Category Archives: Schools


Elisha Davis: Determined to be great, on and off the court

Elisha Davis, a Berkeley High alum, is succeeding on the court and off. Photo: Sun Devil Athletics
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For a college student athlete, there is no season more important than your senior year. It’s the year when everything could soon be coming to an end: the long practices, the extra work on weekends, the countless hours in the library. For many, it is a bittersweet reality.

For Arizona State Sun Devil and Berkeley High graduate Elisha Davis, senior year is an opportunity to live out dreams she has worked for since she was a child. Through her hard work and dedication, Davis has become an honor roll student with WNBA potential. She enters this season with pro aspirations and graduation right around the corner.

Davis, who graduated from Berkeley High in 2012, was introduced to basketball at the age of 6 by her father, and has been in love with the game ever since.

“My first love was really football,” said the 21-year-old Oakland native. “My dad wouldn’t let me play because I was a girl. So he gave me a basketball and basically told me to stay off the football field.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High students wear black to show solidarity

Photo: Portrait of 500 students and staff at end of Blackout day at #BerkeleyHigh
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UPDATE, 10:48 a.m. BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans sent out an email to the school community at around 10:30 a.m Friday in which he talked about the recent incident and the school’s response to it. Of the student-led walkout, he said he “felt fortunate to be part of a community in which our young people are standing up against terror and racism.” And he outlined efforts the administration will be making going forward, including providing support needed “to uplift our students,” investing in professional development and “opportunities for courageous conversations;” changing discipline policies “recognizing that the school disproportionately suspends African American students,” and recruiting and retaining more teachers of color. Read the full communication from Evans.

See photos of Blackout Day at Berkeley, taken by BUSD’s Mark Coplan.

ORIGINAL STORY: Berkeley High students arrived on campus Friday morning wearing black to show solidarity with students of color. The move was prompted by a request from the Berkeley High School Black Student Union which, in an email message to students and the school community sent out at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, asked that “everyone continue to show solidarity with Black students both at Berkeley High and across the nation by wearing all black tomorrow (November 13th).” … Continue reading »

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Hundreds expected to attend ‘Million Student March’ on UC Berkeley campus

Campanile by D.H. Parks
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Hundreds of protesters are expected to take part in a “Million Student March” demonstration Thursday, Nov. 12, on the UC Berkeley campus at 2 p.m.

UC Berkeley students and other activists plan to join a nationwide day of action demanding tuition-free public higher education, cancellation of student debt and a $15 wage for all university workers.

According to the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), the student governance body, “over 700 activists will descend on Upper Sproul Plaza at 2pm to hold the UC Berkeley Million Student March in conjunction with universities across the nation.”

The ASUC says the protest is expected to include Berkeley High students, city of Berkeley community members and 500 nurses from the California Nurses Association.

Continue reading »

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BHS student to be disciplined after racist statement

Photo- Jackson Grigsby
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The student who posted an inflammatory and racist statement on a Berkeley High School library computer last week was a student of color, according to a school district spokesman. But the student, a male freshman, was not black, according to a city staffer familiar with the case.

BHS Principal Sam Pasarow told the high school staff that the student was “a student of color,” but did not specify which race, according to Mark Coplan, spokesman for the Berkeley Unified School District. Authorities have said they are not releasing identifiable details about the student because they fear retaliation.

Coplan also revealed new details about how the racist, threatening message was discovered Nov. 4, the process Pasarow took to determine the culprit, and the timing of the message Pasarow sent to the community about the incident.

A parent volunteer in the library spotted the image while the student was sitting at the computer since the font was so large and the words captured the volunteer’s attention, said Coplan. The volunteer immediately notified library staff, and the student was detained and taken to Pasarow’s office, said Coplan. This was around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4.

“There is nothing that indicates that the student intended to post it,” he said. “The student was creating a document. A volunteer spotted the document because the wording was so big and brought it to the attention to the staff.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High student linked to racist ‘screen hack’

The 2015 Berkeley High yearbook is being recalled due to an offensive comment on one of its pages. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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By Emilie Raguso and Lance Knobel

Berkeley High School administrators say they have identified the student responsible for a “screen hack” in the library Wednesday that displayed racist threats against African Americans.

