Sunday, December 19, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Logan Elementary First Graders Get Bicycles

San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System employees donate two-wheelers for each student in first grade at Logan Elementary School. Watch video»

IN THE NEWS: Lincoln High Dance, Music and Multimedia on Morning News

Check out the moves at Lincoln High School as Fox 5 Morning News visits Lincoln High School. Watch video from KSWB-TV»

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Schools In Bear of a Mood for Holidays

Kumeyaay Elementary students celebrat their bear drive.
Kumeyaay students celebrate their
bear drive with teacher Robyn Bernstein.
Students at Kumeyaay and Benchley-Weinberger elementary schools helped San Diego law enforcement agencies collect hundreds of stuffed bears this holiday season.

Kumeyaay teacher Robyn Bernstein recently received accolades from the San Diego Police Department for collecting 478 new stuffed toys for the annual Teddy Bear Drive benefitting Rady Children’s Hospital. Robyn, a finalist for this year’s County Teacher of the Year award, has been organizing a stuffed toy collection for 11 years for young patients at the hospital.

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

Activities Mark Pt. Loma High's 85th Year

Pt. Loma Pointer with artist.Pt. Loma High marked its 85th year with celebrations recently on campus and in the community. Principal Bobbie Samilson said the week started with a "Gala Dash" run lead by the cross-country team and the surf team's "Board Room," with activities leading up to a gala inviting alumni, parents and current students.

"I was gratified to work with the incredible volunteers among my staff, the parents of students, and all of the participating alumni," said Samilson. "Many Gala attendees commented on the amazing ASB students who worked to set up and host the Gala, as well as the student journalism editors/reporters who brought highlights from the new online student newspaper, the"

Gala attendees also had a chance to see designs for the new state-of-the-art Music Center and Film Production Center; groundbreaking on the project is scheduled early next year.

Another highlight of the weeklong events was the unveiling of a sculpture of the school's mascot, the Pointer. It was created by artist Richard Arnold (see photo).

For more information, contact Principal Samilson at (619) 223-3121.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Montgomery Principal Honored for "Safe Passage"

Principal Jonathan Ton
Jonathan Ton, principal of Montgomery Middle School in Linda Vista, has been recognized by the City of San Diego’s Human Relations Commission for his work with the Safe Passage program through Montgomery’s Family Success Center.

The Safe Passage Program helps Montgomery receives support from local law enforcement agencies, city council in their efforts to provide safe passage for students as they travel to and from school. The Family Success Center has become a popular gathering place in the community.

Ton was nominated by Commissioner Joyce Abrams. The recognition ceremony and reception took place Dec. 8 at the Balboa Park Club in Balboa Park. Through his diligent work with Safe Passage and as an advocate for youth, Ton has demonstrated his commitment and dedication which reflect the mission of the Commission.

For more information regarding the Safe Passage Program, contact Aimee Urbina, resource teacher, at

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Barnard Students, Principal Visit New Sister School in China

Barnard delegation to China.An historic event took place on Oct. 26 when Barnard Mandarin Chinese K-5 Magnet School forged an official sister school partnership with one of the most famous and reputable schools in China.

Barnard is now a sister school to Chongqing Renmin Primary School, a school has 65 years of rich history.
Barnard principal Edward Park, along with students Eddie Kapelczak and Victor Otero were warmly greeted by students, teachers, and administrative staff of Chongqing Renmin.

Principal Catherine Yang of Chongqing Renmin expressed, in fluent English, her enthusiasm to Principal Park to have students collaborate across the two nations to promote friendship and understanding of one another's culture.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Historic day for district, Mira Mesa High Sapphire Sound Band and Color Guard

Mira Mesa High Band

The Mira Mesa High School Sapphire Sound Band and Color Guard took the Silver Medal at the recent Southern California Field Championships.

