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The News Gallery

April 2008

HISTORY REVISITED - Students Explore "Conflict and Compromise" in Annual History Day Competition

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Jared Torres, Paula Terrill, Nancy Bellin, Luis Leal, Jonathan Janzen, Juani Rubio, Jeanne Croson and Olivia Velasquez.

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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Students Explore History's Conflicts
Performance, Documentary, Exhibits and Web Sites Bring History to Life

History Day On the broad canvas of "Conflict & Compromise in History," Tulare County students created some masterpieces for the annual History Day event. Drawing on experiences as diverse as those of holocaust victims, New York firefighters and female baseball players, students explored themes of racial injustice, social conflict and war.

"Conflict & Compromise in History" is the theme set by the national History Day organization. In Tulare County, it provided a broad base for students to showcase historical issues, ideas, people and events. Students may research any topic in local, national or world history and explore its significance relative to the annual theme.

History Day Students from Kings River Elementary in Kingsburg are traditionally competitive at History Day. New coaches Janet Bellin and Jamie Graves joined veterans Joy Soares, Janet Kelly and Patrick Delgado in guiding students as they created some award-winning work. "We were so impressed with the depth of their research and the confidence they gained," said Ms. Bellin and Ms. Graves. "For the web site project on the New York Fire Department, students were able to talk to some of the men who were there during the 9/11 attacks. They were also able to turn their research into a great web site project with instruction from Frank Linik at Educational Resource Services."

History Day At the event, presentations are evaluated by local historians and educators who look for a balance of perspectives and the types of research cited in the bibliography. "Through their research and analysis, students grow to understand the impact local, national and international history has on their lives," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

This year, the state History Day competition will be held May 8-11 in Sacramento. For a list of Tulare County projects competing in the state finals, visit

Photos above:
~ Kings River's Jessica Aaronian portrays a family matriarch caught up in the events leading to the Armenian genocide.
~ Judges listen to students present in the group exhibit category.
~ Amanda Jost and Holly Wilson's award-winning exhibit entitled "Exposing Manzanar from the Inside Out: The Conflicts and Compromises of Ansel Adams and Toyo Miyatake."

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Agencies Partner to Encourage Foster Youth
Nationally-Known Author Delivers Tough Message of Personal Responsibility

Access to Higher Education Response to the first annual Access to Higher Education event was so strong that the College of the Sequoias Student Union was "standing room only" Saturday, February 23. Those left standing were the event organizers, sponsors and community VIPs as 110 high-school-aged foster youth from Tulare and Kings counties packed the room to hear renowned author and speaker Dave Pelzer.

A former foster youth, Mr. Pelzer is the author of six inspirational books including: A Child Called "It," The Lost Boy and A Man Called Dave. The books draw from Mr. Pelzer's horrific experience as a child who was nearly killed several times by his mentally disturbed, alcoholic mother. At the time, his was one of the most gruesome and extreme cases of child abuse in California's history. Finally at age 12, he was rescued and placed in foster homes.

Access to Higher Education At the heart of Dave Pelzer's presentation was an intense, often funny, sometimes shocking message to the audience: be responsible for your life. For nearly an hour, he hammered his point that young people need to let go of the wrongs that were done to them and think about how the decisions they make now will affect their future. Citing numerous overwhelming obstacles he faced, Dave Pelzer inspired many in the audience to become more proactive and responsible.

Access to Higher Education was modeled after a similar program developed by Judge Leonard Edwards, Judge-in- Residence for the Administrative Office of the Court and a retired Santa Clara County Superior Court judge. Last fall, Judge Edwards visited Tulare County promoting the creation of greater opportunities for foster youth. Accepting his challenge were the organizing members of the event: the College of the Sequoias, the Tulare County Superior Court, the Tulare County Office of Education, the Tulare County Independent Living Program and CASA of Tulare County. "It is rewarding to see how everyone has worked together so well and that such a high percentage of foster youth were able to enjoy this event," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Photos above:
~ Author Dave Pelzer chats with a group of enthusiastic students following his lunchtime presentation.
~ Tulare County social worker and former foster youth Miriam Sallam speaks about her journey through college and into a career she enjoys. Ms. Sallam was one of several speakers students heard including Dean Robert Urtecho, from College of the Sequoias, and counselors from area private and public colleges.

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Science Olympiad Tests Fact and Application
Winners in Middle and High School Divisions Advance to Regionals at U.C. Merced

Science Olympiad Amidst the rockets and robots and towers and circuits, something important was happening  science! Not all rockets soared, not all structures stood, but students in the first session of the annual Science Olympiad, held at College of the Sequoias for middle and high school students, persevered.

Coordinated by Science Instructional Consultant Jonathan Janzen, the event features a combination of written and hands-on science competitions. "Students are tested on a wide range of science fact, process and application," says Mr. Janzen. Subjects covered include biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology.

When the smoke cleared and the scores were tallied, the top three teams in the middle school division (Division B) were: Visalia's Green Acres Blue Team, Tulare's Palo Verde Black Team and St. Aloysius Black Team. In Division C (high school), the top three teams were Visalia's Redwood High School Blue Team, Farmersville High School's Blue Team and Exeter High School, respectively. These six teams have earned a spot at the 2008 NorCal State Science competition at the University of California, Merced, scheduled for April 26,2008.

Science Olympiad "The concepts learned through this competition can be a student's first glimpse into the workings of our modern world," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Because Science Olympiad is open to such a wide range of students, they can explore and refine their interest in science for years." The rapidly growing elementary school competition (Division A) is scheduled for April 12 at El Diamante High School in Visalia. For a complete list of results, or for more information, visit:

Photos above:
~ Students can compete in a variety of events covering physics, life science, technology, and earth and space.
~ Redwood High School's team celebrates at the awards ceremony its first-place finish in the high school division. Redwood is one of six Tulare County teams advancing to the regional finals this month.

