Build a sandcastle that lasts forever

No matter how stunning, the sandcastles built this Saturday by school kids during Leap’s 29th annual Sandcastle Contest at Ocean Beach will wash away with the tides.

The lessons learned, though, will last a lifetime.

Hundreds of fifth-graders — and thousands more supporters and observers — will flock to Ocean Beach near the Cliff House Saturday for the biggest-ever sandcastle contest ever organized in San Francisco.

Rain or shine, Northern California’s signature sandcastle event will raise funds for Leap Arts in Education, the local nonprofit which helps public schools — like Chinatown’s John Yehall Chin Elementary — teach the arts to school kids in this era of evaporating funds and resources.

Chin Principal Allen Lee told SFBay Leap’s in-school arts programs fill a key need at his school:

“In our program, there aren’t as many arts teachers anymore. A lot of the time the arts are sacrificed. Leap provides the perfect balance between art as a motivator, a career, and just the experience.”

Leap typically provides a resident artist to participating Bay Area elementary schools who leads students in an exploration of the visual, creative or performance arts.

The programs vary from school to school, as dozens of teaching artists share their passion in architecture, dance, literature and writing, chorus, drumming, theater and the visual arts.

Two years ago, students at John Yehall Chin — a Cantonese biliteracy school — learned Chinese shadow puppetry from Leap’s resident artist.

Last year? Lee said fifth-graders at Chin learned — and performed — Broadway show tunes:

“We try to expose the kids to something new. Maybe we can do jazz standards this year.”

For the 12th year, Lee will attend the Sandcastle contest on Saturday, cheering on his school’s team alongside their corporate supporters Butler Armsden Architect, Forde Mazzola Associates, Yu-Strandberg Engineering and Geoffrey DeSousa Interior Design.

Little kids — and even big kids — not affiliated with one of the 28 teams in this year’s competition can still get their feet wet on a community castle, led and sponsored by San Francisco-based free website builder Wix.com.

Wix.com’s involvement with Leap Arts is through their  project called Wix Local, their giving arm that supports nonprofits by offering free websites, networking and volunteering efforts locally and internationally.

Meredith Nevard, Wix Lounge manager told SFBay:

“What Leap Arts is doing is great. Art is so important in the school districts. Wix wants to help Leap Arts succeed.”

The Wix Local team are working with fifth and sixth graders from various San Francisco community schools. They have also partnered with Cove Construction on a top secret design project which will, of course, be unleashed on Saturday.