THE CHALKBOARD: Casa Grande AcDec dominance continues

AMY WYRE PH9TO Third graders from Valley Vista School spent a day at Tolay Regional Park learning about nature and the Native Americans who lived in the area.


Old Adobe Union School District Superintendent Craig Conte was excited to share that three of the five finalists in the South Regional spelling bee attend OAUSD schools. These super spellers will move on to the Sonoma County spelling bee. Trey Hansen from Miwok Valley, a fifth-grader in Heidi Doughty’s class, finished fourth. Andy Phuong from Sonoma Mountain in Sue Jordan’s fifth-grade class finished second. Linden Gen from Loma Vista Immersion Academy from Katie Boss’ sixth-grade class, finished first. We hear that Gen is in the running to win the Spanish spelling bee, too. Congratulations to all these OAUSD all-star spellers.

Casa Grande’s Academic Decathlon Team has done it again. For the 35th year in a row, Casa has won both the county and the regional AcDec competitions, and has been invited to compete in the state final this spring. Casa’s team is now under the leadership of teacher-coaches Scot Wigert and Nathan Libecap, who have replaced Rick Pillsbury following his retirement last year. The team collectively won 56 medals and had a resounding victory in the exciting Super Quiz competition according to principal Eric Backman. The annual event was held at Solano Community College on Feb. 3. Go Gauchos!

Students enjoyed some fun field trips at Valley Vista School these last two weeks, says principal Catina Haugen. The third-grade classes spent the day at Tolay Regional Park for their Acorns to Oaks program this week, and last week took a trip to the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Mrs. Ackman and Mrs. O’s classes spent a full day at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, while Mrs. Belove’s fifth-grade enjoyed a recent excursion to Santa Rosa Junior College to see the SRJC Planetarium show. Not to miss out on the fun, transitional kindergarten students and kindergarten classes took a walk to the B Street Post Office to mail valentines and get a peek behind the scenes at this historic building. What an adventurous group of young scholars.

Harvest Christian School seems to be helping some students develop their animal-keeping skills. The fourth-graders have a new pet, a baby bearded dragon named George. In honor of his arrival, a friend of Mrs. Priest, Miss Phoebe, brought three of her own reptile pets to educate the class about these creatures. The older students welcomed second-graders to class for the presentation as well. “Our visitors were Zoe the baby corn snake; Dude, the 15-year-old bearded dragon; and Jennifer, the adult ball python,” shares Kerri Petersen. But it seems the fourth-grade’s pets just keep multiplying. Their praying mantis egg sack hatched Friday morning. The students were excited to witness this, and see how the other classroom animals reacted. Reports are George, the bearded dragon, decided to see what all the fuss was about, and came to the edge of his tank to look into the mantis tank.

Also visiting Harvest Christian Campus were grandparents on the school’s Grandparent’s Day. “The connection between a grandparent and a grandchild is a bond of love that reaches across time and space. Their presence on our campus infused the atmosphere with that love in a way that let all of the staff share the children’s joy in having them here,” according to Petersen. Grandparents enjoyed performances by students from all the grades, including a Beowulf mini-performance from the eighth-graders, and a Latin prayer led by the second-graders.

Congratulations to the Petaluma FFA for a successful day at the 20th annual FFA Field Day. The Farm Business Management Team was named Champion Team with individuals Amanda King (third), Ben Forney (second) and Matt Forney (first). This sweep of the top three places is a great accomplishment, reports Jake Dunn. “Our Ag. Mechanics teams consisting of Max Poncia, Joe Yerion and Andy Ghirardelli, placed 12th out of 35 teams, and our Light Horse Evaluation team, consisting of freshmen Madalyn Elliott and Emily Coope, made their first appearance, placing in the top 20,” Dunn says. The students and coaches are looking forward to many more great things as the season continues during the remainder of the school year. Next stop is UC Davis the first Saturday in March.

Wilson school will be holding its annual Kinder Prep and Kindergarten parent information night on Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. Wilmar superintendent/Wilson school principal Eric Hoppes shares the goal of the meeting is help parents understand the differences between the two programs, and to answer questions about what will be the right fit for their child. “This is also an opportunity to meet our team of kindergarten teachers, see examples of student work and learn how we help with the transition to elementary school. The meeting is hosted in our kinder prep room so parents can see what the rooms look like. We will have one of our instructional assistants on hand to provide child care in the adjoining room,” offered Hoppes. For more information on this meeting, contact Wilson School.

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