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Agricultural awareness

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More than 700 elementary school students from all over our area arrived at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds recently for the annual Ag Day event. This educational activity has offered generations of Petaluma school children the opportunity to participate in this special day where they learn about the role agriculture plays in our history as well as highlights how agricultural organizations and businesses continue to play an important role in our local economy.

Congratulations to Harvest Christian’s kindergarten class for winning first place at the Sonoma Marin Fair’s Ag Day Elementary School Art Contest. Students may have been inspired in creating their masterpieces by a recent visit to campus by illustrator Shawn Harris. Harris shared stories from his children’s books authored by Dave Eggers. According to parent Kerri Peterson, this talented artist engaged the children by including them in the stories, “Turtle Tracking” and “Shadow Spotting,” which was so much fun for all the kids and adults. Harris also visited St. Vincent Elementary School during his time in Petaluma. The special author visits were made possible by Copperfield’s Bookstore.

The Old Adobe Elementary School Roadrunners hosted their annual Walk-A-Thon event on Sept. 23. The school-wide activity included a new feature this year with a Color Splash at the conclusion of the event. Students enjoyed celebrating their efforts to raise funds for programs on campus in this colorful way. This fun day was followed on Sept. 28 with a Spirit Day Crazy Hair Day. Earlier in September, another favorite Old Adobe Elementary School tradition took place with Story Night. Students and their family members were invited back to campus during the evening wearing their jammies, and curled up in blankets as they listened to stories read by Mrs. Hinton. All enjoyed snacking on milk and cookies as they attentively followed the stories shared aloud.

The second annual combined St. Vincent de Paul high and elementary schools Jog-A-Thon event was held Sept. 21 at St. Vincent’s Yarbrough Field. It was a great day of community and school spirit, notes SV communications coordinator Danielle Rynning. The 2018 Jog-A-Thon raised more than $40,000, and provided students with a day of fun.

Casa Grande High School’s guidance counselors Julie Powaser and Valarie Alston were joined this week by Denise Cooper from Santa Rosa Junior College to launch JumpStart 2018, shares principal Eric Backman. Backman reports the meeting, held in the high school campus library, was packed to overflowing with 137 college-bound students who signed up for the SRJC early registration workshop. JumpStart to the JC is a college preparation program for any high school senior planning to attend Santa Rosa Junior College after high school, according to the website (https://jumpstart.santarosa.edu). SRJC Petaluma’s JumpStart Early College Preparation Program was developed in an effort to help students complete the college on-boarding process earlier and simultaneously with other high school students applying to four-year universities. The JumpStart Program was created through a collaboration between local high school partners and the SRJC Outreach Team allowing access to a college counselor, and the opportunity to create an initial education plan before high school graduation. Starting with just one school in 2013, the program has grown to more than 250 students from five schools in southern Sonoma and Marin counties.

Casa Grande honored sophomore Charlie Sabella last week with a presentation by Principal Eric Backman. Sabella, who attended Sonoma Mountain Elementary and Kenilworth Junior High before entering Casa Grande High, was recognized for his consistent demonstration of upstanding character, values, and citizenship in and outside of the classroom, according to Backman. Keep up the inspiring work, Charlie.

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