Category Archives: Kids

Berkeley author Marissa Moss says goodby to Amelia, a character that has delighted readers for 20 years

amelias
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By Michael Berry

After 20 years and more than 5 million copies sold, Marissa Moss‘ “Amelia’s Notebook” series has arrived at its concluding chapter.

The Berkeley writer is bringing her feisty, hand-drawn creation back to its small-press roots, publishing “Amelia’s Middle-School Graduation Yearbook” through her own children’s press, Creston Books.

Moss, 55, said she took her inspiration for Amelia’s story from a composition book she originally intended for one of her three sons. Although she had already published a number of picture books, she decided to experiment with a new combination of hand-written prose and pictures to tell the story of a fourth-grade girl trying to figure out a move to a new school. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Niyar stars as Lakshmi in the movie "Sold"
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WATCH THE MOVIE ‘SOLD’ The movie Sold, directed by Jeffrey D. Brown, has been lauded at film festivals around the globe as a searing look into the widespread practice of sexual slavery of young girls. Based on Patricia McCormick’s 2006 novel, “Sold,” the film traces the story of Lakshmi, a 13-year-old girl from Nepal. After a monsoon devastates her house, she decides she will help her family by going to work as a maid for a wealthy woman in the city. Lakshmi instead finds herself sold to a brothel, named the“Happiness House. The Berkeley Anti-Trafficking Coalition and the Institute for South Asian Studies at UC Berkeley will be showing the film Friday at 6 p.m. in Room 2040 of the Valley Life Sciences building. It stars Niyar, Gillian Anderson, and David Arquette. Brown, who plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign to distribute the film in theaters, will do a Q&A session after the screening. Suggested donation is $5. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Schools need to stop our friends from making us fat

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Obesity is contagious. If I am obese, my friends, my friends’ friends, and my friends’ friends’ friends are more likely to be obese.

These obese social networks are growing, as evidenced by American children being three times more likely to be obese today than they were in the 1980s. How do we combat this staggering trend?

Implementing national nutrition and cooking curriculum standards in schools would be a start. This would promote healthy relationships with food among social networks, as … Continue reading »

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Berkeley reports possible case of measles exposure

Electron microscope image of the virus responsible for measles (paramyxoviridae)
Photographer: Alain Grillet
Copyright Sanofi Pasteur
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The City of Berkeley has issued an alert after an adult with measles visited La Mediterranée restaurant in Berkeley on the evening of Friday February 20.

The city is advising that patrons at the Elmwood neighborhood restaurant during that time should monitor themselves for symptoms until March 13.

The person, a San Mateo County resident, was at the restaurant on 2936 College Ave. from approximately 6:45 to 8 p.m. that Friday, the city said in a release about the incident issued at around 8 p.m. on Thursday Feb. 26.

“The measles virus can linger in the air for up to two hours, so those at the restaurant until 10 p.m. could have been exposed. The risk is very slight for those who have received the recommended two doses of the vaccine,” read the statement. … Continue reading »

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Religious group with cameras targets school kids

Bible van photo Jolie Gobler
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When Jolie Gobler, an eighth-grader at King Middle School in Berkeley, left school at the end of the day Wednesday last week she was surprised to see people right outside campus assertively passing out religious pamphlets to students, titled “Our Savior Jesus Christ.”

They were working from a van, parked on Grant Street by the school. Messages painted on the van read: “Seek the Lord Jesus” and “Holy Bible” in English and Spanish.

Gobler was also a little irked. She wrote Berkeleyside: “They were shoving (the pamphlets) in to students’ hands. I asked one of them what they were doing at a public school preaching about religion. They replied they were informing students about Jesus and said that if we believe in “our savior” we would be forgiven for our sins.”

Eventually, Gobler said, a vice principal came out and talked to the apparent missionaries, a response she felt was slow. “It would be great to find out… what the school administration will be doing to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Gobler wrote.

Not much.

This is because passing out religious material outside a school is perfectly legal, as long as the activity isn’t on school property, said Mark Coplan, Berkeley Unified School District spokesman. … Continue reading »

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YMTC ‘Fiddler’ cast learns lessons from Holocaust survivor

YSam with  Aya Nakashima, Rachel Cornejo, Laurel Schweidel, and Alana Goldberg, all cast members of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Photo: Courtesy of YMTC.
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What is Fiddler on the Roof? A charming love story (several love stories, really)? A family drama? A tale of religious/ethnic persecution?

To Jennifer Boesing, the director of the upcoming Youth Musical Theater Company’s production, it is all of these and much more. In her program notes, she says that it is “about the one constant in all of our lives: change. Resistance to change, despair about change, revolting for change, and celebration of change. It is about the necessary challenge of loss and rebirth. It is truly a celebration of what it means to be human.”

Celebrating what it means to be human met its greatest challenge of the 20th century in the years of the Holocaust. As part of the in-depth approach to theater that marks Boesing’s directorial style and that she encourages in her students, she invited Sam Genirberg, a Bay Area Holocaust survivor, to talk to the cast of 7th through 12th graders in the midst of their rehearsals Jan. 23 at their spiffy new rehearsal space on the southern end of Aquatic Park. … Continue reading »

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If measles breaks out in Berkeley, unvaccinated children may be quarantined for 21 days

The current outbreak of measles in California can be traced back to Disneyland. Photo /Creative Commons
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If measles breaks out in any Berkeley school, the Berkeley public health department will direct all unvaccinated children in that school to stay at home for 21 days, the department announced on Jan. 29. This applies to both public and private schools.

