High School, College Graduations in Sync
Getting a “head start” on college is a strong desire for Academy of the Canyons students. This year, two AOC students were actually college graduates before they were high school graduates! On June 4, Dean Fisher and Brandon Williams graduated from College of the Canyons, receiving their A.A. degrees, and the following morning they received their high school diplomas from AOC. This is a huge accomplishment requiring a great deal of determination, dedication and hard work. Both students maintained excellent grades in both their high school and college classes and were recognized for maintaining above a 4.0 Grade Point Average. Brandon will attend Brigham Young University and major in Electrical Engineering. Dean will attend UC Berkeley and major in Mathematics.
Studio A Jazz Band One of Best in Southern California
The Studio A Jazz Band at West Ranch High School has been selected by California Alliance for Jazz as one of the 12 best in Southern California. With the title, the group was invited to play in a showcase concert with other selected bands in Long Beach last weekend. The Studio A band, West Ranch’s top jazz band, has been competing in the most difficult Heavy Division, where it has won a number of honors throughout the competition season.
La Mesa Team Ranks Third in Stock Market Game
Two students from La Mesa Junior High School have parlayed their knowledge of the stock market to a third place finish in the Los Angeles Region for this spring’s Stock Market Game. Andrew Valle and Joshua Juarez increased their virtual initial “investment” of $100,000 to $130,576.58, an increase of 54.4474 percent over the Standard & Poor’s Index for the same period. The two were presented with their award at formal ceremonies at Bank of America Center in Los Angeles.
Saugus High Junior Accepted Into Prestigious Summer Program
Saugus High School junior Michael Howard is spending part of his summer at the University of Notre Dame as one of only 20 students from across the nation to participate in the Summer Scholars Literature Program. The program will challenge students with questions related to community and social justice through reading, personal writing exercises, discussion and volunteer service projects with local groups working with the aged and the infirm. Howard hopes eventually to attend Notre Dame, majoring in either architecture or music.
Canyon Singers Get Inside View of Choral Works
Composer Eric Whitacre gave choral students from Canyon High School a chance to learn more about the music they are singing when he visited Director Mary Purdy’s Concert Choir before the group’s annual spring concert. “Cloudburst,” one of Whitacre’s most famous choral works, was written when Whitacre was just 22 years old and influenced by the poetry of Octavio Paz. Whitacre wrote the choral work for eight part choir, percussion instruments and handbells. It features tone clusters and body percussion that recreate the cloudburst. The a capella “Sleep,” another of Whitacre’s famous choral works, is filled with lush chords and harmonies with lyrics by local poet Charles Anthony Silvestri. The Canyon Choir featured both works in its annual end-of-the-year concert.
Bowman Students Get Head Start in College
More than 150 students at Bowman High School took advantage of an opportunity to learn about College of the Canyon’s First Year Experience (FYE) Program. The special program for college freshmen was developed by the California Partnership on Achieving Success (Cal-PASS). Program benefits include priority enrollment in two classes for fall–peer tutoring and mentorship, smaller class sizes, yearlong faculty mentorship, academic and career guidance and inclusion in a summer orientation program. The program is expected to give a number of Bowman students a head start in college.
Student Task Force Honors Writers, Artists
More than 90 students from La Mesa, Rancho Pico and Rio Norte junior high schools and Canyon and Valencia high schools were honored at the annual awards night sponsored by the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force. The students entered their work in the “Human Rights for All Children” writing and art contest, and the top winners’ work was combined into a traveling art exhibit on children’s rights which visited local schools.
Student “Heroes” Honored
The Hero of the Week Recognition Ceremony brought more than 100 guests to honor 17 local youth who were selected by school administrators for overcoming obstacles in their lives. Throughout the year, the Anti-Gang Task Force shares their stories of student heroes in The Signal newspaper in an effort to encourage their progress and inspire other youth to make positive choices and to persevere. The youth were presented with commendations from the City, Congressman Buck McKeon, Senators George Runner and Tony Strickland, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, and gift certificates from local businesses.
Riverhawks Salute the Dodgers
Students in Rachel Sanchez’ and Nancy Phillips’ classes at Rio Norte Junior High School were treated to a Dodger Game, thanks to support from the school’s Parent/Teacher/Student Association. The classes were seated in the All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion, where they watched the Dodgers slam the Pirates, 6-2. One student even caught a baseball during infield practice.
Open House Displays Civil War Era
Students at Placerita Junior High were happy to show off what they learned in their studies of the Civil War during the school’s Open House. Social studies teacher Tim LeMaster designed his room to creatively display student work depicting the era. There were dioramas with battle scenes, maps that lit up where major events occurred, PowerPoint and video presentations and display boards with pictures and reports. There was plenty of authentic Civil War food, encampments on the grass and students dressed as Civil War soldiers. Students reviewed the work of their peers and remarked that they really learned something unique about the time period.
