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Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category


Local links: Sand art, McCoppin grant, SFBG plant sale, 911 bravery & more

Inside the art studio of Jay Mercado at 10th & California. Photo by Jay Mercado

Lots of links to catch up on – enjoy! – Sarah B.

  • This Wednesday night is the general membership meeting for the Planning Association for the Richmond, also open to the public. Agenda items include a SFPUC Presentation about a proposed 4-year increase to water and sewer rates, and discussion of the recently released Urban Forest Plan for San Francisco. 7pm-9pm at the Richmond Recreation Center, 251 18th Avenue.
  • Sand art will abound on Saturday morning at Ocean Beach when artist Andres Amador returns to create his masterpieces on the shore. He’s being filmed for a documentary from 7:30am to 9am, so grab a spot on the Cliff House overlook and watch him at work. And if you want to learn his sand art technique, Amador has a workshop class on May 5.
  • Speaking of the Cliff House… The Chronicle took a look back at the “rollicking tale of the first Cliff House – a clapboard structure built by real estate tycoon Charles Butler in 1863.” One of the early visitors was author Mark Twain, who wrote, “The wind was cold and benumbing. It came straight from the ocean, and I think there are icebergs out there somewhere. True, there was not much dust, because the wind blew it all to Oregon in two minutes.”
  • Local art lovers, mark your calendars. The next Cabrillo Art Cave will take place on May 10 & 11 from 11am to 4pm at 925 Cabrillo. The cave is a community art space (read: someone’s garage) that opens occasionally for shows featuring a collective of local artists. Find out whose work will be showcased at cabrilloart.com
  • A new study shows that the median rent in San Francisco in the first quarter of 2014 was $3,200, approximately 8% higher than this time last year. In the Richmond District, we’re below the median at $2,695, but that’s still 14.6% higher than Q1 2013.
  • Frank McCoppin Elementary School (651 6th Avenue) learned in March that they’ll be receiving a $425,000 Kellogg Foundation grant, which is awarded to schools to optimize child development. The money will be used to implement a Balanced Literacy Program for the school, which has 265 students, about half of whom speak Cantonese as their first language.
  • Dirty Trix Saloon at 408 Clement shut down but has already reopened as Side Bar, “a remodeled drinking hole with more of a lounge feel than its previous incarnation. Multiple flat-screen TVs and a revamped sound system are part of the improvements,” says EaterSF.
  • Want to start growing vegetables in your backyard? Attend the free “Growing Vegetables from Seeds” class at the Richmond Branch Library (351 9th Avenue) on Saturday, May 3 from 2:30 to 4pm. Master Gardener Michael Klein will guide attendees through soil and bed preparation, propagation, planting techniques and plant maintenance.
  • In other gardening news, the SF Botanical Garden will have its 47th annual plant sale on Saturday, May 3 from 10am until 2pm, featuring over 20,000 plants. This year’s theme is drought tolerance hundreds of beautiful natives, succulents, and plants perfect for SF’s many micro-climates are for sale. If you’ve got a green thumb, don’t miss it!
  • 10 year old Dante Parker was honored by the city for his bravery while making a 911 call from his Richmond District home earlier this year, when his mother was experiencing severe abdominal pain. His mother made a full recovery from her stomach virus, and Dante said he was just “glad I helped. If I hadn’t helped, who would take care of me?” Aww. You can listen to it below.

11:32 am | Posted under Art, Business, Classes, Events, Green, Ocean Beach, Real Estate, Schools | 1 comment

Survey of GWHS students shows surprising data about underage drinking

Peer Pressure.

It’s a common theme in high school, when adolescents are struggling to define their identities and in the process, can find themselves in situations where they feel pressured by their peers to conform to popular behaviors which sometimes extend to the use of alcohol.

Early in the 2013-2014 school year, a small group of seven George Washington High School students known as the Washington Positive Peer Pressure Group (WPX3), conducted a survey among their peers about underage drinking.

What they found was that perception was definitely not reality when it came to the actual drinking habits of their classmates.

The survey, whose intent was to discover the truth about students’ relationships with underage drinking, was completed by 350 students or 15% of the student body at George Washington High School.

“We chose this topic for our survey because we felt like there were a lot of stereotypes out there associating high school students and frequent drinking,” the group wrote in their survey summary.

What they found was that GWHS students engaged in underage drinking at a far lower rate than what their peers perceived.

When respondents were asked how often they consumed alcohol in the past 12 months, 60% answered “Never”. Surprisingly, when students were asked a similar question about how frequently they perceived their peers to drink alcohol, less than 6% of students thought their peers “Never” drank alcohol in the past year.

What drives such a large gap between perception and reality? One culprit could be the media. TV shows and movies about teenagers frequently show party scenes with alcohol and binge drinking. This sort of unhealthy behavior glamorized in the media negatively brands youth and creates a general assumption that many students frequently drink alcohol – even among high school students themselves.

The survey also asked respondents what usually pressures them to drink alcohol or think about drinking alcohol. 68.9% answered that they “never feel pressured to drink alcohol”. And when asked where they get information about underage drinking from, 41% answered “Teachers”, followed by “Internet” (29%) and “Parents” (28%).

