Friday, May 31, 2013

La Jolla High wordsmiths show their skills in WordWright

La Jolla High School's two teams have won the highest honors in year-end standings of this year's WordWright Challenge, a national competition for high school students requiring close reading and analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry.

Participating with 582 high school teams from all across the country, the La Jolla's tenth graders tied for ninth place in the nation in the cumulative standings at the end of the four meets held this year (after finishing first in the nation in the year's final meet). At the same time, the school's 11th-graders tied for 15th place in the nation (after placing eighth in the final meet). The teams were supervised by Jewel Weien.
Three of the school's students won highest honors for year-long individual achievements as well: Sophomore Nika Ostovari place among the six highest-scoring 10th-graders in the entire country in the year-end cumulative standings, while her teammates Chloe Elliott and Charlie Mann both tied for eleventh place in the nation.

Students who excelled in the year¹s final meet, held in April, included sophomores Lauren Dorst, Chloe Elliott, Charlie Mann, Nika Ostovar, and Enzo Serafino, all of whom earned perfect scores. Sophomores Alma Halgren, Rain Joslin, Reed Vickerman, and Louise Xu, and juniors Marisa Liang, Tessa Lowe, and Trevor Menders each made only one mistake.

The premise behind the WordWright Challenge is that attentive reading and sensitivity to language are among the most important skills students acquire in school. The texts students must analyze for the Challenge can range from short fiction by Eudora Welty or John Steinbeck to poetry as old as Shakespeare's or as recent as Margaret Atwood's, and to essays as classic at E.B. White's or as current as a Time Magazine opinion piece by James Poniewozik. Though the texts vary widely in voice, subject, tone, and length, they have one thing in common: style. All use language skillfully to convey layers and shades of meaning not always apparent to students on a first or casual reading.

Like the questions on the verbal SAT I, the SAT II in English Literature, and the Advanced Placement exams in both English Language and English Literature, the questions posed by the Challenge ask students both to recognize the emotional and/or rational logic of a piece of writing and to notice the ways in which a writer's style shapes and shades his meaning. Because the WordWright Challenge is a classroom activity and not a college-entrance exam, however, it can be a learning experience, not just a high hurdle. After completing the Challenge, classes are encouraged to talk about the text and the answers to the multiple-choice questions, and are also given additional topics for open-ended discussion and/or written response.

The texts for the fourth WordWright meet this year were a pair of essays by Stanley Fish and Michael Winerip for ninth- and 10th-graders and a poem by Katha Pollitt for 11th- and 12th-graders. Now that all four of the year's meets have been completed, medals and certificates will be presented to those who achieved and/or improved the most in the course of the year.

Superintendent lauds PTA volunteer contributions as "priceless"

Supt. Kowba receives the Honorary Service Award from
the PTA. Joining him are his daughter, Elizabeth, left, his
wife, Maureen, and Barbara Flannery, President of the
San Diego Unified Council of PTAs.
A $4,254,750.07 check from the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs to the San Diego Unified School District?

The check may not have been real, but the amount was – it represents the monetary equivalent to the District of the 192,174.8 volunteer hours donated by PTA members this school year. A mock check for the amount was presented to Supt. Bill Kowba at the Council's Founders Day dinner on May 20.

"Even thought the PTA has assigned a monetary value to this, the real value to our kids is priceless," said Kowba, who will retire from the district at the end of June.

In addition, the Council of PTAs presented two service awards, recognized special unit PTAs who met the membership challenge and one National PTA award winner.

Superintendent Bill Kowba was presented an Honorary Service Award for the outstanding commitment he showed to the students of San Diego Unified School District these past seven years in his various roles from "CFO to CEO," said Barbara Flannery, President of the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs.

"The superintendent is known for his 4 a.m. emails and his calm in the face the state education budget crisis," she said. "He has become a true supporter of parent involvement and belongs to multiple PTAs in the district. The Honorary Service Award recognizes outstanding service to children and youth."

In attendance with him were surprise guests, his wife, Maureen, and daughter, Elizabeth.

Flannery was presented a Continuing Service Award for her decade of service to the students and families of San Diego Unified. She started out in PTA as just a helper, later becoming President of Language Academy PTA and moving up to Council PTA to serve as webmaster, secretary and president. She is presently the Council PTA representative on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee for Prop S and Z and will continue her service to the community as vice-president of Programs for the Council.

Linda Zintz, Director of Communications, and Dr. Betsy Cook, Principal of Marston Middle School were recognized for their two years of service as liaisons to the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs Executive Board for San Diego Unified and Administrators Association of San Diego, respectively.

The Honorary Service Awards Program is the funding source for the California State PTA Scholarships and Grant Programs.

PTA programs at 19 schools units were recognized for membership increases of more than 25 members, 37 schools had an increase in membership. Six schools were recognized for having more than 300 members: Hearst PTA, Holmes PTA, Marshall Middle PTSA, Mira Mesa High PTSA, Spreckels PTA and with a high of 605 members La Jolla High PTA.

Lindbergh Schweitzer PTA received the California State PTA award, “Members Matter, Teachers Matter,” for an overall increase in members and with 100 percent of their teachers joining the PTA. The unit received a free State PTA Convention registration.

Cadman PTA was a recipient of the National PTA “Take You Families to School” grant.
Three schools organized this year's event: Creative Performing and Media Arts PTSA, America’s Finest Charter School PTSA and San Diego High School PTSA.

Karen Fleck, Ninth District President, presided over the installation of the 2013-15 Executive Board: President Derby Pattengill, Executive Vice-President Laura Schumacher, VP of Leadership Betsy Mueller, VP of Programs Barbara Flannery, VP of Communications Cathy Lackmann, VP of Legislation Celeste Bobryk-Ozaki, Secretary Bey-Ling Sha, Treasurer Janine Morrow, Auditor Michelle Cass, Historian Kelly Barnes and Parliamentarian NiChelle Cannon.

Also in attendance were Board of Education Vice President Kevin Beiser, and past PTA Council Presidents Barbara Peluso, Debbie Vincent, Patt Sloan, and Cindy McIntyre.
The San Diego Unified Council of PTAs is comprised of 80 school-level PTAs in the San Diego Unified School District. To start a PTA at your school, contact Vice-President of Leadership Betsy Mueller at

Thursday, May 30, 2013

New physical education game multiplies with math

Mary Lou Baranowski, a physical education teacher at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary, recently challenged her students to a new game called Kinect-4.
Connecting at Lindbergh Schweitzer
"When a teacher brings to the classroom other disciplines of study, students benefit," said Coach Mary Lou. "The game of Kinect-4 incorporates math and problem-solving skills into a vigorous physical education activity."

Baranowski, named this year's Southwest District Elementary School Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, was intrigued by the game that was strikingly similar to the popular Connect 4, but with physical activity included. In Connect 4, players attempt to fill four consecutive slots with their markers.

In "Kinect-4," the object is for players to still connect four of their game pieces, but now it's a large board, laying flat on the ground. Before they can place their markers, students solve various problems and work on a variety of sports and fitness related skills.

"The object of the game is to create a sequence of 4 co-linear squares," she said. "The squares may be placed vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, but they must be in a straight, continuous line. The game of Kinect-4 features a multitude of complexity levels, making it adaptable to a wide-range of grade and ability levels."

For more information about Kinect-4, contact Baranowski at

For proposal, middle school sweethearts return to stage of memories

It was 1963 and then-new Albert Einstein Junior High on Conrad Avenue in Clairemont was home to two sweethearts, Linda and Joseph. They met on the stage of the school's state-of-the-art cafetorium, a combination cafeteria and auditorium. The next year, Joe promoted to Madison High School and the two drifted apart.

