Monday, February 28, 2011

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Border Patrol Meet With Crawford Students

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol Officers from the Department of Homeland Security recently presented at a school-wide assembly at Crawford High Educational Complex about the increased use of children as drug smugglers.

The officers explained the law and told students how the lives of these young people have been destroyed by involvement with drug dealers. Those caught face a minimum of two felonies (possession and smuggling) risking their entire future for as little as $50 or a nominal amount of drugs.

Some of the stories involved children as young as 8 years old. The students were also told about the work involved and what is required to enter the ICE or Border Patrol Officer professions.

For more information, please contact Steve Luttbeg, CCTE Teacher.

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

Grant, Other Schools Place In Science Olympiad

In their first Science Olympiad, among 85 teams from 27 San Diego County schools, Grant K-8 School Geckos and Iguanas placed within the top 20 teams for Road Scholar, Solar System and Storm the Castle.

The Science Olympiad is a one-day competition with 23 events in biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. Some events are written tests while others are building-activities for devices or objects which satisfy a specific set of criteria and/or perform prescribed tasks.

Grant School participants, their parents and their coaches are already looking forward to next year’s Science Olympiad. Coaches are needed for students to participate in all events. For more information on this rewarding experience, contact Denise Santoro, head coach, Grant Science Olympiad, at (619) 607-0592.

Meanwhile, results show the following schools placing in the top 10 in their divisions.
  • Division B, grades 6-9, Feb. 5: Marshall Middle, 2 (tie).
  • Division C, grades 9-12, Feb. 20: University City, 7; Scripps Ranch, 10.

Go to the San Diego Science Olympiad website for more information.

Taft Middle School Students Tour the USNS Mercy

Taft Middle School students recently toured the USNS MERCY (T-AH 19), stationed at the San Diego Naval Base.

The ship’s primary mission is to provide mobile hospital services for disaster relief or humanitarian civic assistance, as well as medical support in time of war. Retired Navy veteran and school counselor Don Samuels and science teacher Linda Miller both accompanied the students, who were allowed access to a medical ward, operating room and the medical flight deck.

The visit to the USNS MERCY was part of the school’s Life Skills and Science program. While onboard, students interacted with both medical staff and the ship’s crew. Not only were they exposed to a state of the art "floating hospital," they were also made aware of possible military careers in Naval medicine. For more information, contact Principal Mike George at (858) 496-8245.

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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Special Education Hosts Seminars

A variety of events are scheduled over the next few months through the Special Education Department's Parent Services Division. Here are some of the highlights; for a current schedule, go to the department's web page. or contact Pat Moulton at (619) 725-5658.
  • Michael Clark's Recentering Parenting session:  March 1, 6-8 p.m., at Cherokee Point Elementary School.  Childcare and translation available.
  • Special Education Parenting Classes continue on Wednesday evenings (6-8 p.m.) at Jerabek, Miller, Ballard Parent Center and Cherokee Point. All parents are invited and childcare and translation are available.
  • IEP Day (Involved Exceptional Parents' Day Conference) will take place on March 19, at the Handlery Hotel Mission Valley.  A limited number of scholarships to pay for conference registration are available for district parents. Contact Pat Moulton at (619) 725-7327.

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

Broccoli Is Latest Local Vegetable On School Lunch Menu

Each month, San Diego Unified's Food Services Department highlights a Harvest of the Month, typically featuring local fruits and vegetables.

The Harvest of the Month for March is broccoli, specially planted for San Diego Unified on two local farms, part of the district's Farm to School Program.

Food Services and the San Diego Growers partnered last November to plant more than 4,000 broccoli plants at two local farms specifically for the Harvest of the Month program and other menu needs.

"We expected to harvest and serve broccoli last month but due to the cold weather growers will harvest more than 7,000 pounds of broccoli beginning at the end of February," said Vanessa Zajfen, the district's Farm to School coordinator.

When picked, the broccoli will be chopped and cooked in district kitchens for two lunch recipes, school salad bars and a broccoli and cheese baked potato. 

For more information on the Farm to School Program, contact Zajfen.

News coverage

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Alumni Firefighter Gives Back to Crawford CHAMPS

CHAMPS students, staff and San Diego firefightersRussell Steppe graduated from Crawford High in the 1970s and recently returned to his alma mater with some friends... his Station 1 crew from the San Diego Fire Department.

