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THE CHALKBOARD: Loma Vista students take SMART trip to Santa Rosa

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Riding the rails: Loma Vista Immersion Academy hopped aboard the SMART train here in Petaluma and traveled to Santa Rosa where they enjoyed a walk in downtown, toured the Luther Burbank Gardens and had lunch in the adjacent park before heading home on the train. According to Amiee Bunting, the third-graders learned that Luther Burbank did some amazingly revolutionary things with plants, trees and flowers that has had a positive effect around the world. “He was quite the man of his time, with a ton of people all over the world visiting him right here in Sonoma County.”

Congratulations to Liberty Elementary: The Sonoma County Office of Education announced on Friday that Liberty has been named a California Distinguished School. Liberty School also received the award in 2006 and 2000, according to SCOE records. Liberty Superintendent/Principal Christopher Rafanelli stated that this recognition, “Reaffirms the dedication, hard work and attention to detail of our students, staff and parents.” Rafanelli added, “It also speaks to the commitment of our entire community to make sure that every child is given the opportunity to reach his or her own potential. It takes a complete commitment to the values and philosophy of our school by our staff and parents to provide such an enriching and profound educational experience. Our families know that when you come to Liberty, you are not just enrolling your child but your entire family.” Schools awarded this ranking will be honored in May during a ceremony at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. Kudos, Liberty Elementary.

When you want to understand the importance of coding, where do you go? The Apple Store Genius Bar, of course. Meadow Elementary School students made their way to the Santa Rosa store to hear all about the intricate details of coding from Apple employees who service customers through the store’s Genius Bar. It was an exciting adventure for these young coders, who heard about how the lessons they are learning are applied in everyday life in all sorts of businesses.

Harvest Christian School seventh-graders enjoyed a visit to the San Francisco Zoo as their field trip to support their Life Sciences curriculum. This incredible venue nestled near the Pacific Coast in a busy metropolitan city offers students the experience to explore the habitats and history of more than 2,000 exotic, endangered and rescued animals, including amphibians, mammals, reptiles, birds and arthropods. While the large animals are the main attractions, there is so much more to see, as Principal Jon Wraith, who led the group on the field trip, was able to share with these eager students.

Last Wednesday, the sixth-grade students at Grant Elementary School had an in-school field trip entitled “Walk through Ancient Civilizations.” The students were divided into three groups — Greece, Rome and Egypt. The students learned a lot from each other about the Ancient World, shares Co-Principal Maureen Rudder. Each group did a skit and became an expert about their geographical region and time in history. The students haven’t finished their exploration into Ancient Civilizations, so this exercise was especially exciting as everyone had the opportunity to learn new things. This week, each student will be creating a plaster mask of a Greek god or goddess. The masks will be molded to the students’ faces. Once hardened, the students will decorate the masks to represent the god or goddess chosen. A presentation to the class will complete this assignment. What an incredible hands-on learning lesson that will be sure to leave an impression on these students.

Hip, Hip, Hooray! A Cinnabar Elementary School parent and student liaison became a citizen by passing the naturalization test in San Francisco, April 4, shares principal Sandy Doyle. According to Doyle, the test consists of 100 questions on United States history and government for which they are expected to answer 10 random ones. “The entire school surprised parent Santy Valverde with a huge congratulations, a school-wide pledge of allegiance, and the national anthem sung by the first-grade students. It was followed by a tearful, appreciative and very excited speech by our newest Cinnabar School community citizen,” Doyle said. The staff room was filled with red, white and blue flowers, cake and decorations to continue the celebration throughout the day to honor her accomplishment.

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