Noe Valley Voice October 2004

School Report


Light and Magic in Autumn

It's a bright late summer day and the James Lick Middle School playground resounds with the lively banter of black-and-white-clad students eager to be together after the long school break. Gradually their lunchtime repartee merges with the heavenly voices of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, who are singing with joyful exuberance as they walk single-file up Clipper Street, the wind teasing the blue-trimmed edges of their billowing white habits. A young mother pushing a stroller past the laundromat on Castro Street pauses to absorb the enchantment of the moment. The typically impatient drivers come to a full stop at the corner. As the nuns' sweet harmonies fade, a bell summons the kids back to class, and the magic ends.

Back to School Night

The crowd of parents and students on hand for Back to School Night on the evening of Sept. 9 overflowed the school's enormous auditorium, with many families mingling over cookies and coffee, signing up for the parent-teacher organization, or picking up literature about programs of interest to their children. Families followed the students' schedules to meet their new teachers and hear the curriculum and grading policies for each of their classes. Teachers stayed on to answer questions from individual parents.

The mother of a new Immersion Program student was happy to see textbooks written in Spanish, while the father of another sixth-grader wanted to know how the math/science teacher modified her curriculum to meet the needs of students of varying ability levels. In the Art Room, parents learned there are five basic shapes, which can be used to draw anything!

Incoming PTSA President Julia Harrison convened the first meeting of the new school year on Sept. 15 with a room full of enthusiastic parents attending. There is a new web site for the group:

Car Wash to Fund Yearbook

Yearbook class teacher Tobi Hacker announced a car wash on Saturday, Oct. 9, to raise money for the publication. The event will be on the Upper Playground off 25th and Castro streets from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and tickets may be purchased in advance for the car wash and a barbecue lunch. Ms. Hacker will teach the yearbook class first semester, followed by a journalism class during the second semester.

Students Celebrate Spirit Week

If you see students walking around wearing funny hats or unusual costumes during the last week of October, that's because they are celebrating Spirit Week. The annual event will conclude Oct. 29 with a dance from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.

Congratulations to the James Lick Girls' Soccer Team, which is undefeated as of this writing! Kudos to their untiring coach, Denise Rueda, who works very hard to keep the team in tiptop shape.

James Lick Merchants/Community Alliance meetings will continue this year on the last Wednesday of the month at 12:30 p.m., with lunch provided. Noe Valley merchants and neighbors are welcome to attend.

Coffee with the Principal: Parents, neighbors, and merchants are invited to join Principal Janice Daniels for coffee and refreshments between 9:30 and 11 a.m. on the last Friday of each month. The chats take place in Room 107 and feature open discussion of school-related issues.

Share Your Ideas, your talents, your enthusiasm, and support for a diverse and caring community. Please visit Room 107 or contact Denise Rueda, Parent Liaison, at 415-695-5675.

How to Contact Us: Call the James Lick message service for same-day response: 415-436-0349. Or drop by the school at 1220 Noe Street, at Clipper Street. Thank you for your support.

--Sue Cattoche


Flag Parade 2004

Andre painted his flag green and yellow, with a large blue oval in the center. He's still holding it high above his head when the last of the children finish their spirited procession around the neighborhood displaying flags representing the diverse origins of the school's families. The round-eyed first-grader might not realize that the 27 white stars in the blue oval replicate the night sky as it appeared over Rio de Janeiro on Nov. 15, 1889, the date when the last emperor was overthrown and Brazil became a republic. Andre likes his flag because his father came from Brazil and his grandmother lives there. She would be very proud of him on this warm September day in 2004, and she'd feel right at home with the many Alvarado families who are here to ensure the success of this annual event.

Kids Rise Up the Ranks

The motto on Andre's flag, Order and Progress, could well apply to the entire school community. Alvarado led the district in achievement test gains last year, and now the school's students have scored substantial academic gains for the second year in a row.

Principal David Weiner is especially pleased that student improvement has been consistent across all language and ethnic groups. He attributes the school's continuing academic success to the efforts of a highly dedicated staff and to support from a well-organized and committed group of parents who care about all of the children, not just their own. Effective after-school programs, standards-based instruction aligned with the curriculum, the addition of a literacy specialist, and a reading recovery program also contributed to sustaining the school's progress.

New This Year: Lifts and Ramps

Over the summer, many site improvements, including lifts and ramps, were added to improve access for disabled students and to accommodate wheelchairs. In addition, the school's success has attracted a well-rounded group of creative and experienced new teachers to the staff.

Tribes Training is Saturday, Oct. 2. Tribes is an all-day, interactive, hands-on workshop to help participants improve communications and increase positive feelings at home, at school, and in the community.

Family Arts Workshop is a day of fun for all ages on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Join Us for Spooky Fun: We'll have a Halloween Parade on Friday, Oct. 29, and a Day of the Dead Assembly on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled for the week of Nov. 1­5. (Be sure to stop by the auditorium to see the magnificent Day of the Dead altar decorated with student art.)

A Parent-School-Community Workday is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6. Call the school for details if you wish to share your skills maintaining our beautiful campus.

Chat with Principal David Weiner on the first Friday of each month from 8 to 9 a.m. in the Alvarado Cafeteria.

School Tours are conducted Tuesday mornings at 8:30 a.m. For more information, call 695-5695 or visit the school's web site at The address is 625 Douglass Street at Alvarado.

--Sue Cattoche


Drive-Thru Rummage Sale

Fairmount families are rolling up their sleeves, cleaning out their closets and toy chests, and getting ready for one of our fall fundraisers--the Car Wash, Rummage Sale, and Bake Sale.

Pull up to the school on Saturday, Oct. 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and let parents and teachers scrub down your car to a shiny perfection while you shop, shop, shop, through a vast array of furniture, toys, clothes, jewelry, and anything else that families haul out. Families will also be making tamales, cookies, and various desserts.

Money raised will be used for P.E., art enrichment, field trips, and library services. Come meet Fairmount families and drive away well-fed, in your snazzy-looking vehicle, filled with new treasures.

School Tours begin in October, every Tuesday at 9 a.m. Come visit the school at 65 Chenery Street, and see for yourself why more and more Noe families are opting to attend this neighborhood treasure. Meet the principal, Karling Aguilera-Fort, observe students and teachers in the classroom, and ask parent guides about the school's philosophies and practices.

Each grade has two Spanish-immersion classrooms and one for English-language development. The special education program is another strong component of the school.

Call the school at 695-5669 for more information about classes or tours.

And by the way, while you're touring the school, check out those floors. Remember, it was dozens of dedicated parents, spending their evenings and weekends this summer, who pulled up the 30-year-old rugs and laid down the colorful new tile, so that students can learn in a cleaner, more pleasant environment for years to come.

--Jan Ruiz


James Lick Middle School

1220 Noe Street at 25th Street


Janice Daniels, Principal

Alvarado Elementary School

625 Douglass Street at Alvarado


David Weiner, Principal

Fairmount Elementary School

65 Chenery Street at Randall


Karling Aguilera-Fort, Principal