A conversation with: Lorraine FREELAND, Karen TUSSIOT, Henda CHEIKHROUHOU and Leslie BENCHETRITE.
This week we are meeting with some of the members of the LFSF PA, the school’s parent association. All LFSF parents are members of the association that works in tight collaboration with the administration to support the philosophy, programs and activities of the school. It encourages a spirit of inclusion and cooperation on all campuses through the organization of projects in partnership with the school leadership and its academic teams.
LFSF : Hello Lorraine, Karen, Henda, Leslie! Together with Perrine and Isabelle, you represent the LFSF Parent Association, or PA.
Could you introduce yourselves and explain your role within the LFSF Parent Association?
Lorraine, ASH co-Lead: I have enjoyed volunteering at the school for years, in various capacities, and I joined the PA officially last school year as an ASH Co-lead to promote volunteer-based greening initiatives. I have four kids: three at Ortega, and one at Ashbury. My current Co-lead role is similar to last year’s, though with more focus on exploring socially-distant, safe events and community-building efforts during this time. I am also helping the PA refresh its website on the portal, update information and documents that are resourceful for parents, and continue the greening efforts once we have a safe mechanism in place allowing for campus plantings, among other efforts.
Karen, SAU Lead: I’m the Founder of “Les Parisiennes in SF” a second hand marketplace for selling and buying all the nice Parisian brands that we miss so much in SF! Having more sustainable, green shopping habits is not easy... I try to help with that!! I have a 4 year-old little boy in MS and it’s our 3rd year at Sausalito. I joined the PA last year, focusing on creating a nice community with great events and I was part of the Green initiatives! I initiated the Halloween Costume SWAP (and then organised it at ASH), organised “le Café des Parents” every first Friday morning of the month (parents really enjoyed that moment - we miss it a lot), the Hot Chocolate for Christmas, the “Galette des Rois” and the ‘Buffet’ for the Taste week was the last one in March. This year, I miss all of that of course, but we are all trying within the PA team to bring support and love to our community. The Drive-in Movie was a success. This week, we are focusing on Halloween: we are preparing Goodie Bags with surprises for the 161 kids of SAU and we are transforming our vegetable garden into a haunted graveyard!! I have great support from the volunteer parents of the SAU campus and I’m so thankful for their help!
Henda, ORT co-Lead: I’m a project leader in the pharmaceutical industry with 10 years experience in the clinical research field. My work is focused on patient safety ethically and physically, when leading my projects. I have 2 kids on Ortega, in Gr 8 and 11. After our move to SF a year ago, I joined the Ortega’s PA as a Co-lead. I found the PA to be very supportive to parents and fostering the cohesion and the inclusion of each parent and newcomer to the community. I learned a lot and I loved this concept. So I participated by leading the weekly “Café des parents” , in person then by Zoom, during the shelter-in-place. I initiated the successful weekly Apéro Zoom meeting during that period to prevent parents from feeling isolated. I also led, with the precious help of our volunteers, the Christmas Hot Chocolate, and the Brioche des Rois events.
This year, as a Co-lead, I have presented the PA to new families in several B2S events. I led volunteer meetings by exploring how to keep traditional PA events and transform them in order to be compliant with sanitary regulations. I helped build community by including the parents PA members in PA activities at each event and participated actively in the successful drive-in movie event which attracted hundreds of families from the 3 campuses. Currently, I am working with volunteers on the “welcome back to school“ tote bag project for Middle school, on Ortega campus . We’re looking forward to organizing as many projects as possible this year to bring the community together and keep us connected and tuned, despite the restrictions.
Leslie, ORT co-Lead : I arrived in San Francisco 4 years ago (after spending 3 years in Shanghai), and got involved in the Parent Association right away! During the first 2 years, I was the PA Secretary and Communication Manager. For the past 2 years, I have been co-leading the PA initiatives on the Ortega campus where my 3 children are, in 12th Grade. I joined the PA because I like this team spirit at the service of the community of parents, and children. The goal of the PA is to create events that bring people together. Since my involvement in the PA, I have tried to reproduce some events and modus operandi that we had in Shanghai, such as the creation of the WhatsApp Groups (one for Ortega, and the other for Ashbury / Sausalito), the hot chocolate for Christmas, a Garage Sale (only one edition). I took part in many other events: Kermesse, Winter Fair, Galette des Rois .... It should be remembered that all these events are possible thanks to the unconditional support of all our volunteers, without whom the PA would not exist !!
The PA team and volunteer parents during an event for Ortega students [JAN 2020]
LFSF : The Parent Association just organized a very successful, fun and safe community event: a drive-in evening featuring two recent and popular French movies (with US subtitles). Can you tell us how this project came to be?
Lorraine: This was all Perrine’s idea! I loved it, and became excited about working with her, our PA team, the TLF and Advancement in honing in on possible movie choices (we needed to have the rights to the movie, which also had to be in a Blu-ray format to fit the requirements at Fort MasonFlix). The theater at the Lycee is well-connected with an amazing artistic repertoire, and it was serendipitous that we be able to create a community event celebrating a part of the school’s culture-- and this safely, from our vehicles!
Henda: Perrine’s idea allowed many of us to work on this exciting project and a lot of work was done by Lorraine and the team to build a strong collaboration with the TLF and Fort mason Flix around the organization and the registration for the event. Personally, I helped with the parents confirmation, and in the communication of the event and the registration process for parents. A wonderful dynamic, happy to be part of this team!
The PA team and TLF Director in preparation of the Drive-in evening [OCT 2020]
LFSF: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in our community and beyond. To which extent has the Parent Association been affected and how is it adapting to the new normal?
Lorraine: We’re currently faced with many uncertainties, but one thing we can keep strong is the network of connections and communication among parents, teachers, staff, students… The PA thrived by bringing the school community together at various events throughout the school year. This year poses a real challenge; but also brings opportunities. A positive aspect is that we can find new, fun ways to stay connected and bring people together- virtually, safely, creatively.
Henda: The PA needs to be particularly creative this year, while following thoroughly the city and the school’s recommendations . We are trying to keep our events or replace them with alternatives. For example, the new parent potluck will be replaced by a restaurant when the city allows for it. Welcome back to school tote bags will replace the Christmas hot chocolate. The teacher appreciation event is also being reimagined.
LFSF : How does this exceptional school year look like for the Parent Association? What next project could you tell us about, in exclusivity for our Headline readers?
Lorraine: We are currently implementing some Halloween ideas, which won’t require parents to be on campus for any part of it. This entails fun, creepy video-based and musical elements that the students will experience on Oct 30 on their campus, as well as prepackaged goodie bags for the younger classes. The Ortega campus is currently running a Middle and High-school Halloween photography contest, with $100 prizes for the winners. We are also planning a second Drive-in Movie in the third week of November, and we are looking into online game nights or fun-themed virtual parent socials. With Thanksgiving coming upon us, we’re putting together ideas to thank our amazing staff and administration. Stay tuned!
#HowWeGotThis is our series of testimonials showing how our teams and community are pioneering, reinventing themselves and imagine new ways to operate in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.