Mustang golfers sign college letters of intent

Walnut High senior Patricia Wong pledged to play golf and attend Pepperdine University

Walnut High senior Patricia Wong pledged to play golf and attend Pepperdine University

By Walnut Valley Unified

Two Walnut High School seniors, Serena Hou and Patricia Wong, signed letters of intent to play golf in college on November 12. “Congratulations to both of you – we’re proud and excited,” said Principal Jeff Jordan.

Their families, teammates, and coach were on hand for the lunchtime ceremony.

“I’m very excited,” said Hou, who will play at Southern Illinois University. “I’ve been working so hard all my life to reach this goal and my parents have been very supportive. And now we’re here!”

Wong will play at Pepperdine University next year. “My hand shook a little during the signing, but it’s a wonderful day,” the 17-year-old exclaimed.“I feel so blessed for this crazy opportunity!”

Pepperdine was also her first campus visit. “It went so well, I said ‘this is my last visit – I want to go here!’”

Wong said she couldn’t have achieved the dream without the support of her family.

The Mustang Girls Golf team with Coach Cecil Wood had a perfect 28-0 regular season. The team won the CIF Championship, CIF Southern Section championship, and competed in the state semifinals, explained Athletic Director Jerry Person.

Ryan Seacrest honors Diamond Bar teacher

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, left, celebrates with Diamond Bar High music director Steve Acciani.

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, left, celebrates with Diamond Bar High music director Steve Acciani.

“American Idol” star Ryan Seacrest visited Diamond Bar High on Veteran’s Day to honor Music Director Steve Acciani, a semifinalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award.

The event was hosted by KIIS FM, which kept the students and families entertained while they waited for the television star to arrive.

Seacrest is an honorary chairman for the Grammy Foundation. He took time from his hectic schedule to meet one of the 25 national semifinalists. Music Director Buddy Clements at Walnut High is also a semifinalist.

Photos: American Idol host Ryan Seacrest visits Diamond Bar High

The award recognizes outstanding music teachers who have made significant contributions to music education.

“I was surprised when they called me two weeks ago and said they wanted to come out to meet me,” Acciani said. “I think its great for them to help support our music program.”

The gregarious teacher had to fight his way through the crowds to get to the stage when Seacrest called out his name. It seemed like all 700 students in the Brahmas music program showed up for the event.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story IDOL.

Ryan Seacrest visits Diamond Bar High for Grammy semifinalist

Please join American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest, The Grammy Foundation, KIIS FM, and the Ford Motor Company to celebrate Diamond Bar High School’ Steve Acciani being named a national semifinalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award on Tuesday, November 11.

Come and help support the Diamond Bar High School Music Program!

Diamond Bar High School will be participating in the Ford Motor Company’s Drive 4 UR School national test drive program to help raise money for the school’s outstanding music program.

GRAMMY Foundation Honorary Chair Ryan Seacrest will be on hand to join members of the Diamond Bar community who participate and support DBHS by test-driving a new Ford vehicle.

For every person over 18 who test-drives at this one-day event, Ford Motor Company and Fairway Ford will donate $20, up to $6,000, to Diamond Bar’s music education program.

The event will also feature all 700 DBHS instrumental music students performing, and be hosted by KIIS FM.

The event will take place on Tuesday, November 11, from 11:00am until 5:00pm, with Ryan Seacrest expected to join the celebration from 1pm until 3pm.

Food trucks will be on hand, so come spend some time enjoying an afternoon out with the community.

Diamond Bar High School is located at 21400 E. Pathfinder Road in Diamond Bar.

Quail Summit students mix it up in Diamond Bar

Students stepped out of their comfort zones to connect with other students during Mix It Up Day at Quail Summit Elementary.

Students stepped out of their comfort zones to connect with other students during Mix It Up Day at Quail Summit Elementary.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Quail Summit Elementary students joined the national Mix It Up at Lunch Day on October 28. The event provides students with an opportunity to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new.

And that’s just what they did! As the youngsters came out for lunch recess they visited three stations where parent volunteers passed out conversation starter cards.

“The best thing about today is that they are making new friends!” said parent Vivian Liao.

The cards had prompts like “Find someone who likes to play handball” and “Find someone who has ridden Space Mountain at Disneyland.”

After the boys and girls met a new friend that matched their inquiry, they received a puzzle piece, and a new card. When they earned four pieces to solve the puzzle, the kids received a green Mix It Up Day wristband, frozen treat, and hand stamp. They could also join the Cupid Shuffle dance party hosted by teachers Jessica Cabral and Erin Ruhl.

Several 5th graders volunteered to help with younger students during the primary grade lunch.

“I remember doing this in 1st grade!” recalled Asha Longsworth. She buddied up with second grader Whitney who liked being with her new big friend.

The innovative activity helps to create a school environment where respect and inclusiveness are core values. Quail Summit was designated as a Mix It Up Model School in 2013.

