Thursday, May 31, 2012

Madison High Auto Technology Students Compete Against Other High Schools

Adolfo Marin and Uziel Salgado, Madison High School automotive students, were among the top ten high school auto technology student teams competing in the Ford/AAA Student AutoSkills State Championship for the title of the state’s best auto repair team.

Teams were challenged to repair identically bugged Ford Fusions to win more than $12 million in scholarships and prizes. Of the 13,000 students who competed in regional competitions nationwide, 772 of them were women.

Not only does the AutoSkills competition give students a chance to win prizes, it also puts students in a pressure situation that they might encounter in a real auto shop after graduation.

"Many students still do not know what they would like to do after high school," said Omar Sevilla, Madison's automotive technology teacher. "Contests like this are an important motivation for them. To qualify, the students must pass written tests and show their competencies in the classroom."

The curriculum and standards are put in place by National Automotive Technical Education Foundation (NATEF) and are used in all Automotive Technology classes in the San Diego Unified School District. The classes are designed to prepare students for real-world work environments.

The Ford/AAA Student AutoSkills Challeng started in 1949 to encourage high school students to consider automotive careers. Judges grade on knowledge, mechanical abilities and a hands-on under the hood competition where students demonstrate best workmanship in the shortest time. The competition is sponsored by AAA and Ford Motor Company. It begins each year as junior and senior automotive students take a state qualifying exam online. Those scoring high on the qualifying exams move on to the hands-on state finals.

For more information, please contact Sevilla at

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Best-Selling Author, Pt. Loma High Grad, Returns With New Book

Pt. Loma High grad Justin Halpern returned to his alma mater to sign copies of his second book, ‘I Suck at Girls.’ He shares some of these involve PLHS school dances. Read more from The Beacon»

Hunter Family Music Memory Music Bee, Orchestra Nova Honor Students

It was a 21st century version of the old "Name That Tune" TV show as teams from elementary schools recently competed to see who could identify snippets of songs played by a live orchestra.

The Fourth Annual Hunter Family Music Memory Music Bee, sponsored by Orchestra Nova, welcomed students from all over the county, with competition in grades 3-4 and 5-6. Held at Birch North Park Theatre, May 22, bronze, silver and gold ribbons were given to winners correctly identifying musical excerpts performed by a live orchestra. San Diego Unified School District winning teams included:
Bronze ribbon winners:
  • Bayview Terrace Elementary 3-4 and 5-6 teams – Gretchen Robrock, teacher
  • Golden Hill Elementary 3-4 team, Virginia Simpson, teacher
  • Hickman Elementary 5-6 team, Kathy Stanton, teacher
  • Jerabek Elementary 5-6 team, Margie Orem, teacher
  • La Jolla Elementary 3-4 team, Julie Greathouse, teacher
  • Ross Elementary 5-6 team, Malou Rogers, teacher
Silver ribbon winners:
  • Crown Point Junior Music Academy 5-6 team, Debbie Burton, teacher
  • Doyle Elementary 3-4 team, Mary Laiuppa, teacher
  • Golden Hill Elementary 5-6 team, Virginia Simpson, teacher
  • Hickman Elementary 3-4 team, Kathy Stanton, teacher
  • Jerabek Elementary 3-4 team, Margie Orem, teacher
  • E.B. Scripps Elementary 3-4 and 5-6 teams, Dr. Linda Lungren, teacher
Gold ribbon winners:
  • Crown Point Junior Music Academy 3-4 team, Debbie Burton, teacher
  • Torrey Pines elementary 3-4 team, Rebecca Tang, teacher
  • Whitman Elementary 3-4 and 5-6 teams, Tom Waczek, teacher
For more information on the program, contact Karen Childress-Evans at 858-539-5349 or

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

IN THE NEWS: 60 years of Bird Rock Elementary

In honor of a milestone birthday, Bird Rock Elementary School has been preparing for an unrivaled celebration and open house on May 24 — a party that has been 60 years in the making. Since its establishment in 1951, the school has been an integral part of the fabric in the tight-knit Bird Rock neighborhood. Read more from the La Jolla Village News»

Auto Shop Leads to $1,000 Scholarships for 11 Students

Miramar College/ Caterpillar/Hawthorne Diesel $1,000 scholarships have been awarded to 11 district automotive students from La Jolla, Madison, Crawford IDEA, Point Loma and Clairemont high schools.

Scholarship recipients are: Christian Benitez and Francisco Rios, Madison High School; Tori Fletcher, Daniel Gonzalez, Daniel Jaimes, Darrin Monzon, Simon Rodriguez, and Josh Scales, Clairemont; Roy Conrad, Pt. Loma; Jose Barrios Crawford IDEA; and Timothy Machado, La Jolla.

The scholarships were presented at a recent reception at Miramar College. Parents, automotive teachers and students were welcomed by Miramar College President, Dr. Patricia Hsieh, following a reception and tour of the existing and new state of the art diesel facility. The bulk of this year’s funding came from Hawthorne Machinery Company, the largest Caterpillar dealership in Southern Californian.

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

Monday, May 28, 2012

Montgomery Middle School Students Eye Careers

Have a hand.
 Students check out hand bones.
Montgomery Middle School was the site of a recent gathering of members of some very interesting careers -- ranging from videographers to archaeologists, nurses to translators, as the school's 2012 Career Fair had the theme, "If The Shoe Fits."

Students could speak with a variety of professionals from more than 30 businesses, as the students in grades 6-8 work to figure out what fits for them and how to pick the best educational path.

"I know what I want to be now," said eighth grader Allen Hyunh. He was visiting the Groovy Like A Movie booth and speaking with videographer Brent Altomare. Groovy Like A Movie is a San Diego-based digital video production company that produces TV commercials and other programs.

"It's never too early to have our students exploring professions," said Jonathan Ton, Montgomery Principal. "Today's complex professions require us to begin training students on basic fundamentals right here in middle school. At Montgomery, we have several classes that start students on a career path."

Other professionals on hand included architects, engineers, athletic trainers, court reporters, language translators and paramedics. The district's Office of College, Career and Technical Education organized the event, as it does for several other middle schools around the district.

For more information, contact Ralph West, CCTE Program Manager, at (858) 503-1747 or

Sunday, May 27, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Canstruction: 'Titanic,' 'Hunger Games' inspire food drive contest

In the annual Canstruction effort sponsored by the Society for Design Administration, participants build structures out of cans of food, which are then donated to the Homefront San Diego program benefiting military families and the East County Transitional Living Center. Kearny High School Construction Tech Academy, Crawford High School-IDEA participate. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

City Heights Students Give Back

Isamaria Cortes
 Isamaria Cortes

In The News

From San Diego State University Communications
Fifteen high-achieving students from City Heights and its surrounding areas will mentor three middle school students from the same neighborhood as part of the first cohort of Price Community Scholars at San Diego State University.

