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What’s Good In Education – April 2, 2014

Annual Hart Games Thrill Students and Spectators

Big smiles shined across the faces of special needs kids from throughout HartSchool District last week for the fifth annual Hart Games. Excited parents and ASB students and track teams cheered for participants at this Special Olympics-type event held at the ValenciaHigh School stadium. Competitors received ribbons for participating in track and field events such as 4 X100 relay, shot-put, softball toss, 100 meter hurdles, long jump, and high jump.

While every participant was excited to complete his or her events, many student athletes were very competitive and gave it their all. Adaptive physical education teacher and event director Patti Miller said students prepare up to two months prior to the event in their physical education classes. The idea for a Hart Games came to Miller after realizing special needs kids would benefit from this type of physical activity and competition. “Students take pride in the event, by wearing ribbons to school all week following the events, and wearing tee-shirts all school year,” Miller said. Her favorite part of the annual event, “When they cross the finish line, first or last, I like to see their determined faces, sweat, tears of joy and big smiles.” The track meet began with a powerful presentation of the national anthem, sung by a middle school participant un-phased by the hundreds of listeners in the stadium’s bleachers. An opening lap ensued with the children running, walking, and wheeling around the track displaying their colors, banners, and smiling faces for parents and spectators in the stands. Next the opening cap-gun started the competition. A series of events simultaneously happened on the field and track over the next few hours. Each student shared a moment of glory, as track and ASB students embraced them regardless if they finished first or last. Jamie Timmins, assistant principal and special education administrator of ValenciaHigh School, enjoys the event every year, because students have fun and mature year to year. Timmins said the event gives students an opportunity to shine and share a moment. “It’s wonderful to bring all students together and give them an opportunity to show what they can do in a track event designed for them,” she said. La Mesa Junior High, Rio Norte Junior High, Canyon High, Golden Valley High, Valencia High, Hart High, and Trinity Classical Academy all brought buses of students to compete and cheer for their peers during the event. ValenciaHigh School provided more than 40 volunteers and all the required equipment to ensure the event’s success. Kimmy Baggelaar, Valencia High School sophomore and school representative to the District’s Student Communications Council said Valencia ASB was in charge of passing out brochures and having volunteers at each event. She said it is her second time assisting with the event, and she looked forward to it because, “It gets everyone involved.” Special thanks to Special Olympics, which donated the shirts and the WiSH Education Foundation, which donated $2500 to Hart District Special Education for these games.

Hart District Robotics Team More Than Just Nuts and Bolts

The HartSchool District’s robotics team, Project 691, competed against more than 40 other teams at the FIRST Central Valley Regional competition held in Madera last month, bringing home the coveted Imagery Award. FIRST stands For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The Imagery Award is in honor of Jack Kamen, FIRST founder Dean Kamen’s father, for his inspirational dedication to art and illustration and his gifted creativity and devotion to FIRST. The Imagery Award celebrates attractiveness in engineering and outstanding visual aesthetic integration from the machine to the team appearance. Project 691 adopted a “top secret” theme this year. Students stenciled their logo on their robot and the briefcases in which they carry their control panels, and they made temporary tattoos, stickers and buttons with their logo. The teams trade these items at competitions. Although Project 691 welcomes students from all around the district, its membership primarily includes Academy of the Canyons and WestRanchHigh School students, which is where meetings are held and this robot was built. The annual challenge is released the first week of January (broadcast on the NASA channel), and the student teams have six weeks to design, build, and program a robot which will successfully complete the challenge. The students have built robots that stack rings, shoot basketballs, toss disks, and this year their robot, “Project Blackwing” throws a ball the size of a Swiss ball. For more information on the robotics program visit: (Photos: Four of the students dressed as secretive “G-men” “escorted” the robot between the pits and the competition arena.  Project 691 impressed the judges with the coherence of theme between spirit items, costumes, and robot design.)


Rancho Pico Choir Students Selected for Special Multi-State Concert

From the very first rehearsal, it was clear that this was going to be a concert to remember. More than 170 of the top youth singers from the western United States met in Santa Barbara to serve as this year’s American Choral Directors Association’s (ACDA) junior high honor choir, including four students from RanchoPicoJunior High School. Seventh graders Iris Garcia and Annika Stevenson and 8th graders Kyu Hun Han and Brian You were selected from more than 900 junior high school students who auditioned to join the honor choir. The young singers spent nearly 16 hours over three days rehearsing with Dr. Rollo Dilworth, who is a world-renowned choral director and professor at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia. His leadership, combined with the singers’ talent and dedication, led up to a concert that concluded the ACDA western conference in Santa Barbara. Every one of the historic Granada Theater’s 1,500 seats was filled. “I am so proud of our students,” Rancho Pico choir teacher Molly Peters said. “Their love of music and commitment to working hard really paid off with a very powerful and professional concert.” Article and photo by Carol Stevenson for the Signal. Reprinted with permission.


