Tag Archives: Walnut High School

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.

WHS Dive-in Day!

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile Walnut High School will celebrate the grand reopening and ribbon cutting of its aquatic center on April 20.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Walnut High School will celebrate the grand reopening and ribbon cutting of its aquatic center on April 20.

Walnut High School swimming pool renovation complete

 By Kelli Gile

WalnutWalnut High School is set to celebrate the completion of a $2.3 million pool renovation during a grand reopening and ribbon cutting ceremony on April 20.

The community is invited to join the 3:30 p.m. poolside event that will feature an inaugural dive-in by swim team members.

The huge construction project began in July 2015 with the removal of the outdated pool and surrounding decking.

The star of the Walnut High Aquatics competition venue is a brand new 304,603-gallon swimming pool with nine racing lanes.

Additionally, the swim complex features new decking and lighting, locker room with men’s and women’s restrooms, coach’s room, pool storage building, pool equipment building, public restrooms, aluminum bleachers with shade structure, and scoreboard.

Construction and modernization projects in the Walnut Valley Unified School District were made possible by voter approval of Bond Measures S & Y passed in November 2007.

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

Crashes Claim Walnut High Alumni

Staff Reports

WALNUT– Two former Walnut High School students have passed away this month, and one former student is in critical condition.

The first accident occurred around 2:40 p.m. on Jan. 6, in the 20300 block of East Walnut Drive, when Raymon Christopher Beltran, 22, driving a 2004 Mitsubishi Eclipse, collided with a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene.  Speed was cited as a factor in the crash.

The second accident occurred on Jan. 14 at the intersection of South Grand Avenue and East Cortez Street, in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County near West Covina.  Kristine Salinas, 20, of Walnut, was eastbound on Cortez Street when her 2014 Honda Civic was struck by a 2012 Hyundai that was being driven south on Grand Avenue by 23-year-old Peter Covert of West Covina, according to the CHP. Salinas was pronounced dead at the scene. Jazzlyn Sandoval, 20, was identified as the passenger of this vehicle and is suffering from a broken pelvic bone and a collapsed lung. Covert suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene.  Drugs and alcohol are not suspected to be factors in the collision, according to authorities.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with Salinas’ family during this time. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/qcjksdbg if you would like to make a donation

Walnut: Signing Day for Seven Mustang Athletes

Photo Courtesy: WVUSD Signing Day at Walnut High! Seven outstanding athletes signed letters of intent on Nov. 24.

Photo Courtesy: WVUSD
Signing Day at Walnut High! Seven outstanding athletes signed letters of intent on Nov. 24.

By Kelli Gile

WALNUT—Seven outstanding Walnut High athletes signed National Letters of Intent during a lunchtime ceremony on November 24.

The following seniors committed to play sports in college: Cody Dye – University of New Mexico (Baseball), Michael Moy – La Sierra University (Baseball), Brennan McKenzie – Cal Poly Pomona (Baseball), Alison Chang – Princeton University (Golf), Megan Hou – Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville (Golf), Kayla Richardson – USC (Track and Field), and Kyla Richardson – USC (Track and Field).

“Congratulations to all of our student athletes, this is a great accomplishment!” said Principal Brandon Dade.
“These student athletes will be getting money to go to college, play their sport, and get their education. It’s pretty incredible,” Athletic Director Jerry Person said. “They worked hard to get where they’re going.”

During their high school careers, the dedicated athletes earned numerous individual and team awards.

Pitching star Cody Dye signed to play baseball with University of New Mexico.

“They’re the top in their conference every year,” he said.

Photo Courtesy: WVUSD

Photo Courtesy: WVUSD

Dye received a coveted full-ride scholarship with the Division 1 School and plans to study criminology.

Last year, Boys Baseball had an impressive 18 game winning streak and took the Runner-Up Award during the CIF Southern Section Championships.

“We have a lot of good guys on the team!” said first baseman Brennan McKenzie who committed to Cal Poly Pomona. “This means a lot! I’ll get to play baseball, get an education– and hopefully get a good job.” He plans to major in kinesiology.

Teammate second baseman Michael Moy committed to play at La Sierra University in Riverside.

