Chaparral students get laptop computers in Diamond Bar

The only Blackboard sixth graders at Chaparral Middle School will be using this year is the digital one students will access with their new HP Netbooks.

The Walnut Valley school launched a new one-on-one laptop program with the beginning of the new school year. Along with textbooks, 200 kids received shiny new laptop computers at the Diamond Bar school.

“The new computers are part of the new technology core we’re starting at our campus,” explained Principal Ron Thibodeaux.

The laptops push the National Blue Ribbon School further into the digital age. Teachers will use the new computers to enhance their instructions.

Diamond Bar students get new teen space at library

Diamond Bar students enjoy a great place to study as the Teen Space got a new look this summer at
the Diamond Bar Library. The uncomfortable chairs were replaced with
fun, multicolored mitt chairs, which fit this space like a glove, if
you’ll pardon the pun.

“Teens will be happy to see a refreshed Teen Space in the
library, which now offers funky and fun lounge chairs as well as
cafe-style seating, perfect for after-school small group studying,” said
Library Manager Jesse Lanz.

The new tables and stools also give teens a perfect place to
work on small class projects. A bold area rug defines the space and creates a
comfortable atmosphere.

The new furniture doubles the number of teens that can use the
Teen Space. It also gives them a number of ways to use their area.

A grand reopening party is planned for the start of the new school year.

The teen project was sponsored by the Diamond Bar Friends of
the Library with a matching grant from the County Library Foundation.

Every year, the foundation gives library support groups the
chance to apply for the grants, which are used for creative projects
like the teen space.

“All of us at the Diamond Bar Library would like to thank both
the Friends and the Library Foundation for funding this exciting
project, which will greatly benefit the hundreds of teens that use the
library each week,” said Lanz.

See a photo of the new space at space.

Diamond Bar High posts 99 percent pass rate in math for exit examination

The results of this year’s batch of state high school exit exams are in, and first-time test takers showed small gains over last year.

The California High School Exit Examination is first given to students during their sophomore year of high school. Those who don’t pass it the first time can take the test up to seven more times before graduation.

Walnut Valley Unified had the highest success rate, with 95 percent of sophomores passing the English portion and 97 percent passing in math.

Within Walnut Valley, Diamond Bar High School scored even higher, with 97 percent of it sophomores passing the English portion and 99 percent passing the math portion.
Principal Catherine Real wasn’t surprised.

“Actually that’s pretty typical for us,” she said. “We have really great students here. We’re kind of used it.”

Real attributed the high success rate to motivated students, parents and teachers, as well as a practice exam offered to ninth-graders that lets them “get their feet wet.”

Find all the districts’ results in Exit.

Mt. SAC faculty and administrators to get raises

The faculty at Mt. San Antonio College, the
largest community college in the state, is slated to receive a 2 percent
pay raise, according to documents filed by the college.

Other school administrators could receive raises of up to 11 percent.

Under a three-year contract agreement reached between the
college and the Faculty Association, about 400 full-time faculty members
and 1,000 part-timers would receive across-the-board raises this year,
while pay raises are to be determined for 2012-14.

The contract – which would cost the school nearly $1 million a
year – goes before the school’s board of trustees tonight for approval.

The board also will consider raises for seven administrators.

Read all about the contract in Steve Scauzillo’s story RAISE.

Safe driving tips for the opening of schools

With students at nine school districts around the San Gabriel Valley beginning classes this week, state and local officials are stressing the importance of driving safe, planning ahead and arriving early.

The school year officially started Monday at six school districts: Baldwin Park Unified, Bassett Unified, Bonita Unified, Rowland Unified, Walnut Valley Unified and West Covina Unified.
Glendora Unified and Pomona Unified, which serves parts of Diamond Bar, begin classes today. Hacienda La Puente Unified begin classes Wednesday.

Officer Mike Harris, a California Highway Patrol spokesman, said the possibility of heavier traffic over the next few weeks means motorists need to give themselves “ample time” to get where they’re going and to think about alternative routes to their destinations.

Gina Ward, spokeswoman for Rowland Unified, echoed his statement.
“We’ve always just encouraged ‘the earlier the better’ the first week,” she said. “Motorists also need to slow down and be especially watchful for children when driving near schools.”

“They’ll see a lot more of our school police,” she said. “And they will give tickets. (Drivers) have got to slow down.”

Get some more tips in J.D. Velasco’s story School.

Sisters remember roots in Rowland Unified

They may have moved on from their Rowland
Unified schools years ago, but sisters Ann Marie Smith and Monica
Gonzales still keep close to their roots and the children growing up in
the area.

The shoe designers on Friday hosted their third annual Aldabella
Scarpa Giveback at Giano Intermediate School in West Covina, where they
donated a new pair of shoes to 300 pre-selected girls from Giano
Intermediate, Villacorta Elementary and Nogales High schools.

Read more and see a photo at Shoes.

Schools start next week

The official start of autumn is still about a month away, but for many San Gabriel Valley students, summer ends next week.

Six school districts in the Valley begin classes on Monday. They are
Baldwin Park Unified, Bassett Unified, Bonita Unified, Rowland Unified,
Walnut Valley Unified and West Covina Unified. Three more begin later in
the week.

Find the start dates at School

Kids learn lots at Educamp in Rowland Heights

Henry David Thoreau would appreciate this learning experience. Sitting under a shady tree as you study.

Alas, there was no pond, but there was a lot of playground equipment, which the young students probably enjoyed more anyway.

Welcome to Educamp, a pilot program offered this summer at
Carolyn Rosas Park in Rowland Heights – a place where kids 4 to 12 years
old study math and language arts in the morning, then kick back for day
camp fun in the afternoon.

“It’s a great program for the kids. I like to take them
outside to study under the trees,” said teacher Kris Mendoza. “We want
to make learning fun with different games and activities.”

Read more about the program in Richard Irwin’s story Educamp.

Rowland Unified disputes state’s online database

While a large majority of San Gabriel Valley
school districts posted gains in the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) results, four districts bucked the trend and
experienced small declines in one or more categories. They were Charter
Oak Unified, Valle Lindo, Bassett Unified and Rowland Unified.

Maria Ott, superintendent of Rowland Unified, disputed the
accuracy of the state’s online database, which indicated that her
district declined half a percentage point in English proficiency and 1.9 points in

Ott said the numbers the district received directly from the state actually show small improvements in both areas.

“When you look at what’s statistically significant, we’ve
probably had one of those years where we’ve been climbing, and now we’ve
been flat this year,” Ott said.

Ott said she believes the reason for that is the closure last year of three schools due to budget cuts and declining enrollment

“In some ways we feel our baseline has changed,” she said.

See how other school districts stacked up in J.D. Velasco’s story STAR.

Wilson High boasts refurbished pool

For the first time in almost three years, 18-year-old senior Bryan Romero will be able to play water polo games at Wilson High in Hacienda Heights.

That’s because the Wildcats’ pool, which has been out of commission for several years, has been completely refurbished and will be ready for their first game Sept. 6.

“It is going to be real nice to have our own pool,” echoed teammate Justin Cruz, 16, during the team’s inaugural practice in the like-new pool on Aug. 15. “Now we won’t have to take the bus (to home games).”

The Wilson High pool deteriorated little by little, until it got so bad the county Department of Health ordered it closed down, said Mark Hansberger, director of facilities for the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District.

Both the boys and girls water polo teams were forced to play home games at Los Altos High School’s old pool or at Workman High School.