THE CHALKBOARD: Sonoma Mountain brightens the sky with dance

MICHELE GOCHBERG PHOTO Sonoma Mountain Elementary School first graders prepared a Thanksgiving feast. Then came the good part, eating what they had prepared.


Sonoma Mountain Elementary School is brightening up the gloomy winter weather this Friday night with the student body Hawaiian Dance celebration. The event is the culmination of the school’s Hawaiian Dance program. Family and friends are invited to a special evening of dance and interactive activities showcasing what the students have been learning this semester. SoMo has been a busy place. Just last week before the holiday break, the school’s first-graders enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast tradition of soup, bread, butter and pumpkin pie — all homemade by the students themselves. This festive tradition was a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season.

The Grant School Giving Tree is up in the school office. This bright decoration carries a message of support and kindness. Members of the school community are selecting ornaments from the tree and bringing in gifts to benefit Santa Rosa schools Schaefer and Olivet. Grant School considers these campuses their “sister schools” following the recent fires. The Grant Cares Committee, a way to get the students involved in giving to those in need, coordinates the Giving Tree program.

On Wednesday, the PG&E Solar Suitcase awards event honoring Sonoma Mountain and Carpe Diem high school students as leaders in local environmental sustainability took place on the Sonoma Mountain High campus. There were more than 50 schools statewide submitting entries, so this is quite an honor. Their project, Petaluma River Habitat Creation at Steamer Landing, is under the leadership of science teacher Jessica Dennen. For the past two years, students have been working in conjunction with PG&E and Friends of the Petaluma River, and have planted native species of trees and shrubs in the open space in an attempt to re-establish the area to it’s natural environment. Two deserving students, Noah Pacheco (Sonoma Mountain High) and Lindsey Boyd (Carpe Diem High) were surprised at the event with the award, which includes a 12-day service-learning trip to deliver “Solar Suitcases” the students have built in class. The suitcases are small stand-alone energy kits that collect and store energy from the sun. They can be used to provide small amounts of electricity (to power lights etc.) in the underdeveloped regions that will receive them. This is all part of PG&E’s Better Together Giving Program. The presentation was a wonderful celebration of the student’s work, and all in attendance were impressed with their efforts to create an impact both in their community and the area they will be visiting.

Break a leg, Liberty! Tonight is the debut of the Liberty School Drama Club presentation of Disney’s Peter Pan, Jr. The student performance will open tonight and offer a second show tomorrow evening. In true Peter Pan style, it is sure to be a magical experience for children of all ages.

On Dec. 5, the Petaluma Educational Foundation will host PEF Live Theater at the Mystic Theater in downtown Petaluma for more than 800 local elementary school students. This free event offers two professional live performances of the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, by Traveling Lantern Theater Company. The event is being underwritten by the North Bay Association of Realtors Petaluma Chapter.

Live Oak Charter School fourth-graders are busy crocheting cute “little monsters” in preparation for the school’s annual Winter Craft Faire. The public is invited to come support the young crafters and enjoy the Craft Marketplace featuring vendor tables, children’s activities, storytelling, holiday treats and much more. The event takes place on Dec. 7 from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. next to the school campus on the Petaluma Fairgrounds property.

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