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

The News Gallery

November 2012

View and print a pdf version of this News Gallery.
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Priscilla Soliz, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Nicole Zweifel, Don Davie, Charlotte Garcia, Dennis Sirkin, Kellie Goodwin, Gene Mendes, Lynne Goodwin, Nani Rowland and Brian Roberts.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. To receive the News Gallery, visit www.tcoe.org/GetTheGallery, or contact Jennifer Fisher at jenniferf@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172.

Little Mermaid, Jr.
Theatre Company offers rare backstage pass
Tickets available to meet cast of Little Mermaid, Jr. before the show

For over 20 years, children have been delighted by the Disney movie Little Mermaid – the story of Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of a life on land. Tulare County children are in for a double treat this month as the Theatre Company is set to perform a musical version of the movie, plus offer a few children the chance to meet Ariel and her friends backstage before each of four shows scheduled for November 15-17.

Tickets for the backstage “Under The Sea Adventure with Ariel” are being sold for $10 per person. Theatre Company choreographer Nicole Zweifel reports that ticket holders will be greeted backstage by Scuttle the seagull and magically escorted into the undersea paradise to interact with Flounder, Sebastian, King Triton, Ariel and her sisters. The backstage pass is in addition to the $8 general admission performance ticket and includes a gift from Ariel’s private collection of “whozits and whatzits”, plus plenty of opportunities for photographs with the characters.

The 120-member cast of Little Mermaid, Jr. is set to perform at the L.J. Williams Theater in Visalia November 15-17. For show times, tickets or information on the “Under The Sea Adventure with Ariel” event, please call (559) 651-1482.

Photo above:
~ Children are invited to meet the cast of Little Mermaid, Jr. as part of “Under the Sea Adventure with Ariel.” Cast member Hailey Hunt visits with Ariel, played by Redwood High School’s Casandra Castaneda.

Little Mermaid, Jr. Performances
November 15, 16, 17: 7:00 p.m.
November 17: 2:00 p.m.
L.J. Williams Theater, 1001 W. Main St., Visalia
Tickets: $8 per person, general admission

Under the Sea Adventure with Arial
Character experience tickets: $10 per child
Limit 50 children per performance.
For ticket information, call (559) 651-1482

to Top of Page

Student programmers vie to create new system
University Prep students developing school-wide operating system for student laptops

UPHS Student Programmers What began as a simple request to improve the performance of the 200+ school-issued laptops used by students at University Preparatory High School (UPHS) has become a competition among six programmers to see who can develop an operating system that will be used by everyone beginning in January. Last year, Nick Hamilton (then a sophomore) came to secretary Don Davie asking if he could look into improving the operating systems (OS) of the student laptops. The five-year-old Dell computers utilized a memory-intensive Windows operating system, which slowed the machines’ performance. Nick created a Linux-based operating system, which provides students access to the Internet, their textbooks, a word processing program and more. While it doesn’t look quite like a Windows system, it does virtually everything the old system did utilizing one quarter of the machine’s resources.

This semester, Nick and five fellow students are competing in groups to see if they can improve on the current Linux OS. Speaking in a language understood only by programmers, the young men debate the capabilities of various versions or “flavors” of Linux such as Arch, Ubuntu and Mint. They also debate whether the LXDE, GNOME or KDE would be the most appropriate GUI (Graphic User Interface). There is a friendly, but cooperative, rivalry among the programmers, who have about a month to perfect their operating systems. Mr. Davie reports that the finished products will be judged to ensure they work, are usable by every student, and fit on a 60-gigabyte hard drive. The winning team earns the “bragging rights” for being the system’s creators, and will have a nice addition to any college or career application.

Photo above:
~ University Preparatory High School programmers working on a new operating systems for student laptops will have their efforts judged next month. They are: (l-r) Colston Reese, Ethan Robinson, Obie Rios, Kevin Fries, Immanuel Go and Nick Hamilton.

to Top of Page

Cadets prepare for November 11 veterans program
La Sierra students take a leading role in the annual Visalia Veterans Day celebration

La Sierra Cadets From the minute they become students at La Sierra Military Academy, cadets learn precision and discipline in their drills and conduct - from their morning exercises to their classroom work. These skills are being stretched by Drill Sergeant Sirkin and Jeannie Rogers, a retired theater arts teacher from Garden Grove, as they prepare 30 students for parts in the Visalia Veterans Day Extravaganza.

