Maple Hill receives $1,000 for library books

Diamond Bar Friends of the Library President Chris Ko presented $1,000 to the Maple Hill library.

Diamond Bar Friends of the Library President Chris Ko presented $1,000 to the Maple Hill library.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Maple Hill Elementary’s Library Media Center will be getting lots of new books thanks to a generous donation from the Diamond Bar Friends of the Library. Board members from the non-profit presented a check for $1,000 to fund titles from the school’s “wish list” on April 17.

“We have established a new book fund that we are implementing for public schools in Diamond Bar,” announced President Chris Ko. Maple Hill received the first gift from the organization.

The wonderful new library that opened in late February was created from two connecting portables with fiction and non-fiction spaces.

“Just being able to continually add books to the collections is phenomenal and we appreciate this donation so much,” said Principal Nancy Stingley. ”It gives our students the incentive to read and nourishes their mind.”

A grassroots campaign funded new carpet, paint, furniture, ceiling tiles, and shelving for the library.

“It was all a school effort with lots of support from our parents and community,’ said Principal Nancy Stingley. The renovation wasn’t part of the school modernization plan.

Maple Hill 82-year-old grandfather and artist Cor Grieve painted vivid murals making the library a one-of-a kind reading sanctuary.  He’s added 10 paintings around the campus in the past two years.

Lions, zebras, and giraffes roam in the African Savanna depicted in the non-fiction room.

Across the library, fictional characters Clifford, Arthur, Winnie the Pooh, Little Red Ridding Hood, and Harry Potter decorate the walls.

“We wanted to make sure that when we did the library that it would be a fun place for students to come – and such a lively place they wouldn’t want to leave,” Stingley said. “That was our goal and I think we achieved that!”

“They don’t want to leave!” confirmed Tuyet Van Nguyen, the school librarian.

“It’s really a great place,” Diamond Bar Mayor Pro Tem and Friends’ Board Member Nancy Lyons commented during the tour.

Walnut Valley needs help on Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee

The Walnut Valley Unified School District is looking for citizens to serve on the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee.

In November 2007, voters approved General Obligation Bond Measure S, the $64.6 million Academic Facilities Measure, and Measure Y, the $15.2 million Physical Education Facilities Measure.

In 2008, Series A was released and Walnut Valley schools began receiving needed repairs and upgrades.  Outdated classrooms are being modernized with new roofing, heating, ventilation and electrical wiring and advanced technology will continue to be sustained on every campus.  School playgrounds, athletic fields and performing arts facilities are being improved, and in some cases built new as with Chaparral’s Gymnasium and Walnut High School’s Band Building, as well as an Aquatic Center and Classroom Building, which took place at Diamond Bar High School.

An active oversight committee is part of the accountability and auditing process to ensure that a check and balance system is effective.  The Committee consists of seven members appointed by the Board of Trustees from a list of candidates submitting written applications, and based on criteria established by Prop 39.

In 2011, the District released Series B of Bond Measures S & Y which funded Cyrus J. Morris Elementary School’s modernization and Chaparral Middle School’s new Science Buildings.  These projects are ongoing.

In 2014, Vejar Elementary School’s lunch shade structure was complete as well as Maple Hill Elementary School’s ball wall.

The District is now seeking applications to fill the expiring terms of seven committee members.  The new members will serve a two-year term.

Applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • A representative of the business community located in the District
  • A representative of a senior citizens’ organization
  • A representative of a bona fide Taxpayers’ Organization
  • A Parent/Guardian of a Child Enrolled in the District
  • A Parent/Guardian of a Child Enrolled in the District AND active in a parent-teacher organization (Ex: Community Club or School Site Council)
  • Two representatives with other expertise, (i.e., architecture, engineering, construction, law, educational administration, financial management, real estate/development, construction management, public administration)


A copy of the bylaws and an application form may be downloaded from the District’s website at  They are also available by email or fax.  Anyone interested in obtaining an application may call Danielle Amaya-Martinez at (909) 595-1261 ext. 31329All completed applications must be received in the Superintendent’s Office by Thursday, May 11, 2015, before 4:00 p.m.

