Wednesday, February 29, 2012

IN THE NEWS: New 'Green' Wood Shop Unveiled at Hoover

Officials are marking the completion of the $3.9 million Green Construction Technology Facility at Hoover High School, a building that will serve as the center of an academy dedicated to sustainable architecture, building trades and engineering. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

'Big Picture' Takes a Look at SD Met

Big Picture meeting
Jill Badger, left, Supt.
Bill Kowba, Kristopher
Johnson-LeCense, Ashley Elder,
Principal Mildred Phillips,
Elliot Washor.
The innovative San Diego Met high school at San Diego Mesa College was in the viewfinder when national education advocates Big Picture Learning held its conference in San Diego.

Current and former Met students talked with more than 60 principals from around North America about the difference that the Met programs have made in their lives.
Superintendent Bill Kowba and Principal Mildred Phillips welcomed the conference to San Diego.

Class of 2008 members Ashley Elder and Kristopher Johnson-LaCense discussed how the school's internship programs had better prepared them for San Diego State University; they're both schedule to graduate in May.

"The Big Picture Principal's conference to me was similar to a 'coming home' moment," said Elder. "I feel as though it is the obligation of those of us who are now living the Big Picture motto 'One student at a time' to letother educators and students see how much this program has done for me. I felt honored to share my experiences with these educators, and hopefully the next generation will be as proud as I am to be a graduate of the Met program."

Big Picture Learning is an organization that encourages "innovative, personalized schools that work in tandem with the real world of the greater community." The Met opened in 2004 and follows the organization's philosophy. The school creates a structure so students can become self-motivated, competent life-long learners.

For more information, contact Phillips at (619) 388-2299.

Clairemont Business Students Meet, Interact With Community Leaders

 A student in the Academy of Business
Technology at Clairemont High
gets interview practice.
If you're a student in the Academy of Business Technology at Clairemont High School, a real-life business internship could be part of your class work. But how to prepare for that?

How about a meeting with community leaders in person and by conducing mock job interviews.

Alan Walter's classes have not only had guests visit his classes, but they've used the latest technology to have real business people conduct mock job interviews with the students.

The award-winning Academy of Business & Technology, or AOBT, is a “school within a school” at Clairemont High that focuses on business, computer, and communication skills.

"Our academy program is committed to providing students with an array of unique educational activities and opportunities that are not typically incorporated into general education courses," said Walter. "Our academy program is committed to providing students with an array of unique educational activities and opportunities that are not typically incorporated into general education courses."

Recent activities include the guest speaker lecture series. Topics related to Expectations in the Workplace were covered by 14 guest speakers, including Superintendent Bill Kowba.

The academy's internship fair welcomed ten business partners, who interviewed students for internships. Participating businesses included Steve Lyons State Farm Insurance, California Coast Credit Union, Kaplan College and Taylor | Anderson law offices.

Students also received practice in how to interview for a job. Business partners conducted the interviews, which were recorded so the students could watch and critique their performance later.
For more information on the program, contact Walter at

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adams Elementary Readers are Local Sports Legends

 Read more
Adams Elementary students had a Valentines Day treat as local sports legends Trevor Hoffman and Bill Walton read the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham and other tales to students.

Part of the Rolling Readers Program's special Feb. 14 "Share Your Love of Reading" program, Hoffman and Walton were able to read their favorite books to the students.

"Our Adams Tigers were thrilled to have Trevor and Bill here," said Principal Derek Murchison. "They're always happy to welcome community members to read, but to have these sports stars really made this a special day."

The Rolling Readers program brings community members to schools to read to the kids. A San Diego organization, founded in 1991, is now nationwide. For more information, visit the group's website.

Monday, February 27, 2012

SD Rotary Picks SD High Students' Design for Camp Logo

New logo
San Diego High students created this logo.
Instead of coming from a commercial artist, the logo for this year's San Diego Downtown Rotary Club 33 Camp Enterprise was created by students from the schools of Communications, and Science and Technology, at the San Diego High Educational Complex.

Students Zulma Galvan, Valeryn Mejia and Maria Sanchez from Jeff Liddell's Computerized Graphic Design class submitted the winning design, which were selected by club members. Teams of 3-5 students in grades competed for the design in the class.

 "The San Diego Downtown Rotary Club 33 committee loved all the work and had a hard time choosing the winning design," said Liddell. The winning students received gift cards from the Rotary.

Camp Enterprise is based on a program developed by the American Management Association. It brings students in grade 11 together with business experts to discuss the free-enterprise system.

Computerized Graphic Design is a Regional Occupational Program course in which a student can receive Community College articulated credit for college transition and also qualifies for University of California “a-g” credit for college admission. For more information, please contact Liddell at

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Area Superintendent Receives Award

Dr. Brenda Campbell
Dr. Brenda Campbell

Dr. Brenda Campbell, Area 1 Superintendent, has received The Palavra Tree Education Award.

The award recognizes of her outstanding achievements in motivating and mobilizing residents. She received the award along with eight other residents during the organization's Multi Cultural Celebration of Life on Feb. 4.

The Palavra Tree was established in 1985 it is a launching pad from which local citizens and community organizations plan, develop, implement, evaluate and duplicate successful activities that helps our youth. The Palavra Tree operates one of the most active youth leadership outreach programs in San Diego.

During a career at San Diego Unified that dates back to the mid-1970s, Dr. Campbell has served in 14 different positions, ranging from classroom teacher to her most recent position as Area 1 Superintendent, where she supervises the schools in the Lincoln and Morse high school clusters.
For more information, contact Dr. Campbell at (619) 725-7233.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Excite Kids' Minds During San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering Week March 17-24

Science FestivalThe San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering (formerly known as the San Diego Science Festival) kicks off Saturday, March 17 with events at eight different locations across San Diego, including San Diego State University, Balboa Park and California State University San Marcos.

The Festival, which runs through March 24, features a week of interactive demonstrations, hands-on activities and dynamic speakers to engage kids and families in science and engineering.

