Noe Valley Voice October 2005

School Report

This month's School Report introduces the new principal at Alvarado, and gives an update on the happenings at James Lick and Fairmount schools.


Alvarado Welcomes New Principal

With warm hearts and open arms, the Alvarado School community welcomed Clementina Durón as its new principal this fall. Ms. Durón comes with an extensive background in education that includes more than 15 years experience as a principal for both elementary and middle schools. Most recently, she taught a first-grade Spanish-immersion class at San Francisco's Cesar Chavez Elementary School.

"Alvarado is a very enriching place," says Durón. "Students have a variety of subjects to enhance their learning. Key to this is the parent involvement through the PTA. This gives the students a broader program to enrich the whole child above and beyond test scores. Test scores are important, but parents' involvement brings other areas to the school. Also, Alvarado has fantastic teachers!"

The new principal has worked closely with the teaching staff, site council, and PTA to initiate Junior Great Books, a new schoolwide literacy enrichment program. Durón used this program to great effect at Cesar Chavez and is looking forward to the teachers going through a two-day training program in October funded by the PTA.

"This is a literacy program," says Durón, "that focuses on enrichment through literary analysis, reading comprehension, introducing new vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. With the addition of this program we hope to further bridge the gap by the time all students leave the fifth grade."

Junior Great Books is also in keeping with the newly adopted districtwide program On Our Way to English.

Test Scores Up in Most Areas

The school community was excited to hear that the test scores from last year were higher than the year before in all areas except reading for the English learners, whose needs are already being addressed by the school's new literacy programs. Congratulations, students, and thank you to the teachers and staff at Alvarado for your commitment and hard work!

First PTA Meeting

A large turnout greeted our first PTA meeting, where we learned that the PTA raised an amazing $151,000 last year to fund programs for this year, including art teachers, a dance teacher, the new literacy program, and a motor skills program for the younger grades. Thank you to everyone who helped us achieve this goal, and please read on to see how you can help with this year's fundraising efforts.

How You Can Help!

We always need more volunteers at Alvarado and there are many ways to get involved, from reading to a group of students in the library, to working with a student on improving reading on a one-to-one basis.

Please contact Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Barry, 467-4748 or, for more information.

You can also help just by purchasing your groceries and signing up with E-Script when you shop at Safeway. For more information, contact the school office at 695-5695. If you are a Rainbow Grocery shopper, up to 10 percent of your purchase will go to Alvarado if you pre-purchase Rainbow scrip before shopping. Contact Carin Remstedt at 309-8115 or

Calendar Events

School tours for prospective families take place on Tuesday mornings from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. beginning Oct. 4.

The Oct. 11 PTA meeting will begin at 6 p.m. with a focus on greeting new families and reviewing the various committees of the PTA.

How to Contact Us: Call the school at 695-5695 or visit our web site at The address is 625 Douglass Street at Alvarado Street.

--Lisa Barry

Alvarado School Volunteer Coordinator


Back to School Night

Parents attending Back to School Night at James Lick Middle School on Sept. 20 experienced what it is like to be a student as they rushed through crowded halls to get to classes in the same three-minute passing periods their children face every day. Tardy adults learned the consequences for late arrival: detention!

Those attending the evening appreciated the emphasis on clearly stated rules with consistent enforcement, improved resources for home-school communication, and innovative new classes. For example, some teachers are using, an Internet service that allows students and their parents to monitor their actual grades and class standings. Also, a new Media Arts class hopes to develop sophisticated analytical and critical-thinking skills through hands-on projects working with film, video, and other media.

In brief 10-minute presentations, the teachers managed to explain class content and goals while conveying their very strong commitment to their students and the school. In addition, they encouraged parents to participate in their children's learning and to support fundraising activities such as Café Lick, which sells snacks to City College students in the evenings. They added that some programs wouldn't exist without students' and families' generous help.

Coffee with Clarity

Principal Carmelo Sgarlato hosted the year's first Coffee with the Principal on Friday, Sept. 30, with a presentation designed to demystify the STAR test results recently mailed to families. Because the reports were not translated for non-English-speaking families, a question-and-answer session especially for them was also included. A discussion of strategies families can use to support their children's progress in language arts and math followed, with translation provided in Spanish.