Berkeley High Principal Sam Pasarow said, during a press conference Thursday afternoon, that a student, believed to have been acting alone, was responsible for the message.

The press event followed a peaceful protest and walkout undertaken by more than 700 students earlier in the day.

The identity of the student linked to the screen hack was discovered through “an in-depth technological forensic analysis,” Pasarow said.

The student has since met with the principal and other administrators, and reportedly took responsibility for the messages.

The consequences have not been determined, said Pasarow. They may, however, include expulsion. It’s possible, he said, that the student may not ever be allowed to return to Berkeley High.

Pasarow said school officials are concerned about possible retaliation against the student, and will not release any details that could be used for public identification, such as age, gender or race.

“My sense is the student acted alone,”said Pasarow. “The consequences are going to be pretty intensive.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High students walk out, rally after racist threats

Demo Eric Panzer
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By Tracey Taylor, Lance Knobel and Emilie Raguso

Update, Nov. 10: Listen to Berkeley High Principal Sam Pasarow, Berkeley High Black Student Union co-president Alecia Harger, and Berkeleyside co-founder Lance Knobel discuss the walkout and what provoked it on KQED Forum. The 25-minute segment was broadcast on Friday Nov. 6 at 9:30 a.m.

Follow live coverage on Berkeleyside’s Twitter page, and at #BHSwalkout.

Update, Nov. 5, 5:10 p.m. Thursday afternoon, school officials announced they had identified the student responsible for the hate crime.

Update, 3:40 p.m. Thursday’s demonstration and march through Berkeley, from the high school up to the Cal campus, went smoothly and was devoid of disturbances or arrests.

“We didn’t have any problems,” said Officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman. “From our standpoint it was terrific.” … Continue reading »

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Racist threats posted on Berkeley High library computer

Berkeley High School. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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[Editor’s Note: The following story contains graphic language and images that are disturbing.]

Update, Nov. 5, 5:10 p.m. Thursday afternoon, school officials announced they had identified the student responsible for the hate crime after hundreds of Berkeley High students walked out of class and marched to UC Berkeley to raise awareness about the incident.

Original post, Nov. 4, 11:19 p.m. The Berkeley High School community is reeling after a racist message threatening violence against African Americans was found on a library computer Wednesday afternoon.

At 10:24 p.m., school Principal Sam Pasarow sent an email to the BHS community about the incident.

He wrote: “Today in the library, at approximately 12:30 PM, a hateful and racist message was discovered on one of the library computers, containing threatening language toward African Americans. The administration is looking into who posted this message and I urge students, staff, parents and guardians to please contact the school at 510-644-6121 if you have any information about this matter.”

Pasarow described the message as “a hate crime” and said it “will not stand in our community. I assure you that we are giving this investigation the utmost attention, as well as involving the Berkeley Police Department.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board to get student residency update

There are about 300 students at Berkeley High who live outside the city but have received permits to attend BHS. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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After approving a new admissions and enrollment policy in June aimed to curtail the illegal enrollment of out-of-district students, the Berkeley School Board is set to receive a report at tonight’s meeting that sums up district efforts this year related to residency and inter-district permits.

According to the staff report prepared for the Nov. 4, board meeting, the Berkeley Unified School District has enrolled 9,880 students for the 2015-16 year. That includes 1,525 students who enrolled in the district for the first time and had to comply with the new rules.

The new board policy requires students seeking admission to BUSD to provide three “proofs of residency” and a declaration form stating that Berkeley is the family’s home district.

Earlier this year, the new policy required the families of all fifth-graders to prove their residency before being allowed to register for middle school, according to the district. This school year, eighth-graders will have to comply with the district’s admission policy before being allowed to register for classes at Berkeley High, according tonight’s staff report. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police use license plate reader in kidnapping attempt investigations

A trailer with a license plate reader has been set up at Willard Middle School. Photo: Citizen reporter
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Authorities have set up a trailer with “license plate technology” at Willard Middle School to help with an investigation into five child abduction attempts in Berkeley since September.