Mt. SAC Students Named to State Academic Team

By Mount San Antonio College

Mt. San Antonio College students Candice Handjojo and Andrew Pastor are two of the 92 community college students throughout the state recently selected for the 2015 All-California Academic teams, chosen by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international community college honor society. 

These students represent some of the best of the 2.8 million students enrolled in California’s community college system. 

Handjojo and Pastor, both students in Mt. SAC’s Honors Program, received medallions during the Community College League of California’s awards ceremony held on April 7 at the Sheraton Grand in Sacramento. Selection for the academic teams is based on grades, leadership, and community service. 

Handjojo, 20, is a sociology major and carries a 3.94 GPA. She was selected for the All-California Academic Third Team. A West Covina resident, she volunteers as tutor for Schools on Wheels tutoring that provides tutoring services for homeless children and also tutors second-grade children in English, science, and math through Top Kids in Walnut. In addition, she volunteers as a score keeper for National Junior Basketball for area youth.

She sang as a member of Mt. SAC’s concert choir and sings with her church choir in West Covina. She plans to transfer to UC Berkeley or UC Irvine as a sociology major, and eventually become an educational counselor. 

Pastor, 20, is a public health major and carries a 4.0 GPA. He was selected for the All-California Academic Third Team. A San Dimas resident, he served as president of the Honors Ambassadors for PTK on campus.

He is a member of the Caduceus Club and the Native American Intertribal Student Association (NAISA) at Mt. SAC, and is a tutor at the college’s Learning Assistance Center. Off campus, he is a percussion instructor at San Dimas High School and is serving an internship with UC Irvine’s Medical Center.

He plans to transfer to UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, or UC Irvine as a public health/microbiology major. He eventually plans to become a physician and work as a global health coordinator. 

There are 30 first-team, 31 second-team, and 31 third-team winners. 

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.”

Walnut High wins trophies at writing competition

Walnut High won sweepstakes award at Eastern Los Angeles Journalism Education Association Write-offs Competition

Walnut High won sweepstakes award at Eastern Los Angeles Journalism Education Association Write-offs Competition

By Walnut Valley Unified

Walnut High School Publications garnered the Super Sweepstakes award for the third time in four years at the Eastern Los Angeles Journalism Education Association (ELAJEA) Write-offs Competition on Saturday, February 28.

The competition featured various categories of writing, photography, and yearbook design, and copy writing.

One yearbook team captured the 1st Place Yearbook Sweepstakes trophy while individual awards helped Walnut pick up a 3rd Place Newspaper sweepstakes trophy and 2nd Place Novice News sweepstakes trophy.

Walnut Valley schools swept all 1st Place sweepstakes trophies at the tourney, with Diamond Bar High School celebrating a 1st Place Newspaper Sweepstakes and 1st Place Novice News Sweepstakes victory.

Congratulations to the following WHS individual winners who qualified to advance to the State-Write-Offs:

Yearbook Layout: 1st Place – Crystal Chang, Aaron Yong, Yolanda Yu, Laura Zhang; Yearbook Layout: 3rd Place – Jezebel Cardenas, Emily Chen, Jessica Lee, Cynthia Lu; Yearbook Copy: 1st Place – Crystal Chang, Aaron Yong, Yolanda Yu, Laura Zhang; Yearbook Copy: 3rd Place – Jezebel Cardenas, Emily Chen, Jessica Lee, Cynthia Lu.

News Photography: 2nd Place – Andraes Arteaga; News Photography: 3rdPlace – Elaine Liu; Feature Photography: 4th Place – Sajid Iqbal; Critical Review: 1st Place  – Lisa Shen; Critical Review: 2nd Place  – Nikita Patel;Editorial Cartooning: 3rd Place – Gabrielle Manuit; Novice News: 8thPlace – Brian Wu.

News Writing: 6th Place  – Brandon Ng; Sports Writing: – 1st Place – Ted Zhu; Feature Writing: 1st Place  – Alison Chang; Feature Writing: 10thPlace – Spencer Wu; Editorial Writing: 1st Place  – Michelle Chang.


Inland Valley Regional Spell Bee picks champ at Mt. SAC

Nicholas Lee, 11, of Caryn Elementary School, center, raises his hand in victory.

Nicholas Lee, 11, of Caryn Elementary School, center, raises his hand in victory.

