McKinley 5th Graders Raise Money for Camp PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 02 October 2014 18:21

The fifth grade students at McKinley Elementary School are trying to raise the money to go to an outdoor science camp.

At the 3-day, 2-night camp, students will learn about being a naturalist, hike, go rock climbing, do some gardening and forage for food. The program is taught by a naturalist at Camp Arroyo in Livermore that’s run through the YMCA.

The three 5th grade classes (96 students) will learn by doing, get their hands dirty with science, said McKinley School 5th grade teacher Katie Spear.

The kids will get outdoors and learn science in the real world, instead of the classroom, Spear said. The main focus will be learning by doing, critical thinking and problem solving.

McKinley has a lot of kids who don’t get a chance to go camping and do outdoor activities, Spear said. So the camp will give them that experience.

The camp isn’t cheap. It’s $15,000 for the 96 students in three 5th grade classes. It’s a quality program but it’s cheaper than the camp in Petaluma that the class went to in previous years, Spear said.

The school has gotten some of the money from grants but they still have to do fundraisers to meet their goal – selling chocolate bars and walk-a-thons.

They also have an online crowd-sourced fundraiser where people can donate online at or people can donate at the school office.

Evening Under Stars Benefits SL Schools PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 25 September 2014 21:54

092514e2By Martha Wright • Special to the Times

The San Leandro Education Foundation (SLED) held its second annual gala, “An Evening Under the Stars” on Sept. 12 at the historic Casa Peralta.

Over 300 education supporters attended, helping to raise nearly $46,000 for San Leandro schools.

“We are so pleased with the success of this year’s gala,” said Morgan Mack-Rose, SLED’s executive director. “The Gala is gaining the reputation of being a fun party for the entire San Leandro community to come together to enjoy great music, food and a beautiful historical site while sharing their passion for quality education for San Leandro’s kids.”

Mack-Rose attributes the financial success of the event to the generosity of its sponsors including Kaiser Permanente, Applied Fusion, Fremont Bank, Wells Fargo Bank and many others.

“Also, with the in-kind donations we received from Production Logic Inc., Cresco Rentals and our partnership with the City of San Leandro, we were able to keep the cost of the event low directing more funds toward San Leandro’s schools,” said Mack-Rose.

092514eGuests chose their meals from five popular food trucks and no-host bars sponsored by Acapulco Restaurant. Drake’s Brewery served local beer, a variety of wines and a signature cocktail. Live music by Latin fusion band, Mobando, kept the energy high and people dancing into the night.

The event also provided an opportunity to visit the San Leandro History Museum on the grounds of Casa Peralta. In the auditorium, students showed videos from San Leandro High School’s Academy of Multimedia (SLAM), highlighting the wide variety of projects students completed last year.

Funds raised by the event will support a variety of efforts by SLED supporting positive youth development, volunteerism and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) projects in schools throughout the San Leandro Unified School District.

Martha Wright is a San Leandro Education Foundation board member.

CAPTION: Guests dined on a variety of dishes from food trucks on the grounds of Casa Peralta at the SLAM Gala and danced to the Latin fusion band Mobando.


Student Musicians Get Some Hi-Tech Celebrity Advice PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:44

091114schStudents at John Muir and Bancroft middle schools got some special musical lessons over Skype last week. The kids were able to hold a question-and-answer session with Cindy Blackman Santana, the drummer for Lenny Kravitz and the wife and collaborator of Carlos Santana. The special session was made possible by the Keep Music Rockin’ Foundation. The students had a great time asking Blackman Santana lots of serious and some funny questions, according to Pamela Richards. The workshop was organized by Rick Richards and Blackman Santana. Both middle schools have kids attending special music workshops this year.


Don’t Let Back-to-School Tasks Sneak Up on You PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2014 11:54

080714sch1By Jason Alderman • Special to the Times

Parents, if this is your first time at the back-to-school rodeo, let me share a few lessons my wife and I have learned the hard way.

Chances are you’ll be spending the next few weeks filling out piles of pre-enrollment paperwork, lining up carpools and, of course, taking the dreaded shopping excursions for clothes and school supplies.

If you’re a first-timer or simply need a back-to-school refresher course, here are a few suggestions that can help you save time, money and sanity:

Get Organized

Maintain a correspondence file from your kid’s school for things like registration requirements, report cards, permission slips, required vaccinations, school policies, teacher and parent contact information, etc.

Ask whether the school has a website, online calendar or email list you can join. Also, create a family master calendar.

Back-to-School Shopping

Between new clothes, classroom supplies and extracurricular activity fees and equipment, many parents end up spending hundreds of dollars per child. Ideally, you’ve been setting money aside all year. If not, you’ll need to determine what you can afford to spend without blowing your overall budget.

