Tag Archives: castle rock elementary

Castle Rock students cast their votes!


Castle Rock Elementary students joined a mock election.  Photo courtesy: WVUSD

Castle Rock Elementary students joined a mock election.
Photo courtesy: WVUSD

DIAMOND BAR, CA—This week, Castle Rock Elementary students put their International Baccalaureate (IB) skills into action by participating in a mock election with students around the nation.

Through the online website, Studies Weekly, students were able to participate in an online voting activity called Every Kid Votes.

A total of 15 participating classrooms totaling 429 students cast votes for their top candidate.

Students were able to vote in the “Polling Place” and received an “I Voted!” sticker to conclude their experience.

What a great way to teach civic responsibility!


It just takes One!


Quail Summit third grade students and staff with author Kathryn Otoshi. It just takes One!

Quail Summit third grade students and staff with author Kathryn Otoshi.
It just takes One!

DIAMOND BAR, CA —  Children’s author and illustrator Kathryn Otoshi brought her message of tolerance, acceptance, and kindness to Quail Summit and Castle Rock elementary students last week.

She read from her number books “One” and “Zero” that focus on standing up for each other and making sure everyone counts.

“These stories touch my heart!” commented Castle Rock 5th grader Nicolas Matias after a September 9 assembly.

The simply drawn pictures books feature symbolic characters with layered messages that teach children they can be part of the solution.

In “One,” when the quiet Blue dot is picked on by the hothead Red dot, the other colors don’t know what to do, until number One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up, stand together, and count.

“Sometimes it just takes one to make a difference!” the author said.  Otoshi shared that she penned “Zero” to pay tribute to a new classmate from another country that was bullied during the fourth grade.  “I didn’t say anything because I was afraid,” she admitted.

Now, Otoshi circles the country to empower the next generation to become “upstanders” and not bystanders.  “Inside you lives courage and kindness. Don’t be afraid to tell someone in charge,” she urged.

A 15-foot mural was unveiled after assemblies at Quail Summit Elementary on September 8.  The painting features handprints of all 650 students and staff members inspired by Otoshi’s book “Beautiful Hands,” which was co-written with friend Bret Baumgarten who was battling pancreatic cancer.

For three days, artist and former parent, Margot Bloom carefully brushed red, green, yellow, or blue paint on every hand before positioning as leaves on the giant tree.

“The children all understood the connection of what we were creating,” said principal Jeanette Koh, who invited the author to add her handprint to the one-of-a-kind painting.

“It is our hope that the mural will be a ‘living piece of art’ that will inspire students, staff, and parents at Quail Summit to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others,” added elementary learning specialist Leann Legind.

Otoshi told students that Baumgarten would ask his young children “What will you do with your beautiful hands today?”  “If we do something meaningful for somebody we can touch their heart,” she said.  “Make a commitment to doing something kind for someone else. Spirits soar when we put our hands together!”

Castle Rock Hosts ‘Oscar’ Ceremony For Favorite Books

Photo courtesy of WVUSD

Photo courtesy of WVUSD
Adventures in Wonderland won for Best Classic Book during Castle Rock Elementary’s B’Oscars. Shown:Students Natalie Schaffer and Jolie Escalante accept the gold award.

By Kelli Gile


DIAMOND BAR– Castle Rock Elementary fifth-grade students recently walked the red carpet at their very own Academy Awards, when they hosted a Hollywood-style awards show for their favorite books, authors, series, illustrators, and more during the annual Oscars for Books, coined the “B’Oscars.”

Parents lined the walkway like proud paparazzi, clapping and snapping photos as honorees entered the Diamond Bar High School theatre.  Classmates dressed up as the winning characters and bookish peeps took to the stage to accept the tiny gold statues in twelve categories.

“The B’Oscars is such a fantastic way to excite not only our 5th grade students but our entire school with the love of reading.  They can’t wait to hear who the winners are!” said Principal Dr. Resma Byrne.

Each class nominated five books in each category in preparation for the celebration of reading.

Teacher Jorge Arauz then combined all the submissions and organized the student voting.

During the March 3 event, four students wearing black suits and sunglasses focused on keeping security tight as they delivered top-secret winning names on stage.  All students in the show auditioned for their roles as presenters and book characters and wrote clever descriptions and comments to deliver on stage.

