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THE CHALKBOARD: The sun vanishes and the Egg Bowl returns

Welcome Back! Another school year is underway and it is sure to be an exciting year ahead for all 13,000-plus students attending our local 38 TK-12 public, private and charter schools.

One major addition to this school year’s schedule is the return of the Egg Bowl. This long-standing tradition between the football teams of Casa Grande and Petaluma high schools is always an exciting game bringing the entire community together. For alumni, new students and community members, this event is sure to be a fun day of spirited activities both on and off the field. The game is set for Saturday, Sept. 16 at Casa Grande High.

La Tercera Elementary students wasted no time diving in and using the historical solar eclipse as a learning experience on campus. The school community hosted a Viewing Party on Monday where students and parents were invited to the campus’ upper playground area where they were provided proper viewing glasses to observe the solar show safely. Even though the cloud cover made viewing a challenge, students were able to watch the televised total eclipse when they returned to class. As the county’s first STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) focused school, this was an incredible teaching moment for La Tercera students.

Valley Vista’s Vikings learned all about the solar eclipse from science teacher Mr. Granger. Granger explained what an eclipse is and offered a model of the phenomenon to the entire student body that gathered in the school’s multi-purpose room on Monday morning before putting on their protective glasses and trying to observe the historical moment outside.

St. Vincent de Paul Elementary School did some campus re-organizing over the summer. The school’s junior high classrooms relocated across the blacktop to the upstairs rooms of the restored St. Vincent’s Academy building.

Old Adobe Elementary School is racing to get its new campus track in place! Principal Jeff Williamson reports Phase II is almost complete, with the concrete forms poured last week for the new track. Also new for the Old Adobe Elementary Roadrunners is the replacement of the school’s play structure. The school hosted a ribbon cutting of the renovated space on the first day of school. The newly installed structure is sure to be a favorite area of play during recess!

McNear Elementary already is setting the stage for a fun year. A casting call for its fall performing arts program took place this week. Students will perform a comedy/musical version of Romeo and Juliet in November. Stay tuned for show dates and times, This long-running tradition at McNear is a highlight of the year for students, staff and parents. Back to School Open House for McNear’s Falcons T-K and kindergarten is on Thursday with grades first through sixth Open House taking place on Sept. 5. Contact the school directly for specific presentation times for each grade level.

Student learning is not the only focus for this school year. Live Oak Charter School welcomes back Vicki Hoefle to lead a parent program supporting child development. Hoefle has more than 20 years of experience as a professional parent educator, author and speaker. The free evening presentation, sponsored by Live Oak Charter, will take place on Sept. 26, followed by a four-week parenting program beginning Oct. 17. For more information on both events, registration and program cost, contact Matthew Morgan at Live Oak Charter School.

The annual Petaluma Youth Ag Day event takes place on Sept. 29. For teachers of local kindergarten through fourth grades, please contact the Fair office directly to reserve space for this free event designed for children to experience our local Agriculture Industry. Students will have the opportunity to see a cow milked, pet farm animals, watch sheep dogs at work, and visit with a variety of local Ag partners. Space is limited so please contact program coordinators Paulette Swallow or Mary Sanchez to reserve space for your class as soon as possible.

The John Jordan Foundation is offering support to Sonoma County teachers through the organization’s mini grant Teacher’s Wishes Program. Applications are due by Aug. 31 (online application at johnjordanfoundation.org). Awards up to $300 are available to teachers working with PK through 12th grade levels.

Petaluma Kiwanis Club announced the details of the 2017 Micro Grant Program to benefit classrooms and campus-based youth programs. Since 2015, the local chapter has awarded more than 80 grants for a total of $40,000 to school and campus-based youth programs. Applications for grants up to $500 will be circulated to school districts for distribution to teachers or can be requested by email to petalumakiwanisgrants@gmail.com or via mail to Petaluma Kiwanis Club, PO Box 162, Petaluma CA 94953. Applications must be received by email or regular mail by Friday, Sept. 8 to be considered.

The PEF Impact Grant application is due no later than Oct. 2. Visit pefinfo.com to download the application or contact PEF Program Director Katy Verke for more information. Grants are awarded for curriculum-based programs offering innovative and engaging instruction. This past school year, PEF surpassed the $3 million milestone in grant awards since the program was first launched in 1983. Grant awards are up to $15,000.

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