Noe Valley Voice June 2008

School Report

There will be new faces in the principal's office at at least two neighborhood public schools this fall. Here's the news from Fairmount Elementary and James Lick Middle School, reported by stringers Jan Goben and Sue Cattoche.


Tearful Goodbye at FiestaVal

It was a whirlwind day, with the singing and dancing, the auction, and the butterfly tent that we have come to expect at FiestaVal.

What we weren't prepared for was saying goodbye to Karling. Our beloved principal, Karling Aguilera-Fort, had appeared for the first time in front of our Fairmount family at the FiestaVal of 2003. Back then, he was dressed all in white and bringing his educational expertise, his warmth and laughter, and his discipline to a school that was badly in need of all three after three principals had come and gone in the previous two years.

Now five years later, Karling was telling us it was time to move on, and assuring us he had found someone to fill his shoes.

We knew he was leaving. What we didn't know was that we would all be so choked up at the end of FiestaVal, with parents and teachers taking turns to speak about what he had done for the school, and how he had touched us deep in our hearts. The students, parents, and teachers sat on the steps surrounding the stage, in tears as we realized what we were losing. But just in time, someone turned on the loudspeaker, switched up the volume on the stereo, and blasted the song that Karling sang every Friday afternoon: "I Will Survive!"

Dressed in white just like the first time, Karling danced up a storm, laughing as he wiped away tears, and watched his Fairmount family dance and sing and cry along with him.

Ana Lunardi Comes Home

"But now it's time to move forward," Aguilera-Fort said, stepping aside. "I want you all to meet Ana Lunardi, your new principal!"

As she stepped forward, dressed all in yellow, to rousing cheers, our new principal told the crowd, "I feel like I'm back at home!"

Lunardi taught kindergarten at Fairmount many years ago. That was early on in a career that has taken her to many other classrooms in the San Francisco School District. She has even done a turn as principal at Monroe Elementary School.

"Last call for bids!"

The cry went out just as Lunardi had finished talking, and parents headed back to the classrooms where the bid sheets were, some running to make sure they had a chance at their favorite item, some moving slowly, thinking, How much money did I spend today?

But in the end, the chatter was full of excitement as people gathered their goods, counted their blessings, and thanked the merchants, restaurant owners, hair salons, and manicure shops on Church Street, 24th Street, and elsewhere who had donated items for the fair.

In the end, the school took in $19,000 from auction items alone, and thousands more in tickets, which were used to buy food, play games, enter the butterfly tent, or take a chance on a basket of goodies, a bottle of wine, or a $750 pair of diamond earrings.

And in the end, Karling Aguilera-Fort will not be too far away, since he has just taken a job as an assistant superintendent for the San Francisco Unified School District. Who knows? Maybe we will see him at FiestaVal again, singing and dancing along with the crowd.

--Jan Goben


Principal Takes Top Role at School of the Arts

When our eighth-graders say adios to James Lick on June 12, they won't be the only ones moving on to high school in the fall. In late April, Principal Carmelo Sgarlato announced that he will accept a new position as principal of School of the Arts and SOTA Academy, just a short distance up the hill.

Having formerly supervised math, science, and technology curricula for the entire district, Sgarlato found "the opportunity to provide the leadership for a school that can influence the entire district's art curriculum was too important to pass by."

While Sgarlato's departure comes as a surprise to the admiring and appreciative families he has served, the school's curriculum, climate, and academic ranking have improved dramatically during his three years of exceptional leadership. Fortunately for the school, Assistant Principal Bita Nazarian, who has been at his side from the start, will succeed him as principal.

Over the past three years, Sgarlato and Nazarian have collaborated to bring enormous improvements to James Lick. Student academic achievement and standardized test scores have made great gains, and a rich and stimulating arts curriculum has emerged. Changes in scheduling have reduced class size and provided teachers at each grade level with shared planning time, enabling them to integrate the curriculum across subject areas and share their collective knowledge and ideas. Nazarian is well prepared to maintain and deepen these improvements, while continuing to emphasize the development of literacy and writing skills across all areas of the curriculum.

Nazarian's successor as assistant principal will be Marilyn Koral, who has served in that position at academically flourishing Lawton Alternative Elementary School (grades K-8) for the past two years. Prior to that, Koral prepared low-income students for success in high school through the Aim High program and taught art at nearby Everett Middle School, working alongside Nazarian--who reports that she is "very excited to have her on our team."

Congratulations to Our Winners!

James Lick is proud to announce three literary arts winners in this year's Young at Art Festival. Competing with middle school students from all the city's public, private, and charter schools, eighth-grader Rosa Morales brought home the gold for her short story; seventh-grader Bayron Rodriguez won the bronze in the expository/journalistic writing category; and James Fotherby, another eighth-grader, earned an honorable mention for his poetry. They received their awards and read their winning works at the festival's Literary Arts event at the de Young Museum on May 24.

Students in Sarah Jones' eighth-grade Peer Resources group recently won an award for the "Best Workshop," at a middle school conference on sexual harassment. Congratulations to the kids, and best wishes to Ms. Jones!

Young Writers' Camp Returns

The Bay Area Writing Project returns to James Lick this summer with three weeks of challenges for students who love writing. Classes are designed for students entering grades 4 through 8 in the fall, and run Monday through Friday from June 23 through July 11, from 9 a.m. to noon. The camps provide in-depth writing instruction, structured writing workshop time, flexibility in writing assignments, and daily opportunities to share writing with peers. Students will also edit and publish their own writing; use literature and poetry as models; explore a variety of ways to celebrate writing; and have fun and make new friends! Details and registration forms are posted at Scholarships are available.

Spanish-Immersion Program Wins 'Calle' Credibility

When Lisa Jolicoeur was traveling with her children in Cozumel, Mexico, during spring break, she received constant compliments on how fluently and eloquently her children spoke Spanish. And when the kids, who have been in the Spanish-immersion programs at Fairmount and James Lick, knew the traditional dances well enough to join the weekend festivities in the town plaza, the local residents could not believe that they did not live year-round in a city in Mexico!

--Sue Cattoche


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

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

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