Kenwood Press

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Glen Ellen Telegram: 12/01/2014

Glen Ellen Telegram

This holiday time of year resurrects in all of us the draw to time-honored traditions. That is certainly true at our village's public school. Dunbar Elementary, established in 1857, is an institution in our community, and counts as one of the oldest continuously operating public schools in California. Traditions abound out on Dunbar Road, but this time of year it is all about the holiday bazaar known as Pixie Corner.

Pixie Corner's origins are murky, but the event began sometime in the 1970s, possibly while Larry Westlake was principal. Barbara Martin reports that this beloved tradition was well in place before she arrived in 1980 when her daughter Audra was in kindergarten. Barbara helped run “the Corner” for seven years (and, incidentally, came back to run it for several years when her grandchildren, Piper and Phillip, were at Dunbar). She fondly remembers those early years when teachers and parents worked hard to produce the crafts that became the sales items. Many of these were sold for a nickel apiece, the intention being that the students could “save their pennies” and thereby afford gifts for their family members. Pixie Corner was not meant to be a fundraiser, but simply a beautiful and empowering experience for the kiddos.

Margie Foster reports that she and Deb Pool “started up Elves Workshop [in each classroom] and it was like an art class. We did this for several years, and ended up donating many hundreds of gifts each year to Pixie Corner this way.” Former principal Rosemary Haver says, “the idea was to have items for each child to buy for presents. Parents Club [members] each were asked to make or donate 100 items, if possible, and most of November they would have weekly workshops. The classes also contributed. A few days before vacation was the big Pixie Corner sale. Each child got to buy two items and usually there were enough items for classes to shop twice. Parents Club ran the sale and wrapped each gift for the children.”

I am happy to report that not much has changed. At this time numerous parents of current or former students, and some teachers are making crafts for this year. Friends of Dunbar PTO still runs this event and many volunteers deserve credit. In recent years Roseanne Goertzen, Linda Dehzad, Audra Bodwell, and Cathy Barbagelata have kept the Pixie spirit alive.

Over this 30+ year history, many wonderful Pixie Corner memories have developed. Jill Dawson reminisced that when son “Larkin was in second grade he broke his leg mid-December. Even though he was not yet able to go to school, [he] got to hobble around on his new crutches for a private opening. Shopping would have been pretty difficult for him that year, but the kindness showed made it possible for him to get small gifts for everyone on his list...including the cat and dog!” When Jennifer Decker was a student she “loved the candy cane and wine cork reindeer ornaments, the decorated bags of candy, and always [bought her] poor dad a weird tie.” Alison Pimental probably sums it up best, “My fondest memories are really a reflection of the joy and excitement on the students' faces when they came to shop, gripping their dollars in their hands, eagerly looking for that perfect gift for their family members and friends. For $5 they could walk out with something for everyone on their list. They would get so excited, and watching them was so endearing. For many students, Pixie Corner allowed them their first opportunity to reciprocate a gift. They were so proud of their purchases and could not wait to give them away.” On a personal note, my husband and I still have (and use) a sweet little clothes pin 'soldier' ornament on our tree, given to us by our now nearly 30-year-old niece.

This year's Pixie Corner is scheduled for Monday through Thursday, Dec. 15 through 18, and the broader community is always invited to participate. The PTO asks you to email Moriah at if you are interested.

Other happenings at Dunbar

In June, beloved Ms. Holly Campbell retired, and although families were sad to see her go, the new first grade teacher, Kristin Edwards, is carrying on the tradition of academics with a healthy side of fun and vibrancy. Opera a la Carte from San Francisco Opera recently came to school and 5th graders had the opportunity to be guest performers in La Boheme. An iPad was anonymously donated for a raffle and over $2,000 was raised for the Age of Sail and other 4/5-grade fieldtrips. And the Rotary Club of Glen Ellen-Kenwood generously gifted iPads for use in the kindergarten classrooms, one for each child!

Buzz from Around the Bend

With the holidays upon us, we will soon see the ginger people and lights going up, and the bridge-lighting elves will surely accomplish their stealthy job one of these nights! The annual sleigh ride and caroling around town has been scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 20, from noon to 2 p.m. Stay tuned for more details in the next issue of the KP.

And as always, if you have Glen Ellen news to announce, please email or call 996-3352.

Do you have any Glen Ellen stories to share? Milestones? Celebrations? Email, or call 996-3352.

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Community Calendar

Sugarloaf Trail Crew
Night Sky Trails
Creekside Nature Hike
Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance Fundraiser
Forest Therapy
Economic Recovery town hall meeting