Golfer Alison Chang will play at Princeton University in the fall. “It’s like a dream come true,” she said after the signing ceremony. “I only could have gone this far with the support of everyone round me, including my coach, my family, and teammates.”

This season, Chang, a 4.0 GPA honor student, clinched an Individual CIF 2nd Place Award. The Girls Golf team also took 2nd Place at the CIF Championships.

“I’m just happy I get to play the sport I love and take it to the next level,” Chang added.

Megan Hou received a full-ride scholarship to play golf at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville.

“I’m very excited because the coach and the girls seem very nice,” she said.

Hou has been golfing since she was eight years old and “got serious” about the sport when she was 12. She played varsity all four years at Walnut High.

“I’m very happy I chose to go to this school. I feel like it’s a better for me academically,” she added.

Hou looks forward to taking a broad range of courses before selecting her major.

Track and field sprinters Kayla and Kyla Richardson will attend University of Southern California (USC) next fall.

“USC has always been my dream school,” Kyla said.

“It was really exciting signing. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet!” twin Kayla added.

“It’s a relief and I’m glad all my hard work paid off,” Kyla commented.

The 200-meter dash is the sisters’ favorite race and they are currently training for the 2016 season.

Last year, Kayla won two CIF Southern Section championships and advanced to the CIF State meet. She clocked the fastest times in the 100 meters (11.65), 200 (23-45), and 4oo (56.53 in the San Gabriel Valley last season. She also won CIF-SS Division 1 titles in 100 and 200, running the season’s best 11.65 in the 100 and 23.45 in the 200.

“The sky’s the limit – there will be no limit to what they can do with this opportunity!” Dade added.


Walnut: A Day Of Remembrance

Walnut High Students Mark 9/11 Tragedy

Photo Courtesy:  WVUSD Walnut High School students marked the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy with a display of nearly 3,000 American flags.

Photo Courtesy: WVUSD
Walnut High School students marked the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy with a display of nearly 3,000 American flags.

By Kelli Gile

Walnut – Walnut High School students placed nearly 3,000 American flags on the front lawn of the campus to mark the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Volunteers gathered after school on September 10 for the remembrance project. They created the 12-foot tall 9/11 and pentagon shaped display with thick layers of red, white, and blue patriotic markers.

The Teen Republicans club has organized the tribute for the past five years. This year, they were joined by members of United Medicine, UNICEF, Young Democrats, and the National Honor Society.

“I just want to be part of this because I think we should commemorate this tragedy. And it’s important to remember,” commented senior Gabriel Alfaro, the Young Democrats president.

The teens respectfully pushed the tiny flags into the grass to honor each life lost during the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“We need to memorialize this,” said senior Kai Lin.

English teacher Marissa Beemer quietly watched from the sidewalk during the hour-long project. When the 25 volunteers were finished working, she gathered the group to share her memories of 9/11.

At the time, Beemer was a senior at Fairfield University, a campus that sat on the Long Island Sound just across from the World Trade Center.

“You could see the smoke and rubble from my house.” the tearful educator described. “When the buildings fell, my school lost 14 alumni. Two of those people were my friends.

“So for me, this is very personal and I really appreciate that our students take the time to put the flags up every year,” she said.

The 9/11 flags were on display through Sun., Sept. 13.


Walnut: New Mustang in Town

Brandon Dade takes helm at Walnut High

Photo Courtesy:  WVUSD  Brandon Dade has been named the new principal at Walnut High School.

Photo Courtesy: WVUSD
Brandon Dade has been named the new principal at Walnut High School.

By Kelli Gile

WalnutWalnut Valley Unified School District is pleased to announce that Walnut High School has a new leader. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved Brandon Dade as Principal during the July 15 meeting.

“I am excited to join the Walnut High team and am looking forward to working with students, families, teachers and staff,” Dade said.

The 15-year education veteran began his new post at the 2,700-student campus in late July.  Dade plans to kick off the first day of school by greeting students as they come onto campus.

“I’m going to be out in the parking lot, waving, and trying my best to say hello,” he said.

Once school is in session, he’ll visit as many classrooms as possible.