Joseph Martinez and Linda StreeterFast-forward a half century. Einstein is now home to the Creative Performing and Media Arts Middle School (CPMA). The old cafetorium is yesterday's state-of-the-art and is being torn down. It will be be replaced by a new, multi-million-dollar performing arts center.

But Joe and Linda are still around and on May 13, on the same stage where they met and with today's middle school students singing "Going to the Chapel,"Joseph Martinez finally proposed to Linda Streeter.

"Joseph got down on one knee and nervously asked the girl he fell in love with, oh, so many years ago, to be his wife," said Principal Scott Thomason, who was in on the surprise. "Her answer was yes!"

Through the years, Einstein turned into Kroc Middle School, named for the late McDonalds founder, San Diego Padres owner and supporter of San Diego education. It became CPMA in 2007. But the story of Linda and Joseph reminds all of us of the importance our schools have to students – both past and present.

"Joseph has asked that when the stage is torn down later this year," said Thomason, "that a small small piece of the flooring be saved for him to remember the occasion by. One thing is for sure, those of us who participated in the joyous event will not soon forget what love is all about."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Graduates take stock and look toward future

IN THE NEWS: Arnelle Sambile from Mira Mesa High is profiled as one of San Diego County's top graduates. Read more from UT San Diego»Arnelle Sambile

Additional National Merit Scholarships go to SD Unified students

Two additional San Diego Unified students -- both from Scripps Ranch High School -- are receiving congratulations for successfully completing the rigorous process for receiving a National Merit Scholarship.

Scripps Ranch High Mark R. Saddler has received the National Merit University of Chicago Scholarship. According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which administers the grants, Saddler will be attending the University of Chicago in the fall and plans a career in medical research.
Karli R. Holman has received the National Merit Westmont College scholarship. She's headed toward a career in medicine, according to National Merit.

In making the announcement that approximately 2,500 winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities, National Merit officials said each sponsor college selected its scholarship winners from among the finalists in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program who plan to attend their institution.

These awards are $500-2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.

An additional group of Scholars will be announced in July, bringing the total number of college-sponsored Merit Scholarship recipients in the 2013 competition to approximately 4,500. This year, 190 higher education institutions are underwriting Merit Scholarship awards through the National Merit Scholarship Program. Sponsor colleges and universities include 113 private and 77 public institutions located in 44 states and the District of Columbia.

Two weeks ago, students receiving Merit Scholar grants were announced. The students were: from La Jolla High, Marian Dorst, Kathleen Fan, Marisa C. Nienberg; Scripps Ranch High's Kenneth Xu has also been honored.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

S.D. Unified successes put district in running for top prize

IN THE NEWS: A team of education researchers descended on Josephine Washington’s freshman biology class at Kearny High School on Wednesday, hovering over her shoulder with questions about their work with the nonprofit Surfaid International. Josephine and her classmates talked about malaria outbreaks that can hit developing countries following natural disasters. They also discussed the biology and social impact of composting. These hands-on, real-world lessons resonated with education experts sent to gather information on the San Diego Unified School District, one of four finalists for the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education. Read more from UT San Diego»

More coverage

Serra, Crawford, Kearny CTA awarded at CCTE Showcase

The crowd cheered as three groups of high school students were awarded banners and trophies at this year’s College, Career & Technical Education (CCTE) Showcase.

Canstruction Uncle Sam
The High School Open category winner was Serra High’s Student Store, SuperQ, run by the Business Management and Ownership students under the guidance of teacher, Jennifer Pickering. The High School Team category winner was awarded to Crawford High’s Urban Health: Growing Healthy Urban Communities. This was an expansion of a project from 2011 and 2012 which covers five key areas of health: Food Access, Nutrition, Education, Physical, & Environment. The Coolest Project was awarded to Kearny Construction Tech Academy’s CANstruction team that built Uncle Can - We CAN Make a Difference to Stop Hunger!

This annual event connects business partners with students and teachers to develop a strong foundation for the economic future for San Diego. It is a culminating event for teachers/students to exhibit an outside of the classroom product they designed or a problem they attempted to solve with the collaboration from the business community. Students can choose to compete for prizes or simply showcase their project. This year, more than 300 industry professionals volunteered to be mentors, guest speakers, or advisors for our students.

The Showcase Panel of Judges is comprised of student teachers from the School of Teacher Education, College of Education, San Diego State University; members of the greater San Diego business community; and personnel from the Instructional Support Services Division of the District.

Winning teams received banners to display at their school site and teachers associated with the teams will receive extra funds in their 2013-2014 Instructional Supplies budget: High School Team Champion, $1,000; High School Open Champion, Expenditures must meet requirements of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Carson Elementary dancers perform at airport terminal

Dancing at the airport As part of the grand re-opening of Terminal 2 at the San Diego International Airport, four grade-three students from Carson Elementary performed with Ballet Folklorico to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

 Arriving passengers were greeted by dancers who perform regularly with Ballet Folklorico, a dance company that partners with Bayside Community Center in Linda Vista, one of Carson's very active school partners.

Ballet Folklorico teaches traditional Mexican dances and folklore to children ages 5-12 Folklorico is composed of ballet steps and musical pieces reflecting various regions and folk music genres of Mexico.

"Dance is great for a child¹s frame of mind," said Carson Principal Joe Frescatore. "By teaching youngsters how to dance it gives them physical advantages such as general fitness, discipline, endurance, balance and coordination. Dance also provides youth with the opportunity to interact with others, providing social activity and a sense of camaraderie that tends to make a person much more spontaneous, while developing their self-esteem."

For more information: Nadia Arambula at (619) 446-7283, or visit the website at

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thanks to Salvation Army, NBC 7 for ‘Bikes for Kids’

Roberto Alcantar at Linda Vista ElementaryThe long-running Bikes for Kids program from the Salvation Army Sierra Del Mar Division and NBC 7 San Diego has made students at several San Diego Unified schools proud in recent months.

The program gives free bicycles to elementary school students nominated by their school, teacher or a member of the community. Recent free rides go to students at Linda Vista, Fulton, Kumeyaay, Gage and Zamorano schools.
One special day each week, NBC San Diego Morning News weathercaster Whitney Southwick rides into a classroom on a brand new bicycle, and presents it to the child along with a helmet and lock.

A Salvation Army officer gives the child a certificate of recognition and then both the officer and Southwick talk to the class about why this child was chosen, bicycle safety, and the importance of a positive attitude in life. The program is supported by donations to the Salvation Army and the station.

For more information on the winners, go to the Salvation Army website: March | April

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Special Education ‘Above and Beyond’ awards honor 15

The Community Advisory Committee for Special Education and San Diego Unified's special Education division have named 15 to its Honor Roll for "exceptional contributions to the educational outcomes of students with disabilities."

Honor roll 2013 Honored were Erin Grettenberger, Alcott Elementary; Andrea Marcus, Bay Park Elementary; Andrew McNally, Behavior Support Resources; Irene Reed, Behavior Support Resources; Jane Doft, Vocational Rehabilitation; Kyle Benson, Fletcher Elementary; Patricia Harver, Cubberley Elementary; Alison Labastida, Alan Morales, Aaron Smith, Millennial Tech Middle School; Dana McKenna, Doyle Elementary; Rita McKerring, Green Elementary; Janice Von Arx, Lisa Walker, Whittier Center.

The committee serves in an advisory capacity to the Board of Education and Special Education administration on the implementation of the Special Education Local Plan Area. This plan is a legal document that describes how the district provides services to students with exceptional needs. Committee membership is comprised of parents with students who receive Special Education services, parents with students in general education, district staff from both special and general education, community agency representatives and any community member who is interested in Special Education.

