2nd Annual PI Day Garden Math Fair

Come join the fun!!!

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Student-hosted Game Booths!


Hard Working 4th Graders

By: Marivic Marko, Adopt the Garden Coordinator

The 4th grade classes lent a helping hand in the garden for the month of January. With limited maintenance and rainy weather in December, the garden was in need of some tidying up.

This hard working group of 4th grade classes made a big impact in the garden. They each left the garden a better place than they found it, and we appreciate all of their help!


Mrs. Tubb and her class, and Parent Volunteers, Marie Turner, Marianna Singontiko Namrata Dutta
Mrs. Murray and her class, and Parent Volunteer, Renee Christopher
Mrs. Baron and her class
Mrs. Abraham and her class

Additional help from:
Mr. Hoyle and his 5th grade class, and Parent Volunteer, Jamie Voegler

Small Hands, Big Help – Adopt the Garden, Kindergarten

By: Marivic Marko, Adopt the Garden Coordinator

What fun it was to have kindergarten out in the garden this month! Their first official visit to the garden consisted of a tour and an introduction to how we take care of the garden. Walking on the pathways, they discovered animal footprint stones, including the footprints of our school mascot, the coyote. We learned our school was named after the Sycamore tree, and identified it in the garden.

During our tour, we reached the “Little Red Barn” and learned about the tools we use to take care of the garden. These young students worked hard raking the pathways, pulling weeds and making our garden neat by picking up wayward trash.

Thank you to the wonderful Kindergarten teachers and Parent Volunteers who came out to the garden to help!


Ms. Neill and her class, and Parent Volunteer, Washington Osero
Mrs. Taillon and her class, and Parent Volunteer, Alia Matthews
Ms. Truesdale and her class, and Parent Volunteers, Jennifer Jacobs, Greg Epstein, Shea Prescott
Mrs. Janton and her class

Additional help from:
Mr. Hoyle and his 5th grade class, and Parent Volunteer, Jamie Voegler



Follow-Up on Mrs. Smith’s 6th Grader December Succulent Sale Fundraiser

By: Jo Louie, Garden Committee Chair

The fundraiser was a smashing success!  To the 6th graders’ delight, the succulent plants were sold out in less than 10 minutes, raising over $380 and change for the Garden.

The money will be used to purchase soil and fertilizers for the Edible Lab, as well as funding portions of the cost for a new Garden lunch time enrichment program pilot:  Music At the Garden, that will take place in May.

Mrs. Smith and her class is now planning on a second succulent fundraiser, scheduled to go on sale in March.  Our multi-talented principal Mr. Hedin got involved as well, showing up to Mrs. Smith’s class to impart his knowledge with the kids on horticulture and tips on succulents propagation.

For the original story published in December of 2017, see our blog: How Succulents can be used to Educate.

Special thanks to Andrea Bristol for the succulent cutting donation from her yard!

Stars Behind-the-(Garden) Scenes

By: Jo Louie, Garden Committee Chair

It’s the Oscar season again – and what a season it is!  There were a lot of great movies that hit the theaters last year, with many brilliant films that stood out to compete for the top prize of this year’s Academy Awards.  Amidst that excitement of glitz and glamour, however, one should not forget the crucial part that behind-the-scene staffs played to make all that screen magic possible.  Without ever showing their faces or making an appearance on the big screen, it is those people that have supported and brought the films to life.  Without them, there would be no movies.

Our Garden, in many ways, is like that big Hollywood production.  It wasn’t too long ago that we celebrated wonderful events, such as Culture at the Garden – Chile and New Orleans, in our Garden space.  Each of those events drew over 600 delighted participants.  In the weeks ahead we will be presenting our 2nd annual PI Day Math Fun Fair, hosting an Earth Day Eco Art exhibit, as well as piloting a new lunch time music experience program for the kids, just to name a few events that will be taking place before the end of this academic year.  It is easy to appreciate the Garden as an exciting outdoor space filled with fun and festivity for everyone to enjoy, but just like the movies, the Garden magic is only possible because of the behind-the-scene volunteers and their contributions that have made it all possible.

The Garden Committee like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers who have worked behind-the-scene by lending their helping hands to support, maintain and sustain the Garden for everyone.  It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s a vital job.  The volunteers are the true stars of our Garden.

We like to especially thank:

  • Marivic Marko – Adopt the Garden Coordinator, Garden Service Awards Manager
  • John Malouf – Community Gardening Day Lead, Scout Project Coordinator
  • Manna Project Team – Namrata Dutta, Athena Fischer, Judy Caples, Sonceriae Armstrong, Alia Matthews
  • The SCS DAD (plus one mom) Squad (who gave up parts of their weekend to help transport wood chips for our Garden) – Craig Burritt, Barry Hollander, Sandeep Dutta, John Trudeau, Sony Patel, Randy Phillips
  • Carpentry Assistance: John Taillon, Eric McDonald



Culture at the Garden exposes kids to the Mardi Gras experience

By: Marie Turner – New Orleans Cultural Advisor

Sycamore Canyon PTSA sponsored its first ever Culture at the Garden event for a U.S. city. We selected the city of New Orleans, famous for its rich history and culture, jazz music, and delicious and unique food specialties.

