Sunday, February 28, 2010

Morse High Students Donate to Rescue Mission

In January, students enrolled in the ROP Developmental Psychology of Children classes at Morse High School helped the homeless in their community by donating canned goods, adult and children's clothing, and toys and blankets to the Rescue Mission and the Storefront. The Rescue Mission offers food and shelter to families. The Storefront is a facility that provides food and shelter for homeless teens 18 years and younger while they attend school. The Morse students, who were able to interact with the students they met at the Storefront, are planning to participate in Sleepless in San Diego in April to raise funds for San Diego homeless families. For more information, please contact Mary Doan, Morse High School teacher, at

New Volunteer Program Helps Students Power Up Reading Skills

In support of the Year of the School Volunteer, business and community members are invited to participate in POWER UP!, a special program that focuses on helping third graders build vocabulary and word study skills. The program will begin in March at five elementary schools: Bayview Terrace, Fletcher, Lee, Sherman and Whitman. Volunteers will be specially trained to work one-on-one with students for 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week for a 6-week period. For more information on this and other school volunteer opportunities, please visit the Year of the School Volunteer website or contact Ellen Tiffany, community relations manager, at (619)725-5594 or

Saturday, February 27, 2010

High Schoolers Share Experiences with Middle School Students

Mario Valladolid, district counselor in the Race-Human Relations & Advocacy Department, recently escorted members of the Circulo de Hombres Club of Kearny High School to Montgomery Middle School. The high school students were there to help ease the transition from middle school to high school by sharing their experiences with their 8th grade counterparts The high school students talked about the differences between middle school and high school, the small high school system and what is expected of students when they enter the 9th grade. For more information, please contact Mario Valladolid at (858) 490-8678 or

Budget Update: Board Completing Draft Measure

On Feb. 23, the Board of Education identified nearly $63 million in tentative cuts to offset an anticipated $86.8 million deficit in next year’s operating budget. Some of the proposed reductions are subject to negotiation with employee unions.

The district is required to submit a tentative spending plan, based on current Sacramento estimates of 2010-11 funding, to the County Office of Education by March 15. San Diego Unified has already cut $300 million from the budget since 2008 because of a reduction in state education funding. The board will continue to hold budget workshops and make adjustments based on the most up-to-date estimates by the state Department of Finance. The district’s final 2010-11 spending plan must be submitted by June 30. The complete list of proposed budget solutions is posted on the Budget Crisis website.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Scripps Ranch High Junior Shines as Star Student of the Month

On Feb. 9, Scripps Ranch High junior Catherine "Cati" Grant was profiled as Ruben Galvan’s “San Diego 6 in the Morning Star Student of the Month.” As a champion youth activist, Cati has become the voice of her generation for her global efforts on raising awareness about internet safety and cyber bully prevention among teens. As the Founder and President of and the Teen Ambassador for STOMP Out Bullying, she has spoken to more than a million people about the vicious trend of cyber bullying. Cati has received numerous awards for her efforts including the President's Volunteer Service Award, Special Commendation from the City of San Diego, Kids Are Heroes Award, Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate, Resolution from Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a Proclamation from the County of San Diego, and Certificates of Appreciation from San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and Congressman Duncan Hunter. For more information, please contact Principal Kurt Madden at (858) 621-9010 ext. 1103 or

Thursday, February 25, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Education Program Highlights Indians

Every week in the outskirts of Old Town, where the Kumeyaay Indians were colonized by the Spaniards more than 200 years ago, scores of urban Indians meet to dance, eat and keep their heritage alive. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Automotive Internships Provide Students with an Eye-Opening Experience

ROP automotive students from Crawford and Clairemont high schools will soon be taking part in internships at various automotive dealerships and repair shops. Among the automotive businesses that have agreed to provide student internships are Mercedes Benz of San Diego, Mossy Auto Group, Drew Ford, Penske Collision Center, Dugan’s Collision Center, San Diego Volvo, Wolf’s Foreign Car Service, Holmberg Automotive, Manson’s BMW and San Diego Unified’s Transportation Department. Internships are expected to take place during second semester and may provide a pathway for potential future employment while earning class credit. For more information, please contact Shawn Loescher, director of College, Career and Technical Education, at (858) 503-1754 or

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Budget cuts discussed by Superintendent

Budget decisions made by the Board of Education were discussed by Bill Kowba, Interim Superintendent, during a live interview on KUSI-TV. Video courtesy KUSI-TV.

