June 11, 2019
A+ News
In this edition:
  • English Learners Achieve Fluency
  • Retirement of Becca Todd, BUSD Library Coordinator
  • Berkeley High Bridge Graduates
  • FREE Summer Breakfasts and Lunch for Youth
  • Summer Reading
  • LGBTQ Pride Month
  • BHS Art Exhibit Open Summer Weekdays
  • BUSD Is Hiring
  • School Calendars, Board Meeting, and more!
Three Year High in Number of English Learner Students Achieving English Proficiency
The atmosphere was festive at the Berkeley Adult School multi-purpose room last Wednesday evening, June 4, when students and family members gathered to celebrate English Language Learners who’ve attained English proficiency.

The annual Reclassification Ceremony honored the 124 BUSD students who were certified as fluent this year, up from 98 students last year and 117 the year before.

The students represented a wide range of primary languages, with Spanish at the top of the list (53), followed by Arabic and French (8 each), Chinese (5 Mandarin and 2 Cantonese) and Korean (5). Three languages had 3 speakers each: Japanese, Portuguese and Russian. And several had 1 or 2 speakers.

School Board Vice President Beatriz Leyva-Cutler congratulated the bilingual students as “leaders of tomorrow.”

The event also included a special recognition for Jesse Montiel, Student Assessment Specialist for English Language Learners, for her 20 years of service with the Reclassification Ceremony and her 30 years with BUSD. 
Retirement and Celebratory Send Off for "Rock Star" Library Coordinator Becca Todd
On Thursday, June 7 an exuberant retirement celebration provided a warm send-off for Becca Todd, the guiding light and spirit of the District’s libraries and the rich programs they offer.
One highpoint in the evening for close to 100 work colleagues and friends gathered at the community hall of St. John’s Presbyterian Church was the post-dinner Zumba exercise session led by Becca, after she removed her pale green tunic to reveal a black t-shirt emblazoned with “Straight Outta the Library.” Participants “earned their cake” through this energetic and engaging activity, typical of Becca Todd’s ability to inspire people to move and do even more than they think they can do.
Colleagues fondly recounted Becca’s acts of kindness and valuable support during her 13 years with BUSD, as well as her talent for addressing challenges in fun, creative ways and her initiatives in expanding library-sponsored programs, including the Battle of the Books, the Mock Newbery Book Clubs, digital citizenship, and the engaging visits by children’s book authors to the schools, among others.
“Becca is a model librarian,” said former BUSD Co-Superintendent Neil Smith, emcee for the event. “She’s such a treasure to work with.”
Berkeley High Bridge Students Celebrate Graduation and College Plans Ahead
There were many reasons for the group of 29 Berkeley High seniors to gather and celebrate with family, friends, teachers, and mentors in the school library on May 29th. Back in 2015, these students became members of the sixth cohort of the BHS Bridge program determined to successfully transition to high school, carrying with them a dream of attending college. Their four-year participation in the academic skill-building and college-preparation program has paid off! All twenty nine of the Bridge graduates will soon be spreading out across the state of California from Chico State in the north to UC Merced in the east, and UC Riverside and UC Irvine to the south. Others will attend colleges right in their backyard, including students committed to UC Berkeley, Berkeley City College, SF State and CSU East Bay.

The goal of Bridge is to prepare more African American, Latino, and low-income students to make an academically successful transition from middle school to BHS, and from BHS to college. Bridge demands a significant investment of time, energy, and effort from students as they develop the ability to navigate the often complex pathway to a college education.
It takes a special commitment from Bridge teachers who spend long hours on campus to be available to their Bridge students and support them along the way. BHS English teacher Sean Stevens beams when he thinks of his first cohort of seniors heading off to college, “Working as a teacher for the Bridge program has been one of my greatest joys. Seeing these kids grow from aimless youths to proud and driven individuals has been a joy to behold. They have shown me the strength of their spirit, and the depth of their dedication. This has been my most rewarding experience in my teaching career.”