Golden Valley Theatre Troupe Entertains Elementary School Students

The Golden ValleyHigh School children’s theatre class traveled to Valley View and GoldenOakElementary Schools to perform “The Aristocats,” last month. The 35 member acting troupe delighted 500 kindergarten through 3rd grade students with this classic musical. Golden Valley children’s theater program reaches out to elementary schools of future Golden Valley students to provide theatrical experiences to kindergarten through 3rd grade. The program has been in existence for 10 years and has provided educational and theatrical opportunities for both the performers and their young audiences.

Placerita Student Musicians Rated Highly in Recent Competitions

The PlaceritaJunior High School music department proudly announced that the advanced band received the highest rating of unanimous superior at the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA) at WestRanchHigh School last month. Many students, parents and music educators who attended this festival were highly complimentary to the musicians. The Placerita string orchestra participated in the SCSBOA Festival held at LittlerockHigh School in early March and received the top rating of superior. The orchestra performed beautifully with much expertise and accuracy on the required repertoire for this event. Congratulations to all members of the PlaceritaJunior High School advanced band and string orchestra!


History and an Important Lesson Come to Life for Canyon Students

CanyonHigh School students in Linda Storli’s U.S. History and Government classes over the past 20 years learn a very unique lesson in her class: How to use public transportation. The lesson idea came to Storli when, after traveling extensively around the world, she realized that Southern California residents are not familiar with using public transportation and most choose not to use it. With that in mind, she set out to teach her students this skill year after year, starting after the 1994 earthquake, with a Metrolink trip to Union Station, in downtown Los Angeles. From there, the students hop on the subway for a few stops, then return to Union Station and take a cultural walk back to Olvera Street. For several hours, the students shop, eat and participate in a Historical Scavenger Hunt, looking at the PicoBuilding, the first Fire House, the Adobe House and more historical points of interest. The recent group of 120 – 11th and 12th grade students took the trip last month with a group of adult chaperones including parents and Canyon ASB Director Mike Motherspaw. Storli also blended in history lessons about historical Los Angeles during this adventure. The students and chaperones returned to the SCV exhausted, having learned how to navigate public transportation.


Bowman Students Celebrate Black History Month

BowmanHigh School students banded together to inspire, in recognition of Black History Month in March. In advance of the culminating celebration, posters displayed on campus highlighted influential African Americans. Students were able to learn about pioneers and leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mae Jemison, Thurgood Marshall, Bill Cosby, George Washington Carver, Jesse Owens and Langston Hughes. On the day of the activities, students were asked to participate in two activities. First, they shared their favorite inspirational quotes with the rest of the student body by writing them down and placing them on a banner. The quotes were thoughtful and moving. Some quotes included, “Dreams are in our sleep. You can stay there and enjoy the false reality, or you can get up and make them a reality,” and “Do or do not. There is no try.” Second, the Bulldog mascot held a mystery poster that featured one of the African Americans that was on the posters hung on classroom doors. Students had to guess the identity of that person, who turned out to be Langston Hughes. It was wonderful how many students guessed the correct identity with many of them citing learning about him in Lindsey Villanueva’s English class in a poem they read, or Jamie Herrington’s history class when they studied the Harlem Renaissance. All participating students were included in a raffle to win movie tickets.

Canyon Students Thinking About the Future During Career in Arts Week

Arts professionals came to CanyonHigh School for the third Career in Arts Week to share their stories and speak about various career choices. The purpose of the week was to enlighten students about the varied opportunities for a career in the arts, because there are so many opportunities, particularly in the Los Angeles area. Presenters included Scott Weber, Emmy-award winning sound engineer; Jonathan Heely, head of music publishing and music performance licensing for Disney; Nicole Debbini, LA Opera educational outreach; Mike Gangemi, music teacher; Mark Henn, Disney animator and Sara Petersen, ceramic artist. Each presented informative sessions about their particular field, outlined their journey to their present position and spoke about their daily activities. Each speaker said that the first step is to have a passion for the arts. The next step is to find out what education is needed for that particular career. Added to that, each talked about networking and how important that is to any career, and especially one in the arts. Students received signed art or brochures, and all in attendance went away with a new-found interest in some aspect of a career in the arts.


Saugus Students Celebrate National No-Name Calling Week

Recently the Students Matter Club at SaugusHigh School celebrated National No-Name Calling Week with members of the club handing out ribbons, putting up posters and passing out kindness cards to promote awareness. The main highlight of the week was when students demonstrated the effects of words. The demonstration was done during both brunches with a handful of members wearing masks to put the focus on the writing on their arms and some faces. They stood in front of the open stage without saying a word. Members thought it would be more effective to have their peers try to figure out what they were trying to express. On one day, negative words were written, with a caption on the side “Harmful Words Never Go Away,” and the next day, positive words were written on them. In addition, Saugus High School ASB celebrated Tolerance Week the same week as National No-Name Calling week, featuring an assembly by guest speaker, Mike Smith, whose company Dude Be Nice sends a message of inspiration, anti-bullying and treating people with respect. Smith also encourages students to help the homeless, which students were inspired to do in the Santa Clarita Valley.


