Walnut Valley artists win awards in magazine contest

Walnut Valley’s top winner is Quail Summit Elementary fifth grader Willow Huang with the 1st Runner-Up award.

Walnut Valley’s top winner is Quail Summit Elementary fifth grader Willow Huang with the 1st Runner-Up award.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Twenty-six elementary students in the Walnut Valley Unified School District have been named award winners in the 2014 “Draw a Cover for the Music K-8 Magazine” contest. The Board of Trustees recognized the young artists during the April 16 meeting.

Music Specialist Judy Brunelle introduced the young artists and presented them with keepsake copies of their original artwork. Winners came from Collegewood, Evergreen, Maple Hill, Quail Summit, Walnut, and Westhoff elementary schools.

1st Runner-Up – Willow Huang and 5th Runner-Up Claire Kung.

Top Finalists: Kathryn Song, Emily Chen, Michael Wu, James Wu, Ricky Lambert, Hailey Lim, and Vencionas Kosasih.

Promising Young Artist Finalist: James Wu.

Finalists: Emma Hsieh, Nathan Lee, Jennifer Lai, Matthew Kao, Michelle Xu, Christa Tang, Olivia Hwang, Katie Kim, and Nikki Yip.

Honorable Mention: Jessie Ji, Clarie Wang, Michelle, Wang, Erin Zhou, Srijani Krishman, Kellie Lam, and Arushi Verma.

The results were published in the June/July issue and the artwork can be seen on the magazine website at www.musick8.com.

GATE students building bridges at Chaparral School in Diamond Bar

Chaparral GATE students Esther Tarng, Donna Chao, Michelle Chao, Summer Wang show their toothpick bridge. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

Chaparral GATE students Esther Tarng, Donna Chao, Michelle Chao, Summer Wang show their toothpick bridge. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

Chaparral Middle School GATE students raced to build toothpick bridges during a competition held on March 6. The group of gifted 6th, 7th and 8th graders is part of the after-school Bridge Design and Engineering class.

Chaparral 7th grade Language arts teacher Heather Finch serves as the GATE coordinator. “The class worked very hard in preparation for the challenge during the past 12 weeks,” Finch said.

The four-member teams managed their own budgets to buy supplies, including land (cardboard), lumber (toothpicks), welding equipment (glue), and paint.

It took 15-20 hours to complete the detailed structures. Students had to communicate as a team in order to overcome strict time constraints.  Prizes were awarded for strongest truss bridge and for creative design.

“It was an overall fun and exciting experience building and breaking our bridges.  I was surprised to see how much weight a toothpick bridge could hold,” said 7th grader Virginia Wang,

“Our goal was for the bridges to hold 150 lbs., and our winning bridge ended up holding over 250 lbs.,” Finch said.

Quail Summit school gets eight new trees in Diamond Bar

Students took shovels to help plant a new tree at Quail Summit Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

Students took shovels to help plant a new tree at Quail Summit Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

The front landscaping at Quail Summit Elementary School now includes eight new trees planted this week. The lush green Japanese Maples, Camphor trees, and Australian Willows were made possible through a donation from the Great Enlightenment Lotus Society.

On March 11, the school held a ceremony attended by district and local officials to thank the non-profit organization.

“It is a great opportunity for the Quail Summit Elementary and the District to receive this generous tree donation from the Great Enlightenment Lotus Society and at the same time to educate our kids about the importance and meaning of tree planting for our future,” said Walnut Valley Unified School District Board Member Dr. Y. Tony Torng.

Quail Summit 4th and 5th grade student representatives joined the planting celebration. They drew pictures and wrote thank you cards for the event.

“It’s very important when someone gives you a gift that we say thank you,” said Principal Dr. Alysia Hobbs-Odipo.

Student Body President 5th grader Brianna Hernandez presented a poster and some fun facts about trees.

