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Kids walk, roll to school


Did you spot more students than usual walking, rolling and riding to school on Wednesday? The launch of International Walk and Roll to School Day kicked off Wednesday, Oct. 3. Many local schools signed up to participate, including McNear Elementary, where they celebrated getting to school in “the healthiest, most sustainable and fun ways: walk, jog, ride your bike, scooter, or skateboard!” according to principal Sheila Garvey.

The campus carried the event beyond morning arrival with prizes and other activities that day. This international launch follows the recent distribution of the Safe Routes To School parent survey asking for information on campus locations, number of students, how students arrive/depart school, etc. The information gathered will inform the Safe Routes To School program, as well as local city and county agencies, on trends in this area.

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What a busy week the SoMo students had last week! It all started with the Sonoma Mountain Charter Elementary School Harvest Festival, where students and families participated in numerous fun-filled activities on campus to kick off the start of fall. The campus then hosted another great Wheels of Freestyle demonstration during their school assembly following the school’s participation in Walk & Roll to School Day.

Students and parents met at the corner of Castle Drive and Sleepy Hollow Lane, then departed as a group for school as part of the international event. As for the Wheels Freestyle event later in the week, “our students loved the stunts and learned the important messages: be respectful, make healthy choices, value education, and follow your dreams,” shares principal Michele Gochberg. What a full week of fun, learning and community building for these kindergarten through sixth-graders.

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Corona Creek Elementary School hosted a school and community ribbon cutting on Monday afternoon for their new outdoor learning area/garden space. The outdoor classroom serves all grade levels offering hands-on academic instruction for a variety of subjects. Led by school administration, teachers, and parent volunteers, the outdoor learning area has been under construction for a year.

Monday’s gathering was specifically for the opening of the new greenhouse, which was supported through a PEF Impact Grant, awarded last year. The new space includes benches where classes begin their time in the new learning area that is bordered by circular tables centered around a whiteboard for group instruction or small group activities.

Also within the footprint of the outdoor classroom are planter beds for fruits and vegetables and flower garden.

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Mt. Herman proved to be a memorable experience for the seventh- and eighth-graders at Petaluma Accelerated Charter School (PACS), located on the McKinley Elementary School campus. Students spent five days last week exploring the outdoor setting of this retreat venue in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They participated in several team-building activities, learned about edible plants, different ecosystems and played games including performing skits for their fellow campers, teachers and parent chaperons.

Naturalist leaders also provided the campers with information on banana slugs (mascot of UC Santa Cruz) and the surrounding giant redwood trees. These young adventurers learned that redwood tree roots only go 8 to 12 feet into the ground, but spread out away from the tree half the height of the tree.

From all reports, it was an incredible week of learning — about the area, their classmates and themselves as all challenged each other to take on the many different activities offered throughout the week. Welcome home, Mustangs!

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The fall season is here and Wilson Wildcats will be showing their school spirit at the campus’ Harvest Fair on Oct. 28 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The event offers fun for the entire family with face painting, a costume parade, cake walks, a raffle and silent auction all taking place at Wilson Elementary School.

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