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Santa Cruz Parent

Saturday April 25, 2015  ~ 9:00am - 1:30pm

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Everybody Needs Beauty: Summit for the Planet at MMS
By Sarojani Rohan, co-founder of MMS' Pre/K program, and one of the original SFTP planning team members. Sarojani remains enthusiastically involved on the planning committee!

(AA Summit) SummitBlast_Banner.jpgNaturalist and wilderness advocate, John Muir, tells us: “Everybody needs beauty...places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.” Many have found this sentiment to be true and Mount Madonna School (MMS) is just such a place.

As a teacher at MMS for the past 32 years, I am still inspired by the people and the beauty of this mountain. It is an honor to be part of a school community committed to ecoliteracy and one which daily provides students opportunities to have a direct relationship to their mountaintop home away from home.

You are cordially invited to come see and experience this for yourself.

Every spring, families from near and far come up the mountain to enjoy the school’s annual Summit for the Planet (SFTP). It is the MMS community at its finest, as students, their families, staff, faculty and local ecology groups join forces to create and participate in a delightful and educational day focused on various aspects of the environment. This annual festival, named not only for location on the peak of the mountain, but also for its educational focus around ecology issues, takes place on Saturday, April 25, from 9:00am to 1:30pm.

A 5K course has been charted and is available for anyone wishing to explore and enjoy the beauties of this forested wonderland. There will be local entertainment, student exhibits including student designed solar-car races, pony rides provided by Mount Madonna Stables, ecology-focused booths including: Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center (WERC), Watsonville Wetlands Watch, Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society (BAARS) and Coastal Habitat Education and Environmental Restoration (CHEER) that will share its mobile trash museum; and, of course, great locally prepared healthy food!

This environmental event started in 2007 with one MMS science teacher, Weston Miller. He discovered that the nearby Pajaro River was designated as America's most endangered river by the American Rivers organization. This was due to levees constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, along the river’s lower 22 miles and severe runoff from agricultural fields. It was a local issue to which our students could directly relate. Miller made an impassioned plea for MMS to come together in creating an interdisciplinary curriculum for students Pre/K through grade 12, complete with service component and focusing on our local watershed. It was a grand success and connected MMS in a very meaningful way.

The event grew the following year, adding students’ exhibits and local ecology groups coming up to share and educate on different environmental topics. A “Trash Fashion” Show, comprised of students making use of recycled materials for their “runway” event, was added and the keynote speaker was Dennis Takahashi-Kelso, then the Ocean Conservancy executive vice president.

By 2009, MMS added a walk-a-thon as we realized that we wanted a fundraiser that more clearly reflected our school’s values of outdoor and environmental education and the importance of staying connected to our natural world. As a result, our “Festival for the Environment” was reborn as “Summit for the Planet.”

We now had a wonderful invitation to extend to the larger community. People who never knew of our school, came up and were inspired by the educational resources, eco-centered activities and beauties of walking the mountain trails.

Now in its ninth year, the SFTP is the school’s keystone celebration of earth stewardship and community outreach. Our students join together as they “buddy up” in walking the trails, designing eco-friendly carnival games, engaging in the Trash Fashion Show, growing plants in their science classes to use as carnival prizes and having an altogether great outdoor adventure!

Please join us!

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The Power of Community
By Lexi Julien, 12th grade

(AA Summit) SummitBlast_RunningBuddies.jpgA bullhorn blares, and a sea of people dressed in an assortment of neon green shirts, rainbow tutus, and running shoes cheer as they cross the starting line and swarm onto the trail. Voices bounce off the surrounding redwoods as runners, walkers, and strollers alike take on the path that circles through the forest surrounding MMS. I am surrounded by familiar faces: to my right I see a group of alumni and their parents; on my left, a group of second graders, zigzagging their way through the crowd at a sprint until their legs give out from exertion. Above me are the towering redwoods, their branches seeming to touch the sky. I smile – this is a moment I will never forget. 

(AA Summit) SummitBlast_PonyRide.jpgThe Summit for the Planet Walk-a-thon and Celebration is one of the most special events that happens at MMS. High school students, preschoolers, alumni, teachers, and more all converge on the mountain for this one day in April to walk in the forest, celebrating each other and the earth around them. With every passing year, my appreciation for Summit for the Planet grows more and more. There is something very empowering about how the Walk-a-thon brings the school community together, uniting students and faculty by providing them with a common goal: raising funds for the school we love and for protecting the world we live in.

The Summit for the Planet is not analogous to your typical cookie dough-selling school fundraiser. Rather, it is a community strengthening event, an annual occurrence that allows us in the MMS community to reflect on why we fell in love with Mount Madonna in the first place. Was it the people, the same people who will walk the forest trail beside me at the Walk-a-thon? Was it the setting, the soaring redwoods and fields of wildflowers that dot the mountainside? Or perhaps both, the indescribable mix of people and the natural world? Summit for the Planet is my annual lesson in appreciation, and even when I cannot attend the event I will carry what it has taught me close to my heart: never underestimate the power of community, and always remember to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the world around you.

