William S. Hart Union High School District

Santa Clarita, CA

Blog Menu

Castaic High School

Castaic HS Mailing List

Email Address:

Castaic High School

"Providing excellence in education to your children, closer to home"

Archive for May, 2011

May 4, 2011 Vol.XI, No. 16

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Hart Administrators Receive Prestigious Regional Awards
Outstanding Hart District administrators were recognized by their peers across the southland at the annual Association of California School Administrators Region 15 awards banquet, held earlier this week. Seven administrators received recognition this year. Vicki Engbrecht, Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services, received the David G. Millen Mentoring Award and Robin Geissler, Bowman High School Principal, was presented with the Marcus Foster Memorial Award. Both Engbrecht and Geissler’s awards are amongst the top Leadership Awards presented each year. Sal Frias, Golden Valley High School Principal, won the Secondary Principal of the Year Award for the region, which includes 55 school districts in the Santa Clarita Valley, Antelope Valley, San Gabriel Valley, Glendale, Burbank, Pomona, Montebello and Whittier areas. Michele Krantz, Rancho Pico Principal, received the Charter Leadership Award representing the five Santa Clarita Valley school districts. Other honors went to Jill Shenberger, Academy of the Canyons Principal, as a nominee for the Educational Options award, John Costanzo, Rio Norte Junior High School Principal, nominated for middle school principal of the year and Donna Manfredi, West Ranch High School Assistant Principal, nominated for the secondary co-principal award. More than 30 Hart District administrators and staff attended the banquet held at the Castaway in Burbank, in a strong showing support of their award-winning colleagues.


Placerita Junior High Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence
Former principals, teachers, staff members and students, current administrators and local dignitaries were treated to a trip down memory lane at the Placerita Junior High School 50th Anniversary celebration, held in April. Jim Tanner, retired Placerita principal was the Master of Ceremonies of the event that was attended by more than 150 people in a lovely outdoor garden setting on campus. Band and choir students entertained, awards were bestowed by local government officials and a luncheon reception was enjoyed by all. The celebration included speeches by students and administrators spanning the five decades of the school. Hart Governing Board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine revisited the 60s, when she was a student there. Current Hart Assistant Superintendent Rob Gapper shared great stories from the first decade of the 21st century, recalling his days as principal at Placerita. Current Principal Mike Kuhlman spoke about the success of the students at his school and how proud he is to share this milestone with the community. Superintendent Rob Challinor recognized the accomplishments of the school and expressed positive expectations for a strong and successful future. During the luncheon, a slide show was presented which well documented the rich history of the school. Placerita looks forward to another 50 years of excellence!


Top ROP Students Earn Medals at Annual Recognition Event
Eighteen outstanding students in the Hart District’s Regional Occupational Program came away from the annual ROP awards ceremony, held in late April, with medals attesting to their excellent academic achievement and positive attitudes in the career-oriented ROP classes in which they are enrolled. As a highlight of the program, Florencia Camargo, a Golden Valley High School senior, was named to the ROP Hall of Fame as this year’s top ROP student. Hart District ROP served more than 2,200 students in the 2010-2011 school year. The award ceremony was held at Rio Norte Junior High School MPR. Instructors in all 94 ROP class sections chose the outstanding student in their class, according to criteria established in advance. The selected students were then invited to participate in interviews before a panel of professionals in one of six industry clusters, and to submit an essay about their experience in ROP. Eighteen students were then selected as medalists. Once the gold, silver and bronze medalists were chosen in the six clusters, the gold medalists’ essays were reviewed by Rob Challinor, Hart District Superintendent and Rob Gapper and Vicki Engbrecht, Assistant Superintendents, to determine the Hall of Fame winner. Camargo, the Hall of Fame winner, is the gold medalist from the Public Services sector. As the gold medal winner, she went on to be considered for Hall of Fame status. Camargo was selected by teacher Sgt. Michael Waldman as the outstanding student in the ROP Law Enforcement class. “Florencia possesses excellent communication skills, outstanding writing abilities, and presents a positive self image,” Sgt Waldman noted. All six gold medalists will be recognized by the Olympic Chapter of the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers/Programs (CAROCP) and will be given a $100 scholarship on May 24. Hall of Fame winner, Camargo will have her name engraved on a perpetual plaque proudly displayed for one year at her school.  Golden Valley High School Principal Sal Frias attended the awards ceremony and is very proud of Camargo’s accomplishments. She will receive an additional $100 scholarship from CAROCP. The awards ceremony carried an ocean theme, “Let ROP Put YOU in the Captain’s Seat of Your Future,” with tropical themed entertainment by students in the ROP Entertainment Performance class. The show was co-written and directed by Valencia High School junior Bree Lopez and class instructor John Moskal. The winning poster was designed by the ROP Virtual Enterprise class, depicting a sail boat with a ROP logo sail charting the ocean. Kaitlin Boka from Saugus High School and Cole Barker from West Ranch High School were mistress and master of ceremonies. For the complete list of winners, visit: http://www.hartdistrict.org/index.php/news/603-top-rop-students-earn-medals-at-annual-recognition-event .
Photo left to right: Superintendent Challinor, Florencia Camargo, Golden Valley Principal Sal Frias. Photo, student show.
Photos by ROP Photography student: Joseph Abesamis.


