Category Archives: Walnut

Diamond Bar, Walnut High Make U.S. News’ Best of 2020

Walnut – After crunching the numbers, U.S. News and World Report released its annual report of top performing public high schools in the country on April 21.

And it’s no surprise that Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools continue to lead the way through exceptional dedication to the success of all students.

This year, Diamond Bar High ranked #25 in Los Angeles Metro Schools, #68 in California, and #519 in the nation. Additionally, Diamond Bar placed #77 in STEM high schools.

Walnut High scored #35 in Los Angeles Metro Schools, #84 in California, and #601 in the nation.

The U.S. News Best High Schools rankings include data on more than 24,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Nearly 18,000 schools in the country, and 1,612 in California, were reviewed for performance in state assessments, graduation rates, and how well they prepare students for college.

Diamond Bar and Walnut offer an extensive roster of IB and AP courses to provide students with an opportunity to challenge themselves with college-level course work during high school.

“I’m very proud that Diamond Bar and Walnut High continue to be recognized on a national stage in preparing students for the next chapter in their lives,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

“This is a wonderful recognition for our students, parents, teachers, and school leaders!”

Additional information at: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.

C.J. Morris Elementary Teacher Bakes Through Pandemic

Kelli Gile

Walnut —On a recent Saturday, C.J. Morris Elementary teacher Jennifer Veneracion eagerly removed the jar containing a bubbling yeast concoction from her kitchen cupboard.

After four days of stirring and waiting, the fermented starter was finally ready to be combined with a few cups of all-purpose flour and mixed into silky dough.

She would spend the next several hours methodically kneading, allowing for rising, and repeating before shaping and popping in the oven.

And when the timer sounded, out came the steamy, crusty loaves of success.

The C.J. Morris Elementary Title 1 Specialist has joined legions of homebound bread bakers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Veneracion decided to learn a new skill at the onset of stay-at-home orders that began in mid-March.

“Bread making seemed fun to do as well as something the entire family could enjoy, and it could carry on after the quarantine,” she explained.

The novice baker had always been too intimidated to attempt baking from scratch.

“I was afraid the rising dough would grow so big that I couldn’t handle it,” said admitted.

“It feels silly now that I’ve learned more!”

The baking got off to a slow start because the educator first became a student desiring to learn all about her new hobby before donning an apron.

First, she bought a bread book for beginners, and then became immersed in reading recipes, articles, and following popular bakers including Amber’s Kitchen and Bonnie O’Hara on social media.

And then there was the shortage of flour and yeast on supermarket shelves due to the surge in quarantine baking.

But once Veneracion started, she was “hooked.”

During the past several weeks, she has cooked up traditional Filipino Pan De Sal bread, ventured into loaves, sandwich breads, tortillas, cinnamon rolls, and more.

Her tried-and-true techniques include keeping the right tools at hand: a big bowl, kitchen towels, kitchen scale, and food thermometer.

And before each baking session she measures out all the ingredients, puts them in different containers, and then combines as directed.

“Kneading the bread is key,” she added to the list of tips.

“You might think the dough is too wet, but if you continue to knead it, it will develop gluten which will make it firmer.”

Veneracion has discovered the restorative magic of the experience.

“Now that I’ve learned a lot, bread baking as become a form of therapy for me,” she said.

“Teaching remotely and getting my three kids on track with their work is rough, so unplugging and working on a recipe is both relaxing and rewarding.”

In the end, Veneracion’s family decides if each bake is a winner.

“My kids are pretty honest and will tell me if the bread is a hit – with reactions ranging from ‘Mom, this is amazing’ to ‘Whelp, it’s bread, I guess,’” she said.

“Either way, I’m hoping they see the importance of learning a new skill, celebrating the successes, and powering through the failures.”

Diamond Bar, Walnut High Robotics Teams Help Fight Pandemic

Walnut — Over the past several weeks, tech savvy teens from Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools quietly answered a call to aide first responders during the global pandemic.