“Not only to see the students, but also to say good morning to the teachers.  “I’ll also be out talking to kids throughout the day. I want to be out there and available to students,” he added.

Dade recently met the Mustang staff during an opening meeting.

“We just had fun!” he said, adding the 150-plus staffers got to know each other better during a cross-curricular activity.

“I also shared some funny moments from my life and a video of a police officer singing Taylor Swift’s hit song, “Shake It Off.  I want them to think of this video and laugh when they have those ‘really?’ moments during the school year,” he added.

The new principal agrees with the existing school vision developed for students.

“My vision is to make sure that when students leave here, they’re ready for any post-secondary options, because the world changes so much from year to year,” he said.

Dade said he wants students to be foundationally well rounded.

“I just want them to go out there and dream big!”

Most recently, Dade served as principal at Augustine Ramirez Intermediate School in the community of Eastvale in the Corona-Norco Unified School District. Prior to that, he was assistant principal at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, also in Eastvale.

Additionally, Dade served four years as assistant principal and three years as a high school counselor at Alhambra High School. He was a teacher at Nogales High School and an elementary teacher.

Dade was previously a Los Angeles County children’s social worker. He is also fluent in American Sign Language.

The 6’4” administrator also played professional basketball in Europe and China for two years. He continues to utilize strategies from his days on the court as an educator.

“Being able to trust that everyone has a skill or unique talent and that I can help them use those skills, makes the team better.” Dade said.

“I look at the whole staff – classified and certificated – as being on one team. And when we have success, everybody contributes to that success. You stay together as a ‘we’,” he added.

Years ago, Dade attended middle and high school in a local school district. He was surprised to learn that his 7th Grade flag football coach and freshman basketball coach, Dave Smith, is a Walnut High teacher.

“I had no clue!” Dade exclaimed.  “I told him, thank you, because you helped me get to where I am today.”

Dade’s positive outlook is evident through his warm smile.

“I think I’m blessed to be where I’m at and that’s why I tell people ‘you’ll see me smile every day, no matter what.’ Great people around me have helped and supported me,” he explained.

“It feels like all the experiences I’ve had brought me to this point to be able to give back to the community.”

Dade is married and has three children.

He succeeds Jeff Jordan who was named Administrative Director of Educational Services in June.

Congratulations Class Of 2015!

Photo Courtesy:  WVUSD DBHS valedictorians Zhen Hao Chen, Kali De Cambra, Michelle Lyu, and Daniel Shin delivered the commencement address during graduation.

Photo Courtesy: WVUSD DBHS valedictorians Zhen Hao Chen, Kali De Cambra, Michelle Lyu, and Daniel Shin delivered the commencement address during graduation.

By Kelli Gile

Diamond Bar – Nearly 1,500 Walnut Valley Unified School District graduating seniors participated in commencement ceremonies on May 28.  Families and friends filled football stadiums carrying bouquets and helium balloons ready to celebrate the milestone accomplishment.

During the 32nd commencement at Diamond Bar High, 724 graduates in purple and gold cap and gowns streamed into Holmes Memorial Stadium.

“It hasn’t really hit me that it’s over,” said Marissa Kummerman before the 7 p.m. ceremony.  “It still seems like I will go back on Monday and hang out with my friends in the drama room and sing karaoke!”

“It’s definitely an exciting day,” added Jordan Lin, 18. “But it’s also a little sad saying goodbye to friends that I’ve known since elementary school.”

“It’s an amazing feeling to be done and to have accomplished my goals,” Antonio “Noodles” Hull shared. “My favorite memory is being around this good group of friends.”

Principal Catherine Real addressed the Class of 2015 during the commencement.

“This class is an accomplished body of students with standouts in the classroom, on the field, on the stage, and at the helm, who have set their own standards in the four As – Academics, Activities, Arts, and Athletics,” said Real. “And never before has a class been so defined by service to others.”

“Wherever life leads us after high school, I pray that we remember the important lessons we learned here, like hard work, perseverance, and dedication,” said class president, Daniel Shin.  “This class is the epitome of the phrase, ‘purple pride; gold standard!’”

