Category Archives: Local School News

Walnut Students Complete PTLW Biomedical Sciences Program

By Kelli Gile

WALNUTFor 20 Walnut High School seniors, years of tremendous dedication and hard work in a rigorous biomedical sciences program they began as sophomores have paid finally off.

The teens were presented with white lab coats and honor medallions marking the completion of the International Baccalaureate Career-Related Programme/Project Lead the Way (IBCP-PLTW) Biomedical Sciences Program.

“I’m excited, I’ve been waiting for this day for three years!” said Samuel Chien, 18, before the White Coat Ceremony held Tuesday evening.

Congratulations to the following Class of 2018 honorees: Jordyn Arce, Chriselle Badua, Brian Chang, Selena Chen, Kevin Cheng, Samuel Chien, Jocelyn Do, Isaac Duran, Emily Gehringer, Audrey Kuo, Alicia Lu, Michael Lu, Arianha Montelongo, Jodee-Anne Pagusan, Janelle Pham, Gina Pinsakul, Omar Sultan, Aryaman Trikala, Aaron Tsay, and Brandon Tueng.

“These students are remarkable and exemplify why we have the best IBCP-PLTW Biomedical Sciences Program in the state,” said instructional dean Barbie Cole.

Additionally, three students received special awards for displaying exemplary effort during the course of the program: Brandon Yeung – Enthusiastic Learner, Samuel Chien – Excellence in Biomedical Science, and Chriselle Badua – Exemplary IB Learner.

PLTW teachers Chiara Morgan, Bryn Schultz, and Ellie Blanchard presented awards during the event attended by families, staff, and District officials.

The Walnut High students displayed knowledge, ability, and aptitude in the area of biomedical science.

Brandon Yueng said he discovered his career path during the program. The 17-year-old is looking at going into anesthesiology or cardiology.

“While we were studying the human body systems I did really well on the heart and circulation. So, I started getting more interested and then learned about it in our career journals,” he said.

Walnut High has also been selected as a 2018 PLTW Distinguished High School. The award is designed to honor schools committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in the PTLW program.
Since launching in 2013, Walnut High has remained the only school in the state to offer both IBCP with the PLTW Biomedical Sciences program as its career-related component.

There are currently only 179 IBCP schools worldwide, 96 in the United States, and three in California.

Being a part of this program has meant a lot to this group, Chien added.

“We’ve been together in so many classes, not just the IBCP program, and we’ve developed great friendships!”

The program requires students to complete four biomedical science courses and two IB diploma courses with end-of-year exams in each. Students also complete a personal and professional skills course, numerous service-learning projects, and a written reflective project.

The white lab coat is the distinctive dress of the biomedical scientist. Receiving or wearing the coat denotes that the wearer is not only deserving of the respect for his profession, but also an ethical, learned person of science.


Collegewood 2nd graders celebrate Earth Day

 Kelli Gile

WALNUT Second graders at Collegewood Elementary paid tribute to Mother Earth with a day of “outdoor school” on April 22.

About 100 students rotated through stations while learning about recycling, repurposing, and more.

“Our kids need to practice Earth Day every day so that their future will be clean and bright!” said teacher Betsy Hale.

The youngsters planted herb and flower seeds in empty milk cartons and crafted simple bird feeders from pipe cleaners and cereal rounds to hang on trees and bushes on campus.

“They love watering the plants and watching them grow!” shared teacher Elvonne Vance.

Teacher Stephanie Johnson offered a lesson on water cycles using sandwich bags and food coloring that she found on Pinterest.

“I had them draw a water line at the bottom of the Ziploc and a sun at the top to begin the science experiment,” she explained.

Each student filled the bottom of the baggie with water and then carefully squeezed in a couple drops of blue dye before taping to a window.

The food coloring would enable them see the water evaporate in the warm sunlight, condense back into liquid, and fall back down in the form of precipitation after a few days.

The youngsters also created Earth Day posters using paper bags with handles, old crayons, paper scraps, and art pastels.

“Take care of the Earth, we only have one!” wrote Paloma Pasquil.

“We should take care of our Earth every day,” added Danika Pe.

The activities covered all curricular areas including math, science, reading, writing, and art.

The children enjoyed games of golf and croquet on the grass while listening to ecology-themed songs

“It was good old-fashioned play – no electronics!” said Hale who even received a couple thank you notes afterward.

“Events like this are remembered!” she exclaimed.


Mt. SAC to Honor Twenty Students of Distinction

By Anthony Saude

WALNUT – Twenty students will be honored this year at Mt. San Antonio College’s annual “Students of Distinction” awards ceremony. The luncheon will take place on Saturday, May 12 at 11:30 a.m. at the Pacific Palms Resort, 1 Industry Hills Parkway, in the City of Industry.

