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Ace Spectrum is about you — the ACE Learning Centers.
It’s a quick sharing of ideas, inspiration, opinions and best practices among our continuing education organizations.

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It’s Poetry Slam Time with the ACE Poetry Contest Winners from San Francisco International High School

Posted by on May 13, 2020 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Riley, ACE Poetry Contest Mascot

Lucy and me smiling after we listened to the great Poetry Slam.

Arf. Arf. I’m loving this. The poets at San Francisco International High School went poetry slam. Each poet videoed their poem and it was played for their classmates during special Poetry Slam editions of their English classes. The winners were chosen by fellow students, and there was a three-way tie in Class O. Now that’s cool.

So, here’s the ACE Poetry Contest Poetry Slam edition of the winning poems. Lucy, look what you have to look forward to – performing your poems.

Oriana Lopez – Class M

Aziza Ghanem – Class N

Tania Peña – Class O

Selena Li – Class O

Brenda Aguilar – Class O

Karol Peña – Class P

What a way to end the ACE Poetry Contest 2020. Amazing poetry in a Poetry Slam. See you next year for the ACE Poetry Contest in National Poetry Month and remember, treat yourself to ….

Woooaaahhh. Okay, Greytigercat wants to Catbomb me and say his goodbyes for the Poetry Cats. As he says, “OK, well, gotta go.” But let me finish – treat yourself to a poem. Be easy.



ACE Poetry Contest Winners from Oxford Day Academy Stand Bold

Posted by on May 12, 2020 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 4 comments

By Riley, ACE Poetry Contest Mascot

This is what I love about poetry – the examination of the heart and soul, and from that the realization of a personal truth. These are three great poets from Oxford Day Academy that won the ACE Poetry Contest because they dug deep and found their truths.

Think I’m getting too deep cause I’m a dog? We dogs are deep. Just look into our eyes and you’ll see our truth. Okay, mostly it’s excitement because we’re know if we’re really cute we’re rewarded with a treat or a pet. But deep down we know that the best life is being by our owner’s side.

Here are the winners – a Special Mention winner too. Arf, arf – plus videos.

First Prize
Jay Lauese, Grade 11

Incapacitated Babble Freedom of speech is a myth now-a-days When you hate on the drip, you get whipped back in place They pray to “say what you think,” which I think’s just a phrase ‘Cause when I answer their questions, they think to switch lanes, which makes me feel way more reluctant, not knowing what to say My thoughts rejected, downright disrespected directly to my face Just ’cause we disagree, doesn’t mean anything Supposed to respect both points-of-view, as basic human beings Unless it’s upsetting, then respect their emotions – nah, I’m just kidding Never worryin’ about feelings, facts handle business – ideals fulfilling That should be my goal, but with these limitations, I’m growing quite cold So until I fold, I’ma keep my feet planted, standing bold


Second Prize
Chyanne Robinson, Grade 11

The Reason

What was the reason?

Yeah I got the same question
Why my head hangs low
Or how I can’t stand the thought of being different
Welp is this word suppose to be help? there is no change in the way things go
No range of the anger that has yet to explode

I keep asking myself ,“why do you contain this?”
Look ahead, real closely
Every single moment ain’t granted for one’s like me
Cause we’re looked at as crude.

Want to keep me in a box
Like I’m a mime of such sort
Going downstairs, though there not there
Leaving you clueless as to why I’m not there
Won’t accept these crooked ways
This is me and my rights…can’t even speak…what a shame.

Leave me down
Knee deep into a shoulder
With no sight but the pavement.
You left em there
Kept em swaying
Spit your lies, but there’s a fire beyond them round eyes.

Back again with the reason
To why I hang onto my history?
Is the same reason of these boarders;
To keep us contained…“in our lane”.
Feels like uno, draw the strap, reverse the curse to where you see me then clutch your purse.
Draw 4…skip that speak no facts just cap,
Here I am in this game, but this is one I didn’t sign up to play


Third Prize

Daniella Madriz – Grade 9

Mami estoy triste como una rosa pérdida como un corazón, quiero amanecer en tus brazos, dormir en tu corazón, cada día quiero despertar y que me des un apapacho en el corazón. Me siento tan decepcionada y estoy perdida en mi interior, no encuentro la salida y no se donde estoy, yo te grito dentro, pero no te encuentro, te siento dentro de mi interior. Mami encuéntrame pronto por que me estoy muriendo sin tu amor.

Mommy, I am sad as a rose, lost in my heart. I want to wake up in your arms, sleep in your heart every day. I want to wake up and embrace my heart. I feel so disappointed and I am lost inside, I can’t find a way out and I don’t know where I am. I scream inside for you, but I can’t find you, I can feel you inside. Mommy find me soon because I’m dying without your love.

Daniella Madriz

Sometimes ya need a Special Mention ‘cause a poem is just too good to keep quiet.

Special Mention

Kimberly Barillas, Grade 11


we are all in fear
but we hope for the best for you and your family
don’t come near us though
but i hope all is well
take care
you are instructed to stay at home

attend your classes
participate and be prepared
have you checked your email?
complete your assignments
the deadline has been extended
you are instructed to stay home

do you have a computer?
do you need wifi?
do you need a tutor?
technology is all we know right now
it’s all we should have ever known
you are instructed to stay home

did you find any water?
what about toilet paper?
we need hand sanitizer!
we need face masks!
did you wash your hands?
you are instructed to stay home

we will transition to online classes
it’s a new way of life
so adapt
why aren’t you adapting?
you’re supposed to use your electronic devices
you are instructed to stay home

i’ve trapped you
made you mine
you rely on me now
i’m your only way out
are you scared yet?
you are instructed to stay home


Great poems from the talented Oxford Day Academy poets. More poems to come, so treat yourself to a poem today.

