Alameda Middle School Basketball Season Begins


The Wood Middle School Beavers played their Lincoln Middle School rivals recently as part of the start of Alameda Education Foundation’s 2011 middle school basketball season.

Wood, Lincoln and the Academy of Alameda each host boys and girls basketball teams, and the teams compete three times in regular-season league play, according to AEF.

“The students really enjoy being able to play for their schools,” said AEF President Bill Sonneman, in a statement. “It gives them a great sense of pride and provides a wonderful sense of spirit throughout the whole school community. Being able to provide this program has such a direct positive impact on both the students and the schools.”

The middle-school playoffs begin the week of February 21, with the championships set for the first week of March. A complete schedule is found on AEF website.

Basketball is one of three sports sponsored by AEF, and the program receives no district funding. Sports programs were cut from the middle-school budgets four years ago due to budget shortfalls from the state, says AEF, and AEF began running the programs in the winter of 2009.

Since that time, over 350 student athletes from across the Island have participated in volleyball (fall), basketball (winter) and track & field (spring). The AEF sports program requires academic eligibility among its participants and emphasizes teamwork and sportsmanship.

Alameda residents can support the program by attending games. The entry fees are $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for students; the fees help to offset officiating costs.

AEF is also seeking donations to sustain the program through the 2010-2011 school year and beyond. Donations may be made on the AEF website or by contacting AEFSports@alamedaeducation.org.

Thanks to Al Wright and AEF for the picture (above) of Wood and Lincoln battling it out at the 2010 basketball championships.


Alameda’s Middle-School Volleyball Season Begins


The Alameda Education Foundation has announced its the 2010 volleyball schedule, as part of the group’s 2010-2011 middle-school sports program.

Open to all 6th-8th graders, the teams are based at Lincoln Middle School, Wood Middle School and the new charter Academy of Alameda Middle School. Each school hosts two co-ed teams.

The first match is set for 4 p.m., Tuesday, September 28, when the Lincoln Lions host the Wood Beavers.

The season includes nine regular matches. Playoffs will take place on October 28, and the league championships will be on November 2 at Alameda High School.

AEF has sponsored the middle-school sports programs, after funding was eliminated by the Alameda Unified School District three years ago due to budget shortfalls. It began running the sports program in the winter of 2009.

According to the group, more than 350 students participate in the volleyball (fall), basketball (winter) and track & field (spring) activities.

Foundation members say the organization is actively seeking donations to sustain the program; for more details, write to AEFSports@alamedaeducation.org.

Thanks to AEF for this photo of a 2009 game between Lincoln and Wood middle schools.


Band Aid

School’s ending and with it goes the music on San Jose Avenue. Residents who live on the tail end of the street near Lincoln Middle School get treated to tunes al dente on a regular basis.

The school’s marching band leaves the campus and hits the road with their saxophones and trombones and drums and all the other bassy and trilly things that make songs sound patriotic and holiday-ish.

For a first-timer hearing a live band outside the house you’re visiting, it’s a surreal treat. At first, when it’s not up close, you wonder if a caravan of ice cream wagons have converged. As the notes come closer, it’s clear this is real music. It stops and starts as the instructor calls the shots. Then you go to the front door and there, right in the street, not on the sidewalk, is your band.

Every street should have one. Every school should have one. And every school budget should be able to afford one. But that’s a subject for another day. Let’s just leave this on a light note.


Alameda middle schoolers visit Washington, D.C.

The column I write for the print Alameda Journal is up online. This week it’s about the teachers and Alameda middle school students (118 of them) who visited D.C. this past May, getting a week-long, hands-on civics lesson. As 14-year-old Lizzie Dietz told me, “I learned if I don’t do anything then the country might not move forward — but if everyone, not just me, participates then everything will turn out better in the long run.” The energy and optimism of the young teens I interviewed for the story was both inspiring and charming.

Past “Life on the Island” columns

July 1, 2008: Soaking up life on the Bay
June 24, 2008: Alamedans get back to basics to save environment
June 17, 2008: Fear can limit the joys of childhood
June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths