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  Santa Cruz Parent Santa Cruz County

February 7, 2019
A Beautiful Family Story

The Art of Thinking

Make a Valentine!
My Side of the Mountain
Fun Events!
Click to view our Business Directory
  A Beautiful Family Story

(0 A February 2019) debbie-reynolds-carrie-todd.jpgIn my travels I've taken to listening to audio books as a great way to make the miles entertaining, educational and keep myself awake. One of the most poignant and beautiful stories I've listened to is Todd Fisher's tribute to his mom, Debbie Reynolds and his sister, Carrie Fisher.  My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie is a tremendous story of love, loyalty, humor, weathering of disappoints and enduring, deep bonds of family.

Todd talks about Carrie Fisher's fabulous career as Princess Leia in Star Wars movies and her lifelong struggle with bipolar illness, drug addiction and openness about it in order to help others.

Debbie Reynolds always made her children first in her life during her fabulous acting career. Through Todd's eyes, we follow her through multiple disappointments and great resilience in bouncing back. In her final years, roles reverse and her two children poignantly and tenderly take care of her.

This moving story offers eye-opening insights into family dynamics. It's suitable for families with teens. You also may read the book, but listening to Todd heightens the emotional impact and gives us a profound insight into Todd's warm, generous personality, healthy outlook on life, loyalty and devotion to family and tremendous "can do" entrepreneurial spirit.

Please share our newsletter with new friends so they won't miss a few tidbits of wisdom from our author contributors, and as always our many fun events!

Have a sunny weekend with family and friends!  Parmalee


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  The Art of Thinking

What Do College Entrance Exams Really Measure?  

by Shannon Kelly

Each year more than three million high school students take the SAT or ACT, the entrance exams required by most four-year colleges in the United States. For decades, however, there have been questions about exactly what these tests measure, what role they play in the admissions process and how predictive they are of academic success. These anxiety-provoking exams, and the multibillion-dollar test-prep industry that has grown up around them, have also become lightning rods in the ongoing national debate over equity in educational opportunity.

(0 A February 2019) TestAndArtofThinking.jpgIn the new documentary "The Test & the Art of Thinking," filmmaker Michael Arlen Davis examines this controversy through interviews with students, parents, counselors, test-prep professionals and academics, to provide a fascinating look at this uniquely American rite of passage and how it reflects deeper issues in our educational system - and our society as a whole.

In the film, Chris Ajemain, founder of CATES Tutoring, likens the test to a work of art: "The SAT is not a test of what you know," he said. "It's a test of how you think."

"There was always this sort of idea that it was me against the Scantron," says Milo, a Harvard University student interviewed for the film. "If I can bubble in the right things, then I'll make it in the world."

Independent consultant Marisela Gomez of Inspired Education, encourages parents to "Understand your child's needs in relation to entrance exams. Then, create a test plan that works for your child." Marisela is an independent consultant who works with high school students and their families in south Santa Clara County.

(0 A February 2019) Test_Boys.jpg"There are several colleges that are now test-optional," she added. "If your child has high-anxiety around test taking, consider approaching the college admission process differently. There are many ways to get admitted to college. Find the right path for you and your child."

As a college counselor, I am dedicated to helping students navigate the college application process and I want them to explore the many options that are available. The SAT and ACT, however, are like the story of the emperor who has no clothes; we understand that doing well on these exams has no bearing on college success, yet we are all forced to participate in the farce. I hope that this film will open up the discussion around standardized testing and how this impacts students and our entire education system.

(0 A February 2019) Test_Girls.jpg"As a parent of three teenage children, one graduating from high school this year and two others closely following, our family has been navigating the world of standardized testing - SATs, PSATs, ACTs, subject tests and more," shares local parent Beth Brennan. "I am glad to see some thoughtful research and attention being given to what the results of these tests mean. After my elder son's last planned SAT he expressed relief that the "testing' was over now. That started an interesting family discussion about how in many careers and jobs the testing will not be over. Standardized testing has always been part of an attempt to ensure a basic knowledge of, and proficiency in, the subject you are testing for. But how well do these tests reflect how we actually apply our knowledge to achieve a desired outcome? Not so well it appears. It's clear that some of us are very good "test takers,' while others, for multiple reasons, will perform poorly on these, while demonstrating exceptional ability in applying knowledge in real-life situations."

When the SAT was introduced in the 1920s, it was proposed as a way for elite universities to identify educationally disadvantaged students who would make promising scholarship candidates. That's a far cry from its current status as a nearly ubiquitous exam for which affluent families pay thousands - or more -for classes and tutors to give their children any possible advantage.

Alexis, a high school senior, describes the financial burden of test prep for her family: "They're investing in your future," she says, "but I don't know if I'm that good of an investment."