Steppe, now a captain with San Diego Fire, brought his firefighters to Crawford Community Health and Medical Practices to simulate an emergency on campus. The veteran firefighters showed the students how they respond to the unexpected and discussed the perseverance and dedication needed to pursue a career in the emergency medical system.

For more information, contact Principal William Laine, at (619) 583-2501.

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

Zamorano Students Take Pride in New Sculpture

Students from Zamorano Fine Arts Academy completed a relief sculpture project based on the work of abstract sculptor Louise Nevelson, who has a large scale sculpture installed at the San Diego Museum of Art sculpture garden.

Forty-eight panels were installed on Zamorano’s North campus. Students drilled holes in the panels and assisted in their placement on the wall. The final length of the piece is more than 30 feet long. Last year’s 5th graders created the panels and this year’s 5th graders put the sculpture in place.

This is the third year that Zamorano students have created a public art project on campus. For more information, contact Principal Carol King at (619) 267-8007.

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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

California Partnership Academy Grant to Crawford Law

With a $15,000 grant this year and $42,000 for 2011-12, the Academy of Law at the Crawford High Educational Complex is receiving funds to help create cross-curricular projects between law, history, math and English courses.
Funded by the California Bar Association to promote legal careers, the grants will also allow for continued study of lawyers, law clerks and paralegals as career paths for Crawford students.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law and California Western School of Law support the academy, which participates in Teen Court on campus and conducts mock trials.

For more information, contact Steve Luttbeg, CCTE Teacher.

Heisman Trophy Winner Visits Johnson Magnet

Newton speaks to Longfellow studentsThe winner of the 2010 Heisman Trophy, Cam Newton of Auburn, recently visited Johnson Elementary STEM School, as part of an assembly put on by the George Whitfield Dream Big Tour. Whitfield, known as a "quarterback guru" who counsels college and pro football players, brought his positive message and four quarterbacks to the school. Johnson students had the opportunity to meet the quarterbacks in small groups and talk with them about their dreams and hard work. For more information, contact Principal Tracey Jenkins-Martin at (619) 276-4206.

New Technology Yields Positive Results in Classrooms

Thanks to Prop S, many classrooms have been transformed into Integrated 21st Century (i21) Interactive Classrooms. The i21 technology includes student netbooks, student response systems, teacher tablet PC laptops, presentation stations, interactive whiteboards and new audio and video systems.

Since i21 technology has been introduced into classrooms around the district, teachers have reported positive results that offer a sense of optimism and assurance for the future of our education. Read what Dana Middle School teacher, Shereen Bastani, had to say:

“For my Language Arts classes, i21 technology has given students the ability to use real world tools in their assignments. This helps prepare them for the work that they are going to do in a future profession. This new technology has pushed students to create a higher quality of work. As a result of using online tools, students are writing with a higher level of vocabulary. Students are paying more attention to details than they ever have in the past, and the quality of their editing is much better because they are more invested and engaged in the process. The use of technology in the classroom enables me to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students.”

Learn more about the i21 Classroom.

Friday, February 25, 2011

National Science Test Shows San Diego Unified in Top Four of Large Districts

Science test scores for San Diego Unified students in grades 4 and 8 ranked fourth nationally, but there still is a significant achievement gap among ethnic groups, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report released Feb. 24.

Of the 17 districts polled, San Diego Unified fourth graders were topped only by students in: Austin, Tex.; Jefferson County, Ky. (Louisville); and Charlotte, N.C. Eighth-grade average scores in San Diego Unified tied with Houston and were bested by: Charlotte, N.C.; Jefferson County, Ky. (Louisville); and Austin, Tex.

San Diego Unified's scores also topped the average of California schools. The results were for the 2009 test and covered only science in grades 4 and 8. The tests are conducted by the the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education.

San Diego Unified did show achievement gaps wider than some other large school districts, with these science scores mirroring issues shown in the California Standards Test results released last fall. The district has made reducing the achievement gap one of its top priorities.

News coverage

Honor Choir & Instrumental Concerts in the Spotlight

Honors concertSome of the best student musicians and vocalists in the district will showcase their talents in the coming weeks as part of the Instrumental and Choral Honor Concert series for Winter/Spring 2011. Students in grades 4-12 from schools all across San Diego must audition for a coveted spot in the Honor program. Presented by the Visual and Performing Arts Department (VAPA) and partially funded through private donations, the concert series kicks off this weekend. Most offer free admission. Come support our talented young performers by attending any of the following concerts:
Sunday, Feb. 27, 3 p.m.
Copley Symphony Hall (7th & B Streets)
Featuring: Honor Band and Honor Orchestra
Admission is free.
City-County Partnership Honor ChoirSaturday, March 5, 7 p.mPoint Loma Nazarene University, Brown Chapel
Featuring: Elementary, Middle and High School Honor Choirs
In partnership with the County Office of Education and
California Association for Music Education
Admission is $2.00.

