OAKLAND -- The Glenview Elementary School community has a lot to celebrate this month. It dedicated the colorful paintings of two cisterns on Dec. 11, right before the latest group of storms passed through the Bay Area, adding to the school's rainwater collection.

The needed funding for the cistern project and painting work of $5,000 came from a PG&E Solar Schools Grant managed by Sue Morgan, a retired Glenview science teacher and Dimond district resident.

"I worked on a cisterns project at Sequoia Elementary School," Morgan said. "I was glad to help get them for Glenview, though it took some time. I started teaching the kids about this when they were first-graders.

They knew all about it," when the project moved into its final stages this year.

Now third-graders, the roughly 90 students worked with Debbie Koppman, a local artist who teaches at Sequoia Elementary, to decorate the cisterns. The theme chosen was "Rainbow Fish," a colorful children's book written and illustrated by Marcus Pfister.

"We started practicing the art in October," Koppman said. "We worked on color mixing and the idea of painting the cisterns to look like giant fish tanks."

Glenview teachers had the three classrooms of third-graders draw fish and other sea creatures. They gave the drawing to Koppman, who then transferred the images onto the two cisterns. When that step was done, she and the kids painted the sea animals and ocean.


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"I kept pointing out the connections between the cisterns, which help hold and carry water for the garden and the environment, and the creatures on the giant fish tanks," she explained. "They seemed to get it."

At the recent cistern celebration, students identified themselves, their paintings and what the project meant to them.

"I drew this fish with confidence because I love to do art. I chose this fish, because I thought it was unique," wrote one third-grade student about a jellyfish.

"It was a little hard, but I got the hang of it. It was really fun painting my painting," wrote another about her starfish.

According to Morgan, the water being collected in the cisterns will be used irrigate the schools vegetable and flower garden.

"The sea creatures are there to remind us that all water goes to the oceans," she said. "I'm utterly thrilled that the project's gotten to this point. The cisterns look great, and the kids are very excited."