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S E C T I O N 2 Schools March 24, 2010 ■ Stories about local schools, students and issues related to learning A LSO INSIDE C 20 | CLA O M M UN I T Y SSI F I E D S 23 | R E AL E S TAT E 27 Photos by Michelle Le/The Almanac Sparking the Grants fund innovative educational programs at Menlo Park district schools By Andrea Gemmet Almanac Staff Writer T he slap of jump-ropes fills the gym at Oak Knoll School in Menlo Park. The teens from Jumping for Joy, a Santa Clara-based youth team, perform their high-energy routine by starting with basic jump-rope moves that accelerate into complicated, precision stunts. After school, students inspired by the performance can participate in jump-rope clinics, and go home with a rope and skills to pass along to their classmates. The performance isn’t just about entertaining kids on a recent school day. Surging enrollment in the Menlo Park City School District is crowding the playgrounds, and educators are looking for ways to motivate students to get exercise, especially exercise that takes up a minimal amount of space. Jumping rope fits the bill, and it’s one of a myriad of clever ideas funded annually by the Menlo-Atherton Education Foundation’s Jeannie Ritchie grants. The grants area a bit like the idea behind micro-loan programs, in which a small sum of money can make a big difference. Jeannie Ritchie grants range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and are awarded annually to fund programs pitched by teachers. Some of them, like Jumping for Joy, encourage fitness. Others, like the upcoming Life Cycles Unlimited progam, reinforce science lessons by bringing butterfly larvae, tadpoles and frogs into second-grade classrooms. The Picasso traveling art museum exposes middle schoolers to art and the cultural riches of Spanish-speaking people, with students in Spanish class getting extra, in-depth lessons. Other programs funded this year are designed to help students explore music, physics, literature, living skills and diversity. Even students can pitch programs for Jeannie Ritchie grants. Hillview middle school students put on monthly diversity events at lunchtime, focusing on a different world culture through displays, activities and food. Oak Knoll teacher Andrea Boatright says the recent hands-on history program had her third-graders on the edges of their seats. Keith Gutierrez taught the students Members of Jumping for Joy perform for an enthusiastic crowd of Oak Knoll School students in Menlo Park. The program, funded by a Jeannie Ritchie grant, aims to encourage kids to exercise more. See page 19 March 24, 2010 N The Almanac N17

The Almanac 03.24.2010 - Section 2

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