Southlands Christian School shows Christmas spirit


Southlands Christian School is reaching out to the community this Christmas in Rowland Heights. The students have been collecting gifts for needy families in the area as well as Mexico.

On Friday, the school presented checks for $1,000 to the Kiwanis Club of Hacienda Heights. The money will be used to purchase shoes for students in Rowland and Hacienda La Puente schools, as well as the Delhaven Center.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story Christian.

Collegewood joins pajama drive in Walnut


Collegewood Elementary first-graders joined The Great Bedtime Story pajama drive held in partnership with the Scholastic Book Club and nonprofit Pajama Program.

For every new pair of pajamas donated, Scholastic will add a new book. Collegewood collected 102 pairs of pajamas during the two-week fundraiser.

“This is a wonderful way for our first-graders to join in the spirit of the season, and it shows the caring and dedication of our first-grade teachers Jane Smith, Liz Dickerson, Laura O’Donnell and Lisa Welch,” said Principal Carolyn Wills.

The holiday gift of a good night’s sleep and a sweet bedtime story will be now be delivered to 102 children living in group homes, shelters, foster care and orphanages.
— Walnut Valley Unified

Vejar student honored by Walnut Valley Unified

Vejar Elementary student Kanon Klassen was recognized
by the Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees with a Certificate
of Special Recognition for Excellence.


Steve Carr introduced the fifth grade honoree and acknowledged his parents and
Vejar teachers at the meeting for their support.
also thanked Superintendent Dr. Dean Conklin for the opportunity to celebrate
our outstanding students.


said he had talked to Kanon’s teachers and they had complimentary things to say
about him.  He was described as a
diligent, hard-working student with a sense of humor and outstanding work


has a great attitude and he shines brightly in the classroom,” said fifth grade
teacher Glenda Baker.


Nadine Adnoff said Kanon is truly the most dedicated student she has ever


dedication is shown through his amazing academic growth, amazing work ethic,
and desire to do well touches teachers’ hearts,” she said.


the seven essential virtues of Moral Intelligence – empathy,conscience,
self-control, respect, tolerance, kindness, and open mindedness. He
is a student to be admired!” she said.


grade teacher Mrs. Karen Montgomery said Kanon is a diligent hard-working
student with a great sense of humor.


Sandra Harutunian, Canon’s second and fourth grade teacher, described him as well
behaved, organized, responsible, and puts forth his best effort. He is alsolearning Japanese on the weekends!

Walnut students spread holiday cheer

C.J. Morris Elementary in Walnut held its annual Family Night of Giving last night to spread “holiday
cheer” to families in need.


Toys and sporting goods were collected for the Spark of Love toy drive. They also gathered
children’s pajamas for the Orangewood Children’s Center, and towels and
blankets for the Inland Valley Humane Center.


Families also took time to make holiday ornaments – one to take home and one that will be donated to a local
nursing home. The children also crafted cards for troops away from home during the holiday season.

Walnut Valley students treated to “Hairy Potter”

Diamond Bar High
advanced drama students recently presented a Children’s Theater production to over
2,900 Walnut Valley elementary students.


The holiday presentation
of Hairy Potter – Beware of Missing Hair!”
featured hairy Hogwarts, evil Lord Vodemort and his sidekick Bellatrix.


Their mission: steal the
hair from every student at Hogwarts. And only the heroic trio of Harry, Ron& Hermione can save them.


The elementary students
got to see some of their favorite characters from movies and cartoons such as
Shrek, Tron, Despicable Me, the Disney Princesses and more.


The magical event filled
with mystery and adventure was written and directed by the drama students
Yasmine Shahbaz and Linn Chang. 

Austin pleads no contest in grand theft at Mt. SAC in Walnut

A former Mt. San Antonio College fire chief
accused of stealing nearly $1 million from students and the college
pleaded no contest Tuesday to 16 felony charges, Los Angeles County
prosecutors said.

Jerry Dewayne Austin, 57, of Norco, was released from custody
after pleading no contest to two felony counts of identity theft, two
felony counts of forgery and 12 felony counts of grand theft at his jury
trial hearing at Pomona Superior Court, Los Angeles County Deputy
District Attorney James Belna said.

Austin, who was arrested in January, could be sentenced to two to five years in prison with time served, officials said.

“We were basically prepared for trial and we would have gone
to trial if we couldn’t settle it. We felt this was the best option
under all the circumstances,” Austin’s attorney Early Hawkins said.

“We felt that at the end of the day we’d possibly be in the
same place,” Hawkins said. “I don’t think he’s a thief and I will
continue to say that, and given everything that’s happened I think we’re
satisfied with today and we’ll continue to march on.”