Each of the Price Community Scholars, selected from a pool of freshmen who will enroll at SDSU this fall, will help support and motivate their mentees over the next four years as they prepare for and eventually apply to colleges.

Funded by a four-year, $472,500 grant from the Price Family Charitable Fund, each scholar will receive an annual scholarship up to $7,500.
Price Scholar Isamaria Cortes, 17, will graduate from Crawford High School in June. Cortes was accepted to U.C. Berkeley and U.C.L.A. but said the opportunity to give back to her community as part of the Price Community Scholars program was one she could not pass up.

Giving Back: “I’ve been lucky to have a lot of people who helped me to find my way since I was a kid,” Cortes said. “It feels good to have someone who believes in you. Everybody should have that somebody.”
Cortes hopes to be that ‘somebody’ for the three students she will mentor as a Price Community Scholar, but she said she knows the experience will be of equal benefit to her.

“Having someone look up to you makes you want to be a better person so being a Price Scholar will give us a purpose while we are students at SDSU,” said Cortes, a first-generation college student who plans to major in biology and eventually go into the medical field.

Supporting the best and brightest: Cortes and the other Price Community Scholars are among the brightest of SDSU’s incoming 2012 class with an average high school grade point average of 3.91. Most of them graduated from Crawford or Hoover High School but all reside in the City Heights area.

“The Price Community Scholars program is a major step forward for San Diego State University and City Heights,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman.

“We are deeply grateful to the Price Family Charitable Fund for joining us in envisioning how San Diego’s best and brightest students can develop their leadership abilities while giving back to the City Heights community and mentoring our next generation of high-achieving students. This is a great example of how ‘Leadership Starts Here’ at San Diego State University.”

As mentors, the Price Community Scholars will be enrolled in an academic learning community with a focus on service learning where they will be trained to provide their middle school mentees with support and guidance that will prepare them for higher education.

Fueling potential “The Price Scholars will provide the social and cultural capital that first-generation college students might not have because their parents did not go to college,” said Eric Rivera, associate vice president of student affairs, who will help oversee the program.

The scholars will also be given tools to help their mentees develop and enhance essential academic skills in both math and writing.

SDSU selected the 15 Price Community Scholars after interviewing nearly 50 local incoming first-time freshmen who are enrolling at SDSU in fall 2012. They will serve in the program for four years.

The middle-school participants will be selected through consultation with counselors and teachers.
“We want this program to give these middle school students hope, we want them to see their future through the eyes of their SDSU mentors,” Rivera said.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pt. Loma Point Loma Pointers get new weight room

Pointers' new weight room  The Pointers of Point Loma High School have a new 3,000-square-foot weight room and exercise facility that all physical education classes and athletes at the school can use.

The new building is located west of the school's track and football field, on land previously occupied by district portables that were demolished in 2008. The construction of the building was funded by more than $816,000 in Proposition S funds, which can only be used for capital improvement projects.

The facility is fully compliant with the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and features wood frame construction, an exterior stucco finish, metal roof construction, ADA-compliant paths of travel, insulated walls and ceilings, operable double-pane windows, and roll-up doors. In addition, a fire lane was constructed adjacent to the building.

New weight room building The new weight room’s exercise equipment was funded by a $90,000 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Lowe's Toolbox for Education™ Champions Grant. Started by race car driver and San Diego native, Jimmie Johnson, the foundation is dedicated to assisting children, families and communities in need throughout the United States.

For more information on the project, contact the Prop. S Communications Office at 619-725-7252 or You may also contact the school directly at 619-223-3121.

Friday, May 25, 2012

From the Superintendendent: Sobering Budget News from Sacramento

Now that the Governor’s May Revise Budget has been released, the District CFO team is finalizing our budget and the associated deficit target for implementing the 2012/13 fiscal year on July 1. In the past few months, we have watched with growing concern as the state’s projected tax revenues have consistently fallen well below projection. This trend prompted Governor Brown to recently report that the state-wide deficit has grown from almost $9 billion dollars to almost $16 billion dollars. Given this sobering news, the Governor’s May Revise did not improve the funding outlook for K-12 education in our state. On contrary, the updated budget points to even deeper potential cuts to education based on the outcome of the November ballot measure.

With this as backdrop, this past Tuesday, the Board of Education took the very difficult step of approving final certificated layoff notices for 1,534 teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians. Based on the fluid nature of resignations, retirements, leaves of absence, and the like, we do expect that several hundred of our certificated employees will be called back before the school year starts to fill vacancies. But the unfortunate reality remains that the district will not be able to recall more than 1,000 of our certificated staff. There is simply no new revenue in the immediate future that would override this terrible occurrence. You can see a video of my remarks to the Board here that further details the situation.

The district remains open to begin discussion with our employee unions about alternative solutions to these layoffs. We remain hopeful that we can work together to find a way to reduce the number of these layoffs and mitigate the impacts that these budget cuts will have on our students.


Garfield High Students Cater Luncheon

more serving

Employees of San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) enjoyed a deluxe nacho bar on Cinco de Mayo prepared served by culinary students from Garfield High School. 
The three seniors, Diego Sanchez, Israel Gonzalez and Christopher Martinez, helped prepare the lunch, then transported and served it for more than 60 employees. The menu included beef or chicken nachos, a special chipotle cream sauce, salsa ranchero, and for dessert, tres leches with fresh berries.

Sanchez, Gonzalez, and Martinez are all active in their culinary arts program including after school activities. The three combined have volunteered more than for after school events that include food preparation and serving. Gonzalez is currently pursuing some culinary schools for his post-secondary education.

The employees of SANDAG were very pleased with the food and the professional service the students gave. They were even more pleased to know they were supporting a school program and offering the students some valuable experience.

Garfield High School's Culinary Arts Program is a professional training program designed to help students become qualified to enter the food services industry. For more information on the program or to talk about catering your next event, contact Arlyn Hackett, CCTE Culinary Arts Instructor at

Clairemont, Madison High Auto Students Take Cuyamaca Challenge

 A student works to
diagnose a problem
during the Cuyamaca
College competition.

Clairemont and Madison high school automotive technology students recently tested their skills against other San Diego County students in Cuyamaca College's 33rd annual High School Automotive Skills Day.

The competition tested the students' skills in areas such as repair of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering, brakes and air conditioning. Students were also asked to improve performance on an engine, with prizes awarded to the winning teams.

The competition was won by students from the program at Ramona High School. 

Judges, included Cuyamaca College instructors and students, as well as technicians and operators of local automotive repair shops, students compete individually or in pairs in advanced and beginning divisions.

