Chaparral’s not “Frozen” out of Hour of Code in Diamond Bar

Chaparral Middle School in Walnut joined millions of students in over 180 countries to participate in “The Hour of Code.”  This year, the non-profit Code.org teamed up with Disney Interactive on a tutorial that lets young programmers help Frozen sisters Anna and Elsa make ice fractals and skating patterns using basic coding skills.

The Frozen tutorial will kick off the Hour of Code campaign designed to promote participation in computer science, especially among girls.

Hour of Code launched 2013 in an effort to introduce students to computer science, demystify coding, and demonstrate that anyone can learn the “basics” of coding.  Last year, Chaparral Cougars learned to code during this worldwide event and enjoyed engaging tutorials and lessons.

Some students even started a “coding club” as a result of their experiences, which remains a viable club on the Chaparral Middle School campus!

The school is excited about the problem-solving and logic building skills that the students will be developing this year as a result of “The Hour of Code”, and is confident that the lessons learned will build a foundation for their success in any 21stcentury career path that they may choose.

‘Lucky Cat’ author visits Walnut Elementary

kat

By Walnut Valley Unified

Children’s author Sunny Seki introduced his tales ofJapanese folklore to Walnut Elementary students during a visit on Dec. 5. Before Seki was a published author, he was busy telling stories to his nine children at bedtime.

Over the years, as the stories multiplied and developed into slideshows, his wife Judy suggested that he write children’s books.  The couple eventually closed a successful photography business so Seki could pursue his dream of becoming a full-time author illustrator.

This idea for his first published book, The Tale of the Lucky Cat, was born when one of his children asked about the history of Japanese lucky cat. He couldn’t find any books on the subject, so he decided to write one.

“I’m the first one!” he said proudly of the award-winning book that retells the ancient legend of the humble toymaker who remembers a rescued cat by creating clay statues of a cat with a raised paw.

 Seki enlisted the help of a few Walnut Elementary students during a pantomime of the story. His wife narrated the book and showed slides during the assembly.

One student asked if he liked being an author. “I love it, so I can come see you guys!” Seki exclaimed.

He told the youngsters that creativity is the place where his stories begin. “Imagination comes first, then sketching, then a model (usually my kids), and then I start to draw.”

Seki shared the themes of his other published books Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll and The Last Kappa of Old Japan, along with his trove of vintage toy treasures. The author explained that the roly-poly Daruma dolls are a symbol of perseverance and good luck

“If you fall seven times, you get up eight times –and you never give up!”

The Seki Family was discovered bringing these creative stories to life with intricate shadow puppet shows and featured on the Disney Channel’s “What a Life!”

 

Another family was originally hired for the show, but they couldn’t act well in front of the camera.

“So, you never know what good luck is waiting for you!” the author said.

Diamond Bar High’s Acciani in finals for a Grammy

Diamond Bar High School Instrumental Music Director Steve Acciani

Diamond Bar High School Instrumental Music Director Steve Acciani

By Walnut Valley Unified

Diamond Bar High School Instrumental Music Director Steve Acciani has been named a finalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award. Ten teachers were selected from over 7,000 nominations around the country for their significant contributions to music education. Each finalist will receive $1,000 honorarium.

“We are extremely proud of the recognition that Mr. Acciani has earned from the Grammy Foundation. He is an inspirational music teacher and an integral part of who we are as a community. We are so happy for him!” said Principal Catherine Real.

This is Acciani’s 26th year teaching in the Walnut Valley Unified School District.

“I feel so fortunate to live and work in a community that recognizes the importance of the arts for our students. The school district and community continues to provide fantastic support for our programs, allowing us to do some pretty amazing things,” Acciani said.

While the Grammy ceremony is held to present artists with the recording industry’s most prestigious award, the Grammy Foundation and Recording Company will also honor one local hero. The winner will be announced during the 57th Annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 8.

For the second year, the Grammy Music Educator Award will pay tribute to a special teacher for his/her remarkable impact on students. The winner will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the Grammy Awards ceremony, and receive a $10,000 honorarium.

On Nov. 11, Grammy honorary chairman and “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest visited Diamond Bar High to congratulate Acciani on being named one of the 25 semifinalists for the award.

Diamond Bar High was named the 2014 National Grammy Signature School becoming the first high school in California to receive the prestigious award.

Mustang golfers sign college letters of intent

Walnut High senior Patricia Wong pledged to play golf and attend Pepperdine University

Walnut High senior Patricia Wong pledged to play golf and attend Pepperdine University

By Walnut Valley Unified

Two Walnut High School seniors, Serena Hou and Patricia Wong, signed letters of intent to play golf in college on November 12. “Congratulations to both of you – we’re proud and excited,” said Principal Jeff Jordan.

