Tag Archives: Chaparral Middle School

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.

Chaparral DBL Students Team Up For Hands-On Learning

By Kelli Gile


DIAMOND BAR, CAChaparral Middle School students were given a design challenge that took some imagination during the second week of school. Seventh graders in the Design-Based Learning (DBL) core were tasked with building a wall perch for a two-inch pompom named Harry. The innovative designs needed to have good visibility (so the tiny ball of fluff could see every face in the class), be safe so he wouldn’t fall off, and feature creative architecture. After learning about the engineering process, scientific method, and DBL process, students compared and contrasted the systems using Venn diagram circles. “They realized there are a lot of similarities,” said science teacher Jennifer Najera. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrates the engineering design process as an important element in science. “I think the engineering process helps people think creatively about problems and is a great way to tackle just about any project!” she said. With just two class periods to complete the assignment, the small groups quickly got busy planning, building, testing, and improving their designs. Teams needed to make creations come alive using limited resources of cardstock, construction paper, tape, glue, plastic cup, rubber band, plastic spoon, and paper clip.

On Monday, groups presented the crafty projects in front of classmates who would later be voting for the design that best met the criteria. One group created a hot air balloon that gave Harry a 360-degree view of the class. Another showed off a three-tier hideaway featuring a rubber band swing, windows, and throne. “We kept him safe by adding walls and made sure he could see, but not fall off,” said Nathan Chang. Another team added a hammock to Harry’s cozy home. “We really liked the idea of having a hammock for Harry,” said Clarissa Lee Baladejo. “We thought it would be cool and didn’t think anyone else would make one out of a spoon, rubber band, and paper!” “And there’s a slide on the back so Harry can roll down from his throne into his home!” added Mikaya Griego. She shared that the final project had noticeably changed from the original plan. “It had a cage on top to hang the swing from – but that didn’t work!” “It wasn’t easy, but in the end, it came together!” Lee Baladejo added. “The winner of the Good Design Award will be on display all year so that Harry can watch over my students!” Najera said. The innovative DBL program launched at the Diamond Bar school nearly 20 years ago has been recognized with a prestigious Golden Bell Award by the California School Boards Association.“A lot of times people think all we do is build in DBL,” said Najera who emphasized that students make connections to their designs using standards across multiple curricular areas.“Attaching content to each project allows students to create deeper meaning and retain information longer,” she added. The inaugural class assignment this year, called Never Before Seen, in which students created pintsize art objects to subtly illustrate their unique personality and interests. The 35 projects ranged from colorful designs with spiral shapes to dark geometric models. “This is the core of DBL,” Najera said standing at the display. “If you were just to look at it, you wouldn’t know the meaning.”The Chaparral students said they prefer the collaborative style of learning.“It’s really cool how we have a lot of hands-on projects and it’s really good for different types of learners,” said Aslin Choi. “I’m a picture-smart person and I love working with people!” “We have a lot of group projects in DBL,” said Ryan Wallace, a second-year student in the specialized core. “Last year we used green screens, made films, and did a news broadcast,” he added. “It’s better than doing it by the book. It makes the learning fun and not boring!”


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.




7 WVUSD Schools Selected for California Honor Roll

Leaders in Student Achievement 

Suzanne Middle School 6th graders score a great time during field day with teacher Lauri Ujita

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Suzanne Middle School 6th graders score a great time during field day with teacher Lauri Ujita

By Kelli Gile 

Walnut – Seven Walnut Valley USD schools have been named to the 2015 CBEE California Honor Roll for consistently demonstrating high levels of student academic achievement.

Scholar schools are Evergreen Elementary, Quail Summit Elementary, Chaparral Middle School, South Pointe Middle School, Suzanne Middle School, Diamond Bar High School, and Walnut High School.

The program is sponsored by the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE) and Educational Results Partnership (ERP).

After an extensive analysis of every school in the state, Honor Roll schools are identified as clear leaders in getting students to grade level and beyond.

This year, the California Honor Roll recognized 1,714 high-performing public schools who are successfully preparing students for college and careers.

Congratulations to our dedicated principals, teachers, and staff members who work tirelessly to help Walnut Valley students achieve such success!