It takes two hours for the competitors to go through all eight stations set up in the college’s high-tech automotive technology building.

For more information on the automotive technologies programs, contact Greg Quirin, resource teacher, at

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Day Holiday is Monday, May 28

All San Diego Unified School District offices and schools are closed Monday, May 28, in observance of the Memorial Day federal holiday.

Washington Post Recognizes Nine High Schools, Charter

Nine high schools and one charter school in the San Diego Unified School District have placed on the Washington Post list of America's Most Challenging High Schools.

Two of the six schools at San Diego High made the list: International Studies, and Science and Technology. Other schools on the list are Pt. Loma, Scripps Ranch, University City, Mira Mesa, Serra, Crawford CHAMPS and Clairemont. Preuss UCSD charter also made the list.

The newspaper ranks schools based on the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests taken by its students, compared to the number of students at the school. In addition, school staff must complete a survey with the information to be included on the list.

There are more than 22,000 high schools in the nation; according to the newspaper, fewer than nine percent are on the list of Most Challenging High Schools. These tests are neither required nor funded by most schools; since they cost extra, schools in California cannot require students to take them.

"It's very important that we challenge our students to achieve," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "Inclusion on this list means that these schools are doing a great job of motivating their students to do better."

The schools and their ranking:
For more information on the list, go to the Washington Post website.

De Portola Middle School 'Walk and Roll' Celebrates Friends, Fitness

More happy kids
Happy kids

De Portola Middle School in Tierrasanta had a great day of celebrating fitness, fundraising, and acceptance of friends from all walks of life through the second annual "Walk and Roll" event sponsored by the Circle of Friends club.

"We had over 160 students join together in a parade around the outdoor stage," said Principal Elizabeth Gillingham, "walking with friends while holding signs pledging to be friends with others."

Students were sponsored by family and friends for each lap walked or rolled (some in wheel chairs) raising money for their club and working on their overall fitness with friends. The event was held May 8.

"We had students holding signs to promote kindness and acceptance," said Diana Aquilizan, a moderate-severe education specialist. "We also encouraged them to dress alike, walk a like or do some other creative collaborations."

For more information, contact Principal Gillingham at (858) 496-8080.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

IN THE NEWS: State plans big changes to testing, instruction

California has embarked on a course to fundamentally reshape how every student is taught and tested.These new “common core standards” for grades K-12 go into effect in fall 2014 for English Language Arts and math. Revisions to the curriculum and assessments for other subjects, such as science and history, will follow in later years. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.»

2012 High School Graduation Schedule Announced

The high school graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2012 will be held on June 11-12 in various locations. Read more»

Henry Students Advance to World Junior Achevement Challenge

Patrick Henry High School students Bryan Nguyen and Armando Narciso have advanced the World Global Junior Achievement Titan Challenge with their virtual manufacturing simulation, Team 1%.

Junior Achievement annually holds competitions around the world to encourage students to learn about business and entepreneurship. The student pair acted as corporate business leaders to make decisions that affect the profitability and sustainability of their virtual company and attempt to outperform their competitors in profit, sales and market share. They set prices, determine production levels, invest in capital, plan marketing and research, and development budgets.

“Through this experience, I’ve found out that anything can happen, good or bad," said Bryan. "If you can quickly assess and adapt to the situation, things can turn out all right.”

The team earned the trip to trip to the world competition by placing second in the national finals.

They will compete against teams from Russia, China, Canada and other parts of the United States. San Diego Unified School District has traditionally had at least four teams in the Junior Achievement Titan San Diego and regional competitions from various high schools, including Clairemont, Henry, Scripps Ranch and San Diego.

For more information on Team 1%, contact Mark Abbott at For more information about the Global Junior Achievement Titan Challenge, contact

Newsweek Honors High Schools

Newsweek Magazine and its sister website The Daily Beast have placed San Diego High's School of International Studies, La Jolla and University City high schools, along with Preuss UCSD charter, on their list of the top 1,000 high schools in the nation.

International Studies ranked 168, La Jolla was 327, and University City 783. International Studies also ranked 12th on the magazine's Top 25 Transformative High Schools. Preuss UCSD charter topped the Transformative High Schools list, placing 30th on the overall list.

"This is just super," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "The teachers, staff, students and parents of each of these schools deserve congratulations for their hard work and commitment to education."

According to the website, the list was compiled by surveying principals at more than 2,000 schools.

"In order to be considered for our list, a school had to complete a survey requesting specific data from the 2010-2011 academic year. In all, more than 2,300 schools were assessed to produce the final list of the top 1,000 schools," according to the website.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Special Ed Tech is Classified Employee of the Year

A Special Education Technician is the district's Classified Employee of the Year, with an Administrative Assistant and Community Assistant as runners-up.

Brenda Bailey-Burks, a Special Education Technician at Serra High School in Tierrasanta, is the 2012 Classified Employee of the Year. Bailey-Burks has been working as a Special Education Aide with one student, as well as the a member of the school's Integrated Life Skills team at the school. She has been with the same student for more than six years.

Margaret Lathan, an Administrative Aide with the district's Visual and Performing Arts Program, and Bounhong Khommarath, a Community Assistant II with the Parent Outreach and Engagement Department, are runners up.
The trio and individual school Classified Employees of the Year were celebrated at this special meeting of the Board of Education on May 22. Classified employees -- those without teaching credentials -- are San Diego Unified's support staff. They perform tasks ranging from financial management to maintenance. Read more»

San Diego Unified May Have Money For You.

"Unclaimed Funds" have been sitting with district for at least three years. Read more»

Monday, May 21, 2012

Honoring Those Who Go Above and Beyond

Above and Beyond Award Winners
Photo credit to CAPT Tim Conroy, USN (ret) left to right:
Dave Elmer, Executive Director of Special Education Susan Martinez, Jazelle Aytes, Shelly Suggs, Charles James, Magdalena Tavasci, Mike Dominguez, Norma Strickland, Daphne Terrell, and CAC Chairperson Moira Allbritton
Every spring, the district Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC), in collaboration with Special Education staff, accepts nominations for the Above and Beyond awards, which recognize parents, employees, students and community members who exemplify the district's commitment to high expectations for all students. The 2012 Above & Beyond award recipients were announced on May 10 for their excellence in supporting the educational outcomes of San Diego Unified students with disabilities. Congratulations to all the honorees!

