easy things to do in preparation for the event:

  1. Register to attend: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=qihksziab&oeidk=a07efvqnss0a7a614f6 (the event is FREE but a headcount is greatly appreciated for crafts and snacks)
  2. Visit our volunteer sign up page: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409084aaca828a13-havens1  (opportunities range from helping to decorate before the event to overseeing a community service or craft table – WE NEED YOU!

I hope you will bring the entire family to come and celebrate the season with other Havens families.  During the event you can participate in community service activities organized by SERVES, drop off your JFCS Holiday Giving Program gifts (wrapping station provided for those needing to wrap their family gifts!), make winter crafts, purchase See’s Candy boxes from the SCRIP team, check off some of the gifts on your list by purchasing Havens merchandise, and enjoy a snack and some cheer with our Havens community.

Take care!

Laura Amen, HPC President

I hope you and your kids had a great time at the Havens Halloween parade.  A hectic morning for sure – nothing like trying to serve breakfast and spray paint someone’s hair all at the same time – but I’d say it’s well worth it as the parade is priceless.  I can’t believe that November is just hours away and, as is always the case at this time of year, there is much going on around our school…

Our Minted.com fundraiser starts tomorrow and runs through the end of November.  All details (including our own promo code) are included further down the newsletter.   Please support our school and encourage your friends, family and businesses to do the same if they also order holiday gifts and cards.   

Our Fall Book Fair runs November 7th-9th this year.  All details including info about TWO food truck options for family night, a bake sale and parent coffee are below.  Remember to bring your holiday shopping lists (there will be great books for all ages) and give the gift of books to those you love.  Your support goes directly to the purchase of books for our library.

While we are on the topic of holidays (I know…sorry!) I’d like to recap for parents what we do to thank both teachers and staff in December (as well as in May at the end of the school year).  At Havens we use the Class Funds that are collected through the Piedmont Store to give a “group” gift (SCRIP gift cards) on behalf of all of the students in the class.  Pooling our funds this way allows you to make one contribution per child and ensures that your gift is taken care of by HPC. That definitely helps lower the stress of the season!  Not only does your child’s teacher receive this group gift, but also teacher aides, administrative staff, teacher specialists, custodial staff etc. We want to make sure ALL who work at Havens realize that we appreciate all they do.  

  • If you have already contributed to your child(ren)’s Class Fund(s), thank you and there is nothing else you need to do.
  • If you haven’t yet made a contribution I encourage you to do so NO LATER THAN 11/9.  To make your contribution, go to www.piedmontstore.com and once logged in click on the “Havens Class Fund” icon for each child.  
  • Not sure if you already donated?  Log in to your account and check your account history.  Please note that you will have a separate account history for each PUSD student in your family.
  • Prefer to donate by check? You can leave a check made payable to HPC for $65 per child in the HPC mailbox in the office.  Just make sure to note your child(ren)’s name(s) and teacher(s) in the memo line.

Laura Amen, HPC President


Have you checked out Havens on Instagram (@havenselementary)?  If not, go check it out! You will see wonderful moments taking place at Havens, such as: lunchtime art, teamwork in math class, welcome of kindergarteners by the 5th graders, classroom art projects reflecting our school values and even a video of our instrumental music program.  Speaking of our music program, did you know it is supported by the Giving Campaign? This program and many others depend on our contributions to make them a part of our children’s education.  Thank you to all the families who have already made their annual donation, but we have a long way to go in order to reach our goal of 100% participation from Havens families. To learn more and to donate visit: www.piedmontedfoundation.org/donate/giving-campaign.

Havens participated in California’s Great ShakeOut last Thursday.  I’d like to give thanks to our staff and teachers for participating in this annual earthquake drill to ensure we are regularly reviewing and updating our emergency preparedness at school.   Also, thanks to the parents who came to school to simulate pick up of their children – testing each step of the process is critical to success. Lastly, thanks to HPC’s Emergency Prep/Safety Chair, Amy Gurvitz, for all of her help during the Great ShakeOut. You are a superstar volunteer!

Shoo the Flu went very smoothly last week thanks to our parent volunteers who were willing to give of their time:  Alissa Welch, Amy Gurvitz, Laura Edeen, Judy Lin, Jean Takazawa, Shannon Mitchell, Jen Hong, Cori Kau and Dana Lung.  The nurses were very caring and sweet with the kids…and they worked fast too! We finished way ahead of schedule. But to be honest, the real stars of the show were the kids.  Some didn’t even think twice about it, others entered with bravery written all over their faces and others showed such caring for one another as they circled around their friends who may have been otherwise too scared to follow through.  Our Havens values at work!

Take care,

Laura Amen, HPC President


September did not go down without a fight!  This past weekend was hectic and full to say the least.  I hope you and your family were able to join in some of the community events around town.  Thanks to all who helped make the Harvest Festival possible:  Anne Hawkins and Jennie Stomberg (our Havens Harvest Festival Reps), each of the scarecrow leads and their many helpers who made Scarecrow Alley a reality, as well as parent and student volunteers who gave of their time on Sunday.  Our elementary schools are lucky to have all of you.

