THE CHALKBOARD: Local athletes win world racquetball titles

MICHELE GOCHBERG PHOTO Sonoma Mountain students, along with a future student, welcomed veterans for a special Veteran's Day celebration.


Two local young athletes were crowned world champions this past weekend at the Junior World Championship Racquetball Tournament. Heather Mahoney is an eighth-grader at Kenilworth Junior High and Ava Naworski is in sixth grade at Corona Creek Elementary School. Both young ladies competed in the event held in Minneapolis, Minn. on Nov. 5-11. This was Heather’s fourth time participating in the world event, where she won gold in the Girls 12 and Under singles this year. Ava took the gold medal with her partner (Sonya Shetty from Pleasanton) in the Girls 10 and Under finals match. The competition is for both girls and boys 18 years and younger. Heather and Ava have worked hard for the opportunity to compete at this level. This past June, the U.S. Nationals Tournament was held in Stockton, with players from all over the United States coming to compete. Those who achieved first or second place in their category qualified to compete in Junior World Championships.

Congratulations, Heather and Ava!

Sonoma Mountain Elementary Charter School hosted its second annual Veterans Day Celebration Nov. 9 More than 150 guests attended, including approximately 60 veterans who are family, friends, and community members connected to SoMo. In addition, each student made an Honor Ribbon. These hung proudly on the campus walls with the names of many veterans close to students and school staff members’ hearts. “Our ceremony included songs from our students, selections from our band, speeches from staff and City Council Member Gabe Kearney and the Color Guard from Two Rock Coast Guard Base. After the ceremony, veterans and family members enjoyed a breakfast. Our community enjoyed honoring all those who have or continue to serve our nation, and we demonstrated our pride in our country,” shared principal Michele Gochberg.

Students from sixth, seventh, and eighth grade at St. Vincent Elementary School have been working hard on “getting past the jitters and jumping into short impromptu talks,” according to Cara Wadsen. Students developed and delivered speeches, taking on various meeting roles and providing constructive feedback to others, says Wadsen who is a member of Toastmasters. On Nov. 6, the students in Wadsen’s program celebrated their semester graduation. Students were able to showcase the skills they have learned for the parents and friends in attendance at the ceremony. It was an impressive presentation by these young students.

The Harvest Christian School walk-a-thon, originally scheduled for Oct. 13, was postponed due to the fires that swept across the area, and the school was closed, noted school parent Kerri Petersen. The rescheduled event was held Nov. 9, and while it rained the morning and the night of, and the time had recently changed, Petersen reports the school was fortunate to have had a dry, sunny afternoon, with students running laps, and then having fun with a festive carnival. The afternoon included jumpy houses, sponge toss, a dunk tank, beanbag toss, cookie decorating, a raffle, a dessert auction and a delicious dinner provided by Componere Fine Catering. The event provided a wonderful opportunity for current and past Harvest families to connect. Estimates show the school raised about $25,000.

The John Jordan Foundation recently announced it awarded $32,000 to 116 schools and 37 districts and independent schools through their Teacher’s Wishes Grant Program. More than 9,000 students in Sonoma County will directly benefit from the program, including the following schools located in Petaluma: Carpe Diem, Casa Grande High School, Cinnabar Elementary, Corona Creek Elementary, Dunbar Elementary School, Grant Elementary, Kenilworth Junior High School, La Tercera, Loma Vista Immersion Academy, McDowell Elementary, McDowell North Bay Children’s Center, McKinley School, Meadow Elementary School, Miwok Valley Language Academy, Old Adobe Charter School, Petaluma Accelerated Charter School at McKinley, Petaluma High School, Petaluma Junior High School, San Antonio High School, South County Consortium, St. Vincent de Paul Elementary, and Valley Vista. Kudos to all our local schools who were awarded grants.

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