Noe Valley Voice May 2008

School Report

You can be true to your schools this month by attending a musical, carnival, or fiesta, or by putting on your eye patch and tutoring at Noe Valley's newest pirates den/library.


Big Carnival Attraction: Tacos!

Join Alvarado Elementary School's Spring Carnival/Kermez de Primavera on Saturday, May 17, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sun or fog, the school will turn our playgrounds off Eureka Street into a festive quarter of food and games for the whole neighborhood.

Always a popular school event, the Carnival lures in passersby with the wonderful scent of traditional Latin food. A party with varied tacos is called a taquisa in Mexico, and there will be a choice of beans and rice, carnitas (pork), chicken, rajas (green chilis), and more. Side dishes from Central and South America will include pupusas, native to El Salvador, and potato dishes spiced with cayenne from Peru. Drink fresh fruit aguas. Eat desserts from all over the world.

Others will come for the children's games. Besides the bouncy castle, there will be water races, ring tosses, and the ever-popular cakewalk. Our drama club students will show what they've learned in a performance, and parents and public alike can mingle among examples of student painting, papier-mâché, and clay sculpture.

For kids who want to use their own hands, there will be crafts, too. Co-chair Anjelica Guerrero plans to run a table featuring traditional soft-clay creations from Mexico, the kind seen in clay-mation movies. "This is common among the children in Mexico, but I haven't see it a lot here," says Guerrero, a native of Mexico.

Close by, children will create and decorate enormous paper hats to wear.

Come Help Us Paint the Mural

At this year's Carnival, thanks to an art committee grant, we'll have an extra hands-on activity. Students, parents, and neighbors are invited to paint a new mural sketched on the lower playground wall. Artist-in-residence Dan Stingle led a group of students in the drawings, and now everyone can come paint the mural.

Put your name on the sign-up sheet, and join one of the groups of 10 kids (with parents) who will take turns to paint. Rotations will last somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes, plenty of time to show your colors.

Anyone can win prizes in our raffle, eat the great food, or, if you like, get your hair dyed! For information, contact Angelica Guerrero, 577-9810, or Anita Cabrera at 722-0237.

Auction Breaks Records

As an endnote, Alvarado would like to thank again its many sponsors, parents, neighbors, and organizers for making the Not-So-Silent Auction on March 8 an extremely successful event this year. We raised more than $70,000, money that helps fund the extracurricular activities that make Alvarado a sought-after school. To boot, auction-ers had a great time sipping wine, eating, and outdoing each other for the class projects, which netted more than $30,000--a record amount for the school.

--Heather World


New Sixth-Grade "Field" Trip

Sixth-grade students in James Lick Middle School's Spanish/English dual-immersion program have been busy studying ancient civilizations and the agricultural revolution. Now on May 8 and 9, they will travel to the National Chavez Center in Tehachapi, Calif., where they will meet with farm workers and members of the United Farm Workers (UFW) to discuss its history and the legacy of leaders such as Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. The students will learn about the important role youth played in changing unjust conditions faced by farm workers, including low wages and exposure to pesticides. They also will work in the fields to experience firsthand the backbreaking toil necessary to supply food to residents in cities like San Francisco. They will gain an appreciation of their state as one of the largest agricultural producers in the country, and come away with direct knowledge of the road our fruits and vegetables take from the fields to the table. When they return, these students will share their experiences and knowledge with the school community through a series of workshops and presentations.

Teacher Heidi Avelina Smith reports: "Our students are both enthusiastic and prepared for this academic adventure, and will come away with a richer sense of cultural identity and empathy for the struggle of others."

James Lick's families have already held a raffle, a rummage sale, a car wash, and a breakfast to raise money for the trip, which costs approximately $185 per student. Contact the school if you would like to help support this project, which we hope will become an annual event.

Can Hairspray Advance Social Justice?

Our performing arts and Beyond the Bell programs are collaborating to present three performances of Hairspray the Musical at the end of May. Based on the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray, this lively musical production tells the story of a plucky teenage girl's efforts to bring about social change in Baltimore, circa 1962. After winning a role on a popular TV dance show and becoming a local celebrity, she launches a campaign to integrate the racially segregated TV show.

