Collegewood Elementary celebrates 50 years in Walnut

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By Walnut Valley Unified

Collegewood Elementary hosted a 50th birthday spectacular on March 20. “Our school was built in 1965!” announced fourth grader Sarah Armstrong on her way to the party held on the upper playground.  The school’s 600 students and staff couldn’t wait for the big day.

“We made birthday cards, hats, and decorated lunch bags for the hotdog picnic,” said 3rd grader Emily Yem.

Parent volunteers prepared 1,000 cupcakes and 1,200 hotdogs for the party.

“This is a very exciting day for Collegewood, we are ready to celebrate!” 2ndgrade teacher Elvonne Vance exclaimed. Earlier in the week, students and staff posed in a huge “50” for an aerial photo.CWD aerial

“Collegewood’s an amazing school. We’re excited that parents and community are coming out to celebrate the school’s 50th birthday,” commented Sandy Ibarra, parent of twin 2nd graders. “And it’s my birthday too, so I get to celebrate with Collegewood!”

Parents, alumni, former teachers, community members, and local officials joined the milestone occasion.  “Everyone who has been a part of this school has left a little bit of magic which has shaped who we are today!” Principal Joan Perez stated.

The event featured special music by the Collegewood choir, Walnut High Band Buddies, school trivia contest, and time capsule dedication.

“We want to make sure we leave our mark here at Collegewood. It will be un-earthed in 2065,” Perez said. “They will open up this time capsule and they will see what you left for them!”

Birthday hat contest winners from each class deposited keepsakes including photos, student writing, books, toys, and list of current technology.

“It’s exciting to see so many people today,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor. “It shows how important Collegewood is to our District and to the whole community of Walnut. So many people are so proud of what’s happened here for the past 50 years!”

Three of the school’s former principals Jack LeBrun, Dr. Susan Brown, and Robert Chang were on hand for the celebration.

“Collegewood has always had a great hard-working group of teachers and staff who really dedicate themselves to the students,” said LeBrun, the school leader from 1985-1992.

Several original alumni shared their memories from 1965.

“It was wonderful! We were excited to be in a brand new school,” shared Carol (Paine) Crouch, who was in the 3rd grade when the school opened.

“I lived on Collegewood Drive, so when the school was being built the neighborhood children weren’t happy they would lose their playground. We did lots of climbing in these hills!” Crouch added.

“I came here in kindergarten,” said Cheryl Fausel.  “We all brought flower seeds to throw on the hillsides!”

First grade teacher Jane (Dyer) Smith is the school’s most familiar alumnus.  She’s taught at Collegewood for the past 28 years.

“I was in the third grade with a very special teacher named Janey Browning. I can still remember the day that we moved into our brand new school. The classrooms seemed so big to us!” she said.

Students began the school year at the former location of Walnut Elementary, now Ron Hockwalt Academies, and then moved to Collegewood when it was completed.

“I remember walking on the hiking trails above the playground and we would have lunch under the trees. And since we were the first students we got to vote for the school colors and mascot!” Smith told students.

Smith acknowledged former teachers Eleanor Larks, 5th grade and Gene Garno, 6th grade, in the audience.

“Their special influence led me on the way to becoming a teacher.”

“I had lots of fun and remember we did square-dancing and special field trips,” recalled City of Walnut Mayor and alum Nancy Tragarz during a tree dedication at the party.

Ray and Nancy Fausel’s five children attended the new school and they wouldn’t have missed the big party.

He was one of the District’s original Board Members from 1964-1969, serving both the Walnut Elementary District and Walnut Valley Unified School District.

“Happy Birthday Collegewood – I think you’re great!” Nancy lauded.

After the ceremony, families enjoyed a picnic lunch and birthday cake.

Walnut gets Sprinkled with happiness by Suzanne students

Suzanne students sprinkled Walnut seniors with flowers, positive messages and hugs.

Suzanne students sprinkled Walnut seniors with flowers, positive messages and hugs.

By Kelli Gile, Walnut Unified

Suzanne Middle School students brought a whole lot of sunshine to parents, local seniors, and fellow classmates on March 18. Drama, PALS, and PLUS leadership members sprinkled happiness throughout the day.

The group of 80 students wore bright yellow shirts and big smiles as they greeted parents during the morning drop off. They carried happiness signs with positive messages like You are Loved, Breathe, and It’s Going to be All Right.

“Our kids were standing in the parking lot and street corners just wishing everybody a great day,” said math and drama teacher Helen Papadopoulos.

