Chaparral Sinfonia Orchestra wins first place for Walnut Valley Unified

Chaparral orchestra performs. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

Chaparral orchestra performs. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

By Walnut Valley Unified

The Chaparral Middle School Sinfonia Orchestra took the top award at the San Francisco Festival of Gold held March 17. Chaparral’s 8th grade musicians were awarded 1st Place and performed an encore concert for the bands, orchestras and choirs at the national event.

“It felt great playing at such a grand hall, and it was a great experience performing with people that I had just met,” said violinist Josephine Kim.

The performances took place at the renowned Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall. Five elite middle and high orchestras from California and Arizona were invited to participate in this year’s event.

“This was without a doubt the best performance ever by a Chaparral Orchestra.  The students really stepped up to the challenge and it paid off.  I am so proud of every one of these kids!” said Conductor Greg Rochford.

The students had the opportunity to work with one of the festival judges, Dr. Andrew Dabczynski, from Brigham Young University who said they “have something very special here.”

Fifteen Chaparral students were also selected to be part of the Festival Honor Orchestra comprised of the best players from all of the participating schools.

“Performing in the Honor Orchestra was fantastic because I had the opportunity to meet great musicians around my age,” said bass player Pilar Alcazar.

Cellist Joyce Wu said the group played their very best at the concert.

“I knew this was something that we wanted to do well because not many kids at this age get to do what we did. Overall, the trip and performance is an experience that I truly cannot forget,” she said.

“Competing in the Festival of Gold and playing in the Davies Symphony Hall was both an honor and a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said cellist Grant Wu.

The Chaparral Sinfonia Orchestra performed Declarations by Jeffrey Bishop, Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber (arranged by Gregory P. Rochford) and ‘tis the Gift (based on the Shaker Hymn Simple Gifts) by Gregory P. Rochford.

Rowland Unified board meets 4pm Tuesday to hire superintendent search firm

Rowland Unified School Board will hold a special study session at 4 p.m. Tuesday to discuss hiring an executive search firm to search for a new superintendent.

Last month, Superintendent Ruben Frutos said he wanted to move back into the assistant superintendent position after the board hires a new superintendent.

The board plans to hire a consultant to collect resumes for the superintendent position and help screen potential candidates.

They will also discuss the new local control and accountability plan.



Also on the agenda is a discussion and possible action on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).

The board will meet in the board room of the RUSD offices, 1830 S. Nogales St, Rowland Heights.

Rowland Unified needs community input for local funding plan

The Rowland Unified School District  is seeking input from the community on the educational priorities to be included in its Local Control Accountability Plan, which ensures that funding is targeted to the needs of all students.

Community members are encouraged to take part in the LCAP Survey available through March 31. To participate in the online survey (also available in Chinese and Spanish), the community can visit the “Your Voice” section of the District website and on every school website. Hard copies will also be available at each school site.

California school districts now have the flexibility to prioritize resources in order to meet the specific needs of its student populations with a new funding formula. The new method of funding public schools is called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

The LCFF has been passed by state legislation to allow local insight and meaningful conversations to take place between parents, employees and the community about their schools.

The advisory process began on March 6, 2014 when 25 stakeholder representatives met to receive an overview. They included PTA, community members, students, teachers and  principals. Materials shared at the meeting can be found on the District website under Local Control Funding Formula – Unified for Excellence.

The Rowland Unified LCAP Advisory Committee will review the survey results and use the information as they develop the draft of the Local Control Accountability Plan. Stakeholders’ recommendations will be compiled in a report that will be provided to the Board of Education.

After a public hearing, the governing Board of Education must review and approve the RUSD Local Control Accountability Plan in June, 2014.

Hacienda La Puente Unified to sell 40 acres at four old schools

The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District listened to three consultants this morning at a special school board meeting at 8 a.m. The local district wants to build a new school at Wedgeworth Elementary to replace the portables that have made the school for more than 40 years.

The board listened to Don Pender from the LPA archtitectural firm in Irvine as he discussed the process for building a new school near Wilson High School. The district has 20 acres of land there and hopes to keep 5 for a new campus.

Pender said the new building would be flexible as well as safe and secure. He stressed the need to work with the community to collaborate on the new school.

He wants parents, staff and community members to help shape the new school. Pender noted the power to shape the outcome decreases greatly as the project progresses, while the cost to change the outcome rises dramatically.

The architect described a 10-week plan that would draw the community together on plans for a new Wedgeworth.  “We need a community outreach meeting to invite everyone to come out,” Pender said.

Jerry Suich from the Oxbridge firm in Hacienda Heights talked about obstacles and concerns for the properties. Suich said the Wedgeworth property had been an orchard once, so they would have to check for residual pesticides.

He noted the plans will have to go through the county planning commission, but is exempt from local zoning laws. Suich said the process would take 9 months to a year, including a public hearing.

Consultant Kathleen McKee talked about the process of disposing of surplus property. Her list included 14 acres at Wedgeworth, 10 at Glenelder, 12 at La Subida, and 5 acres at Valley High.

