Walnut High’s Jeff Huang a leader on and off court

athlete

By Walnut Unified

Walnut High School senior basketball player Jeff Huang has received the 2014 Jim Staunton Champions for Character Award. He was among 14 exceptional students lauded by the CIF Southern Section during a ceremony at the Queen Mary in Long Beach on September 29.

A total of 500 nominations were received for the prestigious recognition. The award is given to student-athletes, coaches, administrators and schools who best embrace good sportsmanship and the principals of “Pursuing Victory with Honor.”

Student winners received a trophy, banner, letterman patch, and $750 scholarship. Huang is a standout student who has received numerous accolades on and off the court. He has a 3.98 grade point average and currently ranks 16th in his class of 748 students.

He was recently named a semifinalist in the national merit scholarship program among the top 1% students in the state. He was selected as the 2014 Mustang of the Year. As a junior, he placed 2nd in the nation in business communication during the FBLA competition

“Jeff is sharp, bright and social. He is one of our most amazing young people,” said Principal Jeff Jordan.

The 17–year-old- began playing on the Varsity basketball team as a freshman.  He displays sportsmanship, character, poise, confidence and calm under pressure.

“On the court, Jeff is the first person to help a teammate up from a fall, the first one to pat somebody on the back when they do well and the first to shake hands at the end of a contest,” said Athletic Director Jerry Person who nominated Huang for the award.

“He serves as a model of consistency on and off the basketball court and is a leader in everything he does,” Person added.

Huang has been president of the Class Cabinet for the past three years and an Interact Club member. Two years ago, he launched the Hoops for Hope Club to offer free sports clinics for elementary and middle school students.

“These kids can gain a lot from learning basketball. It can help you out for the rest of your life,” he said. “My parents and brother have definitely been my inspiration.”

Hoop for Kids mirrors Huang’s relationship with his older brother Brandon, who has been his longtime coach and mentor.

“He always gives me advice on how to react to certain things,” Huang said

Those words can be golden especially after a rough game.

“He’ll say, ‘its just one bad game, what’s important is what you learn from it,’” Huang recalled.

And after every loss, his brother is there to ask what he did poorly on so they can work on it together.

“He’s so supportive of me. Sometimes after the games he’s more excited about a win or good performance that I am. I learned everything I know from him.”

Huang was surprised to have been recognized for sportsmanship and praised fellow team members whom he admires.

He says during games he is “so focused on winning.”  But afterwards, he makes sure he shakes hands and shows his appreciation.

“I’ll always go thank the people who work the scoreboard. They’re the unsung heroes.”

Huang hopes to attend Stanford University or University of Pennsylvania in the fall.

Los Molinos Elementary gets National Blue Ribbon

Students learn in the computer lab at Los Molinos Elementary in Hacienda Heights.

Students learn in the computer lab at Los Molinos Elementary in Hacienda Heights.

By Sandra Molina, Staff Writer

A Hacienda La Puente Unified school has been named a National Blue Ribbon School for academic excellence and closing achievement gaps. Los Molinos Elementary School in Hacienda Heights received the honor.

“These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education — that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative and challenging learning environments,” stated U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a press release. “National Blue Ribbon Schools are models of consistent excellence and a resource for other schools and districts. We celebrate them for their tireless effort and boundless creativity in reaching and teaching every student.”

Twenty-four California schools from a total of 334 schools nationwide earned this distinction.

At Los Molinos, third-year principal, Erin Roderick, gave credit to students’ parents working with school officials for achieving the blue ribbon status.

“We have a cohesive community of teachers, parents and staff who work together for the success of our students,” Roderick said. “Parent involvement is key.”

Los Molinos’ blue ribbon was based on exemplary achievement gap closing.

“We never give up,” she said of overcoming obstacles — such as language, socioeconomic backgrounds, lack of technological advancements at home — to educate their students.

The recognition “is a validation of what we are doing here is working,” she said. “When your kids walk through the school’s door, know that we are setting them up for a positive future.”

