Backstage work key to McKinley show

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McKinley’s Mustangs are busy preparing for their school stage performance of Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang. But it is worth noting not all the stars are on the main stage. Backstage you will find student Mae McCarthy, a current eighth grader in the PACS at McKinley program, who took it upon herself to organize and lead a student group of first through eighth graders to create the set for upcoming performance. Mae has volunteered countless hours to create the set and take spectators back in time to the 1960s England. Besides the backdrops and stage design, Mae’s group also built a cardboard car with working headlights from scratch. McKinley parent Matthew Harris shares, “Mae has shown outstanding leadership and dedication throughout the process, and the school community could not be more proud of her work.” This week, there are several free performances of the show directed by Cate Bruce-Low. Contact the school for dates and times. Break a leg to all the Mustangs involved with the show!

Reaching for the stars! Two students at Loma Vista Immersion Academy won 6-inch Dobsonian telescopes from the Sonoma County Astronomical Society on Tuesday evening. Camden Bushey, in sixth grade, and Dahlia Gen, in fifth grade, had to write a short essay on their interest in astronomy, submit a teacher recommendation letter and attend an SCAS astronomy night at the Ferguson Observatory in Santa Rosa in order to win their own telescopes. For more information on this annual program, visit

Old Adobe Elementary School was rocking and rolling under the sea last week. During the campus’ “Under the Sea” spirit day last Friday, students in Ms. Buckley’s fifth grade entertained the student body with their drumming learned during Ms. Rachel’s music class. The jam session added to the other exciting activities that were part of the day.

At Cinnabar School, music is in the air with a set of new ukuleles for students to learn new musical skills. Ms. Anne’s second grade class received a grant from the Petaluma Elks Lodge for the instruments. Elks leader John Leary and Lodge secretary Jacqueline Logan presented the ukuleles to the class, adding to the campus music program led by Ms. Chroninger, who has also introduced Drumfit, a program addressing physical, emotional, intellectual needs along with teaching rhythm and music. Part of the funding came from donations from the Petaluma Music Festival, which is a nonprofit festival that donates all proceeds to benefit music education in Petaluma-area schools.

Represenatives from The American Heart Association were on the Cinnabar campus last week, teaching seventh and eighth grade students CPR. In addition to the hands-on class, the American Heart Association provides materials, teaching aids, and online resources to the “Next generation of lifesavers.”

Nearly 60 Sonoma County students participated in elementary and junior high spelling competitions at the Sonoma County Office of Education this week. On Monday, 20 elementary students competed for the title of county champion at the first program of the two-day event. The Sonoma County Junior High Spelling Competition took place on Tuesday. These annual spelling competitions, which are open to the public, are designed to promote and acknowledge exemplary student achievement. Each student in the county spelling bees receives a certificate and souvenir commemorating their achievement. The top two spellers from each event are eligible to advance to the California State Spelling Championships. Petaluma area schools that were part of the event included Corona Creek Elementary, La Tercera Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Sonoma Mountain Charter, St. Vincent Elementary, Cinnabar Elementary, Live Oak Charter School, Mary Collins School at Cherry Valley and Petaluma Accelerated Charter located at McKinley School.

Petaluma Mayor Teresa Barrett visited with English as Second Language students at Petaluma Adult School last week. According to Catherine Crotty, ESL/CTE Coordinator and instructor for the Petaluma Adult School, the mayor addressed students’ concerns about affordable housing, the minimum wage and the proposed gas station across the street from the school. It was a positive experience for the students, getting a chance to meet with the mayor in person and develop a better understanding of the issues that impact their community.

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

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