Families like Spanish immersion classes in Hacienda La Puente Unified

Habla espanol? Kindergarteners at Valinda Academy and Los Altos Elementary do.

The tykes are just finishing their first year in the new Spanish immersion program in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. In addition to their ABCs and numbers, these 5-year-olds learned Spanish.

“My son Daniel didn’t speak a word of Spanish when he started,” said parent Daniel Caccam. “And he just won third place in the Spanish spelling bee.”

The proud parent said his son really likes the Spanish immersion class. They’ll continue next year as the school district adds Spanish to a first grade in both schools.

“We use a 90/10 formula, with the class instruction in Spanish 90 percent of the time and 10 percent in English,” explained Valinda Principal Elizabeth Bermejo.

Every year, English is gradually increased until instructional time reaches half English and half Spanish in the fourth through sixth grades.

Sandra Felix’s son, Raymond Anthony Gomez, did even better in the spelling bee, taking second place.

“He loves the Spanish class, now we even watch the news in Spanish,” said the happy mother, who plans to also enroll her 4-year-old daughter Emily in the dual immersion program.

Los Altos Principal Rosie Sinapi thinks so much of the program, that’s she has enrolled her own daughter in the Spanish class.

“The dual language program stimulates a child’s cognitive, social and linguistic development,” Sinapi noted.

The parents’ enthusiasm encouraged school board members Gino Kwok and Jay Chen. Kwok experienced some resistance from parents at first about the Spanish immersion class.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SPANISH.

Los Altos High seeks panels for presentations in Hacienda Heights

Los Altos High School seniors need help in Hacienda Heights. Residents are invited to participate by sitting in on a senior project panel for the Class of 2014.

This year-long process is a tradition in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. It is a graduation requirement that provides local seniors with an opportunity to showcase their learning. They also gain experience in presenting to a panel of experts.

The panels will meet from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on May 1 and 2. The first 30 minutes is an introduction and review of the senior project. The panel will explain how it will assess the students’ presentations.

Each panel will evaluate students as they present a PowerPoint and portfolio. Students will then answer questions about their senior project.

This interaction provides real life experience for the students complete with feedback. Los Altos welcomes alumni, community members and businessmen to sit on the panels.

Interested residents should call 626-934-5418 and speak to Tina Banes or email cbanes@hlpusd.k12.ca.us or nmeylor@hlpusd.k12.ca.us.

Nakaoka says goodbye to Hacienda La Puente Unified

IMG_9363_Nakaoka_Sepia

Integrity begins with I. It’s an individual choice that has served Barbara Nakaoka well over the past 43 years.

A beacon that she says has guided her during four decades of service at Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. She has climbed up the ladder from teacher to superintendent of one of the largest school districts in the San Gabriel Valley.

“That’s the thing I’m most proud of, managing the district with integrity,” Nakaoka said. “Of doing what was right and not compromising my integrity.”

The 65-year-old retired on June 30, leaving behind a long list of accomplishments.

She actually began working at age 16 as an usher at the Music Center in Los Angeles.

“I loved it, I got to see actresses like Carol Channing in ‘Hello Dolly,’” the petite administrator recalled.
Read more in Richard Irwin’s story RETIRE.

It has begun

The first of what could be several children opting out of California Standards Tests at various Hacienda La Puente Unified School District schools has begun. The group, Concerned Parents of the HLPUSD, seem to have targeted Los Molinos Elementary School. They are objecting to the early calendar, whereby school would start on Aug. 8 this year and Aug. 7 next year.

Here’s an email they sent to the news media today: It appears to be a copy of an email or a letter sent to Angela Lin, principal of Los Molinos School:

 

Dear Principal Angela Lin of Los Molinos Elementary School,
 
As a demonstration of protest against the Superintendent and School Board Members’ decision to approve the early start calendar year, despite all the parents’ cases stated against this decision and the evidence presented on how detrimental this would be for children at all grade levels, my husband and I will be exercising our right to opt-out of state testing this year for our 3rd grader, Nathan Pelayo (who scored “advanced” in all areas last year).
 
It is apparent that our School Board is not a board that values transparency nor a board that seeks to earn the trust of parents they are elected to represent. This Early Calendar change was not developed to benefit our students, but rather to appease special interest groups.
 
Whittier Daily News: “Hacienda La Puente parents against early start calendar, survey says “
http://www.whittierdailynews.com/news/ci_20092405 
 
Thank you for your attention.
 
Respectfully,

 
Lissette and David Pelayo

A forgotten milestone

In Jay Chen’s 2011 Year-in-review, he mentioned various milestones from 2011 for the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. These included a failed recall attempt against him, a HLPUSD board member, and his free college application seminars.

But what he did not mention may be more important:
The changing of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. School will start three weeks earlier and end three weeks earlier. The change was controversial and may be trend-setting.
Here’s a section from our story which ran in December:

The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District board voted 4-1 Thursday night to start the next school year on Aug. 7, three weeks earlier than usual. It is the first local school district to adopt an early start calendar for the entire PreK-12 population.

School will let out May 21, 2013, instead of in late June. A similar calendar was adopted for the 2013-14 school year. </em>

Some may call that decision of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest school district one that affects the most people — parents and children.It affect thousands of families in La Puente and Hacienda Heights. It could also lead to other districts doing the same thing.

Quite a milestone.