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!

Glenn Miller Orchestra swings into Walnut High on Oct. 18

The Walnut High School Jazz Orchestra will share the stage with the legendary Glenn Miller Orchestra for an evening of musical memories featuring hits from those Swingin’ Years of Big Band Era. Come join us between shows for a BBQ dinner. Proceeds from this special event will benefit the Walnut High School Instrumental Music Department.

WHO:             Walnut High School Instrumental Music Department

WHAT:           The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra

Big Band Concert and BBQ Dinner ~

WHERE:         WHS Performing Arts Center located at 400 N. Pierre Road in Walnut

WHEN:           Saturday, Oct. 18, Shows at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

HOW MUCH:   All Seats Only $30,  BBQ Dinner at 5 p.m. for $15

Ticket sales at www.seatyourself.biz/walnutmusic.

For more information, please cal (909) 594-BAND.

 

 

 

 

Walnut High drama performs “The Understudy”

The Walnut High School Drama Department is bringing to the stage The Understudy by Eddie McPherson, presented in theatre-in-the round. Drama teacher Joanne Karr directs the talented cast in this murder-mystery comedy.

Acting can be murder!  Dolores Gordon, who loves the stage, has always dreamed of stardom. But the only role she ever seems to land is that of the lowly understudy.

So she decides the only way she is going to land the lead role in an upcoming community theatre production is to murder the lead actress, Guinevere Black. And that is exactly what she does.

To make the murder more fun, Dolores hides Guinevere’s body in a large wooden trunk that is used as the centerpiece of the production. She realizes her worst nightmare when she discovers the body has disappeared.

But who took it? Find out in this comedy that spoofs Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock all in one-keep-you-guessing backstage comedy.

Shows are October 1-4 at 7 p.m. and a 2 p.m. matinee on October 4. General admission tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Tickets may be bought online at www.seatyourself.biz/walnutdrama or at the door. For information, please call (909) 594-133 ext. 34212.

 

The Walnut High Performing Arts Center is located at 400 N. Pierre Road in Walnut.

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.

Oswalt Academy raises $2,400 in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

 

Oswalt Principal Kevin Despard takes the Ice Bucket Challenge in Walnut.

Oswalt Principal Kevin Despard takes the Ice Bucket Challenge in Walnut.

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Oswalt Academy Principal Kevin Despard and students K-8 took part in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge today, raising more than $2,400 in Walnut.

Each Rowland Unified student brought a minimum of $5, their own cup to be filled with ice and water by the Oswalt PTSA volunteers, a signed permission slip and a change of clothes.

Despard accepted the challenge from fellow school colleague, Shelyn Principal Sarah Opatkiewicz. Who’s next? Despard says Killian Elementary.

Oswalt Academy students take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Oswalt Academy students take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Walnut High offers ROP medical assistant course

The East San Gabriel Valley ROP and Technical Center offers a Medical Assistant certification program, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education programs (CAAHEP) at Walnut High School.

The class is held in the evening hours for graduating students as well as for adults in the local community interested in being trained in administrative (front office) and clinical (back office) skills. 

A great opportunity for Walnut High School students who want to pursue medical degrees but need employment to pay for their further education providing them with a head start and hands-on experience in the medical field. 

Walnut High adds ROP medical pathology class to

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Maybe a student from Walnut High will find a cure for the Ebola or West Nile virus some day. It could happen thanks to the new pathology class at the Walnut Valley campus.

Pathology is the branch of medicine that deals with the nature of disease. The new health class may be the link that drives a promising young student to go into medical research.

The class is one of several courses being offered by the high school through the East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program. ROP instructors now teach more than 300 Walnut students, according to ROP Coordinator Candice Marsano.

“The medical classes have become very popular at Walnut High,” said Marsano. “That’s why we continue to add new classes and sections.”

Principal Jeff Jordan has seen the ROP program grow from one instructor with 60 students to several teachers with hundreds of students over the past six years.

“Now, we have kids who graduate and go on to study medical careers at Cal State Fullerton, Mt. SAC and Azusa Pacific University,” Jordan reported. “They come back and thank us for giving them a head start in their medical careers.”

Marsano said two of the ROP courses, Intro to Sports Medicine and General Medical Pathologies, have been approved by the University of California.

“If our students pass the UC test, they can earn college credits here at Walnut High,” Marsano explained.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story HEALTH

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.

Walnut Valley begins first day of school

By Kelli Gile, Walnut Valley Unified

It’s back-to-school time in the Walnut Valley Unified School District. Nearly 14,600 students began classes in the 15 campuses on Monday, August 18.

“We had a great first day,” said Walnut High School Principal Jeff Jordan. ”Students and staff were excited to be back. There was an upbeat attitude all day.”

The teens happily chatted at break time, stopped by their lockers, and checked schedules before dashing off to their next class.

Maple Hill Elementary in Diamond Bar opened doors to its completely modernized campus in Diamond Bar.

Everyone was relocated to portable buildings during the $5.6 million construction project last year.

This was the first chance for students and their families to see the new school.

“We made it!” exclaimed Principal Nancy Stingley. “Everybody’s here and inside, everybody’s happy, and everybody’s smiling.”

“Wellyn’s very lucky she’s going to a brand new school,” said kindergarten parent Jocelyn Wong.

Fourth graders Gabrielle Zabresky, Valentina Yonemoto, Carlie Law and Ella Liu were excited to see their new classrooms before the school bell rang.

What do they like best about school?

“We love math – it’s fun!’ the girls exclaimed.

“It’s really nice,” commented parent Grace Wang just outside her child’s classroom.

Fifth grade teacher Shirley Conner greeted students who were lined up before the 8 a.m.school bell rang.

“Welcome back to school. It’s beautiful inside!” she said

“It’s such a gift to us,” beamed fourth grade teacher Tami Berry.

“Everything’s new and wonderful, and different. As we had time to get to know the school, you all will have time to get to know the school,” she told her students.

“It’s going to be a very fun place to learn,” Berry added.

The school has a brand-new interior design, multipurpose room and exterior landscaping. Classrooms feature state-of-the-art technology, skylights and generous storage cabinets. Six hundred new desks and chairs were purchased for the campus.

“It’s big and roomy, everything is clean and new, and up-to-date technologically,” said kindergarten teacher Lisa Esse, who has been at the school for 20 years.

“And every teacher is excited!”

“It’s like a new beginning for us. It’s beautiful, it’s kid-friendly and we have a lot of new technology that we didn’t have before,” said third grade teacher Sue Conrad-Kanstul.

Teachers will now use wireless microphones and be able project assignments using cool mobile stations that adjust up and down, she explained.

Kanstul is happy that she will no longer have her back to the screen while at the front of the class.

“The kids used to say ‘Mrs. Kanstul I can’t see the board.’ And now I can watch what I’m projecting. I would say it’s 21st century.”

“I look forward to another great school year at Suzanne Middle School,” said Principal Les Ojeda.

“We have a great number of returning students and new students that seem incredibly intelligent, enthusiastic and eager to learn.”

Westhoff Elementary celebrated the first day of school with balloons, chalk greetings, posters, music and a staff with welcoming smiles.

“It’s going to be a great school year!” said Principal Denise Rendon.

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.