Any parent of a student in the district, staff or community member may attend and participate in committee meetings. For more information, visit the committee's website.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Madison High auto techs in competition to find most skilled students in California, nation

Students Korey Ingram and Austin Hayward from Madison High School raced to find 10 problems in a Ford Focus SE during the 2013 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition and although the pair didn't win the event, they did pick up valuable experience against other high school students from around southern California.

Madison team works on car. The competition, sponsored by the Ford Motor Company and the Automobile Club of Southern California, is designed to find the most talented young auto technicians in the U.S.
Ingram, one of only two girls in the competition, and Hayward were joined by their instructor, Omar Sevilla, at the competition, which was held May 3 at the Wally Parks NHRA Museum at the Fairplex in Pomona.

The competition winners were determined by scores on an online qualifying exam and the team's performance in the statewide hands-on, under-the-hood competition to repair quickly and accurately a deliberately disabled Ford Focus SE.
As statewide champion, the Ramona High team advances to the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals in Dearborn, MI in June, where $11 million in scholarships and prizes will be distributed.

Madison High School is in its second year of using a state-of-the-art automotive technology facility, which was built using voter-approved funds from Prop. S and statewide Prop. 1D. The Auto Club co-sponsors the annual competition to draw attention to the need to attract qualified students to high-paying automotive professions. Trained automotive technicians are among the most sought-after and highly paid professionals in today’s job market, but many high schools, unlike those in San Diego Unified, are reducing or eliminating automotive programs due to lack of funds and/or trained teachers. At the same time, there are almost 250 million cars and trucks in operation in the U.S., according to R.L. Polk and Co.'s 2009 data.

For more information on the program, contact Sevilla at

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Calendar of commencement, promotion ceremonies is now online

Graduation Another school year is coming to a close and that means graduation and promotion ceremonies will be held soon. The last day for students in traditional calendar schools is Tuesday, June 11. High school graduation ceremonies will be held June 10 and 11; traditional calendar middle school promotion ceremonies will also take place June 10 and 11. Promotion ceremonies for year-round middle schools will be held July 18 and 19, as their last day of school is Friday, July 19.



Giving help: PB Town Council helps Buccaneers suit up Read more: San Diego Community News Group - Giving help PB Town Council helps Buccaneers suit up

IN THE NEWS: Pacific Beach Town Council directors Greg Daunoras and Cathie Jolley attended a Friends of Pacific Beach Secondary Schools meeting recently and presented Mission Bay High School athletic director Jorge Palacios with a check for $570 to help pay for new spring sports uniforms. Read more from Beach and Bay Press»

Walker Child Development Center's Lisa Love is Classified Employee of the Year

Lisa Love
Lisa Love, the child care attendant at Walker Elementary School's Child Development Center in Mira Mesa, has been selected the 2013 San Diego Unified Classified Employee of the Year. Jolene Ress, administrative aide at Montgomery Middle School was named runner-up. Love and Ress, along with more than 75 select site and department classified employees from across the district, were honored at the May 21 Classified Employee of the Year celebration.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Classroom of the Future Foundation finds it at San Diego Unified

San Diego Unified has received the Impact Award from the Classroom of the Future Foundation as part of its 10th Innovation in Education Awards. The district is being praised for its commitment to put 21st century technology in its classrooms through the i21 Program.i21 Program

News Coverage

Crawford High football seeks level playing field

IN THE NEWS: Internationally diverse team changing league for better competition. Read more from UT San Diego»

Construction Tech Academy's girls support group a success

Ladies of Construction Tech Academy, an after-school program designed and facilitated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego, just finished its first year of innovative leadership development and service learning for 30 teen girls at Stanley E. Foster Construction Tech Academy at Kearny High School.
Ladies of CTA Throughout the program, the teens coordinated a number of projects. They planned a Construction Tech Academy recruitment event for local middle school teens and applied for a grant to support the event. The girls learned about the issue of hunger in San Diego and then volunteered at the JFS food Pantry and St. Vincent de Paul. They also created a short documentary film exploring their successes and challenges on campus.

In just a year, the teens have noticed a measurable change in themselves and in the attitudes of girls on campus. One teen participant said that her favorite part of Ladies of Construction Tech Academy was “spending time with the other girls and bonding because it gives us a sense of family and security.”
Another teen reported that she loved “everything about Ladies of Construction Tech Academy! I especially grew from the leadership, group activities, motivation, confidence, self-motivation, empowerment, and all the self-esteem boosters!” Ladies of Construction Tech Academy utilizes nationally-recognized curriculum from the teen leadership department at JFS and will resume in the fall of 2013.
This unique program empowers girls on a campus where the female student population less than 20 percent. Construction Tech Academy’s unique campus offers project-based learning in construction, architecture, and engineering. While there is no shortage of positive female role models on campus (Principal Laura Bellofatto was recognized this spring by the National Association of Women in Construction as Executive of the Year), the girls were still hungry for a formalized support system as they prepare for careers in male-dominated fields. Ladies of Construction Tech Academy prepares them for the future by helping the teens to develop meaningful friendships while learning practical leadership skills, and planning projects that give back to their community.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Year Later, Dalai Lama Visit Inspires San Diego

IN THE NEWS: A consortium of faith and community groups hosted a daylong celebration of compassion at Cherokee Point Elementary School. See more from KPBS»

Cubberley Elementary students in Lego competition

Cubberley’s newly formed robotics team, The Metal Bots, were the highest scoring team to complete the “On the Spot Challenge” at Legoland’s LEGO Yard Wars Spring Showdown 2013.

Competing against 26 other middle and elementary schools in the FIRST LEGO League Southern California Region, no coaches or adults were allowed in the pits. Teams were given a new mission to complete with only 30 minutes to rebuild and reprogram their robot to complete the tasks. First LEGO League

The Metal Bots formed early in the school year and have been coached by Kearny High School Robotics Team alumni, team parents and an engineer mentor with the Women in Defense. Team members are also learning how robotics relates in the world. Guest speaker, Dr. Richard Coutts, orthopedic surgeon with Sharp Health Care introduced robotic knee surgery, and engineer Alex Dowell with Sea Botix shared about underwater robots. The Metal Bots are our future doctors, engineers, and scientists!

Spring Showdown 2013 was based on the Junkyard Wars TV series in which two teams were given 24 hours to brainstorm and build a functioning item such as a hover craft, sail plane, torpedo, or dragster, collecting parts inside of the junkyard and later competing head to head in a challenge. The missions for the robotics tournament were based off of the machines that teams built throughout the television series.

For more information, please contact principal, Rosemary Cruz and visit the FLL website.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spanish, French linguists shine at The Language Academy

French- and Spanish-language students at the Language Academy, a kindergarten through grade 8 magnet school near San Diego State University, have received gold, silver, bronze and honorable mention awards in Le Grand Concours, the National French Contest, and the National Spanish Exam.

Studying for French test. Language Academy is a multicultural school that emphasizes the importance of fluency in multiple languages. The Language Academy offers students the unique opportunity to become bi-literate in either Spanish and English, or French and English.

“This is a highly competitive examination that helps to prepare students for the AP and College Placement Exams." said Marie-Magdeleine Chirole, Southest Region Director for American Association of Teachers of French, the organization that sponsors Le Grand Concours. "This is why your students who received a national ranking deserve special recognition. Their achievements are a testament to the quality of your French program.”

In the French test the Language Academy had 103 students in grades 6-8 take the test, with 25 top-20 percentile Honorable Mention Awards, 55 Bronze medals for National places 10-4, 12 Silver medals for National third and second place, and four Gold medals for National First Place. Several students received medals for the second consecutive year.

