Freedom High recently participated in AFRI Science Days held in partnership with the Delta Science Center.

Held in nine classrooms of the Oakley center, the event included professors, grad students and post-grad students.

Of course, the day focused on the local waterway and featured topics like the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; the history of the levees; and the challenges in the Delta.

Reps from UC Berkeley spoke about carbon cycling and greenhouse gases and UC Davis discussed peat soils. Other subjects featured were the changing of existing crops to rice; California's environmental policy and hydrology modeling.

This Agriculture and Food Research Initiative event was made possible by a grant from the center, USDA, UC"ˆBerkeley and UC Davis. Its focus is for local high school students to "put classroom theory into practice," according to the website. This was the initial portion of the program.

The science center hopes to offer "students a chance to see a real life research projects and encourage (them) to become interested in the issues the Delta ... faces today and the future." For more information, visit www.deltasciencecenter.org or call 925-289-5711.

SPELLING WINNER: Bayonet and euphemism don't seem to have much in common, unless you're Connor Robles.

For the Brentwood student, those two words represent his first and most recent words that sent him to spelling bee victory. He won with bayonet in his first contest as a third-grader at Pioneer Elementary. And, euphemism clenched the win for the current seventh-grader at Bristow Middle.

Robles now heads to the regional county bee on March 23, where he'll compete against more than 100 other Contra Costa students. If he continues to be victorious, he could find himself in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Last year, Robles made it to the Top 25 in the regional division.

When it comes to winning, Robles is on a streak -- taking first in his school level division for the past five years.

"We think it's pretty amazing he keeps winning year after year," said Stacie Robles, his mother.

She jokes that like the 49ers, her son is going for a "6peat next year." Spelling and studying for the yearly bees seems to come fairly naturally to the young Robles.

His mother thinks his winning ways could be due to "being an avid reader.

"He has always read way above his grade level," she said, noting he tested post-high school level in third grade.

The 12-year-old likes fiction and nonfiction equally, and happens to "remember words he reads." His two favorite subjects are history and science. "His understanding of these subjects really help him with hard words ... And, reading gives him a huge vocabulary."

While the spelling champ is modest about his winning, his mother said he's even amazed at the streak.

"He (seems to have) a natural gift of spelling," she said. "As parents, we're extremely proud. Each year gets more nerve-racking for us but not for Connor. He never gets nervous. "Academics are Connor's 'sports.' "

Robles' sister, Megan, plans to enter the bee world next year and "be like her big brother," who plans on competing in spelling bees for as long as he can.

JUST BEAT IT: For the fifth year, Ken Bergmann once again entertained all third-graders in the Antioch Unified School District. The Percussion Discussion event was recently held at the El Campanil Theater.

Sponsored by the district and the Antioch Music Foundation, more than 1,400 students watched as Bergmann performed on drums, cowbells, chairs and instruments from around the world. For many of the children, this was their first live theater show.

Bergmann now takes his popular show to Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts from March 5-9. For tickets and more information, call 925-943-7469.

FREEDOM FIGHTERS: In recent weeks, Freedom High students have been lending their time and heart to the Oakley community and beyond.

Despite a hectic schedule, two athletes stepped up to help at Laurel Elementary's reading night.

"The children loved seeing them, and we were even more appreciative when we found out that it was (their) winter ball (that night)," said Laurie Seeno, Laurel's librarian.

"They could not have been nicer," she said about football player Tyler Saude and wrestler Richard Jones, who shared their favorite picture books and said they would do the event again.

And, after tragedy struck Sandy Hook Elementary, the Oakley school decided to spearhead a one-night collection for the Newtown, Conn., families and school, gathering more than $200.

"The students were excited about (making) a small difference in the lives of those who were affected," said Steve Amaro, athletic director, adding that Freedom Athletic Boosters helped make the event a success.

If you have school news to share, contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net. You can also reach Judith Prieve at jprieve@bayareanewsgroup.com.