May 22, 2021
A+ News
A Franklin Preschool student stands next to a new sign welcoming students back for in-person learning.
Washington Elementary School Students Write About
the Ordinary Things They Love at School
After reading excerpts from Nazim Hikmet's poem "Things I Didn't Know I Loved," Washington Elementary School fifth graders wrote about the ordinary things at school they didn't know they loved until they spent a year learning at home.

Poetry teacher Laura Walker gave the students this assignment when she first met with them after their return to in-person learning. "It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to let the students think about what it was like being back and to record the transition they had made," said Walker. "Often in poetry, we are trying to inhabit a new perspective and develop new eyes for something, and this was a way to flip their thinking by considering the normal, overlooked things in their school day."

Walker, who also teaches poetry to distance learning students, was moved by how her fifth-grade students dug deep to discover the wonder of ordinary things, like the sound of a filing cabinet opening or a walk down an empty school hall. One student recounted a moment at home when her father, who was packing her lunchbox, told her he hadn't realized how much he had missed making her lunch for school.
Youth Age 12+ Eligible to Receive Free COVID-19 Vaccine
in BUSD and City of Berkeley Partnership
The City of Berkeley Public Health Department and BUSD are partnering to offer free vaccinations for everyone age 12 and older at vaccination pop-up clinics at Longfellow Middle School at 1500 Derby St. The Clinics will be held on the Ward Street side of the school.

Clinic Dates
Monday, May 24
Tuesday, May 25
Wednesday, May 26

Clinic Hours
All clinics are held from 11:00 am - 6:30 pm.

Parent/Guardian Consent Required
Students must have permission from a parent or guardian to be vaccinated. There are several ways to demonstrate parent/guardian consent:
  • Handwritten consent
  • A call to a parent/guardian from the vaccine site
  • Parent/guardian accompanies student
Parents/guardians can pre-register their students for vaccines using this QR code or by visiting:

While not required, pre-registration will prioritize your student over the walk-in line.

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: AAPI Students and Staff Speak Out Against Racismm
On May 6, a panel discussion with Associate Professor Khatharya Um, Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, U.C. Berkeley and parent, teacher and student representatives of BUSD schools talked about anti-Asian racism in the form of discrimination, scapegoating, harassment and violence. The panel, which was introduced by Superintendent Brent Stephens and moderated by Berkeley School Board Director Ana Vasudeo, also discussed the historical roots of hate and racism against people of Asian descent in the U.S.A.

In late March, several AAPI staff came together to make a video showcase that shared their stories of being Asian in America and offered their perspectives regarding Asian hate crimes over the past year. The consensus was that solidarity is the way to respond productively to hatred.

These reading lists, organized by grade level by BUSD's library department, represent books published in recent years that are devoted to uplifting Asian-American and Pacific Islander history, celebrating heritage, affirming identity, and promoting antiracism.

Join the BHS Book Club for a Virtual Visit with Author Ibi Zoboi
On Wednesday, May 26 the BUSD community is invited to an author visit with National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Ibi Zoboi. She will be discussing her newest book Punching the Air. Written in collaboration with Yusef Salam, one of the Exonerated Five, this novel-in-verse explores themes of false incarceration, racism, art and resilience.

Please join us by registering with
this Zoom Link. More information available at the Ibi Zoboi: BPL Event Page.
Students and staff joined the BHS book club to read and discuss author Ibi Zoboi’s Punching the Air before her virtual visit. The club met Wednesday, May 19th.
Congratulations to All Black History Oratorical Fest Contestants
The 2021 Black History Oratorical Fest Competition was held on April 22 for middle school students and on April 29 for elementary school students. Congratulations to the talented student contestants who delivered powerful and moving performances.

Middle School Winners
Willard Middle School seventh-grade student Najuna won the 2021 Black History Oratorical Fest Middle School competition this year with a powerful recitation of her original poem, “For Black Girls Like Me.”

“When will a day come, when Black women are respected?” Najuna asked. “When will a day come, when Black women are seen as empowering and strong?”