Diamond Bar High names new dance teacher

 Kari Simonson copy

Kari Simonson is the new dance teacher for Diamond Bar High’s award-winning dance program. Simonson taught dance for two years and coached dance for eight years at Woodbridge High School in Irvine. She comes to us with over 20 years of dance experience.
Simonson is a graduate of Cal State University Fullerton and Chapman University. She has danced for well-known industry professionals like Mike Esperanza (BARE Dance Company) and Leanna Aldenda.
Simonson keeps her dance skills and knowledge current as a teacher and student at Defore Dance Center in Costa Mesa. She also has experience in Pilates and Barre fitness methods.

 

Westhoff Elementary holds cultural fair in Walnut Valley

Valerie Lu served up Hawaiian-style food. Shown with Luke, Monica Y., Caden, and Joyce N.

Valerie Lu served up Hawaiian-style food. Shown with Luke, Monica Y., Caden, and Joyce N.

By Kelli Gile, Walnut Valley

Hundreds of Westhoff Elementary families and friends enjoyed foods from around the world during a Culture Fair held Oct. 10. Fifteen different countries were represented at decorated booths with music, customs, and lots of delicious authentic food. Students wore traditional clothing to parade around the school while a DJ offered music for dining and dancing.

“This is one of my favorite nights of our school year.  Everyone relaxes during the cool evening, eats delicious food, and chats with other Westhoff families,” said Principal Denise Rendon.

The school’s Community Club hosts the fair where parents, students, and teachers come together to celebrate diversity of the many cultures represented at the school.

“It is an opportunity for our children to learn about their friends’ customs and share about their own, ” said President Melinda Powell.

“I like going to Culture Fair because I get to play with all my friends.  My dad likes to take me because he really likes the food, “ said 2nd grader Tiffany Fu.

Westhoff Elementary hosted its annual Culture Fair  with  traditional costumes.

Westhoff Elementary hosted its annual Culture Fair with traditional costumes.

“I dressed up in my Indian Clothes.  I like eating other cultures food, but my favorite was my families’ table of Indian food, ” added Priya Kankanala, a 3rdgrader.

Parent Valerie Lu hosted a Hawaiian booth that was a big hit with Kalua pork, spam musubi, haupia, and of course shaved ice.

“Culture Fair is such a unique tradition at Westhoff. The amount of effort put in by all the parent volunteers is tremendous and just as rewarding,” she said. Community Club member Lu serves as the school’s Coordinating Council representative.

There were many delicious dishes from around the world with pad Thai and pineapple fried rice (Thailand), cream puffs (France), tamales (Mexico), stuffed grape leaves (Egypt), chili and cornbread (USA), and more. Parent volunteers at the China table served foods representing its many different regions including Hunan, Sichuan, and Shandong.  Along with sampling tasty treats at the Pakistan booth, the kids came away decorated with beautiful henna designs.

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to get to meet the families of our children’s new friends, catch up with old friends, all while enjoying amazing authentic food!” Powell said.

Walnut High dedicates athletic building to Bob Barilari

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By Walnut Valley Unified

Walnut High School paid tribute to long-time Mustang, Bob Barilari during a building dedication on October 1. Current and retired staff members, coaches, alumni, family members, and district officials gathered for the afternoon ceremony.

Barilari served as the Boys’ Equipment Manager from 1970-2004. A plaque was unveiled dedicating the Boys’ Locker Room in his honor.The special dedication celebrated Barilari’s legacy of relationships and friendships at the building where he spent over 70,000 hours of his life working and supporting thousands of people.

“Bobby started his legacy at Walnut High in 1970, and at that time, nobody would have realized the impact he would have on all of us 44 years later,” Principal Jeff Jordan said.

Barilari had many outstanding qualities, but the one that stands out the most was his ability to establish relationships with students, coaches, and teachers.

“Everyone knew Bob and Bob knew everything about everyone. Most of us that knew Bob would agree that he was caring, gentle, and big-hearted,” Jordan added.

Many of those friendships continued during retirement and through his battle with cancer. He passed away just one year ago leaving a lasting impression at the school.

“Bobby didn’t realize it, but he was very inspirational to all of us,” said Jordan.

 “I don’t know if there’s a more prestigious honor than having a building dedicated to you on a school campus. There will be many, many people that will walk by and will stop and look at the plaque and start to tell stories and learn more about Bob as long as the school is here,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

“Having someone like Bobby here on a daily basis made a real difference to students,” said Board President Cindy Ruiz.

“Bobby was a special person,” said retired principal Dr. Ken Gunn.

“No one’s going to walk through the doors of that locker room without thinking of him.”

 After the ceremony, several guests shared memories of their longtime friend.

Girls’ Athletic Equipment Attendant Connie Sanchez worked with Barilari for over 20 years.

“He remembered everybody, remembered every game, the time, and history of the football team. He didn’t even need a pencil and paper. He was a wonderful, wonderful guy.”

‘He was always there for you,” said retired coach Anthony Gomez.

“He was so loving and caring. And he made friends wherever he went,” recalled teacher Mary Jo Gomez.

