Friday, November 30, 2012

Madison Robotics a Hit at Lindbergh-Schweitzer

Robotics demonstration. Lindbergh Schweitzer is part of the Madison Community of Schools, and that was evident on at the elementary school's recent Fall Festival when the Madison High School Robotics Team amazed the crowds with its "basketball shooting" robot. The robotics team, the Devil Duckies, were wonderful representatives of their high school and have participated for the last few years in this popular Clairemont family-friendly day for play.

The Robotics Team is connected with the Design and Technology Academy (DATA) at Madison High and supported through the Office of College, Career and Technical Education. The students completely build their robot each year based on the parameters of the FIRST competition over a period of six weeks. Madison’s team is sponsored by Motorola Solutions Foundation and Qualcomm. In last year’s competition, they won the chairman’s award in a Southern California competition. This earned them the privilege of attending the world competition in St. Louis where they won the imagery award.

Building on community involvement and school awareness is one of the major goals of the Madison Community of Schools coalition, and this event is the perfect example of how our cluster schools are working together for the success of all our students and families!

For additional information contact Media Production Assistant Julie Harris at or 858-496-8400.

School Minimum Day Schedules May Change to Accommodate Lunch

Minimum day schedules at 36 schools are slated to change over the next few weeks as the schools will be including time for lunch in minimum day schedules.

Under state law, all California school children must have the opportunity for a meal during the school day, during the instructional minutes of the school day. The schools changing their schedule had omitted lunch on minimum days. Students will not be allowed to leave campus until every student has had the opportunity for a meal.

The schools involved are: Dailiard, Grant, Hancock, Language Academy, Sandburg, Torrey Pines elementary schools or K-8s; Bell, Challenger, Clark, Correia, Dana, DePortola, Farb, Innovation, Lewis, Mann, Marshall, Marston, Memorial Prep, Millennial Tech, Muirlands, Pacific Beach Middle, Pershing, Roosevelt, Standley and Wangenheim middle schools; Patrick Henry, Kearny, La Jolla High, Lincoln, Mira Mesa, Mission Bay, Morse, Pt. Loma, Scripps Ranch and University City high schools.

"The district wants to ensure that every child is given the time and opportunity for a healthy and nutritious meal each and every school day," Phil Stover, Deputy Superintendent Business, said in a letter to parents at the affected schools. "This adjustment may resut in extending the school day on early release and minimum days by up to 35 minutes."

Schedule changes can be disruptive but this change is necessary to bring the district into compliance with the State law and, more importantly, to provide a healthy meal for all students, he added.
Specific schedule changes and the effective date will be provided by the school site administration in the next few weeks.

For more information, contact: your principal; Drew Rowlands, Executive Director, Auxiliary Services at (858) 627-7121; or Gary Petill, Director of Food Services (858) 627-7301.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dixieland Jazz Festival Experiencing a Youth Movement

IN THE NEWS: The Preservationists from Mission Bay High were joined by others at Thanksgiving event. Read more from UT San Diego»

Run Club Brings Early Risers to La Jolla Elementary

How do you get 75 percent of your elementary school to arrive 20 minutes early in order to run laps before class? Start a Run Club!

La Jolla Elementary opens its gates each morning to a horde of eager runners. Students, parents and teachers head purposefully up to the field, pick up their scan cards and begin running or walking laps. After each lap they slow down to have their cards scanned by parent volunteers using the new Student Lap Tracker System. It automatically tracks each runner’s daily and cumulative laps, and it has contributed to the popularity boom of the Run Club at the public school this year.

"This automated Run Club system is really motivating our students to get more exercise every day, which helps their overall health and their ability to concentrate in class," said Principal Donna Tripi. "We also have noticed fewer tardies in the morning. We have nearly 100 percent participation, with more than 500 runners in grades 1-5."

"I always want to be at school in time for Run Club," said 4th grader Lauren Nitahara, who is proud to report to her family each evening the number of laps she ran that morning.Parent volunteers, too, are gratified.

"Volunteering for the Run Club scanning is really rewarding. I truly enjoy getting to know students from all grades, and the Lap Tracker is also a conversation piece at dinner," said Bjorn Backlund, parent volunteer.

"Approximately 75 percent of our student population runs each day. It's a great way for the students to start their day. I thank our excellent PE Teacher, Kelly Wiskus, and our parent volunteers for making it happen," said Tripi.

