Category Archives: Walnut

New Young Walnut Mayor

Photo courtesy: Andrew Rodriguez

Staff Reports

Walnut – Andrew Rodriguez was announced as the City of Walnut’s 31st Mayor on July 10, 2019.  He is expected to be sworn in at the next Walnut City Council Meeting.  Rodriguez was first elected to the Walnut City Council on April 12, 2016.  He is the youngest City Councilmember ever elected in Walnut’s 57-year history and is one of the youngest City Councilmembers currently serving among Los Angeles County’s 88 communities.  

Rodriguez calls Walnut his hometown since he was born and raised in the city and attended Walnut Valley Unified schools.  He graduated from Walnut High School with honors and was even a commencement speaker.  “Having been raised in Walnut, I have a vested interest in the city’s future and will make sure that our community continues to be one of the best places to live in both California and the United States,” said Rodriguez on his Facebook page.  

As a graduate from Rutgers University, Rodriguez studied political science, urban planning, and public policy.  He has a diverse political background, including his work on the Los Angeles Mayor campaign in 2013 and his work as a Campaign Fellow for Cory Booker’s U.S. Senate campaign in New Jersey, also in 2013.  His experience in urban planning and development include his time at New Brunswick Development Corporation, where he “researched grants and tax abatements related to a proposed collegiate housing project and was actively engaged with stakeholders to ensure that all aspects of projects remained on track,” according to his website.  He also worked with Los Angeles City Council Member Paul Koretz, where Rodriguez gained experience with permit and license applications, committee meetings, and documents for council deputies.  

In addition, Rodriguez currently works for a Los Angeles non-profit organization helping at-risk youth and is a parishioner at St. Lorenzo Ruiz Catholic Church.  Rodriguez is also running for California State Assembly, District 55 in 2020.  

As Walnut Councilman, Rodriguez did a great job updating the community about what was happening in the city.  He made an effort to post development updates, new business openings, and local events that were happening in the city.  He also made an effort to promote small businesses currently in Walnut, in addition to helping new entrepreneurs with the process of starting a new business in the City. 

As Mayor, Rodriguez said he is excited and looking forward to the work again.  “I will continue to be actively involved in our community and look forward to seeing you around our beautiful city!” said Rodriguez. 

Mt. SAC Employee Contract Not Resolved

Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Staff Reports

Walnut– Mt. Sac faculty and administrators have been negotiating for over a year now over a divisive issue: a proposed change to their health insurance plan.

What’s proposed is a move for Mt. Sac Faculty Association members form the State Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) to Self-Insured Schools of California.

The concern for faculty members is that because of the flexibility of Self-Insured Schools of California, the benefits could be reduced down the line and eventually open the door to ending lifetime post-retirement benefits, according to faculty association President Eric Kaljumagi.

A year ago, Faculty Association representatives approved almost all of a new contract with the campus except for the health care component. The snag was that Mt. SAC offered to give the faculty a 1.29 percent raise to help offset the rising costs of health care only if the faculty switched insurance providers, Kaljumagi said

Teachers protested at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting, arguing that while the coverage options may not be very different between the two options, any change could lead to a disruption in care, not to mention changes in coverage in the future.

Because the Faculty Association’s contract was not on last week’s board agenda, board members did not comment on the negotiations.

There was no indication or projection on when the negotiations would be resolved.

WVUSD Science Olympiad Teams Bring Home Top Awards

All middle, high schools advance to state finals

By Kelli Gile

Walnut—After months of preparation, Walnut Valley USD Science Olympiad teams came away with an impressive cache of gilded medals during the Los Angeles regional competition.

All three middle schools and both high schools will now advance to the Southern California State Finals at Caltech on April 6.

Chaparral scored a 3rd place finish, Suzanne took 4th place, and South Pointe followed in 5th place during the Division B middle school contest among 40 teams at Rio Hondo College.

Chaparral’s team, advised by science teacher Bob Patterson, won 1st place awards in nine of the 23 individual competitions including Disease Detectives, Dynamic Planet, and Mystery Architecture.

“The success of our team is due to the dedicated efforts and team spirit displayed by our students, and the amazing support of our parents,” Patterson said.

In Division C, Diamond Bar High’s total scores earned 3rd place and Walnut High took 4th place among 50 high-performing teams in the contest.

“Our Science Olympiad team is currently preparing for the next competition and is eager to demonstrate their hard work and knowledge at the state level,” said Diamond Bar High math teacher and advisor Dawn Daza.

Quail Summit Elementary students scored the gold medal and earned the second highest score in the competition among 66 teams in the Division A competition held at Occidental College on February 25. 

Additionally, Castle Rock and C.J. Morris Elementary Schools brought home the silver awards.

“This group of dedicated 4th and 5th grade young scientists studied all year, put in hours of research, and conducted experiments,” said Quail Summit’s elementary learning specialist Leann Legind.

“They displayed teamwork, character, perseverance, and great critical thinking skills – and we are so proud of them!”

After competing all day in the rain, the elementary division’s awards ceremony was cancelled due to the inclement weather.

And although most teams headed home before the final results were announced, Quail Summit students decided to wait 90 minutes for the final tally of scores.

“We worked too hard – we’re staying!” they chimed.