The group had an amazing performance with percussion taking second overall, color guard third overall, and receiving “High Music” for the day. This is the first time any San Diego Unified school has received a medal at this state championship, which was held Dec. 4. What an amazing way to finish the season.

Congratulations to Mira Mesa High School for this great accomplishment! For more information, contact John Dally, Band Director.

Celebrating the win

Monday, December 13, 2010

Faces for the Future at Hoover

Hoover students receive their lab coats

Juniors and seniors in Healthcare Essentials at Hoover High School are beginning their four, 4-week clinical rotations at Rady Children’s Hospital and Community Health Clinics this week.

Students selected three of 19 departments within the hospital and one of 8 community clinics for their rotations. Students have been focusing on professional skills, infection control, learning about body systems, and medical terminology.
The 45 students, mostly juniors, participated in their Lab Coat Ceremony on Nov. 30 in preparation for their rotations.

For more information, please contact Luz Knuteson, CCTE Teacher.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Five Schools' Teams Advance to JROTC Academic Challenge

Teams from Madison, Kearny, Morse, Crawford and San Diego high schools will compete in the JROTC Academic Challenge, which will test their knowledge of high school math, science and language arts as well as JROTC leadership curriculum.

These five high schools were among more than 1,300 high school Army JROTC programs through the nation that participated in the College Options Foundation, Level 1 JROTC Leadership and Academic bowl in November.

The competition is designed to challenge and prepare high school students for college entrance exams using a fast-paced internet-based program. The five teams will compete to qualify for the next level of competition to be held in Washington, D.C., in June.

Last year, the team from the San Diego High School Educational Complex represented the district in the Washington DC competitions. See the competition's web site for more information.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hoover Information Technology Academy Students Visit Qualcomm

AOIT At Qualcomm
Sophomores from the Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) at Hoover HS participated in a Job Shadow day with Qualcomm mentors. The 26 students were matched with mentors and toured the main buildings, the IT department and the new Qualcomm museum.

The students spent a working lunch with their mentors interviewing them about their career paths. Students found that many mentors did not have a straight, well-planned path to their current positions. The students found the non-traditional and sometimes jagged paths both interesting and encouraging.

For more information, please contact Angie Kania, AOIT director/teacher .

IN THE NEWS: Patrick Henry girls carry on in memory of soccer coach

The girls added “FOR HOWIE” to their temporary tattoos to honor their beloved coach, who died last weekend after a two-year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 49. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

New School-Based Clinic Aims to Save Lives and Boost Student Success

A new one-of-a kind school-based medical clinic opens this week at San Diego Unified’s Central Elementary School that officials hope will have major impact locally and nationally.

A ceremony to officially dedicate the clinic took place at 10 a.m., Friday, Dec. 10.
The mission of Central Elementary Health and Wellness Center in City Heights is to provide health care to the school’s 860 students and their siblings, from infancy until 15 years of age. An estimated 1 in 4 children attending Central in the high-poverty community currently do not have health care.

“The clinic is a dream come true for the school and community,” said Central Principal Cindy Marten, who sees first-hand how medical problems can interfere with learning.

Medical research shows that school-based health clinics work, improving both the physical and academic well-being of students. According to the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, clinics contribute to higher student attendance and achievement, with a 50 percent decrease in absenteeism and measurable impact on higher grades.

Central’s clinic will be run by licensed medical professionals through a partnership with San Diego Unified and two existing clinics: La Maestra and San Diego Family Care. Together the community clinics treat the majority of student families in the area, making them trusted medical practitioners in the mid-city neighborhood.