Middle School Instrumental Honor Concert
Saturday, March 12, 7 p.m.Point Loma Nazarene University, Brown Chapel
Featuring: Honor Band and Honor Orchestra
Admission is free.
Elementary Instrumental Honor ConcertThursday, March 24, 7 p.m.Point Loma Nazarene University, Brown Chapel
Featuring: Honor Band and Honor Orchestra
Admission is free.

School Board President Calls for Emergency Amendments to School Tax Sharing Agreement with CCDC

Board President Richard Barrera has proposed that the CCDC tax sharing agreement be immediately amended by the City Council to provide emergency funding for preserving student educational programs in CCDC project areas and throughout the district.

In a letter entitled Emergency Amendment to the CCDC Tax Sharing Agreement CCDC tax, dated Feb. 25, addressed to Mayor Jerry Sanders and Members of the San Diego City Council, Barrera emphasizes that San Diego Unified faces a $120 million deficit that will force class sizes for kindergarten through 3rd grade to increase to 30 students per teacher. He states that the district will be required to lay off hundreds of teachers, counselors and nurses serving all students.

In the face of Governor Brown's proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies and redirect money to schools, the project list to be presented to the City Council on March 1 ignores the needs of schools in San Diego. Barrera has proposed that CCDC advance anticipated tax revenues from years 2017 to 2020, providing the district with approximately $64 million in tax increment funds in 2011/12. The language of the agreement would also be amended to clearly permit the district to use tax increment funds for educational programs, including the preservation of class sizes for schools in the project area and throughout the district.

The San Diego Unified School District has had a tax sharing agreement with the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC) since 1992. The agreement provides a percentage of tax increment revenues from CCDC project areas that are shared with the school district to be used for school facilities and other education programs. Currently, the agreement provides a 4% share of tax increment revenues for the school district which generates approximately $4.9 million annually. In 2013, the district share will increase to 13.6%, generating approximately $15 million annually, escalating as the tax increment increases over time in the project areas of CCDC.

For more information, contact Chief of Staff and District Relations, Bernie Rhinerson.

Lindbergh Schweitzer Welcomes Holocaust Survivors

Lindbergh Schweitzer Service Learning Magnet invited four Holocaust survivors to speak to students last week. Attendees then painted ceramic butterflies together in memory of the 1.5 million children who lost their lives in the Holocaust. The butterflies are from the Butterfly Project entitled “Zikaron V'Tikvah - Remembrance and Hope” and will be installed on the walls of the school in the spring. Pictured here is Holocaust survivor Rose Schindler. Also in attendance were survivors Max Schindler, Gerhard Mashkowski and Hannah Marx. For more information, contact Julie Harris, magnet contact/volunteer coordinator, at (858) 496-8400 x2231.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

IN THE NEWS: CPMA Jazz, Drums, Dance and Multimedia Featured on Morning News

Take a look around as the Creative, Performing and Media Arts Middle School is featured on the Morning News. Watch video from Fox 5 San Diego»

IN THE NEWS: Better-than-Average Scores, Big Achievement Gaps in Science

San Diego Unified did better than the average for large urban school districts on a national science test, ranking fourth out of 17 big city districts in the percentage of students scoring proficient or above. Read more from the Voice of San Diego»

Green Elementary Shares Learning Strategies with Washington School District

Green Elementary Academics and Athletics Magnet School welcomed teachers and administrators from Washington state’s Bellevue Unified to observe and learn how to “extend” learning for their students. Visitors from Bellevue Unified observed Socratic seminars along with the use of Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) icons that are designed to foster critical, complex, and creative thinking in grades K-5. Through Green’s philosophy of differentiated instruction and a rigorous, strategic approach to learning, the school provides an opportunity to meet the individual needs of students and stretch their ability to think in complex and abstract ways. Pictured here, Mrs. Sylvia Anderson leads her 4th grade class in a Socratic seminar. For more information, contact Principal Bruce Ferguson at (619) 460-5755.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

IN THE NEWS: The Greening of Environmental Ed

Teachers focus on complexity, evidence, and letting students draw their own conclusions

In the marine science classes he teaches at La Jolla High School in southern California, David James spends a lot of time talking to his students about plankton—phytoplankton, zooplankton, all kinds of plankton—because plankton is essential to the survival of humankind. Read more from the Harvard Education Letter»

Museum of Man Helps Students, Families Explore Together

Trustees of the San Diego Museum of Man recently donated 144 Explorer Memberships to the district’s Balboa Park Program. Fifth grade students from throughout the district will have the opportunity to receive the family membership, which provides free admission to the Museum of Man for two adults and their children for one year. It also includes two free admissions to Tower After Hours and a subscription to Discovery, the museum’s newsletter.

