Students and Faculty at Large

CAIS students and faculty accomplish impressive things in and out of the classroom. The following are examples of CAIS community members’ involvement, achievements, and success in activities outside of CAIS

School Year 2019-2020

CAIS Students’ Sweet Role as Gingerbread Men in Hansel and Gretel

Newton D. and Shaan S. in SF Opera's Hansel and Gretel Newton D. and Shaan S. in SF Opera's Hansel and Gretel

In November and December, CAIS students Newton D. ’23 and Shaan S. ’24 were selected to performed in SF Opera’s Hansel and Gretel, as members of the SF Boys Chorus. German composer Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera adaptation from the world famous Brother Grimm’s fairy tale story shows “such heart-refreshing humor, such deliciously naïve melodies, such art and refinement in the orchestration … and it’s … so authentically German.” (Richard Strauss). The children choristers (as “gingerbread men”) sang and acted at the end of the opera, when the Witch died and all the “gingerbread men” revived and were given back their sight. Newton and Shaan reported that they had a splendid experience singing with the grand SF Opera eight times!

Picture Perfect Passion for Skiing 

Liam C. ’20 on the cover of MOUNTAINSIDE magazine

Liam C.’s (Class of ’20) love of skiing helped him swoosh onto the cover of Mountainside magazine, which will be distributed to Mountainside homeowners and prospective buyers as well as being available at various places around Northstar village in Tahoe. Liam has been on the Northstar ski team since kindergarten and now is on the U14 alpine race team, competing in the Far West league. (The photo is actually from the 2016-2017 ski season.) Skiing is Liam’s favorite sport, and you can just see pure happiness in this photo.


Seeing a CAIS Star in Action

Stella R. appearing in music video

This fall we were so excited to see that Stella R. ’20 has had another featured role in a music video. She appears in the official music video for the song “All You Need to Know” by Gryffin and Slander, featuring Calle Lehmann.

School Year 2018-2019



Dancing Her Way to the Top

Ashley K., Class of 2023, Earning Honors at Dance Competitions
Fourth grader Ashley K. has earned high honors at two dance competitions in the past month!  The name of the dance she performs is “A Fish Tale.”
StarQuest 2019 Regional Competitions
  • Top Nova Junior Solo - 5th Place
  • Best Costume Award
  • StarQuest Special Award - Personality Plus
  • Platinum Award 
StarBound National Talent Competitions
  • Top 10 Junior Intermediate Soloists - 1st Place
  • Elite Gold Award
  • Top in Category 

Middle Schoolers Taking a Stand

Eighth Graders March in Climate Change Strike

On Friday, a group of 8th graders participated in the Strike for Climate Change, attending a rally organized at Civic Center Plaza. While it wasn’t a CAIS-organized activity, the faculty and Middle School Director Joe Williamson were in full support of students’ embrace of “social awareness which impels to action.” Parent volunteer (and newly minted co-recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award) Patricia Martell shares that, “About 23 8th graders participated. A couple of groups of students are working on climate/environment projects in Ms. Woodman-Russell’s class and so it seemed aligned with their activities.  A few other kids joined in last-minute. It was student-led & organized and parent chaperones were called in to be present for the 2hr excursion on Friday. Exciting & inspiring!”

Soccer Stars

2nd Place in the Norcal Premier - Bronze Spring League

Congratulations to the eight current CAIS 4th and 5th grade girls playing on the SF Seals 08G soccer team. The team, which formed from a merger of the CAIS and FAIS 4th grade recreational soccer teams, finished 2nd in the Norcal Premier - Bronze Spring League. This was the girls first year playing competitive travel soccer and they showed a lot of improvement over the season. Congrats again to Penelope B., Chloe C., Lola C., Isabelle H., Riley J., Aili M., Sophia S., Saya T., and the rest of the team. Way to go girls!

Fustal Champs!

2019 Futsal Champs

Several girls from the Class of 2021 play together on a recreational futsal team in the Jose Coronado Indoor Soccer League. On March 24, 2019, they won their recreational level futsal championship by a score of 2-1. Congratulations to (pictured from L to R):

  • Front: Francisca L., Lena B., Penelope M., Julia F., Mia S., Natasha M. x’21
  • Back: Sofia F., Sophia N., Vanessa W., Jocelyn P., Phoebe C.
  • Far Back: Coach Paul H. 

