“The Filharmonic” performs at Oswalt Academy in Walnut

fil

By Rowland Unified

Students are buzzing that the a Cappella group The Filharmonic – from NBC’s hit musical competition “The Sing-Off” and featured in the new movie “Pitch Perfect 2” – performed today at their school.

Beat boxer Niko Del Rey is an alumni of Oswalt Academy and was excited to return to perform to Oswalt 6th – 8th graders.

The Filipino-American band have had much to sing about after sharing the stage with Linkin Park, Black Eyed Peas and Penatonix from the “Sing Off” national tour and their upcoming movie.

They are known for their melodic vocal style that exemplifies an urbanesque hip hop sound with 90’s nostalgia.

The six members are passionate about their Filipino culture and love of music and have combined musical talents coming from the world of pop, jazz, a cappella, opera and theater.

To catch recent videos and learn more visit www.thefilharmonic.com or follow them @thefilharmonic.

Language programs to entertain families on Feb. 24

By Hacienda La Puente Unified

The Dual Immersion programs in the HaciendaLa Puente Unified School District at Wedgeworth Elementary, Los Altos Elementary and Valinda School of Academics will present the first Dual Immersion Showcase and Silent Auction.

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, students from our Mandarin and Spanish programs will perform for the community. In addition, local vendors and literacy groups will be on hand to celebrate the success of our students and present materials to the community.

The event will take place at the Hacienda Heights Community Center at 1234 Valencia Ave. in Hacienda Heights from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Vendors/Silent Auction includes: • La Libreria Books, an independent book seller that features English Language children’s books along with authentic Spanish language text. • Conmigo, Affinity Insurance – Family literacy outreach program. • Chinese Book and Education vendors.

Silent Auctions items include movie tickets, vendor baskets, and special school auctions. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Rosalie Sinapi, Principal at Los Altos Elementary School at (626) 933-2302.

Rowland High students get free books today

Rowland High School will hold an “Evening at the Library” event on January 21 from 4 to 6 p.m. where students may come and pick out a book to take home!

There will also be a scholarship presentation from the Navy in the West Wing of the library for students.

Rowland High School Librarian Clare Ruesga is excited to share that 2,400 books were donated to Rowland High School thanks to a grant received from the Molina Foundation.

Their interest is in building home libraries for all children; especially for students in need. The books received vary in topic, author, and genre, but all are geared toward our secondary population.

ELD and special education classes toured the library on Jan. 14 during school to select titles. The rest of Rowland High School students are invited to the “Evening at the Library” event to pick out their book. (It will run on a first come, first serve basis with no rain checks). 

Castle Rock student on to regional spelling bee

Castle Rock Elementary second grader Jaylin Dalal won the school’s Scripps Spelling Bee

Castle Rock Elementary second grader Jaylin Dalal won the school’s Scripps Spelling Bee

By Walnut Valley Unified

Second grader Jaylin Dalal was crowned the winner of the Castle Rock Elementary Scripps Spelling Bee on Jan. 14. The eight-year-old won the school title by correctly spelling “commitment” during the final round of the competition.

Dalal will now represent his school next month during the preliminary regional Scripps Regional Spelling Bee at Mt. San Antonio College. The top thirty students qualify for the finals in March. The regional winner wins a trip to “Bee Week” – the National Spelling Bee Championship Washington D.C. in May.

This year, each class at Castle Rock hosted their own spelling bee using official Scripps words. Students received grade level study guides in December to prepare for the competition.

Classroom winners competed during the finals held in the multipurpose room. The contest was broadcast school-wide.The top winner from each grade level received a medal and then vied in the championship round.

Finalists included Grant Wang – 1st grade, Jaylin Dalal – 2nd grade, Emily Lu – 3rd grade, Sean Shih – 4th grade, and Nicole Miyoshi – 5thgrade.

“Congratulations finalists, you have all worked very hard. Most of all be proud of yourselves and have fun!” said teacher Matthew Morrison, who administered the exam with elementary learning specialist Kelly Morris.

The audience of fourth and fifth grade students cheered “Let’s go finalists, let’s go!”

During the 12-round battle, students were given a word that was then used in a sentence. They had the option to ask for a definition and were told to speak loudly and clearly.

Many students used higher-grade level lists to prepare for the competition.

“We have such great spellers here at Castle Rock!” Morris exclaimed.

Spelling champ Dalal studied to grade level 16.  “I was astonished,” he said about winning the competition. I was just smiling and giggling and feeling proud!”

Walnut Valley to refund athletic fees at Diamond Bar High

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Walnut Valley Unified has agreed to refund some athletic fees charged to students and families at Diamond Bar High School. The action comes after a formal complaint was filed by Kevin and Beth House with the California Department of Education.

