Middle School Principal of the Year

Drum roll please…

Mr. Burnham was named Middle School Principal of the Year by WCCUSD! Nominated by his peers in the district, he was selected by the members of the administrators’ union as THE Middle School Principal in the district. He is now in the running for best Middle School Principal in the county. Congratulations Mr. B!

Green Portola Part One

Some exciting changes are happening at Portola. Green things are sprouting on the black top.

A big THANKS goes out to the GoPortola parents and the Kensington Dads Club for their efforts moving these cement planters with full grown shrubs donated by Navis in Oakland. Go Portola parent, Bobbie Dowling, who acquired the donation, also purchased and donated benches and picnic tables for Portola.

Let’s keep up the effort by coming on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 2-5 pm to build more planters and plant more bushes around the campus. Donations of plants (bushes, shrubs, or flowers) are welcome. Please remember to bring your own gardening tools.

Measure G Plea

From our Legislative Chair, Pamela Gilbert Snyder:


Hello, fellow parents.  I am the Legislative Affairs Chair of the Portola PTSA and spoke briefly at last night’s PTSA meeting about the need for parents to participate, in any way you can, in the campaign to pass Measures E and G in the November election.

MEASURE G is a PARCEL TAX RENEWAL that needs **67%** of the vote to pass.

We are asking parents to:

  • Speak with everyone you know about the importance of voting YES on this measure
  • Place a sign in your yard supporting Measure G, and 
  • PHONE BANK for Measure G with fellow parents (dates and details below). 

I will let you know as soon as yard signs become available.

Basic information:

MEASURE G is a STRAIGHT RENEWAL of an existing tax. In Kensington/El Cerrito, it amounts to less than NINE DOLLARS per month, on average, per parcel.
The money is used for:

  • Class-size reduction at the elementary level.
  • Maintaining a college-going culture.
  • Attracting and retaining qualified teachers (with better working conditions such as:)
  • Safety officers.
  • Classroom computers.
  • Science labs.
  • Libraries.
  • Athletics programs.
  • And more.

The cuts to our schools in recent years are ONGOING, and programs and services have taken the biggest hit. Measure G will maintain our current level.  

If this measure does not pass, WE WILL LOSE the above programs and services. 

Addressing possible voter concerns:

– The WCCUSD has lost $40,000,000 due to reduced State funding, forcing it to eliminate programs and services, reduce employee compensation, increase class sizes, and reduce supplies and materials.  MEASURE G will prevent FURTHER LOSSES.

– G gives the WCCUSD local funding that cannot be taken away by the state.

– MEASURE G is a STRAIGHT RENEWAL of an existing tax amounting to less than NINE DOLLARS per month, on average, per parcel in our area.

– The parcel taxes passed in 2004 and renewed in 2008 were used as promised.

– Citizens over age 65 may file for a SENIOR EXEMPTION to this tax.

Parents, it is CRITICAL that we pass Measure E.

First PTSA Meeting held Sept. 11

First PTSA meeting was held on Sept 11

Thank you to all the parents and the one student who came to our first PTSA meeting of the year. Items discussed included:

  • Budget for the year: PTSA’s goal is to raise at least $35,000 this year to fund for new computers for the library and the computer lab, expand Writer’s Coach Connection, classroom and department grants.. Other activities to be funded are school beautification and noontime.
  • Mr. Burnham requested for parent and student volunteers to help phone bank for Measure G & E on Oct. 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Interactive Resources in Pt. Richmond. It is vital that Measure G, the parcel tax renewal, passes in the November election to maintain the school services we currently have, including class size reduction, librarians, & counselors.
  • Communication from school to home – Parents talked about how school happenings are not well publicized and need to be communicated to parents on a regular basis. Thus, the birth of the El Toro Weekly, which will be distributed to students every Thursday, and be posted on the Portola PTSA website, e-tree, and Facebook.

What a way to start the year!

