The CACS 7th/8th grade photography elective opens their exhibit "Gray" on March 13th at Photobooth SF on 1193 Valencia Street. The exhibit features a variety of works by our middle school photographers. The open reception will run from 6-8pm on March 13th, and the exhibit runs through March 30. Come check out the fine work of our artists!
The 7th grade advisories have been learning about how communities can make a positive impact on our city, and ultimately our planet. In addition, students have been exploring this question in their science classes, as they investigate human effects on ecosystems. To further their studies, CACS hosted the Goldman Prize this week, as Liz Means, Communications Coordinator at the Prize, presented about the history of the Goldman Prize, grassroots environmental activism, and the work of Prize winners.
Creative Arts has been thrilled to be a pat of the Goldman Prize Youth Program. For the past several years, CACS has been invited to attend the Goldman Prize ceremony, where our students have met current and past Prize winners and attended a special reception with a DJ and refreshments. We are excited for our continued partnership, and thank the Goldman Prize for their commitment to teaching our students about environmental activism.
On Tuesday, the Axis Dance Company performed for our students in two performances. AXIS dancers with and without disabilities came to Creative Arts to share innovative choreography that demonstrates how people with differences can work together. The assembly included interactive participation by the students, plus candid discussion and a Q&A with AXIS Dancers. Thank you, Axis Dance Company, for sharing your talents with us!
Congratulations to the CACS girls JV basketball team, who won 1st place in the championship on Friday. In addition, congratulations to the JV boys team, who ended the season with a 2nd place finish in the league, and to the other CACS teams, who all made it to the semi-finals. CACS sports are open to all students in grades 5-8, and our athletes are already looking forward to our spring sports, tennis and futsal. We congratulate our athletes on a successful season!
CACS middle school students put on quite a show on Thursday, Jan. 30 as they shared their science and history projects in the annual Science and History Fair. All sixth graders completed science fair projects, with topics ranging from the physics of skateboarding to how memory works to the effects of grey water on plant growth. Seventh graders shared their history projects on themes such as the fall of Easter Island, women's rights, slavery, and more. Eight graders chose science or history to specialize in. All students in the middle school worked throughout January to craft carefully researched and tested projects with extensive writing components. Winners of the CACS science fair will attend the San Francisco Science Fair at the Randall Museum in February. We congratulate all the students on their hard work!
CACS will be running our very own Summer Camp this year! CACS Summer Camp will run for three 1-week sessions from June 2nd-20th, with a morning session from 9am-12pm, and an afternoon session from 1pm-4pm. CACS Summer Camp is designed for students entering kindergarten through 5th grade. All proceeds from the camp will benefit CACS. Look for more information and enrollment forms this spring.
Our most recent fundraiser at the Knockout Room was another success! The seventh and eighth grade band rocked the night, while parents and friends gathered for music, refreshments, and good company. A huge thanks to John Segura for hosting this knockout event and to all the families and staff who participated.
The middle school students participated in their second Service-Learning day last Friday, January 17. Students in three of our sixth grade advisory classes planted over 100 plants in the “Living Library” at St. Mary's Park. The Living Library has several sites in the Islais Creek Watershed area and supplies California-native, drought resistant plants to various locations around the city, helping support biodiversity and prevent erosion in the parks. Our students’ hard work was featured on the Living Library blog.
Our fourth 6th grade advisory class did a large amount of research, followed by an elaborate democratic decision making process, and chose to do "Random Acts of Kindness" for their Spring Semester Service Learning project. Their day began at the "New Lib Community Garden", located one block from CACS. This garden is dedicated to growing food for those who need it in the Western Addition. They learned about their work from the garden Coordinator, and pitched in to pull out a huge pile of invasive Oxalis. Mid-day they enjoyed a picnic lunch in the park, and in the afternoon continued to be randomly kind by making friendship bracelets for their 1st grade book buddies, who received them with the kind of joy that 1st graders excel at demonstrating. Finally they made "Free Compliment" tear tab posters and posted them all over school. All pull tabs, informing people that they're awesome, they're smart, among other good things, were gone by 3:15.