When students learned of the dire shortage of personal protective equipment for frontline medical staff and how anyone with a 3D printer could fill the void – they sprang into action.

Diamond Bar High’s DB Engineering and Team Sprocket robotics partnered with parent Joe Bloomfield, owner of Spyder3D, to design and manufacture reusable 3D printed facemasks and face shields.

Six members of the school’s Printed Works Club are creating a facemask that must be easily printable by those new to 3D printing, require little post-production work, be reusable, and accept multiple types of filters.

“Our team has developed a working prototype that meets all of our requirements,” said senior Logan Tang of the facemask that can also be easily scaled to fit different face sizes.

Next steps include calibrating the strap attachment points to increase comfort while holding the mask in place, he said.

Instructional Dean Gabriel Aguilar’s living room is currently in production mode on the project.

Since the school is shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Diamond Bar High administrator brought a bay of 3D printers home to aid a special effort.

“Several community partners contacted us to see how we could leverage our 3D printing and manufacturing capabilities to support the need for face shields,” Aguilar said.

“Rather than collecting dust, these machines are now producing 30 face shield frames per day, using materials donated by Spyder3D.”

WVUSD FIRST Robotics Teams joined forces with the SoCal Makers COVID-19 Response Team to create face shields using 3D printed frames and clear plastic transparency sheets.

To date, Team Sprocket, Walnut Valley Robotics, Aluminati and 2nd Rebellion have provided approximately 600 free face shields to this initiative, which has supported nearly 100 medical centers, including West Covina Medical Center, Pomona Valley Medical Center, and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

Walnut High’s Wolf Corp Robotics team members are making do-it-yourself (DIY) face shields for health care workers and those providing essential services, including Walnut Valley USD Nutrition Services staff serving weekday Grab & Go meals.

The shields are low cost and very easy to make with three main components: foam, elastic band, and a transparency sheet.

Each member has pledged to construct 15-20 protective face shields from home and over the weekend 50 additional gifts were delivered to essential workers in the community.

Aerospace engineer and mentor Eric Gever established the SoCal Makers initiative organizing groups of colleagues, robotics students, and local makers interested in making a difference and helping to produce the face shields.

Teens are not only solving real-world problems, but getting more interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic.

“While many students may be thinking of this time away from school as an extended break, those who have remained involved in the Socal Makers Response Team have stood to benefit greatly though their participation in this project,” Gever said via Go Fund Me.

Feeding Our Walnut Valley Families During School Closure

Walnut – Walnut Valley USD Nutrition Services Division is ready to feed children each day during the COVID-19 school closures.

On Monday, over six hundred “grab and go” meals were distributed at Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools.

“We’re passing out a breakfast and lunch item with milk, chips, juice, and fruit,” explained

Josette Macias, a Nutrition Services Worker, as her team met cars in front of the gymnasium at Diamond Bar High.

The free meals are available to all children under 18 years old, who must be present during pick-up, for the drive-through service that runs 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Monday through Friday.

“Yesterday we served over 300 and are expecting a lot more today,” shared Walnut High staff member Ana Aguilera on March 17 as a steady stream of cars entered the staff parking lot.

“We’ve got to take care of our kids – kids come first!” said Eva Generalao who was in kitchen helping prepare meals at 6:30 a.m.

At the end of the morning shift, over 1,800 meals, triple the number from the previous day, had been served at both high schools.

“It’s a good feeling because the District can share this food with our students,” Aguilera said.

“And the people are so appreciative!”

“It’s nice to help at a time like this,” shared Rachelle Serrano as she provided the curbside service to families.

Parents signaled the number of children in each vehicle and then staff quickly handed off the packaged meals.

Serrano also delivered something special to each car – a friendly smile, a wave, and a “have a good day!”

For more information, please visit www.walnutnutrition.org.

Instrumental Music Building Construction Begins at Diamond Bar High

Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor, Principal Dr. Reuben Jones, Board Members Helen Hall, Cindy Ruiz, Larry Redinger, Dr. Tony Torng, Layla Abou-Taleb, DBHS alumni Janeen Yamak, Katie Samrick, Teachers Marie Sato and Steve Acciani.

By Kelli Gile

DIAMOND BAR, CA—Walnut Valley USD marked the groundbreaking of a three-story Instrumental Music Building at Diamond Bar High School on February 19.

Over 150 residents, parents, students, staff, and community leaders attended the celebration for the state-of-the-art addition to the premier music program.

“It’s truly going to be amazing!” exclaimed Principal Dr. Reuben Jones at the site of the building located on the northwest end of the campus at Brea Canyon Road.

“I am so excited to say that we’re going to have the best instrumental music building in the country!”

The nearly $9.8 million project was made possible by voter approval of Bond Measure WV passed in November 2016.

Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor celebrates groundbreaking of new instrumental music building at Diamond Bar High School on Feb. 19.

“We are tremendously grateful for the support of our community,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

The new 15,700 square-foot “Music Box” will feature three strategically designed levels with a 4,320 square-foot band room at the ground level, mid-level floor ensemble rooms, recording studio, library, and office space, and upper level 3,631 square-foot orchestra classroom with adjacent rehearsal spaces for piano, harp, percussion, and individual practice.

The 465-day construction project is slated for completion in Summer 2021.

“I am truly moved to think about how many thousands of students will pass through this building in the next 10 or 25 or 50 years and the impact it will have on the lives of so many young musicians,” Taylor commented.

DBHS Principal Dr. Reuben Jones, Alumni Janeen Yamak, Katie Samrick, Teachers Marie Sato, Steve Acciani, and Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

The District chief also praised music teachers Steve Acciani and Marie Sato for their “relentless commitment and dedication to the program” and for engraining a love and appreciation of the arts into the school community.


“It is truly a part of the culture here and we’re thankful for that,” he said.

“I’d to thank our spectacular Diamond Bar High students and staff who gave up their time to help the Measure WV campaign and our amazing community for responding to their efforts,” said Board President Larry Redinger.

Diamond Bar High’s comprehensive, 700-student, instrumental music program comprises nearly one-third of the school’s population.

The program has earned the prestigious Grammy Signature Award as the top school in the nation.

For the past nine years, Diamond Bar High has broken records with the number of high school students selected for the SoCal and All-State Bands and Orchestras.

“The best thing about the new building is that it is designed around the specific needs of the uniqueness of our program at Diamond Bar High,” Acciani explained.

“Even though we have tremendously successful large groups, the program is structured around the maximizing potential of individuals.”

Two teen leaders spoke of their passion that generated impressive student involvement during the campaign.

“Measure WV gave us the opportunity to give back to our school and leave a legacy behind,” said 2017 graduate Janine Yamak.

“I remember spending every weekend knocking on people’s doors and calling people,” Yamak said.


“We did it for a purpose because we knew that all our hard work would pay off with a new three-story band building. I’m very excited to see the end result!”

Diamond Bar High alumni Katie Samrick, Janeen Yamak take stage during groundbreaking ceremony.

Katie Samrick, a 2019 graduate, hoped the efforts of fellow band members would make an impact on future generations who spent weekends walking precincts in the “blazing sun to inform homeowners of the benefits.”

And it did.

“The morning after the election day, November 7, 2016, Mr. A. (Acciani) informed us that Measure WV had passed!” We couldn’t be happier!”

Attendees were able to take a tour of the plans using 3D virtual reality goggles and view architectural renderings on display.

“Music is such a powerful thing,” said Principal Jones. “It will be truly wonderful to have it coming from this new building.”

To view a virtual walkthrough video, please visit: http://bit.ly/2w16AzY.

WVUSD Closes Due to COVID-19

Staff Reports

Walnut – On March 13, Superintendent Robert P. Taylor announced that all Walnut Valley USD schools will be closed for five weeks, effective Monday, March 16. The schools will re-open on April 20.

“I appreciate your support during this challenging time,” said Taylor in a statement he sent to all parents and guardians. “As the parent of three children, I certainly empathize with the stress, fear, and inquiry that this time period has caused for many parents/guardians.”

Taylor said that the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) recommended that all schools in Los Angeles County close and/or be dismissed for a minimum of two weeks due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). After this announcement, the WVUSD Board of Trustees held an Emergency Meeting to discuss their plan of action. According to Taylor, the Board “approved a resolution through an emergency measure” that granted the Superintendent the authority to “take all appropriate action to respond to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

“I have decided to dismiss (‘pupil free’) schools effective immediately, followed by all schools being closed through Spring Break (5 weeks),” stated Taylor.

From March 16 to 18, students will be dismissed, and it will be considered a “Pupil Free” day. However, the entire school will be closed from March 19 to April 17. Additionally, all extra-curricular activities and athletics have been postponed.

“We continue to prioritize the health and wellness of students and staff as our highest concern,” said Taylor. “Given the advisement of Public Health, medical experts, and other state and county entities, we have decided to allow an appropriate amount of time for students, staff, and families to follow advice of medical practitioners and experts, practice healthy habits, and lessen opportunities for the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

“I recognize that my decision will impact everyone differently,” continued the Superintedent. “Our District will be working with staff to lessen the academic gap that typically occurs over extended recesses from school. Next week, parents and students will be notified of curricular resources that can be utilized during the school closure.”

In addition, he said that additional information will be provided next week, and all schools will answer questions and discuss next steps. “While this is an extremely difficult decision, I also am confident that it was made with the best interest of our staff and students in mind,” stated Taylor.

COVID-19 Patient Visits Walnut, Dies in Pomona

Staff Reports

Walnut – On March 11, the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PCHMC) announced that a patient who passed away at their hospital confirmed positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This was the first reported COVID-19 death in Los Angeles County.

On March 9, the patient went to the hospital by ambulance and was in full cardiac arrest. Staff provided lifesaving care to stabilize her condition. Based on her travel history and symptoms, the patient was placed in isolation and infection control protocols were implemented according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). LACDPH authorized to obtain samples for COVID-19 testing, but the patient died shortly after “due to complications from their illness,” according to a PCHMC statement. On March 11, LACDPH confirmed the patient tested positive for COVID-19.

A family member disclosed the patient’s travel status, which included a residence in the City of Walnut. However, the County confirmed that the individual “did NOT circulate around the City of Walnut and stayed primarily at the residence,” according to Walnut Public Information Officer, Melanie Tep. She stated that the City is communicating with LA County’s Department of Public Health for more information regarding the patients’ travel details. “We will communicate more information as it becomes available from the County.”

In addition, the LA County Department of Public Health confirmed that the patient’s family members are currently in quarantine.  PCHMC is also following LACDPH guidelines for the staff that came into contact with the patient.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the patient and family,” said Daniel Gluckstein, MD, Medical Director of Infectious Disease at PVHMC. “At this time, our top priority remains protecting public health and ensuring the safety of our patients, visitors, Associates, physicians, volunteers and community.”

“We understand people are feeling anxious about potential exposure to coronavirus, but we want to reassure our patients and their families that the risk of exposure from this case is low,” stated a PVHMC statement. “PVHMC remains a safe, high-quality facility to seek medical care.”

The City of Walnut issued a reminder stating that Public Health continues to recommend that the public do the following to protect themselves and others from respiratory illnesses:

• Stay home when you are sick.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
• Facemasks are most effective when used appropriately by health care workers and and those directly caring for people who are sick and by people who are sick (source control).
• Get a flu immunization if you have not done so this season.

Planes of Fame Airshow 2020

Planes of Fame Airshow Fans

Planes of Fame Air Museum is proud to present the Planes of Fame Air Show on May 2-3, 2020 ‘Victory Through Air Power’. Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII we will be  featuring over 50 historic aircraft, including the B-25 Mitchell, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-38 Lightning, F4U Corsair and P-51 Mustangs flying for your enjoyment. We invite you to join us in honoring the history, contributions, and sacrifices of our Veterans.

USAF Heritage Flight

Performers include: USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demo and Heritage Flight, Pacific, European & Korean war era Flight Displays, Gregory ‘Wired’ Colyer T-33 Aerobatics, Philipp Steinbach GB1 GameBird Aerobatics, Sanders Sea Fury Aerobatics, John Collver AT-6/SNJ Aerobatics, Rob Harrison the Tumbling Bear and more!

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demo Team

There will be a Kids Zone, static displays and plenty of food & vendors!

In addition to many other fantastic airplanes that will be performing and on static display, there will be a special panel discussion with some of our honored Veterans. Follow our Planes of Fame Facebook page to receive up to the minute news on Performers, attending Aircraft and Veterans!

Start your Air Show weekend early! Planes of Fame Air Museum opens at 10:00 am on Friday May 1st. Regular admission to the Air Museum includes a tram ride out to the display area as well as access to Planes of Fame Air Museum. Participating aircraft will be arriving throughout the day. Display area closes to the public at 4:00 pm.


Planes of Fame Air Show, Saturday and Sunday May 2-3 2020  8am – 4pm   See all of your favorite airplanes fly!

Get there Early, you don’t want to miss the ‘Victory Through Air Power’ Opening Ceremony and National Anthem Commemoration!

F4U Corsair. Over 40 WWII aircraft will fly.

Free Admission Kids 11 Years & Under, General Admission $30, Preferred Parking $20,

Grandstand Seats, Sunrise Photo Access Passes and RV Parking are available to purchase online at: WWW.PLANESOFFAME.ORG

SAVE $5 on General Admission Tickets when you purchase online! (Limited Time Offer)

FOR INFO AND TICKETS GO TO WWW.PLANESOFFAME.ORG

For more information please contact :

Harry ‘T’ Geier

Director of Marketing Planes of Fame Air Museum

14998 Cal Aero Drive, Chino, CA  91710

Tel – 909-597-7576   harry.geier@planesoffame.org   http://www.planesoffame.org

COVID-19 Patient Visits Walnut, Dies in Pomona

Staff Reports

Walnut/Pomona – On March 11, the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PCHMC) announced that a patient who passed away at their hospital confirmed positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This was the first reported COVID-19 death in Los Angeles County.

On March 9, the patient went to the hospital by ambulance and was in full cardiac arrest. Staff provided lifesaving care to stabilize her condition. Based on her travel history and symptoms, the patient was placed in isolation and infection control protocols were implemented according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). LACDPH authorized to obtain samples for COVID-19 testing, but the patient died shortly after “due to complications from their illness,” according to a PCHMC statement. On March 11, LACDPH confirmed the patient tested positive for COVID-19.

A family member disclosed the patient’s travel status, which included a residence in the City of Walnut. However, the County confirmed that the individual “did NOT circulate around the City of Walnut and stayed primarily at the residence,” according to Walnut Public Information Officer, Melanie Tep. She stated that the City is communicating with LA County’s Department of Public Health for more information regarding the patients’ travel details. “We will communicate more information as it becomes available from the County.”

In addition, the LA County Department of Public Health confirmed that the patient’s family members are currently in quarantine.  PCHMC is also following LACDPH guidelines for the staff that came into contact with the patient.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the patient and family,” said Daniel Gluckstein, MD, Medical Director of Infectious Disease at PVHMC. “At this time, our top priority remains protecting public health and ensuring the safety of our patients, visitors, Associates, physicians, volunteers and community.”

“We understand people are feeling anxious about potential exposure to coronavirus, but we want to reassure our patients and their families that the risk of exposure from this case is low,” stated a PVHMC statement. “PVHMC remains a safe, high-quality facility to seek medical care.”

The City of Walnut issued a reminder stating that Public Health continues to recommend that the public do the following to protect themselves and others from respiratory illnesses:

• Stay home when you are sick.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
• Facemasks are most effective when used appropriately by health care workers and and those directly caring for people who are sick and by people who are sick (source control).
• Get a flu immunization if you have not done so this season.

WVUSD Closes Due to COVID-19

Staff Reports

Walnut Valley – On March 13, Superintendent Robert P. Taylor announced that all Walnut Valley USD schools will be closed for five weeks, effective Monday, March 16. The schools will re-open on April 20.

“I appreciate your support during this challenging time,” said Taylor in a statement he sent to all parents and guardians. “As the parent of three children, I certainly empathize with the stress, fear, and inquiry that this time period has caused for many parents/guardians.”

Taylor said that the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) recommended that all schools in Los Angeles County close and/or be dismissed for a minimum of two weeks due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). After this announcement, the WVUSD Board of Trustees held an Emergency Meeting to discuss their plan of action. According to Taylor, the Board “approved a resolution through an emergency measure” that granted the Superintendent the authority to “take all appropriate action to respond to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

“I have decided to dismiss (‘pupil free’) schools effective immediately, followed by all schools being closed through Spring Break (5 weeks),” stated Taylor.

From March 16 to 18, students will be dismissed, and it will be considered a “Pupil Free” day. However, the entire school will be closed from March 19 to April 17. Additionally, all extra-curricular activities and athletics have been postponed.

“We continue to prioritize the health and wellness of students and staff as our highest concern,” said Taylor. “Given the advisement of Public Health, medical experts, and other state and county entities, we have decided to allow an appropriate amount of time for students, staff, and families to follow advice of medical practitioners and experts, practice healthy habits, and lessen opportunities for the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

“I recognize that my decision will impact everyone differently,” continued the Superintedent. “Our District will be working with staff to lessen the academic gap that typically occurs over extended recesses from school. Next week, parents and students will be notified of curricular resources that can be utilized during the school closure.”

In addition, he said that additional information will be provided next week, and all schools will answer questions and discuss next steps. “While this is an extremely difficult decision, I also am confident that it was made with the best interest of our staff and students in mind,” stated Taylor.

Shining With Kindness

By Kelli Gile

WALNUT, CA—Westhoff Elementary launched its Great Kindness Challenge with a “Wheel of Fortune” game show on January 24 starring grade level teams competing to solve word puzzles in three categories: Great Kindness Challenge, Shine, and Rock Garden.

Westhoff Elementary students join a “Wheel of Fortune” game show during the Great Kindness Challenge.

Counselor Erica Robledo performed as television host Pat Sajak during the interactive digital contest assisted by Student Council co-hosts and Elementary Learning Specialist Therapi Kaplan flipping letters in true Vanna White style.

Players took turns spinning the wheel and guessing letters of familiar phrases including Westhoff Shines, Smile at Others, The Golden Rule, Make A New Friend, Give a Compliment, Do Your Best, and more.

You are my sunshine! Westhoff Elementary unveils new rock garden during Great Kindness Challenge kickoff.

The kindness week kickoff also featured the unveiling of the new Westhoff Shines garden.

Six hundred rocks were painted bright yellow and then decorated by students and staff with powerful messages and affirmations aimed at inspiring kindness.

“We’re hoping the impact of this massive kindness movement will create a positive change throughout the school culture,” Robledo said.

“This will help decrease bullying and make kindness shine at Westhoff Elementary!”

Daily activities included students wearing nametags to encourage greeting each other by name, schoolwide Bingo, arts and crafts, and mindfulness exercises promoting the “Shining with Kindness” motto.

Westhoff Elementary’s new kindness rock garden features 600 inspiring messages written by students and staff.

On Thursday, students dressed in sunny colors and classes joined a kindness garden walkthrough taking a moment to read messages written on the rocks like “You are loved” and “Be the light when others are in the dark”.

