Those of you reading carefully as not to miss a single morsel of Broadcast goodness noticed that I unilaterally declared Dec 2 "Unicycle to school day." Whimsical, eh? Turns out I wasn't entirely joking.
The Real Unicycle Revolution
Born in revolution and nurtured by struggle... Yep, we're talking about a Peralta student (and several alumni, now gracing Claremont Middle School with their single-wheeled style) who actually do often unicycle to school. I had no idea. Now I know, thanks to sharp-eyed unicycle-mother, Star Lightner, who let me know that my fiction was not so far from the truth, an experience I think we can all identify with as of late.
I was trying to think of a graceful way not just to plunge right in to the nuts and bolts. But why not let the unicycle story imitate what I would look like if I tried the activity? Let's all plunge (in) together. Here's the straight unicycle dope + photographic evidence of actual unicycling on our campus:
By falling off a lot.
Then, you ride while holding a fence.
Next, you try riding but you let go of the fence.
You fall over and over and over. You keep riding and falling, until you don’t.
I must not look convinced. “More people doing it makes you want to do it, too,” Alyssa Riddell (Peralta 4th grader, pictured at left), offers, though many clearly have yet to succumb to its charms.
Alyssa, her brother, Ethan Riddell (Peralta, ‘15), Jack Klein (Claremont, 7th grade), Henry Kagiwada (Peralta, ’15) and several other Claremont 7th graders formerly at Chabot.
Ethan’s friend, Jack, started doing it under the tutelage of Jim, the Unicycle Evangelist. That would be Jim Sowers, basketball fanatic and lawyer by day, who helps would be unicyclists most Tuesday evenings at San Pablo Park. After a year, Ethan decided it looked pretty cool. He got in on it. Four months later, his sister, Alyssa, not one to be left behind, gave it a shot. “It seems like people who start more recently are learning faster and faster,” offers Ethan, by way of encouragement for the brave and curious.
In 6th grade, Ethan and a group of other 6th graders rode most days to Claremont and back home on their unicycles. This year, Alyssa occasionally rides to Peralta on unicycle, but they’re both more likely to be found back at San Pablo Park, practicing Unicycle Basketball.
Yep, I said, “Unicycle Basketball”, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: regular basketball, but on one wheel. Dribbling happens while cycling, hopping or idling. Traveling is called based on wheel revolutions. The youth team plays several exhibition games during halftimes at Cal Women’s Basketball games. They’re ramping up to try out for the golden fleece of youth Unicycle Basketball: a Warriors half time show.
“We wear helmets,” both Riddells proclaim. Yes, but what about the rest of you?
“Just the other day, I got my middle finger caught in the moving spokes of the wheel,” Alyssa admits. Did it get all black and blue? Was it sprained? “Nah. But it hurt when I played basketball, so I was careful with it.”
“Just bruises and scratches for me,” says Ethan, “Mostly on the shins.”
Camille Calica: Local Punk Sculptor Makes Good as Kindergarten Genius
The first thing I learned about Camille Calica was that she reads educational theory for pleasure. She knows that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s hers. She relishes the chance to learn more about how young minds work and learn.
Now in her second year as half of Peralta’s Kindergarten teaching team, Ms. Camille feels like she’s teaching just the right age kids, an age that she feels attached to.
As a beginning student at Rockridge Elementary, across from C.C.A.C. (now known as C.C.A.), she vividly remembers the joy of getting lost in a book, and the pride she felt at being a good reader. “I came in to Kindergarten already reading, so I was placed in the Tigers, an advanced group which was actually with the 1st graders. I felt so big.”
Feeling ‘big’ felt great to little Ms. Camille, who describes herself as a child who always wanted to do the right thing. “I was big on following directions.” The rules-oriented Kindergartener gave way to a punk rock sculptor, who worked with ceramics and bronze.
Perhaps not the most obvious choice to become a teacher, you might think. But punk Ms. Camille found her way to teaching art at camps to children. That’s where she discovered she loved working with children.
The best thing about Kindergarteners, Ms. Camille shared, was how excited they are to be in school. “They’re so open to new ideas. Kindergarten is about using what you learn and know to make meaning. You can see their internal lightbulbs go off when they realize they are the meaning-makers, whether it’s through their art or writing.”