Both public and non-public schools are eligible for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award.  All schools are recognized in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates.

Mt. SAC opens $18 million child development center

Photo by Leo Jarzomb

Photo by Leo Jarzomb

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

The decision of paying for good day care or attending college is a heavy burden for many young families. But with the grand opening this month of Mount San Antonio College’s $18.5 million child development center, the school is helping hundreds of students bridge the gap.

“Childcare is sometimes the biggest barrier for people who want to return to college and continue their education,” said Tamika Addison, the center’s director.

The four-building complex will serve more than 210 families every semester. That’s up from the 160 the old daycare center could handle. Still, there’s a waiting list of 150.

“The new and improved CDC allows us to increase the number of CalWORKS, community and faculty families we can serve,” Addison said. “It is giving more parents the opportunity to continue their education and be away from their child, knowing that they are safe and learning in a quality environment.”

The 33,800-square-foot complex will provide quality childcare for 162 children. It serves children from infants to 5 years old.

The state-of-the-art facility offers unique perspectives, from the windows installed at toddler height to the low snack counters in each class.

To change a diaper, just roll out the built-in steps to allow the child to climb up onto the new changing tables. Then use the special chute that dumps the soiled diapers into an outside closet.

“We wanted to use natural materials and colors in the construction because research shows that primary colors excite children,” said architect Mikaela Klein, who helped design the center. She is now a Mt. SAC facilities planner.

But it’s the little touches that stand out. Like the tack strip that replaces the usual chair rails, giving teachers a chance to hang the kid’s artwork at their eye level. Or the small, private alcoves scattered throughout the center, giving excitable children a quiet place to calm down.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story CHILD.

Marshall Tuck campaign releases new video

The Marshall Tuck campaign released a new video this morning featuring some new endorsers. Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard, Joel McHale and Adam Scott have thrown their support behind Marshall in a funny new video featuring the four actors lending their political expertise to Tuck’s campaign.

Watch the video, here.

“This election is so important that I sat down with Joel McHale, Adam Scott, and some handsome devil named Dax Shepard to get the facts from Marshall and provide some high-level strategy from today’s sharpest political minds,” said Kristen Bell, actress, parent and activist. “[And] as a parent, I want to make sure we give every child access to a great education.”

While the video provides some much needed humor in the middle of a heated campaign, it does take a serious look at several key issues facing the race, including the state of education in California today,

Acciani, Clements named Grammy Music Educator semifinalists

Buddy Clements

Buddy Clements

By Walnut Valley Unified

Two Walnut Valley teachers have been named semifinalists for the 2015 Grammy Music Educator Award.

Instrumental Music Directors Steve Acciani from Diamond Bar High School and Dr. Buddy Clements from Walnut High School are among 25 semifinalists announced today by The Recording Company and The Grammy Foundation.

For the second year, the Music Educator Award will recognize an outstanding music teacher who has made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrates a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.

“This honor has me very humbled, but also extremely proud of what our community is accomplishing through the amazing collaborative efforts and vision of our school staff, local professional musicians, business partners, parents, and the best students ever,” Acciani stated.

 

“To have two schools in the same school district receive this distinction is amazing!” Clements said after hearing the news. Both music teachers were selected as quarterfinalists in June.

 

“It would be the ultimate honor for me to represent music educators all over our nation, especially those who have devoted decades of their lives to teach their students not only about the joy of music but also how music can touch souls, heal broken spirits, mend shattered lives, build bridges across social canyons of injustice and prejudice… and because of this our love of music can be a worthy, life-long quest for excellence, compassion, creativity and expression,” said Clements.

 

This year, 7,000 nominations were submitted from all 50 states. The 25 semifinalists come from 25 cities across 17 states.

 

All semifinalists will have the chance to earn $6,000 for their music department through the Ford Drive 4 UR School program.

Ten finalists will be announced in December and will be recognized for their remarkable impact on students.

The winner will be announced during Grammy week in February 2015 and will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award and a $10,000 honorarium.

