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Celebrating gorillas

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The students at Mary Collins School at Cherry Valley read “The One And Only Ivan” this summer. School librarian April Derby shares that a creative group of MCCV middle schoolers used their positive, thoughtful creative energy to design an event to celebrate gorillas, reading and the school community in honor of this summer reading program. On Wednesday, in the amphitheater at school, students enjoyed an afternoon of fun activities, delicious treats and a chance to acknowledge and work to save the lives of gorillas. The event was called “Not So Different: Help Save Our Gorilla Relatives,” and was planned and executed 100 percent by students. Crafts, face painting, a bake sale and an educational slide show were part of the program to raise awareness and funds for mountain gorillas. The goal was to raise enough money to adopt a silverback that students can follow through updates and video. The books offered in the summer reading program were purchased with grant money from the Rotary Club of Petaluma and Friends of Cherry Valley Library. “We are also sharing the books with other schools in Petaluma,” according to Derby.

Petaluma Junior High has been “slimed.” The PJHS Bantam Makerspace is an exciting place for exploration, discovery, and creation within the PJHS Library Commons, according to school librarian Terra Hazen. “There have been full sign-up sheets and long waiting lists for activities like stop-motion animation, Lego building challenges, crafty creations and, of course, this week’s slime! Next week’s theme is ‘All Things Paper’ with plans for a paper airplane competition and lessons in origami.” Hazen is always looking for crafty, techie and creative adults who would like to share their knowledge and skills with the students during mini workshop-style lunchtime events. For example, last year an amazing volunteer taught students professional techniques for decorating cookies. If you are interested in volunteering, Hazen can be reached at thazen@petk12.org.

Valley Vista Elementary School hosts a weekly assembly where student pianists play intro music and exit music for the whole school, birthdays are celebrated, and announcements are made, reports principal Catina Haugen. Last Friday, Mrs. Neufeld and Mrs. Vester’s classes shared special exit music with the school. “We all sang and joined in the hand motions to the song, ‘Baby Shark.’ They even performed an encore in the office after assembly,” says Haugen. Bravo to kindergarten and first-graders for taking the stage early in the year, and offering a wonderful performance for all your fellow Vikings.

Students in Matthew De Lucia-Zeltzer’s (Mr. D-Z) class at McKinley Elementary are practicing attentive listening, along with volume, expression and professionalism in their first Poetry Café activity of the school year. Mr. D-Z shares the work of the students came shining through with humor and drama and a great example of risk-taking for these young presenters during the first session. Mr. D-Z is very proud of the sincere and thoughtful feedback from the audience after each play. “The kids quite simply knocked it out of the park for their first time participating in this classroom activity,” he says.

Casa Grande High School is being recognized for hitting the transportation trifecta, according to principal Eric Backman. In a recent blog by Kevin Anderson for the Center for Climate Protection (https://climateprotection.org), the Gauchos had the highest percentage of student participation, the most CO2 saved overall, and the most CO2 saved from active transportation of biking, walking, skating. Anderson states that eight Sonoma County public high schools participated in the annual ECO2school Challenge, a friendly two-week competition that encourages students to choose sustainable modes of travel to and from school. A dedicated group of students participated in ECO2school’s Youth Leadership Development Training with support from Casa science teachers Todd Adams and Melissa Witte. This collaborative effort helped them start and grow an environmental club on campus open to all students. The group organized three events throughout the year to promote their message and educate their school community. The club members collected pre-event and post-event data to determine the impact of these programs. As an added example of her commitment to the overall effort, Witte regularly rides her bicycle to and from school. During the challenge, she parked her bike in the back of her classroom as a reminder to all Gauchos of the work being done by these dedicated students.

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