Coach Wiskus has been working toward this degree of success since she started Run Club three years ago. At the end of each year, she holds an awards ceremony to honor the runners and their miles.
"It is so great to see the students and parents out there every morning exercising and building healthy habits that will last a lifetime!"
 For more information on the program, contact Tripi at

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fusion of art, mind results in palpable successes

IN THE NEWS: San Diego can boast complete music programs in every elementary school, more than 60 active community partnerships and also an ever-expanding wealth of integrated programs that serve 131,000 students districtwide.  Read more from the San Diego Community Newspaper Group»

State Legislative Staff Members Conduct Fact-Finding

Legislative staff members at Kearny DMD.
The California State Legislative Staff Institute selected San Diego Unified for this year's annual visit by 20 Sacramento legislative staff members who work on education issues.

The group included staff members from the Assembly and Senate Education Committees and several other legislative offices who were able to learn firsthand about the programs and operations of California's second largest school district. They met with teachers, administrators and parents directly to ask questions and to get input on legislative issues that they face in Sacramento.

The group visited several schools: Lindbergh/Schweitzer, Central, Cherokee Point and Sherman elementary schools; iMiddle School, Kearny High DMD and iHIgh Virtual Academy.

Following their three-day visit, the group met with Supt. Bill Kowba to share their reactions.

"I was pleased to hear that this influential group of legislative staffers had such a positive impression from their school visits," said Supt. Kowba, "and want to thank all of the participating principals and staff for highlighting the great work being done in our district to advance our students."

The visits were just prior to the start of the Thanksgiving break. For more information, contact Bernie Rhinerson, Chief of Staff, at

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dogs Playing Role in Local Learning

Dogs are playing a more active role in the way some students are learning in some San Diego schools. For one hour, once a month, fourth- and fifth-grade students with special needs at Lafayette Elementary School in Clairemont get a visit from dogs with the K9 Friendly Visitors Program. Watch story from 10 News» 

Schools, Departments Celebrate Parents on National Parent Involvement Day

Sixth-graders at Marston Middle listen to parents
share their college and career experiences.
You may have recently noticed an influx of parents on school campuses, in classrooms and walking through the quad, side-by-side with their students. Were the students in trouble, you wondered? Were students aging more quickly than ever? Luckily, neither was the case. They were all participating in National Parent Involvement Day.

National Parent Involvement Day on Nov. 15 was a collaborative effort between the district’s Parent Outreach and Engagement Department and the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs to recognize parents/guardians and the invaluable role they play in supporting a child's learning at home and at school. Schools and departments across the district celebrated with events large and small.

Sixth graders at Marston Middle School in Clairemont listened to a nurse, piano teacher and restaurant owner, all of whom studied at San Diego State, as they shared how their college experiences impacted their career choices. Each guest had a varying career path, which helped students understand there can be many paths to success.

Students peppered the guests with questions like “Is your job hard” and “What is the best day you’ve had at work”?

The nurse told a story about helping to revive a man by holding his heart in her bare hands. She said that being able to talk the man the next day after he was so close to dying was amazing and one of her best days at work.

Approximately 20 total speakers visited Marston throughout the day to share their experiences.

At Tierrasanta's Serra High, parents joined their students in class as part of “Come To School With Your Student Day.” By shadowing their students during the day, parents got a better understanding of what their child experiences each day at school.

Field Elementary hosted a volunteer breakfast in which more than 20 parents enjoyed a variety of bagels, fruit and pastries that were provided by the staff. Students made colorful posters to thank the many mothers and fathers who share their time at their children’s school.
A Fay Elementary parent spins the lucky
wheel at the school's thank you breakfast.

Fay Elementary said thank you to its parents/guardians from their involvement by hosting a special “Fay Café” in which coffee, cake and Mexican sweet bread were served to nearly 100 parents.

Parents also got to try their luck on the spinning prize wheel, cheered on by teachers, support staff and students. Many parents came away with gift cards, free picture packages, and even turkeys, thanks to several donations from local stores.

Several other schools across the district also hosted events in honor of National Parent Involvement Day.
  • Ibarra Elementary held a Community Resource Fair.
  • University City High School hosted an Open House for parents.
  • Lincoln High School held a “Principal Chat.”
  • Standley Middle School handed out kisses…the chocolate kind to parents and guardians.
  • Miller Elementary hosted a Juvenile Diabetes Walk
  • Ballard Parent Center hosted a Community Resource Fair and parent workshops.

This was the district’s first year celebrating National Parent Involvement Day, and will likely continue to be a yearly celebration. The national event was started 18 years ago by Project Appleseed.
For more information on National Parent Involvement Day, contact Melissa Whipple at or your school's PTA representative.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Two Lincoln High Students Join Crew on UCSD Research Ship

Julie Alvarez on
the R/M Melville
Lincoln High seniors Jonathan Franco and Julie Alvarez are spending 23 days on the R/V Melville, joining researchers from UC San Diego in a voyage off the San Diego coast to take scientific observations and perform other duties.

