Tag Archives: Walnut High School

Walnut High Teacher Goes Above And Beyond To Support Special Needs Student

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Walnut High School junior Bradley Conrad gives his teacher Kirsten Thibeault a thumbs up for a special Lego birthday gift.

Teachers are long known for dipping into their own pockets to provide classroom supplies. This Walnut High educator went a step further for one of her students.

By Kelli Gile

Walnut–Walnut High School teacher, Kirsten Thibeault, usually spends time in the evenings correcting homework and creating lesson plans for her six English courses. On Tuesday night, however, she put aside the schoolwork to sort through boxes and boxes of Lego building blocks, platforms, and characters. Thibeault was motivated to comb through her son’s long outgrown collection to offer a personalized birthday gift to one of her students. “I have this amazing special-needs student named Bradley Conrad who is in my general education College Prep English class,” she said. This is his first time in his high school career the senior has been in this type of English class. “Bradley makes everyone smile, he volunteers for everything, and his optimism is contagious,” she described.

The teen had recently written an essay about how the Thomas the Tank television show along with Lego “guys” help him, and other kids with autism, learn to navigate the world. Conrad also shared with his teacher that his 17th birthday was coming up and he wanted to start a YouTube channel about the railway series. Thibeault mentioned that her son had a ton of unused toys and would he want them? “That would be the greatest birthday present ever!” he replied. After two hours of sorting, the giving educator ended up with a huge plastic box of pirates and knights and dragons and boats along with about 200 additional tiny Lego figurines.

Thibeault made true on her promise and presented the wrapped gift on September 21. She even created a huge birthday card with Lego stickers that all his classmates signed. “I was very surprised!” Conrad said after receiving the thoughtful present. “No other teacher has ever remembered my birthday,” he commented. Conrad came up with the idea to use Lego figurines to create custom characters because they are small enough to fit inside Thomas’ cab and on the wooden train track. “One of the first customs I did was Mr. Fergus Duncan, the railway controller, and his arch nemesias, Mr. Peregrine Percival,” he proudly recalled. “I have a lot of ideas for these new pieces,” he offered.

Conrad is excited because the first period class is already helping him stay on course for plans after graduation. “It’s not just English, Ms. Thibeault is giving life lessons and helping me prep for college!” he said.

 

33 WVUSD Students Named National Merit Semifinalists

By Kelli Gile 

WalnutThirty-three Walnut Valley USD seniors from Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools have been distinguished as 2019 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

Congratulations to the following teens who have been recognized for demonstrating exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies:

Diamond Bar High: Grace Ge, Samantha Hong, Wesley Ip, Christine Lee, Ryan Li, Amy Miyahara, Isaac No, Ashley Pang, Phoebe Scaccia, Andrew Seo, Alice Wang, Yuwen Wang, Keith Wong, Ted Yarmoski, Timothy Yeh, Angela Zhang, Catherine Zhang, and Christine Zhou. 

Walnut High: Angela Cao, Jeremy Chang, Ashley Chen, Flora Jin, Karen Liu, Amy Lo, Dylan Song, Jordin Wang, Justin Wang, Christopher Yang, Michelle Yee, Tiffany Yeh, Brandon Young, Alice Zhang, and Angela Zhu.

 “We are extremely proud of these 33 seniors for receiving this nationwide honor!” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

 “This level of success is a testament to the caliber of educational experience they are receiving at our high schools each and every day.”
More than 1.6 million students entered the Merit Program as juniors by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

High scorers were designated semifinalists, representing less than 1% of the state’s graduating class.

In total, just over 16,000 talented seniors qualified nationwide.

These students will continue to compete for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships that will be offered in the spring.

The WVUSD senior scholars will advance to the finalist level upon completion of additional requirements.

They must maintain an outstanding academic record throughout their senior year, be endorsed and recommended by their principal, submit SAT scores that confirm their earlier qualifying test, and complete an essay and scholarship application detailing their leadership and community activities.

The 2019 National Merit Scholarships will be awarded beginning in April and concluding in July.

 

Walnut High Students Discover Sports Medicine Careers

 Kelli Gile

WALNUTWhen stepping into the sports medicine classroom at Walnut High School the space is filled with padded therapy tables, rolling stools, skull and skeleton displays, muscle and tissue charts, a variety of cool gadgets, and state-of-the-art medical equipment.

This is hands-on learning at its finest.

Students are actively engaged learning therapeutic treatment and intervention skills to help patients feel better, perform better, and improve movement.

ROP teacher Elva Salcido has led the advanced Therapeutic Exercise and Rehabilitation course, known as Ther-Ex, for the past year.

This month, 11 seniors will be completing the rigorous three-year career technical education (CTE) pathway.

They will proudly be wearing sports medicine sashes during commencement to mark the accomplishment.

“All these students have chosen to pursue physical therapy or other careers in the medical field,” Salcido said.

“That’s the goal of this program!”

There are currently 160 students enrolled in the CTE sports medicine pathway.

During the first year, sophomores learn about anatomy, common injuries, how to spine board and splint, and become certified in first aid and CPR.

