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Santa Cruz Parent

Saturday April 23, 2016  ~ 9:00am - 2:00pm

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Summit for the Planet Walk-a-thon and Eco-Carnival Offers Healthy Family Fun and Nonprofit Support
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!

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Garbed in costume-like fashions made from colorful plastic packaging, aluminum foil, assorted paper products, re-purposed fabric and more, about a dozen children, ages 7 to 17, strutted confidently across the stage during last year's Summit for the Planet "Trash Fashion" show. The show was a culmination of weeks of gathering recycled materials and designing wearable garments during school art classes and at home; and provided participants with a fun outlet for showcasing their creativity by using items that might otherwise have ended up in a landfill.

Catch the next Trash Fashion show and a whole array of family-themed "green" activities at the upcoming 10th annual Summit for the Planet Walk-a-thon and Eco-Carnival, on Saturday, April 23. Hosted by Mount Madonna School, this FREE public event combines a 5K fundraising walk-a-thon supporting local nonprofits with an eco-carnival, solar car races, music, wildlife, "green" shopping, learning expo and organic foods.

Festivities will begin at 9:00am with walk-a-thon registration; the walk begins at 10:00am. The celebration will get underway as the walkers return, and concludes at 2:00pm. 

"The 5K run through the redwood forest is the main part of the event," shared sixth grade student Maddie Erbe. "Summit for the Planet is a time when the students raise money for our school. California has the most redwoods, so walking through the redwood forest is really special, especially when you are walking or running with your best friends. It is a day to learn and have fun together - from preschool to high school, we observe the day together. I'm looking forward to it again this year!"

The celebration will spotlight sustainable "eco-living" and education, and participants will include the Bat Conservancy of Coastal California, the Santa Cruz Puma Project, Marine Mammal Center, Mt. Madonna Stables and Santa Cruz Heirloom Seeds. Past participants have included Allterra (A April 2016) Summit_Snake2016.jpgSolar, the Wildlife Education Rehabilitation Center (WERC) and Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society (BAARS), Sulphur Creek Nature Center, The Penny Ice Creamery and Save Our Shores. Attendance at this annual event has grown to some 500 people of all ages, from across south Silicon Valley and the Monterey Bay areas.

The support of key sponsors for Summit for the Planet is very important for sustaining and growing this festival, and event organizers are honored that numerous local businesses are participating, including presenting sponsors, SunRidge Farms and the Michael Lee Environmental Foundation (MLEF). Additional community sponsors include: the Register-Pajaronian, Aptos/Capitola/Soquel Life,, KAZU 90.3FM and New SV Media.

"The 10th annual Summit for the Planet connects the MMS school community with local area organizations and businesses supporting the environment and teaching young people the importance of stewardship, commented MMS Head of School Mary Supriya McDonald. "The walk-a-thon is a way for our school to raise funds and awareness, and a day of play and fun for families and all the visitors who join us on the mountaintop." 

Depending on the number of walkers and amount pledged to each walker, participating organizations will have the opportunity to cover a hefty portion of their annual fundraising needs - without the hassle and expense of running their own fundraiser! There is no charge for organizations to sign up and participate; and organizations keep 75% of what they raise in pledges, while 25% is used to offset the costs of organizing and running the event.

Healthy, family fun-draising. It's truly is a walk in the park!

Things to know when you go:
10th annual Summit for the Planet Walk-a-thon and Eco-Carnival, April 23 from 9:00am-2:00pm*. Hosted by Mount Madonna School, 491 Summit Road, Mount Madonna. There is a $30 fee to walk and receive a t-shirt. The celebration has FREE admission. For more information or to sponsor a walker, visit: and on Facebook at, or email Kiersten Elzy-Loving at

*Walk-a-thon participants must pre-register; registration begins at 9:00am; the walk begins at 10:00am.

Photos by Maureen Pramanik

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.

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Come Join the Summit for the Planet Community
By Connor Murphy, grade 8

(A April 2016) Summit_TreesWakathon2016.jpgNestled in the beautiful redwoods and arching madrones near Mt. Madonna Park, you find the campus of Mount Madonna School, a private school serving students from preschool through twelfth grade. The school is also host to an annual event, Summit for the Planet, a festival held in the spring. The festival includes everything from a walk-a-thon and ecology displays to ice cream. It serves not only as a fundraiser, but an awareness campaign about Earth and us, and what we can do to take better care of our planet.

Arriving through the school's gate at the very precipice of the day you see colorful banners and the whole Mount Madonna community getting ready for the five to fifteen kilometer hike. One of the main activities is the walk-a-thon, an amazing experience with a truly wonderful trail that takes you through huge redwoods and by some of the Mount Madonna community buildings. Also the course runs by an awesome pond and you might even see deer, turkeys and newts in their natural habitat!

(A April 2016) Summit_startingline2016.jpgEntering the campus festival area after the walk-a-thon, you'll receive a fruit cup and see the Mount Madonna community performing, running booths and more, all for you. Some of the booths are affiliated with environmental organizations. You will also find an assortment of food stands, and my favorite activities in years past were dunk booths, an obstacle course, eco-carnival games, a solar car race, and the Trash Fashion show. There are also musical performances featuring student choirs from all grades as well as in some years, school bands.

Yet, the real secret to and beauty of the event goes beyond the activities: it is the community that we bring together every year. There is a bond that is formed between all of us attending the festival, both Mount Madonna families and the curious and interested public who attend. As a patron of this event, you are welcomed into our community, an experience I have been blessed with since I was three. This year I look forward to all the new booths and faces and the beautiful.  What's your favorite booth at the festival?  Find me at the Summit for the Planet and tell me.