Students also excelled in the National Spanish Examinations, which are similar to the National French Contest and is sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. This year Language Academy earned seven gold, 16 silver and 18 bronze medals along with 56 honorable mentions among the 132 students in grades 6-8 who took the test. And, as with the French test, there were several repeat winners.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Vote through Friday for your school's volunteer

Voting has been extended to through this Friday, May 24, in a contest that many San Diego Unified schools, and other schools across the county, are participating in, the Farmers Market School Volunteer of the Year award.

Volunteer Award To vote for your favorite school's favorite volunteer, go to and vote for two candidates. Among the San Diego Unified schools participating are: Alcott, Angier, Carver, Cherokee Point, Chollas-Mead, Curie, EB Scripps, Franklin, Gage, Dewey and Kimbrough elementary schools. Bell, Challenger, Dana, Mann and Standley are among the middle schools participating. The high school list includes University City, Madison and Morse.

The Grand Prize Winner’s school will receive a $5,000 donation in the winner’s name from DonorNation. In addition, the winner will also receive $100 in groceries per week for 52 weeks from Sprouts Farmers Market. The First Runner-up’s school will receive, in the winner’s name, a $2,500 donation from DonorNation. Additionally, the winner will receive $100 per week for 26 weeks from Sprouts Farmers Market. The Second Runner-up’s school will receive, in the winner’s name, a $1,500 donation from DonorNation. Additionally, the winner will receive from $100 per week in groceries for 13 weeks Sprouts Farmers Market.

After the public voting phase ends, a Selection Committee consisting of prominent San Diego residents, will review the field of submissions and identify a Grand Prize Winner, First Runner-up and Second Runner-up. We will be announcing the names of the Selection Committee later this month.

Good luck to all the volunteers and schools!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

JROTC awards ceremony highlights upcoming week

More than 2,000 expected for parade review, awards event at Morse High on Saturday. Go to district calendar»

Clairemont High students are hungry to give back

AOBT Eleventh-grade students from the Academy of Business and Technology (AOBT) at Clairemont High School and their business mentors participated recently in a community service activity with Feeding America in Sorrento Valley. Together, they packed 5,143 meals (6,850 lbs. of food) in one afternoon.
At the warehouse, students and mentors worked side-by-side at various stations including package integrity, date checking and sorting.  At the end of the afternoon, the students had a better understanding that helping others can make a big difference in the community.

“It makes me feel good just knowing that I can help someone else,” said AOBT student Shane Ray. “Helping people and knowing that I will affect someone else, just gives you that good feeling inside, that you made a difference.”

The Academy of Business and Technology gives students a competitive advantage by preparing them for college and career, with an emphasis in business and finance. Students invest in their futures through academic and real-world experiences, team collaboration and connections to business and community partners, while receiving ongoing support in a family environment. Academy students grow to be innovative, articulate and socially engaged young adults who take initiative in their communities and personal endeavors.
The AOBT is a California Partnership Academy (CPA) funded by a grant from the California Department of Education. The CPA model is a three-year program for grades 10-12 and is structured as a school-within-a-school. Academies incorporate integrated academic and career technical education, business partnerships, mentoring and internships.
For more information, contact Lisa McDonnell at

Latest state budget proposal shows increase in school funds

Gov. Brown Adjustments to Gov. Jerry Brown's 2013-14 state budget proposal, commonly known as the "May Revise," may mean more funds for San Diego Unified next year.

Gov. Brown’s May revision to his proposals for the 2013-14 State Budget were released on Tuesday, May 14. It reflects changes in the national and state economic outlook and the corresponding effects on revenues generated from the passage of Proposition 30 and the state’s obligation to schools.

“We appreciate the Governor’s continued commitment to supporting our neediest students by maintaining his plan for the Local Control Funding Formula in his May budget proposal," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "The new investment to support the transition to the Common Core with one time funding will also be very helpful to our district.

"Since ongoing funding for 2013-14 will change only slightly, San Diego Unified will need to stay the course on our budget strategy to balance our structural deficit next year with property sales and attrition based staff reductions. In future years as additional funding materializes, the district can begin to restore education programs that have been lost over the last five years of education budget cuts.”

The Governor’s proposed Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funding model fixes the state's outdated and broken school finance system with a formula that allow schools maximum flexibility in allocating resources to meet local needs. It will be phased in over several years as funding increases for K‑12 education from Prop. 30 and will include accountability measures for academic and fiscal outcomes.

According to a preliminary analysis by San Diego Unified staff, the May revision proposal includes:
  • An increase, over the original January proposal, in the repayment to district of previous year "deferrals," funds owed to school districts but held back by the state.
  • A one-time expenditure statewide of $1 billion to help schools implement Common Core Standards, California's conversion of curriculum to a new national standard. Possibly an additional $18 million for San Diego Unified.
  • Funds to make up for federal cuts in special education funding.
  • The fundamental components of the Local Control Funding Formula proposal remain essentially unchanged from January, with an emphasis on providing additional resources to school districts with the highest concentrations of English learners, low-income students, and foster youth, and a commitment to ensuring there is local flexibility and local accountability.
The state Legislature faces a June 15 constitutional deadline for adopting the state budget for 2013-14. For more information on the Governor's plan, visit his website.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Roosevelt Middle students tell ‘The Story of Me’ through art

Belinda Mora
Five students from Mrs. Fouseki’s photography course at Roosevelt Middle School are among the 200 students whose art is currently on display in the "Young Art 2013: The Story of Me" exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art. The exhibit runs through May 26.

The museum received nearly 350 submissions this year for the exhibit. The art work is competitively judged and not every piece is accepted. All submissions must be tied to the theme each year. Student artwork can tell "The Story of Me" through artistic representations depicting their culture, traditions, family, friends, memories, experiences, or physical appearance through portraiture, narrative and masks.

Roosevelt students featured include seventh graders Destiny Sarmiento and Nicole Pinon, and eighth graders Holly Thomas, Lewis Poor and Belinda Mora.

For more information, visit

Madison High cheerleaders pep up Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary

The cheer squad from Madison High wants at the school's cluster mate to make sure it does as good as it can on mandated state tests.

Cheering at Lindbergh Schweitzer To drive that point home, the squad visited Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School to pep up the elementary students just before tests began.

Vice Principal Muriel Bartolini thought having the older students cheer on the younger students as they go through the two weeks of testing would inspire the students to "do their best on the test." Afternoon recess seemed to be the perfect time for the "Hawks" to come cheer for the "Tigers."
Some of the cheerleaders were former students at Lindbergh Schweitzer.

"We love to support the students at Madison, and in turn they have shown their support for our students—a win-win for everyone!" Mrs. Bartolini said, "Three cheers for the Madison Community of Schools!"

Bayview Terrace ceremony kicks off K to College Program

Free school and dental supplies valued at nearly $70 to low-income students are going to Bayview Terrace Elementary School students thanks to the K to College program.

Supt.-designate Marten at Bayview TerraceThe program was able to launch earlier than expected due to a donation from local tech firm, Huawei Technologies.

A special assembly to celebrate the kickoff of this program was held at Bayview Terrace recently. Students, staff, parents, district personnel, volunteers from Huawei Technologies, Superintendent-designate Cindy Marten, civic leaders, and representatives from K to College were in attendance. The program intends to expand to other schools in the area and become a twice a year event at each school.

Bayview Terrace Principal Magdalena Tavasci was grateful for the donations. Each kit contains paper, pencils, index cards, binders, dictionary, complete dental kit, and other supplies.

“The gifts being provided by Huawei and K to College will be incredibly valuable in helping students feel more prepared and motivated when they enter the classroom," she said.

K to College is a nonprofit that aims to promote equal access to quality education by ensuring every student has the resources and tools to learn from kindergarten to college. K to College is especially appreciative of its partners, such as Huawei Technologies, who help bring resources to underprivileged students throughout the state.

