Wednesday, October 31, 2012

University City High Biomedical Students Get 'White Coats' In Ceremony

Students celebrate their white coats and accomplishments.
Students celebrate their white
coats and accomplishments.
A ceremony normally reserved for high-level university students signified the education of 32 University City High School seniors and the growth of the school's biomedical sciences program.

The school's first "White Coat Ceremony" honored the first students to take all four classes in the program in their freshman through senior years at the University City campus: Principles of Bio Medicine, Human Body Systems, Medical Interventions and Biomedical Innovations. The White Coat Ceremony began in 1993 at Columbia University and marks the transition from the study of preclinical to clinical health sciences.

The student names were called by Teacher Ellie Vandiver and coats were given to each student. The white coat contains the Project Lead the Way emblem and University City High School embroidered on the front.

The seniors will begin their internships in January with placements at Scripps Clinic, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Governor Animal Clinic, Governor Urgent Care and Scripps Genomics; students may also be placed at UCSD Thornton Hospital and the university's Cognitive Science department.

The students were joined by: their parents; Principal Jeff Olivero; Board of Education President Dr. John Lee Evans; the San Diego Unified Chief of Staff, Bernie Rhinerson; Duane Crum, Director of Project Lead the Way; Nonnie Artero,Volunteer Coordinator Veterans Medical Center; Shawn Loescher, director of the Office of College, Career and Technical Education Director; and Lynn McConville, program manager, Office of College, Career and Technical Education.

For more information about the Biomedical Sciences program at UCHS, please contact Vandiver, at

Parents/Guardians Can Help Fund Schools By Returning Federal Survey Cards

Return your federal survey card Students at most schools last week brought home Federal Impact Survey Cards, which your school is asking parents/guardians to complete and promptly return to their schools. The returned cards qualify the public schools for significant dollars in federal funds.

The annual survey determines the number of military and non-military federally connected students in the public school system for whom the district receives impact aid funds. These funds provide partial reimbursement to the district for local tax loss resulting from tax-free federal installations or property. By filling out and returning the survey cards, parents help our schools claim and benefit from the district’s authorized share of federal support. Each survey card is important because federal impact aid is determined from the survey card responses. Please, complete, sign and return the card as it is the children who will benefit.

"If you're active duty military, live in Navy housing, or are a civilian working on one of our bases or a federal property, you know the importance of returning these cards," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "But it's important for all parents to return these cards. It only takes a few minutes and it helps our district qualify for much-needed federal funds."

The San Diego Unified School District has a high proportion of military dependents and federal lands within its boundaries, as San Diego is a worldwide center for Navy and Marine Corps activities.

"These school districts face special challenges — they must provide a quality education to the children living on the Indian and other Federal lands and meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, while sometimes operating with less local revenue than is available to other school districts, because the Federal property is exempt from local property taxes," says the US Department of Education's website.

Under federal privacy rules, information on the Impact Aid survey cards is not used for any other purposes. If you have questions about Impact Aid or the Impact Aid survey card, please contact your principal.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A lot is new under the hood in high school auto shop classes

IN THE NEWS: Auto shop's long skid in the face of budget cuts and a shift toward college-prep classes may be reversing. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the San Diego Unified School District. Read more from the Los Angeles Times»

Test Scores Rise At Baker Elementary, Principal Farias Shaves Head

Last year, Baker Elementary School Principal Armando Farias told his students that if their API (Academic Performance Index) score reached 800 in the next year, he would either dye his hair or shave his head. Students picked the latter. So, when API scores came out in early October, Farias knew what was coming. Read more on Baker Elementary School’s website.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Arian Foster's number retired at Mission Bay High School

Arian Foster at ceremony. Courtesy MaxPreps.
Arian Foster at ceremony.
Courtesy MaxPreps.
IN THE NEWS: Texans' star tailback is honored at ceremony in San Diego. Read more from MaxPreps»

Morse High Student Stands Tall Despite Challenges

IN THE NEWS:  A gifted athlete, Michael Akers has a purple belt in judo and plays second base for the Morse High School Tigers. He is a contact hitter and batted .300 as a freshman. This year, he made the citywide All-Academic Baseball Team. And with high school winding down for him, Michael is thinking about college: San Diego State and Cal State Fullerton top the list. Read more from UT San Diego»

Sherman Academy Recognized as 'Promising Practice' for Educating English Learners

Principal Caballero and students at Sherman.
 Principal Caballero and students at Sherman.

Sherman Academy's goal of creating bilingual and bi-literate students has been designated a "Promising Practice for English Learners" by the US Department of Education's National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Sherman is a pre-K through fifth grade dual-language immersion program where students receive half of their instruction in English, and half in Spanish located in the Sherman Heights neighborhood east of downtown San Diego. It is one of San Diego's oldest schools.

"Key to Sherman’s philosophy is the goal of creating bilingual and biliterate students, and Sherman’s principal and staff work hard to make sure that parents are invested in this mission," the report said. "The school has seen promising outcomes over the four years since the program has been implemented, moving aggregated student performance from 127 points below the state average to a mere 13 points below."

The report cited the school's relationship with parents, making them an important part of their child's education.

"Engaging parents is very important and that’s why parents, teachers, staff, and the administration make a commitment to work together for the benefit of our students," parent Minerva Espejo said in the report. "The parents walk next to the principal, not in front of or behind him, and this supports our children’s success."

Principal Edward A. Caballero said the school's immersion program, which began when the rebuilt Sherman reopened in 2007, is showing results that are helping kids be better prepared for the world around them.

"Early language acquisition not only gives them the skills to move between a variety of nations and cultures," he said, "but studies have shown it helps children develop critical thinking skills that help them later in life."

Sherman's staff works to prepare students for life in a global society by giving them a strong foundation in English and Spanish language arts, using an acclaimed reading and writing program through immersion in both languages. The dual immersion challenges students with half instruction in English, the other in Spanish, an innovative strategy that aims to move students to fluency and higher achievement. The program was developed with active involvement of community leaders and parents.

