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The News Gallery

April 2014

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, Lorena White, Shelly DiCenzo, Joy Soares, Tony Velásquez, Shantall Porchia, Rick Mitchell, Nicole Zweifel and Charlotte Garcia.

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.

Project Based Learning
Students ready projects for 21st Century Museum
A Night at the 21st Century Museum to showcase student work using Project Based Learning

Students from the future Dinuba High School Academy of Engineering and Construction Management have been asked to create a museum. On May 14, teachers and parents will step through the doors of their museum to view dozens of student-created projects which demonstrate a mastery of the 21st Century Learning Skills - collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking.

For one night only, the Heritage Complex in Tulare will be transformed into this showcase of student work as part of a new event entitled A Night at the 21st Century Museum. According to Joy Soares, the Tulare County Office of Education's Project Based Learning staff development and curriculum specialist, A Night at the 21st Century Museum was created with two big ideas in mind: offer a format where students and teachers can share their high quality work and create an event where parents, community members, and other teachers and students can gain an understanding of Project Based Learning. "What has evolved with this event is much more than that," says Mrs. Soares. "We are building this museum as a learning tool for all!"

One of the projects being featured at A Night at the 21st Century Museum is a restaurant concept developed by students at Countryside High School in Tulare. This month, students Taylor Saltkill, Nicole Whitten, Rickelle Floyd, Genesis Deniz and Ruben Gonzales are working to create a restaurant from top to bottom. The team will choose a theme for their restaurant, research appropriate restaurant décor, create the menu, develop job descriptions, learn about food safety, design their attire and serve meals to a panel of judges at the Tulare Youth Services Bureau. According to school counselor Lisa Jacobo, the Countryside project is an excellent example of Project Based Learning. "Students are prioritizing and problem-solving," she says. "They are working together as a group, observing, imagining, researching and revising. It's a process where they realize that they can't do their job without the help of the others."

Project Based Learning
Dinuba High School will begin its Academy of Engineering and Construction Management next fall with Marlena Celaya as lead teacher. Ms. Celaya assembled the five-member student team to design the exhibition for A Night at the 21st Century Museum. Mrs. Soares and Rob Herman, public information officer and a former museum administrator, met with the students to encourage them in the process. Working with the essential question "How can we design a 21st Century museum where all of the visitors and exhibitors will learn together?", Karla Alvarado, Cynthia Reyes, Chris Guadarrama, Alan Gomez and David Garay will begin developing a scale drawing of the space and thinking about how to organize the exhibits and performance areas to maximize visitor engagement. Ms. Celaya says, "I hope that our students will learn what is needed in order to create an exceptional plan - whether it is for this museum or any other business sector project."

"Many Tulare County teachers and students are examining what it means to be 21st Century teachers and learners," says Joy Soares. "A Night at the 21st Century Museum is a place where we can further the discussions together as students, teachers, parents and communities." In addition to the Countryside restaurant project, Mrs. Soares reports that the event will feature documentaries, live performances, literacy projects, enterprise ventures and other exhibits. Teachers who would like to submit examples of Project Based Learning for exhibition at A Night at the 21st Century Museum are encouraged to contact Joy Soares at (559) 647-9973 before April 25.

Photos above:
~ Students from Countryside High School in Tulare are preparing to exhibit their restaurant design project at the first annual A Night at the 21st Century Museum event May 14 in Tulare.
~ Joy Soares, curriculum specialist for Project Based Learning, discusses the new event with students from Dinuba High School. The students will be designing the exhibition space for the projects displayed at the event.

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SCICON Museum expansion completed
Public invited to visit newly expanded museum, exhibits during annual barbecue this month

Every five years, publicly-operated outdoor science schools, such as the Tulare County Office of Education's SCICON program, undergo a certification process through the California Outdoor School Administration (COSA), a partner with the California Department of Education. In the COSA report on SCICON completed earlier this year, reviewers praised the program, saying, "Prominently displayed with the SCICON logo in the lodge is the phrase, 'SCICON is people working together.' This expression illustrates the leadership, vision and systems that underlie the obvious success of SCICON as the 'gold standard' outdoor science school program."

One of the features that has made SCICON the "gold standard" in California outdoor education programs has been its natural history museum. The museum, built in 1971 in honor of Phyllis Wall (a granddaughter of Clemmie Gill), has served hundreds of thousands of students and visitors over the past 40 years. Children and adults alike have been enthralled with the outstanding collections of wildlife, geology and natural history exhibits.

This month, visitors to the annual SCICON Barbecue & Wildflower Festival are invited to see the newly renovated and expanded Phyllis Wall Museum. SCICON Director Rick Mitchell reports that the expansion includes new gallery space which houses displays on natural resources, such as energy and forestry, as well as a beautiful Native American exhibit. An enlarged Discovery Room is home to live reptiles, amphibians and unusual insects. One of the most famous exhibits of the Phyllis Wall Museum is the Fluorescent Rock Room display. This display has been totally re-designed and the "glowing rocks" have become the highlight of the museum experience.

