Evergreen Elementary celebrates Earth Day in Diamond Bar

Recycled art was on display at Evergreen Elementary during the Earth Day celebration held on April 25. (Photo by Kelli Gile, Courtesy of Walnut Valley.)

Recycled art was on display at Evergreen Elementary during Earth Day celebration. (Photo by Kelli Gile of Walnut Valley)

By Kelli Gile, Walnut Valley Unified

Evergreen Elementary kindergarten students celebrated Earth Day during a spring program held April 25. Families gathered in the amphitheater as the children sang about the land and sea and springtime blossoms.

They performed This Land is Your Land, Magic Penny, Baby Beluga, Everything Grows, Springtime Magic, and We All Live Together. Teacher Mona Warren happily strummed her guitar behind the children during the Octopus song.

“Kindergarteners, you did an awesome job today,” said Principal Carolyn Wills.

“Parents you will be hearing a lot more about S.T.E.A.M – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. And here at Evergreen, it starts with our kindergarteners!”

After the music, several Common Core activities were held in the kindergarten play yard. Families posed for a “ Jaws” keepsake photo and estimated the length of a blue whale with yarn, rulers, and wrapping paper tubes.

The head of the giant 100’ mammal was drawn on the playground with chalk, and families with their kindergarten students had to use assorted tools provided to solve the challenge of “How far would this 100 foot whale reach?  How could we measure it with the tools we have?”

Austin Teng, age 6, promised to recycle and pick up trash to help the Earth. Teacher Sam Li gave a science lesson during the Float or Sink Jellyfish demonstration.  The children placed plastic jellyfish into liter-sized water bottles and learned they floated because oxygen is lighter than the water!

Inside classrooms, families worked together to fill in an attribute chart of student created artwork in categories such as vertebrates, invertebrates, and many other terms that showed how much they had learned. They also worked together on an ABC Earth Day word search and make pledges to take care of Mother Earth.  Sophia Tian said she would ride bicycle to take care of the Earth.

Earth Day was also celebrated with creative artwork. Recycled art pieces were on display outside classrooms and recycling pledges framed the playground. Students created a replica of themself as an Earth Kid, holding the planet and creating a personal pledge of how they can take care of our Earth.

“Our dedicated kindergarten teachers, Mona Warren, Kathy Riddle, Melody Fernandez, Julie Jeon, and Sam Li completely revamped the kindergarten spring program to create experiences that foster creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

This is an excellent example of the new Common Core State Standards and STEAM instruction that our students need to be successful in college, career and beyond!” said Principal Carolyn Wills.

Summer Arts Academy announced in Rowland Unified

 Students in the community who crave the arts – who wish to sing, dance, paint and perform drama – can enroll now in two unique summer arts programs offered by the Rowland Unified School District.

The Summer Arts Academy is June 9 – June 27, for students entering grades 1 through 6 with Monday – Friday classes from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Students will experience daily hands-on art projects, singing and dancing and will present an arts showcase of their work at Gallery Night on June 26. The cost for three weeks of instruction, all art supplies and a Summer Arts T-Shirt is only $200 per child.

 Students who want to experience putting on a musical production can take part in the Summer Theater program, with this year’s production of “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” offeredJune 9 – July 3 for students entering grades 4 through 8.

Everyone gets a part! Classes are held Monday – Friday from 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Performances of “The Little Mermaid” will be on Tuesday, July 1 and Wednesday, July 2 at 6 p.m. The cost is only $200 per child and includes all costumes and props!

The Summer Arts Academy and Summer Theater are under the direction of Rowland Unified Educator Karoll Joson. The Summer Arts Academy and Summer Theater programs are both held at Hollingworth Elementary School, located at 3003 E. Hollingworth in West Covina www.hollingworthschool.org

Students do not have to be part of the Rowland Unified School District to enroll. There is also a discount for students who enroll in both programs.  To register for the Summer Arts Academy and Summer Theater, please download forms atwww.RowlandSchools.org or they are available at the Educational Services Office, Rowland Unified School District, 1830 S. Nogales Street in Rowland Heights. For more information you can call (626) 854-8348.

Mt SAC students of distinction honored on May 17

Mt. San Antonio College will honor 20 Students of Distinction at its annual awards ceremony and luncheon on Saturday, May 17 at 11:30 a.m. at the Royal Vista Country Club, 20055 E. Colima Road, in Walnut. 