There are nearly 40 events during the week, culminating on EXPO DAY, the grand-slam-science-and-engineering-finale at PETCO Park, Saturday, March 24.
Many of the festival events are designed specifically for class field trips. Free transportation is also provided by the Festival. Over 55,000 kids, families, scientists, engineers, educators, and other community members are expected to take part in this year's activities, with over 20,000 people attending on EXPO DAY, a free-to-the-community event!

For detailed event information, visit:

Other noteworthy details include:
Festival Events March 17-23 are great field trip opportunitiesMany of our Festival Week events are specially designed for organized classroom field trips. We also have more events ALL OVER San Diego County this year. Many events require pre-registration. For details about each of the 38 Festival Week events, go to

Free MTS transportation to EXPO Day Generous sponsors have underwritten the cost of MTS (Trolley, Coaster) DayTripper Classroom Passes for all schools in San Diego County. This is a great opportunity to help the Festival go green! We also encourage you to choose this option since it gives you flexibility in the size of group you bring, time of departure/return, and because this program is so affordable we can bring many more students to the EXPO!

Science Festival credit for attendance allows teachers to create meaningful experience for students at EXPOHow can you provide an enriched learning opportunity for your students who attend the EXPO? We suggest that you design a custom opportunity for students to answer open-ended questions. This will allow them to choose how long they spend at any booth and which booths they visit. Students can get a stamp from the merchandise booth or the “Ask Me” booth to show they were there.

ASK ME, I’m a Scientist or Engineer boothOnce again this year, the Festival will have a designated booth where kids can interview scientists and/or engineers. It will be hosted by the Jacobs School of Engineering students, and the kids can interview those undergraduate and graduate students too! Scientists and engineers from industry and academia will volunteer for one-hour shifts to sit and talk with the kids, answering their questions and engaging them in the possibilities of science. This activity would be a great to incorporate into a Credit for Attendance project. Again, students can get a stamp from this booth or the Festival merchandise booth if the teacher creates this as a credit for attendance option.

NEW THIS YEAR: The Home Run Science Challenge is an all-new EXPO DAY that challenges students to “run the bases” by learning key science concepts at special EXPO DAY exhibits. To complete the challenge activity and receive a prize, students must visit five featured exhibits and verbally answer a question on the science or engineering content to receive a stamp on their worksheet. Students will retain their completed challenge worksheet to bring into class and validate their participation, making this an excellent opportunity for an assignment or extra credit. The challenge worksheet will contain a website link to additional background content on the featured exhibits for teacher use. This activity has an expected target audience of grades 4-8, but is adaptable for all-ages participation.

Friday, February 24, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Teaming up to clean up

Proving that it’s sometimes preferable to go au naturel, members of University City High School’s (UCHS) Roots and Shoots club teamed up with Friends of Rose Canyon on Feb. 12 to give native plants a boost in the Rose Canyon Open Space Park.  Volunteers from the two organizations cleared non-native plant species, making way for new native oak trees to grow. They also planted willow and mule fat in some of the more eroded areas in an effort to counter erosion. Read more from the San Diego Community Newspaper Group»

First Honor Concert is Saturday

Talented students from 13 district high schools have been selected by audition to perform at this year's Instrumental Honor Concert, at 7 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 25, in Copley Symphony Hall, 7th & B streets, downtown San Diego.

Students from Crawford, Clairemont, Hoover, Lincoln, Madison, Mira Mesa, Morse, Patrick Henry, Point Loma, the School of Creative & Performing Arts, Scripps Ranch, Serra and University City high schools will perform.
San Diego Symphony Staff and Pops Conductor, Matthew Garbutt will conduct the honor orchestra, while Shannon Kitelinger, San Diego State University Director of Bands, will serve as guest conductor for the 85 member Honor Band.
There is no charge for admission.

Future honor concerts are: Partnership Honor Choir, March 3; March 10, honor instrumental; Elementary Instrumental, March 22. For more information, see the district's calendar.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Mira Mesa High Teacher Gets 'Thank You'

News 8 is recognizing three teachers honored in a county-wide "Thank a Teacher" campaign. News 8's Kimberly King files this video report with Karen Farrel from Mira Mesa High School, Kristi Guerro from Fred H. Rohr Elementary, and Don Hollins from Torrey Pines High School. Watch video»

Eight Schools Receive Book Donations through City National Bank, Barnes and Noble Contest

The "Reading is The Way Up" program from City National Bank has found its way to six schools in the San Diego Unified School District, meaning teachers in those schools will be buying new books from Barnes and Noble.
Schools receiving the grants are: Adams, Curie, Doyle, Spreckels and Walker elementary schools, Correia and Standley middle schools, and University City High School.

The book donations were the result of a Holiday Book Drive last December at Barnes & Noble, the world's largest book seller, in partnership with Reading is The way up at City National.

Schools had a variety of ways of celebrating the award. At Walker Elementary in Mira Mesa, students thanked Carolyn Rodriguez, Barnes & Noble vice president, and Christian Weissman, City National vice president, when they visited the school. Principal Rochelle Dawes estimates each teacher will have about $157 to spend on books as a result of the grant.

Customers at 15 Barnes & Noble stores in four states donated nearly 16,000 new books and City National matched this donation with $50,000 for the additional 16,000 new books to be purchased through Barnes & Noble by the school librarians at each of the 28 schools receiving books.

"Barnes & Noble is a great community partner that City National enjoys teaming up with during the holidays to promote the importance of literacy and education," said Carolyn Rodriguez, vice president and program administrator for City National Bank. "Literacy is one of the best gifts you can give a child, and through City National's literacy program we have now donated more than 115,000 new books to school libraries in California, Nevada, New York and Nashville since the inception of this program in 2002."

The City National and Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive ran from December 1 through January 1 and included 15 stores in the four states where the bank has a presence. City National and Barnes & Noble representatives are presenting the book and monetary donations to school administrators and students at school assemblies in the four states. The bank's literacy mascot "Blue" is also taking part in these donation presentations.

"We are very excited and appreciative of this generous donation from City National Bank and Barnes & Noble," said Courtney Haley, librarian of Tusculum Elementary School in Nashville. "This is a great example of a community partnership that's helping schools and children. We applaud City National and Barnes & Noble for taking a lead role in this wonderful community endeavor."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Message from the Board of Education President

Dear Superintendent and San Diego Unified Employees,

As President of the Board of Education, I want you to know that the board appreciates your dedication and hard work in the midst of yet another budget crisis.

