Quail Summit student wins national chess tournament

Quail Summit student Jonathan Chen beat first grade challengers from different states and won the title at the National K-12 Championship in Orlando.

Quail Summit student Jonathan Chen beat first grade challengers from different states and won the title at the National K-12 Championship in Orlando.

By Walnut Valley Unified

A six-year-old from Quail Summit Elementary has garnered the title of national champion. Jonathan Chen, a first grade student, represented his school during the National K-12 Championship held in Orlando, Florida.

Chen won the first-grade division with a perfect 7-0 score.The contest was held December 12-14.

Players with the same scores were paired against each other during seven rounds of competition. Each grueling round could last more than three hours.

“I am very happy and very proud of the biggest trophy and national champion title for my school!” Chen exclaimed.

Chen hopes to start a chess club so that next year he can bring a team trophy back to the school! The youngster from Diamond Bar has been playing chess for about two years.

His father introduced the game to him at age 4. He’s had a coach since he was in kindergarten and earned the youngest champion award in the 2013 American Open.

Last June, he won the 3rd Place trophy in the International Youth Championship, under 14-year-old division, held in Las Vegas.

A classmate asked Chen how he won all the games.

“I think it’s because I have more patience and more focus,” Chen replied.

Spark of Love program at Westhoff School

Second grader cowboys and cowgirls performed the story of “ Candy Cane Jane.”

Second grader cowboys and cowgirls performed the story of “ Candy Cane Jane.”

By Walnut Valley Unified

Westhoff Elementary presented its annual Spark of Love toy drive and holiday extravaganza. Students filled boxes with hundreds of new toys for needy children.

“For 22 years we’ve been making the lives of other children really special at this time of year,” said Principal Denise Rendon.

The Spark of Love toy drive is co-sponsored by Southland Firefighters and KABC7. Firefighters from Walnut Station #146 would later deliver the donations to needy children in the Los Angeles area.

Westhoff students loved the surprise snow delivered by Santa and his elves during the staff finale!

Westhoff students loved the surprise snow delivered by Santa and his elves during the staff finale!

“This holiday spirit restores the true meaning of Christmas. It shows us that everyone here has a chance to give to the less fortunate. And you’ve all truly done that here,” commented Captain Russell Blackschleger.

Each grade level took to the stage to perform a special holiday song. Westhoff parents and family members filled the school amphitheater for the school’s signature event. Kindergarteners wearing adorable oversized t-shirts, and red scarves and mittens opened the show with “White Christmas.”

First graders took the stage for “Christmas Conga” and second graders sang and danced with giant candy canes during “Candy Cane Jane.” Third graders joined the holiday program with “Christmas Cookies” followed by the fourth grade class singing “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree.”

Fifth graders showed their gymnastic, roller blade, dance, and baton talents during the high-energy “Big Time Rush.” Westhoff staff members performed a holiday line dance with Santa and his elves during the Walking in a Winter Wonderland finale.

Chaparral’s not “Frozen” out of Hour of Code in Diamond Bar

Chaparral Middle School in Walnut joined millions of students in over 180 countries to participate in “The Hour of Code.”  This year, the non-profit Code.org teamed up with Disney Interactive on a tutorial that lets young programmers help Frozen sisters Anna and Elsa make ice fractals and skating patterns using basic coding skills.

The Frozen tutorial will kick off the Hour of Code campaign designed to promote participation in computer science, especially among girls.

Hour of Code launched 2013 in an effort to introduce students to computer science, demystify coding, and demonstrate that anyone can learn the “basics” of coding.  Last year, Chaparral Cougars learned to code during this worldwide event and enjoyed engaging tutorials and lessons.

Some students even started a “coding club” as a result of their experiences, which remains a viable club on the Chaparral Middle School campus!

The school is excited about the problem-solving and logic building skills that the students will be developing this year as a result of “The Hour of Code”, and is confident that the lessons learned will build a foundation for their success in any 21stcentury career path that they may choose.

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.

Mt SAC wins two-year college flying team trophy

The Mt. San Antonio College Flying Team won the Top Two-Year College Team Trophy for the 24th consecutive year at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s regional competition hosted recently by San Diego Christian College at Gillespie Airport in San Diego. 

“This year marks the 24th consecutive year our team has won the top community college trophy—a truly incredible run,” said Mt. SAC Flying Team Advisor and Aeronautics Professor Robert Rogus. 

The 2014 Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) is a competition for university and community college flying teams. The regional airmeet featured flying teams from six colleges, including Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, San Jose State University, and the U.S. Air Force Academy with a total of 66 students competing. 