What makes this clinic unique is that it was built on campus attached to the school nurse’s office with the help of a $50,000 grant from Price Family Charitable Fund. Central’s nurse will work in partnership with the clinic staff, and it is the clinic’s medical staff members who will run health care services from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the 11 months that Central operates.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Join the Discussion on Prop. S Projects

Site Master Planning, Design Task Force Meetings Great Way to Participate in Facility Planning

Mann_Crawford_SMPAs SDUSD continues revitalizing its schools under Prop. S, the opportunity is greater than ever for neighbors, parents, staff and students to provide input on upcoming projects at their schools. Site Master Plan and Design Task Force meetings provide a forum to share ideas and participate in developing long-range school site plans as well as offer direction on specific planned projects. Meetings are run by the project managers and architects directly responsible for designing and implementing these projects. Facilities improvements are important to your school’s academic success, and input from all parties is vital to the success of the planning process. View the schedule of upcoming projects at your school at To see if your school will be hosting a Site Master Plan or Design Task Force meeting soon, visit the Prop. S calendar at or call 619-725-7252.

New Madison Auto Facility Dedicated

Ribbon cutting
In The News
Board of Education Vice President John Evans joined students, staff, community members and parents to cut the ribbon on the James Madison High School Automotive Engineering and Technology facility, one of the 22 new or remodeled College, Career and Technical Education (CCTE) facilities funded under the Proposition S and Proposition 1D bond programs.The 10,000 square foot facility has eight auto bays that serve as laboratories, classroom space for more than 70 students, energy efficient features and sustainable products, and was designed according to industry standard. Classes in the new facility will begin after the first of the year. The ribbon cutting was held on Dec. 8.
For more information on Prop S and 1D facilities, please contact Cynthia Reed-Porter, Communications Supervisor. For more information on the automotive program, please contact Greg Quirin, CCTE Program Specialist, at (858) 503-1736.

Updated Budget Page Now Online

San Diego Unified's budget news page has been updated and expanded. It is now available online at

"The public can find out about our current and past years' budgets, as well as the latest news on projections for the 2011-12 school year," said Bernie Rhinerson, chief district relations officer. "It's important that we provide open access to information so our parents and voters can stay in touch on this issue."

So far, San Diego Unified is projecting more than $100 million in funding reductions from the State of California for the 2011-12 school year. A budget timeline explains the process up to the required submission to the county Office of Education on July 1.

There is also information on the budget development project, documents and news coverage. Comments on the budget are also welcome.

IN THE NEWS: School health clinic opens in City Heights

The first full-time in-school health clinic in San Diego County will officially open its doors to the community Friday morning. Creation of the brightly-colored health center, situated in what used to be a faculty meeting room, is a partnership among the school, La Maestra Community Health Centers, San Diego Family Care and the Price Charities. Both clinics will contribute $215,000 in the coming year and the Price Family is slated to donate $500,000 to the project over the next two years. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Student’s efforts growing in school’s new garden

Every school should have a garden. That’s the opening line in a two-minute video by Tim Daly, a seventh-grader at Pacific Beach Middle School. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.»

IN THE NEWS: Scrooge, the Musical at SCPA Featured on Morning News

With students in final rehearsals on Tuesday, the Morning News visit tells viewers all about the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. Watch video from Fox 5 San Diego»

Salad is the Star at Horton

What better way to teach about nutrition than to show hungry kids video of food?

That’s what Rudy Dominguez has done. Dominguez is Horton Elementary’s wellness coordinator and he’s produced a new video all about the district Kid’s Choice Cafe salad bars, salad bar etiquette and healthy portion size.

His video, starring salad, will air on the school’s intra-campus televisions. The audience includes staff, students and parents. View the salad video.

For more information contact Gary Petill, director, food services.

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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

IN THE NEWS: New School Board Members Sworn In, Officers Chosen

>Coverage of the swearing in ceremony of new Board members Scott Barnett and Kevin Beiser, plus selection of officers.

District Schools Share $1 Million Grant

Ten elementary schools have won a $1 million grant to support their efforts to develop student social and emotional development. Their early intervention programs help more than 1,300 district students gain academic achievement.

The grant will be shared over its three-year term by winning schools: Alcott, Balboa, Birney, Chesterton, Chollas-Mead, Florence, Fulton, Jefferson, Jerabek and Miller.

