Our School

Historical Photos (In Progress)

César Chávez Elementary (formerly Hawthorne Elementary) shown below circa 1926, courtesy of San Francisco Public Library website.

History of Chavez's Murals

The Silent Language of the Soul

Mural by Juana Alicia and Susan Cervantes, 1990

The mural we have created is a multi-lingual vehicle for both literacy and inter-cultural understanding. It's themes are international alphabets and languages, from Arabic to Chinese to Spanish to the International Sign alphabet. The four portraits of children (students in Hawthorne's deaf class, Monique Peterson, Karen Pavon, Vanessa Arp and Jeffrey Graniello) that frame the front entrance are signing the words "Welcome to Hawthorne School". Across the entire length of the school, in the thirty-two framed, inset panels that separate first and second floor windows, are the letters of our alphabet, each being signed by a hand, and each with a symbol beginning with that letter in both English and Spanish: alphabet/abecedario, baby/bebé, cherry/cereza, etcetera! Two large columns, 32' x 12' each, one third and two-thirds of the way down the facade, create scenes of children studying, playing and dreaming, as seen from imaginary windows into the school. Poet Nathaniel Hawthorne is portrayed with a group of children through one of the windows. The children in the mural reflect the great ethnic diversity found within the school, the rich rainbow of San Francisco. The panels are framed with Celtic trees of life, and woven within the branches are the beginning letters of many of the world's alphabets, including Japanese, Hebrew, Georgian (Russian), Chinese, Arabic, Thai, Cambodian, Hopi and many others.

The thirty small alphabet panels each contain: 1) a hand signing the letter in American sign language; 2) a symbol beginning with the same letter in English and Spanish; and 3) in each corner of the panel, the capital letter, the lower-case letter, the Egyptian and Greek hieroglyphic roots of the letter. The first panel shows a hand beginning to write and the last panel shows a child proudly displaying her finished alphabet. The letters' symbols are as follow:

  • A alphabet/abecedario
  • B baby/bebé
  • C chile
  • C cherry/cereza
  • D diamond/diamante
  • E elephant/elefante
  • F fire/fuego
  • G goose/ganzo
  • H hour/hora
  • I iris
  • J jaguar
  • K kangaroo/kanguro
  • L lion/león
  • M mask/máscara
  • N night, nova, nine/noche, nova, nueve
  • ñ ñáñigo
  • O opera, orient, ocean/opera, oriente, océano
  • P piñata
  • Q queen/quince* (the only letter with two different symbols in English and Spanish/la unica letra con dos símbolos distintos en ingles y español)
  • R rose/rosa
  • Rr corre, ferrocarril
  • S sun/sol
  • T tulip, triangle/tulipán, triángulo
  • U universe, unity/universo, unidad
  • V volcano/volcán
  • W water, woman, whale, world, waves, wet
  • X xylophone/xilófono
  • Y yucca/yuca
  • Z zebra