The Happiness Project, created by Laura Lavigne, founder of the Anacortes Center for Happiness is a simple way to share a powerful message.  People that were sprinkled might have been surprised at first, but the happiness spread quickly. They smiled, waved back, and some even honked.happy1

“We get to spread happiness all over!” exclaimed eighth grader Samantha Stone.

“We saw so many amazing parents driving by and smiling as they left the parking lot. So we feel like we did our job!” Papadopoulos added.

Later in the morning, the group trekked over to the Walnut Senior Center to make a surprise delivery of flowers, hugs, and smiles. The kids continued waving their yellow pompoms and signs at passing cars while they walked down La Puente Blvd.

When they arrived, they mingled through a morning senior aerobics class sharing the gifts of happiness. Seventh grader Mary Danganan made a beeline right over to Darlene Knox.

“I think it’s wonderful!” exclaimed the surprised retired educator clutching the colorful stems.

“We just wanted to spread love and happiness. And it’s fun!” Danganan gushed after giving a heartfelt hug.

Masa Nishida, a 35-year-resident, said he was brought to tears with the special gesture.  “It’s great!” he beamed.

“The seniors just loved the flowers from the kids,” commented Recreation Supervisor Gabriela Encinas.

“It was really fun to see them smile,” said 8th grader Priscilla Pranajasa after visiting the senior center.

At lunch, the happiness sprinkling continued. Random notes of kindness were passed out to students that said “You Matter, Sure You Can, Imagine, and You Can Do It.

“It’s Pass It On Week, so week so we’ve been spreading happiness!’ Pranajasa said.

“Today is about changing just one life at a time!” added teacher and leadership advisor Marla Rickard. Rickard wants students to see the impact of sharing a smile or kind word.

“It can not only change the lives of others, but they’ll change a little inside too.”

Walnut High wins trophies at writing competition

Walnut High won sweepstakes award at Eastern Los Angeles Journalism Education Association Write-offs Competition

Walnut High won sweepstakes award at Eastern Los Angeles Journalism Education Association Write-offs Competition

By Walnut Valley Unified

Walnut High School Publications garnered the Super Sweepstakes award for the third time in four years at the Eastern Los Angeles Journalism Education Association (ELAJEA) Write-offs Competition on Saturday, February 28.

The competition featured various categories of writing, photography, and yearbook design, and copy writing.

One yearbook team captured the 1st Place Yearbook Sweepstakes trophy while individual awards helped Walnut pick up a 3rd Place Newspaper sweepstakes trophy and 2nd Place Novice News sweepstakes trophy.

Walnut Valley schools swept all 1st Place sweepstakes trophies at the tourney, with Diamond Bar High School celebrating a 1st Place Newspaper Sweepstakes and 1st Place Novice News Sweepstakes victory.

Congratulations to the following WHS individual winners who qualified to advance to the State-Write-Offs:

Yearbook Layout: 1st Place – Crystal Chang, Aaron Yong, Yolanda Yu, Laura Zhang; Yearbook Layout: 3rd Place – Jezebel Cardenas, Emily Chen, Jessica Lee, Cynthia Lu; Yearbook Copy: 1st Place – Crystal Chang, Aaron Yong, Yolanda Yu, Laura Zhang; Yearbook Copy: 3rd Place – Jezebel Cardenas, Emily Chen, Jessica Lee, Cynthia Lu.

News Photography: 2nd Place – Andraes Arteaga; News Photography: 3rdPlace – Elaine Liu; Feature Photography: 4th Place – Sajid Iqbal; Critical Review: 1st Place  - Lisa Shen; Critical Review: 2nd Place  - Nikita Patel;Editorial Cartooning: 3rd Place – Gabrielle Manuit; Novice News: 8thPlace – Brian Wu.

News Writing: 6th Place  - Brandon Ng; Sports Writing: – 1st Place – Ted Zhu; Feature Writing: 1st Place  - Alison Chang; Feature Writing: 10thPlace – Spencer Wu; Editorial Writing: 1st Place  - Michelle Chang.

 

Inland Valley Regional Spell Bee picks champ at Mt. SAC

Nicholas Lee, 11, of Caryn Elementary School, center, raises his hand in victory.

Nicholas Lee, 11, of Caryn Elementary School, center, raises his hand in victory.

By Brian Day, Staff Writer

A fifth-grader from an Alta Loma school will represent the region in the Scripps National Spelling Bee after out-spelling 33 other hopefuls Saturday at the 8th annual Inland Valley Regional Spelling Bee at Mt. SAC.

Nicholas Lee, 11, of Caryn Elementary School in the Etiwanda School District clinched victory by spelling the uncommon word, “sinecure,” defined as a job or position in which someone is paid to do little or no work.

