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The News Gallery

May 2002

SHOW OF HANDS - La Sierra Teacher Bruce Adams Introduces the School's New E.A.S.T. Lab Technology and Community Service Class

News Gallery - May 2002 Editor: Rob Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Cherí Barnes, Gary Biggs, Darlynn Billingsley, Esmeralda Cano, Veronica Carmona, Christine Chapman, Vicky Contreras, Jeanne Croson, Randy Elzig, Frank Escobar, Linda Hamilton, Margaret Ibarra, LouAnn King, Donna Martin, Rick Mitchell and Donna Orozco.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. If you would like to receive the News Gallery, please contact Christine Chapman at (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

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La Sierra Receives Grant to Build High-Tech Computer Lab

This fall, 14 La Sierra High School students will begin utilizing the latest computer technology as part of a class designed to promote student initiative for community service. La Sierra was recently awarded a $230,000 grant to create an E.A.S.T. Lab on campus. The E.A.S.T. (Environmental and Spatial Technology) Initiative is a program that provides funds for development of a computer lab complete with the latest technology and puts students in charge of their own learning.

EAST Project "The E.A.S.T. Lab will provide extraordinary experiences in technology, business and community service for the students accepted to the program," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "We're delighted with the grant, because it provides students with the tools to dream and create while they learn about working with others to accomplish a common goal."

Since the founding of the E.A.S.T. Initiative in 1996, over 100 labs have been installed throughout the country. Each lab includes up to 20 computers and a variety of different types of software applications. Among the opportunities for growth in the E.A.S.T. program is the chance for students to learn more about networking and network system administration, desktop publishing, Computer Aided Design (CAD), visualization software, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), web page design, architecture, solid modeling and assembly and other applications.

Four La Sierra staff members, including principal Dan Barajas, attended the National E.A.S.T. conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, in February of this year. La Sierra Teacher Bruce Adams will serve as the lab's facilitator. Mr. Adams reports that applications for the fall class were due last month. "We will make our selection and then have the students start installing and networking the E.A.S.T. Lab this summer," he adds. The La Sierra E.A.S.T. Lab will be one of only 45 such classes in California, and the only one in Tulare County.

EAST Project La Sierra students were given an introduction to E.A.S.T. at an assembly last month. Students from Yosemite High School in Coarsegold described their first year's experience with the E.A.S.T. Lab at their school. All shared their enthusiasm for the freedom to develop their own projects, pursue supporters within the community and learn exciting new applications. One student described how he took the initiative to gather used computers, which he later upgraded and distributed free of charge to other programs within the school. Other students were responsible for the design and construction of a monument sign in the community, complete with landscaping and lighting. Best of all, the students spoke of a new personal confidence found through their own initiative and the support of peers and technology.

Photos above:
~ (above) La Sierra students review the E.A.S.T. Lab application as (below) students from Yosemite High School in Coursegold share their projects and experience in the class.

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Six Tulare County Schools Honored with Character Education Awards

As CHARACTER COUNTS! continues to grow throughout Tulare County and becomes more and more a part of the educational environment, schools are being honored for their outstanding efforts. This year, six Tulare County elementary schools received the Bonner Center Award from California State University, Fresno. The award is given to schools with outstanding character education programs and is the oldest and most prestigious of its kind in the central San Joaquin Valley.

2002 Bonner Award Winners Since 1997, Tulare County schools have received 19 Bonner Center Awards. This year's award winners were Alta Vista, Burton and Vandalia Elementary Schools in the Porterville area, Crowley Elementary School in Visalia, Golden Valley Elementary School in Orosi and Pixley Elementary School. Pixley and Burton were also winners in 2000. "The character education programs of the Bonner Award recipients are phenomenal," says Tulare County Superintendent of School Jim Vidak. "We are so proud of the numbers of schools recognized. It is a testimony to the value character education has in Tulare County."

Each of the six award winners had similar implementation strategies. However, these schools have unique histories of how CHARACTER COUNTS! came to be part of their educational environment.