Super Jazz at the Ranch Celebrates Jazz Appreciation Month
Jazz Appreciation Month was observed in a big way on April 16 at West Ranch High School as Southern California jazz lovers and students of jazz spent a day filled with music performed by students ranging from junior high through university levels. Professional jazz musicians also provided inspiration to those aspiring to improve their musical abilities. Local schools that participated were Hart High, Valencia High, Golden Valley High, West Ranch High, La Mesa Junior High, and Rancho Pico Junior High. Eight other high schools competed, as did Moorpark College and Riverside City College. Cal State Northridge sent three groups including its Latin Jazz Ensemble and two other jazz ensembles. Also participating were the UCLA Jazz Orchestra and the CSU Long Beach Concert Jazz Orchestra. Adjudicators for the day included seasoned jazz educators and professional musicians including Emmy and Grammy winner, arranger and recording artist Patrick Williams. June and Dave Downs headed the music boosters who organized all of the day’s activities along with Bob Babko, jazz band director at West Ranch. This was the 12th Super Jazz, and the last one for Babko, who will retire from West Ranch in May. 


Canyon High Seniors Participate in International Economic Summit
Canyon seniors enrolled in Economics this semester participated in an International Economic Summit, in April, through a program provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Under the direction of Economics and Government teacher, Maria Cooper, approximately 140 students have been part of a 13-lesson program designed around core high school economic content that focuses on the complexities of trade and globalization. The students worked in groups of three or four for this world trade simulation and each had stations with a poster depicting the country they were representing for this event, cultural items and some had traditional food displayed, as well. Students dressed in customary dress of their country and spent time trading and buying resources for their country, making bank loans and participating in other interactive business activities. Students won prizes for costume and display. The students had a wonderful time and learned a great deal about the global world in which we live. This program is sponsored in part by local businesses and community supporters. For more information on the program, please visit: http://www.frbsf.org/education/teachers/ies/index.cfm or contact Maria Cooper at Canyon High. Superintendent Challinor in the photo with students.


District Recognizes Outstanding Business Partners and Parent Volunteers
The Hart District held its annual reception to honor 65 business partners and 80 parent volunteers nominated for outstanding service to schools in the District. Governing Board President Robert Jensen, Jr. spoke about the importance of maintaining strong connections between parent volunteers and local business people and how their support is critical to the maintain the high quality education and opportunities provided by the District. Local businesses support the schools by donating time, talent, products and food at low or no cost, and many support restaurant fundraising opportunities, reduced cost services and other programs that tremendously benefit students throughout the District. The Hart District appreciates parent volunteers who spend countless hours helping on campus, coordinating events and fundraisers and maintaining open communications with all parents at the school. The evening kicked off with Valencia High School JROTC presenting the colors and the Golden Valley High School Women’s choir sharing a few songs with the attendees. The District’s caterer, Chartwell’s, provided a lovely display of light hors d’oeuvres and desserts. The community is encouraged to support local businesses that support public education. This event is sponsored by the District Advisory Committee.

