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Summertime Strolls to the Schools

It was Back to School for the Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesday group on July 24. A total of 18 walkers, including three K-9 friends and first time walker Jim, headed out from the Exedra on a warm, sunny day to visit schools around the center of town.

A block away on Highland Avenue, the group stopped at Havens School where they admired the large work of mosaic art, installed when Havens was rebuilt for earthquake safety in 2010.

Thanks to two Piedmont residents, designer Mark Becker and Andy Ball of Webcor, who headed the construction efforts, the new Havens school grounds features Mission-style architecture, classrooms on a second story, and a green playfield.

Next stop was the almost-completed renovation of the tennis courts at the corner of Vista and Bonita Avenues, which now sports new surfaces and fencing. The courts, once completed, will be renamed Corey Reich Tennis Center in honor of the Assistant Coach for the PHS varsity tennis teams.

One walker remembered as a child visiting a farm on the site, where there was a horse, sheep, and cows. The farm was part of a family estate, now the site of the Piedmont Recreation Department. The Dress Best for Less marking room was originally a carriage house complete with buggy.

Taking a left on Hillside to Magnolia, the group walked through the Middle School and High School campuses, coming out through Piedmont Park, heading for Wildwood Avenue and a second elementary school. With Piedmont Rec programs going on at Wildwood School, the group wasn't able to walk through the campus, and headed back through the Park to the Exedra.

To complete the group's mission, Beach School was the final destination for 15 walkers one week later, on July 31.

Surprisingly, there were no K-9 best friends to accompany the walkers. The group headed on Highland and down Blair Avenue to its end at Ricardo Avenue, then zigged onto Cambridge Way. It was pointed out that the original streetcar No. 10 line ran through backyards between the homes on Ricardo and York Drive, and along Latham Street where the homes built in the 1950s are located.

After crossing Grand Ave., the group continued on Cambridge to Howard Avenue, then left on Lake Avenue to Beach School and its playfields. The group noted the recent striping on the tennis courts for their additional use for pickleball.

On the school grounds, the group observed the Three Sisters' garden planters with squash, beans, and corn, plus sunflowers, thyme, strawberries and fennel. At the play structure, Schoolmates employee Julian Lopez-Cortez kindly snapped a pho- to of the walkers.

Noemi Alvarado shared some interesting facts about Beach School, first known as the Lake Avenue School when established in 1913. It was built to accommodate the growing numbers of school children who moved to the area after the 1906 earthquake and fires in San Francisco. Five years later, it was renamed the Egbert W. Beach School in honor of the first Piedmont resident to give his life in World War I.

Now more than a hundred years old, the school was rebuilt in 1934 because it was deemed a "firetrap and earthquake menace." It was expanded and quake-retrofitted in 2012 after students were bussed to Emeryville for the 2011-12 school year. Interestingly, former principal Nancy McHugh, who had previously photographed the Wednesday Walkers on a secret stairway near her home, was principal at Beach School from 1979 to to 2007 fully a quarter of the school's life.

Returning by way of Linda Avenue, the group trooped up the not-so-gentle slope of Oakland

Ave. back to the Exedra.


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