2023 Storytellers’ Showcase Program

We are so happy you are here! Here is what our students will be reading today.

Ode to Mama

by Isa, age 9

Oh Mama, thank you for taking care of me

Oh lovely Mama, you are from Yemen

Oh Mama, I admire you because you are my mama

Oh caring Mama, you are great at cooking

Oh Mama, you said “I love you Isa”

Oh kind Mama, you and I both like to watch movies


Choosing My Name

by Zara, age 13

Zara is my safe name, the name I chose when I was embarrassed, the name I chose in school because Quetzalli was too “difficult”, and Zara was in English, therefore, easier. Quetzalli, the name people would reply with was “exotic,” my home name, the name my grandma and parents called me, the name that sounded like a poem rolling off your tongue after being said, the name that spoke to my ancestors after being said, the name that represented my family, my people, my culture and language. But it was the name that brought fear outside of the walls of my Mami Male’s house, so I avoided it. No longer using it or mentioning it outside those walls, my ancestors sitting on clouds crying to a thunderstorm each time their children pushed away from their culture. More and more. Six years passed, and I started to understand. I no longer cared what others thought was “easy.” I no longer cared if it was “exotic,” I am Quetzalli, I am also Zara, but I am not what you want me to be. 


Ode to Nostalgia

by Roman, age 20

My body is agile and fine like silk

My hair is semi-long, but has never been wild.

I am a ray of sunshine, always shining and smiling

I am ready to compete, always confident and brave.

With pride in my heart and love in my soul,

My cheerful spirit is like a celebration rave.


Long ago, fire and water danced together,

In the heart of Central America, forever.

Memories of home linger in my mind,

Of warm and kind people who were so kind.

Long ago, the sun shone on tall peaks and mountains,

Protecting us from winds, like  curtains.

I long to return to those golden shores,

And hear the marimba play once more.


I love to reminisce, at times it seemed better to look behind,

I love to ponder the past, when everything seemed fine,

I sometimes believe the “me” of yesterday was better than today,

I sometimes believe the “me” of today won’t play with toys again, 

An innocence gone away.


But now I have to leave it all behind,

Has the suffering been forgotten by my blind mind?

To be here, for my brother, I risked my life,

My father’s grudges at my neck like a knife.


This pain that I feel deep inside,

Is the ache of the life I wish I’d had,

As the Greek translation implies,

The pain of a wound that’s old and sad.


This pain that I carry every day,

Is the pain of leaving my old life behind,

As the Spanish word seems to say,

Nostalgia, the yearning for what I can’t find.


I long for the days that are now gone,

For the people I loved, for the dreams I once had,

But time moves on, and I must be strong,

And leave the past behind, even if it makes me sad.


The Place I Call Home

by Sam, age 10

Dear Hunter’s Point, 

I’m writing to you as you are the place that I have always called home. I see unique graffiti on the walls everyday when I drive by. In the future, I would want to see more, because all art has its meaning. Currently, I taste nothing but chicken, but in the future I want to taste the sweet flavor of a pizookie from BJ’s. Right now, I hear car horns and music. In the future, I want to hear absolutely nothing, peacefully. The first time I put on cologne, my dad put it on me and I felt like I was at home.  

Sometimes, I feel sad. In the future, I want to be happy and say, “I made it!” Some people say they’re going to represent but they never give back. So, when I go to the NFL, I will give my home back as much as I can. I want to make the San Francisco Faithful Youth Center for kids, so they will all stay out of trouble. Also I know parents need a break for a while, so I will take their children off their hands. I’m going to have a study center with tutors to help. I’m also going to add a gaming center because not everyone is going to want to study. I’m also going to add  basketball courts, soccer, and football fields so whoever wants to workout, can. 

Hunter’s Point reminds me of family. I hope that more people represent you. You won’t be forgotten, Hunter’s Point. I’ll see you later, hopefully. 




Bilingual Chinese American

by Lester, age 9

Because I speak Mandarin 

I can do my chinese homework

and say  你好,学校,and 苹果。

Because I can speak English, I can go on fieldtrips and do book clubs. 

Because I am bilingual, I can watch 视频 and videos

I have a 书包 and a backpack, 

I can play with 玩具 and toys, 

I can read 书 and books, 

so I can have twice as much fun. 

And someday because I speak two languages, I will have twice as much silliness and twice as much happiness.


