We are excited to announce our upcoming Spring Art Show titled "Art Fest 2013- What is Art?" scheduled for May 16, from 4-7pm. This year's Spring Show will be quite the Art Event, featuring multiple live stages of K-8 music, theater, dance performances, visual art galleries, and interactive art making inside and outside the walls of CACS. Come join our students in sharing their work in the arts this year.
Twenty-eight students in grades 5-7 were selected to join the Safe Schools Ambassador program. Training began last week, as students met for a two-day workshop learning how to act as school leaders and help stop bullying and violence. The training gives student Ambassadors the motivation and skills to resolve conflicts, defuse incidents, and support isolated and excluded students. After the training, small group meetings of Ambassadors are held every few weeks. These meetings, led by the adult mentors, provide time for strengthening skills, support data collection and analysis of Ambassador interventions, and help sustain student and adult commitment to the program.
CACS is excited to introduce the Safe Schools Ambassador program to our middle school, and we thank Community Matters for their generous grant funding to bring the program to our school.
On Tuesday afternoon, the halls and yard of CACS burst with scientific wonder, as CACS hosted our “Inquiry, Art, and Exploration” Exhibit. Over the past semester, teachers have been facilitating learning experiences in science that focused on building understanding of overarching science concepts through processes of scientific inquiry, design thinking, and arts integration. The afternoon exhibit showcased student learning across the grade levels.
The afternoon began with a party on the yard, with reggae music by Rozsone and the Fyah Squad Band and a family picnic sponsored by the CACS Family Association. Students participated in a variety of outdoor activities: planting seeds at our new garden, examining exhibits hosted by the California Academy of Sciences and parent scientists and artists, and creating art at our art stations.
Classroom interactive exhibits followed, demonstrating learning from grades K-8. Students hosted guests throughout the school: 1st graders held live hissing cockroaches and discussed life in the rainforest, giving guests a tour of their classrooms, which were transformed into rainforests with hand-made lianas (hanging vines) and paper-mache plant life. 6th graders presented their prototypes of inventions to help solve the problem of water pollution in the Ganges in India, trying to convince “donors” to support their proposals. Kindergartners guided their families on a “bird-watching” tour as they searched the building to spot their sculptures of different San Francisco birds. Students in every grade demonstrated their learning through art, inquiry, reflection, and oral presentations to families and friends.
Lastly, we took a moment out of the celebration to dedicate our new school garden to Sam McCann Kingston, beloved former student, artist, brother, and son. Almost three years since his passing, we continue to think of him and honor his spirit at CACS.
CACS’ 4th-8th grade dancers had a fantastic time in their 'flash mob' experience last Friday, as they joined dancers from across the Bay Area to launch Bay Area Dance Week. Hundreds of dancers joined together in dance at Union Square to kick off the celebration, a 10-day festival with an anticipated 600+ free events including classes, performances, open rehearsals, and lecture demonstrations. CACS dancers prepared for the event in the dance elective classes, and they were thrilled to be a part of this community dance experience.
On April 19th, students from grades K-8 gathered for a celebration of food, talent and some friendly competition at the Annual Talent and Trivia Night. Student performances featured singing, dancing, stilt-walking, fencing, and musical performances including some original compositions by students. In addition, teams of students and their families competed in a trivia contest featuring questions from the curriculum at all grade levels, with the “Sick Unicorns from Outer Space” taking first prize. All proceeds from this exciting evening will support the eighth grade field trip to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles in May. Thanks to all the wonderful performers and competitors!
CACS perfected the recipe for a great party last month: fine food, live music, a tantalizing auction with exciting items for bidding, and a generous and fun-loving crowd of CACS families, staff, and friends. Our annual spring auction filled the West Bay Conference Center with enthusiasm and good cheer. Volunteers served delicious food and beverages from Hog and Rocks, The Little Chihuahua, Max’s Diner, Arizmendi Bakery, and the Barrel Head Brewhouse. Parents danced to live music from the Cut Loose Cover Band, while the CACS afterschool staff provided on-site childcare to make the evening run smoothly.
More than anything, CACS is thrilled by the generosity of our extended community. Funds raised at the auction will be used to support our talented staff as they provide an educational program based on student-centered instructional approaches, cooperative, project-based learning activities, and an integration of the arts into the core curriculum. The auction could not have happened without hundreds of volunteer hours provided by parents at every grade level of the school. We thank families for their time, over one hundred San Francisco businesses and individuals for their generous donations, and all our guests for their financial support of our school. Once again, the spring auction not only raised needed funds, but also offered an opportunity to celebrate our fabulous community and children.
CACS is happy to announce that the hiring process for the position of school director has been completed, as the CACS Board of Directors voted unanimously to offer the position of Director to Fernando Aguilar, and he has accepted. Fernando has worked at CACS as a 6th grade teacher, Assistant Director, and most recently Interim Director of the school.
