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THE CHALKBOARD: Loma Vista art displayed at the library

Loma Vista Dual Immersion Academy students displayed their El Dia de Los Muertos artwork at the Petaluma Library recently. Classroom volunteer Guadalupe Tausch worked with another parent volunteer to coordinate the art display where Maestra Grimaldo’s students honored their loved ones who had died by doing a portrait art. Children Remember: A Memory Art Project was part of the festivities of El Dia de Los Muertos in Petaluma for many years, according to Tausch. This year, she encouraged students to create their own artwork and arranged for the masterpieces to be featured in the library for all to appreciate.

Also happening at Loma Vista this week was the maintenance on the campus labyrinth. The fun started when Ms. Nuñez’s fourth-graders dug right in during class last week and kicked off the clean-up project. This was followed by a weekend workday involving students, parents, staff and community members. We hear the children especially liked discovering the Monarch Butterfly caterpillars we found on the milkweed plants, a Praying Mantis, and hundreds of ladybugs the group released into the labyrinth to eat aphids. Great team work, Loma Vista.

All three campuses of The Spring Hill School celebrated Dia de los Muertos. “The annual celebration of this Mexican cultural holiday is a perfect fit with our bilingual education,” shares Communications, Media & Camps Coordinator Don Lewis. Students at the elementary and middle school campuses were invited to bring a photo and/or a memento of a loved one that has passed so as a school community students could create a beautiful memorial altar. Students in the school’s Montessori toddler, primary and kindergarten programs learned about Dia de los Muertos and created masks in order to help celebrate this special tradition.

Penngrove was incredibly lucky to have Brad Montague come and visit the school last Thursday. Brad is the creator of Kid President. A group of third- through sixth-grade students led him on a tour of the school. He visited and did an art lesson in a fourth-grade class where he had the students make posters of “Joy,” and he led an inspirational assembly attended by third through sixth-grade students. Brad was the keynote speaker at the Fall CUE Conference in Napa this past weekend. There, he shared the posters the Penngrove fourth-grade class created and stories of his visit. What an honor to host this special visitor, shares interim principal Maureen Rudder.

On Saturday, the Penngrove PTA hosted its annual Fall Festival. There were many fall-themed activities for children including having their fortune told, bowling with pumpkins, “Angry Birds” sling shot, and a “Haunted House” that the sixth-grade parents and students created. For added fun, children and adults churned butter and pressed apple cider with Ms. Barrell, the Garden Teacher. The festival was free and all donations collected are going to fire victims.

Mrs. Wyre’s third-grade class at Valley Vista Elementary was successful in taking on the #choosekind challenge based on the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The prize was an advanced screening of the film and a video Q&A with cast members. The challenge included reading the book, discussing, writing and creating art around empathy and kindness, according to principal Catina Haugen. Room 8’s favorite precept from the book is, “When having the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” Mrs. Wyre’s class enjoyed the movie and interview on Oct. 26, and even invited Mrs. Haugen and Mrs. Hoppes to attend. What a treat for all.

A few weeks ago, students in the Citizenship Preparation class of the Petaluma Adult School welcomed guest speakers Officer Zilverio Rivera and Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Pritchard from the Petaluma Police Department to their class. Laine Gen, ESL Coordinator for the program, shared that Officer Rivera discussed how he was inspired to strengthen relations between the police and the community by joining the police force after becoming a U.S. citizen 10 years ago, and Pritchard told students about ways they could volunteer with Petaluma PD and make their voices heard. Next up is attendance at a Petaluma City Council meeting, followed by a class visit from Councilwoman Kathy Miller, who comes every semester to answer students’ questions about local government.

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