In the second-year assessment and evaluation course they “really dig deep practicing in their evaluation and hands-on skills with patients,” Salcido said.

The teens learn to take patient histories, use observation skills to assess injuries, and utilize palpation skills while using their hands to assess.

“Medical professionals see with their hands, not as much their eyes. You can get a better feel for what’s going on beneath the skin,” she said.

The third year is where students put all the learning together.

“We have a small group of students in this class because we want to offer a personized experience for those going into this field,” Salcido said.

“They are passionate about it and want to help people in the community.”

“We’re using all the tools you’d see in any PT clinic that help athletes get back on the field or track,” said senior Edmund Garcia who has racked up about 200 hours volunteering with the school’s certified athletic trainer.

All sports medicine students are required to complete mandatory work-based learning hours.

“I like to expand the classroom learning and apply it to real-life situations,” Garcia added.

“Everything here is part of the big picture.”

Last semester, the teens had the opportunity to work with the Walnut Walkers senior citizens club.

They were able to see first-hand how the treatments and interventions helped the patients.

“It really opened their eyes and was a rewarding experience,” Salcido said.

On Thursday, the professionally-dressed group was eager to demonstrate some of their training.

“We’ve done a lot of therapeutic modalities this year– the muscle re-education techniques used to break down scar tissue and help mobilize patients,” said senior Jasmine Perez.

At one station, senior Justin Shen administered a flexibility test using a goniometer to measure range of motion on hamstrings.

“Then it’s a leg raise, stretch, foam roll, and then we test again,” he explained.

“PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretches are not passive, but moving and activating muscles into a deep stretch,” Garcia said.

During another modality, the deep muscle stimulator, teens used a power tool known as the “human jackhammer” to break down any spasm in muscles that restrict range of motion.

Jason Shen and Lawrence Liu showed the TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) medical grade machine that uses electrodes for pain relief.

“We’ll be doing it for about 10 seconds and then combine with a heat pack. If it’s too much the muscle jumps,” Shen said.

One team wrapped and taped ankles and used the Gameready icy cryotherapy machine.

“The compression will reduce swelling,” said Christian OCompo.

Perez partnered with Sunny Savarius to demonstrate how traditional Chinese medicine cupping technique can be used to break down scar tissue and increase circulation.

The forearm skin quickly puffed up and turned red as it was suctioned under the clear device.

“If you get a dark color it’s a good thing – that indicates stagnation and there will be more blood flow,” Savarius said.

Aspiring pediatrician Melissa Flores credits the sports medicine pathway and dedicated teachers for her decision to go into the medical field.

“During these past three years, I have learned and had the chance to experience so much. I know I am better prepared for college and everyday life!”

“We are the students we are today because of the passion they share for sports medicine.”

 

Diamond Bar, Walnut High Schools America’s Best!

By Kelli Gile

WALNUT – Hats off to teachers at Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools for grabbing medals in U.S. News & World Report’s Best High School rankings for 2018.

The annual list looks at nearly all public high schools in the country – more than 20,500 in all – to sift out the best with an eye on college readiness.

Diamond Bar High earned a gold medal, ranking 59th in California and 376th in the United States.  Additionally, Diamond Bar placed 146th in STEM high schools.

Walnut High earned a silver medal, ranking 111th in California and 639th in the United States.

Both standout schools have been included in the report every year since the publication began its ‘Best High Schools’ search in 2009.

U.S. News looked at overall student performance on state-required tests, high school graduation rates, and evaluated on how they prepare students for college using participation and performance data from AP and IB exams.

Diamond Bar and Walnut offer an extensive roster of IB and AP courses to provide teens with an opportunity to challenge themselves with college-level course work during high school.

This year, 85 California schools received gold medals, 439 received silver medals and 82 received bronze medals.

“I’m so proud that our premier high schools continue to be recognized on a state and national level for preparing students for college and beyond,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

 

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.

 

Walnut High Athletes Take Part in Fall Signing Day

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile

By Kelli Gile

WALNUTSix standout athletes made their college choices official during a lunchtime signing ceremony at Walnut High School.

Congratulations to the following students who received scholarships to play their sports in college: James Arakawa, University of the Pacific – Baseball; Trussi Li, University of Denver –  Golf; Cara Le, Fresno Pacific – Swimming; Stephanie Dye, York College – Soccer; Tyiona Watkins, University of Washington – Basketball; and Katherine Muzi, University of Southern California – Golf.

Families, friends, teammates and coaches gathered on November 15 as the seniors made their commitments final.

“What a great accomplishment!” said principal Brandon Dade while addressing the crowd gathered to honor the Mustang athletes.

“I want to congratulate each of you. This is something that doesn’t happen very often,” he said.

After introducing the elite group, athlete director Jerry Person gave the signal for the athletes to sign National Letters of Intent to join their choice colleges for the 2018-19 academic year.

“Go ahead, get your pens, and sign your letters!” he announced.

Star guard/forward Tyiona Watkins committed to play basketball at the University of Washington.

She is currently ranked as the No. 14 wing player in the class of 2018 by ESPN and No. 20 by Prospects Nation.