While she was raising her own children, Ms. Camille taught art at Oakland’s Museum of Children’s Art, and she also taught adults, but she couldn’t wait to get back to Kindergarteners. “They’re silly. And I’m a bit silly, too.”
Ms. Camille’s fantasy classroom would include a large, dedicated space for a messy tinker lab. She now has a small area and some tools that her students can use, but if money were no object, she’d have a full-on organized maker space for kids to explore and use, limited only by the confines of their own imaginations.
Coming up next for the Kindergarteners? Well, she can’t say, exactly. Not because it’s a secret, but because Ms. Camille prefers to mold her class structure around the interests of her students. Students have expressed an interest in the ways they are different and the ways they are the same.“When I was a kid, everyone used to say, ‘We’re all the same’ but that’s not true, and kids know it.” She is planning a study looking at, acknowledging and appreciating both similarities and differences.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed
caffeinated citizens in rain slickers can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." — Margaret Mead & me
Garden Workday Miracle
Remember last Saturday? The heavens opened. It poured rain all morning. That was Garden Workday.
A small band of
gluttons for punishment dedicated gardeners braved the torrential downpour to replant the area behind the mound with native, drought, and hopefully kid/foot tolerant grasses. We will soon know if such a thing truly exists.
Good news/bad news… First, the bad: they had to expand (and gate) the fenced-off area to allow the new plants to take root. Now, the good: the fence should come down around Spring Break, after which that area will once again be open to the local fauna, aka your kids. Heads up: the area under the fruit trees may be next in line for the fence treatment.
Next: the sodden gardeners helped the residual sod Escape from Alcatraz Avenue. They completed the de-sodding that began last year, replanting with natives and drought tolerant plants, along with some exceptional rocks. More rocks will probably be coming in the near future as well. I love rocks. Don’t you? Really low maintenance. Rocks rock.
Finally, the female Kiwi in the Kindergarten yard now has a potential mate, if she wants him: Mr. Tomuri (a variety of Kiwi). There may be little kiwifruits in the foreseeable future. We’ll just have to let nature take its course.
pecial Peralta love to these hardy gardeners, as well as to Cole Coffee for providing a much-needed boost to the morning. Special Peralta fingers crossed for the new plants. Your next chance to join the dirty fun will be February 11th (no work day in January).
- Dec 16: Peralta parents + caregivers are held in the thrall of a hauntingly addictive elixir that promises hours of concentration and attention, plus a welcome chatty good cheer to those who consume it. Bring it on, I say. Let's Brew us some Community, dang it, right after drop-off outside the 63rd st. entrance.
- Dec 19-Jan 2: No school. Not for any reason. No matter how hard your kids beg. If 20+ families sign up, P.E.A.C.E. available Jan 19-21, 26 & 27. For the rest of us, peace not likely to come until...
- Jan 3, 8:30am: Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Your faith was strong but you needed proof. Here it is: school starts up again.
- Jan 4, I'm sorry for those of you who were really counting on it, but there's NO PPTG meeting. Try again in February.
- Jan 6, Hop on One Foot to School Day. Tell you what, you can even switch feet half way there. Or, just come by human-powered means, if possible. Treats, goodies and a sticker for those who do.
"[redacted] was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought [redacted] 'without pictures or conversation?'"
I had to take out the name, because duh. Which classic children's story opens with this line? First person to send the correct answer to this address wins a personal reply — from me — and... a stylish Peralta mug that will make you the envy of your fellow caffeine lovers at Brewing Community this month.
Previous answer: Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney
Winner: Peter Jarausch, parent of Kinder kid, Anneliese.
Time it took Peter to win: One hour and ten minutes, AKA forever. Note that even if you've already won once, you can win again. Like cheating. I would just swap out your prize for something that you don't already have.
Note: We are all quite worried about Miss Rumphius' wanton spreading of a potentially invasive botanical species throughout the countryside in Maine. Can someone look in to this in their copious amounts of spare time?
If you've got school or class announcements, or interesting community events you'd like to share with your fellow Peralta-ites, or if you just need a friendly electronic ear, please do contact me. We publish every two weeks or so. Kudos, complaints and scintillating ideas for future posts can go to the same.