These prestigious awards recognize selected students for their competitive, academic, and personal achievements as well as their outstanding service to the college. Recipients of this year’s Academic Achievement Award, which is awarded to students who have maintained a minimum 3.75 GPA, are Matthew McBride of West Covina, Kevin Schmitt of Diamond Bar, Samantha Alvarez of Chino, Myriam Hakimeh of San Dimas, Daniel Garcia of Ontario, and Edilberto Ylo of Walnut.

Recipients of the Service Achievement Award, who provided exceptional volunteer service to their college and their community and also maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA, are Corey Case of Chino, Maricela Aviles of La Puente, and Mohsin Moosa of Diamond Bar.

The Personal Achievement Award is given to those students who have overcame personal hardship while still maintaining a minimum 2.75 GPA. This year’s winners are Sandra Nunez of West Covina, Geovanna Castillo Lopez of Chino, Tera Vaughn of Rancho Cucamonga, Xingyi (Mirana) Cao of Chino Hills, Mickey Qiu of West Covina, Seya Guerrero of Rowland Heights, and Amanada Frausto of Chino.

The Competitive Achievement award is presented to those who earned a minimum 3.0 GPA and earned distinction for success as part of a competitive student group or team. The students who will receive the award this year are Amir Freeman of Pomona, Kyle Beck of Rancho Cucamonga, Angelica Cruz of Covina, and Ryon Knowles of Corona.

If you are interested in attending this year’s ceremony and luncheon, tickets cost $20 and must be purchased by May 7 through Mt. SAC’s Student Life Office. You can contact them at (909) 274-4525.


Former Surgeon General to Speak at Mt. SAC Health Conference

Staff Reports


WALNUT–– Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th Surgeon General of the United States, will be the keynote speaker at Mt. San Antonio College’s 12th Annual Health Professions Conference on Friday, May 4, from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., at various locations on campus. Sponsored by the Mt. SAC Caduceus Club, the Health Professions Conference is open to the public and geared toward students interested in careers in the health and medical fields.

Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002, Carmona served as Surgeon General until his term expired in 2006. As Surgeon General, he released a landmark report on the health effects of secondhand smoke. Throughout his life, he has served in various positions in the medical field, including as a paramedic, registered nurse, and physician. He has served as chairman of the Arizona Southern Regional Emergency Medical System, CEO for the Pima County health care system, and was a professor of medicine at the University of Arizona. He worked as a deputy sheriff for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and served as medical director of the county’s police and fire departments. In 2012, he ran for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona.

More than 800 participants are expected at the 12th Annual Health Professions, which will feature will feature workshops, interactive demonstrations, focus groups, an education fair, and displays. Representatives from major medical research centers such as UC Irvine, UCLA, and USC will be on hand, and a wide range of health professions will be covered, including surgery, dentistry, pharmacy, neurology, pediatric medicine, occupational therapy, and veterinary medicine.

The Mt. SAC Caduceus Club is a student club that promotes careers in the health and medical fields.

Tickets for the conference are $37 until April 16 and advanced registration is encouraged.


For more information and to register, visit


The Last Great Race on Earth

By Kelli Gile

Evergreen students follow Iditarod sled dog race

DIAMOND BAR For one exciting week in March, Evergreen Elementary second-grade students become immersed in tracking the Iditarod sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska.

For the past 15 years, teacher Alice Oldag has incorporated the famous 1,000-mile journey of 65 musher teams into her lesson plans.

To educate students about the trail race and Eskimo culture, she first reads aloud two books, Balto and the Great Race and Black Star, Bright Dawn, before the race begins.

Then students randomly select a musher and follow the race on individual Chromebooks, recording team location, ranking, and number of dogs in notebooks.

“Each morning, the children run to the computers and ask each other ‘Where’s your musher?’” Oldag reported while wearing an Iditarod sweatshirt.

The teacher even purchased a subscription to the official Iditarod Insider website so students can watch real-time videos, read bios about their mushers, check the status of sled dogs, and weather conditions.

“It makes them feel like they’re part of the race,” she said.

Each day, the race can change drastically with the extreme sport racers dealing with frostbite, injuries, icy crossings, moose attacks, and whiteout conditions.

A team can fall from first to last place in just one day, the teacher commented.

Her classroom was buzzing as the children checked on their teams and watched streaming video footage on March 7.

“My musher is Shaynee Traska,” shared Akanksha Bhat, age 7, on the second day of the race.

“Right now, she’s in 49th place, has 16 dogs, and is in Nicolei.”

“It’s 27 degrees and cloudy there today,” the teacher reported to the class.

“That’s good racing weather!”

“My musher is Emily Maxwell and she’s in 40th place,” said Isabella Lok, age 8.

“Come on, Emily!” she cheered.

“When I grow up I want to be a musher!” she added.

“My musher helped another musher that crashed today,” reported Jacob Hinds while checking the website.

“My musher scratched, so I picked a new one – Monica Zappa, and she’s in 46th place today,” said Matthew Heng.

Kyle Lin followed Steve Watkins whose 16-dog team had checked into Finger Lake, Rainy Pass, and Rohn by the second day of the race.

“He’s in 65th place today, but he’s in great shape – he’s climbed Mount Everest.”

“This is fun!” exclaimed Hannah Miraflores.

“My musher is Michelle Wilgrees. She’s in 55th place today, but I think she’ll win!”

Oldag shared that the racers only take an 8-hour and 24-hour rest break during the nine-day race.

“It’s mainly for the dogs, racers snooze on the side of the trail and then keep going,” she said.

During the race, the mushers care for their dogs by cooking up frozen bits of fish with melted snow. They also stop to change snow boots on the entire team every few hours.

“The mushers live off of chocolate bars and frozen fish. There’s no Chick-fil-A in the middle of nowhere!” Oldag exclaimed.

The children trace the location of the international troop of mushers on a large map in the classroom each day.

And they covet Iditarod treasures on display including an autographed picture of famous musher Dee Dee Jonrowe, a tiny dog snow boot, and a cuddly stuffed Balto dog that goes home with one student each day during the month.

At the culmination of the event, Principal Trina Dreyer arranged for a real musher and team of sled dogs to visit with students.

“It is very rewarding to see children so enthusiastic about learning,” said Oldag, a 26-year veteran teacher.

“The Iditarod experience taught them about the Eskimo culture and a way of life that is so exciting. It is an excellent example of perseverance in its highest form!”

Diamond Bar High presents ‘The Little Mermaid’

By Kelli Gile

DIAMOND BAR, CA–The Diamond Bar High School Performing Arts Department opens up its spring season with the Disney musical “The Little Mermaid” showing April 13, 14, 19, 20, and 21 at 7 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinee on April 14.


Fans of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and musical theatre won’t be disappointed with the live version of this beloved animated film that will soon splash onto the Diamond Bar High stage.


“The Little Mermaid” features memorable songs including “Kiss the Girl, “Under the Sea”, “Part of Your World” by Alan Menken (music) and Howard Ashman (lyrics).


From stellar performances — including a scene-stealing Ursula — to gorgeous costumes, beautiful sets and fun ensemble dance numbers, everything those who enjoy live theater could want they will find in the production.


Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and may be purchased online at


Diamond Bar High School is located at 21400 E. Pathfinder Road in Diamond Bar.

Chino Hills Boys Basketball CIF CHAMPIONS!

By Anthony Saude

Chino Hills – For the past five years, the Ball family has ruled Chino Hills basketball. Patriarch LaVar Ball oversaw the rise of eldest son Lonzo from promising point guard to surefire NBA Draft pick. In Lonzo’s last season with the Huskies they won everything, taking the state title and the USA TODAY Super 25 national title. A season later with new coach later, Chino Hills led by brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, fell just short of another berth in the state title game.

LaMelo Ball left Chino Hills this year for a professional future in Europe. Lavar pulled him from the school and decided to home school him for his senior year. Dennis Latimore the 1st year coach, after being publicly chastised by LaVar and LeMelo as soon as they left the school, had the last laugh. You would have to score that Latimore 1, Ball 0.

The Huskies claimed their second state title in three seasons led by Junior Onyeka Okongwu, the unquestioned leader of this squad after the departure of LaMelo. Onyeka put together a great night with 27 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and five blocked shots.

The last remaining Ball family member at Chino Hills, cousin Andre Ball had 17 points in the victory. Did the team peak at just the right time this year or were they finally able to focus on basketball and not the Ball family traveling circus.

When reporters asked Latimore about losing Onyeka to foul trouble during the game, his answer could have easily been about LaMelo and LaVar, “I think the team showed they are more than one individual player,” Latimore said. “Our big guy went out, but the team stayed united. That’s what teamwork is all about, and they went and got it done.”


Diamond Bar High Robotics Team Headed to World Championships

Regional Champs!

By Kelli Gile

DIAMOND BARAfter a long weekend of broken parts and design flaws to overcome, Diamond Bar High’s Team Sprocket took home the prestigious blue banner as winners of the 2018 Orange County Regional FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) on Saturday.

The team has now qualified for the World Championships that will be held in Houston, Texas on April 18-21.

“We couldn’t have done this without all of the support from our members, alumni, parents, mentors, teachers and our sponsors,” said senior captain Karen Tan after the four-day competition held at UCI Bren Events Center.

“We will first celebrate the accomplishments of our hard work over the course of the season, and then we will focus on learning from the mistakes we made this year, so we can improve our program and grow to be even more successful in the future.”

On Friday, the competitive robotics team hosted 36 students from Chaparral, South Pointe and Suzanne Middle Schools to tour the FRC competition pits and enjoy matches in an effort to inspire the next generation of engineers.

After two days of game play, Sprocket #3473 finished qualification matches with a record of 7-3-0 and ranked 12th out of 52 teams.

The team was then selected as the 1st pick for the 3rd Ranked Alliance, including alliance members “Assembly Required” (Santa Margarita) and “The Midnight Mechanics” (La Jolla).

In the exciting Finals match, Team Sprocket defeated the 1st ranked alliance (2-0).