Drill Sergeant Sirkin and Ms. Rogers, who are members of the Visalia Veterans Committee, conceived of the plan to include the cadets in a new program. The cadets will perform dramatic sketches and musical numbers, plus the posting and retiring of the colors. Drill Sergeant Sirkin reports that, “the cadets are enjoying the rehearsals and the experience of new creative avenues.”

Photo above:
~ Jeannie Rogers leads La Sierra cadets in rehearsing a number for the November 11 Visalia Veterans Day Extravaganza. The free event will be held at the Visalia Memorial Building (609 W. Center) beginning at 2:00 p.m.

to Top of Page

Students log incidents of distracted drivers
California Friday Night Live Partnership oversees statewide driver observance program

CFNLP Roadwatch Program Being a new driver and conducting this survey helped me realize all the different types of distractions there are and what to be aware of while I’m out on the road,” said Kindal Mendes, a sophomore at Redwood High School. “It seems people don’t understand how dangerous driving can be.” Kindal and several classmates were part of a statewide survey called Roadwatch, a program funded by The Allstate Foundation and administered by the California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP). Across the state, students monitoring 70 intersections near high schools in 26 counties for one hour reported more than 7,000 cases of distracted driving.

Students observed driver distractions ranging from talking and texting on cell phones, to eating and smoking, and even one instance of a driver using his tablet computer. In three instances, drivers failed to stop at red lights. Driven by a desire to improve traffic safety in their neighborhoods and to use the research for future safe driving campaigns locally, students compiled statistics from among thousands of vehicles they observed with both attentive and distracted drivers. “Engaging California’s young people encourages their positive and healthy development and enables them to become active leaders,” says Jim Kooler, director at CFNLP. “Programs like Roadwatch and our annual traffic safety summit empower students to lead their peers in reducing distracted driving collisions.” For more information about the Roadwatch program, call (559) 733-6496.

Photo above:
~ (l-r) Redwood High School sophomores Tyson Altamirano, Caitlin Owens and Jacob Fistolera tally their Roadwatch survey, noting the distracted drivers who passed their school during a one-hour period last month.

to Top of Page

Dr. Peterson to retire from Board of Education
After 53 years on board, Visalia-area trustee has seen great growth, service expansion

Dr. Edward Peterson The Tulare County Office of Education of 1956 was vastly different from today’s organization. With fewer than 100 employees, TCOE was a “small tribe” according to Dr. Edward Peterson, the senior member of Tulare County Board of Education who is set to retire this month. Dr. Peterson was a member of the first publicly-elected board of trustees in 1956 and has served on it for a total of 53 years. This makes him the second longest-serving trustee in the state of California. In his tenure on the board, he has witnessed substantial growth resulting from the creation of numerous programs – programs that include Migrant Education, the Planetarium and History Theater, Early Childhood Education (formerly Child Care), the expansion of services to children with special needs, Services for Education & Employment (SEE), the Theatre Company and the Choices Prevention Programs to name a few.

When asked about his favorite accomplishment, Dr. Peterson says without hesitation that it was SCICON. “I was the one who made the motion to create the SCICON program,” he said. “There was opposition, but looking back, it was the right thing to do.” County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak agrees, “Throughout his years of service, he has held the personal philosophy to support ‘whatever is best for the students.’ We have appreciated that and how deeply he values the staff.”

Photo above:
~ Dr. Edward Peterson, Trustee Area 3, will retire this month. He has represented a portion of Visalia for a total of 53 years.

to Top of Page


Spotlight Sandie Sweeney has been named program manager for Special Services’ Mild/Moderate and Preschool Programs. The Mild/Moderate Program provides resource specialists (RSP) to 36 Tulare County school districts to support general education students who are having difficulties with reading, writing and math. The Preschool Program supports children with special needs in preschools throughout the county. Sandie joined the office of education in 1977 as a speech therapist, and later added an RSP certification to become a program specialist.

