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August 16, 2022

Local Scene: Dia de los Muertos, teacher of the year

Community altars mark Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos altars are now on display at the Gilroy Center for the Arts through Nov. 3.

This year’s exhibit, titled “Honoring our Ancestors through Community,” is a community collective display. The goal of the display, according to the center, is to support the remembrance of local loved ones and unity.

The Gilroy Center for the Arts is located at 7341 Monterey St. It is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 4pm. For information, visit

Teachers of the Year announced

In honor of World Teacher Day (Oct. 5), the Santa Clara County Office of Education announced the 2021 County Teachers of the Year, which includes one from Gilroy.

Ana L. Benich of Gilroy Unified School District was among the honorees.

“We want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of teachers across Santa Clara County for their ingenuity and perseverance over the past year and a half,” said County Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan. “We are thrilled to be able to honor the achievements of educators who have gone above and beyond, despite the many challenges we all faced during this pandemic.”

The educators will be honored at the 51st annual Santa Clara County Teacher Recognition Celebration on Oct. 28 at the Corinthian Grand Ballroom in San Jose.

Gilroy Hot Springs artifacts on display

The Gilroy Museum, 195 Fifth St., is exhibiting loaned family heirlooms from Bill McDonald and Susan McDonald Lundblade, owners of the Gilroy Hot Springs in the early 1920s. 

Included in the display is the Lookout Mountain Register in which Hot Springs guests recorded their names and comments after hiking to the top of a steep ridge where the U.S. flag was flown every day. Also on display is a newly conserved panoramic photograph of the Hot Springs Hotel and grounds.

The exhibit is available for viewing during museum hours (Tuesday and Thursday, 10am-4pm and the first two Saturdays of the month from 10am–2pm). 

The loaned artifacts will be on display through March.

EPA honors Mount Madonna School students

On Oct. 5, the Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 honored Mount Madonna School students—national President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) winners—for their “Save Our Sharks” project they completed in 2019-20 as fifth-graders. 

The EPA Region 9 gathered virtually to celebrate the students.

These students, now seventh-graders, were honored by the national EPA for their PEYA award when they received it in August, but this gathering of local EPA members gave students another opportunity to share their research, challenges and highlights of their extensive project to save sharks. 

Now-seventh-grader Romy Sirk-Traugh said they were inspired to start this project during an MMS beach cleanup field trip where they had found an “alarming amount of trash.” They had already learned in science class that great white sharks are endangered, and knew that the plastics they found on the beach couldn’t be helping their plight.

“We really wanted to help them,” Sirk-Traugh said.

Ann Goewert, MMS head of school, expressed gratitude to teacher Jessica Cambell for guiding her students to be leaders and good citizens.

“Jessica continues to inspire her fifth grade students to advocate for environmental issues and protections. She empowers her students to be agents of change by using their voice and writing letters to United States Congressional representatives alerting them of pressing issues,” Goewert said. 

This is the fourth time Mount Madonna School fifth grade students have received this national recognition. In 2019, students received a PEYA for their 2017-18 work to protect humpback whales. In 2017, students were awarded a PEYA for their 2015-16 work to protect Western Snowy Plovers; and in 2015, students learned they were awarded the PEYA for their 2013-14 work to protect endangered sea turtles.

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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