Sierra Vista Physical Education Teacher Presents to U.S. Congress
Sierra Vista Junior High Physical Education Teacher, George Velarde, was invited to speak to U.S. Congress in Washington D.C., in March, about the innovative PE program at Sierra Vista that he established. The program called No Child Left On Their Behinds, has gained international attention. His talk included details of how assessment is done through the use of heart rate monitors for the objectively graded cardiovascular assessment and by charting how many minutes students stay in their Healthy Fitness Zone. Velarde spoke about how PE is incorporated with academics through the use of large screens in the fitness center that students can view while exercising that contain review for benchmark tests, vocabulary, standards and other key concepts while exercising. Velarde received a positive response to this new PE philosophy which focusing on fitness and wellness. Sierra Vista offers ongoing variety in its program theme weeks like: game weeks, survivor weeks, fitness weeks and Sierra Vista weeks.  Velarde shared impressive results of how their National Federal Grant awarded in 2008 has been so successful.  He was able to share data that linked fitness test scores to Sierra Vista’s improved API scores over the past eight years.


Rio Norte Band Students Compete at the Happiest Place on Earth
The Rio Norte Junior High Band traveled to Orange County and competed in the Music in the Parks Music festival, in mid-April. The band played against four other junior high / middle schools from as far away as Utah and Washington states. They came away from the weekend with a Superior rating as well as a first place trophy. After the festival the band enjoyed a lengthy dinner at their favorite restaurant in Anaheim, Bubba Gump, stayed for two nights at Disney Paradise Pier hotel and enjoyed Disneyland. All in all it was a great weekend experience for the band members from Rio Norte. While there, the group displayed tremendous professionalism and good behavior that hosts as well as other music directors congratulated them on their etiquette and behavior. These 7th and 8th graders represented Rio Norte and the community well.


Golden Valley Theatre Students Perform for Elementary School Children
The Golden Valley High School Children’s Theatre Tour traveled to Rio Vista and Golden Oak Elementary Schools in April, with their production of  “Jungle Book.”  This lively musical was presented by a cast of 35 high school performers to more than 700 Kindergarten through 3rd grade students. The Golden Valley Children’s Theatre program is in its sixth year and is proud of having delighted young audiences with 22 productions to date.


Arroyo Seco Art Students Create Art for School Conference Room
Students in the Advanced Art class from Arroyo Seco Junior High proudly stand before their linoleum block print self portraits which are now on display in the school’s conference room. After studying Andy Warhol, color theory and portraiture, the students created collages of multiple prints and mounted them together to gaze down on the many meetings held in the conference room.

advanced art

Students Throughout the District Join Global Effort to Help Japan
Students at Arroyo Seco Junior High, La Mesa Junior High and Golden Valley High School all stepped up with programs to support Japan. At Arroyo Seco, students spent a day folding cranes to show their support and good wishes for the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami. The story of a Thousand Cranes is one of hope and recovery that emerged after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when a 13-year-old girl dying of radiation sickness had a personal goal to fold 1,000 origami cranes which symbolize peace. Students from La Mesa Junior High also folded paper cranes to support the rebuilding efforts in Japan. The paper folding began in the library when Mrs. Leavitt introduced a small group of math enrichment students to Paper Cranes for Japan. This project sponsored by Students Rebuild and The Bezos Family Foundation promised to donate $200,000 to Japan disaster relief in exchange for 100,000 paper cranes folded by students from around the world. These cranes will represent 1,000 good luck wishes for the people of Japan and be a part of an art installment that will be given to the city of Sendai. What began as a small project on campus quickly spread to other teams and departments. To read more about this project, the million cranes folded by students from around the world, and the donors who have stepped in to add to the original monetary donation, visit the Students Rebuild website http://studentsrebuild.org/japan/. Also interested in supporting relief efforts, Golden Valley High School Bank & Color Guard Boosters held a restaurant fundraiser at Route 66 with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross Japan Disaster Relief Fund. The group raised $350 in three hours!