Golf with Your Local Sheriffs in Chino Hills

Photo Courtesy: BedneyImages

By Walnut-Diamond Bar Sheriff’s Booster Club

Chino Hills- The Walnut-Diamond Bar Sheriff’s Booster Club will host a golf tournament in Memory of Deputy Steven Belanger on Monday, April 1, 2019. If you would like to contribute and/or cannot attend and would like to donate, the Booster Club is looking for 150 promotional items for their golf tournament.

The registration will be at 9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and followed by a Shotgun Start of 11:30 a.m. on April 1 at the Western Hills Country Club, 1800 Carbon Canyon Rd., in Chino Hills. A luncheon will immediately follow the tournament.

“Thousands of hours are donated annually by our department’s volunteers, explorers, reserves and disaster communication specialists,” Captain Alfred Reyes said.  “From vacation checks and traffic control to color guard and keeping disaster communication equipment ready in case of emergency, these are a few of the many services they provide the community.”
Prizes for the longest drive, closest to the pin and hole-in-one will be awarded during the luncheon. The cost for a single player is $100.

Sponsorship opportunities are available as follows:

Platinum sponsor – $3,000- Includes 16 players/four teams, recognition during the awards luncheon, repeated advertising of your company in Our Weekly newspaper and during the tournament, name placement on event signage and a recognition certificate from the Walnut-Diamond Bar Sheriff’s Booster Club.

Gold sponsor – $2,000- Includes 8 players/two teams, recognition in Our Weekly newspaper, recognition during the awards luncheon, name placement on event signage and a recognition certificate from the Walnut-Diamond Bar Sheriff’s Booster Club.

Silver sponsor – $1,000-Includes one team of four players and a recognition certificate from the Walnut-Diamond Bar Sheriff’s Booster Club.

Other sponsorship opportunities include– Soft drink/Beer Cart Sponsors for $1,000, Hole-In-One sponsor for $500, Goodie Bag Sponsor for $500, Closest-to-the-Pin Sponsor for $400, and Tee Sign Sponsorship for $100.
Captain Alfred Reyes encourages community members to join this fun and meaningful tournament to continue to help provide the needed uniforms and equipment to the people who volunteer their time to improve the service and security to the cities of Walnut and Diamond Bar, and the unincorporated communities of Rowland Heights, Covina Hills and West Covina.

For information and reservations, contact Sgt. Darren Luter, volunteer coordinator, at (909) 595-2264, or Gil Rivera, booster club member at (909) 967-4525, GRiveraEmail@gmail.com.

WVUSD Joins Great Kindness Challenge

By Kelli Gile

Walnut- Kindness is contagious. It can begin as a warm smile or simple “thank you” and grow to include good deeds that create a culture of kindness.

For the second consecutive year, all 15 Walnut Valley USD schools joined the Great Kindness Challenge, earning the official Kindness Certified School District badge.

Over 24,000 schools across the nation participated in the event, held January 28-February 1, to promote kindness by encouraging students to brighten the days of classmates, family, and community.

Many schools distributed a checklist of 50 challenges that students could complete during the kindness revolution.

Chaparral Middle School seventh grader Troy Pisigan fulfilled over 30 tasks including his favorite, saying “thank you” to the school’s noon aides.

“I could tell by their reaction that the words meant a lot!” he said.

Pisigan said he hoped his actions would motivate others to show kindness too.


“And maybe, it will carry on and they will do something nice for someone else!”

Troy is a genuinely kind young man and shows kindness every day,” praised teacher Sherry Robertson.

“We should all strive to be more like Troy!”

Walnut Elementary students joined a Mix-It-Up at Lunch to have a chance to demonstrate kindness to someone new and sold friendship grams with proceeds benefitting the Los Angeles Mission.

Diamond Bar High’s Wellness Team presented three days of Where’s Kindness? lunchtime activities.

Be Kind to Yourself day, held January 29, focused on self-care and self-compassion, E-cigarette education, stress management, dance clinic, and bungee run.

Wellness consultants staged activities wearing “Where’s Waldo?” inspired striped hats, t-shirts, and round glasses.

When students roll a three on the giant inflatable self-love dice, they complete the sentence, “Three kind words to best describe me,” explained senior Janice Kwon.

Ron Hockwalt Academiesstudents inspired smiles while delivering bountiful bouquets of pink roses and fresh greenery of kale, fennel, and celery produced in the school’s HOPE garden.

Castle Rock Elementary set out friendship chairs were students could relax, mingle, and complete a variety of kindness activities.

C.J. Morris Elementary students designed and decorated cheer-up messages on index cards to brighten up a schoolmate’s day.

Collegewood Elementary hosted We Life Each Other “Up” week (from the animated Pixar movie) with acts of kindness and compliments of gratitude, including writing messages to students at neighboring Westhoff Elementary.

Maple Hill and Vejar Elementary students cheered up schoolmates with chalked playground messages including “It’s going to be a great day” and “Take deep breaths – it’s going to be OK.”

Westhoff Elementary students completed their first kind acts in unison by smiling and offering compliments to each other during a kick-off rally.

“On the count of three, let’s all say, ‘You are smart and you are kind!’” said counselor Ericka Robledo.

Quail Summit Elementary students crafted Valentines cards for local senior citizens and dressed up as hippies during Peace, Love, and Kindness day.

South Pointe Middle School leadership students greeted families during the morning drop-off with “Have a Great Day” signs and collected gently used shoes for area needy.

