SOTA STORIES began with a single post and evolved into an ongoing series of personal portraits posted to social media to keep a school community engaged and interested during the extended periods when school was not in session. The successful series ran for three years. The stories shine a spotlight on the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts' most precious natural resource–and probably it’s most valuable marketing tool– the students, teachers, and artists-in-residence. Each story is unique and contributes to the bigger story. Some are old, forgotten stories and there are always new stories. Uncovering the facts and writing the stories is serendipitous for all: the writer, the reader, and the subject. Initially, many believe their story is run of the mill and not terribly interesting, but after coaxing the facts out of them, even they have to agree that what they are up to is pretty cool. See what you think.
JORDAN LEE (IM 2014) is up to the challenge. The Fast Fish Challenge, that is. As a volunteer this summer at the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Golden Gate Park, he’s been working at the tide pool, presenting some of the collections and helping visitors learn about how the specialized traits of fish are vital to their different living environments. The Fast Fish Challenge is part of the new Built for Speed exhibit about the boats of the America's Cup and fish adaptations provided, often with very interesting results: "fictitious fast fish...with fanciful fins..."
Equally challenging are Jordan's other summer projects: a recital with a brass quintet at the Bronstein Music School, a second recital with his private trumpet teacher, Stephen Bell, and his job at the Silver Dragon Kung Fu School.
At the Silver Dragon, Jordan helps out with the summer camp and teaches the Lion Dance, a form of traditional dance in Chinese and Indonesian cultures, taught in most martial arts schools. Frequently mistaken for the Dragon Dance, in this dance, the lion is operated by one person who mimics a lion;s movements. The performers are inside of the lion and their faces are covered. (In a Dragon Dance, the the dragon is held up on poles and the performers are fully visible.)
"Shaolin Soccer is one of Jordan's favorite films and he lives with a dog that has super powers. Send Jordan a shout out: today is his birthday. Pictured here with Jet.
JP VIERNES (DANCE 2014) has choreographed an exciting and busy summer.
During the majority of his time in the Bay Area, he will be dancing with The Shely Pack Dancers, a local studio in Half Moon Bay led by dance educator, Shely Pack, who began her dance training in Pennsylvania with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater more than 40 years ago. JP also plans to take classes at Lines Ballet and ODC in San Francisco until he leaves for New Orleans and the Dance Masters of America competition.
Dance Masters of America is a membership organization of artists and educators committed to the elevation of the art of dance worldwide. DMA sponsors a variety of competitions and awards more than six-hundred educational and monetary scholarships annually.
As serious as he is about his art discipline, he is also deeply committed to his friends, his family and to having fun. Which is what he plans to do when he leaves Louisiana for Washington D.C. to visit his sister, a middle school geography teacher and her husband, a physicist working in the nation’s capital.
GIORGIA PECKMAN (CW 2014) has been counting down the days. In May, she concentrated on the date for her return to her second year as an intern with Diablo Custom Publishing in Walnut Creek, where her responsibilities have included writing, editing, and doing research for various clients and publications.
In June, the focus shifted and the calendar countdown was all about Comic-Con, a multi-genre international convention held annually in San Diego, showcasing comic books, science fiction and fantasy film and television, and related popular arts. According to Forbes, the convention is the "largest convention of its kind in the world."
Giorgia designs, researches, sews and wears her own unique costumes, inspired by characters from Dr. Who, Supernatural and Game of Thrones. She has received local and international media coverage at the conventions for her artistry and craftsmanship.
Finally, July has ended and the excitement is building, as she ticks off the remaining days until her departure for Brazil and the Jogos Mundiais.
Apart from her time during the summers at Diablo and her time at SOTA during the school year, Giorgia practically lives at ABADÁ Capoeira, an internationally recognized capoeira school located in San Francisco’s Mission District where she has been a student for almost 10 years.
This year, Giorgia is one of three teens to receive a full ticket scholarship from ABADÁ Capoeira San Francisco to travel to Rio de Janeiro for a series of workshops and competitions for ABADÁ capoeiristas from all over the world.
In preparation, she has been training regularly, practicing her Portuguese, performing with ABADÁ at street festivals and the Pride Parade - for which they were nominated Most Fabulous Street Performance– and helping out at the studio with the kids' summer camp. When she's not at her capoeira studio, Giorgia is working on the beginnings of her Creative Writing senior thesis and hanging out with Face aka Hazel, her beloved cat.
Pictured here in full femme 11th Dr. regalia on the Game of Thrones throne at Comic Con 2013.
DANIEL SUKI (IM 2016) is all about variety, in body and soul. Born in Wisconsin of Japanese, Filipino and Puerto Rican descent, and raised in San Francisco, Daniel is a student in the World Music strand of the Instrumental Music department.
He entered the program proficient in guitar, piano, violin, bass, ukulele, drums, and voice. This past year, under the direction of Monina Sen Cervone, he successfully navigated Japanese Taiko, Brazilian Samba and Afro-Cuban drumming.
The response from both performers and audiences to this new piece of the Instrumental Music department puzzle has been overwhelmingly positive; proof that a strict classical or rarified background is not a requirement for acceptance to SOTA or the ability to excel in the artistic community at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts.