By Brian Day, Staff Writer

A fifth-grader from an Alta Loma school will represent the region in the Scripps National Spelling Bee after out-spelling 33 other hopefuls Saturday at the 8th annual Inland Valley Regional Spelling Bee at Mt. SAC.

Nicholas Lee, 11, of Caryn Elementary School in the Etiwanda School District clinched victory by spelling the uncommon word, “sinecure,” defined as a job or position in which someone is paid to do little or no work.

“I didn’t think I’d get into the top 10,” Lee said as he posed for photographs next to a massive trophy.

Lee said he studied for about two hours a day over five weeks to prepare for the competition. His strategy: “Sound it out.”

Cheering Lee on from the audience were his parents, Johnny and Gina Lee, and older brother Michael Lee.

Gina said she encouraged her son to enter the spelling bee to build his vocabulary and be better prepared for SATs.

“I’m very proud,” the mother said. The event was Nicholas Lee’s first regional spelling bee.

In second place after a neck-and-neck spell-off with Lee was 12-year-old Brandon Lam, a seventh-grade student at Edgewood Middle School in the West Covina Unified School District.

He spelled such words as “longiloquence” and “Einsteinian,” before being stumped on the word “homophony.”

Only the first-place winner will go to Washington, D.C., in May to take part in the nationals. The second-place winner earned $300 and a trophy, and the nine other top spellers received $50 and trophies.

Each student who competed Saturday was the champion of their respective school.

Read more in Brian Day’s story BEE. 

Walnut Elementary Rings in Lunar New Year

Nearly 200 Dual Language Immersion students at Walnut Elementary rang in the Lunar New Year for their parents and families

Nearly 200 Dual Language Immersion students at Walnut Elementary rang in the Lunar New Year for their parents and families

By Walnut Valley Unified

Nearly 200 Dual Language Immersion students in kindergarten through 3rd grades celebrated Lunar New Year by performing for their parents and families at Walnut Elementary.

Mandarin songs, ribbon dances, and even a play explaining how the animals were chosen to be part of the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac were performed.

The dress rehearsal on Thursday was equally as meaningful as all 560 students sang in Mandarin for the finale.

This Lunar New Year celebration would not be possible without the hard work of the Dual Language Immersion teachers:  Carol Cheng, Jeannie Lin, Henry Lin, Krystin Wong, Connie Shiroishi, Amy Wu, Connie Chen, and Vivian Ramirez.  In addition, parents assisted in costume and prop preparation.

“Dual Language Immersion is one strand of world language education at Walnut Elementary,” Principal Janet Green said.

The FLES program (Foreign Language in Elementary School) is taught to students in kindergarten through third grades by the Chinese exchange teacher

Students in grades 3-5 are enrolled in the online Middlebury Interactive Language program and may choose among Spanish, French, and Chinese.

Every teacher on campus provides global education through the Units of Study, which reflect Common Core standards.

Walnut Elementary is truly a neighborhood school with a global perspective!

C.J. Morris kindergarteners dress up as senior citizens

Kindergarteners Rachel Peiten, Chloe Thi, and Molly Chung showed off their 100-year-old costumes.

Kindergarteners Rachel Peiten, Chloe Thi, and Molly Chung showed off their 100-year-old costumes.

By Walnut Valley Unified

C.J. Morris Elementary kindergarten students dressed up as adorable centenarians to mark the 100th day of school on January 28. The youngsters transformed into 100-year-olds with gray spray-painted hair, glasses, and canes for the day of fun and learning.

Many of the little ones had their new “mature” hair tucked up in buns with rouge on their cheeks. They wore aprons, shawls and sweater vests.

Some even had painted-on wrinkles! Chloe Thi, age 6, said she liked wobble-walking with her little cane.

“This was the first time we’ve had the students dress as old people,” noted teacher Sarah Sherman.

“They came in with little mustaches and cotton ball eyebrows – it was so cute! ”

The teaching team includes Luisa Salazar, and Kelly Revells, and Sherman, who led the activities costumed with gray wigs, floral dresses, saggy socks, and a trio of canes.

“Mrs. Salazar looks like an old lady! She’s wearing a wig,” observed a giggling Jewelina Baker. Counting to the 100th day of school serves as good practice for number recognition and beginning math skills.