The annual SCICON Barbecue & Wildflower Festival will be held Sunday, April 13 from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. There is no charge to visit the campus or enjoy the numerous activities, including tours of the expanded museum. Tickets are available for a barbecue luncheon at $10 per person for adults and $5 per person for seniors 60 and older or for children 12 and under. For more information, call SCICON at (559) 539-2642.

Photo above:
~ Emily Ponce from Woodlake Valley Middle School generates power for a new SCICON electricity exhibit by peddling a stationary bicycle. The exhibit can be found in the recently completed gallery expansion at the Phyllis Wall Museum. Visitors to the annual SCICON barbecue April 13 are encouraged to visit the museum and enjoy the new and renovated exhibits.

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National History Day projects headed for state
Twenty-three Tulare County history projects eligible to compete at state level this month

National History Day - Tulare County
National History Day - Tulare County National History Day - Tulare County (NHD) was held last month, attracting 80 elementary, middle and high school projects from throughout the county - a 33% increase in projects compared to last year. The theme of NHD was Rights and Responsibilities in History. Students developed projects relating to the national theme by incorporating events in local, state, national and international history. The projects ranged from performances and exhibits to website development and documentaries.

A panel of judges from the community selected 23 Tulare County projects as finalists. Among them was "My Name Is..: The Rights and Responsibilities of Achieving the American Dream" - a junior group presentation by Jairo Aguilar, Julissa Lopez, Isabel Magana, Skyler Mattos and Ignacio Ramos from Kings River Union School. Their powerful presentation featured the stories of immigrant families.

The projects chosen as Tulare County finalists are eligible to participate in the state competition this month in Riverside. For a complete list of finalists and scholarship winners, visit

Photos above:
~ Julissa Lopez, Isabel Magana, Skyler Mattos, Jairo Aguilar and Ignacio Ramos from Kings River Union School were among 23 finalists in the National History Day competition.
~ The Japanese Internment exhibit submitted by Carly Yribarren, Zaina Shuaibi and Kassie Reynolds of Mission Oak High School in Tulare was a finalist in the 2014 National History Day - Tulare County event. The team is eligible to compete in the National History Day - California program this month in Riverside.

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My Son Pinocchio features cast of 100 students
New musical is part classic fairy tale and part action adventure, with old favorites mixed in

Theatre Company
This month, the Theatre Company will perform Disney's My Son Pinocchio Jr., complete with a cast of 100 Tulare County students. The program will offer three 7:00 p.m. evening shows April 10-12. A 2:00 p.m. matinee will also be offered Saturday, April 12.

My Son Pinocchio Jr. is the classic tale of toymaker Geppetto and his little wooden puppet, Pinocchio. In this new musical, the story is given new life and is told from Geppetto's perspective. The production features the beloved classic songs When You Wish Upon a Star and I've Got No Strings, plus a host of new songs by Oscar- and Grammy Award-winner and master melodist Stephen Schwartz.

Show director Nicole Zweifel invites the public to join Geppetto as he travels beyond the toy shop to discover the meaning of family. "My Son Pinocchio Jr. has a dynamic cast of middle school performers and is a magical mix of heartwarming fairy tale and action-packed adventure. Audiences will love following Pinocchio's journey from an awkward wooden puppet to a real live boy and will be charmed by Geppetto's transformation from demanding creator to real live father," she says.

General admission tickets are $10 per person and are available during normal business hours at two TCOE Visalia locations: 2637 West Burrel Avenue and 7000 Doe Avenue, Suite A. All performances will be held at the El Diamante High School Theater located at 5100 West Whitendale Avenue in Visalia.

For information about the musical production, call (559) 651-1482.

Photo above:
~ Noah Peltzer and Owen Webb (l-r) star as Pinocchio and Geppetto in Disney’s My Son Pinocchio Jr. this month as part of the Theatre Company’s spring musical production. A cast of 100 Tulare County students will perform the musical four times April 10-12 at the El Diamante Theater in Visalia.

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Migrant Ed empowers parents and students
Spring Conference helps parents prepare children for Common Core and college

Migrant Education
Last month, over 150 parents and students served by the Migrant Education program in Tulare and Kings counties attended the program's spring conference at the Holiday Inn in Visalia. Parents and students had the opportunity to attend a variety of breakout sessions, including presentations on reading, science, the Common Core State Standards and preparing for college.

Migrant Education program staff collected comments from parents. One parent reported that she felt empowered to "motivate my daughters to have a better future and to attend a college or university." Another attendee said she was motivated to "know what my daughter likes and where her talents are, and to support her to achieve her goals."

Migrant Education
According to Migrant Education Administrator Tony Velásquez, the purpose of the conference is to provide parents with strategies that will engage them in their children's education. "Through events such as the spring conference, we are helping parents become advocates for their children and build the leadership skills they will need for academic success and personal achievement."

