Hacienda La Puente Unified holds finals cross country meet

Maya Rodriguez of Mesa Robles won gold medal  for sixth grade girl team.

Maya Rodriguez of Mesa Robles won gold medal for sixth grade girl team.

The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District held its annual finals cross country meet at Mesa Robles Middle School in Hacienda Heights.

The first top 3 runners were given a medal (gold, silver and bronze) and runners 4 through 10 were given ribbons. They all competed based on their gender and grade level.

 

Sky’s the limit for Baldwin Academy students in Hacienda La Puente Unified

Baldwin Academy student Jilliana Herpacio, 10, assembles a rocket to launch.

Baldwin Academy student Jilliana Herpacio, 10, assembles a rocket to launch.

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Baldwin Academy students got a chance to build their own SpaceX rockets, thanks to the Los Angeles aerospace company and the Union Pacific Foundation.

SpaceX recently won a $2.6 billion contract to build rockets to carry astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA.

But last week, the lucky fifth-graders got the chance to launch the SpaceX rockets they have been working on after school for the past five weeks. The athletic field became their makeshift launch pad in Hacienda La Puente Unified.

“SpaceX has been a major sponsor of the Youth Science Center,” agreed the center’s chairman Ron Chong. “They gave us 100 SpaceX rocket kits for our students to assemble. And they’re a $5,000 silver sponsor for our annual dinner on Nov. 14.”

Model Rocketry Instructor Lyle Majeska recommended the Valinda school. He lives just down the street from the school that his own son attended.

“I thought the students would learn a lot by building their own rockets,” Majeska explained. “The model rocket classes are very popular at the Youth Science Center in Hacienda Heights.”

During the afterschool class, the fifth-graders learned about aerodynamics and thrust to build missiles that will actually fly. They even added parachutes to the little capsules.

“The students were selected based on their teachers’ recommendations,” said Principal Lila Picado. “We wanted self-starters, who could work independently on the rockets.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story ROCKETS.

Students whoop it up at Industry Hills Pro Rodeo

More than 4,000 school children will experience a rodeo at the Industry Hills Charity Pro Rodeo this Friday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Local school district dignitaries will take part in the festivities, including Rowland’s new Superintendent Julie Mitchell and Board Member Cary Chen will be on hand along with representatives from the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District.

Students will come from Baldwin, Bassett (all schools), HLPUSD (seven schools), Montebello (2 schools), Mountain View (3 schools – 260 kids), Rowland Unified (Yorbita and Villacorta), Walnut Valley (4 schools going), Del Haven, private schools, St. Martha, St. Joseph, homeschooling groups and special needs groups.

Los Molinos Elementary gets National Blue Ribbon

Students learn in the computer lab at Los Molinos Elementary in Hacienda Heights.

Students learn in the computer lab at Los Molinos Elementary in Hacienda Heights.

By Sandra Molina, Staff Writer

A Hacienda La Puente Unified school has been named a National Blue Ribbon School for academic excellence and closing achievement gaps. Los Molinos Elementary School in Hacienda Heights received the honor.

“These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education — that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative and challenging learning environments,” stated U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a press release. “National Blue Ribbon Schools are models of consistent excellence and a resource for other schools and districts. We celebrate them for their tireless effort and boundless creativity in reaching and teaching every student.”

Twenty-four California schools from a total of 334 schools nationwide earned this distinction.

At Los Molinos, third-year principal, Erin Roderick, gave credit to students’ parents working with school officials for achieving the blue ribbon status.

“We have a cohesive community of teachers, parents and staff who work together for the success of our students,” Roderick said. “Parent involvement is key.”

Los Molinos’ blue ribbon was based on exemplary achievement gap closing.

“We never give up,” she said of overcoming obstacles — such as language, socioeconomic backgrounds, lack of technological advancements at home — to educate their students.

The recognition “is a validation of what we are doing here is working,” she said. “When your kids walk through the school’s door, know that we are setting them up for a positive future.”

Both public and non-public schools are eligible for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award.  All schools are recognized in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates.

Grammy winner performs at La Puente High

La Santa Cecilia performs at La Puente High School

La Santa Cecilia performs at La Puente High School

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Grammy Award winners La Santa Cecilia brought a message of hope and happiness to La Puente High on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles band, whose recording “Treinta Días” was honored for Best Latin Rock Album this year, agreed to help the Warriors celebrate Hispanic heritage month. They had been invited by history teacher Wesley Perez.