Ode to Kevin Dublin

by Darien, age 14

You were staring at the board intensely

Your eyes squint when you think

You were looking at the board like it was a newborn baby

Beating you is like fighting a wrecking ball

The monopoly board was curious to see what would happen next

You confidently crafted a creative strategy

You rumbled like a hummingbird

You were taking like 1 million years it seemed like you were Einstein

Watching you make your move was like a fire burning, waiting for your motion

But when it’s my turn I will rise like the ocean

Playing with you makes me feel hopeful


My Amazing World

by Ethan, age 9

In my perfect world, I envision we will have big skyscrapers, GIANT trees, great lakes, and a lot of houses for everyone. And you will hear birds chirping and some people talking . In my perfect world we also have 5 day weekends. Isn’t that cool? We will also have hovering cars, and our streets will be clean. Lastly, I really wish for raining books. And free Thai Boba tea.

One aspect of my perfect world is that it rains Boba!!! Amazing right? So every year on October 29, it rains Boba. At 10pm the fluffy clouds and the ocean blue sky turn tangerine orange and then it rains until 4am. Also, you can just raise your hand in the air and then…PLOP!!!! A cup full of DELICIOUS Boba has landed on your greedy hand. 

NO. NO. NO, this is something we will not be able to achieve in the future. In the first place, this is what I wish earth was like, but no. Some of you might think, “don’t listen to him!” Some people might think I am the SILLIEST person in the WHOLE. ENTIRE. UNIVERSE but, no, I am being serious. It could only work if some kind of robotic, metal cloud came, and you could tell it what it should drop. That could happen in the future maybe, but I don’t think that it will.


I Belong to the Eternal Spring

by Maria, age 19

In the name of all the indigenous women

Who never got their voices heard

I feel you, I know you, I came from you


Up from bare feet 

Flowers and thorns

My tears fell

Not pain, but joy 

My veins find their way


I am the quiet but melodic forest

Shoots from fallen trees


From the breezy mornings 

Soft and vaporous soil after rain

The crackling drip of the river 

The native plants, 


My mother’s steamy chamomile and ginger tea 

My siblings’ courage, affection and respect 

My father’s pan colorado y maiz


I am the sparkling red of the ember

Ashes of insecurities all around me 

Like cafe con leche I am strong and bitter

I am the strength of the supposed weak

Into a life of freedom and peace 


Soy la fortaleza de la supuesta débil 

Pertenezco a la Eterna Primavera 


My Name is a Shadow

by Naia, age 13

Once upon a time in a secluded village, a boy named Shadow lived. He had short, jagged raven black hair and ghostly indigo eyes. His skin was a pale olive, like the bark of a birch tree. 

He was the only one in the village with a shadow. No one else had shadows. The light from their life force illuminated their bodies, unseen by the naked eye but warding off the dark. Not Shadow. His shadow was deep and dark, angular. Staring into its depths made you feel like you were falling, falling into an endless void. In short, not only did Shadow have a shadow, it wasn’t a normal shadow. 

Why did his shadow follow him? He asked. Everyone told him it was because the shadow was attached to him. But why? Why was it attached to him? He didn’t understand. What had he done to deserve a shadow? Was it a bad thing? Maybe not. But… No one else had shadows. So why did he? 

Shadows were everywhere. They chased him in his dreams, during the day, even in the forest. The only time he didn’t have a shadow was at night. So he loved the night, begged it to arrive and take his shadow away. Away from Shadow. Yet, night doesn’t last forever. When the night left, his shadow came back. Always. 

His village didn’t understand his fear. Exuding light as they did, they revered the shadows. Supposedly, they were a sign of great power. It meant that the amount of dark magic one had could burn through their inner light. Shadow didn’t think that was good…Actually, it seemed downright frightening. He didn’t like shadows. They scared him. 

When he was alone, his shadow moved. Normally, shadows didn’t move on their own. But Shadow’s shadow moved, an embodiment of the darkest magic. It danced, it ran, and it slunk about. It never harmed him, but he was terrified nonetheless. 

When he was nine years old, the world started to end. An earthshaking boom sounded, as if splitting the heavens apart. Fire rained from the sky, hot, smoldering stones, appearing from behind the clouds. Everything was falling, crumbling. 

He felt despair. And within that despair, an ember of cold heat started to grow in his chest. The flame within him was chilling, so cold it burned. His shadow shifted, melting into him. It felt like lava, icy cold but slowly burning him from within, making him gasp. 

“Are you alright?” A man asked Shadow in concern. 