“I’m deeply touched by their gift, but honestly not surprised,” said Tina Chin, Balboa Park Program administrator. "Every year, we see this type of commitment and generosity from the various institutions in Balboa Park. These 'park people' give because they love the park and truly want people to understand that Balboa Park belongs to everyone.”

For more information, contact Tina Chin at (619) 293-4459.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bike Safety Event Launches Healthy Works Program

On Feb. 2, Roosevelt Middle School students participated in the Safe Routes to School Bicycle Safety Training, which helped to launch the Healthy Works program, a major San Diego health initiative focuses on environmental and systems changes designed to prevent obesity and promote healthier living. Administered by the County, Healthy Works is federal grant-funded, with $16 million from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to address the obesity epidemic. Healthy Works involves numerous neighborhood, governmental and educational organizations, including San Diego Unified, working together to improve health and wellness throughout the local community. For more information, contact Vanessa Forsythe RN, district wellness coordinator at (858) 496-1089.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

JROTC Cadets “Forge” Ahead

Each year, the San Diego chapter of the Military Order of World Wars (MOWW) sponsors eight cadets from various JROTC programs throughout San Diego to attend the Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge Leadership Conference. Our cadets this year include Samantha Nguyen (Mira Mesa High), Jennifer Tu Doan (Patrick Henry High), Christopher Reyes and Darius Pinckney (Mission Bay High), Bryan Salinas and Jenny Chan (Scripps Ranch High), Joanna Ibay (Morse High) and Thang Hin (Madison High). Each student ranks among the top two cadets in their JROTC junior class and displays strong academic, citizenship and leadership traits.

The three-day conference begins in historic Valley Forge, PA and concludes in Washington DC. Students will interact with experts on citizenship, democracy, the free enterprise system, the judicial system and the American political process. For more information, please contact LTC David Guzman, program manager JROTC, at (858) 496-8203.

Prop S Update: Pt. Loma High Dedicates New Classroom Building

Board of Education Member Shelia Jackson (pictured on far left) joined students, staff and community members to celebrate the opening of Point Loma High’s new 15,358-square-foot, two-story classroom building, one of several projects at the school being funded by the Proposition S bond program.

The $3.8-million project involved demolishing seven existing district portables along Chatsworth Boulevard and replacing them with the new permanent structure. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held Feb. 10.

Six of the eight classrooms come equipped with 21st century technology that includes an interactive whiteboard, a teacher presentation station, wireless voice amplification system, teacher tablet (laptop computer) and netbook (mini-laptop computer) for every student, among other items. The remaining two classrooms will house the sports medicine examination and rehabilitation areas that will be utilized by participants in the school’s College, Career & Technical Education (CCTE) Sports Medicine Program. This program prepares students for careers in the health science and technology industry, and includes classes such as health care essentials, physiology and sports medicine. A newly constructed bridge links the second floor where the exam and rehab rooms are conveniently located adjacent to the track and field. Instruction in the new classrooms started on January 18.

For additional information about this project, visit and go to Point Loma High School. For Prop. S information, visit, e-mail, or call (619) 725-7252.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Year of the Cat

On Feb. 8, the Rosa Parks Vietnamese Parent Association, led by parent Ma Thu Tong, hosted its annual Tet New Year Celebration, which included lunch and a large outdoor ceremony complete with dragon dancers and a martial arts demonstration. A group of students (right), under the direction of teacher Pam Pham-Barron, performed two dances for the crowd of students, parents and community members.

Each Rosa Parks student received a fortune cookie along with a red envelope that contained a gold coin for prosperity, an eraser to clear mistakes from the past and a new pencil to begin new ideas for the future. Students also learned that in China this is the year of the Rabbit while in Vietnam it is the year of the Cat.

For more information, please contact Vice Principal Irene Hightower at or 619-282-6803.

