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The News Gallery

April 2017

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, Paula Terrill, Sarah Hamilton, Stephanie Caldera, Mike Franco, Kris Costa, Joy Soares, Ashley Long, Linda Chester, Sarah Wilbur, Elvira Barron, Bethany Rader, Charlotte Garcia Da Rosa and Jen Francone.

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.

College and Career EXPO

Partnerships make college, career efforts work
Students demonstrate proficiency in industry competitions at College and Career EXPO

Dozens of student chefs worked quickly to cut and sauté vegetables, bread and fry chicken, and plate their meals for eager reviewers. The reviewers were food industry professionals from throughout the Tulare and Kings county region selected to judge the students’ culinary skills at the annual College and Career EXPO. Like an episode of Top Chef, the pressure was high to impress the judges in this real-world test of college and career skills.

The College and Career EXPO, held Friday, March 24, at the College of the Sequoias campuses in Visalia and Tulare, drew over 400 students to compete in 24 industry-related events ranging from automotive technology to video game design and web site creation. Participation in the event grew by 100 percent from last year. The College and Career EXPO is just one example of how the Tulare and Kings county region has collaborated to support students’ transition to college and career. “All that we’ve done in the past three years has been about partnerships,” said Kris Costa, Tulare County Office of Education’s Career Pathways engagement manager. “College and Career EXPO is one of many collaborations that brings college and high school partners together to help create opportunities for student transitions to higher education.”

College and Career EXPO

A collaborative effort of Tulare and Kings County Offices of Education, College of the Sequoias, Tulare Joint Union High School District, and Visalia Unified School District, EXPO also featured many local post-secondary institutions, including Fresno State, CSU Stanislaus, Fresno Pacific, Porterville College, CSU Bakersfield, National University, Sequoias Adult Education Consortium, and UC Merced. Representatives from Bakersfield Barber College and Estes Institute of Cosmetology provided students an example of their training programs in barbering and cosmetology.

Competitions allowed students to experience various industries firsthand with an impressive selection of industry partners as the competition judges. For example, out of the job interview competition, the top three students are being offered an apprenticeship, internship or employment by the business partners that interviewed them – Kaweah Delta Health Care District, Kaweah Container and California Dairies. Teams also received cash awards from The Southern California Gas Company and Best Agri-Marketing for their presentations in The Gas Company Student Entrepreneur Challenge and the Career Pathways Demonstration, respectively. Students from Hanford High School will be creating a web site for business partner Dana’s Cookies as the result of winning the website creation competition. For a complete list of competition winners, visit

College and Career EXPO

The College and Career EXPO is one of many events that support the Career Pathway work in the Tulare-Kings region. Three years ago, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that the Tulare-Kings Pathways Project was awarded a grant from the California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) of nearly $14.8 million to expand and develop the infrastructure needed to link the region's employer base with schools, enabling work-based learning for more students and delivering on Linked Learning's promise of equity, quality and rigor.

Since the awarding of the CCPT grant, the Tulare Kings College and Career Collaborative has supported area high schools as they created 39 new Linked Learning Academies in various industry sectors, while 100+ existing Career Technical Education pathways have been enhanced through the collaborative efforts of the partners. Today, over 8,000 students in the two-county area are involved in pathway programs at their schools.

The Collaborative has also organized industry sector summits for educators in health careers, agriculture, business, information/computer technology, education and hospitality, as well as a conference on higher education transitions held in partnership with Sequoias Adult Education Consortium.

College and Career EXPO

The Tulare Kings (TK) regional model of collaboration has caught the attention of Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit dedicated to developing innovative programs and public policies that increase college readiness and career success in underserved U.S. populations. “Tulare Kings is a leading model for collaboration for the state of California,” said Marty Alvarado, JFF program director. “The TK network is a key ingredient for success for the region and has played a major role in positioning the region for state and foundation investments.

“Students report that they love the small learning communities of a career pathway where they received rigorous and relevant industry-themed curriculum and instruction,” said Joy Soares, TCOE College and Career director. “Whether they pursue higher education or careers in the industry of their pathway, the knowledge and skills they are learning are completely transferable.”