 The pair are blogging to keep family and friends up-to-date on their trip. Alvarez wrote on her blog that the the Melville is a "really big boat" and that she's not scared to be aboard. They are assigned duty shifts like any other crew member but are the only high school students on board.

"I have the shift from 4am to noon," she wrote on her blog Nov. 15. "Then i got the rest of the day to do what i want 7 is breakfast, 11:30 is lunch, and 5 is dinner but if you do skip a meal they put the left overs in the fridge or just go in and get the snacks they have."

Jonathan Franco
on the R/M Melville
The ship is taking measurements that include the ocean's temperature, salinity, oxygen, pressure, density. In response to a question, Jonathan wrote on his blog that he wasn't concerned that they'd be in danger if a big storm hit.

"I am not fearful of a heavy storm putting my safety at risk," he wrote. "The ship is a dynamic positioning ship roughly 279 feet long i feel even with significant wave heights of 5+ meters we will all be safe and free from harm." Their teacher, Danny Blas, said the Marine Sciences course at the Lincoln Park neighborhood campus helps prepare students for a university education in the field.

"The course builds on the physical and life science concepts learned in previous science courses," he said, "and applies those concepts to the exploration of the living and nonliving environments of our bays and oceans."

 Geoff Cromwell, a research scientist and Ph.D. candidate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD), serves as the class' resident scientist. For more information, check out Blas's website or

Friday, November 16, 2012

La Jolla High's ‘Piece of My Heart’ Reflects on Another Side of War

IN THE NEWS: The La Jolla High School Theater Department will put on three presentations of “A Piece of My Heart,” a chronicle of the lives of Vietnam USO officers, nurses and Red Cross volunteers. Read more from La Jolla Patch»

Angier Elementary Receives Target Library Makeover

Target opening
 Principal Gergurich talks to students about the new library.
 In The News
The Angier Elementary community, along with Target, The Heart of America Foundation, Mission Continues and more than 200 volunteers, unveiled the school's newly renovated library to Principal Andrew Gergurich, Supt. Bill Kowba and Assemblymember Toni Atkins, and Angier students, parents and staff.

This is the third year in a row that a San Diego Unified school has been selected to be part of the Target School Library Makeover program. Angier joins Miller Elementary (2010) and Kimbrough Elementary (2011) in receiving a renovated library that features 2,000 new books, eco-friendly design elements, new furniture, carpet and shelves, and technology upgrades such as a smart board, computers and iPads. Every Angier student received a set of seven books for their personal libraries.

“I am so grateful that for the third year in a row I’ve had the privilege and the honor to be at a Target Library Makeover unveiling,” Superintendent Bill Kowba said at the Nov. 9 ribbon cutting. “Target’s and Heart of America’s shared belief that every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential aligns perfectly with the goals of our district.”

As part of the library makeover, a Target Meals for Minds food pantry was launched, which will allow families to choose from a variety of staple foods and fresh produce to take home. The food pantry is made possible through a partnership with Feeding America San Diego.

“The new library and food pantry are amazing gifts for our school and our students,” said Principal Gergurich. “Thanks to Target and The Heart of America Foundation, our students have the resources they need to feel inspired and ready to learn when they walk through our school doors.”
For more information about the Target Library Makeover program, go to the Target website. For information about Angier Elementary, contact Principal Gergurich at

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Taste of La Jolla raises $19,000 for La Jolla High School

IN THE NEWS: The 2012 Taste of La Jolla, a benefit for the Foundation of La Jolla High School, raised more than $19,000 on Oct. 23. At the event, 25 La Jolla eateries prepared special samples made for the occasion. More than 400 participants, who purchased a ticket for $45 each, received a bracelet, permitting them one sample from each restaurant, and a walking map to each location. Read more from the La Jolla Light»

Related story

Andrea Dahlberg puts passion into fundraising for the causes close to her heart

Andrea Dahlberg is the sponsor chair of the fall La Jolla Art and Wine Festival. During the past four years, she played an integral role in growing the charitable event, which has raised more than $200,000 for La Jolla public schools. Dahlberg is also involved in fundraising efforts for The Nicholas Conor Institute (TNCI), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing cures for childhood cancer. Read more from the La Jolla Light»

Clorox 'Power A Bright Future' Contest Includes Bird Rock, Silver Gate Elementary, Gompers Prep Charter, New Dawn Alternative Schools

Power a Bright Future from Clorox Grants for School Programs
Clorox is holding a competition through Dec. 19 to award as much as $50,000 to a local school, and three San Diego Unified schools are looking for your support. Bird Rock and Silver Gate elementary schools, Gompers Prep Charter and New Dawn Alternative schools are all participating. Supporters can go online to vote.

