Rowland students and Rotary build holiday baskets

Photo by Gina Ward, courtesy of Rowland Unified

Photo by Gina Ward, courtesy of Rowland Unified

Last Saturday more than 200 students and members from the Walnut Valley Rotary gathered at Alvarado Intermediate to assemble holiday baskets for families in need in the Rowland Unified School District.

Students from Interact clubs at Rowland High School, Walnut High School, ASB students from Nogales and Santana High Schools, along with college students involved with Rotary from Cal Poly Pomona and Mt. SAC gathered at 7 a.m. to assemble the 11,567 cans of food and 250 turkeys that were donated.

There were 320 holiday baskets assembled that families from across the Rowland Unified School District received.

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.

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.”

Ryan Seacrest honors Diamond Bar teacher

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, left, celebrates with Diamond Bar High music director Steve Acciani.

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, left, celebrates with Diamond Bar High music director Steve Acciani.

“American Idol” star Ryan Seacrest visited Diamond Bar High on Veteran’s Day to honor Music Director Steve Acciani, a semifinalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award.

The event was hosted by KIIS FM, which kept the students and families entertained while they waited for the television star to arrive.

Seacrest is an honorary chairman for the Grammy Foundation. He took time from his hectic schedule to meet one of the 25 national semifinalists. Music Director Buddy Clements at Walnut High is also a semifinalist.

Photos: American Idol host Ryan Seacrest visits Diamond Bar High

The award recognizes outstanding music teachers who have made significant contributions to music education.

“I was surprised when they called me two weeks ago and said they wanted to come out to meet me,” Acciani said. “I think its great for them to help support our music program.”

The gregarious teacher had to fight his way through the crowds to get to the stage when Seacrest called out his name. It seemed like all 700 students in the Brahmas music program showed up for the event.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story IDOL.

Ryan Seacrest visits Diamond Bar High for Grammy semifinalist

Please join American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest, The Grammy Foundation, KIIS FM, and the Ford Motor Company to celebrate Diamond Bar High School’ Steve Acciani being named a national semifinalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award on Tuesday, November 11.

Come and help support the Diamond Bar High School Music Program!

Diamond Bar High School will be participating in the Ford Motor Company’s Drive 4 UR School national test drive program to help raise money for the school’s outstanding music program.

GRAMMY Foundation Honorary Chair Ryan Seacrest will be on hand to join members of the Diamond Bar community who participate and support DBHS by test-driving a new Ford vehicle.

For every person over 18 who test-drives at this one-day event, Ford Motor Company and Fairway Ford will donate $20, up to $6,000, to Diamond Bar’s music education program.

The event will also feature all 700 DBHS instrumental music students performing, and be hosted by KIIS FM.

The event will take place on Tuesday, November 11, from 11:00am until 5:00pm, with Ryan Seacrest expected to join the celebration from 1pm until 3pm.

Food trucks will be on hand, so come spend some time enjoying an afternoon out with the community.

Diamond Bar High School is located at 21400 E. Pathfinder Road in Diamond Bar.

Quail Summit students mix it up in Diamond Bar

Students stepped out of their comfort zones to connect with other students during Mix It Up Day at Quail Summit Elementary.

Students stepped out of their comfort zones to connect with other students during Mix It Up Day at Quail Summit Elementary.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Quail Summit Elementary students joined the national Mix It Up at Lunch Day on October 28. The event provides students with an opportunity to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new.

And that’s just what they did! As the youngsters came out for lunch recess they visited three stations where parent volunteers passed out conversation starter cards.

“The best thing about today is that they are making new friends!” said parent Vivian Liao.

The cards had prompts like “Find someone who likes to play handball” and “Find someone who has ridden Space Mountain at Disneyland.”

After the boys and girls met a new friend that matched their inquiry, they received a puzzle piece, and a new card. When they earned four pieces to solve the puzzle, the kids received a green Mix It Up Day wristband, frozen treat, and hand stamp. They could also join the Cupid Shuffle dance party hosted by teachers Jessica Cabral and Erin Ruhl.

Several 5th graders volunteered to help with younger students during the primary grade lunch.

“I remember doing this in 1st grade!” recalled Asha Longsworth. She buddied up with second grader Whitney who liked being with her new big friend.

The innovative activity helps to create a school environment where respect and inclusiveness are core values. Quail Summit was designated as a Mix It Up Model School in 2013.

Suzanne students stand tall at summt in Walnut Valley

The 8th grade Summit field activities focused on team building through physical activities.

The 8th grade Summit field activities focused on team building through physical activities.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Suzanne Middle School 8th graders took a giant step forward in breaking down the walls of stereotypes and learning about the people around them during the 6th annual Summit. The exciting day of activities included workshops, discussions, and a motivational speaker.

About 475 students were divided into three groups to rotate through breakout sessions in classrooms, the field, and the multi-purpose room. The topic of the day was “Understanding and Overcoming Stereotypes”

“Students were mixed up into groups so they could get to know peers that they might not otherwise meet,” explained counselor George Ann Cusson.

The entire 8th grade class participated in a day of reflection and opportunities of personal growth,” said teacher Marla Rickard.

Classroom sessions allowed students to look at the impact of judging people and to reflect on personal impacts on all the parties. Some of the activities included If You Knew Me Well, the Tootsie Pop, and the Playing Card.

The field activities focused on team building through physical activities, a favorite was the Human Pyramid.

During the Stand Tall challenge in the MPR, students learned more about themselves and each other. They analyzed the Iceberg Theory to find ways to drop below the water level to get to know their fellow classmates.

Rickard and Cusson created the event made possible with the help several teachers and staff members, PLUS and PALS service club members, and leadership students. Thirty-one Walnut High School students and two graduates also come for the day to facilitate and lead all the breakout sessions.

“Without them the day would not be as successful. It’s a true team effort,” Rickard said.

“I think the kids are learning more about what they say to each other and to think before they speak,” said WHS senior and ASB president Phillip Silesky,

In one game, students asked their neighbor questions from a bowl. Some were serious  - what would you do if you knew one of your friends was taking drugs? And some were funny – if you were invisible for one day what would be the first thing you would do?

“I probably wouldn’t even know I was invisible and just go to school!” one student replied.

After lunch, WHS graduate and motivational speaker, Dee Hankins spoke to the class about goal setting, rising above any situation, and encouraged the students to live their life with purpose.