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THE CHALKBOARD: Busy winter for Harvest Christian students


Harvest Christian School first- and sixth-graders helped spread Christmas wishes with their beautiful voices to the residents of the EmpRes Post Acute Rehabilitation Center in Petaluma before the winter school break. Singing “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” these sweet students brought a bit of holiday cheer to the residents.

The Harvest Christian seventh-graders used the time before break to trek all the way to the Petrified Forest in Calistoga as part of a science class field trip. This incredible area is home to the world’s largest petrified redwood trees, Sequoia langsdorfii, now extinct according to the site’s webpage (petrifiedforest.org). The students were fascinated with the petrified trees that have become fossils. These fossils are the remains of plants and animals that are preserved, usually exceeding the age of 10,000 years. They also captured pictures of opal, which formed during the petrification process. After the guided tour of the forest was done, some of the students took the half-mile round-trip hike to an ash fall, adding to the educational experience.

As previously celebrated by the community, last month the Petaluma Police Department announced the newest graduates from the DARE Program. DARE instructor, Officer Zeus Rivera, hosted the graduation ceremony at Wilson Elementary School. There were 23 students in Tyler Richard’s sixth-grade class taking part in the program. Students completed a 10-week curriculum on drug abuse resistance education that culminated with a graduation certificate from Interim Chief Ken Savano. Wilson School’s Hailey Goebel won the DARE essay contest, and read her essay to the parents, students and other guests in attendance. The essay topic was how kids are encouraged to look to their family and their teachers for solid advice, shared Wilson’s principal Eric Hoppes. During the graduation ceremony, longtime DARE instructor and program supporter Dick Sharke and his wife Lucille, presented PPD Chief Savano with a check for $5,000 from the McDowell Drug Task Force and another $5,000 personal donation to the DARE Program. They showed incredible dedication and support for providing the young members of our community with the education and personal skills needed to prevent drug use.

Jackie Hoppes, the Valley Vista School library coordinator, put a reading challenge out to all Valley Vista Viking students back in August. They had 90 days to meet the collective challenge to read, read and read some more. And what would the prize be for these determined youngsters? School Principal Catina Haugen would eat worms — real worms. The challenge and prize fit right in with the school’s “Plant a Seed, Read” theme in the library, and other activities around campus during the first semester of school. The brave principal enjoyed not one, but a few worms (sago larvae) as the student body looked on in shock. Demonstrating her good manners, Hagen kindly offered to share her snack. A few daring teachers jumped at the chance to gobble up some larvae. “The students squealed with delight,” according to Haugen and the staff. On to the next student challenge — something tells me these students are highly motivated to see what the next creative reward will be.

(Maureen Highland is a Petaluma mother and executive director for the Petaluma Educational Foundation. She can be reached at schools@ar guscourier.com)