Noe Valley Voice December-January 2005

School Report

Here's the latest news from James Lick Middle School and Fairmount and Alvarado elementary schools, provided by school boosters and volunteers.


The Story of Café Lick

It's 8 p.m. on a Monday night, and the school is still half filled with students. But at this hour, the students are adults enrolled in City College classes. As instructors adjourn for mid-evening breaks, crowds of hungry--or sleepy--learners gather near the main office in front of a counter overflowing with brightly wrapped snacks and large urns of coffee.

Tonight, Owen Baker-Flynn, the parent of an eighth-grader and current buyer/manager of Café Lick, is working alone behind the counter. With a welcoming grin and easy banter, he deftly juggles cash, chips, and chocolate bars. But that isn't too surprising, considering that Baker-Flynn is a professional juggler and fire-eater.

When City College began renting the James Lick campus for night classes, the PTSA seized the opportunity to provide a needed service while raising funds to pay for school supplies, sports uniforms, student travel, after-school activities, and participation in San Francisco Carnaval. Café Lick is now the parent-teacher-student organization's primary fundraiser, bringing in thousands of dollars each year.

The snack bar is open almost year-round, whenever City College classes are in session. Normally, two families are scheduled to staff the snack bar each shift, with parents helping their offspring learn to keep smiling while totaling orders and counting out change.

When you see the schoolyard packed with cars, you will know that people are learning valuable skills and the school is raising money for important projects. Now wouldn't you like to drop by, pick up a schedule, and sign up for a City College class next semester?

Annual Auction Feb. 10

Save the evening of Friday, Feb. 10, 2006, for James Lick's annual auction at SomArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan at Ninth Street. This PTSA-sponsored event supports many important programs at James Lick. Join us for delicious appetizers, cocktails, dancing, and bidding for lots of great merchandise donated by generous Noe Valley and San Francisco merchants.

The auction kicks off at 6:30 p.m., followed by dancing and socializing until 11 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance (available at the school or by e-mailing or $20 at the door. Funds raised will support student travel to Costa Rica or Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as well as the school's Carnaval contingent. So mark your calendars, brush up on those salsa lessons, and put on your dancing shoes!

Got Books?

A special thank-you to Cover to Cover on Castro Street for hosting a pre-holiday fundraiser on Nov. 29, donating 15 percent of the proceeds from the night's sales to the James Lick PTSA. In addition to supporting both the school and the bookstore, shoppers were able to choose gifts and make personal purchases from the store's outstanding selection of books for all ages, including titles in Spanish. Tracy Wynne, the store's specialist in children's and adolescent literature, was on hand to assist customers.

A Taste of Cuba

Bring the whole family to Laurel's Restaurant, 205 Oak Street at Gough, from Dec. 4 to 8. You can enjoy great Cuban food for dinner or lunch and raise funds for the James Lick PTSA programs. Mention James Lick when paying your bill, and 15 percent of your check will be donated to the school. See

That Bulldog Spirit

"Bulldog Spirit" wristbands are being sold by our students to raise money for their trip to Costa Rica in February. Students and members of the community are showing their spirit by purchasing the wristbands for only $2 each!

Hang Artwork in Your Shops

The James Lick Merchant Community Alliance will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 3:45 p.m. Merchants, neighbors, and friends of the school are invited to attend. We are extending a special invitation to local merchants who would be interested in showcasing artwork by our students at their places of business--a great way to warm up those bare walls!

Stay in Touch

Call 695-5675, or our message number, 436-0349, for information, or drop by the school, 1220 Noe Street at Clipper.

Come Look Inside

School tours continue on Thursday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m. through Feb. 2, 2006, starting in the Parent Room. You will have the opportunity to meet current Lick families, see the school, and meet with our principal. E-mail to confirm or to arrange an alternative time. Thank you for sharing your ideas, talents, and support for our public schools.

--Sue Cattoche


Jorge Santana Rocks the Party Next Door

A warm sunny day brought out parents, friends, and family to the Chenery Street mansion of philanthropist Bob Pritikin on Sunday, Nov. 20, as Jorge Santana stoked the crowd at Fairmount School's fall fundraiser. Hundreds of partygoers toured the eclectic mansion between musical sets, viewing the renowned art collection, political artifacts, grand piano, and indoor swimming pool. Pritikin, who donated use of the mansion as well as a full bar and barbecue buffet, also brought down the house playing his saw in a grand finale.