Photo courtesy of Glenn Mar

Chinese Poetry Prowess

Congratulations to MacCall E. ’20 and Andersen E. ’24 on their success in the annual Chinese Poetry Recital Contest sponsored by the Confucius Institute at San Francisco State University. MacCall placed 2nd for 6-8 grade and Andersen placed 3rd for 3-5 grade. Both students recited the famous Chinese poem by Yue Fei, Man Jiang Hong 滿江紅.  Reflecting on the fierce competition with high turnout and stellar performance by all the students, Chinese Program Director Kevin Chang shared, “Congratulations. We are very proud of their willingness to challenge themselves and their accomplishments.”


Futsal Fierceness

Second Grade Champions in Local Futsal League
Huge congratulations to our second grade athletes at large who are celebrating an undefeated season this year in the SFRPD Jose Coronado Indoor Soccer League, 2nd grade girls division. This group of second grade girls from CAIS play together on a futsal team and showed Firedragon ferocity as they defeated all opponents this season. Show in the above picture of the team from their end of season victory are:
top row: Amelia D., Allie C., Emmy E. Anna W., Maia K., and Coach Damian Canny (CAIS parent)
bottom row: Vivian V., Portia C., Lula P., and Ella H.
(Not pictured: Sasha S. and Kate C.)

Bissell Meets with the Champions

Head of School Jeff Bissell with Second Grader Soccer Players

A group of students from the Class of 2025 have been playing together on a soccer team and absolutely dominating the competition! In honor of their spectacular season this year, Head of School Jeff Bissell met with Amelia D., Allie C., Kate C., Vivienne T., Ella H., Sasha S., Lula P., Anna W., and Emmy E. (Not pictured: Portia C. and Maia K.) The team presented Mr. Bissell with their special spirit wear. As parent and trustee Dr. Youjeong Kim wrote to Mr. Bissell, “It meant so much for them to see that you support their hard work, dedication, and success.”

Stellar Dancer

Stella P. ’20 competed in her first Latin Ballroom competition (City Lights Open) in San Jose this winter. Though she has only been dancing for 1.5 years now, she competed in 23 events and took FIRST place in all! Spectacular work, Stella!

CAIS Student Cubed

Nico H. Competes in Global Rubik's Cube Contest

Congratulations to Nico H. ’20 who competed at Bay Area Speedcubin’ 13 held at St. Ignatius College as a part of a global Rubik’s Cube competition league. Classmates Stella P. ’20 and Fiona M. ’20 made T-shirts and went to the competition to cheer him on.

CAIS Students’ Grace on Display at SF Ballet’s Nutcracker and at MidWeeklies Dance 

CAIS Students Danced in SF Ballet's Nutcracker 2018 Seventh Graders' Ballroom Winning Moves

This past holiday season, four CAIS students were honored to perform at the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker. For 16-18 performances each over the month of December, Chelsea K. ’20 danced in the role of a soldier, Fiona M. ’20 danced in the role of a butterfly, Ziyan M. ’21 danced in the role of cavalry, and Desiree B. ’23 danced in the role of a clown! They all had a fabulous time and gained tremendous experience on stage and back stage working with make up artists, wardrobe staff, SF Ballet company dancers, and back stage production crew. Above are some glimpses of their performances.

Also shown above, this month  Stella P. ’20 and Fiona M. ’20 took 1st pace in the Cha-cha and Stella P. ’20  and Nico H. ’20 placed in the semi-finals for Merengue the 7th Grade MidWeeklies ballroom dance competition. 

Family Community Service

CAIS Families in Community Service

A number of CAIS families volunteered together serving meals on Christmas Day at Saints Peter and Paul Church in North Beach. The following students participated in the late afternoon shift: Ella A. ’20, Lily C.’20, Lola C. ’23, Sephora H. ’20, Olivia G. ’22, Stella P. ’20, Trevor T. ’20, Saya T. ’22, and Devin T. ’25. Not shown: Kai S. ’22

Seventh Grade Gourmet 

Seventh grader on KQED's Check, Please!

Cole T. ’20 starred as one of the first kid food critics on Check, Please! Bay Area Kids. Our very own CAIS foodie appeared in the first of four episodes, Thursday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m. on KQED 9. From nearly 400 applications, producers invited 100 children to visit KQED for a fun-filled casting session and studio tour. Cole was then selected as one of the 12 children who made it onto the air as kid food critics. She was featured on the cover of the November 2018 edition of On Q magazine with host Leslie Sbrocco. 


