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Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category


Local links: Donut art, Argonne Fair, FUF tree planting, OB bonfires & more

Jay Mercado. Photo by Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

Happy hump day, Richmond District! Here are some local links for ya:

  • Neighborhood artist Jay Mercado, known for his donut paintings, was featured in the Chronicle this week. Still life painter raises doughnuts to level of art
  • The Argonne School Spring Fair is this Saturday from There will be food trucks (El Toyanese, Sunrise Deli, America’s Best Roasting Company), carnival games, rock climbing, live animals, entertainment, crafts, shopping, a raffle and much more. This year 17th Ave will be blocked to through traffic so all food and entertainment can be enjoyed outdoors just outside the school’s gates. The fair will be on the school’s premises at 17th Avenue and Cabrillo. Admission is free.
  • Want a tree planted in front of your home or building? Friends of the Urban Forest have planned a Richmond District tree planting for June. “We usually subsidize about 75% of the costs and handle most of the logistics. You only need to co-pay $135 and we’ll plant a tree with you in the sidewalk in front of your home AND come back for 3-years of follow-up care.” The deadline to apply for a tree is April 29.
  • Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR) recently posted an update on the National Park Service policy on fires at Ocean Beach. “For the upcoming spring/summer season fires will be allowed at Ocean Beach while we continue to work out the details of the future program.” Visit the PAR website for further details on changes that are being considered. Another public meeting will be scheduled in the late summer.
  • The Richmond District Library (351 9th Ave) will host “Women and Money – Pennies to Plans” on April 23rd from 6pm-7pm. “This workshop covers topics that all women deal with, such as budgeting, credit, and insurance, as well as specific life stages that many women face, such as having children, divorcing, and becoming a widow. This program is provided in conjunction with Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco.”
  • Last week, a jury convicted Eduardo Chaparro-Esquivel, who ran over Albert Bartal in November 2011. Chaparro-Esquivel pursued Bartal and ran him down in the Shell 9th Avenue gas station parking lot after a fight at the Jack in the Box on 11th Avenue and Geary. The jury convicted Chaparro-Esquivel of torture, mayhem, and assault with a deadly weapon with an enhancement for great bodily injury, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. He will be sentenced on May 6. Bartal has never regained consciousness and lives in an acute care facility in the East Bay.
  • Mind your driving and speed when you’re traveling on Fulton. Speed limits were reduced and the Chronicle recently asked “Is this San Francisco’s worst speed trap?”. “In one 10-hour period, SFPD handed out 100 tickets. All but two were for speeding.”
  • Lou’s Sandwiches (5017 Geary near 14th Avenue), which some might consider the Ike’s of the Richmond District, recently got some notice from The Examiner. “The common threads that run through all of Lou’s offerings are the Lou’s sauce, basically aioli with “natural herbs,” and an olive oil-based jalapeño spread that adds just enough heat to make things interesting. A wall-sized menu board implored patrons to mix the two, whatever the sandwich.”
12:40 pm | Posted under Art, Crime, Events, Food, Green, Ocean Beach, Schools | 1 comment

Washington High students prepare for tech careers through robotics club

KALW Radio recently profiled a robotics club (known as the “Eaglebots”) at George Washington High School, where students are learning math, science, computer science and engineering skills that can prepare them for a future career in technology.

The club entered a national robotics competition where they competed against 3,000 other teams in Davis, CA. They had six weeks to prepare for the prescribed challenge: to build a robot that can lift and stack big plastic bins.

The students worked every day after school and Saturdays, and relied on YouTube videos and internet searches to help them with the project. They’re building a robot and also writing code to make it perform specific functions.

It’s part of a city-wide focus on technology curriculum in schools that the SF Unified School District, and sponsor Salesforce, have invested in.

The Eaglebots club worked with a neighborhood organization to raise $20,000 from Facebook to help fund the creation of “mechaneagle”, their name for the robot.

Read the full story online or listen to the audio of it below.

We don’t know how they fared at the competition which took place in mid-March. If you do, leave a comment to let us know!

Sarah B.

10:57 am | Posted under Schools | 4 comments

Angry parents at Star of the Sea School ask Archdiocese to oust church leaders

Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle

The Chronicle reports that on Wednesday night, more than 100 parents of Star of the Sea School students asked the San Francisco Archdiocese that the controversial leaders of their school’s church be removed from their posts.