In return, you deserve to know what the school board is thinking. Your job is to teach and help children in and around the classroom. The board has two mandates: to protect education and to balance the budget. This is a difficult balancing act.

We have a school district budget. Each of us has a family budget. At the same time we all care about the education of our children.

The State of California has let us down for several years with continuous cuts to public education. As a result, last spring we issued many layoff notices. Fortunately, we were able to recall a few hundred teachers in the summer when the state gave us more money to maintain K-3 class size, but only after the budget was passed. That change is not going to happen this year. The reality is that hundreds of last year’s laid off employees were never called back.

This year is different. When I went to Sacramento recently, no one there was optimistic about the state coming up with more money. The governor’s tax proposal ballot measure does not go before the voters until November. That’s too late for next school year. This year we also tried to avoid the tumultuous March 15 layoff notice deadline for certificated employees as required by law. Unfortunately, without union support we cannot get emergency legislation passed to postpone the layoff notice deadline to June 15.

On a district level the Finance Department numbers are much more accurate than they were a few years ago. The Human Resources Department has made corrections so that the layoff errors made last year are not repeated. The dollars and layoff numbers are real. Contrary to what you may have read or heard, there is no extra money from redevelopment or transportation. If there is any doubt about the numbers, we have a standing invitation to all of our unions to send over their best auditors to go through our books.

We would not be preparing to sell off major property for a year of school funding if we were not in a very serious situation. This board has taken some risks to protect education but we will not be reckless or put ourselves in a situation where we cannot meet payroll. Everyone on the board detests the cuts we are making but we cannot simply vote away the fact that we do not have enough money to keep operating at the same level.

As a psychologist, I know that in a crisis our natural reaction is denial. First we deny the budget crisis and then we get angry. And then we look for solutions.

The district’s police officers have worked with us to find a solution to keep schools safe and to protect their jobs. They have agreed to the status quo in terms of salary (no raises) and the continuation of the five furlough days. They accepted adjustments to the health insurance program, which continues to be free for many of their members and families. They also agreed to a 6 percent salary rollback if the governor’s ballot measure fails in November. If it passes, there is no salary rollback. In exchange, all of them will be on the job next year.

The Superintendent and the school board have indicated that we will make these same concessions. We have asked all of our unions to sit down to negotiate concessions as soon as possible to avoid massive layoffs that will harm children in the classroom. The San Diego City Schools Police Officers Association has set an excellent example of how management and labor can work together for the common good of San Diego children.

We need to stick together to get through this Great Recession. I continue to have faith that employees will do the right thing.

Thanks again for all that you do for our students, our schools and our community.
John Lee Evans
John Lee Evans
President, Board of Education

IN THE NEWS: San Diego Schools Struggle With Growing Number Of Homeless Students

An in-depth look at San Diego Unified School District's efforts to help its 3,500 homeless students stay in school. More from KPBS»

IN THE NEWS: Language Academy finally gets its field

San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald and San Diego Unified School District Trustee Kevin Beiser were among those who celebrated with the entire 944-student population at a 45-minute dedication ceremony Tuesday afternoon. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

IN THE NEWS: Kids Love to Read… to Dogs!

Independent Therapy Dogs bring Ruff Readers to Muir School. Read more from Clairemont Central»

DePortola Mitten Tree Helps Those In Need

Mitten Tree
Mitten tree grows at
DePortola Middle School.

As a way to give back to both our military and community, De Portola's JS2S (Junior Student to Student) club kicked off the holiday spirit with their first Annual Mitten Tree Drive.

Held on Dec. 9 during "Chill on the Hill," students were able to place their donated mittens, scarves, and hats on a holiday tree and make holiday and thank you cards to military members who serve out country.

More than 220 mittens, scarves, and hats were donated within 30 minutes and over 100 cards were made by the JS2S Club and signed by de Portola students. Donations to the tree were delivered to the Military Family Readiness Center for military families in need and to one of the homeless shelters within San Diego. The holiday cards were delivered to the Naval Medical Center and handed out to service members who are in the Wounded Warriors Program as a way to thank them for their service and let them know how much we care.

For more information on this project please contact Danielle Woolery at

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kearny SCT Students' Videos Highlight Environment Issues

Science is nothing new for students at Kearny High School of Science, Connections and Technology, but now students are looking at scientific issues through an artist’s lens.
Students in the Digital Art and Mixed Media class created stop motion videos to draw attention to key environmental causes. Science and Art have a natural cross over and students used multimedia to visually communicate a strong message to their peer audience – you have a lasting impact on our environment and can make a difference.
Videos addressed topics such as global climate change and anti-littering campaigns. By creating these videos students hope they can artistically shed light on some dark issues.

Students were given two weeks to complete the project including research, planning, shooting, and editing the video. The anti-littering campaign videos were also entered into a Green Skills for Life competition at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park. The students were encouraged by the amount of ‘hits’ their videos received because it meant viewers were connecting with their messages.

Digital Art and Mixed Media is a Regional Occupational Program course in which a student can receive Community College articulated credit for college transition and also qualifies for UC “a-g” credit for college admission.

For more information, please contact Heidi Framption, CCTE Teacher, at

Monday, February 20, 2012

IN THE NEWS: From Neighborhood Tough Guy to Academic Mentor

Eduardo Corona has turned his life around and now helps City Heights kids do the same. Read story from UT San Diego»

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chargers Donation Helps Fund Fitness Study at 27 Schools

The San Diego Chargers have selected 27 elementary, middle and high schools to participate in a three-year study to help promote physical activity and combat the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our youth.

The Cooper Institute, a non-profit organization, and NFL Charities, the charitable foundation of the National Football League, have partnered together to add the Fitnessgram® assessment tool to the NFL PLAY 60 movement, as part of a $1.8 million grant from the NFL.

