Richmond: Salesian College Preparatory celebrates Native American Heritage Day


The students, faculty and staff of Salesian College Preparatory gather in the school’s gym to honor the Native American. This Heritage Day celebration brought together representatives from 8 tribes. Special activities included Fancy Shawl dancing by Lakota Holder (Lakota, Tlingit, Navajo), drumming by Michael Bellanger (Sac and Fox/Kickapoo), storytelling by Jessie Riddle (Pit River/Apache), corn husk doll-making by Diane Dierking and a special guest, Tommie Postoak, from the The Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. Also, Richmond resident Michael “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney (Cherokee) offered a beautiful Cherokee prayer song. The governor of The Chickasaw Nation, Bill Annouatubby, sent a flag to the school in support of this event.
“It’s important that we keep the Native American spirit alive and thriving,” said Salesian senior and event organizer Ellissa Thompson, an enrolled member in the Chickasaw Nation. “By doing so we help preserve this vital culture and help others understand the richness and vitality of the Native American way of life. With November designated as Native American Heritage Month, it was important that the culture be brought to life, and not brushed off as another notation on a calendar.” Governor Bill Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation sent a Chickasaw flag and a letter of support in recognition of the event. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)


Fancy Shawl dancer Lakota Holder mesmerized the audience as she demonstrated various kinds of powwow dances. Michael Bellanger, Bay Area drum teacher and singer, accompanied Holder while she danced, beating traditional powwow music. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Jessie Riddle regales the audience with her vibrant Native American tales. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Tommie Postoak from the Department of Culture and Humanities flew out from Oklahoma to share the rich culture of the Chickasaw Nation. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Michael “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney ended the assembly with a Cherokee blessing song. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

The performers pose together after the sharing of Native American culture (left to right: Michael “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney, Jessie Riddle, Carol Thompson, Tommie Postoak, Ellissa Thompson, and Lakota Holder). Both Carol and Ellissa Thompson wear “traditional regalia” from the Chickasaw Nation, including beaded tribal collars and dresses that were adopted by the tribe just after the era of Indian removal in 1837. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Ellissa Thompson and student helpers serve traditional Chickasaw “pashofa” (cooked cracked corn, a staple of the Chickasaw tribe for thousands of years) and fry bread tacos for lunch. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Diane Dierking (Pit River/Apache) sets up a table to teach students how to make corn husk dolls. Although commonly referred to as “Pioneer dolls”, this type of doll was first made by Indians and then shared with the settlers. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

One of the many student-recreated pieces of artwork that were on display throughout the hallways. This piece is representative of the Tlingit tribe. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Photos and text courtesy of Carol Thompson and Salesian College Preparatory.


El Cerrito High School also had a rocky time completing its original football field

Grading work being done in 1945 for the original athletic fields at El Cerrito High School — plus a glimpse of the second incarnation of Fairmont Elementary. From home movies taken by Arthur Hopkins and digitized by his son Tom, courtesy of the El Cerrito Historical Society.

El Cerrito residents have had nearly two years to watch the extensive work being done on the new football stadium at El Cerrito High School. The project is The original field, built in 1945 and opened in 1946, did not require environmental reports, seismic and geotechnical studies, or even the design costs of the modern version. And there were hardly any neighbors in the immediate area to object to the project.
Even so, the football field had its own long and literally rocky road to completion.
When El Cerrito High opened in 1941, it had a gymnasium, but no fields for baseball, football or track. That was partly by design, because ECHS opened as a junior and senior high school, with sophomores being the highest class level in 1941, so there were no varsity teams.

echs uniforms 1941
The decision to purchase football uniforms in 1941, two years before El Cerrito High had its first varsity football team, proved financially sound. Restrictions were already in place, as noted in the Berkeley Gazette item above that mentions a new 10 percent excise tax. Wartime rationing would be even more severe by 1943.

For its first two years, the school had junior varsity football only.

