C.J. Morris kindergarteners dress up as senior citizens

Kindergarteners Rachel Peiten, Chloe Thi, and Molly Chung showed off their 100-year-old costumes.

Kindergarteners Rachel Peiten, Chloe Thi, and Molly Chung showed off their 100-year-old costumes.

By Walnut Valley Unified

C.J. Morris Elementary kindergarten students dressed up as adorable centenarians to mark the 100th day of school on January 28. The youngsters transformed into 100-year-olds with gray spray-painted hair, glasses, and canes for the day of fun and learning.

Many of the little ones had their new “mature” hair tucked up in buns with rouge on their cheeks. They wore aprons, shawls and sweater vests.

Some even had painted-on wrinkles! Chloe Thi, age 6, said she liked wobble-walking with her little cane.

“This was the first time we’ve had the students dress as old people,” noted teacher Sarah Sherman.

“They came in with little mustaches and cotton ball eyebrows – it was so cute! ”

The teaching team includes Luisa Salazar, and Kelly Revells, and Sherman, who led the activities costumed with gray wigs, floral dresses, saggy socks, and a trio of canes.

“Mrs. Salazar looks like an old lady! She’s wearing a wig,” observed a giggling Jewelina Baker. Counting to the 100th day of school serves as good practice for number recognition and beginning math skills.

It’s also the means students and their teachers made it about halfway through the school year! The kids look forward to reaching the big 100 all year long.

They counted out 100 Fruit Loops cereal rounds to make necklaces. They estimated walking a-hundred feet. They wrote little books about 100 things they’ve seen, eaten, or wanted to do.

At recess the young whippersnappers raced and played.

 

“We were two old ladies riding a race car!” exclaimed Rachel Peiten.

South Pointe P.E. classes read and ride in Walnut

South Pointe students are benefitting from the new Read and Ride program.

South Pointe students are benefitting from the new Read and Ride program.

By Walnut Valley Unified

South Pointe Middle School physical education teachers are helping students exercise their brains during fitness classes.

“Our teachers read an article that said if you read while you’re working out you’re brain will actually imprint the information a little bit more,” Principal Susan Arzola said.

P.E. teachers thought it would be perfect for the 30-minute silent reading called AR (Accelerated Reader).

“We began playing with the Read and Ride program at the end of last year and decided to make it official in August,” explained P.E. teacher Ann Schnoor.

Every class is in the fitness room once a week. P.E. teachers now rotate the schedule so students climb on exercise bikes to Read and Ride twice each month.  The 6th-8th grade students get fit with cardio push music during Week 1. They stand up, tighten tension, pedal, sit down, and repeat.

During Week 2 they they Read and Ride. Week 3 is movie and ride and week four is another Read and Ride.

“The kids love the diversity of the days.  We give rewards to anyone who rides over 12 miles at a time.  Believe me, that is tough.  Yet, we have at least 10 every period who achieve that!” Schnoor said.

The room is quiet during Read and Ride weeks. “I like the peace and quiet while I read. It gives me a chance to think about a lot of stuff.  And it helps with my multitasking,” said Amir Hunter, age 14.

“You can conserve time and do cool stuff at the same time,” said 8thgrader Christine Wan, age 13.

“So if you’re studying for a test that might be a good time to read and ride as you study because your brain will start putting those tracks down in your head and you’ll remember it better,” Arzola said to students in an 8th grade class. “It will make you smarter in the end!”

 

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.

 

 

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!

Quail Summit student wins national chess tournament

Quail Summit student Jonathan Chen beat first grade challengers from different states and won the title at the National K-12 Championship in Orlando.

Quail Summit student Jonathan Chen beat first grade challengers from different states and won the title at the National K-12 Championship in Orlando.

By Walnut Valley Unified

A six-year-old from Quail Summit Elementary has garnered the title of national champion. Jonathan Chen, a first grade student, represented his school during the National K-12 Championship held in Orlando, Florida.

Chen won the first-grade division with a perfect 7-0 score.The contest was held December 12-14.

Players with the same scores were paired against each other during seven rounds of competition. Each grueling round could last more than three hours.

“I am very happy and very proud of the biggest trophy and national champion title for my school!” Chen exclaimed.

Chen hopes to start a chess club so that next year he can bring a team trophy back to the school! The youngster from Diamond Bar has been playing chess for about two years.

His father introduced the game to him at age 4. He’s had a coach since he was in kindergarten and earned the youngest champion award in the 2013 American Open.

Last June, he won the 3rd Place trophy in the International Youth Championship, under 14-year-old division, held in Las Vegas.

A classmate asked Chen how he won all the games.

“I think it’s because I have more patience and more focus,” Chen replied.

South Pointe students collect canned goods

South Pointe Middle School collected canned food items for area needy. Boxes and bags of canned foods will be delivered to area needy.

South Pointe Middle School collected canned food items for area needy. Boxes and bags of canned foods will be delivered to area needy.

South Pointe Middle School hosted a canned food drive for area needy in December. Donations from the annual event, sponsored by Leadership students, will be delivered to several local families, the Walnut Food Bank, and a sponsored family from the non-profit Steven’s Hope, according to advisor Jamie Kervliet.

The students hope their simple gifts will make a difference during the holiday season.

“They don’t have a lot of food on their table,” stated 8th grader Melody Lee. This makes me appreciate all that we have,” added Charlene Hao.

Spark of Love program at Westhoff School

Second grader cowboys and cowgirls performed the story of “ Candy Cane Jane.”

Second grader cowboys and cowgirls performed the story of “ Candy Cane Jane.”

By Walnut Valley Unified

Westhoff Elementary presented its annual Spark of Love toy drive and holiday extravaganza. Students filled boxes with hundreds of new toys for needy children.

“For 22 years we’ve been making the lives of other children really special at this time of year,” said Principal Denise Rendon.

The Spark of Love toy drive is co-sponsored by Southland Firefighters and KABC7. Firefighters from Walnut Station #146 would later deliver the donations to needy children in the Los Angeles area.

Westhoff students loved the surprise snow delivered by Santa and his elves during the staff finale!

Westhoff students loved the surprise snow delivered by Santa and his elves during the staff finale!

“This holiday spirit restores the true meaning of Christmas. It shows us that everyone here has a chance to give to the less fortunate. And you’ve all truly done that here,” commented Captain Russell Blackschleger.

Each grade level took to the stage to perform a special holiday song. Westhoff parents and family members filled the school amphitheater for the school’s signature event. Kindergarteners wearing adorable oversized t-shirts, and red scarves and mittens opened the show with “White Christmas.”

First graders took the stage for “Christmas Conga” and second graders sang and danced with giant candy canes during “Candy Cane Jane.” Third graders joined the holiday program with “Christmas Cookies” followed by the fourth grade class singing “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree.”

Fifth graders showed their gymnastic, roller blade, dance, and baton talents during the high-energy “Big Time Rush.” Westhoff staff members performed a holiday line dance with Santa and his elves during the Walking in a Winter Wonderland finale.