Tag Archives: education

Don Lugo Earned A Six-Year Accreditation


Chino – This spring, Don Lugo High received a six-year accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the longest accreditation granted by the organization to an educational institution.

The WASC accreditation process aids institutions in developing and sustaining effective educational programs and assures the educational community, the general public, and other organizations that an accredited institution has met high standards of quality and effectiveness.

In its more than 350-page WASC Self-Study Report, Don Lugo administrators and teachers listed a variety of data, citing its strengths, weaknesses, improvements, and goals for the future.

According to the document’s writers, the Chino school has undergone many significant changes in the last six years, and particularly in the last three years.

The school has a new principal and all three new assistant principals. Led by the administrative team, the school has implemented new attendance protocols, new behavior management programs, and new curriculum in English and math, while also making notable changes in social science, career and technical subjects, language, and arts instruction.

Don Lugo has added new Academics and Pathways to its course catalog and expanded its enrollment in honors and Advanced Placement courses.

In the summer of 2015, approximately 60 teachers (85% of the instructional staff) attended three days of training in the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program, a comprehensive philosophy and set of protocols to ensure a culture in which all students feel safe, supported, and where instructional and learning time is optimized. Teachers taking the training use strategies to build better relationships with students, such as getting them to learn each other’s names, sharing something good at the start of class, and creating social norms. The teachers were trained to ask four questions before sending students out on a referral: What are you doing? What are you supposed to be doing? Are you doing it? What are you going to do about that?

Many Don Lugo teachers have said they have noticed an improved atmosphere at the school since the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program was implemented. Plans are in place to provide the remaining staff with training.

Don Lugo now has a second Intervention Specialist for Math who is available to assist teachers with quality instructional strategies for rigor, the formative process, checking for understanding, providing formal and informal feedback, incorporating technology, and differentiation. The Intervention Specialist’s goal is to facilitate self-reflection and growth in teachers and provide instructional support for the new Common Core State Standards in math.

The Chino school’s administrators, teachers and students have worked diligently to increase Don Lugo’s Honors and Advanced Placement program. Don Lugo added AP Psychology and AP Economics to its course offerings. Site administrators and teachers have removed the more stringent prerequisites for admittance into AP courses as a way to ensure that all students have access to those classes. AP courses are publicized to all students during the spring prior to enrollment, and at AP Student and Parent Information Nights. Don Lugo’s AP Club holds fundraisers to help students pay for exams. All AP instructors are trained. Seventy-five percent of Don Lugo’s AP teachers attended the 2015 Summer AP By the Sea Institute in San Diego and/or Pre-AP trainings at the University of California, Riverside.

While the school’s AP program enrollment dropped from 245 in the 2012/2013 school year to 214 in 2013/2014 and 192 in 2014/2015, renewed efforts by the faculty and students have resulted in 320 students (about 20% of the student population) enrolling in AP courses in the 2015/2016 school year.

Two pilot programs are underway at Don Lugo. The school had adopted a multi-tiered system of support for positive behavior and have hired an Intervention Counselor to create the program. Also, four special education teachers are participating in the California Department of Education’s transitional project. In that project, teachers are taught how to successfully develop, implement, and monitor college and career awareness goals in the special education students’ Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

Don Lugo’s academies include the Lugo Engineering and Design (LEAD) Academy; Sports Management Academy; and Technology, Environment, Animal Medicine, Agriscience, and Agribusiness (TEAM A & A) Academy. It recently added an equestrian component and service animal program to its Agricultural department. Under the service animal program, students are raising puppies for the Guide Dogs for the Blind organization.


Walnut Valley Celebrates HARTT Center Opening

By Kelli Gile

Hockwalt Adult Resource-and-Transition-Training-Center

The HARTT Center in Walnut hosted an opening celebration on December 15. (Photo Courtesy: Kelli Gile)

Walnut – Walnut Valley Unified School District celebrated the opening of the Hockwalt Adult Resource & Transition Training (HARTT) Center on December 10.            “We are thrilled to open our doors to the community,” said educational specialist, Cheryl Faren.

The HARTT Center serves 18 to 22-year old students with disabilities who are receiving a Certificate of Completion from high school and have significant needs for support as they transition to adulthood.

The Center teaches important transition skills based each student’s abilities with the goal of successfully transitioning to adult living. Skills are developed using community-based instruction in addition to classroom instruction.

About 25 young adults are enrolled at the Center, with an additional 20 attending classes through Mt. San Antonio College.

“Thank you to our community and district for supporting this program,” said Judi Koorndyk, Coordinator of Special Education.

Over 100 guests had a chance to tour the educational center and enjoy holiday entertainment provided by Diamond Bar and Walnut High musicians. Neighborhood partner, Sysco Foods, donated and prepared a buffet dinner for the special event.

“We have students that have to overcome immense obstacles to be able to be happy and productive in society. These students have always been in the heart of our district,” said Jose Annicchiarico, Principal at Ron Hockwalt Academies.