CAIS students perform in SF Opera's Tosca

Having a Good Time Playing Bad Boys at the Opera 

In October, CAIS students Newton D. ’23, Theo L. ’21, Nicholas P. ’21, and alumnus Darwin D. sang on the big stage with the San Francisco Opera in Puccini’s Tosca, while Michael T. ’23 and parent Tim M. acted as supernumeraries.

The young singers played naughty church choir boys in 1800s Rome, Italy. They sang on stage and acted against the will of their stage moms and dads, before they returned to sing with full chorus and orchestra in the final scene of Act I - Te Deum, a stunning musical depiction of Heaven and Hell. Supernumerary Michael T. was one of the orphan street boys in Act III, and his dad Tim served as a sbirro (Italian slang for a crooked cop) in Act I and Act II.

Stage mom Dan Chen shared, “All the children had fun and learned a lot being part of this grand production of Tosca.” They will perform their ninth and last show on Tuesday, October 30.



Middle Schooler Cast in Powerful Music Video

Musician Rissi Palmer and Stella P. ’20Seventh grader Stella P. is featured in the music video for musician Rissi Palmer’s new song “Seeds,” which was released this month. (Please note that the video depicts scenarios inspired by contemporary news that may be too upsetting, especially for younger viewers)

Stella plays the part of a daughter who acts to undo injustice and uphold the dignity of the oppressed. Her sister, fifth grader Olivia P. can also be seen in a scene of the video, which is a powerful call to get out the vote this November. 

Palmer shares on her YouTube post of the video, “We wrote the song ‘Seeds’ in 2014 after the murder of Michael Brown. I felt powerless and wanted to say something to uplift and empower everyone…including myself. The song is based on the words of Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos, ‘They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.’ I am very aware that the images in this video are triggering and jarring and will evoke strong emotion…I hope they do. I hope that after watching this, you are fired up and ready to vote, to volunteer, to protest, to make change.”


CAIS Students Show “Firedragons” are Even Fierce on the Ice

Three CAIS Students Take 1st Place in Ice Skating Competition

On Sunday, October 7, CAIS fifth grader Crystal H. (back row) and CAIS second graders James M. and Anna W. (front row) each earned first place in the 2018 ISI Haunted In-House Competition at Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center. Anna, Crystal, and James competed at Level Alpha, Freestyle Level 5, and Level Delta respectively, along with 28 participants from 4 year old to adult skaters. Congratulations!

Lion Dancers Lavish Good Fortune on CAIS Founder

Alumni Lion Dancers at Founder's Birthday Party

Music and Movement teacher Susan Kennedy worked with a troupe of alumni from the Class of 2017 (and one member of the Class of 2026!) to perform a Lion Dance to honor Carol Ruth Silver, who was not only the founder of CAIS, but also a Freedom Rider and former San Francisco Supervisor. The following “forever Firedragons” performed the Lion Dance at Carol Ruth Silver’s 80th Birthday Party:

FRONT ROW: Micah M. ’17, Susan Kennedy, Elise C. ’26, Min G. ’17
BACK ROW:  Io G. ’17, Jaxon L. ’17, Collin F. ’17, Ethan C. ’17, Kai V. ’17, Cassie E. ’17, and Lila C. ’17




CAIS Student Highlighted Among Impressive Kids Coding Projects


Breakout Mentors highlighted the work of Julian B., class of 2020, at its annual showcase held this year in Los Altos. Julian demonstrated Tigerland, the software he designed to simulate a tiger in a forest. Sharing that he has been coding for three years (beginning with Tynker and moving on to Scratch), Julian explained, “I like combining art and coding to make my art move.” 


Dancing Their Way Into the Spotlight

CAIS third graders Calista A., Kayla C., Ashley K., Aili M., and Autumn R. and fourth grader Emily Y. formed a dance team that competed together in the Spotlight regional dance competition. Not only did they place second out of 63 groups from all over the Bay Area, they also placed in the highest tier—the Diamond level—and won an “A Cut Above” award for overall excellence, including costumes, showmanship, entertainment, technical skills, music, and choreography. Quite impressive for their first time ever competing! 


Congratulations to the 3rd and 4th grade CAIS students who earned the championship title in the this spring. (Players left to right below: Brayden W., Luke M., Anderson O., Kawika T., Lucas H., Daniel D., and Landon C.)