ECHS still had no field of its own when the first varsity football team played in 1943, and home games were at the former El Cerrito Kennel Club dog racing track on the historic Castro rancho property where El Cerrito Plaza stands today. The field was leased from racetrack owner John “Black Jack” Jerome, who had turned down a similar request from Albany High School before World War II to lease the site for school sports after the racetrack was closed by the state in January of 1939.
The racetrack grounds had no turf, meaning the first El Cerrito Gaucho teams had to play home football on a field of dirt and rocks. It did, however, provide a nice big grandstand for the fans.

Plans for building athletic fields at El Cerrito High were announced in January of 1945 and they were completed in 1946. It was originally known as Memorial Field, a name largely forgotten today.

An early aerial view of El Cerrito High shows the new campus and the area where the athletic fields would go.

echs field bg 01 1942
The Berkeley Gazette reports in January 1942 that El Cerrito High plans to proceed with its plans for a varsity football team the following year despite wartime constraints.

This 1944 ECHS yearbook photo shows football action at the former El Cerrito Kennel Club.

Another view of football at the former El Cerrito Kennel Club, which was surrounded by a trailer court for war workers.

echs field 09 26 1944
Plans for the new field are announced in January of 1945 (Berkeley Gazette).

echs field bg 01 10 1945


When it opened after the war, the new football facility at El Cerrito High was known as Memorial Field, which also hosted the school’s track events.


El Cerrito: Memories, artifacts and more at Portola Junior High celebration Sept. 26

portola 1953

The buildings of Portola Junior High School in El Cerrito are gone, but the memories of the generations of West County students who attended there live on and will be celebrated at a gala event from 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 26 at the El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane.
Tickets are still available for the Portola Junior High School History Celebration, which will feature dancing to live music by The Sundowners, a band of Portola alumni, no-host food and drink and a silent auction of artifacts from the school similar to those pictured here.
Tickets are $20 general, or $10 for past and present WCCUSD teachers, available by clicking here.
For more details contact Marnie Fricke Mufti at 510-410-5028 or marniemufti@gmail.com; or Donna Houser at 510-508-6830 houserini@sbcglobal.net.

portola fogerty 8th grade
Can you spot future music great John Fogerty in his Portola class picture from eighth grade in 1958-59? (Answer below).

portola growing up

portola polly posture


portola flier

(Answer: John Fogerty is in the front row behind the “6”.)


Richmond’s Salesian High raising funds for Middletown High School students in Valley Fire

Salesian College Preparatory in Richmond is raising funds for its counterparts at Middletown High School in the aftermath of the Valley Fire and is asking for community support. Salesian made the following announcement Thursday on the school’s Facebook page:

Salesian College Preparatory sends its thoughts and prayers to our long-time friends and sports rivals at Middletown High School who were affected by the Valley Fire. In order to show our support, the Salesian community members are organizing a fundraising drive for Middletown High. We are accepting cash or check donations and will be sending 100% of our collections to Middletown High School. We will be accepting donations throughout the end of day tomorrow and once again during the week of Triduum. Let’s join together to help our friends at Middletown High School.
For more information on how to give, contact us at (510)234-4433. Thank you for considering to help our friends in need.


Richmond: Entertainment, activities, classroom supplies at RPAL Back to School Carnival

rpal carnival

The Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL) and Richmond Police Explorer Post are hosting a Back to School Carnival and Festival today through Sunday (Aug. 21-23) at 25th Street and Barrett Avenue.
Today is opening day from 5 to 11 p.m., with games, face painting, food and vendors along with carnival rides from Helm and Sons Amusements.
The carnival rides will be offered all three days, with a 10-ride ticket book available for $20.
The carnival continues From noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, with a giveaway of backpacks and school supplies and a chance to meet community leaders.
“We plan to encourage youth to go back to school with a positive mental attitude and better prepared for school. PG&E and the Hotel Mac, along with other supporters, will sponsor the backpack give away, including school supplies and other important information and safety tips to help our youth succeed in school and feel safe,” write event organizers.
The event concludes with Family Day from noon to 11 p.m. Sunday, with a picture booth, games, more giveaways and other attractions.
For more details contact Richmond PAL at 510-621-1221.


