Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mira Mesa High artwork part of Pentagon mosaic

A large mosaic now on display at the Pentagon includes work from students in Mira Mesa High art classes.

Pentagon mural Students in several of Sandra Bartels' and Justin Bartels' classes created the work honoring military personnel and it was accepted for the Project SNAP "Operation Grateful Nation."

The 5-foot by 9-foot mosaic contains more than 6,000 artworks and artists' statements. Its flagship program, The Community Mosaic Mural Program, captures the voices of thousands of individuals through their individual artwork, transforming those messages into a single big picture.

"The whole mural is comprised of 6,000 artworks and artist's statements reflecting on the importance of expressing gratitude to members of the military for their service," said Sandra. "It took the students about two weeks to create their art and started with discussions leading up to the project about their passions, themes, and how to appropriately express their feelings and appreciation in their art.

"Many Mira Mesa High students come from military families so this was a project that really hit home for the students."

The students are from Mira Mesa High's AP Studio Drawing, AP 2D Studio Art, Drawing and Painting,  Art, and photography classes.

This mosaic is now on display the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Bartels joined forces with Project SNAP (Share, Nurture, Act, Preserve) to represent San Diego in the “Operation Grateful Nation” mural.
Teacher Sandra Bartels,, can provide more information on the project; or visit the Project SNAP website.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

High schools featured in national rankings

Several high schools in the San Diego Unified School District appear on annual lists of "most challenging" and "best" high schools produced by The Washington Post and US News and World Report.

Washington Post  America's Most Challenging High Schools

40 4 Preuss School UCSD Charter
334 40 School of International Studies at San Diego High School
658 87 Point Loma High School
829 111 University City High School
1143 152 Mission Bay High School
1232 167 Mira Mesa High School
1496 208 La Jolla High School
1579 221 School of Science and Technology at San Diego High School
1649 231 Clairemont High School
1661 234 James Madison High School


US News and World Report Best High Schools

42 5 Preuss School UCSD Charter
88 12 School of International Studies at San Diego High School
232 41 La Jolla High School
422 85 Scripps Ranch High School
460 98 University City High School
473 101 Pt. Loma High School
788 160 Mira Mesa High School
940 196 School of Science Connections and Technology at Kearny High
973 208 Patrick Henry High School
1,077 232 SCPA — San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts
1,269 273 School of Digital Media and Design at Kearny High
1,511 338 San Diego Early/Middle College

'National Showcase District' award comes for Action Based Learning

Action Based Learning programs at 38 schools have earned San Diego Unified a National Showcase Award from the technique's founder Jean Blaydes Madigan.
Action Based Learning
A program that uses brain-based, brain-compatible strategies to teach academics kinesthetically by using purposeful movement, Action Based Learning Labs have been implemented in 38 schools, spanning preschool through high school.

The labs are a developmentally based series of motor and fitness activities that fill in developmental gaps to prepare the brain for learning, according to Carrie Rea, Program Manager, Related and Specialized Services, Special Education Division.

"Action Based Learning in the district is a collaborative effort between physical education, adapted physical education, occupational and physical therapy, classroom teachers and administrators," she said, "to support all students in multiple learning modalities."

For more information, contact Rea at

Monday, April 21, 2014

Horatio Alger scholarship goes to MET senior

San Diego MET High School senior Brandon Brizuela has been named a 2014 National Scholar by the Horatio Alger Association.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and MET student Brandon Brizuela
Brandon was recognized for his community service work, high GPA and overcoming economic challenges. The scholarship will come in handy as Brandon has already been accepted to San Diego State University for fall 2014.

MET Principal Sara Leonard at the MET said Brandon is one of her outstanding students at the unique school on the campus of San Diego Mesa College.

"Brandon has completed several unpaid internships at the San Diego Met High School to accumulate over 600 community service hours," she said.

His current internship is at La Maestra Community Health Centers in City Heights, where he has produced a presentation on schizophrenia. Brandon said that a family relative suffers from this mental illness, and researching it helped confirm his desire go into the mental health field as a career.

"Growing up in City Heights, I was aware of the statistics for young people in my neighborhood," said Brandon. "Giving back to the community I come from has been really humbling."