‘Time to Dance’ Team a Special Success
Two students at Valencia High School, senior Rebecca Herd and junior Sasha Spivak, started a dance team for students with special needs called the “Time to Dance” Spirit Team, also known as TTD. They wanted to give students with special needs the opportunity to perform and be an important part of their school just as their general education peers have the opportunity to do. TTD has grown from seven dancers in the fall 2009 school semester to 17 dancers this spring. The team practiced once a week for an hour and a half, learning dances, practicing technique and, most importantly, making new friends. TTD’s accomplishments for the year have included hosting a holiday performance, performing at the school-wide talent show, and most recently performing at the Valencia Dance Team Show. They close out the 2009-10 school year with their own Spring Performance. Each member has received personalized TTD spirit wear that they can proudly wear around school. The dancers have enjoyed getting to know each other over the year and performing for family and friends as well as other students. The team even has its own Web site at www.vhstimetodance.webs.com.
English Learner Parents Celebrate Year’s End
Parents of English Language Learners (PELL) at Placerita Junior High School celebrated the end of the 2009-10 school year with a potluck dinner and preview of special events planned to help their children celebrate completion of a successful school year. Counselor Christina Noriega reviewed end-of-year events, and teacher Christine Parr distributed award certificates and Barnes & Noble gift cards to ELL students who earned a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. More than 100 students, staff and parents attended the gathering.
Women’s Groups Recognize Valencia Senior
Chelsea Itaya, a senior at Valencia High School, was recently recognized by both Soroptimist International and Zonta Club of the SCV. Both organizations are made up of professional women who are working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women. The Soroptimists awarded Chelsea with the Violet Richardson Award, which was created to recognize young women for their leadership, community service and for their awareness of national and international issues facing women. Sue Peterson, a Valencia science teacher and Zonta member, recommended Chelsea for Zonta’s Young Women in Public Affairs Award, for pre-university women committed to leadership in public policy, government and volunteer organizations. Chelsea will represent both organizations at district level competitions. Chelsea’s future plans include a career in politics or advocacy.
Fire, EMR Students Advance Toward Careers
Twenty-six students are on their way to careers in public safety following completion of beginning and advanced Fire Explorer and Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) classes offered by the Hart District’s Regional Occupational Program. Eight cadets from across the Hart District completed the Beginning Fire Explorer class and four were graduated from the Advanced class. Fourteen more students completed the EMR class. Best Notebook awards were given to John Orr and Johnathan Rea, Beginning Fire Explorer; Jesus Reyna, Advanced Fire; Vanessa Salazar and Kevin Stickles, EMR. Outstanding Cadet awards went to Reid Trepp, Beginning Fire; and Dan McCutcheon, Advanced Fire. Most Inspirational Cadet is Sean Rodino.
La Mesa’s ELD Program Celebrates Teamwork
The English Language Development program at La Mesa Junior High School has awarded bilingual instructional assistant Maria Chee with a plaque in appreciation of her efforts and dedication with the school’s English learners for the last two years. Maria’s efforts, expertise and “sense of urgency” proctoring the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) on campus are admired by her colleagues, teachers and the school administration. La Mesa acknowledges the work all bilingual instructional assistants do with the school’s English language learners and celebrates their accomplishments.
Seco Pianist Places in National Auditions
Jarred Taecharatkj, a seventh grader at Arroyo Seco Junior High School, won third place at the National Piano Playing Auditions and will receive a “Sonatina” plaque for his efforts. This is an honors designation from the National Guild of Piano Teachers and American College of Musicians, the largest piano teachers’ organization in the world. Jarred has been playing for five years and is a valuable asset to Arroyo Seco’s music department.
Sierra Vista Team Performs Beach Clean-up Service
In its first combination of community service with curricular studies, the Goonies Team from Sierra Vista Junior High School spent the day at Santa Monica Pier, cleaning the beach and logging the different types of waste they picked up. In addition, the students learned a little about the historical significance of the pier, which turned 100 years old last year, and physics behind the amusement rides on the pier. The project drew 114 students, accompanied by nine parent/teacher chaperones. They logged the types of trash they picked up on cards provided by the Heal the Bay program, and the data will be recorded online. Students got first-hand knowledge about the different types of waste that end up on California’s beaches and the long-term impact that trash will have on the coastlines if an effort isn’t made to clean it all up.
Music Draws Community to Schools
What draws most people to visit their local schools? Turns out, from a survey on the Hart District Web site, that musical performances are by far the largest draw. When asked “Which school/community activity do you enjoy most?” 918 respondents, or more than 32 percent, responded with “instrumental music concert.” Another 718 survey-takers, or more than 25 percent, enjoy vocal music concerts. Other activities which drew responses were drama performance, 359 votes, 12.6 percent; football, 354 responses, 12.5 percent; other athletic competition, 227 votes, 8 percent; basketball, 138 responses, 4.9 percent; dance performance, 126 votes or 4.4 percent. The tally started four months ago and drew 2840 responses. A new survey is now starting, asking how responders receive news about the Hart District.