El Cerrito: Korematsu Middle School construction update meeting Aug. 13


The PTSA at Korematsu Middle School is holding a meeting at its current campus on Moeser Lane at 7 p.m. tonight, Aug. 13, where school district officials will update the community on the new campus at the former Castro School and have a discussion of the completion schedule.


Thursday, August 13, 2015
7:00 p.m.

1021 Navellier Street, El Cerrito

Korematsu Cafe’ (#35 on the Map)

Please join WCCUSD officials Thursday, August 13, 2015, 7:00 p.m., Korematsu Cafe for a construction update and discussion of the completion schedule. All welcome!

HOW TO FIND US: Korematsu Middle School is located on Moeser Lane directly across from Cerrito Vista Park (Pomona Ave and Moeser Lane). Park on Moeser or Pomona and enter the campus through the gate on Moeser.


West County Ed. Fund scholarship winners will be celebrated at April 30 ceremony in El Cerrito

The West County Ed. Fund has announced this year’s scholarship winners. Recipients will be recognized at a celebration on April 30 at El Cerrito High Schoo,.

Celebrating Excellence in Education:
Honoring Scholarship Recipients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Ed Fund, West Contra Costa County’s Public Education Fund, managed an extremely competitive scholarship application season this year. A total of 243 applications were received and reviewed by 66 volunteers to choose the top students with the grit and passion it takes to succeed in college and give back to their community. With the generous support of College Futures Foundation, Irene S. Scully Family Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Schroeder Family Foundation, and Whittier Educational Foundation, $160,000 in scholarships will be awarded over the next academic year to 68 West Contra Costa Unified high school seniors to realize their college dreams.

The 2015 scholarship recipients from the West Contra Costa Unified School District will be honored and celebrated at the Ed Fund’s 27th Annual Soaring to Excellence Celebration on Thursday, April 30 from 6:30-9:00PM at El Cerrito High School’s Performing Arts Theater at 540 Ashbury Avenue in El Cerrito. One of the highlights of the evening will be hearing from two of the scholarship recipients speak to how they overcame all obstacles to become college-bound students. Tickets are $25 per person. To purchase your ticket, visit the Ed Fund website at www.edfundwest.org or call Zuhair at 510-233-1464.

You can also make a donation in tribute to a student to the Help a Student Soar to Excellence campaign at https://www.crowdrise.com/edfundscholarships/fundraiser/edfundwest. The campaign will culminate the night of the event.

Full list of 2015 Scholars
College Futures Foundation
Carlos Arauz-Hernandez, Kennedy High School
RaTrail Armstead, Kennedy High School
Lavonia Bobo, El Cerrito High School
Monet Boyd, El Cerrito High School
Saidy Brizuela, Richmond High School
Casina Butler, Kennedy High School
Astrid Flores Castillo, Richmond High School
Matthew Chamberlain, Middle College High School
Quincy Chapple, Pinole Valley High School
Alexis Garcia, Pinole Valley High School
William Garcia, Pinole Valley High School
Evelyn Corral Gonzalez, Richmond High School
Alexander Hagan, De Anza High School
Tyler Ho, Pinole Valley High School
Richard Howard, Vista High School
Tareke James, De Anza High School
Michael Jameson, Richmond High School
Jose Jimenez, De Anza High School
Latisha Katigbak, Hercules High School
Luis Ledesma, Leadership Public School – Richmond
Maggie Li, El Cerrito High School
Alfred Machacon, De Anza High School
Kenyatta Marcelous, El Cerrito High School
Christian Medina, Richmond High School
Andrea Munoz, Pinole Valley High School
Adrian Navarro, Richmond High School
Linda Ngo, De Anza High School
Luis Nunez, Kennedy High School
Francisco Ortiz, Kennedy High School
Mareiana Pembrook, El Cerrito High School
Cristina Pham, De Anza High School
Hannah Pham, Richmond High School
Yann Picouleau, Pinole Valley High School
Martin Ponce, De Anza High School
Andrew Preston, Richmond High School
Eva Arias Ramirez, Middle College High School
Serena Saelee, Middle College High School
Kimiko Satterfield, Middle College High School
Jay’La Donaville Smith, El Cerrito High School
Kimaree Solomon, Hercules High School
Nasario Sylvester, Kennedy High School
Ashley Tejada, Middle College High School
Keith Thomas, El Cerrito High School
Juliana Valencia, Leadership Public School – Richmond
Vanessa McMillon Vanbuskirk, Hercules High School
Deisy Villalobos, Richmond High School
Hero Vo, De Anza High School
Akeilah Ward-Hale, El Cerrito High School
Frederica Webster, De Anza High School
Brandon Wong, Hercules High School
Maria Zavala, Middle College High School

