The Compass

From the Head of School

We have come to the end of our second full week of school and our students have gotten back into the rhythm and routines of school life, be it on line for Lower and Middle School or on campus for the Early Years Program. To end this second full week of classes, we had our first exciting Friday morning assembly, which we held in the Junior Kindergarten classroom and on line. As part of the assembly we were delighted to meet our Junior Kindergarten students, who shared a project that they had completed as part of their first IB unit. It was great to see so many aspects of our educational goals come into play. Students were risk takers by speaking in front of an audience, they were caring to their classmates and demonstrated good listening skills. During the assembly Ms. Shibel and Ms. Green told us about the Student Council for this year and invited students in grades 5-8 to apply for positions on this body. Elections will take place in a few weeks and we will meet the candidates at our next assembly.


All parents are urged to attend Back-To-School-Night, which this year will be done using Google Meet. We have divided this event into two evenings, one for Lower School and one for Middle School. The details are the following:

Middle School Back to School Night will take place on Wednesday, September 16 starting at 7:00 pm. Parents are asked to use their child’s school email to access the Google Meet for their grade level.

Lower School Back to School Night will take place on Thursday, September 17 starting at 7:00 pm. Parents are asked to use their child’s school email to access the Google Meet. There will be two presentations, the first by the special subject teachers starting at 7:00 pm. This will be for all parents. The second will be by the homeroom teachers.

Preschool parents can join the Lower School event at 7:00 pm to listen to the Specialist teachers talk about their programs. Instructions for setting up your student's school email will be sent to you next week.


Staff Spotlight

Meet Luisito

Each week we have been introducing a member of our talented and dedicated staff or faculty. This week we are pleased to introduce Luisito Buhey, who is responsible for school maintenance. Luisito has been responsible for school maintenance at CHA for the past 6 years and we are very pleased that he moved with us to our new campus on Zelzah Ave. Being responsible for school maintenance is a very important and diverse job. Luisito is extremely talented in many areas and able to solve electrical, plumbing and mechanical problems as well doing projects that involve building, painting and wiring. He is very good at problem solving and coming up with clever and unique ways to get things done and keep everything functioning at school. In recognition of his outstanding work this summer in getting the campus ready and never missing a single day, he was awarded a certificate of appreciate at our assembly this morning. 

Calendar Events

Next Week

  • Monday, 9/7 - Labor Day, No School

  • Friday, 9/11 - Friday Virtual Assembly at 8:30 am


From the Head of School

First Week of Lessons at GPS

Our academic program took off with a full week of scheduled on-line classes for our students in Grades K-8. Because of the months of practice with distance-learning that we had at the end of last year, getting back in gear was not that hard. While we have encountered a few technical glitches, these have been addressed and overall our first week of the school year was a great success. We thank all of our hard working faculty and staff and supportive parents for the launch of yet another outstanding school year. Although we currently cannot hold classes on campus we will keep you updated as to the information we have regarding the safe re-opening of schools. We are participating in weekly telebriefings with LA County health officals for information on K-12 schools. As of Monday, August 31 the county of Los Angeles will be monitored using a four-tiered, color-coded system that tracks the number of new cases each day and the percentage of positive cases of those tested. Although LA County is under the required positivity rate of 8%, we are at 5.1%, we have not met the requirement for new cases per 100,000. We are currently at 13 cases but need to be 7 or fewer. Once we have met those benchmarks, LA County will need to be on the red tier for 2 weeks to be able to open schools, we are currently at purple. For this reason, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has not made their waiver applications available to any schools in LA County. As soon as they do we will be submitting our application. In the meantime, GPS is getting ready for a safe return to school. Our faculty and staff are being trained in COVID-19 prevention, safety protocols, and containment strategies. We will continue to inform our families and update you on any health and safety protocols that will be used while student are on campus. As a reminder, our current plans can be found on the GPS website. School Assemblies Whole school assemblies take place on Friday mornings. For the time being, the assemblies will be held online starting at 8:45 am and our first scheduled assembly will be on Friday, September 11th. We will send out a link next week so that anyone interested can watch the assembly from a distance.

Back to School Night

All parents are urged to attend Back-To-School-Night, which this year will be done via Zoom. We have divided this event into two evenings; one for Lower School and one for Middle School. The dates and times are the following: Middle School Back to School Night - Wednesday, September 16 at 7:00 pm Lower School Back to School Night - Thursday, September 17 at 7:00 pm Preschool parents are welcome to join the Lower School event on September 17 at 7:00 pm to listen to the Specialist teachers talk about their program.

Labor Day

We will be closed on Monday for the holiday. Have a great and safe long weekend!!


Staff Spotlight

Preschool with Ms. Donna

Each week we have been introducing a member of our talented and dedicated teaching faculty. This week we are pleased to introduce Donna Furukawa, who teaches our Preschool class. We are fortunate to have such a qualified member of our team. Donna received her Early Childhood Credential in Florida before moving to California in 2002. She began teaching preschool 28 years ago and taught for five years at First Presbyterian Preschool. Donna loves watching children as they discover new things and strives to make school a fun, exciting place to be. When she is not teaching, Donna enjoys volunteering with the children at church, where her husband is a pastor. She also loves spending time with her three adult children and eight grandchildren (plus one on the way!). We are happy that Donna has joined the GPS team. 