The full report is available for download at For more information, contact Caballero at (619) 615-7000.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Patrick Henry Scores New Football Field

IN THE NEWS: Getting tackled on the old Patrick Henry High School football field could be particularly bruising. It was old. It was hard. It was ready to go. Thankfully, it has. Read more from the Mission Times Courier»

History Center Grant To Help Restore District Paintings

IN THE NEWS: Gegler Benbough Foundation and Parker Foundation provide $55,000; restoration will enable expansion of display. Read more from UT San Diego»

Saturday, October 27, 2012

La Jolla Elementary Benefits from On-Site Open Aire Market

IN THE NEWS: For 14 years, the La Jolla Open Aire Market has brought together the finest local farmers, artisans and merchants with the noble aim of helping fund much-needed school improvements and programs at La Jolla Elementary School (LJES), which has continued to blossom over the years thanks, in part, to the generous support of participants at the weekly farmers market and the philanthropic leadership of its organizers. Read more from the La Jolla Village News»

Coming Home: AmeriCorps Members Return to Mentor Local Youth

IN THE NEWS: Service projects help students at Mann Middle and Crawford High schools. Read more from City Heights Life»

Friday, October 26, 2012

Patrick Henry Scores New Football Field

IN THE NEWS: Getting tackled on the old Patrick Henry High School football field could be particularly bruising. It was old. It was hard. It was ready to go. Thankfully, it has. Read more from the Mission Times Courier»

Ibarra Elementary Students Learn the Importance of Being Drug Free During Red Ribbon Week

Students at Ibarra Elementary School in City Heights attended a special Red Ribbon Week Kickoff Assembly on Monday with special guests Rueben Littlejohn, Chief of Police, San Diego Unified School District, Community Service Officer Patrick Wafer and McGruff the Crime Dog. A special thanks from Principal Susie Sovereign went to to Crawford students Kaitlyn Connally and Cuong Pham for their participation.

Schools across the district are participating in the annual Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-31.

Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. Formally designated as Red Ribbon Week in 1988, this event serves as an annual opportunity for communities and individuals to affirm their commitment to healthy and drug-free lives. The theme of Red Ribbon Week for 2012 is “The Best Me Is Drug Free.”

For more information, go to   

New Video, Web Page Highlight Common Core Standards

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.

So far, 45 states, including California, have adopted the Common Core Standards. Learn more by watching a short video and visiting .

Supplemental Education Services Fair Set for Monday

Parents in schools under Program Improvement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, as well as meeting other qualifications, can meet tutoring and other providers, called Supplemental Educational Services (SES), at a fair coming up on Monday.

The "Meet the Providers Fair" is an excellent opportunity for parents and students to meet the different tutoring organizations that are contracted to provide SES Free Tutoring to eligible students. Participating organizations will be there to answer your questions and provide you with information regarding their individual programs. If you plan to attend one or both of these fairs, please remember to bring your child's application that you received in your mail. SES Staff will be available to assist you and accept your applications in person.

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 was created to ensure that every child receives the academic attention he or she deserves, and that no child is left behind his or her peers. One of the most beneficial aspects of NCLB is the Supplemental Educational Services (SES) program, which provides free tutoring to children who require special assistance to succeed in school.

For more information, check out the website or call (619) 262-0316.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Great California Shakeout Hits Schools

Lewis Middle School students duck and cover.
Lewis Middle School students duck and cover.
The last major earthquake to rip through San Diego was way back in 1857, an estimated magnitude 7.9. However, San Diego Unified isn’t getting complacent, as all students and staff took part in the recent Great California ShakeOut, an earthquake emergency drill.

Lewis Middle School in Allied Gardens, was given the opportunity to demonstrate its emergency preparedness for local media. When the alarm bells began to sound, students quickly got under the desks, protecting themselves using the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” technique. Eventually, teachers guided their students to the school's playground, where teachers and administrators took roll and ensured all were evacuated.

"It's important so that if an earthquake occurs, every class knows what to do and we are prepared for it," said student Ben Petty-Hull.

Earthquakes can strike at any moment with devastating consequences. All schools have emergency response plans in place and are prepared should an earthquake or other disaster strike during school hours. In an effort to continually promote safety and emergency preparedness, schools routinely practice emergency drills.

"Parents trust us every day to keep their kids educated and safe. We use valuable teaching time to make ensure that students and staff know exactly what to do during and after an earthquake," said teacher Elizabeth Hunter-Drake. English teacher Joe Ferro said drills are an important part of the school routine.

"I think it would be utter chaos" if drills weren't conducted, Ferro said. "It's necessary to prepare students so that when an emergency does take place, it's not such a frightening event."

An estimated 700,000 San Diego residents participated the ShakeOut drill held on Oct. 18; more than 19.2 million around the world observed the fifth-annual event. Learn more on how to prepare for an earthquake or other disasters by visiting For more on your school's disaster plan, check with the principal.

News Coverage

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fulton K-8 Visited by Celgene Scientists

Checking out scientific reactions. Students in grades three and four at Fulton K-8 School in the Skyline neighborhood have extended their knowledge of the scientific method, using chromatography to see how red and black ink can separate into different colors when diluted in water, thanks to visiting scientists from the local branch of pharmaceutical research company Celgene Corporation.

Each student-scientist was given strips of blotting paper in which they placed a large black dot and a red ink dot. The students then placed the strips of paper in a cup of water, and made observations as the colors began to separate and formed a multitude of colors. The Fulton scientists also conducted experiments involving how liquids float and sink, how gases are formed, and how to make silly putty.

Celgene is a global biopharmaceutical company with a facility located in the Golden Triangle neighborhood.

Located in the Skyline neighborhood, Fulton’s comprehensive curriculum centers on critical literacy, math, science, social studies, physical education and English language development. All students at Fulton have the opportunity to understand computer/digital technology through an experiential, sequential, and cross-curricular program in its state-of-the-art computer lab.

For more information, contact Principal Stanley Munro at (619) 344-3200.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

iMiddle School, San Diego Unified iPad Use Highlighted

IN THE NEWS: More than 25,000 devices helping student learning in district. Read more from Bloomberg News»

JROTC Picnic Welcomes New Cadets and Reunites Old Friends

Pt. Loma High students celebrate.
More than 1,100 cadets from the San Diego Unified School District Junior Reserves Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) units gathered at Admiral Baker Park for their annual “Welcome Back” Cadet Picnic.

Leadership from each school
examines trophies
The intent of the event each year is to foster an atmosphere of teamwork and esprit de corps, as well as increase participation and morale within all district JROTC programs. An additional highlight of the day was the welcoming of the new cadets from University City High School, which started its Marine Corps JROTC program this school year.