Here are a few organizational and money-saving tips:

• Before you shop, make a comprehensive list for each child. Use previous years’ expenses as a guide and compare notes with other parents and school officials.

• Engage kids in the budgeting process. Share how much money is available to spend and get them involved in prioritizing expenses between “needs” and “wants.”

• Go through your kids’ closets and have them try on everything. Make an inventory of items that fit and are in good shape, and take it when shopping so you don’t accidentally buy duplicates. (While you’re at it, share, sell or donate unneeded items.)

• Spread clothing purchases throughout the year so your kids don’t outgrow everything at once. Many stores hold fall clearance sales to make room for holiday merchandise.

• Review the school’s dress code so you don’t waste money on inappropriate clothing.

• Although shopping online would seem to save money, time and gas, don’t forget to factor in shipping and return costs, which could undo any net savings.

• Ask which school supplies you’re expected to buy. Go in with other families to take advantage of volume discounts and sales.

• Find out how much extracurricular activities (athletics, music, art, etc.) cost. Account for uniforms, membership dues, private lessons, field trips, snacks, etc.

• Rent or buy used sporting equipment or musical instruments until you’re sure they’ll stick with an activity.

• Know when to spend more for higher quality. Cheaper notebook paper shouldn’t matter, but don’t buy poorly made shoes that might hamper proper physical development.

• Before buying new clothing or accessories, look for “gently used” items in the closets of your older kids and friends, at garage sales, thrift and consignment stores and online.

• Clip newspaper and online coupons. Many stores will match competitors’ prices even if their own items aren’t on sale.

Bottom line: If you get organized before setting out on back-to-school shopping, you can save money, time and aggravation.


Five Rules for Young Drivers PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2014 11:52

080714sch5If you’re feeling nervous about handing the car keys to your teenager for the first time, you’re not alone. It’s a common sentiment given some sobering statistics.

According to, 20 percent of all 16-year-old drivers will be involved in an accident during their first year behind the wheel. But there are some things you can do to help keep your teenager from becoming a statistic.

Though auto accidents are a fact of life for most drivers, even a minor fender bender can impact insurance rates, costing parents and teens for years to come. The good news is research shows teen drivers who follow rules are half as likely to get in an accident.

Before your teen hits the road, consider establishing some simple guidelines to protect his or her safety and your wallet:

1. Set a driving curfew. More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Set a curfew to keep your teen off the road during these times.

2. Limit passengers. A teen’s relative risk of being involved in a fatal crash increases with each additional passenger. More passengers equal more potential distractions.

3. Make the cell phone off limits while driving. Talking and texting can double the likelihood of an accident. If your teen must use the phone, instruct him or her to pull over before doing so and be sure to set a good example when you are behind the wheel.

4. Empower your teen to exercise his or her rights as a passenger. Only 44 percent of teens say they would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them. Remind your teens they are just as vulnerable in an accident as the driver, so they should speak up if they feel unsafe.

5. Be Prepared. Arm your teens with the knowledge of what they should do if they do get into an accident. Mobile apps such as WreckCheck can help take the guesswork out of a tense situation, guiding users through a step-by-step process to create an accident report and providing tips on how to file and follow up on a claim.

A Teen Driver Contract is a simple way to keep your teen accountable. It establishes basic driving ground rules and clearly lays out the consequences associated with driving privileges. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has developed an online tool to guide parents through building a customized Teen Driver Contract. There’s also a downloadable sample contract to help get you started.


The Signs of Digital Addiction PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2014 11:50

080714sch2Every day technology consumes our lives as the phone, computer, tablet and other high-tech devices have become not just an object, but also a close companion. And for those who are extremely connected to their devices, going without them, even for only a few minutes, can be an anxiety-filled experience.

A majority of American youth own smartphones, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. Having the ability to check your mail, play games and browse the internet right in your pocket is a leap forward for technology and staying connected to the workplace, but it may come at a cost.

The pathological fear of remaining out of touch with technology is a relatively modern affliction. It’s basically a side effect from changes the mobile phone has made to human habits, behaviors and even the way we perceive reality.

Entire relationships are becoming defined through mobile texting and colorful little emoticons, from saying “I love you” to “I think we should move on.”

So how did it come to this? Have smart-phones become an extension of Americans or is everyone simply becoming victims of a fast-paced, always-connected society? Chances are it’s a little bit of both.

Dr. Chuck Howard, licensed psychologist at Argosy University in Denver, believes it can be more complex than simply stamping a label on this growing problem.

“It is a result of people becoming more and more electronically connected to the point that their technology-based network and relationships become their home community,” says Howard. “Losing that connection is essentially a form of electronic banishment. They fear being tossed out of, or losing their ‘social village.’”

