First Yosemite, the Statue of Liberty, and the panda-cam at the National Zoo---now, Ocean Beach in San Francisco has taken the blow of the government shutdown, and in its wake has swept away the sandcastle dreams of a group of fourth graders from Central Elementary School in Belmont.
On Tuesday, the students in George Metropulos’ fourth grade class learned that the annual Ocean Beach sandcastle building project that attracts about 30 schools from around the Bay Area, has been canceled. Ocean Beach is located in the federally funded Golden Gate National Recreational Area.
“Our event was scheduled for this Saturday, Oct. 13, however we were notified by the school Tuesday, that the event has been canceled/postponed. The beach falls under federal jurisdiction and because of the government shutdown, permits have been revoked and everything's been canceled,” said Roma Mah, mother of fourth grader, Kaliya.
Mah explained that each year, a team of local architects comes to the school weeks before the event to work with the kids brainstorming and building model templates and ultimately designing the sandcastle they would build on Ocean Beach.
“The kids, parents, and fourth grade teachers spend all day at the beach building the castle, they're giving a lunch and they are given a special t-shirt to commemorate the day. It's definitely a huge event for our kids,” said Mah.
“They are hoping to reschedule, but it is such a huge event, it's easier said than done.”
Never one to miss a teachable moment, Metropulos redirected his students’ disappointment into a civics lesson and encouraged them to write letters to Congress expressing their disappointment.
One student scripted a letter to House Speaker John Boehner:
Dear Mr. Boehner,
Please reopen the government so Mr. Metropulos’ fourth grade class can go to Ocean Beach for the Sandcastle Classic. Ocean Beach is in San Francisco. Also, why don't you want people to have healthcare?
Kate, Age 9
And Roma Mah’s daughter Kaliya remains hopeful that the sandcastle project will be rescheduled.
“I was looking forward to it because it looked like it was going to be cool. I’m sad because it was canceled. I hope the beach is going to reopen soon so we get to do it. I do get to sleep in though now,” said Kaliya.