Fitnessgram measures overall health through six tests designed to track aerobic capacity, body composition, muscular endurance, strength and flexibility. Thanks to the Chargers, participating physical education teachers at the 27 schools receive a web-based Fitnessgram 9 site license, a free Fitnessgram test administration kit, and one-on-one technical support from The Cooper Institute.

The software allows physical education teachers to provide instant results, based on age and gender, in an individualized report to help educate parents and students and encourage healthy behaviors. Each site license is valued at $1,620 per school, which results in more than $43,740 in savings to the district. The ongoing technical support from The Cooper Institute is priceless.

Designed to tackle childhood obesity, NFL PLAY 60 brings together the NFL's long-standing commitment to health and fitness with partner organizations. The program challenges youth to become physically active for at least 60 minutes each day. Teachers will collect data from student fitness assessments to form a youth longitudinal study tracking health-related fitness results and analyze how best to intervene. The resulting data will be provided to local, state, and national policy makers.

This is not the first time the Chargers have supported youth fitness in San Diego. They have contributed to a variety of fitness initiatives, including the NFL PLAY 60 initiative, recently popularized by television commercials.

The schools are: Hage and Lindbergh-Schweitzer elementary; Audubon, Bethune, Fulton, Golden Hill and Grant K-8s; Bell, Clark, Correia, Creative Performing Media Arts, Innovation, Knox, Lewis, Marshall, Marston, Memorial Prep for Scholars and Athletes, Millennial Tech, Montgomery, Muirlands, Pacific Beach, Pershing, Roosevelt, Standley and Taft middle schools; Scripps Ranch High School and John Muir K-12.

For more information, contact Bruce Ward, Director of Physical Education, Health and Athletics, at 619-725-7126.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

SD High International Studies Hosts Wall Street Journal Editor

Editor and students
Wall Street Journal editor-columnist
Bret Stephens and San Diego
High International Studies students.
Students should study and discuss the values, people and interests of the United States in the world setting, Bret Stephens, editorial page deputy editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal said to students at the San Diego High School of International Studies.

Stephens challenged students in teacher Chris Steussy’s International Baccalaureate class to ponder the relationship of the United States’ interests as a nation, as well as its values as a people and country, to its position on the world stage.

"For the course of over an hour, with about 75 students crammed into a standard-size classroom," said teacher Chris Steussy, "students were simply stunned to have the opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with such an engaging personality who they later described as very sharp and insightful."

Stephens writes the Journal's "Global View" column on foreign affairs. He is a deputy editorial page editor, responsible for the editorial pages of the Asian and European editions of the paper, the columnists on foreign affairs, and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He previously worked for the paper as an op-ed editor in New York and as an editorial writer in Brussels for The Wall Street Journal Europe.
Students said Stephens opened their eyes to the importance of having a world view.
"He elegantly connected our knowledge of history and current events to his expertise on foreign affairs," said senior Jiem Ronald-Ronas.

"I learned that history isn’t just about remembering," said Brianna Morrow, senior, "but about making connections and looking beyond ‘words’ and getting to the ideology of humanity."

For more information on the class and program, contact Kirk Ankeney, Principal, at

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Holidays Honor Presidents Friday and Monday

San Diego Unified School District schools and offices are closed Friday, Feb. 17, to honor Abraham Lincoln, and Monday, Feb. 20, for the Presidents Day national holiday. All schools will reopen Tuesday, Feb. 21.

IN THE NEWS: CPMA Hip Hop Hard of Hearing Featured

Group rocks on TV in the morning; Feb. 24-25 show featured. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

Math Clash Consumes Clairemont Cluster

The competition was intense, neighbor against neighbor, but in the end Holmes Elementary narrowly edged out the other schools in the Clairemont High cluster --  Alcott, Bay Park, Toler, Cadman and Longfellow elementary schools, and Marston Middle School -- as the Trimathalon 2012 was held Feb. 3 at the Marston campus.
A math competition for "mathletes" of all abilities and skill levels, the grade 3-6 the event was divided up by grades. Holmes took in a first-place and two second-place prizes, with Longfellow capturing a first, second and third places. Nearly 70 students competed in grades 3-6. The Pt. Loma Matnasium franchise provided assistance with the day's events.
The contest features three worksheets that use number sense, not special formulas or calculators. As the sheets were scored, the children were taught a song on chimes which they played for the parents. Prizes for first, second and third were awarded.
Here are the event winners.

Grade Three

1st: Isabel Rojas, Longfellow
2nd: Nate Blum, Holmes
Third: Austin Tran, Toler

Grade Four

First: Alexis Engebretson, Holmes
Second: Ivan Preciado, Toler
Third: Chris Barriga, Alcott

Grade 5

First: Jared Norton, Bay Park
Second: Charlie Jenkins, Holmes
Third: Carlos Marquez, Cadman

Grade 6

First: Johnny Dinh, Marston
Second: Jordan Grayson, Longfellow
Third: Tamera Scott, Longfellow

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Without Family To Lean On, One San Diego Student Is Determined To Thrive

Courtney Medlin, 16, travels an hour-and-a-half to Scripps Ranch High School each morning. She was determined to stay at the high school after leaving her family for a group home. Read and watch from KPBS»

IN THE NEWS: Cooking at San Diego High

Culinary Arts program at San Diego High is in focus on the KUSI Good Morning San Diego. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

Military Student Needs Conference Eyes Dewey Elementary

Dewey staff with Dr. Jill Biden.
Dewey staff with Dr. Jill Biden,
second from right.
Like many schools with a high number of students who are military dependents, Dewey Elementary School has a "transition room" where students, parents and the support community can get together to help the kids of soldiers, sailors and Marines make friends and adjust to their new surroundings.

“The Connections Corner is a comfortable environment where questions can be answered and anxieties calmed by a friendly face," said Principal Tanya Belsan.

The Connections Corner is open daily and is staffed by parent volunteers, and Navy and Marine School Liaison Officers. It helps kids and parents adjust to the stresses of military life that include frequent moves, one or both parents being deployed for months.

Belsan was asked to talk about her experiences at a recent conference on military dependent kids. 

About 88 percent of Dewey students have one or more parents who are active military members. Dewey has created a military-friendly environment for students and their families, bringing military school liaisons from the Navy and Marine Corps and other community resources together.