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Favorite Summit Memories
By Addy Catterall-Pendleton, grade 6

The best thing about Summit for the Planet is that it's a whole community showing up. Everyone you know, including parents, friends and teachers, come up and walk or run together. My favorite memory is running with my friends around the trail. It's great to be on campus together enjoying the woods without worrying about when class starts!

(A April 2016) SummitC2016CarnivalAction.jpgMy other favorite memory is making our eco-carnival booth in the first grade. That year we made a miniature golf course. Our big buddies helped and we got to find junk to use and paint it, and make it into golf holes. It was really fun. It took a lot of work together, but we looked forward to it every day, and we made something really cool in the end. Our big buddies were in tenth grade and now they are in college. We also made litter bugs out of trash to decorate the golf course.

The fair after Summit for the Planet is a chance to try new food. I looked forward to the naan bread every year. Now I look forward to the bread and the Penny Ice Creamery ice cream; it's the best! The trash fashion show is really funny, I like to see what my friends and the older kids make every year.

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Together Our Community Celebrates and Honors Our Planet
By Maddie Erbe, grade 6

(A April 2016) SummitBlast_RunningBuddies2.jpgFor all Mount Madonna school students, Summit for the planet is a special occasion. Students, parents and staff alike look forward to the event which is a celebration for Earth Day.  The event begins with a 5K walk-a-thon through the redwood forest, followed by fun eco-carnival games, delicious vegetarian food options, singing, and the entertaining "Trash Fashion show."

The walk-a-thon is the main part of the event. Summit for the Planet is a time when the students raise money for the school, we gather pledges in trade for the run. California has the most redwoods, so walking through the redwood forest is really special, especially when you are walking or running with your best friends!

A cool thing about Summit for the Planet is that a couple of the classes at MMS learn a song and perform it for everyone at the event. This is one of my favorite parts of Summit because it starts our Earth Day Celebration after walk-a-thon!

Another highlight of the event is the eco-friendly carnival created by the elementary classes. Many of the games have environmental themes allow you to learn while having fun. When you play the games everybody wins, you can't fail and that's what makes it better. Even if you aren't good at a particular game, you still have fun and win a token! Later, we have the opportunity to trade in our tokens for a delicious treat made by parent volunteers, or plants grown by the elementary classes.

Finally, food is another fun part of our Summit for the Planet celebration! Several vendors attend our event and serve delicious, vegetarian food options. One of my favorites is ice cream from the Penny Ice Creamery - I look forward to it each year!

The Earth Day celebration at Mount Madonna is amazing because we come together as a community to celebrate and honor our planet. It is a day to learn and have fun together - from preschool to high school, we observe the day together. I'm looking forward to it again this year!

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Thank you Sponsors!
Santa Cruz Parent KUSP
Michael Lee Environmental Foundation SunRidge Farms
Out and About Magazine Allterra Solar
Mount Madonna Stables Catto's Graphics
Growing Up in Santa Cruz Aptos Landscape Supply
Aptos Capitola Soquel Life Good Times
Morgan Hill Life KAZU
New Scotts Valley Media Register Pajaronian
Santa Cruz Sentinel


The Power of Community: Summit for the Planet
By Lexi Julien ‘15

(A April 2016) SummitATeens2016.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 Mount Madonna School (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.

The 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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Supporting 'Citizens of Action'
By Ralph W. Schardt, Executive Director Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society former Executive Director, Michael Lee Environmental Foundation

(A April 2016) SummitBOwl2016.jpgThe Michael Lee Environmental Foundation (MLEF) was originally introduced to Mount Madonna School (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.

Seven 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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Santa Cruz County
April 20, 2016

Summit for the Planet Walk-a-thon and Eco-Carnival Offers Healthy Family Fun and Nonprofit Support

Come Join the Summit for the Planet Community

Favorite Summit Memories

Together Our Community Celebrates and Honors Our Planet

Thank you Sponsors!
The Power of Community: Summit for the Planet

Supporting 'Citizens of Action'

Click to view EventsClick to view our Business Directory

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."

Albert Einstein

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An Interview with Jessica Cambell

Mount Madonna teacher Nick Cabassa's fourth grade students interviewed MMS fifth grade teacher Jessica Cambell, a founding member of the school's Summit for the Planet planning committee.

Students: What is Summit for the Planet?

Cambell: Summit for the Planet is a combination of two things, a festival to celebrate the planet, and an eco-friendly fundraiser to benefit Mount Madonna School (MMS) and other local nonprofit educational and environmental organizations. 

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Students: What does MMS do at this event?

Cambell:  MMS uses Summit for the Planet as a place to showcase student talent, share students' environmental work, and gather as a community to fundraise and have fun.  

Students: Why does the School put on this event?

Cambell: MMS hosts this annual event so that it can provide environmental education opportunities to its students as well as the local community. This event is a significant part of the fundraising that MMS engages in to help maintain the diversity and depths of its educational programs.

Students: What is the history of this event?

Cambell: Summit started ten years ago as a small festival to celebrate and raise awareness of the need to protect Earth's environment. Shortly after its inception, community members wanted to join and share what we were doing to help protect our planet. A few years ago, a walk-a-thon fundraiser and eco-carnival were added to provide more family fun, and help support school programs. More recently, we have added a spirit week to help get the students excited for the start of the event.

Student: When and where does it take place?

Cambell: Summit for the Planet takes place on the beautiful Mount Madonna School campus located at the top of Summit road off of Highway 152, behind Mount Madonna County Park. This year the event takes place on Saturday, April 23, starting in the morning at 9:00am and extending into the afternoon.

Student: How can people get involved?

Cambell: Come to the festival and enjoy the walk-a-thon, delicious foods, learning booths and carnival! Bring your family, your friends, your neighbors! Festival admission is free!

"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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