McKee pointed out that revenues can only be used for the capital fund, not the general fund.


Quail Summit school gets eight new trees in Diamond Bar

Students took shovels to help plant a new tree at Quail Summit Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

Students took shovels to help plant a new tree at Quail Summit Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

The front landscaping at Quail Summit Elementary School now includes eight new trees planted this week. The lush green Japanese Maples, Camphor trees, and Australian Willows were made possible through a donation from the Great Enlightenment Lotus Society.

On March 11, the school held a ceremony attended by district and local officials to thank the non-profit organization.

“It is a great opportunity for the Quail Summit Elementary and the District to receive this generous tree donation from the Great Enlightenment Lotus Society and at the same time to educate our kids about the importance and meaning of tree planting for our future,” said Walnut Valley Unified School District Board Member Dr. Y. Tony Torng.

Quail Summit 4th and 5th grade student representatives joined the planting celebration. They drew pictures and wrote thank you cards for the event.

“It’s very important when someone gives you a gift that we say thank you,” said Principal Dr. Alysia Hobbs-Odipo.

Student Body President 5th grader Brianna Hernandez presented a poster and some fun facts about trees.

“With all the electronics we have in this era, sometimes it’s just nice to sit under a tree and read a book. I’m a proud to represent my fellow Quails to show that we care and love our trees. We appreciate your help and sponsorship in planting these trees and beautifying our school,” she said

Another Quail Summit student, 4th grader Kenzie Wilson, accompanied by 5th grader Mara Firtat, sang an original song about beautiful trees. Then all the students gathered around the last new tree and took planting with rich soil.

Lead Grounds Maintenance Worker Gene Kennebrew shared information about the species including it will grow to a towering 75’tall.

“This is a Camphor tree and these were originally from Eastern Asia. They were brought to Florida in about 1875. They are excellent for shade and have a nice aroma,” he said.

“We are very happy here today to have Quail Summit Elementary students join us for this great event. When we realize the benefit of the forest, the tree-planting ceremony is very important and meaningful for our society and work,” said William Shen, treasurer of the Bliss and Wisdom Foundation of North America, the organization that founded the Great Enlightenment Lotus Society.

Shen was presented with certificates from the Offices of Senator Bob Huff and Assemblyman Curt Hagman.

“We want to make sure you give us treats, but you walk away with your hands full too!” Dr. Hobbs said.

“I’m not sure if you know it or not, but Diamond Bar is a designated Tree City,” said Jody Roberto, Senior Field Representative for Senator Huff.

“And your school is contributing to that. You’re lucky to be at this beautiful school,” she said.

Walnut Valley mathletes show that MATHCOUNTS

The Suzanne Middle School 1st Place Team Matthew Nguyen, Aaron Chang, Amy Erickson, Ethan Lin, Christopher Wong with adviser Amy Erickson. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley)

The Suzanne Middle School 1st Place Team Matthew Nguyen, Aaron Chang, Amy Erickson, Ethan Lin, Christopher Wong with adviser Amy Erickson. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley)

Walnut Valley Unified School District’s three middle schools, Suzanne, Chaparral, and South Pointe, again took three of the top four places at the East San Gabriel Valley Chapter MATHCOUNTS Competition held on Feb. 21 at California Polytechnic University, Pomona.

The Suzanne MATHCOUNTS Team won 1st Place, Chaparral mathletes took 2ndPlace honors, and South Pointe brought home the 4th Place award.

Congratulations to the Suzanne MATHCOUNTS competition team who will now advance to the California State Competition. Two individual competitors will also advance to State are Chaparral 8th grader Matthew Ho who placed 1stoverall and South Pointe 8th grader Austin Sun who placed 2nd overall. The California State Competition will be held at University of California, Irvine on March 14.

The top ranked Suzanne MATHCOUNTS Team included 7th graders Ethan Lin and Aaron Chang along with 8th graders Christopher Wong and Matthew Nguyen.  Additional individual eighth grade competitors were Lydia Chan, Eugene Lo, and Kevin Jensen. Derick Tseng, Sheldon Zhu, and Alice Zhang competed from grade seven.  Alternates included Sylvester Yue, Jordin Wang, Felianne Teng and William Lin.

Ethan Lin placed 4th overall and competed in the countdown round. Christopher Wong placed 5th overall and tied for 3rd place in the countdown round. Kevin Jensen placed 12th overall and competed in the countdown round. Aaron Chang placed 13th overall and competed in the countdown round. Lydia Chan placed 15th overall and tied for 3rd place in the countdown round.

“I am enormously proud of the students. They have been working very hard toward this goal for the past several years.  This is only the second time in our school’s 52-year history that we have placed first.  I would also like to commend the Walnut High School Math Club and especially their president, Andy Tsai, for all the volunteer hours spent coaching the Suanne mathletes. This is truly a team win,” said Suzanne math teacher and advisor Amy Erickson.

