Diamond Bar High names new dance teacher

 Kari Simonson copy

Kari Simonson is the new dance teacher for Diamond Bar High’s award-winning dance program. Simonson taught dance for two years and coached dance for eight years at Woodbridge High School in Irvine. She comes to us with over 20 years of dance experience.
Simonson is a graduate of Cal State University Fullerton and Chapman University. She has danced for well-known industry professionals like Mike Esperanza (BARE Dance Company) and Leanna Aldenda.
Simonson keeps her dance skills and knowledge current as a teacher and student at Defore Dance Center in Costa Mesa. She also has experience in Pilates and Barre fitness methods.

 

Mt. Calvary Lutheran school takes ALS challenge in Diamond Bar

Ice bucket challenge #2
Last week, the whole school at Mt. Calvary Lutheran in Diamond Bar, from preschool through 8th grade, got the chance to watch their pastor, Pastor John Scharlemann, and two church members, Sebe Garton and George Grinham, participate in the ice bucket challenge.
They did this to support a teacher whose sister passed away from ALS a few years ago.  This was a fun way to kick off the 31st school year.

Diamond Bar student takes second place in national leadership conference

Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL), the largest and oldest student business organization, held its National Leadership Conference in Nashville on June 29–July 2.

Participants from across the United States and two countries competed in more than 60 business and business-related events. Crystal Chang from Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar received national recognition at the FBLA Awards of Excellence.

Chang competed in Health Care Administration and brought home second place. The competition consisted of a timed 100-question multiple-choice test on a wide variety of healthcare-related topics such as infection control, health insurance, healthcare law and ethics, records management, and medical terminology.

“Crystal also qualified for nationals last year in Anaheim, as a freshman. This year, she placed higher than any other Diamond Bar student in the history of DBHS FBLA,” said Ty Watkins, DBHS FBLA chapter adviser.

The award was part of a comprehensive national competitive events program sponsored by FBLA-PBL that recognizes and rewards excellence in a broad range of business and career-related areas.

For many students, the competitive events are the capstone activity of their academic careers. In addition to the competitions, students immersed themselves in educational workshops, visited an information-packed exhibit hall, and attended motivational keynotes on a broad range of business topics.

Tech Trek grads to speak in Diamond Bar

Tech Trek is an annual science/math camp for Middle School aged girls held in July at UC Irvine. Four eighth grade scholarship recipients will report on their experiences at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 22 in the Windmill Room at Diamond Bar City Hall.

The speakers are Roya Rezvani of Chaparral Middle School, Theresa Lin and Kyla Jennell of Suzanne Middle School, and Ying Wang of South Pointe Middle School.

Everyone is welcome at this public event co-sponsored by the Diamond Bar-Walnut AAUW and the Friends of the Library.

Walnut Valley begins first day of school

By Kelli Gile, Walnut Valley Unified

It’s back-to-school time in the Walnut Valley Unified School District. Nearly 14,600 students began classes in the 15 campuses on Monday, August 18.

“We had a great first day,” said Walnut High School Principal Jeff Jordan. ”Students and staff were excited to be back. There was an upbeat attitude all day.”

The teens happily chatted at break time, stopped by their lockers, and checked schedules before dashing off to their next class.

Maple Hill Elementary in Diamond Bar opened doors to its completely modernized campus in Diamond Bar.

Everyone was relocated to portable buildings during the $5.6 million construction project last year.

This was the first chance for students and their families to see the new school.

“We made it!” exclaimed Principal Nancy Stingley. “Everybody’s here and inside, everybody’s happy, and everybody’s smiling.”

“Wellyn’s very lucky she’s going to a brand new school,” said kindergarten parent Jocelyn Wong.

Fourth graders Gabrielle Zabresky, Valentina Yonemoto, Carlie Law and Ella Liu were excited to see their new classrooms before the school bell rang.

What do they like best about school?

“We love math – it’s fun!’ the girls exclaimed.

“It’s really nice,” commented parent Grace Wang just outside her child’s classroom.