“With all the electronics we have in this era, sometimes it’s just nice to sit under a tree and read a book. I’m a proud to represent my fellow Quails to show that we care and love our trees. We appreciate your help and sponsorship in planting these trees and beautifying our school,” she said

Another Quail Summit student, 4th grader Kenzie Wilson, accompanied by 5th grader Mara Firtat, sang an original song about beautiful trees. Then all the students gathered around the last new tree and took planting with rich soil.

Lead Grounds Maintenance Worker Gene Kennebrew shared information about the species including it will grow to a towering 75’tall.

“This is a Camphor tree and these were originally from Eastern Asia. They were brought to Florida in about 1875. They are excellent for shade and have a nice aroma,” he said.

“We are very happy here today to have Quail Summit Elementary students join us for this great event. When we realize the benefit of the forest, the tree-planting ceremony is very important and meaningful for our society and work,” said William Shen, treasurer of the Bliss and Wisdom Foundation of North America, the organization that founded the Great Enlightenment Lotus Society.

Shen was presented with certificates from the Offices of Senator Bob Huff and Assemblyman Curt Hagman.

“We want to make sure you give us treats, but you walk away with your hands full too!” Dr. Hobbs said.

“I’m not sure if you know it or not, but Diamond Bar is a designated Tree City,” said Jody Roberto, Senior Field Representative for Senator Huff.

“And your school is contributing to that. You’re lucky to be at this beautiful school,” she said.

Diamond Bar soccer player scores in fight against cancer

By Staff Writer Richard Irwin

Marissa Favela has fought hard to play in the first-round of Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoff against visiting Mayfield.

While teammates were battling on the field, the Diamond Bar High School girls soccer player took on cancer.

The 16-year-old recently returned to school and the sport she loves so much. Though still recovering her strength, the midfielder has scored goals in the last two games.

But just returning to the soccer field has made her a winner in the eyes and hearts of her coaches and teammates.

“I think she has inspired all of us,” coach Matt Brummett said. “It changes your perspective. While we were fighting on the field, Marissa was fighting for her life.”

The junior has been playing on the Brahma’s soccer team since her freshman year. She had been named to this newspaper’s All Valley Team for her play. She scored the game-tying goal in a 2013 quarterfinal playoff against Bishop Amat that sent the game to overtime.

Fortunately for Favela, her playoff dreams are not finished.

Coach Brummett was impressed when the young woman asked to return to the soccer team in midseason.

“She had such determination to play on the team again,” he recalled. “Marissa’s tough, fighting for everything.”

Though still recovering from surgery and chemotherapy, Favela felt it was important to return to the team when she returned to the local high school.

“My illness began when doctors discovered a benign tumor on my ovary last year,” she explained.

Surgeons removed the tumor at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. But another tumor appeared, so doctors decided further surgery would be followed by several courses of chemotherapy.

“I was too sick to return to school, so I studied at home the first semester,” the Brahmas standout said. “The chemo made me nauseous and very tired.”

A third tumor was removed shortly before Christmas. Now, doctors screen her every six weeks with an MRI.

Throughout her ordeal, Favela’s spirits have been buoyed by family and friends such as teammate Angie Puerta.

The 17-year-old junior would visit her friend at Children’s Hospital as well as at home in Diamond Bar.

“I was very sad because she was so sick, but I was grateful when she began to feel better,” Puerta said. “I know how much she loves soccer, so I wasn’t surprised when she came back to the team.”

Favela, who has dreams of playing at Oregon State University, admits her strength and stamina is only half of what it was before her illness. But she says she feels a little better every day.

Favela didn’t look like anyone overcoming an illness at Wednesday’s practice, she looked like her old self, getting ready for another playoff run.

“We’re dedicating our season to her,” said Assistant Coach Jameson Campbell. “She’s a tremendous ball handler, so I know she’ll help us in the playoffs.”

National Honor Society performs puppet show for Chinese New Year in Diamond Bar

Join students from Diamond Bar High’s National Honors Society as they perform a Chinese New Year’s puppet show in the Diamond Bar Library from 4 to 5 p.m. on Jan. 22.