Honorees included:
Jazelle Aytes, student, Fletcher Elementary School
Michael Dominguez, Logan K-8 School
Dave Elmer, SDUSD Employee, Polinsky Children's Center
Meagan Hood, La Jolla Elementary School
Charles James, Morse High School
Norma Strickland, Special Education Early Childhood
Shelly Suggs, DePortola Middle School
Magdalena Tavasci, Bayview Terrace Elementary School
Daphne Terrell, Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School

The following individuals were selected for the CAC Honor Roll:
Liz Carroll, Jones Elementary School
Raylene Dickinson, CAC Member
Elizabeth Finch, Kumeyaay Elementary School
Janna Hemphill, San Diego Cooperative Charter School
Amanda Johnson, Taft Middle School
Jennifer Kuklenski, Mission Bay High School
Meghan Main, Point Loma High School
Loralei Olsen, Tierrasanta Elementary School
Molly Perry, San Diego Cooperative Charter School
Carrie Rydzic, Kumeyaay Elementary School
Nathan Sachdeva, Patrick Henry High School
Nancy Shea, Special Education Program
Calvin Smith (“Mr. CT”), Lincoln High School
Anthony Villasenor, San Diego Cooperative Charter School
Leslie Vittori, Special Education Program
Debby Warner, Special Education Programs Division
Karin Wehsener, Jones Elementary School
Andrea Yoder-Clark, SurfAid International

For more information, visit the CAC website.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Classified School Employee Week May 20-26

Since 1986, California has taken the third week in May to honor the invaluable contributions of classified school employees. This year's theme is "Classified Employees: A Legacy of Service."

Classified School Employee Week began as a resolution at CSEA’s Annual Conference in 1984. Two years later, it was adopted as California Senate Bill 1552 and decreed to be an official recognition of classified school employees.  From the time students board a school bus to the time they head home at the end of the day, every aspect of their educational experience is impacted by a classified school employee.

San Diego Unified recognizes the more than 7,100 classified employees who a play crucial role in the education of our students. From transporting and feeding students to teaching them vital skills and ensuring that schools are operating smoothly, thank you for your dedication and commitment.

Read more.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Stages of Learning: Theater and Language in San Diego Schools

Known for its sunny beaches and mild Mediterranean climate, its tourist attractions and international conventions, San Diego is a popular travel destination. Yet this cultured and cosmopolitan city has another face, which is little known to outsiders. East of downtown and south of the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway lies the area locals call "the Southeast." Through the last three decades, it has been plagued by gang violence, homicide, and poverty. In fact, its reputation was so bad back in 1992 that Councilman George Stevens campaigned against any official use of the designation "Southeast San Diego," pointing to the term's perceived negative connotations.

Yet something significant has been happening in the elementary schools in this part of the city. While schools in the coastal and northern areas of San Diego have usually scored well, now innovative programs have begun to energize schools in neighborhoods that were once left behind. Read more from KCET>>

UCHS Senior named Best Female Scholar-Athlete in CA

UCHS Congratulations to University City High School senior Marina Varano, who was recently selected as the top female scholar-athlete from California in the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Scholarship program. Varano was chosen from a pool of public and private school students throughout the state. The scholarship recognizes the distinguished scholastic, leadership and sportsmanship attributes of high school student athletes, and the importance of high school athletics in each student's life.

Marina has received 7 varsity letters throughout her high school athletic career and was recognized as a tri-varsity athlete in 2011, competing in volleyball, water polo and swim.  During her senior year, Varano was MVP in volleyball and received the Coach's Award in water polo. Varano currently maintains a 4.4 GPA and is ranked 19th in her class.

Friday, May 18, 2012

IN THE NEWS: San Diego Unified approves first-ever ‘Harvey Milk Day Proclamation’

The San Diego Unifed School District announced Thursday (May 17) its first ever “Harvey Milk Day Proclamation” which will be unrolled to all schools within its system. According to the district, no other school system in San Diego County has had an official Harvey Milk Day.
“Harvey Milk Day Proclamation” was first introduced by Trustee Kevin Beiser to the board members of the San Diego Unified School District. The decision was approved by the board by a 5-0 vote.
“After working to enact historic anti-bullying policies, I am thrilled that we are honoring the contributions of such a great man who stood up for equal rights for all,” said Beiser.        -- San Diego LGBT Weekly, May 17, 2012

JROTC Cadets Return from Freedoms Foundation, Washington DC

JROTC Students in Washington DC

JROTC Students in Washington DC

JROTC Students in Washington DC

JROTC Students in Washington DC
JROTC cadets from throughout San Diego Unified joined cadets from across the country at the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and Washington D.C. Leadership Conference, April 19-25. The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, founded in 1949, celebrates the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights and their relevance to our daily lives.

This year's Freedom Foundation attendees were: Zabrina Reyes and Arnelle Sambile, Mira Mesa High; Jordan Robertson, Patrick Henry High; Michelle Mayo and Audrey Pelonia, Morse High;  Marielena Teng, Scripps Ranch High; and Stephen Fang, Kearny High.  The attendees returned with a greater sense of awareness and appreciation of the principles and responsibilities of a free and democratic society. The educational trip, sponsored and fully-funded by the Military Order of World Wars (MOWW), was held at the Freedoms Foundation's 85-acre campus in historic Valley Forge, PA, and culminated with a visit to Washington DC.

This year’s American Leaders Youth Summit conference focused on leadership, American Government and history. During the conference students were assessed and recognized for their leadership qualities, participation and subject knowledge. Congratulations to the San Diego cadets who were awarded the top two honors in the four Leadership Award categories.

Cadets completed their time in Pennsylvania with a trip to Philadelphia and visited Independence Hall where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. From Philadelphia, the cadets travelled to Washington D.C., where they toured Arlington National Cemetery, the American History Museum, the National Archives to view the Declaration of Independence and USConstitution, and a show at the historice Ford Theatre. The highlight was a tour of the Unitied States Capitol sponsored by San Diego Congresswoman, Susan Davis.
For more information about the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, go to

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Breakfast Key Ingredient in Academic Achievement

San Diego Unified offers multiple programs that provide students with breakfast to ensure they are fueled and ready to learn each day.

At 53 elementary schools, breakfast is served to almost 30,000 students a day through the district’s Breakfast in the Classroom program. In fact, elementary schools have increased breakfast participation by 188 percent. Eight secondary schools also have breakfast alternative programs, including Breakfast in the Classroom and Nutrition Break. All other schools continue to offer regular breakfast in their cafeterias.
State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tom Torlakson recently shared in a letter with district superintendents and school food service directors that research confirms the clear connection amongst health, learning, and attendance.

“Healthy children are more successful in school, miss fewer days of school, are more attentive and well behaved, and are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college,” the letter stated. Click here to read the letter.

For more information about SDUSD Breakfast Programs, contact Norma Johnson at or 858-627-7308.