Free Summer Breakfast and Lunch for Berkeley Youth
The same nutritious morning and noon meals offered through BUSD Nutrition Services at all of our schools will be available during the summer to school-age youth who are 18 years old and younger. More information, including the details for the City of Berkeley Summer Lunch program, is on our website.
Keep on Reading with these BUSD- Curated Summer Book Lists
Reading is a fun way to pass the time in the summer and an important way for students to keep up the literacy skills they have developed during the school year. To encourage our students to make reading part of every summer day, our teachers and library staff have been sharing some of their favorite summer reading lists with students.

Some of what's been shared in our schools are the TK-8 recommended grade level book lists on the BUSD Library Services webpage .

Summer Reading kicked off at Berkeley High with a visit from Berkeley Public Library teen librarians, a button making station, reading lists for the beach & brain , and cookies!

Enjoy these notes (photo) recently penned by BHS students showing why they love the BHS library!
Colorful Kick-Off to LGBTQ Pride Month
June is LGBTQ Pride Month, and this past week students and staff at multiple schools held their own Pride celebrations marked by parades, assemblies, and colorful rainbows, like this one below on the Thousand Oaks schoolyard.
BHS Student Art/Act Exhibit: Open Weekdays This Summer
For an excellent view into the window – or many windows – of how Berkeley High students view the state of the environment and what we humans are doing to it, consider stopping by the featured  Art/Act: Youth exhibition at Berkeley’s David Brower Center.

The exhibit, which runs to Sept. 12, marries environmentalism and art into creative and often impactful modes of expression. A close-up view at what looks like a reproduction of Hokusai’s famous “Great Wave” painting, for example, reveals the wave is made of plastic trash (see photo). Another work features a large strawberry overlaid with a skull and crossbones above the words “Methyl Bromide” in large black letters.

Not all of the works are dire and somber. Some strive for hope and beauty, and several take on a variety of forms that appear to raise more questions than answers.
“There is something powerful about knowing that a young person is thinking deeply about important issues and conveying what they think through an artistic viewpoint,” says Laurie Rich, Executive Director of the David Brower Center.

The exhibition is curated by Berkeley High art teacher Kimberley D’Adamo Green and features work by students in art and digital photography classes.

The Brower Center Gallery in downtown Berkeley is open weekdays 9-5.
Berkeley Unified School District is Hiring
Do you know someone who might be looking for a rewarding opportunity to join our school district? If so, please tell them Berkeley Unified School District is hiring!

It takes a village to run our schools and serve our students and families!

You can find more information with links to the job listings  on our webpage .
Upcoming Events & Meetings
School Board Meetings
June 12 & 26 at 7:30pm
(Meeting June 12 includes farewell to Superintendent Donald Evans who will retire at the end of July.)

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.
In Case You Missed It
'Mama Washington' Directs Last Afro-Haitian Dance Performance; Honored with City of Berkeley Proclamation
Berkeley High’s Naomi Diouf, fondly known as “Mama Washington,” was lauded in a City of Berkeley Proclamation, “In Honor of Mama Washington,” issued on Thursday, May 16, by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin.
The upcoming retirement of Ms. Diouf, teacher of African/Haitian dance and chair of the African American Studies Department, has prompted an outpouring of fond tributes recognizing her three decades of teaching and leadership making the school dance program what it is today.
The City Proclamation says in part, “Mama Washington has dedicated her life’s work to the preservation, education, and appreciation of traditional West African music, dance and theater, enriching the cultural fabric of our city, our community and our world.”
According to Mama Washington, the word “retirement” doesn’t accurately capture her plans. “I know I’m leaving a great part of my life,” she said, “But I’m not retiring, I’m transitioning into my next stage of life. That’s the African tradition — everyone goes through stages.”

Video of performances: Part 1 , Part 2
School Calendar
2019-20 School Year Calendar Released; Changes Ahead in 2020-21
The first day of school for the 2019-20 school year in the Berkeley Unified School District will be Monday, August 26, 2019. Next year, the last day of school will be Friday, June 12, 2020.

Please note : In 2020, school will begin a week earlier than in 2019. The first day of school will be Monday, August 17, 2020. The school year will remain the same number of total days and students will be let out for Summer 2021 a week earlier (June 4, 2021). More information about this change is on our webpage .

The academic school year calendars for 19-20 and 20-21 are posted on the district calendar webpage.
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