“Tyiona is an outstanding athlete and leader,” said Walnut High coach Lori Huckler.

“She works hard on and off the court to always improve as a player and a student.”

The 17-year-old said she was having a “tough choice” selecting a team, but once she stepped foot on the Huskies campus, the decision became easy.

“When I went up there, I just felt like it was home,” she said.

Her father, Charles, shared that the family has been working toward a signing day since Tyiona was just six-years-old.

“It was our dream and today is a total milestone. We have a lot to be thankful for!”

Shortstop James Arakawa will be heading to University of the Pacific in the fall.

“This means a whole lot,” the 18-year-old said after the signing ceremony.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile

Arakawa, who first picked up a baseball bat at age six, said playing with a chip on his shoulder has given him more motivation to succeed.

“My job is proving myself every day on the field,” he explained.

Arakawa’s parents, Sandra and Jamie, were also among the happy families present at the signing ceremony.

His mother attributes the prized athletic scholarship to hard work and dedication.

“We’re just so grateful!” she said. “He has passion and heart – and he’s good at it!”

Arakawa experienced the pinnacle of success when the Mustang baseball team captured the Division 3 CIF title last spring.

“All the practice and hard work definitely paid off,” he said.

“I guess I’m going to keep having that chip on my shoulder – it’s working for me!”

 

WVUSD Trustees Name New Assistant Principal at Walnut High –Kelli Gile

WVUSD

 

WALNUT, CA—The Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Daisy Carrasco-Ramos as the new assistant principal at Walnut High School.

Bringing a decade of educational experience to her new post, Dr. Carrasco-Ramos has an extensive teaching background in the area of mathematics and a commitment to meeting the needs of all students.

She spent the last three years as assistant principal at Northview High School in Covina Valley USD where she oversaw curriculum, instruction, and guidance with a focus on increasing student achievement.

Prior to that, she was a secondary math teacher, AVID elective teacher, and activities director at Century High School in the Santa Ana USD.

Dr. Carrasco-Ramos completed a doctoral degree in educational leadership at Azusa Pacific University. She earned a master’s degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills and bachelor’s degree from University of San Francisco.

“I am so blessed to be a part of the Walnut Valley family and look forward to working with the amazing team and staff at Walnut High School,” she said.

Dr. Carrasco-Ramos resides in Anaheim with her husband, Omar and two children.

 

Mustang Signing Day

Walnut High athletes make college commitments official

 By Kelli Gile

WALNUT, CA—Walnut High School celebrated seven elite athletes who have received scholarships to play college sports during a lunchtime ceremony on Wednesday.

Bella Amezcua – soccer, Jacob Garcia, Royce Labuguen, Frankie Zamarripa, and Brandon Godoy – baseball, Malia Avila – track, and Mia Dow – wrestling, signed national letters of intent as families and friends cheered them on.

“It’s exciting! Today makes all the years of hard work pay off,” said defender Bella Amezcua who committed to play soccer at Cal State University, Dominquez Hills.

Four varsity baseball teammates committed to continue playing their sport at the collegiate level during the May 4 event.

“It felt really good signing these papers today!” said pitcher Royce Labuguen who will attend Cal State University, Dominguez hills.

Labuguen said “it felt like home” when he recently toured the campus and met with the coaching staff.

“They’re really nice and welcoming.”

“This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’s a dream come true,” said first baseman Frankie Zamarripa who will attend Clarke University in Dubuque Iowa.

Zamarripa said he’s been playing since he was about seven-years-old.

“Swinging the bat and throwing the ball has always been fun for me!”

Pitcher and outfielder Jacob Garcia will attend Cal State University, Stanislaus and third-baseman Brandon Godoy will attend Cal Poly University, Pomona.

Mia Dow, the most decorated wrestler at Walnut High, took 4th place during the CIF State Championships in February. She will be playing her sport at MacMurray College in Jackson, Illinois next year.

Track and field sprinter Malia Avila committed to attend Concordia University.

“This school had everything I was looking for!” said the star athlete who competed in the 300-meter hurdles at CIF State Championships.

Walnut High Alumni Bid Farewell To Retiring Maestro

By WVUSDwvusd

Three decades of Walnut High students, parents, and staff surprised retiring music director Buddy Clements during a farewell concert last Saturday night.

Clements thought he was going to dinner with a former student and fellow director Corey Wicks.

But when a limo arrived to pick him up, all his friends would say was they were headed to a show.

As Clements entered the school’s Performing Arts Center, the audience of about 400 burst into cheers.

Guests lauded the teacher who has been at the school since 1984 for his generosity, kindness, and for giving students “gentle nudges” in the right direction.

“He’s been like our second dad,” said organizer Jennifer Santillan-David, Class of 2000, who spread word about the event through a secret Facebook page.

“I felt like I wanted to do this for him because he always taught me to think out-of-the-box,” she said. “Before he retires, he deserves to see all of us as established adults and to conduct us.”

Alumni musicians dusted off their instruments to perform several pep and holiday songs during the show.

At the finale, Clements came to the stage to conduct the grads performing his favorite song, The Magnificent Seven – in a nod to the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus.