ROP Students Gain Valuable Insight at Workshop
The Hart District ROP Student Conference “Marketing YOU for Success” Workshop was held April 22 and April 29 at the Activities Center. Students from the ROP program were invited to earn class hours and walk away from this two-day event having learned skills about how to market themselves for their future. Presenters over the two days included Ted Rafalovich, Businessman; Jim Mulholland, Businessman and Educator; Alan Lewis, Principal, Stonecutter Group; Janis Fiock, Career Advisor; Wendy Saunders, Executive Director of Operations; East, West, and West Valley Y’s; Grace Lee, Author, Speaker, Trainer; Karen Hudson, Hollywood Film and Television Costumer; Jim Hoffman, Business Operations Mgr, JPL/NASA; TEACH Team, College of the Canyons Future Educators, Mitch Krayton, The Magic of CCV Speaker, Coach, Author, Consultant; Dan Williams, Founder, DESTINY Leadership Foundation. Student Sonia Sanchez, a senior at Golden Valley High School and CEO of Acoustic Cakes and Apparel, her virtual company, which is part of the Virtual Enterprise ROP class, has attended both the fall and spring workshops. She says that this opportunity has taught her so much about herself. “These workshops have taught me how to better prepare myself for the business world,” Sanchez said. “It is a great opportunity for students to gain this experience.” The Hart District ROP is a public education service that provides practical on-the-job training and career guidance to students in the Santa Clarita Valley who are in 11th and 12th grade.


Students Honored for Leadership Qualities in Hero of the Week Program
The Santa Clarita Anti-Gang Task Force honored 13 local students who were selected by their schools for showing leadership qualities and for overcoming obstacles in their lives. These Heroes of the Week received special recognition from Jim Ventress, Director of the Boys and Girls Club and a founding member of the Anti-Gang Task Force Steering Committee. He praised them for their “focus” and for “never giving up on their dreams.” Ventress also shared stories about his own father who worked several jobs to ensure that all four of his children would graduate from college, which they did. Bowman Senior Chelsea Freeman was one of the featured speakers who spoke movingly about the death of her mother from breast cancer when Chelsea was four years old, and the effect this tragedy had on her life. Chelsea is proud of the amazingly accomplished young woman she has become and knows that her mother would be proud of her, too. Chelsea is graduating this month and plans to attend the Academy of Art University in San Francisco for a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, specializing in interior architecture and design. The other Heroes of the Week honored included: Kortney Eurton and Juan Carlos Vargas also from Bowman High School; Dante Belardinelli and Daniel Garcia from Canyon High School; Jaime Alcaraz-De La Cruz, another inspirational speaker at the event from Golden Valley High School; Stacy Chavez from Hart High School; Jacob Tuttle from La Mesa Junior High School; Ismar Tovar from Mission View Public School; Rafael Hernandez, from the Newhall Community Center; Sam Strader from Rio Norte Junior High School; and Juan Aguilera and Eddie Bicakci from Saugus High School. City and government officials, law enforcement representatives and educators were on hand for the event. Student’s honored received special gift bags containing gifts and gift cards from local businesses.


Valencia High Art Students Showcase Work at Cal Arts
Talented Valencia High School National Honor Society students exhibited work in the Cal Arts Library, for a week in April. This is the first time for a collaborative effort and it was truly a success. Cal Arts Dean Jeff Gatten and Brena Smith were responsible for creating this opportunity for the high school art students. About 50 pieces were on display and the exhibition was open to the local community. Marissa Lowenberg, vice-president of the National Art Honor Society and an upcoming artist, came up with the suggestion for the group and then helped contact the appropriate people to create this exhibit. Heaven Roskilly, vice-president of NAHS, Samantha Gardner, president, and other NAHS members organized the event, with the support of Valencia High fine arts instructor, Cindy Betzer Pharis. 