Throughout the day, the 13 high school programs participated in numerous fun and athletic activities which included relay races, sack races, basketball hotshots, and tug of war. For many, the best part of the day is the “dance off competition” during lunch, where cadets relax, dance and enjoy the music.

“With most of our events throughout the school year always being more competitive in nature, I enjoy the Cadet Picnic because it gives us an opportunity to be more like a family gathering,” said Manoli Dawson, a senior at Patrick Henry High School.
A Serra High cadet enjoys the day.
"Although some of the picnic games seemed competitive, in the end, the cadets laughed and enjoyed their time together," said Lt. Col. (Ret.) David Guzman, Program Manager for San Diego Unified's JROTC. "It was a great way to start the new school year."
San Diego Unified School District has JROTC programs at most of its high schools. It has units from all the services represented: Army, Lincoln, San Diego High, Hoover, Kearny, Morse, Madison and Crawford; Navy, Pt. Loma, Serra and Patrick Henry; Air Force, Scripps Ranch and Mira Mesa; and Marine Corps, University City.

For more information about JROTC, please contact Guzman at (858) 496-8203 or

Monday, October 22, 2012

San Diego deferred action center busy with backlog of transcripts

IN THE NEWS: Office at Ballard Parent Center in Old Town running smoothly. Watch video from NBC Latino»

Charger Game Security Examined by Lincoln Criminal Justice Students

Students at Charger game
Students at the Charger game.
Criminal justice program students at Lincoln High School have made a real connection with some of the officers and program leads through the STAR/PAL partnership developed over the last few years by instructor Ray Beattie, who involves his students in as many real-world activities with the group as possible.

In September, some of his students were guests of STAR/PAL at one of the home Charger games. The students received an in-depth tour of the San Diego Police Department Command Center at Qualcomm Stadium before the game. Beattie invites police officers into his class to address his criminal justice students on various legal issues and to share their career paths with the students.

The criminal justice program at Lincoln High School is part of the College Career and Technical Education (CCTE) program in the San Diego Unified School District. Career technical education courses are offered in 15 industry sectors tied to local economic and workforce needs.
In class
An officer visits Lincoln.

Lincoln High School, located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, offers students a wide variety of career-technical education courses that include these criminal justice classes in the Public Safety Sector, as well as other classes in the Engineering and Arts, Media and Entertainment sectors.

STAR/PAL (Sports Training, Academics, Recreation/Police Athletic League) is a non-profit organization that provides more than 10,000 youth services annually in inner-city neighborhoods throughout San Diego city and county. STAR/PAL offers free educational, athletic, and recreational programs which focus on promoting youth safety, positive life choices, and academic success.
STAR/PAL program directors are officers from the San Diego Police and County Probation departments.

These dedicated officers coordinate unique programs for under-served youth, with the assistance of additional law enforcement and community volunteers. By bringing youth and law enforcement officers together in this manner, STAR/PAL helps build safer communities in the future.

For more information about STAR/PAL, please visit For more information about the Criminal Justice program at Lincoln High School, please contact Ray Beattie, CCTE Teacher, at

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Get Involved in Parent Involvement Day Nov. 15

The San Diego Unified School District and San Diego Unified Council of PTAs invite YOU to Celebrate National Parent Involvement Day on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.

More than 30 years of research indicates that when parents are strategically involved in children's learning at school and at home, student achievement significantly improves and schools are more effective.

The San Diego Unified School District and Council of PTAs both agree that parent engagement focused on supporting the learning process, both at school and at home, is critical to increasing overall student achievement.

For more details, contact your local school or Melissa Whipple at

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Military Family Appreciation and Resource Night Nov. 7

Military families can explore information about local services and community organizations, enjoy free food, and participate in family activities that focus on academics and resiliency-building at the upcoming Military Family Appreciation and Resource Night, scheduled from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Miller Elementary School, 4343 Shields St.(92124).

Hosted by San Diego Unified School District Area 2, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps School liaison programs, resources available to assist and support service members and their families will be on display.

This event is open to all military families with students in schools located in the Henry, Scripps Ranch and Serra high school clusters – the high schools and their feeder elementary and middle schools.

Please visit the San Diego Unified's military family and student support webpage for details about this and other upcoming events.

For additional information, please contact Kimberly Shapazian at 619-725-8168.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mira Mesa JROTC Commander Selected as a 2012 Girl of Merit

Arnelle Sambile
Mira Mesa High School senior Arnelle Sambile was recently recognized by the Girls World Expo as a 2012 Girl of Merit.

The honor is given to girls 12-18 years old who through their actions, activities, leadership and positive influence on others have proved themselves exceptional members of the community.

Sambile was nominated for her inspiration and leadership skills she exhibits as Wing Commander of Mira Mesa’s Air Force JROTC program.

An awards ceremony publicly recognizing Sambile and nine other local honorees will be held Oct. 21 at the Girls World Expo San Diego event. The Girls of Merit ceremony includes a keynote speech by Brent & Kelly King of Chelsea’s Light Foundation.

The Girls World Expo is an organization that hosts expos that center on the educational and cultural development of girls 11-18. Expos feature seminars that allow girls to meet with and hear from successful women in the local community who show them the path to success. Similar expos are held in New York, Washington D.C. and St. Louis. More information can be found at the Girls World Expo website.

Homeless Kimbrough, Crawford, Henry, New Dawn and Storefront Youth Shelter Students Get Shoes

Homeless students from Kimbrough Elementary School, Crawford and Patrick Henry high schools, New Dawn School and residents of Storefront Youth Shelter shopped for new shoes thanks to a generous donation from Gaylord Hansen Mortgage Group, a San Diego branch of Gateway Funding. The 103 students picked out more than $2,300 in shoes.

Gaylord Hansen employees were joined by district staff to help students in selecting the right pair of shoes at Payless Shoe Source in Point Loma on Oct. 11. Students also received socks, snacks, and a t-shirt.

For information, contact Rebecca Benner,, (619) 725-7652.

Watch a video of the event»

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Schools Participate In 'Great California Shakeout'

IN THE NEWS: Lewis Middle School joins all San Diego schools in duck-and-cover drill. See news coverage.

