Shining sun spawns scrump­tious sand­castles

OCEAN BEACH — Bay Area elementary school students transformed sand into delicious dinner and dessert delights at Saturday’s 31st Annual Leap Arts in Education Ocean Beach Sandcastle Contest.

The contest is the primary fundraiser for Leap, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that provides arts education to public school students throughout the Bay Area.

Panoramas and Photos by Jesse Garnier/SFBay

Thousands of students, teachers, parents and volunteers decorated Ocean Beach for 2014’s theme of “Food Glorious Food.” Rooftop Elementary’s Team Rooftop took home the contest’s top prize with their Candy Land sculpture featuring edibles from the timeless board game.

An elated Emily Krombach, 10, squealed and held her hands to her face as she led her Rooftop peers to the sandy stage to accept her team’s statue, a row of miniature shovels staggered in a small trough of sand. Krombach told SFBay:

“We started building huge clumps and then they like turned into the cupcakes, the gumdrops. It was soooooo fun. It was really cool to see it all come together. At the beginning it just look like mounds, then it became into something awesome.”

Classmate Kai Caceres, also 10, could hardly contain her excitement:

“It feels cool and awesome to be first-place winner. It’s really fun. … Rooftop rules. Woooooooooooo!”

Architect Lindsey Moder, representing Siegland Strain architects for Lawton Elementary’s Tsunami Sundae team, accepted her team’s “silver spoon” second-place prize after seven years volunteering for the contest:

“It feels wonderful to be a winner. … I’ve been a team captain for six years and I’ve been with the Leap Committee for two years. I’m with a new team this year and a new school with Lawton Alternative.”

Fourth-grader Maxwell Fukutome and his uncle Michael accepted the Best Participation of Leap Kids award on behalf of Clarendon Elementary. Uncle Michael took the award in stride:

“My nephews have been doing this for the last 12 years. We’ve gotten this award before. It’s the one we always shoot for.”

Nephew Maxwell, though, let it all hang out:

“Winning feels awesome!”

Patrick Dyer brought 42 of his fourth-graders from Hillcrest Elementary in Oakland to their first Ocean Beach Sandcastle contest. Dyer told SFBay his students couldn’t wait to hit the beach:

“Look forward to it is definitely an understatement. I had several kids whose parents would come to me and say, ‘we had to start a countdown calendar at home.’ … It’s created a buzz at our school that is unbelievably amazing.”

Dyer said his students benefit in a number of different subject areas:

“It’s developed the kids’ science, technology, engineering, architecture, art and math skills. It’s just something a textbook can never do.”

Francesca Oliveira, senior project architect with Skidmore Owings & Merrill, assisted the Sand Chefs from Clarendon Elementary. She told SFBay the best part was working with the kids:

“It’s been a wonderful treat. I admit to you there are some days when you work with contractors and engineers and you’re like, ‘what am I doing?’ And then the kids came into our office, we brought them on an office walking tour, it’s really energized our staff in the office to be able share what we do with elementary school kids. It’s fantastic.”

Complete 2014 Team Gallery


This article was updated on Oct. 13, 2014 to correct the familial relationship, school affiliation and award accepted by Michael and Maxwell Fukutome, as well as the location of Hillcrest Elementary School.