The company wants to supports healthy and happy kids and id committed to making a difference by helping them thrive at school. The Power A Bright Future Program gives you the opportunity to make a difference and the chance to win up to $50,000 for your school.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

School program that helps military children is ending

IN THE NEWS: A Federal grant that paid for tutoring, training, support groups is expiring. Read more from UT San Diego.

Give Your Education Views in National Speak Up Survey

Parents and students along with teachers and staff have been invited to participate in a survey on educational issues. The 2012 National Speak Up Survey is a series of multiple choice questions plus an open-ended type question at the end where you can write in your response, which takes about 20 minutes to complete. Findings are summarized and shared with national and state policy makers. 

To take the survey, select your school and use the secret word surfGo to survey.

Pacific Beach Middle School Highlighted as SDG&E Energy Challenge Contender

IN THE NEWS: Pacific Beach Middle School welcomed SDG&E as the utility promoted it Energy Challenge. Registration ends Nov. 30 and your favorite participating middle school could win $10,000. Watch video from KUSI»

Free Parent Community Resource Fair and Workshops Nov. 15

The San Diego Unified School Psychology Department, in collaboration with the Ballard Parent Center, invites parents and the community to attend the free Resource Fair and parent workshops at Ballard Center. 

The event is being held in honor of School Psychology Awareness Week, and as a tribute to Parent Involvement Day in which the district honors the powerful contributions parents and caregivers provide at school and home to support student success.
Date: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Time: 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Location: Ballard Parent Center (Auditorium)
2375 Congress St., San Diego, CA 92110
On-Site Parking Available. Old Town Transit Center is nearby

Workshops for Parents in English/Spanish on:
  • Reading with your Kids
  • ADHD Tips
  • Positive Behavior Strategies
  • YOGA Demo-For Parents and Kids!
Prizes will be given away, including tote bags, books, games and more. Refreshments will also be served and childcare is available.
See fliers (English pdf , Spanish pdf )

For more information, visit: or email Diana Peterson at

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hoover High Wood Shop, Strategic Sourcing Department Show Excellence

Cabinet and awards A trophy case built by students at Hoover High's new Green Construction Technology facility is now helping improve morale and show off the excellence of San Diego Unified's Strategic Sourcing and Contracts Department.

The case contains some of the annual awards won by the department, which handles purchasing and contract duties for the district, including:
  • National Purchasing Institute Achievement of Excellence in Procurement for 2010, 2011, 2012;
  • Fully Certified Agency Award from the Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.
The Strategic Sourcing and Contracts Department annually saves the district hundreds of thousands of dollars by seeking out the lowest price for materials ranging from pencils to pickled pigs (used in science classes).

For more information, contact Director Art Hanby at (858) 522-5808.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cooking Up Opportunities at Garfield High

IN THE NEWS: In Garfield High School’s impressively equipped professional kitchen, the students in the culinary-arts program learn how to use a knife and a 12-burner range and how to make pizza dough from scratch. Most importantly, the students at this alternative continuation school in downtown San Diego learn that opportunities are a lot like pizzas, quesadillas and fish tacos. The best ones are the ones you make yourself. Read more from UT San Diego»

Encanto Elementary Students Walk, Ride and Roll Their Way to $500

Encanto gets $500
Students at Encanto Elementary School have earned $500 for placing third in the Walk, Roll and Ride to School Week competition from the San Diego Association of Governments and Rady Children's Hospital.

During the first week in October, teachers and students tracked over 700 miles, third place among all participating schools in San Diego County.

Representatives from SANDAG and Rady Children’s Safe Routes to School presented Principal Debbie Baker with a check for $500 to be used toward school supplies on Nov. 2. A raffle was also held for participating students who won a backpack and football autographed by San Diego Chargers Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates.

For more information about Encanto Elementary School please contact Vice Principal Angie Boie at (619) 344-6700 or

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Madison High Students Help Preserve Balboa Park

Students from Madison High help clean up Balboa Park. Students from Madison High School’s AVID, Key Club, and the Latino Hispanic Society have spent a day in Balboa Park learning about the benefits of urban forests and cleaning up our communities as part of the Australian Garden clean-up in Gold Gulch.

The park's urban forester discussed the importance of maintaining and cleaning the park, while a park ranger talked about the habitat of the animals and insects that make up the park's ecosystem.

The 50 students involved spent the day weeding, raking, clearing trash and spreading mulch to begin the initial preparation for the garden's beautification. The event was hosted by the Friends of Balboa Park through a grant by California ReLeaf, CalFire and the EPA as part of the preparations being made for the park's 100th anniversary celebration in 2015.