Their families, teammates, and coach were on hand for the lunchtime ceremony.

“I’m very excited,” said Hou, who will play at Southern Illinois University. “I’ve been working so hard all my life to reach this goal and my parents have been very supportive. And now we’re here!”

Wong will play at Pepperdine University next year. “My hand shook a little during the signing, but it’s a wonderful day,” the 17-year-old exclaimed.“I feel so blessed for this crazy opportunity!”

Pepperdine was also her first campus visit. “It went so well, I said ‘this is my last visit – I want to go here!’”

Wong said she couldn’t have achieved the dream without the support of her family.

The Mustang Girls Golf team with Coach Cecil Wood had a perfect 28-0 regular season. The team won the CIF Championship, CIF Southern Section championship, and competed in the state semifinals, explained Athletic Director Jerry Person.

New lights to save $459,000 a year in Hacienda La Puente Unified

Duy Ha installs new lights, ballast system, and motion sensors at La Puente High School .

Duy Ha installs new lights, ballast system, and motion sensors at La Puente High School .

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Who knew changing old lights and turning them off when you leave the room could save $543,692 a year? It’s a lesson that the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District has learned over the past year.

It saw big savings when it hired Schneider Electric to redo the lighting at Orange Grove Middle School and Cedarlane Academy in Hacienda Heights.

Now, it’s spending $6.75 million to modernize the lighting at its biggest energy users, the four high schools. The district figures the changes will cut the district’s electric bill by 14 percent.

Fortunately, Hacienda La Puente Unified was one of the first school districts to apply for funding from Prop 39. In 2012, California voters approved the proposition to invest $2.5 billion in energy efficiency projects at schools and community colleges.

“Among the 1,000 plus school districts in California, we are one of the larger school districts, and one of only 47 districts with an approved Prop 39 plan,” said School Board President Gino Kwok.

The district’s Prop 39 project has been approved by the California Energy Commission for the entire five-year program. It will receive an estimated $4,435,680.

“In addition to simplifying the entire process, partnering with Schneider Electric allowed us to directly address our most pressing energy efficiency problems through an integrated approach,” said Associate Superintendent Annie Bui. “We now have a full five-year energy savings plan that will help maximize every Prop 39 dollar.”

Contractors have already redone the lighting at Willow Adult Campus in La Puente, as well as district’s offices. Now, workers are shifting to the four high schools.

“These six sites use approximately 47 percent of the district’s total energy cost annually,” said Maintenance Director Mark Hansberger.

Improvements include new classroom lighting as well as sensors that turn off the lights when no one is present. Work crews will also install LED lighting on the exterior and in the gymnasiums, plus new heating and cooling controls.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story LIGHTS.

Mt SAC wins two-year college flying team trophy

The Mt. San Antonio College Flying Team won the Top Two-Year College Team Trophy for the 24th consecutive year at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s regional competition hosted recently by San Diego Christian College at Gillespie Airport in San Diego. 

“This year marks the 24th consecutive year our team has won the top community college trophy—a truly incredible run,” said Mt. SAC Flying Team Advisor and Aeronautics Professor Robert Rogus. 

The 2014 Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) is a competition for university and community college flying teams. The regional airmeet featured flying teams from six colleges, including Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, San Jose State University, and the U.S. Air Force Academy with a total of 66 students competing. 

In addition to the Top Two-Year School Award, the Mt. SAC team won the Safety Trophy. Individually, Sebastian Plaister (San Dimas) won the instrument flight event and ranked sixth as the overall competitor at the airmeet. Jason Juarez (Ontario) took third in the message drop event. 

Overall, Mt. SAC placed fifth with 43 points. The top three regional teams receive invitations to the national competition. 

Over the years, the Mt. SAC Flying Team has consistently earned top honors as one of the best collegiate flying teams in the country. The team has won the Top Community College trophy at the regional competition every year since 1991. Mt. SAC has won the Top U. S.  Community College award at the national airmeet in 1984, 1985, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014. 

Teen accused of school shooting threat Diamond Ranch High School

Deputies on Monday arrested a 17-year-old Diamond Bar boy for allegedly posting on Twitter a threat to shoot up Diamond Ranch High School. They also confiscated a 22-caliber rifle.

The alleged threat didn’t say when the shooting will occur, according to Lt. Edward Wells of the sheriff’s Walnut/Diamond Bar station. The station found out about the threat around midnight Sunday.

Well said the station got a call from someone who saw on Twitter a picture of a guy holding a rifle and saying he will shoot up the school. Deputies identified the person as a 17-year-old Diamond Bar resident who is a student at the school located at 100 Diamond Ranch Road in Pomona.

Deputies arrested the boy at his home around 1:45 a.m. and recovered a rifle, Wells said. The teen was booked on suspicion of making criminal threats. He is being held at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey. Deputies didn’t release his name because he is a minor.