“Reading at Castle Rock means a lot to all students. It is a passport to distant lands!” said 5th grader Rachel Yang.

Costumed nominees, including the 3 Little Pigs and Dumb Bunnies, in the Best Fairytale and Picture Book categories, sat in the first rows of the audience hoping to hear their name announced.

“And now for the moment you’ve been waiting for – drum roll please!” the presenters said.  The eager readers took the cue to pound hands on their thighs in anticipation.

“What I love about the B’Oscars is how it transforms reading for every single student!” said teacher Julie McClain.  “Even if they weren’t up on stage, students were all rooting for their favorite book to win. This event encourages the whole grade level to read the books and authors that were nominated.”

Characters Pippi Longstocking, Annabeth Chase, Amy Cahill, Hermione Granger, and Ramona Quimby were nominated in the Best Female Protagonist category.  “Ramona Quimby is anxious, curious, and tends to annoy people. You’ve got to love the little pest!” said Charlene Hsu.

Students costumed as famed wizards Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Lord Voldemort, and author J.K. Rowling thanked the audience for voting them the winners in the Best Series category.  Detailed book summaries were shown during commercial breaks.

In the Male Protagonist category, the Castle Rock students voted for their favorite “good guy” characters including heroes Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Leo Valdez.

“I’d like to thank my author for inventing my exciting character!” said winning character Percy Jackson, played by Jeffrey Wang.

he thrilling quests detailed in Rick Riordan’s books sealed the award for Best Author.  “The sense of adventure really kept the stories going! When I was a teacher, I never thought all of this would be possible!” said student Nathan Tok posing as the author.

The audience screamed in delight when Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief was named Best Book.

“I want to eat some enchiladas!” announced Hagen White playing the part of Percy Jackson’s quirky vegetarian best friend, Grover Underwood. “You never know when you’ll need food!”


The B’Oscars is the action plan for the IB School program of inquiry “How we express ourselves” with the central idea of “Tales that have been with us since the beginning of mankind.”

Students now hope to stock the school library with their favorite titles.  “Our book drive is important because we need new books so children can have more imagination,” said 5th grader Charleen Chen.

Castle Rock Sends Student To Regional Spelling Bee

By Kelli Gile

Castle Rock Elementary 2nd Grader, Jaylin Dalal, won the Scripps Spelling Bee on January 14. He received a trophy and qualified to compete at the regional contest in February. (Photo courtesy of  Kelli Gile)

Castle Rock Elementary 2nd Grader, Jaylin Dalal, won the Scripps Spelling Bee on January 14. He received a trophy and qualified to compete at the regional contest in February. (Photo courtesy of Kelli Gile)

Diamond Bar – 2nd Grade student, Jaylin Dalal was crowned the winner of the Castle Rock Elementary Scripps Spelling Bee on Jan. 14. The 8-year old won the school title by correctly spelling “commitment” during the final round of the competition.

Dalal will now represent his school next month during the preliminary Scripps Regional Spelling Bee at Mt. San Antonio College. The top 30 students qualify for the finals in March. The regional winner wins a trip to “Bee Week” – the National Spelling Bee Championship held in Washington D.C. this May.

This year, each class at Castle Rock hosted their own spelling bee using official Scripps words.  Students received grade level study guides in December to prepare for the competition.

Classroom winners competed during the finals held in the multipurpose room. The contest was broadcast school-wide. The top winner from each grade level received a medal and then vied in the championship round.

Finalists included Grant Wang, 1st Grade; Jaylin Dalal, 2nd Grade; Emily Lu, 3rd Grade; Sean Shih, 4th Grade; and Nicole Miyoshi, 5th Grade.

“Congratulations finalists. You have all worked very hard. Most of all, be proud of yourselves and have fun!” said teacher Matthew Morrison, who administered the exam with elementary learning specialist Kelly Morris.

During the 12-round battle, students were given a word that was then used in a sentence. They had the option to ask for a definition and were told to speak loudly and clearly.  Many students used higher-grade level lists to prepare for the competition.

“We have such great spellers here at Castle Rock!” Morris exclaimed.

Spelling champ Dalal studied to grade level 16.

“I was astonished,” Dalal said about winning the competition. “I was just smiling and giggling and feeling proud!”