IN THE NEWS: Stimulus Funds Again Going to Hire-A-Youth

KUSI looks at Hire-A-Youth Program that will be stimulus-funded this summer. Watch video from KUSI»

Students wishing to apply for a Hire-A-Youth job this summer should check with their guidance counselor, who will receive information later this school year.

Challenger Student Wins Top Award

For the past two years, students from Challenger Middle School have been attending the Young Women’s Leadership Conference sponsored by the Jenna Druck Foundation. As a result, eighth-grader Sara L. Gonzalez was invited to apply for the 2009 David & Orly Perez “Spirit of Leadership” Scholarship. At this year’s conference, Sara learned that she was the recipient of the $2,000 scholarship for her essay “The Journey of the Gem,” which documented how she utilized the leadership training to tackle challenges and demonstrated leadership in real-life situations. For more information, please contact Tamra Winchell at (858) 586-7001.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Board meets throughout day today

San Diego Unified's Board of Education meets throughout the day today to discuss the 2010-11 budget, as well as regular business items. The schedule:

  • 8:30 a.m.: Budget workshop
  • 2 p.m.: Regular business meeting
  • 5 p.m.: Budget action meeting; the Board can vote on 2010-11 budget issues.
The meetings are open to the public and the agenda is posted online. The public can speak at various points during the meeting.

The meeting is being held at the Education Center Auditorium, 4100 Normal St. (92103). Watch it live on ITV Cable 16 inside the district or online.

Braille Challenge Winners

The Braille Challenge is an academic competition unlike any other. The national reading and writing contest in Braille is a great way to motivate blind and visually impaired students to practice their literacy skills. Bay Park Elementary students Ricardo Herrera, Danielle Vergara, Sean Caballero and Hannah Dakan participated in the National Braille Challenge at the Orange County Braille Institute on Saturday, Feb. 6. Students were tested on their Braille skills in areas of spelling, reading comprehension and proofreading. All four students participated in the Freshman Division (3-4th grades). Sean received the silver medal and Ricardo received the gold medal, along with a $25 iTunes gift certificate and a $50 gift certificate to Best Buy. For more information, please contact Brad Hoyt at (858) 573-5941 or

Monday, February 22, 2010

Superintendent Search Discussed

Board president Richard Barrera discusses the process of finding a new district superintendent on KOGO-AM's Impact San Diego.

New Sites Added for H1N1 Vaccination

The County Health Department has made available more H1N1 vaccine and as a result, San Diego Unified has scheduled several free H1N1 vaccine clinics for all district staff and families in the community. The following clinics will vaccinate students at their school first and then be open to all district staff and families:
  • Tuesday, Feb 23, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Cherokee Point Elementary, 3735 38th St (92105)
  • Thursday February 25, 3-7 p.m. at Patrick Henry High, 6702 Wandermere Dr. (92120)
  • Wednesday March 3, 1:30-5 p.m. at Memorial Prep Middle, 2850 Logan Ave. (92113)
  • Thursday, March 11, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Oak Park Elementary, 2606 54th St (92105)
The following Access Clinics are open for all district staff and families in the community:
  • Monday, Feb. 22, 3-6 p.m. at De Portola Middle, 11010 Clairemont Mesa Blvd (92124)
  • Wednesday, Feb. 24, 1-5 p.m. at Adams Elementary, 4672 35th St (92116)
Free H1N1 vaccine will be available to anyone six months and older. Students under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult to receive the vaccine. For more information, please contact Eileen Griffiths at (858) 636-4380 or

Kearny International Business Receives National Recognition

The Kearny Educational Complex School of International Business has been selected for an upcoming feature on the U. S. Department of Education’s Doing What Works website. The agency was particularly impressed with Kearny's use of assessments of incoming and current students to determine areas in need of support, the use of "boot camps" for students in need and the wide range of academic after-school clubs. Staff and students are being interviewed in February and March for a future feature on the "Doing What Works" website. For more information, please contact Principal Ana Diaz-Booz at (858) 496-8370.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

San Diego High School JROTC is Virginia Bound

Congratulations to the San Diego High School Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps for its selection as a first place finalist in the “Army JROTC Super Bowl,” better known as Army JROTC Leadership Symposium and Academic Bowl. This selection qualifies the leadership team to advance to the National Finals to be held at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, from June 25-29. For more information, please contact Shawn Loescher, director of College, Career and Technical Education, at (858) 503-1754 or

Saturday, February 20, 2010

District Advocacy Attracts National Media Attention

Our work in Sacramento and Washington, DC, to fight for more funding for K-12 education has attracted national media attention. Lesli Maxwell, Education Week State Policy writer, recently published an article highlighting the leadership of San Diego Unified in fighting budget cuts. An excerpt from the article, including a link to our budget crisis website, is below:

“Most of the school districts that signed the letter are medium-sized suburban systems or small, rural ones. The two biggies that did sign on are San Diego and San Francisco, which together enroll about 190,000 kids. San Diego Unified officials have been particularly pro-active about speaking out against state budget cuts. Read the article.