KALW Audio Academy Alumni Wins Pulitzer Prize for Audio Journalism While Other Alumni Were Pulitzer Finalists

Posted by on May 11, 2020 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW, Audience Supported Public Media, and Sarah Lai Stirland, Audio Academy Fellow ‘20

On Monday, May 4, we learned the extraordinary news that a This American Life (TAL) episode about the U.S. “Remain in Mexico” policy had won the first ever Pulitzer Prize for audio journalism. It was a partnership project with the LA Times, and it took a big team of people to pull it together.

Two of those people have roots in KALW‘s training programs.

Lina Misitzis was part of the Audio Academy class of 2015. She worked with us for several months and then got a job offer from Gimlet in New York City where she moved and eventually landed a job as a TAL producer. But first, she wrote this ACE blog post about her experience with KALW. It includes this passage, which foreshadows her work with TAL:

“Here’s the amazing thing I learned after a couple weeks with KALW: no one there makes anything from start to finish, completely and totally by themselves. The team weighs in. Groups of producers listen to each other’s stories together, and critique accordingly. Engineers give reporters advice. Reporters invite volunteers to join them in edits. Everyone is asked to chime in on the morning conference calls. And on and on. I understood, in theory, that stations are a collaborative place. But I had never seen it in practice, and something tells me that KALW isn’t like most stations.”

Another former colleague who was just honored with that collaborative Pulitzer is Abbie Fentress Swanson. She’s Executive Producer of Podcasts and Audio for the LA Times. Back when she was in graduate school at UC Berkeley, she reported stories for KALW, honing her skills with our talented editors and engineers who teach all of our trainees.

What’s more is that this year’s Pulitzers for audio journalism recognized two other programs as finalists. One of them was Ear Hustle, the hit podcast that came out of San Quentin State Prison, featuring hosts and producers taught by KALW. I’m very happy to note that our training work has expanded very successfully to California State Prison, Solano, as well, and we’re applying to work at two prisons in Southern California, now, too.

These honors are indicative of the extraordinary ripples that come out of KALW’s training programs. We couldn’t be prouder, and we’re looking forward to much more!

Our current Audio Academy class is filled with outstanding journalists and storytellers, as well. One is Sarah Lai Stirland. I asked her to share some thoughts with you about what she’s been up to:

Sarah Lai Stirland and KALW Managing News Editor David Boyer share a moment in the newsroom before the shelter-in-place order.
Photo Credit: Ben Trefny

This week, KALW aired one of the most ambitious stories I’ve ever attempted: The story of a 19-year-old high school student who had returned from the brink of suicide to create a local podcast that brings her peers together.

The project I embarked upon was challenging on many levels: It’s a complex one that involves nuanced ideas. It involves a sensitive topic. It also involves many people, pivotal events, and the subject’s family. And it was close to home within my own community. One day, when I was looking someone up in an old edition of my daughter’s elementary school directory, I saw with surprise the mother of my subject staring up at me from the page in an advertisement for her real estate business.

It was a nerve-wracking process of reporting because the podcast’s many episodes themselves revealed some deeply disturbing aspects of members of my community’s lives, even though the interviewees are anonymous. One girl alleged that her parents did not believe her reports of her piano teacher’s lecherous lessons. Another girl reported that the first thing her mother said to her when she visited her daughter in the ER after a suicide attempt was: “How could you do this to me?”

I didn’t know who I would be able to get in touch with, but I wanted to find out more about these kids and what the response of the local community was to all these revelations. Also, the mere existence of the podcast itself was controversial in my mind. In effect, it was like doing therapy in public. What would therapists make of this exercise?

But with the encouragement of my mentor Lisa Morehouse, I went for it. Casey, the story’s protagonist, talked to me for hours, as did the mother of one of the teens in one of the episodes, as did Casey’s parents. They were all incredibly generous with their time and how they opened up their lives to me, and by extension, the wider community. That was one big surprise from this whole exercise — just how open and generous these members of my local community were. Some of the details of their lives that they shared were deeply intimate. But as Casey implies in my story — we’re all flawed human beings, and the point is that to heal, we have to be honest, gentle and non-judgemental with ourselves and others during difficult times. That’s an important and contrarian message in a place as competitive as Silicon Valley.

Through a lot of hard work and pain, I was able to eventually craft a simply-worded story with an elegant structure out of a deeply tangled bramble bush of text and ideas. My invaluable guide on this journey was KALW’s Jenee Darden, a veteran of the world of radio. I’ve been having a hard time telling stories with my voice, and Jenee spent hours with me helping me to escape the trap of sounding like Mr. Peabody in the original 1950s cartoon Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

The result is the story that aired on May 4. Again, it’s very simply worded, but at the same time, I think it captures the complexities and the paradox of living in and raising children in an ultra-competitive and economically-challenging society. As the therapist Christy Hyun said to me at one point, some people around here might have invented things like the Apple Pencil, and own dozens of patents, but have they taken the time to slow down and really get to know their kids?

This story is deeply local and a great story for KALW, but it’s also a universal one that faces all of us as parents: What gets sacrificed in our race to land “the perfect life?”

At the same time as wrapping this story up, I’ve been busy chasing down feature story ideas related to the coronavirus pandemic and producing news spots. All of this has helped me build the mental and physical muscle memory to produce sound and narrative through Pro Tools, a fancy piece of software with so many bells and whistles that it terrified me just a few months ago.

The process of producing the spots has also helped me to think more fluidly as a radio reporter in terms of nailing down the main points and telling stories as simply and efficiently as possible.

It’s been an amazing experience, even if we did have to cut our field reporting duties short.