College and Career EXPO In 2017-18, the TK College and Career Collaborative will move from a grants-based consortium to a regional partnership made up of every Tulare county high school district and most all of the Kings county high school districts. Guiding the TK Collaborative will be a steering council of leadership representatives from the higher education and secondary districts, as well as regional industry champions who are giving an estimated $1.5 million in annual in-kind support to the effort. The TK College and Career Collaborative will span from preschool to postsecondary education with over 200 partners to support all Tulare and Kings county school districts as they continue to plan their implementation of college and career readiness programs. With the LCAP College and Career indicators still in development, the TK Collaborative’s work is poised to support the accountability that may be required in the initial stages of the indicator. “It’s satisfying to see how business and education have come together in recent years to support Tulare and Kings county students in their success,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

“Our focus has been on supporting the enhancement and visibility of our districts’ college and career approaches through strategic and intentionally-designed structures and learning experiences,” said Mrs. Soares. “We look forward to furthering those efforts in the future.”

For more information on the TK College and Career Collaborative, call Joy Soares at (559) 651-6101.

Photos above:
~ Denise Macias of Lindsay High School prepares to bread chicken in the culinary arts competition at the College and Career EXPO, held March 24 at College of the Sequoias.
~ Students who entered the architectural design competition were challenged to design a monument for a public park.
~ Jesus Hernandez, Jorge Gonzalez-Espinoza and Jose Pizano of Lindsay High School present their business proposal for an indoor racing kart track as part of The Gas Company Student Entrepreneur Challenge. In all, the College and Career EXPO featured 24 student competitions ...
~ ... including automotive ...
~ ... and floriculture.

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James & the Giant Peach JR. opens April 27
Theatre Company to take on two Roald Dahl-based musicals this month at Rotary Theater

TCOE Theatre Company

Roald Dahl was the author of both Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. Both of these beloved and quirky stories have been made into musicals which the Theatre Company is set to perform this month. Opening April 27 with four shows, the production will feature a pre-show with musical selections from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory performed by younger students. Following the pre-show performance, 4th through 12th grade students will perform James and the Giant Peach JR. This musical is the work of Oscar and Golden Globe winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, composers for the musical movie La La Land.

James and the Giant Peach JR. is the story of an orphaned boy sent to live with his conniving aunts, Spiker and Sponge in Dover, England. When James is sent to chop down their old fruit tree, he discovers a magic potion that grows a giant peach which rolls into the ocean and launches a journey of enormous proportions. James befriends a collection of singing insects that ride the giant peach across the ocean to New York City, facing hunger, sharks and plenty of disagreements along the way. Once he lands in New York, James must face his aunts again.

“I absolutely love the writing style of the songs in James,” said Charlotte Garcia Da Rosa, who directs the production. “They’re catchy with quick-witted lyrics and memorable melodies. Our cast has embraced this dark yet heartwarming musical comedy with passion and dedication. There are many standout performances in this show and some fun extras, including puppetry and a little bit of magic!”

Evening performances of James and the Giant Peach JR. will be held on April 27, 28 and 29 at 7:00 p.m. at the Rotary Theater, located at 330 South Dollner Street in Visalia. A matinee will also be performed at 2:00 p.m. on April 29. Tickets for the production will be available April 10 at the Mooney Boulevard office (6200 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia) or the Educational Resource Services office (7000 Doe Ave., Visalia) during normal business hours. Tickets are $12 per person for general admission seating.

For more information, call the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

Photo above:
~ Greedy and conniving Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge take in their orphaned nephew James in the musical
James and the Giant Peach JR. (l-r) Aunt Spiker is played by El Diamante High School senior Bobbi Gonzalez, James is played by Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center fourth grader Zion Sears and Aunt Sponge is played by Exeter Union High School senior Emily King.

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A Night at the 21st Century Museum set for May
Sundale School's agriculture program among 60 projects entered in annual showcase

A Night at the 21st Century Museum

Each day, Sundale students in the school’s agriculture program handle many of the same responsibilities local agri-business owners do. Animals are fed, gardens are watered and weeded, and crops are harvested. In addition to these responsibilities, the students help manage the Trading Post, an on-site store where customers can order a latte or pick up dozens of locally-sourced gift items and products – from chocolate and honey to nuts, milk and eggs.

A Night at the 21st Century Museum

Penny Allen, Sundale’s agriculture science teacher, speaks about the experience that students, from kindergarten through eighth grade, gain by participating in the program. “All Sundale students have hands-on experiences in the upkeep of their very own gardens,” she said. “Through the cultivation of flowers and vegetables, they learn about the lifecycle of plants. The experience also incorporates math, nutrition and so many other lessons.”

A Night at the 21st Century Museum

The students in Ms. Allen’s ag science class have other insights. They talk about the value of the experience and life skills they’ve gained, whether it’s bookkeeping at the Trading Post or raising chicks for sale to local farmers. Terri Rufert, Sundale’s superintendent adds that character development is a key feature of the program. “The ag program is teaching a work ethic,” she said. “We have a quality expectation, and that develops character.”

