Walnut gets Sprinkled with happiness by Suzanne students

Suzanne students sprinkled Walnut seniors with flowers, positive messages and hugs.

Suzanne students sprinkled Walnut seniors with flowers, positive messages and hugs.

By Kelli Gile, Walnut Unified

Suzanne Middle School students brought a whole lot of sunshine to parents, local seniors, and fellow classmates on March 18. Drama, PALS, and PLUS leadership members sprinkled happiness throughout the day.

The group of 80 students wore bright yellow shirts and big smiles as they greeted parents during the morning drop off. They carried happiness signs with positive messages like You are Loved, Breathe, and It’s Going to be All Right.

“Our kids were standing in the parking lot and street corners just wishing everybody a great day,” said math and drama teacher Helen Papadopoulos.

The Happiness Project, created by Laura Lavigne, founder of the Anacortes Center for Happiness is a simple way to share a powerful message.  People that were sprinkled might have been surprised at first, but the happiness spread quickly. They smiled, waved back, and some even honked.happy1

“We get to spread happiness all over!” exclaimed eighth grader Samantha Stone.

“We saw so many amazing parents driving by and smiling as they left the parking lot. So we feel like we did our job!” Papadopoulos added.

Later in the morning, the group trekked over to the Walnut Senior Center to make a surprise delivery of flowers, hugs, and smiles. The kids continued waving their yellow pompoms and signs at passing cars while they walked down La Puente Blvd.

When they arrived, they mingled through a morning senior aerobics class sharing the gifts of happiness. Seventh grader Mary Danganan made a beeline right over to Darlene Knox.

“I think it’s wonderful!” exclaimed the surprised retired educator clutching the colorful stems.

“We just wanted to spread love and happiness. And it’s fun!” Danganan gushed after giving a heartfelt hug.

Masa Nishida, a 35-year-resident, said he was brought to tears with the special gesture.  “It’s great!” he beamed.

“The seniors just loved the flowers from the kids,” commented Recreation Supervisor Gabriela Encinas.

“It was really fun to see them smile,” said 8th grader Priscilla Pranajasa after visiting the senior center.

At lunch, the happiness sprinkling continued. Random notes of kindness were passed out to students that said “You Matter, Sure You Can, Imagine, and You Can Do It.

“It’s Pass It On Week, so week so we’ve been spreading happiness!’ Pranajasa said.

“Today is about changing just one life at a time!” added teacher and leadership advisor Marla Rickard. Rickard wants students to see the impact of sharing a smile or kind word.

“It can not only change the lives of others, but they’ll change a little inside too.”

Suzanne students stand tall at summt in Walnut Valley

The 8th grade Summit field activities focused on team building through physical activities.

The 8th grade Summit field activities focused on team building through physical activities.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Suzanne Middle School 8th graders took a giant step forward in breaking down the walls of stereotypes and learning about the people around them during the 6th annual Summit. The exciting day of activities included workshops, discussions, and a motivational speaker.

About 475 students were divided into three groups to rotate through breakout sessions in classrooms, the field, and the multi-purpose room. The topic of the day was “Understanding and Overcoming Stereotypes”

“Students were mixed up into groups so they could get to know peers that they might not otherwise meet,” explained counselor George Ann Cusson.

The entire 8th grade class participated in a day of reflection and opportunities of personal growth,” said teacher Marla Rickard.

Classroom sessions allowed students to look at the impact of judging people and to reflect on personal impacts on all the parties. Some of the activities included If You Knew Me Well, the Tootsie Pop, and the Playing Card.

The field activities focused on team building through physical activities, a favorite was the Human Pyramid.

During the Stand Tall challenge in the MPR, students learned more about themselves and each other. They analyzed the Iceberg Theory to find ways to drop below the water level to get to know their fellow classmates.

Rickard and Cusson created the event made possible with the help several teachers and staff members, PLUS and PALS service club members, and leadership students. Thirty-one Walnut High School students and two graduates also come for the day to facilitate and lead all the breakout sessions.

“Without them the day would not be as successful. It’s a true team effort,” Rickard said.

“I think the kids are learning more about what they say to each other and to think before they speak,” said WHS senior and ASB president Phillip Silesky,

In one game, students asked their neighbor questions from a bowl. Some were serious  - what would you do if you knew one of your friends was taking drugs? And some were funny – if you were invisible for one day what would be the first thing you would do?

“I probably wouldn’t even know I was invisible and just go to school!” one student replied.

After lunch, WHS graduate and motivational speaker, Dee Hankins spoke to the class about goal setting, rising above any situation, and encouraged the students to live their life with purpose.

Suzanne Middle students get trophies for Math Olympiad program

Suzanne 7th grade Math Olympiad winners with teacher Amy Erickson.

Suzanne 7th grade Math Olympiad winners with teacher Amy Erickson.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Suzanne Middle School students were among the 110,000 students worldwide to participate in the 2013-2014 Math Olympiad program.  The Math Olympiad contests challenged students to solve unusual and difficult problems and to think creatively.

The team participated in a series of five monthly contests of 5 problems each, from November to March, and weekly practice sessions with Suzanne math teachers and coaches Amy Erickson and Victor Lu.

