Welcome to the 2016-2017 School Year

To Cornell Parents, Students, Teachers, Staff, and Our Entire Community,

We embark on another exciting year of learning and growing together! cornell

We encourage you to read our welcome letter from the 2016-2017 PTA Board.

Our goals as your Cornell Elementary PTA are to enrich the experience of our children, energize our community, and support the families, teachers, and administrators that make Cornell such a great place. And, of course, to have fun!

We hope you will come here regularly to find out what’s happening in the Cornell community and how you can participate in our volunteer efforts and fun activities.


Latest News & Features

  • Cornell’s Got Talent! So Let’s Go on with the Show!

    Cornell’s Got Talent! So Let’s Go on with the Show!

    Dorothe Piluso, Founder of Cornell’s Got Talent!

    Where can you listen to the biggest hits; meet the future’s next big fashion designers; experience juggling, poetry, and jump-roping (sometimes all at the same time); and then, get to join in on a gigantic dance party at the end? You don’t need to head over to San Francisco – just head on out to Cornell’s annual entertainment showcase event for kids, Cornell’s Got Talent!

    The brain-child of Cornell parent, Dorothe Piluso, who began the event in 2010, it is one of the most anticipated events of the school year. “Cornell kids just love getting up on stage,” Dorothe says, “Between 70 and 120 kids take part every year. The auditions are really set up to help kids shape their performances, not to cut anyone. Anyone from grades K through 5 can audition and come perform in the show. It’s an opportunity for kids to get up there and sing or dance or do whatever it is that they really love to do, and just shine.” In the last few years, kids have also begun contributing to the event in many other ways if they like: those who don’t want to perform serve important roles as part of the stage crew – working the lights or sound — or help with concessions.

    There are many other “stars” of Cornell’s Got Talent! For example, the show’s success has always depended on the wonderful help of Cornell Coach Joel Gildersleeve, who emcees the event every year with energy and excitement. In fact, he’s never missed a year. “Even the year Coach Joel’s wife had their baby, he still came!” says Dorothe. “What’s great is that this year, that little baby, his daughter Grace, has entered Cornell as a kindergartner, and now she’s going to be in the show too.”

    Dorothe also credits the success of the event to Principal Terry Georgeson at Ocean View Elementary, who always graciously allows Cornell to hold the show in the school’s Auditorium. And of course, there are Cornell’s special parents who volunteer for the event’s Organizing Committee each year, such as this year’s team, which includes Jessica Cross, Stephanie Ramos, Gregory Sharpstein, and Ben Wallace. “I’m so glad to be a part of a school where you throw a crazy idea about an event or a fundraiser out there,” says Dorothe, “and the parents don’t blink an eye. They say, ‘Ok, sure, let’s go for it!,’ and then they help make it happen. The next thing you know, it’s a tradition. We have events that parents started 20 years ago, and we have Cornell parents today that still make sure that they happen. That’s very special.”

    Audrey Piluso Burns and Rachel Bernard-Pearl Make ’em Laugh at Cornell’s Got Talent!

    Over the years, Cornell’s Got Talent! has offered up some memorable performances. Indeed, some follow the trends. “One year, everyone wanted to sing “Happy,” and last year, it was the Shawn Mendes song, “Stitches.” And of course, there was a whole phase where everyone loved Frozen and we heard ‘Let it Go.’ A lot.” Some other performances, however, are truly one-of-a-kind. One year, a student directed a Fashion Show where garments were inspired by the elements; another, someone solved a Rubik’s Cube to music. Dorothe’s favorites, though? She’s loved watching her own daughter Audrey’s recurring annual “Vaudeville” skit where she tells jokes with her good friend, Rachel Bernard-Pearl: “Every year they do something different, and try to keep the audience on their toes.” But most of all, she loves it when kids simply try new things and really “nail it.”

    This year’s Cornell’s Got Talent! is coming up fast on Saturday, March 11th in the Ocean View Elementary School Auditorium. The first show will feature Grades K-2 and starts at 1 pm. The second show will feature Grades 3-5 and starts at 5 pm. Dorothe promises that it will be as entertaining as ever.

    It should be mentioned that at the end of this school year, Dorothe’s youngest child,  fifth-grader, Audrey, will be moving on to Albany Middle School. Says Dorothe: “We’re all definitely sad to move on. Our family has spent the last nine years as a part of Cornell. But we’re happy for the memories we’ve made here.” Of course, some of the greatest for her have been behind the scenes at Cornell’s Got Talent! “I tear up to think about the times right before the kids go out on stage. We always have a Backstage Circle, practice some mindfulness, and then let out a big roar together. All the kids put so much energy into the show.”

    And Cornell will miss Dorothe too. From serving as PTA President between 2009 and 2011, and then as the Board’s VP of Volunteers and VP of Events, to founding some of Cornell’s favorite events such as the Westbrae Pumpkin Patch fundraiser and Cornell’s Got Talent!, Dorothe has also helped create much of the Cornell spirit that so many enjoy. So, as Dorothe exits stage right, we want to take a moment to say Thank You! And to send much appreciation to all of the Cornell parents, students, and supporters that make Cornell’s Got Talent! possible each and every year. Let’s go on with the show!



