Noe Valley Voice February 2007

School Report

Our volunteer correspondents report that students, teachers, and parents are raring to go this spring at three neighborhood public schools: Alvarado, Fairmount, and James Lick.


It's Read-a-thon Time!

Ready, set, read! Alvarado Elementary School's annual Read-a-thon begins Monday, Feb. 5. For two weeks, our students will be keeping a log of all the time they spend reading. After a child has read for at least one hour, he or she will be entered in the daily prize drawing. The classroom that logs the most minutes wins a class party!

During the first week of the Read-a-thon (Feb. 5 to 9), each student will select a book of his or her own to keep. Fiction, nonfiction, English, and Spanish books at all grade levels will be available to choose from.

The Alvarado Read-a-thon is also a PTA fundraiser. To participate in the fundraiser, children may find sponsors who either pledge a lump sum or make a per-minute pledge. Friends, grandparents, coworkers, and many others get a kick out of helping promote the joys of reading. Contributions benefit PTA programs for all students and are fully tax-deductible. Children do not have to find sponsors to take part in the Read-a-thon! All they have to do is READ!

Fanfare for the Not So Silent Auction

Alvarado invites you to join the school's families and staff at our annual Not So Silent Auction. This year's event takes place on Saturday, March 3, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Fort Mason Conference Center in the Marina District. The highlight of the event is the live auction, which begins at 8:15 p.m. and features artworks by Alvarado classrooms. The silent auction is open from 7 to 10 p.m. and includes donations from many generous merchants and families. Complimentary finger foods and beverages will be served throughout the evening. All proceeds from this event go toward providing excellent academic and artistic programs for Alvarado students and maintaining a safe and attractive learning environment.

Spotlight on Salsa and Foxtrot

The Alvarado Arts Program will once again present a series of Family Art Workshops over the coming months. The workshops will be offered one Saturday per month from February through May. First up is a partner dance session led by our resident dance teacher, Genevieve Feeley. Participants will learn to salsa and foxtrot. These workshops for Alvarado families were made possible by a grant from Art4Moore, a grant program of the Tides Foundation.

Wish List: We need computers (12 or more); basketballs for our fifth-grade teams, plus other playground equipment; CD-tape players, four-drawer filing cabinets, and wind-up flashlights (two of each); three area rugs, three mouse pads, one small computer station, and a ream of paper with three-hole punches. Contact Christina James, 415-759-1401, or Thanks!

--Mara Sieling


Black History Month: A New View

Fairmount Elementary School parents and faculty have been meeting since the beginning of the school year with Principal Karling Aguilera-Fort to plan an African American History Month that will be like no other. Classes will focus on the traditions that were brought from the African continent to Latin America, where they blended with those that existed on this side of the world.

Highlights will include schoolwide study of cuisine and music, often a blend of African and Latin American cultures. The African contribution to Latin America will be a special area of focus.

"Teachers and a group of parents are moving forward an agenda that will showcase the history of our African ancestors and the traditions they brought to America as a continent, from south to north," says Aguilera-Fort.

The monthlong celebration will culminate in an evening of music, including drumming, African dance, and the Fabulous Falcon Choir.

Taking It to the Board of Ed.

Fairmount parent Hydra Mendoza began her school board career with a kickoff installation at Tenderloin Community School in January, along with two other newly elected commissioners, Kim-Shree Maufas and Jane Kim. Mendoza, who has a son at Fairmount and a daughter at James Lick, took her oath of office from His Honor Gavin Newsom, who sang her praises in opening remarks. More than 300 people attended the event, and all three new commissioners pledged to work together to make the school district more open, accountable, and family-friendly. Continuing the Year of the Woman in San Francisco politics, five women now occupy seats on the seven-member Board of Education, in addition to Gwen Chan serving as the first Asian American superintendent (interim).

Hither and Yon

If you see a crowd of four-foot-tall creatures running by you in a blue blur on the streets of Noe Valley, it may well be the Fairmount Flash Running Club. Expanding into its second year, the Flash now comprises over 100 runners under the guidance of parent volunteer coach Matthew Patchell. As winter wanes, the Flash speedsters have been warming up after school on campus and are getting ready to take to the hills and valleys of Noe. The other running club, Girls on the Run, is also gearing up for its spring season. Over one-third of Fairmount's students will be participating in the spring after-school cross-country activity.

--Tom Ruiz


Celebrating 75 Years in Noe Valley!

Named for "the generous miser," a former piano builder who became the richest man in California, James Lick Middle School has been Noe Valley's only public middle school since 1932. The school has maintained a bustling presence in the neighborhood over the years, drawing students from Noe Valley, neighboring Bernal Heights, and across the city from Bayview/Hunters Point to the Sunset.

Today's families are attracted by the school's small size, its Spanish-immersion program, improved academic status, and growing focus on the arts. This spring, a pair of events will commemorate this landmark anniversary.

Silent Auction at the Ministry

To kick off the school's 75th anniversary celebration, the James Lick PTSA will host its annual Silent Auction at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street, on Saturday, March 10, from 6 to 10 p.m. Come join the James Lick community for a lively evening of music and fun, and help raise money to benefit the entire school. Items for auction will include products from Noe Valley merchants, gift certificates for well-known stores and restaurants all over town, professional services, gourmet food baskets, local artists' work, and more. Lick parent and eminent musician Ralph Carney will entertain guests with the acclaimed gypsy jazz group Gaucho. Beer and wine will be on sale, and plenty of good food will be on hand.

Proceeds from the evening will go toward PTSA-sponsored enrichment programs, including student field trips to Mexico and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, participation in San Francisco's Carnaval '07, ongoing classroom curriculum and arts support, and a new Peace Garden in the art deco style that will grace the entire front of the school building. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Please call 415-826-3565 or visit for more details.

Auction Donations Wanted!

Do you have a valuable item or service you'd like to donate to the James Lick 75-year anniversary Silent Auction? We'd love to hear from you. Please contact Nan Foster, 415-822-8680, for more details--and thank you for helping James Lick!

Santana at Peace Garden Dedication

Save Saturday, May 12, for our official 75th Anniversary Celebration at the school. Alumnus Carlos Santana has agreed to make a brief appearance for the dedication of our new Peace Garden in front of the school. Watch this space for additional information about alumni connections, student performances, and other ways to participate. Neighbors are invited to join us to see the inside of our beautiful art deco building and plans for the new garden. Alumni, maybe you'll find your old locker!

Wish List: With our big anniversary in mind, we'd love to find pictures, yearbooks, trophies, report cards, stories from neighbors, parents, or grandparents who attended the school, and any other artifacts of our school's rich history. (Sadly, the school's archives were lost during relocation and remodeling activities many years ago.)

News and Notes

Chat with the Principal: Meet with Principal Carmelo Sgarlato Friday, Feb. 16, at 8:30 a.m.

Annual Mexico Trip Begins Feb. 18! Adios, Amigos!

March Previews: Find youth camps and youth employment opportunities at the San Francisco Summer Resource Fair at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Saturday, March 3, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. And don't forget our Silent Auction at the Noe Valley Ministry on March 10!

On the Web:

--Sue Cattoche


Alvarado Elementary School
Gene Barresi, Principal
625 Douglass Street at Alvarado

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

James Lick Middle School
Carmelo Sgarlato, Principal
1220 Noe Street at 25th Street