“This accomplishment is even more impressive considering that the #1 Alliance consisted of the #1 & #2 overall ranked teams. Team Sprocket and their alliance members stunned the arena by taking down “Goliath” in two straight matches with an unconventional defensive strategy… securing the title of FRC Orange County Regional Winners,” said instructional dean and advisor Gabriel Aguilar.

This is the second year in a row that the Diamond Bar High team qualified to compete at the World Championships.

“This is a testament to the high-quality instruction that these students are receiving in DBHS STEM classes!” Aguilar added.

Mt. SAC Students Named to State Academic Team

Staff Reports

WALNUT–– Mt. San Antonio College students Edilberto “Iggy” Ylo and Amir Freeman are two of the 83 community college students throughout the state recently selected for the 2018 All-California Academic teams, chosen by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international community college honor society.

Ylo and Freeman, both students in Mt. SAC’s Honors Program, will receive medallions during the Community College League of California’s awards ceremony to be held at the Sacramento Convention Center on Apr. 2. Selection for the academic teams is based on grades, leadership, and community service.

Ylo, 20, is a nursing major and carries a 4.0 GPA. He was selected for the All-California Academic First Team. A Walnut resident, he is the president for the PTK chapter at Mt. SAC. He also works as a student assistant for the Honors Program. He has been nominated as one of Mt. SAC’s Students of Distinction this year. He hopes to transfer to Cal State L.A., go on to attend UCLA’s School of Medicine, and wants eventually to become a cardiologist.

Freeman, 19, is a political science major and carries a 3.94 GPA. He was selected for the All-California Academic Second Team. A Pomona resident, he has been involved in Mt. SAC’s student government as a student justice. He has also been a member of Mt. SAC’s forensics team and won medals at last year’s national speech championship. In addition, he volunteers for candidate Andy Thorburn’s run for the 39th congressional district. He hopes to transfer to Princeton and plans to become a lawyer.

There are 28 first-team, 28 second-team, and 29 third-team winners.

These students represent some of the best of the 2.1 million students enrolled in California’s community college system.

C.J. Morris 3rd Graders Go One-On-One With WVUSD Schools Chief

By Kelli Gile

WALNUTSuperintendent Dr. Robert Taylor fielded questions from elementary students during an official town hall meeting on Tuesday.

About 100 inquisitive C.J. Morris assembled third graders were eager to learn about the role of the Walnut Valley USD leader.

The IB-PYP students have been studying about government and how it affects lives at the national, state, city, or school level, teacher Dave Boots said.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to learn about how government works at the school level,” added IB coordinator Kelly Howard.

The children came prepared with questions about family, hometown, background in education, and role as superintendent, working with community and government, and more.

About 15 students took turns at the microphone and waited for the thoughtful responses during the hour-long event.

Dr. Taylor shared that his job is supporting all 15 schools in the District and then went on to describe the structure of the District.

“We have a School Board, Superintendent, which is me, District office with lots of people that support our schools, and our school sites with principals, teachers, and support staff.”

“We all work together for our students!” he added.

The assembled group wanted to know the best thing about being the superintendent.

“In the five years that I’ve been here in Walnut Valley, my favorite thing has been going out and visiting schools,” he said.

“Because I’m in education, I spend every day working with people – with kids like you, teachers, and principals. I like to find out all your interesting stories!”

Dr. Taylor also told the students that there have been more changes in education during the past five years than in the last 30 or 40 years.

“It’s been an exciting time to be part of that change and to see how successful things have gone here.”

The group of students also wanted some expert advice as they begin thinking about middle school and future careers.

“You’ll be well prepared for middle school because you’re learning how to study, how to do your homework, and projects. I would be excited, it will be great!”

“My one piece of advice I like to give young people is to find something you enjoy doing. If you find that, you’ll be happy!”

Truth Stovall asked the final question during the session held in the multipurpose room.

“What is your favorite color and why?” he said.

“My favorite color is green and here’s why: I told you I like sports and football. Raise your hand if you think you know who my favorite team is,” Dr. Taylor said.

“Green Bay Packers!” the children eagerly called out.

“I liked that Dr. Taylor came to our school and shared that to be successful students we need to be kind and have fun,” commented third grader Mia Veneracion after the event.



Diamond Bar Students Rocking The Kindness

Courtesy: WVUSD

By Kelli Gile

Diamond BarQuail Summit Elementary students are rocking their commitment to spreading kindness.

On Wednesday, the 645 students at the Diamond Bar campus each took home a rock in their backpacks.

But these were no ordinary rocks.

The children painted colorful heart designs with personal messages of kindness, hope, joy, compassion, or strength on the small gray stones.

In the coming days and weeks, these kindness rocks, as they are called, will be left around the community, state, and even the world.

The school is marking its 30th anniversary with a week of caring and compassionate activities.

“We want to spread a positive message to others,” said elementary learning specialist Leann Legind.

The children hope that their kindness offerings will make a difference in the lives of the lucky recipients.

“I want our messages to inspire people,” said fifth grader Lanna Xiao, age 11.

“My rock says “You are special,” shared first grader Emma Johnson, age 6.

“I hope it makes someone feel good!”

“It was fun painting them!” said classmate Aiden Chang.

“I feel like I’m sharing kindness with the world even if it’s just one little way,” said 5th grader Evelyn Wu who decorated her rock with a heart and three flowers.

The nine-year-old penned “Have faith in your heart” on the back of the rock she plans to deliver while on vacation to Taiwan this summer.

Third grader Amy Song wrote “Even though you think no one cares, I care!” and classmate Kyle Chen declared “You are wonderful” on their rocks.

Each kindness rock also comes with a tiny card describing the schoolwide project.

“This gift is for you! Turn the rock over and know that these words came from a child’s heart to yours. Know that someone in this world cares about you!”

Recipients are encouraged to post a message on the “Quail Summit Rocks Kindness” Facebook page.

“I’m probably going to put it in our town!” Chen said.

Fifth grader Bethany Li decided to paint “Hopeful” on her kindness rock after singing at the school’s talent show.

“I performed a song called “Hopeful” with an anti-bullying message,” she said.

Another fifth grader, Wynnson Notomihardjo, age 10, wrote “Honor one another” on his gift.

“I picked it because even if you get mad you should forgive people,” he shared.

“I see many people who give up on their goals, said Anderson Zhu about his “Conquer your dreams” message.

“If you don’t succeed try, try again!” Saym Waraich, age 10, said on his kindness rock.

“A lot of people in this world give up. I believe you should try again until you get it!” he said.

The “School with a Heart” is hosting daily kindness activities including “I can make a chain-ge in this world” paper chains and kindness notes posted around the campus, and an 80’s-themed dress up day to commemorate the school’s opening.


Best Seat in the Class

By Kelli Gile

Classrooms transform with flexible seating options

DIAMOND BARSeveral Walnut Valley educators are discovering that flexible seating classrooms are providing learning environments that kids need.

Flexible classrooms give students a choice in what kind of learning space works best for them, and helps them work collaboratively, communicate, and engage in critical thinking.

At Quail Summit Elementary, first grade teacher Jessica Cabral replaced rows and rows of traditional desks with a variety of innovative seating options this year.

Learning areas are now filled with stability disks, stadium chairs, yoga balls, camp chairs, hooki stools, stack stools, lap desks, standing tables, and even a few “old school” desks.

When her 26 students enter the classroom, they decide which type of chair or desk to occupy for the day.

“They enjoy having the ability to choose where they sit,” Cabral said.

The new education space was intentionally designed to foster the five C’s (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity, and citizenship), the educator said.

“They need to be given the opportunity to collaborate and solve problems with different students in the classroom. They couldn’t do that sitting in the same old spot every day,” Cabral said.

“I feel that flexible seating absolutely impacts student learning. Statistics have shown that movement increases memory,” she added.

Her goal is to provide students the opportunity to move while learning, in order to increase their attention, focus, engagement, and overall, their learning experience.

“The Hokki stools are an absolute hit. We can’t get enough of them!” she shared.

Logan Shih, age 7, didn’t hesitate when asked about choosing his favorite mobile seat in class.

“Oh, that’s simple,” he proudly announced.

“The yoga ball – because I like to bounce around!”

“All the kids like the yoga ball!”

A few feet away, classmate Clovis Hung was settled on a red stadium chair while writing at a low table.

“I like it because I can adjust it,” he said.

How did she do it?

Most recently, Cabral was able to purchase eight swivel Hokki stools, at $96 each, with funds raised through the online classroom project site, Donor’s Choose.

After experimenting with choice seating options for years, Kathy McLean “dove in all the way” three years ago.

The second-grade teacher began with Goodwill tables repurposed with a fresh coat of paint and whiteboard tops.

Next, McLean brought in few Wobble and Hokki stools, and two double standing tables.

McLean received a grant for the standing tables, that run about $200 each.

“Some of my students prefer to stretch out on the floor with lap desks,” she reported.

The savvy educator discovered that doing away with assigned seating has empowered her students to make positive decisions for their own learning.

“By being able to change seats each day, students also have the opportunity to collaborate with different classmates while working on self-discipline. After all, to sit by your best buddy, you have to abide by classroom expectations!” she said.

McLean said trusting her students to make the best choice for themselves has been an important factor in the success of innovative classroom.

“Flexible seating has been a game changer for me!”

Cabral advices teacgers contemplating the classroom seating switch to “start small.”
“Change a few chairs and tables. Expect chaos, it’s not as easy to manage at first, but you will see the benefits as the year progresses!”


Evergreen Odyssey Of The Mind Team Qualifies For State Tourney

Courtesy: WVUSD

By Kelli Gile

DIAMOND BAR—Evergreen Elementary STEAM Odyssey of the Mind team won first place in the Los Angeles County regional competition held on February 24.

The champions will now go on to compete at the state level March 24 at University of California, Riverside.

The Odyssey of the Mind program promotes creativity and problem solving skills.

The two parts of competition are the long-term and spontaneous problems.

The spontaneous problem is private and cannot be spectated, however the long-term problem comes in the form of a skit that anyone can watch.

The plot, props, and actions in the 8-minute skit are all created from scratch by the students.

This year team’s long term problem is “Emoji, Speak for Yourself”.

Teams build several devices as the communication tools to perform a detective investigation story by operating different mechanic functions without any human verbal voice at all during the skit.

Evergreen team members are Evan Auyeung, Ianna Lin, Reese Chen, Sarah Teng, Andrew Tsai, Audrey Doraton, and Rohan Chakrabortyguf. They are coached by Sam Lin, Rajesh Gupta and Sean Lin.


Chaparral Middle School Wins Cal State LA Middle School Regional Science Bowl

Staff Reports

Diamond Bar – Chaparral Middle School, located in Diamond Bar, recently won first place in Cal State LA’s 11th Annual Middle School Regional Science Bowl.

The Chaparral team also earned a spot to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C. in April.

The winning team includes students Daniel Chou, Ryan Chung, Akash George, Allen Wang, and Edmond You. They were coached by teacher David Chou.

Eighteen teams representing 12 schools from across the Los Angeles region participated in the competition hosted by Cal State LA’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology.

Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood earned second place and third place went to Harvard Westlake Middle School in Los Angeles.

Winning teams from the regional tournaments—69 high school teams and 50 middle school teams from throughout the nation—will travel to D.C. to compete for the national title.


The teams will face-off in a fast-paced question-and-answer format. Students will answer questions on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy, and math.

The national competition is sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Science and Technology to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Students will also attend presentations by scientists on current topics in math and the sciences.




Recognizing Excellence

Walnut Valley Trustees honor star students, partners in education

By Kelli Gile

WALNUTIn keeping with tradition, the Walnut Valley USD Board of Trustees honored outstanding students and partners in education during the February 21 meeting.

Castle Rock Elementary crossing guard Donna Aquila received the Partner in Education Award.

Donna, known as “Miss D” to students, has served the Diamond Bar campus for the past seven years.

“She has built relationships with students, teachers, and families,” said Principal Dr. Resma Byrne.

Donna has a special way of connecting with people whether it’s her joke of the day or sharing a personal story.

The caring crossing guard even brings a pocketful of quarters each Friday to help the children purchase popsicles.

“She loves our Castle Rock students,” Byrne said.

Donna is described as humble, takes her job seriously, and leads her life with integrity.

“She also brings staff the sweetest tangerines and homemade peanut brittle!” Byrne said.

The arrival and dismissal of students is often the most chaotic time of the day.

“But with Miss D, it’s actually fun. We’re so lucky to have her in our corner!”

Castle Rock Elementary 5th grader Austin Lee received the Super Star Student Award.

“Austin has taken great strides in learning how to take risks, make key friends, and persevere,” Dr. Byrne said.

He has also learned the art of taking a failure and turning it into an opportunity.

“We try to teach our students to work hard, analyze their mistakes, and learn from them,” the school leader said.

This is something that’s not easy for anyone, regardless of their age.

“When I look at my IB Learner Profile, I think about the traits we want our students to embody: to be caring, risk takers, thinkers, open minded, and reflective,” she described.

“I see Austin!”

“We want to recognize him tonight, not for academic success, but for his courageous attitude and ability to take risks, because that is what it’s all about.”

Quail Summit Elementary Community Club President Anna Amezcua received the Partner in Education Award.

“In my 32 years in education, I have never seen anyone as committed to every single student as Anna!” said Principal Frances Weissenberger.

“She is amazing!”

Anna stepped up to fill a vacancy as president about three years ago, and since then, has totally enriched the school’s relationship with the community at large.

Anna has established a welcoming environment that has set the tone for community and staff involvement.

The hard-working parent volunteer continually provides support for students and is a strong advocate for school programs.

She tirelessly handles her duties and has been called upon on “time and time again” to provide assistance with mother’s workshop, Santa’s Workshop, Friday Snacks, Room Parent Schedules, and more.

“Thank you for all you do, Anna. I wish we could give you a car with a red ribbon!” Weissenberger said.

Enthusiastic, optimistic and empathetic are three words that describe Quail Summit 5th graders Tristan Skipper and Brian Vu, who were honored with Super Star Student Awards.

The student leaders are rarely seen without each other and often work together to help a teacher or a fellow classmate.

Tristan and Brian both interviewed for the positions of Student Council President and Vice President.

“They were determined to make a difference and even told their teacher before the interviews that if they did not get a position, they would still want to be involved in some aspect,” Weissenberger said.

The boys were elected and now lead monthly Spirit Assemblies and daily morning flag salute.  They collect recycling every Thursday with a smile and monitor the student council fundraisers and bulletin board.

“They work with other members of student council and they contribute to any other project we challenge them with great leadership and poise,” she added.

