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First day back

I love the first day of school, but the parents at Oakland’s Grass Valley Elementary put my enthusiasm to shame this morning. You can see the PTA moms (and Dad’s Club dads) in action in a video I took of my visit, which will soon be posted to this Tribune story.

Some Oakland schoolchildren didn’t have such a stellar first day, through no fault of their their own or anyone at their schools. A manhunt in East Oakland led to an afternoon emergency lockdown at Castlemont and East Oakland PRIDE. For students at those schools, it meant noisy helicopters hovering overhead, hours stuck in the cafeteria, or hours without lunch. Hopefully they will have a much better day tomorrow.

How was your first day back? Tell us about it — even if it’s the second day of school by the time you read this.

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Shop class: Are old school skills back on the cutting edge?

Shop classes (and especially the term “shop class”) have fallen out of fashion in the last couple of decades. But Mark Martin, an engineer who started iDesign-M, thinks that basic manufacturing skills are still relevant in today’s marketplace. He says they are important for careers in design and engineering, as well as (obviously) the well-paying advanced manufacturing jobs that our president is promoting.

I know San Leandro High still offers a thriving industrial arts program. What about other schools?

Here is a video of the free, two-week iDesign-M program that 15 East Bay high school students attended this month. This is the second year of the program, which is heavily funded with private grants. It’s held at Laney College in Oakland. A story about the program should appear in the paper next week, possibly Monday.