On January 31, the final day of the challenge, youngsters journaled feelings about kindness, including how they felt about giving and receiving gifts of thoughtfulness.

Fifth grader Sienna Duong successfully completed a personal goal of smiling at 25 schoolmates during the challenge.

“I liked that we set aside a week that was all about kindness – it was really fun!”

“When I look at the rock garden it makes me feel happy inside because of all the kind messages everyone wrote,” added second grader Jolyn Yu.

Teachers and staff members were also observed performing random acts of kindness by inviting students into their classes, making conversations with youngsters sitting alone at lunch, and pulling together to help alleviate the burden of a sick team member.

“This week, Westhoff Elementary took on the Great Kindness Challenge to inspire others, never give up, encourage teamwork, and shine!” said Interim Principal Denise Rendon.

Walnut Valley USD Trustees Laud Star Parents, Students

Suzanne Middle School parents Betsy Castellanos and Sonal Choksey honored with Partner in Education Awards. Shown with Principal Dr. Amy Smith and Board President Larry Redinger. Also shown with staff and family members.

By Kelli Gile

WALNUT, CA–During the January 15 meeting, the Board of Trustees paid tribute to stellar students and parents from Maple Hill Elementary, Walnut Elementary, and Suzanne Middle School.

Maple Hill Elementary 4th grader Irene Park honored as winner of 2019 holiday greeting card contest. (Shown with Principal Kelly Morris and Board President Larry Redinger.

Maple Hill Elementary 4th grader Irene Park received a certificate of special recognition as the winner of the 2019 holiday greeting card contest. Irene’s creative submission depicted a friendly snowman in a winter wonderland scene. The contest was open to third and fourth grade students throughout the District. Irene also received a gift card courtesy of Yogurtland in Walnut.

WVUSD Board of Trustees honors Walnut Elementary fifth grader Alicia Clark with Super Star Student Award on Jan. 15. Shown with Principal Robert Chang and Board President Larry Redinger.

Walnut Elementary fifth grader Alicia Clark was spotlighted with the Super Star Student Award. Alicia is an outstanding student who always has a positive attitude in everything that she tackles. She displays great enthusiasm toward learning and academics, and gives 100% effort in class projects, assignments, and tests. She is involved in singing, dancing, and acting, and her creative talents have earned an award for a short film in China. She also displays exemplary leadership qualities while guiding and teaching her peers how to sing and dance. Additionally, Alicia is one of the few students on campus who is helping choreograph the upcoming Lunar New Year Celebration.

Parent volunteer Stella Hess receives the Partner in Education Award. Shown with Principal Robert Chang, Board President Larry Redinger, staff, and family members.

Parent Stella Hess received the Partner in Education Award for her dedicated work as Community Club vice president and schoolwide volunteer. Six years ago, Stella started out as a classroom helper and quickly found herself “addicted” to volunteering, according to Principal Robert Chang. “She soon was in the Library, carting around our STAR prize store, revamping the whole STAR Store system, heading the library volunteers, cheering at the track meet, reading aloud to our Genius Hour Story Time and Sketch class, chaperoning field trips, and organizing book fairs,” he said. Stella thinks with her heart and makes sure everyone on campus feels welcomes, loved, appreciated, and noticed. She is truly a cheerleader for educating the whole child by making the school a better, happier, safer, and more fun place to learn and grow.

Suzanne Middle School parents Betsy Castellanos and Sonal Choksey honored with Partner in Education Awards. Shown with Principal Dr. Amy Smith and Board President Larry Redinger.

Suzanne Middle School parents Betsy Castellanos and Sonal Choksey were honored with Partner in Education Awards. “They are not only phenomenal volunteers, but also help build stronger school and family relationships,” said Principal Dr. Amy Smith. They have helped raise over $175K as Community Club Booster Fundraiser co-chairs for the past two years. During summer registration, they helped advertise the impact of the parent volunteer group, highlighting technology, field trips, grade level summits, assemblies, and much more. They have a true passion and dedication for students!