  • Let’s Get Serious about Scrip!


    Let’s Get Serious about Scrip!

    The PTA Board is getting serious about Scrip! We are looking for someone to research possibilities for the best programs for Cornell Elementary and to revive our offerings as our new Scrip Coordinator!

    If you think you might be interested, please email VP of Volunteers, Natascha Puchner-Dopler at vpvolunteers@cornellpta.org for details. Or come attend the next general PTA Meeting on Thursday, March 9th, 6-7:30 pm in the Cornell MPR, where we’ll discuss best ways to make Scrip a part of the PTA’s fundraising efforts!

  • Supporting Cornell Kids? Copy Express on Solano is the Real Deal

    Supporting Cornell Kids? Copy Express on Solano is the Real Deal

    It’s no secret how important our local businesses are to the success of the Cornell Elementary School PTA. Some donate items regularly to our events, others host fundraisers for Cornell, and some open their places of business for our kids’ field trips. Since 1995, Mojgan Fahima and her brother-in-law Behnam (Ben) Mirabdul have been printing flyers, posters, and forms for Cornell Elementary at very special rates at their shop, Copy Express, at 1164 Solano Avenue. Mojgan’s and Ben’s respect for the town of Albany has driven their commitment to providing helpful discounts to all of our local schools. But, Mojgan says, it is also a deep love of kids that has helped build and maintain a strong relationship between Copy Express and their neighbor, Cornell Elementary, for over twenty years.

    Copy Express has been Supporting the Cornell PTA since 1995

    Mojgan’s relationships to kids have always been a formative part of how she and Behnam would run Copy Express. On one hand, she was looking to start a small business in a small town, so that she could spend time with her own children. “I wanted to work 9 to 4 and then be able to just be with my two daughters. Albany was the right place.” On the other, Mojgan thought of her and Ben’s store as a space that should also reflect, and teach, Albany’s welcoming spirit to kids. “Albany has always welcomed us. It used to be much quieter on Solano, less foot traffic. The town has really grown. There are now so many people. But even today, with so much happening in politics and with immigrants, people come by and say, ‘We support you, we’ll always support you.’ We’re a family-owned business, and we’re so happy here. We want to give back to a community that supports us.”

    Mojgan Fahima, Co-Owner of Copy Express

    Since opening Copy Express, Mojgan and Ben have always planned to support Albany schools as they could, and now, with store associate Anna Navarro, they are well-known as the community copy shop. “We work with Cornell, Marin, and Ocean View, all the Albany District schools. We also work with the police and the fire department here.” But for Mojgan and Ben, these are not just business relationships; vendors have responsibilities to contribute to the communities that they are a part of. “Education is so important,” says Mojgan, “It is the heart of communities. I volunteer at a daycare in Berkeley where they teach the children Farsi, my native language, and it is so important for them to learn, to keep communities strong.”

    For example, take a look at Copy Express’ shop windows the next time you pass by. How many times have our kids laughed at the Smiling Buddha Cats, learned from the Rumi poems, and inquired about the posters of John Lennon that adorn the shop front? Mojgan points out that adults usually need to bend down to see them, and that’s no accident. “We put the posters down low, at the children’s eye-level, so that the kids see them first. We choose those posters because they are messages of peace and kindness. It gives the kids a chance to talk to their parents about it. These messages help to raise morally healthy children.”

    One of the Messages of Peace and Kindness at Copy Express

    So, would Mojgan and Ben ever pick up shop and leave their stretch of Solano Avenue? Mojgan says that it is not very likely. “We’re the only copy shop in town!” she jokes. But primarily, she and Ben have put down solid roots on their block because Copy Express is always surrounded by families and kids. “I love kids. They are our future, they really are! We think businesses should help the community. So any time we can help kids, we’re grateful to Albany.”





    The 100th day of the school year is Wednesday, February 8. And that means one thing: It’s time for the 6th annual Cornell PTA Hundrathon Campaign. This is YOUR chance to help us meet our fundraising goal of $25,000!

    The Cornell PTA provides vital programs that help our students grow and learn. Those programs rely on annual Hundrathon donations to survive – and your kids love them! So we need your help to keep these programs running:

    • Enriching activities like “Walk Through the American Revolution”
    • Classroom books, materials & publications
    • Safety & emergency preparedness
    • School yard improvements
    • Library materials & PE equipment
    • Parent education events
    • Student assemblies
    • And much, much more!


    You spoke. We listened. No time consuming raffles, bake sales, or any other sales. The Cornell PTA is asking you to donate $100 per child before the 100th day of school. It really is that easy.

    Donating is easy. Click the button below to donate online now!

    Or, if you prefer, you can also write a check:

    • With Your Child: Return your check in an envelope to your child’s teacher.
    • Cornell Office: Drop it in the office in the PTA Safe.
    • Before School: Drop it every Wednesday morning at the picnic benches by MPR Room.

    On behalf of all our kids, thank you for supporting Cornell!

    While you are here, please consider becoming a Dedicated Supporter and never have to worry about giving to the Hundrathon again!

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us:

    Lacy Cline lacycline@hotmail.com & Jessica Cross jessieacross@yahoo.com
    Cornell PTA Hundrathon Co-Chairs