Congratulations to DBHS valedictorians: Kyu Seo Ahn, Athena Chen, Zhen Hao Chen, Kali De Cambra, Sophia Deng, Jeannie Huang, Mandy Hung, Rena Jiang, Leanne Kao, Rae Lasko, Ju Sun Lee, Katlyn Lee, Young Lin, Michelle Lyu, Elizabeth Pang, Jin Sung Park, Derek Peng, Christie Sandjaya, Kimi Taira, Lai Tsung Wan, Emily Wong, Jordan Wong, Je-Han Yang, and Vivian Yan.

Each stellar scholar earned a perfect 4.0 G.P.A. all four years.

13 IB diploma candidates were recognized for completing the rigorous academic program:  Congratulations to Simran Bhogal, Zhen Hao Chen, Vanessa Cheng, Matthew Chiu, Rena Jiang, Leanne Kao, Serena Lin, Young Lin, Madison McCarty, Sydney Pun, Samantha Samoyfenko, Mayur Upparapalli, and Andrew Yoo.

The two groups of grads were awarded gold medallions to signify their accomplishment.

“Class of 2015, you do not leave this place alone,” Real added.  “You go forward with a global Brahma family ready to support you and celebrate your successes and we shall always be at your side. Seniors, congratulations and much luck to you always!”

Great High Schools

DBHS, WHS medal in latest U.S. News report


 By Kelli Gile

Walnut – U.S. News & World Report has once again listed Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools among the best schools in the state and the nation in the report issued on May 12.

To determine which schools are best preparing their students for college and careers, U.S. News looked at more than 29,000 public high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Diamond Bar High received gold medal status out of 30,000 U.S. high schools, ranking 65th in the state and 348th in the nation.  Additionally, Diamond Bar’s Magnet ranking is 61st and STEM is 87th in the nation.

“Our rankings are a result of a partnership among students, staff, parents, community members, and the district office in supporting the balance provided by our foundations of the four A’s: Academics, Activities, the Arts, and Athletics,” said Principal Catherine Real.

Walnut High was awarded silver medal status and ranked 105th in the state and 542nd in the nation in the 2015 report.

“We were a little disappointed that Walnut didn’t receive the gold medal again this year,” said Principal Jeff Jordan.  “I realize that there are many who look at rankings as the total grade for a school. I am proud of the ranking we have but more importantly, I am really proud of the work that our students and staff do on a daily basis. We are student centered and I am proud that we provide positive opportunities for all students every day. In my opinion, we are focused on doing great things for kids!”

Schools were awarded medals based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college. Advanced Placement test scores or International Baccalaureate test data were also used in the rankings.

This year, 500 high schools received gold medals, 2,027 schools earned silver and 3,990 took home bronze.

“At the center of our foundations is our belief in providing equitable access to opportunities for success to ALL of our students,” Real added.


Walnut High’s Jeff Huang: A Leader On And Off Court




Walnut High School senior, Jeff Huang, has received the 2014 Jim Staunton Champions for Character Award. A banner is on display in the school office. (Photo Courtesy: Kelli Gile)

WalnutWalnut High School senior basketball player, Jeff Huang, has received the 2014 Jim Staunton Champions for Character Award. Huang was among 14 exceptional students lauded by the CIF Southern Section during a ceremony at the Queen Mary in Long Beach on Sept. 29.

The award is given to student-athletes, coaches, administrators and schools who best embrace good sportsmanship and the principals of “Pursuing Victory with Honor.” A total of 500 nominations were received for the prestigious recognition.

Student winners received a trophy, banner, letterman patch, and $750 scholarship.

Huang is a standout student who has received numerous accolades on and off the court. He has a 3.98 grade point average, and currently ranks 16th in his class of 748 students. Huang was recently named a semifinalist in the national merit scholarship program among the top 1% of students in the state. As a junior, he placed 2nd in the nation in business communication during the FBLA competition. He was also selected as the 2014 Mustang of the Year.

“Jeff is sharp, bright and social. He is one of our most amazing young people,” said Principal Jeff Jordan.

The 17–year old began playing on the Varsity basketball team as a freshman.   He displays sportsmanship, character, poise, confidence and calm under pressure.

“On the court, Jeff is the first person to help a teammate up from a fall, the first one to pat somebody on the back when they do well and the first to shake hands at the end of a contest,” said Athletic Director, Jerry Person, who nominated Huang for the award.

“He serves as a model of consistency on and off the basketball court and is a leader in everything he does,” Person added.

Huang has been president of the Class Cabinet for the past three years and an Interact Club member. Two years ago, he launched the Hoops for Hope Club to offer free sports clinics for elementary and middle school students.

“These kids can gain a lot from learning basketball. It can help you out for the rest of your life,” Huang said.

“My parents and brother have definitely been my inspiration,” he continued.

Hoops for Hope mirrors Huang’s relationship with his older brother, Brandon, who has been his longtime coach and mentor.

“He always gives me advice on how to react to certain things.” Huang said those words can be golden especially after a rough game. “He’ll say it’s just one bad game; what’s important is what you learn from it,” Huang recalled.

And after every loss, his brother is there to ask what he did poorly on so they can work on it together.

“He’s so supportive of me. Sometimes after the games he’s more excited about a win or good performance than I am. I learned everything I know from him,” said Huang.

Huang was surprised to have been recognized for sportsmanship and praised fellow team members whom he admires. He says during games he is “so focused on winning.”  But afterward, he makes sure he shakes hands and shows his appreciation.

“I’ll always go thank the people who work the scoreboard. They’re the unsung heroes,” he said.

Huang hopes to attend Stanford University or University of Pennsylvania in the fall.




Walnut High Dedicates Athletic Building



Walnut High building dedication

Walnut High celebrated Bob Barilari during a building dedication on Oct. 1. Shown: Bob Barilari’s sister and brother-in-law, Joann and Bruce Wilson; daughters Kristin and Kimberly; Board Members Helen Hall, Larry Redinger, Cindy Ruiz, Dr. Tony Torng, and Retired Principal, Dr. Ken Gunn.

WalnutWalnut High School paid tribute to long-time Mustang, Bob Barilari, during a building dedication on October 1. Current and retired staff members, coaches, alumni, family members, and district officials gathered for the afternoon ceremony.

Barilari served as the Boys’ Equipment Manager from 1970-2004. A plaque was unveiled dedicating the Boys’ Locker Room in his honor.

The special dedication celebrated Barilari’s legacy of relationships and friendships at the building where he spent over 70,000 hours of his life working and supporting thousands of people.

“Bobby started his legacy at Walnut High in 1970, and at that time, nobody would have realized the impact he would have on all of us 44 years later,” Principal Jeff Jordan said.

Barilari had many outstanding qualities, but the one that stands out the most was his ability to establish relationships with students, coaches, and teachers.

“Everyone knew Bob and Bob knew everything about everyone. Most of us that knew Bob would agree that he was caring, gentle, and big-hearted,” Jordan added.

Many of those friendships continued during retirement and through his battle with cancer. He passed away just one year ago, leaving a lasting impression at the school.

“Bobby didn’t realize it, but he was very inspirational to all of us,” said Jordan.

            “I don’t know if there’s a more prestigious honor than having a building dedicated to you on a school campus. There will be many, many people that will walk by and will stop and look at the plaque and start to tell stories and learn more about Bob as long as the school is here,” said Superintendent, Dr. Robert Taylor.

“Having someone like Bobby here on a daily basis made a real difference to students,” said Board President, Cindy Ruiz.

“Bobby was a special person,” said retired principal Dr. Ken Gunn. “No one’s going to walk through the doors of that locker room without thinking of him.”

            After the ceremony, several guests shared memories of their longtime friend. Girls’ Athletic Equipment Attendant, Connie Sanchez, worked with Barilari for over 20 years.

“He remembered everybody, remembered every game, the time, and history of the football team. He didn’t even need a pencil and paper. He was a wonderful, wonderful guy,” said Sanchez.

“He was always there for you,” said retired coach Anthony Gomez.

“He was so loving and caring. And he made friends wherever he went,” recalled teacher Mary Jo Gomez.

