February 7, 2020
A+ News
Lion Dance at Cragmont’s Lunar New Year Festival 

On January 22, Cragmont Elementary School students enjoyed a Lunar New Year Festival and lion dance performed by Keilun Martial Arts. The lion dance, versions of which have been performed for over two thousand years, was a colorful and festive experience as lions moved across the stage to the deep beat of an accompanying drum. Lion dances are closely tied to martial arts and the dance is used as an adjunct to martial arts training.

Students learned that lion dances are performed at Chinese celebrations to scare away bad luck and evil, and to bring prosperity and good fortune. Cragmont 5th grade brothers, Koan and Raiden, performed a puzzle dance that demonstrated their martial arts skills as they faced challenges. Wearing the lion costume, the boys crossed a bridge, picked up items and put them in a vase that was presented to the school.

Each student received a red envelope with a coin to bring home. Red envelopes, which are a Chinese New Year tradition, are a way of wishing someone a safe and peaceful new year.
Cragmont students enjoy a lion dance performed to celebrate the Lunar New Year.  
Cragmont students display the lion costume they wore while performing in the school’s Lunar New Year festival.
Lost Boy of the Sudan Speaks at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School
On January 17, Deng Jongkuch, one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan, told his story of survival and resilience during the Sudan Civil War to a packed audience at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. When Deng was about five years old, rebels came to his village and killed many people - taking the older children as child soldiers. Rebels poisoned the water, destroyed the farms and killed the animals. Deng, and many boys and girls his age who experienced similar violence and destruction at the hands of rebels, set out on a journey that would last over a year, walking through the desert to ultimately land in a refugee camp.

Deng subsequently endured 14 years in refugee camps, telling King students “there were no chickens or milk,” to feed the thousands of displaced children. They survived on corn and flour, walking more than a mile to get water. Like many Lost Boys, Deng didn’t know his own age or birthday. He was given January 1, 1981 as his new birthday by the US government when he was transported to his new life in San Jose, California.

Students were engaged in Deng’s story— asking questions about things like his favorite food in the US, and cheering his answer (a burrito). They laughed with him as he mimicked the sound and motion of a vacuum, something he explained he found amazing about life in the US, that there was a machine built to clean floors. They were touched when he described traveling back to his village to build a school and to find his family. His mother didn’t recognize him. 

The most heartfelt moment came after a student asked Deng what the hardest part of his experience was. Deng explained how sad it was to have to walk on as young friends who could not endure the journey through the desert were left behind.
Deng Jongkuch, seen here with King Principal Janet Levenson, detailed the one-year walk he took to survive after soldiers attacked his village.

The Lost Boy of Sudan, Deng Jongkuch, explains to students how he started his new life in California
Shark Sighting at Malcolm X Elementary

Kindergarteners at Malcolm X Elementary got a special visit from the Marine Science Institute (MSI) last week to get a hands-on lesson that included touching a live tiger shark. MSI delivers living marine animals from various Bay Area habitats directly to the class with it's mobile aquarium.

"Kindergartners are natural scientists," explains kindergarten teacher Cynthia Allman, who organized the lesson. "They are curious about the world around them and ready to think about how living things are adapted to survive and how humans affect them. Visits from groups like the MSI make the lessons especially memorable and we're very grateful to the Berkeley Schools Fund for making the visit possible!"

Malcolm X kindergarten has a long-standing tradition of taking a Bay Cruise on the Blue and Gold Fleet every winter. The teachers use the trip as the basis for science and social studies lessons about animal anatomy and adaptations, engineering, weather and climate change, maps, landforms, transportation, jobs and history.

All of these lessons and experiences--and the many weeks they spend on this topic--allow children to make connections between ideas and to think deeply about the interrelationships between environments, animals and humans. It helps them to learn where they are physically located in the larger world and how that affects the jobs and infrastructure of the Bay Area.
Malcolm X students enjoyed a hands-on lesson that included touching a live shark.
Students learned about the interrelationships between environments, animals and humans during the MSI visit.
BUSD Music Teacher Karen Wells Presents at Carnegie Hall; Wins CMEA Award

BUSD music teacher Karen Wells has been busy. Over the summer, Wells presented the high-level inquiry work the District’s music teachers do through Mills Teacher Scholars at The Music Educators Workshop, held at the Weill Center in Carnegie Hall. Taking charge of their own Professional Development, these teachers have implemented a model of collaboration and useful inquiry that helps improve student learning. Wells’ presentation was featured in a Mills Teacher Scholars publication in December.