Families, staff, and the Board all put tremendous energy and thought into this process to make sure that our school leadership is strong for the future. Several major themes emerged in the feedback the board received over the director search, including a strong sense that Creative Arts is on the right track and that our families take great pride in our school. Our community is highly aligned around our mission and educational approach, and committed to seeing it further develop.
Board president Ellison Folk commnted “Fernando brings to his new role a deep alignment to our mission, a strong connection to our community, and a true commitment to student success. Acting as Interim Director this year he has demonstrated his willingness to approach the challenges that arise with flexibility, thoughtfulness, perseverance and humor. He has devoted himself to the daily operations, the larger questions and the needs of staff, families and above all, students. We welcome Fernando into his new role and look forward to his support and leadership.”
On Thursday, CACS middle school students shared their hard work with the CACS community by hosting the CACS Middle School History and Science Fair. All sixth graders created science projects, each involving careful experimentation using the scientific method. Students spent several weeks preparing for the experience in their science class, where they learned about scientific inquiry, lab tools, graphing, conducting experiments, and writing the pieces of a science project. Five projects were chosen to represent CACS at the San FranciscoScience Fair at the Randall Museum at the end of the month. Look for our students’ original experiments about germs on public transportation; how soda, vinegar, and water affect teeth; homemade radios; how detergent affects gray-water irrigation; and how cat toys influence cat behavior.
While sixth graders and a few seventh graders participated in the Science Fair, the remaining seventh graders and eighth graders contributed to the History Fair. Students created film documentaries, research papers, websites, and exhibits highlighting what they have learned this semester. Students from lower grades visited the Science and History Fair during the day, watching performances and admiring exhibits as they began to wonder what projects they will create when they get to middle school. In the evening, CACS welcomed our families and friends to admire and celebrate our students’ hard work.
All of the projects were judged by professionals within our community, including a judge from the California Academy of Science, parent volunteers, former teachers, and friends of the school. We congratulate our winners of the Science and History Fair, and thank our volunteer judges for helping to celebrate the exciting work that our middle school students have done this semester.
CACS delighted in our visit with artist and author Dallas Clayton, who provided a energetic interactive experience for our students in grades K-5 on Monday. Dallas performed from his new book “An Awesome Book of Love,” and co-created a song with students about what they loved. He even painted a “Love is Awesome” sign that was decorated by students in grades K-2, and shared autographed posters from his new book.
Dallas Clayton, author and artist of multiple books, also runs the Awesome World Foundation, as a way to travel the world and promote children’s literacy. We thank him for sharing his love of books, the arts, and big dreams with our students!
The halls and classrooms of CACS were bustling Thursday night, as students in every grade demonstrated their learning to families and friends. Look! Listen! Learn! featured a showcase of writing, performing, drawing, constructing, painting, and more as students shared their work in their academic and arts classes.
Families and friends enjoyed a wide range of interactive learning experiences. A few highlights include:
- The transformation of one kindergarten class into the Arctic Circle, while the other became an entertaining puppet theater exploring Aesop’s fables
- Presentations from the Innovation Lab, featuring student design projects in the upper grades
- Second graders explaining through words, sewing projects, and art how food flows from farm to market and into our homes
- Fifth graders in reader’s theater, performing a class-written piece on why we have laws and government
- Middle school students explaining their work on ancient societies
- Musical performances by the 4th/5th grade School Band
- Middle school students sharing the poems and art they’ve created through CEYA, a collaborative project with elders at Victorian Manor
- Video exhibits of our dance program
- Families playing board games and examining artifacts and maps created by fifth graders in their study of explorers
- First and eighth graders transforming themselves into historical national and world figures
- Fourth graders teaching the audience about California’s regions
- Eighth graders performing as world leaders
- Third graders discussing their giant art pieces depicting San Francisco landmarks, based on their research of San Francisco neighborhoods
The learning exhibition highlighted our students’ work, offering a snapshot of the school’s work integrating the arts into our academic subjects to support student achievement. The school was a whirlwind of learning, exploding with eager students wearing “Ask Me” badges ready to share their work. CACS applauds its fantastic staff and hard-working students for all their efforts to make the night, and the semester, such a success. For more information, check out our parent-created mini-documentary on the evening, discussing arts integration at CACS.
We are excited to announce that our participation in the Art Sparks Learning Event, run by Art.com, was a thrilling success! Due to thousands of responses to our proposed gallery, CACS will receive 24 works of art that our staff has selected to support curriculum at CACS. As Thanksgiving approaches, we would like to express our gratitude to both Art.com for their generous donation and to our many fans who helped to make this happen. The art will arrive next week, and we are eager to use it as an inspiration for our students’ learning.