As parents and educators, we must ask ourselves, what is at stake when access to the test and test prep tutoring is prohibitively expensive for students and their families? What does this concern highlight about the nature of the test, and about the nature of the college admissions process?

"The test has become a gatekeeper," observes Dr. Susan A. Cole, president of Montclair State University. "And it is doing, in effect, the very opposite of what it has been intended to do."

Shannon Kelly is the director of Upper School and College Advisor for Mount Madonna School. MMS is an independent nonprofit school serving students preschool through grade 12.  

"The Test and The Art of Thinking" public film screening,

6:30pm, Thursday, Feb. 7: Resource Center for Nonviolence, 612 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz

6:30pm, Thursday, Feb. 28: Community Playhouse, 17090 Monterey Road, Morgan Hill.

Tickets at the door or in advance at


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  Make a Valentine!
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  My Side of the Mountain

The Top 100 Children's Books on Goodreads

for Independent Readers through the Middle Grades

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"Every kid thinks about running away at one point or another; few get farther than the end of the block. Young Sam Gribley gets to the end of the block and keeps going--all the way to the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There he sets up house in a huge hollowed-out tree, with a falcon and a weasel for companions and his wits as his tool for survival.

In a spellbinding, touching, funny account, Sam learns to live off the land, and grows up a little in the process. Blizzards, hunters, loneliness, and fear all battle to drive Sam back to city life. But his desire for freedom, independence, and adventure is stronger. No reader will be immune to the compulsion to go right out and start whittling fishhooks and befriending raccoons."

  Fun Events!
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Kirby School 6-12, Shadow Days are Mondays


Kirby School 6-12, Cyber Education 2/13


Mount Madonna PreK-12, The Test and the Art of Thinking"

Mount Madonna PreK-12, Campus Tour 2/28

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Children's Planetarium Show
click to view website
  Children's Planetarium Show
Hartnell Planetarium
Date: Every Fri (Mar 22-May 17) at 5:30pm
Details: Star programs for children
City: Salinas Phone: (831) 755-6979 view all details >>
Plan Ahead for Summer Backpacking
click to view website
  Plan Ahead for Summer Backpacking
Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks
Date: Every Su and Sa (Jan 19-May 26)
Ages: 18+ and 13-17 with parent
Details: Backpacking Trips June, July and August
City: Los Gatos Phone: (831) 429-1840 view all details >>
Mad Cow Disease, Prions & Why There's No Cure for Alzheimer's
click to view website
  Mad Cow Disease, Prions & Why There's No Cure for Alzheimer's
Library Central
Date: 02/07/2019 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Ages: Adults
Details: Mad Cow Disease, Prions & Why There's No Cure for Alzheimer's
City: Santa Cruz view all details >>
Art Journaling - Tricks of the Trade FREE DEMO
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  Art Journaling - Tricks of the Trade FREE DEMO
Lenz Arts
Date: 02/09/2019 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Ages: Teens & Up Suggested
Details: Free Demo at Lenz Arts - Art Journaling - Tricks of the Trade with Ruth Korch
City: Santa Cruz Phone: 831-423-1935 view all details >>
Archeology Demonstration
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  Archeology Demonstration
State Park Mission
Date: Every Fri (Feb 2-Feb 9) from 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Details: Follow the archeological process from the dig to the display, and participate in hands-on activities
City: Santa Cruz Phone: (831) 425-5849 view all details >>
Financial Literacy Classes
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  Financial Literacy Classes
Library Central
Date: The 4th Mon of every month (Sep 24-Mar 25)
Ages: 8-18
Details: Free financial literacy classes
Special Instructions: Space is limited and registration is required. Register by email or call 831-427-7717.
City: Santa Cruz Phone: (831) 427-7717 view all details >>
Drawing for the Love of Nature
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  Drawing for the Love of Nature
State Park Rancho del Oso
Date: 02/09/2019 from 10:30am to 12:00pm
Details: Join Judy Sears, California Naturalist, for a 1.5 hour nature drawing session.
City: Davenport Phone: (831) 427-2288 view all details >>
32nd Annual Migration Festival
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  32nd Annual Migration Festival
State Park Natural Bridges
Date: 02/09/2019 from 11:00am to 4:00pm
Details: Celebrate the migration of whales, butterflies, birds and the many creatures that travel.
City: Santa Cruz Phone: (831) 425-5849 view all details >>
Open House at the Castro Adobe: Romance on the Rancho
click to view website
  Open House at the Castro Adobe: Romance on the Rancho
State Park Castro Adobe
Date: 02/09/2019 from 11:00am to 3:00pm
Ages: All
Details: Life in California before the Gold Rush wasn't all-Zorro, all-the-time, but it did have its share of romantic charm and exciteme
City: Watsonville Phone: (831) 226-9669 view all details >>
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