Celebrating a world view

ADRIENE ROCHELLE PHOTO McDowell STEM students show off one of their creations made for Global Play day.l


Global Play Day is coming to town. Global School Play Day is happening this month at several elementary sites. Locally, McDowell Elementary, Penngrove Elementary, Valley Vista Elementary and McKinley Elementary are all embracing the opportunity to participate on different dates featuring a variety of activities. This global event was inspired by Dr. Peter Gray’s research around play and the importance of free play for children’s social and emotional development. “We are excited to bring the Global School Play Day to our students,” shares Valley Vista principal Catina Haugen. At McDowell Elementary, principal Lauri Anderson says, “It’s great to see how much creativity, compassion, communication, and critical thinking is already on display every day at McDowell. Our students have been putting their best into beautiful art docent lessons, STEM challenges in the classroom, and the McDowell Spelling Bee. Our school winners, Ashie Tiro and Jhonattan Pat Ruano, will represent McDowell well at the regional competition on the same day we are honoring Global Play Day on Campus.”

In January, McDowell Elementary welcomed Kaiser Permanente to campus to present “The Best Me” assembly to students. Before and after the assembly, the students thought about how to be at their best by having healthy habits. They made promises to eat well, drink water, exercise regularly, and limit screen time, supporting the program’s message.

Sonoma Mountain and Carpe Diem High School students continue to be good stewards of their environment according to principal Greg Stevenson. Students and teachers from both high schools recently went on an outdoor education hike at Bodega Head. After completing the approximately four-mile hike, the students turned their efforts to a beach cleanup of Campbell Cove. The students and staff donned gloves and carried plastic bags to clean this stretch of beach just inside the entrance of Bodega Harbor. Good works do not go unnoticed — one local hiker and fisherman took time to thank the young environmentalists for a job well done!

Kenilworth Junior High students from Isaac Raya and Laura Bradley’s KTV Broadcast Media classes stayed after school recently to learn more about broadcast journalism from veteran ABC7 news anchor Cheryl Jennings. Jennings gave the students a Facetime tour of her Channel 7 studios, and then KTV students did the same for her. During question-and-answer time, Jennings was surprised when a student asked how it felt to be the first on-air anchor after the Loma Prieta earthquake. “You did your homework. That was way before any of you were born,” Jennings said. She gave the students advice about how to help the community when reporting a disaster as it was happening. “I had to forget everything else and just focus on getting information to the Bay Area.” She said she grabbed a phone book, asking “Do you even know what that is?” She read aloud from the emergency information pages about what to do in an earthquake. Jennings also shared how hard she had to work to get into the business, including working a 50-hour a week, unpaid internship just to get her foot in the door. She encouraged students to take those internships in spite of the lack of pay because they can be the ticket they need to break into the business. After answering students’ questions, Jennings then switched roles and asked the young journalists her own questions. “What makes you nervous about being on camera? What other jobs are you learning besides anchoring? Do you rotate through the different jobs?” she asked. Students enthusiastically replied, “Yes.” She told them it was great that they were learning the wide variety of broadcast roles because interns and new anchors at Channel 7 have to be able to do all the jobs now, not just the anchoring. She told them that their range of skills throughout the studio would make a big difference if they want to pursue broadcast work. “Soon after our Facetime with Ms. Jennings ended, she tweeted out pictures and shared it on Instagram for all her followers to learn about KJHS. She is a great role model, not just for young journalists, but also as a successful professional who continues to mentor and give back to her community,” reported Bradley.

Meadow Elementary, St. Vincent de Paul Elementary and Cinnabar School all hosted their own “100 Days of School” celebrations. Cinnabar students in Ms. Amy and Ms. Sheila’s kindergarten classes hand made paper chains, completed stamp books, created their own 100 day hats, and participated in counting 100 food items as part of the day’s academic centers curriculum.

Cinnabar School also hosted guests from SMART train at a school-wide assembly, teaching students about safety around trains and tracks. They brought a video for the student body to watch and spent time sharing facts about the trains and other interesting things about the Smart Train operation. The Cinnabar campus is less than a mile from the tracks so the presentation was relevant to the students. The presentation is free to schools as a community service program.

Spreading the love this week are some very caring local students who have spent time making valentine’s for members of the local community. Casa Grande High’s Interact Club is working on bringing some sweet messages to the clients of Petaluma People Services through their group’s project this week. Six Girl Scout troops came together with lots of songs, games, and cookie decorating to make over 60 Valentine’s cards for COTS families. Great leadership skills from the older troop members helped bring big smiles to all those who contributed to the day’s activity report parents who helped coordinate the gathering. Local school students, including those from McNear, Live Oak, Springhill Montessori, St. Vincent De Paul, Crossroads Community Day School, McKinley and Petaluma Junior High all took the time to cut, color, paste and decorate valentines for the volunteers at Alphabet Soup Stores. It is wonderful to know so many students are using their artistic talents to make this Valentine’s Day a special one for those who have done so much in our community.

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