Creative Arts' Equity Support Team (EST) is off to a great start. This team is comprised of 7 teachers and 3 administrators. We are collaborating with San Francisco Coalition of Essential Small Schools (SF-CESS), whose mission is to interrupt and transform current and systemic educational inequities to ensure all students have access to personalized, equitable and high performing schools that believe and demonstrate each student can, should and will succeed. SF-CESS is supporting the three branches of our diversity work this year by working with administrators, teachers, and our Family Association. Our administration will focus on enrollment and outreach in our attempt to diversify our student population. Our teachers will focus on ensuring their curriculum and pedagogy guarantee equitable outcomes for all students. Our FA will work to ensure that our family community is having serious discussion around diversity and equity at CACS.
163 middle schools students and their teachers returned safely from their camping adventure, a three-day, two-night trip to Anthony Chabot State Park. Students went hiking, and engaged in workshops about first aid, photography, art inspired by nature, cultural reflections, team building, and dance, as well as orgami shapes and structures. They also took on responsibilities at the campsite, assembling tents and taking turns cooking meals. Students participated in advisory activities to get to know their classmates and advisor in a more dynamic way, while appreciating each other for the experience. Our middle school students (and teachers) were able to work through their challenges and feel proud of their accomplishments. They also celebrated with a trip-ending talent show full of the silly, the artful, and the fun. We hope the experiences they gained from the outdoor education program will provide them with their own real-life allegory, and remind them that they can accomplish so much.
A big thank you to all of the teachers and parents who helped in keeping this tradition alive.
CACS received the California Department of Education's prestigious Distinguished Schools Award in recognition for our educational excellence in all students and for our work in closing the achievement gap. In addition, CACS also received the California Department of Education's Exemplary Arts award for our outstanding arts programming. We celebrate our staff, students, and families for all they have done to achieve these two impressive honors.
On April 24, two of our first graders, Evie M. and Zimry R., will celebrate National Poetry Month at City Hall, performing alongside San Francisco's Poet Laureate, Alejandro Murguía, as well as poets from Wallenberg High School and Mission High School. They will lead off San Francisco's Poems Under the Dome, the city's largest open mic poetry event where poets of any age can enter a lottery to be selected for a performance slot. This free event runs from 5:30 to 8:00pm. We're proud of our young students representing our school!
The seventh grade participated in their third service learning activity for the year, focusing on a wide variety of issues important to San Francisco.
One advisory group spent the day learning about the organizations that serve the people of the SOMA community. Rudy Corpuz, CACS parent and executive director at United Playaz, took students on a tour of the neighborhood. They visited the Hub (a small police station), the Bayanihan (a community center that works with elders), Crossroads (a youth center), and an elementary school, then went to Westbay to learn about pedestrian safety. At each location, students had the opportunity to tour the buildings, speak with employees, and experience some of the fun activities they offer there. Their last stop was the United Playaz Center, where they learned about violence prevention, youth empowerment, and social justice. Students had to think critically about the problems, solutions, and ideas that support a community's growth.
A second advisory group focused on Golden Gate Park. Students met with Andy Stone, head gardener at the boat house, who lead a nature walk introducing them to several species of plants. They touched, smelt and even ate some of the agriculture. Students spent the rest of the day pulling invasive plants and planting banana trees, working hard to improve our community park.
A third advisory group volunteered at the downtown YMCA, where they learned about community resources and helped the neighborhood by picking up trash in the street. They also spent time learning about the effects of plastics on the marine ecosystem, then went to Ocean Beach and cleaned up trash. Students collected over 1,000 pieces of trash and talked about human's effects on ecosystems and our responsibilities to the world.
Overall, students spent an amazing day examining a wide variety of ways to support our San Francisco community, and they left our city just a little bit cleaner and greener in the process.
On Tuesday, our students were very fortunate to be visited by H20 EarthCapades, whose mission is to demonstrate that "saving the planet can be fun". The performers educated our students about serious environmental issues and taught practical solutions while juggling, performing magic tricks, and telling interactive comedic stories.
This was followed by a smaller presentation by SF Environmental for selected compost monitors, grades K-8. Students were trained how to be monitors during their lunch period to encourage their peers to compost and recycle. The monitors will be wearing orange vests and working one day a week to help protect our environment. Using a train the trainer model, students will educate their peers and take turns as monitors. We're working to help CACS become greener!
Last week, CACS hosted the Global Lives Project, an interactive video project that focuses on cultivating empathy across cultures. The project curates a collection of films that capture the lives of people around the world. Eight television screens were set up in the cafeteria, each displaying images from twenty-four hours of people’s lives from different countries and cultures. Students watched as others slept, ate, played, and went about their lives, discussing the diversity of the human experience while they ate lunch together. To explore the images yourself, check out the project's video collection.
Seven master teachers from six different states and two countries gathered in San Francisco to dig into the concept of "Quality Content." They spent the weekend at a retreat hosted by UClass, an educational resource sharing company co-founded by CACS Literacy Specialist Leah Schrader.
CACS teachers leapt at the invitation to share some of their unique approaches to student-driven learning and interdisciplinary collaboration. Jasmine Sheldon, first grade teacher and Ann Ledo-Lane, director of arts at CACS lead a workshop with the visiting educators. They shared a dynamic book project about activism that they collaboratively facilitated with Jasmine's first grade class. Highlighting the integration of the arts with history, they presented the power of bringing multiple disciplines together to offer children deep encounters with the learning process. They also shared the Studio Habits of Mind employed by CACS students and teachers alike and inspired the visiting educators with CACS' framework for making learning an engaging and meaningful process for our students. We're excited that our teachers are embracing opportunities to share our work with other educators around the country.
This year has been so artful with a variety of Arts Events, including our Family Arts Night and We are Makers exhibition of student work. We've also been sharing our work in the community, with a visual arts exhibit at the Madrone Art Bar, our middle band performing at The Knockout, and our photography exhibit at Photobooth. Spring brings a wide variety of additional arts events celebrating CACS student work. We kick off the season on March 28 with our celebration of Dance Anywhere Day on our school yard. Our K-5 Music and Dance Show will be held on April 30 at The Brava! Theater in the Mission district. This show features all of our students in grades K-5. On May 15, we hold our spring Exhibition of Learning, as students share their design-thinking projects and second semester studies, celebrating the integration of art and content learning. Our Middle School Dance and Theater Performance will be held this year at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, who has generously donated their space for our students to perform.
Performances are also headed to the CACS stage. On April 8, the Earthcapades will perform for our K-4 students, and the New Conservatory Theatre Center will perform a new show around CyberBullying on Tues, April 22 for our 6th graders. We're excited for our spring celebrations of the arts!
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.