“It can be a symptom of a potential addiction,” says Howard. “Users who are happy and having a good time when on their device, then face great stress and anxiety without it. They may obsess about it. They can’t put it down. This is when actual addiction becomes a threat.”

When you see a behavior becoming destructive, and admit to having a problem, you can handle it in the same way as other types of addiction. “Develop strategies for meeting your social needs in other ways… without depending on an electronic platform,” suggests Howard.

Start by resisting the urge to constantly check your phone. Try limiting your number of mobile social media networks and consider joining more in-person groups or clubs. Set aside some time to leave your phone alone, such as at dinner, with friends or going to sleep.

If it becomes an addiction and begins to strain your relationships, consider asking others around you what they think. And lastly, if you can’t do it alone, then seek professional help.


Help Your Child Avoid Common Sports Hazards PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2014 11:48

080714sch4For many kids, playing sports is an important part of growing up, and that’s a good thing. Sports are a great way for children to develop lifelong exercise habits, build relationships, and learn teamwork.

“Parents can play a vital role in ensuring young athletes train and condition properly,” says Dr. James Perrin, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “From staying hydrated to wearing safety gear, kids may need periodic reminders.”

These tips will help your child avoid common sports hazards:


Athletes will reduce their risk of injury by strengthening muscles to protect vulnerable ligaments. This is especially important in certain sports — soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and lacrosse — in which athletes are prone to injuring their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Girls need to be especially careful. Adolescent girls are four to eight times more likely to suffer ACL injuries than boys.

Neuromuscular training programs that strengthen hips, the core muscles and hamstrings can significantly reduce one’s risk for injury. This training will help athletes improve their form and have a greater awareness of how to safely pivot, jump and land.

Stay Hydrated

Water is the best way for kids to stay hydrated. Sports and energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and adolescents, but in most cases kids don’t need them, and some of these products contain ingredients that could be harmful to children. Sports drinks which contain carbohydrates and electrolytes can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous exercise, but in most cases they’re unnecessary. Plain water is usually best, as sports drinks contain extra calories and sugar.

Energy drinks, which contain stimulants like caffeine, are not healthy for children or teens. Read the label to know exactly what you’re giving your child.

Protect Your Head

Because young athletes’ brains are still developing, it’s important to take head injuries seriously. Adolescent concussions can cause long-term brain injury.

If your young athlete sustains a concussion, they should be evaluated by a physician and receive medical clearance before returning to play. While concussion symptoms usually resolve in seven to 10 days, some may take weeks or months to recover, and some students may need accommodations at school during this recovery.

Don’t Overdo It

The most common type of sports injury is from overuse. Ignoring pain can worsen the injury and cause long-term damage.

“The best way for parents to prevent overuse injuries is to pay attention to their child’s training schedule,” Perrin says.

Limit your child to a single sport or team per season, and the training schedule to no more than five days per week.

More safety tips can be found at

— StatePoint

Raise Grades with Online Learning Tools PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2014 11:43

080714sch3Unfortunately, the pace of classroom learning can’t be tailored to every student’s individual needs — particularly these days, as class sizes are growing and funding for special enrichment programs becomes limited.

Many children will need to spend some time outside the classroom going beyond their regular homework to keep up or get ahead in school. No matter what your child’s education goals are, there are great ways you can help make this school year the best one yet.

• Math practice: Square roots, polynomials, quadrilaterals. Learning these terms and concepts can get dicey quickly. Keeping up at home is important, and sometimes requires more than just doing the day’s take-home assignment.

Consider supplementing homework with online tools. For example, programs like Shmoop, an online learning and test prep provider, provides free study guides for review and courses for remedial work in many academic topics, including social science, arts and music, science, and English.

• Read the classics: Kids who read for pleasure can improve their grades. Not only will the exposure to literary giants like John Steinbeck, Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe build vocabulary and improve reading comprehension, there is much to be learned about history and culture from picking up a great book.

Be sure to use tools that can help clarify some of the denser material. Online learning guides can be a great place to get synopses and analysis.

• Use flashcards: It may sound quaint, but there is really no substitute for quizzing yourself with a flash card. Even the act of creating the flashcard can help reinforce concepts and facts.

• Extra Help: A little extra academic help after school can sometimes mean the difference between struggle and success. But between school and soccer practice, ballet lessons and getting dinner on the table, adding a tutor or after-school class to the list might be a logistical impossibility.

Consider online courses that can be completed from the comfort of home and are common core aligned. For those students taking Advanced Placement courses this fall, check out their AP test prep courses. These courses help students nail the important, for-credit, year-end exam.