For more information, contact Greg Williams at Madison High School at (858) 496-8410.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Holmes Elementary Girls Help Kids Throughout San Diego


Girl Scouts from Holmes Elementary School joined more than 1,600 volunteers recently by participating in Kids’ News Day. The scouts organized the annual fund-raising event in front of their Clairemont neighborhood school and got up early to sell a special edition of the U-T San Diego before the start of school.

The girls’ efforts raised $200 for Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

Now in its 23rd year, Kids’ News Day is made possible through a special partnership of U-T San Diego, NBC 7 San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary. One day each year, local celebrities, firefighters, police officers, community groups, companies, schools and Rady employees and volunteers sell special editions of the newspaper for $1. Every dollar raised goes to Rady Children’s Hospital to fund direct patient care and community education.

For more information, contact Holmes Principal Jonathan Saipe at

Friday, November 9, 2012

Schools, offices closed for Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 12

All San Diego Unified School District offices will be closed Monday, Nov. 12, in observance of Veterans Day. The federal holiday was established to honor those who have served in the US military. All classes will resume on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Sunset View Elementary Takes Food Day Crown

San Diego's Food Day School Passport Challenge brought nearly 1,000 San Diego Unified School District students, staff and families to three Farmers Markets  around the city, with Sunset View Elementary winning the challenge over Rosa Parks, Central, Cherokee Point, Crown Point and Pacific Beach elementary schools. Sunset View received a healthy local food party catered by Chef Andrew Spurgin of Waters Fine Catering.

Students and their families were invited to visit their local Farmer's Market throughout the week of Oct. 14 for fun activities to introduce students to new fruits and vegetables and meet their local farmers. Multiple activity stations were set-up at each Farmers’ Market where the students received a stamp on their Food Day Passports. Activities included “ask a farmer” what local means or “try me” local food taste tests. When the passport were full, kids received "Market Bucks" to purchase local produce. The school with the most completed passports, Sunset View, won the party.

Food Day was organized by 15 community agencies driven by Kate McDevitt of UCSD’s Network for a Healthy California and supported by the district's Food Services Department. Other supporters included local businesses such as Local Habit and EcoCaters, chefs such as Andrew Spurgin, farmers and volunteers from Slow Food Urban San Diego. The passports where printed for free by Thomas Ackerman of Spirit Graphics.

The volunteers demonstrated a strong commitment to San Diego Unified ’s students and the mission to develop healthier eaters and thus better learners. Food Day activities also support the good food and farming message found in San Diego Unified’s cafeterias every day on salad bars and the local seasonal Harvest of the Month.

For more information, contact Vanessa Zajifen, Farm To School Coordinator, at

Thursday, November 8, 2012

From Supt. Bill Kowba: Thanks to Voters For Supporting Schools, Kids

Supt. Kowba The quote, "what a difference a day makes,” is certainly relevant to this week’s ballot results. Going into Tuesday Election Day, all of us associated with public education – Board, staff, parents, and members of the greater San Diego community – were all anxious and uncertain as to the fate of Proposition 30, the state tax measure designed to add revenue to education, and Proposition Z, the district initiative to fund a $2.8 billion construction bond. Both of these measures passed due to the generosity and support of the community. It is with a tremendous sigh of relief and deep sense of gratitude I acknowledge this milestone occurrence.

California voter approval of Proposition 30 has a very immediate and positive impact on San Diego Unified and school districts throughout the state. The Governor will not exercise midyear trigger cuts. If that had occurred, our schools would have lost more than $40 million from the General Fund and would have furloughed staff in the process of shortening the school year by almost three weeks. This will not happen! Our staff and students will continue the planned school year without any change in schedule and build upon the academic successes of a district that now has an 808 score on the Academic Performance Index. It is our hope and expectation that Proposition 30 will begin to generate the state revenue that we will need for the 2013-14 budget to preserve the stability of our schools.

With the passage of Proposition Z, San Diego voters have given a great and generous gift to San Diego Unified and the children of San Diego. With this gift also comes great responsibility for our school district to invest these tax dollars wisely in infrastructure projects that will improve the condition of our campuses and create positive learning environments. In the years ahead, San Diego Unified will work hard to demonstrate to the community that this investment is a worthy one, an investment that will return huge dividends for our community through thousands of well-educated students who will benefit each year from the improvements funded by Proposition Z.