The Sundale ag program is a thriving example of Project Based Learning (PBL) and one that will be showcased at the fourth annual A Night at the 21st Century Museum event May 2 at the Visalia Convention Center. The event, which showcases fine examples of PBL with an emphasis on the development of the 21st century learning skills (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity, character and citizenship), will feature over 60 projects from elementary, middle and high school students. Some of the projects to be featured this year include robotics exhibitions, business projects, and agricultural and engineering projects completed by students in elementary, middle and high school. Area Linked Learning Academies will be presenting their projects, including an INTERNNECT architectural design project. In addition, two new features have been added: a makerspace for attendees to use in creating projects out of ordinary items and a “poetry slam” space for high school students to present their original works.

A Night at the 21st Century Museum

“What makes this event unique is that it celebrates students using college and career ready skills in meaningful ways.” said Dr. Jen Francone, PBL staff development and curriculum specialist. “Students are applying these skills to projects that take them beyond the classroom walls and that open their eyes to the world that awaits them after high school. We are also celebrating industry partners who help to provide opportunities and feedback to students through work based learning experiences.”

A Night at the 21st Century Museum

A Night at the 21st Century Museum, which is open to the public, will be held May 2 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. “We are proud to present A Night at the 21st Century Museum to the community again this year and continue to showcase the extraordinary 21st century learning our students are doing through PBL," said Dr. Francone. For more information on the event, call (559) 651-0562.

Photos above:
~ Sundale’s agriculture program provides all students with 21st century learning experiences.
~ Sundale students help care for a variety of animals in the school’s agriculture program, including reptiles. Chickens provide the school’s Trading Post store with fresh eggs.
~ In the school’s Trading Post, students gain business skills, including accounting, inventory management, marketing and product development. Students also develop customer service skills.

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Tulare Western ASB makes wishes come true
Club partners with students with special needs, creating natural campus socialization

Tulare Western ASB's Wish Week

Choir, culinary class, art, soccer, basketball and cheer are extracurricular programs that offer high school students creative and athletic outlets between the rigors of their core academic courses. While some high school students may take these activities for granted, students in Linda Chester’s special day class at Tulare Western High School could only dream of singing with the choir, cheering at a lunchtime rally, or playing basketball with members of the school’s team.

Tulare Western ASB's Wish Week

But dreams came true for Mrs. Chester’s students during the school’s Wish Week, held March 6-10. Organized by Tulare Western’s Associated Student Body (ASB), Wish Week gave Linda Chester’s students the activity of their choice. Sporting a custom “DJ Elijah” t-shirt and standing next to a huge urban art-style sign with his name on it, Elijah Gomez was the noontime campus DJ. Savannah Arredondo sang with the Tulare Western choir, while Jamal Wright attended an art class. In all, 14 wishes were granted.

Tulare Western ASB's Wish Week Wish Week was the vision of ASB president Sarah Wilbur, a senior who has become a genuine friend of Mrs. Chester’s class. “For several years, Sarah has been involved with our students – not because it looks good on her résumé, but because she really cares,” said Linda Chester, a teacher of the severely handicapped for the Tulare County Office of Education. “I could not have asked for better support for natural socialization opportunities. My students are included as part of the fabric of the campus.”

Tulare Western ASB's Wish Week

Once the students expressed their wishes, ASB leadership members went to work arranging the class visits and activities with teachers and coaches. Each of Mrs. Chester’s students was accompanied to their activity by a member of ASB. “The experience was an eye-opener for my ASB classmates,” said Sarah. “I think they gained a new perspective seeing the joy Mrs. Chester’s students got from participating in things we do every day.” Wish Week was not the first event Sarah Wilbur and the ASB students have arranged for the students in Mrs. Chester’s class. Last year, the group organized a “Mustangs in Training” event to energize the students who were competing in Special Olympics. “Through the efforts of Sarah and the ASB, my students feel like they have new brothers and sisters on campus and you can see on their faces how excited they are!” said Mrs. Chester.

Photos above:
~ (l) Maria Ochoa enjoyed attending one of Tulare Western’s culinary arts classes as part of ASB-sponsored Wish Week.
~ Jesus Arroyo gets his wish to play basketball with members of the Tulare Western team ...
~ ... while Ivory Renteria was able to join the school’s cheerleaders. She’s pictured with Logan Ray.
~ Elijah Gomez became a lunchtime DJ with a quick lesson from Hector Delgado.