Shadow couldn’t reply, falling to his knees and panting heavily. 

Because as the icy burn grew bigger, he slowly realized. There had never been any reason to fear the shadows in the first place. His village was correct in celebrating the dark power. Shadow belonged in the shadows, belonged to the shadows. He had power now, the power of the shadows, the dark magic. It raged through his body, forging him anew. He was still the same, but powerful, more confident. He knew he could save his village from destruction. He had the ability, the power now. 

He stood up, his eyes fixed on the sky-fire. “I’m okay.” He reassured his village. 

And then he raised his hands.


A House with Bookshelves Lining Every Wall

by Hyonia, age 11

I am from a house with bookshelves lining every wall and a tired dog lounging in her tiny cat bed.

From my dad brewing coffee every morning, 

From endless containers of soothing teas.

I am from the house next door to a building covered in purple and blue galaxies. 

A neighborhood with tiendas and street vendors everywhere on the streets that can be quiet as a mouse or as loud as my ALARM CLOCK in the early morning, startling me awake.

Beautiful cherry blossom trees and broccoli-like ficus trees scattered around my colorful neighborhood.


I’m from walking all over San Francisco spotting poppy flowers with their brilliant orange petals popping out against the green grass and gray cement.

From going to New Jersey every year at Christmas to make warm, wonderful memories.

My dad walking home from school with me, talking about the day and all of its ups and downs.

From “I Love You” a hundred times over at night before going to sleep.

I’m from lighting the menorah each night of Hanukkah and getting excited on Christmas morning in front of the beautiful, glowing tree with presents underneath.


From San Francisco, The Mission District, the neighborhood with culture from everywhere.

Eating Tiropita, as cheesy and wonderful as a freshly grilled, grilled cheese and hot chocolate once every two weeks or so, is as comforting as sitting in front of a warm fireplace.

I am from watching TV and movies with my parents as I pet my fluffy dog called Leia, read, or do homework.

From drinking boba tea. That is refreshing, like eating ice cream on a warm summer day.

I am from traveling the magnificent world with my family that are as adventurous as a band of pirates voyaging through the 7 seas and beyond.


I am a branch of my family tree growing stronger with each passing day.



by Sofia, age 10

One rainy day in the 826 classroom, it was a normal day. Just doing my prompt when suddenly, time just paused. So I stood up in my chair and looked around the room. I thought I was dreaming so I rubbed my eyes, but I was not dreaming. Then a portal appeared. I did not think about it. So I jumped into the portal, but what a mistake I made. The first thing I saw was gold and lots of gems and crystals. It was all shiny, and it was sunny outside. Then, a butler came to me with a gold suit.

“The king is waiting for you, m’am” he said. Then I realized I was wearing a golden dress with gold flowers. So I had to go to the castle to meet the king. The castle was huge. 

When I got there, the king said, “You are on a mission, to go get the golden flakes.”

“How long is it going to be?” I said.

“A long journey. It is like a twelve hour walk. But don’t worry, the carrier is waiting for you” he said.

“Wait, why, can’t you send the knights?” I said.

“They are all busy my dear” he said. I just sighed and left for the journey. Then, I thought, how did I get myself  in this mess? So the carriage moved and left and it was a beautiful ride. Then, time paused again. I jumped out of the carriage. Then, the portal opened so I jumped in.

To be continued…


Oh, Rosa Parks

by Raquel, age 11

Oh, Rosa Parks. Thank you for thinking differently than other people and thinking about how things affect you. For standing up for all black people.

Oh, Rosa Parks. You got arrested for 180 days, you are as brave as a person going to war.

Oh, Rosa Parks.   I admire you because even though you and your husband got kicked out of your city, that did not stop you.

Oh, Rosa Parks. You are known for helping out for black people from the day you were in that bus.

Oh, Rosa Parks.  You said “I believe we are here on the planet earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.”

Oh, Rosa Parks.  You and I both stand up for black people. And want to make the world a better place.


I Like My Life

by Ashley, age 8

I like when the clouds come because they look fluffy.

I like to go to the beach and I see a cloud that looks so fluffy. 

The clouds make an eagle. 

I like my cousin because she shares toys and games with me. 

My cousin has a stuffy bear. It’s round like a real bear. I feel happy when I hold it. 

I like hip hop because it makes me happy. 

I feel my body dance. 

I like wind and air because I can make music. 

Making a song in my brain, I taught myself in my brain. 

