Monday, September 08, 2008
where "terrific" is spelled P-R-I-M-A-R-Y
I have often waxed nostalgic about Pacific Primary and the amazing community of people it houses, but indulge me: I'm going to do it again, and with good reason.
Last week, Pac Prim opened the Orange Sun School, a brand spankin' new building across the street from the original building. It's been a long time coming- I've worked at Pacific Primary, off and on, since I was 18, and expanding enrollment has been a dream of the director, Belann's, for that entire time. Probably longer. Pac Prim gets about 250 applications a year for what amounts to about 20 spots for new kids-- it would be about 35, but siblings are automatically granted admission, so they tend to take up a good chunk of the available spots. When I was Sunroom Coordinator part of my job was to file applications and keep them up to date when each part was sent in, and it was just heartbreaking to read about all these amazing families, families who value education via discovery more than anything, and to know that most of them would never get in. I was also responsible for greeting applicants (or their parents) when they came on a tour of the school, and meeting them made it even harder! I have no idea how Belann could decide on which 20 families to accept- if I were her I would have just put them all in a hat and taken the first 20 that were pulled out.
The year that I was Sunroom Coordinator was a big one- the school purchased the condemned church across the street and began a capital campaign to turn it into a second site. It was all up in the air for awhile, but things finally went through with the mortgage and everything, and plans were soon being drawn up. During my first year at AFI, the church was mostly used for storage of all the stuff we never had room for in the first building. Then last summer they knocked it down and broke ground on the new building. Even more applications, a new batch of teachers, and a ton of hard work later, and Pac Prim opened its Orange Sun School last week to 75 smiling new kids and their families.
On Sunday, they had a block party to celebrate the opening. I was so bummed to have missed it! I know I missed a lot of my old favorites by doing so-- both kids I knew when I was in the Sunroom, and kids I knew way back when I was a Summer Assistant or a sub. Uncle Owen spoke (Uncle Owen and Aunt Kris were part of the 5 families that founded the school in the 70's) and they did a giant Pacific Primary circle and from the looks of THE PHOTOS ONLINE, it was one big happy San Francisco event. I know I'm a total hippie and it gets even worse when I talk about Pac Prim, but... I'm just so proud of all of them and so excited that more kids will get to experience this wonderful place.
(giant Pac Prim circle at graduation, August 2007)
Sonia, Anna, Raia, and Sam on the playground at the old building.
(Dalia on in the MLK Day Peace Parade, 2006)
When I was home a few weeks ago I went to visit everyone at school, and Belann gave me a tour of the new building. It's beautiful-- a little too new and shiny for my taste, but a couple years' worth of kids should fix that soon enough. It's almost completely green, energy-wise, and there are bathrooms in every class! The best part is that on the second floor- yes, there are two whole floors- there's a giant multipurpose room for Heidi, the music and movement specialist, and Elyse, the expressive arts teacher, to have their classes. Heidi and Elyse have never had enough room for all the wonderful things they do with the kids-- Elyse used to have her art classes in the Sunroom (which was actually lots of fun for me!), and while Heidi had the music room, it really wasn't very big. So hurray for increased artistic and musical expression!
Brian's new classroom-- for the Panda Bears, I think?
There was a moment on Sunday, when I first remembered that it was the day of the block party, that I turned off the radio in my car and quietly sang the school song to myself:
Our school is made for me and you
Every day finding out something new
See the sky with the smiling sun
Learning stuff sure is a whole lot of fun!
Because we're P-A-C-I-F-I-C Pacific...
And then I felt like a dork and turned the radio back on.
Posted by Cameron at 8:54 PM