“It’s only possible with the generosity of companies like Huawei, who choose to invest in their local and future workforce,” said Benito Delgado-Olson, the executive director of K to College. “That is why we are proud to have them as our first San Diego and statewide sponsor.”
  – Brenna Goodsitt

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

High schools rank as 'America's Best' in media polls

Three separate rankings have been recently released and they find several San Diego Unified School District high schools among the best of the more than 21,000 high schools in the US.

Each listing evaluates schools their interpretation of college-prep or participation. Click on the list's link for information on how the list is determined.

Washington Post

    30 -- Preuss UCSD Charter
    190 -- San Diego High School of International Studies 
    496 -- Pt. Loma High School
    618 -- University City High School
    1528 -- Clairemont High School
    1006 -- Mission Bay High School
    1003 -- Mira Mesa High School
    1042 -- Crawford CHAMPS High School
    1264 -- San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts

Daily Beast/Newsweek

    154 -- Preuss UCSD Charter
    292 -- La Jolla High School
    300 -- San Diego High School of International Studies
    391 -- Scripps Ranch High School
    791 -- Mira Mesa High School
    845 -- Pt. Loma High School
    892 -- University City High School
    1125 -- Clairemont High School
    1306 -- Patrick Henry High
    1371 -- Mission Bay High
    1628 -- Madison High
    1973 -- San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts

US News

    Ranking: Medal/National/California

    Gold/30/4 --  Preuss UCSD Charter
    Gold/214/37 -- La Jolla High School
    Gold/466/89 -- Scripps Ranch High School
    Silver/513/96 -- Pt. Loma High School
    Silver/546/105 -- San Diego High School of International Studies Note: Ranking is on appeal. 
    Silver/552/106 -- University City High School
    Silver/661/126 -- Patrick Henry High School
    Silver/860/177 -- Mira Mesa High School
    Silver/1053/222 -- Serra High School
    Silver/1224/278 -- Mt. Everest Academy
    Silver/1066/225 -- San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts
    Silver/1149/256 -- San Diego High School of SciTech

National Merit Scholarships go to La Jolla, Scripps Ranch students

National Merit Students from La Jolla and Scripps Ranch high schools have received the prestigious National Merit Scholarships for 2013.

At La Jolla High, Marian Dorst, Kathleen Fan, Marisa C. Nienberg will receive the scholarships; Scripps Ranch High's Kenneth Xu has also been honored.

The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program. National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors. These scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions offi cers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

There’s an additional Gates Scholar from SD Unified; total of eight

Walter Parker of Crawford High is the eighth student from the San Diego Unified School District to be awarded a Gates Millennial Scholarship for 2013.
Parker joins graduating seniors from Kearny High Science Connections and Technology, San Diego High School of Business, Scripps Ranch High School and University City High schools among 1,000 students nationwide who have been received the scholarships.

Gates Scholarship San Diego Unified staff unfortunately missed Parker's name on the list of Gates scholars and failed to include it in the April 30 announcement.

The program awards the Class of 2013 Gates Millennium Scholars good-through-graduation scholarships which can be used to pursue degrees in any undergraduate major at the accredited college or university of the recipients’ choice. It is funded through a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has helped remove barriers to education for more than 20,000 high-performing, low income students since it was established in 1999. It is administered by the United Negro College Fund in partnership with with the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund.

Three students from University City High School – Susan Stewart, Matthew Wood and Calvin Yao – received the scholarships. Also receiving scholarships were: from the San Diego High School of Business, Miguel Anzelmetti and Anesheawa Senior; Nhat Quang Thai, Kearny Science Connections and Technology; and Solomon Ephraim, Scripps Ranch High School; and Walter Parker of Crawford High.

"All of us at the San Diego Unified School District commend the hard work of these students and are thrilled with the opportunity they are receiving from the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program," said Superintendent Bill Kowba.

According to the program, it provides recipients with leadership development opportunities, mentoring, academic and social support as well as financial support. Known for its recipients' high graduation rates, Gates Millennium Scholars have a six-year graduation rate of more than 86 percent (38 percent higher than the national graduation rates for all students) and comparable to the rates for students from high-income families.

Students have already been accepted to four-year institutions. Scripps Ranch High's Ephraim is scheduled to attend UC Santa Barbara. At UC High, Susan Stewart is slated for UC Berkeley, New York University or UCLA; Matthew Wood, Brown University; and Calvin Yao, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago or UCLA. San Diego High's School of Business Miguel Anzelmetti is going to UCSD and Anesheawa Senior is going to Tuskegee University. From Crawford High, Walter Parker will be attending UC Davis.

Qualifications for the program include: a 3.3 grade point average; African American, American Indian – Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, or Hispanic American ethnic groups; will enroll for the first time at a U.S. located, accredited college or university (with the exception of students concurrently pursuing a high school diploma) in the fall of 2013 as a full-time, degree-seeking, first-year student; have demonstrated leadership abilities through participation in community service, extracurricular or other activities; meet the Federal Pell Grant eligibility criteria. First-time college enrollees can also be GED recipients.

For more information, visit the program's website.

Crown Point Junior Music Academy marks 65 years

Crown Point celebrates 65 years Crown Point Junior Music Academy -- originally Crown Point ElementarySchool -- is marking its 65th anniversary.

The school, located just a few blocks from Mission Bay, marked the occasion by saluting some of its alumni, including Scott Barnett, San Diego Unified Board of Education Sub-District C representative; Kevin Faulconer, District 2 member, San Diego City Council; Ian Clampett, a member of Falconer's staff; Joe Wilding, former president of the Pacific Beach Town Council; and San Diego Police Capt. Brian Ahearn.

The school opened in 1948 to serve children in the Crown Point andsouthern Pacific Beach area as houses were built during the post-World War II baby  boom. Features of the school today, which was first expanded in 1958, include the Brazilian Pepper trees that provide shade in the lunch courtyard. According to news clippings in the files at the San Diego Unified School District, the trees were donated to the school in 1963 by the Pacific Beach Lions Club. They were planted fully grown, having come from former hotel in La Jolla.

Crown Point School in 1961 Today, the Crown Point Junior Music Academy is a magnet school that has students from all over San Diego county. They attend the school because of its focus on strong academics through music education. Opened in 2008, the program still serves elementary students but now has integrated all subjects with music. Suzuki violin is available on an optional basis.

For more information on the school, contact Principal Liz Duvall at(858) 273-9830.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pt. Loma High's Drum Line brings home the gold

Point Loma High School's Drum Line went all the way to the top of its division at the American Drum Line Association Championships at Long Beach City College.

With their program, "Ritual," 26 students wowed the judges with bass drums, timbales, xylophones, snare drums, cymbals, tenor drums, marimbas, chimes, bass guitar, chimes, timpani, bongos, and a gong.

The students competed with ten other groups in the B Division, which has 38 schools overall. Coaches Henry Stoker, Matthew Rodolfi and Lauren Paris were instrumental in their success in the April 27 competition.Pt. Loma drumline

"Coaching is a key to our success, but it costs money," said Laurie Benham, president of the Pt. Loma HIgh School Instrumental Music Boosters. "We'll need to raise a lot more money next year to support the growth of our overall program, and are looking to the community for help."

"It's the students who made it," said coach Henry Stoker. "They work hard they're great to work with."

For more information about Point Loma High School Instrumental Music, go to

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Grant helps expand safety camera coverage at La Jolla High

Thanks to a $10,000 Public Schools Grant from the philanthropic group Las Patronas to the La Jolla High School Foundation, additional safety and security cameras are expected to be installed.