Tristan and Brian also show leadership in the classroom, completing extra class jobs because they are reliable. They are always kind and including of other students.

“They have grown so much over the years and are models of what Quail Summit is all about… A school with a Heart,” Weissenberger said.

“Brian and Tristan are truly kind and spread their kindness to all they meet. They are role models for all our students!”


Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Walnut Elementary DLI Students Ring in Lunar New Year

By Kelli Gile

WALNUT—Over 300 students performed skits, poems, and songs, entirely in Mandarin, during the 6th annual Lunar New Year celebration at Walnut Elementary.

Kindergartens through 5th grade children are part of the school’s Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program that offers unique and innovative instruction in both English and Mandarin.

Each grade level took a turn on stage during the energetic program presented for schoolmates on Thursday and for their families on Friday.

“The students put on a spectacular show!” shared teacher Krystin Wong.

Kinder girls sang and danced to “Jasmine Flowers” and boys performed the “Happy New Year” song.

First graders presented “New Year Cake” an interpretive dance to wish higher achievements to the audience.

In Mandarin, “cake” means promotion or achieving heights. As the first day of New Year is also the first day of spring, the song “Walking on Sunshine” was in order, Wong said.

Second graders said they would “have a great attitude” and “never give up” in the new year through the bilingual song “Try Everything.”

Third graders presented a 15-day New Year chant incorporating the importance of family reunion, couplets, and the Lantern Festival.

Fourth graders continued to communicate traditions by explaining the importance of the color red, the family feast, and the lion dance.  They also performed a rap song, “Report to the New Year!”

Last, but not least, fifth graders performed a skit to the legend of Chinese Valentine’s Day.  The story explained how Valentine’s Day was originated in China.

A finale lion dance was performed by three Walnut Elementary students along with volunteer members of San Gabriel Valley Chinese Cultural Association.

Beginning in Kindergarten, the DLI goal is to give students the opportunity to become bi-literate and bi-cultural.  The program is also available for sixth and seventh graders at South Pointe Middle School.


WVUSD Welcomes New Faces

By Kelli Gile

Board approves Emmalyn Coles as director of nutrition services and Ryan Gaviola as director of technology

WalnutThe Walnut Valley Unified School District is proud to announce two new members to the administrative team.

The Board of Trustees approved Emmalyn Coles as the new director of nutrition services.

Coles brings over a decade of experience in the food industry, human resources management, staff development, training, and team building.

“Coming to Walnut Valley has been a game changer,” she said.

“It’s improved my quality of life being closer to my children and participating in their activities. The challenges of coming to a new organization have provided opportunities for personal and professional growth. The support from colleagues, staff, and administration has been astounding. I’m honored and humbled to be part of the Walnut Valley family.”

Most recently, Coles served as director of food services in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District for the past six years.

Prior to that, she was food services assistant director of food services and operations supervisor in HLPUSD.

Additionally, she was a general manager for Eurest Dining Services, food services director at Huntington Culinary, area supervisor for David & Margaret Home, McKinley Children’s Center, and Leroy Haynes’ Center.

Coles holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles and master’s degree in business administration from University of Phoenix. She graduated with honors from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.

Her family resides in Walnut and children, Aya and Isa Al-Juraishi, attend Walnut High School.

Ryan Gaviola was appointed as director of technology during the January 17 Board Meeting.

Gaviola brings 18 years of IT experience to his new post, 13 of those years in a K-12 environment.

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to serve this community and feel blessed as a member of the Walnut Valley team,” he said.

Gaviola was director of technology at San Gabriel Unified School District and Lowell Joint School District for the past decade where he was instrumental in the development of new technological initiatives.

Prior to that, he served in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer information systems from DeVry University.

Gaviola resides in Walnut with his wife Chelo, a WVUSD graduate, and daughter Camille, who attends Vejar Elementary.


Spreading Kindness and Joy

By Kelli Gile

Quail Summit students deliver valentines to Diamond Bar seniors

DIAMOND BARQuail Summit Elementary leadership students made a special delivery to the Diamond Bar Senior Citizens Club on Monday.

The 25 Character Crew members arrived by school bus carrying envelopes packed with hundreds of handwritten valentines.

“Every student at our school made these cards of kindness,” shared 3rd grader Evelyn Wu.

‘We just want to make them happy!”

“I hope these Valentine’s Day cards make them smile,” commented 5th grader Joseph Hills moments before students began passing out their love letters.

“This has become a tradition, we’ve been waiting for you!” said volunteer Laura Estrada welcoming the children to the meeting held at the Diamond Bar Center.

The handmade cards featured messages like “We Love You” and “You Are Special,” and “You Are So Important to Us”

The seniors were thrilled to receive the bounty of Valentine’s Day gifts.

“They make me feel loved!” beamed Laura O’Neil who had several glittered and 3-D cards displayed at her table.

The students took turns at the microphone sharing Character Crew activities geared to make a positive difference each day in the school and community.