Grant Funds High School JROTC Archery Programs at Seven Schools

Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs at Kearny, Lincoln, Madison, Morse, Hoover, Crawford and San Diego high schools were awarded a $40,000 grant from the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) to establish an archery program. The grant funds archery equipment and replacement parts at each school site and sponsors teacher certification and training through the Basic Archery Instructor course.

In California, the National Archery in the Schools Program, or CalNASP, is administered through the Department of Fish and Game. The CalNASP program is aligned to Physical Education Model Content Standards for California and offers students and JROTC programs additional aspects to their physical education curriculum. Participating schools are also invited to compete in NASP sanctioned tournaments at state, national and international levels.

Kearny High School served as the pilot site for this program in 2011, where it gained immediate popularity and success. In their first year of competition, Kearny JROTC students were recognized as the California Archery State Champions and had several cadets ranked nationally.

For more information on the program, contact, LTC David Guzman at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mission Bay High Featured on TV 'Show Me Your School'

IN THE NEWS: Fox 5's Heather Ford visits with softball team, cheer squad and jazz band.

SD Unified Board Supports District Attorney Youth Programs in Schools

DA Partnering with Schools on Crime Mapping, Prevention Programs

San Diego Unified School District’s Board of Education has voted unanimously to support District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis's Youth Advisory Boards and other initiatives aimed at breaking the cycle of gang violence, helping students make good decisions, and improving the safety of schools in the district.

“As District Attorney and as a former judge, I’ve seen the direct link between students who drop out of school and defendants who end up in prison,” DA Dumanis said. “Our programs are working to keep students on the right track and we’ve already seen some inspiring success stories from our Youth Advisory Boards. Helping our kids get the best educational opportunities available continues to be a personal focus of mine and an area where the DA’s Office has an important role to play.”

The District Attorney’s Office is working with San Diego Unified’s Race and Human Relations Department and other school leaders to establish more Youth Advisory Boards in specific schools.

"The Youth Advisory Board has had a positive impact on many students at Lincoln and Morse High schools by helping students to maintain a focus on the importance of education in their lives,” said Shelia Jackson, Board of Education trustee. “The Board of Education values this partnership with the District Attorney and our students will continue to benefit from the work of Youth Advisory Boards.”

The DA’s first Youth Advisory Board was created in 2008 to allow students to address pressing issues affecting young people in San Diego County and work toward a positive change throughout the community. The first schools with Youth Advisory Boards were Morse and Lincoln High Schools. As part of the program, the students wrote and produced an Emmy-winning short film, “4 or 40: The Choice is Yours.” The film continues to be used during presentations to students across San Diego County.

“The District Attorney’s Youth Advisory Boards provide positive mentoring to our students and helps them to make the right choices about their futures,” Superintendent Bill Kowba said. “We look forward to continuing and expanding this partnership to keep our students in school and away from the negative consequences of gangs and crime.”

More recently, the DA’s Office partnered with City Schools to conduct crime mapping in an effort to learn more about the types and amount of crime occurring around San Diego schools. Results showed higher concentrations of crime around schools in central San Diego, southeast San Diego and Mira Mesa. As a result, preventative programs like the Youth Advisory Board plan to be offered at schools in those areas first.

The District Attorney’s Office is also working to provide schools with its Girls Only Toolkit. The DA, in partnership with the City of San Diego Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention (CGPI), crafted a new educational curriculum called Girls Only, designed to prevent young girls from becoming involved in gangs and prostitution, will now be offered countywide. The curriculum promotes self-esteem, develops healthy coping skills and inspires positive motivation.

The innovative education toolkit focuses on girls age eight to 12 and works to empower girls before they enter their difficult teenage years. The program provides a forum for young girls, giving them the opportunity to find alternatives to the kinds of abusive relationships that often lead to involvement with gangs, substance abuse and, eventually, the criminal justice system.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pt. Loma High Has 'Inspirational Student of the Month'

IN THE NEWS: NBC 7 has named Point Loma High School student Victoria Gonzales as the Inspirational Student of the Month for October. Segment includes an interview with Victoria and one of her teachers. Courtesy of KNSD.

Watch video»

‘Blue Ribbon’ Goes to SD High International Studies

National Blue Ribbon School San Diego High's School of International Studies has been named a federal Department of Education's National Blue Ribbon School for 2012, the only school receiving the award in San Diego County, one of just 307 nationwide.

Overall academic excellence or progress in improving student academic achievement levels has brought the schools the honors. The U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will honor 257 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony in Washington, DC on November 12-13. Each school will receive a plaque and a flag to signify their status as National Blue Ribbon Schools.

"This is such great news for the students, teachers and staff of the School of International Studies," said Dr. Nellie Meyer, Deputy Superintendent for Academics. "This is the type of recognition that enhances the value of our students' high school diploma."

The School of International Studies is one of the five small schools at San Diego High School, which is located at 1405 Park Blvd. at the edge of downtown San Diego. The focus at this magnet school is the International Baccalaureate program and the opportunity for students to receive the highly coveted IB diploma. The school has won many awards and regularly places high on lists of the best high schools in the country.

"The dedication of our students, teachers, parents and staff to education is what has made this possible," said Dr. Carmen Garcia, Principal of International Studies. "It shows that a challenging curriculum and a top notch faculty and staff encourages students to learn and  makes them want to learn more."

"I congratulate these dedicated schools for receiving such a prestigious national honor,” said State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, who nominated the schools earlier this year. “This recognition was made possible by motivated teachers, administrators, and staff supported by involved parents who worked together to provide their students a firm foundation for a lifetime of learning.”

More information on the Blue Ribbon School Program is available on the US Department of Education website.

"Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential," Duncan said. "Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Friday Night Lights on the Centurion Gridiron

Education President John Lee Evans and Area Five Superintendent Mitzi Merino joined University City High School Principal Jeff Olivero, Associated Student Body President Markus Dearing and Senior Class President Ashlyn Lipori-Russie at the Sept. 14 dedication ceremony that marked the completion of recent upgrades to the UCHS stadium. The ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held on the 50-yard line of the football field after the UCHS Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps presented the colors, and the national anthem was performed by the Centurion Marching Band.