Chris LaCoste-Crumley, a 1988 alum, got a chance to thank the band teacher for his welcoming enthusiasm for the program in the early days.

“You believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” she said.

Parents Lou and Joan Simonelli, Blue Thunder Band Boosters since 2001, have remained loyal volunteers long after their two children graduated.

“It’s a very successful program that teaches students to go do their best,” Lou Simonelli described.

“I grew up in the band,” recalled Kat Simonelli, Class of 2012, who remembered first watching her brother’s band competitions as a six-year-old.

“Dr. Clements is such a great person and so special to our family.”

During his tenure, Clements introduced his teenage musicians to several big name performers and directors including Maynard Ferguson, Bobby Shew, Ricky Lawson, Glenn Miller Band, and Elmer Bernstein.

“He raised the bar in our entire Fine Arts program,” retired grade level coordinator Scott Cassells said.

“Thank you for your guidance, inviting Glen Miller Orchestra to our stage, shared memories, and the “How to Train a Dragon” field show,” said 2013 grad Katie Takahashi who currently studies music at ULCA.

“You’re an inspiration to all of us!”

“There’s nobody like Buddy Clements,” said Wicks who was saluted for his 20 years at the school.

“It’s a real blessing in life to be able do what you love for a living. And to do it with my best friend has been amazing.”

“I’m overwhelmed and humbled. This has been a super surprise!” Clements said.

“I knew this is where I needed to spend a good chunk of my life. I’m so proud of all my students.”

Mustang Pride!

By WVUSD 

WALNUT-Walnut High showed its blue and gold school spirit during a Parade of Champions to celebrate winning athletes on December 6.

Several fall sports teams secured league titles including Girls Cross Country, Golf, Tennis, and Boys Water Polo. Additionally, Girls Golf won the CIF state championship in November.

The Blue Thunder marching band, drumline, color guard, and pep squad led the line up during the mile-long route around the campus.

Students and staff cheered and clapped as the parade passed by their classrooms. wvusd-web

“We want to celebrate loud, hard, and often – and today ASB and the band led Walnut High to do just that!” said assistant principal Petria Gonzales.

Flags honor 9/11 victims at Walnut High

9-11-web

Walnut High students display nearly 3,000 flags to mark the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Photo courtesy: WVUSD

WVUSD

WALNUT, CA- About a dozen Walnut High students are making sure the school community pauses to remember the 9/11 tragedy this weekend.

Volunteers gathered after school on September 9 to place nearly 3,000 American flags on the front lawn to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

They created the 12-foot-tall 911 and pentagon shaped display with the red, white, and blue patriotic markers.

This year, the United Med club spearheaded the 6th-annual project.

“I felt it was important to continue the tradition of the display,” said senior Evelyn Tantry.

For about an hour, the teens carefully pushed the tiny flags into the grass to honor each life lost during September 11, 2001 attacks.

Several cars honked as drivers gave a “thumbs up” sign in appreciation as they drove past the school.

“I want people to remember that innocent people were murdered,” said junior Derek Wang who was just one at the time of the tragedy.

The flags will be on display at the campus located at 400 N. Pierre Road in Walnut through Sunday.

“We want the community to be able to enjoy it,” said social studies teacher Brett Landis.

WVUSD Welcomes Glenn Miller

By WVUSD

Walnut High School will welcome the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra on Saturday, September 17.

Originally formed by Glenn Miller in 1938 during the Swing era of the 1930s and 40s, they enjoyed a matchless string of hits including their signature “Moonlight Serenade,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “A String of Pearls,” “Tuxedo Junction,” and of course “In The Mood.”

Performances are slated for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.  Tickets are $26.

A barbecue dinner will be offered at 5 p.m. for $11.

Proceeds from this event will benefit the WHS Instrumental Music Department.

Tickets may be purchased at:  http://www.walnuths.net/apps/news/article/600785

Walnut High School is located at 400 N. Pierre Road in Walnut.

 

National Merit Winners In Walnut Valley

12 seniors named National Merit winners

By Kelli Gile

Diamond Bar – Two distinguished 2016 Diamond Bar High School grads have joined the ranks as National Merit scholarship winners. Angela Song (Pomona College – History) and Melody C. Guo (Northwestern University – Science/Research) are among over 800 additional winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by colleges and universities announced on July 18.

These Merit Scholar designees join approximately 3,000 other college-sponsored winners who were selected in June. College-sponsored awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years for undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship. The final group of winners brings the number of 2016 National Merit Scholars to more than 7,300.

This year, a total of 12 Diamond Bar and Walnut High School seniors were named National Merit winners for demonstrating exceptional academic ability and potential for success in college studies. Congratulations again to previous 2016 DBHS and WHS winners: Crystal Tin-Tin Chang, Eric Chen, Charlene L. Hsu, Betty Jung Hyun Kim, Letitia So, Jonathan Sun, Miriam Hsuan-Te Sun, Margaret Wang, Dalton Trinh, and Angel Wong.

 

Welcome Back to Walnut Valley!