Walnut Valley USD Begins Enrollment for the 2019-20 School Year

By Kelli Gile

Walnut The Walnut Valley Unified School District will soon begin registration for the 2019-2020 school year for children transitional kindergarten and kindergarten through fifth grade.  Registration dates are:

January 14-18, 2019—for those children with siblings already attending school in our district;

January 22, 2019 & onfor those elementary children new to the district, at any grade level.

You may register for transitional kindergarten if your child turns 5 years old September 2nd – December 2nd.  Students must be 5 years of age on or before September 1, to enroll in kindergarten for the 2019-2020 school year. 

At the time of registration, parents will be asked to present a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate or passport, proof of the child’s immunizations, and for kindergarten and 1st grade proof of an oral health examination.  For residency verification, parents will also need to provide either final escrow papers, mortgage statement or lease/rental agreement, along with a current utility bill (gas, water or electric bill) and a driver’s license (or California I.D.) with current home address.  Enrollment is on-going, and your residence address determines the elementary school where you should enroll your child.

The Walnut Valley Unified School District offers a quality day care program at all elementary site, for both before and after school hours.  You may contact the Child Care office at 909-444-3460 for additional information and fees.

Walnut Hills Optometry, Stop In and SEE the Difference

By Anthony Saude

Walnut – For decades, Walnut Hills Optometry has taken excellent care of the vision needs of the communities of Walnut, West Covina, Diamond Bar, and Chino Hills and La Puente, Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights and Whittier. The quality of service and care provided by the doctor have patients gladly traveling from all over the Los Angeles county and the Inland Empire as well.

The staff knows what a precious gift vision is and it is abundantly apparent as soon as you walk in and see the pride that is taken in providing exceptional service from the comprehensive eye exams all the way to shopping for frames from their extensive selection.

Quality eye care involves consistent care by a professional.  Dr. Carmela Larino, O.D. and her loyal staff are always intentional about giving your eyes the personalized care and attention they deserve.

Dr. Larino takes great pride in giving back to the community she grew up in. She attended Rowland Unified schools from elementary all the way through high school.  She received her first degree at U.C. Irvine before receiving her doctorate from the Southern California College of Optometry.  In 2003, Nogales High School, Dr. Larino’s Alma mater bestowed the honor of being placed on their Wall of Fame.  She is a member of the American Optometric Association, the California Optometric Association, and the Rio Hondo Optometric Society. She takes great pride in continuing her education in the most current techniques and technology in eye care.  As a local resident, you might find Dr. Larino eating at your favorite restaurant, shopping in a local store, or attending a community event.

Personalized eye examinations, diabetic and eye health exams, and the management and care of a multitude of eye and vision concerns are but a small piece of what you will find on your next visit to Walnut Hills Optometry.  A wide variety of eyewear is also available, from progressive and polarized lenses to silicone high-oxygen contacts, and even designer frames. They also offer Lasik Surgery co-management. If you have used eyeglass frames scattered around the house, bring them with you on your next visit and they will donate them to those in need of frames.

Walnut Hills Optometry is conveniently located near the 10, 60 and 57 freeways, on the border of Walnut and West Covina, at 18800 E. Amar Road # A5, inside the Walnut West Plaza (across Louis Doors, between Francesca Dr. & Amber Valley Dr.). Their hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  You can reach them at (626) 965-3878 or (909) 594-1153.  For more information visit their website at www.walnuthillsoptometry.com.

Walnut Hills Optometry thanks you for twenty years of support and look forward to serving the communities for another 20 years!

 

 

Collegewood Students Join Flashlight Fridays

By Kelli Gile

 WALNUT–Collegewood Elementary 2nd graders are benefitting from an innovating approach to fostering an interest in reading. Every other Friday, students grab a book, a flashlight, and a fruit snack for a special “lights out” silent reading time. Teacher Diane Zell taped black construction paper over the windows as the children settled with book boxes in cozy places around the room during the September 14 session. “They get so excited for this fun activity,” Zell shared. Before the reading began, the teacher flipped off the switch cueing youngsters they could shine the little beams on the ceiling for a five-second light show in the darkness. “It’s one way we make reading uniquely exciting,” she added. On a Flashlight Friday last year, the youngsters unanimously voted as a reward to read to favorite stuffed animals. This year, Zell plans add to the fun by having students bring in blankets and make reading forts below their desks.

Watch out for Fort Flashlight Fridays coming soon at Collegewood!

City of Walnut to Host 42nd Annual Walnut Family Festival

This year’s highlight will feature FREE attractions for children at the Festival’s Fun Zone

City of Walnut

WALNUT The 42nd Annual Walnut Family Festival will be held on Saturday, October 13 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at Suzanne Park (625 Suzanne Road, Walnut). The Family Festival Opening Procession steps off at 9:00 am from the Walnut Gymnasium and will walk up Gartel Road to Marcon Raod and then into the Festival Grounds at Suzanne Park.

There will be plenty of fun for children at the Festival’s Fun Zone, which will feature FREE attractions including: a rock climbing wall, an inflatable giant maze, a petting zoo, kiddy train ride, games, hands-on art demonstrations, face painting, and other fun inflatables.

The food court will feature booths run by local non-profit groups cooking up delicious food items, while earning money for their worthy causes. In addition, the Walnut Lions Club will be hosting a pancake breakfast from 8:00 am to 10:00 am for early risers.

There will be over 100 booths to visit featuring local businesses, community groups, arts and crafts vendors, City services, environmental information and more.

