go to Tulare County Office of Education HomePage go to Tulare County Office of Education HomePage

The News Gallery

April 2011

APPLIED SCIENCE - Hundreds compete in the annual Science Olympiad, applying biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, technology and more to solve problems

News Gallery - April 2011 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Soliz, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Anjelica Zermeño, René Moncada, Pansy Ceballos, Guadalupe Solis, Kelley Petty, Jonathan Janzen and 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.

Cover Photo:
~ Brice Veyna (l) and Sam Lechtman of Redwood High School battle an opposing robot vehicle in the Sumo Bots competition.

to Top of Page

Science disciplines put students to the test
Winning Tulare and Kings County schools advance to state Science Olympiad this month

Science Olympiad Opening a container full of usual household items — tape, paper plates and cups — Reyna Tapia and Norika Martinez rush to assemble a giant arm cantilevered off the side of a table. The Green Acres Middle School girls were part of an event at the Science Olympiad competition held March 5 on the College of the Sequoias (COS) campus. In their event, called Junkyard Challenge, the girls had to build the longest cantilever possible while counterbalancing it with the smallest weighted structure, which sat on the table. Once complete, the cantilever had to support a golf ball for five seconds without collapsing.

Science Olympiad “Through these events, students see first-hand the importance of good design and engineering,” says Jonathan Janzen, science instructional consultant and event coordinator. “We hope that many of them will realize a passion for science and pursue careers in engineering, math or technology.”

Science Olympiad Across the COS campus, hundreds of students from 12 high school teams (Division  C) and 17 middle school teams (Division  B) competed in a total of 45 different events utilizing the science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology.

At the end of the day, medals were given to the student teams for first, second, third, fourth and fifth places in the individual events. At this ceremony, Norika and Reyna learned that they had, in fact, built the best cantilever in the Junkyard Challenge event. Their win, combined with victories for other students on their team, propelled the Green Acres Green Team to a first-place victory overall in the middle school division. Congratulations to Green Acres and all the teams advancing to the NorCal Science Olympiad on April  9.

Photos above:
~ Reyna Tapia (l) and Norika Martinez of Green Acres Middle School display their winning cantilever structure from the Junkyard Challenge event.
~ Elizabeth McKegney (l) and Mayson De Ochoa of St. Rose-McCarthy Catholic School (Hanford) apply their knowledge of electricity in the Shock Value event.
~ Nickolas Griesbach from St. Aloysius School (Tulare) tests the strength of his wooden tower to support a bucket of sand beneath it.
~ Mt. Whitney High School’s Grace Reynolds (r) displays a copper flute she made to play a duet competition entitled Sounds of Music. Elicia Cano (l) accompanied her on a homemade xylophone.

Teams Advancing to NorCal Science Olympiad

Division B (Middle School)
Green Acres Middle School Green Team (Visalia)
St. Rose-McCarthy Catholic School (Hanford)
Los Tules Middle School (Tulare)
St. Aloysius Parochial School White Team (Tulare)

Division C (High School)
Redwood High School Blue Team (Visalia)
Exeter Union High School Blue Team
Tulare Western High School
Tulare Union High School

to Top of Page

Community WORKS curriculum unveiled
Program puts the CHARACTER COUNTS! value of citizenship to work in communities

Community WORKS Ezekiel and Jessica want to talk about graffiti. They believe that it’s a problem in their city of Lindsay and they want to do something about it. The students attend the after school program at Jefferson Elementary, which is using a new curriculum developed by the Tulare County Office of Education. The curriculum, called Community WORKS, combines two respected programs: Project Citizen, developed by the Center for Civic Education, and CHARACTER COUNTS! (CC!), developed by the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

Community WORKS Community WORKS can be used during the enrichment time in California after school programs. “The curriculum makes the CC! Pillar of Citizenship real to students by teaching them step-by-step how they can make a difference in their community,” says CC! Coordinator Kelley Petty. County Superintendent Jim Vidak conceived the idea of blending the two programs. “We wanted a program to emphasize the importance of civics education while showing students ways that they can get involved,” he says. To create Community WORKS, he assembled a team of curriculum developers led by History Instructional Consultant Marsha Ingrao and Educational Resource Services’ Olivia Velasquez. The after school program at Jefferson Elementary is one of the first sites to pilot the curriculum.

For Ezekiel and Jessica, the plan to fight graffiti in their town is beginning to take shape. Their teacher, Evangelina Aguilar, has helped them define the problem and develop solutions including local agencies to help them and an organization that might pay for the paint and cleaning supplies. “The ultimate goal of the program is to have students take a fully-developed plan to an appropriate local agency,” says Kelley Petty. “In the next few months, it will be exciting to see what these students learn and how they make a difference in their city.”

Photos above:
~ Kelley Petty checks in with Cala and Jessica (l-r) at Jefferson Elementary to hear about the problem of litter they will be addressing through the Community WORKS program. To learn more about using Community WORKS in an after school setting, contact Mrs. Petty at (559) 740-4303.

to Top of Page

Gas Co. Challenge opened to college teams
Young high school and college entrepreneurs impress judges with business ideas

Alex Gaskins has an interesting business proposition: market radio-frequency identification chips to Central Valley farmers to protect their valuable equipment from theft. Like all good entrepreneurs, Alex and his partners, Oscar Fernandez and Angel Soria, explain the need for the service, citing statistics on costly ag-related equipment theft in the San Joaquin Valley. They propose that the chips be affixed to farmers’ equipment to help local law enforcement track it after it has been stolen. Alex, Oscar and Angel presented their business idea at the Fifth Annual Gas Company Challenge for Student Entrepreneurs. The three COS students won first place in the event’s newly created community college division.

The Gas Company Challenge for Student Entrepreneurs The competition, sponsored by The Gas Company, featured students in Tulare, Kings and Fresno County high schools and community colleges competing in business plan, presentation and exhibit categories. Washington Union High School in Fresno County won first place in the high school division for their plan entitled Nature Box, which is a planter-based system for growing fresh vegetables for schools or people without gardens.

For information on the 2012 Gas Company Challenge, contact Randy Wallace of the Tulare County Office of Education at
randyw@tcoe.org or call (559) 733-6101.

Photo above:
~ Alex Gaskins (r) presents a business idea called Microchip Identification Number Distributor (MIND) with partners Oscar Fernandez and Angel Soria at the annual Gas Company Challenge for Student Entrepreneurs.

to Top of Page

Schools honored and best practices reported
48 Tulare County schools to receive Torch Academic Achievement Awards

This month, the Instructional Services Division will honor 48 Tulare County schools as part of its third annual Torch Academic Achievement Awards program. According to Dr. Ceballos, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services, “The schools receiving the award have demonstrated effective instructional practices that are making a difference in improving student achievement.” Dr. Ceballos, the program managers and instructional consultants within the division, who work directly to support school instructional efforts, have collected short descriptions of the practices the award recipients are utilizing. These “best practices” will be compiled into a booklet and presented along with a recognition certificate to each school this month.

Dr. Ceballos also reports that many Torch Award recipients from 2009 and 2010 will receive the first-ever “Sustaining the Flame” Award, created for Torch Award recipients that continue to show significant gains in academic performance. A complete list of the schools being honored is listed below. For more information on the Torch Academic Achievement Awards program, call Pansy Ceballos at (559) 733-6328.

