Noe Valley Voice February 2008

School Report

This month's public school news comes from parents and volunteers at Alvarado Elementary School and James Lick Middle School.


Not-So-Silent Auction Tries to Top $50,000

Want to support local businesses and a public school while getting a bargain? Come to Alvarado School's annual Not-So-Silent Auction the evening of March 8, and put in your bid for gift certificates to restaurants, clothing boutiques, and bookstores; discounted children's lessons; tickets to museums and sporting and cultural events; and hotel and vacation rentals--not to mention art and jewelry. The Live Auction features creative projects created by our talented students. And that's not all, either. Bidding takes place over chatter among friends, good food, and rollicking music at the Janet Pomeroy Center, 207 Skyline Boulevard, from 6 to 11 p.m.

Last year, our neighbors, friends, business community, and parents raised almost $50,000. The money goes toward Alvarado's visual and performing arts programs, science projects, motor skills development, and other activities the San Francisco Unified School District fails to provide. It is the PTA's goal this year to finally break the $50,000 level and ensure continued support for our excellent teachers and staff.

Having chalked up six years of auction experience, Noe Valley resident Angela Danison is co-chairing the auction this year, for the third time. Three of Danison's four children currently attend Alvarado, and her oldest son, an Alvarado alumnus, is a sixth-grader at St. Philip School, another Noe Valley school.

"We couldn't possibly raise as much money for our school without the generous support of the Noe Valley merchants," Danison says. "Each year, the local businesses provide us with merchandise and services for our auction. In return, many of our families choose to shop in Noe Valley because they know the importance of these businesses to our community."

Students themselves contribute to the auction, too. Each class creates a unique piece of art that is put up for live bidding. "Our school is known for its arts program, and the auction is a perfect venue for showcasing the talents of our students," says Danison.

Many of those attending the auction will be school parents and alumni, but the event is open to all. "Whether you have children who will be entering school soon, are a neighbor of the school, or just want to bid, the auction is a great event to meet families and staff, see the amazing artwork that our students create, and support the children in our community," says Danison.

Music will be provided by the rock and Afro-Latin band Los Nadies. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. For more information on tickets, or to sponsor or donate to the auction, contact Gabriele Lange Edwards (648-6831), Angela Danison (642-8310), Nancy Velasco (Spanish, 695-5695), or send an email to

--Heather World


Principal Chats About Testing

During a recent Friday morning chat, Principal Carmelo Sgarlato spent an hour demystifying elements of the California Standards Test for a group of parents meeting in James Lick Middle School's new computer lab. Sgarlato passed out examples of the challenging questions used to test our sixth-graders in language arts, and then demonstrated how our teachers could use the feedback they received to track the progress of an entire class; reteach a concept to the whole class, a small group of students, or a specific child; or report an individual student's progress to inquiring parents.

Consultant Carrie Melton assisted in the presentation, answering technical questions and suggesting ways that parents could extend language learning at home. Parent Liaison Leonor Jackson provided expert simultaneous translation for the many Spanish-speaking parents in attendance. But no translation was necessary for parents to appreciate the 30 or so beautiful new Apple Macintosh flat-screen workstations that were recently installed in the lab--enough to accommodate an entire class with state-of-the-art computer equipment.

Odyssey to Costa Rica

Have you ever had the urge to visit a place where rainbow-billed toucans, leaping iguanas, and erupting volcanoes are as common as the pigeons, puppies, and fog found in our city? This month, 40 members of the James Lick community are traveling to Costa Rica to sample adventures in places like Manuel Antonio National Park, the Carara Biological Reserve, and Rincon de la Vieja Park in the Guanacaste Conservation Area.

Planning for this trip began nearly a year ago with informational meetings for students' families, followed by months of fundraising and more meetings to prepare for the trek, featuring eight days of visits to exotic cities, markets, historic sites, museums, jungle areas, parks, and schools--places where you might encounter a rare scarlet macaw or test the surf at the edge of a rain forest.

Everyone Benefits!

After weeks of clouds and rain, the sun made a welcome appearance on the morning of our Pancake Breakfast and Rummage Sale in January, a benefit for this year's field trip to Costa Rica. Many of our Noe Valley neighbors stopped by to share their own international travel experiences, as they poured syrup over plates heaped with fluffy cakes and savory sausages. Before leaving, families and friends browsed through stacks of clothing and collectibles for sale in the gym or dropped off outdated electronics in the upper playground--adding to the convenience and greenness of these combined Saturday events.

Join Us in the Playground

Our playground, bounded by Clipper and Castro streets, will soon be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The weekend sharing of the blacktop is part of a joint city/ SFUSD pilot program designed "to fill the need for children and families to gather and play."

Experiment with a Science Fair

If you're in the neighborhood on Wednesday, Feb. 13, around 6 p.m., be sure to check out the James Lick Science Fair taking place in the school gym. Our students will demonstrate exciting experiments and answer questions about their hypotheses, data, and conclusions. Ribbons will be awarded for first-, second-, and third-place finishes in each of the classrooms, and the best entries will compete at the district science fair at the Randall Museum March 4 to 7.

Welcome to Community Movie Night

James Lick will host a monthly Community Movie Night on the last Saturday of the month, beginning Feb. 23. We will offer two films each night. For movie selections and times, look for flyers posted around the school's campus and on 24th Street, or check our web site listings:

Shape-Up Program 'Jogs' to N.Y.

Inspired that our students have already covered the 1,016-mile length of the California coastline by walking and running laps around the upper playground--and are having a lot of fun while doing so--the P.E. Department has decided to continue tracking miles until the end of the school year--but this time with a new goal: to reach New York City by June (2,582 miles as the crow flies). Kids will be logging laps every Friday on the perimeter of the upper yard, so please do cheer them on if you walk by. The students are also preparing for the state physical education fitness assessment in February and March. Can you do 15 pushups or run a mile under seven minutes?


Congratulations to our defending city championship soccer team for reaching the playoffs again this year and winning both of their playoff games. James Lick beat Presidio in the first round (5-2) and then went on to defeat Hoover (7-1). That means we'll play in the championship game at Kezar Stadium again this year. (Last year, we were district champions for the first time since 1967!)

Volunteers Needed

We are looking for local volunteers to help students with writing projects for our new joint venture with 826 Valencia, the tutoring center and literary pirate hangout on Valencia Street. Please contact Assistant Principal Bita Nazarian for more information.

--Sue Cattoche


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

Alvarado Elementary School
Robert Broecker, Principal
625 Douglass Street at Alvarado

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