Diamond Bar: Striking A Chord

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
South Pointe Middle School choir performs during a National School to Watch awards ceremony.

Chaparral, South Pointe music programs receive national recognition

By Kelli Gile


DIAMOND BAR— Two Walnut Valley Unified School District (WVUSD) middle schools – Chaparral and South Pointe – have been honored with the SupportMusic Merit Award from the nonprofit NAAM Foundation for outstanding commitment to music education.

A total of 118 schools across the country recognized with the prestigious award in 2016.

“This award puts Chaparral and South Pointe on an exclusive list that receives national attention – and that is something to celebrate!” said Chaparral band director Leslie Schroerlucke.

The SupportMusic designation is awarded to individual schools that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

The award recognizes schools that are leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the new federal education legislation, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

Congratulations to Chaparral music teachers Greg Rochford-orchestra, Leslie Schroerlucke-band, Rich Langham-choir, South Pointe music teachers Susan Willmering- band, and Robin Wadsworth-choir.

“It is such an honor to be recognized for the second consecutive year by NAMM. It is fantastic to know that Chaparral is seen in such high regard,” said Principal Ron Thibodeaux.

“Our music programs are essential to our students and their families,” Schroerlucke added. “The NAMM award reaffirms once again that music programs in WVUSD are exemplary in terms of the number of students in our programs, the quality of the programs, and parent support.”

At South Pointe, over 500 students participate in music arts classes. Choir teacher Robin Wadsworth, who works with about 150 students in her classes, is passionate about the benefits of music education.

“There have been many scientific studies that show that music helps creativity, coordination, reasoning skills, and improving test scores,” she said.

Wadsworth also sites another benefit of being a part of music groups.

“Music performing groups give kids a place to belong. Playing, singing, or just listening to music relieves stress and gives groups of students that perform together a common purpose.”

Her students agreed. “Music makes me happy. When I’m sad, I sing!” said 6th grader Shannon Kelly.

“Music helps me express my feelings,” added 7th grader Maxine Magpayo.

“We are fortunate to have remarkable teachers and a district that understands the importance of the arts in education,” said South Pointe’s Principal, Susan Arzola.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile Hundreds of Chaparral Middle School students participate in music education courses each year. Shown: Orchestra in rehearsal with director Greg Rochford.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Hundreds of Chaparral Middle School students participate in music education courses each year. Shown: Orchestra in rehearsal with director Greg Rochford.

Chaparral Grand Reopening Set

Photo By Carol Heyen

Photo By Carol Heyen

By Kelli Gile

DIAMOND BAR– After eight years of construction projects on campus, which have included relocated athletic fields, the construction of a new gymnasium, the building of 14 classrooms dedicated to science and Design Based Learning, Chaparral Middle School is set to celebrate the completion of the last of its remodeling and modernization projects.

On February 25, Chaparral Middle School will be “reopening” its main building to the public and officially debuting its new music education building, the “Cougar Conservatory”, along with its new food services building, the “Cougar Kitchen.”

The school will be holding a grand reopening ceremony, along with a ribbon cutting, starting in the school’s multipurpose room, promptly at 6 p.m.  Immediately after, the entire campus will be open to the public for its annual Open House in which teachers will be on hand in their classrooms and student work will be displayed.

Please plan on stopping by and attending along with other members of the Chaparral Middle School learning community as we concurrently celebrate Chaparral’s remodeling and modernization along with the school’s 40 years of providing education to the children of Diamond Bar.

Construction and modernization projects were made possible by community support of Bond Measures S & Y.  Chaparral Middle School is located at 1405 S. Spruce Tree Drive in Diamond Bar.

Chaparral Wind Ensemble Plays Kennedy Center

Photo Courtesy:  WVUSD  The Chaparral Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Leslie Schroerlucke, took the stage at the Kennedy Center during the John Philip Sousa Festival in Washington, D.C.

Photo Courtesy: WVUSD
The Chaparral Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Leslie Schroerlucke, took the stage at the Kennedy Center during the John Philip Sousa Festival in Washington, D.C.