SF Park and Rec Indoor Soccer League Spring 2018 Champs


CAIS 3rd graders won the season for their SF Youth Soccer recreational league
This spring, a team of girls from CAIS third grade classes competed together on a San Francisco Youth Soccer recreational league team that they dubbed the “Firedragons” in honor of the school’s athletics mascot. Playing in the league’s highest competitive bracket, the team had a perfect season this spring, winning all eight games with no ties. By the end of the season they scored 40 goals against their opponents while only allowing six to be scored on them. Huge CONGRATULATIONS to Coach Nelson and the team, including Calista, Penelope, Elin, Chloe, Emily, Isabelle, Riley, Lola, Sophia, and Sena.

CAIS Musicians Making Their Mark

Darren L. ’21 and Emilia Z. ’22 placed in the US Open Music CompetitionDarren L. ’21 and Emilia Z. ’22 participated in the United States Open Music Competition at the end of February 2018 and both won awards in their respective categories. Darren came in first in one category and second in another. Emilia came in third in her two categories.

CAIS Mathlete

Darren L. with his SuperMath trophyDarren L. came in first place in his level in the SuperMath contest on Sunday, February 25. SuperMath is an abacus-based program specifically geared to mental calculation.

CAIS Students Repeat as Champs!

CAIS students compete as a championship team together outside of school!

A group of now 5th grade girls have been playing together since 2nd grade on a competitive youth soccer league. Repeating their feat from Fall 2015, the undefeated Firedragons Gold are once again Division Champions of the San Francisco Youth Soccer CCSL Prep League! They defeated every club team they played this season! Way to go! 

Congratulations to coach Nelson Marin and the players:
  • Marina A.
  • Nora C.
  • Katya D.
  • Julia G.
  • Mackenzie G.
  • Chloe H.
  • Madison L.
  • Ainsley M.
  • Makayla M.(non-CAIS)
  • Isabella O. 
  • Coco T.
  • Jennifer V. (non-CAIS)

CAIS Students Walk to Raise Food Allergy Awareness

Eighth grader Kai M. shared, “On Saturday, November 5, a number of CAIS families participated in the FARE walk, the national organization for Food Allergy Research & Education. The walk took place at Leo Ryan Park in Foster City, where we had the Foster City mayor and a band come to play for everyone. There were also doctors from UCSF, Stanford and other organizations. Thanks to all who participated, including Charlotte W., Thorne W., Colby C., Kai M., Claiborne M., Claire C., Ryan C., Mira K., Vashal K., Sophia H., Teddy H. and Isabelle H.!”

CAIS Team Fearless at the FARE Walk CAIS families participating in FARE Walk


In the Spotlight for Inspiring Others

The Eng family has been awarded a Special Citation for Youth Empowerment by the Jollibee Foundation as part of their 6th Annual Family Values Awards. As the family shared, “Jollibee is more popularly known as the McDonald’s of the Philippines and has branches all over the US, Asia, and the Middle East. This award speaks mostly to the value of Cassie’s work in inspiring youth to give back to their communities. We are very honored and deeply touched that Cassie’s work was recognized by such a distinguished panel of judges. The Special Citation she is receiving is new this year.” Jollibee flew the family to the Philippines for the awards ceremony in October. Jollibee's 6th Annual Family Values Awards

Massialas Makes His Mark

Alumni parent Greg Massialas posted Alexander ’08 with his two medals!Alexander Massialas ’08 won the silver medal in individual men’s foil fencing at the Rio Olympics (first time a US competitor has medaled in that event since 1984) and a team bronze medal as well. Among the flood of coverage of this was this great article in the Wall Street Journal. Alexander is now completing his senior year at Stanford University.

Cracking the Code

Fifth grader Julian B. was a featured maker on for his work this summer. Inspired by his experience with the Hour of Code at CAIS, he spent the whole summer exploring and studying the Python coding language and is now starting to code in 3D in TinkerCAD. He created a video game that caught the attention of the folks at

Shining a Spotlight on Ms. Ostapinski’s Own Work As Well

Art Teacher Lisa Ostapinski is exhibiting at Ver Utica until November 18Like a superhero with an alter ego (that’s also super), by day Lisa Ostapinski is CAIS Pre-K-3rd grade art teacher and outside of class she is an accomplished professional artist in her own right.She has put the finishing touches on an exhibition of her work just a few blocks from the 150 Oak St campus. You can check out her encaustic (hot wax) paintings from now until November 18 at Ver Unica, 526 Hayes St. All families (children definitely included!) are welcome to join Ms. Ostapinski at the opening reception on Friday, September 9 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Contact Ms. Ostapinski directly with any questions about the exhibit.