“The music department was honored to have Karen represent the District and the professional development work we’ve done with Mills Teacher Scholars at such a prestigious venue,” said VAPA Supervisor Pete Gidlund. “Karen is a great example of someone who has been a leader in this important work.”

On January 10, Wells won the Gilbert T Freitas award for excellence in teaching at the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) Bay section conference. 
BUSD Music Teacher Karen Wells receives the Gilbert T Freitas award for excellence in teaching. (Photo by Peter Gidlund)
Makers Lab and Umoja Class Come Together to Shape School Culture

Christopher Oakes, the Umjoa teacher at Longfellow Middle School, felt it important to create a classroom environment that reflected the imagery of the students that learn in it. Umoja is a class that fosters learning experiences of African American's cultural worldview, precepts, and values.
As the Umoja scholars began to acquire materials and images for the classroom, they were faced with the challenge of limited resources to support their vision. Looking to overcome this obstacle, they reached out to Makers Lab teacher Jen Fuller to collaborate on the project.
“Jen basically saw our vision of wanting to express ourselves visually,” said Oakes. “It started with the idea that we wanted to transform our classroom, and then it spread out to the hallways for Black History Month. Now it is expanding to visionary art across the campus. It gives out a level of pride, history and competence of the black experience for all students on the campus.”
Since November, Umoja and Makers Lab scholars have collaborated to create Afro-centric artifacts. The Umjoa scholars learned and demonstrated their command of STEAM competencies in the process.
Umoja 7th & 8th graders also had an opportunity to embrace 6th graders and show them the "Longfellow way.” What transpired was an amazing display of what scholars can accomplish when they work together, are given space to use their voice, and are provided proper resources. “These students were able to show Longfellow 6th graders that if you have an idea, drive, and motivation you can bring a huge project like this to fruition,” said Fuller, Makers Lab teacher. 

The work these students created is not just inspiring other students, which was their goal, but it has also inspired the staff, who report feeling “amazed” and even “having goosebumps” when seeing it.
The vibrant and colorful work from this collaborative effort is currently on display for Black History Month throughout the hallways and doorways at Longfellow. Select pieces will be exhibited at The Cheeseboard Pizza, 1512 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709, beginning this Saturday, February 8.
BHS Juniors Get Green Dot Active Bystander Training 
On Wednesday, January 29th, the 10th cohort of Berkeley High Juniors participated in a day-long active bystander training called Green Dot.

The Green Dot program is designed to train students who are influencers with skills to prevent and intervene in situations of sexual harassment, bullying, and partner violence. Brought to BHS by Jasdeep Malhi, the school's Lead Intervention Counselor, and Dean of Students, Kiernan Rok, Green Dot teaches students to intervene using 3Ds: be Direct, Delegate to others, and use Distraction to defuse what might become a potentially dangerous situation.  
Students in the program must be nominated by a staff member or a previously trained Green Dot student. “We know that our Green Dot active bystanders are making a difference and changing lives,” said Malhi, who has heard from students who say their Green Dot training has helped them successfully intervene to prevent someone from being victimized.

Once trained, students are considered Green Dot ambassadors until the end of their senior year. Green Dot is based on the belief that, "Nobody has to do everything, but everybody has to do something!"
BHS Juniors participated in a day-long active bystander training.
Once trained, students are considered Green Dot ambassadors.
Jan 27th Supreme Court Ruling on Change to the “Public Charge” Rule

On January 27, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled to allow the Trump administration to begin enforcing a change to the “public charge” rule. The change to this rule will make it harder for immigrant families to apply for permanent residency or earn a visa if they depend on government aid. 

Please be assured that students attending public school, and participating in school nutrition programs, that it is not part of the “public charge” rule and will not affect immigration applications. 

Good nutrition is essential for learning. Parents should complete school forms to qualify for free and reduced-priced meals in the Berkeley Schools without fear that this will affect your family’s immigration status.
Safe Nutrition Programs for Your Student

  • National School Lunch Program
  • School Breakfast Program
  • Seamless Summer Option
  • After School Meal Supplement
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program
BUSD embraces our diverse community. We understand that the “public charge” rule may cause anxiety for our families. This is why we want you to know that public education and the District’s nutrition services are exempt from the “public charge” rule.   

