Winter 2022 GATE Update
Dear A.E. Wright GATE Parents,

We hope you are doing well as we move into 2022 and finish the semester this week. Please see below for updates from our amazing teachers and a recap of our fun holiday white elephant gift exchange and social action activity.

8th Graders (and their parents) are invited to our GATE Alumni Panel of CHS and AHS Students coming up next week!

Tuesday, January 25, 2002, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Zoom.
We will send a reminder and the zoom link next week.

A panel of GATE alums who are currently at Calabasas High School (CHS) and Agoura High School (AHS) will be available for questions from our current GATE 8th graders (and their parents). Previous 8th graders and their families found this panel discussion very helpful and informative.

Please note that there is no formal presentation, and the panel discussion will be driven by the questions posed by the 8th graders. This is not meant to cover the same info as the CHS or AHS showcases, tours, International Baccalaureate (IB) Info Night, etc. but rather focuses on the current student’s individual experiences which we hope will help our 8th graders with their decision and transition into high school.

Past topics included:

  • Clubs, teams and other extracurricular programs at each school
  • Differences in how some classes are taught at each high school
  • Homework load and rigor in high school, as compared to middle school
  • Social atmosphere and friendships on campus
  • Differences between the academic tracks at the high schools

Coming up this spring, we will have another AGP Meeting and Parent Education night as well as elections for next year’s AGP Board. If you are interested in being involved next year or have ideas for our next Parent Ed night, social action events, and student or adult social events, please email

In addition, we will kick off our Annual GATE fundraiser for the 2021-2022 School Year in March. These funds directly support the GATE program, classrooms and experiences. 

And, as always, if you have GATE-specific questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Stay well,

Susie Ming
AGP Chair
Classroom updates
8th Grade Update

Mrs. Tepper 8th grade ELA/SS: In November, 8th graders entered the macabre world of Edgar Allan Poe and wrote, edited, and revised 5 paragraph literary argument essays while also learning about suspense, unreliable narrators, and how point-of-view affects a story. Our study of connotation and denotation of words led to interesting discussions about the power of words, especially during revolutionary times when authors such as Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson created documents that changed the nation. We closely read and analyzed their work as part of our social studies unit on The Declaration of Independence and had some fun writing modern versions of this iconic primary source. Students sang, rapped, tweeted, and texted as if they were “breaking up” with King George III. The final products were outstanding! We put on our investigative hats to “weigh the evidence” and study the multiple perspectives of the Boston “Massacre,” determining who was really at fault for this tragic event.  We helped out the world of merchandising by creating Thanksgiving characters who I’m sure you should see on a seasonal holiday display soon! Look for Paxton Pilgrim and Edgar the Farmer next year... sure to be as popular as Santa Claus! Currently, we continue our study of drama as literature as we read the play version of The Diary of Anne Frank, focusing on the power of this primary source and learning about the social context in which the events took place, including a close look at our universal concept of POWER and how it plays an integral role in government in various countries and time periods. We look forward to our upcoming trip to the Museum of Tolerance as well as a live presentation by a Holocaust survivor. 
King George III
King George & Jefferson
Corny the Cornucopia

Mr. Bostrom 8th grade Science: The school year has gotten off to a great start and has been extremely fun and engaging for our students. They have been focusing on all the exciting aspects of chemistry for the past few months as we move toward wrapping up our first semester. Students began by learning about the properties and phases of matter and the role energy plays within each. They have completed numerous labs that have challenged them to put their skills to use to solve various chemistry problems and perform chemical reactions. Some of the top highlights of the year have been using bunsen burners to test the flammability of various compounds and completing the decomposition reaction lab, also known as the “elephant toothpaste experiment.” As we enter our second semester our focus will shift to physics which will also include many fun and challenging labs and projects!
7th Grade Update

Mrs. Paik & Ms. Miller 7th grade ELA/SS: In social studies, the students engaged in an independent study about the Byzantine Empire through which they could choose an area of study that interested them; we learned about emperors and empresses, medical advances, weaponry, laws, secret histories, women in Byzantine history, and so much more! We then took a journey back to the Arabian Peninsula in the 6th century to learn about the geography of that region of the world and the origins, beliefs, and spread of Islam. We asked ourselves where good ideas come from as we learned about how the invitation to many different kinds of scholars from all over Afroeurasia to the city of Baghdad made way for many kinds of scientific, philosophical, and mathematical developments. Next, we will be moving further east to the Song and Tang dynasties of China and then to feudal Japan. 