These annual awards recognize students for competitive, academic, and personal achievement as well as outstanding service to the college. Recipients of this year’s Academic Achievement award, who earned a minimum 3.75 GPA, are Aldo Hadiwijaya of Corona,  Sijin Yan of Covina, Veronica Chavez of Baldwin Park, andEunice Briët.

Recipients of the Service Achievement award, who earned a minimum 3.0 GPA and provided notable volunteer service to the college and community, are Cinthia Rios of Hacienda Heights, Cynthia Nunes Robinson of Rancho Cucamonga, Edgar Morelos of Pomona, and Melissa E. Candell of Pomona. 

Recipients of Personal Achievement award, who were selected based on a minimum 2.75 GPA and overcame personal hardship, are Alexandra Nina Latorre of Pomona,Chloekae B. Nepomuceno of West Covina, Heather Dawn Melendez of Upland,Jayson Amrit Heyer of La Verne, Jazmin Salgado of Baldwin Park, Nicholas Ryan Lazzareschi of Brea, and Rhonda S. Walker of Chino Hills.

Recipients of the Competitive Achievement award, who earned a minimum 3.0 GPA and earned distinction as part of a competitive student group or team, are Adrian Ramirez of Ontario, Brody Goens of Chino Hills, Edward Isao Sanchez of Covina,Nathan Kenji Pike of West Covina, Tiziana Ruiz Dominguez of Murrieta. 

Tickets for the awards luncheon are $15 and must be purchased by May 6 through the Student Life Office: (909) 274-4525.

Blandford Elementary students learn water conservation in Rowland Heights

From Rowland Unified

The sixth grade at Blandford Elementary is experimenting with water conservation today in Rowland Heights. The students joined The LivingWise Program sponsored by Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas to learn the importance of natural resources and how to reduce their usage.

This program includes reading material and experiments.  In today’s exercise, the sixth graders will experiment with the  school’s sprinkler system.  They want to find out if the sprinklers are wasting water when the school waters the fields and grassy areas.

After students collect the data, they hope to have the opportunity to present this information to our district, so changes can be made.

Rowland Unified meets Thursday to discuss superintendent search

By Rowland Unified

The Rowland Unified School District Board of Education held a special session on April 17 at 6 p.m. in an open, public process to interview three qualified executive search firms to assist the board with a superintendent search.

Each executive firm was rated using a numeric rubric formula created by the Board with the assistance of District staff and legal counsel. The Board of Trustees unanimously selected and appointed Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA & Associates) as the firm to conduct the executive search for a new superintendent.

“As a Board, we understand the importance the community has placed in the selection process for a new superintendent,” said Board President Heidi L. Gallegos.

“The Board is committed to an open process and looks forward to the support and contributions from our parents, staff, students and community. To aid in the process and comprehensive communications of the search, we have created a new webpage under the Board of Education website where updates will be shared,” she said.

“We have called for a special Board meeting this Thursday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m. for an initial planning meeting with HYA & Associates where the timeline and next steps will be discussed.”

The meeting will be held in the Board Room, at 1830 S. Nogales Street in Rowland Heights. For more information, visit www.RowlandSchools.org.

Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA & Associates) is the nation’s largest executive search firm serving public school districts. They have successfully completed more than 1,000 searches and utilize research-based and community engagement tools to recruit executives that align to an organization’s vision, mission, values and goals. For more information, visit www.ecragroup.com.

Walnut Valley artists win awards in magazine contest

Walnut Valley’s top winner is Quail Summit Elementary fifth grader Willow Huang with the 1st Runner-Up award.

Walnut Valley’s top winner is Quail Summit Elementary fifth grader Willow Huang with the 1st Runner-Up award.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Twenty-six elementary students in the Walnut Valley Unified School District have been named award winners in the 2014 “Draw a Cover for the Music K-8 Magazine” contest. The Board of Trustees recognized the young artists during the April 16 meeting.

Music Specialist Judy Brunelle introduced the young artists and presented them with keepsake copies of their original artwork. Winners came from Collegewood, Evergreen, Maple Hill, Quail Summit, Walnut, and Westhoff elementary schools.

1st Runner-Up – Willow Huang and 5th Runner-Up Claire Kung.

Top Finalists: Kathryn Song, Emily Chen, Michael Wu, James Wu, Ricky Lambert, Hailey Lim, and Vencionas Kosasih.

Promising Young Artist Finalist: James Wu.

Finalists: Emma Hsieh, Nathan Lee, Jennifer Lai, Matthew Kao, Michelle Xu, Christa Tang, Olivia Hwang, Katie Kim, and Nikki Yip.