Rio Norte Drum Line Completes Successful Competition Season
The Rio Norte Junior High School drum line traveled to San Marcos in April to compete in the state finals for the American Drum Line Association. The competition had been fierce all semester as the drum line received first, second and sixth place in their competitions. At the finals, the Rio Norte Drum Line competed against the top nine lines and came away victorious with a fourth place finish. Jeffrey Gilbert, Music Director at Rio Norte said it was a really special weekend for the participating students. “We fundraised and hired a fancy coach bus to take us there and the parents brought along barbecues, pop-ups and chairs and held a tail gate party for the drum line,” Gilbert said. “We really had the look of a professional organization as we created a buzz of excitement for the Rio Norte drum line and the Hart School District.”


Career Visions Student Finds Sweet Success in New Job
Through a community work training partnership forged between the Hart District’s Career Visions program and the co-owners of Sabor Latino, a student is living her dream of becoming a pastry chef. Hart High School Senior and aspiring pastry chef Tiffany McGraw became a recent addition to the bakery department at Sabor Latino, a family owned supermarket celebrating their grand opening in Canyon Country. “Tiffany really made an impression on all of us from the very beginning. She came to the interview polished and ready to go. Since she started working, she has consistently demonstrated the level of motivation and reliability that we expect from all of our employees,” commented store co-owner Deborah Roknipour. Under the agreement, Career Visions agreed to pay Tiffany’s training wages for a specified term, and Sabor Latino made a commitment to hire Tiffany if she was able to demonstrate consistent progress and reliability. Tiffany officially became a Sabor Latino bakery employee in early April and continues to excel. “It’s a great job because I get to bake pastries and decorate cakes, the two things I love the most. I really like the people here and the customers are great. I want to thank everyone for giving me this opportunity to follow my dream of becoming a pastry chef,” McGraw said. Tiffany plans to continue working for Sabor Latino while attending the Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons this fall. Career Visions is seeking local companies that would like to provide a work training opportunity to high school students. For more information visit www.cvworks.org or contact 661-259-0033 X 525.


Artistic Students Create Mural at Sierra Vista Library
Talented art students from Sierra Vista Junior High and Canyon High School worked together to create a mural at the entrance of the recently modernized library at Sierra Vista. Library staff hosted a reception to honor the students and teachers who worked together to create the beautiful mural depicting a view of Sierra mountains, representing Sierra Vista’s name. Guided by art teachers Darcy Frandsen of Sierra Vista and Phil Shaheen of Canyon, 22 students from both campuses met various days after school hours to create this masterpiece. “The recently modernized library now feels complete with this work of art prominently displayed as visitors enter,” Teacher Librarian Lorraine Fulleman said. In addition to the student participants and family members, Superintendent Rob Challinor and administrators of Sierra Vista JHS attended to thank and congratulate the students.


La Mesa Identified as a National Champion for Anti-bullying Programs
La Mesa Junior High has been recognized nationally for its anti-bullying programs and has been designated as a Champion by the National Bullying Prevention Center. This is a project of PACER, the Minnesota Parent Training and Information Center funded by the U.S. Dept of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. At La Mesa, bully prevention is taken very seriously. A bully prevention club with 58 members meets every other week and distributes bully prevention tags as one of their projects. Counselors visit all classrooms at the beginning of each semester and discuss the program. The Teen Truth Organization conducts a powerful interactive assembly each year and thanks to a suggestion on the Dr. Phil show, a “bully box” has been established as a way for students to report bullying incidents, anonymously.