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Hundreds attend STEM Expo for hands-on fun
Ninety projects entered in Science & Engineering Fair, six projects advance to state


Held on the grounds of the TCOE Planetarium & Science Center, the third annual STEM Expo looked like the science festival it was envisioned to be. Outside on the lawns, hundreds of students and parents enjoyed the sunshine as they programmed Bee-Bots, built air-powered boats, launched rockets and constructed simple circuits out of clay. Inside, the planetarium featured back-to-back showings of its popular programs, while in the theater students presented over 90 Science Fair projects to groups of judges.


STEM Expo At the end of the event, attendees gathered to hear returning keynote speaker Dr. Stuart Sumida, a paleontologist who has been an animal anatomy consultant for Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks. Following Dr. Sumida’s presentation, the winners of the Science Fair competition were announced. Six projects were selected to represent Tulare County at the California State Science Fair April 24-25 at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. For a complete list of winners, visit


Photos above:
~ Sergio Lozano and Wyatt DeCraemer of Sundale Union School present their award-winning project “Wireless Transmission of Electricity.”
~ Six projects were selected to advance to the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles. For a complete list of winners, visit tcoe.org/ScienceFair.
~ Outside the TCOE Planetarium & Science Center, parents and students enjoyed hands-on activities as part of the STEM Expo, including circuitry, horticulture, rocket building and coding.

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Spotlight on People Registration is now open for the 29th Annual Child Care Conference entitled "Making Learning Fun through Reading, Writing and Playing.” The conference will be held from 7:30 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, at the Wyndham Hotel in Visalia. Angela Russ-Ayon, owner of AbridgeClub.com, will be the keynote speaker. Ms. Russ-Ayon is a nationally-recognized, award-winning producer, presenter and keynote speaker on the subject of music and movement for young children. Her specialty is engaging toddlers in interactive songs using motor skills and imaginative play. The conference will also offer the choice of two additional breakout sessions, conducted both in English and Spanish. The deadline to register for the conference is April 17 and the cost is just $40 per person. For more details on conference presenters, activities and registration, call Elvira Barron at (559) 651-0185.

Spotlight on People On Saturday, March 11, hundreds of parents and children visited Castle Rock Elementary School in Woodlake to run, jump, stretch and learn at the second annual MyPlate Color Run. In the process of learning about healthy nutrition and exercise, participants were doused with colored powder. School Health Programs’ Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention Program (NEOP) helped to organize the event in partnership with numerous education and community health organizations: Horizon Marketing/Sweet Bunches, Woodlake Unified School District, the California Department of Public Health’s Champions for Change program, the University of California Cooperative Extension and its CalFresh Nutrition Education program, the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency, Family Healthcare Network, Kaweah Delta Health Care District, and FoodLink, Tulare County’s food distribution resource for families in need. Kelly Martin, director of Nutrition Services at Dinuba Unified, reports that the district is planning to hold its first Color Run later this year.

Spotlight on People The TCOE Wellness Committee is preparing fun activities to promote overall fitness and well-being as part of the annual Healthy Tulare County Week, April 3-7. Again this year, all employees can enter the Fitbit Steps Challenge and participate in the Healthy BINGO game. Employees are encouraged to visit
tcoe.org/wellness to print a copy of the BINGO card and to record their step count during the 24-hour period on April 6 to enter the prize drawing for the Fitbit Steps Challenge. On April 6 at the Doe Avenue complex and April 7 at the Mooney Boulevard building, employees will have opportunities to participate in special health and fitness activities. From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at both sites, employees can use their 15-minute break to visit fun health and fitness stations, including a walking course and information on healthy recipes. Employees are encouraged to visit each station to receive a stamp on their activities card. Completed cards will be entered into a drawing for additional prizes. Rachel Nuñez of External Business Services is pictured scaling the rock wall at last year’s event. For more information on the Healthy Tulare County Week, contact Nan Arnold, School Health Programs, at (559) 651-0130.

Spotlight on People Last month, 22 middle and high school teams participated in the annual Science Olympiad for a chance to advance to the NorCal Science Olympiad competition April 1 at California State University, Stanislaus. The middle school teams that qualified for the state competition include Jefferson Charter Academy (Hanford), Oak Grove Elementary (Visalia), Live Oak Middle School (Tulare), and St. Aloysius School (Tulare). The high school teams advancing to NorCal include Tulare Union High School, Exeter Union High School, Mission Oak High School (Tulare), and University Preparatory High School (Visalia). Students from first-place finishers Tulare Union High School are pictured competing in the helicopter event. Students designed and built their own helicopters using twin rotors and an elastic band, competing to stay aloft as long as possible.

