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At Winterfest, dreaming of a RedHawks Christmas
Students, parents and the Colusa community came together on Thursday night for the second annual Colusa High School Winterfest.
Attendees walked through a gingerbread house built by the Art Club and through a hallway illuminated by blue lights and adorned with garland and faux snow, making their way to the main event in the quad.
Children and parents alike moved between booths hosted by school clubs, had their pictures taken with the school mascot and Santa in a sleigh on the senior lawn, and took the opportunity to see what is going on at Colusa High School.
According to Principal Darren Brown, the event came about when he noted a lack of connection between the high school and the community.
"This happened as a reaction to last year's Back to School Night. The participation just wasn't there," Brown said.
So, Brown came up with Winterfest to give the community a reason to participate. Brown said the event has grown in year two.
"We really stepped it up this year. A lot of students contributed a bunch," Brown said. "We have 10 times the amount of lights as last year's. It's just a really great opportunity to see what our kids do."
Brown said the school clubs gave many items away in the school's effort to connect with the community at large, including an iPad that was raffled off toward the end of Winterfest.
"Last year, we gave away an Xbox to help get people here — a little bribery doesn't hurt — and this year we wanted to do something educationally focused. It was mostly the student body's idea," Brown said.
In addition to giving out items as raffle prizes, clubs sold items to raise funds.
"We made the gingerbread house out front, and we are selling students' art to raise money for our field trip to San Francisco. We're also doing face painting and caricature drawing," art teacher Bob Kirkman Sr. said.
Teacher Erin Kalfsbeek headed the cooking club's booth, which sold student-painted gourds to benefit the cooking club. Kalfsbeek said the club cooks for the high school's staff "almost every Friday."
Some teachers who were not in charge of clubs were there just for the experience or to help the event go smoothly.
"I just came out to support the school. I brought my kids out. Ariah, my daughter, wants to do everything ... have her face painted three times and make seven smores. The high school kids, especially leadership, has put a lot of work into this. Any time you have parents and kids come together for the school, it's a great thing," English teacher Matthew Giffin said.
"It's my first year; I'm a new teacher here," said special education teacher Rachelle Lisby. "It's neat to see the community come out and support the high school."
Mi Ranchito helps Colusa High School raise $35,000 for sober grad night
A fundraising dinner for Colusa High School on Thursday netted about $3,500 for its sober grad night, with a little help from Mi Ranchito, a long-time popular Mexican restaurant that closed its doors two years ago.
The event coincided with Colusa High School's second annual Winterfest.
"We're really happy with the turnout," said Bonnie Davies, who helped organize the event. "We're doing one more fundraiser for sober grad night, and that's going to be a Valentine's Day Golf Tournament at the Colusa golf course."
Davies said attaching the name Mi Ranchito to the dinner helped the event exceed expectations. The food included carne asada tacos, rice, beans, and chips and salsa done the Mi Ranchito way.
"We wanted to only do a couple of fundraisers this year. Obviously, Mi Ranchito is an easy sell," Davies said. "Lupe (Madrigal) led the charge on getting the food squared away this year. It's so good, it's hard not to love."
Madrigal, whose family owned the locally famous Colusa restaurant, has a daughter in the senior class.
"It was overwhelming when they opened the curtain and you saw the big old line. I never thought we were going to sell so many tickets. (Colusa High School Principal Darren) Brown sent us an email asking us to do this next year," said Madrigal.
Madrigal noted that she misses her days of working at the restaurant, a sentiment that — as the number of tickets sold would tend to support — many Colusa residents would share.
"We miss that. Not the hours, but the people and that experience," Madrigal said.
— Brian Pearson