The district received the grant award this week as part of the Early Mental Health Initiative (EMHI) grant program from the Department of Mental Health. The award notice stated, “We are confident that your efforts will help children increase their chances of school success. Enhancement of the social-emotional development of children is crucial to the learning process.”

The best news of all is that the programs are working! Data has shown statistically significant changes in overall school adjustment – and therefore achievement levels and behavior -- of participating students in kindergarten through third grade.

The Early Mental Health grant has become increasingly more competitive throughout the state, but San Diego Unified has had 100 percent application success rate with the support of district administration including the Counseling and Guidance Department.

The district’s program has grown to be the largest in California. The grant will support the district’s Elementary Counseling program, which has been so successful it has been cited by the state Legislature as model program. In the California in Assembly Bill 1650, this early intervention program highlights the key role of school counselors.

The funds are used to hire specially trained guidance assistants to aid credentialed school counselors, and cover everything from training and supplies to data collection costs.

For more information, please contact Clara Cho-Hayashigawa, EMHI Project Coordinator, at (619) 725.7321, or

Monday, December 6, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Morning Show Visits Barnard

Morning news visits Pt. Loma school and a first-grade Mandarin Chinese partial immersion class. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

Congrats to Madison on First Championship; Kudos to Lincoln and Mira Mesa

Warhawk with Kim-Phelps and Nash.
Area Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps, left, and Principal Richard Nash pose with the Madison Warhawk mascott.
In The News
Congratulations to Madison High School for its first football league championship, when they beat Valley Center, rated one of the best teams in California, for the Division IV crown on Monday at Qualcomm Stadium.

An congratulations to Lincoln and Mira Mesa who, while they fell short in their games, made their schools and the San Diego Unified School District proud for their excellent efforts.

The county high school varsity football championships Monday at Qualcomm Stadium had a distinctively San Diego Unified look to them. For the first time in recent years, schools from our district were playing in three of the four division championships.

Lincoln, Madison and Mira Mesa teams played in their divisions’ Big Game on Monday, when there was a full day of high school football at Qualcomm Stadium. Pt. Loma lost in the semi-finals to Cathedral Catholic, otherwise they would have faced off against Lincoln for the Division III title; Pt. Loma has made the semi-finals four of the last five years.

Bruce Ward, our Director of Physical Education, Health and Athletics, said that having District schools playing in three of the four title games is a rare occurrence. He doesn't remember it happening, and Bruce is a Kearny High grad and former San Diego Charger who's been around for some time.

No matter what your school affiliation, we hope you’ll salute the San Diego Unified schools. Varsity sports are a big part of the high school experience and we’re all proud of the students, coaches and programs at our schools. So even if you’re fan of the Patriots, Tigers or Comets, say a cheer for your fellow SDUSD campus.

And congratulations to all our participants in fall varsity sports, ranging from tennis and cross country, to water polo, field hockey and volleyball.

What Can Be Done With 10,400 Boxes of Bendaroos?

BendaroosAllstar Products Group has donated more than $200,000 worth of its Bendaroos product to San Diego Unified, part of the company's Bendaroos Building Creative Classrooms Initiative.

Packs of the colorful flexible building sticks will be distributed to elementary schools for art projects where students will bend, twist and shape 2- and 3-D creations.

The donation is a result of work by San Diego Unified's Community Relations Department, which last year brought in nearly $6 million in contributions to the district in cash, goods and volunteers.

"It's so important for children today to have opportunities for hands-on, open-ended play and learning," said Karen Harris, a Kindergarten teacher at Walker Elementary.  "We're excited to dig into the boxes of Bendaroos and the creative lesson plans."

Company officials said the goal of the program is to stretch a child's imagination and support local schools.

"Bendaroos® Building Creative Classrooms is about supporting teachers and fostering kids' imagination through tactile, creative play," said Anne Flynn, Vice President of Marketing for Allstar Products Group.

