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Sobrante Park cheerleaders open school board meeting with a cheer

on March 24, 2011

The Oakland School Board meeting began last night with a cheer. Literally. The Sobrante Park Elementary cheerleaders have returned from a first place finish in the statewide competitive cheer competition in Los Angeles, and they saluted the board and meeting audience with kicks, twirls and pom-poms.

“If we cheer, it makes the crowd go wild,” said 10-year-old team captain, Taumafa Tuinauvai. Taumafa said she was not nervous even when performing at Universal Studios before a huge crowd. “I was eager to get on the big stage,” she said.

The cheerleaders learned their craft through an after-school program put on by Higher Ground, an Oakland-wide nonprofit that focuses on both academics and athleticism. “These are student athletes,” Coach Asia Williams said. “Student comes first.”

Williams said her girls must maintain a certain GPA to perform and complete their homework at practice before jumping into jumping. For Williams, the best part of the L.A. competition wasn’t that her girls won, it was that they learned cheerleading “is actually a sport and you can get scholarships for that.”

After the performance, the board moved forward with its other business. Members approved a technology plan that calls for more classroom computers, faster Internet connections and community computing centers at schools. The improvements will be paid for with federal grants from E-Rate and Enhancing Education Through Technology funds.

Next, the board approved requests by three charter schools to lease space in district school facilities. Bay Area Technology School will continue to lease space on the Carter Middle School campus in North Oakland and Leadership Preparatory School College Park will continue to lease space on the Castlemont campus in East Oakland. A new charter school, the Community School for Creative Education, was offered space to lease at Howard Elementary School in the East Oakland hills. School districts in California are required by state law to offer space to charter school organizations that can prove they have more than 80 district students interested in attending their school.

Finally, the board approved a building contract for a new “downtown educational complex” to house La Escuelita Elementary, MetWest High School and two early childhood development centers: Yuk Yau and Centro Infantil. The complex will replace structures originally designed to be temporary. The new structure will be paid for with city money earmarked for school facilities and not available to spend on other district needs.

The complex has been discussed by the board at prior meeting and there was virtually no additional discussion at last night’s meeting, but a statement on the district’s website reads, “The DEC [downtown educational complex] is a significant project that will expand educational opportunity and enhance the learning environment for hundreds of OUSD students.”

With no new budget news from the state to discuss, the meeting wrapped up faster than usual and the board moved on to closed session before 9 p.m.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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