It’s also the means students and their teachers made it about halfway through the school year! The kids look forward to reaching the big 100 all year long.

They counted out 100 Fruit Loops cereal rounds to make necklaces. They estimated walking a-hundred feet. They wrote little books about 100 things they’ve seen, eaten, or wanted to do.

At recess the young whippersnappers raced and played.


“We were two old ladies riding a race car!” exclaimed Rachel Peiten.

South Pointe P.E. classes read and ride in Walnut

South Pointe students are benefitting from the new Read and Ride program.

South Pointe students are benefitting from the new Read and Ride program.

By Walnut Valley Unified

South Pointe Middle School physical education teachers are helping students exercise their brains during fitness classes.

“Our teachers read an article that said if you read while you’re working out you’re brain will actually imprint the information a little bit more,” Principal Susan Arzola said.

P.E. teachers thought it would be perfect for the 30-minute silent reading called AR (Accelerated Reader).

“We began playing with the Read and Ride program at the end of last year and decided to make it official in August,” explained P.E. teacher Ann Schnoor.

Every class is in the fitness room once a week. P.E. teachers now rotate the schedule so students climb on exercise bikes to Read and Ride twice each month.  The 6th-8th grade students get fit with cardio push music during Week 1. They stand up, tighten tension, pedal, sit down, and repeat.

During Week 2 they they Read and Ride. Week 3 is movie and ride and week four is another Read and Ride.

“The kids love the diversity of the days.  We give rewards to anyone who rides over 12 miles at a time.  Believe me, that is tough.  Yet, we have at least 10 every period who achieve that!” Schnoor said.

The room is quiet during Read and Ride weeks. “I like the peace and quiet while I read. It gives me a chance to think about a lot of stuff.  And it helps with my multitasking,” said Amir Hunter, age 14.

“You can conserve time and do cool stuff at the same time,” said 8thgrader Christine Wan, age 13.

“So if you’re studying for a test that might be a good time to read and ride as you study because your brain will start putting those tracks down in your head and you’ll remember it better,” Arzola said to students in an 8th grade class. “It will make you smarter in the end!”


La Verne jazz concert features Mt. SAC choral group

By Imani Tate, Staff Writer

Singcopation, Mt. San Antonio College’s multiple award-winning choral ensemble, and the Bonita High School Jazz Ensemble will highlight the jazz concert presented by the La Verne Cultural Arts Society at 7 p.m. Saturday in The Meeting House at Hillcrest.

Tickets are $20 per person for the concert showcasing the musical talents of teens and young adults in the Inland and San Gabriel valleys. Advance tickets may be purchased through Paypal at If still available, tickets can also be purchased at the door of The Meeting House, 2705 Mountain View Drive.

The Bonita band, directed by instrumental music educator Jeff Bird and including freshmen to senior students, opens the evening with a program featuring songs by Ira and George Gershwin, Billy Strayhorn, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Doug Beach, Paul Lohorn and Les Hooper.

The Bonita ensemble has performed at concerts, festivals and private parties throughout Southern California. Bird, who completed a bachelor of music education from Ohio’s College of Wooster and a master of music education at the University of North Carolina, has taught at Bonita for 11 years. Also a professional bassist, Bird also plays in XNA, a progressive rock band, and sings lead vocals in The Shepherds of Lies, a Genesis tribute band.

Singcopation, a 13-voice choir, has repeatedly wowed audiences in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, won a record-setting nine Downbeat jazz magazine national polls as the best collegiate choir in the United States and twice won Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Music Festival. The latter distinction also made Singcopation the nation’s best college jazz choir. It has won standing ovations from pioneering performers, legends and master artists at International Association of Jazz Educators conferences, the L.A. Vocal Jazz Workshop, New York City’s Lincoln Center.

The group recently returned from a successful tour to Guangzhou, China and won the platinum medal at the first Xinghai International Choral Competition.

Bruce Rogers, an internationally renowned choral conductor and Mt. SAC’s choral activities director, has conducted the Walnut community college singers and international choirs in America, Wales, Australia, England, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Scotland, Austria, Bulgaria, China and the Czech Republic.

For more, read Tate’s story JAZZ