Earth Day at University Park

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Sunday was Earth Day! Liza and I celebrated in several ways. First, we used some wonderful sunflowers given to Liza’s Mommy Olga to make a huge bouquet for the table.IMG_5030.jpg

Then we went out for a walk, to see the lovely flowers everyone has in their gardens. We walked past University Park Elementary School, the school I have worked at for 28 years, which had invited parents, teachers and families to come make the school more beautiful. Liza and I stopped by to help.

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Mrs. Gaynor and Miss Nichols

Before we knew it, we had gloves on and were pulling weeds. Rakes and shovels helped, too. Mrs. Gaynor and Miss Nichols, the sixth grade teachers, were in charge of the operation and Ms Laird, our Vice Principal, was there as well. I worked with some former students, as well as younger kids who would be my students if I was teaching next year.  Valerie Beltran is the only current Dragon that I saw there. She and her Mama both worked really hard. Everyone was so helpful and friendly!

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Valerie

Most of the activity was focused on the garden. This area was fenced in a few years ago and equipped with planter boxes. The big school lawnmower can’t get in, so the grass grows like crazy. The planter boxes themselves were also getting overgrown and needed help.

In a different area, kids were painting wooden flowers and long green stems to be placed along the chain link fence that goes around the garden. This will make it prettier and more cheerful. Liza got to paint a flower and then came and helped me pull weeds.img_5060.jpg

At noon, Miss Nichols’ Dad and Mom, who I have known since Miss Nichols was student at University Park, made us all hot dogs for lunch. We were all so hungry, tired and sweaty! But it was fun working with old friends, and getting to know new ones.

Two young people who worked very hard were Brandon and Isabella, third graders in Mimi Nolan’s class. They worked together carrying heavy loads and pulling giant weeds. I taught Brandon’s older brother Christian, so it was nice getting to know him.

I am proud of my school for pulling together and proud my granddaughter helped out, as well.

Love, Grandma Judy

Founder’s Day in Salinas

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Saturday, Salinas celebrated its one hundred and fiftieth birthday! It is called a sesquicentennial, which is fun to say once you get the hang of it. The city really did it right.

My day started at 7 a.m., when I walked to the Train Station. I wore my jeans and school tee shirt but carried my old fashioned lady docent clothes in my bag. At 7:45, there was already a lot of activity in the big parking lot between the Train Station and the First Mayor’s House….fellows barbecuing, people setting up booths, and kids playing around.

I found the area for school booths, and my Principal, Anna Padilla, Vice Principal, Erin Laird, and 6th grade teacher Amanda Nichols, were already at work. We were running two booths, a ping pong ball toss into small glass bowls to win a plastic fish, and a bowling ball roll game that I know is as old as your Mommy. I jumped in and started taping with everyone else.

By the time the festival opened at 9, we were ready! Kids came by and played, tossing and squealing and winning. I got good at catching bounced balls or waiting until they rolled to me, but there was still a fair bit of bending and stooping. Oooof!

We were lucky to be right in the center of things. The stage for all the music performances, including Mr. Jimmy Rossi and his partner Mr. Griffin and kids from all over the district, was just about 30 feet from us. We were facing the First Mayor’s House, so we got to see people coming and going. Some people were in old fashioned costumes, but most were in summer clothes because it was so warm.

After a few hours of chatting with kids, picking up balls and handing out fish, I headed to the First Mayor’s House. I found Maryjane Choate, who was helping organize the docents. She wanted me to be in the dining room, so I changed from Mrs. Drueding into Miss Saphronia Harvey and spent the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon telling people about the Harvey family. I told about their travels, how they built this house, how it was moved around to different parts of town , and what sort of lovely things are in it.

I enjoy sharing what I know about the history of the family and their things. People who have lived in Salinas their whole lives are always amazed at what a treasure we have here.

I saw old friends, too. Elaine Marbach, who was our school librarian for years, came though with her daughter Amy, and friends from french class and school…. it was like a party!

At about 2:00, Auntie Olga and Cousin Liza came by. Since Liza had been in the house before, she showed her mommy some of the nice things. Then we three went and Olga bought us a nice chicken barbecue lunch from the Sons of the Golden West booth. I hadn’t realized how hungry I was!! I ate half a chicken, a roll and beans, and still had room for salad. Then of course, there was time to play on the lawn…

We toured the festival and Liza played all the games….rolling balls into a tic tac toe board, tossing toilet paper rolls into a potty, and even making a corn husk doll. The hardest game was launching a rubber chicken into a basket… she never got the hang of that one. Down the rows we found jewelry, art, cotton candy, and at the far end, PONY RIDES!!

So Liza had a pony ride. Her legs are long enough that she can use the stirrups and she rode well. Her pony’s name was Macaroni and she was a very pretty pony. All the kids had such a good time. But finally, it was time to go home. We walked backed to the car, finding a lovely tree to climb on the way, and got home for naps. Liza and I were asleep before Auntie Olga, but not by much.

The evening was quiet, with Legos and our new favorite show, Man About Cake. Joshua John Russell is funny and shows us how to make fancier cakes than I ever hope to try…but it’s fun! I highly recommend it.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Open House Part 2

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My Class, From Where I Stand

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Well, my last Open House has come and gone. It was fun.

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More of Karen’s cool art!

We had about 17 of our 26 families visit. Each student had three things they needed to share with their parents:  How they write on Google Classroom, what art they had done, and what their part in our Reader’s Theater is. The school had printed up “passports” for the students to keep track of where they visited and what they did, so I was busy talking to parents as well and stamping passports. It was a busy night!

During the evening I had visits from several younger siblings of students and third graders I knew from the playground. They said they wanted to be in my class next year. “I won’t be here next year,” I told them. “I will be in Portland having more adventures!” They were sad but said I should have a good time.

My old friends from Temple Beth El Synagogue, Francine and Don Johannsen, came by with their 6th great grandchild, who is coming into fourth grade next year. It was good to see old friends, but hard to have much of a conversation in such a busy room! Another old friend, Amy Ish, came by. Amy was an experienced teacher when I began teaching in 1988, and retired a few years ago. She ran for the District school board a few years after that, and still keeps an eye on our District.

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Free Books!!!

Before I left for the night, I needed to plug all the Chromebooks back in so they would be charged for more writing by tomorrow. On the way off campus I saw that lots of people were still in the cafeteria…they were getting FREE BOOKS! Since we are changing curriculum, we need to clear out old books for space for the new ones. What a feast!! I got a collections of stories to share with Liza.

The sun was almost down on this very windy evening as I walked home. I felt tired and happy. I have worked hard and done a good job. Now I am ready to do something else.

Love, Grandma Judy