“While this is my first year at La Puente High, I taught at Hawthorne High School for four years, where I was able to bring Ozomatli to speak and perform for my students,” Perez explained. “I believe that students need to have positive experiences in high school because they can truly change lives.”

So the enthusiastic instructor had his students share the afternoon with an inspirational band in the school’s Little Theater. They also shared dreams and goals during a question and answer session.

“Why do many women, especially Latinas, have a hard time living independently,” asked 16-year-old junior Irene Martin.

The band’s powerful singer Marisol Hernandez offered lots of interesting advice to the teens. She drew on her own experience growing up and joining the band.

“I love what I do! And I have my own place,” Hernandez said. “We can only listen to parents and families so long. We have to follow our hearts because we’re never going to make everyone happy. Do whatever you want, learn to live in your own skin.”

Along the way, everyone will face challenges, the singer said. The hard part is rising to the challenges so you can overcome them.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story PUENTE.

Sheriff’s deputies give school supplies to La Puente kids

By Brian Day, Staff Writer

Sheriff’s deputies, in partnership with the La Puente and the National Latino Peace Officers Association, is in the process of distributing 100 backpacks full of school supplies to needy students.

The giveaway began last week at Workman Elementary in Hacienda La Puente Unified and Hurley Elementary in Rowland Unified. It will continue next week at Sparks Elementary School and Del Valley School, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. and La Puente Police Chief Pete Cacheiro said.

The backpacks and supplies were donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, and were arranged by Explorers from the sheriff’s Industry Station. Sheriff’s officials worked with the schools to identify the students most in need of the supplies.

In addition to putting smiles on children’s faces, the event exemplifies the “Community Oriented Policing” strategy employed in La Puente, fostering trust between young people and law enforcement.

La Puente City Councilwoman Valerie Munoz accompanied deputies as they distributed the backpacks at the first two schools.

“In our community, we do have students who need these services,” she said.

Students also got a chance to chat with deputies and sit in their patrol cars.

“How wonderful it is they take the time to build those relationships. They’re very present in the community,” Munoz said. “ They’re going above and beyond and making a big impact in our community by being involved.”

Cacheiro and Munoz both credited community-oriented policing with significant drops in La Puente’s crime rate this year, which is among the lowest in the county.

“The effort that they’ve made in community-oriented policing is something that’s shown a vast improvement,” Munoz said.

Sunset Elementary honored as California Distinguished School

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

The sun has risen on a new California Distinguished School at Sunset Elementary School in La Puente. Family and friends celebrated the accomplishment with an ice cream social, while Hacienda La Puente Unified officials honored the school earlier.

“We wanted to celebrate everyone’s hard work to achieve this honor,” said Principal Leslie Miller.

Sunset Elementary was also recognized as a National Title I Academic Achieving School. It was the only school in Hacienda La Puente Unified School District in 2014 to receive these awards.

“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work, and unwavering support.”

Torlakson named 424 public elementary schools California Distinguished Schools. The schools were chosen for their strong commitment and innovative approaches to improving student academic achievement.

For the complete list, visit the 2014 Distinguished Elementary Schools Web page.

The California Department of Education notes an achievement gap among students. Closing this gap is a top priority, making schools work for all students, regardless of their background, condition or circumstances,

The Distinguished Schools Program focuses on students’ right to an equal education. It recognizes those schools that have made progress in narrowing the academic achievement gap.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SUNSET.

Tami Pearson named new superintendent of La Puente Valley ROP

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Tami Pearson hasn’t travelled far geographically, but the Hacienda Heights native has certainly gone a long way in her career.

The local educator was recently named the new superintendent of the La Puente Valley Regional Occupational Program.

Board President Anthony Duarte says Pearson brings a wealth of experience with her to the new job.

“It was a tough selection, because we had so many good candidates,” the Hacienda La Puente School Board member said. “But, Tami served on the district’s coordinating committee and had an intimate knowledge of ROP, so we knew she could hit the ground running.”

Duarte said the unanimous selection was a step in the right direction to mend fences between the district and ROP.