For more information, please contact Bernie Rhinerson, chief district relations officer, at (619) 725-5578 or

Friday, February 19, 2010

Alcott Students Jump for Fitness, World Record

Alcott Elementary Students Jump for RecordAlcott Elementary, along with seven other San Diego Unified schools, recently participated in the Jamba Jump for the Record event. The event was held at more than 2,000 sites throughout California and was an attempt to have the most people -- 80,000 -- jumping at one time and to overtake the Guinness World Record set in Australia with 59,000 simultaneous jumpers. Alcott students joined in to help break the record, jumping for 10 minutes straight. The Jamba Jump for the Record was coordinated by the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (CAHPERD) and Jamba Juice, Inc., in partnership with the American Heart Association and its Jump Rope for Heart program. For more information, please contact Julie James, Alcott Elementary, at (858) 273-3415 ext.114.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crawford’s Field of Dreams – Build It and They Will Come

Crawford Field of DreamsTwenty-nine students from the four unique schools at the Crawford High Educational Complex came together to finalize the last touches of Crawford’s Baseball Field on Saturday, Jan. 30. Student volunteers spent the entire afternoon on campus raking leaves, hanging up “CRAWFORD COLTS” lettering on the right field fence, digging holes, carpeting the batting cage, weeding the warning track and fields, and building the HOME and VISITORS bullpen mounds. For more information, please contact Varsity Baseball Coach Jake Womack at .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

San Diego MET Team Visits Tulsa Big Picture Schools

Principal Mildred Phillips and a team from San Diego MET High School were invited to present the Big Picture model to five Tulsa public schools.The MET team shared their school’s outstanding success with college preparation, internship placement and the QR/math program.

Tulsa’s Middle College High School, which is on the campus of Tulsa Community College, will be partnering with the MET to reinforce the Big Picture model for student success. The Big Picture Co. funded the trip.

Representatives from the Tulsa school district are currently in San Diego visiting the MET campus. For more information, please contact Principal Mildred Phillips at (619) 388-2297 or

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Breakfast Program Gets National Honors

San Diego Unified's breakfast programs have been honored as one of the best in the nation, receiving the Silent Hero award. Silent Hero recognizes, encourages and rewards those silent heroes who help children by participating in the National School Breakfast Program. Read more.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Students Ditch Old School, Go Cutting Edge

Lincoln High students launch new online news service. See more from NBC 7/39

Schools and Offices Closed Feb. 12 and 15

All San Diego Unified schools and offices will be closed Feb. 12 for Lincoln's Birthday and Feb. 15 for President's Day.

Title I Academic Achievement Awards Go to 10 San Diego Unified Schools

Schools Honored Are Making "Significant" Academic Gains

SAN DIEGO -- Ten schools in the San Diego Unified School District have been honored with Title I Academic Achievement Award for 2010.

The schools are: schools of Digital Media and Design and International Business at the Kearny High Educational Complex; elementary schools Crown Point, Florence, Jones, Mason, Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach; and charters
Preuss School UCSD and King/Chavez Primary Academy.

"This is a great testament to the dedication of our principals, teachers and staff members," said Bill Kowba, Interim Superintendent. "Their efforts during these hard times are to be commended.

"We also have to recognize the hard work on the part of the students and their families. After all, it's the students' work that we measure."

Title I Academic Achievement Awards are given annually to schools who receive federal funds under the Title 1 program, a federal program which helps students living below or near the poverty level. The extra funding is used by schools in a variety of ways.

To win this award, the school shows that students are making significant progress toward proficiency on California's academic content standards, meeting state targets for two consecutive years.

Each principal received a call from Jack O'Connell, state schools chief. They will be treated to a state-funded reception and banquet at the Disneyland Hotel in April.

More information on the Title 1 Academic Achievement Award in California is available on the state Department of Education website.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lincoln’s Fire Protection Program Ignites Choice Fair

The students from the Fire Protection Program at Lincoln’s Center for Public Safety were a big hit at the All Schools Fair Jan. 30 at Balboa Park. Students from the program performed search and rescue and “packaging a patient” maneuvers on the center stage in their firefighter turnouts.