Don't forget to send us a photo of your student to be added to our community board. Preschool can bring a photo in to their teacher. K-8 students can drop off their photo in the office or email it to gmitas@gpsschool.org.


GPS is committed to doing our part to reduce landfill waste and is collecting crayons/markers that would otherwise be discarded, for recycling. Drop off crayons/markers, used or unused to the main office any time during the school year. Last year we collected over 15 lbs!! Check out the Crazy Crayon website or contact Ms. Fonvergne for more information.



Schools all across LA County have been opening the academic year with Virtual Assemblies. At GPS we had assemblies for both Lower and Middle school students and families this past Wednesday. While getting a head count of participants is not that easy, it would seem that most of the students and parents logged in and listened to the GPS faculty and staff talk a bit about themselves and their goals for the school year. The big theme was that of a new adventure and of course we highlighted a number of the IB attributes that we would have to practice as we start with a distance-learning program. Mentioned were being open-minded, being a risk taker and being a good communicator. We also thanked Pastor Jim Sillarud and the First Presbyterian Church community for their collaboration in this joint adventure that we are embarking on. The FPP project of repaving the parking lot and the school hard court play area to coincide with the start of the school year is greatly appreciated, and will be much enjoyed and used by our students when we begin attending school on campus.  During the assembly we also gave a shout out to all of the members of the Chatsworth Hills Academy and First Presbyterian Preparatory School transition Board for their hard work in making this dream come true.

I know most of our students and parents were looking forward to being in a classroom again. While our Early Years Program is able to start on campus, for Kinder through Middle School we will begin the year with distance learning as we mentioned. The good news is that in the last few days we have been hearing that the COVID infection rate in LA County is declining and has gone under the threshold level of 200 cases per 100,000. The LA County Health Department has taken a cautious approach and has decided to wait and see if these numbers are sustained in the days ahead. Hopefully this will be the case and they will start the waiver application for K-6 programs. We also hope that LA County will soon be taken off the state watch list, which will allow all grade levels to return to the classrooms. In the meantime, our faculty is well prepared for distance learning and gave much information during student/family orientation. As we make our plans for the next few months, you will receive a survey to give us important data and concerns that you may have with a re-opening of on-campus instruction. Look for details in next week’s COMPASS.

This year we had a unique orientation program with individual teacher-student/family meetings. Getting to meet your teacher in person and seeing what your classroom looks like, is a great way to put the new year into perspective and create the excitement that always accompanies a new school year and a new adventure. I am overjoyed to report that every student showed up for orientation.


Thank you to everyone that brought in a photo for our GPS Community board. It's not too late to be added. Preschool students can bring their photo to class and give it to their teacher. Lower and Middle School families can drop off their 4x6 photo in the office or email it to gmitas@gpsschool.org.


Paving on the main school parking lot will begin next week and should be completed by the end of the week. In the mean time, please continue to use the back parking area and gate. To ensure the security of the campus, this gate will only be open until 8:45. After this time, please come to the front gate by the school office where we will check you in.


You have probably seen information about these camps that help families who cannot support their children with distance learning due to work commitments. First Presbyterian Church has opened a camp in Lee Hall and they already have a number of students attending from various schools. For more information on this I refer you to maryegendler@gmail.com.


Christopher grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley and has always been surrounded by Technology. From childhood video games to navigating college using all the tools Google has to offer, tech has always been a part of his life. He learned much of what he knows leading technology summer camps in Los Angeles in the past years, and his goal is to pass that knowledge on to his students today. He loves helping people with their technology, literature and the San Jose Sharks. He is a graduate at CSU Northridge and has a Bachelor's degree in English.

The summer might be over but many memories linger on. Over the past few days, we have been hearing about some adventures that our students and their families had this summer so we decided to add a section to the COMPASS next week to showcase some fun photos. Please send in a photo with a few sentences to our Admissions Director at gmitas@gpsschool.org and watch for next week’s edition of the COMPASS. Here is what a few of our teachers and staff did this summer.


Mr. Metzger went hiking in Oregon where the wide-open and empty trails guaranteed a social distance of 6 feet. Often it was more like 6 miles. 

Mr. Mendoza took a course in scuba diving where he clearly kept his social distance from any sharks in the area. 

Mrs. Mitas headed to Lake Tahoe for some paddleboarding, kayaking, and tubing. But the best part of her trip was morning yoga on the deck among the pine trees.

Mrs. Shibel (Middle School Science) Early in the summer I flew back east to help a long time friend move from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. Although most of the time was spent packing and unpacking boxes, I was able to escape for one day to spend time on the beach. It lasted only about an hour as a thunder storm came in and required everyone to clear the beach. I made the most of the day by taking the car and going exploring along the Rhode Island coast where I happened upon this light house. Later in the summer, our family welcomed our 6th grandchild, Anthony. Needless to say there was a lot of good cuddle time.