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THE CHALKBOARD: Waugh students ace STEAM Challenge

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Waugh District schools stepped up to Sonoma County Office of Education STEAM challenge. Students from Meadow Elementary and Corona Creek Elementary had an opportunity to participate in the SCOE STEAM Showcase, and all eight of the Waugh students who participated achieved the Distinguished Honor, which is the highest achievement for the event. The projects ranged from a firefighter rocket to fire-resistant home building materials, to early detection systems. Not only did the kids have to perform research, design and build their idea, but they had to present their ideas to the judges who challenged them, shares Corona Creek Elementary School parent Kelly Pounds who states, “I am personally moved by the innovation and ingenuity and hard work all our kids put in to achieve this honor.” Way to go, Waugh students!

La Tercera Elementary, Meadow Elementary, McKinley Elementary, PACS at McKinley, McNear Elementary and Kenilworth Junior High students will participate in the upcoming SCOE Robotics challenge on Saturday. More than 400 Sonoma County elementary and middle school students from grades 4-8 will show off their hard work and technical prowess at the event, now in its 16th year. Student teams from 28 schools will compete in eight events that require skill in robot design and programming. The event will take place from 9 a,m. until 12:30 p.m. at Elsie Allen High School in Santa Rosa. The public is invited to attend to support these talented students.

Laguna School held its second annual Egg Drop competition last Friday. Two eggs out of eight were saved by the student engineered “egg-scape” pods, according to Principal Cindy Demchuk. “Our hands-on science projects bring STEM alive here in the beautiful Chileno Valley where students had the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and innovative thinking with their individual designs for protecting the eggs as they were dropped from considerable heights, Demchuk said. Laguna School also announced open enrollment for next year’s kindergarten program that welcomes the public to visit the campus for the annual Open House event on May 16 from 5-6 p.m. Laguna School is a public, two-room schoolhouse for students in grades kindergarten through sixth-grade.

Last Friday, Wilson Elementary School hosted the annual Wilson School 3-point shootout. According to superintendent/principal Eric Hoppes, nine staff members and 10 students shoot for 1-minute rounds with student council members serving as official rebounders. The “Final Four” of the contest came down to Bowen Housten, Brayden Breen, Mr. Frank Johnson and Mr. Hoppes. “We did a team shoot out with the two students vs. the adults,” noted Hoppes. The face-off ended with the two students winning, followed by a final shoot out between the young athletes. Brayden Breen earned the title of Wilson Shoot Out Champion. “We had a very spirited crowd cheering for their favorites, making for a great afternoon of tremendous school spirit shown by all,” Hoppes said.

Casa Grande’s Big House Catering won the People’s Choice award! More than 300 hundred guests in attendance at the event tasted all the bites and experienced the students’ creative presentation of the food. The display booth that they designed was tied to the event theme of French Cuisine, reports teacher Pam Gutierrez. “Our students created a two-bite tasting menu that the guests could not get enough of during the event,” Gutierrez said. The students were mentored by executive chef John Norman and Phi Nguyen from the Bacchus Restaurant at the Double Tree Hotel in Rohnert Park, which was an added opportunity for students to learn from those working in the industry. Big House Catering Club students researched cuisines of France to gain inspiration, and after many trials in the kitchen with the chef mentors developed a tasty menu that really played to the student strengths and creations, Gutierrez proudly shared. Everything served was prepared by the Casa Grande High students.

Cinnabar School’s third-graders spent a day at Steamer Landing Park last week. The highlight of the day was being on the water in canoes and kayaks, a first-time experience for most of the students and chaperons. “We all wore life jackets, and started our journey at Steamer Landing’s dock. We paddled to the Haystack Landing drawbridge enjoying the scenery and wildlife along the way. We saw goslings in a nest with two Canada Geese making sure we didn’t get too close,” said teacher Lucienne Wurr. For some students, going under the drawbridge when a SMART train was crossing was the most exciting part of the journey. As students returned to Steamer Landing, they observed and identified aquatic invertebrates, wrote in their journals and played games as part of this exciting field trip that both students and chaperons will remember for a long time.

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