As mentioned in last week’s Highlights, Shoo the Flu is on Friday, October 19th.  We need parent volunteers to help with picking up and returning students from classrooms, helping to manage flow of children waiting for their turn and passing out stickers (you know stickers make everything better!).  Adult volunteers can get their own flu shot that day.   Please use this link to sign up for a shift:  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409084AACA828A13-shoo

Lastly, our October 23rd HPC meeting (7:00 pm in the Havens Library) will provide a forum for all four School Board candidates to answer questions.  This is a unique opportunity to hear directly from these candidates and I’m striving to make sure the questions reflect what is important to you – our parent community.  Please take a moment to think about this and submit an anonymous question for consideration here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/M9BHX8V

Take care, Laura Amen, HPC President

Giving Campaign & Fun Weekend Events

It was great to see and feel all the excitement yesterday morning around our campus as The Giving Campaign, Piedmont’s largest fundraiser for our schools, kicked off!   However, the campaign is so much more than balloons, purple shirts and popsicles.  You should have received a letter at home yesterday explaining all the information about the campaign and why our schools need our support now more than ever.  Thank you in advance for your financial support.

Six Havens parents who know how critical our support is and who are dedicating themselves to making sure our schools have the necessary funding for our children to receive a great education are:  Giving Campaign Co-Chairs Cortney Allen and Nicki Gilbert, Havens Reps Joy Nieman and Mia Tindle, New Parent Lead Martha Joerger and New Parent Committee Havens Rep April Gruber.   We are BEYOND lucky to have so many of our fellow Havens parents volunteering on our behalf for the Giving Campaign.  Reach out to them, ask them questions and of course thank them!

 Just a quick reminder of things to come this weekend:

(1)   The FallFest Challenge (a mega-group strength and balance class) is on Saturday, September 29th from 9:00-11:30 am on the Havens Playfield.  There will be on-site care and a special yoga class for younger attendees.  Register here

(2)   The Harvest Festival is Sunday, September 30th from 11:00 am-3:00 pm in Piedmont Park. Come play carnival games, win a delicious treat at the Cake Walk, bid on a scarecrow (thank you parent leaders for making the scarecrows a reality for all of our grade levels) and much more, all while helping support our elementary schools.  There are still volunteer opportunities so please let me know if you can help.  I’ve got my myself, my mom, my middle schooler and one of my 4th graders signed up to work carnival booths, sell tickets and supervise!  These events don’t happen without us and it’s not too late to volunteer. Just email me and I’ll point you in the right direction to sign up. 

Take care,

Laura Amen, HPC President

Fall is just around the corner, but don’t worry about saying goodbye to summer

September and October always seem to bring with it more sunshine and less fog! As I mentioned last week, the Harvest Festival is on Sunday, September 30th from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm in Piedmont Park.  There will be fun for all with the carnival (and its always popular cake walk), live music, art show, farmer’s market, edible contest and Scarecrow Alley.  It’s the perfect way to usher in the fall season.

Speaking of Scarecrow Alley, our Harvest Festival Reps Anne Hawkins and Jennie Stomberg are thrilled that we have parent volunteers to create scarecrows for TK, K and 2nd grade.  Can’t wait to see what they will create!  We still need volunteers to help facilitate the scarecrow making effort for all other grade levels.  Is it a bit of work? Yep! But I know our kids would love to see their grade represented in this fun tradition.  Piedmont Makers is even offering a workshop to help with strategizing, designing and building the scarecrows. Please check out the Harvest Festival bulletin below and the SignUp Genius links to help with scarecrows and other volunteer opportunities. Please sign up today!

Just a reminder to Kindergarten parents that Anne Dolid will be hosting the first Kindergarten Parent Coffee on Friday, September 14th from 8:30-9:30 am in the Havens Library.  It’s a great way to hear more from Anne about kindergarten, meet fellow parents, ask questions and learn more.  A second coffee will take place in the second half of the school year. All other grades, check the school calendar or be on the lookout in Highlights for your parent coffee dates in the coming weeks.


Take care,  Laura Amen ~ HPC President


The first 10 days of school were a whirlwind to say the least!

Day 10 ended with our annual Havens Family Fun Fest.  Based on the smiles on people’s faces (some adorned with face paint thanks to our awesome middle school volunteers) and the lively conversations taking place all around the blacktop, people really enjoyed themselves.  Hopefully you filled up on tacos as well as some great information on how to get involved in our community. Thank you to all the support groups who spent the evening at their table sharing what they are all about. If you need more information on any of these groups or contacts, please let me know.

Special thanks to our 5th Grade Leadership Team members Celeste Dickason, Shane Harris and Analie Lipansky for selling ice cream and popsicles that evening.  They used handmade signs, songs, tons of enthusiasm and big smiles to win their customers over.  It was tough job, but somebody had to convince the kids to come to their table and get a treat! Thanks to Barbara Dickason for supervising and bringing both fun and a little bit of order to the table!