An astute Berkeleyside reader noticed the trailer outside Willard last Friday and commented about it using the screen name “careful what you ask for.”

The reader, who shared the photograph that accompanies this story, drew a red arrow pointing at a small box mounted on the trailer, and identified it as a license-plate-reading (LPR) camera. The trailer is white, and also includes a 25 mph speed limit sign and an LED reminder for motorists that says “slow.”

Another reader noticed the trailer, which has a line of orange cones in front of it, and wondered about it on Twitter on Tuesday: “Why in the world did the city put this in the loading zone in front of Willard?”

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats confirmed Thursday that the trailer “does have LPR technology on it.”Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: Impact fees, class sizes, intervention efforts and the achievement gap

The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Oct. 28. On the action calendar is a proposal to look at how to collect mitigation fees from developers. The discussion items will focus on an intervention program focused on K-8 students who experience learning and behavioral challenges, and the district’s efforts to narrow the achievement gap between white and African American students. There’s also an information item on class sizes.

The regular meeting is set to begin by 7:30 p.m. Public comment is limited to 30 minutes, with a 3-minute limit per speaker. Public comment takes place at the beginning and end of the meeting, rather than in response to each item. See the full agenda packet here. … Continue reading »

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BUSD curriculum aims to boost emotional intelligence

Jessica Arroyo and her fifth grade students at Malcolm X Elementary School use the Breathing Tool. Photo: Coby McDonald
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By Coby McDonald

A dog ate Shyel Meisels’ homework. More precisely, Shyel’s puppy Hazel chewed up the book that his 5th grade teacher Jessica Arroyo had assigned.

“She jumped on my bed and demolished the book, and it belonged to the school,” Shyel told his classmates at Malcolm X Elementary, who were gathered on the rug at his feet. “So I totally freaked out.” He was eventually able to calm himself down, he said, by putting the incident in perspective and making a plan: the next day he would come clean to Ms. Arroyo about the book’s demise.

“What tools did Shyel use to find a solution?” Arroyo asked her students.

“The Breathing Tool!” one called out.

“The Courage Tool!” added another.

“He used the Apology and Forgiveness Tool,” said Pearl Gauthier, “because he apologized to you—and he forgave the puppy.”

For the uninitiated, all this tool-talk among Arroyo’s students might seem a bit peculiar, but in Berkeley at least, it’s gone mainstream. Last year, the city rolled out a district-wide Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum meant to teach elementary and middle school students to better manage their own emotions and empathize with their classmates. It’s called Toolbox, and it’s changing the way kids talk about their feelings. … Continue reading »

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Knife confiscated from Berkeley High student

Berkeley High School. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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For at least the second time this month, authorities responded to a report of a student with a weapon at Berkeley High School, school officials have reported.

Berkeley High Principal Sam Pasarow said police received an anonymous tip Friday morning “that one of our students was in possession of a weapon.”

Authorities “promptly located the student and interviewed him, and determined that he was in possession of a knife. Appropriate actions are being taken in terms of discipline and ensuring campus safety.”

Pasarow said, in an email message to the school community sent Monday at 4:10 p.m. that “This tip is related to a similar one, received on October 8, that resulted in a campus lockdown.” He did not explain how it was related, but Berkeleyside has asked for clarification. … Continue reading »

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BUSD: Another attempted child abduction in Berkeley

Image: Google maps
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The Berkeley Unified School District is alerting the community to an attempted abduction of three girls Sunday on College Avenue.

According to a notice released Monday morning by the school district, the girls were walking on College Avenue and Webster Street at about 6:10 p.m. when a man near a van yelled at them to get inside.

“The girls started to run away and the suspect started following them on foot,” according to BUSD. “The girls started to scream and the suspect got back in his van and drove away south on College Avenue.”

The man was described as Hispanic, 20 to 30 years old, with dark hair and a mustache. He was driving an older model, dark green or blue mini-van with tinted windows. … Continue reading »

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