Noe Valley Voice May 2007

School Report

Here's the latest from volunteers and parents at Fairmount Elementary, James Lick Middle, and Alvarado Elementary School.


Come One, Come All to FiestaVal

Noe Valleyans are invited to FiestaVal, Fairmount's fifth annual free celebration of the arts and carnival, taking place from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, at the school, at Randall and Chenery. The gathering is a time for the school community to get together for a year-end celebration while raising funds to enrich and support our students' academic learning. Multicultural fare prepared by parents, including incredible homemade papusas, adds to the festivity while celebrating the school's diversity.

Last year, FiestaVal raised $30,000, which helped pay for the P.E. program, library assistants, Ballet Folklorico, science, drama, choir, and dance programs.

FiestaVal grew out of the annual Cinco de Mayo piñata auction and competition. Families and classrooms made fantastic piñatas that were auctioned off to the highest bidder. These class projects continue to be a highlight of the live auction. There is also a silent auction featuring dozens of items, goods, and services donated by Noe Valley merchants and restaurants.

FiestaVal is a venue for kids to perform and for current and prospective parents and students to see firsthand some student activities provided by the PTA. Student performances on the main stage will include Ballet Folklorico, student guitarists, the fantastic Fairmount Falcons Choir, and our ballroom dance classes.

The carnival, featuring games of chance and skill, allows for fun and prizes. GLO, the after-school program, will feature a Mexican bingo game and a cakewalk in the cafeteria. Free arts and crafts activities as well as face painting are among kids' favorites.

Come join in the Saturday afternoon fun and see our dynamic school community in action.

Thanks in advance to all the Noe Valley businesses, merchants, and restaurants that contributed to our silent auction.

Kids Enjoy Health and Safety Week

During the third week in April, Growth and Learning Opportunities (GLO), Fairmount's after-school organization, presented a week of health and safety presentations with activities for the kids.

On Monday, the fifth-graders taught the other grades group games emphasizing physical fitness and team-building. On Tuesday, the kids chose from several activities such as learning how to dissect a cow's eye. Parent Andy Kuster gave a first-aid course to our fourth- and fifth-graders, which they put to good use on Wednesday, when there was a mock major disaster drill.

Each grade had a job to do, from setting up a triage area for all to gather in, to finding clean/safe drinking water and food, to working out a communications protocol.

"The kids were disappointed--they thought they were actually going to get to call all the parents on the emergency cards!" said GLO director Geri Ehle. "Our kindergartners were the victims, and I never saw a group get so into their roles--they were too good. Our fourth- and fifth-graders, armed with bandages, were quick to the rescue treating burns, bleeding, and broken bones. They were amazed that they actually could make a sling with a triangle piece of fabric!"

On Thursday, each class participated in making healthy faces and figures with celery, apples, oranges, cream cheese, dried fruit, and strawberries.

The week ended with visitors and activities from the S.F. Sheriff's Department's canine unit, the Health Department, and other community organizations.

One mother of a first-grader reported, "My kid, Evan, has been asking questions about lead poisoning all weekend following the health and safety week presentation on Friday," she said. "He is not a paranoid kid, but it really raised his awareness of the issue and we have had some good science/chemistry discussions about the periodic table and where lead comes from. Thanks, GLO, for making that dialogue possible."

--Tom Ruiz


'Tell Me More, Tell Me More...'

Rehearsals continue for the cast of 30 James Lick sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders who will perform in the upcoming musical production of Grease, while students in the after-school arts program are creating sets and props for the performances.

Drama instructor Jake Stookey also acknowledges the contributions of "an incredible team of faculty, staff, and parents" for their support.

Daytime assemblies will be held on Thursday, May 31, for our students; evening performances begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2. We look forward to seeing you at one of these performances. Donations will be accepted at the door.

Spoken Word Showcase

We've reserved the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Main Library for our third annual Spring Showcase on Wednesday, May 23. Our students will present poetry, drama, and monologues, with support from the Marsh Theater, the Screen Actors Guild, 826 Valencia, and our own Beyond the Bell after-school program. Join us from 5 to 7:30 p.m. for this free event.

Carnaval 2007

On Saturday, May 26, James Lick families will be at school, building our float and rehearsing dancing and drumming performances for this year's Carnaval Parade on Sunday, May 27. Following the festivities, they'll return to school for an end-of-the-year potluck picnic and barbecue.

Eighth-Grade Highlights

As a farewell gift to James Lick, our eighth-grade students are creating an original ceramic mural for the school's new Peace Garden. Unveiling will occur during the Peace Garden dedication at our 75th Anniversary Celebration on May 12.

Spring field trips will take the eighth-graders to San Francisco State University, de Young Museum, Golden Gate National Wildlife Refuge, and the Exploratorium. Teacher Andrew Grimstad's class will travel to Muir Woods.

Ice Cream and Baseball

Our Most Improved and Honor Roll students were treated to ice cream socials in April. Each grade had its own party, and their proud parents were on hand to help scoop up the frosty delights.

Our choir was invited to join students from other San Francisco schools to sing the national anthem at a recent Giants game. (Could you hear them?)

Focus on School Climate

James Lick parents will meet with educator Enid Lee on Wednesday, May 9, from 5 to 7 p.m., for an open-ended conversation about school climate, educational equity, anti-racism, and other topics of special interest to James Lick families. Lee is co-editor of Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education, and Staff Development.

Meanwhile, you can find us on the web:

--Sue Cattoche


It's Spring Carnival Time

Mark your calendars! Alvarado's infamous Spring Carnival will take place on May 19. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, vibrant music, delicious Latin American homemade dishes, and all the fun. You'll have a chance to win prizes and gift certificates donated by local restaurants and retailers.

The kids are guaranteed to have a great time running around on the playground, participating in all the carnival games and events, winning prizes, and watching the performances. (It is rumored there will be a punk makeover booth!) The fiesta begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. It's a wonderful day for the entire family. Don't miss it!

Dance to the Boogie

Our fourth annual Boogie Nights event will be held on Friday night, June 1, at Il Pirata Restaurant and Bar at the corner of Utah and 16th streets. This will be our last party before the end of the school year, so we'll be putting on our dancing shoes! There will also be a wine raffle tdhis year, and each Boogie Night attendee is asked to contribute a bottle of wine to the prize. The holder of the winning raffle ticket will bring home an instant wine cellar! This event is for the adult members of the Alvarado School community. Please contact the school for additional information.

Rummage Sale Packed Them In

Our annual Rummage Sale in April was an enormous success. A special thank you to everyone who organized the event and helped to sell an entire cafeteria full of amazing clothes, furniture, toys, books, and everything else one can imagine. Shoppers were able to find just what they were looking for at a great price. All rummage sale proceeds benefit our children through the many programs sponsored by the PTA.

Thanks again, everyone!

Every Voice Counts

Plans for the 2007­08 school year are already under way at Alvarado. The entire community has worked hard to raise money in order to supplement the school budget and fund all the extracurricular activities for the coming year. Parents attending a May 1 PTA meeting will provide input on how to spend the money they've helped raise over the past year.

Elections for next year's PTA officers will be held during the final PTA meeting of the year on Tuesday, June 5, at 6 p.m. As with all PTA meetings at Alvarado, both dinner and childcare are provided, and everyone is welcome!

--Dan Willhite


Alvarado Elementary School
Gene Barresi, 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