PTA chair Nancy Windesheim said, "We couldn't have done it without our school community and Madelaine Vella," referring to the parent organizer who was the driving force behind the event. Vella added, "It was truly something to remember and goes to show that anything, just about, is possible."

Approximately $20,000 was raised for Fairmount's art, music, and dance programs, and the party is sure to become an annual affair.

Winter Celebration to Showcase K-3 Talent

This year, Fairmount has embarked upon a unique artistic rotation for all 12 of its kindergarten through third-grade classes. Coordinated by parent Jennifer Knudsen and overseen by the school's instructional reform facilitator, each class will have the opportunity to experience a full nine weeks of instruction in Ballet Folklorico, Brava Theatre, and Garden Science, taught by parent Kate Simmons. This unusual artistic combo comes as Fairmount continues to upgrade its visual and performing arts programs and tap the rich cultural diversity found at the school.

The K-3 dance and theater groups will perform at Fairmount's Winter Celebration, to be held Thursday, Dec. 8, at the James Lick Middle School Auditorium, at Noe and 25th streets. The Fairmount Falcon Choir under the musical direction of Vernon Bush, youth choral director at Glide Memorial Church, is also slated to perform.

Family-Friendly Fairmount

At a recent event held at the LGBT Center on Market Street, prospective parents of school-age students learned about public and private schools that support gay and lesbian families. Fairmount was well represented by gay and lesbian parents, who described how the Fairmount community had been welcoming to them and their families.

Principal Karling Aguilera-Fort was also present, and he discussed the school's programs and supportive culture for non-traditional families.

In Our Corner

School tours continue at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays. Stop by to visit our classrooms and meet our principal. We're at the southern tip of Noe Valley, at 65 Chenery Street near Randall.

--Tom Ruiz


PTA Celebrates Winter with New Sweatshirts

The Alvarado PTA will host a Winter Festival on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. This magical evening of songs, crafts, and delicious food will also include a holiday bazaar, a Spanish book fair, student performances, and an opportunity to purchase Alvarado School sweatshirts. The potluck event, which replaces the school's regular monthly PTA meeting, will be held in the school cafeteria.

See How Our Garden Grows

Alvarado families pulled on their gloves and oiled up their gardening tools twice in November to "spruce up" the grounds and do a bit of fall planning in the school's famous gardens. Mara Sieling coordinated the workdays and collected tools, pots, and decorations donated to the school. Keep your eyes on our garden and see how it grows!

Writers' Workshop Blossoms Too

The Literacy Committee is pleased to announce that the Alvarado Writers' Workshop resumed this fall, with 16 fourth- and fifth-grade students attending. After the success of the pilot project in Spring 2005, the Alvarado Writers' Workshop received two significant outside grants--from the San Francisco Education Fund and the Fitzpatrick Foundation--and is now fully funded for the school year, with four groups of students working in the fall and the potential to expand that number to eight in the spring.

The workshop is led by an outstanding new teacher, Cindy Schwartz, who brings her enthusiasm and a background in standardized test development to the teaching of writing. The workshop's goal continues to be to sharpen writing skills, particularly among second-language writers, who may benefit from the focused attention provided by the after-school, small-group format.

Important Dates

The last day of school before winter break is Friday, Dec. 16. School starts up again in January on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

School Tours

Tours of Alvarado will continue on Tuesdays at 8:30 a.m. through Jan. 10, 2006. Applications for school assignments are due to the San Francisco Unified School District offices on Jan. 13, 2006. Please call 695-5695 to reserve space on a tour.

How to Reach Us

For more information, contact Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Barry at 467-4748 or The Alvarado School web site, in English and Spanish, includes calendar information and much more:

--Lisa Barry


James Lick Middle School
1220 Noe Street at 25th Street
415-695-5675 or 415-436-0349
Carmelo Sgarlato, Principal

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

Alvarado Elementary School
625 Douglass Street at Alvarado
Clementina Durón, Principal