In addition to the Top Two-Year School Award, the Mt. SAC team won the Safety Trophy. Individually, Sebastian Plaister (San Dimas) won the instrument flight event and ranked sixth as the overall competitor at the airmeet. Jason Juarez (Ontario) took third in the message drop event. 

Overall, Mt. SAC placed fifth with 43 points. The top three regional teams receive invitations to the national competition. 

Over the years, the Mt. SAC Flying Team has consistently earned top honors as one of the best collegiate flying teams in the country. The team has won the Top Community College trophy at the regional competition every year since 1991. Mt. SAC has won the Top U. S.  Community College award at the national airmeet in 1984, 1985, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014. 

Mt SAC breaks ground for Student Success Center

Mt. San Antonio College will hold groundbreaking ceremonies for the campus’ new Student Success Center and Food Services Building on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 4 p.m., at the site of the new center, just south of the college’s Design Technology Center, building 13. 

The $13.6 million Student Success Center will house the Disabled Student Programs and Services High Tech Center and classrooms, the Veterans Resource Center, the Bridge Program, and a Student Health Center. 

“The new center shows an expansion of our programs to meet the needs of our students,” said Mt. SAC Student Services Vice President Audrey Yamagata-Noji. “It really addresses the growth of our programs and our support for student success.” 

The three-story building will afford 22,800 square feet for classrooms, study labs, offices, and lab. Construction on the project began in mid-September with a completion date slated for December 2015. 

The $12.7 million Food Services Building will replace the current Campus Café. The new 13,500-square-foot facility will seat approximately 90 people for interior dining and over 200 for outside dining on the east, west, and south terraces. The new building will house several food stations, including a deli, a grill station, Asian cuisine, and a coffee shop. 

The new Food Services Building is also expected to be completed by December 2015. 

Mt. SAC holding community volunteer fair Nov. 6

The Mt. San Antonio College Student Life Office will hold a Community Volunteer Fair for local organizations that would like to recruit student volunteers on Thursday, Nov. 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Student Life Center patio area, building 9C. 

The fair provides an opportunity for students to engage in public service, obtain hands-on learning experiences, and make a difference in the community.

Some of the organizations that will participate in this year’s event include the AmeriCorps, Covina Public Library, Inland Empire United Way, House of Ruth, Inland Valley Hope Partners, Just Us 4 Youth, Parent’s Place Family Resource & Empowerment Center, Rowland Unified School District Family Resource Center, Think Together, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, and more. 

Community organizations that would like to participate should call the Mt. SAC Student Life Office at (909) 274-5953. 

Suzanne students stand tall at summt in Walnut Valley

The 8th grade Summit field activities focused on team building through physical activities.

The 8th grade Summit field activities focused on team building through physical activities.

By Walnut Valley Unified

Suzanne Middle School 8th graders took a giant step forward in breaking down the walls of stereotypes and learning about the people around them during the 6th annual Summit. The exciting day of activities included workshops, discussions, and a motivational speaker.

About 475 students were divided into three groups to rotate through breakout sessions in classrooms, the field, and the multi-purpose room. The topic of the day was “Understanding and Overcoming Stereotypes”

“Students were mixed up into groups so they could get to know peers that they might not otherwise meet,” explained counselor George Ann Cusson.

The entire 8th grade class participated in a day of reflection and opportunities of personal growth,” said teacher Marla Rickard.

Classroom sessions allowed students to look at the impact of judging people and to reflect on personal impacts on all the parties. Some of the activities included If You Knew Me Well, the Tootsie Pop, and the Playing Card.

The field activities focused on team building through physical activities, a favorite was the Human Pyramid.

During the Stand Tall challenge in the MPR, students learned more about themselves and each other. They analyzed the Iceberg Theory to find ways to drop below the water level to get to know their fellow classmates.

Rickard and Cusson created the event made possible with the help several teachers and staff members, PLUS and PALS service club members, and leadership students. Thirty-one Walnut High School students and two graduates also come for the day to facilitate and lead all the breakout sessions.

“Without them the day would not be as successful. It’s a true team effort,” Rickard said.

“I think the kids are learning more about what they say to each other and to think before they speak,” said WHS senior and ASB president Phillip Silesky,

In one game, students asked their neighbor questions from a bowl. Some were serious  - what would you do if you knew one of your friends was taking drugs? And some were funny – if you were invisible for one day what would be the first thing you would do?

“I probably wouldn’t even know I was invisible and just go to school!” one student replied.

After lunch, WHS graduate and motivational speaker, Dee Hankins spoke to the class about goal setting, rising above any situation, and encouraged the students to live their life with purpose.

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.