City-wide Garage Sale – Fundraiser to benefit Portola!

Old, new, borrowed (but not from each other) and blue…we are looking for it! Portola will participate in the El Cerrito Citywide Garage Sale. We are looking for high quality donations, so start cleaning out. NO OLD TV’s, VCR’s, OR OTHER QUESTIONABLE ELECTRONICS OR CAR SEATS. Only lightly used household goods, clothes, and shoes. The date is Saturday, October 12, Portola Middle School. We are looking for volunteers to organize donations and man tables. Interested? Contact us:

The New Portola Online Directory Is Here!

We are creating a new way for Portola families to connect – the new online directory. Click “Directory_Fillable” to fill in the form. The deadline for providing information to be included in the directory is September 20th, so fill out the form today!

Here’s how to do it: The Portola Directory forms have been designed to be filled out on line and electronically transmitted. In order for data to be electronically transmitted, many things have to be in place. First you need the latest Adobe Acrobat Reader (which is a free download that can be found here: Next the PDF function seems to really only work if you are using Internet Explorer (probably version 8 or above). If the system is going to work, the software will walk you through sending the email. If it does work, we will send you a confirmation (usually within 24 hours). If it didn’t work, you won’t get a confirmation. You can always drop us a line at and ask if it came through.

If online submission doesn’t work for you, you can still participate in the directory. Use the fillable form and print it out, sign it, and send it in to the school.


Volunteer Fingerprinting and TB Testing Event

All WCCUSD volunteers should be fingerprinted and TB tested.  If you drive on school-sponsored field trips or attend school-sponsored overnights. You do need to have these District required credentials.
Kensington Hilltop Elementary School is hosting both fingerprinting and TB testing sessions, and has opened up their event to Portola families:
TB Testing
Monday, September 9, 2013, 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.
 Please bring $20 in cash on the day of the test (Monday, Sept 9)
TB Test Reading and Fingerprinting Session
Thursday September 12, 2013 6 p.m.-7 p.m.
The fingerprinting process costs $26 if you have been a resident of California for the last 10 years, $41 if not, and covers all district processing for the badge and the Department of Justice fingerprint review.  Cash is preferred, although credit cards and checks are accepted (Thursday, Sept 12).
Appointments must be made.  We’re sorry, but no walk-ins accepted.  Contact:
Sarah Wolfsen at to reserve a spot.
Kensington Hilltop School
90 Highland Blvd
Kensington, CA 94708
Please park in the Kensington Library parking lot (61 Arlington Blvd.   at the flashing light) and walk up to campus.  There is no parking on campus and very limited parking near campus.  Thanks!

WCCUSD Strategic Plan Town Hall Meetings

Now is the time to provide your feedback on the draft 2013-2018 District Strategic Plan.  Please join us at one of the two Strategic Plan Town Halls to learn about the proposed plan, participate in small group working sessions, and help us prioritize the work for the next five years.  The first is Wednesday, August 28th in the multipurpose room at El Cerrito High School and the second is on Monday, September 9th in the multi-purpose room at Collins Elementary School.  Both meetings are from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.  The draft plan is available on the district’s web site (   If you can’t attend or would prefer to review the plan and submit written feedback, you can do that by sending your thoughts and comments in an e-mail to  Comments from messages to that address will go to the consultants and be considered by the Steering Committee as the plan is modified before going back to the Board of Education for approval in October.

First PTSA Meeting of the 2013-14 School Year

Tuesday, September 10th 7:00 p.m. Portola Middle School, 1021 Navellier Street, Room 7.  Come meet the PTSA.  After introductions, we will discuss this year’s goals, and present and approve the year’s budget.  The full agenda can be found at Portola PTSA Sept. 10, 2013 meeting agenda.

After PTSA business, we are so proud to present programming provided by Portola’s PARC Committee (Parent Academic Rigor Committee).  Please welcome our new WCCUSD Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. AnnMarie Baines.  She is working with us this year on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) training. UDL provides educators with a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.  Dr. Baines is a professor at San Francisco State University and is at the forefront of the UDL movement in the Bay Area. She’ll explain UDL,  what she plans to accomplish this year,  and how parents can help.  Finally, she’ll take questions from the audience.  Although you are more than welcome to ask questions at the event, we can help Dr. Baines to prepare by asking in advance.  Email your questions to:

Update: You can view Dr. AnnMarie Baines’ presentation slides here for an overview of how the Scholar In Residence Program (SIR) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) are being leveraged in our schools.

After School Chess

Berkeley_Chess_School_logoWe are proud to offer after school chess with the Berkeley Chess Club.  Classes start Wednesday, September 11-November 20th, 1:45-2:30 p.m.  $144 for 12 weeks. Chess is fun and can be learned quickly.  Studies have found that chess helps improve results in reading, science and math and produces growth in critical cognitive skills.  And, it is FUN!  The minimum class size is 10; maximum is 20.

Financial aid is available, usually ½ off.  Families are asked to volunteer for 3 hours in exchange, once per session.

Parents can get involved, too.  If a parent is willing to volunteer to always be there at the beginning of class to help take roll, they can have free tuition for one child.

The instructors are insured and fingerprinted.  Class will be at Portola.  Room TBD.  Sign up at