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THE CHALKBOARD: Animal visits make for exciting week at Valley Vista School


Valley Vista students and staff have experienced quite a few animal encounters this week according to principal Catina Haugen, everything from mosquito presentations by the Vector Control District to an overly friendly crow at lunch and recess. Then, students spotted interesting insects crawling down the hallway, and on another day Vikings spotted a possum hiding under a bench outside Room 16. “With patience, curiosity and help from animal control, we made it through an exciting week of school” says amateur animal wrangler Haugen.

Harvest Christian School welcomed students back to class on Aug. 22. With the success of the inaugural transitional kindergarten program last year, Principal Jon Wraith shares that the campus now offers two kindergarten classes. Jill Meekins will be teaching kindergarten A and Laura Orth will be teaching the additional class - kindergarten B. In the upper grade classes, students are excited to get started on debate instruction and other electives, according to Wraith.

There are Word Wizards in McKinley Elementary’s PACS program teacher Matthew De Lucia-Zeltzer (known by students as Mr. D-Z) reports students following a map willed to them by an elderly sorcerer have set off across an enchanted land on a quest for glory and gold. Working both independently and cooperatively, the students apply their knowledge of Latin and Greek roots to speed them along the map toward Treasure Mountain. Along the way, says D-Z, they encounter creatures and obstacles that can only be overcome through the use of word analysis skills or a magic item previously acquired through the students’ vocabulary work. Adventurers demonstrate their learning each week, “leveling up” from Human Serf all the way to Supernatural Wizard, with each level granting them new traits and abilities. D-Z’s question is, “Will these intrepid Word Wizards be successful? Or will they forever lose their way in the Labyrinth of the Minotaur?” Step aside, Tolkien, the epic saga is over here in the fourth grade, according to their fearless academic leader.

The Art Docent Program of the Petaluma City School District is looking for new volunteers to teach art in classrooms from hindergarten through sixth grade. Lessons explore art history, technique, and use curriculum-based art as well as exposing students to a variety of mediums. Program director Alyse Breece shares, “No art experience is necessary. We provide training, step-by-step directions and supplies. Volunteer time is flexible and training time is minimal.” Instructors meet once a month for training, and additional support is available throughout the semester. For more information, contact Alyse Breece @ abreece@petk12.org or call 778-4958. There will be an orientation meeting for new docents on Sept.8 at 9a.m. at McDowell Elementary School, 421 S. McDowell Blvd.

Mentor Me has been serving students in Petaluma schools for the past 17 years. This year the program is active on 21 local school campuses, including the newest location at Miwok Valley Language Academy. Mentor Me has just launched their 3-year strategic plan, which includes bringing its mentoring programs to all 38 schools in Petaluma by 2020. To learn more you can attend a Question & Answer session at the Cavanagh Recreation Center on September 18th at 5:30pm to learn more. Please RSVP to info@wrmm.org or 707-778-4798.

Casa Grande High School, with the support of a Petaluma Educational Foundation Major Impact Grant, has introduced an exciting and innovative new class for ninth graders. The course, which is called Introduction to Digital Media and Broadcasting, is designed to develop students’ communication skills in multimedia formats, including journalism, broadcasting, videography, podcasting, social media and more. Seventy-five students signed up for the course in its first year, a clear indication of its relevance to young people. The new class is also designed to serve as a bridge between Kenilworth Junior High School’s highly successful KTV and digital media classes and Casa Grande’s nationally recognized student newspaper, The Gaucho Gazette. Casa is working to expand its focus on media, communications, and digital literacy. The class is taught by Casa teachers Greg Raiewski and Josh Hunt.