The cameras are planned to be located around the perimeter of the school, in key locations previously out-of-range of the current equipment. These cameras serve multiple purposes: they are used to help prevent truancy, theft, break-ins and potential dangers for studentsqqwand faculty, among others, according to school receptionist Jo-Ellen Palreiro.

With La Jolla High’s open campus and differing elevations, this is a very difficult task.

“La Jolla High School is different from most other schools in the district, [in that] there are many nooks and crannies where students and adults can hide,” said Will Hawthorne, La Jolla High Vice Principal. “The cameras will be placed in strategic locations that give us a broad scope of the entire campus,”

There are currently 26 cameras scattered around the campus. The new funding is expected to purchase an additional 12 cameras.

According to its website, Las Patronas is a philanthropic organization with a long history of giving. Since its inception in 1946, Las Patronas has donated more than $16 million to more than a thousand charitable institutions in San Diego. The funds distributed to these organizations are generated through year-long fundraising efforts and the annual presentation of the Jewel Ball, one of San Diego’s most enduring social, cultural, and philanthropic traditions.

For more information on the project, contact Hawthorne at (858) 454-3081.

-- Tim Rayner
La Jolla High School
High Tide

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Top Marauder scholars honored at Mira Mesa High

Mira Mesa High School acknowledged 371 students with a 4.0 or higher grade point average in academics for Semester 1 in a recent ceremony. This annual event is an important opportunity to recognize the incredible academic success of students in grades 9-12.

The Class of 2013 Valedictorians, William Quach and Salutatorian, Benjamin Lam, were also introduced to the students, staff and community, receiving medallions from Principal Scott Giusti. There were speakers discussing the importance of maintaining the excellence and dedication to academics that these students have exhibited. Students were inspired by peers and find the experience rewarding to be surrounded by so many other students (and families) who value high scholastic achievement.

Each Top Scholar receives an award and a pin which they can collect through the years and wear with their cap and gown in the graduation ceremony their senior year. If you have any questions about Top Scholars, please contact Vice Principal, Sara Leonard at or 858-566-2262.

Friday, May 10, 2013

SD Unified's technology transformation highlighted in video

San Diego Unified's technology transformation -- accomplished during lean funding times in a recession – has been supported by the community and is providing students with countless benefits. Watch video»

Busy week coming up for school board, committees, schools

The week of May 13 is going to be a busy week for the School Board school board, committees and schools. On Tuesday, May 14, the Board of Education meets; on Wednesday, the District Advisory Committee for Compensatory Education Programs is scheduled; and three cluster committees have meetings. At schools there are food truck fundraisers, plays and open houses. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month continues. Go to district calendar»

Area 4 Superintendent honored at recent awards dinner

Area 4 Superintendent Dr. Marian Kim-Phelps was formally recognized recently for being named the 2013 Central Office Administrator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 18. Dr. Phelps oversees the Clairemont, Kearny and Madison clusters.

Marian Phelps The recognition took place at the annual "Honoring Our Own" awards dinner, sponsored by Association of California School Administrators and San Diego County School Boards Association. More than 20 educators in a variety of job categories within ACSA Region 18 were honored along with Dr. Phelps. Superintendent Bill Kowba, Superintendent Designate Cindy Marten, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer, Area 4 principals and office staff joined in the celebration.

The mission of ACSA is to support California's educational leaders; to ensure all children have the essential skills and knowledge needed to excel; and to champion public education. Nearly 1,000 educational leaders belong to ACSA Region 18, which encompasses San Diego and Imperial Counties.

‘Roadeo school’ bus drivers bring trophies back to San Diego Unified

Helping students
San Diego Unified's Special Needs Roadeo team of Robelyn Watson and her attendant, Cindy Wrightcame, in third in the recent National Special Needs Team Roadeo in Frisco, Tx.

Watson, a State Certified Instructor who is an Extraboard School Bus Driver, and Wright, also a State Certified Instructor who is an Instructor for San Diego Unified, are part of the district's Transportation Department team, which transports thousands of students daily with special needs or students changing schools under the federal No Child Left Behind act. The department has a history of victory in regional Roadeos -- organized competitions between districts to show school bus drivers' skill and safety.

Helping students The competition tests the skills and knowledge of the driver and attendant in a variety of written and drive tests focusing on special needs understanding.
Some of the areas of knowledge tested are wheelchair securement, manufacturing and laws; pupil management of special needs students; car seat knowledge and securement; safe emergency evacuation from an imaginary fire on the bus; pre-trip of the school bus (which is required of every bus driven every day by every driver!); driving skills (while managing unruly passengers!) and a written test that requires the contestants to research a variety of disabilities, laws and special need knowledge.

The focus of the competition is to learn and improve the skills of the drivers and attendants. The competition is sponsored by the National Association of Pupil Transportation and School Transportation News.

Teams from throughout the US came to Texas to participate. Robelyn and Cindy look forward to participating again in 2014. Robelyn will be competing in the Special Needs category soon in the California Association of School Transportation Officials Southern Sectional Roadeo in Apple Valley. She will be joined by the rest of San Diego Unified's Roadeo team, who compete in the categories of Transit or Conventional and Special Needs school bus.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

San Diego Unified School District Launches Prop. Z Program with Sale of $530 Million in Bonds

San Diego Unified received $530 million on April 30 after selling a portion of its $2.8 billion in general obligation bonds for Prop. Z, the bond measure approved by nearly 62 percent of the San Diego voters on Nov. 6, 2012. The bond funds will be used to continue repairing, renovating and revitalizing neighborhood schools. Bond projects include classroom technology, new/renovated facilities for College, Career and Technical Education, air conditioning, safety and security upgrades, turf fields, and other capital improvements at traditional and charter schools throughout the district. By law, the funds cannot be used for teacher or school administrator salaries.

Construction at Knox Middle School.
The school district took advantage of low taxable interest rates and tax-exempt financing to pay for classroom technology. The recent bond sales were structured so that the useful life of assets matched the maturity of bonds. Technology projects have shorter term bonds, while construction projects have longer term bonds.

"The school district used an innovative multiple maturity structure that allowed it to match the useful life of assets to specific needs, and get a very low cost of borrowing," according to Stan Dobbs, chief financial officer for San Diego Unified. "At 1.78 the school district's debt repayment ratio is very low, which gets the taxpayer more for their money. In fact, this was the lowest interest cost of any of the general obligation bond sales since the inception of the district's Prop. MM, the bond measure approved by San Diego voters in 1998."

Before the sale, credit ratings were requested from Moody's Investor's Service and Standard and Poor's Ratings Services for the bonds. San Diego Unified's finance team diligently pursued ratings from the rating agencies, and made its case that factors that secure the bonds are stable. As a result of Moody's and Standard and Poor's review, the bonds were assigned a rating of Aa3 (stable outlook) by Moody's and AA- by Standard and Poor's .

"Achieving such solid investment grade ratings from the rating agencies helped to generate confidence from a variety of buyers, which ultimately led to a lower cost of borrowing for the school district," said Dobbs. "The school district also used several innovative strategies to achieve the lowest cost of borrowing, which included aggressive pricing of its bonds, conservative debt structure and maintaining high credit ratings."

The district does not receive all of the $2.8 billion Prop. Z bond funds at once. It receives them incrementally based on the frequency of bond sales. Additional bond sales will be conducted during the life of the facilities bond program. The next one is slated for 2015.

At its May 14 meeting, the Board of Education will review the Prop. Z project plan that will utilize the bond proceeds.

Patrick Henry freshman relaxes... by writing a novel

After a tiring day at school, there’s nothing freshman Olivia Silva enjoys more than sitting down, turning on some Green Day, and writing a novel. Resistance, a 225-page story Olivia began writing in middle school, is on its way to becoming her first published book.

Olivia Silva
Olivia Silva
From the beginning of her second semester of sixth grade, Olivia began writing her story as an outlet from the day’s troubles.

