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.

Vejar Elementary raises $2,875 for ill student in Walnut

Teacher Jamie Highstreet with Vejar student Andrew Orsario.

Teacher Jamie Highstreet with Vejar student Andrew Orsario.

Vejar Elementary hosted a year-end “Have a Heart” fundraiser to help a young student in need of a new heart in Walnut.
The school and community campaign brought in $2875 to help with expenses for 3rd grader Andrew Osorio who is on the national heart transplant list.
“Thank you to the Vejar family and community for their support!” said Principal Jennifer De Anda.

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.

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”.

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

New teachers finish credentials in Walnut Valley Unified

Each induction candidate created presentations that featured professional development and student achievement that resulted from the BTSA experience. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

Each induction candidate created presentations that featured professional development and student achievement that resulted from the BTSA experience. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

By Walnut Valley Unified

Area educators recently gathered to celebrate a new crop of teachers that have successfully completed their credential program. Fifty-six beginning teacher induction candidates who wrapped up the two-year curriculum were recognized during the Walnut Valley BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment) Colloquium held May 15 at Royal Vista Golf Course.

The 15th annual year-end event celebrates teachers who have completed the state’s induction requirements and earned their clear credential. BTSA teachers, support providers, along with many district and site administrators were in attendance to support the new teachers.

Each induction candidate created presentations that featured professional development and student achievement that resulted from the BTSA experience.  The Walnut Valley BTSA Consortium is comprised of seven districts: Walnut Valley, Covina Valley, East Whittier, South Whittier, Whittier City, Los Nietos and Lowell Joint.

In addition, the consortium partners with several local private and charter schools and teachers whose programs do not offer a BTSA Induction program.

During each new teacher’s two-year induction program they are matched with a trained mentors, known as support providers, to engage in inquiry-based effective teaching practices.

New teachers meet weekly with their support providers, and also engage in regular professional development and collaboration with other new teachers in similar assignments across the seven districts.  Director Julie Sheldon credits the 130 support providers for the success of the program.

 “These veteran teachers are unsung heroes and the key to the success of our BTSA program.”

The program strives to continually improve the quality of education for every student within the partner districts.

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.

 

 

Vejar Elementary students harvest awards at nutrition fair in Walnut

Students like their two-month-old classroom pet named Number Seven. Their Egg to Chick by Room 26 documented how they cared for the egg until it hatched.  And it earned a blue ribbon. (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley Unified)

Students like their two-month-old classroom pet named Number Seven. They cared for the egg until it hatched. (Photo by Kelli Gile) 

Vejar Elementary fourth grade students harvested awards during the 2014 Schools’ Agriculture and Nutrition Fair. The Special Education class is celebrating four blue ribbons they received during the springtime contest.

Top prizes were awarded to their Grape Expectations sawhorse display, a Lion farm animal, and Classroom Garden bounty of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  “The kids came up all the adjectives to describe why grapes are good,” said Teacher Jennifer Troudy.

The teacher printed out words including Sweet, Raisins, Dulce, and Jelly that were nestled among decorated vines and bunches of grapes.  The From Egg to Chick by Room 26 entry earned an additional blue ribbon.

The project chronicled the 21-day adventure of the little chick named Number Seven who hatched in the class.  Students love to pet the two-month-old spunky clucker who often flies around the classroom.

“He’s funny because he walks super fast and pecks at our shoes and sandals!” one student said.

Each day, he follows Instructional Aide Helene McDonald down the hallway to the nearby garden. Lucky Number Seven chomps on pesky pill bugs that like to invade the lush greenery.

McDonald credits the successful crop to  fresh coffee grounds provided each day by a local Starbucks and the tender care provided by the students in Room 26. A three-foot tall Tin Man Scarecrow created from empty coffee cans earned a 4th place ribbon.

“I am so proud of my students!  They worked hard all year to make our garden beautiful and I am so impressed with their garden knowledge,”Troudy added.

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.