A Soiree in Summerland

It really is ‘The Little School That Could’: Summerland School is a K through 6 elementary school that is made up of four temporary portable classrooms on a half-acre site that successfully teaches up to 90 children (this year’s attendance: 83) every year and regularly appears in the list of the top four schools in Santa Barbara County, along with Cold Spring, Montecito Union, and Monte Vista.

“We have some really big ideas to build a larger permanent school on a (3 or 4 acre) property that we own on Valencia, right up by Whitney Avenue,” the school’s principal for the past five years, Tricia Price, says during a short interview at this year’s Summerland Soiree at nearby QAD. “But, what we’re doing now,” she continues, “is we’re trying to continue to serve the students in the quality way that we’ve been doing in the past. Summerland School has done an amazing job in four temporary portable classrooms on less than an acre of property because of the heart and soul of the community, and we’re here to thank them tonight.”

Last year’s fundraising event garnered nearly $50,000, and Ms Price says that “If we can beat that, we’ll be happy.” Reports are they did indeed exceed last year’s total, but as of press time we did not have the final figure.

Outside the QAD building, attendees were greeted by large 11’x14’ photos of various Summerland School students thanking donors for the school’s Instructional Aides, Spanish Teacher, Art Teacher, Library, P.E. Teacher, Computers, and Field Trips – all paid for by parents and other generous donors. Inside, it was festive and loud and light – at least until the sun set over the horizon in full and brazen view of those that assembled, drinks in hand, to watch.

This is the second year the event has taken place at QAD; for the first four years it was held at the French Bulldog (now Café Luna), but the Soiree has outgrown the café’s capacity.

This year’s theme was “It Takes A Village,” and Principal Price referred to that theme when she introduced the evening’s special honoree, Jane J. Barton. “Among the villagers tonight is somebody particularly special,” Ms Price intoned as she introduced the school’s much-loved music teacher. “She would rather be teaching children how to play the violin, or be figuring out songs that fit into the curriculum and then teaching the children how to sing them. She would rather watch the joy that children have when they learn how to play an instrument. We have a stringed orchestra… in our elementary school!” Ms Price marveled.

“[Mrs. Barton] will beg, borrow, or steal a violin or cello in whatever way she can,” Ms Price continued, “to make sure students have an opportunity to know what it feels like to be a musician. She has credentials that are endless, but you’d never know. She just brings her humility and her passion and her compassion and her talent to our little school. She’s a volunteer; she’s never been paid. She does it because she loves children. She loves our community. She wants to make a difference, and indeed she has.”

Jane Barton moved to Summerland ten years ago with her husband, Charles (who passed away in 2000), and began teaching music at Summerland School soon after.

“I was at the post office one day,” Mrs. Barton explains during a short interview, “and I heard these people talking. They said, ‘It’s too bad we don’t have a music program in our school anymore; it’s too bad the funding was cut.’

“I thought, ‘I’m not doing anything,’ so I just drove up to the school and said, ‘Would you like a volunteer?’ I’ve been there ever since.”

Mrs. Barton teaches general music to all the grades (K through 6) and teaches stringed instruments starting in the second grade. There is no music room, but the Presbyterian Church nearby lends her the meeting room.

Just before the live auction began, Tricia sang a lengthy version of “Larry the Latte Boy,” a song about a customer’s infatuation with her morning barista, to emcee Larry Crandell, who reciprocated with his own, shorter, retort song from a different era about a married man infatuated with a young woman, which ended with the words: “But sweetheart, if you talk in your sleep, don’t mention my name.”

Among the live auction items was a beautiful black poodle puppy whose sister had already been taken by Ellen DeGeneres; it went for $1,300. The pup was purchased by John and Maria Weisz, whose child attends Summerland School and who moved here from Santa Cruz. The puppy was donated by the Iverson family; other live auction items included a giclee art print & book and an artist proof from Summerland resident Berkeley Breathed, a coastal cocktail cruise for six from the Caesar family, Haute Cuisine, and LaFond Winery, a watercolor from Tom Henderson, and oil paintings done by Kerri Hedden, Whitney Abbott and Meredith Brooks-Abbott.

The Henderson Brothers and Rain Dog supplied the music and Tamarr Paul’s Rhythm & Dance Studios, which specializes in cardio and performance hip-hop, jazz, cardio kickboxing, and more, the featured entertainment.

Ode To Easter

Jane Maurer’s is the almost heavenly voice one hears at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church on East Valley Road at Hot Springs during mass on Saturdays and Sundays, where she is principal soloist along with tenor Gary Smith. She’s been singing there for more than 25 years; she also sang at Old Mission Santa Barbara for 18 years, but now restricts her Sunday singing to Mt. Carmel. Jane sings for a living (she has performed on Broadway and was on the road with Carol Channing for “Hello Dolly”), and is often heard at funerals, weddings, anniversaries, and special events.

Jane produced a “Christmas in Santa Barbara With Jane & Friends” CD three years ago, a seasonal album that is available during the Christmas holiday season. Now, she has finished another project, this one, “Music Mediation & The Rosary,” featuring the gentle voice of Father Virgil Cordano, O.F.M. This CD is centered on a recitation of the Rosary with Father Virgil, in the Catholic tradition, and it comes complete with accompanying peaceful music.

“We live in such a frenetic world; we all go too fast, therefore my goal is to bring peace and calm, the kind of stillness of the spirit that can be a healing force,” says the mother of three boys, all of whom attended Montecito Union School and Mt. Carmel. Her youngest son Christian Maurer, now 25 years old, served as Associate Producer and did all the artwork associated with the CD.

The CD is available at Mt. Carmel Rectory, The Serra Shop at the Old Mission, and will likely be for sale at other bookstores in time for Easter; the final product just arrived from the East Coast. The CD makes an appealing gift for the religiously inclined Catholic, especially during this time of year. For special orders and more information, you can call Sacred Harbor Productions at 805-895-5125.

Bells For Barry

The Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST) celebrated Barry Siegel for his contributions in the field of Transportation Planning on Saturday, March 24 at the Iwerks Gallery on the Mesa. Assemblyman Pedro Nava presented Barry with a commendation. Santa Barbara Council Member Helene Schneider and Gregg Hart from SBCAG also spoke at the event.