She has several upcoming shows including a pop up June 12 in Oakland and upcoming mural painting as well as a several classes for adults at Handcraft Studio School in Emeryville. For more information about Ms. Ostapinksi and her work check out her website at www.lisaostapinski.comand follow her on Instagram at where she posts her artwork and event announcements.

Congratulations to our young pianists

Impressive Piano Prowess

We were thrilled to learn that three CAIS students’ hard work paid off at the San Mateo County Fair piano competition that took place June 14. Kindergartener Claire Z. won 3rd place in her age group (6 & under). In the 7 & 8 age group, second grader Emilia Z. received honorary mention and third grader Darren L. won 2nd place. Enormous CONGRATS to our young maestros.

Kindergartener Has a Way with Poetry

Kindergartener Andersen E. won first prize for kindergarten group at the Confucius Institute’s annual Chinese poetry recital content this spring! (Click for a complete list of winners)

The Confucius Institute at San Francisco State University hosted the 12th Chinese Bridge Cup Contests (CBCC) for K-12 Students, a competition which celebrates the power of studying Chinese to connect American students with the culture, literature, and rich history of China. The Chinese Bridge Cup Contests include events in Chinese Poetry Recital, Painting/Drawing, Chinese Calligraphy (both brush and pen), Chinese Composition, and Translation. The contests were held at Theodore Roosevelt Middle School on March 12 and March 13, 2016, followed by a grand award ceremony on April 8.

Sixth Grader Performing with San Francisco Ballet

Sixth Grader Madeleine B. dancing in SF Ballet's Swan LakeSixth grader Madeleine B. made a brief appearance in every performance of San Francisco Ballet’s production of Coppélia as the Burgomaster’s Page.
In addition, Madeleine danced in all 11 performances of San Francisco Ballet’s 2016 production of Swan Lake. She appeared as one of the two “village girls” in Act 1. The performances ran from February 19 through February 28, including matinee and evening performances on Saturdays. So the show certainly kept Maddy on her toes!  

Student Musicians Rock the House

Ethan C., Cassie E., and Kai M. perform Tumbling WalnutsCAIS’s own Ethan C., Cassie E., and Kai M. gave a wonderful performance at an event for the San Francisco Chinatown Rotary Club and The Betty Ann Ong Foundation / Chinese Rec Center! CAIS Music and Movement teacher Susan Kennedy helped the students rehearse and get ready for this performance.
The event was held November 2015 at the Westin San Francisco Airport. As Head of School (and music afficionado) Jeff Bissell declared, “This is a great performance piece, and the kids were completely in the zone—super exciting to watch!” Enjoy a clip of the performance on YouTube!

Ryder R. Appearing as Amahl

Fifth grader Ryder R. is making his debut in the title role of Amahl and the Night Visitors in the December 6 production by the Ina Chalis Opera Ensemble. The performance will be held at the San Francisco Communtiy Music Center.   

Fourth Grade Girls by Day, Soccer Champions by Weekend!

Undefeated!Congratulations to the fourth grade girls whose undefeated “Firedragons Gold” soccer team earned the title of San Francisco Youth Soccer CCSL Prep League G10 Fall 2015 division champions! This is the first season for this team of CAIS students to compete in the CCSL Prep division, a level tougher than last year’s rec division. They beat every team they played this season! Way to go Firedragons!  

Congratulations to coach Nelson Marin and the players:

  • Eden A.
  • Marina A.
  • Jamie C.
  • Nora C.
  • Katya D.
  • Julia G.
  • Mackenzie G.
  • Chloe H.
  • Ainsley M.
  • Makayla M.
  • Isabella O. 
  • Isabella S.
  • Coco T.

CAIS Students Sing Before Oakland A’s Game

CAIS boys among those performing at Oakland A's GameSeveral boys from 3rd grade and a 5th grader—Brandon C., Connor C., Darwin D., Theo L., and Nicholas P.—sing with the San Francisco Boys Chorus and had the chance to perform the National Anthem before the Oakland A’s baseball game on September 22 this year. 

CAIS Leaders Celebrating Creativity

SFGate shared a glimpse of Lower School Director Anne Valentino, Chinese Program Director Kevin Chang, and CAIS Trustee Ernie Chow attending the annual Bay Area Discovery Museum Creativity Forum fundraiser in March 2015.
CAIS Student Art