Crane School Blog: Focus on Learning

Featuring articles written by Crane Staffulty

For more information about Crane Country Day School, please contact admission@craneschool.org or call 805-969-7732 x127.

Country Fair Article
Mary Lee Wren

If you happen to drive down San Leandro Lane on Sunday, Oct. 28, and pass Crane Country Day School, don’t be surprised when you spot a scene that looks straight out of a yesteryear.
 
Yes, you’ll see students, but instead of carrying books or backpacks and dashing to class, they’ll likely be running amok among hay bales, trying out various old-fashioned game booths, and possibly toting a bag of fluffy popcorn while eating a hotdog.

If you happen to drive down San Leandro Lane on Sunday, Oct. 28, and pass Crane Country Day School, don’t be surprised when you spot a scene that looks straight out of a yesteryear.
 
Yes, you’ll see students, but instead of carrying books or backpacks and dashing to class, they’ll likely be running amok among hay bales, trying out various old-fashioned game booths, and possibly toting a bag of fluffy popcorn while eating a hotdog.
 
Welcome to the annual Crane Country Fair, where the school community comes together to create a day of family friendly frivolity. The admission-free fair runs 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at 1795 San Leandro Lane, Montecito. The community is invited to attend. Replete with old-time games, music, food and booths to suit all ages, the carnival-like fair is a school-year highlight for everyone at Crane, from its littlest learners to seasoned upper schoolers.
 
This year’s fair is significant for a couple of reasons, said Debbie Williams, Crane’s director of development. As the first Crane Country Fair since the tragic Thomas Fire and ensuing debris flow of last December and January, those at the school recognize that the fair, at its core, celebrates community — the Crane family and the community at large. “First and foremost, the fair is an opportunity for all of us to come together, enjoy each other’s company and appreciate each other,” said Williams. “And after what this community went through earlier this year, that’s something we’re keenly aware of.”
 
The 2018-19 school year marks another milestone — Crane’s 90th anniversary, Williams said. Throughout the end of this year and into the next, Crane will commemorate this landmark in the school’s history with a number of celebratory events. 
 
Amid the day of levity and revelry, the fair will host a booth featuring Direct Relief International, the Goleta-based, but worldwide-in-its-reach humanitarian aid organization. Community service is an integral part of the Crane ethos, with some element of giving back included in each grade’s curriculum, Williams said. To that end, Crane eighth-graders will work alongside DRI staff to help fair-goers reach the goal of packing 900 dental kits — toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss — during the fair hours. “Last year, we put together 500 [dental] kits. This year, we wanted to do more, and the number 900 is a nod to our 90th anniversary,” Williams said.
 
A search through Crane’s archives shows that what is now the Country Fair got its start in May 1955. In those days, the event had the moniker Carnival or, alternatively, May Faire. There was also a fair hiatus from 1978-1992. In several ways, Crane’s fair harkens back to simpler times. It’s easy enough to imagine school children of yore casting rings at a lollipop toss, aiming a baseball to earn a prize, or angling for a seat when the cake-walk music stops.
 
Crane parents Meggen Maloney and Meg Purdy, this year’s fair co-chairs, said these vintage amusements are popular among fair-going youngsters. However, newer-fangled fair attractions — human foosball, a giant slide, bungee run and bounce house — draw just as many fans, they said. Fair-goers also might like to dunk an eighth grader at the dunk tank; take aim at the bullseye throw; have their faces painted and hair sprayed; run an obstacle course; fish for prizes in the duck pond; toss a sponge; or spring into action in the bungee run. New to the fair this year, and most definitely an of-this-age attraction, is a mobile escape room, in which groups of students will use clues and their wits to solve a 15-minute puzzle to escape.
 
When families are tuckered out, they can tuck in: Big Daddy’s Barbecue will serve up burgers and hot dogs. For those who prefer lighter fare, Locally Grown Kids will feature an array of salads, quinoa bowls and other healthful options, many of them organic. The Crane Country Kitchen showcases homemade fare straight from the kitchens of Crane’s parent chefs, who each year contribute items for sale such as salsa, muffins, spiced nuts, cakes, breads, cookies, jam, and other sweet and savory treats. Rounding out the offerings are fresh lemonade, popcorn, snow cones, and ice cream from Here’s the Scoop. While Maloney and Purdy have spent months guiding the behind-the-scenes efforts, they give a shout out to fellow Crane parent Suzan Anderson, the fair’s volunteer coordinator. It takes more than 300 volunteer hours to make the magic of the Crane Country Fair happen, Maloney and Purdy said. “Every single year, though, people step up which is quite affirming,” said Purdy. “The fair would not happen without everyone at the school playing a role,” Williams said. “At Crane, we talk about the importance of building a strong sense of community among our students and families, as well as the importance of service to one’s community. It’s why Direct Relief is part of the fair, and it’s a chance to put that message of service into action,” she said.
 
Throughout the years, the Santa Barbara community also has been supportive of Crane. School officials appreciate this year’s sponsors: Giffin and Crane, Purdy Pediatric Dentistry, Safeway Signs, Sol Wave Water, and Jennifer Bouma/Chicken Little.
 
Their own gratitude is what prompted fair Maloney and Purdy to take the helm this year. They each said they view their role as a way of thanking the school for all it has given their children. The women also independently said Crane’s approach to education — often described by parents and faculty as experiential, hands-on, and the antithesis of one-size-fits-all — has helped their children flourish.
 
“What I love about Crane is that it’s provided the perfect environment for my kids to find their own voices,” said Purdy. “My kids have very different personalities, but they have both thrived here.” Maloney and her husband Jason Rick first came to the Crane campus more than eight years ago, when their son Griffin, now a seventh-grader, was in a stroller. “When Griffin began at Crane, he was a really shy kid who would stand back, evaluate things and wait,” said Maloney. “His kindergarten teacher had to coax him out of the bathroom because he wouldn’t go on stage with the rest of the class.” Griffin prefers working behind the scenes with the school’s tech crew, but Maloney said, “He has become a different kid, one who is self-assured, who’s not shy at all. “I attribute that to the way [Crane teachers] take baby steps with public speaking and how they take an interest in each child as an individual. It all helps to build confidence. What’s better than that?” Not much, perhaps. Then again, if you’re a kid, spending a day running free, playing games, and toting a bag of popcorn and a hot dog probably ranks right up there.
 
Tickets for games and food may be bought on fair day or beforehand at the school. All-access game wristbands are $40. Individual food and game tickets are $1. Escape Room tickets are sold out.
 
For more information about Crane, call 805-969-7732 or visit www.craneschool.org.
 
— Elizabeth Karlsberg for Crane Country Day School.
 

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