It’s been a rough start to the year for the Star of the Sea community as Father Joseph Illo, the new head priest at the Star of the Sea Church, has come under fire for new policies and practices.

In January, Father Illo instituted a new policy banning girls from being altar servers. This despite girls had been allowed to serve alongside boys since the 1970’s.

Illo told the media that he had “no choice but to exclude girls because the future of the Catholic Church is at stake.”

“The specifics of serving at the altar is a priestly function,” Illo said. “And the Catholic church does not ordain women.”

Then in February, Illo was criticized again after another church leader, Father Driscoll, handed out pamphlets to young students at the adjoining Star of the Sea school that many parents felt were inappropriate.

In preparation for their first confession, second graders were given a pamphlet asking questions about sexual topics like “Did I practice impure acts on myself or masturbate?”

“It talked about some pretty serious things, that pamphlet,” said parent Meghan Parent. “So yeah, obviously we want to protect our kids as much as possible.”

The Star of the Sea School and the adjoining church share a name and real estate, but not leadership and members. The two organizations are technically separate, and most of the students and their parents are not members of the church.

At Wednesday night’s meeting, parents “took turns at a microphone and cited examples of how they believe the men had disrupted the open, tolerant atmosphere of the school,” wrote the Chronicle.

Some parents feel that Father Illo’s new policies and attitudes have excluded many children from participating in the school’s spiritual activities.

At Wednesday’s meeting, which was organized by the school parents’ club, speakers said recent policy changes have shaken their school community and left many children confused about their role in the school and the church.

“It is with such great sadness and such a heavy heart that I find myself right here, right now,” said parent Brenda Kittredge, who went to school at Star of the Sea herself and now has four children at the school. “It frightens me that for a second I actually thought about sending my children somewhere else.” SF Chronicle

Father Illo and representatives from the Archidiocese’s office were present at Wednesday night’s meeting, but did not speak. The representatives told parents that their concerns would be taken to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who would ultimately be the one to make any decisions about the Star of the Sea religious leadership.

Father Illo acknowledged to the Chronicle that it’s a difficult situation and that there is a lot of tension and anxiety between himself and the school parents

“It was a good forum,” Illo told the Chronicle. “It’s important to hear their perspective.”

Sarah B.

1:52 pm | Posted under Schools | 12 comments

Star of the Sea School parents upset after young students questioned about sex

Controversy was brewing again at Star of the Sea this week after the church handed out pamphlets to young students at the adjoining school that many parents felt were inappropriate.

In preparation for their first confession, second graders were given a pamphlet asking questions about sexual topics like “Did I practice impure acts on myself or masturbate?”

Parents told ABC7 News that they’re not upset with the Star of the Sea School or its administration – which is run separately from the church – but rather with the new priest at the neighboring church who walked onto the campus and handed out the literature to young students.

“It talked about some pretty serious things, that pamphlet,” said parent Meghan Parent. “So yeah, obviously we want to protect our kids as much as possible.”

This is the second time that the church, led by Father Joseph Illo, has received media attention recently.

In late January, the church made national news when Father Illo changed a policy to now ban girls from being altar servers in the church.

ABC7 News reports that parents at the school are now forming a group that will help facilitate communications between the priest and the school. They hope future lessons about sin will be tailor-made for young children.

Sarah B.

10:25 am | Posted under Schools | 11 comments

Local links: Burmese Kitchen back, Red Lantern to open, GWHS’ views & more

Sunset at Ocean Beach, 1/26/15. Photo by @ob-kc

Happy Tuesday, everyone! While the east coast is getting the lion’s share of harsh weather, enjoy last night’s sunset above – and these local links:

  • Hoodline has a new article on the coyotes of Golden Gate Park with some nice photos. “Coyote-watchers are encouraged to visit the western end of Golden Gate park at dusk and in the early morning hours. They’re also frequently spotted near North Lake, Ocean Beach, Presidio Golf Course and Land’s End near dawn.”
  • It was curtains for Burmese Kitchen but they have found a new home in the neighborhood in the old To Hyang space (3815 Geary near 2nd Avenue). “Though not strictly vegetarian, Burmese Kitchen prominently bills itself as vegetarian-friendly and even has a decent amount of vegan options, with most dishes priced between $6.95-9.50. Hours will be daily from 5-10 p.m., with weekend lunch hours to be announced soon.” [Bold Italic]
  • In other food news, a new Asian fusion / sushi restaurant called Red Lantern is getting ready to open at Geary and 22nd Avenue. They’re finishing their build-out according to their Facebook page but no opening date or hints as to the menu yet. Thanks to @cassfung for the tip.
  • Not surprisingly, one online publication named the George Washington High School football stadium as one of the top 10 in the country thanks to its amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The field is also “accented by a beautiful 2,500 square foot frieze with panels that depict both ancient and modern sports in the Olympics. Quotations from Plato and other philosophers are also displayed.”
  • You might notice some painting and tiling happening on the front of the Busvan buildings on Clement Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues. The improvements aren’t for a new tenant, according to owner Michael B. “We felt that we needed to repaint them to keep them fresh and attractive for our current tenants. The added benefit of retaining their pleasantness is that doing so helps improve the overall look of the Clement portion of the inner Richmond, which is both a business value for Busvan and a personal value for our family,” Michael told us. The project also includes uncovering and restoring some of the original, cobalt blue and black facade tiles that are upwards of 90 years old. Looking good, Busvan!

9:53 am | Posted under Business, Food, Golden Gate Park, Schools, Wildlife | 16 comments

Local links: Purple Skunk closing, BART to the beach?, MAFIA online, reclaimed furniture & more

Reindeer are back at the Academy of Sciences for the holidays. Photo by @calacademy

  • Lizzie, the owner of Purple Skunk Skateboard Shop at 6037 Geary wrote us to say they are closing their doors after the Christmas holidays. “After 21 years the Purple Skunk doors will be closing. Christmas week is our last retail hoorah. It’s time to retire, but on a good note. We will miss ALL of our customers that we have been serving throughout the years. We will always remember our little groms that got their first skateboard here.” The business is for sale so if you’re interested, contact the shop for more details. We’ll miss you Purple Skunk!
  • BART to the Beach? Don’t get too excited, but BART is “investigating” service expansions over the next decade that would include a second transbay tube and a new line out to the western part of the city. You can download the proposal here, which was presented to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Board committee recently.
  • Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. The Examiner reports that “Next spring, Washington High School in the Richmond is poised to produce one of approximately 3,000 teams to compete in an international robotics competition after students recently created the school’s first robotics club.” The 60 students who have already signed up will be broken into teams of four to focus on different aspects, including building the robot, developing its software, calculating the business and handling public relations. The program was supported by a $20,000 grant from Facebook.
  • Izakaya Ju-Ku on the corner of 19th Avenue and Clement closed a couple of weeks ago. That’s a nice corner spot but has always been challenging for restaurants. We’ll have to see what opens there next…
  • Arion Press, just inside the 14th Avenue Presidio gate, is hosting a free, holiday open house this Saturday from 11am until 6pm. Go on a tour, check out their gallery, and experience the historic bookmaking and letterpress workshop. See where their books are made, including their historic printing presses, 100-year-old machinery, and one of the largest collections of metal type in North America. Free tours of the typefoundry, press room, and book bindery take place at 12noon and 2pm.
  • Two Richmond District residents have started a new furniture business using reclaimed materials. “We started out small but then we quickly realized we have a love for working with reclaimed materials. We have now begun expanding our collection in hopes of sharing it with the community. We’re starting small with a few select pieces but will be expanding in the coming months.” You can check out their products on Etsy – we like that bathtub shelf!
  • Remember MAFIA Bags, a new business that set up a manufacuturing space in the Richmond District, making bags and accessories from recycled sails? Their online store is now up, just in time for the holidays.
4:30 am | Posted under Business, Food, Golden Gate Park, Museums, Schools, Shopping | 30 comments

Lafayette Carnival, Burke’s Fall Festival this Saturday

This Saturday, October 25, two elementary schools in the neighborhood will be holding their annual fall festival fundraisers.

4545 Anza Street
Enjoy a huge inflatable bouncer for the kids, different classes selling food (pizza, baked goods, hot dogs, ice cream, spam masubi, and more), old school carnival games, a dj doing music, and a cake walk. Admission is free but there are tickets that will be on sale to play the carnival games ($0.25 each or $5.00 for 25 tickets).