Over 20 local business partners are helping every student develop job and vocational skills. The Center features classrooms, a technology center, and career training. Faren teaches cooking skills in the industrial-size kitchen.   Students are also learning to do the laundry. They like to “hang out” in the comfy recreation room and watch movies after returning from morning work at local businesses. Or they can play air hockey and foosball in the loft area. An outdoor garden, recently donated by Home Depot, is blooming with vegetables and herbs.

“Whatever we plant here, we use in the kitchen. The project is all student-driven,” Faren added.

“We’ll be making salads next week!” she added after noticing a bounty of lettuce.

Until last year, students were transitioned to county programs after high school. Changes in the state’s Special Education Local Plan (SELPA) allowed Walnut Valley to bring its students back home.

“We’re finally able to provide services to our own students!” Koorndyk said about the long-awaited program.

The HARTT Center in located at the Ron Hockwalt Academies alternative education campus in Walnut. Classrooms and facilities have been renovated and decorated for the new program.

“You walk into the living room area and kitchen and can feel the heart and passion that was put into it. This is a wonderful place for our students to come and learn and employees to come and work. This is an amazing facility!” Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor said.

“This program keeps with Dr. Hockwalt’s vision that no student would be left behind and that all students would be taken care of regardless of their age or their level. We can take care of all students,” Board President Cindy Ruiz added.

I’m very appreciative of the whole program. The heart that the teachers have for these kids – it’s not something that they have to do, it’s something they want to do,” praised parent Jim Reya. His daughter, Cynthia, transitioned to the HARTT Center after being part of a county program.

“The name of this center is inspired by former superintendent Dr. Ron Hockwalt. He used to tell us that the true measurement of our success is the struggling students.   And this Center is really the embodiment of that philosophy,” Annicchiarico stated.

Koorndyk works at the state level and has written a three year, $450,000 contract with the Department of Rehabilitation.

“It’s going to help us find jobs for students that are here at the HARTT Center and at Diamond Bar and Walnut high schools,” Annicchiarico said.

“This school district really takes its vision seriously, to take care of the children. This is a wonderful gift for the children,” Reya added.



Norco: Wee People Playschool

City of Norco

Are you looking for a safe environment where your child can grow emotionally, intellectually and socially while helping prepare them for kindergarten? Wee People Playschool does just that! The City of Norco Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services is offering this recreational program for children ages 3-5 years old. During Wee People, children learn shapes, colors, alphabet, sight words, name recognition, cooperative play skills and manners, while exercising their fine and gross motor skills and much more.

Wee People Playschool is offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30am to 1:30pm or Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 2pm. For an 8 week session, Norco Residents fee for M/W/F session is $320 and the non-resident fee is $330. The Norco Resident fee for T/TH session is $275 and the non-resident fee is $285. Fees are subject to change. Registration is taken on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Wee People Playschool is held at the Norco Community Center located at 3900 Acacia Ave, Norco CA 92860. For more information please call (951) 272-1619 or visit www.norco.ca.us



Open Enrollment & Transfer Instructions for Corona Norco Unified School DistrictPosted Date:12/8/2014 7:30 AM

City of Eastvale

The following dates have been established as the “OPEN ENROLLMENT” period for the 2015-2016 school year: DECEMBER 1, 2014 TO JANUARY 15, 2015

If you live in the CNUSD attendance area – you will need to complete a transfer request by filling out the proper form. If you are currently attending a school on a transfer, you do not need to renew that transfer to remain at that school. As long as you maintain continuous residency in the Corona-Norco Unified School District your transfer shall continue until your child receives a transfer to a new school or leaves the district. Please note, if your 6thor 8th grader is attending a transfer school, they will matriculate to the intermediate or high school based on your residence address.

If you live outside CNUSD attendance area – you will need to renew your transfer permit annually. By getting a release from your home school district, and submitting it to CNUSD District Office, Student Services, between December 1, 2014 and January 15, 2015.

Applications for School of Choice transfers (between CNUSD schools) may be obtained at the following locations:

  • CNUSD District Office 2820 Clark Ave., Norco, CA, 92860, Phone: (951) 736-5111
  • Or downloaded from the CNUSD website at www.cnusd.k12.ca.us/forms

Please visit the CNUSD website for transfer forms and additional details: http://www.cnusd.k12.ca.us/Page/741

PLEASE NOTE: Completed applications may be returned to the District Office.

Transfer requests are granted based on space availability.

Walnut: Mt. SAC Flying Team Wins Again

By Mike Taylor
Walnut – The Mt. San Antonio College Flying Team won the Top Two-Year College Team Trophy for the 24th consecutive year at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s regional competition, hosted recently by San Diego Christian College at Gillespie Airport in San Diego.

“This year marks the 24th consecutive year our team has won the top community college trophy – a truly incredible run,” said Mt. SAC Flying Team Advisor and Aeronautics, Professor Robert Rogus.

