By Christopher Dobbins, District 6 School Board Director

How does the community keep an expansive 47 acre campus with over 2,000 students and staff clean? You enlist the community’s support and have a school clean-up day.  Skyline High School, Oakland’s flagship high school (at least as I like to claim it) is spread over a wide expanse in the Oakland Hills stretching over 47 acres of land.

Nestled in the Oakland Hills among the pine trees and the Oakland flora and fauna, it does present “cleanliness” challenges when so many people traverse its many pathways.   Sponsored by the Skyline Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), the biannual “Skyline Beautification Day” is a much anticipated event because it’s an opportunity for the students, staff, and community to help clean up their school.

While the school doesn’t get a tremendous turnout for these events, dedicated students, parents, teachers, and alumni look forward to this event, and certain projects are completed which help to beautify the landscape. New benches, cleared brush, and “picked-up” litter tend to be focal points for these events. The student leadership class, various sports teams and service clubs, and renowned Science teacher Tracy Ostrom’s students (who share their school spirit and get a little extra credit) are usual participants.  Now if only the squirrels could learn to pick up after themselves….

Oakland Voters have been very generous over the years in passing Bond Measures to benefit Oakland Schools.  Just last year, Oakland’s generosity in passing Measure J brought in $475 million in new revenue to fix the estimated $1 billion in needs for Oakland Unified.  The fruits of the previous bond measure B (the $425 million bond measure passed by Oakland voters in 2006) were on display at Coliseum College Prep Academy (CCPA) on October 30, 2013 for the OUSD Legislative Tour of (a few) of Oakland’s Schools.

Mayor Jean Quan, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Superintendent Gary Yee, Principal Amy Carozza as well as school board members and other dignitaries toured the new cafeteria and classroom building on the Havenscourt Campus (On the corner of 66th Avenue and International in the shadow of the Oakland Coliseum Complex). A state of the art design, the new Cafeteria building is multi-use, with the cafeteria on the ground floor (which is also shared with neighboring Roots International Academy) and six classrooms on the second floor.

CCPA is one of two 6th through 12th grade schools presently in OUSD’s portfolio of schools, and so far it’s been very successful, graduating two classes. The popularity of the school combined with increased classes made the demand for excess classroom space mandatory.  The students, parents, and staff both enjoy the new building and one student even said that the cafeteria food tasted better.  I don’t think I have the same positive recollections of the cafeteria food that I ate…

Chabot Space and Science Center is an Oakland institution dating back to 1883 and it has been located at its present site since 2000 (Charles Burckhalter, who has an elementary school in District 6 off of Edwards Avenue named for him, was an early director of Chabot and brought the telescopes to the first site). On November 7, 2013, it was Educators’ Open House Night at Chabot.  There were lots of hands-on projects for educators to see all of the science programs offered by Chabot (most Oakland students get to visit the center annually).  The key-note address was given by Mr. Kenneth Wesson, a neuroscience educational consultant (and a Parker Elementary School Alum) who discussed the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education with brain research in young adults.  The highlight was his experiment in making Lava Lamps (In a plastic water bottle: 2 parts Wesson oil, 1 part water, an Alka Seltzer tablet, and food coloring).  It produced a Lava Lamp worthy of a “Jack Kerouac” inspired coffee house.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

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