Students get creative

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Creative cinematic projects are happening at Wilson Elementary School! Wilson’s Wildcats in grades 4-6 are in the midst of creating original films in the after-school Film Club, reports superintendent/principal Sheila Garvey. “Thanks to a grant from the Petaluma Education Foundation, the budding filmmakers are writing scripts, composing music, creating special effects and learning to use video and sound equipment. The final projects will be entered in The Five-Minute Film Festival in April sponsored by the Sonoma County Office of Education.” The students in the Film Club share they like interacting with the other kids and working the camera as well as getting to test out different speeds and zoom features. “There is a lot more we can do during editing. It’s fun and funny because we get to play with GarageBand, we get to film, and then we actually make a movie. During editing, we get to make the film exactly how we want it,” notes one young filmmaker. Garvey is impressed that students can do a great deal of the work themselves without adult help or direction. “I love to see the students share pieces of their work with peers. The feedback they get is constructive, but with a thoughtful and kind approach. They are learning so much more than just how to make a film.”

Thermo Fisher Scientific in Petaluma hosted the fourth-grade students at Harvest Christian School for a tour of its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The tour started with an in-depth presentation of the history of the company as well as an overview of the company’s mission and vision. The tour was arranged by Andrew Setikas, a Harvest parent who works for Thermo Fisher Scientific. Following the presentation, the students were taken on a guided tour of the company’s production facility where pipettes used in laboratories are produced using advanced injection molding machines, according to parent Kerri Petersen. The students also got to see robotics being used to further automate the manufacturing process. “Overall, the students got to get a better glimpse into how tools used to further science are being produced right down the street from their school.” Vice Principal at Harvest Mr. Jason Villa says, “The students were so excited to see how technology is being used to manufacture products used in science. This really brought to life a lot of what they have been learning in school as the theme in their class this year is ‘Ingenuity.’ ”

“We are Waugh!” Waugh School District, home to both Corona Creek Elementary and Meadow Elementary schools, showed school spirit when collecting items to support local Coast Guard families. Students donated their time and needed supplies for our Coast Guard Families while raising more than $1,910 in gift cards, boxes and boxes full of much-needed items. The two schools are also preparing for their annual Family Valentine’s Day Dance to be held on the Kenilworth Junior High campus mid-month. The night is always a favorite among the school families.

Valentine’s Day festivities at Spring Hill School include the annual Farmer’s Market and Bake Sale on Thursday, Feb. 14 from 2-3:30 p.m. at the Elementary Campus on Spring Hill Road. Elementary and Middle School students in grades 1-8 craft homemade items to sell, such as jewelry, art, flowers or baked goods. These young entrepreneurs are responsible for all the set-up, making, selling and cashiering the event. Proceeds from the market are divided amongst the classrooms and all the money goes back to students and experiential learning! This year, the middle school students are working hard to fund their first Washington, D.C. trip in June! In addition to celebrating Valentine’s Day on campus, students are making valentines for seniors in our community.

Keep it growing! Valley Vista Vikings are starting to prepare for their annual April Plant Sale on campus. They are collecting donations of plants, pots, and more to help make this year’s event even bigger than the 2018 sale. School volunteers will be busy over the next several weeks helping students with veggie starts and monitoring the greenhouse. Stay tuned for the sale date! Also happening on campus is the Girls on the Run program. According to the Vikings, using the power of running and being active, students learn important life skills such as teamwork, leadership, goal-setting, conflict resolution, and healthy decision making. Beginning February, girls in grades 4-6 can participate in an exciting running program at Valley Vista that meets two times per week for 10 weeks. At the end of the program, all girls participate in a non-competitive 5K (3.1 miles) run/walk event as a final personal challenge for the season.

Open enrollment for the upcoming school year is underway for most local schools. If you are interested in visiting a school and learning more about how to enroll your student, contact the school directly. Many schools are offering tours during the school day as well as Open House events in the evening.

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

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