A sentencing hearing and restitution hearing to determine how
much money Austin will have to pay back to students and Mt. SAC once
he’s released from prison is scheduled for Feb. 24.

“We’re pleased the case is coming to some resolution, but we
will await the judge’s final decision regarding the sentencing,” Mt. SAC
spokeswoman Jill Dolan said. “We remain committed to obtaining restitution to the college and the students.”

Read more in Juliette Fumes story Contest.

Santa visits Westhoff Elementary in Walnut for Spark of Love


Westhoff Elementary School hosted its 19th
annual Spark of Love toy drive and holiday program on Friday. Los Angeles County Fire Department Captain Robert Harmon,
Engineer Dave Bohon, Firefighters Tim Robertson, and Craig Sredhick from Walnut
Station #146 accepted the donations of toys and sporting goods from students.


Twenty-five huge boxes were filled with hundreds of gifts
for needy children.Captain Harmon thanked the students and parents for their
ongoing support of the Spark of Love Toy Drive.

 “We are thankful to be a part of this event and every year
it keeps getting better! Because of your generosity many children across Los
Angeles County will experience joy on Christmas morning because they will have
a gift to open,” he said.

 The holiday program that followed featured choreographed
songs, an oral presentation, and band performance. Each grade performed on the stage decorated with glittery
ornaments, snowflakes and snowcapped Christmas trees.

 Kindergarteners performed “Feliz Navidad” wearing holiday
hats, scarves, and sombreros. They played a variety of instruments and select
students held up letters that spelling out Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad. The Band played “Jolly Old St. Nick” and “Good King
Wenseslas”.  First graders performed “Christmas
on the Beach in Waikiki” wearing colorful leis, sunglasses and played kazoos.

 Second graders sang “Go Go Christmas” and third graders
recited “Twas the Night Before Christmas” wearing colorful cozy pajamas. Fourth graders sang a hip-hop version of “Jingle Bells” with
Santa hats, neon sunglasses, and dance solos.

 Fifth graders performed the high energy “The Greatest Time
of Year” with yo-yo twirling, cartwheels, guitar playing, razor scooters, and
hip-hop dancing.The staff’s two-stepping finale  “All I Want for Christmas is You” featured a very
special appearance by Santa and his elves!

 “This is one of my favorite events at Westhoff because it ties
in with our character program. We talk about kindness, empathy, respect,
tolerance perseverance, and goal setting in our daily morning announcements, in
the classrooms, and our monthly assemblies. Thank you for giving these all of
these wonderful toys for other children,” said Principal Denise Rendon.

Mt. SAC joins cyber war against online terrorists in Walnut

The U.S. Department of Defense recently opened a fifth domain for war, after land, air, sea, and space: cyberspace.  President Barack Obama even appointed a Microsoft security
specialist, Howard Schmidt, to be his cyber-security czar and gave the
Pentagon the power to attack other countries’ computers, if necessary.

Locally, students and faculty at Cal Poly Pomona and Mt. San Antonio
College are responding to the commander-in-chief’s call and are ready to
enlist in Obama’s cyber army. In addition to learning how to combat
cyber-terrorists, students are also being trained to jump into one of
the few growing job markets of today – the field of information

These two schools, along with Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State
San Bernardino and Whatcom Community College in Washington, will share a
$3 million grant awarded by the National Science Foundation last month.
The grant will fund computers and other supplies to help the schools
build cyber security curricula and outreach programs aimed at attracting
high school and college students to careers in cyber security.

Mt. SAC was chosen as the nexus of a new cyber-security center
expected to be up and running on the Walnut campus in six months. The
center, which will be the first of its kind on the West Coast, will be
host to cyber security events, programs and teacher training, officials

Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story Cyber.

Hacienda La Puente votes for early school year

On Thursday, Dec. 8, the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District school board voted 4-1 to begin school three weeks earlier. It is the first district in the San Gabriel Valley to implement the early school year calendar.

School will start Aug. 7, 2012 and end May 21, 2013.

The early start means a shorter summer vacation for this year. There will still be 180 teaching days.

The board said the alignment with college semesters means no homework will be carried over from Christmas break. Also, teachers in May will be able to focus more on helping high school students prepare for AP (college entrace) exams. Now, they were given near the same time as statewide aptitude tests.

Rudy Chavarria voted against the proposal.


Westhoff Elementary joins Spark of Love Toy Drive

Westhoff Elementary
School in Walnut continues its holiday tradition during the 19th annual Spark of Love
Toy Drive, co-sponsored by Southland firefighters and ABC7.

Westhoff students and staff donated hundreds of new
toys, games, and sporting equipment for needy families.

The Walnut school presented a festive program this morning featuring holiday music performed by kindergarten through fifth grade students.