Parking

  • Walnut High School (400 N. Pierre Rd.)
  • Suzanne Middle School (525 Suzanne Rd.)
  • Walnut Senior Center (21215 La Puente Rd.)
  • LA County Library (21155 La Puente Rd.) – Open to the Public after 11:00 am
  • Walnut Gymnasium (21003 La Puente Rd.) – Open to the Public after 11:00 am
  • Walnut Parking Lot A (20983 La Puente Rd.)

Local Road Closures

  • On Saturday, October 13, due to the Opening Procession, Gartel Road will be closed from La Puente Road to Marcon Road from approximately 8:30 am to 10:30 am.
  • In addition, due to the Festival, Suzanne Rd. will be closed from Macron Road. to Fuerte Dr. from approximately 3:00 pm on Friday, October 12 through 11:00 pm Saturday, October 13.

There’s plenty to see and do at this year’s Festival. For more information, please call Walnut Community Services at (909) 598-5605

 

Walnut High Teacher Goes Above And Beyond To Support Special Needs Student

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Walnut High School junior Bradley Conrad gives his teacher Kirsten Thibeault a thumbs up for a special Lego birthday gift.

Teachers are long known for dipping into their own pockets to provide classroom supplies. This Walnut High educator went a step further for one of her students.

By Kelli Gile

Walnut–Walnut High School teacher, Kirsten Thibeault, usually spends time in the evenings correcting homework and creating lesson plans for her six English courses. On Tuesday night, however, she put aside the schoolwork to sort through boxes and boxes of Lego building blocks, platforms, and characters. Thibeault was motivated to comb through her son’s long outgrown collection to offer a personalized birthday gift to one of her students. “I have this amazing special-needs student named Bradley Conrad who is in my general education College Prep English class,” she said. This is his first time in his high school career the senior has been in this type of English class. “Bradley makes everyone smile, he volunteers for everything, and his optimism is contagious,” she described.

The teen had recently written an essay about how the Thomas the Tank television show along with Lego “guys” help him, and other kids with autism, learn to navigate the world. Conrad also shared with his teacher that his 17th birthday was coming up and he wanted to start a YouTube channel about the railway series. Thibeault mentioned that her son had a ton of unused toys and would he want them? “That would be the greatest birthday present ever!” he replied. After two hours of sorting, the giving educator ended up with a huge plastic box of pirates and knights and dragons and boats along with about 200 additional tiny Lego figurines.

Thibeault made true on her promise and presented the wrapped gift on September 21. She even created a huge birthday card with Lego stickers that all his classmates signed. “I was very surprised!” Conrad said after receiving the thoughtful present. “No other teacher has ever remembered my birthday,” he commented. Conrad came up with the idea to use Lego figurines to create custom characters because they are small enough to fit inside Thomas’ cab and on the wooden train track. “One of the first customs I did was Mr. Fergus Duncan, the railway controller, and his arch nemesias, Mr. Peregrine Percival,” he proudly recalled. “I have a lot of ideas for these new pieces,” he offered.

Conrad is excited because the first period class is already helping him stay on course for plans after graduation. “It’s not just English, Ms. Thibeault is giving life lessons and helping me prep for college!” he said.

 

WVUSD Trustees Appoint Matthew Torres as Assistant Superintendent

By Kelli Gile

Walnut- The Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Dr. Matthew Torres as Assistant Superintendent of Business Services during the September 19 meeting. The veteran educator brings over 20 years of experience and expertise to his new post. Torres has a strong background in the Business Services Division, serving the past 13 years in the Fruitvale School District in Kern County. Since 2011, Torres successfully led the team as Assistant Superintendent of Business Services and Chief Business Officer (CBO). He has previous administrative experience as Director of BusinessServices, Director of Specially Funded Programs and Evaluation, and Coordinator of Specially Funded Programs.

Torres offers expertise in budget development, position control, categorical program monitoring, municipal bonds, and collective bargaining. “He possesses leadership qualities, technical knowledge of the position, and proven ability to perform effectively in this administrative role,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor. Torres has also served as adjunct professor in a variety of areas in fiscal analysis at California State University, Fresno, California State University, Bakersfield, and Point Loma Nazarene University. Prior to joining the Fiscal Division, he was a fifth-grade teacher at Columbia Elementary in the Fruitvale School District for eight years.

Torres holds a bachelor of arts from Pepperdine University, master’s degree in education leadership from University of La Verne, and doctoral degree in educational leadership at University of Southern California (USC). Additionally, he completed the School Business Management Certificate Program at USC. “This is a chance of a lifetime,” Torres said during the meeting.

“The opportunity to join a District such as Walnut Valley Unified which has proven leadership, a collaborative culture, a rich history of excellence, and a deep commitment to the students, staff and community, is what every educator hopes for,” he added. He and his wife, Tina, will be relocating from Central California. “We’re excited to move to the community!” This appointment fills a vacancy in the department.

 

33 WVUSD Students Named National Merit Semifinalists

By Kelli Gile 

WalnutThirty-three Walnut Valley USD seniors from Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools have been distinguished as 2019 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

Congratulations to the following teens who have been recognized for demonstrating exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies:

Diamond Bar High: Grace Ge, Samantha Hong, Wesley Ip, Christine Lee, Ryan Li, Amy Miyahara, Isaac No, Ashley Pang, Phoebe Scaccia, Andrew Seo, Alice Wang, Yuwen Wang, Keith Wong, Ted Yarmoski, Timothy Yeh, Angela Zhang, Catherine Zhang, and Christine Zhou. 