“The students responded well to the challenge and were recognized for their achievements during an end of the year awards celebration,” Erickson said.

Students were awarded trophies for top scores in each grade level as well as pins and patches of recognition.

For the 6th grade, William Lin came in first with a total of 21 correct out of 25. William Lin, Darren Chen, Derek Wang, John Chou, Amber Tsao, Jennifer Zhang, Tyler Xu, and Melony Yu all received silver pins to signify a top 10% score.  An embroidered patch was also awarded to Liwen Xia, Nicole Chiang, Katherine Lee, Catherine Wang, Curtis Lin, Daniel Ahu, Marco Chan, Jeremy Hsiao, Louis Wong and Kevin Chen for placing in the top 50%.

In the 7th grade, Aaron Chang was awarded the 1st Place trophy along with a patch signifying a top 50% score. Alice Zhang, Ethan Lin, Oscar Chou, Sylvester Yue, Angela Zhu, Jordin Wang, Felianne Teng, Yi Chen, Jerry Guo, Sheldon Zhu, Derick Tseng, Phillip Leung and Jing Wong also received patches for their 50% scores.

In the 8th grade, Eugene Lo was awarded the 1st Place trophy along with a silver pin recognizing his top 10% score.  Christopher Wang was also awarded a silver pin. Kevin Jensen, Lydia Chan, Fabiola Delvillar, Charles Gu, Matthew Nguyen and Irene Zhou received patches for their 50% scores.

Suzanne students compete in AMC 8 math contest in Walnut

Fifty-three Suzanne Middle School students participated in the challenging AMC 8 math contest during the 2013-2014 school year.  One student, Colby Chang, earned the gold metal for his school.

The AMC 8 questions covered many different topics, which exceed the normal middle school curriculum.

It is a 40-minute timed competition with 25 multiple-choice questions. The top-ten middle school students will also be taking the AMC 10.

Colby Chang, grade 7, took home the gold medal with a top score of 23 out of 25. He was also awarded an Honor Roll of Distinction Certificate for scoring in the top 1% in the nation.

Aaron Chang, grade 7, was awarded a silver medal and an Honor Roll of Distinction Certificate for scoring in the top 1% nationally.

Tied for bronze medals were Eugene Lo, Christopher Wong, both 8th graders, and Angela Zhu, a 7th grader.

In addition to bronze medals they earned Honor Roll Certificates recognizing their top 5% placement in the nation.

Joining them with Honor roll Certificates were fellow 8th graders Kevin Jensen, Matthew Nguyen and Lydia Chan.  Honor Roll Certificates were also given to 7thgraders Oscar Cho, Ethan Lin and Derick Tseng.

Sixth graders earning Honor Roll Certificates were Darren Chen and William Lin. Darren, William and Jennifer Zhang were additionally awarded Certificates of Achievement for scores above 15 as sixth graders.

Suzanne teacher joins LearnZillion Dream Team in New Orleans

Helen Papadopoulos, a math and drama teacher at Suzanne Middle School, has been selected to the 2014 LearnZillion Dream Team. She is one of 77 returning members to the elite team.

 Over 4,000 educators applied for the 200 spots available on the 2014 Dream Team.  Members were selected for their content knowledge, grit and humility,

Helen Papadopoulos

Helen Papadopoulos

these impressive math and English Language Arts teachers represent the best of district, charter and independent schools in 42 states and three countries.

The Dream Team convened in New Orleans for TeachFest, a unique professional development event from June 4-7, where they kicked-off a rigorous summer-long collaboration to create high-quality formative assessment tools and resources that will support teachers implementing the Common Core across the United States.

Following TeachFest, Dream Team members will return to their respective districts and continue to work in facilitated online professional learning communities.

Being on the Dream Team is about more than world-class professional development and creating great content — it’s about being a member of a vibrant and enthusiastic community of educators who are eager to help others and hopeful about the future.

The diverse group brings over 2,300 years of teaching experience, ranging from two to 42 years in the classroom.

Papadopoulos is a 2007 California Teacher of the Year and 2012 Bravo Award winner.

 

 

Suzanne School teacher picked for Dream Team in Walnut

Helen Papadopoulos, a math and drama teacher at Suzanne Middle School, has been selected to the 2014 LearnZillion Dream Team. She is one of 77 returning members to the elite team.

 Over 4,000 educators applied for the 200 spots available on the 2014 Dream Team.  Members were selected for their content knowledge, grit and humility, these impressive math and English Language Arts teachers represent the best of district, charter and independent schools in 42 states and three countries.

Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified School District

Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified School District

The Dream Team will convene in New Orleans for TeachFest, a unique professional development event from June 4-7, where they will kick-off a rigorous summer-long collaboration to create high-quality formative assessment tools and resources that will support teachers implementing the Common Core across the United States.

Following TeachFest, Dream Team members will return to their respective districts and continue to work in facilitated online professional learning communities.

Being on the Dream Team is about more than world-class professional development and creating great content — it’s about being a member of a vibrant and enthusiastic community of educators who are eager to help others and hopeful about the future.

The diverse group brings over 2,300 years of teaching experience, ranging from two to 42 years in the classroom.

Papadopoulos is a 2007 California Teacher of the Year and 2012 Bravo Award winner.