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!”

 

La Verne jazz concert features Mt. SAC choral group

By Imani Tate, Staff Writer

Singcopation, Mt. San Antonio College’s multiple award-winning choral ensemble, and the Bonita High School Jazz Ensemble will highlight the jazz concert presented by the La Verne Cultural Arts Society at 7 p.m. Saturday in The Meeting House at Hillcrest.

Tickets are $20 per person for the concert showcasing the musical talents of teens and young adults in the Inland and San Gabriel valleys. Advance tickets may be purchased through Paypal at www.living@hillcrest.org. If still available, tickets can also be purchased at the door of The Meeting House, 2705 Mountain View Drive.

The Bonita band, directed by instrumental music educator Jeff Bird and including freshmen to senior students, opens the evening with a program featuring songs by Ira and George Gershwin, Billy Strayhorn, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Doug Beach, Paul Lohorn and Les Hooper.

The Bonita ensemble has performed at concerts, festivals and private parties throughout Southern California. Bird, who completed a bachelor of music education from Ohio’s College of Wooster and a master of music education at the University of North Carolina, has taught at Bonita for 11 years. Also a professional bassist, Bird also plays in XNA, a progressive rock band, and sings lead vocals in The Shepherds of Lies, a Genesis tribute band.

Singcopation, a 13-voice choir, has repeatedly wowed audiences in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, won a record-setting nine Downbeat jazz magazine national polls as the best collegiate choir in the United States and twice won Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Music Festival. The latter distinction also made Singcopation the nation’s best college jazz choir. It has won standing ovations from pioneering performers, legends and master artists at International Association of Jazz Educators conferences, the L.A. Vocal Jazz Workshop, New York City’s Lincoln Center.

The group recently returned from a successful tour to Guangzhou, China and won the platinum medal at the first Xinghai International Choral Competition.

Bruce Rogers, an internationally renowned choral conductor and Mt. SAC’s choral activities director, has conducted the Walnut community college singers and international choirs in America, Wales, Australia, England, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Scotland, Austria, Bulgaria, China and the Czech Republic.

For more, read Tate’s story JAZZ

Lanterman property to go to Cal Poly Pomona

By Jason Henry and Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writers

The recently closed Lanterman Developmental Center could go from the control of the state’s Department of Developmental Services to that of Cal Poly Pomona.

According to the 2015-2016 Governor’s Budget Summary, the 302-acre Lanterman property would be transferred to Cal Poly for academic purposes and to expand its Innovation Village development.

“The transfer is contingent on CSU acknowledging that state funds will not be specifically appropriated for the operation, maintenance or development of this property; and the University accommodating the needs of other state departments for a portion of the land in the area,” according to the budget summary.

Before Cal Poly can take possession of the Lanterman property, the Legislature must approve and adopt the budget, said Emily Velasco, Cal Poly spokeswoman.

“We’re hopeful and we’re in negotiations with the state, but it’s not anything definite,” Velasco said. “It’s really up to them at this point.”

For more than eight decades, the Lanterman Developmental Center was home to people with developmental disabilities.

On Dec. 31 the center closed, following a nearly five-year-long process to gradually relocate center residents to specially designed homes across Southern California.

Lanterman closed due to several factors, including the potential cost of infrastructure improvements required by state and federal governments.

Velasco said in the current negotiations, the state is negotiating on behalf of the California Highway Patrol, the California Air Resource Board and the California Conservation Corps, all of which would like use of portions of the Lanterman property.

The CHP uses a building on the property, said Nancy Lungren, spokeswoman for the state Department of Developmental Services, which operated the developmental center and is still in charge of maintaining and caring for the property until the end of the current fiscal year.

For more, read LAND

“The Filharmonic” performs at Oswalt Academy in Walnut

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By Rowland Unified

Students are buzzing that the a Cappella group The Filharmonic – from NBC’s hit musical competition “The Sing-Off” and featured in the new movie “Pitch Perfect 2” – performed today at their school.