The 2014 Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) is a competition for university and community college flying teams. The regional airmeet featured flying teams from six colleges, including Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, San Jose State University, and the U.S. Air Force Academy, with a total of 66 students competing.

In addition to the Top Two-Year School Award, the Mt. SAC team won the Safety Trophy. Individually, Sebastian Plaister (San Dimas) won the instrument flight event and ranked sixth as the overall competitor at the airmeet. Jason Juarez (Ontario) took third in the message drop event.           Overall, Mt. SAC placed fifth with 43 points. The top three regional teams receive invitations to the national competition.

Over the years, the Mt. SAC Flying Team has consistently earned top honors as one of the best collegiate flying teams in the country. The team has won the Top Community College trophy at the regional competition every year since 1991. Mt. SAC has won the Top U. S.  Community College award at the national airmeet in 1984, 1985, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014.


Pomona Unified School District Recognized As Digital Education Trailblazer

By Juliette Funes


Pomona – Pomona Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent, Richard Martinez, was recently recognized as a connected_initiative_logoleader in integrating technology and innovation into the classroom during the White House’s “ConnectED to the Future” Superintendent’s Summit, where more than 100 superintendents and educators from across the country joined President Obama to discuss education, technology and the Future Ready Pledge.

Martinez was invited to participate in the day-long Nov. 19 gathering, which provided exemplary Future Ready school chiefs the opportunity to discuss digital education and learning and explore promising approaches to using technology in the classroom, an effort that PUSD has successfully led.

“I am proud that Pomona Unified has been able to stay ahead of the pack in our efforts to bring technology into the classroom and revolutionize learning, ensuring our students’ success and strengthening our rigorous and award-winning academic program,” Martinez said. “It is an honor for our District to be recognized nationally for what we have been doing to foster innovation, digital learning and student engagement through the effective use of technology.”

Martinez was among the leaders lauded by President Obama for offering children a world-class education and ensuring that technology, cutting-edge software programs and digital devices are within their reach.

“We’ve made gains in education thanks to the hard work of school leaders like you,” Obama told the superintendents. “Dropout rates are down. The graduation rate is the highest on record. More young people are earning college degrees than ever before.”

For several years, PUSD has incorporated technology into classrooms to equip students with 21st Century skills and promote an integral part of the new Common Core standards essential to flourishing in the digital world – communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

PUSD’s efforts recently earned two Golden Bell Awards from the California School Boards Association for the District’s innovative use of technology in Early Childhood Education and educational excellence at the Palomares Academy of Health Sciences.

Across the District, every PUSD classroom provides Internet access and campus-wide WiFi is expanding at all sites. Digital devices such as iPads, Chromebooks and laptops are available in PUSD’s K-12 schools, creating access, equity and excellence in educational technology. To prepare for online Common Core testing, 32 assessment-ready labs are being completed. Through community partnerships with EveryoneOn and Southeast Community Development Corp., PUSD is bridging the digital divide for PUSD families.

Additionally, PUSD offers students career pathways in computer science in partnership with Harvey Mudd College and Microsoft Corp., as well as courses in robotics through Cal Poly Pomona. Village Academy High School offers career courses in Film Studies and Computer Science/Information Technology.

“You’ve found innovative ways to reach your students and improve your schools,” President Obama said. “In your districts, I know there are just extraordinary teachers and principals who are putting everything they’ve got into making sure our kids are getting a great education.”

Obama launched the ConnectED Initiative in 2013. It is a five year program that aims to provide 99 percent of students with high-speed Internet connectivity at the classroom level.

As part of the summit, the President hosted a Future Ready blended learning pledge ceremony, where Martinez and other superintendents who exemplify outstanding school leadership and strategies formally signed the pledge on tablets, joined virtually by 1,200 educational leaders nationwide.

“By signing the Future Ready Pledge, I am reiterating my commitment to continue leading a culture of empowerment, providing families universal access to powerful digital tools to support learning and preparing our children for success in college and career,” Martinez said.




Pomona: Superintendent Martinez Selected For Summit At White House

By Juliette Funes

Pomona – Richard Martinez, Superintendent of the Pomona Unified School District (PUSD), was selected by the U.S. Department of Education as one of 100 top school leaders from across America to participate in the first-ever National Connected Superintendents Summit, held on Wed., Nov. 19, at the White House.

Martinez is among exemplary local school chiefs who will be recognized for their leadership in helping transition their districts to digital learning. This unique conference will bring together officials throughout America to share promising approaches to using technology in classrooms.

“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be invited to the White House to represent the Pomona Unified community and showcase the innovative ways our talented teachers are revolutionizing digital learning and education in the classroom,” said Martinez. “We are excited to be recognized for being trailblazers in the world of digital education and are proud to be a model of success that other schools can replicate.”