Reuben Jones returns as new DBHS principal, Petria Gonzales named WHS assistant principal

By Kelli Gile

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile The WVUSD Board of Trustees unanimously approved Reuben Jones as the new principal at Diamond Bar High School.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
The WVUSD Board of Trustees unanimously approved Reuben Jones as the new principal at Diamond Bar High School.

Walnut–Two veteran educators will soon be coming home to the Walnut Valley Unified School District: Reuben Jones and Petria Gonzales.   

Reuben Jones has been named the new principal at Diamond Bar High School.

He brings 20 years of educational experience to his post as the 5th Brahma leader in the school’s 34-year history.

Jones will return to DBHS after being first hired in 1996 as a social science teacher and basketball coach.

He later served for a decade as instructional dean and grade level coordinator at Walnut High School. He also worked as summer school principal for four years.

Prior to working at Walnut High, he was an Academic Counselor at Cal Poly Pomona from 1999-2003.

For the past three years, Jones was assistant principal at Centennial High School in the Corona-Norco Unified School District, where he oversaw the International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, Science, and Career Technical Education programs.

Jones officially began duties on July 1. During the past several weeks, he spent time meeting with staff members and immersing himself school life.

He expressed hope in maintaining the school’s tradition of excellence and credits its stellar success to the caliber of teaching and wide-range of opportunities offered to the nearly 3,000 students.

“I’m thrilled to be coming back to Walnut Valley as principal of Diamond Bar High School,” said the school chief.

“My excitement to return largely stems from the rich history and meaningful traditions of Brahma culture. We have a legacy of strong relationships, teamwork, and pride in the job we do for our students!”

Jones received his bachelor’s degree at Cal Poly Pomona, master’s degree at Cal State Long Beach, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at University of La Verne.

He lives in Walnut with his wife Elisabeth, a Collegewood Elementary teacher, and three children.

Interim principals Denis Paul and Guy Roubian led the school for nine months after the departure of Catherine Real last August.

 

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile The Board of Trustees appointed Petria Gonzales as the new assistant principal at Walnut High School.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
The Board of Trustees appointed Petria Gonzales as the new assistant principal at Walnut High School.

The Board of Trustees also approved the appointment of Petria Gonzales as assistant principal at Walnut High School on June 15.

Gonzales, a WHS graduate, is very familiar with both the school and community.

She began her career in education 15 years ago as a Language arts teacher.

From there, she returned to Walnut Valley as director of activities for six years at Diamond Bar High School.

For the past five years, she served as assistant principal at Santiago High School in the CNUSD.

Gonzales holds a bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly Pomona and a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University. Her husband, Rich, is a DBHS grade level coordinator.

When she graduated from WHS 20 years ago, Gonzales (then Petria Biller), delivered a welcome address during the commencement ceremony, thanking the Mustang faculty for their dedication to education.

In fact, she predicted that a few members of the Class of 1996 “would be after your jobs!”

Twenty years later, Gonzales is proudly joining the staff as a key administrator.

“I look forward to working with the students, teachers, staff and community, continuing the tradition of excellence and coming home to my alma mater, Walnut High School,” she said.

Gonzales began her new assignment on July 1.

 

 

Turn the Tassels!

Walnut High celebrates 2016 grads

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile Walnut High 2016 graduates enjoy speeches during ceremony.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Walnut High 2016 graduates enjoy speeches during ceremony.

 

Walnut— Seniors have been waiting for this day for months – graduation. After completing classes and final exams, members of the Class of 2016 proudly donned caps and gowns marking their final chapter in high school.

Nearly 1,400 Walnut Valley Unified School District seniors participated in graduation ceremonies on May 26.

At Walnut High School’s 47th commencement, 654 graduates filed into the Ken Gunn Stadium hoping to get a glimpse of families and friends gathered in the bleachers.

The band played the traditional Pomp and Circumstance march during the processional as each graduate took their place on the field.

“I’m excited, but a little nervous,” exclaimed Marissa Amaya, 17, moments before the ceremony as the seniors congregated in the gymnasium.

“It hasn’t really hit me that I’m leaving, but it’s starting to,” added Austin Si, one of the school’s 15 valedictorians graduating with highest honors. “Walking in tonight and seeing all the blue and white is overwhelming!”

The teens soon settled into their seats ready to listen to parting words from school leaders and peers, before receiving the pivotal symbol of all their hard work – a diploma.

“Having had the opportunity to watch and work with many of you, I can confidently say that you have experienced many positive opportunities to shape a personal pathway that will open many doors in your futures,” said Principal Brandon Dade.

“Dream big Mustangs and do not limit yourselves to one way of thinking, acting, or achieving,” said student speaker Leah Rickard. “This world is gaining 654 amazingly bright and intelligent individuals!”

Senior Grade Level Coordinator Danny Daher advised the class to find the courage to look for opportunities, even during times of struggle.

“Be ambitious, be optimistic, be relevant, be proud, be Mustangs,” he said.

Senior Doris Li shared that there are no set ways to achieve success during her message.

Uncertainty exists so that we can stumble, take risks, and fall only to get back up again to find our own path in life,” she said.

“Dream big, but be flexible and be prepared for the plot twists along the way!”