Lincoln’s Fire Protection program has its own firehouse, and students are taught by City and County firefighters. It’s a great option for students interested in a career in Public Safety related to Fire Science.

For more information, please contact College Career Technical Education Director, Shawn Loescher, at (858) 503-1754 or

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crawford Students Participate in Worldlink at USD

Student delegates from CHAMPs and LAB schools at the Crawford Educational Complex participated in the 13th Annual Worldlink Youth Town Meeting at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, University of San Diego, on Jan. 22. The Worldlink Program connects youth to global affairs and provides a forum for student delegates to meet world leaders and experts.

This year's Youth Town Meeting theme was "Development: Fighting Global Poverty,”and focused on education, healthcare, food security, trade, infrastructure, and governance. Among the 34 students who attended, CHAMPs World History students Victor Garcia, Mai Le Nguyen, and Resse Russell were moderators during panel discussions and Nina A. Ly was selected as journalist for the Worldlink Youth Town Meeting newspaper.

For more information, please contact Shawn Loescher, College Career Technical Education Director, at (858) 503-1754 or

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

VAPA Presents the Second Annual Honor Theatre Production

The VAPA Department presents its Second Annual Honor Theatre Production of “Stefanie Hero” by Mark Medoff. This play will feature 36 top theatre students from eight district high schools.

Directed by professional theatre artist, Lori Petermann, the performance provides an opportunity for students and the community to come together to celebrate theatre arts and its importance in education. The La Jolla High School Theatre Department is hosting the event under the direction of theatre teacher Ann Lyon-Boutelle.

“Stefanie Hero” is an adventure play about a princess left in charge of a kingdom. This heroic tale is full of music and appropriate for all ages.

Public performances are at 7 p.m. Feb. 18-19 and 2 p.m. Feb. 20. Ticket prices are “Pay-What-You-Can” on Feb. 18; $10-15 for adluts and $5 for students on Feb. 19-20. For more information, please contact Marjorie Treger at or (858) 539-5349.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Proposition S Work Under Way at San Diego High

Thanks to nearly $1.5 million from the State School Facility Program via two Career, Technical Education Modernization Grants and matching Prop. S funds, the San Diego High Educational Complex will be getting some much-needed upgrades.

Improvements to the School of Business include the remodel of two current classrooms to provide a professional office environment and a lecture area/conference room; a facelift and improved access to “The Rock” student store; and enhancements to the laboratory component of the School of Business.

For the Culinary Arts Program, the existing food preparation lab (currently being shared with the district’s Food Services Department) will be converted to a commercial kitchen and culinary arts training facility along with a remodel so the program can offer more catering activities and enhance its focus on the culinary business.

For more information, please e-mail, visit or call (619) 725-7252.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

'I'm Thankful to My Teacher' Awards Go to Teachers, School

Congratulations to De Portola Middle School for winning a School Spirit Award from the "I'm Thankful for my Teacher" program. During the week prior to Thanksgiving break, De Portola's AVID students went to every class asking students to submit essays honoring their favorite teacher. More than 200 students submitted entries honoring the teacher they felt has had the most impact in their lives. Every full-time classroom teacher was recognized with at least one letter. As a result of these efforts, Mission Federal awarded the school a check for $200.

In addition to DePortola's award, two teachers received "I'm Thankful to My Teacher" awards: Zamaria Rocio, Mann Middle School; and Kellie Larson, Pt. Loma High School. Outstanding Teacher Dedication Awards went to: Christine Millar, Dingeman Elementary; Elizabeth Stewart, Spreckles Elementary; and Michelle Mead, Harriet Tubman Village Charter School.

A hearty congratulations to these teachers and schools, and a big thank-you to Mission Federal, Junior Achievement and Cox Communications for recognizing our hard-working professionals. More information»

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Friday, February 5, 2010

H1N1 Update: Vaccinations Available at Schools

The County Health Department has made available more H1N1 vaccine and as a result, San Diego Unified has scheduled several free H1N1 vaccine clinics for all district staff and families in the community. Clinic dates, times and locations include:

Feb. 17
3-6 p.m.
Mira Mesa High School, 10510 Reagan Rd. (92126)
Feb. 18 2-6 p.m. Mission Bay High School, 2475 Grand Ave. (92109)
Feb. 24
1-5 p.m.
Adams Elementary, 4672 35th St. (92116)

Students under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult to receive the vaccine. Look for additional clinic dates and locations in upcoming Friday Notes. For more information, please contact Eileen Griffiths at (858) 636-4380 or

For more district news, subscribe to Superintendent's Friday Notes.