PUSD recently won two Golden Bell Awards from the California School Boards Association for its innovative use of technology in Early Childhood Education, and educational excellence at the Palomares Academy of Health Sciences. The District offers its students career pathways in computer science in partnership with Harvey Mudd College and Microsoft Corp., and courses in robotics through Cal Poly Pomona. Village Academy High School offers career courses in Film Studies and Computer Science/Information Technology.

Every PUSD classroom has Internet access District-wide.  32 Common Core/SBAC assessment-ready labs are being completed, and campus-wide Wi-Fi is expanding at all sites across the District. Mobile devices such as iPads, Chromebooks and laptops are available in PUSD’s K-12 schools, bringing educational technology into the classroom. Through community partnerships with EveryoneOn and Southeast Community Development Corp., PUSD is bridging the digital divide for District families.

“School districts across the country are helping teachers harness the power of technology to create personal learning environments for all students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. “We want to make sure every child – whether he or she is in the inner-city, in a rural community or on a Native American reservation – has access to knowledge and the chance to learn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The White House summit will be followed by a series of 12 to 15 regional summits that will focus on the digital progress made possible by local school districts.  The events will also include the unveiling of digital tools that facilitate incorporation of technology into short-term and long-range education planning.

To help spotlight the value of technology in schools, the Education Department is sponsoring a Future Ready Initiative aimed at showcasing outstanding school leadership and strategies.

“The Future Ready Initiative highlights the critical role of district leaders in setting a vision and creating the environment where educators and students access the tools, content, and expertise necessary for thriving in a connected world,” said Richard Culatta, Director of the Department’s Office of Educational Technology.

Future Ready superintendents demonstrate effective use of technology in some of the following ways:


  • Fostering and leading a culture of collaboration and digital citizenship;
  • Transitioning schools and families to high-speed connectivity;
  • Empowering educators with professional learning opportunities;
  • Accelerating progress toward universal access to quality devices;
  • Providing access to quality digital content;
  • Creating access, equity, and excellence – particularly in rural, remote, and low-income districts;
  • Offering digital tools to students and families to help them prepare for success in college;
  • Sharing best practices and mentoring other districts in the transition to digital learning.


“Technology has the potential to transform education in America, allowing students to learn more, to do so at their own pace, and to develop the knowledge and skills employers demand,” Culatta said. “And yet, fewer than 30 percent of classrooms have the broadband Internet to support today’s education technology needs.”

In June 2013, President Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative, starting with a goal of connecting 99 percent of students to next-generation connectivity within five years. Model schools and districts across the country are using technology to create personalized learning environments; technology will play an increasingly crucial role in the future.

For more on the work of the Department’s Office of Educational Technology, including resources for students, parents and educators, visittech.ed.gov.





Eastvale: Dual Immersion


Dual Immersion Students (L-R): Valeria Mena, Sebastian Bonilla, Jennifer Brillones, Kayla Morrilla, Hugo Belias, Raynaldo Gomez, Joel Jiez, Natalie Bartoalie, Zach Evans, Emily Helms, and Caleb Brackett. (Photo Courtesy: Photo By: Emily Aguilar)


Eastvale – On Nov. 3, foreign language teachers at Eleanor Roosevelt High School led a small presentation on the benefits of their Dual Immersion Program.

Dual Immersion is a curriculum that gives English-speaking students an opportunity to learn their school lessons in both in English and a selected foreign language. This begins early in elementary school, and is meant to sharpen a student’s intellect of a foreign language to prepare them for further academic successes.

Despite its numerous benefits, students tend to drop out of the Spanish program by high school. In fact, only 11 of the estimated 40 students are still in the program at ERHS. Therefore, a presentation led by AP Spanish Language teacher, Cristina Sanchez, and former AP Spanish and Spanish for Natives teacher, Brian Suchsland, was conducted in order to show 120 elementary students from Washington and Garrison Elementary Schools what to expect of the program as they continue their education.

“Our purpose is to show that even if the program is rigorous at first, it pays off in the end. Of course, learning Spanish efficiently only comes with practice, but it will help these students feel prepared in the world beyond school,” said Sanchez.

The 11 students participating in the Spanish Dual Immersion Program were present to convince other students to stay in the program. These students expressed their admiration for the program, spoke about their experiences, and also shared the interesting projects they did in class for Dia De Los Muertos.

“I think it’s important for these kids to stay in the program,” said Sebastian Bonilla, a junior who has been in the program since elementary school. “Spanish is an essential language to learn, and I believe that with this education, the students will go far in life.”

Through their admiration of the Spanish language, the students and teachers had high hopes that their words would persuade the students to stay in the program, which overall is intriguing, intellectual, and fun.


The Common Core Tests: A Student’s Perspective


Here are two simple words that nearly everyone in the United States has become increasingly familiar with: Common Core. Whatever your view is on the Common Core Standards, I ask you to be understanding of my opinion. The goal of this article is not to offend you or change your views, but to give you a different perspective.

