Walnut Valley names two new administrators

The Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees has approved two administrative positions for the 2014-2015 school year.

Dr. Sergio Canal in the new Director of Pupil Personnel

Sergio Canal in the new Director of Pupil Personnel Services Secondary Education.

Sergio Canal in the new Director of Pupil Personnel Services Secondary Education.

Services/Secondary Education in the Educational Services Division. Sergio brings 18 years of expertise in the K-12 educational system. Most recently, he served as principal at Nogales High School. He has also been an elementary teacher, middle school assistant principal, and high school administrator.

David Suarez was approved as Director of Maintenance, Operations,

David Suarez is Walnut Valley's new Director of Maintenance, Operations, Transportation, Facilities

David Suarez is Walnut Valley’s new Director of Maintenance, Operations, Transportation, Facilities

Transportation and Facilities.  David comes highly recommended and brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the district. For the past five years, he supervised over 300 employees as director of maintenance at Veolia. David is also a retired Air Force E-7 technical sergeant and served our country for 20 years.

Walnut Valley administrators remember friends in ALS challenge

Walnut Valley administrators remembered friends and family as they joined in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It began at the high schools, before spreading to the school district headquarters.

Superintendent Bob Taylor answered the challenge from Walnut Principal Jeff Jordan on Friday. Jordan had taken the challenge during football practice the day before.

“I was happy to take the challenge because it’s a fantastic cause,” said Taylor. “It helps raise awareness for ALS. A relative of mine passed away from the disease so this has a special meaning for me.”

The challenge reached its peak on Wednesday, when six administrators answered Taylor’s challenge at the administration building. They lined up on a hot afternoon with temperatures reaching 100 degrees.

The nervous contingent included three assistant superintendents — Matt Witmer, Michelle Harold and Jeanette Ullrich. Joining them were directors Jose Annicchiarico, Sergio Canal and Jackie Brown.

The brave educators waited their turn as bucket after bucket of ice cold water doused them. The shock cause several to jump out of their plastic chairs on the front lawn.

 

 

But they all agreed it was for a good cause, raising money for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. And for one it was very personal.

“I’ve had a couple of friends die from the disease,” said Assistant Superintendent Witmer.

The gregarious administrator remembered one friend, Mark Plum, who died from the progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

“We had a group of friends who would go to Disneyland every Christmas to see the decorations and the rides,” Witmer recalled. “His family and mine always enjoyed this Christmas tradition together.”

 

 By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

After the computer businessman became disabled with ALS, his friends decided to take him to Disneyland one last time. They packed his wheelchair and headed to the “happiest place on Earth.”

“We were all so happy he could go,” Witmer said. “We took turns pushing his wheelchair and took him on a couple rides.”

The adventure gave Witmer a “lasting memory” when his friend died, leaving a wife and two young children.

“It was hard, but we pitch in help his wife when she wants to clean the garage or fix something,” Witmer added.

Read more in Rich Irwin story CHALLENGE.

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.

Diamond Bar couple engaged where it all began, Quail Summit

Sometimes, you know from the first dance, the first kiss, that she is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. Sometimes, it takes 17 years.

Michael Siacunco and Sarah Lin of Diamond Bar became engaged Friday night at Quail Summit Elementary. Not something you see every day in a public school.

Siacunco, an airman who works in systems engineering at Buckley Air Force Base outside of Denver, recently returned home for leave. He thought it was time for the next step in their relationship. His younger brother, Cody, pushed Michael to ask Sarah, now a cardiac unit nurse at UCLA Medical Center, to marry him.

“I thought it was time for all or nothing, the title of our first dance,” Michael said.

So the young man began his campaign to win over Sarah’s heart. Gathering his friends, Michael planned a special night that would remind her of their time together.

He recruited her friend to “hang out” with Sarah last Friday. The friend took her on some “errands.” They stopped at Chaparral, where friends held up a sign reminding her of the first kiss.

They stopped at Diamond Bar High, where other friends reminded them of their shared past, then the Diamond Bar Center, where the couple had spent so many hours talking about life.

Arriving at Quail Summit, Sarah started crying when she saw rose petals on the sidewalks lit by candlelight, with strings of lights on the railings. A movie screen showed a special video made by Michael.

Friends led her to the amphitheater, where Sarah had chased a little boy 17 years ago. “It was kind of blurred because I was crying so hard,” she said.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story ENGAGED. 

Staff at Westhoff Elementary in Walnut takes hike to Chantry Flats

Staff from Westhoff Elementary School (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley)

Staff from Westhoff Elementary School (Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley)

By Walnut Valley Unified

Westhoff Elementary teachers, staff members, family, and friends took to the Chantry Flats trails on June 21.

Adventure-seeker teachers Ron Kim and Kevin Curtain organized the two-hour summertime hike in the Angeles National Forest.  The group enjoyed the morning jaunt with beautiful views, a waterfall, lush greenery, and of course plenty of fresh air.

“We had a great time!” Principal Denise Rendon said after the four-mile hike.