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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oak Grove & Willowside Schools Achieve Highest STAR Test Scores Ever!

Oak Grove scored 884. This is an increase over last year’s score of 847. This is an awesome score! In addition, their subgroup score for economically disadvantaged was 807. Never has this group met the state’s target of 800!!!! Congratulations Oak Grove!!!!
Willowside, with a score of 832, shattered their previous high of 810. Their English Learner subgroup made a 47 point gain and their Economically Disadvantaged made a 50 point gain. Congratulations to Willowside for their great work with all of their students.

I am very proud of our efforts and it further confirms how great our schools are and how we are achieving our mission of Academic Excellence. Congratulations to everyone and thank you for your dedication to our students, families and community.

Oak Grove Ribbon Cutting Ceremony & Playground Opening Celebration!
Free ice cream cones, lemonade and music!
When? Friday, October 9th 3:00 - 4:30PM
Where? Oak Grove's New Primary & Kindergarten Playgrounds
New District Administrative Assistant Aimee Sloat!

Last week, we interviewed a number of candidates in an attempt to fill the shoes of our District Admin Christine as she is relocating to France. This was no easy task! There were over 50 applications for the position and we were very fortunate to have several very qualified candidates to interview.

After checking references for the finalists, we offered the position to Aimee Sloat and she accepted. Aimee has been the accounts payable clerk and receptionist for the Mark West School District for the past 8 years. She is well versed in the county accounting practices, our Aeries data base system and the new county software program called Escape. She has been in the customer service field for most of her career and fits nicely with our district philosophy. Aimee will be spending 4 - half days with us between now and her full time start date of Oct. 1st. Please welcome her as she transitions to her new job.

Change of School Calendar
One solution the district is using to grapple with the budget cuts imposed from the State is to reduce the number of staff development days in the teachers’ contracts. The two staff development days scheduled on January 4 and April 2 will now be converted back to student instructional days. The students will now attend school on those dates. At the September 16 board meeting, the board members decided to convert Monday, November 23 and Tuesday, November 24 into local holidays thus there will be NO SCHOOL for students during the entire Thanksgiving week.

The school sites will be distributing updated calendars to each of the students.

“Have You Filled a Bucket Today?”
A Sharing by Wayne Yamagishi, Principal

Imagine that you are holding an invisible bucket. This bucket is empty and yearns to be filled. Imagine that this bucket can only hold good feelings, good comments, and appreciations for things that YOU have done well. The bucket only accepts sincere thoughts and comments.
Each of us hold such a bucket. I imagine each of the student’s at Oak Grove holding such a bucket. They are in the classroom and gain appreciations from others for helping them on a class project, gain kudos from their table-mates for sharing their materials, earn an applause for their sharing. I imagine that their bucket becomes full with affirmations from yard supervisors for helping others on the playground and using a breathing tool when they are feeling anxious or upset.

The bucket is an essential part of our self-esteem and helps us develop a healthy attitude of who we are in this world. I believe that it is one of the most essential ingredients of academic success, the establishment of healthy relationships, and the development of positive self-worth.
What have you done to fill your bucket for yourself, your child, and your family?
These thoughts are from a fantastic book that I recently read and would recommend to you. It is entitled, “Have you Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud.

API Progress – This past week the Department of Education released this year’s API results – a state-level measure of progress based on STAR testing results. Last year we were very happy to reach an API of 811, passing the statewide performance target of 800. This year we are happy to report a 22 point gain, bringing us to 832! Congratulations to all of the students and staff for this impressive achievement.

Parent Portal – By the time this issue of the messenger is printed, Willowside parents should have received a letter explaining how to access the “parent portal.” Through our secure server, parents are now able to view student grades, assignments and attendance records. For instructions on how to access the portal, check our website ( or call the front desk.

Fraction Day – Math teachers Donna Langerman, Betty Paul, and Stephanie Wilshon-Butler (along with their army of parent volunteers) succeeded in providing a fun, meaningful math experience for 7th and 8th graders. Students worked in competing groups to solve fraction-based puzzles and word problems – for which they received awards and recognition the next school day.

Online Safety – Many of our students maintain “Myspace” or “Facebook” pages. We’ve all heard the reports about how sexual predators can use these sites to gain access to kids. Experience has also taught us that these interactive sites can be a forum for harassment, teasing and bullying. Experts on the subject encourage parents to monitor kid’s online activity closely; keep personal information to a minimum; and teach kids to be respectful when communicating online.

Student Led Parent Conferences – This year during our conference week in November, each student will lead his/her own conference with a parent or guardian. The purpose of this exercise is to encourage each student to take ownership of his/her own learning and become accountable for their results. The process is also designed to develop organizational, communicative and critical thinking skills. In the weeks leading up to the conferences, students will prepare an analysis of their academic performance to date, set goals for the rest of the school year, and lay out a plan for how they intend to get there. At the conference itself the students will present their analysis and plan to their parents. While a teacher is in the room, he/she is only there as a support person for the student, who drives the process. More conference materials will be coming home with your student in the coming weeks.

PTO Parking Raffle – This year’s parking space winners are Karl Williams for the first half of the school (till January 22nd) and Chris Noonan for the second half of the year. Congratulations – and thanks for supporting PTO fundraising efforts.

Fine Arts Program News, October 2009
Vicki Arden, Arts Program Coordinator

The Arts as of Sept 23rd ….
Willowside 6th grade students and Colleen Cavallo's students are engaged in Visual Arts classes taught by Teresa Lewis. During the seven lessons per trimester students will learn art skills, concepts and vocabulary, as well as create original works of art. 6th grade students are also fortunate to have one period per week of general music taught by Lauren Chroninger, their new Chorus teacher.

Willowside Arts electives of Chorus, Band, 2-D and 3-D Art, Multi Media, Dance, and Drama are all in full swing.

Oak Grove Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd grade students are enjoying Janet Greene's Orff Music & Movement classes. On Tuesdays Scott Gifford, our new Chorus, Recorder & General Music teacher, is working with 3rd, 4th & 5th grades and holding before school Chorus.. Rick Clifford has begun teaching and rehearsing with 4th & 5th grade Band students after school Monday through Thursday.

Jim Corbett and Andrew DeVeny of Mr. Music & Friends are singing with grades K – 3rd on Fridays. They keep Oak Grove smilin' and singin' into the weekend!

Mark your calendars for this year’s Fine Arts Showcases:
February 3 – Grades 4 & 5
March 3 – Grades 2 & 3
April 21 – Grades K & 1
May 12 – Grades 6, 7, 8