Clairemont High Students Win AP Biology Bowl

AP Bio Bowl The team from Clairemont High narrowly edged out teams from La Jolla and Serra high schools to claim victory at the 3rd Annual Advanced Placement Biology Bowl held recently at Serra High.

The academic bowl competition prepares students for the Advanced Placement biology examination. Comprised of 12 total rounds of competition, each round tests students’ knowledge of the eight major themes to be tested on the AP exam, including biochemistry, cell biology, cell division, evolution, anatomy and physiology and genetics.

The final round of competition featured teams from Clairemont High, led by coach Jason Kammerer, and La Jolla High, coached by Rachel Tenenbaum.

More than 130 students, parents, and teachers attended the event. Superintendent Bill Kowba and Board Trustees Kevin Beiser and Richard Barrera participated in the welcoming ceremony. Superintendent Kowba encouraged all participants to do their very best in the competition and on the exam.

All participants gained a competitive edge that would favor them in the AP exam on May 14. Other schools in attendance included Mira Mesa High School (Coach Lisa Yoneda), Lincoln High School (Coach Jennifer Ogo), Patrick Henry High School (Coach Andy Mangahis) and host school, Serra High School (Coach Ericka Senegar-Mitchell).

The AP Biology Bowl was established in 2010 by Serra High’s Dr. Ericka Senegar-Mitchell, and coordinated each year with help from Tenenbaum and Ogo. More than 12 high schools have participated since the bowl began three years ago.

Serra High’s Foundation also supported the Bio Bowl by providing breakfast and lunch to all scholars, teachers and volunteers in attendance.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jones Elementary Fifth-Graders Spend Day at USD

Jones All fifth grade students at Jones Elementary School recently participated in the school’s first I’m Going to College Day, with an all-day visit to the University of San Diego (USD) campus. The visit provided the students with an up close and personal view of a real college campus.
As an AVID school, college readiness is one of the foundational components at Jones Elementary. To be successful in a global society, AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college and career readiness.

The day's activities included a tour of the USD campus by college freshmen and attending a standard- based English and math class taught by two different USD professors. Students participated by explaining their thinking in the math class, and after learning about “free verse” poetry, students wrote and shared their individual poems.

At the end of the day, a mock graduation was held for the fifth-graders. The students received a certificate of completion and a commemorative hand shake by the Assistant Dean of Students, their teacher and the principal. It was inspirational to see the Jones students glow with a sense of pride and purpose as they succeeded in their first college campus experience.    

Jones principal Rita Powell and fifth-grade teachers would like to thank USD Assistant Dean Pauline Berryman Powell from the College of Arts and Sciences, Vice President of Public Affairs Pamela Gray Payton, and Admissions Counselor Lisa Saldias for transforming the vision of post-secondary education into a reality and inspiring the students to think beyond high school.
For additional information contact Rita Powell at or 858-496-8140.

Music Educators Saluted by State Music Association

Board Member Kevin Beiser, left, Area
Superintendent Marian Phelps, M. Nicholson
Educators from throughout the district were honored during the annual Fortissimo Awards of Excellence, which salutes music educators and their site administrators for exceptional work in music education.

Honorees from the San Diego Unified School District were: Laura Smith, Outstanding Elementary Music Specialist, Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Department; Brad Sullivan, Outstanding General Music Educator, Dailard Elementary; Katherine Girvin, Outstanding Choral Educator , Marshall Middle School; Russell Shedd, Outstanding Orchestra Educator, Scripps Ranch High School; Marc Dwyer, Outstanding Jazz Educator, Correia Middle School; Carmi Strom, Outstanding Vice Principal, Wangenheim Middle School; Michelle Irwin, Outstanding Principal, Marshall Middle School; Marian Kim-Phelps, Outstanding District Administrator, Area Superintendent; Cameron Brown, Fortissimo Choice Award , University City High School.

The awards are given annually by the California Association for Music Education and the San Diego County Office of Education. The April 12 ceremony was hosted by Kevin Beiser, District B Board of Education Member, San Diego Unified School District.

Board Member Kevin Beiser, left, Wangeheim
Vice Principal Carmi Strom, M. Nicholson.
"Congratulations to these outstanding educators who understand and support the importance of a quality music education for every student," said VAPA Director Karen Childress-Evans.

For more information on the program, contact Childress-Evans at (858) 539-5349 or For more information on the awards, go to the California Association for Music Education website.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bayview Terrace Elementary Promotes Diversity Through Wearing Orange

Spread the word
In an effort to promote diversity and working together, Bayview Terrace Elementary School recently had a day where all students and staff members were encouraged to wear orange to show their solidarity against bullying and stereotypes, especially stereotypes against those with disabilities.

The day's "Spread the Word to End the Word" assembly combined both themes and hear guest speaker Krstina Alicia, a district resource teacher, talk about the positive effects of inclusion.

"Working together, staff, parents and students gain a greater understanding of people with disabilities," said Principal Magalena Tavasci. "The symbolic gesture of everyone wearing the same color showed unity in fighting bullying and helped our school come together."

For more information on Bayview Terrace Elementary School, contact Tavasci at (858) 273-5244.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Roosevelt Middle School Joint-Use Field Under Construction

shovel Roosevelt Middle School Vice Principal Karina Reyes joined School Board Member Richard Barrera, Area 6 Superintendent Gilbert Gutierrez and City Councilmember Todd Gloria to break ground on the new joint-use field at Roosevelt Middle School on April 26.

Neighbors and several other city and district leaders also participated in the event that marked the beginning of construction on the new natural turf field. The City of San Diego recently awarded a construction contract to Palm Engineering Construction Company, Inc. to develop approximately two acres of the eastern portion of the school campus into a multi-purpose field that will include a walking track and three new backstops. The school district contributed $600,000 in Proposition S funds toward construction of the $995,000 project.

Prop. S funds can only be used for capital improvement projects.

Following the completion of construction in late summer, an additional 120 days will be needed to establish the turf before the field will be open to students and community members in Spring 2013.

For more details on this project, contact Randy White, school district real estate specialist, at or 619-725-7281; or Barry Kelleher, city park designer/project manager, at 619-533-5219 or Media inquiries should be directed to Cynthia Reed-Porter, communications supervisor, at or 619-725-5579

Friday, May 11, 2012

"Garden-to-Table" Promotes Healthy Eating Habits

Garden Preschoolers in room 71 at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary worked in pairs, planting vegetables and flowers in their spring garden to discover first-hand the benefits of eating healthy. The young 3-5 year old students are now busy watering and watching the young plants grow. Soon, they will enjoy sampling freshly picked lettuce, cucumbers and strawberries.

"The garden is a huge hit with the students," said proud teachers Phoebe Bishops and Tami Colo. "Healthy eating habits are part of the Extended Core Curriculum of Daily Living Skills provided for our blind and visually impaired students."