Immediately preceding the dedication, the first group of Hall of Fame inductees were introduced to students, parents and guests in attendance.  Matt Brock (Class of ‘84), professional football player; Ken (’89) and Kevin Dow (’91), professional musicians; Jenny Gross (’93), professional basketball player; Wayne Lee (’86), chief NASA engineer; and Felix Sanchez (’95), Olympic gold medal athlete.  For more information on the Inaugural Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, visit the school's website at and click on the Hall of Fame tab.

The stadium upgrades were funded by Proposition S,and they represent an investment of more than $1.4 million into UCHS and the University City community.  The project involved replacing the existing dirt track and grass field with a synthetic turf field and all-weather track, and making improvements to the grading and drainage system. It also included the installation of four new light poles/sports light fixtures, a new electronic scoreboard and new public address speakers. For more details on Prop. S projects at UCHS, visit  For more information on Prop. S, visit or e-mail

Royal treatment for Crawford teen: Student with Down syndrome gets homecoming crown

IN THE NEWS: How Ivan Mendoza wound up on the ballot for homecoming king at San Diego’s Crawford High School says something about his popularity on campus. Everybody knows Ivan, an 18-year-old senior with Down syndrome.

Encanto Elementary Students Walk, Ride and Roll Their Way to School

Encanto Elementary students making their way onto campus
on International Walk to School Day.
More than 250 Encanto Elementary School students, with the help of nearly 50 parent volunteers, woke up bright and early to celebrate International Walk to School Day Oct. 3 with a symbolic walk from Encanto Park to the front of the school.

Encanto Elementary was one of several schools throughout the County to participate in International Walk to School Day, which helped students learn about the importance of walking, riding, or rolling to and from school as a way to stay active and healthy.

Volunteers and staff from Rady Children’s Hospital’s Safe Routes to School program, the San Diego Police Department, UCSD’s Power Play Program, and FedEx handed out fun and educational prizes to students including water bottles, backpacks, safety information, and brightly colored wrist bands provided by Rady Children’s and the San Diego Association of Governments.

Encanto Elementary students, families, and staff will continue to do their part to create a healthy and safe environment for students through an ongoing Safe Routes to School program.

For more information about Safe Routes to School programming, please contact Shanti Bond, 858-576-1700 ext. 7278.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fletcher Elementary Raises $3,000 for American Cancer Society

Fletcher Elementary students spread
hope among cancer survivors.
Fletcher Elementary students, parents, staff members, as well as cancer survivors recently joined together to participate in Relay for Recess, a wellness-based school activity to raise money and awareness for the fight against cancer.

Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the event raised nearly $3,000, all of which will stay in the Kearny Mesa area to support research and basic needs for cancer survivors. Students generated their own creative ideas to promote cancer awareness, allowing them to demonstrate compassion and a sense of community service.

Students, staff and community cancer survivors participated in physical activities resembling a field day like event. Participants remembered loved ones lost and helped raise awareness about a disease that has affected many of the families at Fletcher and in the community. The American Cancer Society also presented ways for children to protect themselves against the disease, including tips on sun care, outdoor prevention and increasing awareness of healthy lifestyles.

For more information on this program or how to schedule an event for your school, visit or contact Fletcher Elementary Principal Gina Camacho McGrath or 858-496-8100.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Farb Middle School AVID Coordinator Speaks to National Conference

Congratulations to Donna Rankin, AVID Coordinator and Teacher at Farb Middle School, who has been chosen from a field of more than 100 applicants to present at the AVID National Conference in December. Rankin’s session will focus on schoolwide practices to support AVID college readiness.

More than 2,000 national attendees including superintendents, school board members, district and site administrators, and other educational leaders will discuss and share best practices on opening access to rigorous curriculum for all students. The conference sessions feature a variety of topics, including 21st Century Skills and STEM initiatives, acceleration and rigor, AVID's College Readiness System, Common Core State Standards, Data, Research, and Evaluation for College Readiness and Equity.

Keynote conference speakers are Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore and Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, former U.S Army Officer and Founder of Educational Achievement Services, Inc.

AVID began in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, then head of the English department at San Diego's Clairemont High School. Today, AVID -- Advancement Via Individual Determination -- is a non-profit, proven college readiness system that is designed to increase schoolwide learning and student performance. The AVID College Readiness System accelerates student learning, uses research-based methods of effective instruction, provides meaningful and motivational professional learning, and acts as a catalyst for schoolwide systemic reform and change.

District Surpasses the Academic Performance Index (API) Target for the State

California's Academic Performance Index (API) results for 2012 show San Diego Unified’s overall score at 808, up 11 points from 2011, and above the state target of 800. Among other large districts in California, only three exceed 800: Garden Grove is first at 815; San Diego is second at 808, and San Francisco is third at 807. The results were released Oct. 11, 2012.

“San Diego Unified has passed the 800 target set by the state for the first time, following six years of continuous growth,” said Deputy Superintendent of Academics Nellie Meyer. “This improvement is a testament to the focused, dedicated work of our teachers, principals, and support staff. We are also seeing the benefits of our analysis of student data and community involvement."

The district now has 113 schools scoring at 800 or above, and 33 scoring 900 or higher, up from 2011 in both categories. Schools making outstanding strides include: Baker Elementary School with a score of 820, up 77 points from 2011; Hamilton Elementary at 792, up 78 points; Foster Elementary at 844, up 59 points; Pacific Beach Middle School at 817, up 50 points; and Scripps Ranch High School at 900, the only high school in the district to be at 900 or above.

State Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson noted that statewide, 59 percent of elementary schools met the state’s 800 target, 49 percent of middle schools met target, and 30 percent of high schools were 800 or above. In San Diego Unified, 62 percent of elementary schools met the state target, along with 61 percent of middle schools, and 31 percent of high schools.

The Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measure is used by the federal Department of Education to determine if a school or district meets NCLB’s annual growth standards. Those that do not are placed on Program Improvement after two years. Despite the improved scores, 126 schools are now in Program Improvement under NCLB, up from 113 last year. School targets increased by about 10 percentage points over 2011. Standley Middle School in University City was the only district school to exit Program Improvement.

San Diego Unified did not make AYP under NCLB. The district continues in Year 3 of Program Improvement (districts are not incremented past Year 3), and must continue to implement the Local Educational Agency (LEA) Plan that was developed last year to align with the priorities contained in the district's Strategic Process.