By Kelli Gile

Diamond BarThe Chaparral Middle School Wind Ensemble performed during the John Philip Sousa Band Festival at the renowned Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The 40-member group was one of only four bands from across the country – and the only middle school invited – to celebrate the music of the “March King” during the May 31 concert.

The ensemble presented Sea Song Trilogy, Tame the Savage Sea, and Fairest of the Fair under the direction of Leslie Schroerlucke.  Also debuted by the students, was Memories of the March King, a three-movement piece by Dr. Buddy Clements, Instrumental Music Director at Walnut High.

Music Celebrations International hosted the inaugural Sousa festival.

“It was an amazing trip! Students definitely rose to the challenge and played better than I had ever heard them,” Schroerlucke commented.

The Chaparral musicians impressed the 1,000-member audience who showed their appreciation with a rousing standing ovation.

“We had many people stop us afterward and comment that they couldn’t believe we were a middle school band!” the Diamond Bar director recalled.

“It was a thrill to play on a national stage with so much history,” she added.

The ensemble also shared the dressing room once occupied by legendary conductors Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.

Additional highlights of the trip included a clinic with conductor Anthony Maiello at George Mason University, a U.S. Marine Band concert, and a wreath laying ceremony at the gravesite of John Philip Sousa in the Congressional Cemetery.

Students enjoyed sightseeing at historical monuments and Smithsonian museums.

Chaparral Students Making A Difference

Photo Courtesy:  Kelli Gile Chaparral students made improvements at a community garden through a Disney Friends for Change grant.

Photo Courtesy: Kelli Gile
Chaparral students made improvements at a community garden through a Disney Friends for Change grant.

By Kelli Gile

Walnut – Chaparral Middle School’s HUMANitarian Club is dedicated to serving.  For the past nine years, members have reached out to area homeless through local shelter programs.

On Global Youth Service Day, the 30 students continued their good deeds by making lunches for a shelter in San Gabriel.  The project was funded through a $400 Sodexo Youth Grant written by 6th Grader, Srijani Krishnan.

“It’s great that everyone is here to help the homeless,” she said to club members. “All the food will go to the St. Vianney Food Pantry today.”

Over 30 members met after school on Apr. 17 to make sack lunches with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit snacks, candy bars, and bottles of water. Volunteers from the United Cougars assisted with the project.

“It’s awesome that you’re taking your time to make this happen for 144 folks,” said Principal Ron Thibodeaux.

A hunger awareness video was also created to share with classmates.

“It makes you feel good and its fun, too,” said 7th Grader Darren Lo.

Club members also volunteered at the San Gabriel Valley Winter Shelter and sung Christmas carols at a retirement home in Walnut last winter.

President Sydney Robinson was awarded a $500 grant from the “Disney’s Friends for Change” program to make improvements at the Center Street Community Garden in Pomona.

Other HUMANitarian volunteers and their families joined the service project on Apr. 18.

“They harvested food, painted a structure to hold garden announcements, and wrote inspirational messages on rocks to beautify the garden,” said advisor Sherry Robertson.

The members helped paint and shovel mulch at the garden earlier in the month.

“The kids worked so hard!” Robertson said. “It was a cool experience, and we’re eager to go again!”

A police report stated that crime decreased by 50% with the addition of the new garden.

“It’s pretty impactful,” she said.

Diamond Bar: Chaparral Students “Keep It Moving”

By Kelli Gile



6th Grade students Karissa Wong and Joshua Chou won the Most Creative Design award at the JPL Keep It Moving contest on December 5. The students presented a school certificate to Principal Ron Thibodeaux. (photo courtesy: Kelli Gile)

Diamond Bar – Congratulations to Chaparral Middle School 6th Grade students, Karissa Wong and Joshua Chou, who won top awards in the recent “Keep It Moving” Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) Design Competition.

The team brought home a 4th Place award at the regional contest on November 22 and advanced to the Finals held on December 5 at the Pasadena Center.

The Chaparral students competed among 20 teams at the Finals. Most were at the high school level, but that didn’t stop these determined middle school students.

Wong and Chou won 3rd Place and the Most Creative Design awards.

The objective of the Keep It Moving challenge was to invent a device to move a billiard ball between five to eight meters using three modes of transportation:  gravity; any sort of spring; and a free choice of energy, such as a motor.