For more information contact Julie Harris, media production assistant, at or 858-496-8400.

For information about the district's Farm to School program, visit the Food Services website at

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mission Bay Jazz Band Takes on New Orleans

Above, Michael Jaimes, senior,
plays the baritone sax at Old US Mint.
The Mission Bay High School Preservationist band has returned from a trip to New Orleans, where the jazz ensemble performed in historic locales and toured historic sites.

The group partnered with the New Olreans Jazz National Historical Park and Preservation Hall to perform in some of the city's well-known venues, including Preservation Hall, the Old US Mint and in park.

For many students this was a life changing experience," said Mission Bay Band Director Jean-Paul Balmat. "I now have a number of students who want to study in New Orleans and some who plan to move there after graduating from high school."

The Preservationists (formerly the Mission Bay High School Dixie Jazz Band) is San Diego's premier traditional youth jazz band. The band has been featured at venues throughout San Diego County and California including: House of Blues, Petco Park, Sea World, Dizzy's, Tango Del Rey, Ocean Beach Music and Art Festival and the Sacramento Jazz Festival.

At Preservation Hall
This exciting, versatile group performs traditional New Orleans jazz and swing. They are sponsored by America's Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society and are one of the featured youth bands at their annual Thanksgiving Jazz Festival.

"The kids were so inspired musically by the trip," said Balmat. "They loved listening to all the great musicians and performing at Preservation Hall."

For more information on the program, visit the music program's website at

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

State Business Group Honors 45 Schools in San Diego Unified

Honor Roll A leading California business group has recognized 45 San Diego Unified schools as being "bright spots of excellence," with positions on its annual Honor Roll.

California Business for Education Excellence, a group whose members include the Bank of America, Blue Shield of California, Macy's and Webcor Builders, designated 21 San Diego Unified schools as Star Schools, which are high poverty, high performing, achievement gap closing schools. Another 24 schools were named Scholar Schools, identified as high performing schools without significant levels of low-income students. Nine schools on the Honor Roll were named STEM Schools for their high performance in math and science.

"It's especially gratifying for the students, teachers and staff to be recognized for reducing the achievement gap and being high-performing schools," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "These are key areas that are the focus of the Board of Education and our staff and it's good to have an independent organization verify the success in these areas."

The following schools were on the Honor Roll.
  • Star Schools -- high poverty, high performing, achievement gap closing schools: Angier, Birney, Crown Point, Cubberley, Edison, Ericson, Florence, Garfield, Green, Hardy, Jones, Kimbrough, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Sandburg, Sherman, Vista Grande, Wegeforth, Zamorano elementary schools; Language Academy and Mira Mesa High School.

  • Scholar Schools -- high performing schools without significant levels of low-income students: Benchley/Weinberger, Bird Rock, Curie, Dailard, Dingeman, Doyle, Grant, Hearst, Holmes, Jerabek, Kumeyaay, La Jolla, Marvin, Miramar Ranch, Scripps, Sessions, Silver Gate, Sunset View, Tierrasanta, Torrey Pines elementary schools; Marshall and Standley middle schools; La Jolla and Scripps Ranch high schools.

  • STEM Schools -- Honor Roll schools with highest performance for math and science: Angier, Birney, Ericson, Garfield, Green, Hardy, Pacific Beach, Sandburg, Vista Grande elementary schools.
"We must change the conversation in public education from being about failure to one that focuses on replicating the success of schools like those on the Honor Roll," said Greg Jones, CBEE Chairman. "These schools are not making excuses about their performance and are overcoming challenges and obstacles to improvement every day. Our goal is to highlight their results so they can be copied in other places."

The Honor Roll list grew from 1,315 schools in 2010 to the current 1,614 for 2011. The number of Honor Roll Star (high poverty, high achieving) schools increased from 478 in 2010 to 527 in 2011. For San Diego Unified, the 2011 list honored 45 schools, up from 28 in 2010, not including charter schools. In the program's first year, 2005, just six schools were on the list. A full list of the Honor Roll schools and the STEM Honor Roll can be found at:

"These schools are the bright spots of excellence in efforts to raise student academic achievement and close persistent achievement gaps," said Jim Lanich, California Business for Education Excellence president. "By highlighting them, recognizing their achievement and giving them a voice we hope other schools can learn from them and replicate their proven practices throughout the state."

The annual Honor Roll award is made possible with support from numerous businesses and organizations including State Farm, Macy¹s, Edison International, Wells Fargo, Southern California Auto Club, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the California Business Roundtable, and several private foundations. Chevron Corporation provided specific support in the creation of the STEM Honor Roll.

Lincoln High Seniors are College Bound

Lincoln Seniors
College-bound Hornets.
With one month of hard work to go, more than 235 Lincoln High School seniors out of a class of 341 have been accepted and are planning to attend a community college or university next year. Of these 235 students, 101 will be entering a four-year university in fall 2012

Although college entry requirements are more rigorous than ever, Lincoln High students have been admitted to more than 60 universities across the nation including Brown, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Georgetown, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Morehouse, St. Johns, UCSD and SDSU. Through perseverance and dedication, the class of 2012 has laid the foundation of a college-going culture at Lincoln High School that will continue and flourish for years to come.

To aid the growing number of Lincoln students attending college, the Lincoln High Scholarship Fund has been established. The fund was formed in response to rising college costs and a desire to make college more accessible and affordable to Lincoln students.

This year Lincoln High School's goal is to raise more than $25,000 to support of our college-bound seniors. The scholarships include:
  • Willie James Jones Scholarships
  • Monique Palmer Scholarships
  • Principal Scholarships
  • Counselor Scholarships
  • Alumni Scholarships
All scholarships will be awarded during the Senior Awards Night on June 5. If you are interested in contributing to the Lincoln High School Scholarship Fund or visiting the Lincoln High School College and Career Center, contact Conrado Castro at or (619) 266-6530 x 2325, or Isela Medina at

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ten San Diego Unified High Schools Make US News 'Best' List

Ten San Diego Unified high schools and one charter are ranked on the list of America's best high schools, released today by US News and World Report Magazine. The schools are all ranked in the top 1,800 of the 22,000 high schools in the nation, according to the magazine.

Charter Preuss School UCSD ranked eighth in California and 44th in the nation, followed by La Jolla High at number 34 in the state, 167 nationally. Others ranking (state/federal) were University City High, 66/371; Patrick Henry, 68/383; Scripps Ranch, 69/390; Mira Mesa, 123/658; the School of International Studies at San Diego High, 127/678; Pt. Loma High, 137/744; Serra High, 146/775; San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, 264/1284; and the School of Science, Connections and Technology at Kearny High, 365/1765.