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak first introduced Michelle Pengilly to CHARACTER COUNTS! in 1996. At that time, Michelle was principal of Hot Springs Elementary School. When she later moved to Burton Elementary School in Porterville, the CHARACTER COUNTS! seeds Mr. Vidak planted in 1996 took root. The result was a Bonner Center Award in 2000 and another in 2002.

Alta Vista Elementary School Superintendent Paul Cannon and Vice Principal Kim McManaman correctly adopted the philosophy that CHARACTER COUNTS! and character development doesn't happen over night, but happens over time. So starting in the fall of 2000 they meticulously began to implement CHARACTER COUNTS! by sending their teachers to CHARACTER COUNTS! trainings and having inservices at their school. The result: a Bonner Center Award in 2002.

Implementation of CHARACTER COUNTS! at Golden Valley Elementary and Vandalia Elementary Schools can be described in two words: Angel Valdez. Mr. Vidak once again was instrumental in planting the seeds of CHARACTER COUNTS! when he invited Angel to join a group of Tulare County educators to attend the National CHARACTER COUNTS! conference in April of 1997. Angel began to implement the program immediately at Golden Valley, and when he moved to Vandalia in 2001, he hit the ground running with CHARACTER COUNTS! His legacy at Golden Valley and leadership at Vandalia yielded two Bonner Center Awards in 2002. The Porterville connection was again apparent at Crowley Elementary school in Visalia. Principal Tammy Gonzalez and Vice Principal Jan Mekeel began a wide- ranging and sweeping implementation of CHARACTER COUNTS! Infusing CHARACTER COUNTS! throughout the school environment has resulted in one of our most comprehensive and pervasive programs. A 2002 Bonner Center Award was again the result.

One of the earliest CHARACTER COUNTS! efforts took place at Pixley Elementary School. Learning Director Kelley Lapadula began to implement CHARACTER COUNTS! in 1996 after attending a Tulare County Office of Education-sponsored seminar. With support from Pixley Superintendent Wayne Clark and Principal Ted Thomas, Kelley has led a relentless effort to implement CHARACTER COUNTS! not just at Pixley School, but throughout the community as well. Pixley's second Bonner Center Award in 2002 is a fitting tribute to their program.

The Bonner Center Awards are the result of the efforts of some of the most dedicated and hard-working educators in our county. The Tulare County Office of Education salutes them.

2002 Bonner Center Award Winners

Alta Vista Elementary School
Superintendent Paul Cannon and
Assistant Principal Kim McManaman

Burton Elementary School
Principal Michelle Pengilly and
Assistant Principal Chastity Lollis

Crowley Elementary School
Principal Tammy Gonzalez and
Vice Principal Jan Mekeel

Golden Valley Elementary School
Principal Robert Chavez and
Ellen Medina

Pixley Elementary School
Superintendent Wayne Clark,
Principal Ted Thomas and
Learning Director Kelley Lapadula

Vandalia Elementary School
Principal Angel Valdez and
Vice Principal Sandra Williams

Photo above:
~ 2002 Tulare County Elementary School Winners at the Bonner Center Awards Ceremony.

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School Health's Peer Education Program Trains Students to Present to Others

Nearly a dozen students from Frazier High School in Strathmore and Tulare Tech Prep High School are now making presentations to area middle school students on the risks of HIV/AIDS. Candy Hilvers, Program Manager for School Health Programs, and Tulare Tech Prep's Steve Holdridge were responsible for bringing the HIV Peer Prevention Program to Tulare County.

"Working with these students has been so rewarding," says Ms. Hilvers. "They take their responsibility to this program quite seriously. Parents have even remarked at the difference it has made in the lives of their sons and daughters."

HIV prevention peer educators are high school students who have received training to conduct classes with high school and middle school students. Peer educators receive 26 hours of basic training about HIV/AIDS, plus strategies for answering challenging questions, presentation skills and outlines for presenting classes on a series of ten topics. "One of the strengths of the program is that middle school audiences are more apt to listen to high school-age presenters," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "The peer presenters also benefit from gained confidence and a sense of positive contribution."

The students were recently honored by sharing their presentation at the HIV/AIDS Education 2002 Conference in Selma. The students presented to other school nurses and health administrators from Fresno and Tulare Counties.