Walnut High: Angela Cao, Jeremy Chang, Ashley Chen, Flora Jin, Karen Liu, Amy Lo, Dylan Song, Jordin Wang, Justin Wang, Christopher Yang, Michelle Yee, Tiffany Yeh, Brandon Young, Alice Zhang, and Angela Zhu.

 “We are extremely proud of these 33 seniors for receiving this nationwide honor!” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

 “This level of success is a testament to the caliber of educational experience they are receiving at our high schools each and every day.”
More than 1.6 million students entered the Merit Program as juniors by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

High scorers were designated semifinalists, representing less than 1% of the state’s graduating class.

In total, just over 16,000 talented seniors qualified nationwide.

These students will continue to compete for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships that will be offered in the spring.

The WVUSD senior scholars will advance to the finalist level upon completion of additional requirements.

They must maintain an outstanding academic record throughout their senior year, be endorsed and recommended by their principal, submit SAT scores that confirm their earlier qualifying test, and complete an essay and scholarship application detailing their leadership and community activities.

The 2019 National Merit Scholarships will be awarded beginning in April and concluding in July.

 

Vejar Elementary 4th grade celebrates the Golden State

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
“California history is the heart of fourth grade and we wanted to celebrate the day it became a state in 1850!” said teacher Janine De Vera.

California Day!

By Kelli Gile

Walnut – Vejar Elementary fourth graders are becoming map masters while learning about California’s unique coastal beaches, mountains, central valley, and desert regions.

To wrap up the recent geography studies, an entire day was devoted to paying tribute to the Golden State on Monday.

“California history is the heart of fourth grade and we wanted to celebrate the day it became a state in 1850!” said teacher Janine De Vera.

About 100 students kicked off the morning by making California-shaped cookies and marking each region with colored sugar.

“We’re singing songs and making cookies today!” Nathan Chavez shared after creating his confection.

“We shaped the dough with our hands,” he added.

“And we painted the coastal areas green, the central valley yellow, the mountain areas purple, and the desert region orange” explained Caden Sakai.

Then the children dotted the different mountain ranges with chocolate chips.

They admitted that a few of the delicious morsels may not have made it onto the cookie dough.

“We got to eat a couple!” shared Jaxson Highstreet.

“They smell so good!” chimed in Colete Drake as parent volunteers took dozens and dozens of the sweet treats out of the oven.

In preparation for California Day, students researched and prepared state landmark projects.

They also searched for information about national parks, colleges, museums, and popular vacation destinations.

While the cookies baked, students presented their landmark reports in classrooms.

They ended California Day by inviting parents to see the projects on display in the multipurpose room at 2 p.m.

The children performed “I Love You, California”, “Oh California” sung to the tune of “Oh Susanna” the traditional Gold Rush song, “Latitude and Longitude” that helped them learn geography and map skills, and “California Regions” sung to the tune of a popular Katy Perry song.

“You can travel the world,” the group sang on the amphitheater stage.

“But nothing comes close to the Golden Coast. Once you vacation here, you’ll be falling in love!”

And, of course, they gobbled up the freshly-baked cookies!

 

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Reserve Deputy Program

Staff Reports

Walnut/Diamond Bar -Back in the 1800’s, the Sheriff would look to the community to form a posse and deputize citizens to assist him in the apprehension of horse thieves, murderers, or other criminals.  Thankfully, we have thousands of full-time deputies to perform those duties today, but in 2018, just like the 1800’s, the Sheriff is looking to the community to find citizens to volunteer and help by becoming reserve deputy sheriffs.

Reserve deputies undergo the same training and background checks that full-time deputies receive.  It’s a year-long process, but after graduation reserve deputies can perform a wide array of duties and service to the community.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Reserve Program is one of the largest in the country, with over 600 all-volunteer sworn reserve deputy sheriffs.  Last year they worked 182,000 hours keeping the citizens of Los Angeles County safe.  Those 182,000 hours represent millions of dollars in savings to taxpayers.

Patrolling our communities is only one of many functions performed by reserve deputies.  Lifesaving search and rescue missions are performed every week by reserves as part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Search and Rescue Program.  Last year reserve deputy sheriffs performed 684 missions throughout the county, saving countless lives.

Another opportunity for reserve deputy sheriffs to serve is by becoming a member of the Sheriff’s Department’s Posse.  Posse members work patrolling trails and various community events on horseback.

Reserve deputies also help solve crimes by working in many of the Sheriff’s Department’s detective units, such as Homicide Bureau, Narcotics Bureau, Fraud and Cyber Crime Bureau, and Special Victims Bureau.  We also have reserves who ride street and off-road motorcycles for the Department.

Reserve deputies come from all walks of life and from a wide variety of professions.  The common thread of all is a burning desire to give back to their community and assist their fellow citizens.

If you are interested in signing up, just like citizens did over a 150 years ago, there is a reserve deputy academy scheduled to start in February 2019.  If you are interested in this rewarding opportunity please contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Reserve Forces Detail at 323-526-5100 and ask for Assistant Director Mike Leum to get started.