The puppet show is based on the timeless story of “The Wishing Tree” by Roseanne Thong. After the program, participants will make make several art activities based on the story to take home and enjoy. Supplies are limited.

This event is appropriate for elementary school students. The library is at 21800 Copley Dr. in Diamond Bar. For more information, call 909-861-4978.

Diamond Ranch High getting new stadium

The athletic fields at Diamond Ranch high school may be a construction zones now but by August it will be the site of football games and the platforms for students to showcase their talents.

Last week, the Pomona Unified School District held ground-breaking ceremonies for what will be modest but much-improved athletic facilities at Diamond Ranch, Garey and Pomona high schools.

Each facility will be improved in two phases. As part of the first phase of work, the schools will have improved fields, tracks, lighting, scoreboards and seating by the fall. Restrooms and snack bars will be added by fall 2014.

The total budget for the fields is $16 million, said Leslie Barnes, Pomona Unified’s assistant superintendent for business services and chief financial officer.

Board President Roberta Perlman said the three construction projects will represent a bit of an inconvenience as the current academic year wraps up, but many people in and outside of the schools are looking forward to the improvements.

“There was so much excitement from parents and community members,” Perlman said of the ceremonies.

Perlman said she has told students that the fields are a way of showing them they are valued by the district and the community.

The improvements to the fields will be made using revenue from the 2008 voter-approved Measure PS.

Revenue from the bond measure must be used for school facilities including replacing out-dated infrastructure.

Walnut Valley students win at State Leadership Conference

Diamond Bar and Walnut High School business students competed in the State Leadership Conference in Santa Clarita on April 18-21. They’re members of Future Leaders of America (FBLA). They qualified for the competition during regional Inland Section contest in February.

Both high schools brought home many awards. Seven students also qualified for the national competition: Crystal Chang and Sachin Vernin from Diamond Bar High; Jefferey Huang, Hana Haideri, Annie Liu, Howard Chen, and Vivian Huang from Walnut High.

Read more in BIZ. 

‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ comes to stage at Diamond Bar High

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” offers lots of singing and tap dancing at Diamond Bar High School this weekend and next.

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” is a really big production at Diamond Bar High. It has three different casts with more than 50 actors and actresses, plus twin directors.

No wonder, the drama department is adding two more shows, offering a total of six different performances this weekend and next.

While the students may be thoroughly modern with their iPhones and iPods, the play takes us back to 1922, when these gadgets were the stuff of science fiction.

Some would say a simpler time, but whenever it comes to love and life, do things ever really change? The zany musical opens with our ingenue from Kansas moving to the Big Apple to take a bite out of life.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story MILLIE. 

Diamond Bar kids build homes for burrowing owls

Burrowing owl

You’ve heard of volunteers building homes for homeless people. Well, 15 third-graders from Diamond Bar went the nature route this month and built a home for homeless birds. Because birds need homes, too.

These birds, called burrowing owls, are not your average birds. They are threatened with extinction. And like people, being homeless doesn’t help matters. Burrowing owls prefer to inhabit other animals’ homes. Like squatters, they cozy up inside an abandoned burrow left by a prairie dog or a ground squirrel. The method served them well until the lack of suitable habitat in Southern California produced an owl housing shortage.

So, in came Cub Scout Pack 737 to the rescue. They built an owl den using wood and 6 feet of flexible hose, buried it 2 feet underground but left the pipe sticking up as the entryway. The “on-spec” development is like low-income housing for these miniature owls, the smallest in North America.

Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story OWLS.

Castle Rock Elementary unveils colorful murals in Diamond Bar

Castle Rock Elementary School in Diamond Bar school uncovered 240 colorful tiles under a sunny, blue sky on Thursday.

“One of our volunteers, Cindy Yee, thought it would be a great way to beautify our campus and raise money for our programs,” said Principal Carol Sullivan.

The International Baccalaureate school gathered in the amphitheater to get their first glimpse of the four large murals. Until then, the students had only seen the 6 inch by 6 inch tiles that they had designed themselves. Many parents made it a family project, buying a separate tile for each child.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story MURALS.