Among student groups, some achievement gaps continued to slowly narrow. For example, while White students had a gain of 9 API points to 898 and Asian students' scores rose 3 points to 881; Black or African American students were up 15 points to 739, Hispanic or Latino students were up 14 points to 746, and English Learner students increased 12 points to 728.

“While we celebrate these successes, the results also continue to show that we have groups where we must accelerate achievement to close performance gaps,” Meyer said.

For scores of districts and individual schools, go to the state's website at 

Read more in U-T San Diego>>

Kumeyaay Students Learn About Disaster Preparedness

Kumeyaay Elementary School hosted the SAFE San Diego Youth Challenge Oct. 9 in partnership with the American Red Cross, SDG&E and KUSI. Students at Kumeyaay Elementary learned about disaster preparedness, fire safety, and how to respond in an emergency. In addition, students in grades 4 and 5 learned how to perform hands-only CPR. Thanks to the generosity of SDG&E, each Kumeyaay student went home with a disaster backpack and information on how families can become better prepared.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Schools to Join State Thursday In Great Shakeout

For the past couple of years, San Diego schools have "experienced" a 7.8 magnitude earthquake each October. Are fault lines and shifting tectonic plates to blame for this annual phenomenon? No, it’s just the state Office of Emergency Services’ Great California ShakeOut, an annual statewide disaster exercise.
Next Thursday, Oct. 18, schools across the district are scheduled to again "duck and cover" when at the appointed time, 10:18 a.m.

“Student safety is our priority at San Diego Unified ,” said Bill Kowba, San Diego Unified's Superintendent. “Through proper preparation with events like ShakeOut, our students and teachers can learn what to do during an earthquake to ensure that everyone remains safe.”

If asked, many locals would likely say that wildfires pose a more severe threat to our city than earthquakes do. While the San Andreas and San Jacinto Faults are more than 60 miles away from highly populated areas, San Diego is sitting on a major fault, Rose Canyon, that cuts right through the heart of downtown.

All district schools have emergency response plans in place and are prepared should an earthquake or other disaster strike during school hours. Schools routinely practice emergency drills, including earthquake and fire. With the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan still in recent memory, it is now more important than ever for San Diegans to be prepared for the “Big One.”

In addition to being prepared at school and work, it’s important for families to have their own earthquake preparedness plan. All San Diegans are encouraged to participate by registering at Learn more on how to prepare for an earthquake or other disasters by visiting For more on your school's disaster plan, check with the principal.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Suicide Prevention Program Takes Aim at Top Cause of Death

It's the second leading cause of death among kids aged 10-14, third leading cause for those 15-19 in San Diego County and San Diego Unified's SPEAK program is entering its third year of work after helping more than 32,000 students, staff, parents and community members.

The Suicide Prevention Education Awareness and Knowledge Program (SPEAK) works to reduce the stigma that is associated with mental health and depression, increase help-seeking behaviors in our youth, and improve staff responsiveness to suicidal concerns and behaviors in our students by providing suicide prevention education to students, staff, and parents throughout the district.

"We work to alert our students and communities to warning signs, risk factors and what to do in a crisis situation involving suicide," said Jean Foster, the program's coordinator. "One of the myths related to suicide is that talking about it will cause it to happen. We can’t perpetuate this myth."

SPEAK coordinates with individual schools on their suicide prevention efforts, including establishing a school site suicide prevention team that is trained on how to spot students at risk. The County of San Diego Department of Mental Health provides funding for the program so there is no cost to schools for this service.

To obtain more information about the program, or to schedule a presentation, please contact Jean Foster, MFT, 619-523-0708.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sea Bass Delivery Brings San Diego's Coastal Ecosystem to Classroom

Weighing the seabass Students in Mr. James's science classes at La Jolla High are going to have quite a fish story.

Scientists from Hubbs‐SeaWorld Research Institute  recently delivered small cultured white sea bass to his class to help the students -- and the fish.

The small fish are in the classroom's saltwater aquarium and for the next several months the students will maintain the system and care for the fish as they prepare them for their eventual release into the ocean. In a partnership with Hubbs-Sea World Resarch Institute, the California Department of Fish and Game and Get Inspired!, the Sea Bass In The Classroom Program brings a hands‐on ocean‐based learning experience into the classroom and couples it with field activities related to the release of fish.

The program teaches the students about aquaculture and stock enhancement by growing the fish for release into the ocean. It is part of the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program and is being funded by SDG&E Environmental Champions Award.
"This is the only program of its kind in the U.S.," said Michael A Shane, the program's coordinator for the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. "While there are other projects that raise fish in the classroom, they are freshwater species. Marine species are more difficult to culture and provide the linkage to the ocean that is important and appropriate for Southern California youth."

The program allows young people to participate in a marine replenishment program that has been operating since the mid‐80s. The program helps them not only gain a better understanding of where their food comes from but it also addresses all related aspects associated with sustainability including 1) the health of the oceans; 2) California agriculture; 3) food production technology; 4) the health benefits of eating seafood; and 5) food security, said Shane.

The students are learning about the sustainability of a natural resource through the practices of environmental science, and the importance of water quality as a factor in animal, plant, and human health.

"The ability to use this system for laboratory activities, field research, data collection and analysis necessary for actually raising white sea bass for release into the wild is unique and extremely valuable," said teacher Dave James. "They are learning information that is not found in their textbooks and they get to interact with and ask questions of scientists who come into their classroom.

Some of the activities conducted by the student scientists participating in the sea bass program include:
  • The exploration and understanding of the life cycle, growth patterns, reproductive rates and viabilities, genetic diversity, and anatomy and physiology of white seabass;
  • A dissection of whole fish to observe anatomy and physiology of a fish;
  • Witness fish necropsy performed by a fish pathologist;
  • Measure a sampling of the classroom’s white seabass to determine average growth rate;
  • A field trip to Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute to see the largest marine fish hatchery on the West Coast and to observe first‐hand the various life stages and technology employed in culturing white seabass;
  • And the collection, analysis, recording, and comparison of water quality statistics from the classroom’s saltwater aquarium system and from local saltwater sites (wetland community waters and ocean waters) to study dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, salinity, nitrates, ammonia, and alkalinity.
For more information on the program, contact Shane at 619-226-3946.