In ELA, we’ve been exploring the idea of who is considered “in” or “out” and the various struggles people face when they want to belong. We read the novel The Outsiders with a focus on analyzing evidence from the text to generate ideas and questions for Socratic Seminars. We’ve read various short stories that deal with this idea of who is in and who is out as well as the ideas of individuality and conformity. This will lead to our study of I am Malala next. In writing, the students drafted their own novels as we participated in NaNoWriMo and then engaged in peer editing and self-revision to finalize an “exceptional excerpt” from their drafts. 

Students show their Byzantine Empire research through rap, music, and puppetry, and a thoughtful discussion about The Outsiders.

Mrs. Servin-West 7th grade Science: In 7th grade life science students are finishing up a unit on cells. Students started the unit by learning about Cell Theory and the differences between unicellular and multicellular organisms. Afterwards students learned about how the structures inside cells allow them to function. They demonstrated their knowledge of cell structures by creating various analogies to represent a cell such as the “Cell as Disneyland."

Afterwards, students started learning about how the cells in multicellular organisms differentiate to do different jobs. In the images below you will see students using the new microscopes purchased by our PFC to compare different types of human tissue so they can see how our cells have differentiated to perform different tasks. Students further demonstrated their understanding of how multicellular organisms function and how cells differentiate, by designing their own multicellular organisms and modeling the differentiated cells inside them! Even though students invented imaginary organisms (like the pancake cow shown below), all their design choices were justified using their knowledge of how real cell structures work. 

Currently, students are using microscopes to explore cell transport in onion cells. As we move into the second semester we will begin learning more about body systems, genetics, and evolution!
6th Grade Update

Mrs. Rinaldi 6th grade ELA/SS: Happy 2022! I hope everyone is staying healthy.  We wrapped up Ancient Egypt before winter break. We mummified 3 lucky chickens and hopefully sent them off to the field of reeds for eternity. Currently, the students are working on Informative Essays. We learned the various ways informative text can be presented and structured. Students are choosing their own topics to create a writing experience that is engaging to them. We are also currently working on Independent Study Social Studies mini research projects. Students are choosing a civilization (India or Hebrew Kingdoms) and using guiding questions from the History Framework and choice research questions to learn about these civilizations. They will also create something connected to their interests (art, music, engineering, math, science, writing, etc) and their research. Next, we will venture to Ancient China and also be writing fantasy traveler’s tales about adventures on the Silk Road. Thank you for all your support! 

Mrs. Herrera 6th grade Science: Over the last two months, our focus in science has been to “Think like a Geologist.” Students have been learning about Earth’s systems and Earth’s processes that result in how our Earth CHANGES over time. Learning was centered around the science concept of density. Classes observed the dancing raisins and discovered how convection currents work. Students participated in several convection currents labs using different temperatures and food coloring to see the currents in action. This connects with how currents in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere can result in natural phenomena that exists on our planet. The students worked with their peers to create density columns using a variety of liquids. The last month, our main topics have been focused on the time and scale and how these changes occur as well as the rate. Weathering, erosion, and deposition are the key factors to some of the major changes that can lead to larger events. Our scientists investigated erosion by determining how different factors can increase or decrease the rate of materials washing away, as well as the rate of weathering by testing an alka-seltzer “rock” and analyzing the dissolve times. We also examined the differences between mechanical weathering and chemical weathering through our rock shake lab and collected data to draw conclusions. As the holidays approached, we did some candy cane experiments and also created our own Borax crystal ornaments for the students to take home. Currently, we are studying about Earth’s plate tectonics and will be analyzing evidence to engage in argumentative writing and will focus on the CER (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning) model. 
Classroom updates
December GATE White Elephant Gift Exchange
In early December, GATE students and their families met at the park for a community action event (donating items to The My Stuff Bags Foundation) and for a White Elephant Gift Exchange. The turnout was great. Thanks to everyone who participated!

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