Robin Williamson, school liaison officer from Naval Base Point Loma, described the process of creating transition rooms at Dewey and 10 other San Diego area military-impacted schools. These rooms are dedicated solely to welcoming new military families into the school and community. Families use the rooms to learn about school and community resources and connect with other military families.

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, joined the group of educators, students and military family members at the University of Southern California on Jan. 19 for the Building Capacity in Military-Connected Schools project, a consortium of eight military-connected school districts, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the University of Southern California.

For more information, contact Belsan, (619) 223-8131.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

IN THE NEWS: San Diego High Broadcast Facility Highlighted

Morning News visits new studio at San Diego's oldest high school. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

Field Elementary's Family Science Night Reveals Mysteries

Learning how to make putty
Camila Uribe, grade 3, and her brother, Christian, grade 1, learn how to make putty.
It was an evening for discovering the mysteries of dry ice, magnets and invisible ink as the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center came to Field Elementary for a Family Science Night.

The theme was "Behind The Magic" for the evening, held on Jan. 12. The Fleet provided materials and trained school staff how to conduct simple experiments to teach students and parents about the science behind mysterious items such as dry ice, magnets and invisible ink. Sempra Energy donated the funds to bring the Science Center to the school.

Many parents realized they could make their own putty, using ordinary household materials. Other students learned how different lengths of string pulled through a plastic cup make an interesting range of sound effects, from high-pitched squeaks to low hums. Many children learned about the Bernoulli principle as they tried to balance a ball on a stream of air. Others learned how acidity and alkalinity cause changes in color on paper.

The eerie mist given off by dry ice was fascinating and a lot of students came back to see it more than once. The families who attended this fun and informative activity all enjoyed themselves and it was nice to see many former students attend with their younger siblings. We plan to offer similar activities in the future.

For more information, contact Yesenia Robinson, Principal, at (858) 273-3323.

Monday, February 13, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Teen Has Weighty Role on State Board

Since Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Caitlin Snell to the California Board of Education last summer, she has voted on some important issues facing teachers, students and parents throughout the state: class size limits, compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, testing and establishing new academic standards. Read more from UT San Diego»

Lindbergh-Schweitzer Gets Presidential Fitness Salute

Presidential letter
The presidential letter.
Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School in Clairemont has been named a Demonstration Center for The President's Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program by the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

The school's physical education programs and fitness lab were cited as excellent examples of a school program. Equipped with state-of-the-art spin cycles and weight equipment, the fitness lab was outfitted in part from funds donated by the San Diego Chargers.

Lindbergh Schweitzer fitness room in action.
Lindbergh Schweitzer
fitness room in action.
The fitness center is used before school by the school's track team. Students and staff also use the facility to improve all areas of health-related fitness. Lindbergh Schweitzer is the district's service learning magnet school.

National Demonstration Center schools place extra emphasis of activity and fitness by holding designated fitness assessments, designing programs to help students increase their daily physical activity, monitoring and motivating student progress, and promoting a physical education program internally and externally. They are also available for visits so interested teachers, administrators, and parents nation-wide can observe their programs.

For more information, contact Marylou Baranowski at

Sunday, February 12, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Grant Volunteer Blabs About Books

So what’s all this, then? Children absorbed in text that is not a text message? Young heads bowed reverently over handheld entertainment devices not made by Nintendo, Microsoft or Sony? No iAnythings? Anywhere? Strange, but shockingly true. Counter to everything we think we know about today’s plugged-in kids, the students who gathered in this McKinley Elementary School conference room are up to their happy eyeballs in books. Read more from UT San Diego»

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hottest Restaurant in Scripps Ranch is At the High School

Serving dinner

Preparing dinner
Preparing and serving dinner.
The hottest new restaurant in Scripps Ranch might just be at the high school.

Imagine a dinner that starts off with a rainbow salad with grilled shrimp, followed by a flat iron steak with sweet potato gnocci. Dessert is a strawberry Napoleon. Live music from a top local orchestra plays during the evening. Patrons can even watch their food being prepared and talk with the chefs in the open kitchen.

It might sound too good to be true, but it happens every month in the Culinary Arts room at Scripps Ranch High School. There, Chef Kim Coelho has her students practice in front of real customers... their teachers and parents.

"I can't cook to save my life, but these kids sure can," said Principal Ann Menna."They are incredible chefs."
Chef Coelho says the dinners put the students under real-life pressure.

 "Many of the students involved in the monthly dinners have been in the program for more than one semester and participate in culinary competitions throughout Southern California," she said.

The Culinary Arts and Management course at Scripps Ranch High School is a Regional Occupational Program (ROP) class. Students can earn college credit while taking the course. The dinners are held in the school's culinary arts facility and are $15 per person. The next dinner is scheduled for Feb. 23.

For more information, contact Coelho at 858-621-9020, ext. 4506

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pershing Middle's Actors, University City High's Artists Team for Show

UC High students paint the backdrop
 UC High students paint the backdrop.
Pershing Middle School's recent production of "Fiddler On The Roof" had an extra rich look thanks to artists across town at University City High School.

Students in the high school's ArtsTECH Academy created the backdrop mural for the San Carlos area middle school's of “Fiddler on the Roof."

ArtsTECH Academy, a California Partnership Academy, is a three-year program where each student is immersed in an arts-focused curriculum incorporating technology, design, and theatrical skills. ArtsTECH Academy prepares students for college and careers in various industry sectors, focusing primarily on the Arts, Media and Entertainment Industry.

Students in ArtsTECH design and create the backdrop mural paintings for the middle school. The opportunities that arise while assisting Pershing’s drama program gives ArtsTECH students a glimpse of real-world situations.

For more information about ArtsTECH Academy at University City High School, please contact Lauriel Adsit, ArtsTech Coordinator, at

Performances of "Fiddler on the Roof" were held in December at Pershing, part of the ongoing drama classes at the school and the resident PrimeTime after-school program. Auditions are under way for the upcoming production of "Grease," which will be staged in March. Adult volunteers are always needed to help with costumes, props, photography and other tasks. For more information on the Pershing program, contact drama teacher Terry Miller at

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

From The Superintendent: Budget Realities Update

Supt. Kowba
I am writing to all of you in a continuing effort to keep our team fully informed and current about the budget development process. February is a critical month for the preparation of the 2012/13 budget because of two state deadlines imposed on school districts (both on March 15): the requirements to issue certificated staff layoff notices and to submit the Second Interim Financial Report to the County Office of Education.

