Harvest Christian School Principal Jon Wraith extends a huge thank you to the Petaluma Valley Rotary and Petaluma Sunrise Rotary and all the other contributors to the Lend a Hand to Education Grant Program. Harvest Christian School teachers were awarded nine grants for field trips, dissection kits, library books, musical instruments, and costumes and fabric for the theater program. Vice Principal Mr. Aharonian announced, “We just held auditions and selected our cast for Peter Pan, Jr. for our Spring theatrical presentation which will be held at the Petaluma Veterans Hall in May, and we are so very thankful for the grant to help with the costumes.”

Over the bridge and down the busy streets. St. Vincent Elementary students in Ms. Penry’s fifth-grade went on a field trip to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Penry noted she was impressed with her students asking well-formulated, thoughtful questions during their academic adventure. The same sentiment was shared by Ms. Almond, SVES sixth-grade teacher, when talking about her students who recently held a Socratic Seminar discussing various topics from the class novel Tuck Everlasting.

The school community at Mary Collins School at Cherry Valley is very busy this month. January brings a full schedule with a Petaluma High School tour for eighth-graders, a new family campus tour for those considering Cherry Valley for their child’s education, Mr. Ruddell’s class play, a trip to the California Academy of Science for fourth- and fifth-graders, a fundraising event at Cal Skate, a spelling bee, participation in the Westside Chorus Festival at Petaluma Junior High, plus the start of the school’s Good Neighbor Project. Sounds like students will be starting off the second semester with lots to do. We can not wait to hear updates on it all.

At McDowell Elementary School, beautification projects are bringing more fun learning opportunities to students, shares principal Lauri Anderson. Anderson reports local muralist Maxfield Bala is working with the school Parent and Teacher Association (PTA) to help add murals to the campus ball walls. These installations will not just show the McDowell Monarchs’ pride in their school, but also to learn the geography of our country. McDowell’s new Oasis Garden is also officially open for business. Students and teachers can learn in this outdoor classroom, with sixth-graders having a special hang-out spot for their morning and lunch recesses. Anderson is also excited to update readers on the continued partnership with the Santa Rosa Symphony. “The program brought a professional brass quintet to campus for a great concert. The students loved recognizing some catchy Star Wars tunes. Santa Rosa Symphony’s Its Elementary program has been a great way for McDowell students to continue learning about, and appreciating, new types of music.”

Before the holiday break, students at Cinnabar School in Ms. Jen’s fourth-grade class learned how to make scarves for their holiday gifts. After cutting the (681 pieces) patterns from several color choices, they looped each piece, creating the chain. Each chain required 16 pieces. These student designers created one-of-a-kind pieces that warm the hearts and bodies of those on their gift lists.

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