IN THE NEWS: State Targets Achievement Gap

The San Diego High Educational Complex was the setting for an annoucement of a new effort to close the acheivement gap. State Supt. Jack O'Connell made the announcement; staff and students from San Diego High talked about how these methods have improved their school. Read more from:

San Diego Science Festival Runs March 20-27

San Diego Science Festival LogoOne of the biggest science events of the year is beginning in a few weeks. The San Diego Science Festival will run March 20-27 and is a collaboration of more than 125 leading science organizations including the San Diego Science Alliance, CONNECT, BIOCOM, N.D.I.A., and other key local organizations and media partners. Campuses around San Diego Unified will be participating in the festival, which is organized by community members and the University of California, San Diego. Activities include a Rubik’s Cube Tournament and the Nifty 150, with visits by San Diego’s 150 leading scientists to classrooms. The week-long event culminates with Family Expo Day on Saturday, March 27, at Petco Park. For more information, please go to the festival’s website at

Thursday, February 4, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Morse Student Grapples with Haiti’s Disaster

Relieved that family is safe after 7.0 earthquake, Morse High’s star 132-pounder becomes a more-focused wrestler. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

IN THE NEWS: La Jolla High, Student Honored on Morning News

La Jolla High ASB President was surprised as Student of the Month by Ruben Galvan, San Diego 6 in the Morning reporter, on a recent visit. Ruben also visited the wrestling team and a physics class.

Watch Video

Scripps Ranch High Scholar Athlete Receives National Recognition

Scripps Ranch High senior Brennan Clay, who is headed to the University of Oklahoma, has been chosen to be on the First Team All Eastern League in football, First Team All CIF San Diego Section and First Team All Academic in San Diego County. He also played in the Offense/Defense All American Bowl football game held Jan. 2. Additionally, Brennan will be honored on March 19 for his selection as a 2009-10 Scholar-Leader-Athlete by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Students who demonstrate outstanding academic, athletic excellence and community leadership are selected for this national honor. For more information, please contact Coach Sergio Diaz at (858) 621-9020 x 4373.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Author Shares Love of Reading

Children’s book author Johnathan Rand visited Adams Elementary School on Friday, Jan. 22, to share some of his exciting books with the students. Best known for his “American Chillers” children’s book series, Rand has authored more than 60 books and travels to thousands of schools and libraries each year to spread his message on the importance of reading and writing. For more information, please contact Principal Derek Murchison at (619) 284-1158 or

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Lincoln is Latest Student Newspaper to Go Online

Thanks to a grant from the San Diego Foundation and help from several local groups, Lincoln High School’s newspaper, The Buzz, has been transformed into Voices of Lincoln, an online news service. Managed by students in Daniel Camacho’s journalism class, Voices of Lincoln made its debut during a reception at the school Jan. 28. The school worked with the San Diego Foundation, along with the Voice of San Diego online news service, Media Arts Center San Diego, the San Diego Association of Black Journalists and San Diego County Library. At the website, students post news stories, video and can comment on the stories. The web address for the new site is Students and staff began work this summer with the goal of creating an online community for Lincoln’s campus and neighborhood. For more information, please contact Daniel Camacho at (619) 266-6500 or .

Other high schools with online newspapers are Kearny and SCPA.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Conservation Grant Goes to Millennial Tech Middle School

Millennial Tech Middle (MTM) School was granted $2,000 by the San Diego Foundation to further its conservation science efforts in conjunction with an ongoing partnership with Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek . With the funding, MTM students will be improving habitat at their school and throughout the community. The money will be used to buy tongs, small shovels, one-gallon pots and materials for collecting data. These tools will allow the sixth- and seventh-graders to plant Chaparral prickly pear cactus, which provide potential nesting areas for the cactus wren. The students will be responsible for plantings at their on-campus Earth Lab, as well as for distribution of the plants to community members. For more information, please contact Vice Principal Heather Potter at (619) 527-6933 or .

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Special Education Parent Events

A series of Special Education Parent Workshops on various topics will be held Feb.-June, with the first workshop scheduled for Feb. 10 at Miller and Cherokee Point elementary schools. Other locations include Jerabek and Florence elementary schools. The workshops will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. and childcare will be provided. In addition, special education parents are invited to attend the monthly Parent Connection Coffee Time , an informal gathering where parents can connect with each other and department administrators. For more information, please contact the Special Education Parent Services Office at (619) 725-7327 or .

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.