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Ancient creature features

Students of third-grade teacher Amy Wyre at Valley Vista Elementary School dug deep into dinosaurs facts this week. In science class students were learning how animals change over time by studying their fossils and becoming young paleontologists. “We asked the question, ‘Can you outrun a dinosaur?’ ” shares Wyre, who had students look at pictures showing how dinosaurs did not only leave behind bones, they also left footprints, some of which fossilized. “By examining our own footprints and measuring foot stride and comparing them to those of living animal/fossil footprints, we were able to deduce how quickly some dinosaurs were able to run,” Wyre explained. The young scientists enjoyed the lesson, and they tested their own running speeds against those they calculated for the dinosaurs.

Off on their own history-centered adventure are the classmates in Matthew De Lucia-Zeltzer’s fourth grade. Arriving in the Gold Country at Coloma Discovery School, students settled into camp, met their miner leaders and chose their Gold Rush names. Next up was shelter-building and cornbread-making with a little panning for gold thrown into the day’s activity schedule. Initial reports had these explorers excited for the adventures ahead while learning all about life during that time in California’s history.

La Tercera Elementary School showed great school and community spirit this weekend during its campus book-station building project. Students, teachers, parents and family members joined community members to build the book stations that will be located throughout campus, with the goal to foster a love of reading among students. Old Adobe School District Superintendent Craig Conte was part of the day’s building project, helping pour concrete bases for the “Take a Book, Leave a Book” locations. All 355 TK through sixth-grade students on campus will have access to the stations supported with in-class units of study adding to the school’s Language Arts curriculum and activities in the campus library. Over the years, Rotary, Kiwanis and other service groups have supported classroom libraries. These book stations initially started as a Girl Scout troop project last summer that was greatly expanded thanks to the school’s leadership and teaching staff who received a PEF Impact Grant in November to grow the project campus-wide.

The Loma Vista Dual Immersion Academy campus was also busy with lots of work being done by students and parents a few weeks ago. These helpful volunteers installed an addition to the school garden space with a new greenhouse. The group also is installing floor and shelving in the new structure along with irrigation. The outdoor learning space will offer instruction in a variety of academic subjects, including growing plants from seed so students can observe and learn during the hands-on cultivation process. Last week, Mrs. Galdamez’s fifth-grade class helped build and fill new garden beds around the greenhouse. Great job, Loma Vista.

Girl Scout Troop 10318 is a Cadette level group of eight eighth-grade girls, all of whom attend Kenilworth Junior High. Since forming in kindergarten at Corona Creek Elementary, they have continued to achieve great things through Girl Scouts. This week, they obtained CPR and EAD certification, with expert training led by Paul Braa, a Petaluma resident and retired firefighter. Paul greatly expanded on the CPR skills that were touched on in the KJHS seventh-grade curriculum, and answered numerous great questions by the girls. He also emphasized baby and toddler CPR, and choking or seizure emergency situations in his two-hour meeting. This training helped the girls in obtaining their Babysitting Badge, and may one day be the difference that saves a life. All of these Girl Scouts also are currently working on the prestigious GS Silver Award, which involves 50 hours of their time, and will address and fill a community need.

Following up on last week’s Pancake competition at Harvest Christian School, students in Mrs. Gorin’s second-grade class made pancakes based on Nate the Great’s favorite food. Nate the Great is a character in the well-known children’s detective stories written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. For more than 30 years, youngsters have enjoyed the adventures of this child sleuth, and the students at Harvest Christian used Nate’s recipe for some yummy breakfast snacks, bringing the story to life in their very own classroom.

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