Our seventh grade advisories visited the SF Food Bank, where they arrived at 9 am to begin one of two projects for the day. During the first project, students were distributed along an assembly line to pack food boxes for senior citizens in need. Each student was responsible for putting a different item, such as canned corn, chili, beans, rice and more, in the box. Hundreds of boxes were passed rapidly from student to student down a row of rollers to the end, where boxes were tapped and stacked on pallets. While students worked collaboratively, music blasted and some students sang along. For the second project, students put on gloves and hairnets and repackaged white rice from a huge bag into one-pound bags for easier distribution. They ended the day by updating the 3D art installation in the CACS cafeteria in order to provide a visual reminder for students to separate their trash, compost and recycling.
The 8th graders stayed at school to work on their Adobe Youth Voices media projects. Students are working in small groups to create a film, print, or music video that makes a statement about a topic of importance to them. Students are using adobe software to create a finished product to submit to the international Adobe Youth Voices Live event. They are working in collaboration with Adobe and the Bay Area Video Coalition on this project.
Overall, the second middle school Service Learning Day of the year proved to be a great success, and students look forward to their continuing work in the community.
On Thursday, Dec. 12, the Madrone Art Bar held a Parents’ Reception kick-off for the CACS “Great Art Starts Here” exhibit, featuring 366 self portraits from the kids at Creative Arts Charter School. The exhibit, which runs through February 15, highlights the work from students in grade K-8. Madrone Art Bar is located at 500 Divisadero Street at Fell. A big thanks to the Madrone Art Bar for their support of our school!
On Thursday, Dec 5, Creative Arts hosted our annual winter exhibition, celebrating our students’ creative thinking in grades K-8. The “We Are Makers” exhibition featured student work in humanities and the sciences, highlighting the school’s focus on arts-integration and project-based learning. The building was like a packed museum, with 3 floors of learning exhibits, performances, game play, and art products, all reflections of our students’ classroom study.
The variety of exhibits was phenomenal: kindergarten tree experts educated visitors about trees and forest ecosystems and demonstrated an owl pellet dissection. First graders shared their understanding of a community, and displayed their artistic depiction of the Western Addition in wood. The second grade has been studying the similarities and differences from life in the 1950’s vs. modern times; they performed classic 50’s dance moves and created a classroom photo booth with props and backgrounds reflective of their learning. Third graders shared their artist books documenting their oral history project on San Francisco, and shared San Francisco landmark prints and poems. Our fourth grade experts explored how California ecosystems influenced the lives of Native Californians with dioramas of habitats and an interpretive dance journey through twenty-four hours in a California ecosystem. Meanwhile, 5th graders dazzled audiences with their knowledge of the solar system, the moon, and how ancient models of the solar system differ from what we know today, as well as a modern dance performance featuring celestial projections.
In middle school, sixth graders exhibited their student-created ancient society maps, detailing how geography influenced the development of early civilizations. In the seventh grade classrooms, families tested prosthetic arms that students designed to demonstrate their knowledge of the human skeletal and muscular systems and read student reflections about the challenges of the design process. Next door, visitors read student-created children’s books based on their Medieval times research papers, and got a chance to visit the Medieval photobooth. Eighth graders dialogued about food, politics, and health within Medieval times. Meanwhile, the halls buzzed with activity from our arts electives, ranging from photography, paper-cutting, glass-cutting, and films about our 7th and 8th grade choreographers and the dances they created.
Throughout the night, students and their families packed the halls, visiting exhibits, watching performances, and purchasing crafts made by students and families to support CACS. Through every door, families had an opportunity to see just a slice of what learning looks like at CACS. Thanks to all the students, family, and staff that made this evening possible!
CACS middle school students participated in a Service Learning Day on Friday, Nov. 16, learning more about San Francisco and participating in different ways of serving the community.
The 6th graders spent their day at the SF Food Bank. Students began their service with an orientation about hunger in San Francisco and how the food bank helps our community. Students put on hair nets, latex gloves and joyfully began their task at hand: putting rice into 1 lb bags, labelling them, and boxing them up. To pump up the energy, the Food Bank provided them with high energy music, with kids singing, dancing and working hard to process over 2000 lbs of rice! This project continues with the CACS Holiday Food Drive and a study of hunger in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, some of our 7th graders teamed up to volunteer for Golden Gate National Parks at Mountain Lake Park within the Presidio in San Francisco. Students helped preserve the native plants in the surrounding area. They observed different plant species in their natural habitat and learned about the history of the Mountain Lake Park site. Other 7th graders jumped on the 38 Geary bus to Glide Memorial, the only organization in San Francisco that serves three nutritious meals a day, 364 days a year to the city’s poor, homeless, and hungry. Students put on hairnets, plastic aprons and gloves and were separated into work groups for the Feed the Hungry program. Each student was assigned a role in the assembly line to greet patrons, serve food, and bus tables. Students served 675 meals within 2 hours of work. The students worked very hard and later reflected on their experience, discussing the importance of their work and sharing appreciations with one another.