Who were all those zombies, monsters, and superheroes roaming the CACS yard on Saturday? CACS hosted all of these costumed guests and many more at our annual Fall Fair on October 22. Sunny skies and abundant community spirit led to a packed event of fun for kids of all grades. With games galore, a cakewalk with delicious prizes, a crafts table, and the ever-popular middle school-sponsored haunted house, students had a fantastic afternoon. Our good-natured administration and staff cooled off at the sponge-throwing booth, where students with good aim left them just a bit drippy. Our grills burned throughout the afternoon, supplying hungry families with burgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers, while everyone cooled off with freshly made agua fresca and savored delicious desserts. Parent musicians entertained with live music, and the 5th and 6th grade dance elective performed to a medley of "This is Halloween," "Thriller," and "Ghostbusters."
Hundreds of volunteer hours went into putting on this event, and CACS thanks the students, parents, and staff who worked so hard to make it happen. All proceeds from the event will go to support our school’s programs.
CACS third graders, in partnership with Walker Warner Architects, Redhorse Constructors, and GFDS Engineers, headed to the beaches for the 29th Annual LEAP Sandcastle Contest and won “Best Participation of Leap Kids - Gold” for their efforts at building a sand sculpture. From mid-September through mid-October, students worked together with members of Walker Warner, Redhorse, and GFDS in the classroom to brainstorm ideas and design their masterpiece. In addition, Redhorse Constructors brought their expertise, tools, and brilliant water-pumping technology to the team. On October 20, working together, the plans came to life as the team carved the sands of Ocean Beach into a beautiful collection of dolphins leaping from the waves.
The LEAP Sandcastle Contest is an annual event that raises funds to support the arts in schools, and participating in the contest has become a third grade tradition at CACS. Twenty eight elementary schools in San Francisco participated in the contest, along with partnering architectural firms, engineers, and contractors. In addition, thousands of observers attended to marvel at the sandy creativity on display.
CACS thanks Walker Warner Architects, Redhorse Constructors, and GFDS Engineers for working with our students to make the event such a success, and congratulates the team on their win!
CACS has a strong tradition of celebrating Dia de los Muertos as a community. Over the years we've done several exhibits at the Mission Cultural Center, and danced in the Day of the Dead procession on Nov. 2, and in-between built many Ofrendas at school. Many of our students have created art works to contribute to the Ofrenda, learning about Mexican folk culture and their own cultural traditions recognizing death, by comparison.
Visit this year’s interactive Ofrenda on the downstairs floor. We welcome everyone to bring a photo or momento to honor the memory of loved ones who have passed. The Ofrenda will be installed through Friday, Nov. 16th.
Creative Arts Charter School thanks Draftfcb, the oldest advertising agency in San Francisco, for their generous donation of time, energy, and money during their annual Global Day of Giving. The agency worked with our 3rd grade class to create 3 bright Creative Arts Charter School signs that will be attached to our fences to welcome our community and guests to our school. Thanks to Draftfcb for the wood, paint, and pizza, but most importantly for the time they spent working with students to improve our school.
CACS welcomes families to our bi-annual family-student-teacher conferences next week, just one of the many forums in which we share information about student achievement and development. Teachers will host individual students and their families in one-on-one meetings to share information about student growth across the content areas. These conferences are a time of celebration and reflection, as students help lead conversations about their strengths and areas for growth. Furthermore, it represents a time for our staff to reflect on student progress and celebrate the growth we have seen over the fall as well as the past year.
At CACS, our curriculum is driven by both the California Content Standards as well as learning goals established by the school. To measure how well students meet these standards, we use multiple kinds of assessments, ranging from writing samples, performances, and presentations to more traditional forms of testing. Based on our internal assessments, we saw a nearly 20% increase in the number of elementary students (grades 1-5) reading at or above grade level last year, and we continue to use internal assessments to monitor student achievement and help shape program improvements.
In addition, CACS administers the state mandated California Standards Test (CST) each year to students in grades 2-8. This test represents another measure of student achievement, though not one that we consider to be the most accurate or valid form of measuring the success of our academic program. CST scores can fluctuate due to a variety of non-academic reasons, and the skills that the CST measures represent only a subset of those that we value at CACS. However, it is one measure by which CACS is held accountable by the district and state as well as a standard mechanism for comparing CACS with other schools.
That being said, we have a number of opportunities for celebration after receiving the 2011-2012 Accountability Progress Report from the state. For the first time in CACS history, the Academic Performance Index (API) was over 800 at 819, surpassing the statewide performance target for all schools. This is up 42 points from the 2011 base of 777. We are particularly pleased that all reported subgroups (student groups with numerically significant populations, such as socio-economically disadvantaged students) significantly improved, with each exceeding their growth targets. CACS continues to have an average proficiency rate above the state and district in English Language Arts, and our math scores parallel those of the district and state.