The department agreed with the Diamond Bar family that fees charged in the football, wrestling and baseball programs were impermissible under state law.

In its rulings, the CDE notes that participation on a high school football team is an educational activity that must be free. If participation in a summer football camp is a condition of participation on the school’s football team during the regular school year, then the summer camp must also be free.

It disagreed with the district’s conclusion that the summer camp was recreational rather than educational.

The district also claimed the $100 payment for the camp and the $135 required for camp clothing and accessories were voluntary donations. But, the state found that while the 2014 summer camp form changed the word “fee” to “donation,” the camp was nevertheless described as “mandatory” and students were informed that in order to receive their uniform for camp, they must show proof of payment.

“A reasonable parent would believe that paying for and participating in the summer camp was a condition of participation on the team during the school year,” the CDE concluded.

But the CDE found that since the summer wrestling camp was not a condition of participation on the wrestling team during the regular school year, that fee was permissible.

The House complaint also addressed “spirit packs” bought by students. Walnut Valley said the spirit packs weren’t required purchases. It said it provides all necessary uniforms for football, wrestling and baseball, whether a uniform package was purchased or not.

The CDE determined that the evidence showed that in order to receive their football, wrestling and baseball uniforms, students were instructed to show proof of payment in violation of the Education Code. It noted that the availability of a fee waiver does not make the fee permissible.

Football’s summer spirit pack totaled $155, while the season’s spirit pack cost $222 for varsity players and $195 for other players. Wrestling spirit packs cost $100, $250 for new players.

The Houses also paid $125 for a baseball package.

The CDE ordered the district to refund money paid for football, wrestling and baseball spirit packs from May 15, 2013 through May 15, 2014.

The House complaint also asked for a ruling on working bingos to raise money for the athletic teams. Football parents are asked to work bingo or donate $50 to “opt out.” The wrestling team asked for a opt out fee of $100, while the baseball team requested $100 to opt out each night or $200 total.

Walnut Valley said teams are allowed to solicit voluntary donations and that bingo participation is strongly urged but voluntary.

The Department of Education decided the evidence shows that parents were required to work bingo or pay an opt out fee as a condition for a student to participate on the football, wrestling and baseball teams. Therefore, participation in bingo fundraising was not voluntary in violation of the education code and any opt out fees were impermissible.

It ordered Walnut Valley to refund any bingo opt out fees from May 15, 2013 to May 15, 2014.

When the ruling was made at the end of September, Walnut Valley was given until Nov. 30 to remedy the situation, but the district decided to seek “clarification” first.

“It was important that we clarified this issue with the California Dept. of Education (CDE) because this is an important policy question facing most school districts in California and we wanted to make sure that we were appropriately and effectively implementing the law,” said Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Michelle Harold.

“With this guidance from CDE, we are taking several affirmative steps to change our policies, our practices, and our personnel’s approach to implementing the fee issues,” Harold explained.

On Dec. 12, Superintendent Robert Taylor sent out a letter to parents to offer refunds. He said the district will fully reimburse parents and students for the refunds ordered by the state.

Families must submit the refund form provided by the district by Jan. 23. Parents must also submit proof of payment, either a cancelled check or other evidence of payment.

If Walnut Valley doesn’t receive a form by Jan. 23, it will consider any payments to be a voluntary donation to the athletic programs.

 

 

Parents cope with unruly teenagers in Rowland Unified

Many parents need help with strong-willed or out-of-control children. Rowland Unified’s Parent Project will offer 30 hours of free training over a 10-week period, beginning Jan. 20. It even provides baby-sitting.

Families can catch a preview Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Alvarado Intermediate School in Rowland Heights. They can learn about the topics that will be covered in the 3-hour classes held on Tuesday nights starting at 5:30 p.m.

Topics include recognizing drug and alcohol use, gang involvement and threatening to run away, among many other subjects.

“We help frustrated parents understand that help is out there. That they can change their teen’s destructive behavior for the better, “ said Irma Almanza, a community liaison for the local school district.

Over the past 27 years, the Parent Project has worked with 500,000 parents to create this special course, which uses UCLA self-help support group model. It has developed no-nonsense answers to many of the tough questions that local parents face.

“The program is very interactive, we not only talk about behavior modification, we help them change the way they interact with their teenagers,” Almanza explained. “They have to actually use these techniques at home if they want to see a change in their teen’s behavior.”

 

 

Naturally, this doesn’t happen overnight, which is why the classes are held over two and a half months. And parents have to do their homework if they want to change things at home.

So where do distraught parents start?

“Of course, it all has to start with your love for your children,” Almanza replied. “But you have to express your love, in many cases, teens are acting out because they don’t think you love them. The child needs to feel your love.”

Experts say love and affection are the keys to effective parent-teen communications. Often, fathers have a problem expressing their love, which needs to be done on a daily basis. Three words, “I love you,” can work wonders.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story PARENTS.

