Newsletter‎ > ‎September 2018‎ > ‎

Grizzly Hill School Welcomes a New School Year

posted Sep 11, 2018, 9:51 AM by Kristin Snell

by Diana Pasquini, San Juan Ridge Family Resource Center

Although Grizzly Hill Schools’ Back to School Night was two weeks into the beginning of a term, enthusiasm had not begun to wane; and the excitement of a new school year was palpable. Students, parents, teachers, and community members chomped on homemade pizza as Grizzly Hill’s Principal
James Berardi (pictured at right) presented the school’s staff and described new programs to a very appreciative crowd. Representatives from Dream a Difference, Sierra Streams Institute, Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County, Grizzly Hill’s Parent Teacher Club and the San Juan Ridge Family Resource Center were also introduced as supporters of Grizzly Hill’s students, programs, and activities.

When talking about the new school year, Mr. Berardi’s enthusiastic optimism was contagious. “Twin Ridges is off on another school year and it’s exciting! We have so much to look forward to with new energy, passion, and ideas. Replacing Mrs. Smith as our new TK-K-1 teacher, Julie Kolofer brings over a decade of classroom and administration experience from working in small rural schools. Experienced in science education, our new 3rd-4th grade teacher, Gretchen Eisenhut, has roots in the Sierra foothills and is happy to be living and working close to her family. Mrs Blades, a classroom aide, is working with 4-8 grade students to create a cross country track team. So far, 12 boys & girls are practicing & prepping to participate in several meets with other middle schools throughout the county.

We are continuing our awesome food program, cooking locally sourced foods from scratch. Our food program is above and beyond the best school food program in the county! Our relationship with Sierra Harvest will continue providing unique food tasting opportunities, guest chefs and farm visits, and will assist in utilizing Grizzly Hill’s garden space and greenhouse. We’ve just completed the implementation of a grant in conjunction with Sierra Streams Institute that created rain gardens that will catch rain running off solid surfaces. These gardens were planted by our students with indigenous species of plants. This project enhances the campus, capturing unused runoff and creating a beautiful garden for all to enjoy.

Grizzly Hill and Washington Schools are THE ONLY SCHOOLS IN THE USA to be participating in an international poetry experience, Dream a Difference where kids can share their experiences across continents through poetry. Nevada County Arts Council Executive Director, Eliza Tudor and two local poets will work with kids on a regular basis to create poetry about themselves to be shared with kids from around the world. Twin Ridges’ kids will be sharing with kids from Palestine, Uganda, Bangladesh, Indonesia and other nations around the world.

With enough parental support and student participation we will be partnering with Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County to have a mountain bike club for physical activity and trail enhancement. Interested parents can contact James Berardi at 265-9052.

Last but certainly not least, “We now provide a 5 day a week program after school until 6 every evening. Including homework and tutoring, physical activities and games, structured play, dance, art, drama and other activities as they come available, the after school program is FREE to all Grizzly Hill families.”

Several Grizzly Hill students also took a moment to share their feelings, experiences, and hopes for the new school year.

“It’s exciting to be back in school! I like school. My favorite things are reading and doing math and I really like writing. I’m on the track team. Mrs. Blades is our coach and we practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Right now we’re raising money for our uniforms.”

Izabella Moulton

4th Grade-Grizzly Hill School


“I like seeing my friends a lot more often. I like Mr. Johnson. He’s a really cool teacher. He gives out a lot of candy. I really like the way he teaches and I’m learning a lot.”

Bryce Kersey

7th Grade- Grizzly Hill School


“It’s a really good feeling to be here because I chose to be back in school. I was home schooled before and it was really lonely. We didn’t get out of the house much. There were other schools to go to but I grew up with these kids. I’ve known them for years. So I figured that Grizzly Hill would be the best place to come to. My main teacher, Mr. Johnson, is great! He works really well with the kids. He’s calm and patient and calls the kids turkeys, which is really cute. I’m looking forward to learning more and getting prepared for high school and this is an excellent place to get prepared.”

     Sofia Jensen

                                                    8th Grade-Grizzly Hill School