“Resistance describes a post-nuclear war America that was taken over by Talists, an oppressive political party that most citizens hadn’t even heard of until it was too late,” Olivia said. “The bulk of the book tells the story of the struggle between the new government and a rebellious group of people, known as the Resistance. However, much of the conflict doesn’t necessarily belong to a single character and the government is not the only thing they are rebelling against.”

The Talists, the main antagonists of the story, budded out of Olivia’s earliest reflections upon her new-found understanding of politics. As the editing process continues and the reviews from peers and teachers drive her to improve her colossal work, her current viewpoints on the characters’ struggles become more apparent.

“Some of the themes in Resistance reflect what I thought in sixth grade and others reflect what I believe now,” she said. The content of her book, with a deep, controversial conflict and descriptions more richly worded than many authors three times her age could write, Olivia’s talent and intelligence are evident in the pages of the story she worked so hard to create.

“There are also moral and religious aspects in the story, and at the time, I was trying to figure out what I believed. By the time I finished and revised it, I wasn’t so confused anymore,” she said.

In order to finally reach the sweet point of publication, Olivia must deal with flaky editors and unimpressed publishers. Even with half a dozen rejected query letters behind her, she remains hopeful that her first few chapters of work will shine through to someone.

“Even though the first couple publishers I’ve sent Resistance to have not accepted it, I still have that desire to be heard and I’ll submit it to however many I have to in order to get it published,” she said. While she may never really know how an after-school idea in her head became an enormous superstory, Olivia is sure she wants the world to read it.

“I feel as though I have something important to say, only I can’t speak it. I’m kind of quiet and shy, but through writing, I don’t have to speak and I feel a lot more confident,” she said.

Writing has always been natural for Olivia, who has been drawn to the written word since she first learned to write. One of her first stories, “Butter,” told the woesome tale of a time she mistook butter for cheese and ate it plain.

“It didn’t really have a happy ending,” she recalled. Since “Butter,” Olivia has been escaping to song lyrics, short stories, poems, and even novels as a way to create a world to get away from the one she’s in.

There’s no gimmick behind Resistance, no reason to say, “this is good…for a sixth grader.” Through finding and revealing her stances on the controversial conflicts of the characters, Olivia says, “subconsciously, I wrote Resistance to discover who I was.” With teenage writing publication TeenInk featuring her works online and English teachers marveling at their new miracle student after she writes her first essay, there’s no question that Olivia Silva’s writing will end up published, the only question is when.

Execerpt from poem, “This is What it’s Like,” featured as an editor’s pick on TeenInk

“Buildings tower over my small figure, distorted and gray and like splotches of black ink on a parchment letter. The tarred road is cracked and torn, reeking of sweat, blood, and petroleum. I lift my head to the sky to catch the rain that is sure to fall, but it seems as though the clouds have deceived me.”
-- Brianna Pinto
Patriot Press
Patrick Henry High

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Therapy dogs help Whitman, Lafayette, CPMA and Madison deaf, hard of hearing students

All San Diego Unified students are expected to receive their high school diplomas and degreed, four-legged visitors to four San Diego Unified campuses are helping deaf, hard of hearing students to reach that goal.

Specially trained collies Lana and Amos, trained by Michael Neu and his wife, Karen Meyer, have had a significant positive effect on academics for students who are deaf/ hard-of-hearing at Whitman, Lafayette, CPMA and Madison, said Jeanne Cicchetto, a San Diego Unified Resource Teacher in the deaf/hard-of-hearing program.

"Regular visits with these collies have provided students with an opportunity to learn about canine care and how hearing dogs can assist people with hearing loss both in their homes and in the community," she said. "Students return to their classwork with an increased ability to focus and an obvious feeling of well-being. Improved communication skills, independence and self-esteem are other benefits the students exhibit after their canine visits."

For more information on the program, contact Cicchetto at 858-490-8412.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

63 schools get star treatment from California business group

The California Business for Education Excellence has named 63 San Diego Unified School District schools and charter schools to its annual honor roll.

The 2012 Honor Roll includes public elementary, middle and high schools recognized for demonstrating consistently high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement over time, and reduction in achievement gaps. For high schools, Honor Roll recognition includes measures of college readiness.

The 2,108 Honor Roll schools statewide is a record, according to the group, and includes871 higher poverty schools that are increasing academic performance and closing the achievement gap, and 100 “STEM” schools that excel in science and mathematics. 

“We have schools throughout the state that are getting it right for all students and this should not be a secret,” said Greg Jones, Chairman of California Business for Education Excellence and past member of the California State Board of Education. “To ensure more of our schools succeed, we must change the conversation from being about fixing failing schools to one that focuses on replicating the success of schools like those on the Honor Roll.”

Over time, the group has identified a common set of success factors in higher performing Honor Roll schools and districts. These include high expectations for all students; ongoing collaboration among teachers to improve practice; targeted use of data to pinpoint challenges and monitor progress; continual intervention for struggling students; and mastery of content knowledge and pedagogical practices.

“Honor Roll schools are overcoming challenges and obstacles every day for all students and are especially succeeding with kids who have been historically underserved. Our goal is to highlight their results, and provide a voice to these outstanding educators so that their success can be emulated in other places, “ said Jim Lanich, California Business for Education Excellence president.

The Honor Roll list grew from 261 schools when the program began in 2005 to the current 2,108 for 2012. The number of Honor Roll STAR (higher poverty, high achieving) schools increased from 74 in 2005 in to 871 in 2012. A full list of the Honor Roll schools and districts can be found at:

The annual Honor Roll program is made possible with support from numerous businesses and organizations including State Farm, Macy’s, 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.

2012 Star Schools

High poverty, high performing, achievement gap closing schools
  • Alcott Elementary
  • Angier Elementary
  • Baker Elementary
  • Barnard Elementary
  • Birney Elementary
  • Challenger Middle
  • Correia Middle
  • Crown Point Elementary
  • Edison Elementary
  • Ericson Elementary
  • Fletcher Elementary
  • Green Elementary
  • Hamilton Elementary
  • Hardy Elementary
  • Innovation Middle
  • Jones Elementary
  • Kearny Digital Media & Design
  • Kimbrough Elementary
  • King-Chavez Arts Academy
  • King-Chavez Primary Academy
  • Lewis Middle
  • Loma Portal Elementary
  • Mira Mesa High
  • Pacific Beach Elementary
  • Pacific Beach Middle
  • Paradise Hills Elementary
  • Perry Elementary
  • Pershing Middle
  • Point Loma High
  • Preuss School UCSD
  • San Diego International Studies
  • San Diego SCPA
  • Sandburg Elementary
  • Tierrasanta Elementary
  • Toler Elementary
  • University City High
  • Vista Grande Elementary

Scholar Schools

High performing schools without significant levels of low-income students
  • Benchley/Weinberger Elementary
  • Bird Rock Elementary
  • Curie Elementary
  • Dailard Elementary
  • Dingeman Elementary
  • Doyle Elementary
  • Einstein Academy
  • Grant K-8
  • Hearst Elementary
  • Holmes Elementary
  • Jerabek Elementary
  • Kumeyaay Elementary
  • La Jolla Elementary
  • La Jolla High
  • Marshall Middle
  • Marvin Elementary
  • Miramar Ranch Elementary
  • Muirlands Middle
  • Old Town Academy K-8 Charter
  • Scripps Elementary
  • Scripps Ranch High
  • Sessions Elementary
  • Silver Gate Elementary
  • Standley Middle
  • Sunset View Elementary
  • Torrey Pines Elementary

STEM Schools

Honor Roll schools with higher poverty and higher performance in math and science
  • Green Elementary
  • Jones Elementary
  • Pacific Beach Elementary
  • Sandburg Elementary
  • Tierrasanta Elementary
  • Vista Grande Elementary

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bell Middle School students chart their career paths to medicine

Possible future doctors from Bell Middle School recently found out why doctors at the UC San Diego School of Medicine made their career choices.
Checking heart rate at UC San Diego.
Lekayla Noel, Leticia Alatorre, Kaye Bonifacio, Jazlynne Napoles, Jasmine Canedo, Darrell Buchanan, Marriya Uy, and Sharmaine Rosales, all in grade 8, visited the La Jolla facility along with their science teacher, Andy Morrison.