I like pepperoni and cheese pizza because it’s my favorite food. 

It tastes really good and it has sweet flavors and the cheese is stretchy. 

I like chocolate cupcakes because they are tasty. 

I eat the cupcake at the party and it was so tasty. 

I eat them in the rainbow park. 

There’s a rainbow when it’s raining and the sun comes up. I feel happy when I see it. I like the colors of the rainbow. It’s like red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. 

I like cotton candy perfume because the smell makes me feel comfortable. 

It makes me feel at home. I eat it in front of my school and I like to go to school. 

I like tiny flowers in the park because it smells like perfume. 

Flowers grow up in the sea and the fish will come out. They grab the flowers and they take them to their habitat. 

I like cat fur because it feels like pillows. 

I like the ocean because it’s warm and beautiful.  

There’s some sea flowers and animals that live in the sea and I can see some fish and some dolphins jumping. 

The thing I like most about my life is going to school and I wish I could go to a university. 


I am the OCEAN

by Yuli, age 19

When the sunlight shoots me

I am sparkling

When it comes to night

I am the abyss


You can’t really grab me because

I will flow away

When the wind pushes me

I will wrap something that is beside me

When something jumps into me

I will make a plop sound and there will be little floating waves

My body is ripping out


I see walking     playing     happiness

because I am starshines

Many friends live with me

They are cute   small    big    awful


But with people increasing consumption

Friends are leaving

I can’t help

I am now rotten

Stinking    darkened    oh trash!

Crying in the rain

I am ripping up

I am mad and turn up my energy to swallow everything


Here are the speeches that the teachers will read today.


The way you see it, is the way I see it

by Harry Jamerson, teacher 

The boy awakened from the sound of a vacuum cleaner ascending from the two story house. Thoughts rushed as he looked at the clock on his wall next to his Malcolm X poster. Damn, how did I oversleep again? the boy thought to himself. He got up and grabbed his gym bag filled with his baggy shorts, spalding basketball and his shiny black Air Jordans. His name was imprinted on the bag: Tayvion Wilson. He went to the bathroom to brush his teeth. There was a mirror in the hallway, a big full-sized mirror, that watched and revealed his every move. Tayvion glanced at the mirror and there was something different about his reflection today. He paused and thought to himself, How black am I? The room was filled with darkness, but enough light for him to notice his facial features. Tayvion looked to the left and saw his gold chains shine bright on his dresser. How black am I?”Tayvion repeated to himself. Was it a question of color or identity? 

Tay looked in the mirror again to see if his durag was on tight to protect the ocean waves on his head. He thought, I hope no one gets seasick around me because my waves is on point. As Tayvion walked downstairs, “Good morning, ma! Any breakfast ?” 

Mom said, “Boy you better hurry and get to practice. I’ll put some money in your cash app to get something to eat.” 

Tayvion replied, “Mom, a breakfast sandwich would’ve helped and I know I know, I’ll get to practice on time.” 

Mom on her day off was never afraid to let wisdom enter the room, she gently reminded him, “Well if you knew better, you’ll do better.” Tayvion laughed and kissed his mom on the cheek and was on his way to practice. 

The streets were quiet, and the changing vibe in the neighborhood reminded Tayvion to stay guarded. He was on his way to the store to get some chapstick he felt the desert coming around his mouth and said loudly, “Mannnn, I need to get some chapstick.” He noticed a person walking their dog and looked at him strangely. Tayvion shook his head and turned the volume up. Tayvion inserted the AirPods in his ear to black out the white noise that now surrounded him. The song from J Cole came on his iPhone, and the lyrics seeped into his consciousness: “And the only real change comes from inside. Yeah the only real change comes from inside.” Two minutes into the song Tayvion was already at the corner store which was very close to his house. The store recently changed owners, and the store didn’t look the same; the chips were replaced with kale crisp, and the candy Tayvion usually bought was now replaced with $5 Dark Cocoa Organic bar. “Yo where is the Carmax at?” Tayvion yelled. 

“Carmax?” the store clerk looked puzzled. “What is that?” the clerk replied. 

“Chapstick,” Tayvion responded. 

“Look on aisle two.” said the clerk. Tayvion looked for the aisle but he noticed the store clerk was on guard, monitoring his every step. The song kept playing, “Yeah the only real change comes from inside” repeated over melodic sounds. Tayvion couldn’t find the Carmax chapstick. Taking his time to look at the other options he paused and forgot that he had to be at practice. He grabbed one chapstick, “organic lip balm, with rosemary hints.” I guess, he thought to himself. 