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Royal Oaks Team Heads to National Odyssey of the Mind Competition

A team of seven sixth-graders from Royal Oaks Elementary in Visalia will compete at the world Odyssey of the Mind competition May 21 - 25 in Boulder, Colorado. The Royal Oaks students make up the first Odyssey of the Mind team from Visalia to compete in the finals of this competition. Royal Oaks will go up against students from 36 states in this country and from 22 other countries.

Odyssey of the Mind team Teams are judged on scores received in three areas of competition. The first area is a long-term problem, which teams prepare in advance. The second area is the style or enhancement of their long-term solution, and the third is the team's response to a spontaneous problem given on the day of the competition. Odyssey of the Mind long-term problems come from five categories: mechanical/vehicle, technical performance, classics, structure and performance.

The Royal Oaks team, which won at the state level in a competition in April, is coached by teachers Cathy Hall and Micheline Escue. Among the team members is Steven Leal, son of Luis Leal, Computer Software Manager for the Tulare County Office of Education Information Systems department.

Photo above:
~ Champions. Team members (front row) Courtlan Hall, Olivia Holvik and Matt Hammond, (back row) Cale Ritter, Steven Leal, Andie Borba and Janey Loyd pose with coaches (left to right) Cathy Hall and Micheline Escue.

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Study Explores Education Attitudes Among Teenage Parents

The Tulare County Children and Families Commission, which was created by California State Proposition 10, recently commissioned a study entitled the "Attitudes and Perceptions of Tulare County Teen Parents Towards Educational and Health Services." The purpose of the study was to discover the reasons for high school truancy among teenage mothers. The research team sought to learn why fewer than 15% of the 2,700 Tulare County teen mothers between the ages of 13 and 17 attend school on a regular basis. Tulare County has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation.

The study found home visits are an important element in connecting teens with teen parenting programs. Locating teen parents not connected with education or health services can be facilitated by social workers and the teen's peers. Teen parenting program awareness marketed within schools can serve as an important connecting point for the recruitment of teen parents. The study also found that the lack of transportation in rural areas creates a significant barrier in the access of health and education services. To reduce the number of teen pregnancies in the County, the study recommends the creation of a program combining the resources of Tulare County Child Care, the Teenage Parenting Program (TAPP) in a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Resource Center. The study was completed as a collaboration between the Tulare County Office of Education Services for Education and Employment (SEE) and Child Care programs, and Nick Anthony & Associates.

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Gallery Notes

Sam Pena Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak announced that the planetarium in the new Impact Center will be named after Center Supervisor Sam Peña. "I feel it is a fitting honor for a man of Sam's talent who has dedicated so many years to teaching students about our place in the universe." The Impact Center will relocate this fall to the adjacent county building formerly used by the Ag Commissioner. A new name for the building will be selected by the Tulare County Board of Education. Since the Impact Center's opening nearly 25 years ago, over one million students from throughout the central San Joaquin Valley have visited its Planetarium and Multi-Media Educational Theater.

Yolanda Valdez, principal of Washington Intermediate School in Dinuba, was recently honored as Migrant Alumna of the Year for Region VIII at the Annual State Migrant Parent Conference. Ms. Valdez taught school in the Dinuba School District and in the Cutler-Orosi School District before becoming the principal at Washington Intermediate. Other Region VIII winners included Student of the Year Maria Del Carmen Rosales of Tulare High School and Parent of the Year Pedro Bedolla of Porterville.

The 29th Annual Tulare County Math Super Bowl was conducted April 16 at the Visalia Convention Center. Instructional Consultant Julie Moshier announced the first-place winners in the overall category: eighth-graders Carlos Gurrero of Mulcahy Middle School in Tulare and Michael Congdon of St. Anne's of Porterville, and seventh-graders Laura Dearborn of St. Paul's in Visalia and Zachary Serpa of Live Oak Middle School in Tulare. Nearly 700 students from 40 middle schools throughout the County participate in the annual event.

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Tim A. Hire, County Superintendent of Schools
Tulare County Office of Education
All mail to: P.O. Box 5091, Visalia, CA 93278-5091
Physical address: 6200 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA 93277
phone: (559) 733-6300 • fax: (559) 627-5219

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