"He is is the first in our family to earn a scholarship to go to college," said Marvin Brizuela, Brandon's father. "Watching him go to Washington to talk to all these smart and important people makes me so proud."

Since 1984, Horatio Alger Association Members and Friends have been funding need-based college scholarships to support deserving young people to overcome their adversity and pursue their dreams through higher education. So far the association has awarded $100 million to approximately 20,000 students.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Valencia Park teams with EY, USD for a day of community service

Valencia Park STEAM Magnet’s Beautification Committee, made up of students, joined forces with business professionals from EY and university students from SDSU and USD to paint, clean, organize and landscape.
Cleanup in the library
The third annual San Diego Community Service Day, held April 12, is an opportunity to welcome the community to help the Valencia Park neighborhood campus.

Principal Lori Moore thanked all the volunteers, her school community and students for their hard work on a Saturday.

"One of the biggest recipients of the effort was the school library," she said. "Books were organized, shelves and furniture were moved and walls received a fresh coat of paint. The goal was to create a space for students and teachers to meet, research and plan together as the school moves toward a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) focused environment."

Ernst and Young, SDSU and USD are partners of particular interest because of the school’s new focus on STEAM education.

Valencia Park Elementary STEAM Magnet will be hosting tours for prospective parents from May 6 to July 8.

Find out more about Valencia Park Elementary School by visiting its website.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lifesaving efforts bring honors to School Police Officer Daniel Acevedo

Officer Daniel Acevedo has been named San Diego Unified School District's 2014 Police Officer of the Year, earning the department's highest honor.
Officer Acevedo
At the presentation, Jesus Montana (left), president of the San Diego Schools Police Officers Association, Superintendent Cindy Marten, Officer Daniel Acevido, Chief Rueben Littlejohn.

Acevedo was singled out for his efforts to help a San Diego High student in 2013.

"This lifesaving incident is only one example of a good man that has spent a career serving young people," said Chief Rueben Littlejohn. "The department was honored to select Officer Daniel Acevedo as the San Diego Unified School District Police Department's Police Officer of the Year."

While monitoring the 3,000 students dismissing from San Diego High School, in November, Officer Acevedo encountered a female student suffering from an apparent seizure. He immediately called for an ambluance and began giving first aid, but the student then grabbed her throat with both hands, indicating the universal sign for chocking. Acevedo performed the Heimlich maneuver and reopened her throat. A small piece of food had become dislodged and the young girl ended up scared but unharmed.

The victim later said how terrifying it was when she could not breathe, but that she felt instant relief the moment Acevedo’s actions dislodged the small piece of the food from her throat.

Officer Acevedo, along with nominees from other local law enforcement agencies, was honored recently at the San Diego Police Officer's Association's "Officer of the Year" program.

The San Diego Unified Police Department is a fully accredited police agency employing full-time sworn police officers, community service officers, and a full complement of support staff. While our primary role is to maintain order and security on and near school facilities, school police officers provide far more than standard law enforcement efforts. It also takes a leading edge, proactive role in creating the positive learning environment in which superb education is not only possible, but also probable.

Learn more about the department at its website.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Oak Park Elementary students reach across country to meet with Rep. Lewis

Third grade students at Oak Park Music Conservatory in the Crawford Cluster had a rare opportunity to interview one of their heroes: Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), via internet teleconference.
Rep. Lewis

The students had been studying his life as a civil rights pioneer, lunch counter sit-in protestor, and the last living speaker from the 1963 March on Washington. His exemplary life — beginning with his childhood in the Jim Crow South and the many things he did as a positive change agent in a climate of oppression and staggering inequities — is being documented in a series of comic book graphic novels beginning with March: Book 1 which the students read in Mick Rabin’s classroom.

After examining Lewis’s life in the context of bravery, Rabin reached out to Congressman Lewis’s office in Washington, DC and arranged a Skype interview date during a school day.

The students, Rabin, and Principal Villery were thrilled to finally meet their hero (minutes after he voted on the floor of Congress). They shared some poems, asked some questions, and interacted with a person whose entire life truly exemplifies the meaning of bravery, sacrifice, empathy, and advocacy.
Lewis’s advice to the students: “Don’t be afraid to make a bit of trouble. . .the good kind of trouble.”