Let me start out by providing a little bit of background information about the current status of the Common Core Initiative across our nation. According to Wikipedia.com, “The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an education initiative in the United States that details what K-12 students should know in English Language Arts and Mathematics at the end of each grade… and seeks to establish consistent education standards across the states as well as ensure that students graduating from High School are prepared to enter credit-bearing courses at two- or four-year college programs, or enter the workforce.” As of right now, 44 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia are members of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, with Texas, Virginia, Alaska, Nebraska, and Indiana opting not to adopt the initiative at a state level. Minnesota has adopted the English Language Arts standards, but not the Mathematics standards.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Common Core has been implemented in various stages in our local schools, mostly in the form of worksheets and new methods of testing that are meant to challenge the student’s critical thinking skills. For a bit of information concerning my own academic experiences, I am a straight-A student, and have been for most of my High School career. Most of the Common Core worksheets I have personally received have been in my current History class, and are not that difficult to complete. However, I have also come face-to-face with the dreaded mathematics portion of Common Core.

For my first semester math final, the test was composed of two parts: a multiple choice portion, and an open-ended worksheet. In that semester we had been learning about various forms of graphing and the quadratic formula, but on this worksheet I was asked to calculate trajectory and probability. I was absolutely not prepared for those questions, and neither were the rest of my classmates. I found out later that everyone in my math class had failed the worksheet, so much so that my teacher had to make the worksheet count for extra credit instead of something that was a big part of our grade. If she hadn’t, every single student would have failed the final exam. And this didn’t just take place at my school. I know many students from other schools in the district that were given the same worksheet as I was, and guess what? They failed, too. So how was it rational for the students to be expected to suddenly know things that had not yet been taught? And was it reasonable for our terrible scores on these unknown concepts to be a part of our grade?

Months after that, it was announced that all of the juniors at my school would be taking the Smarter Balanced Pilot Test. The SBPT was meant to be a trial run for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC, and give the schools an idea of how their students will perform on the test in the future. So, in the middle of April, all of the juniors were directed to the computer labs and told the basics of how to operate the online testing program. And when I say basics, I mean that we were told how to open the program, and that we would not be able to adjust the audio volume or close the testing program once we had begun answering questions. If we needed to adjust the volume or take a break, all of our current progress on the test would be lost. Oh, and the test proctors were not allowed to assist the students with the program in any way, even if it was a technical glitch. Basically, the students were forced to do nothing but stare at a computer screen for nearly five hours.

I plugged in my headphones and adjusted the computer’s volume before opening the program. In the English portion of the test, I was asked to do everything from annotating different texts, writing an ending of a story, and answering multiple choice questions that were based on some audio that I was supposed to listen to. However, the audio was not adjusted correctly, and the second I hit the ‘play’ button, everyone in the room turned to look at me because the volume was up way too loud. I quickly paused the audio, and tried to figure out what to do. I ended up having to guess on all of the audio-related questions, because there was no way I was going to disrupt the whole class, and there was no way for me to fix the volume without losing all of my progress. Not only was it extremely embarrassing, but also disappointing and frustrating because I knew that I couldn’t perform as well as I normally do.

After my horrifying experience with the English portion, I seriously hoped that the Mathematics portion would be closer to the testing I was already familiar with. However, those hopes were quickly dashed. The students in my classroom were asked to do everything from solving complex equations to making a graph on the computer, and only about three of the 23 questions were multiple choice; the rest were free response. Even though the kids in my classroom were at different math levels (i.e. Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, etc.), we each took a test that was almost identical to one another. We were not allowed to use any scratch paper, and were expected to solve the equations in our heads. I am able to hold my own in math class, but the questions I was asked to solve completely confused me. At the beginning of the test, I did my best to answer the questions as accurately as I could, but as time went by and the questions continued to become more and more confusing, I almost quit trying entirely.

Both tests were mentally, emotionally, and even physically draining on all of the students who took it. I was not the only student who was frustrated with the English portion, and the math portion stumped kids who are much, much better at math than I am. In all honestly, I think I failed both portions of the test. And for someone who has always pushed herself to do the best that she can and excel academically, saying those words feels like admitting defeat in the worst possible way. The test I took was like a method of torture, and it was only the “practice” version. It didn’t affect my grade at all, thank goodness. However, students in my school and beyond will be expected to take the test again next year. And at that time, it will directly affect their grades. I feel a deep sense of sympathy for those students, and hope that something – anything – will be changed to make the process easier to bear.

I hope that this has given you a glimpse of what is in store for American children who will be experiencing Common Core testing at its prime in the next few years. In the future, when your kids come home from school complaining about how draining and frustrating their day in class has been, please try to be understanding and offer whatever support you can. Because believe me, when I say that they are going to need every bit of support they can get, I really mean it.