First, it was great to see many people attend the Back to School event. Got to meet new people as well as renew old friendships. Thank you to all the people who helped make this event a success: Lori Klumb, Julie Yamashita, Tre Curran, Lianne Tsujimoto Wong, Tracey Kitaoka, Kara DeLaPaz, Kelly Whitney, Patty Enrado, Kathy Guarneri, Saidah Said.

Second, the Direct Appeal is underway. We are about 10% to our goal of $25,000. Monies raised will go towards replacing the computers in the library, purchase science equipment and supplies, fund lunchtime activities like Math Club, etc. The Donate button at the top right of this site is waiting to be clicked, or drop off/mail your check to the school main office in attention to PTSA Direct Appeal.

Third, on Sept 24th, the schools of El Cerrito will be hosting a WCCUSD School Board Candidates Forum at Harding Theater from 6:30-8:00 pm. This is an informative Question and Answer session to get to know the candidates for the upcoming school board election. Community members can submit questions ahead of time by emailing Bobbie Ohs Dowling at bohs@earthlink.net, or write their questions as they walk in.

Fourth, PE Department’s fundraiser is underway. Check out the catalog of treats and turn in your order forms and collected monies by Sept. 17th. Please support our PE program. Library has also created a wish list of books students have requested. Circulation has skyrocketed this year, and our librarian, Ms. Bogie is dedicated to providing new quality fiction and non-fiction material. The wish list is at Amazon.com/Portola Library Wish List.

Don’t forget, our first PTSA General meeting is next Tuesday Sept 11th from 7:oo pm to 8:00 pm in Room 7. We will be discussing our plans for the upcoming school year. Students are especially invited to come as plans affect them as well.

Back To School Picnic

You are invited! It’s not too late to pre-order your pizza. Email Evangeline at emireland@yahoo.com to let me know how many slices or whole pizza and pepperoni or cheese. I just need a head count to know how many pizzas to order. You can pay on Thursday at the event.

Want to help with this event? Go to and select the activity you can help with.

First day of school!

August 20th is the first day of school year 2012-2013. If you’re new to the school, Welcome! If you’re returning for another great year, Welcome back! With over 500 students on campus this year, there will certainly be many new faces.

Thanks to all who have turned in all the school forms and PTSA forms.

Reminder that the first day of school is a minimum day. Students will be dismissed at 1:25 pm.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at some point during the year!

Evangeline Ireland
PTSA president

The End of Summer…

At least that is what the beginning of August brings for me. Is is a seasonal change really. Though El Cerrito and the surrounding micro-climate(s) are bound for warmer months, the approach of a school year brings a renewed and refreshed focus on education for many. I have spent the last month or so watching my children engage with the world. The further away from civilization we traveled the more my boys discovered their surroundings. It was quite magical and certainly a privilege to spend so much time with them at such a young and vibrant age.

Having watched my kids this summer I believe teaching can and should engage all students.

See the rest of this post on the Principal Page.

Watch your mail for Orientation Materials

Something new this year: Orientation materials were sent out in the mail.  If you do not receive yours in the next week, please contact the school office.

Orientation schedule as follows:

Tuesday Aug. 7 – 7th graders only

Wednesday Aug. 8 – 8th graders only

9:00 am – Last name begins with A – H

10:00 am – Last name begins with I-Q

11:00 am – Last name begins with R-Z

Thursday Aug. 9th – Make-up day all grades 9 am – 12 pm

Please remember to bring cash if you plan to purchase any items. PTSA will accept cash or checks for membership and donations.

If you cannot make any of the orientation days, please contact the school office after Aug. 13th to make arrangements.

Summer Band camp coming up

Portola Band teacher, Tiffany Carrico, will be teaching band camps for three weeks. Camps will be held at Portola Middle School band room.

Dates are:
July 16-20
July 23-27
July 30-August 3

Elementary level is from 9 am to 12 pm
Middle school level is from 1 pm to 4 pm

Registration is through El Cerrito Parks and Recreation.

Students do not have to sign up for all 3 weeks.  One week at a time is ok.