Noe Valley Voice April 2008

School Report

An old computer cluttering your closet? What about a set of salad bowls? Your local public school would love to take them off your hands. Read on.


Student Art Takes Off at SFO

Fly through the San Francisco Airport this summer and you might just see a familiar face: that of your kid.

Alvarado student art goes on display June and July in Terminal One's Concourse C baggage claim area. PTA art committee co-chair Anna Burke asked about the space last month, and Tim Taylor, curator of exhibitions for the airport's museums, was only too happy to oblige.

The airport reserves two exhibition sites for Bay Area student art, says Taylor. The exhibits started in 1980 and have included the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the San Francisco Symphony, and other schools like Alvarado.

"We give non-profit arts organizations the opportunity to showcase the art students create and to talk about the non-profit," he says. One frame will describe how Alvarado earns its reputation as an arts-rich school, and the other 11 will feature student art, like some of the self-portraits that are made by students in each grade level.

Burke and artist-in-residence Dan Stingle will choose which pieces are hung, Burke says. Since only two-dimensional art is allowed, the pair say they are thinking of photographing some of the students' clay projects, like the Victorian houses and clay people.

"We'll show the broad range of art we have," Burke says.

Auction Brings $1,100 Per Masterpiece

Thanks to our community of parents and merchants, the Alvarado Not-So-Silent Auction earned just over $60,000 in March. Class-created projects smashed a record set three years ago, bringing in $30,600--an average of about $1,100 per item.

With budget cuts threatening to remove about $200,000 from Alvarado's budget, the money will be needed now more than ever. The school is facing the loss of its computer teacher and a reading specialist, among others. The PTA will try, as it has in the past, to fill in the gaps.

Parents put the heat on merchants in February to donate to the auction, but we also eagerly seek donations from members of the community. Your tax-deductible contribution to the Alvarado PTA helps children from across the socioeconomic spectrum enjoy learning in a creative environment. Their thanks are in the art that makes the school a beautiful addition to the neighborhood.

--Heather World


Pijamada Night a Big Success

The lights were out, tents and tipis were set up, and sleeping bags were spread out on the floor as dozens of kids huddled in the dark to hear parents and teachers read to them by flashlight. Fairmount School's Literacy Week ended with children dressing in pajamas and camping out in the cafeteria for storytelling after school on Friday evening, March 14. Pijamada Night was the culminating event of a week filled with activities that focused on reading, writing, listening, storytelling, and all forms of literary enchantment.

Other highlights included a free dress day where students came as their favorite character from a well-loved book, a book exchange that had children donating copies of favorite books (even Dr. Seuss!) in exchange for someone else's, and a parent bilingual computer workshop in which Fairmount parents learned how to use the Fairmount listserv, where people are bilingually connected in English and Spanish in school-based chat rooms.

Another parent workshop, led by the San Francisco Public Library's Rachel MacNeilly, showcased library resources, including bilingual materials and services at the Mission Branch. After-school homework help is one of the features at that branch.

Student-centered activities included Diaros, where kids made journals they could write and draw in. Infusion y Yoga was a workshop that had students making their own bags of herbal tea, with parent gardener Kate Simmons showing them the plants the herbs came from. As their homemade tea bags steeped, the students practiced calming stretches with fitness expert Coach Courtney.

Never fear, The Cat in the Hat will be back at Fairmount next year.

Demand Grows for Kinder-Immersion

Sixty families received a bundle of good news from the postal carrier on Saturday, March 8. Opening up the letter from the school district, they shared their delight in landing one of the highly coveted kindergarten spaces in Fairmount's Spanish-immersion program. The lucky families were among hundreds who had applied for the openings. Our school community welcomes our new families as they begin an exciting six-year journey with us. This year marked the fourth continuous year of growth in enrollment applications for the school.

FiestaVal Just Around the Corner

Fairmount continues to gear up for its May 17 extravaganza, FiestaVal. Parents and students are eagerly awaiting the games, crafts, butterfly tent, and music and dance performances, including Ballet Folklorico and ballroom dancing.

Thanks in advance to all the neighborhood merchants who are contributing goods, services, and restaurant meals for the silent auction. We already have gift certificates from Church Street Apothecary, Cocina Poblana, Heartfelt, Maggie Mudd, and many others.

Recycle Your TV for Fairmount

On Sunday, April 13, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., get rid of all that stuff in your garage with one simple delivery to Fairmount School, 65 Chenery Street. Help clean the environment and dispose of all your unwanted electronic waste safely and free of charge, working or not. A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to Fairmount Elementary School. These items will be accepted for disposal: TVs, monitors, computers, parts and accessories, network equipment, hubs, routers, switches, cables, boards, printers, copiers, fax machines, scanners, typewriters, cell phones, VCRs, DVD players, and stereo equipment.

