Lower School Events

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Open House

The week before school starts students and their families are invited to an open house at the Lower School from 10 to noon to meet and greet their teachers, see the classrooms, and tour the school.

Back-to-School Night

Back-to-School Nights in early fall give parents at each division the opportunity to meet teachers and receive an overview of the program for the school year. This is the time to learn about curriculum, classroom approaches, and extracurricular programs. All parents should plan to attend this parents-only evening.

Parent Conferences

Parent teacher conferences are held three times per year. There is a Get-to-Know You conference in September where you can share information about your child with their homeroom teacher. The next conference is in early November followed by another in early March. In March the first half of the conference is student led. Your child will show you what they have learned and what they find challenging. The second half of this conference is between the parents, the homeroom teacher and a specialist teacher.  Each year the specialist teachers are spread out amongst the various grade levels during the March conferences. In this way, over your child’s five-year Lower School experience, you will hopefully have a chance to chat with each specialist during a parent conference.


Children in the Lower School often celebrate their birthdays by bringing a treat to share, and may choose to make a "birthday book" gift to the library. Children having a birthday party for some but not all classmates are required to make invitations outside of school and are asked to be sensitive to the feelings of those not invited. Teacher help with this is sometimes essential. We also ask that birthday gatherings not leave from school. Families are encouraged to invite all of the boys or girls from their homeroom classrooms if possible so that all are included.

Community Meetings

On most Fridays from 2:20 to 3:00 p.m. all children and faculty attend the community meeting in the library. Singing, storytelling, skits/plays, curricular presentations, and more are shared with the entire Lower School community at this time.

Harvest Festival

Held in late October or early November, Harvest Festival is an opportunity to recognize the value in coming together as a community in a joyful way. It is a celebration of autumn, the harvest and sharing the bounty with others.There will be a bonfire and music, wonderful drums, tinkling chimes and children’s voices rising in poetry and song. Then we’ll roll the oat cake to find out what kind of winter we will have. If it lands on “X” we will have a long cold winter and if it lands on “O” we will have a short mild winter. We’ll follow that with a cookie! We also make a connection to the wider community by holding a food drive and asking children to bring donations for the Oregon Food Bank. Here is a photo gallery of the 2013 Harvest Festival.


This is a performance presented by the entire Lower School in which each child dances, sings, and plays a musical instrument. The performance is scheduled close to winter vacation. It began in 1986 as an all-school event in an attempt to move away from the typical “Christmas pageant” and move towards a performance that honors diverse practice. We deliberately include music that has cultural and historical significance. Each year there are a few new musical pieces and the children help with the choreography on all but a few numbers. Other selections stay the same, serving as anchors of familiarity and predictability for the children.  All parents and immediate family members are invited to this event in the Cabell Center.

Lower School Experiential Days

Experiential Days are a core part of the Catlin Gabel Lower School program. They are held for four days the week before Spring Break and all students are expected to participate. During this week children and teachers venture beyond the classroom to share experiences such as hiking, international culture drama, photography, sewing, detective work and much more. Children are vertically grouped so that ages are mixed.

Additional fees are required for experiential program activities. Financial aid may be available. Applications
for financial aid are included with experiential offerings. Please consult with the director of admission and financial aid if this kind of support is needed.

Students learn how to cook and act like a pirate during Experiential Days.

Portfolio Nights

Portfolio nights are held in grades two through five towards the end of the school year. Students show their parents samples of their work and learning from throughout the school year as part of their evaluation process.

Campus Day

Campus Day is held in April, on or near Earth Day. Students reconnect with their Experiential Days group and under faculty direction make various improvements around the campus such as picking up litter, spreading bark chips in the Fir Grove, washing buses, or planting flowers and trees.

Spring Festival

Each year on the first Sunday of May students, families and faculty are invited to attend Spring Festival. There are many activities such as an inflatable slide & obstacle course, carnival games in the paddock and Fir Grove, fundraisers such as the dunk tank and many performance including some by the Lower School students. There is also food to buy and the annual Honey Hollow Plant Exchange. Click here to see what happened last year.

Pet Show

On this day students share their pets for a brief campus visit at the end of the day. We also have a a virtual pet bulletin board for those students without a live pet. Every dog, cat, gerbil, bird, stuffed animal and frog gets an award!

Lunch Bunches

These are groups that occur during lunch recess and are run by a faculty member. Topics include Lego building (and discussions about power), dealing with changes (such as divorce), coin collecting and crafts.

First Grade Buddies

Seniors are partnered with first graders in the fall and enjoy a trip to the Pumpkin Patch, attend the assembly prior to winter vacation together, and make a trip to the zoo in the spring. This is a well anticipated and savored relationship across divisions.


Seniors and their first grade buddies carved pumpkins in the Fir Grove.


Parent volunteers work with teachers and students to put together a Lower School yearbook each spring, featuring class photos, student poetry, and artwork.

Field Day

Students participate in athletic events for an afternoon during the last week of school.

Service Learning

Each class is involved in a service learning project over the course of the school year. Projects include adopting grandparents in a retirement home, food drives, gleaning orchards to collect fruit for the Oregon Food Bank, and cleaning parks.

A student gleans corn at a local farm to donate to the Oregon Food Bank.