For every performer who makes it to the Grammy stage, there was a special teacher who played a critical role in getting them there. It’s time to say thank you to all the teachers who put in the extra hours to instill the love of music in their students. And that’s just what the people who bring the Grammy Awards plan to do with this award!

Walnut honors band boosters at LA Fair

By Richard Irwin, Staff Write

The Los Angeles County Fair honored more community heroes on Friday. Every year, the fair celebrates the volunteers, students and seniors who make their communities a better place to live.

This year, Walnut chose Lou and Joanie Simonelli for their volunteer work. The couple have spent many hours working for the band boosters at Walnut High School.

Walnut’s Community Services Superintendent Alicia Jensen noted Simonelli’s dedication has lasted well past the years in which their own children went to high school.

“The Community Services Department received a letter signed by 134 kids from Walnut High School praising and thanking the Simonelli’s for their efforts,” Jensen said in her nomination.

Dubbed the Bandfather, Lou has driven thousands of miles with a pile of instruments behind him. The couple also build and maintain the play sets and pit carts. Along the way, these community heroes have touched the lives of many students, parents and teachers.

Glenn Miller Orchestra swings into Walnut High on Oct. 18

The Walnut High School Jazz Orchestra will share the stage with the legendary Glenn Miller Orchestra for an evening of musical memories featuring hits from those Swingin’ Years of Big Band Era. Come join us between shows for a BBQ dinner. Proceeds from this special event will benefit the Walnut High School Instrumental Music Department.

WHO:             Walnut High School Instrumental Music Department

WHAT:           The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra

Big Band Concert and BBQ Dinner ~

WHERE:         WHS Performing Arts Center located at 400 N. Pierre Road in Walnut

WHEN:           Saturday, Oct. 18, Shows at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

HOW MUCH:   All Seats Only $30,  BBQ Dinner at 5 p.m. for $15

Ticket sales at www.seatyourself.biz/walnutmusic.

For more information, please cal (909) 594-BAND.

 

 

 

 

Mt. SAC President Bill Scroggins gets 3-year extension, $10,000 bonus

By Steve Scauzillo, Staff Writer

Quietly and without fanfare, the Mount San Antonio College board extended the college president’s contract for three years and also gave him a $10,000 tax-sheltered annuity.

Bill Scroggins, president of Mt. SAC

Bill Scroggins, president of Mt. SAC

Bill Scroggins, 66, is under contract to serve as president of Mt. SAC until June 30, 2017, when his new contract will expire, according to a board agreement enacted Sept. 10.

This is the third $10,000 annuity given to Scroggins during his three-year tenure. He received one in July 2012 after the board amended his original contract, and in July 2013. Scroggins will receive a $10,000 “tax-sheltered annuity” every year for the next three years, according to his new contract and college officials.

The college also pays a portion of his retirement into a statewide retirement system which is separate from the annuities, said Jill Dolan, director of public affairs for the college.

Though the trustee board did not adjust his salary this month, Scroggins has received a $22,000 raise since he came on board. His salary rose from $225,000 in July 2011 to $247,428, his current annual compensation, according to records and college officials.

Trustee David Hall said during the meeting that it was not unusual for a college board to grant its president/CEO annuities and added Mt. SAC had indeed given an annuity to President Bill Feddersen, who served from 1991 to 2002, said Yen Mai, Mt. SAC’s marketing and communications director.

Read more in Steve’s story SCROGGINS.

 

 

During the discussion in December 2012 to amend Scroggins’ contract to allow the board to provide an annuity, Trustee Fred Chyr, now board president, said the annuity was not based on the president’s performance. The item raised an objection from Student Trustee Elisa Marin who said students would not agree to any kind of pay increase during these difficult economic times, according to minutes obtained by this newspaper.

Giving annuities is just another way of giving a bonus to keep an administrator, experts said. But the type of cash add-on, in this case a tax-sheltered annuity available after a person retires, suits older administrators more than younger or middle-aged managers, said Heidi Gallegos, board president of the Rowland Unified School District and a recent member of the Mt. SAC bond oversight committee.