On behalf of the Board, staff, parents, and students, I want to express our collective appreciation to the voters for taking a stand and investing wisely in the future of our students. Thank you San Diego for supporting our schools and the children of San Diego!
Supt. Kowba  
Bill Kowba

'Geek Squad' — The Next Generation Growing Up at iMiddle

Fixing computers at iMiddle.
Troubleshooting a desktop computer.
If a student's netbook has a problem at Innovation Middle School in Clairemont, chances are she won't be taking to an adult for repair; her customer service representative and -- in many cases -- the person who repairs the machine, will be a fellow seventh or eighth grader.

At the trend-setting north Clairemont campus, each student receives a netbook computer to use in all their classes and take home. But when things go wrong, they go to another class, the Technical Support Services class, for help. Students organize and operate a customer service center for computer users who are experiencing problems. The classroom was set up with a check-in booth to document the customer concerns and tech support squad, similar to that of the Geek Squad at Best Buy stores, which verifies and diagnoses the problems.

"The curriculum goes far beyond repairs to include internet ethics, customer service and the implications of new technology," said Principal Harlan Klein. If a student experiences any software or hardware problems with the netbook computers, the student can bring it to school and drop it off to be worked on by the Intro to Technical Support Services students on campus.

Teacher Frank Carmody's curriculum includes an overview of jobs in the tech industry, video lessons about printer interfaces and other computer systems. Students are learning teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking skills by operating their repair facility. Carmody is also the school's robotics program advisor and students are encouraged to work on this extra-credit program.

Innovation Middle School is part of the Federal Communications Commission-sponsored Learning On the Go (LOGO) program, part of San Diego Unified's i21 Interactive Classroom initiative. The program supplies middle school students at iMiddle and nine other schools with netbooks and iPads at home and school. The computers are equipped with wireless access cards, allowing students to access the internet from virtually anywhere.

For more information, please contact Greg Quirin, CCTE Program Specialist, at

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

School Choice Applications Now Accepted for 13-14

School choice applications are now being accepted online for the 2013-14 school year.

Parents only need to apply during this period if they plan to "choice" out of their neighborhood school. The application period runs from Nov. 1, 2012 through Feb. 15, 2013.

Juarez Elementary Opens New Parent Room

Juarez Elementary School in the Mission Village neighborhood has become latest school in the district to open a Parent Room.

With many new parent volunteers and the district's goal to create Neighborhood Learning Centers, the new Parent Room is a place for parents, guardians and volunteers to call their own. With many new parent/guardian volunteers at the school this year, the room has a TV and DVDs to entertain toddlers and non-school-age children; a microwave and coffee pot, desktop computer and printer; plus tools to prepare materials for teachers.

"Parents are encouraged to volunteer in classrooms during core subjects," said Principal Marceline Marques. "They provide small group, adult-lead reinforcement of learning."
Across the district, there are thousands of volunteers helping educate the next generation of San Diegans.

"We certainly appreciate the presence and support of all parent volunteers," she said.

Contact Marques if you have any questions about Juarez or wish to volunteer. She's at

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cursive Writing's Importance at Benchley Weinberger Explored

IN THE NEWS: Story talks to teachers, students about learning cursive writing. San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 -

Central, Rosa Parks Parents Take Healthy Food Class

Training class participants
Healthy food and physical activity help kids grow up better, and there are now parents at Central and Rosa Parks elementary schools that will be sharing that knowledge with their fellow parents and neighbors in City Heights.

Thanks to California's Project LEAN and the California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities programs, a recent training program at Central taught parents how student success can be increased by parents setting a good example through education, volunteering and advocacy.

"I learned to encourage parents to be involved and participate in the community to make a healthy and positive impact," said one parent. The parent leaders will work with the schools' Health and Wellness Council to create a healthy school environment that promotes learning for all students.

The workshops, held Oct. 23, were lead by Diedre Kleske of California Project LEAN and Dr. Joanne Martin. It's part of the Building Healthy Communities initiative from the California Endowment.

For more information, contact Kleske at (619) 723-6457.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Marines and Technology Engage Students at Lindbergh/Schweitzer

Helping with an iPad
It's not just the iPad that has students excited in Daphne Terrells' classroom at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary Schoo, it's getting to use the iPad along with United States Marine partner Jesus Silva, who used the tap-and-touch iPad technology for the first time when visiting the school recently.

"It was amazing to see how much he (the student) knew," said Silva, who added that he wants to come back another day to help at the school. That will be no problem because the Marines have been partners with the school for over 25 years.

Technology and the partnership with the United States Marine Corps are successful ways Lindbergh Schweitzer keeps their students engaged and learning every day.