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Learning to Be Green
By Samith Lakka, 8th grade

(AA Summit) SummitBlast_TutuRunner.jpgSummit for the Planet is like an exhilarating ride that takes you on an exploration of earth facts and provides pointers on how to live a life that helps sustain our planet for future generations.

I enjoy how Summit for the Planet gives us fun lessons on being "green." Elementary grades set up eco-carnival games and middle school students have booths or activities that are related to environmental topics. Other organizations come, too, and the booths have fun facts and trivia games that entice you with cool prizes.

I have learned that there are many things that I can change about my lifestyle that can protect the earth's resources and make the world a healthier place. For example, I could take shorter showers, which would save water that could instead be used for other household chores, like in the kitchen. 

Summit for the Planet brings our school together because an event of this scale requires a lot of team effort and hard work. Sharing this work and enjoying the fruits of our efforts, is something that brings us all together. 

My favorite part of the event is at the walk-a-thon finish line. When I reach the finish line, panting and tired after running across the long, hilly terrain, and I see friendly and encouraging faces cheering and smiling and offering me refreshments, I get the biggest smile on my face!

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A Great Time for Family and Friends
By Kira Kaplan, 6th grade

(AA Summit) SummitBlast_TwoGirls.jpgSummit for the Planet is a great time to get together with family and friends and celebrate nature! I love that we're supporting the school and also the earth. I appreciate that there are booths that teach us about the world and what each person can do to help.

Last year there was a booth I thought was spectacular that taught people about marine animals and how we can help save them. Summit for the Planet has taught me to have awareness for what is around me as well as what is in front of me. It has taught me to love nature and to appreciate the world around us and to help to protect it.

My favorite part of the whole day is when I cross the walk-a-thon finish line and feel like I have accomplished something - and not only helping my school but having fun doing it! For me, Summit for the Planet is a meaningful time to be with the people you love. It is a time for community; everyone comes together and walks together, they talk together and they celebrate together! It is a time when everyone aspires to change our world for the better.

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Fourth Graders Enjoy Walk-a-thon and Celebration Fun with Friends
By Linda Pope's fourth grade class

(AA Summit) SummitBlast_BoyMustache.jpgCome walk with us! Instead of a typical walk-a-thon on paved ground or a track, enjoy hiking the Summit for the Planet trail through the beautiful redwood forests around Mount Madonna School. It is a great way to get exercise, have fun and you even get to eat at the aid stations!

At the celebration after the walk-a-thon we have an eco-carnival. Each elementary class makes a carnival game that teaches about the environment and is eco-friendly. You can have a lot of fun with your friends and you can win prizes, like plants and sweets. Still hungry? A lot of local, yummy food is available too!

There is a trash fashion show, where kids strut the runway in clothes we've made out of recycled items. It is entertaining to watch!

Participating in the walk-a-thon is a great way to show our support for our environment and finishing up with the educational booths and eco-carnival is interesting and helps us to learn more about how to protect our planet.

Invite all your friends; Summit for the Planet is a community event and everyone is welcome!

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Supporting "Citizens of Action"
By Ralph W. Schardt, former Executive Director, Michael Lee Environmental Foundation

(AA Summit) SummitBlast_2BoysandManRunning.jpgThe Michael Lee Environmental Foundation (MLEF) was originally introduced to MMS through the garden coordinator and teacher, Jessica Cambell. MLEF immediately recognized a fit with our mission - to support science-based environmental education. MLEF supported a grant request to upgrade the garden and help renovate some of the teaching areas demonstrating conservation, soil management and organic, sustainable practices. MLEF soon became acquainted with the teaching principles of the school, along with the motivation of its teachers and students.

As MLEF's executive director and a former educator, I found a feeling of hope while working with MMS. Their outreach programs, cultural awareness activities, and environmental practices were a fresh breath of air compared to so many other institutions. Six years ago, when MLEF was asked if we would like to support Summit for the Planet, it was an easy decision to participate. When it came time for MLEF to decommission our organization, we found a way to continue support for the next 20 years through a long-term grant. We are proud of MMS and its education principles that will turn out productive, culturally aware, environmentally driven students who will become citizens of action for the world. 

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Thank you Sponsors!

 SunRidge Farms  Allterra Solar
 KUSP  Out and About Magazine
 Mount Madonna Stables  Santa Cruz Sentinel
 First Class Fundraising  Growing Up in Santa Cruz

 Santa Cruz Parent

Santa Cruz County
April 21, 2015

Everybody Needs Beauty: Summit for the Planet at MMS

The Power of Community

Learning to Be Green

A Great Time for Family and Friends

Fourth Graders Enjoy Walk-a-thon and Celebration Fun with Friends

Supporting "Citizens of Action"

Click to view EventsClick to view our Business Directory

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"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."

John Muir
(1838 - 1914)

Summit for the Planet in Previous Years

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"The mountains are calling and I must go."

John Muir
(1838 - 1914

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"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."

John Muir
(1838 - 1914)

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