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Santa Cruz Parent

Saturday April 27, 2019  ~ 11:00am - 1:30pm

Free Admission!

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A Spotlight on Creativity and Learning
13th Annual Summit for the Planet Celebration and Eco-Carnival

(0 A 0 April 2019) Summit19_RunnersinBlue.jpg"The 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. 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."  -Mary Supriya McDonald, MMS Head of School

(0 A 0 April 2019) Summit19_modelhouse.jpgPlace a marble in the chute and watch it speed along the highs, lows, twists and turns of themed, model rollercoasters! Stand trackside for the team-built solar car races! See customized, scale-model tiny homes and blueprints; or catch the "catwalk," as young designers model original clothing made from recycled packaging, fabrics and other items!

Student creativity and learning - including projects to protect sea otters and an effort to eliminate plastic pollution - will be on full display along, with many kid-friendly activities at the 13th annual Summit for the Planet celebration. This FREE public event runs 11:00am-1:30pm and features eco-carnival games, face painting, live wildlife and reptile exhibits, vendor displays and learning expo, pony rides, music and tasty foods.

(0 A 0 April 2019) Sum19Snake.jpgThe celebration will spotlight environmental education, and participants will include Bay Area Herpetological Society (BAHS), offering a chance to see lizards, snakes, frogs, turtles and tortoises up close; FishWise, promoting the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems; Honeybee Ceramics, original designs by Beth Sherman; the Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center, with some of its rescued birds; India Gourmet vegetarian cuisine; Marianne's Ice Cream; Monterey Bay Farms' sun-ripened, organic strawberries; Mt. Madonna Stables pony rides; World Centric compostable food service products; and Areperia 831's, vegan Venezuelan BBQ. Attendance at this annual event has grown to some 500 people of all ages, from across south Santa Clara County and the Monterey Bay areas.

Things to know when you go:

  • 13th annual Summit for the Planet eco-carnival
  • Hosted by Mount Madonna School, 491 Summit Road, Mount Madonna, located 2.5 miles off of Hwy. 152, between Gilroy and Watsonville.
  • For more information visit:
  • or email
Sewn, Stapled or Glued
Students Create One-of-a-kind Recycled Garments

(0 A 0 April 2019) Sum19FlowerTrash.jpgSewn, Stapled or Glued: Students Create One-of-a-kind Recycled Garments for 13th Annual Trash Fashion Show

Integral to the very fabric of Mount Madonna School (MMS) and its defining character, is an embracing of creative self-expression and a college-preparatory curriculum focused on excellence and environmental sustainability. The popular "Trash Fashion" show at MMS' annual Summit for the Planet festival celebrates both of these practices.

"Students get to bring to life a design of their very own," shares teacher and show emcee Cassia Laffin. "They can prance, strut, or even cartwheel around the stage (0 A 0 April 2019) Summit19_TinMan.jpgmodeling (further creative self-expression opportunities) their one-of- a-kind creations! It is a definite highlight of the Summit for the Planet."

"Students' bright smiles light up the stage and each year I am impressed by the fanciful and unique attire our students design, using mere remnants that they have gathered from around their home. Items are glued, sewn together, stapled and adhered to make what in years past have been some phenomenally stunning ensembles."

"What will this year's event bring to life? There is only one way to find out: have a seat on the hay bales and check out the show!"

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The Power of Community
"I Smile - This Is a Moment I Will Never Forget."

By Lexi Julien(0 A 0 April 2019) Sum19LexiJuliensmall.jpg
Mount Madonna School, Class of 2015

A 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.

(0 A 0 April 2019) sum19OpeningCeremony.jpgWith 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.

(0 A 0 April 2019) Summit19_trees.jpgWas 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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Strong, Meaningful Connections
What Summit for the Planet Means to Me

- By Amirah Alexander, grade nine

(0 A 0 April 2019) Summit19_RunnersFrontal.jpgThe annual Summit for the Planet festival means a lot to me and to the Mount Madonna School community. Summit for the Planet is the time during the year when the entire school comes together to raise money to fund our school programs and celebrate Earth Day. All of the students join and work together to help our school. This effort requires team work from our whole school community to be able to set and reach a fundraising goal.

(0 A 0 April 2019) Summit19_2Teachers.jpgFor me Summit for the Planet represents a time when we all have fun together. At the start of the school year, middle and high school students go on different field trips to learn more about each other and bond. But during Summit for the Planet all of the grades mix together, preschool through seniors. We all come together as a community and play the games that the elementary classes have created, listens to songs, watches (or participate in) the Trash Fashion show, and showcases their science projects. Summit for the Planet is a great event for the school to raise funds and awareness, and also to build stronger, meaningful connections among the students.

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Summit for the Planet at Mount Madonna School
Everybody Needs Beauty

By Sarojani Rohan

(0 A 0 April 2019) Sum19Flag.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 36 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 27, from 11:00am to 1:30pm.

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.

(0 A 0 April 2019) Sumit19_newspaperdressCloseup.jpgThe 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.

(0 A 0 April 2019) SummitPony.jpgNow in its thirteenth 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!

Sarojani Rohan, now retired from Mount Madonna School, is the co-founder of the school's preschool and kindergarten program. She is one of the original Summit for the Planet planning team members.


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Thank you Sponsors!
Santa Cruz Parent Lazy Suzan Designs
Michael Lee Environmental Foundation SunRidge Farms
Morgan Hill Life & Gilroy Life Santa Cruz Sentinel
Mt. Madonna Stables KAZU
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Mount Madonna
April 27, 2019

A Spotlight on Creativity and Learning
Sewn, Stapled or Glued

The Power of Community

Strong, Meaningful Connections

Summit for the Planet at Mount Madonna School

Thank you Sponsors!

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Outdoor Education at Mount Madonna School

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Watch this video!

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The family is one of nature's masterpieces. George Santayana
Read more at:
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Summit for the Planet Over the Years

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