 

WVUSD Announces Leadership Team Appointments

By Kelli Gile

WALNUT—The Walnut Valley Unified School District is pleased to announce the following administrative appointments:

 

Education veteran Dr. Resma Byrne has been named director of educational projects and assessments.  Byrne served as Castle Rock Elementary principal for the past four years. Prior to that, she was assistant principal at Clara Barton Elementary in the Corona Norco USD and a teacher in the Montclair USD. She is also an adjunct professor at California State University, Pomona. She holds a bachelor’s degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, master’s degrees from Cal State University, San Bernardino and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and doctoral degree in educational leadership from California State University, Fullerton.  Byrne succeeds Jacqueline Brown who was named interim assistant superintendent of educational services.

 

The Board of Trustees appointed two new school leaders with extensive experience during the summer. Jennifer “Jen” Alcazar was named the new principal at Castle Rock Elementary. During her career in Walnut Valley, she served as assistant principal at Chaparral Middle School and principal of the Walnut Valley Institute of STEAM and Humanities.  She was also a science teacher and technology coach at Chaparral for nine years.  Prior to that, she spent a decade working with University of California, Irvine facilitating professional development offerings in technology and science for K-12 teachers. She also taught science in the Santa Ana Unified School District. Alcazar earned a bachelor of science degree from Loyola Marymount University, master of arts degree from Concordia University, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree. She is married with two children that attended Castle Rock Elementary, Chaparral Middle School, and Diamond Bar High.

 

Sandra Lee was approved to take the helm as the new principal at Westhoff Elementary. This accomplished educator brings over 12 years education experience to her new post and comes highly recommended by administrators, teachers, and support staff. Most recently, Lee served as the director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in Aspire Public Schools in Los Angeles. Some of her additional educational experiences include being an elementary principal for five years, a lead literacy specialist and Response to Intervention coordinator, and has taught multiple grade levels.  Lee earned bachelor of science, master of science degree, K-12 Literacy specialist credential from California State University, Fullerton, along with her K-12 literacy specialist credential and administration credential. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education focusing on common core standard of complex text.  She is married with a daughter. Lee succeeds Denise Rendon who retired in May after a 33-year career in Walnut Valley USD.

 

Matthew Brummett was named assistant principal at Suzanne Middle School. He brings eight years of educational experience, all at Diamond Bar High School, to his new post. Brummett served as instructional dean and assistant summer school coordinator for the past three years. Prior to that, he was a social studies teacher for five years. He also coordinated SBAC testing and co-wrote a WASC accreditation application. Additionally, he served as girls head varsity soccer coach for five years. Brummett earned bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees from University of California, Irvine. He is married to a Diamond Bar High grade level coordinator and they have one daughter.

 

Lam Bui was approved as information technology manager. Bui brings 20 years of experience in the field of technology to his new position. He previously served as database engineer in Walnut Valley for two years. During that time, he successfully managed the process of converting the student information and student assessment systems. He was previously a claims analyst and senior IT specialist at Construction Program Group. He earned a bachelor of science degree from California State University, Los Angeles. Bui is married with two children that attend Walnut Valley schools.

 

Sarah Ammon brings 17 years of educational experience to her new position as coordinator of special education. She served as program specialist in Walnut Valley for the past three years.  She also served as a District school psychologist, inclusion specialist, and special education teacher.  Additionally, she was a program specialist, autism spectrum disorders at East San Gabriel Valley SELPA for two years. Ammon holds a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from California State University, Long Beach and masters of education in educational psychology from Chapman University. She succeeds Jean Hicks who retired in May with over 25 years of service in Walnut Valley.

 

Denise Loera joins the Diamond Bar High School staff as an instructional dean. Loera brings nearly 20 years of educational experience to her new post. She served as a mathematics teacher, department chair, BTSA Mentor, and technology coach at Chaparral Middle School for the past 11 years. Prior to that, she was a math teacher in MUSD at Eastmont Intermediate School and Schurr High School in Montebello.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from California State University, Los Angeles and master’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles. Loera is married with three children, two that attend Walnut High School and one attending Evergreen Elementary School.

 

Julie Galindo brings over 24 years of educational experience to her role as instructional dean at Diamond Bar High School. She served as interim instructional dean during the 2017-2018 school year. Prior to that, she was an English teacher at Diamond Bar High for 21 years.  She was also an adjunct English teacher at Chaffey College for two years. Galindo earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications from Azusa Pacific University and masters of arts in English from California State University, Fullerton. She is married with two children.

 

A Great Start!

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
2018-2019 Classes begin in Walnut Valley

By Kelli Gile 

Walnut — Summer break is over and students will soon be getting into the rhythm and routine of the new school year.

Teachers and staff members on 15 campuses welcomed nearly 14,400 students in the Walnut Valley Unified School District on Monday morning.

By 7:30 a.m., Vejar Elementary Principal Whitney Prenger was out front offering high fives and hugs as families began arriving.

The energetic school leader also brought something special to kick off the new school year – a bubble-blowing machine.

The children toting new backpacks and lunchboxes were happily surprised as they walked through the stream of iridescent soap bubbles at the front gate.

“I wanted the children to have a memory from their first day at Vejar that would last a lifetime!” Prenger said.

During the opening lesson, transitional kindergarten teacher Irene Carter admitted to her new young charges that she was a little nervous.

“There are lots of parents here in our class and I had to get up early and leave my dog, Phillip!”

“And I don’t like leaving Phillip,” she shared.

“So, I’m happy, excited, and a little nervous.”

Next, the clever educator encouraged the youngsters to raise their arms like a sliding snake if they were a little scared or nervous too.

