THE CHALKBOARD: Mysteries solved at River Montessori School

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“What do Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein and Frida Kahlo have in common?” According to River Montessori Charter School’s online update, they “appeared” at RMCS on Oct. 31 for History’s Mysteries. “We had so much fun as students presented their research about historical figures who have made a difference in the world,” the update read. Students loved keeping their identity a secret so classmates could guess who they were after their presentation, making for some lively conversations. What a creative way to have these young students report on the information they researched for this curriculum-based activity.

Way to go, Harvest Lions! The school’s 13th annual Harvest Christian walk-a-thon raised $35,000 for the school, according to parent Kerri Petersen. Petersen shares that the playground was transformed into a carnival and play area for all. Decked out in superhero capes and masks, the students ran for 2 hours, some completing 50 to 70 laps. The event included the dessert, silent auction, more than 30 items in the raffle, including a trip to Solvang and concession stands with treats and cotton candy. There was even a dunk tank for students to dunk Mrs. Toscanini, the office assistant; plus Harvest’s Mr. Villa, elementary vice principal; Mr. Aharonian, junior high vice principal; and Mr. Wraith, principal. By all reports, it was an afternoon of fun and fundraising. Students brought in sponsors for their laps, and the carnival event brought in even more, totaling $35,000 that will go toward the general operating fund as well as to the many scholarships provided by the school. Even student Elly Vestnys did 25 laps while on crutches.

St. Vincent de Paul Elementary School students in Girl Scout Troop 10366 are doing their part to prepare those less fortunate for a warm winter. The annual One Warm Coat drive is part of the national movement asking the public to donate new or gently used coats. These young ladies will be collecting coats this week before school through Friday.

Grant Elementary School fourth-graders toured the Petaluma Arts Center recently to view the exhibit related to the devastating wildfires last year. Students participated in Visual Thinking Strategies activities where research-based educational curriculum-based lessons offer thoughtful, facilitated discussion of art activates transformational learning accessible to all ( In addition to viewing the works in the center’s installation, students gathered in the venue’s hands-on classroom space to create their own artistic masterpieces.

Students at Loma Vista Immersion Academy were joined by a few members of Daily Acts, a local environmental nonprofit organization, who came Tuesday to help Maestra Galdamez’s class work on the campus habitat garden project. Daily Acts has partnered with the school community and the School Garden Network to help make this garden happen, and will be leading a special sheet mulching workshop at the next volunteer work day on Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Tuesday, the group helped teach the students how to prepare the site for sheet mulching, then returned Wednesday to help students in other classes during their dedicated outdoor learning-space lessons.

The Petaluma Educational Foundation’s annual PEF Scholarship application portal is now open online at, under the Scholarships tab. Students in the graduating Class of 2019 are eligible to apply if they will be attending a 2-year or 4-year college or entering avocational program following high school graduation at the end of this school year. The program is open to students at Petaluma High, Casa Grande High. St. Vincent High, Carpe Diem High, Sonoma Mountain High, Valley Oaks School and San Antonio High. Donors to PEF underwrite these scholarships to support continued student learning. Deadline to submit completed applications is Jan. 23, 2019 with a reception to be held in April 2019 to announce the award winners.

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

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