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Spellers Go a Record-Breaking 31 Rounds
Boys Battle for Top Three Spots in Tulare County's Ninth Annual Spelling Bee

Tulare County Spelling Championship With the precision of tennis pros locked in battle for the match point, Jared Caballes and Muhammad Baig spent a grueling 11 rounds head-to-head at the end of the Ninth Annual Tulare County Spelling Championship. Words were volleyed back and forth between them: "fantoccini," "Baedeker," "mandir," "hoomalimali," "bhalu," "pfeffernuss." On and on they fought.

In the 30th round of the competition, Muhammad, a seventh grader from La Joya Middle School in Visalia, misspelled the word "vorlage." Jared, an eighth grader from Visalia's Valley Oak Middle School returned to the stage to spell "anschluss" correctly. After over four hours of competition, Jared was crowned the 2008 Tulare County Spelling Champion and loaded with trophies, gift certificates, banners, dictionaries and requests for photos and interviews.

Tulare County Spelling Championship Jared beat over 160 other competitors from a record-breaking 83 schools to earn the championship and advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. May 28-30, 2008. "We had so many good spellers this year," says Nancy Bellin, the event's coordinator. "The fact that we had so many more rounds than ever before, tells us that they were very well prepared." The Tulare County event is open to students in grades 4-8 from public and private schools and cosponsored by Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register.

"We appreciate all the emphasis our partners at the Times-Delta and Advance-Register put on the importance of this event," says Mr. Vidak. "It reinforces the work that teachers are doing to build students' confidence in spelling and their confidence on stage."

Photos above:
~ Posing with Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak: (l-r) Muhammad Baig (the second-place finisher), spelling champion Jared Caballes, and third-place finisher Joseph Maluyao, a fifth grader from Golden Oak Elementary in Visalia.
~ For over four hours, spellers remained under the watchful eyes of the judges: (l-r) Tulare City Elementary's Luis Castellanoz, Visalia Unified's Carlyn Lambert and TCOE's Pat Hansen.

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On People in Service and Support

Tulare County Student STEM Scholarship For the past three years, the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation and the Tulare County Office of Education have partnered to increase awareness among students concerning the critical role science, technology, engineering and mathematics play in building entrepreneurship in America. The partnership created the Tulare County Student STEM Scholarship, with a $1,000 award sponsored by the TUCOEMAS Federal Credit Union. This year's winner is Stephan Leal, a Redwood High School student, and son of TCOE Computer Software Manager Luis Leal. With plans to attend U.C. Santa Barbara, Stephan looks forward to pursuing his goal of developing alternative energy sources and vehicles. Stephan's winning scholarship application included a goal of bringing new technologies to the region.

All-State Academic Team Reena J. Flores, a senior at Redwood High School, was recently selected for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's new 25-member All-State Academic Team out of 144 students recognized statewide for academic achievement. Reena is ranked first in her class at Redwood and has been involved in varsity tennis, Tulare County Mock Trial and Future Business Leaders of America, where she captured a fourth-place prize in a national competition.

Farm Bureau Student Art Calendar The 2008-2009 Farm Bureau Student Art Calendar was presented to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, March 18, 2008, in celebration of National Agriculture Week. The calendar is sponsored by the Tulare County Office of Education and its Network for a Healthy California Program. In addition to numerous pieces of student artwork, the calendar includes facts about fruits and vegetables featured in the "Harvest of the Month" section. Esmirna Bedoy, a junior at Dinuba High School produced the art featured on the cover. While supplies last, copies of the calendar are available at the Tulare County Office of Education's Burrel Avenue office.

COOL Night Hundreds of middle school students and their parents have visited C.O.O.L. (College Offers Opportunities for Life) Night events in Porterville and Visalia. The events were held in Visalia on March 3 and at Porterville's Monache High School on April 1. High school clubs, community colleges, area universities and organizations like the Visalia Police Department were on hand to encourage students as they prepare for high school, college and careers.

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Gallery Notes

Last month, 450 hopeful teacher candidates attended the 23rd Annual Tulare/Kings Counties' Teacher Recruitment Fair. Thirty-two school districts were present to screen and interview candidates for upcoming teaching assignments, along with representatives from TCOE's Intern, BTSA and credentialing programs. The California Teacher Recruitment Program provided information to teacher candidates on incentive programs and employment, and collected information to be placed in a searchable database for school districts. Contacts were made, counseling delivered and dates set for future interviews.

Recently, U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with School Evaluation Services, a K-12 education and data research business, analyzed academic and enrollment data from public high schools throughout the nation. Among the Tulare County programs included in the report on the nation's best schools are the Special Education classes offered by TCOE's Special Services Division.

Special Services school psychologist Jennifer Soeda was recently awarded the competitive Julie Vargas Award for behavior analysis research she did while a graduate student at Fresno State. Ms. Soeda, who has been working in the Specialized Assessment Services Program since last year, received her honor at the California Association for Behavior Analysis conference in February.

Over 800 middle school students from 40 different Tulare County schools converged at the Visalia Convention Center to participate in the 35th annual Math Super Bowl competition last month. Top Team Bowl honors went to seventh-grade teams from St. Anne's in Porterville, St. Paul's in Visalia and La Joya Middle School in Visalia. Top eighth-grade Team Bowl schools included: George McCann in Visalia, Valley Oak Middle School in Visalia, Cherry Avenue Middle School in Tulare, Live Oak Middle School in Tulare and Green Acres Middle School in Visalia.

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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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