Performances in the school's spacious auditorium begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 29, and Friday, May 30; and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 31. Sliding-scale donations are welcome at the door.

Bands Play for Youth Music Benefit

Some of the amazing young rock bands created by our collaboration with Blue Bear School of Music will share the stage with blues guitar legend Elvin Bishop at the Great American Music Hall on the night of Friday, May 9. That's when Blue Bear School of Music will present "Blue Bear Live III," a benefit for the organization's youth music education programs.

If the talent displayed at our outdoor rock concert last month is any indication, this should be a great show and a powerful way to support music at James Lick. Doors to the ornate 1907 nightclub at 859 O'Farrell Street will open at 7:30 p.m.; be ready to rock at 8. Blue Bear calls this their "party of the year." You can find out more at

Pirates Launch Library Invasion

On a recent Saturday afternoon, many of our families and staff worked alongside volunteers from 826 Valencia, building a new pirate-themed writing center within our library. The room has wallpaper made of old brown maps on the walls, a ceiling in dark and light blue depicting a constellation-filled sky, and brand-new tables, chairs, and equipment for our students. Now we have an inviting space for kids to work with tutors on their essays, stories, and projects. It looks fantastic! When a teacher sends a group of students to the writing room, they will enter a room that will spark their imaginations!

Call 642-5905 or go to if you would like to become an 826 volunteer tutor at James Lick.

--Sue Cattoche


FiestaVal Has Arrived!

Feel like eating some freshly made pupusas and sweets? Want to hear some soul-stirring live music? How about getting some incredible bargains from our neighborhood shops?

Come on down to Fairmount Elementary School for our exciting annual fundraiser, FiestaVal, on Saturday, May 17, beginning at noon and lasting all afternoon. Oh, and don't worry about the kids--they'll have obstacle courses to run, face-painting, a butterfly tent, and so much more to keep them busy. All the proceeds support both in-school and after-school art, music, and cultural activities for Fairmount students.

Hot items you'll be able to bid on at our auction include stays in San Francisco boutique hotels, dinners in Noe Valley restaurants, and esoteric items such as a Mission Cliffs rock-climbing course or an acupuncture diagnosis and treatment.

FiestaVal is also a great way to check out the Fairmount School community. Incoming and potential parents can see our students in action at special performances of the ballroom-dancing and Ballet Folklorico classes. They can also listen to our student musicians, including stars of the Little Kids Rock guitar class and the fabulous Fairmount Falcon Choir.

If you would like to donate a gift to the silent auction, please contact parents Madelaine Vella at 571-9150 or Joanne Bidwell at 335-1544.

A Magnetic Math and Science Night

On a Thursday night this spring, kids sat on benches hunched over as they used an electromagnetic piece to pick up shards of a magnet. "Look, Papa! I got 15!" cried out one fourth-grader, who then got her passport stamped and moved on to the chemistry table to don safety glasses and perform more experiments.

The Fairmount cafeteria was packed as kids and parents engaged in a wide variety of science experiments coordinated by the Fairmount faculty in connection with the Exploratorium. Parent volunteer Diana Mueller was instrumental in making Science Night a success. Hundreds of students and their parents had the opportunity to try science projects that were relevant, rigorous, and lots of fun.

Fairmount Goes Green

On May 1 Fairmount parents toured four school gardens in a trip sponsored by the city's Department of the Environment and led by Arden Bucklin-Sporer, the school district's director of educational gardens. Fairmount also was informed that it is eligible for $135,000 to use to green the school as part of the 2006 Proposition A bond program.

The process could take up to three years for planning and implementation. But the possibilities are endless: we could have an irrigation system powered by solar energy or wind, or we could use rainwater from our roof. We could have a pond--you name it.

Parent Kate Simmons, who has led Fairmount's greening for the past five years, is leading the effort to get our school greener than green.

Continuing our efforts to green the neighborhood, our eWaste Day was a huge success. People recycled unwanted computers, monitors, hard drives, and other electronic devices, dropping them off at Fairmount, which received $400 from the company that ran the event, along with $140 from our bake sale. There were neighbors bringing their e-waste on foot, in little carts, and even in wheelbarrows.

Thank you, neighbors, for working for a better environment and helping our school at the same time.

--Tom Ruiz


Alvarado Elementary School
Robert Broecker, 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