These items will not be accepted: microwaves, household appliances, vacuum cleaners, toasters, fans, light bulbs, lamps, or furniture.

--Tom Ruiz


Ready, Set--College!

Every James Lick student will have an opportunity to go to college this spring: Our sixth-graders will visit San Francisco State University; seventh-graders will go to U.C. Berkeley; and our eighth-grade class will visit Stanford University. It's all part of GEAR UP, a program that encourages middle-schoolers to begin planning for their college years by cultivating a college-bound state of mind before they reach high school. Many of our students will be the first in their families to enter college, so we're delighted that funding for this program has been restored at the middle-school level.

Meanwhile, the weekend of April 11 to 13 promises to be full of enchantment for the diverse group of James Lick students who will travel to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. In addition to watching two professional Shakespeare performances, the kids will be participating in a workshop using theater games to explore the themes, characters, and language of the plays. They also will enjoy a five-hour visit to Crater Lake National Park--complete with snowshoe hike--and a stop at the Redding Indian Council Center to learn about the Indians who currently live in the area and those who lived there in the past.

Not to be left out, sixth-graders in the school's Spanish-immersion program will enhance their studies by visiting the National Chavez Center, Cesar Chavez's longtime home and the historic headquarters of the farm workers movement, located at La Paz, 30 miles east of Bakersfield, Calif.

Anthony Burns Wins Retrial at Lick

Our eighth-graders have been studying Anthony Burns, a novel based on the arrest and trial of a Virginia slave who escaped bondage and fled to safety in Boston. When a court ordered him returned to his "owner" under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, protests and riots erupted among abolitionists and citizens of Boston.

Thanks to a grant from Donors Choose, some of Marna Blanchard 's U.S. history students will retry the 1854 case on film, using new high-quality technical equipment.

Help the School--And Get Your Car Clean

Please mark the evening of Saturday, May 3, on your calendar, and join us at the Noe Valley Ministry for our annual James Lick Middle School Auction. In addition to live and silent auctions of many appealing items and services donated by local merchants and residents, we will also have appetizers and wine and beer at this adults-only event. PTA president Julia Harrison is coordinating the details. Tickets will go on sale near the end of April, or may be purchased at the door. The action starts around 6 p.m.; contact the school for more information.

You're driving a lot less, but your car still gets dirty. Watch us wash your car on Saturday, April 12. Proceeds benefit Beyond the Bell, our after-school program. (If you're really early, you can watch the Fashion Show and Afterschool Program Showcase on Friday, April 11.)

Our sixth-grade families are planning a Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, April 19, to fund travel to an agricultural area to study farming--an increasingly hot topic in recent years.

Free Outdoor Rock Concert

Two weeks before the breakfast, follow your ears to the sound of Fender guitars, and enjoy a free outdoor rock concert on Saturday, April 5, at the school from 4 to 6 p.m. Let our student bands rock your world with covers from the Beach Boys, AC/DC, Buffalo Springfield, the Clash, the Rolling Stones, and more. Bring your deck chairs and blankets (earplugs optional), and enjoy the show while sampling some delicious snacks.

The concert is free, but we'll gladly accept donations to help sustain our rock music program in partnership with Blue Bear School of Music. Some of the bands you'll hear will grace the stage at the Great American Music Hall as opening acts for Elvin Bishop at Blue Bear's annual benefit concert on May 9.

'Too Good to Be Nutritious'

Teachers Marna Blanchard and Gladys Dalmau have started a new health and fitness group for girls. The 24 members of the "Too Good to Be Nutritious" group meet on Fridays during lunch. They walk around the neighborhood for 20 to 25 minutes, hitting the hills in preparation for Bay to Breakers on May 18. When they return to school, the girls prepare a nutritious lunch, which they cook, eat, and clean up themselves. They also have guest speakers on topics related to health and beauty, such as care of the skin. A grant from Donors Choose funded some of the cooking supplies, but the girls still need some additional items:

Tongs, serving spoons/forks, serrated knives, forks, spoons

Large pasta/soup pot (16 qt.)

Salad spinner

Large bowls for salads

The after-school program is also looking for bouffant wigs and rock-and-roll dresses as costumes for James Lick's upcoming production of Hairspray.

We can always use healthy snacks and water during state testing days, approximately April 28 to May 16.

Contact Carol Perez, school secretary, if you have something you would like to donate. (Be sure to let her know which program the donation is for.)

To see what else James Lick--or another favorite school--needs, go to

--Sue Cattoche


Alvarado Elementary School
Robert Broecker, 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