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THE CHALKBOARD: Fairy Tale Day sparks imagination at St. Vincent Elementary.


The first-grade class at St. Vincent de Paul Elementary School was full of imagination on its annual “Fairy Tale Day” last week. Each student chose a story to read and did an oral book report for the class. They dressed up in costumes as characters from their books and made puppets to go along with their presentations. Some of the stories children read were Rumpelstiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and Chicken Little. First-grader Wade Pacheco said to prepare for the day, he practiced his speech for his uncle who was visiting, and that his tortoise costume from “The Tortoise and the Hare” fairytale was very comfortable.

The two kindergarten classes at Miwok Valley Expeditionary Learning Academy recently boarded a bus and headed to Sausalito for an all-day field trip to the Bay Area Discovery Museum. The field trip included a STEM-based experience with all hands-on learning activities, shares teachers Maureen Medina and Shawn Morones. As one class headed to the outdoor learning lab with docents, the other class enjoyed free exploration of the entire museum setting. Students really enjoyed the Imagination Playground, Lookout Cove, Discovery Hall, and the Art Studios, Morones and Medina noted. After the groups switched activities, everyone enjoyed a picnic lunch together looking out at the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. “At the end of this amazing day, our students were surprised to be presented with a free family pass for a future visit,” according to Morones, who also reports this adventure was made possible by the generous support of Hella Merrill, Petaluma Valley Rotary, Bay Area Discovery Museum and the Miwok Valley PTA.

What is mucus for? What if your spine had no cartilage at all? What exactly is asthma? These were the questions posed to students in Mr. De Lucia-Zeltzer’s class at McKinley’s Accelerated Charter School last week. D-Z shares, “Our pulmonologists and orthopedic surgeons led the class in an interactive study day about each of their body systems. These pseudo medical students, decked out in white lab coats, helped their classmates learn the answer to these questions. The next day, student neurologists had their turn to teach their peers, followed by the infectious disease specialists who wrapped up the week of Specialist Days. The peer-to-peer presentations brought about lots of discussion and learning for these young scientists.”

Sonoma Mountain Elementary kicked off its kindergarten through sixth-grade Hawaiian Dance Celebration at a morning assembly. Students began their day sharing some Hawaiian spirit with a performance of a traditional Hawaiian dance and song as part of the school’s arts and music charter taught by Shawna Alapai. Alapai is a native of Hawaii, and has been providing cultural instruction for students through the SoMo program on campus.

Congratulations to several Spanish students from San Antonio High and Valley Oaks School who attained national recognition for excellent performance on the 2017 National Spanish Examinations. The National Spanish Examinations are administered each year in grades 6-12, and are sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, reports principal Rebecca Lofton. Students in Ms. Burroughs’ Spanish classes earned a total of one Silver and three Bronze medals along with four honorable mentions. “Attaining a medal or honorable mention for any student on the National Spanish Examinations is very prestigious,” said Kevin Cessna-Buscemi, national director of the exams, “because the exams are the largest of their kind in the United States with over 157,000 students participating in 2017.” Congratulations to all.

Casa Grande student Morgan Cividanes is a candidate for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Student of the Year campaign. Morgan has a goal of raising $10,000 to help LLS in its mission to cure blood cancers and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. In memory of her great-grandmother who passed away from a rare form of Lymphoma; her grandmother who had a long battle with lung cancer; and two local young survivors, Gertie, age 4, from Napa and Sage, 8, from Benicia, Morgan is raising awareness and donations to make a difference for all ages. Just this week, Morgan coordinated a dine & donate event at Chipotle, where 50 percent of all purchases went to support LLS research. Good luck, Morgan. For more information on the LLS Student Series program and Morgan’s progress, visit events.lls.org/pages/nb/northbay2017/mcividanes. Good luck to Morgan and all local students who are leading by example and making a difference in people’s lives locally and across the globe.

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