The tweet with the alleged threat couldn’t be found on Twitter by Monday morning. School staff referred the paper to the superintendent’s office for comment.

Fernando Meza, administrative director for pupil and community services at Pomona Unified School District, said deputies contacted school officials Sunday night. He cannot verify yet if the suspect attended Diamond Ranch High School.

The district notified parents and school staff via email and text message that deputies conducted an investigation over comments made on social media, the person involved was taken into custody and it’s safe to be at school today, according to Meza. He said the high school has about 1,800 students.

Nogales High students learn about Holocaust

US History teacher Devon Darrow talks to students at Nogales High School.

US History teacher Devon Darrow talks to students at Nogales High School.

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Nogales High students are especially thankful for friends, family and freedom this Thanksgiving. The Rowland Unified students have been studying the Holocaust this week.

Last week, 150 history students toured the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Then, they gathered in the gym for a live Skype with a Holocaust survivor.

“I want my students to learn history from firsthand accounts and experiences. These people bring history alive, having actually lived through historic events,” explained teacher Devon Butcher.

Butcher is an enthusiastic instructor of world and U.S. history. At Cal State Fullerton, Butcher discussed how to teach students about the Holocaust after the last survivors had died.

“The fear we discussed was when this generation is gone and can’t tell their stories, how do we go forward as educators and teach this?” Butcher asked. “How can we teach this horrific event in history without firsthand accounts?”

So the Nogales teacher took his students to the Museum of Tolerance. The museum helps students understand the Holocaust as well as prejudice and discrimination in the world today.

“We watch people get bullied every day and don’t do a thing about it,” Butcher said.

Every visitor gets a different passport with the story of a child affected by the Holocaust. The passport is updated during the tour, revealing the child’s fate at the end.

“I thought it was a very sad situation, because no matter what the age the children were, they killed them,” said 15-year-old sophomore Paola Aldana.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story HOLOCAUST.

Diamond Bar golfers sign with Pepperdine, UC Irvine

Two Brahma golfers, Sahith Theegala and Jefferson Kao, who have signed national letters of intent. Shown with Coach Ty Watkins and Principal Catherine Real.

Two Brahma golfers, Sahith Theegala and Jefferson Kao, who have signed national letters of intent. Shown with Coach Ty Watkins and Principal Catherine Real.

Two Diamond Bar High School varsity boys golfers have signed national college letters of intent. Seniors Sahith Theegala will attend Pepperdine University and Jefferson Kao will attend University of California, Irvine in the fall.

“It’s exciting and kind of unbelievable,” Kao said about the receiving the athletic scholarship. Kao and Jefferson have been varsity players since their freshman year.

“Entering the Brahma team, we already knew all the players. It was like a big family because we played completive junior golf,” Kao explained. “Our goal was to help each other improve, improve as a team, and to play our best.”

He first picked up the clubs at six years old – and they were the plastic ones.  Kao, age 17, is excited about his decision to play at UC Irvine.“I’m happy with the team, I already feel like it’s a family.”

Theegala said he only needed to look at a few colleges before making his decision. “It feels awesome,” Theegala said after the signing day. “Pepperdine met all my requirements and the coaches are amazing,” the 16-year-old said. He’ll be 17 in a week.

Theegala agreed that the long-term golf relationships helped the Brahma team. “We all knew each other coming here and kind of fed off each other.  And when the golf season starts we have so much fun. It goes by too fast!”

“The Diamond Bar Golf Program has had some great success over the past few years, mostly due to the great accomplishments of Sahith Theegala and Jefferson Kao,” praised Coach Ty Watkins.

The DBHS Boys Golf Team were named 2012 League Champions, CIF Champions, 2013 League Champions, CIF Champions, and 2014 League Champions, CIF Runner-ups.

The Varsity Boys Golf team has been riding on the coat tails of these two extraordinary young men, we are hoping to make one more run at a CIF title, and maybe even a run at a CIF State championship, like the Diamond Bar Girls team.  Our team is incredibly excited for Sahith and Jefferson, and we know the Pepperdine community of Malibu and the Irvine community will benefit because these two wonderful men.”

Nogales Noble Regiment wins state championship

By Rowland Unified

band

The Nogales High School Noble Regiment took state championships this weekend — second year in a row, even when they moved up a division this year to 4A — beating 19 bands!

Band Director Brad Pollock and students will gather at lunch time tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. outside the gym to celebrate their victory

“Out of 20 bands, the nobles won general effect, visual, color guard and the gold medal. What an amazing experience and memory for our seniors and for our entire organization,” Pollock said. “I can’t say anything else but wow!! No words can express the emotions. I was  more than proud of our kids, staff, parents, and we love our regiment family. Go nobles!!” Pollock said.