Lorna Sheridan: Education Roundup March 14

Survey: Sonoma Valley parents are invited to give feedback on the school district parent survey. The survey will close at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 31. Topics include satisfaction, technology and communication. Visit surveymonkey.com/r/K8BXBBX

Academy news: Sonoma Valley High School’s engineering, design and technology academy has been named a semi-finalist in the 30th annual Jack London Award for Educational Innovation. The award memorializes London by recognizing and encouraging innovative, educational programs. The public awards presentation is May 10, at Sonoma State University at 5 p.m

Free tutoring: Teen Services Sonoma invites youth ages 13 to 18 for free math tutoring (algebra to calculus), physics, and chemistry on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m. at 17440 Sonoma Highway. In other Teen Services news, the center is having a painting party and officials are looking for volunteers to help paint the walls in bright new colors on Saturday, March 18, starting at 2 p.m. Finally, Teen Services five-week Spring Ready to Work course will begin on March 30. Students, ages 14 to 25 get assistance preparing a resume, practicing interview techniques and securing summer jobs. For more information on any of these events, contact francesca@teenservicessonoma.org or 707-939-1452

Lemony Snicket: Meet Daniel Handler the creator of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books written under his Lemony Snicket pen name. Handler, a longtime fan of Charles Schulz, will talk about his admiration for “Peanuts” and other topics at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, at the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Tickets are free with Museum admission and available on a first come, first serve basis starting at 10 a.m.

Gifted testing: A Gifted and Talented Education committee has been focused on how the Sonoma Valley Unified School District identifies GATE students and it has resulted in the decision to test all second and third grade students for GATE in the spring. The testing results will be shared with teachers and parents, and will be used with other measures to identify students for GATE. More information is on the SVUSD website.

New district app: Have you checked out the new official Sonoma Valley USD app? It provides a personalized window into what is happening at the district and schools. Search for SVUSD in the app store.

Twice exceptional: There is an intriguing new book out called “The Power of Different – The Link Between Disorder and Genius.” Author Gail Saltz examines the gifts of the atypical mind. If you have a child who seems different, it might be a good (and comforting) read.

AP classes: California now ranks fifth in the nation in the percentage of public and private graduates who scored at least a 3 out of 5 on an AP exam during high school (28.5 percent). More than 42 percent of the state’s public high school students took at least one test, a number that has risen each year. tinyurl.com/jemj328

Good Doyle news: Santa Rosa’s Exchange Bank recently increased its dividend that funds the Doyle Scholarship at Santa Rosa Junior College. Just over half of the bank’s cash dividend goes toward scholarships.

Suicide tool: Facebook is launching new tools to help people who may be thinking of suicide, and for friends and family who want to help. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15 to 29 year olds. When someone is thinking of suicide or hurting themselves, Facebook already has tools that let friends reach out directly or report a post but the company has redesigned its suicide prevention tools and integrated them into live video. People can now chat directly with someone from organizations like Crisis Text Line, Lifeline and the National Eating Disorder Association. The site is also testing ways to use artificial intelligence to find patterns in posts that have been reported for suicide and make it easier to identify similar posts.

Free textbooks: Are your college student’s textbook costs breaking the bank? Here a few ideas. University library: What they don’t have in-stock can often be requested via interlibrary loan from other libraries. Professors often put the textbooks for their courses on reserve. Arrange a book swap: Student organizations sometime set up online book exchanges or students can start their own informal group. Project Gutenberg: The oldest digital library in the world offers more than 43,000 free e-books, e-readers. Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library: It allows members to check out e-books for free. This site is best for popular and classic titles. tinyurl.com/hlw656x

Campfire program: The next free campfire and marshmallows program for children hosted by the Sonoma State Historic Park at the Barracks is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 17.

Sister Act: Justin-Siena Theatre Department is presenting the musical “Sister Act!” from Friday, March 24, through Sunday, April 2, at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center in Yountville.

Special friends club: “Including Special Friends” is a new club that meets every Wednesday at SVHS. The student members work with the special needs students to better include them into the student body. The club was founded by Rocko Wetzel and Lily Raaka.

Good news regarding yogurt: Researchers think they have discovered a direct link between bacteria in the gut and mental health. A lab experiment has led researchers to believe that simply eating yogurt could influence mood and ease mental disorders. Lactobacillus is a probiotic bacteria found in live-cultures yogurt. Researchers hope that their findings could offer an alternative to drugs in treating depression, stress, and anxiety disorders. http://tinyurl.com/jqsynvf

Soccer brain damage: Evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a potential cause of dementia caused by repeated blows to the head, has been found in the brains of former soccer players. Researchers do not yet know exactly what causes CTE or how significant the risk is. http://tinyurl.com/jy8qapu

Internship opp: Applications are now being accepted for the 2017 Sonoma State University Summer High School Internship Program for juniors interested in science, technology, engineering, computer and environmental science and math. Interns will receive $1,000 research stipends for four weeks of research and have the opportunity to be co-authors on published papers. Applications are due April 7. sonoma.edu/scitech/hs.

Speaker event: The next G3 Speaker Series features Jenna Maze speaking on Wednesday, March 15, at the General’s Daughter on the topic of how the beauty industry markets to girls and women, making them never feel quite “perfect” enough. This will be a good event for teen girls as well. Register at g3sonoma.com.

Tutoring jobs: Altimira Middle School is looking for paid tutors who are juniors and seniors in high school to help sixth graders after school on Fridays. Apply in the College and Career Center at SVHS.

Master plan news: The Sonoma Valley Unified School District and its architects are busy reviewing each school’s master plan. Each school in the district is meeting to develop a list of priorities for their campus. Funding from Measure E will be determined based upon each campus’s list of needs. Campuses are reviewing and revising their plans to reflect current needs and desires.

Coolest new field trip: The San Francisco Dungeon is the first-of-its-kind, live-action journey through 200 years’ worth of the Bay Area’s most riveting — and sinister — history. Theatrical actors, special effects and stages offer up a dark, atmospheric — and often hilarious — interpretation of the city’s deepest, darkest historical moments. Bay Area students qualify for $10 tickets (standard student admission is $12). sanfrancisco.thedungeons.com

Send comments and suggestions to ourschools@sonomanews.com.