The survey results spawned a “Positive Social Norms Campaign” on campus led by WXP3 to highlight the surprising data. The group has placed posters around campus with key messages like “FACT CHECK! Over half of students at GWHS have never used alcohol in the past year!” and “Yo teachers! We get most of our information about underage drinking from you. Keep talking, we’re listening!”

They’ve also set up social media channels to facilitate conversations around topics like “What are the positive things you do to avoid the pressure to drink?” Local businesses near the school have also been asked to put up campaign posters.

GWHS Principal Ericka Lovrin was very supportive of the students’ survey and campaign.

“Their efforts are extremely valuable because the students worked hard to bring out accurate data that reflects what’s actually happening at school versus what the media puts out about teenagers,” Lovrin said.

“This work is important to us because it gives us the opportunity to change stereotypes about high school students. We want to change the norms that encourage and perpetuate underage drinking by sharing the realities and positive choices youth are making,” WXP3 wrote.

The WPX3 group is funded by the Youth Leadership Institute, a program of the Department of Public Health. Amanda Trescott, a Program Assistant for the Youth Leadership Institute, says the Social Norms campaign is a 5 year program.

“We are currently in year 4 out of 5 of program implementation. After the 5th year, data results will be compared to evaluate the trends over time to see what changes occurred among the students who attend GWHS as a result of this program,” Trescott said.

Download “Reality Check – GWHS Students Don’t Drink As Much As You Think”

Sarah B.

10:17 am | Posted under Health, Schools | Add comments

Washington High students get a lesson in manufacturing with Eric Mar, SFMade

George Washington High School students get hands-on experience in manufacturing at TechShop

Last Friday, a group of Washington High School students visited TechShop, a fabrication and protoyping studio located South of Market.

The students are all enrolled in an Automotive elective class at Washington High, and their visit is part of a new pilot program funded by Supervisor Eric Mar’s office called Inside Manufacturing. The goal of the program is to expose students to local manufacturing careers, enabling them to meet entrepreneurs and explore ideas through hands-on workshops and technology.

SFMade is a partner in the Inside Manufacturing program as well. The organization is focused on developing the local manufacturing sector by building and supporting the community of entrepreneurs, and promoting locally made products and businesses.

During their trip to TechShop, the students made customized tool racks using acrylic and metal, using the nearly $1 million worth of equipment that sits in the TechShop workspace.

The students also received a demonstration of 3D printing from Type A Machines, a local company that is working to build affordable 3D printers.

The visit to TechShop was the culmination of the pilot year of the Inside Manufacturing program, whose long-term goal is to create sustainable, long-term employment opportunities for youth in local manufacturing – as employees and as entrepreneurs/business owners.

Sarah B.

George Washington High School students talk with Supervisor Mar about the Inside Manufacturing program

11:18 am | Posted under Eric Mar, Schools | 1 comment

Hoax story about “Argon” student suspension puts real school on edge

The National Report, a website that claims it is “a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways” (and features photos of Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz in their masthead), published a story last week claiming a 9 year old student was suspended from a San Francisco elementary school after wishing their teacher a “Merry Christmas”.

The school mentioned in the article was “Argon Elementary School” in San Francisco, eerily close to our own Argonne Elementary School here in the Richmond District.

No national media picked up the story but it did pick up some steam on smaller internet sites and blogs, who missed the fact that it was all a hoax. Readers left over 100 comments of outrage on the story, angry at the school for taking punitive action against the harmless act of a 9 year old.

“Good grief. Every time I read a story like this I am amazed that parents continue to stupidly send their kids to these schools where liberal leftists can indoctrinate them with all their perverted, godless, communist philosophies,” one commenter wrote.

At the bottom of the article it even offers a fake Gmail account for the “Atheist” teach in the article who suspended the student, encouraging angry readers to send him a “Merry Christmas” e-mail. The photo used in the story is actually of one in Maryland.

The “Argon” name of the school in the article caused a ripple of confusion among real Argonne parents and students last week as well. One parent told us that there has been increased security on the school campus since the story spread, and that Argonne’s Principal, Cami Okubo, had to post an explanation on the school website denying that the story had anything to do with their campus or students:

    Dear Argonne School Community,

    I am writing to inform you that a news story was published stating that a fourth grade student from Argon Elementary in San Francisco was suspended for saying “Merry Christmas” to a teacher. The incident did not occur at our school, Argonne Elementary or any school in the San Francisco Unified School District.

    Thank you for continuing to support our school community.

    Warm regards,
    Cami Okubo Principal at Argonne Elementary

The posting from Okubo is the only thing on the Argonne website at the moment – no other content is reachable.

The article on National News Report has since changed the name of the alleged school to “Anon Elementary School”, but it seems the damage has been done. What was meant to be a holiday prank turned into a real school incident, alarming parents and confusing readers. But let’s set the record straight – the story was a hoax and had nothing to do with Argonne Elementary School.

Sarah B.