As Tayvion walked to the counter ready to pay, he received an alert from his phone saying the volume of the headphones were too loud. Tayvion ignored it. He put his item on the counter, and while taking his time to look for his debit card. The store clerk appeared irritated, as if Tayvion was planning a heist or a getaway. Tayvion found his card, and the clerk said, “50 cents extra for the transaction fee.” 

Tayvion jokingly protested, “I gotta pay to buy something?” 

The clerk responded in a newish English accent, “That is the store policy, if you don’t like it. you can go to another store.” 

Tayvion chuckled, “Chill out bruh, it was just a question.” Tayvion proceeded because time was not his side, he had no choice. The lyrics again booming, “but the only real change comes from inside” repeated. Tayvion exited the store where he saw a person walk by him with a Black Lives Matter shirt, they locked eyes but there was no interaction. No head nod. They pass by as if they were both invisible on the sidewalk.



by Loretta Torres, teacher

I learned how to train dogs after I spontaneously adopted a puppy almost ten years ago. 

One day, walking out of the nail salon, my nails were still wet, when I turned the corner on Noe street I saw him. Mars, a three-month-old puppy donning white gloves and black tuxedo coat. He was sitting on the lap of a little girl, sleeping. His nose curled under his paw.

“Oh my God, look at that cute puppy!” I exclaimed.

My sister said, “Come on, we have to go!”

“I can’t go, look at this adorable puppy,” I replied, pointing to the little black and white dog with the most handsome face and bedroom eyes just looking up at me. 

Pat walked away towards her car. She looked back at me confused and surprised because in my whole entire life I never liked dogs. Forever I’d been a cat mom I adopted many and even had one have a litter so my girls could learn about animal childbirth. 

There I stood watching the puppy, visiting with his siblings, named for planets or the galaxy Venus, Nexus, which was the brand of shoes I was wearing that day. This made me think, this was meant to be. Me meeting these pups on the sidewalk and feeling as certain my name is Loreta, that I would take one home. Really?

Still the little tuxedo pup sat on the girl’s lap, then her mom signaled it was time to go. I asked if she was going to adopt him, but she said, “I can’t take another animal home, my husband didn’t even want kids and we have three, plus a cat, a turtle, and a bird and we just can’t add another pet.” 

The little girl placed the Mars on the seat and another woman picked him up oodling over how cute he was. I couldn’t help but to chime in that I agreed. She too was only looking not yet ready to adopt. Then it happened she handed little Mars to me. Tun, tun, tun tun, our hearts beat as one. This was yet another sign that we were meant to be mom and pup. 

That’s when I called home to speak with Jim and ask, “What do you think about adopting a puppy?”

“That sounds great, but not right now, maybe in a year,” he replied. 

I had to think quick on my feet. Quickly I blurted out, “Tomorrow is Father’s day and I want to get you a dog.” I fibbed. 

“Awe that’s so sweet, okay.” he said. Always the agreeable sweet man. 

That is when reality set in. I just told Jim I was gifting him a dog for Father’s day. I had no idea what that entailed. After the wonderful pet 16 

tech explained the process I wrote a $25 check as a deposit and the following day Jim would have to come to meet Mars, and the SPCA would need to meet Jim to see if they were a good fit. 

The next day we did nothing but talk about the new dog and what it meant to each of us to have a dog. I admitted I didn’t know a thing about dogs, nor did I really even like them, but this one little fella was different. We had a heart to heart connection when our hearts beat as one. 

After we took Roger home, with all the supplies we needed. There was the grow with the dog crate, water and food bowl, food, flea stuff, pee pads, toothbrush and washcloths. So excited was I that I didn’t realize how I might be just a teensy tsunami-size of a wave over my head. But we were excited to have our first puppy as a couple. 

The first night we put him in the bathroom to sleep, where he cried, howled and messed in the bathroom for three nights. During the day, he slept fine in the kennel, but at night in the bathroom he was so unhappy. Also during the day, I carried him around like a baby. After two to three nights of this I realized neither Jim nor I really know how to take care of a puppy so we have to give him back. It broke my heart to say it, but the puppy was suffering and so were we while not getting any sleep at night, But Jim wouldn’t have any of it. He was determined to keep the dog as our family pet. 

He said, “That’s my dog and I’m not giving him away!” He added, “Find a trainer or someone that can help us and we will pay for their services.” 