For additional information contact Media Production Assistant Julie Harris at or 858.496.8400.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New Morse Auto Body Classroom Inspires Students

IN THE NEWS: Prop. S project lets hands-on instruction take over. Read more from Autobody News»

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Green School Dance Lights Up Board of Education Meeting

Green performers with Trustee Kevin Beiser (left), Area Superintendent Dr. David Lorden, and Principal Dr. Bruce Ferguson.
Green performers with Trustee Kevin Beiser (left), Area Superintendent Dr. David Lorden, and Principal Dr. Bruce Ferguson.
Students from Green Elementary Academic and Athletic School performed at a recent San Diego Unified Board meeting.

Physical Education teacher Dee Dee Patterson collaborated with Kristy Aragon, music teacher, to choreograph a spectacular display of synchronized dance to the song “Wavin Flag” from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The  students  also performed this at their annual Junior Olympics as part of the Opening Ceremonies.

Physical education at Green includes dance along with gymnastics, track and field, and continuous athletic fitness on their field and in their on-site Fitness Lab. Green also offers a running club that is active before and during school hours.

Academics are also a high priority at Green Elementary and currently boast one of the top API scores in the district.

Prospective parents can tour Green Elementary on Fridays.

For more information about the tours, visit our website or call Dr. Bruce Ferguson at 619-460-5755.

San Diego Met Senior Awarded Nordstrom Scholarship

MET Student San Diego Met High School senior Hannah Brown was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Nordstrom Scholarship Program, presented by Anita Crandall (pictured on right with Hannah), Nordstrom Diversity Affairs Director in the San Diego region. Students are selected on the basis of their academic accomplishments. The selection committee also looks for individuals who have a strong sense of community and humanity mixed with the desire to succeed in college and excel in life.

Crandall presented the scholarship to Hannah at a special assembly on Oct. 19. "For me personally Hannah demonstrated a determination to do something beyond what she ever thought was possible," Crandall said during the presentation. "She has a quiet strength that is refreshing and although I wasn¹t on the committee, I was cheering for her."

Since 1994, Nordstrom has awarded college scholarships to hard-working high school students from across the country. The company will award 80 scholarships of $10,000 in 2013. The scholarships are paid out in equal installments of $2,500 over four years to the college of the student¹s choice.

Selection criteria requires that high school juniors live in one of the 31 states where Nordstrom operates a Full-line or Rack store. Students who demonstrate outstanding community involvement and scholastic achievement are welcome to apply for the scholarship. Students must have an un-weighted cumulative GPA of 2.7 and must also be eligible to attend a four-year college or university in the United States during all years for which the scholarship is awarded.

Hannah has completed a number of academic internships while attending Met High School. Currently, she is an intern at 3 D Robotics working with hobby drones. She has been accepted to LeTourneau University in Longview, TX where she plans to major in Electrical Engineering.

For further information contact Principal Mildred Phillips at or (619)388-2297.

Friday, November 2, 2012

SCPA teacher receives national recognition, named ‘Outstanding Dance Instructor'

So you think you can dance? Students at the School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) know they can thanks to their award winning teacher, Aida Anderson.

Anderson, who has been a dance teacher at SCPA since 1992, was recently selected as an outstanding dance instructor by American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, National Dance Association and Ubisoft, makers of the highly successful “Just Dance” game series. For her continual efforts to promote dance, Anderson earned four back stage tickets to the October 23 “So You Think You Can Dance Tour 2012” at the Civic Center Theater. Based upon commitment, progress, work ethic, and dedication, Anderson chose to take three lucky SCPA students -- Jessica Kelly, Phillip Brown, and Nickolas Gilbertson.

Her passion for dance has not wavered, even after 20 years of teaching. She believes in the importance of including performing arts education in students’ curriculum.

“Dance, as a performing art, requires students to project a self confidence and awareness that transcends all education, regardless of the field you go into,” Anderson said. “Second, the discipline that it takes to succeed can be applied to everything. The commitment and confidence gained from studying the arts is a valuable asset for any student.”

Working with SCPA’s artistic director Richard Trujillo and Principal Mitzi Lizàrraga, Anderson has helped SCPA’s dance program become nationally recognized. Last year, SCPA students performed the closing number at both gala performances for the National High School Dance Conference.

Anderson currently teaches modern dance and Choreography/Technique, and directs the Senior Dance Exhibition, working closely with dance majors as they plan their senior exhibition choreography. She continues to stay current as a dancer/teacher and choreographer, attending multiple workshops each summer including Limon West Coast, the Juilliard Summer Teachers Training, and Peridance NYC.

La Jolla High Sophomore Wins Prestigious Science Scholarship

Emily Kuo
La Jolla High sophomore Emily Kuo has received the prestigious The Path to a Future in Medicine Award, a $10,000 scholarship from the The College of American Pathologists.

