FAMED RESEARCHER AT MJC TONIGHT: Dr. Joanne Tanner, whose research into how gorillas communicate has been featured as part of two National Geographic specials and a Discovery Channel show, will be the guest speaker tonight at 7:30 at the Modesto Junior College East Campus, 435 College Ave. In her talk, "Asking Big Questions: Gorillas and the Evolution of Language," Tanner will describe her research and its significance in understanding the evolution of language. She will talk about her work as a companion to the signing gorilla Koko and how it inspired her to ask further questions about the cognitive abilities of apes. The free event put on by the Modesto Area Partners in Science is in Forum 110. To learn more about Tanner, go to www.gorillagestures.info.
HIGH SCHOOL MUSIC FESTIVAL SATURDAY: The 60th annual High School Music Festival, featuring students from 13 area high schools, is Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Modesto High School auditorium, First and H streets. The event is free. Each year, guest conductors work with an honor band, choir and orchestra to prepare for the performance. Students are recommended by their music teachers to join the group. They learn the music and rehearse together on Friday and Saturday, culminating in a performance Saturday evening. This year's guest conductors include Edward Harris for Honor Band, Daniel Afonso for Honor Choir and Thomas Loewenheim for Honor Orchestra. The Stanislaus County Office of Education, Gottschalk Music Centers and the Stanislaus County Music Educators Association co-sponsor this annual event. Students from these high schools are slated to participate: Beyer, Central Valley, Ceres, Davis, Downey, Enochs, Hughson, Johansen, Modesto, Oakdale, Patterson, Pitman and Turlock.
AAUW'S JANUARY MEETING: The January meeting of the Modesto branch of the American Association of University Women will be Saturday morning at Community of Christ Church, 2705 Tully Road. The program features a panel of three local authors discussing their recent publications: Martha Loeffler, teacher of a Writer's Workshop, will lead the panel and will give a talk on memoir writing; she also will discuss her recently published book, "My Turn ... Again"; Mary Ruggieri will relate the unusual route to publication for her just-released book, "From Japan With Love"; and V.J. Vogelzang will discuss her publishing experiences and read from her new book, "Beautiful Days." Light refreshments will be served at 10:30 a.m. followed by the program at 11. The AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research. The program is open to the public without charge.
SIDELINE SUNDAY: The American Cancer Society Discovery Shop in Modesto is featuring 25 percent off all purchases Sunday. Customers making a purchase also will receive a "$5 Discovery Dollars" coupon valid only on Super Bowl Sunday. The shop has an eclectic collection of new and gently used clothing and accessories, household items, furniture, jewelry, antiques and collectibles at low prices. All proceeds support research, education, advocacy and patient services in the fight against cancer. The shop welcomes donations and currently needs costume and fine jewelry. Donation and store hours are: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For 24-hour cancer support, call 800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. The Discovery Shop is at 3440 McHenry Ave., Suite A-12. For more information, call 544-9279.
COALITION MEETING: El Concilio's monthly coalition meeting has been scheduled for Monday, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at El Concilio Community Center, 1314 H St. El Concilio and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are co-hosting this meeting and have invited local Latino elected officials to be recognized for their leadership in our community and to share their goals for 2008. Also, there will be a discussion on the pros and cons of Measure N, district elections for City Council members. The public is invited and lunch will be provided. To R.S.V.P., call 523-2860.
RELAY FOR LIFE KICKOFF: You are invited to attend the Feb. 5 kickoff for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event this summer. The kickoff celebration is at 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel, 1150 Ninth St. You should attend if you would like to learn about Relay for Life and how to start a team to help raise money for the fight against cancer. Sponsors also are needed. Join organizers for fun, refreshments, prizes and information. The relay is June 21-22 at Johansen High School. For more information, call Kathy Robey, event chairwoman, at 238-3775 or the local American Cancer Society at 524-7241.
KNIT A CAP, KNIT A SCARF: Knit something to keep the winter chill away. The Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Department is offering beginning and intermediate knitting classes to learn to cast on, bind off, knit, purl, calculate your gauge, read simple directions and create simple items. You also can learn the difference between the weights of yarn and the purposes for each, and how to knit a hat. Bring one pair of size 8 needles and a skein of worsted weight yarn. The class will be held Wednesdays, Feb. 6 to March 12, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Ceres Council chamber, 2720 Second St. The cost is $30 for beginners and $35 for intermediates. Register at the city of Ceres, 2720 Second St., or call Traci Farris at 538-5682.
LEARN ABOUT STUDENT EXCHANGE PROGRAM: The Modesto Chapter of AFS Intercultural Programs and the Sierra San Joaquin AFS teams invite all interested in the high school exchange program to attend a pizza gathering and conversation to learn about going abroad and hosting a student and to meet students here this year attending area schools. The event is Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Mountain Mike's Pizza at 111 S. Maag Ave. American Field Service is a leader in intercultural learning and offers international exchange programs in more than 50 countries around the world. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or call 529-5328.
FOUR SCHOLARSHIPS UP FOR GRABS: The Oakdale Cowboy Museum will give four $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors in Stanislaus County. One of the scholarships will go to a graduating senior whose family is a member of the museum. Applicants must be enrolled in a four-year or two-year college program. Individuals must be active in either rodeo or production agriculture of horses or cattle. This is a merit scholarship and is not based on financial need. Applications are available through school counseling offices or at the organization's Web site, www.oakdalecowboymuseum.org. Applications must be received by Feb. 29. For more information, call Christie Camarillo at 847-5163.
AWARDS DINNER: The annual Riverbank Community Awards Dinner will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Riverbank Community Center, 3600 Santa Fe St. The highlight will be the announcement of the Citizen of the Year, Youth of the Year and Business of the Year. For more information, call Jennifer Bustamante at 863-7122, Luanne Bain at 863-7116 or Joe Galindo at 499-3901.
Send Region items to Region, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352; call 578-2330; fax 578-2207; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.