The announcement comes as California is experiencing an unprecedented number of measles cases, most linked to a December outbreak at Disneyland. There have been more cases of measles reported in January 2015 than there were in all of 2014, according to Dr. Janet Berreman, Berkeley’s director of public health. Since measles is highly contagious, those numbers are expected to climb.

“I am strongly encouraging families who didn’t vaccinate their children to reconsider that decision in the face of a statewide outbreak of measles,” said Dr. Berreman. … Continue reading »

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Mrs. Dalloway’s to give Berkeley teachers $100 in books

Mrs. Dalloway's books
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Every kindergarten and first grade teacher in the Berkeley Unified School District will soon have the opportunity to buy $100 worth of books, thanks to an offer made by Mrs. Dalloway’s bookstore and the best-selling author James Patterson.

The bookstore at 2904 College Ave. applied for a grant from Patterson to distribute gift certificates to teachers. It learned this week it had gotten $8,500, according to Marion Abbott, one of the store’s owners. That means 85 teachers will get $100 apiece.

“It’s very exciting,” said Abbott. “Unlike some book stores that are putting in new floors or buying vans, we are putting the money into teachers’ hands. I think it is really going to make a difference.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Zoning Board considers community benefits of proposed downtown high-rise

2211 Harold Way. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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As Berkeley officials grappled with what the concept of “community benefits” actually means, the developer of the 18-story high rise at 2211 Harold Way announced at a Jan. 8 meeting of the Zoning Adjustments Board that he is willing to financially assist both the Habitot Children’s Museum and Boss, (Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency) as well as other organizations who must  relocate when the building is constructed.

Joseph Penner, head of Hill Street Investments of Los Angeles, also announced that Landmark Theaters had redesigned its plans for new theaters in the complex. There will now be nine theaters instead of the six theaters previously announced. Landmark has decided it will no longer include stadium seating in the theaters, which frees up room for additional theaters. (There are currently 11 theaters in the Shattuck Cinema complex.) … Continue reading »

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Youth artists bring vibrant mosaics to Berkeley school

Youth artists created two mosaics to increase visibility at the busy intersection near Malcolm X. Photo: Natalie Orenstein
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Two new lively mosaics — one in warm reds and yellows, the other in cool blues and greens — greet passers-by on either end of the Ashby border of Malcolm X Elementary School.

It’s the block where a kindergartener was hit by a car while she was walking to school in 2009. After receiving surgery on her fractured skull, the girl miraculously survived, but the incident shook the community and marked the Ashby and Ellis Street intersection as a danger zone.

Five years later, young artists from Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) placed the final tile on the colorful structures designed to promote safety in the area and notify drivers that they’re near a school. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Christmas Fantasy at Tilden Park is less spectacular, but 103-merry go round is in better shape

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“They ruined Christmas!” starts Mike K. of Berkeley’s Yelp review of Tilden Regional Park Merry-Go-Round posted on Dec. 11.

That is how I was feeling when my children and I headed up to see Christmas Fantasy this weekend. While my daughter warned me that her friends were whispering on the playground at school that it was “lame” this year, I couldn’t forgo tradition. It was not the same, but it also not the same owners.

For the past decade, hundreds … Continue reading »

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Kids get new perspective on plastic, make eco-art

Sean Keller, fourth-grade teacher at Jefferson School, fixing one of the eco-art panels.
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By Ann Krueger Spivack

While students in Sean Keller’s fourth-grade class at Jefferson School tie broken toys onto a wire mesh panel, Colleen Mahoney is talking about LEGOs. Mahoney nods to a red LEGO brick that one student picks up from a table.

“In 2012, 45.7 billion LEGO bricks were produced. That’s more than 5 million bricks every hour. Right now you could give every person on the planet eighty LEGOs and you’d still have LEGO bricks left over.”

Students stop working to listen to Mahoney, and it’s clear they’re considering how much plastic humans create on an hourly basis, and what this means for the planet. This lesson is a first step in teaching children about plastic, where it comes from and where it goes. Where plastic goes is of particular concern to Mahoney, the founder of A Kid By Nature, the nonprofit group sponsoring this lesson about plastic’s impact on the environment. Mahoney explains what motivates her to bring environmental projects such as this one into classrooms, without any cost to the schools. … Continue reading »

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Cal students make crowd-funding site for Berkeley schools

Tutors from the LEARNS Program, one of the school programs currently seeking a grant on the Friends & Family site, with students at Berkeley Arts Magnet. Photo: Diane Dew
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Crowd-funding has made its way to the Berkeley public schools, thanks to a group of students at Cal. Berkeley teachers can now use the Friends & Family Grants website through the Berkeley Public Schools Fund to raise money for everything from books to robotics kits.

Take John Fike for example. The Berkeley Technology Academy teacher is on special assignment this year, addressing intervention for the alternative school’s 100 or so students.

“Many have academic struggles because they have life struggles,” Fike said. Most of the students, he said, need mental heath care and emotional support.

Fike wanted funding for public speakers, field trips, training  for BTA teachers, and after-school activities, such as dance and music production classes.

Fike turned to the new Friends & Family Grants page and posted his request for nearly $10,000. He sent the link to the school’s families, but also to his own friends – many of them fellow graduates of Berkeley schools — and posted on Facebook. He also solicited family, and, “Mom was hitting up her friends,” he said.

Fike got his $9,500, and now the kids at BTA are taking dance and music classes, and planning their field trips. … Continue reading »

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