Several little arms cautiously went up in the air.

Then she invited the children to raise their arms like a wiggly worm if they were exited to begin school.

More arms went up.

And finally, she asked the kids to wave their hands to signal they were happy.

All of the hands eagerly shot up in the air!

“Monday went well, Tuesday was OK, and Wednesday was super with barely any tears!” Carter happily reported later in the week.

Over 45 new educators were hired for the new school year, including Chaparral Middle School 7th grade math teacher Macy McGuire.

“I’m excited to meet the kids and get the ball rolling!” she said.

“I already have my first month planned out – every homework assignment and every activity,” McGuire added.

“The fish tank is set up and we’ll name our beta as a class!”

“I think it’s going to be a great school year!”

Over the summer, the Board of Trustees appointed new principals Jennifer Alcazar at Castle Rock Elementary and Sandra Lee at Westhoff Elementary.

“I am thrilled to have served in Walnut Valley as a teacher, administrator, and parent,” Alcazar said.

“It is truly an honor to be given the opportunity to return to Castle Rock where my children experienced so much love and growth!” said Alcazar.

“We are so excited to welcome our students back to their second home,” said Lee, a District newcomer who brings over a dozen years of educational experience to her new post.

“It’s going to be a fun school year filled with amazing memories!” she added.

Westhoff Elementary kindergarten teacher Roxanne Dennen is beginning her 25th year in Walnut Valley.

After a morning snack and water break on August 13, students took their places on magic carpet squares to join their teacher in the classic “The Wheels on the Bus” song.

“My 25th first day of school was as exciting as my very first day,” Dennen said.

“I do what I love because I love what I do!”

Over 2,700 Diamond Bar High students gathered in the gymnasium during two opening-day assemblies featuring pep and band performances.

Principal Reuben Jones encouraged the teens to set goals for themselves this school year.

“We want everyone to achieve, create opportunities for learning, and respect yourselves and each other,” he said.

Walnut High Principal Brandon Dade visited every classroom to welcome the Mustang-powered teachers and staff members.

“I’m going to do this every week throughout the year!” he said.

At Suzanne Middle School, students dashed to classes during passing periods with schedules in hand.

“I’ve been all over the school this morning!” said 6th grader Melody Yu.

“I’m excited to see my friends and meet my teachers,” shared Chloe Siu.

Suzanne Language Arts teacher Alice Chen utilized Google Classroom to connect with students a week before school began.

She was able to post a welcome message along with course information for her 120 students.

When Chen saw that some students responded with personal messages, she was absolutely thrilled.

“Digital tools gave me the ability to get to know my students before I met them face-to-face,” the tech-savvy educator said.

“I love that my students were just as excited as I was for the start of the new school year!”

Language Arts teacher Lauri Ujita begins each year with three simple rules she asks her 6th grade students to live by: Work Hard. Stay Humble. Be Kind.

“These are the rules I try to live by too!” she shared.

Fifth-grade students in Kari Penzes’ class at Westhoff Elementary were eager to log onto new laptop computers on Tuesday.

“These one-to-one Chromebooks benefit students by providing immediate access to the most current technology and keeping pace with the 21st century world,” the teaching team commented.

The children were lined up outside Janine De Vera’s 4th grade class before the first bell rang at Vejar Elementary.

“The beginning of the year is such an exciting time – everyone gets a fresh start!” De Vera shared after greeting each youngster..

“I’m looking forward to California day, track, and recess!” beamed nine-year-old Taryn Schilz.

“I’m excited to go to class and see the panda decorations,” added classmate Eleanor Reyes after peeking through the window.

Quail Summit elementary learning specialist Leann Legind used social media to communicate with educator friends the night before school began.

“Tomorrow get ready to change the world – one sweet student at a time!” she offered.

 

Walnut Man Faces Federal Conspiracy Charges

Photo Courtesy: uomustansiriyah.edu.iq
A Walnut man pleaded guilty to providing tactical gear to Syrian rebels, including night vision scopes, boresighters & bulletproof vests.

Staff Reports

WALNUT — A Walnut man plead guilty Tuesday to conspiring to export U.S.-origin tactical gear to Syria. Rasheed Al Jijakli, 57, a Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen of Walnut, plead guilty Monday before United States District Judge James V. Selna, a Department of Justice spokesperson said. According to the Justice Department that is in direct violation of U.S. sanctions against Syria,.

“In a plea agreement filed in this case, Jijakli admitted that, from April 2012 through March 2013, he conspired with other individuals to export tactical gear, including U.S.-origin laser boresighters, day- and night-vision rifle scopes, and other items from the United States to Syria,” they said.

In July of 2012, Jijakli and another co-conspirator purchased and traveled with the tactical gear from Los Angeles to Istanbul, Turkey with the intent that it would be provided to Syrian rebels training in Turkey and fighting in Syria, the DOJ reported.

Jijakli provided some of the equipment, specifically the laser boresighters, to a second co-conspirator, a member of Ahrar Al-Sham. Jijakli also provided the goods to other armed Syrian insurgent groups in Syria and Turkey, they said.

Jijakli and his co-conspirators provided at least 43 laser boresighters, 85 day rifle scopes, 30 night-vision rifle scopes, tactical flashlights, a digital monocular, five radios, and a bulletproof vest to Ahrar Al-Sham and other Syrian rebels in Syria, with the knowledge that the tactical gear was earmarked for shipment to Syria.