2011 Torch Academic Achievement Award Recipients

- Elementary Schools
Allensworth School District
Alpaugh Unified School District
Burton Elementary School, Porterville
Castle Rock Elementary School, Woodlake
Elbow Creek Elementary School, Visalia
George L. Snowden Elementary School, Farmersville
Grand View Elementary School, Dinuba
Ivanhoe Elementary School
Frank Kohn Elementary School, Tulare
Lincoln Elementary School, Dinuba
Lincoln Elementary School, Lindsay
Lincoln Elementary School, Tulare
Manuel F. Hernandez Elementary School, Visalia
Maple Elementary School, Tulare
Oak Grove Elementary School, Visalia
Oak Valley Union School District, Tulare
Outside Creek School District, Visalia
Palo Verde Union School District, Tulare
Roosevelt Elementary School, Tulare
Royal Oaks Elementary School, Visalia
Saucelito School District, Terra Bella
Springville Union School District
Strathmore Union School District
Tipton School District
Vandalia Elementary School, Porterville
West Putnam Elementary School, Porterville
William R. Buckley Elementary School, Porterville
Wilson Elementary School, Dinuba
- Middle/Jr. High Schools
Carl Smith Middle School, Terra Bella
Divisadero Middle School, Visalia
Earlimart Middle School
Farmersville Jr. High School
Green Acres Middle School, Visalia
Live Oak Middle School, Tulare
Pioneer Middle School, Porterville
Woodlake Valley Middle School
- High Schools
El Diamante High School, Visalia
Farmersville High School
Golden West High School, Visalia
Harmony Magnet Academy, Strathmore
Granite Hills High School, Porterville
La Sierra Military Academy, Visalia
Lindsay High School
Monache High School, Porterville
Redwood High School, Visalia
Tulare Western High School
Tulare Union High School
Woodlake Union High School

2011 Sustaining the Flame Award Recipients

The Sustaining the Flame Award was created this year for past Torch Award recipients that continue to show significant gains in academic performance. Below are the schools receiving the first annual Sustaining the Flame Award along with the year(s) in which they received the Torch Award.

Golden Valley Elementary School, Orosi (2010)
Dinuba High School (2010)
Jefferson Elementary School, Dinuba (2010)
Ducor Union School District (2010)
Alila School, Earlimart (2010)
Earlimart Elementary School (2010)
Exeter Union High School (2009)
Freedom Elementary School, Farmersville (2009)
Santa Fe Elementary School, Porterville (2010)
Sundale Union School District, Tulare (2010)
Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School, Tulare (2009)
Mt. Whitney High School, Visalia (2009)

to Top of Page

200 attend Migrant Education Conference
Migrant Education holds regional parent conference on children's mental health

Migrant Education Conference Migrant Education Region VIII, which serves Tulare and Kings counties, presented the Protect Your Family’s Health Conference on Tuesday, March 1. The conference featured renowned speaker and psychologist Dr. René Quispe, who gave presentations entitled Understanding the Uniqueness of Your Child’s Mental Health and Creative Solutions for Positive Discipline. A native of Argentina, Dr. Quispe is an acclaimed therapist and motivational speaker who appealed to the hearts of all parents at the conference. Dr. Quispe holds dual masters degrees in Education and Divinity and a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Counseling. His career has led him to teach and speak around the world.

The conference was the most well-attended to date with approximately 200 parents present. Attendees represented 27 school districts spanning Tulare and Kings counties. “This event was a complete success because of the collaborative effort that exists between our schools and the Migrant Program,” says Mr. René Moncada, Regional Migrant Director. “It’s a clear example of a model partnership working to bridge the gap between home and school and moving beyond the language barrier.”

Photo above:
~ Dr. René Quispe

to Top of Page

La Sierra prepares for Springfest 2011
Community invited to visit the campus and learn more about the programs offered

La Sierra Springfest 2011 Parents and students at La Sierra Military Academy (LSMA) are readying the campus for the annual Springfest which will be held April 16 from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The free, family event will include a car and motorcycle show featuring an endless variety of vehicles — from custom motorcycles and cars to military, police and fire vehicles. Springfest will also feature food booths, craft vendors, games for children, music and more. Entry forms and vendor applications are available at La Sierra Military Academy, GA Motorsports Visalia, Visalia Harley-Davidson and the SEE Youth office at 626 N. Akers, Visalia.

“We are excited to invite the community to experience all that La Sierra has to offer,” says LSMA Principal Anjelica Zermeño. “Our goal is to develop community partnerships to show students that the connection between education and the community is key to their future success.” Parents who are interested in arranging a tour of LSMA during Springfest, to learn more about the school and its programs, should call Mrs. Zermeño at (559) 733-6963 in advance.

