Founded in 1892, B.F. Day School in Fremont was built on a block of 20 lots generously donated by landowner Benjamin Franklin Day who asked that educators build not only a school, but a good school. We feature B.F. Day here because it is a linked school, which means that if you opt out of the language immersion programs at John Stanford or McDonald School, you can be assigned to B.F. Day; but you must apply during open enrollment as a change from your assigned school.
B.F. Day was renovated in 1991, and the library received a recent face lift to make it brighter with more of an open floor plan. The beautiful archway and doors at the front of the building are original to the school, and the massive windows in each of the classrooms let in an abundance of light.
Principal Susan McCloskey has been with the school for 13 years. Every single day, she greets children unloading from buses out in front of the building in the morning, and sees each one of them off during the afternoon. Susan has this uncanny ability to remember not only the names of the 325 students who attend the school, but each of the parents’ names as well. B.F. Day prides itself on its diversity — the student population is about 50/50 — with 50% white and 50% of color. Because it is the elementary bilingual school (or English Language Learners — E.L.L.) in the North end, children come from all over the world, and there are students from China, Russia, and even Saudi Arabia.
B.F. Day has a Spectrum program for advanced learners. Unlike Whittier in Ballard, the children are not separated from the rest of the student population. According to Susan, there are only between 2-8 Spectrum students per grade, and her preference, too, is to keep children of all learning levels integrated rather than isolated. Spectrum learners are taught curriculum one level above their grade in reading and mathematics.
The Wallingford Boys and Girls Club has a branch inside B.F. Day (adjacent to the gym) for before and after school care. Susan encourages parents to sign up as early as possible for a spot, since the Club fills up quickly — especially for Kindergarten, First, and Second graders. There is also an after school tutoring program and a chess club. From time to time the PTSA will also sponsor after school programs like drama, yoga, or hip hop classes for fun.
There are two Kindergarten classrooms, and both are full-day. Susan provided parents with a sample Kindergarten schedule in which most academics are taught in the morning before lunch, then a “rest time” (which includes the option of silent reading), followed by health, story time, “Choice Time” (a 30 minute playtime), and PE, Art or Spanish. PE, Art, and Spanish are taught on a weekly, rotational basis, so students will get a week of PE, followed by a week of Art (for three days) and Spanish (for two days). Kindergartners have three recesses during the day: one combined with snack time in the morning, one combined with lunch, and one in the afternoon. Most of the recesses are outside, even during the rainy season, and Susan suggests that kids wear coats with hoods to keep dry. Of course, during torrential downpours, kids will be supervised inside of their classrooms during recess, and kids always have the choice to use the library during any recess.
Three years ago, B.F. Day added a rain garden to the school grounds that was planned by B.F. Day office manager Carrie Bauer, who worked under the direction of Stewardship Partners, a non-profit organization that plans and develops rain gardens sustained by rainwater run-off. With a rain garden, up to 30 percent more water is collected and filtered into the ground to recharge the groundwater, rather than washing away into the sewer. The rain garden has become a valuable science teaching tool for the school, where children can learn about ecology, along with the simple mechanics of natural irrigation, and gardening.
Every May, the entire school participates in “Village Day” — the most favorite day of the year among students, with many alums returning to join in the fun. On Village Day, each classroom is transformed into a little shop run by students who collectively decide what to make and sell, whether it’s pizza, face painting, or party supplies. Each student also receives $120 worth of “B.F. Day dollars” of which they’ve earned throughout the year with good deeds and helping out with various little chores like bringing lunchboxes up from the cafeteria. Principal McCloskey takes 20% off the top of each child’s “earnings” for “taxes” and the students are free to spend the remainder at any of the shops on Village Day. Parents are welcome to come join in the fun too, and take advantage of the awesome exchange rate which stays fixed at five B.F. Day dollars to the American dollar.