Choosing best boxcars at Cinnabar

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On your mark, get set, go! Cinnabar students were racing around the multipurpose room last week with their boxcar STEAM projects. Miss Ayala had the fifth-graders put their creative designs to the test, and after lots of trial and error a winner was announced. Kindergarten students from Ms. Amy and Mrs. Sheila’s class were the judges/audience for this big event. Cinnabar School had 12 students, in grades fourth through sixth competed in a spelling bee back in late January that was narrowed down two contestants for the Petaluma Spelling Bee. “It was a real nail biter toward the end of the competition with the upper grade student body supporting them,” shares superintendent/principal Sandy Doyle. Miss Lowery, the school librarian, organized and ran the Cinnabar Spelling Bee with staff members and an alumni teacher as judges. The larger competition was held at Corona Creek on Feb. 5. Cinnabar representatives were sixth-grader Sohiela Kazemi and fifth-grader Lily Coenen.

Local Rotarians were out and about last week delivering dictionaries to students across Petaluma. This service organization’s time-honored tradition is a favorite here in Petaluma, and greatly appreciated by all. Rotarians visit individual classrooms and present third-grade students with their very own dictionary for use throughout their academic careers.

Harvest kindergarten teacher Mrs. Laura Orth hosted the school’s first ever Alphabet Fashion Show. “After my students learned all the letter sounds of the alphabet, we wanted to celebrate by assigning each child a letter and then made a paper-bag vest (brown grocery bag) that they decorated with anything that begins with that letter sound,” said Mrs. Orth. They then walked across the stage showcasing their cool vest creations for all to see and celebrate. Congratulations, Harvest Lions on a job well done. Harvest fifth-graders in Mrs. Meekins’ class brought William Shakespeare’s, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” classic book to life. “The students just finished reading the book, and we wanted to showcase the comedy in a way that would be fun for the kids and something they’ll always remember,” said Mrs. Meekins. All enjoyed the powerful performance by the young actors.

Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash is back at Grant Elementary School, and the student body can’t wait to celebrate. Thursday from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. in the Grant multipurpose room this beloved author will be honored as students make the most of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

Earlier this month, Sonoma Mountain Elementary School students participated in the school’s annual Art Adventure day. This program is a favorite among students, staff and parents. The program starts with Family Art Night early in the week, then the balance of the week includes students enjoying art workshops with Ane Rovetta, silkscreening T-shirts, and a school-wide collaborative art project. Earlier, all students rotated through three classrooms to learn about different artists like Picasso, Monet, Mondrian, to name a few and/or mediums such as pastels, mosaic, collage, watercolor, clay sculpture, and more. A project was completed in each class in the style of the artist and/or using specific techniques and mediums. Embracing the Arts is a focus of the campus. Engaging in a love of the arts in a different way is the students’ upcoming performance of The Jungle Book. SoMo’s performing arts group is set to take the stage on April 6 for two performances (morning and evening) with an encore performance on April 7. Break a leg, SoMo Mountain Lions.

St. Vincent de Paul Junior High 8th-graders stepped off campus and into the woods last week shares Danielle Rynning. The junior high students embarked on an overnight Outdoor Education Adventure at Westminster Woods. Students participated in activities that fostered teamwork, trust and communication. They challenged themselves to “Be The Change” as they participated in team challenges, night hikes, and the high ropes course. Mrs. Carciere, the 8th-grade teacher, shared, “It was inspiring to watch the students push themselves as individuals and as a team to meet challenges and face their fears.” The experience validated for the students how close they have grown throughout their years at St. Vincent’s. Mrs. Carciere is excited that “the 8th-graders brought home an energy and closeness that will make their last 3 months as a class even more special!

The Marin Spanish School’s Café Puente will be hosting an event called Noche de poemas on March 9 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The students have been working with local students from Casa Grande, Petaluma High School, Sonoma State and Santa Rosa Junior College. The students will read poetry in Spanish during the event. Native Spanish-speaking students will volunteer with Café Puente to host the event. The program offers a place for students of Spanish speaking backgrounds to practice in an organic environment while building community. “These students believe in celebrating their heritage through sharing their language and culture,” notes Emilie Thomas, founder of the Marin Spanish School located here in Petaluma.

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

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