Beat boxer Niko Del Rey is an alumni of Oswalt Academy and was excited to return to perform to Oswalt 6th – 8th graders.

The Filipino-American band have had much to sing about after sharing the stage with Linkin Park, Black Eyed Peas and Penatonix from the “Sing Off” national tour and their upcoming movie.

They are known for their melodic vocal style that exemplifies an urbanesque hip hop sound with 90’s nostalgia.

The six members are passionate about their Filipino culture and love of music and have combined musical talents coming from the world of pop, jazz, a cappella, opera and theater.

To catch recent videos and learn more visit www.thefilharmonic.com or follow them @thefilharmonic.

Language programs to entertain families on Feb. 24

By Hacienda La Puente Unified

The Dual Immersion programs in the HaciendaLa Puente Unified School District at Wedgeworth Elementary, Los Altos Elementary and Valinda School of Academics will present the first Dual Immersion Showcase and Silent Auction.

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, students from our Mandarin and Spanish programs will perform for the community. In addition, local vendors and literacy groups will be on hand to celebrate the success of our students and present materials to the community.

The event will take place at the Hacienda Heights Community Center at 1234 Valencia Ave. in Hacienda Heights from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Vendors/Silent Auction includes: • La Libreria Books, an independent book seller that features English Language children’s books along with authentic Spanish language text. • Conmigo, Affinity Insurance – Family literacy outreach program. • Chinese Book and Education vendors.

Silent Auctions items include movie tickets, vendor baskets, and special school auctions. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Rosalie Sinapi, Principal at Los Altos Elementary School at (626) 933-2302.

Rowland High students get free books today

Rowland High School will hold an “Evening at the Library” event on January 21 from 4 to 6 p.m. where students may come and pick out a book to take home!

There will also be a scholarship presentation from the Navy in the West Wing of the library for students.

Rowland High School Librarian Clare Ruesga is excited to share that 2,400 books were donated to Rowland High School thanks to a grant received from the Molina Foundation.

Their interest is in building home libraries for all children; especially for students in need. The books received vary in topic, author, and genre, but all are geared toward our secondary population.

ELD and special education classes toured the library on Jan. 14 during school to select titles. The rest of Rowland High School students are invited to the “Evening at the Library” event to pick out their book. (It will run on a first come, first serve basis with no rain checks). 

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.

 

 

Parents cope with unruly teenagers in Rowland Unified

Many parents need help with strong-willed or out-of-control children. Rowland Unified’s Parent Project will offer 30 hours of free training over a 10-week period, beginning Jan. 20. It even provides baby-sitting.

Families can catch a preview Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Alvarado Intermediate School in Rowland Heights. They can learn about the topics that will be covered in the 3-hour classes held on Tuesday nights starting at 5:30 p.m.

Topics include recognizing drug and alcohol use, gang involvement and threatening to run away, among many other subjects.

“We help frustrated parents understand that help is out there. That they can change their teen’s destructive behavior for the better, “ said Irma Almanza, a community liaison for the local school district.

Over the past 27 years, the Parent Project has worked with 500,000 parents to create this special course, which uses UCLA self-help support group model. It has developed no-nonsense answers to many of the tough questions that local parents face.

“The program is very interactive, we not only talk about behavior modification, we help them change the way they interact with their teenagers,” Almanza explained. “They have to actually use these techniques at home if they want to see a change in their teen’s behavior.”

 

 

Naturally, this doesn’t happen overnight, which is why the classes are held over two and a half months. And parents have to do their homework if they want to change things at home.

So where do distraught parents start?

“Of course, it all has to start with your love for your children,” Almanza replied. “But you have to express your love, in many cases, teens are acting out because they don’t think you love them. The child needs to feel your love.”

Experts say love and affection are the keys to effective parent-teen communications. Often, fathers have a problem expressing their love, which needs to be done on a daily basis. Three words, “I love you,” can work wonders.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story PARENTS.