Eastvale Goes Back To School


Eastvale – On August 11, school bells across Eastvale rang early to welcome students to a new school year. With the exclusion of elementary schools, River Heights Intermediate, Augustine Ramirez Intermediate, and Eleanor Roosevelt High School all eagerly opened their gates on the same day. For many, this school year will be a chance to join new clubs, make new friends, set new academic standards, or find the right support to succeed this school year.

“I hope this year is gonna be fun. I’m taking some pretty hard classes, but I want me and my friends to find time to hang out and maybe help each other with our classes,” giggled incoming ERHS sophomore, Keita Amane.

Aside from academic responsibilities, each school has planned out individual activities to make this year one to remember. Amongst those activities is VanderMolen Elementary’s anti-bullying assembly, which took place in July to teach children tolerance and respect for one another. River Heights and Augustine Ramirez will be encouraging their students to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, set to take place in 2015. To top it all off, students at Eleanor Roosevelt are expected to be treated to fun pep rallies, school dances, intense games, and best of all – the Magician Show – given only to Seniors.

With new classes, expected academic goals, and exciting activities on the horizon, the school year seems promising. In a school district that is well-recognized, the stakes are high, but students are ready to reach them.


Walnut: Classroom More Daunting Than Jail for Mt. Sac Grad



Graduate Joe Louis (Photo Courtesy: Mike Taylor)

Walnut – All together, Joe Louis spent a year in jail. As a gangbanger, he had been shot at, almost stabbed, and incarcerated with killers and gangsters. But nothing, he says, was scarier than his English and statistics classes at Mt. San Antonio College.

“All of that lifestyle paled in comparison to the fear I had of coming to school,” said Louis, who graduated Fri., June 13, as part of Mt. SAC’s Class of 2014 with an Associate’s Degree in Social Behavioral Sciences. “Everything I knew in gang life didn’t apply here. It was so scary because it was completely different from what I was used to,” he said.

Walking at graduation seems worlds away from where Louis began. He joined a gang in South Gate when he was 13 years old. He was in the 10th Grade for three years, and when he was supposed to graduating from high school in 2004, he was in a hotel room doing methamphetamine.

He ended up attending 11 different schools during childhood and adolescence, and would use the money his mother gave him for drugs. Within time, he became addicted. He was eventually incarcerated on gun possession charges and landed in the L.A. County Men’s Central Jail for a total of 12 months.

“Going to jail is easy because you don’t have to do anything. You just have to react,” he said. “But in college you have to perform and do what is expected of you.”

Finally, Louis got into a 12-Step addiction program and received help from a treatment center on an outpatient basis. Friends told him that Mt. SAC was a good school. He enrolled in 2006, but dropped out after two semesters only to return in 2012.

“I was afraid of all the math and English I would have to do. It seemed so daunting,” said Louis.

With help from faculty and the staff of student support programs at the college, he was able to overcome his fear, acclimate to college life, and do well in his classes.

“Talking to faculty and staff in programs like the English department and ACES support program and hearing their stories encouraged me and made me think this is possible,” he added.

Now, the 29-year old La Puente resident is on the fast track as far as his education is concerned. Less than two weeks after he graduates from Mt. SAC, Louis will begin classes at Cal State L.A. en route to a Bachelor’s Degree in Rehabilitation Services. But the train doesn’t stop there. Louis wants to go on to earn his Master’s and Doctorate degrees, and eventually wants to become a counselor in either an educational or rehabilitation setting.

“I want to help those who are where I once was to give them hope and encouragement,” he said.

Joe Louis knows the past is the past. He can’t change it, but he can change his future.

“Now, I’m doing things that I can be proud of,” he said.

Walnut: Suzanne Students Experience Greek Festival



Suzanne students dance with teacher Helen Papadopoulos during Greek Day held on April 25
(Photo Courtesy-Kelli Gile)

Walnut – OPA! Togo-wearing students at Suzanne Middle School joined in the fun of a Greek Festival on April 25. Over 350 6th Graders learned an authentic Greek dance by Math and Drama Teacher, Helen Papadopoulos. Mrs. Pop, as she is called, proudly shared her culture with the students.


“It was great to be able to share a part of my culture with my drama kids and have them help to share it with the 6th graders.  Dancing is something that started in ancient Greece and we are still doing those same dances today!” she said. Once the music began, the kids joined hands and formed circles, dancing round and round, then faster and faster.

Most of the students and staff members fashioned their outfits from pastel-colored sheets and fabric. Some wore traditional floral and ivy garlands. Advisor George Ann Cusson even sewed her Greek Day dress from a shower curtain.


After their morning dance lesson, students played Greek games and sampled Greek food. The festival also included readings of Greek literature.

Walnut: Big Wins for Mt. San Antonio College

Staff ReportsMt. San Antonio College


Walnut – For the second straight year and the third time in the last four years, the Mt. San Antonio College Forensics Team won the Phi Rho Pi national speech title at the national tournament, held April 7-12, at Casper and Northwest colleges in Denver, Colorado. This championship victory marks the ninth time Mt. SAC has won the Phi Rho Pi national title. Combined with four wins as the top community college at the four-year college national tournament, the championship marks the 13th time in the last 20 years that Mt. SAC has been recognized as the top community college in the nation.