Honorable Mention: Jessie Ji, Clarie Wang, Michelle, Wang, Erin Zhou, Srijani Krishman, Kellie Lam, and Arushi Verma.

The results were published in the June/July issue and the artwork can be seen on the magazine website at www.musick8.com.

Los Altos High teen named Dell Scholar in Hacienda Heights

Jacqueline Alas is an AVID learner. And it has paid off for the 17-year-old senior at Los Altos High School, who has been named a Dell Scholarship recipient.

The Whittier resident will receive $20,000 over the next six years for college.

The student everyone calls Jackie credits the AVID program at Los Altos for helping her pursue her dream. The petite pupil wants to become a lawyer, then work as a public prosecutor.

She became interested in law when her sister began working for a law firm.

“I want to make a real difference in people’s lives,” Alas explained. “I’ve seen how the law can protect people and keep them safe.”



The teen takes several advanced placement courses at the Los Altos, in Hacienda Heights. She has a 3.9 grade point average and is a member of the dance team.

Alas is applying to Cal Poly Pomona and UC Santa Cruz. She plans to study criminal justice, before going on to law school. But right now, she’s enjoying the well wishes of students and staff.

“We’re all very proud of Jackie and what she’s accomplished,” said Principal Cheli McReynolds. “She’s a good indicator of what students can accomplish if they work hard.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story DELL.

Wilson High hold arts showcase in Hacienda Heights

Wilson High School held its third annual Arts Showcase on Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. in Hacienda Heights.

The showcase offered performances from the band, drama department, choir and color guard. There was also a Fine Art and Photography display in the Den.

The local high school also had a dessert food truck, as well as other food vendors throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

Rowland Unified releases survey results about the district

By Rowland Unified
The Rowland Unified School District released the results of a recent survey that asked teachers, parents and residents to share their thoughts on district topics such as educational programs, career pathways and community relations.

The full report can be found on the “Your Voice” section of the District website www.RowlandSchools.org as well as school websites. The results were discussed at the school board meeting last night.

Designed by the independent firm K12 Insight, the survey will give the district important baseline data it can use to make improvements.

“We are committed to our continuous improvement efforts,” said Superintendent Ruben Frutos. “Hearing from our stakeholders ensures that our programs and services are effectively meeting student needs and allows us to fulfill our vision for success.”

The surveys were taken from Jan. 8-31 and 916 people responded. Overall, the district reported positive feedback.

Specifically, the survey found that nearly six out of 10 respondents feel the district is doing an excellent or good job of fulfilling its mission.

District officials said nearly seven out of 10 participants say the district is doing an excellent or good job of educating students.

Survey findings also indicate that 75 percent of participants think their local school is doing an excellent or good job of educating students. Additional results show that approximately seven out of 10 respondents are aware of the district’s International Baccalaureate Program.

The survey found that 83 percent of respondents feel welcome to participate in meetings or other activities at their local school. The district added that 57 percent understand that the district made difficult decisions in order to remain solvent.

“This survey helps ensure that we have a system defined by rigorous academics, the innovative use of technology, creative exploration and nurturing learning experiences,” Frutos said. “Together, we will create an optimal learning environment that enables all of our students to succeed in their chosen careers.”

Walnut High joins California schools in giving Smarter tests

This spring, in California and states across the nation, the usual barrage of standardized tests have been put on hold. California districts are getting at least a two-year reprieve from the ubiquitous Academic Performance Index scores used to track the quality of schools and districts over time.

Instead, educators are preparing for the next big thing: The new Smarter Balanced English-language arts and mathematics tests aligned to the new Common Core standards that school districts have already begun using in classrooms. Walnut High School is administering the test this week.

“It’s going well so far, but it’s quite a change for our students,” said Principal Jeff Jordan.

The new tests emphasize a deeper knowledge of subjects, displaying use of the reasoning process and the ability to give complex answers, and not just skill at choosing the correct answer out of four possible choices.

“They’re more critical-thinking skills, and we’ve been talking about that for a long time, but if you’re only asking A, B, C or D, you don’t get the chance to elaborate,” said Wendy Claflin, principal of Colin Powell Elementary School in Long Beach. “It’s kind of more true to life, because there’s not just one true answer.”

The nationwide field test started at the end of March and ends on June 6.

They need the ramp-up time: Unlike the familiar California Standards Tests, the new Smarter Balanced tests aren’t conducted by filling in little circles with a No. 2 pencil. Instead, they’re adaptive tests taken via computer, administered via the Internet.

Read more in Beau Yarbrough’s story TESTS.