THE CHALKBOARD: Focus on outstanding women at Petaluma Junior High

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Petaluma Junior High recently hosted a Women’s Speaker Series that highlighted women in our community and showcased their careers, lives and journeys. Librarian Terra Hazen and English teacher Jon Day organized the entire event, according to Principal Renee Semik. Over the course of those two days, 10 different women came in to discuss their professional choices, their experiences as writers, health professionals, educators, fire fighters, and one that works for animal control. They talked about challenges they faced, how they overcame them, and what advice they would like to give to our young adults today as they look and work toward their futures. The program was inspiring and offer the students an opportunity to share in the conversation after the presentations.

Music to Mickey Mouse’s ears! A total of 78 Petaluma Junior High band and choir students will be traveling to Southern California to perform at a variety of locations, including Disneyland and California Adventure Park. First up is a grand musical event for local veterans before heading to the “Happiest Place on Earth” to demonstrate their musical talents for those enjoying the park for the day. The group will also gain access to a professional Disney sound studio where they hope to record some songs. In addition to the excitement of visiting Disneyland, the students are scheduled to tour a local college campus where they will meet with teachers and learn more about studying music at the college level.

The Miwok Valley Language Academy’s Cinco de Mayo fundraiser was a big success, shares kindergarten teacher Shawn Morones. The event took place on campus last Friday. The evening festivities included food selections such as tacos, tinga, pozole, tamales, pupusas, tostadas and a variety of desserts. Special performances by Ballet Folklorico de Petaluma Paquiyollozin helped bring the crowd together with the celebration topped off with more music and a raffle. The event was a sixth-grade camp fundraiser.

Harvest Christian School’s Move Over Mozart piano students performed at their spring recital at Hessel Church in Sebastopol last Saturday. “They all did such a great job,” says parent Kerri Petersen. Music director Lynn Fleck created Move Over Mozart 30 years ago, according to Petersen, and now has after-school piano classes at more than 44 local elementary schools with more than 700 participants in the program. The spring recital gives every student an opportunity to perform the songs they’ve been working on in class making the event a memorable one for all.

The Petaluma Music Festival will take place Aug. 4. This will be the 11th year of the community event supporting the mission of keeping music in the schools, with proceeds from the festival donated to the 26 Petaluma public school music programs. In the past two years, the organization has donated $60,000 each year to the schools. This year, the festival is incorporating a focus on recycling. The goal is to create a zero waste event. There will be 15 recycling stations at the festival with two volunteers at each station. The group is extending this volunteer opportunity to students and their families. Schools that provide volunteers are given an extra financial stipend for each volunteer. For more information on how to get your school involved or personally volunteer, contact Mike Simpson at

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

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