The next chat will take place Oct. 14 in the Parent Liaison Office, Room 108, 1220 Noe Street, from 9 to 10 a.m.

Costa Rica Trip Planned

Students participating in James Lick's International Travel Program will visit Costa Rica in February 2006. On Sept. 22, families of seventh- and eighth-grade students planning to make the trek met for the first of many times to discuss fundraising and preparations for the trip.

Spanish-Immersion at Mission High

Did you know there will be a new Spanish-immersion high school program opening at Mission High School in August of 2005? Learn about this exciting new project and share your ideas for its development on Wednesday, Oct. 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Mission High School on 18th Street. Eighth-grade Spanish-immersion and Spanish bilingual students and their families are especially encouraged to attend. Tours, food, childcare, and translation services will be provided.

Art Sale at Harvest Fest

Looking for something snazzy to hang over that boring old couch? Got some cracked plaster you need to hide? You'll find exciting works of art created by James Lick students for sale at the school's booth at the first-ever Noe Valley Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The event takes place on 24th Street in "Downtown" Noe Valley. Be there early for the best selection!

Sweep Those Cares Away

A school cleanup and beautification day is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5. Families and neighbors are invited to join us.

Tours of James Lick Middle School for prospective families will start this month. Please come to the Parent Room at 9 a.m. Thursday mornings, from October through December. You will have the opportunity to meet current Lick families, see the school, and meet with our principal. E-mail to confirm or to arrange another time. You may also stop by the James Lick information table at the Public School Fair on Saturday, Oct. 29, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

--Sue Cattoche

School volunteer


Sports Program Kicks Off Year

The kids were running through the yard with Principal Karling Aguilera-Fort leading the way, taking big strides as he encouraged Fairmount students to keep up. Broad smiles lit up their faces as they made a huge arc through the upper yard.

The new school year has seen the addition of a comprehensive physical education program called Sports 4 Kids. No longer will recess be a time of aimless milling and running about. The program has brought a fun-filled yet challenging curriculum to develop Fairmount students' physical fitness and ability. Longtime P.E. consultant Chris Loughran will also continue to work with students and staff and is coordinating with the new program to plan for maximum impact.

"I am glad Sports 4 Kids has initiated activities with Fairmount Elementary," says Aguilera-Fort. "Sports 4 Kids is bringing structures, games, and monitoring for the different recesses within the school day. Sports 4 Kids is also providing after-school activities for students."

Funding for the program comes from the benefit performance of the musical The Lion King, donated by Carole Shorenstein Hays last year.

Benefit Party at the Mansion

On Labor Day weekend, Upper Noe Valley art collector, band-saw player, and bon vivant Bob Pritikin had a few hundred of his closest friends over to his mansion on Chenery Street to hear Eddie Fisher sing, as well as to mingle with former Mayor Willie Brown and Angela Alioto, Mark Leno, and other politicos as they all picnicked on barbecued chicken and potato salad.

The news behind the scenes was that Pritikin, whose splendid mansion with an indoor swimming pool adjoins the Fairmount School campus, had agreed to offer the mansion for a school fundraising party to be held Nov. 18. Details to come, but save the date in case you've ever wondered what was behind those walls with the statuettes.

Wash Your Car and Have a Nibble

The long dry summer has left a lot of Noe Valley cars in need of a wash.

In a new twist for this year's event, Fairmount's multicultural community will share their favorite dishes and desserts that you can sample while the school's energetic students and parents give your car that custom wash job. Drive on over Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and enter the yard on Randall Street between San Jose Avenue and Chenery. Enjoy those homemade tamales.

--Tom Ruiz

Fairmount School parent and volunteer


Alvarado Elementary School
625 Douglass Street at Alvarado
Clementina Durón, Principal

James Lick Middle School
1220 Noe Street at 25th Street
415-695-5675 or 415-436-0349
Carmelo Sgarlato, Principal

Fairmount Elementary School
65 Chenery Street at Randall
Karling Aguilera-Fort, Principal