In March of 2013, the district notified ROP that it wanted out of the cooperative. This angered the other two school districts, Rowland Unified and Bassett Unified.

At the time, Hacienda La Puente Unified contributed almost 60 percent of the ROP budget, while Rowland gave 30 percent and Bassett 10 percent.

Then Associate Superintendent Cindy Parulan-Colfer said Hacienda La Puente paid ROP nearly $3 million, but only received classes worth $1 million.

“It’s about being fair,” Parulan-Colfer said. “We have no intention of getting rid of career-tech education.”

Since then, the three districts have reached a new agreement with ROP. And relations have improved. For more, read ROP

Hacienda La Puente Unified offers free and reduced price meals

Hacienda La Puente Unified School District has announced its policy for providing Free and Reduced price meals for children served under the National School Breakfast/Lunch Program.  Each school and/or the central office have a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by any interested party.

The household size and income criteria identified below will be used to determine eligibility for free, reduced-price, or full-price meal benefits.  Children from households whose income is at or below the levels shown on the “ Eligibility Scale” are eligible for free or reduced price meals.

Children who receive CalFresh, California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payments (Kin-GAP), or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) benefits are automatically eligible for free meals regardless of the income of the household in which they reside. 

An application with the case number must be submitted for consideration. Foster child(ren) can be included on the household application. Eligibility determination for the household is still based on income and benefits are NOT automatically extended.

Application forms are being distributed to all households with a letter informing them of the availability of free and reduced-price meals for enrolled children.  Applications are also available at the front office of each school and at the Food Services Office.

To apply for free or reduced-price meal benefits, households must complete a meal benefit application at minimum EVERY SCHOOL YEAR and return it to the school or Food Services Office for processing.

While applications may be submitted at any time during the school year; they should be submitted in a timely manner so that benefits are extended as soon as possible avoiding being placed on PAID status.

The information households provide on the application will be used to determine meal eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by the program officials.  Applications can be completed online at www.schoollunchapp.com.

Requirements for school officials to determine eligibility for free and reduced-price benefits are as follows: For households receiving CalFresh/CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR benefits – applications need only include the enrolled child(ren)’s name, CalFresh/CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR case number, and the signature of an adult household member.

For households who do not list a CalFresh/CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR case number, the application must include the names of all household members including the enrolled child(ren),  the amount and source of the income received by each household member, and the signature and corresponding last four digits of the Social Security number of an adult household member.

If the household member who signs the application does not have a Social Security number, the household member must indicate on the application that a Social Security number is not available by checking the appropriate box on the application.

Under the provisions of the free and reduced price meal policy, the determining official(s), as designated by the Food Services Dept., shall review applications and determine eligibility.

Parents or guardians dissatisfied with the eligibility ruling may discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis.  Parents may also make a formal request for an appeal hearing of the decision and may do so verbally or in writing with: Food Services Office, Hacienda La Puente USD, 15959 E. Gale Ave. P.O. Box 60002, City of Industry, CA. 91716-0002, Telephone (626) 933-3901.

If a household’s meal benefit application was denied and the household status is PAID the household may re-apply at any time during the school year in the event that circumstances have changed possibly qualifying the household for free or reduce price meals.  For instant if a member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should

Submit a new application with Food Services directly.  Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household’s income falls at or below the levels shown above.

CalFresh/CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, and FDPIR households must complete a meal benefit application every year. While households that receive CalFresh/ CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR benefits typically have not had to complete anApplication for Free or Reduced-Price Meals or Free Milk it is now required so that there is no interruption or delay of meal benefits.

The Food Services Department will determine eligibility for free meals based on meal benefit application and/or documentation obtained directly from the CalFresh/ CalWORKs, Kin-GAP, or FDPIR office that a child is a member of a household currently receiving CalFresh or FDPIR benefits or an assistance unit receiving CalWORKs or Kin-GAP benefits.

Those who do not want their child(ren) to receive free meals must contact the Food Services Office and complete a form declining participation in the program.  CalFresh/CalWorks, Kin-GAP, and FDPIR households should complete an application if they are not notified of their eligibility.

 

In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call 800-795-3272(voice) or 202-720-6382(TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online athttp://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call(866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or by fax (202) 690-7442or by email at program.intake@usda.gov. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at(800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Note: The only protected classes covered under the Child Nutrition Programs are race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.