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.

Tomorrow is voting day – PLEASE VOTE!

Be heard.

One of the most amazing things people in this country take for granted is the ability to freely express one’s opinion. And you don’t even have to write a full page blog about it. Just one word suffices.


And that one ‘Yes’ can have the power to keep librarians in our schools. A ‘Yes’ can keep our already overburdened teachers from being just overwhelmed with the number of students per class. A ‘Yes’ can mean that your child can seek a counselor if needed, instead of none at all. A ‘Yes’ can mean enriching a child’s life with music, art, technology, woodshop, home economics- remember those?

Yes – times are tough and we don’t like to pay taxes. Have you thought about the alternatives?

Measure K needs 2/3 voter approval to pass. Will your ‘Yes’ be the deciding vote?

Portola students were electrified today

Portola hosted Lawrence Hall of Science Wizard’s Lab festival today in the El Cerrito Community Center main hall. Students went from station to station investigating different physical science models and demonstrations.  They got a chance to play around with magnets, pendulums, rolling racers. They learned about various aspects of electricity, and different forces of motion. The spinning platform, the Van de Graaf Generator, and the “Shocker” were very popular.

Thanks to the following people for assisting the students:

Yoko Morita, Romy Douglass, Mike Mason, Yokiko Miller, Eric Miller, Lisa Masunaga, Ying Tsu Loh, Anita Ko, Julie Yamashita, Susan Martin, Valerie Snider, Carlota Jimenez, Michael Yamauchi.

Special thanks to Mr. Bob Fabini for sending over his students to help us out today. Jocelyn Strauss, Laila Fawzi, Courtney Williams, Stephanie Lipscombe, Dzidi Djugba, Rachel Graup, Xochitl Hidalgo, Lindsey Mixer, and Hannah Banks were on hand to help demonstrate their stations.