Najuna concluded her poem with this affirmation:
"Here's to my mom, for pushing me further.
Here's to my sisters, for keeping me on my toes.
Here's to myself, for being me, despite being just a Black girl.
Here's to being a strong Black woman.
Here's to letting Black women triumph.
And here's to our Black girl magic.
Here's to all of us, for being pretty smart."
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School poet Emari placed second in the 2021 Middle School Black History Oratorical Fest with her original poem "The Power of Perseverance."
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School student Corinna placed third in the 2021 Middle School Black History Oratorical Fest with her rendition of the Jacqueline Woodson poem "Absolute."
Elementary School Winners
John Muir Elementary School 5th grade student group “Black Girls Can” won the 2021 Black History Oratorical Fest Elementary School competition this year with their moving performance of “Why I Speak Up for Black Women,” written by Megan Thee Stallion (originally published in the New York Times).
Rosa Parks Elementary School students Sienna and Kailey placed second in the 2021 Elementary School Black History Oratorical Fest competition with their origianl poem "Starlit Dreams."
Malcolm X Elementary School student Teddy placed third in the 2021 Elementary School Black History Oratorical Fest performing Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise."
Installation of Gift from the Class of 2020
These two benches, placed six feet apart at Berkeley High School, were installed as a gift from the Class of 2020.

The plaque, placed next to the benches reads: “Six Feet Apart We Sit In Solidarity: This Installation Stands In Honor Of The Class Of 2020 Who Did Not Get To Finish Their Senior Year On Campus And The Berkeley High Community Who Made It Through These Unprecedented Times Together"

The benches were purchased with support from the class as well as many other donors and with help of the Berkeley Public Schools Fund.

Rachel Alper, one of the student organizers of the bench installation project, felt the benches helped the Class of 2020 leave their mark on the school community and make up for the loss of an in-person graduation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s nice to have something tangible to show for our time at Berkeley High, because graduating from BUSD is an accomplishment, and we didn’t have a chance to mark it,” she said.

Alper was glad the project provided something students could use long after the Class of 2020 had moved on. She provided this advice to the Class of 2021: "It's important to acknowledge that getting through senior year in online school and a pandemic is a huge accomplishment."
This bench project, organized by the Class of 2020, commemorates BUSD students who could not celebrate their graduation in person. (Photo: Hasmig Minassian)
The project's plaque honors the Class of 2020 and the Berkeley High School community.
(Photo: Hasmig Minassian)
First Annual BUSD Middle School, Two-Week Film Project
All three BUSD middle schools collaborated with the Berkeley High School Video Production teachers and Middle School STEM teachers to launch the first annual Middle School Two-Week Film Project.

Students who opted to do the project created short films, under 4 minutes, with only original sound and images. The films also had to follow this year's theme, "There's no place like home," and include a specific prop (a roll of toilet paper) and a specific line of dialogue ("What's in the envelope?").

BHS video production students, alongside their teachers, developed a judging rubric and reviewed approximately 20 films.

Watch Home, The Journey Home, and Vacation, three of this year’s winning videos. 
Video Helps Young Students Feel More Comfortable About COVID Tests
Franklin Preschool teacher Deborah Theis created a sweet video to help younger students understand and feel more comfortable about getting a COVID-19 test. Watch the video here.

COVID-19 studen testing, now available at all BUSD schools, is an important risk mitigation effort as we work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools.

Deborah Theis shows young students how a t-rex would be tested for COVID-19.
First National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman Says Thousand Oaks Second-Grade Student is Her Idol
Thousand Oaks Elementary School second grade teacher Robin Bogoshian's class recently wrote a Black Woman Biography unit. That's when her student, Jeremy Rowan, chose Amanda Gorman as his focus. "He wrote a spectacular six-chapter book complete with a hand-drawn portrait," Bogoshian said. "Then, on Dress as Your Idol Day, he dressed up as Amanda."

His mother Tweeted about his costume, and to their surprise, Amanda Gorman Tweeted back. Jeremy also received a 45-second video from the Youth Poet Laureate, telling him how much she loved his costume and how proud she was of him. Jeremy's sweet response: "I felt super excited and amazed. Because I was shocked that Amanda Gorman, THE Amanda Gorman, sent a video to me!"
Berkeley Symphony's Music in the Schools Program Thrives

BUSD's music program is one of the largest public school music programs in the country. Every student in grades 4 and 5 receives a musical instrument for the school year. Berkeley's local BSEP tax measure also provides grade 4-5 students with single-instrument and small group instruction from certificated music instructors.

In addition to BUSD's core music instruction, Berkeley Symphony's Music in the Schools (MITS) program provides a comprehensive, age-appropriate music curriculum to over 4,600 BUSD elementary and middle school students each year. At the elementary school level, students participate in a series of assemblies and concerts, culminating in the "I Am a Performer" concert, in which they prepare a musical piece and then perform with the world-class Berkeley Symphony. This year, MITS was able to maintain its service to BUSD students by going virtual.

"Community support ensures that Berkeley Symphony’s Music in the Schools program will continue to reach thousands of Berkeley students at a time when their need has never been greater," said Berkeley Symphony Education Director Ming Luke. MITS helps students fulfill the California Performing Arts Content Standards and provides new ways of approaching many other subjects in the core curriculum.

