Graciella Basco was ready for summer as the end of her year as a third-grader at Edison Elementary School approached. She also was ready for another significant change: shorter hair.

"My Auntie Grace has cancer, and I saw her lose her hair," she said on June 4. "She's my inspiration."

With that tribute, Felicia Simon of Simon Says salon at 933 Central Ave., trimmed about 11 inches of Graciella's ponytail, so it could be donated to the Locks of Love, a nonprofit that shares hairpieces with cancer sufferers of all ages.

"Graciella was readier for this than I was," said mother Mary Grace Basco.

Mary Grace and Felicia met through the Clay Street Book Club that meets monthly. They know lots of folks in Alameda who, like Graciella, want to share their hair with others.

"One young woman I know only grows her hair so she can give it away," said Felicia, an Alameda resident.

"And I know two teachers at Ruby Bridges Elementary who have repeatedly donated their locks, as well," said Mary Grace, who worked recently as a sign-language interpreter at the school.

"It feels weird," explained Graciella, 8, running her fingers through her shoulder-length hair, which she'd grown for years and used to extend below her waist. "But I want others to feel better."

Across town at St. Philip Neri Catholic School on High Street, the community is being introduced to its new principal: Jessica Murray, who previously taught third grade at Corpus Christi School in Piedmont. Murray met some students and parents at an ice cream social held in mid-May.


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She replaces the former principal, Janis Allocco, who had a long commute from the Concord area and recently decided to stay home and spend more time with her young child, Greg. Murray has two school-age daughters and lives in the East Bay.

Over at Redux Studios & Gallery on nearby Lincoln Avenue, staff, artists and volunteers are getting ready for the opening of a new exhibit: "Deadeyes, the Mothership Depot." An opening reception is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and the show will be on display through early August.

Across the street at the Alameda Free Library, summer reading programs are up and running. Kids who join the program and complete their forms by Aug. 3 can collect prizes at the three branch libraries.

The adult summer-reading program features special events each Tuesday evening and book discussions over lunch (12:30 to 1:30 p.m.) each Wednesday through July 31 in the outdoor garden of Dewey's Café at the Main Library. Adults who read and review books get tickets for the summer's big raffle prize, which will be awarded on Aug. 1.

The theme of the adult program is "Reading Is So Delicious." The program kickoff took place on June 11 with a recipe exchange and tasting. At 5:30 p.m. on June 18, the library will show the film "Chocolat," which will be followed by a chocolate truffle-making event at 6:30 p.m. on June 25.

Families are invited to attend special events like sing-alongs, set for 2 to 3 p.m. on June 20 at the West End branch and 2 to 3 p.m. on June 27 at the Bay Farm branch; Lego time at the library will take place at 3:30 p.m. on June 20 at Bay Farm and 3:30 p.m. on June 23 at the West End branch. Kids 10-14 are invited to drop by the game room at the main branch from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Friday through July 30 for special activities.

A crochet class for tweens, teens and parents will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. on June 22 at main branch; call 510-747-7713 to register. The main branch library will show the film "Percy Jackson & the Olympians--The Lightening Thief" at 2:30 p.m. on June 28 as part of a celebration running from 1 to 4:30 p.m. that Friday, which will include cake decorating, games and other activities.

Library patrons also are invited to participate in the Food for Fines program. Through July 8, residents can bring canned food and other non-perishable items to any library branch to have their late fines waived. Donations will be given to the Alameda Food Bank.

Janet Levaux also writes the Alameda Journal Blog at www.ibabuzz.com/alamedajournal.