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The News Gallery

March 2008

ON TRIAL - Students Impress Judges, Attorneys and Coaches at Annual Mock Trial Event

News Gallery - March 2008 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Yvette Jarman, René Moncada, Candy Hilvers, Frank Betry, Olivia Velasquez, Carmen Friesen, Donna Glassman-Sommer, Marsha Ingrao, Paula Terrill.

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 Marlene Moreno at marlenem@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

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Mock Trial Participants Shine in Court
Judges Praise Event Participants for Their Tenacity and Critical Thinking

Mock Trial Alex Palmer did his best to appear innocent, but the judge wasn’t buying it. The Honorable Joseph Kalashian, presiding judge of the Tulare County Superior Court, believed that Palmer had shot his friend and former employer Jes Markson — a successful television producer. Fortunately for Palmer, the judge also thought the prosecution had failed to make a strong enough case to convict him.

Mock Trial The fictional case involving Alex Palmer, Jes Markson, a starlet and her publicist, and a colorful Hollywood caterer was performed by students at the annual Mock Trial event. In a closely fought final round of the event, Tulare Union High School represented the defense against Visalia’s El Diamante High School. By the narrowest of margins, event scorers — Tulare County District Attorney Phil Cline, County Counsel Kathleen Bales-Lange and Public Defender Michael Sheltzer — gave the victory to El Diamante along with the chance to compete for the state championship in Riverside, March 28.

Mock Trial This year, 11 Tulare County high school teams took on the roles of lawyers, witnesses and bailiffs. All teams made presentations based on the People v. Markson case materials. Each team, coached by local attorneys and school personnel, presented the case for both the prosecution and defense. Three attorneys scored each team based on their analysis and debate of the constitutional issues, the law and the facts in the case. Instructional Consultant Marsha Ingrao coordinates the event in partnership with Robert Dempsie of the District Attorney’s office and Deputy Court Executive Officer Cynthia Logan.

"We see a bright future for our community in these young people," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Their willingness to work hard, take instruction from their coaches and perform as well as many adults with greater experience is very reassuring."

Photos above:
~ Tulare Union’s prosecutor reviewed evidence with the detective who investigated the crime scene.
~ Defendant Alex Palmer was played by El Diamante’s Scott McGlasson.
~ Judge Kalashian praised both teams for their fine presentations.

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Event Tests Students on Many Levels
Academic Decathlon Competition Welcomes Students of Various Backgrounds

Academic Decathlon Standing on stage — arm-in-arm — members of Granite Hills’ Academic Decathlon team beamed as brightly as the mass of medals and trophies they collected at last month’s event. For six years in a row, Coach Mark Harriger’s team from Porterville has won the grueling event. Despite competition from more teams this year, Granite Hill’s "Team A" outpaced its nearest competitor by 6,000 points. The team will represent the county at the state competition in Sacramento this month.

Academic Decathlon
This year, 14 teams — with six to nine members each — competed in the ten-part event. "The great thing about Academic Decathlon is that each team includes students with "A," "B" and "C" grade-point averages working together," says Instructional Consultant Carmen Friesen, the event’s coordinator.

Academic Decathlon The two-day event begins with students taking exams on subjects including economics, music, art, mathematics, language and literature, and science. The Super Quiz is held on the second day. "Perhaps the most valuable experiences are gained from the speech, essay and interview sections," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Gaining proficiency in these areas builds life-long assets."

Photos above:
~ Students faced difficult questions about the Civil War in this year’s Super Quiz segment.
~ Strathmore High’s Jon Warson won a medal for his interview segment.
~ Redwood High School’s Adriana Cruz delivered her prepared speech for judges, followed by an impromptu speech chosen from a limited number of topics.
~ California Academic Decathlon Foundation gave scholarships to two Tulare County students: Daniel Hensley and Ivan Portillo of Granite Hills High School.

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Recruitment Efforts Result in More Interns
Program Supports Teachers Seeking Credentials with Training and Technology

Over the past three years, the size of the IMPACT Intern Program has grown from 20 participants to 100 according to Intern Program Director Donna Glassman-Sommer. "We have found a really productive relationship between our recruitment efforts and intern program," she says.

IMPACT Intern Program Participants enrolled in the IMPACT Intern Program may teach in local districts and simultaneously earn their credentials by attending evening classes. "This option has proven quite successful as we seek to fill positions in the high-need areas of math, science and special education," says Ms. Glassman-Sommer. "We are also helping school districts identify employees, like paraprofessionals, who could become teacher candidates and mapping the process for best results."

IMPACT Intern Program Other targets for the program are teachers who hold multiple-subject credentials. With additional training, some teachers can obtain the single-subject credential required to teach upper grade mathematics and science or special education.

Last month, teachers in one of the IMPACT Intern cohorts were completing a series of trainings on integrating technology in the classroom. Utilizing new laptops and LCD projectors provided by the program, teachers developed lesson plans integrating the principles of the CHARACTER COUNTS! program into their classroom curriculum. "This is an exciting time to become a teacher," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "There are incredible opportunities through the IMPACT Program in terms of training and support."

For information about the IMPACT Intern Program, call Norma Lovelace at (559) 740-4409.

Photos above:
~ Interns in one of the current cohorts enjoy added technology training and equipment for their classrooms. The equipment was provided to assist teachers in delivering curriculum more effectively.
~ Intern Coordinator Norma Lovelace (left) and Program Director Donna Glassman-Sommer welcome the growth in their program.