Additionally, when we compare groups of students at the same grade from one year to the next, the percentage of students scoring at the “proficient” or “advanced” level increased by 16% in English Language Arts, while the percentage of students scoring at these levels in math increased by 4%, with all but one grade level making positive improvements over the previous year.
CACS still has work to do in order to ensure that all of our subgroup populations are reaching proficiency in all content areas.
Our staff and teachers have implemented a multi-faceted plan to target students for additional support. In addition, we continue to monitor student learning using a wide variety of internal assessments to examine student growth in content areas as well as in the realms of social, emotional, and physical development; and we are actively using these assessments to help shape the design of our educational program. We are particularly excited about our continuing efforts to improve math education, as we have partnered with the Silicon Valley Math Initiative to obtain supplementary resources to improve students’ problem-solving abilities, have increased the time spent on math education at each grade level, and have implemented a math program in the middle school that aims to address students’ different learning needs more effectively.
Based on our assessment efforts, our teachers look forward to sharing their in-depth understanding of their students’ knowledge and skills with families at the upcoming conferences next week. We applaud our students for their continued progress in their journey of learning, and thank families for being such active partners in their children’s education.
Creative Arts Charter School recently hosted the Odyssey Initiative, a group of educators who are traveling the country in search of successful practices in education. Educator Brooke Peters visited one of our first grade classrooms as they held a publishing party, celebrating weeks of writing and editing. She highlighted the work of teacher Brooke Nagel in her recent Odyssey Initiative blog. Check out the link to see how CACS teaches and celebrates the art of writing!
Creative Arts is excited to join with Art.com in an effort to grow our art education at our school. CACS was selected as one of three schools to participate in Art.com’s generous art donation program. Our art teachers have selected 24 art images from Art.com’s collection that we would like to see on our walls. Visit art.com to vote for our gallery by liking it on Facebook. In addition, CACS students and families may also cast a vote for their school by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For every 250 votes our school receives, Art.com will donate one piece of art to that school from their gallery.
Art.com believes in the power of art to encourage cognition, critical thinking, and learning, and CACS welcomes this partnership to support these goals. Thanks to Art.com for their donations!
Do you know what makes food taste good? Did you know that our taste buds can sense five tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami? Did you know that salt tastes different, depending on where it’s from: England, Hawaii, France, or the Philippines? CACS fourth and sixth graders will learn about food, taste, flavor, and gastronomy in classroom workshops this week as part of the Bay Area Tasting Week. Fourth graders host Chef Elianna Friedman, who is the Market Chef for CUESA – the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, which sponsors farmers markets throughout the Bay Area. Sixth graders host Penelope Wisner, a San Francisco-based writer, cooking teacher, and kitchen coach. We welcome them both to CACS, and thank Bay Area Tasting Week for partnering with our school.
Creative Arts Charter School’s annual report came out this summer, celebrating the accomplishments of the school for the 2011-12 year. Despite renovation-related construction and a neighborhood fire that damaged multiple classrooms, CACS ended the 2011-12 year celebrating a variety of successes.
Academically, as a result of our recent literacy initiative, CACS saw a nearly 20% increase in the number of elementary students (grades 1-5) reading at or above grade level. CACS also undertook a math improvement initiative, updating our K-8 scope and sequence, forming a partnership with Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative, and retooling the Middle School math program to emphasize both skill fluency and conceptual understanding while exposing all students to algebraic principles. Three of our teachers were asked to present our work on this year’s literacy and math initiatives at the Mills Teacher Scholars Inquiry, broadening community awareness of our amazing and dedicated faculty who are committed to constructivist, inquiry-based education.
The school also celebrated improvements in the area of institutional advancement. Based on incredible family leadership, volunteerism, and support, CACS achieved a 50% increase in revenues in this year’s Annual Fund and Auction, our two largest fundraisers. Such funding success allows us to move forward in our plans for building and sustaining our quality educational program.
On the enrollment front, CACS passed a new enrollment model in October to expand the school, so that each grade contains two classes. An incredible outreach effort by staff and family volunteers supported this expansion, and we are thrilled to welcome 91 new students to CACS for our 2012-13 school year.
Over the course of the year, CACS hosted ongoing construction, both as part of a district-wide renovation and ADA-upgrade program, and as a result of December’s neighborhood fire, which left part of our facility unusable. We are thrilled to open the school year with a completely renovated main building, featuring accessible classrooms, new windows, floors, ceilings, bathrooms, and paint, as well as a newly paved yard, and a new place structure dedicated to kindergarten and first graders. By December 2012, our annex building renovations and fire-recovery efforts are scheduled for completion, and our Green Team has already started gardening efforts to support science programs in the classroom as well as beautify our space.
After a successful 2011-12 year, CACS looks forward to building on our momentum as we welcome our newest students to our community, open our renovated facilities, build on curricular projects of the prior year, and continue to invite students daily to experience the joys of creativity, curiosity, and learning in our caring community.