New school a “moving” experience for students at C.J. Morris in Walnut

Moving to a new school is hard. Unless you take all your classmates,
teachers, books, pencils, rulers and playground equipment with you.

Which is exactly what Walnut Unified did last summer, when it decided to
renovate C.J. Morris Elementary in Walnut. The district decided to pack
everything up and move it to the Ron Hockwalt Academy only a mile and a half

“This will be much quieter and safer for the students and staff,” explained
school board member Nancy Lyons. “The transformation has been just terrific.”

The district turned the continuation high school on Lemon Avenue into an
elementary school. The continuation students now go to Walnut High and the
district education center.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story MOVING.

Los Robles Academy holds school Olympics in Hacienda Heights

The parade of nations trooped around the athletic field – India, Korea,
Mexico, Italy and of course our very own United States.

Colorful flags represented the many cultures that students at Los Robles
Academy come from. It was a fitting opening ceremony for the school Olympics at
the Hacienda Heights school.

“We thought this would be an exciting way to begin our new school year,” said
Principal Judy Seligman.

The start of a weeklong competition that combined athletic prowess with
academic excellence. Sure there were the typical track and field events, but
inside, students also competed in math, spelling and trivia contests all based
on the Olympic theme.

Read more in Richard Irwin’s story OLYMPICS.

Rowland High expands Korean classes

“An nyoung.” Rowland
High students will be saying “hello” to an expanded Korean program this
year. The popular program will see an additional instructor, as well as
new classes for the International Baccalaureate track.

“We looked at the large number of students requesting Korean
language classes and decided we needed to meet the demand,” explained
Principal Mitch Brunyer.

Brunyer traveled to Korea this summer, where he learned a lot
about the country’s customs and cultures. He was joined by three Rowland
High students who spent three weeks studying in Korea.

“We were selected by the Foundation for Korean Language and
Culture in Los Angeles for its summer program,” the local administrator

Brunyer joined 19 other administrators from California, New
York, Virginia and Texas on the nine-day excursion. The educators toured
the Asian country, learning its culture and history.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story KOREAN.

Rowland teacher studies climate and caterpillars

If Jennifer Chen had to write an essay on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,”
it would be titled “Climate Change and Caterpillars.”

The third-grade teacher in West Covina literally spent 11 days studying our
fuzzy little friends in Arizona. It was all part of a fellowship that the
Telesis Academy instructor got from the Durfee Foundation.

“I applied for the Earthwatch Educator’s Fellowship, because I wanted to
understand scientific research done on a professional level,” Chen explained.

So the Rowland Unified teacher volunteered to work on a scientific expedition
with Earthwatch. Chen joined seven other educators from Los Angeles to study
caterpillars in the Coronado National Forest.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story CATERPILLAR.

Students get new backpacks in Hacienda Heights

Students at Palm Elementary School are the proud owners of new backpacks filled
with school supplies thanks to the help of community groups that were on the
campus Tuesday getting students ready for the new school year.

“We try to help our students get school supplies that many of their families
can no longer afford,” said Cathy Jamieson, executive director of New Horizons
Caregivers, the group coordinating the annual event.

Popular Community Bank and the local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma supported
the effort.

Walnut High teacher has a very busy summer

All work and no play makes for a dull drama teacher. So Walnut High’s Joanne
Karr decided to go to the Olympics in London after spending a month studying
Chinese film at the University of Illinois.

“A friend of mine was in London, so I decided to join them for the Olympics,”
Karr said. “I love London, I lived there during the Fulbright Teacher Exchange
program in 1997-98.”

During her English odyssey, the drama instructor got to see many of the
improvements made in the East End for the summer games.

“I really liked giant Olympic rings hanging on the Tower Bridge. I got to
watch them raise them a couple times to let ships go through,” Karr said.

The Walnut teacher was surprised how quiet the European capital was. She said
it was just like Los Angeles when it hosted the Olympics in 1984.

“It was really quiet in London compared to the other times I’ve visited. You
could walk right into any sight-seeing attraction. There weren’t any lines,” she

Of course, Karr had to visit the Olympic Village, where she got to see a
couple basketball games.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SUMMER.

Walnut Valley and Rowland Unified return to classroom

Students returned to the classroom today in the Rowland Unified and Walnut Valley Unified school districts. The kids were welcomed back to construction in both districts.
Nogales High is undergoing an $8 million renovation, while workers are finishing up new utilities at nearby Rowland High.
The new band building at Walnut High is almost finished, giving the band and orchestra a plush new home. Construction is also underway on the multi-million dollar aquatic center and classroom wing at Diamond Bar High.

Walnut Valley ready for new school year


Walnut Valley students will find many new faces, places and programs when
they start school on Aug. 20.

More than 400 students from C.J. Morris Elementary in Walnut will move to Ron
Hockwalt Academy. The elementary school has been closed while contractors
renovate it.

“We’ll save both money and time by moving the students while we work on C.J.
Morris,” said Facilities Director Jeff Bloedorn.

So the district packed up all the desks, books, paper and pencils to ship
them to the academy. Teachers arrived this week to unpack everything.

WCCR Construction has already begun replacing the facade at Morris
Elementary. Construction should be completed by June.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SCHOOLS.

Lennar Corp. buys 30 acres from Walnut Valley Unified for $35 million

The Walnut Valley Unified School District attracted Fortune 500 homebuilder
Lennar Corp. as the top bidder for a 30-acre piece of surplus land in Diamond
Bar that is zoned for up to 200 new homes.

Lennar has reportedly opened escrow after agreeing in June to pay the school
district $35 million – some $10 million more than the district anticipated – for
prime land located on the southeast corner of Brea Canyon Road and Diamond Bar

“We were shocked,” said school board member Helen Hall. “We also were very
fortunate to get one of the (more) proven homebuilders around.”

Lennar is building homes in 18 states and was rated the second-largest
homebuilder in the nation in 2008. In California, it is preparing to build 5,000
homes as part of the Great Park project in Irvine.

However, Walnut Valley officials stressed that the money may not be a
windfall for the district, which is eating up its reserves and preparing to cut
back on personnel and if necessary, shorten the school year, especially if the
governor’s tax initiative does not pass.

“It is for the long-range benefit of our students, especially with an
emphasis on technology in the classroom, like computers,” said Superintendent
Dean Conklin.

Read more in HOMES.