Noe Valley Voice April 2005


The Voice School Report features news from three local public schools--Fairmount Elementary, Alvarado Elementary, and James Lick Middle School--provided by school parents and volunteers.


New Mural Features Endangered Turtle

That striking new ceramic tile mural facing Castro Street on the west wall of the James Lick gym was created by sixth-grade students working with muralist Josef Norris of Kid Serve, a project of the Every Child Can Learn Foundation, and Lina Hancock, our after-school program coordinator. The students studied a variety of public art projects and decided to create a simple design that would fit in with the neighborhood and be visible from a distance.

After learning about endangered species for four weeks, the student artists selected the green turtle as their subject, because in the past five years turtle populations have been decimated by the actions of humans. They hope the green turtle's similarity to the friendly sea turtle featured in the animated film Finding Nemo will sensitize others to the plight of these animals.

Sixth-graders who created the mural include Madeline Buck, Carlos Cake, Gabriela Claymore, Mirna Jiron, Ryan Loughran, Ava Mattox, Erika Mejia, C.C. Pena Govea, Jack Rodriguez, Paulina Personius, and Mariah Weaver. The project was funded by Starbucks Grants for Giving and the Walter & Elise Haas Fund. A small dedication ceremony and reception for the young artists will take place in April.

Bard Draws Families to Oregon

Thirty students, staff, and parents will travel to Ashland April 15 to 17 to attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Highlights of the annual trip will include the Bard's classic portrayal of a brilliant and corrupt king, Richard III, and August Wilson's award-winning play Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, an exploration of race relations set in a Chicago recording studio in 1927. The trip will conclude with snowshoeing at scenic Crater Lake.

Carwash and Barbecue to Benefit Yearbook

Weather permitting, the James Lick kids will hold a car wash and barbecue on Saturday, April 9, in the upper schoolyard to raise funds for next year's yearbook. A splash through the suds will cost $5 for a car, and $8 for each SUV or truck. While you're waiting, you can munch on a plate of delicious food for $5. The bubbly event begins at 8:30 a.m. and continues until 2:30 p.m. You can enter through the gate on 25th Street between Castro and Noe streets.

Rebuilding Together Workday

On Saturday, April 30, 100 volunteers from Rebuilding Together San Francisco will be on campus to make improvements to the school's auditorium and little theater; trim trees and plant flowers; and create a Memorial Wall with benches for the students to use in the schoolyard. On Rebuilding Weekend, teams of volunteers work under the direction of architects, designers, and space planners to create efficient, stimulating work environments for nonprofit agencies and public schools that serve a diverse community of San Franciscans.

Corporate sponsors of James Lick's project include AMB Property Corp., SAP, Union Bank of California, and the award-winning architecture firm Gensler.

Keeping in Touch

Please contact Denise Rueda to confirm times and dates for the James Lick Merchants/Community Alliance meetings and Coffee with the Principal as the school year draws to a close. Call 695-5675, or our message number, 436-0349. Drop by the school at 1220 Noe Street at Clipper Street and visit Parent Liaison Denise Rueda in Room 108. Thank you for sharing your ideas, talents, enthusiasm, and support.

--Sue Cattoche


Zooming Down the Road to Literacy

With the help of computers, storybooks, and theater scripts, Fairmount Elementary continued along its path toward schoolwide literacy last month.

A grant written by a parent has provided the school with three new computers, funds to train parents in computer and tutoring skills, and a stipend for each parent who becomes a tutor. In March the school began offering training to any parent who wished to help tutor students. The program is designed to support literacy skills through technology.

"We are aiming to reach families who don't have access to computers at home," says Principal Karling Aguilera-Fort. "The focus is on closing the achievement gap between English-language learners and native English speakers."

The tutoring covers reading and writing in both English and Spanish, and will be held after school two days a week.

Also this spring, most of the school's kindergarten families showed up for a literacy night, to learn how to encourage reading at home, tell stories, and devote time to talking about the meaning of the stories.

In addition, the students are getting a literacy lift from Brava Theater. Drama teachers from the Mission District theater are coming to the school to teach performing arts.

"Students and teachers are excited, and students will be able to perform for the rest of the community," says Aguilera-Fort. "They are practicing and memorizing their lines."

Each grade level meets with the Brava teachers twice a week.

--Jan Goben


April Is Gay Pride and Family Diversity Month at Alvarado!

In April we will celebrate the contributions that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people make to our school and our community. Even in our enlightened city, children and adults often use injurious speech and have uninformed opinions about alternate lifestyles.

Following the SFUSD School Health Gay Respect curriculum to ensure that our students are informed and treat all individuals with respect, we will take this time to remind our students that there are many kinds of families in our school and in our world: families with two fathers or two mothers, single-parent families, "traditional" families, foster families, kids living with their grandparents and so forth.

Events planned for Gay Pride and Family Diversity Month include a Rainbow Families Potluck on Thursday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the second-floor lounge; and our first-ever Gay Pride and Family Diversity Assembly, Friday, April 22, at 9 a.m.

Classrooms will present acts celebrating our diverse community. There may even be an appearance by the S.F. Cheer cheerleading squad!

Putting the Fun in Fundraising

Following a very successful auction in February, we had a wonderful time raising funds for the American Heart Association with a Jump Rope for Heart event on March 10. Everyone was invited to jump rope on that afternoon, with most of the kids participating and encouraging the adults to join in--even our principal!

The annual Alvarado Rummage Sale will take place on Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the school cafeteria. The public is invited to attend. Please enter the cafeteria on 22nd Street.

The PTA General Assembly will meet on Tuesday, April 5, at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria.

How to Contact Us: Call the school at 695-5695 or visit the school's web site at Or drop by to chat with Principal David Weiner on the first Friday of each month from 8 to 9 a.m. in the school cafeteria. The address is 625 Douglass Street at Alvarado Street.

--Rebecka Hernandez Wright

President, Alvarado Elementary School PTA


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