Tag Archives: Bret Harte Elementary School

Bret Harte’s Librarian Continues to Spread the Love of Reading on Library Lawn Meetups

Nikki Capshaw was hired as the school librarian at Bret Harte Elementary in May of 2019. When COVID swooped over the nation in mid-March she reached out to families to offer a personal lawn library meet up where she could come and read in their front yards, socially distanced, while still providing the kids with some normalcy.

Nikki is not new to the Burbank school district, having raised two daughters in the area, both attending Roosevelt, Jordan, and Burroughs. She has been PTA President, founded multiple Booster Clubs, served on the Facilities Oversight Committee, and volunteered for Choir.  Her love of story brought her back to school where she received her MFA in Screenwriting from Cal State Northridge.

When Burbank schools closed and students were adapting to distance learning, Nikki reached out to families to volunteer her services as a community member by reading to the kids.  Some families felt more comfortable connecting via zoom, while others enjoyed safely distanced storytime on their lawns. “I love reading to the students and helping them develop a love of reading by guiding them to books they might connect with. Nothing makes me happier than when kids come up to me and excitedly tell me how much they love a book I suggested,” said Capshaw.

Nikki has been serving over 20 families during quarantine, providing weekly meetups to read books like The One and Only Ivan, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Aesop’s Fables, Charlotte’s Web, and more. “I wanted to do something to help the Bret Harte families have a slice of normal in a very not normal situation. And as part of their school week, every student comes to the Library with their class and I read. This seemed like an extension of that,” added Capshaw.

The future of school libraries and librarians have been a subject at recent school board meetings and Nikki hopes that both will continue to be funded. When school was in session she would welcome kids into her library during lunch to provide a quiet and safe place for the students to read and discuss books with her. “Many children don’t have the opportunity to go to a public library and for them, their school library is where they are able to freely explore the world of literature,” said Capshaw, who also believes in teaching the kid’s library etiquette so that it stays with them forever.

With the new school year, Nikki is still volunteering her time to some Bret Harte families, continuing to bring the love of reading and a sense of normalcy to her students.

Bret Harte Elementary Open House Engages Children With STEM Activities

Bret Harte Elementary School turned their Open House into an all evening event that brought many families out to enjoy the festivities. Families brought blankets and picnicked on the grass, enjoying food from Sandoval Tacos and Rounds Burger while kids laughed and played with friends.

Photo by Ashley Erikson

Curriculum specialist, Nicole Rippee, organized S.T.E.M. activities for the kids on the front lawn of the school for the hour and a half before the classrooms were open to parents.

Kids were challenged to make a Hotwheels ramp to land a car in a bucket and to try and build the highest structure with Keva planks.

Once Open House began, the halls were filled with proud parents and beaming children, showing off the work they had finished throughout the school year.

Some teachers even created scavenger hunts to help parents discover all of their child’s work around the classroom.

As the Open House came to a close, children and their families met out front of the school by the auditorium for their annual egg drop.

Photo by Ashley Erikson

Bret Harte students submitted their egg drop contraption which was designed to help keep the egg safe and protected while being thrown off the school roof.

The submissions came in all shapes and sizes including one with a parachute, one in a bag of popcorn, and even some with balloons.

Mrs. Rippee tossed the contraptions off the roof and into a kiddie pool as Bret Harte Principal, Martha Walter, carefully examined each fallen egg for cracks.

Out of all the amazing submissions by students, not a single egg broke during the fall and a 100% success rate was announced as the kids clapped and cheered.



Bret Harte Elementary School Unveils School Mural, Buddy Benches

Students and staff at Bret Harte Elementary School celebrated the completion of a new school mural on Tuesday, April 26. The mural was created through a collaboration by the school’s Student Council and the Nickterns, college-age interns at Nickelodeon Studios in Burbank.

Bret Harte Elementary students were also surprised with the donation of two Buddy Benches by the studio.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Fifth-graders at the school chose the theme and met several times with the Nickterns to discuss their ideas for the murals, according to Martha Walter, Bret Harte Elementary School Principal.

The Student Council put “a lot of work and heart into the mural planning,” she said.

Nickterns, Nickelodeon staff and Burbank Unified district staff met with Student Council, teachers, and parent representatives from Bret Harte PTA and Boosters in the school library before the mural unveiling ceremony.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“We have been thrilled to work with the Nickterns. Our Student Council presented their ideas for a theme to the staff from Nickeoldeon, and all agreed on a theme of peace and understanding,” commented Walter. “Seeing the interaction between the interns and the kids was wonderful, especially seeing kids learn about how they can express their creative interests and hear their hopes to someday work in a position like the Nickterns.”

“The Nickterns interpretations of the theme were all beautiful, we appreciate the thought that went into each one. The finished mural will long be a reminder to all of the children at Bret Harte to express their creativity and to model the theme of peace and understanding.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“The presentation of the Buddy Benches were a lovely surprise from Nickelodeon,” Walter added.”They remembered the students asking for them, then presented them with two at the presentation yesterday.”

“The kids were so pleased that the Nickterns, Ms. Wu and Mr. Carson heard their request and fulfilled it. I think more than one creative Bret Harte student is looking forward to possibly being a Nicktern in the future.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Spelling Was No Dilemma For Bret Harte Champion

Aubry Hayman

Champion Aubry Hayman

Bret Harte Elementary School in Burbank held their Spelling Bee Feb 7.  When it was all said and done, fifth grader Aubry Hayman was named champion as she correctly spelled the word “dilemma.” for judges.

The Spelling Bee was chaired and sponsored by parents  Sylvia Kelman and Julie Thomas. Thomas is also PTA president at the school.  Judges for the spelling bee were 2nd grade teacher Jenny Niwa, and 3rd grade teacher Dahlia Dobbertin.

Since November,  students have been practicing each week  after school in the library in the Spelling Bee Club in preparations for the contest.  A total of 42 students registered to be a part of the Spelling Bee Club, which is affiliated with the National Scripps Spelling Bee.  A total of 28 students went on to compete in the spelling bee at Bret Harte.

Bret Harte Elementary School was the only elementary/middle school (grades K-8) in Burbank to hold a spelling bee this year.  The winner  from Bret Harte not only represents the school,  but the City of Burbank when the competition goes to the next level.

Hayman will go on to compete in the regional spelling bee held Feb 25, at 5 p.m. at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood.   Winners from other local spelling bees will compete to see who will go on to the finals held in Washington, DC later this year.

Destiny Whitlock (5th Grade) was 2nd runner up while Andre Fabian (4th Grade) was 3rd runner up.