The Class of 2016 marked the final moments of their time together with one last Mustang spell out, then turned their tassels and celebrated as fireworks filled the sky.

“Never ever forget where it started – right here at Walnut High, the place we can always call home no matter how far we get with our dreams,” Li added.

Fifty-three International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma candidates completed the rigorous academic program at Walnut High. The school also celebrated its first class of the IB Career Related/Project Lead The Way Biomedical Sciences Program, and with 46 graduates is one of the largest in the state.

Congratulations to Walnut High Valedictorians: Karim Bourenane, Alison Chang, Michelle Chang, Jonathan Chao, Benjamin Hang, Katherine Lee, Wei Tse Li, Shiyao Liang, Albert Loekman, Yuze Ma, Austin Si, Katie Sun, Derek Wan, Benson Yuan, and Maxwell Zhu.

IB Certificate Candidates: Anthony Aguilar, Maryam Ali, Joy Junyi Cai, Sylvia Cai, Biana Camacho, Lydia Cazares, Armana Chadha, Megan Chan, Adelynne Chang, Crystal Chang, En Chang, Michelle Chang, Natalie Chang, Abinav Teja Chilukuri, Celine Chong, Eric Chong, Anita Chuen, Morgan Gomez, Tiffany Gomez, Joseph Gunawan, Sara Hassan, Sriteja Kankanala, Kevin Kao, Tiffany Kao, Seo Young Kim, Brian Ko, Pei Ting Kuo, Katherine Lee, Alvin Li, Doris Li, Young Li, Nadine Lin, Giuliana Liu, Umanga Liyanage, Cindy Lo, Leroy Lu, Nikita Patel, Salil Patel, Raven Sanqui, Isabelle Thoreau, Justin Tjoa, Amy Trinh, Dalton Trinh, Vincent Tsai, Danny Wang, Tzu Ting Wei, Angel Wong, Kelsey Yim, Daniel Yoon, Samantha Yu, Yolanda Yu, Laura Zhang, and Maxwell Zhu.

IB Career-Related Candidates: Manuel Oscar Almacen, Sean Aquino, Pamella Asnata, Giselle Balanza, Tiffany Casarez, Hui Yi Chan, Thomas Chang, Fiona Cheuk, Kate De Los Santos, Mardy Lindt Fionne Diaz, Ethan Fong, Matthew Foung, Kaitlyn Fujii, Raphael Garcia, Isiah Gawaran, Ibaa Hafeez, JinRun Han, Jedidiah Hu, Daniel Kong, Sai Hao Kou, Seigmund Lai, Stephanie Lau, Dennis Lee, Carol Li, Wei Tse Li, Yun-Chin Lin, Jonas Liptak, Jude Mendoza, Derrick Moon, Nicolas Morales, Michael, Neoh, Petre Quintua, Jonathan Rodriguez, Nikita Rubio, Fernanda Sandoval, Elaine Sun, Maria Chel Sy, Jeffrey Tan, Edmund Tang, Isaac Tang, Sean Tang Wang, Emilio Triguero, Xinyu Wang, Nicholas Wen, Debby Wong, Kristen Yoo, and Gina Zhuo.

At Diamond Bar High School, 739 Brahmas participated in graduation ceremonies at the Walt Holmes Stadium. Congratulations to Valedictorians: Lauren Burdsall, Crystal Chang, Jennifer Chang, Eric Chen, Jeff Chow, Katherine Desmond, Radu Firtat, Ran Gu, Melody Guo, Charlene Hsu, Forest Hu, Ellis Jang, Jung Hyun Kim, Samantha Ku, Andrew Lee, Joshua Lee, Shana Roan, Hsuan-Te Sun, Jonathan Sun,Kathy Tong, Pansy Tseng, Jason Tsoi, Margaret Wang, Ava Wu, Jennifer Wu, Brady Yu, and Alana Zhang. IB Diploma Candidates: Kayley Marie Butler, Eunice Chung, Meanna G. Gray, Karina Kuo, Angela Song, Sara Tran, Song Quan Wang, Ava Yih Shan Wu, and Shunxing Zhang.

Walnut Valley Schools Named ‘America’s Most Challenging Schools’

By Kelli Gile

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools are ranked among America’s Most Challenging High Schools by The Washington Post. Shown: 2016 DBHS Super Star Seniors Garrett Masuda, Meanna Gray, Miriam Sun, and Jeff Chow.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools are ranked among America’s Most Challenging High Schools by The Washington Post. Shown: 2016 DBHS Super Star Seniors Garrett Masuda, Meanna Gray, Miriam Sun, and Jeff Chow.

 

Walnut- Walnut Valley Unified School District is pleased to announce that Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools have made the listing of “2016 America’s Most Challenging High Schools” by The Washington Post.

“Our exemplary high schools continue to be recognized on a national stage for preparing students to be academically competitive for the next chapter in their lives,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor. “We are honored that Diamond Bar and Walnut have been named among the nation’s most rigorous high schools!”

Diamond Bar scored 59th in California and 537th in the nation and Walnut scored 63rd in California and 568th in the nation.