— StatePoint

St. Felicitas Career Day PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2014 14:17

071014schBefore leaving for summer vacation, the students in St. Felicitas School’s second grade dressed up for career day. The kids wore outfits to represent the jobs they would like to have in the future, including athletes, teachers, doctors, and more.

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 19 June 2014 10:44

061914sch1By Poppy Richie • Special to the Times

This spring the San Leandro Principled Academy treated their first through eighth grade students to a week of assemblies about careers.

Parent Ms. Cherrie Garay organized a group of parents to talk about their jobs, and to emphasize the education it took to achieve their career goals.

The parent presenters defined the qualities that were necessary for them to achieve their career goals. Dr. Rosa Sanchez-Rosen talked about her 18 years of education to become a specialist in her field. She treats blood related diseases in children.

Others spoke about what they love about their job, and the challenges they faced.  Deputy Chief Jan Davis of the BART police force talked about how it was difficult for her to enter this line of work because she is a petite woman, and most officers, when she joined, were taller than her and male. One student asked if she ever felt like giving up.  She told about one training week that was almost unbearable, and she wanted to quit, but she persevered and did not give up.

Each speaker brought a career “show and tell.”  Mr. Jason Rittenbach, a licensed contractor, brought his tool kit and wore a hard hat. He also demonstrated a fascinating tool that measures with a laser pointer.

061914sch2Officer Shaunte Barnes, a BART police officer, came in full uniform with a police vehicle that students were allowed to sit in for a few seconds. Ms. Lisa Randon, a Registered Nurse who specializes in caring for premature babies, brought a tiny diaper that would fit on a wrist to demonstrate the size of babies under her care.

Mr. Larry Collins, a chef for Carlton Plaza in San Leandro, wore his chef’s hat, brought some of his tools, and talked about how he studied all about nutrition in order to serve his clients healthy food.  Mrs. Teresa Goodlow, a lawyer, brought a heavy thick law book, and emphasized the importance of developing reading and writing skills if you want to become a lawyer.  She encouraged anyone who likes to argue to look into her career.

Students had lots of questions for the speakers, and they learned about the value of getting a good education in order to get the job of their dreams.

Poppy Richie is a second grade teacher at The Principled Academy, 2305 Washington Avenue, San Leandro. For a school tour, call 351-6400, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

CAPTION 1: Allied Services Construction Owner Jason Rittenbach wears his hard hat with his children.

CAPTION 2: BART Deputy Chief Jan Davis with daughter Destiny.

San Leandro High Yearbook Inspired by ‘The Wiz’ Theme PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 19 June 2014 10:42

061914eThe San Leandro High yearbook for this past year was inspired by the musical, “The Wiz.”

In the coming-of-age message, the freshmen seek courage, the sophomores wisdom, the juniors look for love and the seniors discover the power to make their dreams come true lies within them. And the school staff gets to play the wizards and witches.

The yearbook got a good reception, said yearbook advisor and journalism teacher Linda Thurston.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the MGM movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” on which “The Wiz” is based.

“Oz is probably the most collectible theme of all time,” Thurston said.  “But we believe after diligent internet research and asking several yearbook reps that we are the first school anywhere to use it as a theme.”

CAPTION: The San Leandro High yearbook staff created a design this year by incorporating “The Wiz” as their theme.

2014 Earth Day Poster Winners PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 12 June 2014 10:47


On May 28, 35 students, were recognized at an awards ceremony at the Marina Community Center in San Leandro.

Thirty-five students were recognized at an awards ceremony at the Marina Community Center in San Leandro on May 28, as they showcased their knowledge of recycling in the 20th Annual Oro Loma/Waste Management of Alameda County Earth Day Poster Contest.

Nearly 250 family, friends and guests were in attendance and a total of $25,000 was awarded to students and schools within Oro Loma Sanitary District.

“It’s amazing to see the level of artistic talent in these students,” said Jason Warner, Oro Loma Sanitary District General Manager. “Every year, we are even more impressed with their knowledge and understanding of recycling.”

Winners in six grade groups, from first through twelfth grades, were selected based on (1) how well the poster expressed this year’s theme of “Recycling A through Z,” (2) creativity, and (3) artistic expression on an 11” x 17” poster. Five Recycling Star winners were selected from the Kindergarten entries.

The 2014 first place winners are as follows: grade
1-2, Sky Poon, from Chinese Christian Schools; grade
3-4, Izabella Ramirez, from Dayton Elementary School; grade 5-6, Edwin Kwong, from Chinese Christian Schools; grade 7-8, Phoebe Lawton, from Assumption School; grade 9-10, Leslie Morales, from Arroyo High School; grade 11-12, Rachel Yu, from San Leandro High School.