Suzanne Middle School 8th grader Calvin Chen presented with Super Star Student Award. Shown with Board President Larry Redinger.

Suzanne Middle School 8th grader Calvin Chen was lauded with the Super Star Student Award for academic achievement, displaying outstanding character, school activities, numerous volunteer efforts, and striving to make those around him successful. Teachers describe Calvin as being “hardworking, a good citizen, respectful, and caring.” Most recently, the talented pianist and violinist was recognized during the Challenger Breakfast while volunteering at the event. Calvin also strives to make the world a better place through his efforts for disaster relief organizations, Breast Cancer Week, Toys for Boys, and tutoring, he is amazing!

Walnut Valley USD Pays Tribute to Top Classified Employees

A Class Act! Maintenance Worker Louie Del Real is named the 2019 Classified Employee of the Year.

WALNUT, CA–The Walnut Valley Unified School District honored to a dozen standout employees during the 22nd Annual Cornerstone Awards held January 23 at the Pomona Valley Mining Company.

Congratulations to the following 2019 honorees: Mary Weir, School Administrative Assistant – South Pointe Middle School; Lydia Garcia, Instructional Aide II-Special Education – Collegewood Elementary; Louie Del Real, Maintenance Worker III – Maintenance; Debbie Brown, Secretary II – Transportation; Susan Tran, Instructional Aide II-Bilingual/Bicultural – Castle Rock Elementary; Lena Tran, Instructional Aide II-Special Education – Maple Hill Elementary; Gary Reyes, Custodian II – Collegewood Elementary; Ron Honore, Custodian II – Walnut High School; Pete Rodriguez, Custodian II – C.J. Morris Elementary; John Archer, Custodian II – Suzanne Middle School; Francisco Espinosa, Custodian I – Diamond Bar High School; and Anita Guerrero, Nutrition Services Worker I – Evergreen Elementary.

Classified (non-teaching) employees work with dedication and commitment to improve the lives of students every day. They feed and transport students, nurture their minds, support teachers and administrators, and create a positive learning environment.

“I truly appreciate all that our classified employees do for kids on a daily basis,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

“They are the backbone and heart of our organization!”

The monthly Cornerstone Award recognizes exemplary classified staff members who have gone “above and beyond the call of duty” in providing outstanding customer service to the District and community.

Louie Del Real was named the 2019 Classified Employee of the Year at the culmination of the program.

“I work with an awesome team and Walnut Valley is the best!” he commented after accepting the award from Personnel Commissioners Ray McMullen, Michael Cobarrubias, and Gayle Pacheco.

Louie has been a valued Walnut Valley team member for 19 years and consistently rises above all expectations.

He is a talented “Jack of All Trades” craftsman that can tackle everything from carpentry, to painting, HVAC, and electrical work – and he even drives a truck.

“Louie truly cares about the wellbeing of Walnut Valley students and staff and that dedication is reflected in his quality workmanship,” said retired manager and nominator Ron Clouser.

The employee recognition ceremony was hosted by Dr. Matthew Witmer, deputy superintendent of Educational Resources and Dr. Danny Kim, administrative director of Human Resources.

A special thanks to the following sponsors who provided generous support for the Cornerstone Awards: Massage Envy, Benihana Restaurant, Chaffey Federal Credit Union, Schools First Federal Credit Union, California Pizza Kitchen, In-N-Out Burger, Sandy Best-McGriff Insurance, Walnut Valley Educational Foundation, and Lifetouch Photography.

Congratulations to the 2019 Cornerstone Award honorees. Front row: Mary Weir, Susan Tran, Louie Del Real, Gary Reyes, Ron Honore, Lena Tran. Back row: Lydia Garcia, Debbie Brown, Pete Rodriguez, John Archer, Francisco Espinosa, Anita Guerrero.

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!