Looking ahead, the first Tri-School Site Council meeting of the year is on Tuesday, September 11th from 3:30-5:00 in the Wildwood Library.  The site council consists of teachers, classified employees, administrators and parents who work with the principals to develop, review and evaluate the Single Plan for Student Achievement (the state required action plan to improve student academic performance). This year we are lucky to have Judy Lin and Mandana Veiseh as our Havens parent representatives.  If you are interested in joining their team we are looking for one more parent. If you want to learn more about the council’s work, all meetings are posted on the Havens calendar and are open to the entire school community.

Thanks to all for a really fun first couple of weeks.  I’m pretty sure the upcoming long weekend will be appreciated by many.

See you at Back-to-School Night,

Laura Amen, HPC President


Our first Havens Parents Club Meeting of the year was yesterday. Thanks to all the parents who attended.  These meetings are a great way to hear from Principal Anne Dolid on what is happening at Havens as well as from our HPC Board and Support groups with updates on their activities.  We also have guest speakers and school board updates. Our next meeting is Friday, September 21st at 8:35 am in the Havens Library.  Please mark your calendar and JOIN US!

Your kids looked great during our Picture Days last week.  I’d like to thank our parent volunteers:  Carey Valentine, Joy Nieman, Jen Hong, Tamisha Apodaca, Cindy Hinman, Tara Boris, Vanessa Spofford, Tara Dietrick, Sunny Saperstein, Alissa Welch, Barbara Dickason and Julie Stein. These parents not only retrieved and pointed our students to the available photographer, but they also acted as entertainers, hair stylists, coat racks (you didn’t want that zip up hoodie covering up the nice dress and collared shirts, did you?) and even face wipers (breakfast on the run can do that).  Is all of that necessary? No. But does it make our kids feel cared for? YES. Thank you volunteers for demonstrating our Havens values.

Speaking of volunteers, thanks to Cori Kau for helping organize our first of three tri-school lice checks this past Saturday. The next one will be in January after the winter break.  Sign up at www.piedmontstore.com. While on the store please consider joining HPC as well as contributing your student’s Field Trip Fund, Class Fund and Technology Fund if you haven’t already done so.

Lastly, mark your calendar for this Friday 8/24 from 5-7pm on the Havens blacktop for our annual Havens Family Fun Fest.  We will have Havens groups as well as district groups sharing information on how to get involved in our PUSD community.  A taco truck will be available if you’d like to purchase dinner. Or pack a picnic and bring the family down for some fun. HPC will be selling ice cream so get your kids busy with chores this week to earn some treat money!

See you around school,



Welcome Back

Was your house a bit hectic yesterday morning?  If not, get in touch with me right away and share your secret to a calm first day back at school.  Havens Parents Club (HPC) will find a good use for you!

Huge thanks to our many HPC teams for their work over the summer.  From the Merchandise Team (Cindy Hinman, Cori Kau, Lindsay Thomasson and Mia Tindle) preparing our new Havens gear to sell, to our Lunch Service Co-Chairs (Stephanie Stone and Tamisha Apodaca) lining up parent lunch volunteers, to our Emergency Prep Rep (Amy Gurvitz) reviewing and refilling our classroom emergency backpacks, to our Hospitality Team (Tania Blanford, Elise Hatchell, Blaire Paige and Jen Rego) getting coffee and treats ready for our Back to School Coffee, to our New Families Chair (Dana Lung) welcoming and buddying up new families arriving at Havens, and to so many more, we are more than ready for a great year.  I can’t thank our board volunteers enough for all they do for Havens.

Speaking of before school preparations, this past Sunday a few of our HPC families generously volunteered their time to clean up the garden and blacktop areas to make them look great for the first day of school.  And boy did we make a difference!  Thanks to the Saunders,  Bahrami/Veiseh and Boris families for joining my own Amen family crew to spruce up the garden beds and remove litter from all over campus.  We even had a few middle school Boy Scouts join us in the effort as well as superstar Fourth Grade Teacher, Mrs. Jepsen, who has one heck of a green thumb.  Please thank these individuals for their service when you see them on campus and please remind your kids to be respectful of the garden beds (they are an awesome and hands-on teaching tool) and to throw their trash in the correct bins both during and after hours at school. If you want to join me for campus clean up in the future, let me know and we will make it happen!

It was nice to see familiar faces and meet new parents yesterday morning at the Back-to-School Coffee.  HPC teams had an opportunity to speak with parents about the many ways to volunteer at school.  Havens wouldn’t be what it is without your contributions.

If you missed the Back-to-School Coffee but still want to celebrate the start of the school year, sign up for volunteer opportunities and learn about the many parent groups that support our school district, bring the entire family to the Havens Family Fun Fest (Friday, August 24, from 5:00-7:00 pm on our blacktop). You can purchase dinner (taco truck-on site) or bring your own picnic (remember, no alcohol allowed on school grounds) and hang out with old and new friends.

Lastly, we still need a few parent volunteers for Picture Day on August 16th. No experience necessary and I promise it will make you smile!   https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409084aaca828a13-havens

Thanks and enjoy the first week back,

Laura Amen, HPC President