Spotlight on People The CHOICES Prevention Programs' Anti-Tobacco Challenge Bowl was held March 1 with 23 sixth-grade teams competing. Students prepared for the competition by studying a curriculum on the dangers of tobacco and marijuana use. This year, a team from Woodlake Valley Middle School, led by teacher Courtney Hengst, captured the championship. Pictured with Mrs. Hengst are (l-r) Victoria Zisumbo, Jessica Henderson, Manroop Turna, Paige Perez and Xavier Urtiz.

Spotlight on People The artwork featured on the cover of the annual Tulare County Farm Bureau Student Art Calendar was drawn by Eveone Luther, an eighth grader at Sundale Union School. The theme of the calendar, “A Century of Celebrating the Farmer,” commemorates the Farm Bureau’s 100th year in Tulare County. Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak (c) poses with Madelynn Mendoza, a junior at University Preparatory High School who created the artwork chosen for March 2018. Madelynn is the daughter of Silvia Cadena who is pictured with her husband, Joe Cadena, a programmer analyst with TCOE’s Information Systems Department. Copies of the calendar will be mailed to teachers throughout the county this month, and are available at the front desk of TCOE's new Mooney Boulevard building while supplies last. Spotlight on People

Spotlight on People On March 22, ABC30 TV, through its parent company, The Walt Disney Company, donated 5000 books and $5,000 to the Tulare County Office of Education through a partnership with First Book. ABC30 General Manager Dan Adams is pictured with Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak at the presentation ceremony held for students in the Kohn Elementary and Heritage Elementary CHOICES After school program in Tulare. The students were the first to select their books from ABC30 producer Aurora Diaz, Jim Vidak and reporter Christina Fan. The remainder of the books will be given to students at other CHOICES After School sites, Migrant Education Programs and Early Childhood Education Programs, and will be available through the Educational Resource Services library. Spotlight on People

Spotlight on People Cadets in Russell Notturno’s construction trades class at La Sierra Military Academy recently completed a pair of American flags made largely from reclaimed wood. The stripes in the flag are made out of pieces of old wine barrels. Pictured (l-r) are Juan DeOchoa, Mr. Notturno and Augustin Basilio. The flags were given to LSMA principal Anjelica Zermeño and Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Spotlight on PeoplePeyton McKinzie, an eighth-grade student at Live Oak Middle School in Tulare, performs a work of prose she wrote entitled “Time” in the 33rd annual Poetry and Prose event. Peyton was one of over 1,400 K-8 students who competed in the annual oral recitation event which took place over six days between March 14 and 24 at the TCOE Administration and Conference Center building.”

Spotlight on People On March 24, the Bright Start Parent/Infant Program held its annual Spring Family Workshop. Over 70 families visited the Liberty Campus to participate in fun activities – all with a children’s storybook theme. Using Eric Carle’s book From Head to Toe as inspiration, physical therapists helped children build their core strength as they pretended to put food for seals into buckets.

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Gallery Notes

On April 9, ABC30 will premiere the latest segment in its Children First series. The half-hour special, entitled “Kids in Crisis,” will take an in-depth look at youth mental health and suicide prevention. The April special, which will focus on learning how to spot the signs of depression and where kids can get help, includes a segment on the Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) program offered by the CHOICES Prevention Programs. The special will also feature interviews with CHOICES school community liaison Rene Solis and Special Services’ Dr. Jennifer Newell, director of Behavioral Health Services. In addition, Woodlake High School students involved in the YMHFA arts-based RESTATE program will discuss student mental health as part of a panel of young people from throughout the Central Valley. Children First is an ongoing partnership between ABC30, the Tulare County Office of Education, Valley Children’s Hospital and EECU.

The annual SCICON Barbecue & Wildflower Festival will be held Sunday, April 9, from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. There is no charge to visit the campus or enjoy the numerous activities, including wildflower walks and student entertainment. The entertainment includes various Visalia string and ensemble bands and the guitar ensemble from Lindsay High School. Visitors can also enjoy tours of the museum, planetarium, observatory and raptor center. Tickets for the barbecue luncheon are available for $15 per person for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and older, and $5 for children 12 and under. For more information, call SCICON at (559) 539-2642.

The Human Resources Division will hold its annual "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" on April 27 beginning at 8:00 a.m. in the Redwood Conference Center. Students and parents will enjoy a continental breakfast and participate in fun career interest activities until 9:30 a.m. Students can then join their family member at their worksite until noon. For more information on the event, please contact Ramon Garcia at (559) 733-6322 or

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For a list of upcoming events,
visit our
Calendar of Events web 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

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