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What’s Good In Education – November 6, 2013

Hart District Recognizes 19 Classified Employees of the Year

Nineteen classified employees from across the district have been recognized by the Hart School District at its annual Classified Employees of the Year luncheon at Robinson Ranch last month. The honorees were selected by their colleagues at each site and also received awards from the district’s Governing Board and commendations from Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. Honorees include: Kathy Perkins, Office Assistant I, Academy of the Canyons; Loretta Hall, Administrative Assistant, Administrative Center; Robert Scott Wesselhoff, Campus Supervisor, Arroyo Seco Junior High School; Rosa Villanueva, Instructional Assistant – Bilingual, Bowman High School; Kathy Kulesz, Textbook Technician / Library Assistant, Canyon High School; Johanna Thompson, Career Transition Advisor, Career Visions Center; Linda Pfaucht, School Office Manager, Golden Oak Adult School; Eufemia Somers, Office Assistant I, Golden Valley High School; Eric Ige, Information Technology Technician, Hart High School; Paula Pena, Instructional Assistant – Moderate / Severe, La Mesa Junior High School; Sylvia Torres, Library Media Technician, Placerita Junior High School; Gail Castillo, Attendance Technician, Rancho Pico Junior High School; Susan Hubbell, Health Technician, Rio Norte Junior High School; Patricia Mercer, Office Assistant I, Saugus High School; Lori Hernandez, Instructional Assistant – Moderate / Severe, Sequoia Charter School; Julie Ward, Instructional Assistant – Bilingual, Sierra Vista Junior High School; Joann Briece, Instructional Assistant – Mild/Moderate, Transitional Learning Charter; Douglas Broers, Student Body Account Technician, Valencia High School and Yuleth Cambaliza, Lead Campus Supervisor, West Ranch High School. Classified staff members are non-credentialed employees who provide everyday support to the district’s students, teachers and administrators. They include secretaries and clerical staff, maintenance and custodial staff, computer technicians, campus supervisors, instructional assistants and more. “These honorees were selected by their school or department for their outstanding service, hard work and commitment to the community, students and staff of our district,” explained Terri Shiner, director of classified personnel. “Through their invaluable contributions and specialized services, they provide instructional, technical, and administrative support, as well as a safe and healthy environment in which to work and learn.”

WiSH Education Foundation Donates Science Equipment to Classrooms

The WiSH Education Foundation is thrilled to announce the disbursement of nearly $50,000 in science equipment to the schools of Hart School District. WiSH’s successful A Toast and a WiSH wine and food tasting event, held in April at the Old Town Newhall Library, was the primary source of funding for the equipment. WiSH also partnered with Jersey Mike’s to raise funds specifically for microscopes. Rather than buying a standard list of equipment for each school, WiSH worked with the district to survey the science chair at each school for a “WiSHlist” tailored to each school’s needs. In addition to science equipment, WiSH also partnered with other local businesses such as Cobblestone Cottage and The Signal to raise funds for athletic and performing arts programs as well as special education. It is the goal of the WiSH Education Foundation to replace program funding lost to budget cuts since 2008; this academic year, WiSH is focused on every school library, career exploration software, and the growing need for technology. Please join WiSH on February 1, 2014 for Starry, Starry Night, bringing your favorite television dancers to the stage at West Ranch Theater. Tickets are on sale now at WiSH encourages all Santa Clarita businesses to INVEST IN THEIR FUTURE EMPLOYEES!  Please contact Executive Director Amy Daniels at or 661-799-9474 for sponsorship information.

Students Throughout the District Participate in Mix-It Up Day Activities

Junior high and high schools in the Hart School District have planned activities for Mix-It Up Day in October and November. Mix-It Up Day is a national campaign that encourages students to cross social boundaries. The Hart School District encourages schools to partake in the event annually, as its results can help students eliminate misconceptions and prejudices about one another. La Mesa Junior High inspired feelings of unity through a week of various Mix-it Up events in October. As an alternative to normal lunch time, students participated in an enormous conga dance line one day, and the next day had to concoct a unique combination of mashed potatoes, hot dogs, carrots and M & M’s and then race to see which team finished theirs first. The La Mesa student body mixed it up more in a fashion show where boys dressed as girls and girls dressed as boys. The conclusion of the weeklong event featured an anti-bullying assembly and a photo of the student body dressed in orange as a symbol of solidarity representing the anti-bullying movement. Bowman High School participated in the event with a Mix-It Up music circle. Students asked other students outside of their peer groups icebreaker questions to get to know each other better. “I definitely saw students talking to other students that were not in their peer group,” student Jordyn Weber said. Bowman and La Mesa are not the only schools in the Hart district with plans for Mix-It Up Day. Sierra Vista Junior High School celebrated by giving each student a card with an animal. These animals represented groupings for lunch time. At lunch they were urged to ask each other questions, and decorate a poster with their animal on it. The best poster won a prize. Rancho Pico Junior High School also participated with organized activities. With the goal of dissolving the division between seventh and eighth graders, students were given four different colors then were urged to get into groups of four and the group that could learn everyone’s name first received tee shirts. Schools across the Hart School District are finding ways to inspire unity through Mixing It Up, which is continuing into November at some campuses.


High School Theatre Students Shine at Regional Fall Festival

Three Hart School District High Schools participated in the annual Drama Teachers Association of Southern California (DTASC) Fall Festival at Calabasas High School last month and all three, Valencia High School, Golden Valley High School and Canyon High School, all brought home awards. The stage was big both literally and figuratively. This competition is the largest of its kind and plays host to some 80 different schools and 2,000 students, who all had the chance to perform under the bright lights of Calabasas High School’s new 700-seat theatre. Students from Valencia High School’s theatre arts program dominated the competition by placing first in two major categories. Led by senior Mark Gofman playing the role of Tevya, students preformed songs and scenes from A Fiddler on the Roof and placed first in the “Musical” category. Valencia High School theatre arts also placed first in the “Large Group Drama” category by preforming scenes from Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge. Juniors Matthew Voltz and Melissa Manning led the first place cast. Additionally, Valencia High School placed in the top five in the “All Female Scene” category. “Taking first place at DTASC is the equivalent of winning CIF in sports in the Southern California area,” Stephen Whalen, theatre director and instructor, said, “The competition is incredibly fierce and theatre kids from all over take this festival very seriously.” Golden Valley High School and Canyon High School also attended the competition and brought awards home. Golden Valley High School placed in the top 10 for “Large Group Comedy” and Canyon High School received a top five award in the “Radio Retro” category. Valencia High School will get the honor of performing their rendition of A Fiddler on the Roof at the awards ceremony, Salute to the Winners, at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro in mid-November. “This is our tenth year participating and this is only our second time winning first place in two categories,” Whalen said, “We’re very excited.”

Bowman Students Encouraged to “Dream for Life” at Career Day

“How do I find a career that I would Dream to have?” That is the question Bowman High School students had on their minds one day last month as another very successful Career Day was held for all students. Thirty-seven different presenters visited the campus and spoke to students in all classes during the daylong activity. Students heard from representatives from the military and local colleges as well as business people who shared their experiences and opportunities for success. Thirteen of the speakers were presenting for the first time and were very motivational and positive about what Bowman students can accomplish. For Bowman teacher Mike Nugent, inspirational moments came from seeing Bowman graduate Tony Diaz share his success. A 2003 graduate, Diaz has owned and operated a Martial Arts studio, Fusion, in Valencia for the past decade. Richard Weekley, a retired Bowman writing instructor, came out of retirement for the day to share his tremendous wealth of literary and creative expertise with students. “I am so proud of both of them for their success and wanting to come back and share with our students about Dreaming for Life,” Nugent said. A special treat for our students was the presentation by MUD (the Make-up Designery school in Burbank) who sent a Bowman graduate now employed there to inspire and motivate students toward considering careers in special effects and make-up design. He took time to do some of his work on selected students, and they really enjoyed his special effects. Also in attendance representing post-secondary options were College of the Canyons, Universal Technical Institute (UTI), DeVry University, Everest College, ITT Tech, The Art Institute of LA, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) and Charter College. Presentations by representatives from the Army and Marines attracted large groups of students in their sessions. Other speakers included construction experts, the fire department, business leaders, the Work Source Center and the City of Santa Clarita. All had great lessons to share about what to expect in those employment fields. Students were motivated about career options and look forward to bright futures.


La Mesa Students Experience The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica

Forty students from Jose E. Malave’s English Language Development and exploratory Spanish classes visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica that made a few-day stop in the Santa Clarita Valley last month. As a former Marine and Persian Gulf War veteran, Malavé didn’t want this event to go unnoticed by his students. He used literacy as the stepping stone to make his students aware of this memorial. Students read the book The Wall by Eve Bunting while others read the novel Search and Destroy by Dean Hughes during sustained silent reading time in class. They discussed the pros and cons of the Vietnam War. Students immersed themselves into the facts and consequences. They also became aware of other conflicts in which the United States was involved. One of Malave’s students in particular had a unique experience due to having a family member’s name on The Wall whom she never met. “Mr. Malave, here is a picture of me at the Vietnam Wall. I am standing next to my grandma’s cousin’s name, Ronald W. Dodge. I am holding a Life magazine where he is on the cover. His death was on May 17, 1967, but his body was not returned until 1981. The only way he was identified was through his dental records.  The Vietnamese claimed to have never seen him, but a French journalist took the picture and submitted it to Life magazine. This was the first time I had seen it, and it was even cooler getting to see him on the cover of the magazine my mom showed me. At the same time, though, it makes me sad to think of all those people who died for our freedom. It makes me so thankful, too,” seventh grader Brooke Milam said. A collage was created by the La Mesa students, their families, and staff who went to see the replica of The Wall at the Valencia Westfield Town Center and voluntarily submitted their pictures for this activity. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring those who died in the Vietnam War. The Wall is now also a place of healing for those affected by one of the most divisive wars in our nation’s history.

