Maple Hill receives $1,000 for library books

Diamond Bar Friends of the Library President Chris Ko presented $1,000 to the Maple Hill library.

Diamond Bar Friends of the Library President Chris Ko presented $1,000 to the Maple Hill library.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Maple Hill Elementary’s Library Media Center will be getting lots of new books thanks to a generous donation from the Diamond Bar Friends of the Library. Board members from the non-profit presented a check for $1,000 to fund titles from the school’s “wish list” on April 17.

“We have established a new book fund that we are implementing for public schools in Diamond Bar,” announced President Chris Ko. Maple Hill received the first gift from the organization.

The wonderful new library that opened in late February was created from two connecting portables with fiction and non-fiction spaces.

“Just being able to continually add books to the collections is phenomenal and we appreciate this donation so much,” said Principal Nancy Stingley. ”It gives our students the incentive to read and nourishes their mind.”

A grassroots campaign funded new carpet, paint, furniture, ceiling tiles, and shelving for the library.

“It was all a school effort with lots of support from our parents and community,’ said Principal Nancy Stingley. The renovation wasn’t part of the school modernization plan.

Maple Hill 82-year-old grandfather and artist Cor Grieve painted vivid murals making the library a one-of-a kind reading sanctuary.  He’s added 10 paintings around the campus in the past two years.

Lions, zebras, and giraffes roam in the African Savanna depicted in the non-fiction room.

Across the library, fictional characters Clifford, Arthur, Winnie the Pooh, Little Red Ridding Hood, and Harry Potter decorate the walls.

“We wanted to make sure that when we did the library that it would be a fun place for students to come – and such a lively place they wouldn’t want to leave,” Stingley said. “That was our goal and I think we achieved that!”

“They don’t want to leave!” confirmed Tuyet Van Nguyen, the school librarian.

“It’s really a great place,” Diamond Bar Mayor Pro Tem and Friends’ Board Member Nancy Lyons commented during the tour.

Walnut Valley needs help on Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee

The Walnut Valley Unified School District is looking for citizens to serve on the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee.

In November 2007, voters approved General Obligation Bond Measure S, the $64.6 million Academic Facilities Measure, and Measure Y, the $15.2 million Physical Education Facilities Measure.

In 2008, Series A was released and Walnut Valley schools began receiving needed repairs and upgrades.  Outdated classrooms are being modernized with new roofing, heating, ventilation and electrical wiring and advanced technology will continue to be sustained on every campus.  School playgrounds, athletic fields and performing arts facilities are being improved, and in some cases built new as with Chaparral’s Gymnasium and Walnut High School’s Band Building, as well as an Aquatic Center and Classroom Building, which took place at Diamond Bar High School.

An active oversight committee is part of the accountability and auditing process to ensure that a check and balance system is effective.  The Committee consists of seven members appointed by the Board of Trustees from a list of candidates submitting written applications, and based on criteria established by Prop 39.

In 2011, the District released Series B of Bond Measures S & Y which funded Cyrus J. Morris Elementary School’s modernization and Chaparral Middle School’s new Science Buildings.  These projects are ongoing.

In 2014, Vejar Elementary School’s lunch shade structure was complete as well as Maple Hill Elementary School’s ball wall.

The District is now seeking applications to fill the expiring terms of seven committee members.  The new members will serve a two-year term.

Applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • A representative of the business community located in the District
  • A representative of a senior citizens’ organization
  • A representative of a bona fide Taxpayers’ Organization
  • A Parent/Guardian of a Child Enrolled in the District
  • A Parent/Guardian of a Child Enrolled in the District AND active in a parent-teacher organization (Ex: Community Club or School Site Council)
  • Two representatives with other expertise, (i.e., architecture, engineering, construction, law, educational administration, financial management, real estate/development, construction management, public administration)


A copy of the bylaws and an application form may be downloaded from the District’s website at  They are also available by email or fax.  Anyone interested in obtaining an application may call Danielle Amaya-Martinez at (909) 595-1261 ext. 31329All completed applications must be received in the Superintendent’s Office by Thursday, May 11, 2015, before 4:00 p.m.

Diamond Bar High goes “Into the Woods” for musical production

2015-04-15 18.04.23

By Walnut Valley Unified

The Diamond Bar High School Theater Arts Department will be performing “Into the Woods” on April 23, 24, 25, 30 and May 1 and 2. All shows begin at 7 p.m.

“Into the Woods,” a musical with book by James Lapine and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, takes a grown up twist on several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, including Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Rapunzel, intertwining the plots of several stories with the original story about a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.  The plot depicts consequences of the characters’ wishes and actions.

“My favorite part of the production is definitely the musical score. The music is so fun and catchy, and I’m having a lot of fun working with the cast to perfect it,” said DBHS student Will Nazareno, who not only plays the role of Rapunzel’s Prince but is also Assistant Music Director.

As is the practice in the DBHS theater program, students involved with the musical, take a production class and work as a company on every element of production including production management, acting, stage-craft, set design, makeup design, publicity, fundraising, house management, box office, concessions and music.  The musical features live music played by DBHS’ Grammy Award winning orchestra conducted by Steve Acciani.

The visually stunning set was designed through collaboration between staff and DBHS Theatre Performing Arts Academy students.  The idea of using books to represent each story came from a set design project by senior Marissa Kummerman and the basic lay out and idea to use trees for all the structural set elements came from a design by senior Emily Beard who also designed and built Milky White, the prominently feature cow in the show.

“The aim of the program is to give students real world experiences and skills that will give them a really strong base for college and career,” said Beatrice Casagran, DBHS Theatre Arts teacher.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this production. We’ve been putting in a lot of work to make it great, and I can’t wait to put it on for an audience,” said Amelia Anijielo, who is playing the Witch.

Though only a freshman, Anijielo has been wowing those who experience her strong, warm mezzo voice and magnetic stage presence.  She recently won an award for her acting at the Fullerton High School Theater Festival as part of the DBHS team.

Tickets may be purchased online at or at the door. Ticket prices vary depending on seating section, starting at $12 for students and $15 for adults.  The Diamond Bar High School Theater is on 21400 E. Pathfinder Road in Diamond Bar, CA.

Collegewood Elementary celebrates 50 years in Walnut


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


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.