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University Preparatory High School wins Mock Trial

University Preparatory High School wins 2021 Tulare County Mock Trial

In the finals of the annual Tulare County Mock Trial competition held last week, University Preparatory High School (UPHS) defeated Redwood High School, which had previously won the event four years in a row. UPHS will represent Tulare County at the state virtual finals next month.

Members of the UPHS Mock Trial team include Christopher Alegre, Tieu-Tam Bui, Sophia Calvendra, Matthew Cazares, Adrian Ceja, Alexandra Cisneros, Rylee Correa, Harper Dutton, Rebecca Eastham, Tavii Garcia, Alexis Keyfauver, Mahalia Manglay, Cecily Mason, Alea McElroy, Kari Pendegraft, Brooke Ramirez, Daniella Ramuco, Charvi Reddy, Jocelyn Saldivar, and Walker Zamora. David Rasner, UPHS’s drama teacher and English instructor, is the team’s coach. The attorney coaches are David Lange and Stephanie Smittle.

A video of the final round of the Mock Trial competition between UPHS and Redwood High School is available at

Students also won awards for their journalistic coverage and artistic renditions of the proceedings. This year, the winning journalists are Blaine Roche of El Diamante High School and Kari Pendegraft of University Preparatory High School. The alternate journalist is Tavii Garcia of University Preparatory High School. The two champion artists are Kobe Lauengco of El Diamante High School and Alijia Escobar of Tulare Western High School. The alternate artist is Rylee Correa of University Preparatory High School.

Gabrielle Trapse makes it four in a row at Poetry Out Loud

Gabrielle Trapse reciting at Poetry Out Loud event last year

Last week, Tulare Union High School senior Gabrielle Trapse won the Poetry Out Loud competition for the fourth year in a row. Poetry Out Loud is a national competition for high school students who prepare recitations from a lexicon of over 900 classic and contemporary poems. Kate Stover, TCOE’s visual and performing arts curriculum specialist, reports that Gabrielle will be filmed performing her three poetry selections. The video will be submitted to the state competition in early March.

The competition’s runner-up is Ximena Guzman Tapia of Mission Oak High School in Tulare.

Photo above:
~ Gabrielle Trapse, winner of the 2021 Poetry Out Loud competition, is shown at last year’s competition at 210 in downtown Visalia.

Alta Vista first district to be completely served by Central California Learning Network

The new Central California Learning Network (CCLN) – a network created by the Tulare County Office of Education to provide high-speed internet access for students at little to no cost – is now serving the Alta Vista School District. Alta Vista School was one of the first districts to receive an antenna last fall. Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire shared with the Tulare County Board of Education last week that wireless service was now reaching over 95% of Alta Vista families. “I’m told that with some fine tuning, the antenna will soon reach 100% of the district’s homes,” he said.

Alta Vista students benefit from new Central California Learning Network internet access

Prior to the installation of the antenna, the district brought students on campus in small cohorts to utilize the school’s internet. Several weeks ago, the district distributed 40 hotspots to students who did not have internet access at home. “The new hotspots and the new higher speed internet access will increase connectivity and reliability,” said Dr. Rob Hudson, superintendent of Alta Vista School. “This new access will allow students to work from home utilizing district security protocols so that we can focus our on-campus support to those students with the most severe needs.” Through the CCLN, TCOE helped the district overcome several critical areas of concern, including raising the antenna, integrating the transmitter into the school’s system, and providing overall access to the internet for students so they can now work from home utilizing the new hotspots. “We look forward to integrating this technological surge into our learning process beyond the COVID-19 crisis,” Superintendent Hudson added.

The CCLN is a project of the Information Systems program. For more information about its development, contact Dr. Wayne Lacy at

Photo above:
~ This year, the Central California Learning Network delivered wireless internet service and hot spots to many families in the Alta Vista School District – service previously only available to them on campus.

Joy Soares and Cynthia Brown named Linked Learning Fellows

Last week, the Linked Learning Alliance, a national coalition of educators, employers, and community organizations, announced the selection of nine California educators for its inaugural 2021 Linked Learning Fellows program. Two of the fellows are from Tulare County – TCOE’s Joy Soares and Porterville Unified’s Cynthia Brown.

Joy Soares, TCOE's College and Career director Joy Soares is TCOE’s director of College and Career and director of the Tulare Kings College and Career Collaborative. She joined TCOE in 2012 as a member of the Educational Resource Services consultant team responsible for training in the Project Based Learning curriculum. In her role as director of College and Career, she provides support to district leaders in Tulare County and across the state with several collaborative networks. As director of the Tulare Kings College and Career Collaborative, she serves the two-county region to advance college and career readiness for all students by aligning K-12 and postsecondary pathways with industry expectations. Joy’s experience also includes 15 years work in industry, a 12-year teaching career, and school site administration.

Cynthia Brown, Porterville Unified's director of Student Pathways Cynthia Brown is Porterville Unified’s director of Student Pathways. In her 35-year career in education, she has consistently expanded opportunities for students to achieve success in college and career preparation by building partnerships with public and private sectors. Cindy has been at the forefront of leading Porterville’s district-wide implementation of the Linked Learning Pathways Program, securing over $62 million in public and private funding for its support. She has led and developed a notable system of career-themed pathway academies that have received statewide, national, and international recognition. Cindy has also been instrumental in building multiple partnerships with workforce experts to connect educational lessons with the real world.

“Congratulations to Joy and Cindy – two great educators who have done so much to ignite students’ passion for careers and to smooth the path from high school to college and the workplace,” said Tim Hire, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools.

The nine Linked Learning Fellows, who represent school districts and county offices of education across California, will embark on a six-month long journey to help communities nationwide address racial and economic equity through Linked Learning. The fellows will be provided a national platform to share their knowledge and expertise with other education and community leaders from across the country. For more information about Linked Learning, visit

Distance Learning Resources

Editor: Robert Herman, Public Information Officer
Contributors: Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Lorena White, Paula Terrill, Kate Stover, and Joy Soares.

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