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Thousands of dollars were withdrawn from Palmyra Corporation, a check-cashing services company where Jijakli was the chief executive officer. He used to pay for the tactical gear that got sent to Syrian rebels.

Judge Selna is scheduled to sentence Jijakli on December 4, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in a federal prison.

 

Mt. SAC Sporting Complex

Photo: Mt.SAC Athlectics
The opportunity to build a sporting complex nestled amongst mountains and valley’s in such a natural setting is a unique opportunity in California.

By Anthony Saude

Walnut – Mt Sac may have lost the Olympic Trials but that will not deter them from moving forward with the planned upgrades they had in place when the trials were coming to town. The athletic tradition runs deep at Mt. Sac and the new upgrades will carry that tradition well into the future.

“All the construction on the major buildings has begun, the finish work is pending, the project is about 25-30% completed,” said Gary Gidcumb, the manager of the design and construction of the project. ““We have the opportunity to build a sporting complex nestled amongst mountains and valley’s in such a natural setting is a unique opportunity in California. The complex is in the city but the location makes one feel that they have escaped to an urban setting if even for an hour or two,” said Gidcumb. Nobody knows what the future brings and if it brings the Trials back someday, they will be ready.

Mt. SAC has always prided itself on providing service to the sport by hosting world-class events. Like the Mt. SAC Relays and Cross Country Invitational that they have hosted for more than 60 years. Gidcumb said that the motivation for the design is to preserve the integrity and history of the past but overlaid with new, said Gidcumb. We wanted to preserve the most loved traditions of the program without remaining stagnant.” We are proud and passionate about the role this new complex will play in the future histy here at Mt. SAC,” concluded Gidcum.

The college’s plans to build a stadium for their students and community and to keep hosting top notch sporting events remain remains unchanged. Mt. SAC officials are confident that they can continue to be the place where the world’s best athletes compete.

 

Help Needed to Identify Hit and Run Suspect

Staff Reports

WALNUT –Authorities are requesting help from the public in identifying and locating a hit-and-run suspect that was involved in a collision that killed a motorcyclist last month in the Walnut area.

The incident took place at about 8 p.m. on July 10 on the eastbound side of the Pomona (60) Freeway near Grand Avenue according to reports from the California Highway Patrol.
Daniel Gutierrez, 39, of Riverside was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later according to CHP reports.

The vehicle hit-and-run suspect was driving was described only as an older-model red Freightliner semi truck that was pulling a red trailer.

Gutierrez was riding a 2016 Harley-Davidson when was struck by a car that was spinning out of control after it had collided with two big rigs, the red freightliner continued driving as if nothing had happened, the CHP reported.

A news conference was planned by CHP officers later to appeal to the public for their help in finding the driver of the red freightliner.
Anyone with any information about the accident is urged to call the CHP’s Baldwin Park Area office at (626) 338-1164

 

Aquatic Center Study Session Postponed

Staff Reports

Walnut – It’s true that public pools bring good things to a community. From swimming lessons and healthy exercise to organized water sports, water safety and of course, fun, which is why a new Aquatic Center that may be in Walnut’s future has once again been delayed by the city.

“The reasoning behind the cancellation is the never-ending approval of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR),” said Walnut resident and advocate of the center. “The report was sent showing a two-story recreation building and the stage area to accommodate entertainment, i.e., Concerts in the Park, etc. but the Council did not make a timely decision; therefore, the construction with the biggest impact on the property was reported.”

The City of Walnut currently provides a program utilizing the Walnut High School pool. The Walnut Unified School District allows public use during the summer, offering a multitude of courses for swimmers of all ages and abilities; but priority belongs to the high school’s aquatic team. Nearby Mt. San Antonio College also allows public use of their pool with organized programming, but Walnut itself doesn’t have an aquatics center to serve its nearly 30,000 residents. One individual in particular feels the Walnut High School’s nearly 40-year old pool does not meet the needs of the community. Stines, who has lived in the city since 1973, seems intent on formulizing a plan that would help the city approve the project. But the city hasn’t met the projections according to community members.

“The amenities for the Center have not been approved by Council, which would determine the financing costs, added Stines. “ The study session is to discuss the amenities and the financing options; therefore, it was prudent to cancel the session.”

Stines has spent the several months gathering information on the benefits of an aquatic center, and has made some progress. According to recent information from Stines, she hosted a Community Awareness booth at the Walnut Family Festival last October just to provide information and facilitate the collection of signatures on a petition for this project.

Stines reports that back in 2007, the Park and Recreations Commission formulated a proposal to the Walnut City Council regarding the development of an Aquatics Park and Building Complex in the Three Oaks housing development. Due to the economy at that time, the $10 million budget item lay dormant. Six years later, Stines was happy to report that the City of Walnut Parks and Recreation Department has agreed to place the topic on their November 2017 agenda. Up for discussion was the feasibility of using the nine acres selected for an Aquatic Center back in 2007, currently owned by the City, Three Oaks and Walnut Ranch. There is also acreage in the hills above Country Hollow Drive, currently adjacent to tennis courts and a soccer field that might allow for an expanded version of an Aquatic Center.

“We continue to hear from the City there are no residents coming forward to voice their need for this center,” added Stines. “Council continues to play the waiting gaming knowing residents become complacent and will eventually give up the idea of our need to make our children safe and a place for older adults to come for the therapeutic waters.” To voice your opinion go to www.cityofwalnut.org.