West Ranch Sign Language Students Learn from Silent Weekend

West Ranch High School American Sign Language students participated in a “Silent Weekend” trip along with more than 40 attendants from Burbank and RosaryHigh Schools during a weekend in February. The students traveled to BigBearLake where they remained silent from Friday night to Sunday morning.  They were only allowed to communicate in American Sign Language as they spent the weekend with their teachers, peers, and the Big Bear community. Silent Weekend is an opportunity for immersion in language along with experiencing the Deaf culture as well.  Students were able to interact with native signers along with a variety of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing adults and students within the Deaf community.  Throughout the weekend, students were able to build relationships with their peers from other schools by their participation in various team building and cultural activities.

Rio Norte Students Compete in MathCounts Contest

RioNorteJunior High School math students placed 3rd in a recent MathCounts competition held at Cal State Northridge. The Rio Norte team practiced for the exciting “bee-style” contest and faced middle school students from throughout the Los Angeles area. For their efforts, they advanced to state competition held at UC Irvine. Their win streak ended there; however, they were able to share their passion for math with their peers from other schools and hear UC Irvine math professors speak on future opportunities in the field. The MathCounts Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that strives to engage middle school students of all abilities and interest levels in fun, challenging math programs, in order to expand their academic and professional opportunities.


Culinary Students Participate in Sweet Charity Cake Auction

Advanced culinary arts students from WestRanchHigh School entered a cake into the SCV Youth Project’s Sweet Charity Cake Auction fundraiser held at the Valencia Country Club last month. Under the direction of culinary arts teacher Tracie Priske, the entire class helped make the fondant characters that surrounded the cake and students Elyssa Gedlija, Amanda Jensen and Sofia Castro created the cake together and decorated the entire cake. The team worked with Nanci from Clarices Cakes to make their edible masterpiece. “The students had a great experience!” Priske said. Not only that, but out of 15 cakes, the West Ranch students won the “Judges Choice, Best Use of Theme” award. The theme this year was “Community” and the students did a great job with this theme by incorporating elements from WestRanchHigh School and the five other comprehensive high schools in the HartSchool District, as well. The judges were celebrity judges and all but two of the cakes that were entered were entered by professional bakers. Event guests were able to sample all the cakes on display with mini-cupcake bites and all the display cakes were auctioned to the highest bidder. “I am really proud of my students and the entire class!” Priske said. HartHigh School also entered a cake in support of the SCV Youth Project and the work they do with Hart District students. The SCV Youth Project serves students on most Hart District campuses with presentations, peer groups and counseling in the areas of drug / alcohol abuse, depression / suicide, grief / loss, gang-related issues, bullying, pregnancy, truancy, abuse / neglect, rape, assault and other personal issues. For more information, upcoming events or to donate to this non-profit organization visit: Kim Goldman is the Executive Director.


Bowman Students Visit COC to Learn About College Opportunities

As the year’s end is fast approaching, BowmanHigh School seniors have taken the initiative to begin the college process. Last month BowmanHigh School seniors Jordan Diambrini, Joseph Wilson, Bryce Schnell, Christine Zermeno, Marcos Flores and Oscar Urquieta took a field trip to College of the Canyons to learn more about their futures at the local community college. They spoke to college counselors, actually registered and toured the facilities. Coordinated through the Hart District’s Career Visions program, these students gained a very valuable, firsthand experience of college life. Parents and Bowman staff are looking forward to what these hardworking students will accomplish in the future!

Bowman Students Take Armed Services Aptitude Test

Thirty BowmanHigh School students were given the opportunity to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test (ASVAB) in late February. For the past 12 years, Bowman has given students the annual opportunity to take the test. This test is part of a comprehensive career exploration and planning program that includes the test and an interest inventory that helps students explore possible career options. The test is military based and used by the armed services to help select jobs for the enlisted men and women. It is also considered one of the most accurate and informative measures of aptitudes and abilities, so that a young person can gain valuable insight for potential options after high school. Of the thirty students who took the test, about half were interested in military opportunities and the other half were just trying to make an informed decision for their post-secondary options. “I took the ASVAB test because I am very interested in joining the Marines, and I wanted to challenge myself by stretching to higher levels of expectations,” Bowman student Bryean Llerenas explained. Senior Kayla Keene, who is undecided about careers, stated “The ASVAB is a great assessment for personal skill potential, and I wanted to test my knowledge in a variety of subject areas.”  David Martinez is planning on pursuing a career in design. He remarked, “I took the ASVAB because I feel that the military will give me the experience and discipline I will need to become a successful interior designer or architect.” The results have been provided to students and a military representative is available to give advice and suggestions based on the scores in the eight test areas. Bowman staff is confident that this experience will pay future dividends for students. Sgt. Derrick Giannoni of the Marines was impressed to see the considerable effort that Bowman students put into doing their best on this test. The ASVAB test is available to all Hart District students. Counselors can be contacted for additional information.

Contact for more information: Gail Pinsker, Public Relations Officer,, 661.259.0033 x 227

Editorial intern: Pete Camarillo

William S. Hart Union School District website:

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What’s Good In Education – April 2, 2014

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