Ed Fund
Nanette Thompson, El Cerrito High School
Roberto Vega, Richmond High School

Irene S. Scully Foundation
Joan Binalinbing, Kennedy High School
Antonio Gonzales-Romero, Richmond High School
Dennis Pimentel, Richmond High School

James Irvine Foundation
Chi Chung, Hercules High School
Jing-Yi Chung, Hercules High School
Jasmine Gill, De Anza High School
Maria Nunez, Leadership Public School – Richmond
Jesus Pedraza, Richmond High School
Justin Rodriguez, El Cerrito High School
Brittany Tran, Pinole Valley High School

Schroeder Family Foundation
Lauren Darnell, El Cerrito High School
Jomoris Stewart, El Cerrito High School

Whittier Educational Foundation
Luis Perez Rodriguez, Kennedy High School
Daniella Vela, El Cerrito High School
Brizjon Wilright, De Anza High School


Winning students in annual Richmond Writes! poetry contest will be honored April 18

Students in Richmond schools selected as winners in the fifth annual Richmond Writes! Poetry Contest will be honored at a ceremony at 6 p.m. April 17 in the City Council chamber at 440 Civic Center Plaza. The public is invited to attend.

Below is the official announcement, including the names of the contest honorees who wrote poems on this year’s theme of Poetry in Motion.

Richmond Writes! Poetry Contest Announces Winners

Richmond Writes! Poetry Contest winners have been selected for 2015. The contest, conceived of by the Richmond Arts & Culture Commission (RACC) as a way to celebrate National Poetry Month, is in its fifth year.

Students from fourteen elementary, middle, and high schools in Richmond submitted both haiku and short poems. This year’s theme was Poetry in Motion and students wrote nearly 600 poems about it. The world is in motion, always moving and changing. They found motion in events, time, seasons, physical movements and activities, travel, music, and more.

Students from fourteen schools submitted nearly 600 poems this year! Poetry was judged by an eight-member selection panel: Susan Antolin, Lincoln Bergman, Donte Clark, Brenda Quintanilla, Maryann Maslan, Susan Anderson, Steve Early, and Connie Van Guilder. Three of them are Richmond’s own Poets Laureate (Quintanilla, Clark and Bergman); Antolin is a member of the Haiku Poets of Northern California; early is a published writer; Van Guilder is a professor and Liberal Studies Chair at JFK University in Pleasant Hill; and Maslan and Anderson are both commissioners on the Richmond Arts & Culture Commission.

Judges reviewed the contest entries in teams of two, picking favorites together in their packets. This method allowed for discussion and compromise, yet still accommodated individual taste. Poetry, for both the writer and the reader, is extremely subjective, and the judges made a point of honoring that in their final selections.