The Mt. Sac Jazz Ensemble and vocal jazz group, Frontline, each won first place in their respective divisions at the 52nd Annual Reno Jazz Festival, held April 10-12, at the University of Nevada. This year’s win marks the first time that Frontline has taken first place at the festival, while the Jazz Ensemble has won the college division at the festival four of the last five years. Frontline competed against 12 ensembles from community colleges and universities, including Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Sacramento. The jazz band competed against 16 university and two-year college bands. The festival provides a platform for college competition as well as participation in music workshops and concerts highlighted by performances by the some of the legends of jazz.

Walnut: High School Mustang Coaches of the Year Honored


Walnut High School Girl’s Golf Coach, Cecil Woods, who has been named the San Gabriel Valley Coach of the Year (shown with Board President Cindy Ruiz). (Photo Courtesy: Kelli Gile)

BY KELLI GILEWalnut – The Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees recognized two outstanding Walnut High School varsity coaches on April 16. Golf Coach Cecil Woods and Basketball Coach Josh Cameron have received the coveted San Gabriel Valley Coach of the Year Award.


Principal Jeff Jordan introduced the Mustang coaches along with the Girls’ Golf Team during the Board Meeting. “Both of these coaches have really come a long way in terms of growing and developing some amazing programs. They’ve both had highly successful programs this year,” said Jordan. “But above the wins and losses, they’re both quality people who work really well with our student athletes; they have high expectations, and have really helped developed these athletes into being high-performers,” he added.

In just the third year of the Girls’ Golf Program at Walnut High School, the team earned its second Hacienda League Championship, Runner-Up at the 2013 CIF Championship, top team at the Regional Finals for CIF Sectionals State Qualification, third place in the Southern California State Qualification, and tied for Runner-Up in the CIF State Championships.


Walnut High Varsity Basketball Coach, Josh Cameron, was recognized by the WVUSD Board of Trustees, (shown with Athletic Director, Jerry Person, Board President, Cindy Ruiz, and Principal Jeff Jordan). (Photo Courtesy: Kelli Gile)

Josh Cameron has been the head varsity basketball coach for the past eight seasons. His team has a record this year of 22 and 6, and finished the regular season will 11 straight wins while earning the undefeated Hacienda League Championship. Cameron was also honored as Coach of the Year for the San Gabriel Valley All-Stars.

Both Diamond Bar and Walnut were in the top three teams in the State of California.

Diamond Bar: Diamond Ranch High School Alum Wins CUI Academic Showcase


Diamond Bar – Thomas Moreno, a 2012 graduate of Diamond Ranch High School, won first place in the tier-two category of Concordia University’s 11th Annual Academic Showcase. Moreno, along with partner Cy Perkins, made his presentation on “Insights into the role of interactions between VDAC1, Bcl-2, and mutant Sod1 in familial Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease.”  His faculty mentor was Dr. Lindsay Kane-Barnese.

The Academic Showcase is a campus-wide research competition that challenges students to conceive and investigate a research topic and present their findings. Students compete across disciplines and are required to complete a research paper, an academic poster and an oral presentation.

The competition provides a chance for students to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor to complete a full-scale undergraduate research project selected from any discipline. A panel of faculty, selected from across Concordia’s disciplines, serves as judges for the showcase and evaluates projects on use of literature, choice of methodology, and discussion of results and implications.

Winners receive a cash award, and some will be invited to represent Concordia by presenting their research at an inter-collegiate undergraduate research conference in this fall.

Diamond Bar: Diamond Ranch Basketball Takes CIF’s Top Academic Honors

The Diamond Ranch Girls’ Varsity Basketball team

The Diamond Ranch Girls’ Varsity Basketball team: Front Row: Kristen Sheriff, Lauren Graves, Tianna Eaton, Cayla Freeman, Sarah Krestchmar. Back Row: Assistant Coach Lisa Cheney, Emilee Dy, Kiana Wright, Brenna Collins, Catrina Freeman, Nicole Nishimura, Paulena Luk, Head Coach Mike Power


Diamond Bar – The Diamond Ranch Girls’ Varsity Basketball team has been awarded the CIF Southern Section‘s Team Academic Award.


The award honors the team with the highest grade point average (GPA) in its category (schools with more than 1,500 students enrolled). In the case of the Diamond Ranch team, the girls finished first against 278 other regional high schools. In order to be considered for this accolade the team must possess a grade point average of 3.0.


“This achievement is the pinnacle of what we strive for at Pomona Unified, athletic prowess as well as academic excellence,” said Richard Martinez, superintendent of Pomona Unified. “We’re so proud of them all.”