7070 California Street
Stop by for games, bouncy houses, shopping, a giant slide, festival treats, food trucks and much more. Admission is $5 per person and certain activities require tickets which can be purchased on-site. Note that dogs are not welcome at the festival and there is no parking along 32nd Avenue during the event.

2:02 pm | Posted under Events, Schools | Add comments

Getty’s Playgroup preschool to open new campus inside Presidio 15th Ave gate

The Playschool Preschool Education campus, currently under construction. Photo by Miller Company

Back in 2011, the New York Times published a piece on the Getty family’s private preschool, or as their lawyer liked to refer to it at the time, “a private recreation group”.

“For the past 14 years, Ann and Gordon Getty have run an invitation-only, free preschool for the offspring of some of San Francisco’s most powerful families, including their own grandchildren. Families cannot apply for admission. They are chosen, in sort of a toddler’s version of being tapped for Skull and Bones at Yale,” the article begins.

On top of the blue blood practices it revealed, the article also brought to light some of the concerning issues around the private organization, which hosts their two dozen wee attendees inside the Getty’s own mansion on Broadway.

At the time, the Playgroup had no official licenses for operating a preschool, and had never even been inspected by the fire department.

Concerns were also raised about The Playgroup’s director, Lonna Corder, who had informed some parents that their children had autism or some other developmental disorder – despite having no medical training or certification as a therapist.

Upset parents were hesitant to speak out for fear of offending their hospitable Playgroup hosts, the Getty’s, and risk being asked to leave the group which included perks like a Chez-Panisse trained chef on staff that prepared organic, multicourse lunches for their children.

Fast forward three years and The Playgroup is on its way to becoming a more visible preschool with an open admissions policy.

Just inside the 15th Avenue Presidio gate, on Battery Caulfield Road, sit two historic buildings where the new Playgroup Preschool Education will be located. Building 1818 and 1819, once the location of the Infectious Disease Research Laboratory and Offices of the old Marine Hospital, were built in 1932. The buildings have sat unused for 30 years and were magnets for graffiti and vandalism.

The Playgroup Preschool Education school is designed by architect Zack DeVito, who also designed the Lone Mountain Preschool, just a stone’s throw down the road from The Playgroup Education’s location.

Also part of the team is landscape architecture firm The Miller Company, whose design “features a new arrangement for student pick up and drop off, accessibility upgrades, and secure outdoor play and learning areas set within native plantings adapted to the soil, climate, and orientation of the site.”

The layout of the Playgroup Preschool Education campus by Miller Company. Enlarge

The buildings are relatively small – 6,000 square feet for 1818 and 1,600 for 1819 – but large enough for 60 students.

According to the Presidio Trust projects website, the scope of work for the construction of the school includes hazardous materials abatement, seismic upgrades, ADA improvements (including a limited use/limited application lift to service the basement of building 1818), a new deck to connect the two buildings, a new glazed entry vestibule at the rear of 1818, restoration of historic windows, and select tenant improvements necessary for preschool use (new floor finishes, paint, lighting, ceilings, bathroom fixtures, etc.).

The school will also have a fenced, outdoor play area and when completed, the buildings will be LEED Silver certified.

The Playgroup will also be lifting the veil on its private admissions process by offering the general public the chance to apply for admission. It has contracted with website KidAmit to accept, review and manage applications. The school already held their first informational meeting about the new campus on May 1st.

The school’s location and admissions process is changing, but the leadership is not. The new Playgroup Preschool Education will continue to be directed by Lonna Corder, who is listed as a co-founder along with Ann Getty.

According to the listing for Playgroup on KidAdmit, the school will be employing the Montessori approach with an emphasis on “a teacher directed experience in the year before Kindergarten in order to prepare them for the most competitive Kindergarten programs.”

Annual tuition for the Playgroup, which still lists its current 2880 Broadway location on KidAdmit, ranges from $13,000 up to $19,000 per year depending on the age of the child, how many days per week and hours of attendance. The school’s listing indicates that financial aid is available.

Just down the road, Lone Mountain Preschool’s annual tuition ranges from $8,250 up to $17,500 for pre-kindergarten class. Both offer a September to June school year.

We were unable to find the planned opening date for the Playgroup’s new Presidio campus, but most likely it will be September 2015 when the next school year begins.

Thanks to reader Jason S. for help with researching this story.

Sarah B.

4:10 am | Posted under Schools | 8 comments