Smart schools sell

The Chico Unified School District has a high “EQ"—Education Quotient—according to Expansion Management magazine, which recently named the K-12 district as a Blue Ribbon winner in its 11th annual distribution of such honors.

The ranking bolsters the community’s image as a place where businesses should want to relocate or start up, which is part of the reason the local economic-development community likes to see the district in the listings.

Expansion Magazine rated 2,500 school districts this year. The last time the CUSD achieved Blue Ribbon status was in 1999.

Awards in the air

Nancy the Newt says, “Don’t Pollute.” That’s what the Butte County Air Quality Management District has been teaching area school children, along with the fact that there are things everyone can do to make the air we breathe cleaner.

The kids are getting the message, said Gail Williams, air quality planner at the management district, who was heartened by the quality of entries in its recent calendar page design contest. “They [realize they] can do little things, like ride a bike,” Williams said. One entrant pictured a goat chomping the lawn instead of a power mower.

More than 150 5- to 12-year-olds from around Butte County submitted calendar page designs, including members of the district’s Clean Air Kids’ Club. The topic was a broad one: “Ways to keep the air clean.”

The grand-prize winner, who got a bike from Greenline Cycles in Oroville, was Alexandra Wade-Hill, age 10, from Ponderosa Elementary School on the Ridge. (Here’s her picture.) A dozen other students were named runners up, and each had a month on the calendar dedicated to his or her art.

Calendars are available, while supplies last, by calling 891-2882.

Check those pockets

One of the coolest Web sites for snoopy types, besides (think Michael Jordan’s divorce papers and wacky police reports), can be found at, which was recently written up in The Los Angeles Times.

If you’ve ever stumbled across someone else’s Dear John letter, birthday card, photo or napkin poetry littering the street, you know what this site’s concept is: Scan and post private ephemera for viewing by the general public. The criteria are “anything that gives a glimpse into someone else’s life.”

That would include a not-so-healthful shopping list ("beer, meat, dog food, boloney, bread, sanka"); a schoolkid’s multiple writings of “I will not throu during quiet time"; and the cryptic memo, “Make dummy for grand prize.”

The best are the breakup letters. Go see for yourself.