Three 1970’s alumni friends wouldn’t have missed the ceremony.  They got to know him as student-athletes and stayed in touch through the years.

“Bob was the man. And that building was his house,” recalled John McIntire.

“He meant a lot to us,” said Ron and Lynn Himes. “Bobby’s standout qualities were his genuineness and kindness,” they added.

“Bobby will never be forgotten here. His legacy will serve as a symbol of excellence that we can all strive for,” Jordan said.

Barilari was a huge USC fan.  As a tribute after the plaque unveiling, the WHS Band performed his favorite song- the Trojan Fight Song.


Walnut Valley: Best High Schools In America



Diamond bar seniors

Diamond Bar High School Class of 2014 Super Star Seniors Steven Gomez, Claire Huang, Jane Wu, and Vrajesh Shah. (Photo Courtesy: Kelli Gile)


Walnut – Walnut Valley Unified School District (WVUSD) is pleased to announce that both Diamond Bar and Walnut high schools have been ranked in the top 100 of all high schools in America, by the Daily Beast publication.

Diamond Bar High School ranked #54 overall in the nation, and #7 in California. They also scored in the top 100 in specific categories of Rigor, Graduation Rates, and ACT/SAT scores.

Walnut High School ranked #97 overall in the nation and #11 in California.  They also scored in the top 100 in the specific category of Rigor.

This is a remarkable achievement when considering it’s estimated that there are more than 30,000 public and private high schools across the country. It also appears that WVUSD is the only school district in California with two high schools in the top 100 in the nation.

“This is an incredible achievement for our schools and entire community,” Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor stated. “It is a reflection of the relentless commitment to student achievement on behalf of our Board of Trustees, staff, students, parents, and community.  And, to be what appears as the only school district in California with two high schools ranked in the top 100 nationally is a tribute to the “Kids First” attitude throughout our K-12 community.”

Principals Catherine Real at Diamond Bar High, and Jeff Jordan at Walnut High, received notification of the prestigious national recognition on Wed., Aug. 27.

“Our ranking is a result of our hard work with our students, our excellent staff, our supportive community, and the commitment to responsibly increase access to rigorous courses to a greater number of students,” Real said.

“I am so proud of our Walnut High staff for this accomplishment. It definitely reflects the hard work and dedication that takes place on this campus.  Our school has always taken a team approach to do what is best for our students. Both certificated and classified staffs take pride to provide great service to our students,” Jordan said.

The Daily Beast publication uses six indicators taken from school surveys to compare public high schools in the United States, with graduation and college acceptance rates weighed most heavily. Other criteria included college-level courses and exams, percentage of students with free or reduced lunch, and SAT and ACT scores.  The full results can be viewed at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/27/america-s-top-high-schools.html.



Walnut: Walnut High School Teacher Named to All-Star Roster


walnut-high-school-chemistry-teacher-garret -lim

Walnut High School chemistry teacher, Garrett Lim (Photo Courtesy: Kelli Gile)

Walnut – Exceptional teaching and a love of baseball has earned Walnut High chemistry teacher, Garrett Lim, the title of All- Star Teacher.


PEOPLE Magazine, Target Corporation, and Major League Baseball will be soon be celebrating an all-star team of educators during the 2014 All-Star Game in Minnesota. Thirty educators from around the country have been named to the top teacher roster. They will be flown to Target Field in Minneapolis to attend this year’s All-Star Game on Tues., July 15.


The teachers, who are all avid baseball fans, will be included in All-Star activities and introduced during a pre-game ceremony of the MLB All-Star Game.


“It will be exciting,” Lim said.


The “Target Presents PEOPLE All-Stars” campaign celebrates remarkable current and retired teachers who make an impact on the lives of their students and communities.


“This is an awesome tribute to Garrett as he represents all educators at the Midsummer Classic. Garrett is truly one of Walnut’s finest,” said Principal Jeff Jordan.


Former student Daniel Tsai, a 2014 graduate, nominated Lim as an All-Star Teacher.


“Daniel told me during the process and wanted to know about my story. It was an honor,” Lim said.


