Above: Topanga students petting Zeus, the Burmese python.
Left top: Jessica, the Argentine black and white Tegu
Left: A falcon demonstrates her skills at Topanga Elementary Raptor Day.
Right: Topanga students learned about Ollie the owl.
November 19th marked the return of the raptors at Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS). Raptor Day has become a tradition where education and exposure to wildlife and environmental biology is a foundation of the schoolâ€™s charter. The event entails an exciting live animal presentation for all students, from TK through to fifth grade. It was presented by our long-time partner, Raptor Events, whose mission is to aid in wildlife conservation efforts through education. The event is held outdoors at the school amphitheater in the beautiful TECS Oak Woodland.
The team from Raptor Events wowed students with an array of fascinating animals. There was Luna, the Harrisâ€™s Hawk and, everyoneâ€™s favorite, Ollie, the Eurasian Eagle owl. But there were not only raptors (birds of prey, who use their powerful, sharp talons to capture their prey). Kids learned about and got to pet (!) a Madagascar hissing cockroach; Tortellini, the African spurred tortoise; Zeus, the Burmese python; Arnold, the ball python; and Jessica, the Argentine black and white Tegu (a type of lizard). Students learned about their biology and behavior, and were reminded of the importance of not using rat poison for pest control.
This event was made possible by contributions to TEP (Topanga Enrichment Programs), the TECS booster club. Thanks to Raptor Events and the parents of the TEP Science Committee for this great event!
Other Campus News: Renovations & Recycling
TECS started the month with the annual book fair, a fundraiser for TEP. The fair, which was virtual last year (we all know why!), was open for a week in the school auditorium where kids eagerly shopped a wide-ranging selection.
The school campus is now under construction! LAUSD has a three-year plan for a number of important renovations at our school that include upgrading plumbing and installing a water bottle filling station, improving access and making the campus ADA-compliant, and all-new tarmac throughout.
The vision for the school extends beyond these investments. Topanga Elementary principal, Mr. Kevin Kassebaum, aka Principal K, as he is known around campus, is working with a team to scope out installing a water catchment system at our school to make good use of precious rainfall in the canyon. â€śIt is exciting to see these investments to the campus,â€ť he said. â€śWe want to do even more to improve our school with cutting-edge environmental improvements.â€ť
Speaking of the environment, students are leading the recycling charge on campus. Third- and fourth-grade students have been pivotal in bringing recycling to their classrooms. Starting in September, pairs and triplets of third- and fourth grade-students visited each class to explain the introduction of recycling bins to classrooms. These students prepared presentations to their peers on why the bins are important and what can and canâ€™t go in the bins. In addition, they discussed the importance of re-cycling at home and re-using, as well as encouraged participation in the school Topanga beach clean-up in September.
â€śWe learned a lot about recycling to prepare. We wrote our own speeches and also practiced in class which helped us get ready to go to other classrooms to explain recycling,â€ť noted fourth grader Farrah Whittenburg. She remarked that the younger students, especially the kids in first-grade classes she visited, had a lot of questions!
The work of these engaged students continues as they now empty class bins each day. Students in Dr. Aâ€™s class, including Farrah and her classmate, Haley Welch, empty the bins in the lower classes, while older classrooms manage emptying the bin themselves. â€śWe normally have a job in the classroom at the end of the day, but the recycling work is something different,â€ť said Haley. â€śIt takes us to other parts of the school. Itâ€™s fun to get to help out the younger grades recycle each day.â€ť
Thanks to the students for their commitment to recycling!
There are many ways to support our school, whether you are a parent at TECS or a community member who believes in the importance of public education. One way is to sponsor new student art banners featured in front of the school, to both advertise your business to the school community and support school enrichment programs. Contact: TepBoard@topangaelementary.org for details. Our children thank you!