Canyon Journalism Students Receive Grant for Program

Canyon High School’s journalism class applied for and received a monetary grant from the Santa Clarita Valley Press Club last spring in hopes to improve the program’s financial viability. Prior to this grant opportunity, the class funds were dependent on advertising sales that left the class without the guarantee of distributing a school newspaper throughout the school year. This summer, the class was notified that it would receive a $2,000 grant to fund new technology equipment and to publish more issues. Aside from the program becoming more financially viable, this year’s staff is brainstorming ways to renovate the paper and make it a more popular product on campus. Stories from the publications are now available on a student-run website, which is advertised through a new Twitter account. The links to stories are now included in tweets and publicized by members of the staff and readers of the paper. This year’s staff is determined to improve the efficiency of the class in order to produce as many quality issues as possible throughout the year. Last summer, more than half of the new journalism staff came to school on their own time to get a head start on the first issue of the semester. The students hard work and dedication made it possible to publish a paper on the eighth day of the school year, which is the earliest Canyon has distributed an eight-page paper. The Canyon High School newspaper staff is grateful for the grant and looks forward to an exciting and productive year. (photo: Jason Schaff, executive editor of the Signal and Sara Ludwick, editor-in-chief of Canyon High Pony Express.)


Academy of the Canyons Students Enjoy Halloween Activities

Throughout the last week of October, advisement, advisory, and freshman seminar classes at Academy of the Canyons had the opportunity to decorate their doors for a prize. Every class brought massive creativity from zombies to a Monsters Inc.-themed door. The winner, judged by office administration, was Jennie Siemens freshman seminar class. This event led up to the annual Halloween event on October 31st. AOC had a haunted hallway with US History teacher, Robert Walker, hiding at the end of the hallway stationed to scare students as they walked out. ASB also held a costume contest with gift cards as the prizes for the top costumes. Overall, Halloween was a success and had excellent student and teacher participation filled with a lot of laughter and screams.


Placerita Students Help at Several Community Events

Club HOT (Help Our Town), Placerita Junior High School’s community service club, has had a wonderfully busy first quarter.  In September, more than 30 Club HOT members, staff and family participated in the annual City of Santa Clarita River Rally clean-up event. Students were excited to make a difference in their community and didn’t mind getting a little dirty to do so! In October, approximately 65 Club HOT members, students, staff and family members joined Placerita Junior High School and the SCV Food Pantry to participate in the annual 5K Run/Walk for Hunger. This was the third year that Placerita has participated in this event and raised more than $1,000 for the food pantry this year. Placerita also had the honor of taking home the “Top Team Runner Up” trophy, as well. Eighth grader Lucy Yoshioka won the overall female division with the incredible time of 21 minutes and 36 seconds. The extended Placerita family was happy to spend the morning giving back to the community!

Hart High’s Football Coach Herrington Voted Best Coach in California

Hart High School Coach Mike Herrington was recently named one of eight national finalists for the first-ever, USA Today Best Coach in the Nation contest. It is quite the honor for a Hart District coach to be voted best coach in California. Herrington was not voted into the top five in the nation, however, will proudly display a banner at Hart High School designating him as a national finalist. Herrington, from Newhall, won six California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Championships and posted a 248-69-1 record, in 25 years of coaching. Under Herrington’s leadership, the Hart High Indians are 7-1 this season and continues to hold a high ranking in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division as all schools are now into league play. Herrington comes from a family of coaching brothers. Herrington, a Hart High graduate, began teaching at Hart in 1989 and is now in his 23rd year as head football coach at Hart. In 23 seasons under Herrington, the Indians have compiled 15 Foothill League Championships (1989, 1991-03, 2007), six CIF Championships (1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2003), and were CIF Finalists in 1994, 2002, 2005 and 2007. Coach Herrington began his coaching career at Hart High School in 1980 and was an assistant coach until 1987. During those eight seasons, he was involved in five league championships and two CIF Championships (1983, 1986).  He attended and played offensive line for two seasons at College of the Canyons and two seasons at Cal State Northridge. Coach Herrington teaches physical education at Hart and is also the athletic director. “I have worked with Coach Herrington since 1998. He is an outstanding coach, but more importantly, he is an outstanding person,” Dr. Collyn Nielsen, Hart principal, said.  “Recently, I was approached by a parent whose student had graduated more than a decade ago. He told me that Coach Herrington not only taught his son how to be a good football player, but how to be a good man.  That is characteristic of the feelings and respect the Hart community has for Mike. Because of his impact on and off the field, Mike Herrington is very deserving of this recognition by USA Today.” Based on conversations with local media organizations, USA Today compiled eight nominees in each state and Washington D.C. for its first Best Coach in the Nation poll. Fans votes narrowed the initial list of 408 coaches to one representative from each state for the regional round. The winners of the eight regional polls represented the national finalists.  For more information on this poll and to see the finalist rankings, visit:


Golden Valley JROTC Program Holds Successful Blood Drive

Golden Valley High School Air Force Junior ROTC, in partnership with the American Red Cross, collected 49 pints of life-saving blood in the first blood drive of the school year held last month. The blood was collected from 73 students, parents and faculty at Golden Valley High School. Sixty JROTC cadets assisted the American Red Cross in the blood drive by helping people check in, making sure donors were comfortable, providing snacks after donation and other various jobs the drive required. Waves of donors came throughout the daylong event and were provided refreshments and snacks, and some donors received tee shirts or museum tickets. Initial sign ups were slow; the cadets exhausted every resource to make the drive successful. Days before the event, sign-up sheets and posters were displayed around campus. Promotions aired on Golden Valley TV, which provided students with information about donating. “Cadets’ participation in the drive serves as an opportunity to develop their character and willingness to help others, with hope that they will continue to help people even when it is not required,” Cadet Major Pietro De Paoli said. He was the cadet officer in charge of coordinating the event. One cadet recruited people around campus dressed up in a blood drop costume that was provided by the Red Cross. Cadets received one merit for each person who donated blood under the cadet’s name. These merits are used to promote the cadets. JROTC’s mission is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving the community and nation. Participating cadets gained a sense of love and service for their community, according to De Paoli.

West Ranch Wildcat Classic Marched into Town

The West Ranch High School marching band and band boosters presented the 5th Annual Wildcat Classic in early October. The Wildcat Classic is a Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association (SCSBOA) marching band competition featuring ten high school bands performing, including other championship marching bands from the Hart School District. Other schools participating included Chaminade, Lancaster, Los Angeles, Lompoc, and West high schools. Hart High School took the sweepstakes award in three categories: band, percussion and colorguard and was the winner for Division 4A. Hart received additional awards for winning visual performance, visual effect and music performance. Valencia High School earned the top spot for Division 3A as well as for top music effect. Division classification is based on the total number of musicians in the band, including brass, woodwinds and percussion. The event was held at the Valencia High School stadium and also featured a host of food trucks this year. Stay updated on Wildcat Classic news and information at the West Ranch High School Wildcat Band and Colorguard website, and at


Sierra Vista Staff Builds School Pride with Flash Mob Surprise

Forty Sierra Vista Junior High faculty and staff surprised students with a Halloween-themed flash mob on Halloween. Following a planned student costume showcase, costumed teachers and staff dressed as zombies and monsters suddenly shuffled into place where students were gathered at lunchtime and began a choreographed dance to several familiar songs. The students enjoyed the showing of cooperation and collaboration amongst the staff that goes beyond the classroom. Teacher Robert Isquierdo coordinated the event to show students that Sierra Vista is more than a school or a workplace, that it is a community. Staff members worked for weeks on their own time to learn the dances and decide on costumes, make-up and music. The media came out in force to cover the event, which can be viewed on this SCVTV video: or articles on KHTS:

Bowman Students Help Save Lives Through Blood Drive

More than 135 lives will be saved because 46 Bowman High School students, staff, and district personnel donated blood at Bowman High School’s semiannual blood drive held last month. Providence Blood Donation Center was thrilled with the number of donors that came out to help save lives. Some Bowman students were nervous about donating blood for their first time, but the knowledge that their donation would save three lives helped them to overcome their fears to save others. Student Randy Cardenas said, “I was nervous at first, but it felt good to donate for a good cause.” Students were busy asking nurses where their blood would go and were amazed at the answers. Their blood will go to anyone who needs it: from preemie babies needing heart transplants to adults needing full blood transfusions and to cancer patients. Once the students heard how their blood was going to be used, their hearts opened up and their fears went away. Students had such an amazing experience that they all committed to donating the lifesaving blood again. Chris Sinanan had a glow when asked how donating blood made him feel. He said, “It felt good that as a regular high school kid, I could do something that would actually save others.” Kayla Keene said, “I was proud to donate my universal blood and save three lives. It’s amazing how something so simple can have such an impact.” Bowman ASB looks forward to the next blood drive in the spring. Students would like to see even more pints collected to save more lives!

What’s Good In Education – November 6, 2013

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