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about the “public charge” rule and information about applying for free and reduced-price meals for your student.
Student Exhibition Unveils New Mural of Black Leaders in Movement & Resistance

The Arts and Humanities Academy (AHA) at BHS is having it's annual exhibition at the Kala Art Institute in South Berkeley on February 12 from 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. Students, grades 10-12, participate in this interdisciplinary show that incorporates United States History, Language and Composition, and visual art. 

In small groups, students examined how economic, social and political policies have upheld white privilege and white supremacy, as well as how the black community has fought and continues to fight against systems of oppression. After two weeks of research and extensive note taking, students designed 2 x 4 wooden panels illustrating the details of their topic and learning objective.

Each panel is part of a larger installation covering: Black Arts Movement/Hip Hop, Voting Rights, LGBTQ+ Liberation and Heroes, Athletes Taking a Knee, Policing, Prison Industrial Complex, Unsung Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, Housing/Gentrification and Black Lives Matter. Students explored various art techniques throughout the project, including portraiture, laser cuts, painting and photoshop. 

Students designed 2 x 4 wooden panels that will be displayed in the exhibition.
New to the District:
Longfellow Vice Principal
Doreen Bracamontes

Doreen Bracamontes recently joined the Longfellow Administrative Staff after a career that included working as an English Language Development teacher at Oakland Unified, a stint at High Tech High, and a position as Vice Principal at San Leandro's John Muir Middle School. We asked Doreen a few questions about herself and her new role in the district.

What do you love about BUSD?

I love that BUSD has really talented, focused, and collaborative administrators. I wanted to be part of a district that has an equity centered approach to education. I believe culture and academics are intertwined, they can't be separated.

What do you do for fun?

I just went to the Soul of a Nation exhibit at the De Young, I love to watch basketball and soccer, and I am huge Warriors fan. I am always toggling between two to three books. I really love to read.

What are you reading right now?

White Fragility , by Robin DiAngelo, is a great book. I read it when I was a temporary administrator at BHS last year. When I saw the administrative team and teachers were reading it, I knew that I wanted to work for Berkeley schools! I'm about 30 pages into How To Be An Antiracist , by Ibram X. Kendi, because I am always learning more about social justice issues. For fiction, I am reading Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. It talks about middle class life and the struggle families endure. And I also am finishing up The Sixth Man: A Memoir, by Andre Iguodola because, you know, the Warriors.
Doreen Bracamontes pictured in the garden at Longfellow Middle School.
Bracamontes talking to students in the garden.
In Case You Missed It
Measure E - The Berkeley Educators Recruitment and Retention Act

Measure E, on the March 3, 2020 Ballot is a special local tax measure, also known as the Berkeley Educators Recruitment and Retention Act (BERRA). It was created to increase compensation for Berkeley Public School educators and support pathways that will improve the ability of Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) to attract, develop and retain top quality educators for our public schools. The funding is designated to strengthen salaries and professional pathways so that Berkeley students benefit from a dedicated team of highly qualified and appropriately compensated professionals.

Read the District's FAQ on Measure E and learn more about the educator recruitment and retention crisis affecting our students.
Upcoming Events and Meetings
School Board Meeting
February 19, 2020 7:30 pm
March 11, 2020 7:30 pm

All regular Board meetings are held in the Board Room,  1231 Addison St.and are streamed live and archived on the  BUSD YouTube Channel  .

School board meeting agendas/materials are posted at least 72 hours before meetings on the School Board Meeting Information page of our website.
Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC) | Details >
Tuesday, February 11
5:00 – 7:00 pm
2020 Bonar St., Room 126

BSEP P&O Committee
Meeting  |  Details >
Tuesday, February 11,
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
2020 Bonar St

DELAC Meeting  Details >
Tuesday, February 11
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
2020 Bonar St
Lincoln's Birthday Holiday
February 14
Schools and District Office Closed

President's Day Holiday
February 17
Schools and District Office Closed

PAC Meeting  |  Details >
Thursday, February 20
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm 
2020 Bonar St., Room 126
Berkeley Unified School District | 2020 Bonar Street | 510.644.8764 | www.berkeleyschools.net