Music fills Petaluma classrooms

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Music is filling the halls at Loma Vista Immersion Academy where students are “moving and grooving” thanks to the campus’ new music teacher. According to parent Aimee Bunting, students are up and out of their seats singing in Spanish as the program instructor performs songs on the guitar. Adding hand-held instruments for students to play, the classes are gaining a love for music as well as learning to develop an ear for creating music together. Adding to the artistic learning opportunity is Maestra Nuñez’s fourth-graders’ Arts Attack color mixing lesson. For the past two weeks, these fourth-graders have become quite the color-mixing rock stars, says Bunting. To start the lesson, they each created a color wheel of all 12 colors — the primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Then, mimicking the expressionism style, they painted in a scenic drawing they created using colors to express their emotion. The final step in the activity is tracing over their pencil lines with black markers to really make the colors stand out.

Also at Loma Vista was a fun, but focused, safety lesson. All the classrooms practiced a bus evacuation drill. Students toured a school bus, learned about all the expectations for riding the bus, and also practiced safely getting on and off the bus, especially during an emergency situation. Ms. Quirt’s transitional kindergarteners seemed to be the most excited to be able to board the big yellow school bus they had been eying from their classroom. The youngest class on campus seemed to enjoy the exercise of taking turns jumping out of the side door with the assistance of upper-grade student volunteers under the direction of transportation personnel. Sounds like everyone at Loma Vista is ready for field trips.

Harvest Christian School has built its first dedicated Science Lab. Junior High Vice Principal and Director of Facilities Jake Aharonian made many modifications and upgrades by adding coated flooring, a sink, a counter top and lab furniture, including a lab table donated by Thermo Fisher Scientific. The science lab also has storage space for supplies, tools, resource materials, and other instruments. Using grant money from generous donors such as Petaluma Rotary and the Petaluma Educational Foundation, Harvest Christian School plans to add even more science equipment and audio/visual gear to the room to better serve the educational needs of its students. The room is utilized throughout the day for Junior High Science and Health classes taught by Harvest Christian School Principal Jonathan Wraith as well as a Junior High Bible class, taught by Pastor Kevin Kirby. In addition to these classes, the elementary school teachers at Harvest for their science experiments can also use the room. In fact, a few teachers have already used the new science lab for art projects since the new floor coatings and sink area greatly simplify activity prep and clean up, according to Harvest’s Kerri Petersen.

Cinnabar middle school students are using the campus Tinker Cad and a 3D laser cutter to create images and other amazing pieces. Superintendent/Principal Sandy Doyle shares their first step is to make it on the computer, where it’s transferred to the cutter where a prototype is made. The objects will soon be made into story characters and eventually students will create stuffed animals from these characters. The stuffed animals will be donated to children after the completion of the project. With instruction from Cinnabar’s Mr. Ribiero, students also are making objects created through their computer, and then cut by machine such as photos transformed by being etched in wood.

A group of Penngrove Elementary School parents entered a chalk contest hosted by local pediatric dentist Sahouria Dental. They organized their group, and did an amazing job representing Penngrove with their entry based on the school theme “Wonder” this year, according to principal Amy Fadeji in a school newsletter post. The event earned the school a donation, with the opportunity to generate more support. For more information about the event, contact Penngrove School. The Penngrove Panthers celebrated International Dot Day during the month of September. “Our Dot Day art is inspired by Peter Reynold’s book, ‘The Dot,’ a lovely story that sends a message that we are all creative in our own way, and we all make our mark differently,” said Fadeji. Every class at Penngrove participated by reading the book, and discovering different ways to make their mark when given a dot. Each grade level’s dots are uniquely themed. Themes included: tie dye, Kandinsky, Mondrian, rainbow loom, Aboriginal and Mandala.

Additional art inspired activities on the Penngrove campus include all fourth, fifth, and sixth graders being introduced to the field sketching watercolor equipment that was funded by a Rotary Club grant two years ago. This creative art program is featured in the campus’ outdoor learning classroom where this growing season had all students tasting Bartlett pears and the school’s first crop of Bosc pears. Kindergarteners sorted beans and corn and sunflower seeds, discovering many colors. First graders started seeds and planted fairy gardens, second graders planted beans and third graders continue to study pollinators, reports the Panther community. In addition, the fourth graders found their worm farm population and fifth graders planted “the banks” of the rock river in front of the multi-use room while sixth graders prepared a delicious summer chopped salad and made mandalas of assorted succulent leaves. Happy fall to the Penngrove Panthers, keep sharing the bounty of your hands-on lessons in the outdoor campus kitchen.

McDowell Elementary students are celebrating their love of music. Through Santa Rosa Symphony’s “It’s Elementary” music program, all of McDowell students engage in daily music appreciation. Principal Lauri Anderson shares that students are learning about composers, instruments and the elements of classical and symphonic music. Teachers are excited to promote a two-year partnership with the Santa Rosa Symphony. Students have opportunities to listen to, and participate in live music performances with professional musicians. The school also features a program with classroom buddies. This is a great way older Monarchs model McDowell values of respect, responsibility, compassion and perseverance for younger scholars. The transitional kindergarten joins from time-to-time with their sixth-grade buddies to practice campus values and share a love of reading, notes Anderson. One example of this was on Sept. 15, when many McDowell Monarch families and staff participated in the Friends of the Petaluma River Fall River Clean-up event. This effort aligns with the school-wide focus on empathy in our community, and hands on science. The area of the river near the eastside school is looking great after all the McDowell Monarchs volunteers cleaned up 132.2 pounds of trash and debris.

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

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