News coverage

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Students seek to save schools

When adults argue among themselves, the noise can be overwhelming. As a result, they often can’t hear the voices of kids. When it comes to education, however, student voices should be heard. As teenagers, we depend upon voting adults to make decisions that are in our best interest. I wonder sometimes whether those adults who would vote against adequately funding our education believe that we are not affected by the loss of billions of dollars for our schools. Read the complete commentary by Patrick Henry High School senior Nicholas Kelly in U-T San Diego >>.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Learning to Integrate Arts Into the Classroom

Working to bring the arts to curriculum. This summer, a group of elementary school educators spent a week in Balboa Park learning how to integrate the arts into their language arts curriculum while aligning to the Common Core State Standards. As the teachers moved from the Museum of Photographic Arts to the Timken and Mingei Museums of Art and to the La Jolla Playhouse, they engaged in various arts-based strategies that can be used in their own classrooms to enhance their students’ learning and literacy development.

The week-long institute, hosted by CARE (Collaborative Arts Resources for Education) and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, took an arts-based approach to introducing teachers to the Common Core national curriculum standards, slated to be implemented in California in the 2014-2015 school year.

“These standards are different in that there’s a focus on critical thinking and problem solving that really wasn’t in the content standards before,” said keynote speaker Marva Cappello, Associate Professor of San Diego State University’s College of Education.

Throughout the week Cappello and the CARE partners demonstrated that these instructional shifts offer teachers an exciting opportunity to integrate the arts into classroom learning.

“These strategies are going to open students’ minds and will give me a way to measure their thinking," said Pershing Middle School sixth grade teacher Terry Miller from Pershing Middle School.

Story writing, role-playing, photo-sharing and engaging discussion were used to help teachers recognize the many benefits of incorporating art into their curricula.

"All of my kids can be successful using the strategies," said Rhonda Sloan, fifth grade teacher at Carver Elementary. "Every last one of them, regardless of their labels, regardless of their reading levels or their English language proficiency.”

Inspired and empowered, participants look forward to returning to their school sites to implement what they learned.

“Before this institute, I felt art-lame,” one teacher admits, “but now I understand that art is a message that I can use in my classroom.”
For more information on the program, contact Julie Kendig at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, 619-238-7559.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Students Recite '12 Indicators of a Quality School'

Students from Birney Elementary School in University Heights are the stars of a new video about the district's "12 Indicators of a Quality School," part of the 2020 Vision featured in the recent State of the District Address by Dr. John Lee Evans, Board of Education President.

The 12 Indicators are goals for each school to reach as they adopt the 2020 Vision, a plan for continuing improvement of education in San Diego Unified and a roadmap to make sure students in the Class of 2020 and beyond are well prepared to take their place in society.

The students were picked at random from Birney's PrimeTime extended day program. Watch 12 Indicators»

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Federal and local officials recommend getting flu shots early

The federal Centers for Disease Control and San Diego County Department of Health and Human Services are recommending that everyone age six months and above get a flu shot at this time of year.

On its website, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that even if supplies are tight, parents and guardians should have their children aged six months to 4 years be vaccinated. Other children (and adults) should be immunized if supplies are readily available, which it appears they are this year.
Other recommendations for vaccinations are for individuals that:

Have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
  • Are immuno-suppressed (including immuno-suppression caused by medications or by human immunodeficiency virus);
  • Are aged 6 months through 18 years and receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who therefore might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection.

More Flu Information

Friday, October 5, 2012

National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists Announced

There's just one more hurdle for those on the semi-finalist list for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship and students at La Jolla, Patrick Henry, Scripps Ranch and University City high schools are hoping they make the grade for a college scholarship that can be worth $2,500 or more.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and honors and awards received, according to the scholarship's organizer, the National Merit Scholarship Organization.

On the semifinalist list from San Diego Unified are the following students. La Jolla High: Lydia A. Chim, Michaela A. Diercks, Marian Dorst, Patrick J. Eisen, Kathleen Fan, Oliva Y. Gu, Sarah D. Herrmann, Zoe Kleinfield and Marissa C. Nienberg. Patrick Henry High: Amy L. Morrison. Scripps Ranch High School: Fabian K. Boemer, Karli R. Holman, Alwin H. Hui, Jim Liu, Mark R. Saddler, Kenneth Xu. University City High School: Tyler A. Davis, Yvonne Shieh, Alexander C. Wu.

A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn sat scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists across the country, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level and in February they will be notified of this designation.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2013. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 240 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located.

In addition, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2013 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 291,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

SDHS Academy of Finance Interns Celebrate

At the ceremony
Interns together

Twenty-nine juniors from the Academy of Finance (AOF) at San Diego High School celebrated the end of their summer internships for the fifth year in a row at the Omni Hotel. Student interns were placed at sixteen different sites throughout San Diego to put what they’ve studied in the classroom to use in the real world. AOF students are required to complete specialized coursework in advanced accounting, business and financial markets, and marketing before their internship in the summer between their junior and senior years in the program. Upon returning in the fall of their senior year, students will tackle advanced placement economics among other required coursework.

The interns were compensated up to 120 hours through funding from the 21st Century After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens grant for their summer work. At least two of the sites asked their interns to continue working for the remainder of the summer in a non-paid position due to their outstanding work. One intern was offered a paid position by Galaxie Defense Marketing Services at the conclusion of her internship and she continues to work there after school each day.

The Academy of Finance receives additional funding through a grant from the California Department of Education for small learning communities with a career theme. These California Partnership Academies include rigorous academics and career technical education, with a career focus, a committed team of teachers, and active business and post-secondary partnerships.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Roosevelt Middle School to Add Variety to Music Program With Grant From Barona Band of Mission Indians Barona Education

Thanks to Barona Roosevelt Middle School has received a financial boost that will allow its music program to expand. Students and staff were joined Oct. 1 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins and Roosevelt Middle School Principal Arturo Cabello to accept a $5,000 education grant from the Barona Band of Mission Indians.

The money will be used to purchase new music equipment, including Latin and African instruments.

"This opportunity has allowed for a partnership to develop among Roosevelt, Toni Atkins’ office and with Chairman Romero and the Barona Band of Indians," said Dr. Arturo Cabello, Principal.

"We are honored to be able to help increase music education in our local classrooms," said Edwin "Thorpe" Romero, Chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians. "It means so much to us to help talented teachers and administrators carry out their mission of helping students learn, develop and grow."