Proceeds from Springfest benefit the La Sierra Parent Enhanced Student Teacher Organization (PESTO) to support functions such as the Senior Prom, and college- and career-readiness programs.

Photo above:
~ La Sierra’s Springfest will feature numerous activities, including the school’s famous climbing wall.

to Top of Page

On People in Service and Support

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Kirby Hartley, a senior at Exeter Union High School, is the winner of the sixth annual STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Scholarship, a $1,000 award sponsored by TUCOEMAS Federal Credit Union. Kirby is pictured with Cindy Summers of TUCOEMAS at the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation’s annual Recognizing Excellence in Entrepreneurship luncheon. As part of the scholarship application, Kirby submitted an impressive essay about how by-products of the water desalinization process could be used by Central Valley farmers. He has also started his own handyman business called “Kirby’s This-N-Thats.” In college, he plans to study business and nuclear energy.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Joseph Maluyao of Divisadero Middle School, Visalia (center) recently won the Tulare County Spelling Championship. Joseph, who also won the spelling championship in 2009, will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. beginning June 1. Joseph correctly spelling the word "deceptious" in the 12th round to defeat Pixley Middle School sixth-grade student Ernesto Galvez (left), who finished second. Michelle Cisneros, a seventh-grade student at El Monte Middle School in Orosi (right) earned third place.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support On March 3, the Kremen School of Education at California State University, Fresno honored five individuals, including Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. Mr. Vidak received the Noted Alumni Special Recognition Award. The honorees (seated in front of Kremen Alumni Awards Committee members) are (l-r) Misty Her, principal at Southwest Elementary School (Fresno); Kopi Sotiropulos, KMPH Fox 26 news anchor; Elaine Sotiropulos, AVID regional consultant/coordinator for the Fresno County Office of Education; Jim Vidak; and Dr. Berta González, associate vice president of Fresno State’s Division of Continuing and Global Education.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Deyanira Barajas, a senior at Orosi High School, is pictured with Jim Vidak. Out of 1,100 student entries, Deyanira’s artwork was selected for the cover of the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s annual student art calendar. Copies of the popular calendar are available while supplies last at the Burrel Avenue building.

Spotlight on People in Service and Support Eagle Scout Alex Dodd, a Golden West High School graduate, recently completed a garden project for students in Roger Brown’s Community Based Instruction Class. Alex constructed three raised planter boxes, giving students in wheelchairs access to the vegetables the group will raise this year.

to Top of Page

Gallery Notes

The 51st annual SCICON Barbecue and Wildflower Festival will be held Sunday, April 17. The public is invited to attend the event and enjoy all that SCICON has to offer, including wildflower walks, nature hikes, and visits to the planetarium, raptor center, observatory and museum of natural history. The event, which is open from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., will also feature plenty of live musical entertainment. There is no cost to visit the campus and enjoy the activities. Tickets for the barbecue luncheon are available for $10 per adult and $5 for seniors over 60 and children under the age of 12. For more information, call (559) 539-2642.

Tulare County elementary, middle and high school students entered 34 projects in the annual History Day competition on March 11. Students explored a wide variety of modern and ancient historical events through this year’s theme, Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences. Entries included documentaries, websites, exhibits, historical papers and reenactments. Fifteen Tulare County projects were selected as finalists and given the opportunity to advance to the California History Day Competition beginning April 28 in San Jose. For a list of Tulare County History Day finalists and alternates, visit

On March  2, teams of sixth-graders from eight Tulare County schools competed in the 11th Annual Anti-Tobacco Challenge Bowl. The competition — hosted by the Tulare County Office of Education’s Choices Program — tests students’ knowledge of tobacco education curriculum in a game show-style format of quick call and response. This year, Three Rivers Union School took first-place, followed by Sequoia Union School in second and Springville Union School in third.

to Top of Page

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

| Home Page | Site Index |

Please direct web site problems or comments to tcoeweb@tcoe.org.

Copyright © 2019, Tulare County Office of Education