Some Budget Facts

We are all struggling with the realities of the national economic downturn and the state’s budget morass that are decimating school district funding. San Diego Unified faces a 2012/13 budget shortfall of $122 million. This includes a structural deficit of $72 million, transportation funding cuts of $9 million, and potential midyear reductions of $41 million. The shortfall is unchanged from the analysis provided to the Board of Education in January. We continue to monitor the legislative budget process in Sacramento.

The Road Forward

Given this context, our district is at a crossroads. We can proceed down the path of reducing our school and support staffing by more than 1,000 FTE or we can pursue employee concessions that will significantly mitigate layoffs.

At the direction of the Board, I have reached out to all of our collective bargaining unit leadership to address possible concessions. As a first step, we have proposed that employees forgo the raises negotiated in existing contracts, accept an extension of the five-day furlough currently in place, and consider options for health benefit changes. We also need to develop a contingency plan if the November ballot measures fails and midyear cuts are triggered.

These shared sacrifices are difficult for all of us. It is truly unfair that the burden of the state’s failure to adequately fund public education is being placed on students, academic programs, and district employees. The deep and ongoing reductions raise fundamental questions about how much society values public schools. Unfortunately, we must deal with the circumstances at hand and move forward. By working together, we can get through these difficult times, reduce the number of layoffs, and most importantly, limit the detrimental impacts on our students.

In the chart below, I provide information on a number of topics in response to incomplete and inaccurate opinions and conclusions that are circulating. It is critical that all of us have a full understanding of the convoluted and evolving state budget. You are entitled to straightforward and transparent explanations.
Thank you for being open minded about the facts associated with the district’s budget dilemma and for your ongoing dedication to our students.


Bill Kowba

 If you hear this…  The reality is...
1. The District “lacks comprehensive and reliable budget information” …  There is NO reason to assume any significant improvement in education funding. Next year the state is facing a $9 billion budget deficit. The Governor’s January proposal provides the framework for the preparation of the 2012/13 budget. The Legislature can and will make budget adjustments, however, changes will likely be minor and not offset the need for layoffs and/or concessions. San Diego Unified must resolve a budget shortfall that is far above $100 million including midyear cuts. Should there be any questions about the accuracy of budget projections, our employee unions have been invited to meet with our finance staff with their external audit experts to review all budget information in detail.
 2. The district will “receive additional monies based on the elimination of redevelopment agencies.”

 There are no additional funds provided to school districts as a result of the elimination of redevelopment agencies. The Governor’s proposed budget uses redevelopment funds to balance the state budget rather than increase funding to schools. The Governor intends to maintain K-12 education funding at the current, flat, level with the threat of a significant midyear reduction if the tax ballot measure fails in November.
 3. Governor Brown’s budget “replaces the current categorical funding model with a weighted formula wherein districts with high proportions of low income students and English learners may receive even more funding.” No additional funding is expected from the consolidation of categorical funds into a weighted student formula. The State Finance Department has indicated that the transition to this new formula distribution will be designed to redistribute funds with more flexibility but not to increase or decrease current K-12 education funding levels. The transition to the new model will be phased in over a five-year period resulting in very limited impacts, if any, in 2012/13.
 4. “Legislation has been passed that will restore more than $4 million in transportation cuts “ This legislation does not help the district’s budget because the restoration of transportation formula funding is paid for with an across-the-board cut of $42 per student. In fact, this legislation may cost San Diego Unified an additional $100,000 in funding this year because we receive slightly less than the average district in transportation funds. Furthermore, this legislation only deals with 2011/12 funding, and has no effect on 2012/13 funding. The Governor’s proposed budget will eliminate 100% of transportation funding, a cut of $9.2 million to our district.
 5. The November ballot measures will increase education funding. Layoffs should be delayed until after the election.  The Governor’s proposed budget already assumes revenue from a November ballot measure. Even with the passage of the measure, San Diego Unified will still face a deficit of $81 million. Unfortunately, school districts cannot assume the passage of a ballot measure and must balance their budget based on the assumption the measure will fail. We must plan for a budget shortfall of $122 million and the necessary staff reductions to meet the March 15 layoff notice deadline.

Prop. S Update: Hoover High School Athletic Facilities pass half-way mark

Athletic Services Building Hoover High School’s sports facilities are getting a major makeover, and the work is more than 50 percent complete.

In addition to a new synthetic turf field and all-weather track, the Hoover Cardinals are getting new goal posts, scoreboard, lights, bleachers, concessions stands, restrooms, and a press box.
New dugouts and bleachers are being installed at the baseball field, and will feature a new Ted Williams memorial wall. In addition, the district is also installing a new girls’ softball field, creating a main pedestrian access route from El Cajon Blvd. to the athletic facilities (El Paseo); as well as, building a new parking lot and upgrading landscape irrigation systems. 
The completion on the sports facilities is anticipated by the end of summer. Project partners include architects Mesquita & Associates and Byrom Davey (track and field). Approximately $11.3 million of Prop. S funds are being used for these projects. For additional project information, visit or for Prop. S information, e-mail, visit or call (619) 725-5579.

IN THE NEWS: School Attendance Momentum Team focuses on truancy at Crawford

Imagine trying to study for a test after having witnessed the torture and killing of a parent or other close relative. Many Karen students at Crawford High Educational Complex have to do just that. These students and their families escaped a brutal military regime in Burma, a country also known as Myanmar. Members of the Mid-City Community Advocacy Team are helping these students finish their high school education. Read more from Mid-City CAN»

Cost Reductions Earn Honors From National Purchasing Alliance

Arthur Hanby
Arthur Hanby

San Diego Unified School District and its strategic sourcing and contracts officer, Arthur Hanby, were recently recognized by the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance for their contributions to the organization’s advisory board.