The visits were arranged as part of the Hippocrates Circle Program, , which is conducted at all of the Kaiser Permanente medical centers, reaches out to high-risk, diverse youth. Kaiser physicians mentor middle school students, and take them on a brief journey through our medical facilities and a local medical school. The goal of the program is to empower middle school students to believe that they can become a physician.

At UC San Diego, students meet with physicians and listened to their personal stories about the steps they took to become doctors. It was the first of five activities in the Hippocrates Circle Program. Other activities include: a field trip to tour a Kaiser Permanente to see several physicians at work in various specialties and gain insight into the life of a physician; financial aide counseling; a tour of UC San Diego Medical School facilities.

For more information, contact Morrison at

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Hoover High athletes get a taste of Navy SEAL training

On the beach. They carried a 250-pound log, completed a three-mile run while carrying a 35-pound sand bag, and performed 300 sit-ups, 300 push-ups and 300 pull-ups. No, they’re not the Navy SEALs.

They are student athletes from six San Diego-area high schools participating in the annual Navy SEAL Invitational at the Naval Special Warfare Center on April 20.

According to Ret. Capt. Bob Rohrbach, operations officer for the Navy SEAL and SWCC Scout Team, the entire purpose of the Navy SEAL Invitational is to develop and promote teamwork. Read more from US Navy SEALs blog»

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Juarez Elementary parent shares fingerpainting techniques

 Fingerpainting at Juarez
Juarez parent Dr. Pinkie Feinstein brought his "intuitive painting" process to school, helping kids work through issues with artistic expression.

New to San Diego, Dr. Feinstein, father of three Juarez students, demonstrated the process that, while fun and relaxing, helps relieve stress and helps kids focus.

"Putting pastels to paper and listening to upbeat music, participants create beautiful and colorful renderings," said Principal Marceline Marques. "Intuitive painting is widely utilized in schools in Israel, where the family is from."

The activity is helpful to all students, especially those with ADHD and emotional challenges. Participants are given paper and pastels and only instructed to "cover the entire paper with color."

"It fits in with both behavior support/emotional regulation and the school wide art program," she said.

A grade 5 teacher, Michael Wilson, invited Dr. Feinstein to run a workshop in his classroom.

"The students thoroughly enjoyed the art aspect while processing emotions and developing right brain function," said Marques.

Dr. Feinstein is a psychiatrist with his degree from the University of Tel Aviv. He has authored several books on topics such as child rearing, dealing with anxiety, ADHD, and his IP methods. For more information contact Principal Marceline Marques at, or (858) 496-8145.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mayor Filner delivers pep-talk to Lincoln High theater students

Mayor Filner speaks to students in the Lincoln theater program. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner surprised theater students at a recent rehearsal of "Let the Eagle Fly – the Life story of Cesar Chavez, a Musical," at Lincoln High School.

The mayor said he stopped by to offer moral support and congratulate them on the work they are doing.
This musical is part of Lincoln High’s new Theater Honors Program, which allows students to work with experienced equity actors from Teatro Mascara Magica. The students who have worked on this show have been rehearsing solidly since January including every day during spring break.

The Arts, Media and Entertainment production classes have been working on building the sets, designing the lights, sounds and creating the visuals for the show as well as creating marketing materials and finding sponsorship. These students are able to work on the catwalk of the theater because of a $1,500 grant received from the Kelly McGinnis Memorial Foundation.

For more information, please contact Maria Christodoulou, CCTE Teacher, at

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Clairemont High business tech students help out at Feeding America

IN THE NEWS: Students from Clairemont High's Academy of Business Technology visited the Feeding America warehouse to learn more about non-profit organization management. Watch video from Fox 5 San Diego»


Deputy Superintendent is ‘Woman of Distinction’

Dr. Nellie Meyer, San Diego Unified Deputy Superintendent for Academics, has been name one of the Women of Distinction by the San Diego Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, a women's professional education sorority.

Dr. Nellie Meyer Dr. Meyer was honored for her years of service at San Diego Unified School District, the academic accomplishments of the schools, departments and now the district academic program that has been under her leadership.

Board of Education Member Richard Barrera attended the ceremony on April 18 and said gains in test scores and graduation rates over the last several years are due to the hard work by Dr. Meyer and her staff.

"Dr. Meyer's leadership style and her knowledge of educational reforms have been a key in the revival of excellence in the San Diego Unified School District," he said.

A native San Diegan, Dr. Meyer started as a teacher's aide at Jackson Elementary School while a student at San Diego State University. After graduation she taught middle and high school before starting her administrative career. She was principal at Clairemont High School before moving on to the Education Center where she currently is the district's top academic officer after Superintendent Bill Kowba.

Founded in 1906, Phi Delta Kappa International is a global association for professional educators. The organization's mission is to support education, particularly public education, as the cornerstone of democracy. More information is online at

For more information on the Phi Delta Kappa chapter, contact Dr. Jeanne Steeg at

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Board proclaims May as Supt. Kowba Legacy Month

Resolution Declaring May 2013 as Superintendent Kowba Legacy Month

WHEREAS, the members of the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District (San Diego Unified) honor Superintendent Bill Kowba and call upon schools and the community to pay tribute to him during the month of May 2013; and

WHEREAS, the Board recognizes Superintendent Kowba’s dedication to the students, parents, staff, and community, and expresses their appreciation for the educational growth achieved by our students and the stability that he has provided the District during his tenure; and

WHEREAS, Superintendent Kowba began his career with San Diego Unified in 2006 serving in several senior level executive positions until his appointment to Superintendent on June 29, 2010; and

WHEREAS, under Superintendent Kowba’s leadership, San Diego Unified has been named a finalist for the 2013 Broad Prize for Urban Education in recognition of the District's student achievement gains; and

WHEREAS, Superintendent Kowba has consistently demonstrated that he is a man of integrity and a servant leader by listening to all people and taking all ideas into consideration before making decisions; and

WHEREAS, Superintendent Kowba has been able to maintain fiscal solvency for San Diego Unified with balanced budgets during severe economic times; and

WHEREAS, Proposition Z, a $2.8 billion bond measure was passed by voters to help maintain safe and productive learning environments for all students during the state’s ongoing budget crisis; and

WHEREAS, Superintendent Kowba has been honored by many organizations for his anti-bullying advocacy including the Harvey Milk Leadership Award of San Diego County; multiple awards from the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCal) for “Excellence in Creating Safer School Climates for LGBTQIA Youth” and for his participation in their annual conference; special recognition from the Safe Schools Task Force; awards from the Cambodian Buddhist Society of San Diego; the Association of African American Educators (AAAE); State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson; Equality California; Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS); and the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) Retired members.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education, that it recognizes Superintendent Kowba for his years of dedicated service to the students, parents, staff, and community and hereby designates May 2013 as Superintendent Kowba Legacy Month.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board calls on all teachers, staff, students, parents, and community members to focus on Superintendent Kowba’s accomplishments and acknowledge them during this month so that we can faithfully build on his legacy of stability and integrity for many years to come.

Adopted and approved by the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District at the regular meeting held on the 23rd day of April 2013.