"We really appreciate the contribution by Allstar Products to our district," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "To many people, a box Bendaroos might be a small thing, but to our teachers and students, these can be the key to learning."

For more information, contact Kathy Gartland, Community Relations Department, (619) 725-5592.

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

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Crawford and Ibarra Break Barriers Together

Crawford students and principalBig kids helping little kids and their families break the language barrier, that’s the breakthrough new program partnership at Crawford Educational Complex and Ibarra Elementary.

The partnership centers on Crawford’s longstanding efforts to welcome newcomers to the United States with its great resource, the New Arrival Center. Here students and their families learn the ropes of their adopted country and the English language challenges in high school.

“We’re so proud to be of service, and we have great resources because we’re so amazingly diverse,” said Principal William Laine of Crawford, where more than 17 languages other than English are spoken in the home.

At nearby Ibarra Elementary School, Principal Susie Sovereign wanted to offer more resources to the student families new to America. She turned to the expertise at Crawford’s New Arrival Center to help her students and families with the same resource needs.

Her idea was to draw on Crawford High students as translators during Ibarra’s recent parent-teacher conferences. The partnership proved a big success: Crawford students felt proud to fulfill an important function, and Ibarra’s students and parents were happy to get a helping hand from youths who had successfully met the challenges of their new homeland.

“Thanks to the Crawford Cluster working together we were able to talk to our parents in their language and discuss students' strengths and areas that need to improve,” said Alicia Flores, New Arrival Center teacher.

Said Flores, “Both schools serve an immigrant population, and if we can begin to make strong connections, we can do a better job of bringing our parents and community into the fold.”

For more information on the New Arrival Center, please contact Flores, (619) 583-2501 ext. 4108,

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Big productions for holidays at SCPA

SCPA LogoGreat events are underway at SCPA, the San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Come share some holiday spirit with SCPA by attending our Mainstage Production of Scrooge, The Musical starring our very own teacher and a former SCPA teacher of the year, Bill Doyle as Scrooge. 92 students are working on this production including 50 actors, 26 musicians, and 16 crew members.

Mark Stevens directs this Christmas spectacular which runs December 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17 at 7p.m. with a matinee on Saturday, December 11 at 2 p.m. in the SCPA Grand Theatre. All shows are open to the public.

Opening simultaneously is the Fall Visual Arts Exhibition, Dec. 9-17 in the Little Theater. The exhibition is open one hour earlier than the Scrooge showtimes and during intermission. The Friends of SCPA, the school's foundation, will host a special holiday treat complete with cookies, hot cocoa, and carolers on December 11 prior to the 2 and 7 p.m. performances.

Tickets to Scrooge are $4 and can be purchased by calling the school's box office at (619) 475-8556 or at The school is located at 2425 Dusk Dr. (92139). It is a public arts magnet school for artistically talented students in grades 6-12.

Don't be a Scrooge, come out and spend some holiday cheer with our SCPA community.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Board Honors Retiring Members

Board Salute
The Board of Education recognized retiring members John De Beck and Katherine Nakamura for their service to the San Diego Unified School District.
The two members terms will end Dec. 5.

De Beck has been a Board member since 1990, five terms, and connected with the San Diego Unified School District for more than 50 years as a staff member, including a teacher and counselor. He represents Subdistrict C, which includes Kearny, La Jolla, Mission Bay and Pt. Loma high schools, as well as the middle and elementary schools that feed into them.

Founder of the "Catch a Rising Star" program, De Beck was president of the Board in 1994 and vice-president in 1993, 2003 and 2008.

Nakamura joined the board in 2002 and served two terms. Her insights have come from being a parent of current students in San Diego Unified. She represents Sub-District B, which includes Henry, Hoover, Scripps Ranch and Serra high schools and the middle and elementary schools that feed into them.

She was Board president in 2008 and vice-president in 2003 and 2004. Her efforts were concentrated on technology and music and arts education.