Schools are ranked through the College Index formula, invented by education columnist Jay Mathews, which is a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests given at a school in 2015 divided by the number of graduates.

Schools with ratios of 1.00 or above made the list, with approximately 22,000 U.S public high schools included this year.

Walnut High Student Killed

By Racine Guajardo

WalnutWalnut High School Student, Fernando Basurto, 18, was shot and killed on Thursday, May 19.

The Walnut/Diamond Bar Station responded to the 18400 Block of Desidia Street, Rowland Heights for a “gunshot victim” call. Immediately, they were directed to the alley, where the victim had been shot, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Basurto was treated by paramedics but pronounced dead at the scene.

After the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide detectives conducted an investigation, they’ve learned that the victim was shot at approximately 11:41 p.m. Witnesses recalled seeing two acquaintances with the victim hanging out in the garage of an apartment complex, when two Hispanics in their 20’s had confronted them. The verbal confrontation led to a physical altercation, which at some point a gun was pulled out and the suspect allegedly started firing at all 3 victims. The Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Basurto was the only one hit, in the upper torso.

The two suspects immediately fled east from the alley and out of view after the shooting. The other two victims were not injured, and it is unknown whether this incident was gang related.

Walnut High School announced that they have mobilized a crisis team who are available on an ongoing basis, including Grade Level Counselors, school psychologists, and direct personnel.

There is no additional information available at this point, but this is an ongoing investigation.

Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), or texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.

 

Mustang Athletes Commit To Play College Sports

Dwight Ramos scores full-ride scholarship to CSUF

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile Walnut High student athletes, Eli Goichenberg, Hassan Nasir, Dwight Ramos, Micah Maes, Quinn Cooper, and Christian Longoria are moving on to play collegiate sports. Shown with Principal Brandon Dade and Athletic Director Jerry Person.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Walnut High student athletes, Eli Goichenberg, Hassan Nasir, Dwight Ramos, Micah Maes, Quinn Cooper, and Christian Longoria are moving on to play collegiate sports. Shown with Principal Brandon Dade and Athletic Director Jerry Person.

By Kelli Gile

Walnut–Walnut High School celebrated six athletes who have committed to play college sports during a lunchtime rally with proud coaches, families and friends.

Seniors Dwight Ramos (basketball), Eli Goichenberg (football), Micah Maes (football), Hassan Nasir (football), Quinn Cooper (baseball), and Christian Longoria (baseball), took to the amphitheater stage to mark the milestone moment.

“Most kids can only dream about this opportunity, and you’re going to live it!” said Principal Brandon Dade.

Guard Dwight Ramos is one step closer to realizing his dream of playing professional sports.

The 17-year-old basketball star signed a national letter of intent to play at Cal State University, Fullerton on April 29.

The 6-foot-five-inch player received a prestigious full-ride scholarship to the Division 1 school, where he plans to study business.

“It feels really good,” he said at the signing ceremony.  “I worked really hard to get here!”

Dwight’s been a part of varsity basketball team for the past two years, most recently being named an MVP, winning 1st Team All-Hacienda League, and All CIF First Team awards.

The standout Walnut team has made it to the CIF quarterfinals for the past two years.

“Dwight’s probably one of the most talented players to come to Walnut,” said coach Joe Khouzam. “He put in the work and did whatever we needed him to do this year,” he added.

“I’m sad to see him leave, but happy for him!”

“Dwight’s got the drive. I see him all the time working out and doing the extra beyond practice to improve his skills,” said Athletic Director Jerry Person. “He’s got a three-point shot that won’t quit. You name it, he’s got it!”

Several student athletes received assistance to get on a team and play for a college. Eli Goichenberg received a financial package to play football at Monmouth College in Illinois in the fall.

 

“In the time-span of an hour it rained, snowed, was over 80-degrees, and extreme wind,” he said about his visit to the school.

“It was wild! I’m going to wear a tank top under a shirt, under a jacket, under a North Face jacket!”

Micah Maes committed to play football at Sewanee University in Tennessee, receiving a financial package arranged through the athletic department.

Hassan Nasir will also play football at nearby Pitzer College in Pomona, receiving a financial package arranged through the athletic department.

Baseball players Quinn Cooper, outfield/DH, is Cal Poly Pomona bound and pitcher Christian Longoria is headed to Azusa Pacific University

“It’s important to know that even though they went to Division III schools, two turned down offers to play, and one a full-ride scholarship, to Division I schools. But, because they’re academically inclined, they made great choices for their future,” said head football coach Alfredo Silva.

 

Future Scientists!

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile  Forty-Walnut High seniors were presented with white coats and honor medallions at the completion of the IBCC-PLTW program.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Forty-Walnut High seniors were presented with white coats and honor medallions at the completion of the IBCC-PLTW program.

First WHS graduating class receives white coats during ceremony

Walnut—Forty-eight Walnut High School (WHS) seniors are charting a course to careers in the medical field.

The teens were presented with white lab coats and honor medallions during a ceremony marking the completion of the International Baccalaureate Career-Related/Project Lead the Way (IBCC-PLTW) Biomedical Sciences Program on April 26.