San Diego Unified Emergency School Supplies Fund

Donate Now Now more than ever, our schools need support from the local community. Due to the ongoing budget crisis, schools have had to drastically cut supply budgets for the new school year. San Diegans can help by contributing to the recently established San Diego Unified Emergency School Supplies Fund, approved by the Board of Education on Feb. 15 and administered through the San Diego Foundation. Individuals with and without school-age children are encouraged to contribute. At a recent news conference and with checkbooks in hand, representatives from several local businesses and community groups offered their support and encouragement for voluntary donations.

Donations to the fund will support school supply budgets at every district school, with the exception of charter schools. An individual gift of $98 is suggested -- equal to what property owners would have had to pay if a tax, rejected in November, would have been approved by voters. All donations are tax deductible. Donate now in support of our students or learn more about the Emergency School Supplies Fund, including Frequently Asked Questions.

Friday, February 18, 2011

More than 500 School Leaders Convene to Help English Learners

On Feb. 9, more than 500 school leaders from 29 San Diego County school districts met at the San Diego Convention Center to hear and discuss ways to improve teaching and learning of English Learners.

The Superintendents’ and Principals’ Forum was organized by the County Superintendents’ Achievement Gap Task Force, which is chaired by Supt. Bill Kowba. The forum provided in-depth presentations on five distinct but successful approaches to improving student achievement. They were:

--- Focused Leadership to Accelerate the Learning of English Learners, which featured a team from Edison Elementary School in San Diego Unified. Edison Principal Tavga Bustani led the presentation, assisted by Heather Harris, Holly Sanderlin and Laura Garduno of the Edison staff.

--- Using Mobile Technology to Support English Use and Development, featured staff from the Escondido Union School District. Presenters included Kathy Shirley, Director of Technology and Media, Central School Principal Fabiola Elias, and teacher Brad Pascoe.

--- School-wide Focus on Improving Instructional Practices, featuring Lee Romero and Vic Mitrovich, Principal and Vice Principal respectively of Montgomery High in the Sweetwater Union High School District.

--- Using Data Driven Collaboration to Raise Subgroup Achievement, which featured San Diego Unified's Kearny School of Digital Media and Design Principal Cheryl Hibbeln and Lead Teacher Matt DeFord.

--- Introduction to Instructional Rounds, with County Office of Education staffers Debbie Beldock, Todd Langager and Charmaine Lawson. Beldock, a long-time administrator in San Diego Unified before moving to the county office, is the lead staff member for the Achievement Gap Task Force and coordinated the Forum.

For more information on each of the sessions, including handouts, go to the Superintendents’ Achievement Gap Task Force website at

Assemblyman Visits Kearny CTA

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher was a guest speaker for the Women’s Construction Coalition board meeting held at Stanley E. Foster Construction Tech Academy (CTA) at Kearny High.

The meeting helped the construction industry to connect with other business owners, contractors, public agencies, consultants, and suppliers, and learn about mentoring opportunities.

Assemblyman Fletcher was given a campus tour by student ambassadors and discussed the future of career technical education.  He had a chance to see CTA’s Advanced Construction class, Machine Tool Tech, the Robotics program, projects completed by the Ladies of CTA during MAGIC Camp, and heard about the pathway that exists for graduating students to attend San Diego State University’s Construction Engineering and Management Programs.

For more information, contact Laura Bellofatto, CTA Principal, at (858) 496-8370, ext. 2300.

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pershing Middle School Students Take Smart Dip Into Science

Student and her project at PershingStudent Nicole Morgan with her project, "Think Smarter, Use Greywater."
Does double-dipping your chip into salsa really promote bacterial growth? The answer is yes, and Pershing students can prove it. "The Truth About Double-Dipping" and "Think Smarter, Use Greywater" were just two of the 298 student displays presented at Pershing Middle School's 10th Annual Science Exhibition on Jan. 28.
Eighth graders demonstrated that they are critical and creative thinkers who are able to integrate their skills and personal interests with their knowledge of the scientific process.

Dressed in their best, each student also had the opportunity to practice their presentation skills, speaking at length and answered questions about their projects in front of a room full of guest panelists from the community, peers and program sponsors, SPAWAR and the SDSU Math Department.

Students began the process in October by thinking about an issue of personal interest that perplexed them. Most of the research, experimentation, data analysis and write-ups were conducted in class in December and early January under the supervision of science teachers Kellie Marcarelli, Susan Benson and Heather McCormick.