During the holidays, the students hosted a canned food and sock drive for area needy.

Members are currently collecting cardboard boxes and paper towel rolls for monkeys at the Santa Ana Zoo.

“It will keep their brains active,” reported Giulia Ladwig.

Next month, students will paint messages of hope on 600 rocks and leave them around the Diamond Bar community to inspire others.

“The kids are adorable!” one senior commented while admiring the work of the young service-minded group.

“We hope these valentines bring joy and let you know how very special you are to us,” said 4th grader Aiden Sou.

“We love you!” smiled first grader Elisabeth Ng as the audience broke out in applause.

“We don’t often take the time to put words down on paper,” said teacher Kathy McLean.

“This opportunity gives our students a chance see how much impact their kind words have.”

The seniors club provides generous support to the school each year, funding several special activities including an upcoming author visit.

“We appreciate you more than words can say!” said elementary learning specialist Leann Legind.


Listen to the Future!

Diamond Bar Musician To Perform On National Broadcast

by Kelli Gile

DIAMOND BAR — Diamond Bar High School percussionist Jeremy Davis is the recipient of the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award.

The $10,000 scholarship recipient will perform on the NPR “From the Top” live radio broadcast on Sunday, February 11 at 2 p.m.

Five featured young musicians will perform and share their stories during the 90-minute concert recorded in Boston, Massachusetts.

Jeremy, age 17, will be performing “Land” by Takatsugu Muramatsu on the marimba.

“This experience is pretty amazing!” the talented junior shared in the school’s practice room on Tuesday.

Jeremy first began playing percussion in sixth grade at South Pointe Middle School.

“It was hard, but I stuck with it!” he said.

The teen now performs in both band and orchestra in Diamond Bar High’s award-winning program.

His favorite musical experience has been participating in Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States in 2017.

With some of the scholarship funds, Jeremy plans to purchase the huge instrument, which can cost thousands of dollars.

The marimba is too large to tote back and forth like a violin, he explained.

“With percussion, we have to practice at school. Now, I can get one for home!”

The “From the Top” broadcast is a fun and easy way for families to experience classical music and get to know some inspiring people.

The special performance will also be available on a future NPR podcast.

Jeremy, who studies percussion with Kenneth McGrath, says his proudest musical accomplishment has been being selected to appear on From the Top.

Outside of music, he enjoys playing basketball and tennis.


WVUSD Board Celebrates Star Students, Community Members

By Kelli Gile

WALNUTThe Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees paid tribute to star students and community partners during the January 17 meeting.

C.J. Morris Elementary 5th grader Madeline Toh received a certificate of special recognition as the winner of the 2017 “Holidays Around the World” greeting card contest. Madeline’s submission depicted ornaments decorated with a globe and flags of several countries. She also received a gift certificate courtesy of Yogurtland in Walnut.

Walnut Elementary 5th grader Quinton Mendoza was saluted with the school’s Super Star Student Award. The multi-talented student is a scholar, athlete, and speaks multiple languages. He has been described as compassionate, humble, kind, and funny.

“Quinton is a lot like gravity – a quiet force that affects everyone,” said Principal Robert Chang.

One example of Quinton’s big heart is his willingness to give up his morning recess each day.

He reports to the bus drop off area and picks up the tots kindergartners to make sure they arrive safely to their special education class.

On days he has 100-mile running club practice, Quinton makes sure to notify his substitute, whom he personally trained.

“Quinton doesn’t do these things for recognition, he simply acts from his heart and reaches for his goals,” Chang said. “He’s one of a kind and makes our school a better place!”

Longtime parent volunteer Molly Mendoza, and Quinton’s mom, was presented with the Partner in Education Award.

“Molly has done so many wonderful things for our school and truly deserves this honor,” Chang said.

The Community Club president has devoted countless hours organizing and participating in fundraisers, activities, and field trips.

“Molly always gives 110% and has been a part in everything going on at the school,” Chang said.

“You have not only left shoes that will be extremely difficult to fill, but have left footprints in hearts and changed our lives for the better.”

Ron Hockwalt Academies (RHA) senior Demetrius Lowery received the Super Star Student Award.

“He’s a great kid and has been a blessing on our campus,” said Principal Dr. Donna Hunter.

Demetrius has done a lot of hands-on work in the school’s HOPE garden and has a gift at fixing things, she explained. The teen even brought a crate of oranges to present to the Trustees.

The school’s HOPE program is designed to help students create a future they want. HOPE stands for Heart, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Excellence

“He’s showing HOPE and heart for all his schoolmates, staff, and school. We are very proud of Demetrius!” Hunter said.

Ernie Quejado, founder of the Sanlo Homestay Foundation, was honored with the school’s Partner in Education Award.

Ernie has adopted RHA and for the past three years has donated a $1,000 each year for student leadership.

“We’re a small school and these funds go a long way,” Hunter explained.

RHA is able to provide field trips, incentives, and activities through this generous support.

“We appreciate him and his support for our campus!” Hunter said.