In anticipation of the world famous Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) holiday of March 13, 2018, Culture at the Garden – New Orleans took place one day early on February 12, or Lundi Gras. Children and adults alike were able to feel what it is like to partake in this celebration that is the culmination of Carnival Season. This eagerly awaited event had an
attendance of over 660 K-6 participants.

Those who made the trek out to the garden had various opportunities to learn about New Orleans and Mardi Gras. As kids entered the garden, they each received a pair of beads to wear around their neck to get them in the Mardi Gras spirit. A beautiful and colorful Mardi Gras mural provided eye candy, and Dixieland jazz music performed by the local Conejo Valley Mad Hatters Jazz Band drew people in with lively New Orleans classics such as When the Saints Go Marching In. The “shotgun” architecture table featured mock shotgun houses demonstrating this historic house design in New Orleans. The New Orleans Lingo area featured terms and expressions (many in French) commonly used in the city. New Orleans Story Time had volunteers, including a native New Orleanian, reading New Orleans-themed picture books to grades K-3. Who’s Who provided a guessing game with facts about famous people from or residing in New Orleans and their photo underneath revealing each person’s identity (i.e., Ellen DeGeneres, Louis Armstrong, the Manning brothers). At the Taste of New Orleans area, children could sample not one, but two, famous N.O. food items: red beans and rice and king cake! Samples of New Orleans packaged food items were also on display. The wildly popular History of Mardi Gras table had a vibrant display with mock floats, pictures of parades and Mardi Gras revelers, costumes, masks, and Mardi Gras trivia for the kids to earn prizes. The PTSA-sponsored Lunch Lab demonstrated the science of hurricanes that allowed children to build houses using paper, tape, cardboard, and scissors, then using a wind blower to test their construction to simulate a hurricane. This was a great STEAM activity! As the event came to a close for students, a few members of the jazz band and a volunteer holding a second line umbrella led them out with a “second line” dance, and kids waved tissues in celebration. Upon exiting, volunteers offered children the popular Mardi Gras parade throw of a doubloon before heading back to their classrooms.

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

SCS PTSA Garden Project would like to express sincere appreciation to the following individuals and organizations:

  • Marie Turner – New Orleans Cultural Advisor
  • Planning Committee: Marie Turner, Andrea Feagan, Jen Lunney, Marivic Marko, Subha Tholudur,  Nicole Twyman
  • Chef, Baker, Artists: Marivic Marko, Tina Mintz, María Pas Varas, Jodi Bobb
  • Mad Hatters Jazz Band
  • Lunch Lab
  • SCS Parent Volunteers: Janice Ahumada, Alicia Andrae, Liz Armstrong, Darshana Bhamre, Judy Caples, Johanna Duc, Namrata Dutta, Andrea Feagan, Imelda Fuentes, Stacy Gleason, Samatha Gummadi, Puja Kaushik, Alex Lagrave, Jinju Lee, Jen Lunney, Kevin Lunney, Caroline Malouf, Marivic Marko, Tina Mintz, Heidi Nielsen, Jean Sawitzky, Winnie Sitarz, Sebastian Sitarz, Subha Tholudur, Archana Timmaraju, Nicole Twyman,  Eszter Zubovics.
  • Community Volunteer: Nicole Comeaux, Millie Ward

Photos By: Caroline Malouf, Stacy Gleason, Marivic Marko, Anette Power




Garden Engineering, Part II, the Art of Nuts and Bolts (and washers, too!)

By: Jo Louie, Garden Committee Chair

Who knew nut and bolt and washer can be so interesting?

Mrs. Tubb’s 4th graders found out for themselves on their recent Manna Project volunteering session at the Edible Lab, building wood grids that will be used in the Square Foot Gardening method we will be experimenting to grow vegetables in our own raised bed planters.

No.  We are not talking about the fruit inside of an inedible hard shell, a Disney superhero dog cartoon character, or the device used to wash laundry.

We are talking about the hardware used to help us attach and keep together the wooden grids, the nonmagnetic metal alloys fastener device that mechanically joins and affixes objects together.  The nut, a threaded hole, is used in conjunction with the mating bolt, the metal threaded pin to fasten (join securely) multiple parts together.  The washer, on the other hand, is a thin disk-shaped plate with a hole in the middle used to distribute the load of a threaded fastener to help prevent damage to the surface of the object being fastened.

The kids enjoyed being educated about these little, but very useful, devices.  It took them no time at all to comprehend the functions of these parts, and learned to utilize them to their building needs.  Eight great looking and sturdy grids were built by the end of the session, and a great time was had by all.  Now that’s engineering.