Noe Valley Voice March 2009

Public Schools Tell Us Their Wish Lists

The Voice asked three local public schools--Fairmount, James Lick, and Alvarado--to come up with a wish list for this month's School Report. You might be surprised at the simple things--pens, kickballs, Kleenex--the students and staff are yearning for.


Paper, Pencils, Glue Sticks, and a Fish Tank

When Fairmount teachers were asked what they'd put on a school wish list, they automatically said pencils.

What else?


And more pencils.

Oh, and paper.

In these trying times, the biggest request was the basics.

On a second survey, though, they popped up with a few more ideas:

Teachers in the upper grades need black Expo markers, enough for the whole class to use at the same time. Every classroom needs glue sticks.

Bonnie Taylor, who is a special education teacher for third through fifth grades, said, "I would love a fish tank that comes with a heater and a filter. I am trying to do more science activities with my students and also at the same time trying to teach them responsibility. A fish tank seems like a perfect way to fill those needs."

Maureen Sullivan, a fifth-grade teacher, requests "eraser tops, dry-erase markers, Kleenex, card stock, glue sticks, and prizes for our positive-incentive raffle."

"I would love to have a really good, electric, professional pencil sharpener," said Noah Weaker, who teaches fourth-grade English. "There aren't any good pencils and kids are always fighting over them, so we'd always love to have pencils, and with an electric sharpener, they wouldn't have to spend all day at the sharpener."

Ms. Cerruda would like printer ink for her HP 56, 57, 58 printers, and glue sticks!

Every classroom needs good, clean throw rugs. If you can donate one, that would be a tremendous help.

Teachers would love little prizes (from the dollar store) for kids who have done well in school or exhibited exceptional behavior. Their names are sometimes put in a raffle. When the names are drawn, the students get prizes.

Balls for recess. Rubber balls, kickballs, basketballs, and soccer balls are used often for recess (and physical fitness), and there are never enough to go around.

One mother who is a frequent volunteer said, "It's not sexy, but we really need paper!"

She added, "Printer and copier paper, white and any and all colors. The school is very careful to keep paper use to a minimum, but we still go through lots and have very little."

Fiesta Wares

You have items that don't quite fit into the school wish list? Donate them for FiestaVal! We can always use items or services that can be raffled off to raise money for the school during our May fundraising party, which has lots of entertainment, excitement, and an auction, which always includes generous donations from Noe Valley shops and restaurants.

Of course, the kids have their own ideas. "A skateboard ramp!" cried out a group of students when they were asked about a wish list. Sorry, kids, your safety's a little too important for that.

Have something in a back closet that you'd like to give to Fairmount? Come on down to 65 Chenery Street, or call 695-5669 to arrange a dropoff.

Good Frikin' Donation

Local restaurants continue to help us by hosting Fairmount nights, when a share of their profits is donated to the school. The latest "night" was held at Good Frikin' Chicken, which serves delicious Mediterranean food at 29th and Mission streets.

This type of donation continues the Fairmount trend of helping each other out. With a generous donation to the school, restaurants often find that they've invested in a good amount of public relations; families discover their delicious meals and come back, again and again.

Bingo + Math = Fun

Fairmount ended the month with Math and Science Night--the kids played games with a little bit of learning slipped in. Activities included fraction bingo, where kids heard a fraction called out and had to find an equivalent fraction (using different numbers) on their bingo card. The school chorus performed as kids gained a subtle boost of knowledge. Students received a passport that they took to each station, getting a stamp. At the end of the evening, all passports were entered into a drawing. Tickets to the Exploratorium were awarded to the students whose names were pulled out of a hat.

--Jan Goben


Elbow Grease and a Bulldog Fundraiser

When the Noe Valley Voice called James Lick to ask what the school needed, we went right into action. It's no secret that the school district is facing a huge shortfall this year (and next) from the state budget, and yes, extra help right now would be a godsend.

First off, our classrooms could use a few more LCD projectors, and more electronic whiteboards (also known as "smartboards"). Also, we would gladly take laptops that are in good working condition.

Students need pencils, of course, and lots of three-hole punched, college-ruled paper to write on. Pens would be welcome as well.

For the office, could you drop off a case (or two?) of standard copy paper? Even colored paper would be helpful.

And for the whole school, where this year's cold and flu season seems to be going on for months longer than humanly possible, boxes and boxes of tissues would really come in handy.