Other schools which were recognized nationally included the schools of Digital Media and Design, and International Business at Kearny High, Mt. Everest Academy and San Diego Met.

This is the fourth year the magazine has ranked high schools, partnering with American Institutes for Research to analyze the schools. Rankings were based on several factors, including performance on state tests and their students' college readiness.

"Congratulations to our students, teachers and staff members at these and all of our schools," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "We thank US News for this recognition. Having a diploma from an award-winning school can only help our students as they work to get to college."

Preuss, La Jolla, University City, Patrick Henry and Scripps Ranch all received Gold rankings from the magazine, which signifies the top 500 schools in the nation. The magazine's study projects that students at these schools have the highest college readiness. Silver honors went to Mira Mesa, San Diego High International Studies, Pt. Loma, Serra, SCPA and Kearny SCT received silver ranking.

For more information on the survey, go to the magazine's website.

Franklin Elementary Gets $5,000 in Supplies from New Business

Principal Akoni Derige, right, with Council Member
Todd Gloria and WSS Shoes owner.
Franklin Elementary School has received $5,000 in supplies from a new shop in the school's Kensington neighborhood, Warehouse Shoe Sale (WSS).

The supplies, which include pencils, notebooks and athletic sack bags, were presented to Principal Akoni Derige during the store's grand opening on April 21.City Council Member Todd Gloria was also on hand for the ceremony.

"This donation will free up some site discretionary funds so our school can purchase more supplies for the fine arts prep program," said Derige. "It's always a blessing when organizations and businesses come forward to donate and help with program expenses."

A fixture in the community since 1929, Franklin Elementary School has more than 260 students and an involved community that supports the school's pledge of small class sizes and fine arts prep program.

For more information, contact Principal Derige at (619) 284-9279.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Teachers of the Year Honored by San Diego Unified School District

Ellie Vandiver
Three teachers get the big honors, but each San Diego Unified school's teacher of the year will be honored during ceremonies Tuesday night at Madison High School.

A former nurse, a high-school dropout and a second-generation staff member are San Diego Unified's 2012 Teachers of the Year. They, along with runners up, are eligible to compete for the San Diego County Teacher of the Year.

The 2012 teachers are: Elle Vandiver, biomedical sciences, University City High School; Joey Lepetri, English/history/video, Marshall Middle School; and Patti Read, third grade Special Education, Lindbergh/Schweitzer Elementary School.

“Few other professionals touch as many people as teachers do,” said Superintendent Bill Kowba. “This year’s Teachers of the Year, selected by a committee of their peers, are an extraordinary group of individuals who exhibit passion for their profession and compassion for their students in their own unique ways.They are representative of the thousands of district teachers who each day inspire and enable students to work hard, strive for their best and ultimately achieve success.”

Joey Lepetri
Tuesday's ceremony will honor Teachers of the Year from each school, along with the new National Board Certified Teachers. In addition, the San Diego  Education Fund will introduce its 2011-12 Future Educator Scholars, MASHIN
Scholars and STEM Scholar. It is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, at Madison High School, 4833 Dolvia Drive. The event is free and open to the public; it is also a regular Board of Education meeting.

Read discovered her interest in teaching students who face physical and health challenges at the age of five, when she started spending her summer vacations volunteering in her father’s medical therapy unit that was housed at Lindbergh/Schweitzer.In her 32 years of experience, she has enjoyed a lifetime of celebrating her students’ accomplishments.

“I want students to always feel successful in whatever they're doing," she said. "At the same time, what are we learning from it, and what skills are we getting from this?"

Patti Read
Lepetri struggled as a young student, eventually dropping out of high school.Today, he looks to make connections with students who are growing up in tough circumstances. Once that connection is made, learning comes easier.
"When I was 19, I realized that I was missing something in my life, and that was my education," he said. "The educational journey transformed my life."

Vandiver began her career as a registered nurse in Michigan. She discovered her passion for teaching after working with high school interns in her hospital’s intensive care unit. Now in her 12th year of teaching, Vandiver strives to help her students see connections between the curriculum and the real world,having seen more than 20 of her students become nurses, as well as doctors, medical researchers and other occupations in the medical field.Her challenging courses also let students know if the field is really for them.

"Taking this real-world knowledge and bringing it to the kids is what I strive for every day," she said. "Because I have that background, I can open doors."

Read, Lepetri and Vandiver will compete for San Diego County Teacher ofthe Year, along with the district’s three Runners-up, Garth Hebbler from Rolando Park Elementary,Steven Santana from Lewis Middle School, and Michael Pedersen from Serra High.

News Coverage

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Holmes Elementary Students Raise $26,000 on the Run

holmes For the sixth straight year, Holmes Elementary students relied on their strength and endurance to raise more than $26,000 for their school. The sixth annual Holmes H.E.R.O. (Holmes Educational Run Off) Jog-a-Thon, sponsored by the school’s PTA, was held last month. More than 300 volunteers, parents and community members cheered the 530 students as they rounded the track to raise money for completed laps. The money raised will help fund the school’s VAPA program, which includes a choral music teacher and Arts Attack supplies; ongoing technology needs; and the Mileage Club.
What's next for the Clairemont neighborhood school? Celebrating its 50th birthday on Saturday, May 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the annual Spring Fling. Festivities include a silent auction, cake decorating contest and activities for the entire family. For more information, visit or contact Principal Jonathan Saipe at

Friday, May 4, 2012

14 Teachers Selected for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math Program

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will be the focus for 18 district teachers over the next five years as they'll be part of the prestigious Noyce Master Teacher Fellowship at UC San Diego.

The teachers are: Theodore Meckstroth, Bell Middle School; Julie Garcia, Innovation Middle School; Patricia Huntington, Farb Middle School; Erica Heinzman and Maitrayee Sahi, Kearny High School of International Business; Olivia Allison, Lewis Middle School, Anna Weaver at Mann Middle School, Caroline Morse at Montgomery Middle School, Joseph Hyun at Morse High School; Lori Pina, Shelley Rannikko and Kimberly Frank, Standley Middle School; Margaret Atkisson and Maureen Quessenberry at University City High School.

Teachers from two district charter schools have also been selected: Julia Gordon and Jade Mohr from High Tech High, and Shea Phillips and Alexandra Martinez at The Preuss School UCSD

This professional development program is sponsored by the UC San Diego Department of Education Studies and the Division of Physical Sciences. Supported through a $3.2 million grant from the Robert Noyce Foundation and the National Science Foundation, the program supports 42 teachers from across the county for five years of professional development.