According to the group, Kuo is one of the youngest students ever to receive the prestigious award for her project, "Production of Monoclonal Antibodies to Oxidation Specific Epitopes," presented at the 2012 Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair last spring.

"It's a really great opportunity to be recognized for this work," said Kuo. "I'm so excited to be able to do some science every day."

Kuo credited her La Jolla High science teacher, Martin Teachworth, and Ayelet Gonen, a postdoctoral fellow and medical researcher at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Gonen is the "mother of one of my sister's friends," said Kuo. "Two summers ago, I went to work in her lab and really liked it."

For Dr. Gonen, it was like she'd received an additional researcher in her Clinical Biochemistry lab where research focuses on immunology and the involvement of the immune response in the atherosclerotic process.

"She's a very bright, hard-working student and became part of our research team," said Dr. Gonen. "She learned cooperation, working with our team, brainstorming and the scientific method."

The paper that was submitted to the Science Fair and eventually won the award followed Emily's second summer in the lab.

"I was very impressed with the paper," said Dr. Gonen. "She could present that paper at any scientific conference."

Medicine is in Emily's family, as her mother, Dr. Geraldine P. Kuo, and father, Dr. James Kuo, are both MDs. She credits them for encouraging her to explore science, along with Mr. Teachworth, Principal Dana Shelburne and all her teachers at La Jolla High.

Science will be one of Emily's determining factors in what university she chooses after high school. Another determining factor will be tennis. She's on the varsity tennis team at La Jolla High. Like the College of American Pathologists and Science Fair competitions, she's up against older students; she enjoys the challenge.

"It's my favorite, non-science subject," said Emily. "I love having my friends cheer for me!"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Star of new movie visits Point Loma High

Students at Point Loma High School got a special visit from a Hollywood star during a lunch-time pep rally Tuesday.  Jonny Weston, who stars in the upcoming film "Chasing Mavericks," visited with students and signed autographs. Read more from CBS 8»

After School Is a Busy Place at Clairemont High

Locker painting contest entree Clairemont High's after-school program students showcased their art work, programs and other activities during the school's recent Lights On Afterschool event.

Part of a nationwide effort, Clairemont High's celebration was organized by two student groups: : YOU (Youth Opportunities Unlimited), the name of Clairemont’s 21st Century ASSETs after school program; and the Council of Braves, a diverse group of student representatives that meet monthly to review proposals for new activities, discuss challenges, brainstorm solutions, develop marketing strategies and plans for after school events.

Gallery displays included pieces from clubs such as Painting with the Experts, Environmental Art, Photography, FabLab Graphic Design, Shots in Time, and Costume Design. Performances by Theatre Alive and True Movement Dance clubs from the musical Footloose were a hit with event attendees. A routine by the Cheer Squad helped to elevate the already high spirits of the students involved. A locker painting contest brought out the individual student diversity at the school and brightened up the hallways. Prizes were given for the most original, most expressive, most artistic, best of show, and people’s choice. A special prize for the YOU student choice was given after the entire student body had had a chance to vote.

Funding for after school clubs/events at Clairemont is supported by a 21st Century ASSETs (After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens) grant extended day learning opportunities for additional career explorations, credit recovery and enrichment activities for high school students. The 21st Century ASSETs grants are managed for the district by the Office of College, Career and Technical Education.

The nationwide Lights On Afterschool event started in October 2000 when children, parents, grandparents, educators, community leaders, policy makers, celebrities and others come together to show their support for after-school programs. These groups gather at schools, community centers, parks, malls, state capitols and elsewhere to rally for the programs that help working families, keep kids safe, and inspire them to learn. Since its inception, this nationwide rally for after school has grown to include more than 7,500 events across the country and at U.S. military bases worldwide. Lights On Afterschool is the only nationwide rally for after-school programs.

For more information about the after-school clubs and event at Clairemont High, please contact Martha Corrales at

'Summer Fun Café' Honored By San Diego City Council

In recognition of the nine-year partnership between the city's Park and Recreation Department and San Diego Unified's Food Services Department to help kids have good nutrition during the summer months, San Diego's City Council declared October 23, 2012 as San Diego Summer Lunch Program Day.

The program serves nutritious meals to children throughout San Diego during the summer months when school is not in session. The collaboration included the Network for a Healthy California, the San Diego Food Bank, Feeding America and the Walmart Foundation.

The program has served more than 334,000 meals and 245,000 snacks at parks since it began in 2003. San Diego Unified also serves meals during winter break and spring break and at other locations during the summer including YMCAs, military sites and community centers.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reimburses the school district for the cost of the meals through the Seamless Summer Feeding Option.

For more information about the Summer Programs contact Norma Johnson at

Watch video from the 2010 Summer Fun Cafe»