5th Grade Kicks off the 2017-2018 School Year for Adopt the Garden

By Marivic Marko, Adopt the Garden Coordinator

The 5th grade classes came out in the month of October to kick start the garden cleanup for the school year. Without regular maintenance during the summer, we found the garden in need of work. The walkways were narrowing from overgrown bushes, weeds were a problem in the riverbed, and winds left trash littered throughout the garden.

The entire 5th grade class, along with their wonderful teachers, came out to lend a hand. We even had extra help from a special Garden Buddy partnering of Mrs. Taylor’s 5th grade class and Mrs. Arnold & Mrs. Nelson’s 3rd grade class!

With rakes and trowels in hand, our 5th graders and 3rd grade Garden Buddies removed weeds and raked up pathways. Bags and bags of weeds and trash were filled up and the garden began to look tidy again, thanks to the hard work of these students!


Ms. Mertz and her class, and Parent Volunteer, Crystal Stenner
Mrs. Hollins and her class, and Parent Volunteer, Arlett Torres
Mr. Hoyle and his class, and Parent Volunteer, Jamie Voegler
Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. Arnold and Mrs. Nelson’s Special 5th/3rd Grade Class Garden Buddies, and Parent Volunteer, Heidi Nielsen


Manna Project Opens with New Aim

By:  Sonceriae Armstrong, Manna Project Coordinator

We’ve been busy working with a team of dedicated community volunteers getting the Edible Lab ready for students to work on the Manna Project. We have amended the garden beds, pulled lots of weeds that sprouted up over summer, and started crops of lettuce, radishes, cauliflower, corn, sugar baby pumpkins, and pole beans.

This week we have harvested Giant, Cinderella, and Jarrahdale pumpkins that the  kindergartners planted last year.  These beautiful pumpkins are currently on display at the front office lobby.  Stop by and check out our display!

Each kindergarten and first grade class will be receiving the pumpkins at the conclusion of the display.  We also have a tree full of pomegranates that first grade students have been observing, and will be opening and tasting at the end of this month!

This academic year we have set a new goal for the Edible Lab: delivering fresh produce on a regular monthly basis to our local Manna Food Bank.  On October 6th we’ve made our first fresh produce donation for the academic year, delivering two boxes of fresh rosemary and thyme grown in the Edible Lab, as well as one box of lemons grown by parent volunteer Namrata Dutta in her own backyard.

As we enjoy and share the fruits of our labor we’d like to encourage you to bring any abundant extra fresh produce you may be growing in your own yard to the Edible Lab the first Friday of each month 8:30-9:30 to be donated to Manna along with our harvests. The Manna Project team is now meeting regularly on Friday mornings (weather permitting) from 8:30 to 9:30, with participation from students (when applicable) from 8:45 to 9:15.  We welcome all interested volunteers to join us during that time.  For more information please contact Sonceriae Armstrong at sonceriae@yahoo.com.

Culture at the Garden Returns with Exhilarating Excursion to Chile

This is a first for the SCS students participating in Culture at the Garden –  a visit to a tri-continental nation.

Extending over an astounding 39 degrees of latitude, a South American country bordering Argentina, Peru and Bolivia, Chile runs from the Andes to the Pacific.

It also has territories in Polynesia and Antarctica.

Impressive. Isn’t it?

It just so happens that Chile holds many mind-blowing world records accredited to its unique expanse of terrain: It is the longest and the thinnest country in the world (Chile is as long as United States is wide); Its territory includes the most remote populated place on the globe – Easter Island; Chile’s Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world (average rainfall 0.6 in per year); and Chile is home to the Alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides, a towering tree species native to the Andes mountains), second-longest living trees on Earth.

How does one introduce such a wondrous yet diverse country to kids?  Games and crafts, of course!  Students identified and created personalized bookmarks featuring Chilean avian from different regions; fabricated Arpillera Tapestry representing the diverse Chilean landscape; assembled 3-D paper Copihue (national flower of Chile); made rain sticks out of recycled paper towel rolls; played traditional children’s games (Rayuela, any one?); dressed up as Rapa Nui (the native Polynesian inhabitants of Easter Island) while dancing in front of the backdrop of two monumental moai statues; answered trivia with the hope of winning a fabulous prize; oh, and don’t forget tasted the food – Marraqueta (bread with mashed avocado on top), a simple childhood breakfast fondly remembered by many Chilean and is often part of every meal in Chile.