Master Teacher Fellows will receive salary supplements of $10,000 per year, iPad tablets for mobile computing, up to six graduate units for summer institutes, up to eight graduate units for online courses, and classroom mini-grants to support change and growth within their own classrooms.

The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. The Noyce Scholarship Track provides funds to institutions of higher education to support scholarships, stipends and academic programs for undergraduate STEM majors and post-baccalaureate students holding STEM degrees who earn a teaching credential and commit to teaching in high-need K-12 school districts.
The NSF Teaching Fellowship/Master Teaching Fellowship Track supports STEM professionals who enroll as NSF Teaching Fellows in master’s degree programs leading to teacher certification by providing academic courses, professional development, and salary supplements while they are fulfilling a four-year teaching commitment in a high need school district. This track also supports the development of NSF Master Teaching Fellows by providing professional development and salary supplements for exemplary mathematics and science teachers to become Master Teachers in high-need school districts.
For more information on the UCSD program, contact Dr. Chris Halter at 858-534-8186.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

SD High Academy of Finance Awarded Again

Heidy at Language Academy
Dante at Tum Yeto.

Yoana at the Media Arts Center of San Diego
The Academy of Finance at the San Diego High School of Business has again been recognized again as a Distinguished Academy by the National Academy Foundation, a program that brings businesses and educators together to put students on a career path leading to Wall Street.

This is the second consecutive year that the program has been recognized by the Foundation. San Diego High's program is the only high school awarded west of Raleigh, NC.

"This award shows the continued commitment of our students, teachers, advisory board and business partners to the learning going on at the Academy of Finance," said Principal Consuelo Manriquez. "National recognition of the Academy certainly will help our students as they apply for admission to America's best universities."

The San Diego High program involves the local business community in the school. Students take internships at a variety of businesses. In addition, the academy's Advisory Board members mentor students as they become part of the business community.

San Diego's Omni Hotel, developer LWP Group, the San Diego Humane Society, the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego and skateboard lifestyle company Tum Yeto are just a few of the companies that have interns from the Academy. While there, students can visit multiple departments; for example, at the Omni, students have had tours in the accounting, room services, housekeeping and security departments.

One of the particular features of the San Diego High program praised by the National Academy Foundation is its Advisory Board, which includes many local business people, ranging from chair Jim Fitzgerald, a retired San Diego State University finance professor, to Cliff Schmidt, a Morgan Stanley Smith Barney official who has served since the Board was formed in 1998.

The Class of 2012 graduates will be heading off to four-year colleges, including UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and San Jose State University. Previous graduates are now at San Diego State University, University of San Diego, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine and Cal Poly.

Academies affiliated with the National Academy Foundation educate more than 60,000 students around the nation in fields that include finance, hospitality and tourism, and engineering.

If you'd like to get your business involved in the San Diego High School of Business's Academy of Finance, call Kelly Granfield at (619) 525-7461 or

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Date Change: Tiger Teams to Meet May 12

The Operations and Efficiency Ad Hoc Committee has scheduled a status update meeting Saturday, May 12, for all new Tiger Team members and anyone interested in serving on the committee. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the Ballard Parent Center, 2375 Congress St., San Diego, CA 92110. Breakout sessions will be held after a brief group meeting.

Board of Education Vice President Scott Barnett and Trustee Kevin Beiser lead the Operations and Efficiency Committee, which supervises the Tiger Teams.  The goal of the teams is to generate efficiencies and savings, minimizing administrative costs to help with the ongoing budget crisis.

If you are not already volunteering on a Tiger Team, feel free to attend.  If you have any other budget efficiency suggestions or ideas, please send them to Related documents and minutes for all Tiger Teams can be reviewed at

Gates Millennium Scholarship Goes to 10 Students

Congratulations to 10 graduating seniors who have been named Gates Millennium Scholars.

The program selects 1,000 students each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. Scholars also receive personal and professional development, through leadership programs, along with academic support throughout their college career.

"I congratulate each one of these students on their accomplishment," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "They have received a very rare and special gift as a Gates Millennium Scholar and I hope they use it well."

Five of the students -- Diego Ceron, Karla Cruz, Bertin Solis and Alan Bong -- are part of the Reality Changers program, which helps students with disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Education continues to be the best pathway to opportunity, and we believe that college costs should not be an obstacle along that path,” said Jim Larimore the deputy director for student success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“That’swhy scholarships like the Gates Millennium Scholars Program and others are so important," he said. "Scholarships provide students who have the will to get a post-secondary education with a way to get one, thereby securing a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.”

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was established in 1999 to provide outstanding low income African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline they choose.

Continuing Gates Scholars may request funding for a graduate degree program in one of the following discipline areas: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science. The goal of program is to promote academic excellence by providing thousands of outstanding students, who have significant financial need, the opportunity to reach their full potential.

For more information on the program, go to

Scholarship Recipients

  • Anita Agoh, San Diego High School of Science and Technology, UC Berkeley
  • Eden Aklile, Serra
  • Karla Cruz, San Diego Met, UC Berkeley
  • Pedro Mota, Lincoln, Brown
  • Teresa Ramos, Kearny High Science Connections and Technology School, San Diego State University
  • Bertin Solis, Mission Bay, UC Santa Barbara
  • Alan Vong, Madison, UC Santa Barbara
Charter Schools

  • Diego Ceron, Preuss School UCSD, Villanova
  • Elayne Tram Nguyen, Preuss UCSD
  • Reyna Pacheco Rios, Preuss School UCSD

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Register early for kindergarten says Jefferson Elementary Principal

The Jefferson Elementary School principal is talking about registering your child early for kindergarten (en EspaƱol). Courtesy KBNT-TV

Vista Grande Third Graders Ace Elks Poster Contest

Presentation at Vista Grande Vista Grande Elementary School third graders Madison Wood and Brooklyn Greer have placed in the Elks Drug Awareness Poster Contest, with Wood's poster going to the national competition.

The two, members of Marilyn Posella's class, were honored by visits of two Elks, Kathleen Kuttler and Doti Mock, of San Diego Elks Lodge No. 168. They brought third-place honors and $300 for Wood, and Honorable Mention for Greer. With the third-place finish in California, Wood's poster is now being considered for a national award.

The students' work was judged on teh development of theme, originality, neatness and mechanics.

"Always Love and Take Care of Yourself and Never, Never Use Drugs!" was the theme of Wood's poster.

About the school

Vista Grande Elementary School, located in the Tierrasanta community, is a California Distinguished School, offering grades K-5. Vista Grande offers a strong literacy, mathematics, and science curriculum, a full-time science teacher, and a science laboratory, a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program in grades 3–5, music exploration, and extra support in literacy and math. For more information, contact Principal Cathy Calcagno at 858-496-8290.