12:22 pm | Posted under Schools | 1 comment

Photos: 2013 Leap Sandcastle Contest at Ocean Beach

After having to reschedule their event due to the government shutdown, Leap Arts finally held their 30th Annual Sandcastle Contest at Ocean Beach on Saturday.

Thousands came out to view the sand sculptures on what turned out to be a perfect day at Ocean Beach. The sculptures were created by elementary school students that had been teamed up with local architects, designers, contractors, corporations, and engineers.

This year’s theme was “Masterpieces in Sand”, and teams were encouraged to select a work of art from any period in history or art form as inspiration for their sand sculpture.

The Chinese Immersion School at DeAvila took home the best in show gold prize this year, with their sculpture of a sand dragon encircling a pyramid. The silver best in show went to Redding Elementary School for their locally flavored sculpture which depicted the Golden Gate Bridge and Victorian homes.

The best in show gold sculpture by The Chinese Immersion School at DeAvila

The third place best in show bronze award went to Miraloma Elementary School for their depiction of Harry Potter as a Vitruvian Man, inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Neighborhood school George Peabody Elementary earned an award for the best site signage thanks to a wooden camel that accompanied their sculptures of the sphinx and the pyramids.

2012′s event raised $250,000 for LEAP, which goes towards funding their programs that serve over 8,000 students in over 40 schools across the Bay Area with hands-on learning experiences in the arts.

Congratulations to all who participated in this fun event – it was a great day!

View more photos

Sarah B.

The silver best in show scultpure from Redding Elementary School

The bronze best in show sculpture from Miraloma Elementary School

The sculpture and winning signage from George Peabody Elementary School

4:45 am | Posted under Events, Ocean Beach, Photos, Schools | 4 comments

Photo: 10th & goal at the 69th annual Bell Game

George Washington High School vs. Lincoln High School, 10/31/13. Photo by Hugh Stickney

The 69th annual “Bell Game” took place between the George Washington High School Eagles and the Lincoln High School Mustangs last week, on the field with the best Bay view in the city.

Unfortunately GWHS got their lunch handed to them in a 40-7 loss. Let’s hope they can bring the victory bell back next year!

Sarah B.

11:09 am | Posted under Photos, Schools, Sports | 2 comments

Public meeting for upcoming renewal of “Our Children, Our City” fund, Nov. 6

This Wednesday, the Richmond District Neighborhood Center, along with Mayor Edwin Lee, San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Richard Carranza, and senior leaders from the City and SFUSD, will host a public community meeting to get input from residents on the Children’s Fund and Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF).

The fund, which provides $100 million to youth programs across the city, is expiring soon, and leading up to its probable renewal, the city is seeking feedback from parents, teachers, service providers and others who have experienced programs and services paid for by the fund during the last decade.

Here in the neighborhood, the Richmond District Neighborhood Center, Richmond District YMCA and a number of other agencies receive funding from the PEEF to provide after school services, as well as some of the adult programs at the Richmond Village Beacon (part of the RDNC). Some wellness programs in the schools also receive funding from the PEEF.

While most people involved with the fund believe a renewal is likely, the purpose of the community meetings is to get feedback and guidance on how the funds should be allocated in the future. What is up for discussion is whether the funds, or at least some of them, might be ratified to continue indefinitely, whether there are other services that should be included in the fund (e.g. Youth formerly in foster care) or early childhood, as well as how the funds should be allocated and governed.

The meeting takes place this Wednesday at the Academy of Sciences from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. If you plan to attend, please RSVP on Facebook, by emailing cng@rdnc.org or calling 751-6600. Childcare, translation and food will be provided at the meeting. View the flyer

Sarah B.

10:51 am | Posted under Community, Schools | 1 comment

Rescheduled: LEAP annual sandcastle contest on Ocean Beach, November 9

The “Awesome Fireblasting Dragon” that won Best of Show for Creative Arts Charter School in 2011

After being rescheduled due to the federal shutdown, this Saturday will finally see the LEAP 30th Annual Sandcastle Contest at Ocean Beach.

Each year, LEAP teams up architects, designers, contractors, corporations, engineers and local elementary school students for the contest.

Before the event, teams meet with students in the classroom to develop ideas based on a set theme. Plans are finalized, clay models are shaped, team structure and schedules are defined, and tasks are assigned, all in preparation for the big day.

On Saturday morning, the teams and students will arrive and await the whistle that signals the start of the contest at 10am. From there, four hours of intensive building begins and results in over two dozen creatures and structures all made from sand.

This year’s theme is “Masterpieces in Sand”, and teams are encouraged to select a work of art from any period in history or art form (from cave paintings to Greek Tragedies to break dancing) as inspiration for their sand sculpture.

Last year’s event raised $250,000 for LEAP, which goes towards funding their programs that serve over 8,000 students in over 40 schools across the Bay Area with hands-on learning experiences in the arts.

The competition begins at 10:30am and finishes at 4:30pm. If you want to just see the finished product, we recommend arriving after 2pm.

Sarah B.

5:15 am | Posted under Events, Ocean Beach, Schools | Add comments