Home Valley Beat Soboba Tribal Preschool celebrates 100th day

Soboba Tribal Preschool celebrates 100th day

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Violet Chacon, 6, strings 100 Froot Loops onto yarn in increments of 10s during the Soboba Tribal Preschool 100th Day on Feb. 5. Her blouse is decorated with 100 pom poms. | Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians

Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians | Contributed

The celebration of 100 days of instruction, marking the halfway point of the school year, has become a special event at Soboba Tribal Preschool and Feb. 5 was no exception. Surrounded by hundreds of everything, all lessons and even snacks were focused on this significant number.

The student body of 58 children, who range in age from 3 through 6, were encouraged to wear clothing with 100 items attached or dress like a 100-year-old person. The activities proved to be fun and educational.

Preschool teacher Lenora “Ponie” Mojado’s class of mostly three-year-olds spent the morning placing 10 stickers onto a strip of colored paper that was added to a headband. With a choice of dogs, cats, monkeys and other animals, the children were excited as they counted out a variety of stickers to decorate their hats while sporting 100th day bracelets.

Instructional aide Alaina Adkins joined the classroom about a month ago. Having worked in a day care in the past, she thoroughly enjoys the school setting she has found at Soboba. She is attending Mt. San Jacinto College for her associate degree in early childhood education and plans to enroll at Cal State San Bernardino in the fall.

“It has been a big transition from day care to here; the kids are more independent here and learning so many things,” Adkins said.

Ana Garcia and her pre-K students rotated between group tables, each with someone to guide them through an activity. One offered 10 trays of snack items for them to count from. Instructional Aide Elena Arambula helped each student as they counted out 10 Goldfish crackers, M&Ms, raisins, popcorn, pretzels, Froot Loops, Cheerios, gummy bears, Skittles and Cheez-its onto their placemats. Then they put all 100 items into a baggie to be taken home to eat later.

Julissa Garcia, who was dressed as an elderly woman with gray spray in her hair and pearls draped from her snuggly cardigan, assisted the mostly four-year-old students with coloring a paper crown that declared, “I am 100 days smarter!” After cutting it out, they were asked to write their name on the headband that it would be attached to.

Garcia worked with the youngsters on creating a necklace made from 100 Froot Loops. They were asked to sort by color and count to 10 as they filled in each row on a printed chart. Once they filled it up and it totaled 100 cereal rings, they strung them onto a pre-cut piece of yarn, counting as they added each one.

Preschool teacher Gloria Alcala is currently working as an additional resource that floats between classrooms when and where needed. She was helping the pre-kinder kids with their projects and will be in her own classroom that is opening in June.

Kindergartners were treated to several different activities offered by teacher Laura Aldrete and Instructional Aide Mayra Campos. Desks were grouped together into fours to allow the mostly five-year-old students to socialize while working on each project. They were asked to lace, sort and match by colors and numbers.

“We wanted to give them things to do that are fun and engaging,” Aldrete said. “Identifying and writing numbers can be challenging tasks for some of them.”

Campos said there are 23 students enrolled in the class. This is the first full year she and Aldrete have been teaching together, having started part way through the last school year. She said she is happy to see more family engagement this year as the pair work to keep the students on track to graduate.

“We strive for them to be very independent,” Campos said.

Some projects required scissors skills while others relied on pencil use, such as using a notebook titled, “I can write 100 words.” Each pencil was equipped with a 100-day labeled eraser. They were asked to count to 100 by fives and cut out an ice cream scoop drawing after coloring its 100 sprinkles and then gluing it to the cone bottom after writing their name on it.

A 100-day necklace was assembled with 10 of the same color Froot Loops and then divided with disks noting 10, 20, 30 until they reached 100. Violet Chacon concentrated on her necklace while wearing a sweater filled with 100 pom poms of different sizes and colors. Clover Swan got into character as she worked on her necklace dressed in a long dress with shawl and glasses hanging from a strap around her neck.

Administrative Assistant Jasmine Solis-Hernandez is the new front desk face that greets children and their families each morning. She oversees attendance and checks each student in and out. When she was attending Hemet High School, she served an internship at the Mayor’s Office which she found interesting.

Adding to the significance of the 100-day mark is the fact that Benita Torres is nearing her 100th day as preschool director, having started in that position on Aug. 29, 2023. Torres, who has a master’s degree in early childhood education, has worked in the education field for more than 30 years with the last 18 specifically focused on early childhood education.

“One of the things that I have enjoyed the most since I started working here is the sense of community and family engagement,” Torres said. “Some of the things that I would like to do moving forward would be opening a classroom, and begin integrating the children’s cultural backgrounds, traditions and language into their lessons. My vision for the program is that by the time children leave our program, they will be academically and emotionally ready to be successful at any public elementary school.”

Torres said she is thankful to be allowed to be part of such a wonderful community. “Now that we are at the halfway mark of the school year, we have a lot to look forward to as we approach the end of the school year. We hope to meet more of our community and spend more time with our families and peers as we host more events, such as our open house,” she said. “I hope I can continue to serve the community to the best of my abilities for years to come.”

While there are still 100 days of instruction left in the current school year, staff are already planning for their end-of-year celebration. To fund an outing for students and their families, the school is hosting its second annual Bingo Night on March 21. They are currently seeking donations to be included in the raffle event that proved very popular last year.

For more information, please contact Jasmine Solis-Hernandez at 951-487-8732 or [email protected].

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