Your donations keep the Berkeley Symphony's program strong and ensures that MITS continues to provide every student with robust music education, 100% free for families.

Students receive an introduction to the viola in this video with Berkeley Symphony's Lynne Richburg.
Berkeley Symphony's Ward Spangler provides students with an introduction to percussion instruments in this video.
Celebrating BUSD Superhero Volunteers 

Karen McKie, Emeritus Advisor, Berkeley Public
Schools Fund, spoke at the virtual luncheon.
In Celebration of Berkeley Superheroes, on May 7 the Berkeley Public Schools Fund's Spring Luncheon honored everyday people who showed up in EXTRAORDINARY ways this year for BUSD students and families.

Free Grab and Go Meals Available to Youth Age 18 and Younger During the Summer
BUSD will provide free grab and go meals to all youth age 18 and younger during the summer, from June 7th through August 11th 2021.  Meals will not be distributed on Monday, July 5, due to the July 4th holiday.

Meal Pick Up: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30am - 10:30am.
Meal bundles will include breakfast and lunch, fresh fruit, milks as well as entrees and sides. All meal distribution locations are wheelchair accessible.
Distribution Locations

Washington Elementary
2300 M L King Jr. Way 94707
Tables will be set up on Bancroft and MLK

Rosa Parks Elementary
920 Allston Way
Tables will be set up under the portico

Sylvia Mendez Elementary
2840 Ellsworth Street
Tables will be set up on Russel Street between Deakin and Ellsworth

Longfellow Middle School
1522 Ward Street
Tables will be set up between Sacramento & California

Berkeley High School
1980 Allston Way
Tables will be set up in the breezeway on Milvia near Kittredge St.

Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School
1781 Rose Street
Enter on Grant and drive onto the basketball courts. Tables will be set up at the front doors of the Dining Commons

Gardening & Cooking Program Highlights
As with all instruction, garden and nutrition classes began this year in distance learning. The typically hands-on lessons were translated into 2D. Instructors made sure that all students had what they needed to participate, often delivering materials such as garden kits, bags of produce, and kitchen tools to students' homes. As the year progressed, students were inspired to practice outside of the Zoom lessons, preparing meals with and for their families, which they then shared with their cooking teachers through pictures and stories.

Today, many garden and nutrition classes have returned to in-person instruction at school sites from preschool through high school. Distance learning students can attend a fun Zoom gardening and cooking class once a week. All cooking materials are provided to our families prior to participating. We will continue to build community, introduce savvy nutrition tips, and cook and eat a meal together through these classes!
Ruth Acty Elementary School Gets New Sign
At its December 9, 2020 meeting, the Berkeley School Board unanimously approved the name “Ruth Acty Elementary School” for the school formerly known as Jefferson. The new name, now displayed prominently at the school, recognizes an inspiring educator, the first Black teacher in Berkeley Unified School District, who dedicated nearly 50 years of her life to teaching students in Berkeley, from Kindergarten through Adult School. Berkeley Unified was recently features in this K-12 Dive article on how to successfully rename a school.

Honoring Naomi Gedo Diouf "Mama Washington"
Mama Washington at a performance celebrating the 50th anniversary of the African American Studies Department. (Photo: Mark Coplan)
On March 4, 2020 the National Endowment for the Arts showcased the 2020 National Heritage Fellows. Among them were Berkeley’s own Naomi Gedo Diouf, or “Mama Washington,” as generations of Berkeley High School (BHS) students knew her, and her husband Dr. Zakarya Sao Diouf “Papa Zak”. Mama Washington established a legacy of excellence at BHS. For thirty years, she built the African Diaspora (formerly Afro-Haitian) Dance program to reflect the pride and beauty of African culture.

She was born in Liberia, and it is there where her love of dance was born. She danced, and studied from dancers in her Grebo ethnic group and other West African Nations. Later, she came to the United States to earn a degree in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego. She relocated to the Bay Area in 1987, becoming the artistic director of Diamano Coura West African Dance Company. Mama’s former colleague Linda Carr shared the immense breadth, connectedness, and impact of her legacy: “Over the many years that we worked together at Berkeley High School, I was always struck by Naomi's unique ability to connect her students not only to the rich cultures of Africa and of the African Diaspora but also to the wider world of the Arts in general. She took the threads of her teaching from all corners -- young people at Aileycamp & Berkeley High, adults at Laney College and the Malonga Casquelourd Center, her own company, Diamano Coura -- and she wove a tapestry of shared concerts, performances & festivals, connecting her students to each other and to the world."

