Noe Valley Voice July-August 2007

School Report

Our stringers at James Lick Middle School and Fairmount Elementary report on students and staff who donned caps and gowns and accomplished other feats during 2006-07.


Many Paths to High School

After our eighth-graders crossed the James Lick stage to receive their diplomas on June 8, they began to scatter in 27 different directions. Class of 2007 graduates will attend a remarkable variety of public, charter, parochial, and private high schools, emphasizing technology, the arts, language-immersion, leadership, and rigorous academic programs.

Once again, Lincoln and Lowell top the list of destinations for this year's grads, with 43 of our students bound for Lincoln and 19 going to Lowell. Other popular destinations include O'Connell, 17; School of the Arts and Academy of Arts & Sciences at S.O.T.A., 18; Gateway, 10; and Mission High, 9. Of the remaining 53 students surveyed, 44 are headed for other high schools in the school district, seven opted for private and parochial schools in San Francisco, and two will move to public high schools outside the city.

The James Lick staff, students, parents, and community volunteers worked very hard to improve academic achievement, boost offerings in the arts, and add more elective programs. These gains are reflected not only in higher test scores this year, but also in our families' decisions to continue their children's enrollment in the city's public schools.

Looking Back on a Very Good Year...

We are proud of a very long list of accomplishments this year. Some highlights include creating the new Santana Peace Garden; hosting over 400 attendees at our 75th anniversary celebration; winning citywide honors for student projects in science, writing, and the arts; and placing all of our eighth-graders in algebra classes.

We trained 35 student ambassadors for a new peer-to-peer support program and participated in collaborations with 826 Valencia, the Screen Actors Guild, Blue Bear School of Music, the Marsh Youth Theater, Hands on San Francisco, Hill & Co. Real Estate, Gunther Foundation, San Francisco Beautiful, and the San Francisco Bay Fund. Our sports teams set records in track, went to the playoffs, and won a district championship in soccer.

We installed new windows in the gym, new curtains in the auditorium, two computers with Internet access in the Parent Room, and a new trophy case in the foyer. Students and staff presented "It's My Life," an assembly program dealing with bullying and peer support. The hard-working PTSA raised $17,000 from Café Lick and $14,000 from the annual auction, to help make many of these achievements possible.

Grease Cast Party at Haystack

Forty student actors, musicians, and crew members who participated in the school's recent production of the musical Grease were invited to a wrap party June 11 at Haystack Pizza on 24th Street. Cast members shared stories, photos, and pizza in the restaurant's secluded Greek Room, where they also screened a video of one of their performances.

A Busy Summer Ahead

Through a partnership with the Exploratorium and the San Francisco Bay Fund, 20 of our students will participate in four science "mini-camps" over the summer, where they will be able to build electrical devices and study the ecology of San Francisco Bay.

Some players from our city championship soccer team will go to a one-week "Olympic" training camp where they could receive recognition at the state level. Several students will attend the Aim High summer enrichment program; others are volunteering as junior counselors at camps such as Silver Tree in Glen Canyon. Many of our students will be traveling with their families, while others will be keeping busy at home.

Meanwhile, there will be four programs operating at James Lick. San Francisco Unified School District will have a summer school in the mornings for students who need extra support. City College will host classes two nights per week, and the Community Bridges-Mission Beacon summer activities program will return again this year. In addition, the University of California at Berkeley is offering a Summer Young Writers Camp in the afternoons at James Lick for students entering grades 4 to 8 (www.bayarea

A cadre of Lick parents will staff the Bulldog Café while City College is in session, to help raise funds for next year's school programs. And a devoted group of PTSA members will work together over the summer to ensure a smooth school opening in August and a great 2007-08 school year!

--Sue Cattoche


Fifth-Grade Grads Say ¡Hola! to Middle School

Continuing the recent tradition of holding outdoor graduation ceremonies, Fairmount graduated its 2007 fifth-grade class in a lower-yard ceremony attended by more than 100 family members. Marking the fourth year of Principal Karling Aguilera-Fort's stewardship, the school community noted the tremendous strides the students have made academically, socially, and culturally. As Aguilera-Fort noted, "We have increased our test scores, we have gained more parent participation, and we have become more confident in our decision-making."

Two classes of students graduated fluent in Spanish and prepared to continue their immersion experience in middle school. Our sister school James Lick will receive the bulk of Fairmount's Spanish-immersion students, who are looking forward to joining other Fairmount alumni in the enlarged immersion program at Lick. Other students will be attending Hoover Middle School, which runs a Spanish-immersion class for students who want to continue to develop their linguistic skills. Others will join various public and private middle schools throughout the city. Many committed parents noted that while they will be graduating from Fairmount with their students, they will continue to be active with the school community and participate in annual events such as FiestaVal.

Get Ready for Full Immersion

With the opening of school on Aug. 27, Fairmount will begin its transition to a full Spanish-immersion program for all of its students. This fall's three kindergarten classes will all be taught in Spanish--a departure from the old instructional model, where a third of the classes were taught in English.

Former principal Linda Luevano, now an assistant superintendent for the school district, began the Spanish-immersion program seven years ago. Luevano believes the program has been responsible for turning around the neighborhood image of Fairmount--from a school that was hardly anyone's top choice to one with a long waiting list.

"Fairmount represents the realization of a diverse school community working together to enable students to have the opportunity to learn a second language," said Luevano. "It's wonderful to see the evolution of the program grow."

The school's "all immersion all the time" program will be phased in one grade level at a time over the next five years. When completed, Fairmount will join its Mission District neighbor Buena Vista Elementary in being one of only two all-Spanish-immersion elementary schools in the district.

--Tom Ruiz


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

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

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