Walnut: WV Board Honors Partners in Education

By Kelli Gile



Collegewood Elementary parents Lily Eibert and Christina Kondo received the Partner in Education Award (shown with their children, Principal Joan Perez, and Board President Cindy Ruiz. (Photo Courtesy: Kelli Gile)

Walnut – The Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees recognized star students and community partners during the Dec. 10 meeting.

Castle Rock Elementary 2nd Grade student, Wesley Li, was honored as a Super Star Student.

“One of the things that we instill at Castle Rock is the characteristic of perseverance. Even though this generation of students has the world at their fingertips, we really strive is to make sure our kids work hard and do not give up. Wesley demonstrates that quality – he perseveres every single day,” said

Parent volunteers Sam and Nancy Castorena received the Partners in Education Award for Castle Rock.

“They are a very active part of our community and one of the things that they bring is their networking ability.  They know everybody!” Dr. Byrne said. The extraordinary couple attends every single event to happily help the school succeed. They are excited about education and to be a part of Walnut Valley.

Collegewood Elementary 5th Grader, Natalie Basurto, received the Super Star Student Award.

“Natalie is one of those kids that each and every day walks through the gate with a huge smile on her face,” explained Principal Joan Perez.

Collegewood Elementary parents Lily Eibert and Christina Kondo received the Partner in Education Award.

“They are our dynamic duo! These two ladies are truly outstanding individuals and together have donated over 14 years to the school,” Perez stated. They are currently Community Club Co-Presidents.

“Christina knows how to do so many things so well. You can always count on her for support. She is a cheerleader for our school!” reported 1st Grade teacher, Betsy Hale.

“Lily has been a magnificent liaison in our school community and she offers help with new families that are getting acclimated to Collegewood’s culture,” shared 2nd Grade teacher, Diane Zell.  “They are both giving and kind,” added teacher Sherry Truong.

Chaparral Middle School 8th Grader, Danny Mansour, was honored with the Super Star Student Award.  The standout student is a peer tutor, member of the coding club, robotics club, student technology aide, leadership, and the pre-engineering group that built bridges out of toothpicks. This week, Mansour led a team of student coders during the Hour of Code event.

“Beyond all that, Danny is a person of great character and everyone he comes in contact with feels better at the end of the conversation. He is Mr. Positive,” said Principal Ron Thibodeaux.

Chaparral Middle School parent, Anne Elefante, was lauded with the Partner in Education Award.

“Anne is one of the great parents that help us out in so many ways,” Thibodeaux stated.

Elefante is the Community Club Treasurer, a community liaison, and she is an incredibly intelligent woman that keeps immaculate books.  Ann is also a fantastic artist who logged in about 20,000 hours making hundreds of ribbon leis for a school fundraiser.


Walnut: Elementary Students Demonstrate IB Skills



Nathan Sepulveda, Rane Padilla, Samantha Kozlo, Robert Davis, Jason Hsu showed their creative hat project after their presentation. (Photo Coutesy: Kelli Gile)

Walnut – This month, 5th Graders presented year-end research projects during the Exhibitions at C.J. Morris and Castle Rock elementary schools.


The end-of-the-year event is the culmination of the students’ K-5 learning experience at the international schools. 95 C.J. Morris students voted to choose the topic of Homelessness, based on one central idea: children worldwide face many challenges and risks. Each team chose an area to research and spent several weeks on their presentations. Topics included homeless in our community, state, country, and world. Each group developed an oral presentation, technology and creative component, and action plan for families, at the event held on May 15.


“We can all help homeless children all over the world and give them happiness,” said Team Action members, Joshua McBride, Eddie Cabrera, Kyle Tchen, Abbey Arzola, and Ginger Alvarez.


The team suggested several ideas to help out, including sending money to shelters, giving gift cards, donating clothing, food, or adopting homeless children. The group also made t-shirts, wrote a song, and created an iMovie for their project. They agreed they got to know each other and liked working together during the past weeks.


At Castle Rock Elementary, 5th Graders presented “Sharing the Planet” inquiry-based research projects during their I.B. Exhibition held on May 22. 86 students used their IB skills, attitudes, and attributes acquired in the elite program.


15 groups researched the topics of their choice, based on modern-day issues ranging from Water Usage to Renewable Energy and Global Warming. Presentations included display boards, technology and artistic components, mathematical data to support their findings, and action plans. Students created videos, hosted live debates, and were eager to answer questions after the program.