THE CHALKBOARD: Students part of big Veterans’ Day parade

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Oh, what a parade! It was a treat seeing so many of our local students participate in the annual Veteran’s Day Parade held in downtown Petaluma. From high school marching bands to Scout troops and other organizations, our local students proudly walked the route making for a wonderful day for both the veterans and crowd sharing in the celebration.

St. Vincent Elementary School and St. Vincent High School both organized their own campus food drives this month. The SV junior high class tallied 1,004 items donated. Nick Murphy and Cameron Ray (SVES Class of 2013) offered their support with transporting the donations. The Leadership Class at SVHS sponsored a Thanksgiving Food Drive at school from Nov. 13 through Nov. 19. Members from the class collected canned foods, pasta and other nonperishable items. Cash gifts were also accepted. All donations were delivered to local organizations that serve those in need this holiday season. Other news from SVHS is an update from the school’s traveling debate team. Congratulations to Emma Page, Colin Birkenstock, Connor Crosby and Jonathan Carlson who traveled to Chicago this past weekend to debate at the Glenbrooks Invitational event. Colin Birkenstock and Emma Page finished with an impressive 5-2 record against the strongest competition.

Casa Grande students got up close and personal with local firefighters who were on campus last week for a sports medicine program. Every year, Petaluma firefighters help teach a portion of the curriculum. This year, they help educate students on cervical spinal cord injuries and the proper way to prepare patients for transport for further medical care. It is great to see these dedicated professionals helping inspire young students in the community.

Springhill Montessori hosted Grandparents Day before the Thanksgiving break. On Tuesday, students brought their special guests to campus for the celebration. It was a great day sharing the gift of connecting with multi-generations.

Kenilworth Junior High teacher Laura Bradley spent last weekend in Houston as part of a panel sharing information on presenting the creative program NaNoWriMo to students. Bradley is a strong supporter of the program, encouraging students to embrace their writing styles and compose their own literary works. The 30-day intense process results in students writing their own novels. According to the website, in 2017, more than 100,000 young writers and educators in more than 9,000 classrooms took on the NaNoWriMo challenge. Kudos, Mrs. Bradley on cultivating future novelists.

The Petaluma Educational Foundation has started campus visits to announce the annual PEF Impact Grant Awards. The longtime local nonprofit awards up to $15,000 per grant to support innovative and engaging curriculum-based programs. This year, the financial awards will support instruction for literacy, music, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics), along with other academic focus areas. Watch for banners displayed at various school sites indicating they are a recipient of this grant program. The surprise campus visits will continue through the end of the month.

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

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