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Runs, gifts, food, murals and films are just in time for the holidays


By MAUREEN HIGHLAND

Wilson School's running club is hosting its first annual 5K run/walk at Shollenberger Park Saturday. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the run starting at 9 a.m. Event registration forms are available on the school's webpage at wilsonschoolpetaluma.org. The family friendly community event offers parent/child divisions — all named for cats since Wilson School's mascot is the Wildcat.

Just in time for training for the race, Wilson School received a gift from local Eagle Scout Ben Randall. Randall recently completed an improvement project for the campus using the skills he learned in a variety of shop classes as a student at Petaluma High School. He put in three new drinking fountains. Of the two fountains out by the school track so students in physical education classes and at recess can access water right there rather than have to go back up to the main building, and a third fountain is at the campus' upper-grade playground area. Principal Eric Hoppes is grateful for these additions at the campus, and knows all the students appreciate Randall's efforts and example of how you can make a difference in your community at any age. Randall is a member Boy Scout Troop 105 and is connected to the LDS Church in town.

Donations of gift items for the annual Student Holiday Shop at Cinnabar Elementary School are being collected now through Monday. The student fundraiser supports the school's efforts to participate at the Walker Creek science camp for sixth graders, according to teacher Deborah Waggoner. Drop off donated items to the school office.

Petaluma Junior High School kicked off a campuswide canned food drive last week. The program will run through Dec. 20, with all proceeds going to local families in need this holiday season, according to PJHS Principal Renee Semik.

Also happening at PJHS is the Wednesday drama performance, "Plain Jane and the Daring Defeat of the Despicable Duo" in the multipurpose room beginning at 7 p.m. Contact the school office at 778-4724 for more information on reserving seats for this theatrical performance.

Today, Dec. 12, you can enjoy "Coffee with the Principal" at both Petaluma and Kenilworth junior high schools. PJHS's Renee Semik will be meeting with parents from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Admin Conference room. KJHS Principal Emily Dunnagan invites guests to visit with members of the administration and counselors at the eastside campus from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Several local elementary schools also offer these informal gatherings throughout the year as an opportunity to interact with the school's staff while sharing news and information pertaining to student learning and upcoming school activities.

Kenilworth Junior High School Principal Dunnagan has been offering "Exam Prep" tips as students head into final examinations prior to winter break. The three part series on her principal's blog features posts on test-taking strategies providing key reminders and suggestions for before the test, during the test and after the test to ensure students are fully prepared for these mid-year academic assessments at the junior high level. Dunnagan's blog can be viewed at http://principaldunnagan.blogspot.com.

Students in the Kenilworth wood shop classes spent last week after school making wooden toys they will distribute to needy children for the holidays. These students also plan spend the month selling their handmade pens at Copperfield's Bookstore in downtown Petaluma to support the Blessings in a Backpack program. These pens were featured in this column a few weeks ago. They are a perfect gift for those hard-to-shop for people on your holiday list, plus the proceeds support a charity.

St. Vincent de Paul Elementary School's after school program Team da Vinci celebrated the end of a successful trimester with the 2013 Team da Vinci Film Festival. More than 100 people attended the event featuring 35 star directors from fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The elementary campus' after school program is based on a computer programming language named Alice developed by Carnegie Mellon University. Students are offered the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of computer coding while producing 3D animations and interactive games.

Another local school's creative effort was officially unveiled earlier this week. McKinley Elementary School hosted its campus mural unveiling ceremony on the afternoon of Dec. 10. The event included students, parents and local organizations, including members of the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce's Business and Education Committee, which has supported the ongoing campus community building effort.

Guests viewed a student-made documentary about the mural creation process that was followed by the unveiling in the school's garden area according to McKinley School Principal Matthew Harris.

(Maureen Highland is a Petaluma mother and development manager for the Petaluma Educational Foundation.)