Three 1970’s alumni friends wouldn’t have missed the ceremony.  They got to know him as student-athletes and stayed in touch through the years.

“Bob was the man. And that building was his house,” recalled John McIntire.

“He meant a lot to us,” said Ron and Lynn Himes.

“Bobby’s standout qualities were his genuineness and kindness,” they added.

“Bobby will never be forgotten here. His legacy will serve as a symbol of excellence that we can all strive for,” Jordan said.

Barilari was a huge USC fan.  As a tribute after the plaque unveiling, the WHS Band performed his favorite song- the Trojan Fight Song.

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.

Walnut High’s Jeff Huang a leader on and off court

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By Walnut Unified

Walnut High School senior basketball player Jeff Huang has received the 2014 Jim Staunton Champions for Character Award. He was among 14 exceptional students lauded by the CIF Southern Section during a ceremony at the Queen Mary in Long Beach on September 29.

A total of 500 nominations were received for the prestigious recognition. The award is given to student-athletes, coaches, administrators and schools who best embrace good sportsmanship and the principals of “Pursuing Victory with Honor.”

Student winners received a trophy, banner, letterman patch, and $750 scholarship. Huang is a standout student who has received numerous accolades on and off the court. He has a 3.98 grade point average and currently ranks 16th in his class of 748 students.

He was recently named a semifinalist in the national merit scholarship program among the top 1% students in the state. He was selected as the 2014 Mustang of the Year. As a junior, he placed 2nd in the nation in business communication during the FBLA competition

“Jeff is sharp, bright and social. He is one of our most amazing young people,” said Principal Jeff Jordan.

The 17–year-old- began playing on the Varsity basketball team as a freshman.  He displays sportsmanship, character, poise, confidence and calm under pressure.

“On the court, Jeff is the first person to help a teammate up from a fall, the first one to pat somebody on the back when they do well and the first to shake hands at the end of a contest,” said Athletic Director Jerry Person who nominated Huang for the award.

“He serves as a model of consistency on and off the basketball court and is a leader in everything he does,” Person added.

Huang has been president of the Class Cabinet for the past three years and an Interact Club member. Two years ago, he launched the Hoops for Hope Club to offer free sports clinics for elementary and middle school students.

“These kids can gain a lot from learning basketball. It can help you out for the rest of your life,” he said. “My parents and brother have definitely been my inspiration.”

Hoop for Kids mirrors Huang’s relationship with his older brother Brandon, who has been his longtime coach and mentor.

“He always gives me advice on how to react to certain things,” Huang said

Those words can be golden especially after a rough game.

“He’ll say, ‘its just one bad game, what’s important is what you learn from it,’” Huang recalled.

And after every loss, his brother is there to ask what he did poorly on so they can work on it together.

“He’s so supportive of me. Sometimes after the games he’s more excited about a win or good performance that I am. I learned everything I know from him.”

Huang was surprised to have been recognized for sportsmanship and praised fellow team members whom he admires.

He says during games he is “so focused on winning.”  But afterwards, he makes sure he shakes hands and shows his appreciation.

“I’ll always go thank the people who work the scoreboard. They’re the unsung heroes.”

Huang hopes to attend Stanford University or University of Pennsylvania in the fall.

Acciani, Clements named Grammy Music Educator semifinalists

Buddy Clements

Buddy Clements

By Walnut Valley Unified

Two Walnut Valley teachers have been named semifinalists for the 2015 Grammy Music Educator Award.

Instrumental Music Directors Steve Acciani from Diamond Bar High School and Dr. Buddy Clements from Walnut High School are among 25 semifinalists announced today by The Recording Company and The Grammy Foundation.

For the second year, the Music Educator Award will recognize an outstanding music teacher who has made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrates a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.

“This honor has me very humbled, but also extremely proud of what our community is accomplishing through the amazing collaborative efforts and vision of our school staff, local professional musicians, business partners, parents, and the best students ever,” Acciani stated.

 

“To have two schools in the same school district receive this distinction is amazing!” Clements said after hearing the news. Both music teachers were selected as quarterfinalists in June.

 

“It would be the ultimate honor for me to represent music educators all over our nation, especially those who have devoted decades of their lives to teach their students not only about the joy of music but also how music can touch souls, heal broken spirits, mend shattered lives, build bridges across social canyons of injustice and prejudice… and because of this our love of music can be a worthy, life-long quest for excellence, compassion, creativity and expression,” said Clements.

 

This year, 7,000 nominations were submitted from all 50 states. The 25 semifinalists come from 25 cities across 17 states.

 

All semifinalists will have the chance to earn $6,000 for their music department through the Ford Drive 4 UR School program.

Ten finalists will be announced in December and will be recognized for their remarkable impact on students.

The winner will be announced during Grammy week in February 2015 and will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award and a $10,000 honorarium.

For every performer who makes it to the Grammy stage, there was a special teacher who played a critical role in getting them there. It’s time to say thank you to all the teachers who put in the extra hours to instill the love of music in their students. And that’s just what the people who bring the Grammy Awards plan to do with this award!