“We’re very proud of their accomplishments!” said Instructional Dean Barbie Cole. “These amazing students displayed knowledge, ability, and aptitude in the area of biomedical science.”

Walnut High is the only school in the state to offer both IBCC with the PLTW Biomedical Sciences program as its career-related component.

Students signed up for the new program three years ago as sophomores interested in becoming pharmacists, family doctors, and neuroscientists and quickly became immersed in building DNA double-helix models.

Teachers facilitated the inquiry-based PLTW classes while students tackled real world “CSI” style investigative and collaborative work.

In addition, they explored different medical intervention strategies of the past, present, and future including the invention of prosthetic limbs and personalized medicine for patients.

“The engaging curriculum, student enthusiasm, and a special sense of community have allowed this program to be successful,” said teacher Chiara Morgan.

To earn personalized lab coats, students were required to complete four biomedical science courses and two IB Diploma courses, a special Approaches to Learning course, numerous service projects, and a written reflective project.

“This is definitely a very exciting day!” said senior Kaitlyn Fujii, who credits the PLTW program’s labs and practical applications for solidifying her interest in psychology.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the classes and coursework. It helped me find a direction.”

Students researched numerous careers, logging education requirements and job duties in journals during the course of the program.

“It gave me a taste of every type of career in the medical field,” said classmate Tiffany Casarez. “Now I’m going to study biology and hope to become a pediatrician.”

She believes the pre-med class benefitted from more hands-on learning than other graduating seniors. “We’ve already experienced half the labs from the first two years in college.”

“I felt like this was an amazing program for someone like me who wanted to go into the medical field,” said Emilio Triguero, age 17.

“The hands-on training, labs, and volunteer experience really made it possible for me to utilize my dream of becoming a doctor.”

While volunteering in 2nd floor surgery at Inter-Community Hospital in Covina, Triguero gained “front row” experiences working alongside doctors and nurses.

“I thought I’d just be cleaning trash cans (which I did), but they also taught me how to do vitals and about hierarchy in the workplace.”

He’ll be studying at UC Riverside in the fall. “When I applied for colleges, they asked if I had contacts – and I did!”

Walnut High became one of only 32 IBCC schools in the country and four in the state after completing an extensive application and authorization process in 2013.

“Our students have done some pretty remarkable things in these classes,” Cole added.

Walnut High Unveils New Swimming Pool

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile Senior Derek Wan dives into the clear blue during the grand reopening at Walnut High.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Senior Derek Wan dives into the clear blue during the grand reopening at Walnut High.

By Kelli Gile

Walnut- Community members caught their first glimpse of the renovated Aquatics Center at Walnut High School during a poolside event on April 20.

“It’s a great day to celebrate the opening of our new pool!” said Principal Brandon Dade as he welcomed parents, students, staff, and officials gathered for the celebration.

The grand reopening and ribbon cutting ceremony marked the completion of the $2.3 million construction project.

The nine-lane competition venue and upgraded facilities were made possible by voter approval of Bond Measures S & Y passed in November 2007.

“I want to thank the parents, because without them, we would not have this today,” said Board President Helen Hall.  “Our parents really care in Walnut Valley!”

The construction began in July 2015 with the removal of the outdated swimming pool and surrounding decking.

For the past several months Mustang swim and water polo teams have been practicing and competing at Diamond Bar High.

“I’m appreciative of our coaches and administration that have been so flexible during this project,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

Walnut students and staff were excited to host their first competition in the new 304,603-gallon swimming pool immediately following the ceremony.

“We’ve had a great team for several years and now we have a pool that represents the quality of our program,” said head swim coach, Ed Gautreau. “I’m happy that we can call this our home again!”

“The athletic department would like to thank everyone that was instrumental in the modernization of our aquatic facility,” said director Jerry Person.

The swim complex features new decking and lighting, locker rooms with men’s and women’s restrooms, coach’s room, pool storage building, mechanical room, pool equipment building and supplies, public restrooms, galvanized iron fencing, aluminum bleachers with shade structure, and scoreboard.

After the ribbon cutting, swim team and water polo members took to the blocks for their first official dive.

Senior swim captain Leah Rickard said joining the swim team four years ago was one of the best decisions of her life.

“Sports programs teach respect, self motivation, time management, and how to be a team player,” she said.

“It is on this deck that I’ve not only grown as a swimmer, but also as a person and a leader.”

The new aquatics center will primarily be used for the school’s swim program and physical education classes, but will soon be open to the community for recreational activities during the summer as well.

“Walnut High School Aquatics has a strong tradition that will be carried on for many years to come,” Person added.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile Walnut High swim team and water polo members celebrate at the opening of the new aquatics center. Shown: Erin De Anda, Emily Honng, Leah Rickard, Jarren Peng, Garrett Gautreau, Jerry Chen, and Derek Wan.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Walnut High swim team and water polo members celebrate at the opening of the new aquatics center. Shown: Erin De Anda, Emily Honng, Leah Rickard, Jarren Peng, Garrett Gautreau, Jerry Chen, and Derek Wan.