By Sarah Ford
You have probably noticed, and maybe wondered about, the new banners circling the Plaza, each one featuring a child’s smiling face and the words “I Choose Community,” “I Choose Success,” or “I Choose Opportunity.” The banners, installed August 1, feature preschool through high school students from District schools.
Many will recognize these banners as part of the “I Choose” campaign launched in 2014 by the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. At that time, it featured just high school students, each holding an object representing a personal interest or pursuit, and was intended to highlight the array of educational options at Sonoma Valley High School. SVHS principal Kathleen Hawing said the “I Choose” campaign “reminds us that we can define success in a variety of ways – be it academic, athletic, artistic, or civic.” The campaign team and Ed Foundation decided that expanding the campaign district-wide was the logical next step.
When banners and photo collages were hung at the high school and middle schools in 2014, they also provided campus beautification. Each of these schools is now displaying new banners with new faces.
The campaign has been carried out by volunteers and, thanks to Ed Foundation funding, the District has not incurred any expenses.
The Plaza’s I CHOOSE banners serve as a reminder that Sonoma is about more than tasting rooms and restaurants – it’s about locals. As the campaign motto says, “Our Community. Our Future.”
City Manager Cathy Capriola said the City is “delighted to have the “I Choose” banners with the faces of our youth surrounding the historic Plaza for the first time! Youth success, engagement, and advancement are important for our community’s health and vibrancy.”
The high school’s photography teacher Andy Mitchell took the black and white portraits, and local designers and District parents Lisa Carlsson, Jacque Alanis, and Lori Winter created the distinctive green and white banners.
When she saw the new banners, SVHS Drama teacher and parent, Jane Martin, said, “A picture is worth a thousand words, and the banners bring the students from our schools into the community. They give our schools a vibrant and diverse public face.”
Two of the students on the Plaza banners are pictured here, along with their personal statements. Watch for profiles of the other students on the Plaza in upcoming issues of the Sun.
Elizabeth Herrera – fourth grade (pictured above)
“I love to be creative! I really like to make doll clothes. Right now, I’m sketching out a dress to make for my American Girl doll. I’m going to use red, poofy fabric for the dress. When I was little I taught myself to sew by watching my mom make pretty clothes. I hand sew the clothes or use glue to keep them together. I save my money to buy fabric or use whatever I can. For my sister’s dolls, I make skirts and dresses from curtains! I want people to know I’m creative and I believe when you’re creative you can change the world.”
George Storck – eighth grade
“I started raising chickens when I was six years old. In the beginning, I had 25 chickens but now I can have anywhere from 100 -200 at a time. At first, I started with egg laying chickens and now have meat birds, too. I spend three hours a day taking care of my birds, more during the summer. There’s been a lot to learn but most days I don’t see it as work. I also really like working with my hands and welding is something I’ve been doing about three years. I now make the metal bases for my chicken coups coops and do all the repairs. I imagine I might study Bio -Poultry Sciences after high school or even learn to be an operating engineer.”