After calling around, through a friend, I found the dog whisperer. She transformed everything for us and this dog. First she said, you must create a cozy kennel for him where he’ll spend a lot of time and never mess in it. It’s like his cave. So inside we placed a fluffy pillow, toys, water bottle and food bowl and lots of toys. That way he could eat and drink as needed. Oh, and dogs are pack animals. This means they don’t like being left alone away from their family. So the dog whisperer said the kennel had to be placed in our living room where we spend a lot of time watching TV or just hanging out. The dog lady suggested ways to get him into the crate, never by force,rather to lure him into the crate by tossing little snacks inside that he’d simply follow and enjoy once in there. The idea was to make him feel happy, secure, and to have his own private space. That first night we took him out to relieve himself after dinner and he walked into his crate. We covered it with blankets and off to sleep he went. Just after one session with the dog lady, he no longer howled or complained at night. He slept or played in his crate for hours of the day. At peace with our little pup. 

Next was potty training. This was a huge concern for me because the last thing anyone wanted was our place to smell like a dog kennel. She suggested we put him on a schedule for potty training and to take him 17 

outdoors rather than use pee pads. We did as we were told and low and behold to this day, ten years later our boy never messed in the house. Accidentally maybe once or twice, but that was because we forgot to take him out or we didn’t listen to his pleas to take him out. 

At this point we have sleeping, potty training going pretty well, next is to teach our pup commands like “come, sit, down, etc.” all seemed easy enough. One way we started to learn was to take him to puppy socials where he played for an hour with other puppies, wrestling and mouthing. We did that once a week for the first month. Boy I tell you, he would snore loudly in his kennel after one of these exercise events. There we watched how the dog trainers used their voice to communicate with the puppies. For example, the trainer had an older dog who would try to hump the puppies—this shows dominance—she’d say “no humpy” once and if the dog did it again, she’d pull him out of the puppy play and put him on a leash. She said that is how they learn by commanding and obeying or having consequences. The same with our puppy while playing. If dogs got too wild with each other, we were to pick up our pup to calm him down and treat him to show he’d done nothing wrong but we had to help him calm back down. Two things that are of great importance. One is when training dogs one needs to be very clear and consistent with the dog. In other words, use tone, words or signals with lots of treats to show your dog the expectations and rewards. Also, to watch both your dog and other dog’s behavior very closely. They tell you a lot. 

Since puppy training was only once a week, we started taking our pup to different parks around our neighborhood. It was there that I noticed different interactions between dogs. There were the yappers who just barked and barked incessantly at other dogs for no apparent reason, and I found those to be so annoying. Also, older dogs versus young ones some were more serious and others more playful. I began to recognize behaviors I preferred in dogs and ones I didn’t want my pup to copy, since I’d been told that dogs learn from each other. I realized how true that was, so as a controlling mom of my first pup, I didn’t let him play with aggressive dogs. If a dog showed alpha traits and wanted to dominate my sweet dog, I’d find a different dog to play. My dog learned to pick and choose his buds. He would invite a dog for a romp and if the dog chased him but didn’t growl or bark they’d play for sometimes up to an hour. But if the dog was aggressive and started to bark or try to bite his ears or neck, he’d run faster and get away from the dog. Sometimes he hid behind my legs to stop playing with the playground bully. I was told by a mum that my dog was a mama boy! He was forbidden to ever play with that dog at the park (its our little joke). 

Roger, as we named him because Mars did not at all, was somewhat easy to train. He took to sitting and staying quite well. Recall took 18 

different treats and calls to get him to respond to his name. Another little problem was that Jim and I have different styles. I like to be consistent and strict. Whereas, in the early years of his life Roger figured out that dad was the easy one and would at times become a bit aggressive with me or Jim. This worried me because Roger being a pitbull that would not fare well in the eyes of others. Though I learned from the dog whisperer that when he got so excited he became slightly aggressive, but it wasn’t to hurt anyone, only to celebrate his joy. Because Roger’s training was ongoing throughout his life I was able to almost achieve my goal to make Roger a kind of service dog. One that would be calming for children or adults. Though that was my greatest desire for Roger, we didn’t quite get him trained to that degree, however, he did visit a couple of my classrooms to help children with emotional disorders and they marveled at his calmness and gentleness. 