The eighth grade class spent their Service Learning day learning more about Kimball Park. Their humanities class has worked with a project called Generation Citizen during the fall semester. This innovative program has helped the students to go through a process to narrow down issues of importance to them and find a cause for which they could take action. They have been working in two small groups, and both decided on Kimball Park as their focus. One of the issues that the students are concerned about is the cleanliness of the park and the fact that people leave dirty needles around, which can hurt kids and spread disease. On their Service Learning day, visitors from the Department of Public Health and the SF Recreation and Park Department discussed options for needle disposal and park development. All of this was to help students gather ideas about what they would like to change about Kimball Park and will lead into their work for the next service learning day. Through research and interviewing our guests, the students developed a broader understanding of the issues and will incorporate this learning into their plans going forward.
CACS 3rd graders & families showed creative spirit at Saturday's LEAP Sandcastle competition on Ocean Beach! It was a beautiful, sunny and very collaborative time creating our masterpiece in the sand inspired by the classic 'Moby Dick.' From 10am-2:30pm students, parents and the architects of LEED shoveled mounds of sand, carried heavy buckets of seawater, and sculpted a mountain of sand into an artistic composition that included a whale emerging from an open book. Our piece was admired by many and even though we were not recognized by the 'best in show' prize,' CACS truly was amazing; and the students were excited by their artistic accomplishment.
Our Safe School Ambassadors (SSA) started a series of mentoring sessions with K-5 students last week, asking their younger peers to define a Peaceful School. These middle school leaders attended three days of professional training from Community Matters to learn how to be positive role models, mentors and Peaceful School educators for our campus. They rehearsed their presentations, then visited with several classrooms, beginning a year-long focus on a positive school culture. Teams of middle school Ambassadors met with the kindergarten and second grade classes last week, and will continue their outreach to the entire elementary school.
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 26. Sunny skies and abundant community spirit led to a packed event of fun for kids of all grades. With games galore, art activities, a cakewalk with delicious prizes, 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. The Let's Be Frank organic hot dog cart and Tacos El Tuca kept us well fed (and donated part of their profits to the school), while everyone cooled off with freshly made agua fresca and savored delicious desserts. Parent musicians entertained with live music, and our student dancers performed "Thriller," joined by a few parents with good memories from the 80's.
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.
Have you ever smelled chocolate mousse with lime? Tasted a tender artichoke? Puckered your lips at the flavor of mango candy? Our 2nd, 6th, and 8th graders sampled these treats and more, as they learned about healthy eating habits and the science of flavors from professional chefs as part of the Chefs in Schools Program. Students discussed issues around using organic and local ingredients, watched demonstrations of cooking techniques, and sampled some new and exciting flavors to startle their taste buds, as they made connections between science, economics, and the joy of food.
Creative Arts celebrated our Family Arts Night on October 9th, giving students and families the opportunity to experience a taste of how we integrate arts into our daily education. Art stations and classes dotted the campus, with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Craft and Design providing make-and-take workshops. The photography elective class hosted a photo booth, and we all enjoyed live music, dancing, and visual arts activities hosted by our dedicated arts staff. Everyone enjoyed food by Bicycle Banh Mi, and our eighth grade entrepreneurs sold desserts to raise funds for their annual field trip in May. We thank all of our staff and volunteers for creating such a wondrous evening of art, community, and celebration!
Robotics Club began this month, offering middle school students the opportunity to work together to design and build robots. Students plan to participate at the VEX Robotics Tournament in February, designing robots to match an assigned challenge. Challenges are introduced each year by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, an organization that sponsors tournaments throughout the world, and are built with kits from VEX Robotics. Kids must adapt their designs to each year's challenge so their robots score the most points in competition against other teams.
Students plan to compete at the VEX Robotics Tournament in February in Tracy, and will spend the next several months developing and testing their robots. Good luck, CACS inventors, in your quest for the prize!