Spotlight Last month, nearly 8,000 elementary-age students attended the 53rd Annual Young People’s Concerts performed by the Tulare County Symphony in Visalia, Tulare and Porterville. The program is designed to introduce students in grades 1-6 to live symphonic music and the string, percussion, wind and brass instruments they could play. The symphony performed a program entitled “On the Trail,” which featured performances by members of the youth ensemble Mariachi Mestizo of Delano.

Spotlight In October, the Tulare County Council on Child & Youth Development held its Annual Legislative Breakfast, which included presentations by State Senator Jean Fuller and early childhood education authority Whit Hayslip. The council also presented its annual Business & Children Award. This year the award, which recognizes businesses with excellent child-friendly practices, went to Phoenix Fire Protection of Visalia, which is owned by Cory Cregor (third from left).

Spotlight On October 17, 400 Tulare County educators and community members gathered to honor the winners, finalists and nominees in the 18th Annual Excellence in Education Awards program. Pictured (l-r) are County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, School Employee of the Year Cherí Barnes (lead personnel technician for TCOE’s Human Resources), Teacher of the Year Jim Kusserow (band director at Porterville High School) and Administrator of the Year Brian Hollingshead (principal at Mission Valley Elementary in Tulare). To view the winners’ tribute video, visit

Spotlight The annual Expanding Your Horizons Conference, recently held at College of the Sequoias, attracted 500 young women to learn about math and science-related careers from women working in these fields. This year, Dr. Thelma Hurd, a professor and surgical oncologist from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio urged the audience to follow their interests. She discussed her career, which has included work on national breast cancer studies, and the development of a cancer education and screening program for small communities along the Texas-Mexico border. She has also been part of a core leadership team that is developing and building a comprehensive cancer program in Nigeria.

Spotlight This year, the Network for a Healthy California program delivered over 17,000 pumpkins to partner schools for nutrition and fitness education lessons. Wilson Middle School (Exeter) students use their pumpkins as part of a writing exercise.

to Top of Page

Gallery Notes

Lee National Denim Day event coordinator Jennifer Fisher reports that over 90 employees donated a total of $480 this year to benefit the Women’s Cancer Programs of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and the Cancer Support Community. She extends special thanks to Eloise Martinez at ERS for helping collect donations.

Schools throughout the region are preparing for the annual CyberQuest competition, scheduled for November 17 at the Visalia Convention Center. Students in grades 4-12 are preparing multimedia presentations in response to a variety of social, environmental and business problem scenarios released to schools in late October. CyberQuest opens to the public beginning at 8:00 a.m.

Tulare County Board of Education President and Trustee Area 1 Celia Maldonado-Arroyo and Trustee Area 2 Debbie Holguin recently completed the California School Boards Association (CSBA) Masters in Governance program, a two-year certificate program that defines the roles and responsibilities of school boards. Mrs. Maldonado-Arroyo and Mrs. Holguin were among 18 Tulare County board members and administrators who graduated from the CSBA program, which includes intensive training in school finance and facilities, human resources, policy and judicial review, collective bargaining and community relations.

Joy Soares will be joining the Educational Resource Services staff later this year as the Staff Development and Curriculum Specialist - Project Based Learning (PBL). She will also serve as the lead History/Social Studies consultant supporting programs such as the Teaching American History grant, History Day and Mock Trial. Ms. Soares, a Kings River Union teacher and vice principal for the past ten years, will provide leadership to schools, demonstrating how PBL works hand-in- hand with the new Common Core Standards. Ms. Soares was the 2004 Chinese Cultural Center Middle School Teacher of the Year and the 2008 California Council for the Social Studies State Middle School Teacher of the Year. Prior to her career as a teacher, she was Vice President of Logistics and Marketing for Ruiz Foods and helped create Ruiz 4 Kids, a non-profit organization that supports education.

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