The students designed an upside-down rubber band catapult to push the ball up to the top of a 20-foot long rain gutter ramp. The ball had to be kept moving (spinning didn’t count) the entire time during the contest.

The billiard ball rolled down the ramp by gravity until it was blocked by a servomotor arm, which moved back and forth to keep the ball moving very slowly for timing accuracy.  At a specific time, a computer commanded the arm to open up to allow the ball to continue to roll down and hit two triggering switches to turn on loud buzzers.

The entry also needed to initiate an audible sound by the ball, as close to 20 seconds as possible.  The Chaparral students clocked an impressive 20.218 or 0.218 seconds over the 20-second mark!

What was the best part of the experience?

“We liked the meetings and practices at Chick-fil-A best!” the pair exclaimed.




Diamond Bar: Chaparral HUMANitarian Club Serves Area Homeless


Chaparral Middle School HUMANitarian club members prepared a meal for residents of the San Gabriel Valley Winter Shelter on Feb. 27.

Chaparral Middle School HUMANitarian club members prepared a meal for residents of the San Gabriel Valley Winter Shelter on Feb. 27. (Photo Courtesy: Kelli Gile)

Diamond Bar — 17 members of the Chaparral Middle School HUMANitarian Club helped make and serve about 280 dinners to area homeless on Thursday, Feb. 27.  Volunteers from many of Chaparral’s advocacy classes also supported the cause.

For the past eight years, the service club has reached out to the homeless through the East San Gabriel Valley’s Winter Shelter program. The rotating shelter begins at the end of October and runs through the end of February.

Students donated items to make a complete lunch for all the residents to take with them the following day after the dinner.  Club members also spent time before the dinner service began getting to know their clients.  “They learned a very valuable lesson about stereotyping homeless people,” said teacher and advisor, Sherry Robertson.

Club President, Kimberly Flores, said the students were shocked to learn that many of the people have jobs, some of them more than one.  “You can’t categorize who you meet at this shelter…women, men, children,” Flores said.  “My experience at the homeless shelter was pretty amazing. It changed my perspective on homeless people. I realized that they can be the same as us. There were educated people with jobs, but they didn’t have the same luxuries as we do,” she said.

Walnut: WVUSD Middle School Mathletes Dominate at Regionals


The Suzanne Middle School 1st Place Team: Matthew Nguyen, Aaron Chang, Amy Erickson, Ethan Lin, and Christopher Wong, with advisor Amy Erickson.  (Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile)

The Suzanne Middle School 1st Place Team: Matthew Nguyen, Aaron Chang, Amy Erickson, Ethan Lin, and Christopher Wong, with advisor Amy Erickson. (Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile)

The South Pointe Middle School MATHCOUNTS team.  (Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile)

The South Pointe Middle School MATHCOUNTS team. (Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile)

Chaparral Middle School competitors at the MATHCOUNTS Regional Competition. (Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile)

Chaparral Middle School competitors at the MATHCOUNTS Regional Competition. (Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile)

Walnut — Walnut Valley Unified School District’s three middle schools, Suzanne, Chaparral, and South Pointe, again took three of the top four places at the East San Gabriel Valley Chapter MATHCOUNTS Competition, held Feb. 21 at California Polytechnic University, Pomona.

The Suzanne MATHCOUNTS Team won 1st Place, Chaparral Mathletes took 2nd Place honors, and South Pointe brought home the 4th Place award.

Congratulations to the Suzanne MATHCOUNTS competition team who will now advance to the California State Competition. Two individual competitors will also advance to State:  Chaparral 8th Grader Matthew Ho, who placed first overall, and South Pointe 8th Grader Austin Sun, who placed second overall. The California State Competition will be held at the University of California, Irvine, on March 14.

“I am enormously proud of the students. They have been working very hard toward this goal for the past several years.  This is only the second time in our school’s 52-year history that we have placed first.  I would also like to commend the Walnut High School Math Club and especially their president, Andy Tsai, for all the volunteer hours spent coaching the Suanne Mathletes. This is truly a team win,” said Suzanne math teacher and advisor, Amy Erickson.