Our middle school staff and students returned from their 3-day fall camping trip to Portola Redwoods State Park. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders enjoyed community building opportunities as well as a wide range of educational experiences focusing on problem-solving skills. They learned the Leave No Trace curriculum, first aid, wilderness survival, as well as how to identify harmful and helpful ecosystem species. This holistic approach was designed to develop both the social and academic needs of the middle schoolers, while continuing to foster the CACS core values of cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy and self-control (CARES) and the six domains of The Portrait of a Graduate.
Students were organized into work groups, rotating through cooking and cleaning jobs to support the rest of the camp community. Students were also given a choice of both academic and art workshops in advance that were led by our school staff. Options included cave pointing, cooking with foraged ingredients, nature photography, philosophy, theater, flora and fauna identification, and more. Additional community building activities included nature hikes, a talent show, roasting smores, and “singing for your supper.” Our tired campers returned exhausted but excited, and thrilled to continue the camping tradition of CACS in the spring.
CACS celebrated a year of growth and renewal in 2012-13, finalizing construction projects, improving our academic program, and continuing our partnerships with the community of San Francisco. As we prepare our charter renewal application for the next five years, we took some time to acknowledge our progress in the past year.
One of the highlights of 2012-2013 was an increased emphasis on our arts integration throughout our classrooms. In the fall, we held our first learning exhibition, “Look, Listen, Learn,” featuring exhibits and student performances connecting humanities and the arts. Students in all grades participated in sharing their work in this evening community event. Student performances included dramatic reenactments of world leaders, readers’ theater about government, and kindergarten puppet shows of Aesop fables. Giant sculptures of San Francisco landmarks filled the halls, along with sewing projects, artifacts, poetry, videos, board games, and more.
Our Spring exhibition “Inquiry, Art, and Exploration: What is Art?” featured the sciences, including Design Thinking projects to solve water pollution problems, bird sculptures for the kindergarten bird watching adventure, student-designed organisms, and classrooms transformed into rainforests, along with exhibits by community organizations like the California Academy of Sciences. Overall, our staff’s increased emphasis on using the arts as a tool for exploring academic topics shined in these events demonstrating students’ deep thinking and creativity.
In other measures of academic success, our spring API scores from state-required testing showed an increase of 48 points, reaching 825. We implemented new internal assessments in reading and math that our teachers used to identify areas of student need and alter their instruction accordingly. We also continued our use of portfolios to demonstrate student growth for a wide range of skills, with narrative report cards that help students and families understand their strengths and areas of growth. All of these measures helped our staff shape goals for the coming year.
In preparation for 2013-14, our staff participated in a wide variety of professional development, getting training in Responsive Classroom (a program designed to support students’ emotional and social growth), integrating arts into elementary classrooms at Stanford’s Center to Support Excellence in Teachers, the Bay Area Writing and Math Project at UC Berkeley, Writer’s Workshop at Columbia Teacher’s College in New York, science and sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences, conservation science at the San Diego Zoo, and digital media tools and storytelling techniques at the Adobe Professional Development for Educators. Our faculty members are excited to implement their new ideas and practices in their classrooms.
Family and community support of CACS continued this year, with fundraising activities ranging from our Fall Fair to our Annual Fund to our Spring Auction. Overall, CACS raised $210,873 over the course of the year through family and community support. In addition, staff raised $57,200 through generous grants from Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, Tides Foundation, Lowe’s Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, California Fertilizer Foundation, and Microsoft Technology Grant.
Equally critical to the CACS mission, family volunteerism supported the school in a wide variety of ways: coordinating events like the fall fair and spring auction, volunteering in the classroom, chaperoning field trips, completing construction and maintenance projects in classrooms, and developing our new school garden. CACS thanks parents and family members for their continued generous support of our school.
Another major milestone this year was the completion of improvements for our facility. Workers from San Francisco Unified School District completed ADA upgrades for our school, concluding a multi-year project that led to improved access throughout our site for our students and families with disabilities. In addition, they completed all fire-recover efforts following the neighborhood fire of December 2011. We thank the hard-working teams who worked tirelessly to make sure that our school could continue to run throughout the construction process. CACS also added a new school garden to our facility, creating a space of beauty and peace on our blacktop as well as an outdoor lab for teachers.
Overall, 2012-13 was a busy year for our staff and students. We look forward to equally exciting progress in 2013-14.
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.