Montclaire Grads Travel In The Name Of Peace & Understanding

CISV VillageThree Los Altos students left the comforts of home this summer and returned with a completely different view of the world – not to mention a host of friends from such faraway places as Latvia, the Netherlands and Ecuador.

The students, who had just graduated from fifth grade at Montclaire Elementary School in Los Altos, attended the Children’s International Summer Villages (CISV) program, a volunteer organization with camps around the world that promote peace and cross-cultural understanding.

Students Kaz Posley, who traveled to Italy, and Caroline Kane, who traveled to Washington, D.C., first learned about CISV from classmate Katie Mehuys, who traveled to Prague.

Katie comes from a family rooted in CISV – both her mother and two sisters have participated in programs, and she wanted to experience it as well.

CISV offers a four-week camp for students ages 10-12 from different countries. Each “village” hosts two boys, two girls and an adult leader. The students participate in a mix of educational, cultural and sporting activities that emphasize cooperative global and intercultural living.

“There are kids from other countries who are just like us, and they are not different just because of their culture or their country,” Caroline said. “They are just the same as us. They are similar, they have the same emotions and feelings.”

All three students enjoyed making friends with fellow students from around the world. “Now I realize how special it is to say I have a friend in El Salvador and in Finland and in Sweden,” Kaz said.

Many CISV activities are designed around discovering and discussing what is unique about each student and his or her homeland. Each student hosts a presentation in which he or she shares characteristics and qualities about his or her country. From s’mores to grilled cheese, Amelia Earhart to George Washington and YouTube to the Thriller dance, Kaz, Caroline and Katie enlightened fellow students about life in the U.S.

Kaz said he especially enjoyed learning about the other countries and tasting different types of food. All agreed that the camp was educational – but didn’t feel like schoolwork. “It was kind of like you were learning about other countries without trying to learn, which was kind of cool, because it was more fun than school,” Katie said.

For more information on CISV, visit: cisvusa.org

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Montclaire Hosts Science Fair

Posted on February 10, 2015 by  
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Montclaire Science FairStudents at Montclaire Elementary School in Los Altos showcased their talents Jan. 28 at the school’s third annual Science Fair.

Children from all grades submitted project boards that summarized their self-selected experiment to display the day of the fair. Teachers encouraged students to use the scientific method versus simply offering a demonstration.

Participation in the fair is an optional part of the Montclaire enrichment program. Students complete projects at home independently or in teams.

Student experiments highlighted multiple science disciplines, with biology and physics leading the pack. Projects ranged from the classic soap bubbles and electrical conductivity to humorous experiments involving siblings, such as “What Is the Best Way to Wake Up a Teenage Brother?” by Olivia Wilcove and Chase Hamel.

A team of scientists who are Montclaire parents judged the projects. This year, judges included representatives from the fields of genetics and computer science.

“Our mission is to nurture a passion for science among our students,” said Michelle Wilcove, parent and Montclaire Parent Teacher Organization enrichment lead. “Here in Silicon Valley, we have vast resources and are home to notable events such as the Google Science Fair and the Foothill College Physics Show. Our hope is that this experience will inspire our students and parents to take advantage of all that the community has to offer.”

 

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Turning Parents Into School-day Advocates

Posted on September 5, 2014 by  
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Project CornerstoneParent volunteers at Montclaire Elementary School in Los Altos are gearing up for the seventh year of Project Cornerstone, a countywide YMCA initiative that encourages students to become champions for themselves and others.

The program draws on a national study that connected developmental assets such as family support, adult role models and reading for pleasure to reduced risky behavior. The assets help children feel empowered, valued, respected and safe. The program theorizes that the more resources children perceive within their community, the less likely they are to engage in high-risk behavior.

The program is showing results. At the end of last year, Montclaire’s first- through fifth-graders weighed in on the emotional resource program. Of the 408 students who responded to an online survey, 80 percent reported that they felt there was at least one person at the school they could talk with or approach for help, and 82 percent claimed that the program had offered them ways to deal with conflict and bullying. Approximately one in five of the respondents reported feeling bullied or teased at times.

Parent volunteers at Montclaire developed several ways to help students during the school day. As part of the Asset Building Champion Readers program, volunteers read a topical book to classes each month, discuss the concepts and lead a related activity or project. The Montclaire Parent Teacher Organization (MPTO) supports the program, which uses parent volunteers as a key part of the school community.

The MPTO also started a lunchtime program, FunVisors, which focuses on the playground during lunchtime recess at Montclaire. Parent volunteers are present to provide a caring adult presence; to witness, deter and respond to teasing or bullying; and to provide alternative lunch recess activities so that children who are not engaged with friends can spend quality time and make new friends. Recent popular activities include arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, chalk drawing on the blacktop, yoga and playing with Hula-Hoops.

For more information, visit projectcornerstone.org.

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