THE CHALKBOARD: The weather is a show at Corona Creek

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Students at Corona Creek Elementary School took to the stage and entertained family and friends at the school’s third-grade performance of a science-based play called The Weather Show. Teachers held auditions prior to winter break, and used class time to practice lines, choreography and songs, with each teacher taking on one of the areas. The play connects to what is being taught in the classroom, and the beauty of a musical is that it really sticks with the young performers. “When students put on their costumes after recess on Wednesday, you could feel the excitement in the air as they prepared for the school performance in front of the entire student body. One could even hear a few fourth-graders in the audience singing along to the catchy tunes they had learned the previous year, such as Raining Cats and Dogs and A Quest for the Ancient Barometer,” noted Waugh Superintendent/Corona Creek Principal Becky Rosales. A handful of third-graders had already experienced the opportunity to perform in a play earlier in the year through the district’s after-school enrichment program, so there were a few experienced actors in the crowd, according to Rosales. “Talk about a confidence booster and just overall great experience for these 9-year-olds. They will be singing the songs for years to come. It is a lot of work for all involved, but the teachers and students all share in a feeling of pride at the conclusion of the final performance,” shared Rosales.

La Tercera Elementary School students and families were invited to spend the evening immersed in engineering concepts. The event, which took place earlier this month, featured materials from the Lawrence Hall of Science with participants exploring the exciting world of construction and design as they built, engineered and invented with their own hands. This design challenge experience brings out the engineer and architect in everyone. “We explore building in two and three dimensions while discovering the design properties involved in constructing giant structures, bridges, rockets and more. All the while they learn how engineering plays a huge role in the world we live in. We provided the building materials; participants brought the creativity.” reports Kristy Corbett. The event is a favorite among students and their families.

Love is in the air! Thanks to the creative students at several local schools, including River Montessori, Cinnabar School, McKinley Elementary, Mary Collins School at Cherry Valley, Petaluma Junior High, St. Vincent Elementary, McDowell Elementary, and others, the volunteers at PEF’s Alphabet Soup Benefit Thrift Store each received hand-made valentines from students they give their time to support. This gesture of heartfelt thanks means so much, and is greatly appreciated, especially since the store is celebrating its 25th anniversary next month.

Cinnabar School is studying the stock market. Sixth-grade students are playing the Stock Market Game as part of organized activity with teacher Stephen Winston. Superintendent/Principal Sandy Doyle explains they spent a week learning the vocabulary necessary to participate. The students receive a pretend $100,000 to spend. They have a 3 percent brokers fee and can spend 20 percent of their cash on one stock or mutual fund. Each team has a reporter, head researcher, director, data entry coordinator, and a portfolio coordinator. Doyle notes students are researching Google, Pixar, Amazon and Facebook, just to name a few popular investment options in today’s market. One student said, “We are watching Facebook, and it is going down. We need to make a wise decision about whether to buy or not. It could keep going down or rise. If it rises we make money. But if it goes down then we have lost money.” Students look at the history of the stock they want to buy to determine what has caused the rise and fall and what might have caused it to change. The team decides after their research what stocks they will buy and then make their bid. Winston reports that, as of this week, Cinnabar students, who were competing against other middle schools and high schools, were in first place out of 11 in the North Bay and in ninth place out of 168 schools in the Bay Area. These savvy sixth-grade investors are enjoying the growth of their portfolio.

Petaluma City School’s Mary Lim is busy preparing for the district’s annual Innovation Showcase on Feb. 28. The STEAM-based projects and presentations will be open for public viewing from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Petaluma Community Center. Admission is free, and all ages are welcome. Student projects have included photography, coding, ink drawing, robotics, dance, music and other creative presentations.

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

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