The experience gave students a taste of what adult scientists do on a daily basis -- producing innovation and knowledge by combining creative thinking with rigor, discipline and method.

Pershing requires a science fair project from all eighth graders, offering a structured opportunity for students to learn that they are capable of rigorous thinking, hard work and eligible for the scientific or engineering career of their choice.

For more information, contact Principal Sarah Sullivan.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

State Sen. Kehoe Visits Millennial Tech

State Senator Kehoe Talks with MTM studentsCalifornia state Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) recently visited Millennial Tech Middle (MTM) School to discuss her bill to reduce copper in brake pads.

Conservation science students have been studying the effect of copper dust on the environment and discussing alternatives that are more environmentally friendly.

The Conservation Science program is unique to MTM's STEM Magnet program and is open to students in grades 7-8.

For more information, contact Heather Potter, Vice Principal, at (619) 527-6933.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Crawford Students Hear Holocaust Story

Crawford students welcome RoseCHAMPs High School was honored to host Rose Schindler as an afterschool speaker recently in the Crawford Complex Library.

CHAMPS Engish teacher Jacob Womack invited Rose to speak to his English class after they finished reading Elie Wiesel’s Night. Realizing the importance of such a speaker on campus, all four small schools were invited to attend.

Rose is a Holocaust survivor that grew up only 20 km. from Elie Wiesel. This wonderful connection allowed the curriculum of Night to come alive in Rose’s address to the students.

More than 80 Crawford students attended the event after school in which Rose retold her account of living through the Holocaust, which included the separation and loss of her parents, her dealings with the Nazi SS officers and the joy of her liberation.

Rose’s historical past brought a personal insight to the horrible experiences that people went through during the Holocaust.

For more information, contact CHAMPs Principal William Laine at (619) 583-2501.

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

Today is School Choice Deadline

The deadline is here for families looking to have their child attend a San Diego Unified school outside of their neighborhood -- be it a comprehensive school closer to a parent or guardian's work or magnet school -- to submit an application for the 2010-11 school year.

The application must be received by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, in the office, at 4100 Normal Street, Annex 7-B, or faxed to (619) 542-5794.

Enrollment options are a popular choice for many students, who pursue interests ranging from tubas to technology, or families who want the convenience of having children close to their work location.

For more information, go to the department's website or call (619) 725-5672.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Three High Schools Represented on Youth Barbershop Chorus

Barbershop ChorusThe 17-member Pacific Suns, the newly formed San Diego County youth barbershop chorus, includes students from three San Diego Unified schools: SCPA, Scripps Ranch and Patrick Henry high schools.

The chorus made its debut at the International Youth Barbershop Chorus Festival in Las Vegas Jan. 29. There, 19 choruses from all over the United States and Canada, and as far away as New Zealand, competed for top honors.

The Pacific Suns is a joint effort of Pacific Coast Harmony Men's Barbershop chorus and choir directors from San Diego schools.  Other schools participating are Fallbrook, High Tech, and Classic Academy high schools.

The chorus is directed by Allan Webb of the La Jolla Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

For more information or to involve your students, check please visit the Youth in Harmony website or contact Paul Girard.

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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Global Tour Organizers Inspire Muir Students

Welcome to MuirCanadian world tour operator "Me to We" visited Muir K-12 recently, helping the students learn about "Better Choices for a Better World" and how to become active global citizens.

“The presentation and training opened up my eyes to participating and making a difference in ways I never imagined," said Elana, a ninth grader.

“I am now really motivated to actually do something!!” said another ninth grader, Angelica.

After the assembly, 25 Muir students attended a three-hour leadership workshop facilitated by the "Me to We" speakers. Muir students learned about the skills and tools needed to become leadership ambassadors for their school and community.

The sessions provided time to create action plans where Muir students will engage their peers groups in social involvement and civic engagement.
For more information, contact Caryn Maroni at (858) 268-1954 x 145.

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

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Birney Elementary Joint-Use Field Dedicated

Cutting the ribbon
Ribbon cutting and enjoying the new turf at the Willie Serrano Joint Use Field.
Enjoying the new grass
Board of Education President Richard Barrera joined Mayor Jerry Sanders, Council Member Todd Gloria, Birney International Studies Magnet School Principal Amanda Hammond-Williams and other dignitaries in the dedication of the Willie Serrano Joint Use Field on Jan. 28.

The project now opens the park to the community, via Park Boulevard, during times when the school is not in session.
The project is a community partnership of the school district, City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department, and University Heights Recreation Council as they returned an historic recreation asset to the University Heights community and a beautiful field to the students of Birney.