Chaparral competition team members Jasmine Xu, Jeffrey Zhou, Matthew Ho and Rajvir Dua. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

Chaparral competition team members Jasmine Xu, Jeffrey Zhou, Matthew Ho and Rajvir Dua. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

Congratulations to the entire Chaparral Mathcounts Team who are coached bymath teacher Tommy Pak. The Chaparral team placed 2nd overall at the Chapter competition. Matthew Ho placed 1st overall individual will also advance to the state competition. Matthew also won the countdown round, where the top 16 students competed in a tournament. Additionally, Jeffrey Zhou placed 7th, Qinhong Chen placed 9th, and Jasmine Xu placed 10th overall. Additional Chaparral Mathcounts Team members included:  Tiffany Wu, Brian Li, Amy Xia, Brian Chang, Danny Mansour, Justin Zhang and Keshav Sriram.

Congratulations to the South Pointe Mathcounts Team, and advisor mathteacher Gary Dresser and coach Dr. Park. The competition team with students Patrick Cai, William Shao, Austin Sun and Timoth Yeh took home a 4th Place finish.Congratulations to Austin Sun for his 2nd Place overall individual in the chapter competition and will also advance and to the State Finals.  Additional South Pointe individual winners included Timothy Yeh – 8th Place, Wyatt Iles -14th Place and Renny Gong-16th Place.

NASA’s JPL engineers talk to Shelyn Elementary students in Rowland Heights

JPL engineer Anita Sengupta is talking to Shelyn Elementary students this morning in Rowland Heights.

JPL engineer Anita Sengupta is talking to Shelyn Elementary students this morning in Rowland Heights.

Two engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena will talk to Shelyn Elementary  students this morning in Rowland Heights.  The engineers will discuss their work on the Curiosity Mission to Mars.

Dr. Anita Sengupta will explain her work for Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing on the Red Planet.  On Aug. 5, NASA landed its most capable robot on Mars. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission placed 2,000 lb rover, the size of a compact car, on the plains of Mars.

The rover will search for organic compounds, study the climate and geology, and continue the search for life.  One of the most challenging aspects of the mission, from an engineering perspective, was safely landing the rover on the surface.

The entry descent and landing (EDL) system used a heat shield to accommodate its hypersonic entry conditions, followed by a supersonic parachute, and eight retro rockets for the powered descent phase.

For its final terminal descent, a maneuver called the sky crane was used where the rover was lowered on tethers for touchdown. The JPL engineers will  talk about the motivation for Mars Exploration and how the MSL EDL engineering challenges were tackled with computational modeling and cutting edge experimental techniques.

Business and civic leaders become principals for the day in Rowland, Hacienda-La Puente schools

Business and community leaders from across the San Gabriel Valley learned what it is like to be a school principal as they support schools and student scholarships at the annual “Principal for a Day” event today.

Schools across Bassett, Hacienda La Puente, Rowland Unified School Districts, and the La Puente Valley Regional Occupational Program open up their doors and invite community leaders to be “guest” principals that morning.

A luncheon was held at the Industry Hills Expo Center with special guest speakerAlysha Del Valle, traffic reporter for KABC-TV Channel 7 Eyewitness News.

Thanks to corporate sponsors, 10 high school scholarships, three Adult Education scholarships and one ROP scholarship were presented at the Principal for a Day Luncheon.

Rowland superintendent to step down, search is on for replacement

 By Staff Writer Steve Scauzillo

After a tumultuous year, Superintendent Ruben Frutos has indicated he is willing to step down into his old position while the district searches for a replacement.

The school district directed its staff Tuesday night to send out proposals for search firms to begin the process. The “request for proposals” will be in the mail next week, according to the district.

Board President Heidi Gallegos said the board may have a list of search firms by its next meeting on March 25.

A search for a new superintendent could take between four and six months, she estimated.

Board members, parents and members of the teachers union said Wednesday the move toward securing a new superintendent ended a year of tension that often resulted in hundreds of people attending board meetings and picketing on the street, and union members waving signs demanding Frutos step down.

In February, the Association of Rowland Educators formerly asked the board to search for a new superintendent, after a survey of its members revealed only 3 percent of teachers who responded wanted him to stay.

“The association definitely got what we wanted. Absolutely,” said John Petersen, ARE president. “But it was really a community issue and the community was pretty vocal (Tuesday) night.”

Read more in ROWLAND.

Rowland Unified looking for new superintendent


 At this evening’s regular Rowland Unified School District Board of Education meeting, the Board and Superintendent shared that Ruben Frutos has expressed a preference and recommended that the Board commence a search for a new Superintendent. The Board directed staff to gather information and proposals from qualified search firms. A report back to the Board is expected at the March 25, 2014 Study Session.

 Mr. Frutos continues to serve as the District Superintendent. His current contract remains in effect through June 30, 2014.

 It was also reported at the meeting that the Superintendent discussed with the Board a return to the Deputy Superintendent of Administrative Services position starting in July. The Board of Education is expected to consider and take action on these matters at the next regular Board Meeting scheduled on April 16, 2014.