After consistent practicing all that we learned about training a dog, Roger has visited many places close and far. Spending short drives to his favorite places like Fort Funston or Bernal Hill to walking the coastline in Mendocino and the beaches of Southern California. He’s slept in hotels, motels, and friends’ homes. He’s put on his snow boots and suit in Tahoe to frolic on the frozen lake with other pitties. To this day, Roger is complimented on his beautiful face and his calm demeanor and welcomed to visit our friends wherever we go. 

My journey with this puppy was such an eye opening experience about what it takes to become a dog owner. It’s not that easy. You have to read books, google information online and talk to others to learn about training dogs. What I discovered was that you have to be consistent. Just like with humans, consistency and clarity are key components to raising a dog that can go anywhere with you and be welcomed back because he’s learned how to behave around other dogs, and humans. That day on the streets of Noe Valley was a turning point in my life adopting Roger was one of the best decisions of my life and every day when I walk in the house and he greets me with those dreamy brown eyes I get that same feeling of our two hearts beating as one. 


Here are the speeches that the parents will read today.

Good morning, everyone, My name is Laura Mullens and I am very happy to be here with you today! My two sons Daniel and Derrick Mullens have been building their writing and reading skills with 826 Valencia since the spring of 2019. This program has been incredibly helpful not only to my sons but to our family as a whole. For starters, the program is located right in our building which makes it super easy for us to get to. The tutors are extremely friendly and supportive of our kids. I often see Ms. Michelle or other staff members walking out to make sure that those kids who live nearby and that are allowed to walk home alone make it to their doors safely. The amount of support and dedication from each and everyone of them is both heartwarming and trusting. Their dedication did not stop during COVID, we would receive emails with information about support for families, ZOOM workshops on how to cope with the stay-at-home orders, they sent out activities and reading materials… anything that they could do to support families through hard times. Testing clinics became available twice a week for all 826 Valencia families which made it incredibly helpful and accessible.

My sons love attending the program! They get to work on their writing skills and every semester they work on beautiful poems that get to be published. Our kids are indeed published authors! Both Daniel and Derrick are confident in their writing and reading skills and their academic success as a whole and this is in great part due to the support they have received from each and everyone of the tutors in this program. Daniel gets to dig deep into his imagination and share with us his abstract work through writing. Derrick enjoys his time socializing with other kids his age and getting to know more of the different cultures and backgrounds that make 826 Valencia such an amazing, inclusive and safe place for our community. Oh, and the snacks, let’s not forget the snacks… sometimes I think that they look forward to getting to the program so quickly after school mainly because they get to enjoy yummy snacks and socialize before they start working. 

I want to thank every one of you for your time and dedication. Thank you for being part of the support system that the children in our community need and benefit greatly from. Thank you for going above and beyond for our children. You guys are an extremely important part of our village!

I want to close by sharing one of Daniel’s poems: 

This poem is called “Doors to the Future”

Dear whoever finds this, 

When you go through this ice door, you will see that it is snowing in the whole world. It’s the year 2361. When you go in this door, you can never come out. I have been trying to get out of here forever, literally. I am called the door keeper, creator, puppet master and more. I need help getting out of here. After I went through it was 2361. I saw snow everywhere. It’s really cold too. 21% of the population decreased. Thankfully the language is the same. I hope somebody saves me.


Hi my name is Alondra Margarito Reyes, I am 13 years old, I attend after school tutoring at Mission Center and I am sharing my mom’s speech today. 

826 Valencia in the mission is for my children a safe and reliable place. Where my children feel safe, respected, and supported in the academic challenges they have to learn their second language, which is English. For us as a working class family 826 is and has been a support on this path towards their academic goals. 826 is a place with reliable and excellent teachers and tutors. My children started 826 when they were in second grade and have since developed their imagination through creative writing. As a mother I like to read their writing because I learn how they feel at some points in their lives. 826 Valencia in the mission is a place where as a family we feel culturally welcomed and respected.

Hi, I am Daniel Margairito Reyes, I am 13 years old, I attend after school tutoring at Mission Center and I am sharing the poem my mom wrote.

8 million stories to read.

2 thousand writings to do.

6 thousand smiles to look at.

Courage and dedication in writing. 

Adventures in stories you will find. 

Books and books to read. 

Enthusiasm in each tutor you will find.

You should not miss any tutoring.

With gratitude and joy you must arrive. 

Equality you will also find. 

Joy and gratitude we must give.

As an immigrant family we just want to thank our students for their work and dedication. Family of Alondra and Daniel.