 The field is named after Willie Serrano, a Birney sixth grader whose life tragically ended in 1978.

At the end of the Ribbon Cutting ceremony the Birney student body formed a “Happy Face” on the new natural turf field.

For joint use information, contact Randy White, real estate specialist, at (858) 637-3687.

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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Go Inside A Magnet School: Language Academy

Watch a video that takes you inside a French immersion class at the Language Academy, one of San Diego Unified's Magnet Schools. The grade 1-2 combination class is taught all in French. Watch video.

The deadline for School Choice applications for the 2011-12 school year is Tuesday, Feb. 15.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

National Signing Day Charts Course for Athletes' Futures

Madison students
Madison High students at signing ceremony.
Several San Diego Unified high school seniors made national news during National Signing Day, the first day that seniors can sign a letter of intent to attend a university the following fall on an athletic scholarship.

Athletics provides an important path to college for many students. While the top players can receive scholarships on National Signing Day, other students can receive partial scholarships as "walk on" players after a tryout. Along the way, they're learning the discipline and teamwork skills taught by our coaches and athletic staffs.

Football gets the most attention, with the following signing their letters on Wednesday, Feb. 2 during a ceremony at the San Diego Hall of Champions: From Morse, Denote Flowers goes to Montana State and Karl Mickelson to Fresno State; Hoover's Dame Ndiaye to University of Arizona; from Scripps Ranch, Nick Sloan to Navy; and Christian Heyward from Pt. Loma to USC.

From Madison High, De’Saan Hardwick signed for football at San Diego State University; Jeremy Hutchison will join football at the Air Force Academy in Colorado; and Jamarie Sanders was awarded a scholarship to play football at Humboldt State University.

Other sports also provide a path to a college scholarship. For example, Madison High's Mitchell Esser earned a baseball scholarship to Loyola Marymount University, and Ian Clarkin to the University of San Diego. From La Jolla High, Bradley Zimmer received a baseball scholarship from the University of San Francisco.

A complete list is available from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Food Services Technology, New Menu Lauded by Industry Magazine

SanDi Coast CafeFood Management Magazine has recognized the district’s SanDi Coast Café as an outstanding innovation in the food service industry.

The magazine’s January, 2011 issue features the program’s wireless technology used to set up meal stations carts around our high school campuses.

Food Services also received an honorable mention in the magazine's nationwide 2010 Best Concepts Award for the SanDi Coast Café program. Judges cited the operation of themed SanDi Coast Café carts that serve reimbursable school meals conveniently and efficiently around high school campuses.

San Diego Unified was the only school district recognized for program excellence with most other awards going to colleges and universities.

For more information contact Gary Petill, food services director, at (858) 627-7301.

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

Community Partners Show Reading is the Way Up

UC Schools Book DonationDuring the holiday season, City National Bank partnered with Barnes & Noble to share the joy of reading as part of the bookseller's annual Holiday Book Drive. All books collected through the drive at a participating Barnes & Noble location are matched by City National and donated to local schools. The Holiday Book Drive is part of City National Bank’s Reading is the Way Up program.
On Friday, Jan. 28, the University City Cluster schools received a generous donation of books from this year's Holiday Book Drive, sponsored by EdUCate, a nonprofit foundation established to support the five University City public schools. 
Barnes and Noble gave $7,250 worth of books to the schools.  City National Bank matched this amount by donating $7,250 that will allow schools to purchase more books.
For more information, please contact Jeff Olivero, University City High principal, at (858) 457-3040.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Science, Connection and Technology Students at Kearny Help Clean Beach

Kearny SCT students cleaning up ocean beach
Kearny SCT students clean up Ocean Beach.
Kearny SCT students at Ocean Beach.
Students from the School of Science, Connection and Technology (SCT) at the Kearny High Educational Complex gave up a recent Saturday to help San Diego Coastkeeper clean up Ocean Beach.
In addition to collecting trash from the beach, the students were collecting exact latitude and longitude locations of the trash with their GPS units.  Using geographic information systems software, students will be able to map their findings, analyze the data and make some conclusions based on where the trash is coming from and make decisions on how to decrease the amount.

The school's Environmental Awareness Coalition, a club sponsored by the 21st Century ASSETS grant, organizes monthly beach clean ups and operates an on-site recycling program at Kearny. Most of the club's students are from the Environmental Technology Academy, a unique group of students selected to foster their ability to creatively use digital tools with an environmental focus.  This academy is in its second year supported by California Partnership Academy funds from the California Department of Education

The goal of SCT and the EnTec Academy is to promote environmental awareness and activism both within the walls of the classroom and in the community.