Nominations specified the teacher’s favorite MLB Club, a short essay including accomplishments in education, making a difference in the life of a student, school, or community and honors or awards. Fans cast their votes online at AllStarTeachers.com to select 30 winners from a pool of 90 finalists.


Lim said he became a White Sox fan when he started watching baseball in the early 1990s.


“Something drew me to Frank Thomas and how he approached the art of hitting, so much so that he became my favorite player. And since he played for the White Sox, the White Sox became my favorite team. I have been rooting for them since.”


When the team won the World Series in 2005, their third championship and first in 88 years, a co-worker scoured Chicago for copies of every newspaper and brought them back to California for Lim. He now keeps the treasures tucked away.


Lim describes being named an All-Star Teacher as a “once-in a-lifetime experience.” He hopes to meet at least one of the White Sox team members playing in the All-Star Game and plans to bring some baseballs to have them signed – just in case.


“As a teacher I try to find common ground with my students,” Lim said.


He likes to share his love of baseball and even plays guitar for his students each year. After college, Lim became a chemist and later followed his passion to teaching chemistry, which is what he’s been doing for the last eight years. He relates his experiences in the chemistry industry to the classroom to help his students better understand chemistry’s practical uses. He teaches a variety of levels of the subject, including honors, international baccalaureate and advanced placement.


He wrote a song called “Awake” for his students that explains his journey in becoming a teacher.


“It tells them to follow their heart and your career will find you,” Lim explained.


Tune in to see the All-Star Teachers live on FOX television on July 15.


Walnut: Hats Off To Class Of 2014!


Hats Off to Walnut High School Class of 2014 (Photo Courtesy: Kelly Gile)


Walnut – Nearly 1,500 Walnut Valley Unified School District graduating seniors participated in commencement ceremonies held May 29. Families and friends filled the football stadiums ready to celebrate the milestone accomplishment.

During the 45th Commencement at Walnut High School, 715 seniors in blue and white caps and gowns filed into the Ken Gunn Stadium.

“These four years went by so fast!” said Eric Dayrit, before the 7 p.m. ceremony.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet. I’ve been telling my friends that I’m feeling a mixture of nervous excitement and obliviousness!” exclaimed Plato Seto.

“I’m feeling excited. It’s like a formal last goodbye with all our friends,” said Alicia Wei.

“I had a really good experience at Walnut High. The teachers and kids are really great. And
I’m just excited to move on to the next chapter in my life,” Kathy Ho added.

Principal Jeff Jordan addressed the Class of 2014 during the ceremony. “I want to congratulate you on your high school careers and wish each one of you the very best as you move forward in your life. Remember one thing – you will always be a Mustang,” he said.

Congratulations to the WHS Valedictorians: Austin Au-Yeung, Isabela Chang, Allison Do, Max Hsu, Howard Phang, Derek Pi, Nancy Sheu, and Tanya Wanwatanakool. Each stellar scholar earned a perfect 4.0 G.P.A. all four years. They wore gold medallions to signify the accomplishment.

Student speaker, Ryan Woo, urged fellow graduates to pursue their dreams with courage and to pursue their hopes relentlessly and passionately. Daphine Ha encouraged the Class of 2014 to thank their families, friends, and teachers for unwavering support and encouragement. She also offered some sage advice for the group: if you fail the first time, find the courage to try again.

“Never let any opportunity go untaken, never let any dream go unchased, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t. Because the simple fact that you made it this far is a testament to the world that you are capable of reaching your highest potential,” said Ha.

Diamond Bar High School held commencement ceremonies in the Holmes Memorial Stadium for 768 graduating seniors.

Congratulations to the DBHS Valedictorians: Christina Chen, Tiffany Cheng, Frank Fu, Steven Gomez, Sylvia Guan, Scott Jew, Bill Kwai, Tiffany Lam, Dana Li, Jasmine Lin, Yingjie Ren, Vrajesh Shah, Akruti Singh, Savannah Tan, Jane Wu, Ashely Xie, and Jason Yu.

An afternoon commencement ceremony for Ron Hockwalt High School graduating seniors was held at the WVUSD District Education Center.

“The future starts today for you; congratulations!” said Principal Jose Annicchiarico.