Category Archives: Local News Cover Story

Teacher Arrested On Suspicion Of Cruelty To Student

Staff Reports

Chino Hills – A teacher in Chino Hills has been arrested for allegedly attacking a student at school according to a news release issued by the Chino Hills Police Department.
On January 24, officers investigated a report about a 6-year-old- boy who was allegedly attacked by his teacher the day before at Butterfield Ranch Elementary School in Chino Hills.
Police identified the teacher as Tina Bozikis-Coccia, 62. The alleged incident happened on Jan. 23 at 2:20 p.m. at the elementary school. The specifics of what happened were not provided by officials.
Following an investigation, Bozikis-Coccia was arrested on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child, according to the news release.

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.

Eastvale Girl Graces New Girl Scout Packaging

            Sunday marks the official start of Girl Scout cookie sale season, and a familiar face will be featured on the newly redesigned packaging.

            Girl Scout Anneliese Brasher, of Eastvale, will be featured on the newly redesigned 2020 packaging for the Caramel Chocolate Chip variety, which debuted as a new gluten-free flavor last year.

          Now a fifth grader, Brasher, 10, has been involved with the Girl Scouts since kindergarten.  She says that her six years of Girl Scouts has helped her to become more confident, outgoing, and fearless. “My Girl Scout sisters always encourage me if I am scared to try something new,” she said.  

          Her chance to appear on the group’s famous cookie boxes came in 2018, when the Girl Scouts ran a contest for the honor. Brasher submitted an application with the simple goal of earning a limited edition patch, answering essay questions about her cookie-selling techniques, goals, and accomplishments within the organization.

            Her primary technique, Brasher said, was to anticipate all the ways a customer could say no, and have a response ready.  Short on cash? “I take credit cards, debit cards, and Venmo,” she said.  Still sticking to your New Year’s diet resolutions?  “It you can’t eat them, treat them!” Brasher said, “we accept donations,” noting that she personally delivers her cookie donations to the local fire department.

In May of 2018, Brasher was notified that she had won the cookie-box contest, selected as the sole Brownie Girl Scout “Cookie Pro” in an organization of 2.5 million – she was sworn to secrecy until the nation-wide debut of the new packaging this year. 

            Her victory included a trip to New York City, where she was able to meet with female business leaders, designers of the new cookie packaging, and Girl Scout CEO, Sylvia Acevedo.

            During the trip, Brasher also participated in a photo shoot for the contest, the results of which are now featured on this season’s boxes of Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies as a part of the packaging redesign that was eight years in the making.

            The refreshed Girl Scout cookie packaging continues to emphasize what the cookie program is all about.  The updated images feature actual Girl Scouts like Brasher, and every package showcases girls participating in a diverse range of leadership experiences from exploring science, designing robots, to adventure-packed camping and canoeing.

            The Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies and other varieties of Girl Scout cookies are on sale beginning January 26, and as always, will only be available for a limited time with sales ending in mid-March. 

            Brasher hopes that her appearance on the box will inspire more girls to join the scouting organization.  “Girl Scouts has given me the opportunity to do things that I never thought I’d get to do – like archery, surfing, indoor skydiving, and or being on a cookie package!  I hope other girls see that they can do anything they dream of too!”

DB Church Volunteer Arrested for Sexual Misconduct

Photo Courtesy: LASD
Church volunteer, Chee Lim Chook, 55, was arrested and charged with seven felonies and one misdemeanor

Staff Reports

Diamond Bar– A volunteer for a church in Diamond Bar was arrested after allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old girl.

Chee Lim Chook, 55, was arrested and charged with seven felonies and one misdemeanor, including oral copulation with a minor, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, digital penetration of a minor, and oral copulation with a minor.

Chee was also accused of offering the girl pornography to watch during their encounters, which took place at the church, authorities said.

The alleged victim was a family friend of Chook, who worked as a volunteer at River of Life Community Church in Diamond Bar, according to the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

The alledged victim, now 18, reported the alleged relationship to the Sheriffs Department last February and claimed the incidents happened two years ago when she was 16.

Chook is being held in lieu of $140,000 bail. His next court appearance is Monday, March 25, in Pomona. 
Investigators believe there could be more victims connected to Chook. Anybody with information about Chook or the case is asked to contact the LASD Special Victims Bureau tip line at (877) 710-5273 or by email at specialvictimsbureau@lasd.org