"AROUND SUNOL" by BREE K. JAMES


December 9, 2002

IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE you-know-what around here! The town tree is lit, joined by many sparkling lights all through and around the park. Holiday banners fly, and the late Bev Zimmermann's beloved cutouts adorn poles, fences and trees. The Sunol holiday event on Dec. 1 was loads of fun for all. The beautifully decorated eighth-grade tree was won by Shawn Robertson and delivered to his home by Mike Whitfield. The 6-1/2 ft. tall tree, decorated in a patriotic theme, delighted Shawn's children, Hannah and Mason O'Toole, both students at Sunol Glen School.

I got the sweetest note from Kilkare Road resident Jana Balldstadt, who wrote, "Every year we look forward to the tree lighting and train ride. If that doesn't get one in the spirit of Christmas, I'm not sure what would. To all the people who contribute their time and effort to make it such a nice event for all of us, we say THANK YOU!" You said it!

And then there are the house decorations. "One more event we look forward to in our neighborhood," Jana added, "is the Pepper's lighting - what a spectacular site!" Of course she's talking about the amazing holiday extravaganza in, on, and around the house of Sharon and Cliff Pepper. I don't know how they do it, but it gets more awesome every year.

Just up the road a piece, the Kastriotis family takes a different approach, stringing lights on so many trees their property looks like an endless holiday forest. I saw Tiffani dutifully hanging the cool zigzag of lights on the fence over Thanksgiving weekend. It's always so nice to see the girls - Tiffani and her sisters Shannon and Krista, when they are home to be with their parents, Trudi and Dimitri, for the holidays.

SUNOL GLEN NOTES: Don't forget "Operation One Warm Coat," the Girl Scout's holiday charity project. Coats, sweaters and jackets for needy families need to be collected by Dec. 17 so they can be delivered to Council Headquarters. Contact Helen Eberle at 925-417-0573 for drop-off info.

The school Winter Program is in rehearsals, with performances scheduled for Dec. 17 and 18. As is the tradition, the eighth-graders will perform both nights, joined by grades K - 4 the first night and grades 5 - 7 the second. Donna Foley and the eighth-grade parents have been hard at work with the students, preparing their adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

MUSIC AND ART IN THE CLASSROOMS: The wonderful Fine Arts and Music Education (FAME) program kicked off its fifth year with the study of artist Winslow Homer and composer George Frederick Handel. FAME docents Paulette Beemiller and Miki Whitfield discussed the painting "Breezing Up" with the students, focusing on the elements of line, color, texture and perspective. The students created their own vignettes of fisherman returning home in the U.S.S. Sunol Glen.

Handel's "Air" served as the example for a lesson on the concept of a musical suite. The FAME moms wisely suggest treating your kids to a trip to a museum, a play, or a concert during the holidays to enhance the classroom experience.

PERFECT HOLIDAY GIVING: Sunol Glen's kindergarten teacher, Becky Radulovich, will be heading to Tijuana, Mexico with her family on Dec. 13 to help build a house and host a Christmas party for 100 families with the Corazon program. Mary Machi, the youth leader at St. Augustine-St. Elizabeth Seton Church in Pleasanton, is coordinating the project. Becky and her husband Bill are accompanying their daughter Danica, who, along with 50 other youths, have been volunteering their time to raise money needed for the project. Other members of the church have been collecting food baskets and toys.

"It's a wonderful project and such a good experience for our youth, who are so blessed in all they have," Becky said. "It's such a good experience for them to see and help those less fortunate." Great big kudos go to the Radulovich family for their generosity and for remembering what this season is really all about.

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