Over 600 eager guests visited the Garden and participated in this wonderful imaginary journey to Chile.  Everyone, not just the children, left learning and understanding more about the geography, culture, arts and tradition of this amazing country.  This would not have been made possible without the help and support from our volunteers.  SCS PTSA Garden Project gratefully express our gratitude to the following individuals and organizations:

  • María Paz Varas – Chile Cultural Advisor
  • Amgen Latin Employees Network
  • Simpatica Ranch
  • SCS Parent Volunteers: Subha Thouldur, Namrata Dutta, Imelda Fuentes, Andrea Vavakova, Anette Power, Claudia Sarkissian, Sonceriae Armstrong, Carmina Bech, Darshana Bhamre, Lakshimi Archana Timaraju, Marie Turner, Winnie Sitarz, Sebastian Sitarz, Melissa Spear, Martin Munoz-Varas, Margarita Munoz-Varas, Becky Lewis, Joanne Ratshin, Heidi Nielsen, Alex Lagrave, Stacy Gleason, Caroline Malouf.
Photos by:  Stacy Gleason & Caroline Malouf

Pumpkin Season Returns

Nothing speaks the arrival of autumn better than pumpkins. In June, before the start of their summer vacation (and their graduation to the first grade), last year’s Kindergarten classes planted pumpkin seeds in our Edible Lab planters as welcome presents for their incoming Kindergarten friends. This fall, our newest SCS coyotes in Mrs. Janton’s class discovered the Cinderellas, Giants, Jeradell and Sugar Baby varieties left by their predecessors and made journal entries about them. Wonder if they will remember this experience when they continue with the tradition next June?

pumpkins Janton 1Pumpkins Janton 2

The Incredible Water Journey

Thanks to the special annual workshop provided by the UC HAREC (University of California Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center), our 5th grade students experienced an incredible journey where they examined beyond the four stages of the water cycle and got a first-hand look at the many paths of a water molecule.  It was an unique approach to learn about water as a precious natural resource, as well as personal and environmental behaviors that protect water quality and help water conservation.  Here are some thoughts from our children:

Darmal Tarazi:  We learned that even though there are a lot of water in the world…most of it is not accessible…that gives us only a small amount of water that we can actually drink…

Hanna Kim: 71% of the Earth is water, 3% of that is fresh water, and only 0.5% of that is drinkable – so please conserve that water!

Jake Liu: I liked the water cycle bead game where we rolled a dice and went to the place we rolled.  We collect a bead at every stop to record our journey as a water drop.  My dice usually went and stayed at the cloud.  That would be accurate in real life.

Madison Dodd: I learned that water does not stay on a farm. Water in clouds does not stay for long because it falls down as rain.  Water in glaciers can stay for years in one glacier.

Ella Busch: It was cool to see and learn how every water molecule has a different path.

Nicole Cui: I really enjoyed the water cycle workshop.  I thought the bead game was very clever and I learned many things.  It was fun and taught everyone where water goes, how to conserve it, and why we shouldn’t waster water.

5th Grade Garden Awards

By Marivic Marko, Garden Service Awards Manager

Congratulations to the following 5th grade students who have earned their Garden Community Service awards in the month of May.  We are proud of their hard work and contribution to the Garden!

5 hour Garden Friend Award

Alex Li

London Burke

Maddie Kaitanjian

Mia Maher

Garriella Mortillaro

15 hour Garden Family Award

Nathan Marko



Planting with Builders Club

By Nicholas Marko, Builders Club member

On May 16, Builders Club members assisted in the planting of 100 native plants at Sycamore Canyon School as a part of the school Garden’s participation in the US Fish and Wildlife (USFW) School Yard Habitat Program.

Under the guidance of USFW biologists, Builders Club advisors, and parent volunteers, we split into three groups.  We planted in the middle school planters, the school Garden’s Science and Habitat Learning Center, and the school Garden’s hillside Native Landscape Observatory.

We partnered up in small teams of two to three students within our group.  Each team took native plants brought by the USFW biologists and used appropriate tools to plant them. I planted three native plants in the Native Landscape Observatory with my friend. It is a good idea to reintroduce native vegetation to our surrounding so they can help restore our natural habitat, and benefit our local as well as migratory wildlife.

The task was not easy, but when we were finished, I felt good about what we had done. I learned how to plant native plants and help care for our environment. We had all helped nature that day, and I feel it will contribute to a greener future.