Fifth grade teacher Shirley Conner greeted students who were lined up before the 8 a.m.school bell rang.

“Welcome back to school. It’s beautiful inside!” she said

“It’s such a gift to us,” beamed fourth grade teacher Tami Berry.

“Everything’s new and wonderful, and different. As we had time to get to know the school, you all will have time to get to know the school,” she told her students.

“It’s going to be a very fun place to learn,” Berry added.

The school has a brand-new interior design, multipurpose room and exterior landscaping. Classrooms feature state-of-the-art technology, skylights and generous storage cabinets. Six hundred new desks and chairs were purchased for the campus.

“It’s big and roomy, everything is clean and new, and up-to-date technologically,” said kindergarten teacher Lisa Esse, who has been at the school for 20 years.

“And every teacher is excited!”

“It’s like a new beginning for us. It’s beautiful, it’s kid-friendly and we have a lot of new technology that we didn’t have before,” said third grade teacher Sue Conrad-Kanstul.

Teachers will now use wireless microphones and be able project assignments using cool mobile stations that adjust up and down, she explained.

Kanstul is happy that she will no longer have her back to the screen while at the front of the class.

“The kids used to say ‘Mrs. Kanstul I can’t see the board.’ And now I can watch what I’m projecting. I would say it’s 21st century.”

“I look forward to another great school year at Suzanne Middle School,” said Principal Les Ojeda.

“We have a great number of returning students and new students that seem incredibly intelligent, enthusiastic and eager to learn.”

Westhoff Elementary celebrated the first day of school with balloons, chalk greetings, posters, music and a staff with welcoming smiles.

“It’s going to be a great school year!” said Principal Denise Rendon.

Maple Hill Elementary reopens after $5 million renovation in Diamond Bar

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Maple Hill Elementary students found a new school when they arrived Monday morning for the first day of the new year.

Diamond Bar families have waited patiently the past year while workers renovated the Diamond Bar campus.

“The district spent $5.6 million to remodel this school,” said Walnut Valley school board president Cindy Ruiz. “I wish my children went here, it’s great environment for kids.”

Lush landscaping greets parents as they drive up to drop off their children. The vibrant shrubs and trees set the tone for the striking campus.

Inside, architects have balanced energy efficiency with high technology to produce a state-of-the-art school.

“We can have rainbows all day long,” said kindergarten teacher Lisa Esse.

Esse explained how light tubes channel sunlight into each classroom. Teachers can control shutters to allow just the right amount of light into their room.

“If you tweak the control just right, the prisms will form a faint rainbow,” Esse laughed. “The kids will love it.”

Ruiz turned off the lights to show how much natural light pours into the classrooms. It was still be easy to read a textbook.

“We have also installed new LED lighting throughout the school,” said Jeff Roule, construction manager for Walnut Valley Unified. He estimates the new lighting systems will save the school 20 percent on its electric bill.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story RENOVATION.

Four Diamond Bar students earn rank of Eagle Scout

Four members of Diamond Bar High School’s Class of 2014 earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America organization. Congratulations! The new Eagle Scouts are Matthew Kim, Nathaniel Rodriguez, Darren Wijaya and Samuel Hwang.  All of them are members of Troop 730 that meet at Calvary Chapel in Diamond Bar.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). A Scout who attains this rank is called an Eagle Scout or Eagle. Since its introduction in 1911, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than 2 million young men. The title of Eagle Scout is held for life, thus giving rise to the phrase “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle”.

Diamond Bar couple engaged where it all began, Quail Summit

Sometimes, you know from the first dance, the first kiss, that she is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. Sometimes, it takes 17 years.

Michael Siacunco and Sarah Lin of Diamond Bar became engaged Friday night at Quail Summit Elementary. Not something you see every day in a public school.

Siacunco, an airman who works in systems engineering at Buckley Air Force Base outside of Denver, recently returned home for leave. He thought it was time for the next step in their relationship. His younger brother, Cody, pushed Michael to ask Sarah, now a cardiac unit nurse at UCLA Medical Center, to marry him.