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USC Makes Five-Year Commitment to School
Agencies Work Together to Bring Dental Clinic to Terra Bella Union Elementary

There was a lot of action on the court in Terra Bella’s gymnasium last month. The school wasn’t hosting a basketball tournament, but rather a free dental clinic. The stars of the court were 47 students from the University of Southern California (USC) dental school and three of their instructors.

USC Dental Clinic Terra Bella Union Elementary District worked with the university to establish a free, three-day dental clinic which served 600 students. According to superintendent Frank Betry, the clinic was so successful that the university has committed to visiting Terra Bella for four more years. "In three days, these dental students were able to see about five times as many children as they do in an annual program in Orange County," says Mr. Betry. "They made over 350 X-ray films of our students, performed 55 extractions and provided 500 protective varnishings. Despite the amount of work they performed, it was obvious that they all had hearts for our students."

USC Dental Clinic In addition to the USC team of students and faculty, Mr. Betry is quick to credit the efforts of others in making the dental clinic a reality. "The work that our school nurse, Lupe Shafer, did in conjunction with our social services coordinator, Robin Dung from Porterville Unified, and Tulare County Office of Education school nurse Frances White and Migrant Education nurse Kathy Ingoldsby, was invaluable. Thanks to their dedication to the project, our families will benefit from another four years of dental care."

Candy Hilvers, program manager for TCOE’s School Health Programs, says that the State of California’s emphasis on dental health has served to illuminate the need for care in Tulare County. "The Oral Health Assessment requirement for kindergarten students has been successful as we have developed and renewed relationships with dentists within Tulare County and throughout the state," says Ms. Hilvers. "I believe that it has increased awareness of the great need so many children have for oral health care." In a survey of kindergarten children, Ms. Hilvers reports that nearly one quarter had untreated tooth decay. "With proper screening and generous help from local practitioners or dental students, we can see that children are free from pain and ready to learn," she says.

Photos above:
~ Terra Bella’s three-day dental clinic treated 600 students — nearly 70 percent of the district’s population. Procedures performed by USC students included preventative varnishings, extractions and cleanings.

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On People in Service and Support

Spotlight Last month, Tulare County Office of Education’s Network for a Healthy California collaborated with local citrus grower Lo Bue Brothers in Lindsay and the Kiwanis Clubs in Dinuba and Exeter to develop an Orange Grove Field Trip exhibition. Hundreds of students at Exeter’s Rocky Hill and Lincoln Elementary Schools and Dinuba’s Wilson Elementary rotated through various stations to learn about: "How an Orange Tree Grows," Vitamin C and fiber, taste testing and more. Network School Nurse Janet Hettinger showed students at Lincoln Elementary in Exeter a graft on a young orange tree.

Spotlight Ana Cruz, pictured with son, Armando Rodriguez, was one of four students in La Sierra’s Cal-Safe Program recently honored for outstanding scholastic achievement and workmanship. Also honored were April Dubon, Geraldine Santillan and Nicole Munoz. The Cal-Safe program provides an avenue for teen parents to continue their educational coursework toward a high school diploma through independent study. At the same time, the program provides child care, parenting skills, discipline techniques, health care and prenatal care.

Spotlight The City of Dinuba recently recognized Dinuba’s Community-Based Instruction (CBI) class instructor Pat Wescott and program manager Leigh Mosconi for service to the community. Students and staff average 500 to 600 hours of service per year for the Parks and Recreation Department including graffiti removal, grounds maintenance and setting up large public events. CBI students, like Humberto Rubio (shown in photo), receive job training and community service curriculum based on the CHARACTER COUNTS! Program. Every Dinuba CBI student that has graduated from this program has continued serving local communities.

Spotlight Judy Carter, humorist specializing in stress, health and women’s issues, will deliver the keynote address at the 16th annual Tulare County Support Staff Conference, April 18, 2008, at the Visalia Convention Center. An outstanding motivational speaker and comedian, Judy has inspired thousands of people to use humor to cope with change and improve workplace culture. Ms. Carter is considered a "specialist" in proving that laughter can be the true fountain of youth. Contact Marlene Moreno at (559) 733-6172 regarding registration information.

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Gallery Notes

Last fall, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a new program to honor the top academic students in California high schools. The program – entitled the Governor’s Academic Recognition and All State Academic Team – will honor 177 students from throughout the state. Tulare County was invited to nominate four students for the program. A panel of community members reviewed the applications and selected the following students: Joseph Barnett, a senior at Tulare Western High School; William Dunn, a senior at Monache High School in Porterville; Reena Joy Flores, a senior at Redwood High School in Visalia; and Lena Sweeney, a senior at Golden West High School in Visalia. The Tulare County students will join the other honorees at a dinner event on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, hosted by Governor Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver. At the event, 25 of the students being honored will also be announced as members of the first annual All State Academic Team.

Plans are being made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the SCICON program. Festivities will begin at the annual SCICON Barbecue Sunday, April 20 on the program’s campus near Springville. Event planners are organizing a celebration of SCICON history as well as entertainment and activities. A special commemorative poster by noted wildlife artist, Francis Pyles, will be available at the event.

Tulare County Office of Education employees are encouraged to participate in the semi-annual Blood Drive scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, March 26. To participate, please contact Jeanne Croson at (559) 733-6322, or by e-mail at

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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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