A cooperative of more than 44,000 local governments, school districts and nonprofit corporations, the Alliance combines the purchasing power of its members to negotiate lower costs for supply and service contracts.

“We saved $200,000 last year on frozen food and groceries for the district’s feeding program because of a nationwide cooperative contract,” Hanby said. “Combining our purchasing power reduces how we spend taxpayer dollars in certain areas so that there’s more money for classroom instruction and school support.”

The district’s Strategic Sourcing and Contracts Office has also used cooperative agreements to reduce the costs of classroom furniture and office supplies, Hanby said.

“The program benefits the schools and departments of the San Diego Unified School District, as well as thousands of other K-12 and public sector organizations throughout the nation,” said Philip Stover, deputy superintendent of business. “It has been our pleasure to support and participate in this important body.”
Hanby accepted a plaque commemorating the honor at the U.S. Communities annual meeting, held January in La Jolla.

The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, a founding sponsor of the Alliance, first appointed Hanby to the advisory board in 2002, when he was the deputy chief contracting officer and executive director of Detroit Public Schools. After arriving at San Diego Unified in 2005, the California School Boards Association and the California Association of School Business Officials selected him as their representative, with reappointments in 2007 and 2010.

Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary Joins with Madison High to Promote "No Name Calling"

It's only a bit more than a mile between the Clairemont area Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary School and Madison High School, but for students from Lindbergh-Schweitzer, it was a distance that symbolized the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King and the effort to stop bullying throughout all schools in the area.

The half-hour walk made by six students and two faculty members from Lindbergh-Schweitzer to Madison, where they were welcomed by members of Madison's student government during the .

"They treated us like royalty," said Deanne Rohde, principal of Lindbergh Schweitzer, which is a service learning magnet school. "At their lunch pep rally for I Pledge Week, our students were introduced and our banner presented."

The banner read "Let It Begin With Me..." to honor Dr. King and his message of peace. Following its display at Madison on Jan. 23, the banner took its place on the Lindbergh-Schweitzer campus.

"Students have been working hard on social skills and positive behavior on campus,"said Muriel Bartolini, vice principal. "Student-drawn posters, door signs, and assemblies have all focused on Safety, Responsibility, Respect and Success."

The students plan a future march to Innovation Middle School, which is nearly two miles away.

For more information, contact Rohde at (858) 496-8400.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pacific Beach Middle School Student, Teacher Named Outstanding by California IB World Schools

Hannah Bloom was named California International Baccalaureate Outstanding Student of the Year by the California Association of IB World Schools. Pacific Beach Middle School was further honored by teacher Mrs. Carren Lindsay-Dial being named IB Middle Years Programme Educator of the Year by the California Association of IB World Schools.  Read more at Pacific Beach Middle School website»

Deaf, Hard of Hearing Students Hip Hop Thanks to Grant

 Watch Video

More on the grant
Deaf and hard of hearing students performed hip-hop recently for the school and cameras from local TV stations.

The performance was the result of a 10-week program, where students work after school to not only create the program, but connect in a unique social experience.

The program is funded through a grant from the Buchanan Parsons Trust.
For more information, contact Laura Turse,

Monday, February 6, 2012

La Jolla High Student is Intel Science Finalist

Meredith Paloma Lehmann can truly call herself extraordinary. So out of the ordinary is she, in fact, that she has managed to distinguish herself from 1,839 others, to be exact. The La Jolla High School student is one of 40 high school seniors from around the country that have been selected as finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search (ISTS) 2012, America’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. Read more from the La Jolla Village News»

Fay Elementary Stretches Read Across America Day to a Week

Supt Bill Kowba
 Supt. Bill Kowba reads.
President Obama may have proclaimed March 2 as Read Across America day, but the students and staff at Fay Elementary School are stretching it to a whole week beginning Feb. 27.

Last year, Supt. Bill Kowba joined City Council Member Marti Emerald and nearly 80 others as guest readers for the students. This year, they're hoping for even more as they extend the event.

Read Across America is an annual event that is held on the anniversary of the late Ted Geisel, Dr. Seuss, who was also a San Diego resident. Sponsored by the National Education Association, Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading.

Guest readers throughout the week (last year Fay had more than 80 readers), literary or biographical character dress-up day, Cat in the Hat day, grade level bulletin board contest, library contest, 100th day of school activities, 100 percent attendance challange, and more.

For more information on the program, or to volunteer as reader, contact Eileen Moreno, principal, at (619) 624-2600.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mira Mesa High Ninth Grader in So. Cal. Honor Band

Jake Boring
Jake Boring
Freshman Mira Mesa High saxaphonist Jake Boring is part of the All-Southern California Honor Group, having competed against 750 other student musicians for one of the orchestra's chairs.Each year the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association's program provide the finest young instrumentalists in Southern California with opportunities to rehearse with some of the most outstanding music educators in the world. As a member of the orchestra, Boring attended a musical weekend at the University of Redlands.
"We're all proud of Jake at Mira Mesa High," said Principal Scott Giusti. "We all look forward to helping him develop his musical and scholastic skills as he moves toward graduation."
For more information, contact JeanneChristensen, Mira Mesa High band director, at or858-566-2262 X-4404.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Celebrate National School Counseling Week

National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, will be celebrated Feb. 6-10, 2012, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of professional school counselors and how students are different as a result of what school counselors do.

This year's theme, "School Counselors: Helping Students Be Brilliant," highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

Visit the Counseling and Guidance website to learn more about what our district counselors do for our students and schools.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Budget Update from Supt. Kowba

kowba Our Board continues to wrestle with the evolving budget challenges facing us in the next school year. This week, the Board approved moving forward with a 2012-13 budget reduction plan. This strategy requires that our district make substantial reductions to balance our 2012-13 budget, cuts that will result in higher class sizes, fewer teachers and support staff, and detrimental impacts on student learning.

