Round Two of “Touchable Stories” Captures Richmond’s History Through Richmond Voices

November 4, 2007

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By Anna McCarthy

Bob Ellison has lived in Richmond since 1930, and has a treasure trove of stories about the city that have finally found an outlet.

“Some of these stories, I’ve never told anyone before,” said Ellison. “Shannon was interested, so I said, well, this is a good way for me to show my ego off a little bit. I knew I was an old guy, but being an old guy I know something. I’m an asset. A resource.”

Ellison is one of many voices featured in Shannon Flattery’s newly renovated oral history project, Touchable Stories, which opens on Friday this week near the Port of Richmond. The stories featured in the exhibit, which is sponsored mainly by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, are all about Richmond. And they’re not just “Touchable.” They’re also audible and edible.

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RYSE Makes Halloween Haven for Richmond Youth

November 1, 2007

By Nicholas Kusnetz

With a seemingly endless string of shootings plaguing Richmond in past weeks, youth organizers with RYSE were working hard Wednesday night to make sure all the blood was fake and all the screams were in delight. The organization’s youth center at 41st Street and Bissell Avenue was transformed into a Halloween haven, with scary rooms, pumpkin painting and a movie for the kids.

“We just wanted to do something for the community,” said Jay Siphanhtong, 18, who is part of the RYSE leadership team. “We wanted the kids to go somewhere that’s safe and fun.”

With plastic blood dripping down the walls and fake cobwebs covering doorways, kids passed through a series of rooms with frights and games. In one of the last rooms, a bowl of candy sat innocently on a table. Little did the children know that Greg Ollano, the 21-year-old co-chair of the leadership team, was hiding below.
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Renewed Focus on English Proficiency at School Meeting

October 26, 2007

MDAC Meeting

From left to right: Raul Morales, Harpreet Sandhu, Jorge Tovar and Jessica Tovar discuss parent teacher conferences at the opening meeting for the Multilingual District Advisory Committee

By Nicholas Kusnetz

Parents and teachers of English learners met Thursday night with the goal of doing more this year to help their children move quicker to English proficiency. At the opening meeting of the Multilingual District Advisory Committee, members discussed how to speed reclassification, when a student is no longer considered an English learner.

“Too many of our students are taking too long to meet our requirements,” said Susan Dunlap, district administrator with English language services, in an earlier interview. Read the rest of this entry »


As The College Cycle Begins, Richmond Youth Fall Through the Cracks

October 24, 2007

By Anna McCarthy

For anyone thinking about going to college, now is the time to begin looking seriously for funding. Or so says the Foundation Center-San Francisco spokesperson Scott Ullman, who recently presented a workshop on finding money for college at the Richmond Public Library.

But few students enrolled in the Richmond public high schools are even considering college, let alone worrying about how to pay for it.

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Working Against Gang Violence at Richmond High

October 20, 2007

By Nicholas Kusnetz

On a Friday afternoon, Gonzalo Rucobo walks the halls of Richmond High School, talking with students and keeping an eye out for trouble.  Rucobo, whose work brings him to both schools and San Quentin, is a gang intervention worker and the Northern California regional manager for the Amer-I-Can Program, a life-skills and development curriculum.

Richmond High is essentially divided in half: members of the Norteño gang, despite their name, stay on the south side of the building, while Sureños stay on the north, and mixing back and forth usually means trouble. But things are improving thanks in part to the work of Rucobo and his team, who first came to the school last year, said Dr. Orlando Ramos, the school’s principal.

“Our suspensions, our violent incidents, they went down 30 percent last year,”  Ramos said. “It was absolutely amazing. It was great work.”
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Kennedy High Student Shot on Way to School

October 9, 2007


RICHMOND — Shots rang out once again in central Richmond Monday morning, hitting a 15-year-old John F. Kennedy High School student as he walked with a friend to school.

The boy, who has no criminal record, was hit in the foot by shots fired from a moving van near the corner of 25th Street and Virginia Avenue, according to Lt. Mark Gagan of the Richmond Police Department.

The victim, whose name was not released, was hospitalized in stable condition.

“He’s fortunate,” Gagan said. “They shot him point blank.” Read the rest of this entry »


New Coordinators Strengthen Health Services for Richmond Teens

October 9, 2007

Health Center
By Anna McCarthy

Starting this fall, Richmond high school students no longer have to go far from school grounds to look for health services. That’s because last spring the West Contra Costa School District agreed to hire six new health coordinators who are working together to improve—and in some cases initiate—health centers in all of the public high schools.

“The district decided that since they don’t have a lot of money to make health clinics for every public high school in West Contra Costa County, they should start with hiring a coordinator for each one of the schools to strengthen the existing services offered by the school, and also bring in new services to the schools,” said Debbie Espinoza, health service coordinator at De Anza High School.

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