“I didn’t think I’d get into the top 10,” Lee said as he posed for photographs next to a massive trophy.

Lee said he studied for about two hours a day over five weeks to prepare for the competition. His strategy: “Sound it out.”

Cheering Lee on from the audience were his parents, Johnny and Gina Lee, and older brother Michael Lee.

Gina said she encouraged her son to enter the spelling bee to build his vocabulary and be better prepared for SATs.

“I’m very proud,” the mother said. The event was Nicholas Lee’s first regional spelling bee.

In second place after a neck-and-neck spell-off with Lee was 12-year-old Brandon Lam, a seventh-grade student at Edgewood Middle School in the West Covina Unified School District.

He spelled such words as “longiloquence” and “Einsteinian,” before being stumped on the word “homophony.”

Only the first-place winner will go to Washington, D.C., in May to take part in the nationals. The second-place winner earned $300 and a trophy, and the nine other top spellers received $50 and trophies.

Each student who competed Saturday was the champion of their respective school.

Read more in Brian Day’s story BEE. 

Walnut Elementary Rings in Lunar New Year

Nearly 200 Dual Language Immersion students at Walnut Elementary rang in the Lunar New Year for their parents and families

Nearly 200 Dual Language Immersion students at Walnut Elementary rang in the Lunar New Year for their parents and families

By Walnut Valley Unified

Nearly 200 Dual Language Immersion students in kindergarten through 3rd grades celebrated Lunar New Year by performing for their parents and families at Walnut Elementary.

Mandarin songs, ribbon dances, and even a play explaining how the animals were chosen to be part of the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac were performed.

The dress rehearsal on Thursday was equally as meaningful as all 560 students sang in Mandarin for the finale.

This Lunar New Year celebration would not be possible without the hard work of the Dual Language Immersion teachers:  Carol Cheng, Jeannie Lin, Henry Lin, Krystin Wong, Connie Shiroishi, Amy Wu, Connie Chen, and Vivian Ramirez.  In addition, parents assisted in costume and prop preparation.

“Dual Language Immersion is one strand of world language education at Walnut Elementary,” Principal Janet Green said.

The FLES program (Foreign Language in Elementary School) is taught to students in kindergarten through third grades by the Chinese exchange teacher

Students in grades 3-5 are enrolled in the online Middlebury Interactive Language program and may choose among Spanish, French, and Chinese.

Every teacher on campus provides global education through the Units of Study, which reflect Common Core standards.

Walnut Elementary is truly a neighborhood school with a global perspective!

Finalists prep for finals in Inland Valley Regional Spelling Bee

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Congratulations to the 34 spellers who qualified for the Inland Valley Regional Spelling Bee Finals this Saturday at Mt. SAC. Good Luck!

1. Canyon Hills Junior High Virginia Williams

2. Caryn Elementary School Nicholas Lee

3. Chaparral Middle School Olivia Hwang

4. Country Springs Elementary Emma Lazaro

5. Cucamonga Elementary Ranzelle Judd

6. Dona Merced Elementary Sofia Elise Benigno

7. Edgewood Elementary Brandon Lam

8. El Rooble Intermediate Amelie Cook

9. Etiwanda Intermediate Shlok Rajurkar

10. Foothill Knolls School Royce Tuncar

11. Goddard Middle Serena Lin

12. Harry S. Truman Middle Elizabeth Ouanemalay

13. Heritage Intermediate Rendell Jacob Nunez

14. Lorbeer Middle Andrew Wang

15. Mariposa Elementary Kaitlyn Le

16. Monte Vista Elementary Austin Leong

17. Montera Elementary Anna Nguyen

18. Oakridge Elementary Daniel Chen

19. Pioneer Junior High Rebecca Norden-Bright

20. Ramona Middle Aidan Leung

21. Rancho Cucamonga Middle Youssef Adam

22 .Rolling Ridge Elementary Kaila Long

23. Rowland Avenue Elementary Spandan Suthar

24. South Pointe Middle Thordar Han

25. St.Margaret Mary Hannah Silvestro

26. St. Joseph Vanessa Rios

27. Summit Intermediate Elyssa Sefiane

28. Sutherland Elementary Miriam Tomt

29. Suzanne Middle Lynette Chan

30. Sycamore Elementary Omvikneswer Muralitharan

31. Traweek Middle Ian Hulsbosch

32. Valencia Elementary Armieta Nabati

33. Victoria Groves Elementary Matthew Torre

34. Vineyard Junior High Nourya Cohen

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.