Lorna Sheridan: Education Roundup Jan. 31

Empathetic states: Researchers have attempted to determine which states are the most empathetic, based on resident reaction to specific statements. Residents of Rhode Island, Montana, Vermont and Maine came out on top. California did pretty well at #9. Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Indiana came out on the bottom. Researchers also found that the states with higher rates of empathy were more likely to have lower violent crime rates and increased rates of volunteering and happiness. The results were published in the Journal of Research in Personality. Read more at tinyurl.com/z8kh6ms.

Let’s move overseas: Sweden is the world’s best country to raise kids, according to the recent US News & World Report 2016 Best Countries rankings. The rankings aim to gauge global perceptions of different countries by examining specific attributes (human rights, family friendly, gender equality, happy, income equality, safe, well-developed public education system and well-developed health system). Other countries that did well include Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia, while Pakistan and Iran did poorly – two countries criticized by human rights groups for their treatment of women – are perceived to be the least ideal countries to raise kids. usnews.com/news/best-countries

Calling young filmmakers: The Sonoma Middle School Video Workshop, presented by the Sonoma International Film Festival and the Boys & Girls Clubs, is accepting applications for its weekend workshop Feb. 24 to 26 (must attend all three days). There is space for three to four students from each middle school. See your principal to sign up or email Kimberlymh@earthlink.net. The resulting student films will screen at the film festival’s Student Program in late March.

Battling depression: Being active has been shown to alleviate some symptoms of depression in both teens and adults. Meanwhile, rates of depression in children appear to be on the rise. Scientists believe that children who exercise more, at a moderate to vigorous intensity, show fewer depressive symptoms years later. The study found that time sitting isn’t the problem, but instead the amount of time a child is truly active. In a new report published in Pediatrics, researchers looked at exercise habits and depressive symptoms over time in a large sample of children. tinyurl.com/gsxl7wf

Rich undergrads: At 38 colleges in America, including five in the Ivy League – Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, Penn and Brown – more students come from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent. You can see which schools these are, and look up specific colleges at tinyurl.com/hj88b7h.

Unlikeable people: I saw a great sign the other day that said “Negativity is the anti-charisma.” In a recent article called “Unmistakable Habits of Unlikeable People,” author Travis Bradberry lists a few more habits that he thinks play a role in (un)likability – tinyurl.com/zoyo34d.

• Name-dropping

• Being desperate for attention

• Emotional hijackings (screaming, making people cry, etc.)

• Humble-bragging

• Whipping out your phone

• Having a closed mind

• Not asking questions of others

• Gossiping

• Sharing too much on social media

Sonoma Market: Are you signed up for the scrip program at Sonoma Market and/or Glen Ellen Market? When you sign up, Nugget Markets supports your chosen local nonprofits and youth educational organizations. Your “community card” enables you to donate up to 5 percent of your purchases to the local nonprofits of your choice. The program is absolutely free, you just need to present your card to the cashier each time you shop. Visit escrip.com/merchants/identity/sonoma_glenellen/ to sign up or stop by the store(s).

Debut novel: “The wealthy enclaves north of San Francisco are not the paradise they appear to be, and nobody knows this better than the students of a local high school. Despite being raised with all the opportunities money can buy, these vulnerable kids are navigating a treacherous adolescence in which every action, every rumor, every feeling, is potentially postable, shareable, viral.” So begins the new bestseller “The Most Dangerous Place on Earth” by Lindsay Lee Johnson, which is set in Marin.

High school tour: Prospective parents are invited to tour Sonoma Valley High School at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9. Reserve your spot in advance by calling the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation at 935-9566 or email info@svgreatschoolsorg.

Cooking classes: The new Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Napa is now offering weekly Family Funday cooking classes for kids ages 4 and up on Mondays at 1:30 p.m. The cost is $15 for a 75 minute class. Visit ciachef.edu/cia-california/.

Free art classes: Thanks to sponsorship from the Rose Marie Piper Foundation, ArtEscape Sonoma provides free classes to local youth, such as an upcoming fiber art, recycled art, tyvek pouch and glass workshops. Classes fill up quickly. Visit artescapesonoma.com to register.

Summer is coming: Morton’s Warm Springs is selling 2017 season passes (memberships) now. New this year will be special “Members Hours” on weekends and holidays. Member fees help the owners to continue with restoration work during their lean winter off-season.

Congratulations: Sonoma Valley’s Renee Serota recently received a certificate of merit from the California State Assembly for her Gold Award Project at a regional Girl Scout event in January. Her project was last spring’s successful local summer camp fair. Serota is a senior at Marin Academy.

Upcoming Sonoma Valley High events: The next Coffee with the Principal at Sonoma Valley High is Friday, Feb. 3 at 8:30 a.m. in the library. The Boosters Crab Feed on Saturday, Feb. 4, is now sold out. The SVHS prom will take place on Saturday, April 1, in San Francisco at the Presidio.

Reading to pets: Pets Lifeline continues to welcome kids who would like to read to the animals at the shelter on Saturday mornings between 9 and 11 a.m. Students can borrow a book or bring their own. Signup is quick and easy online at petslifeline.org/read-to-the-animals.

Gifted Ed: Two new Parenting Advanced Learners classes start this week. The six-week class, presented by the Child Parent Institute (CPI) in Santa Rosa, offers parents an in-depth exploration of the art of parenting gifted children, including strategies and resources. Register at calparents.org or by calling 585-6108. Participants have a choice of Friday mornings or Tuesday evenings.

Contact Lorna at ourschools@sonomanews.com.