Three World Music performance dates have been set in the 2013-2014 SOTA performance calendar, not including any surprises that director Cervone may have in store for the World Music students. There has also been talk of a show in Los Angeles later this year and possibly Japan in Daniel’s senior year. Until then, Daniel continues to add flavor to the eclectic mixture of his life.
This summer, he’s been recording his first album with percussionist Jerry Herrera (IM 2016) with whom he’s been gigging at Cafe du Nord on Upper Market Street and various school events and a date at Bimbo’s is slated for the near future. Add acting in three films, screenwriting two of them, pitching for an all star baseball team, visiting family in the Midwest and on the East Coast, preparing for another club appearance and tickets to a Dave Matthews concert, and all of it spells Suki.
Photo by Roger Jones
SUMMER CUYJET (MUSICAL THEATER 2014) is a force of nature, full of curiosity, compassion, and boundless energy. In the past few years, her attendance at several home and hospital births inspired her to pursue an internship at Kaiser this summer where she is spending 4-5 days a week between their clinic, their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and Labor and Delivery. The internship puts her into regular contact with Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and Physicians, learning about the miracles of life.
To feed her musical theater habit, Summer will be participating in an audition class at ACT and a class on directing for the theatre. She will also have a chance to dust off her tap shoes when she heads east to a two week Musical Theater Intensive at Rider University in New Jersey, where she will be performing in two shows- one of which is 42nd Street, which she loved performing in last spring at SOTA.
She is also making time to volunteer at the SF Food Bank twice a week and was shocked to learn that 1 in 4 San Franciscans eat food supplied by the SF Food Bank each day. Whatever free time is left in her schedule will be spent narrowing down her list of colleges and writing her personal statement. Oh, and maybe a bit of Law and Order SVU, her favorite television show.
Quite a Summer!
JULIAN CUYJET (Vocal 2017) has a lucky number this summer– 13. That’s the title of the rock musical he is currently rehearsing at the Spindrift School for the Performing Arts in their 4 week musical theater summer intensive for teens. A grown-up story about growing up, “13” is a “…high-energy musical…about discovering that cool is where you find it, and sometimes where you least expect it.”
On August 4th, once the final curtain drops on "13", Julian will be jumping from Pacifica to Page Street, For a solid week, he will participate in the Chanticleer Choral Skills Lab at the Kanbar Center, a workshop designed for singers aged 14-20 to hone their skills. Students take classes in sight-singing, music theory, music history, conducting, solo voice technique, IPA and diction, and the art of the audition; culminating with a student performance of challenging choral music. In addition, he plans to continue his piano and ukelele classes.
A fierce community activist, Julian’s parting solo from his K-8 middle school was his appearance last week at a local school board meeting, where he spoke out in support of the continued inclusion of children with Special Needs at his alma mater.
AMINA AINEB (CW 2017), is reading, writing, drawing and dreaming, Recently returned from a whirlwind tour of France and England and a visit to Washington DC and Gettysburg, she is happy to simply enjoy the rest of her summer holiday.
Amina is “looking forward to the general SOTA and CW environment…but of course, I'm mostly looking forward to reading and writing with my peers.” Until that happens, Amina is tackling the summer reading assignments for Honors English and Creative Writing, but she’s not stopping there. She’s got her eye on the Quran, Haruki Murakami and maybe some Stephen King.
What was it about Stonehenge that made it one of the high points of her trip? The mythology, the mystery of its origins, the eerie atmosphere.
Less mysterious, but equally captivating was Shakespeare and Company, the bookstore on Paris’ Left Bank, an infamous gathering place for writers in the 1920s. Amina paid homage to the spirits of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway while marveling at the typewriter and chair where James Joyce birthed sections of “Ulysses”. The perfect tourist stop for this aspiring C-Dub, which is how Heather Woodward, Creative Writing chair, affectionately refers to her young charges.
A typical American teenager in Paris? Hardly.
An incoming SOTA student? Clearly.
Pictured here: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman. With Max.
MAYA (CW 2015) & JULIAN (THEATRE 2015) LITAUER lost their luggage and found the Hohe Strasse. After a shopping spree for new essentials, courtesy of the airlines, they commenced with the more serious business of enjoying their holiday, visiting family and touring castles in Cologne, Germany.
Maya likes riding the streetcars, grabbing snippets of conversation she overhears to use as inspiration for her writing. Julian is taking some dance classes, in anticipation of his summer session in Theatre Arts at CSSSA later this summer.
Wunderbar! Bis Bald!
HANNE WILLIAMS-BARON (IM 2015) is a very colorful trombonist. Since summer break started she’s been hanging out, having adventures with her pals, redoing her bedroom and exploring new music. This week, a wedding will take her on a road trip through the vibrant reds and ochers of the Grand Canyon to the more subtle tones of the Arizona desert, with a stop at the University of Arizona to check out their brass program. Then its back to the city for a day of repose and packing a bag for 2 weeks in Cazadero.
After her time in Western Sonoma county, Hanne is headed back to the Bay Area, switching from the quiet cool of the creeks, rivers and redwoods to the bright tones of Girls Jazz Camp in Berkeley in preparation for SFJazz auditions in August.
Literally and figuratively, a veritable rainbow.