Photos above:
~ Paul Reagan assisted in a workshop for students in kindergarten and first grade to learn several basic physical science concepts.
~ Read for Life volunteers Cyndy McBee (left) and Mimi Boyd (right) conducted a reading workshop for parents of preschool and kindergarten students focused on the use of puppets and increased vocabulary. Alma Ramos (with puppet) provided the translation.

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Spotlight on People Read for Life Vice President Susan Graves receives a donation from Beth Fisher, a fourth-grader from St. Paul's School in Visalia who gave some of her books to the Be Inspired Community Book Drive held last month at College of the Sequoias, Visalia. The book drive was sponsored by ABC30 to benefit the Read for Life organization. To aid the book drive, ABC30's parent organization The Walt Disney Company, along with First Book, donated 10,000 books for distribution to children in Tulare County. Read for Life staff members report that an additional 8,000 books were donated by community members during the 12-hour book drive. Several TCOE programs benefit annually from Read for Life donations.

Spotlight on People Nearly 1,400 students participated in the 30th Annual Poetry & Prose event, held over six days in March. Elementary and middle school students performed individually or in groups before a judge who offered positive critiques on their recitation performance. McKenna Phillips, granddaughter of Shirlee Nishimine who along with event coordinator Nancy Bellin helped create the program, performed a poem her grandfather wrote in honor of Mrs. Nishimine.

Spotlight on People This year, 40 Tulare and Kings county schools sent teams of seventh- and eighth-grade students to the annual Math Super Bowl. Students competed individually, in teams with their classmates, and in teams with students from other schools to solve a series of mathematical challenges. For a list of Math Super Bowl winners, visit

Spotlight on People Raveena Mahal, a sixth-grade student at Westfield Elementary in Porterville, developed one of six projects selected as finalists in the Tulare County Science & Engineering Fair. As a finalist, Raveena is eligible to compete at the California State Science Fair April 28 - 29. This year, over 170 projects were entered in the competition. For a list of finalists and award winners, visit www.tcoe.org/ScienceFair.

Spotlight on People Karina Arenivaz, a sophomore at Orosi High School, is pictured with Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and Steve Godlin, president of the Tulare County Farm Bureau Executive Committee. Karina's artwork was selected for the cover of the annual Farm Bureau Student Art Calendar entitled Discover the Treasures in Tulare County Agriculture. The calendar, which is distributed to teachers throughout the county, is an educational tool with nutrition, and state and local agricultural facts.

Spotlight on People Last month, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson visited the Central Valley to assess the impact of the statewide drought on school attendance. His visit to Tulare County included a stop at Earlimart Middle School where he spoke to district officials and representatives from the Tulare County Office of Education and the Migrant Education Program. Pictured with Mr. Torlakson (c) are (l-r) Jim Vidak, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Guadalupe Solis, Migrant Education area administrator Shantall Porchia and Migrant program administrator Tony Velásquez.

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Gallery Notes

Seven teams of high school students and a team from Porterville College competed in the 8th Annual Southern California Gas Company Challenge for Student Entrepreneurs on March 25. The event also featured the presentation of the Tulare County Student STEM Entrepreneur Scholarships. The $1,000 scholarships, which are sponsored by TUCOEMAS Federal Credit Union, were awarded to Sharanya Thiagarajan from Harmony Magnet Academy and Evan Morritse from Redwood High School.

Stephanie Caldera, a parent liaison with Special Services' Bright Start Program since 1998, has been selected to receive one of First 5 Tulare County's Hands-on Hero Awards for 2014. As the liaison for Bright Start, Stephanie is a positive resource for parents, guiding them through a complex system of care. She started her own support group for parents of children with Angelman's Syndrome and she leads a monthly support group for parents of children who have Down's Syndrome. She will be honored at an awards dinner hosted by First 5 Tulare County on April 10.

On March 8, 29 teams of middle and high school students gathered at the College of the Sequoias Visalia Campus to compete in the annual Science Olympiad. The results from the individual and group competitions revealed that the Gold Team from Exeter High School placed first in the Division C (high school) category, while the Green Team from Green Acres Middle School (Visalia) placed first in the Division B (middle school) category. The Division C high school teams representing Tulare County at the NorCal State Science Olympiad are Exeter Gold Team, Redwood High School (Visalia) Blue Team, University Preparatory High School (Visalia) Black Team and Mt. Whitney High School (Visalia) Maroon Team. The Division B teams representing Tulare County at the NorCal event are St. Aloysius School (Tulare), Wilson Middle School (Exeter) Blue Team, Divisadero Middle School (Visalia) and Sundale Union Elementary School (Tulare). The Division A competition for students in grades 3-6 will be held April 5, 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., at El Diamante High School. For information, call Michelle French at (559) 651-3031.

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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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