Are you handy with a hammer? We need you! We are planning a work day this spring and would love a little extra elbow grease. Call the school and leave a message for Heidi Anderson with a short description of what you can do and how to reach you.

The Bulldog Café is closing, and with it we are losing our cash cow. Are you a fundraising whiz with strategies you could share?

The reason is, this is the last year that City College will be on our campus. For as long as most of us can remember, CC's evening classes have been held at Lick year-round. During that time, James Lick parents provided a nightly cornucopia of muffins, coffee, and other treats to hungry adult students as they headed to their guitar, Italian, and Spanish lessons. The café raised over $20,000 each year for the PTSA. Now that City College is leaving--moving to Everett School in the Castro, which has better ADA access (see Voice front page)--we need to brainstorm a good way to replace that income.

Got ideas? Send them to Heidi Anderson, PTSA President, care of James Lick Middle School, 1220 Noe Street, San Francisco, CA 94114, or e-mail the Voice at

And finally, we need you to party with us! Join us for our annual Silent Auction right here in Noe Valley. Buy a $5 bottomless glass of beer or wine and enjoy the catered finger food and friendly chatter as we politely outbid each other on gift baskets and vacation getaways. The auction is Saturday, March 7, starting at 6 p.m. Come, because we all could use an excuse to have fun.

For more information, or to inquire about other donations you'd like to make, call the school at 695-5975. Leave a message for Heidi Anderson.

--Heidi Anderson


Art Lovers and Volunteers

Alvarado's 16th annual Not-So-Silent Auction, which takes place March 21, will feature fine wines, fun getaways, and summer camps. However, it's the student art projects that will bring on the fiercest bidding wars, if past auctions are any indication.

Made collaboratively in classrooms and after-school programs, the student art works fetched $30,000 last year, as parents bid up the prices on colorful toy chests, mirrors, and paintings. More than one student art project raised $3,000.

The size of the pot gets bigger each year, as does the size of the party. The event started in 1993 as an add-on to the school's spring rummage sale, squeezing out a small spot in the auditorium between used linens and toys.

Even eight years ago only two-thirds of the classrooms created a project, said auction co-chair Angela Danison.

"People started liking the projects and wanting to have one they could bid on, so they started working on them," she said.

These days about 250 people attend the evening at the Janet Pomeroy Center, scarfing down free food and drink while chatting with one another and listening to the banter of parent Bruce Kapsack, a natural auctioneer.

Laurie Baker-Flynn, a parent and kindergarten teacher at Alvarado for 12 years, has seen enthusiasm grow.

"In the early years, I had to think of a project and recruit parents," she said. "Now, parents want to help with the projects."

This year, a dozen parents from her class helped their children illustrate a story's ending, using the kids' foot- and handprints.

The project involved a lot of painted fingers and toes, with children lifted on and off the canvas, she said.

"There was a lot of giggling."

Though she does not bid on her students' art, reserving that for the parents, she has tried to win projects from her own two children's classes.

"I've always been outbid," she said.

We Have a Wish List Too

Despite its successful fundraising, Alvarado does have a wish list. The more donated materials we receive, the more the PTA money can be spent on programs that help all our students.

Here's what we came up with:

* Paper and envelopes with letterhead that you no longer use

* Microscope and/or telescope

* Basketballs and/or kickballs

* Books for the library

* Items in good repair for our Rummage Sale, dropped off Saturday, April 11, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

* Buyers for items at the Rummage Sale on Saturday, April 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or Sunday, April 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

* Volunteers to help watch over children during recess

* Volunteers to walk Alvarado students to James Lick after school on Friday (2 p.m.) and back (3:10 p.m.)

* Middle school volunteers to read with Alvarado students, though adults are welcome, too

* Buy a raffle ticket for the March 21 auction (6 to 11 p.m., at the Janet Pomeroy Center, 207 Skyline Blvd.), or sponsor a ticket for one of our teachers. Please see vendors at the Saturday Farmers' Market on 24th Street.

E-mail us using our website at www if you are interested. You can also call the school and leave a message for the PTA at 595-5695.

Thank you, everyone.

--Heather World


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

Fairmount Elementary School
Ana Lunardi, Principal
65 Chenery Street at Randall

James Lick Middle School
Bita Nazarian, Principal
1220 Noe Street at 25th Street