Rio Norte Students Raise $23,000 in River Hawk Walk Event
This year’s River Hawk Walk was another huge success. The students raised over $23,000 to help the PE program at Rio Norte. The event ran for two days just before Spring break during PE classes. Special music was played during the 50-minute run / walk, while helpful parent volunteers cheered on the students. The money raised helped to run the event, replenish equipment and fund the intramural program. T-shirts and prizes are also a big part of the success of this event. Donations from the local community provided healthy snacks and water at the end. The River Hawk Walk is a wonderful celebration for the students, staff and families, who look forward to it every year.


Seventy Hart District Educators Attend Contextual Teaching Workshop
Seventy teachers, a team from each Hart District high school, attended an all day training offered by the Career Tech Education Consortium (CTEC). The training held at College of the Canyons provided an opportunity for teachers interested in improving their skills of making their instruction more relevant and meaningful for all students. CTEC partnered with the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD) to provide the workshop on Contextual Teaching and Learning. The core elements of Contextual Teaching include: Relating new content to previous learning and experience; experiencing by learning through doing, including problem solving, questioning, and investigating; applying new knowledge to real-world, meaningful uses; cooperating by learning in teams and through the rich experiences of structured cooperative learning; and transferring the application of critical content to solve problems that are outside the context of school. Educators from each school worked together throughout the day using the strategies presented by the workshop facilitator, Dr. Sandra Harwell. The workshop was an excellent opportunity for teams of educators to work together and learn teaching strategies that will improve student learning and engagement and help prepare students for a changing workplace and economy.


Business / Technology Pathway Created for High School Students
Business teachers from West Ranch High School, Saugus High School, ROP and College of the Canyons have been working to create a District-wide Business and Computer Technology Pathway for students pursuing careers in Business and Technology. The teacher team has been led by an advisory panel of business members: Ken Wiseman, CEO AMS Fulfillment; Alan Lewis, Principal Stonecutter Group; and Bruce Fortine, Trustee, COC Board, all who provided valuable input, direction, and feedback. The outcome of the meetings include plans for new and revised courses, new software, and possible articulation agreements so students can receive college credit for high school work. The Team plans to roll out the Business/Technology Pathway District-wide in the fall of 2011. The Business/Technology Pathway gives students new options and direction to be better prepare for entry-level jobs and for pursuing further education in career choices of Business, Technology and related fields.

West Ranch Student Business Leaders Compete in State Events
Future Business Leaders of America, is a nationally recognized organization that began in 1937 that helps to prepare high school students for careers in business and business-related fields. FBLA also emphasizes giving back to the community and actively supports the March of Dimes. West Ranch hosted the Gold Coast Sectional in March with over 1,200 high school students competing in events from public speaking to website development to interviewing to hospitality to accounting. A month after Sectional, four West Ranch High School students represented West Ranch at the FBLA State Competition. Nicole Lowry, Jessica Meyer, Christina Miller, and Anisa Siddiqui competed at the State level in Community Service Project, Hospitality Management, Business Math, and Client Service. Anisa Siddiqui and Nicole Lowry entered their Project Prom work in the Community Service Project category. Though they did not make it to the finals, we all know what a great job they did and how their hard work has been so important to the students in our community. Additionally, first year FBLA member Jessica Meyer, placed 8th at State in San Jose for her knowledge in Hospitality Management. The team’s adviser, Tanja Brosche, was recognized with the “Director’s Choice” award presented by the Gold Coast Section Directors, due to her involvement in helping the Sectional competition come to fruition. It was a great year for West Ranch’s FBLA team and the team is looking forward to next year’s competition!


Photos from the recent visit of California State Governor Jerry Brown to Hart High School.


(Left) Visiting a science classroom, Governor Brown on right with Assemblyman Smith, Superintendent Challinor, Principal Dr. Nielson, State School Superintendent, Tom Torlakson. (Right) Superintendent Challinor addressing Governor Brown.

Contact for more information: Gail Pinsker, Community Liaison Officer, gpinsker@hartdistrict.org, 661.259.0033 x. 227
William S. Hart Union School District website: www.hartdistrict.org