Grammy winner performs at La Puente High

La Santa Cecilia performs at La Puente High School

La Santa Cecilia performs at La Puente High School

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Grammy Award winners La Santa Cecilia brought a message of hope and happiness to La Puente High on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles band, whose recording “Treinta Días” was honored for Best Latin Rock Album this year, agreed to help the Warriors celebrate Hispanic heritage month. They had been invited by history teacher Wesley Perez.

“While this is my first year at La Puente High, I taught at Hawthorne High School for four years, where I was able to bring Ozomatli to speak and perform for my students,” Perez explained. “I believe that students need to have positive experiences in high school because they can truly change lives.”

So the enthusiastic instructor had his students share the afternoon with an inspirational band in the school’s Little Theater. They also shared dreams and goals during a question and answer session.

“Why do many women, especially Latinas, have a hard time living independently,” asked 16-year-old junior Irene Martin.

The band’s powerful singer Marisol Hernandez offered lots of interesting advice to the teens. She drew on her own experience growing up and joining the band.

“I love what I do! And I have my own place,” Hernandez said. “We can only listen to parents and families so long. We have to follow our hearts because we’re never going to make everyone happy. Do whatever you want, learn to live in your own skin.”

Along the way, everyone will face challenges, the singer said. The hard part is rising to the challenges so you can overcome them.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story PUENTE.

Rowland High celebrates 50th anniversary Friday

By Rowland Unified

The entire community is invited on Friday, starting at 3:15 p.m. to celebrate Rowland High School’s 50th anniversary with a fun-filled, community jubilee.

Rowland began as a small community where students were just as likely to ride a horse to school as drive a car, and the 50th Jubilee will celebrate with a good ole’ fashioned Country Western theme.image001

“Being a lifelong Raider as a student, teacher, and now principal of the school, I am very proud of its history and traditions. I look forward to highlighting the school and its connection to the community at our Jubilee and I hope everyone can join us,” said Rowland High School Principal Mitch Brunyer, who is in charge of the volunteer committee.

Everyone is invited: alumni, students, parents, faculty/staff (past and present), and community members. For the latest information, visit www.rowlandhs.org.

The campus will be filled with free activities such as game and photo booths, entertainment, visit “Memory Lane Displays” and tours of the new modernized facilities will begin at 3:15 p.m. There will also be a variety of food booths.

A special opportunity to meet former and current faculty and staff including every principal in Rowland High’s history will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the gym.

The Rowland Raiders Homecoming Football Game begins at 7 p.m. (Game tickets are $6, students $3.)

VIDEOS: Have fun learning a bit of Rowland High School history with new videos each day this week to celebrate the countdown to the 50th Jubilee with videos posted on You Tube – click HERE.

NEW BUILDING TOURS:

D-Building: This building was expanded to nine classrooms housing science classes (Physics, Anatomy, Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science). Each room features individual lab stations, interactive whiteboards, voice amplification, chemical resistant cabinets, countertops and flooring and the chemistry rooms feature fume hoods. There is also a central common instructor’s work room that includes instrument and chemical storage.

E-Building: This building mainly houses Career Technical Education classrooms. Every classroom has new doors, flooring and tackable wall surfaces. Many rooms have interactive whiteboards and voice amplification or are wired to receive the technology in the near future. The modernization of this building includes four new computer labs, the Rainbow Preschool facility, child care and home economics rooms. The culinary arts room was previously modernized, but recently also included technology upgrades.

Aquatics Center:  The new facility features a designed plaza entrance with an expanded 12 lane pool and deck. It has a shade structure with seating, a digital scoreboard, lighting, new filtering equipment and the infrastructure to add solar technology in the future. Restroom facilities for the athletes and public have been added along with team rooms, outdoor showers and a coach’s office.

The Future:  In the next few years, the community can look forward to: a state-of-the-art performing arts center, a new multipurpose room, eating facilities, student quad area, a two-story administration building with a new library on the top floor, and a new two-story classroom building that will replace portable buildings.