This year’s winners are:

Elementary Schools:

1st Prize: Anthony Alvarez, Washington Elementary
1st Prize: Ariella Benavides, Caliber Beta Academy
1st Prize: Clarissa Castro, Washington Elementary
1st Prize: Silvia Coca Cruz, Washington Elementary

2nd Prize: Amelie Banuelos, Washington Elementary
2nd Prize: Hannah Benavides, Washington Elementary
2nd Prize: Sania Kaleko, Wilson Elementary
2nd Prize: Citlali Mano, Washington Elementary
2nd Prize: Gloria Zearett, Washington Elementary

3rd Prize: Angel Abreau, Bayview Elementary
3rd Prize: Leah Ambernathy Saphon, Caliber Beta Academy
3rd Prize: Giselle Barragan, Washington Elementary
3rd Prize: Reiley Dillon, Washington Elementary
3rd Prize: Amitra Kellogg, Washington Elementary

Honorable Mention:

Alicia Acosta, Washington Elementary; Carlos Acosta, Washington Elementary; Mara Bravo, Coronado Elementary; Aaliyah Castillo, Washington Elementary; Rogelio Contreras, Washington Elementary; Selenah Corona DesSilva, Wilson Elementary; Gloria Diaz, Washington Elementary; Asia Jacobson, Coronado Elementary; Melvin Lopez, Jr., Coronado Elementary; Antonia Mason, Bayview Elementary; Parker Mina, Washington Elementary; Jacqueline Plascencia, Coronado Elementary; Maryanna Preciado, Coronado Elementary; Daniel Rodinson, Washington Elementary; Savannah Qualls, Washington Elementary; Daniel Rodinson, Washington Elementary; Kylie Alyssa Velazquez, Washington Elementary; Jimena Villarreal, Washington Elementary; and Tyrah Weems, Washington Elementary.

Middle Schools:

1st Prize: Teressa T. Bigbee, DeJean Middle School
2nd Prize: Jade Synott Brandow, Fred Korematsu Middle School
3rd Prize: Santiago Sixto, DeJean Middle School

Honorable Mention:
Juan Zamara, DeJean Middle School

High Schools:

1st Prize: Gabrielle Green, De Anza High School
2nd Prize: Yaritza Gomez, De Anza High School
3rd Prize: Angel Wiley, DeAnza High School

Honorable Mention:
Eugene O. Gaines, III, Kennedy High School
Jasmine Gill, DeAnza High School
Chandandeep Kaur, De Anza High School
Yajaira Sandoval, Kennedy High School
Austin Williams, Kennedy High School


1st Prize: Teo Scura, LEAP

The Award Ceremony will be held at 440 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond in City Council Chambers on Friday, April 17th at 6:00 pm. All participants of the poetry contest will receive certificates of recognition from Mayor Tom Butt, and a copy of the chapbook containing all of this year’s poetry entries.

The Richmond Writes! Poetry Contest helps students learn how to write poetry as a way of expressing how they see the world. Each year their poems touch the hearts of the art commissioners, judges, teachers, parents, city staff, and all who read them. The public is welcome, and the poetry chapbooks will be available on a first-come first-served basis once the students have received their copies.


El Cerrito: Views inside the renovated Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys

Below are photopraphic details of the historic 1935 Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys that visitors have been able to see at two recent open houses hosted by the Richmond-based Chamberlin Family Foundation and the El Cerrito Historical Society following a nine-month renovation.

chungmei 1
Ornamentation over the entry to the building.

Decorative panel under one of the front windows.

chungmei 3
The original bannister was retained and painstakingly raised to meet modern height requirements, while a standard modern bannister was installed on the inside.

chungmei 4
One of the new finials made of fiberglass that weighs four pounds, left, compared to 60 pounds for the originals, right. The originals were taken down by Windrush School due to safety concerns.

chungmei 5
Windows were carefully renovated to keep the original detail.

chungmei 6a
A mural, signed by artist Dupont, that is original to the Chung Mei days. The inscription on the scroll translates to “Whenever you open a book, you benefit.”

chungmei 7
Special steps were taken to seismically reinforce the top of the building without removing the original roof.

chungmei 8
View looking out of the basement, where a pillar was strengthened with a half-inch wrap of carbon fiber for reinforcement. A new drainage system was also installed to take rainwater away and prevent persistent flooding.

chungmei 9
Decorative details of ceiling beams.

chungmei 11
More detail is seen on the rear of the building.