For more information, please contact Corri Burgess, GIS Teacher, at (858) 496-8370, ext. 4509.

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

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fulton Students Support Continuing Haiti Relief

K-KidsKiwanis Kids at Fulton K-8 have supported the kids of earthquake-ravaged Haiti by writing letters and sending photos, plus backpacks full of clothing to the residents. The backpacks were sent in time for the holidays with a $2,000 donation from Heartland Alliance.

This project not only impacts the children of Haiti who will benefit greatly, but was also exciting for the Kiwanis Kids -- a program of the local Kiwanis Club -- who put so much work into it.

For more information, contact Gwen Kirkland, Principal, at (619) 262-0777.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Schools Celebrate Chinese New Year

Schools around the district are celebrating the Chinese New Year with a variety of festivals and presentations. Read more and see slide shows>>

IN THE NEWS: Mann Middle School Stars on Morning News

Music, science and breakfast featured on Morning News. En Español, courtesy KBNT-TV. Watch video»

IN THE NEWS: Marshall Middle Students Make Music and Science

Students at Marshall Middle School in Scripps Ranch are combining music and science... and making their own instruments. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

“Dancing with the Students” Teaches Grace and Manners

Green Elementary dancersStudents at Green Elementary Academics and Athletics Magnet School are discovering that there are more ways to get exercise than running and doing sit-ups. In Ms. Patterson’s Physical Education class (photo), students are receiving lessons in cotillion-style ballroom dance and etiquette.

Students are learning manners, respectful attitudes towards each other and how to approach each other politely to “ask for the dance” as they gracefully dip, spin and turn with style in the school’s Multiple Purpose Room (MPR).

The MPR also hosts a gymnastics and tumbling program, which uses professional gymnastics equipment that teaches balance, flexibility, focus and body strength. Want to learn more? The school is hosting tours on Mondays at 7:45 a.m. through Feb. 14. No need to sign up, just come as you are.

For more information, contact Principal Bruce Ferguson at (619) 460-5755.

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

Thursday, February 3, 2011

School Police Receive Federal Security Grant

San Diego Unified School Police Department has been awarded $116,750 for the purchase of a replacement power generator for the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), as well as bulletproof blankets to be used during the rescue of students and staff in the event of an emergency.

The grant was received as part of the recent award of $7.7 million to San Diego county agencies to coordinate and improve response to homeland security and other catastrophic events, such as wildfires and earthquakes. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provided the funds to the California Emergency Management Agency.

For more information, contact Lt. Rueben Littlejohn, San Diego Unified School Police, at (619) 725-7036.

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Superintendent Talks Budget Challenges

Supt. Bill Kowba talks about the challenges for the 2011-12 school year on the Morning News. Watch video from KUSI-TV.

Robot Teams Get FIRST Marching Orders

FIRST students
FIRST students celebrate the new season.

Student teams from 38 Southern California schools gathered early on a Saturday morning to hear the announcement of this year's "game" for the 2011 FIRST Robotics Competition. (FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.)

Six San Diego Unified high school teams are scheduled to compete in this year's regional competition on March 10-12 at the Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena). Students will work hundreds of hours leading up to the regional competition to build a robot to compete in the "game." The regional competition event is free to the public and very exciting to watch

This year's "game" involves putting tubes of various sizes onto racks within competition guidelines and standards.

Winners of the regional competitions will advance to the national competition in St. Louis. Kearny, Mira Mesa, High Tech, Madison, Crawford, and Lincoln high schools from San Diego Unified are currently scheduled to compete this year.

Teams will often work with other schools on portions of their robots and utilize each other's resources such as tools and machines.

For more information, contact Bill Berggren, CCTE program specialist, at (858) 503-1753.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Community Town Hall hosted by Assemblymember Marty Block

Assemblymember Marty Block (D-San Diego), representing the 78th Assembly District, invites the community to share views and ideas regarding Governor Brown's proposed state budget during a town hall meeting this week.

Learn more about the $25 billion state budget deficit and its effects on education. Share your thoughts on how the proposed mix of spending cuts, revenue increases and realigning of county and state program responsibilities may affect you.

The meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, at Patrick Henry High School, 6702 Wandermere Dr. (92120)

See flierMarty Block for details or visit

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