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Lorna Sheridan: Education Roundup, Aug. 15


Welcome back to school!

Teacher grants: Teacher’s Wishes Mini Grant application opened on Tuesday, Aug. 1. Share with Sonoma County PK-high school teachers that they can apply for up to $300 for their classrooms or a project. johnjordanfoundation.org

Drama fun: The fall program at Libby Oberlin’s Theater School begins in September. Her first show is “Dear Edwina” for ages 7-12 and the play “1984” for teens. She is also offering an eight-week musical theater class for teens on Tuesday nights. For more information, visit thetheaterschool.com.

Supply lists: A handful of local schools are signing on for a new service at TeacherLists.com. With a few clicks, parents can find their child’s exact supply list and then click over to pre-filled shopping carts on Target, Walmart, Jet.com or Amazon to purchase their list and have it shipped right to their home. Target and Walmart also offer in-store pick-up. So far, I see El Verano and St. Francis schools in Sonoma but others are likely to follow. More than 50,000 schools now have lists posted on TeacherLists. Lists for more than 1 million classrooms are live on the site and include required and requested items as well as specific notes and clarifications from teachers and school staff. Teacherlists.com.

Library event: On Saturday, Aug. 19, at 2 p.m. the Sonoma Valley Library presents Los Gu’achis. Los Gu’achis is a Petaluma-based quintet that plays instrumental music of the American Southwest, early California, and Mexico. The event is free and no registration is required. facebook.com/sonomavalleylibrary.

Supply costs: Speaking of school supplies, a new survey from Junior Achievement has found that most parents and teens agree that buying school supplies poses a financial challenge for families. Additionally, 78 percent of parents are buying school supplies from traditional “brick and mortar” stores, as opposed to online. In all, 64 percent of parents expect to pay less than $500 per child on back-to-school items (clothes and school supplies), while 72 percent of teens expect their parents or guardians to pay less than $500. Only 17 percent of parents and 16 percent of teens expect that more than $500 will be spent, per-child, for school supplies.

Farm Tots: Farm Tots at the Studdert Family Farm is expanding its program this fall and is currently enrolling children ages 2.5 to 6 years old. The pre-school program is Tuesdays-Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. It’s a small program (12 children) and the teacher-child ratio is less than 6-1. Parents can choose one or multi-day options during the traditional school year (September-June). The program is led by preschool teacher Cindy Studdert, who is assisted by SVHS grad Noemi Campos (’08). “Farm Tots is committed to seasonal and creative learning - activities range from gathering eggs, planting seeds, feeding farm animals, art, play dough, swinging, hiking through the vineyards and looking for hawks... and always welcoming children’s discoveries,” says Studdert. Email cindystuddert49@gmail.com for a tour or visit farmtots.blogspot.com.

Shopping tip: If you need to stock up on back to school clothes or equipment, you can save 50 to 90 percent on everything for your family at NorCal’s largest kids’ and maternity consignment sales. The event at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds runs Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 14 to 19. Check website for details (northbay.jbfsale.com).

New Facebook group: Sports equipment and baby gear can get expensive. There is a terrific new local Facebook group called Sonoma Valley Kids Gear. Request membership if you are interested in buying or selling equipment related to kids.

Free textbooks: Nearly 1.5 million U.S. college students are expected to use free textbooks from OpenStax this year. The site offers 29 textbooks for the most-attended college courses. The free, peer-reviewed, openly licensed books include College Physics, Biology, Concepts of Biology, University Physics, Principles of Microeconomics, Psychology, American Government and College Algebra, among others. By this fall more than 11,000 faculty members at 4,200 universities or colleges will have adopted OpenStax textbooks for 8,500 courses. It is worth checking to see if your student’s books are on their list. openstax.org.

Book sale: The Friends of the Sonoma Valley Library has a book sale beginning this week. The sale runs Wednesday, Aug. 16 through Saturday, Aug. 19. The first book is free to all students throughout the sale. Books are free to schools, local nonprofits and neighborhood libraries all day Saturday.

BBK signups: It’s not too late to sign up for Broadway Bound Kids’ production of “Elf,” which begins rehearsals this week. Rehearsals are now on Tuesday nights at the Sonoma Veterans Building, at 126 First St. W. for ages 4 to college. The performances will be Nov. 17 to 19. Email sonomabbk@gmail.com for more information.

Coffee for a cause: Dutch Bros. “Give Back Day” to benefit Sonoma Valley schools will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 16.

Sad stats: The suicide rate among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 reached an all-time high in 2015 for the 40-year period beginning in 1975, according to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics. In the shorter term, the suicide rate for those girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, the research indicates. By comparison, the 2015 suicide rate for boys in this age group went down.

New gym floor: The Boys and Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley is enjoying a brand new synthetic gym floor thanks to Rotary of Sonoma Valley and Kiwanis Club of Sonoma Plaza. The Club’s original flooring had withstood a decade of wear and tear making it recently somewhat unsafe for use. Rotary provided $14,000 to cover more than half the cost, and Kiwanis provided $5,000, just in time for summer camps.

Twilight hike: California State Parks Junior Ranger program is offering a twilight hike from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug 18. The one-mile hike is free and open to all ages. Meet at the Vallejo Home parking lot.

Congratulations: Sonoma Valley High School grad Sean Prasad is entering St. Mary’s University this fall to study political science. He was chosen by Youth on Course (youthoncourse.com) as one of 28 students nationally who this year will share $300,000 in scholarship funds.

Congratulations also: Three Sonoma residents graduated from Empire College in June.Kasey Koch graduated with President’s Honors from the specialized associate degree/medical assistant program with a concentration in phlebotomy. She was recipient of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Student Achievement Award. Marlus Shaw graduated with President’s Honors from the specialized associate degree/medical assistant program with a concentration in phlebotomy. She is now employed by West County Health Centers. Sandra Torres graduated from the medical assistant essentials program.

Send tips and news to ourschools@sonomanews.com.