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving Event Brightened Needy Students' Day

Mission Bay High School Dixie Jazz Band at House of BluesThanks to House of Blues and Feeding America for partnering with San Diego Unified School District Food Services and Office for Children and Youth in Transition for the annual House of Giving Thanksgiving Day event.

Thanksgiving lunch at the House of Blues was served to the most needy children and their families from Kimbrough, Rodriguez, Sherman, Perkins and Washington elementary schools.

Each attending family received a bag of food donated by Feed America and a turkey donated by the Rose Foundation. The families enjoyed live music by local community musicians, including the Mission Bay High School Dixie Jazz Band (in photo).

In addition, Feeding America provided food bags for distribution. Zamarano, Lee, Nye, Emerson/Bandini, Hamilton, Ocean Beach elementary schools, Roosevelt Middle, San Diego High, Marcy and the San Diego Adolescent Pregnancy Project (SANDAPP) received food bags that were delivered the day after Thanksgiving. The focus was on providing students who would not have access to sufficient food during the Thanksgiving break with nutrition resources.

For more information contact Pam Hosmer, program manager, Children and Youth In Transition, at (619) 725-7652, or Gary Petill, director, Food Services, at (858) 627-7301.

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

Sun Begins to Shine On Boat Entries

Students work on solar boats
Students from San Diego Sci-Tech High School get started on their 2010-11 solar-powered boat.
Students from Scripps Ranch and San Diego Sci-Tech high schools began their seven-month journey to design, build, test, tune and operate a 16 foot, 24 volt, 320-watt solar-powered boat for the Solar Cup, the nation’s largest solar boat competition.

The San Diego regional competition is sponsored by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
The Engineering and Green Tech students were provided with wood and materials to begin construction on a canoe-style hull. All boats must conform to the same specifications.

Students will need to spend time studying and using Ohm’s Law and its variations, W = V x I (Watts = Voltage x Current). In full sunlight, the solar panels attached to the student boats produce 36 volts of direct current voltage (V) and have a current output of 9 amps (I). Using the formula, the solar panel will produce 324 watts of power as long as the panel is in direct sunlight [36 x 9 – 324 watts of power].
Students will attempt to maximize all variables with their solar panel placement and design to win the races. Students from Scripps Ranch High hope to take home a solar cup title for a second year in a row, while Sci-Tech  students from the San Diego High Educational Complex are looking for their first win.

The students' boats will compete in a series of races over a three-day period in May 2011.

For more information, please contact Greg Quirin, CCTE Program Specialist at (858) 503-1736.

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Students get the dirt on ocean-friendly garden

In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of an ocean-friendly environment, students of Pacific Beach Middle School (PBMS) celebrated the introduction of their Waves of Green student garden Nov. 12 by getting their hands dirty. Read more from the Beach and Bay Press.

Madison Community, Families Come Together to Support Schools

Fun times at family dayMadison High School was the setting for the first-ever Madison Community of Schools Cluster Family Fun Day and Rummage Sale on Saturday, Nov. 13.

The free event brought together all the schools in the Madison High cluster: Field, Hawthorne, Holmes, Lafayette, Lindbergh/Schweitzer, Sequoia and Whitman elementary schools; iMiddle and CPMA middle schools; and Madison High School. The event helped raise money for scholarships, clubs, and other school needs.

Hundreds of bargain hunters, families, community members and employees took advantage of the great deals, enjoyed student entertainment and feasted on food donated by local vendors.

“The Madison cluster is exemplifying what community involvement can be in community-based school reform,” said Dr. John Lee Evans, Board of Education Vice-President, who represents the Madison cluster.  “It starts with communities having pride in their neighborhoods and their schools.  This activity was definitely community driven.”

Special thanks to the members of the Madison Community of Schools Cluster Council who organized the event, to the schools and PTA’s who participated and to Madison High for hosting.

For more information, contact Greg Williams, Madison High School.

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