We celebrate the incomparable Mama Washington, and in doing so, we remember a profound lesson and life philosophy on the interdependence of the individual and the community she instilled in her students: "Because dance is inseparable from a sense of community, I tell kids that an individual shines because the community shines." - Naomi Washington Diouf
BUSD Elementary Students Choose Mock Newbery Contest Winners
BUSD students participated in the annual Mock Newbery Award Contest, which is Modeled after the American Library Association's Newbery medal.

Elementary students read a series of 10 new books chosen by their BUSD librarians, formed their own Mock Newbery Committees, and voted for their favorites.

Participating schools held a series of online evening events - Mock Newbery Nights - which included author visits from 3 of the Mock Newbery titles.

After students voted, BUSD 4th and 5th graders selected the Winner, Class Act by Jerry Craft, and the Honor book, When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed.
Earth Day at BUSD
Schools around the District celebrated Earth Day on April 22. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School students celebrated by creating a chalked-in design on the schoolyard.
Students paint a new mural at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School (photos: Janet Levenson)
The efforts and vision of educators Louise Paige and Julie Searle were much appreciated, as they oversaw the project and worked with students to create the mural.
Local Professionals Address Complex Sustainability Challenges
in BUSD Speaker Series
BUSD's Taking Environmental Action in the Bay Area Speaker Series included sustainability-oriented speakers Shea Robinson, Sustainability Coordinator at Nugget Market, on "Driving Sustainability at a Retail Grocery Chain," and Ilana Ash, an Account Manger at Syserco, Inc, on "The New Age in Energy Management." The BUSD Sustainability Team invites you to watch, and be inspired by, these forward-thinking speakers who present solutions to complex problems across a variety of sustainability-related fields. Recordings of the Speakers Series can be viewed here.
Keeping Up with District News
First Day Of School is August 16, 2021
The first day of school for the 2021-2022 school year is Monday, August 16, 2021. View the 2021-2022 school year calendar here.
Elementary and Middle School After-School Programs
 for 2021-2022 School Year
BUSD has several options for after-school care for our students. Available programs provide safe and supportive spaces for our students to receive academic support, recreational and enrichment activities while observing all safety guidelines. Due to limited space and staffing, all students will be placed on a waitlist and enrolled on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to those currently enrolled in a program and our most vulnerable youth. Students can only join the waitlist for the program located at the school that they attend.

Registration for the 2021-22 school year is OPEN! Sign up for the waitlist while there are still program spots available. Learn more and register here.
Ed Hub Spring Hours and Summer Schedule
The Ed Hub, which is located at the Berkeley Adult School on Curtis St., between Virginia and Francisco Street, is a one-stop distribution site for all things teaching and learning while school campuses are closed for in-person instruction. During the spring, the Ed Hub is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 - 5:00 pm.

Please note these exceptions:

The Ed Hub will be closed July 1 for 4th of July weekend, and again July 19-30.

The Ed Hub will be open 3-5pm every day June 7-11 so families can return Chromebooks.
Discounted Internet Service Through Emergency Broadband Benefit
The Federal Communications Commission has launched a temporary program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.
Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail-in application.

GoGuardian Parent App For BUSD Parents
If your student is using a Chromebook at home with their district-issued Google account, you now have access to GoGuardian Parent, a mobile app which provides parents/guardians with additional controls for their student’s online activities. GoGuardian Parent is a companion to the classroom management and internet filtering tools used by BUSD schools on student-issued devices, and will allow parents and guardians to partner with BUSD to promote safe technology use and responsible browsing habits. Find out more here.
Events and Meetings Online
Next School Board Meeting
June 2, 2021

All Board meetings are now held via Zoom. Details can be found on our webpage.

School board meeting agendas/materials are posted at least 72 hours before meetings on the School Board Meeting Information page of our website.
Recent Meetings
Upcoming Meetings
PTA Meeting Details
May 24, 6:30-8:00pm

EAC | Details
May 25, 4:00-5:30pm

Planning and Oversight Committee Meeting (BSEP and BERRA)  | Details
May 25, 6:15pm-8:45pm

LCAP and Budget Community Workshop (English)| Details
May 26, 6:00pm

Board Policy Meeting | Details
May 27, 1:00-2:30pm
LCAP and Budget Community Workshop (Spanish) | Details
May 27, 6:00pm

Memorial Day Holiday
May 31
Schools and District Offices Closed

School Board Facilities Subcommittee Meeting | Details
June 1, 4:30-6:00pm

School Board Meeting | Details
June 2, 7:00pm

Personnel Commission Meeting
June 3, 4:30-7:00pm

Last Day of School
June 4