“I thought it was time for all or nothing, the title of our first dance,” Michael said.

So the young man began his campaign to win over Sarah’s heart. Gathering his friends, Michael planned a special night that would remind her of their time together.

He recruited her friend to “hang out” with Sarah last Friday. The friend took her on some “errands.” They stopped at Chaparral, where friends held up a sign reminding her of the first kiss.

They stopped at Diamond Bar High, where other friends reminded them of their shared past, then the Diamond Bar Center, where the couple had spent so many hours talking about life.

Arriving at Quail Summit, Sarah started crying when she saw rose petals on the sidewalks lit by candlelight, with strings of lights on the railings. A movie screen showed a special video made by Michael.

Friends led her to the amphitheater, where Sarah had chased a little boy 17 years ago. “It was kind of blurred because I was crying so hard,” she said.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story ENGAGED. 

Music teachers at Walnut and Diamond Bar highs named quarter finalists by Grammy Foundation

Four Inland Valley educators were among 222 music teachers from 208 cities in 41 states who were selected as quarter finalists for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.

They were selected from more than 7,000 nominations from all 50 states.

The local honorees are Steven Acciani of Diamond Bar High, Anthony Allmond of Kaiser High in Fontana, Buddy Clements of Walnut High and Eufemio Escalante of Vina Danks Middle School in Ontario.

In September, a list of semi-finalists will be announced after which 10 finalists will be selected.  One recipient will be selected from the 10 finalists and will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the Grammy Awards ceremony, and receive a $10,000 honorarium.

The other nine finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists also will receive matching grants.

 

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten to college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.

 

Link: http://www.dailybulletin.com/social-affairs/20140605/four-area-educators-nominated-for-national-award

Walnut Valley honors 26 retirees with 584 years of service

Walnut Valley Unified honored 2014 retirees  during a reception on May 21.

Walnut Valley Unified honored 2014 retirees during a reception on May 21.

Walnut Valley Unified School District gathered to celebrate the 2014 retiring staff members during a reception on May 21. Twenty-six employees were lauded for providing a total of 584 years of outstanding service to students.

Each retiree received personal tributes, retirement watch, and certificates of special recognition. “Thank you on behalf of the Board of Trustees,” said President Cindy Ruiz. “We appreciate every one of you and you will be missed!”

 Congratulations to the following retiring staff members:

Diana Thorneycroft – Senior Administrative Assistant, Business Services

Bonnie Lee, Instructional Aide, Castle Rock Elementary

Brad Chapman, Teacher, Chaparral Middle School

Sharon Mocho, Food Service Worker III, Chaparral Middle School

Marian Nelson, Attendance Clerk, Chaparral Middle School

Kerry Volkov, Instructional Aide II, Chaparral Middle School

Linda Gandana, Food Service Worker II, Collegewood Elementary

Edith Yu, Food Service Worker I, Collegewood Elementary

Jon Goode, Grade Level Coordinator, Diamond Bar High

Dennis Thomsen, Teacher, Educational Services

Gayle Douglas, Teacher, Maple Hill Elementary

Marsha Dickerson, Teacher, South Pointe Middle School

Jean Fujihara, Teacher, South Pointe Middle School

Claudia Huff, Teacher, South Pointe Middle School

Nadine Aquinaga, Food Service Worker I, Suzanne Middle School

Susan Gilbert, Administrative Secretary, Transportation

Lorraine Meier, Bus Driver, Transportation

Nea Tyler, Bus Driver, Transportation

Sandra Harutunian, Teacher, Vejar Elementary

Patricia Ackman, Food Service Worker II, Walnut Elementary

Tricia Aragon, Secretary II, Walnut High

Scott Cassells, Grade Level Coordinator, Walnut High

Lily Jacquot, Teacher, Walnut High

Christine Nagashima, Office Assistant, Walnut High

Patricia Finn, Teacher, Westhoff elementary