The campus, an International Baccalaureate school, offers students a rigorous academic curriculum coupled with the opportunity to develop their talents in language, arts, music and theater.

Since 2006, Barona has awarded more than $1.5 million to over 300 schools statewide through its grant program, which is the first of its kind in California created and administered by a Tribal Government. The goal of the Barona Education Grant program is to create strong educational opportunities for the children of California building upon the success of the Barona Indian Charter School, which operates under a continuous improvement model.

Schools throughout California can apply for educational grants from Barona to purchase much-needed supplies and materials that promote academic improvement. Each grant awarded by the Barona Education Grant Program is $5,000. Applications can be downloaded at .

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Coggan Family Aquatic Center marks 10 years

IN THE NEWS: The Coggan Family Aquatic Center just turned 10 years old this month, but for La Jolla High School principal Dana Shelburne, it seems that it took just as long to get the idea of a pool at the school off the ground. The facility is a joint use between the school district and foundation. Read more from the La Jolla Light»

National Walk to School Day Celebrates Foot Power

Thousands of students, parents and communities representing more than 3,300 schools across the United States -- including many San Diego Unified School District schools -- will walk and bicycle to school tomorrow to celebrate International Walk to School Day. This one-day event is part of an international effort to encourage more families to get out of their cars and on to their feet to enjoy the many benefits of safely walking and bicycling to school.

San Diego Unified schools scheduled to participate include Cherokee Point, Chollas-Mead, Encanto, Fletcher, Holmes, Horton, Ocean Beach, Silvergate and Zamorano elementary schools; and Correia and Dana middle schools.

“Walk to School Day continues to inspire community-grown events that celebrate health, safety and a sense of community,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which serves as the coordinating agency for the event. “Often, this one-day event becomes the catalyst to larger commitments and permanent improvements that make walking and bicycling to school safer transportation options year round.”

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari and other national, state and local guests will join a group of Piney Branch Elementary students in Takoma Park, Md., on Wednesday morning as a part of Montgomery County’s Walk to School Day celebration. He will also present a special recognition award for the school’s Safe Routes to School program.

“Every child should have the opportunity to walk to school safely,” said Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari. “Walk to School Day encourages children to experience walk-friendly environments and affirms the importance of walking and biking for a new generation of Americans.”

Walk to School Day was founded in 1997 as a way to bring community leaders and children together to build awareness of the need for communities to be more walkable. By 2002, children, parents, teachers and community leaders in all 50 states and the District of Columbia joined nearly 3 million walkers around the world to celebrate the second annual International Walk to School Day. In 2011, students and parents from more than 4,000 U.S. schools joined millions of Walk to School Day and Month participants worldwide. The one-day event has now grown to a month-long celebration, and the reasons for walking have grown just as quickly as the event itself.

“Each year the event continues to reinforce the importance of safer environments for walking and bicycling, more physical activity, fewer car trips, and a cleaner environment for students, parents and all community members,” Marchetti said. “It also provides a unique opportunity for families to get outside and connect with their neighbors.”

Walk to School events will be held nationwide on Wednesday and throughout the month of October. To view the names and locations of registered U.S. schools participating in Walk to School Day 2012, visit

The National Center for Safe Routes to School maintains the Walk and Bike to School website,, with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. The National Center also serves as the clearinghouse for the Federal Safe Routes to School Program, established in 2005, which strives to create safe settings to enable more parents and children to walk and bicycle to school. More than 13,350 schools participate in programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Accomplishments include increases in walking and bicycling to school, speed reductions within the school zone, and reductions in school transportation costs. Programs reach urban, rural and suburban areas throughout the nation.

For more information about Walk to School Day, visit

For a complete list of other countries participating in Walk to School Day 2012, visit:

For past photos of International Walk to School Day activities, visit:

Monday, October 1, 2012

SD Unified Enrollment Meets Projections

Official enrollment of the San Diego Unified School District -- set by the State of California as the fourth Friday of the school year -- met projections of a slight decline for the 2012-13 school year.

The fourth-Friday enrollment of 115,499 was within 497 students of district budget projections. By meeting projections, the district will avoid layoffs of classified staff, although some teaching and non-teaching employees may have to change schools due to enrollment fluctuations.

"It's important in these trying budget times that we have a stable and smooth opening of our schools," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "By coming very close to projections, it means we can concentrate on putting the staff where they need to be."

District-run schools have 115,499 in pre-kindergarten through grade 12, off 497 from projections but down by 1,827 from 2011. At 44 charter schools, 17,401 students are attending, up by two schools and 1,152 students from last year. Including charters, 132,900 attend classes at San Diego Unified School District campuses.

Overall enrollment in the San Diego Unified School District has shown either a small decline or small increase over the last several years. Changes have generally been less than 2 percent up or down, with a decrease in 2011, increase in 2010, decrease in 2009, increases in 2008 and 2007.

Budgets are prepared in the spring and based on enrollment projections, as the district receives funding from the state based on student enrollment and daily attendance. For more information on the budget process, go to .

Semifinalists for National Achievement Program Announced

Students from Patrick Henry, Mira Mesa, San Diego Met and Scripps Ranch high schools are semifinalists in the 2013 National Achievement Program, a prestigious academic scholarship that pays $2,500 or more.

Open only to African American high school students, the students are: Rachel Miller-Haughton, Alexandra G. Shade, Patrick Henry; Nicole M. Hardson-Hurley, Mira Mesa; Hannah V. Brown, San Diego Met; Lydia M. Johnson and Bethlehem Y. Lema, Scripps Ranch High School.

"These are among the most difficult scholarships for students to obtain," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "I know I join all staff and students in our district in wishing these semi-finalists good luck in their efforts."

The National Achievement Scholarship Program, conducted by the National Merit Scholarship Program, is a privately financed academic competition that operates without government assistance. It was initiated in 1964 to recognize academically promising black students throughout the nation and to provide scholarships to a substantial number of the most outstanding program participants. To date, more than 31,900 young men and women have received Achievement Scholarship awards worth more than $100 million.

To advance to the Finalist level in the competition, the Semifinalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the student’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and educational goals. Semifinalists must present a record of high academic performance throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn sat scores that confirm their PSAT/NMSQT performance.

For more information on the program, students should see their school counselor.