During the next few weeks, school site budgets will be prepared and merged with central office department budgets as a consolidated budget projection that must be reported to the County Office of Education by March 15.  This is also the deadline when the district must notify teachers and other certificated staff that their contracts may not be renewed for the next school year. All of this activity occurs long before our final budget must be completed by June 30, 2012.
As we move forward, the Board and the district leadership team will continue to explore every avenue to protect classrooms and mitigate lay-offs. One way would be through employee concessions.  The Board has directed me to reach out to all of our employee unions to ask that we begin discussions about concessions that could include forgoing negotiated raises, continuing furlough days, adjusting health benefits or other solutions. I am hopeful that we will have productive discussions with our collective bargaining teams that will result in shared solutions and sacrifices that are in the best interest of our students.

We will also continue to press our message with the Sacramento leadership that public education cannot sustain any more cuts.

During the coming months, many budget details may be adjusted as the lawmakers debate and reach agreement, and collective bargaining dialogue identifies solutions.

I am very proud of the daily commitment of our staff through the fifth-straight year of budget turmoil. I also appreciate the support of parents and the community who continue to focus on academic priorities. They are similarly and staunchly committed to a successful future for all San Diego children.  

I will regularly update you as the budget development cycle unfolds. Budget information is available on our website at  You can also take action to communicate with your elected officials on our new Education Issues Action Center website at .

Thank you for your support!

Bill Kowba

Prize Winning Card Illustration by Sandburg Elementary Student

Sharion and adults
 Sharidon accepts accolades, above. Her artwork, below.
Sharion's picture
A "Happy New Year" greeting card design by a Sandburg Elementary School students was sent out by a company to its clients to celebrate 2012.

Sharidon Moua won The Forensic Group's Holiday Card Drawing Competition. Sharidon is a student in Jim Cote’s fourth grade class and attends Toni Green’s art class at Sandburg.

Kris Haworth, owner of The Forensics Group, presented a $300 check to Sharidon and a $500 check to the school. The Forensics Group is one of California’s leading computer forensics companies.

“We were very excited to receive so many great artwork submissions, but Sharidon’s holiday card stood out from the crowd with its festive and colorful look,” said Haworth. “We’re proud that this program will benefit an educational charity and hope that it inspires other companies to create programs of their own to help our schools.”

For more information, contact Caroline Gabuya at Sandburg at

Thursday, February 2, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Budget jeopardizes kindergarten program

It was billed as the “gift of time.” California’s plan was to slowly raise the starting age of students in kindergarten while creating a new grade for those children left ineligible because of their fall birthdays. Read more from UT San Diego»`

IN THE NEWS: San Diego Teachers ‘Flipping’ The Classroom Script

Using technology in the classroom can mean using a digital whiteboard instead of a blackboard and chalk or accessing textbook chapters online. But two San Diego teachers are leading the way in using the internet to flip the traditional classroom. Find out more from KPBS»

IN THE NEWS: Year of the Dragon at Barnard Elementary

Barnard Mandarin Chinese magnet school holds its annual Chinese New Year celebration.
Watch video

Rosa Parks Celebrates Tet

Tet New Year
Dragons danced, martial arts were demonstrated and firecrackers popped last week as Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, was celebrated at Rosa Parks Elementary School in City Heights. The Rosa Parks Vietnamese Parent Association and the Parent Center sponsored the events, produced by Thuy Tong, Vietnamese liaison, and teacher Pam Pham-Barron. Students learned a skit that talks about how animals were selected to represent years. This year is the Year of the Dragon. For more information please contact Vice Principal, Irene Hightower,

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

SCPA Sextet Named Best Teen Band USA, Gets Grants, Germany Trip

Jazz Avenue with their prize.
 Jazz Avenue performers with their prize.
The Best Teen Band in the US comes from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), winning the title at School JamUSA.

The sextet "Jazz Avenue" won Best Teen Band in the U.S at the National Association of Music Merchants' (NAMM) annual School JamUSA festival in Anaheim on Jan. 21. Jazz Avenue includes students John Avery, (tenor saxophone), Marc Encabo (bass), Hiram Garza (keyboard), Chaz Cabrera (alto saxophone), Tyler Kreutel (drums) and Josh Vasquez (guitar).

“It’s beastly," said Avery. "All the bands were so good. It’s just ridiculously amazing that we won."

Competing against seven other finalist bands from across the U.S., Jazz Avenue won $5,000 for their school music education program, $1,000 toward the purchase of new band gear, a private music video recording session on the John Lennon Educational Bus, and a grand-prize trip of a lifetime to perform at the 2012 SchoolJam Germany finals in Frankfurt this March.

"The experience of attending the NAMM Show and winning Best Teen USA was bigger than anything we could have expected. These students have been working together throughout their high school years at SCPA and deserved this major recognition and opportunity," said Tamara Paige, SCPA music chair and jazz instructor.

While at School JamUSA, the SCPA Band members recorded "Area Fifty Funk," a song written by SCPA eleventh grader Joshua Vasquez, in a private music video recording session on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus.

With a focus on jazz, the SCPA students competed against Hip Hop, Pop, Alternative, Rock and Indie music performed by teen bands from around the nation. Second and third place runners-up hailed from Jeffersonville, Indiana and Knoxville, Tennessee, respectively.

Jazz Avenue was adjudicated by Disney talent casting director Stan Freese, Irwin Korfeld of InTune Partners and Westchester Media, Menzie Pittman of Contemporary Music Center, and Michael Smith of Peavey Electronics. In the "Best of" categories, Vasquez received "Best Guitar" and Avery received the "Judges Prize."

The public can hear Jazz Avenue in SCPA's performance of An American Portrait of jazz and classical music on Feb. 2, 2012 at 2:30 p.m., Feb. 3, 2012 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 4, 2012 at 2 p.m. in SCPA's Grand Theatre. For ticket information, go to the SCPA website and click on "Box Office Online."

SCPA is a college preparatory arts-focused magnet public school for students in grades 6 through 12 who have a strong interest, passion and talent in the arts. All prospective students interested in attending SCPA must apply through the school district's Enrollment Options Office. Entering high school students must audition as part of the admission process. Middle school students are selected through a lottery. Upcoming auditions for the Fall 2012-2013 school year will be held at SCPA on Feb. 25 and March 3, 2012. For more information about SCPA, and the upcoming high school auditions or current season of performances please visit