The team will be honored prior to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Baseball game on Tues., April 29 against the Cleveland Indians. The ceremony will take place on the field prior to the 7 p.m. game start (approximately 6:45 p.m.).


“I am so proud of our student athletes on the Girls’ Varsity Basketball team; they have made DRHS history and District history,” Suzanne Steinseifer-Ripley, principal of Diamond Ranch High School said. “They are achieving our Diamond Ranch vision of preparing first class citizens with a world class education.”


WALNUT: Aquarium on Wheels Visits Collegewood

Collegewood first graders got a close-up look at life-size inflatable great white shark during the Aquarium of the Pacific education assembly.   Photo Credit: Kelli Gile

Collegewood first graders got a close-up look at life-size inflatable great white shark during the Aquarium of the Pacific education assembly.
Photo Credit: Kelli Gile

By Kelli Gile

Walnut – Collegewood Elementary first graders experienced Pacific Journeys during an educational assembly presented by the Aquarium of the Pacific on April 11.

Students traveled the globe during the interactive presentation to learn about ocean inhabitants and their unique adaptations for survival in a watery world. Following the program, they experienced a hands-on opportunity to touch local marine life in the aquarium on wheels parked in front of the school.

“The program addresses sea life and how it connects to our world, perfect for our Common Core curriculum,” said teacher Jane Dyer-Smith.

The group of over 60 students squealed as a life-size elephant seal and 22-foot great white shark inflated right before their eyes. “The biggest great white was almost 8,000 lbs.,” said Aquarium educator, Nick Stong.

After the presentation, the youngsters went outside to the traveling aquarium for a close-up look at sea life. In groups of four, the children entered the ocean on wheels, keeping quiet so they wouldn’t scare the animals. They used two fingers to gently touch sea stars, sea anemones, sea urchins, starfish, and swell sharks kept in specialized touch tanks. It was an amazing interactive experience that the children really enjoyed.

Chino Hills: Program Allowing Young Adults To “Move Forward”


Chino Hills – The Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) has created a program called “Move Forward” to help disconnected youth adults succeed.

“Together, as a school district and as a community, we have worked in the lives of many students and their families.” said Cathy Toole, CVUSD “Move Forward” Program Coordinator. “As a result, we are aware of many disconnected young adults and we have the power to bring hope of individual success by encouraging them to “Move Forward” in their lives in order to be productive citizens within their communities, “added Toole.

The CVUSD “Move Forward” Program is 100% federally funded and provided by the Workforce Development Department (WDD) with the County of San Bernardino. The WIA and @LIKE Programs will provide the following services to eligible youth, ages 19-24:

  • Cost to complete GED and/or vocational training
  • Appropriate clothing for interview and work
  • Paid work experience, job shadowing, internship
  • Career Interest Assessments
  • Opportunity to earn the NRC (National Readiness Certificate) recognized by businesses as possessing the skills necessary for entry level employment.
  • One-on-One mentoring for a MINIMUM of 12 months
  • Life coaching
  • Goal setting
  • Assistance applying for community college, vocational training and F.A.F.S.A.
  • And many more services based on individual need

However, in order for this program to provide these services to our disconnected youth, the school district is asking for the community to help identify youth that would want to “move forward” towards success in their lives. If you are aware of young adults, ages 19-24, that have been disconnected from both employment and school for the past 90 days, please refer them to Toole via email, Cathy_Toole@chino.k12.ca.us, or phone, (909) 628-1201 Ext. 5353.

In addition to being disconnected from work and school for the past 90 days, young adults are only eligible if they are U.S. Citizens and reside within the County of San Bernardino.

If you are also aware of businesses that may be willing to invest in providing a on the job paid or unpaid work experience, please have them call Toole.  “Many of the businesses that we currently use will hire the youth at the end of the program funded paid work experience based on their performance during the training,” said Toole.

“We definitely need your partnership to continuously provide successful outcomes of these youth participants.”

CVUSD is located at 15650 Pipeline Ave., Chino Hills, CA 91709. Their phone number is (909) 628-1201.


Riverside: Governor To Meet With Local Leaders

By Staff Reports

With the release of a 2014-2015 budget proposal last week, Gov. Jerry Brown will be holding private meetings with local water, agriculture, law enforcement, education, and community leaders throughout California, including a visit in Riverside on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

governor jerry brown

Gov. Jerry Brown (Google)

The proposed budget, which according to the Governor’s ca.gov website, “proposes to pay off more than $11 billion in debt and builds a lasting rainy day fund while continuing to invest in public schools and expand health care coverage for millions,” is likely the main topic of discussion.

The meetings are closed to the press and will be held in Fresno, Bakersfield, and Riverside.

The Riverside Meeting will be held at 3 p.m. at the Riverside County Office of Education, 4th floor Superintendent’s Conference Room, 3939 13th Street, Riverside.

At the conclusion of this meeting, Governor Brown will be available to the media for questions.