School celebrates annual Ocean Week

RANCHO SANTA FE — For the 19th year, Ocean Week opened with a splash at R. Roger Rowe School in Rancho Santa Fe.
Activities got underway on May 23 with assemblies for the students at the school’s Performing Arts Center. They were greeted at the door by a big blue octopus, which seemed to be singing “Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles.
Also in the entry were posters created by each grade, that represented the area of the ocean which they’ve studied this year.
Artist Teresa Espaniola helped students connect with the project through art. The younger grades put together a project made with beach toys lost on the beach. It’s title was “Keep track of your beach toys.”
“This is the age to reach them,” she said motioning to the first through third graders sitting on the floor of the assembly. She said these students get so enthusiastic, it is hard for their parents not to join in.
The upper grades built a wave filled with trash picked up from the beach to illustrate what ends up in the ocean.
Once the assemblies got underway, the first graders sang, “Oceans of Fun,” and another song about keeping an eye on beach toys and the middle school chorus sang, “Hey San Diego,” while the dance troupe brought the song to life.
During this special week, students in grades kindergarten through eight concentrate on the habitat of the ocean in a partnership with Scripps.
Roberta Dean, the liaison between Scripps and the school, said the idea for the week began after staff member Stacey Halboth remembered attending a workshop at Berkeley in 1985. That culminated the special week of learning, which concentrated on oceans.
“Now it has become year round curriculum,” Dean said.
“Can you believe it’s been 19 years? I don’t know what I’m going to do for the 20th,” she said with a laugh.
She said each grade learns about a different part of the ocean.
Kindergarten learns about ponds; first grade, rocky sea shores; second grade, sandy beaches; third grade, wetlands; fourth grade, kelp forests; fifth grade, the open ocean; sixth grade, coral reefs; seventh grade, deep sea; and eighth grade, polar habitat.
“By the time they get through this school they have a huge understanding of marine life and the oceans,” Dean said.
The weeklong event included open houses on both June 1 and June 2 where SeaWorld brought a plastic whale and representatives from Birch Aquarium brought live animals.
Another aspect of the week is the opportunity for students to visit other classrooms and grades to be taught what they have learned during the week. For instance, first graders may have the opportunity to teach eighth graders.
“It’s very powerful for kids to teach what they are learning,” Dean said.
Some of the students will have the opportunity to visit the beach in person as a part of their classes, she said.
“The whole program is paid for by the Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation,” she said.

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