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Fifth- and sixth-grade students and faculty gathered in the Hillsborough GCC on Friday, January 19, to celebrate a culmination of work they completed in the fall. One hallmark of the evening was how the arts were integrated across disciplines. From fifth-grade math projects to sixth-grade writing, students shared work that drew on skills, habits of mind, and content addressed in all of their classes.  

Many sixth-grade students were excited to demonstrate their practiced writing and speaking skills. Throughout the fall, students in Gary Kaplan’s humanities classes used the structure and form of the Declaration of Independence to create their own personal Declarations of Independence. Each speech included a preamble, list of grievances, and formal statement of independence. While many students shared that they were nervous, they also understood the importance of practicing public speaking.

The fifth grade kicked off the evening by staging a protest of sorts on the stage of the GCC. Each student walked across the stage carrying a poster with political art that expressed something they cared deeply about. Many posters were full of peaceful statements — expressing their hopes for a better future and desire for social equity. At the center of the stage, each student stopped to deliver a short speech explaining their poster and its significance to their life.

In the library, fifth-grade math students had beautiful, creative, data-rich work on display for their parents and peers. Each student spent weeks collecting data about sleep, afterschool habits, homework, and food in attempt to simultaneously examine their habits and put their data analysis skills into real-world practice. Inspired by the book Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, math teachers Carolyn Gray and Lissie McAlvey created a project that extended into writing and arts class. Sculptures, creative graphs, and journals full of their work were arranged on the tables for attendees to explore. This work will be explored in an upcoming Visible Learning Project display.

Sixth grader Ludmila N. was thrilled about her science project, which focused on an experiment involving different types of sugar. She was most nervous about her public speaking opportunity in humanities, but acknowledged, “I do see the importance of learning to speak in front of groups of people.” Ludmila started her speech by challenging the audience to consider if we should treat all animals with the same love and care we show our pets. Despite her nerves, she delivered a memorable and powerful statement about her beliefs.

On the morning following culmination, Gary sent an email out to his colleagues that said, “I could not have been prouder of our sixth graders last night during our humanities culmination sessions. Their individual presence in front of the audiences was exceptional. I wish you all could have been there!”

5th and 6th Grade Culmination 2018

Video Highlights


January 24, 2018




6565 Skyline Blvd.
Hillsborough, CA 94010





131 E. 28th Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94403



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