Walnut Valley honors East San Gabriel Valley ROP

Walnut Valley Unified gave East San Gabriel Valley ROP special award. Chief Financial Officer Josephine Quach, Deputy Superintendent Kim Case with WVUSD Board Members Helen Hall, and Cindy Ruiz.

Walnut Valley Unified gave East San Gabriel Valley ROP special award. Chief Financial Officer Josephine Quach, Deputy Superintendent Kim Case with WVUSD Board Members Helen Hall, and Cindy Ruiz.

By Walnut Valley Unified

The Walnut Valley Unified School District presented the East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupation Program and Technical Center with an Award of Special Recognition during the December Board Meeting.

“We’re very fortunate to work very closely with the East San Gabriel Valley ROP. Our students and community benefit a great deal from this partnership,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

ROP recently won two worldwide awards: Global Best in North America for 2014 and Overall Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Program.

This summer, Board Member Helen Hall flew to Brussels, Belgium to attend the awards ceremony with ROP Superintendent Dr. Laurel Adler.

“We’re very grateful for the time and energy Helen spends representing us,” said Board President Cindy Ruiz.

They met people from the other countries that were nominated including Africa, India, Finland, Scotland, Germany, South Africa, and Canada.

“We all spent several days exchanging information from our very different programs. And we didn’t know who would win until the awards night,” Hall said.

Deputy Superintendent Kim Case and Chief Financial Officer Josephine Quach were on hand to accept the award during the WVUSD Board Meeting.

“Thank you for your passion for all students and the programs that you create,” Hall said.

“The key is to keeping kids in school. ROP has a 13th Year Program for students who are not sure when they finish high school. They can go to ROP, take classes, get focused, and really move in the right track. It’s an amazing program and I’m glad our students benefit from this,” she stated. Hall also serves as a Board Member for the ESGVROP.

The highlight of the Brussels trip was meeting a young lady from NASA who worked on the Orion spacecraft, Hall explained.

“She offered our District the opportunity to send eight students and a teacher to NASA for a week. And they will pay for the trip to encourage more students into the space program.”

And WVUSD is very excited to participate!

Chaparral Students ‘Keep it Moving’ at JPL Design Contest

upside-down rubber band catapult pushed a spinning ball to the top of a 20-foot rain gutter ramp.

upside-down rubber band catapult pushed a spinning ball to the top of a 20-foot rain gutter ramp.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Congratulations to Chaparral Middle School sixth grade students Karissa Wong and Joshua Chou who won top awards in the “Keep it Moving” Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) Design Competition.

The team brought home a 4th Place award at the regional contest last year and advanced to the finals.

The Chaparral students competed among 20 teams at the finals. Most were at the high school level, but that didn’t stop these determined middle school students.

Wong and Chou won 3rd Place and the Most Creative Design awards.

The objective of the Keep it Moving challenge was to invent a device to move a billiard ball between five to eight meters using three modes of transportation – gravity, any sort of spring, and a free choice of energy like a motor.

They designed an upside-down rubber band catapult to push the ball up to the top of a 20-foot long rain gutter ramp. The ball had to be kept moving (spinning didn’t count) the entire time during the contest.

The billiard ball rolled down the ramp by gravity until it was blocked by a servomotor arm, which moved back and forth to keep the ball moving very slowly for timing accuracy.

At a specific time, a computer commanded the arm to open up to let the ball continue to roll down and hits two triggering switches to turn on loud buzzers.   The entry also needed to initiate an audible sound as close to 20 seconds as possible, by the ball.

The Chaparral students clocked an impressive 20.218 or 0.218 second over the 20-second mark!

What was the best part of the experience?

“We liked the meetings and practices at Chick-fil-A best!” the pair exclaimed.

Walnut grad takes on ‘American Idol’

Adanna Duru 2

Walnut Valley Unified

Watch out for 2014 Walnut High School graduate Adanna Duru when “American Idol” kicks off this week. The legendary singing competition opens Season 14 on Wednesday at 8 p.m.on FOX.

Duru, age 18, threw her hat in the ring during the show’s San Francisco auditions.The savvy-teen has been gracing stages for years.

During her sophomore year at age 15, Duru competed during “The Voice” Season 3 with Team Adam. Since then, Duru has been steadily growing her career performing and writing songs for platinum selling recording artists under Universal Records.

She has recorded a pair of singles – “C.E.O.” and “Amplify” and is currently recording her debut album. You can check out her eHHmusic videos on YouTube.

Duru also impressed Walnut Valley staff members with her performance of “Valerie” at the annual back-to-school event in 2013.  The lively solo earned a standing ovation from hundreds of educators and praise from Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

Walnut Valley wishes Adanna Duru the best of luck during “American Idol” Season 14!