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The News Gallery

March 2018

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, Kate Stover, Paula Terrill, Veronica Guerrero, Gene Mendes and Conan Palmer.

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.

Poetry Out Loud event

Poetry Out Loud champion heads to state
Countywide, more than 1,100 high school students participated in poetry competition

“When I am so small Da’s sock covers my arm, we cruise at twilight until we find the place the real men lean, bloodshot and translucent with cool,” begins Terrance Hayes' 2010 poem The Golden Shovel. The image in this mysterious poem was made all the more intriguing by the young woman who recited it. Gabrielle Trapse, a freshman at Tulare Union High School, delivered it at the third annual Poetry Out Loud event like a seasoned jazz artist, pacing and coloring each verse with great affect.

“The power of Poetry Out Loud exists in its simplicity,” said Kate Stover, Poetry Out Loud (POL) project coordinator. “Unlike the other performing arts, Poetry Out Loud features no costumes, props, sets or instruments. The magic lies in the students’ ability to interpret the meaning or convey the nuances of a poem using only their voice.”

Garbrielle’s masterful interpretation of Terrance Hayes’ poem and two other pieces won her first place in the annual event and the opportunity to represent Tulare County at the California POL State Finals in Sacramento March 18 and 19. Rebecca Keele, a sophomore at Porterville High School and the 2017 Tulare County POL champion, was selected as this year’s runner-up.

Poetry Out Loud is open to high school students throughout the county. “The program is a natural extension of our Poetry & Prose oral interpretation event, which has been enjoyed by elementary and middle school students for over 30 years,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. This year, five Tulare County high schools participated in the competition. Approximately 1,100 students competed at the school site level, sending their top performers to the county competition.

Poetry Out Loud event

Participating students can choose from over 900 classic and modern pieces compiled by the national Poetry Out Loud organization. Nationally, the competition is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of students each year. Last year, the state finals featured winners from 40 California counties. Locally, Poetry Out Loud was co-sponsored by the Arts Consortium, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Poetry Foundation, and the California Arts Council.

“My goal has never been to win this competition. Instead it was to perform with all of the emotions and feelings I could muster,” said Gabrielle. “My goal was to get the audience captivated and hang on to every word I said, in hopes they too were immersed in the poems I previously found myself lost in. When I perform, I give it my all and then some so that I never leave the stage with feelings of regret or disappointment. The only thing I can ask is that other people feel the same aura of peacefulness I do when performing and that younger generations never let go of their power of imagination and sense of excitement through the love of poems.” Jill Coyle, Gabrielle’s coach at Tulare Union High School, shared that her students have participated in POL for two years, saying “It is a real thrill to see and hear students bring the written words of poets to life.”

For more information about upcoming Poetry Out Loud events, call Kate Stover at (559) 741-0809.

Photos above:
~ Gabrielle Trapse, a freshman at Tulare Union High School, won the annual Poetry Out Loud competition. She will represent Tulare County at the state competition in Sacramento this month.
~ Tulare County’s top high school poetry performers included (l-r) Cameron Silva, Mission Oak High School, Tulare; Antonio Melano, Dinuba High School; Rebecca Keele, Porterville High School; Gabrielle Trapse; and Pijja Lautona, Monache High School, Porterville.

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STEM Expo set for March 10 at Planetarium
Community event includes annual Science Fair and expanded family arts activities

The Instructional Services Division is preparing to host the annual STEM Expo – one of the largest family science festivals in the central San Joaquin Valley. Scheduled for Saturday, March 10, the STEM Expo is a celebration of everything about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The public is invited to visit the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) Planetarium & Science Center at 11535 Avenue 246 for a day of free, live STEM demonstrations and activities.

The STEM Expo provides visitors with fun, engaging activities to build knowledge about STEM, including the annual Science & Engineering Fair; hands-on robotics coding; a green screen for video projects; an electronic game station; a Cardboard Challenge area for families to imagine and build using cardboard; and a makerspace, where participants can build smartphone speakers, paper rockets and circuits out of ordinary materials. This year, several art-based activities have also been added.

Throughout the day, the TCOE Planetarium will show back-to-back presentations of its popular program, Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope, utilizing its recently upgraded projection system. The program traces the history of the telescope and the advances that have been made since the time of Newton and Galileo. The STEM Expo will also feature a variety of community booths and local food trucks.

Dr. Jose Rafael Prado The highlight of the STEM Expo will be a presentation by Dr. Jose Rafael Prado of Monsanto Company. Dr. Prado leads an international team of 15 highly-skilled researchers in the United States and Brazil in the development of diverse varieties of vegetables and row crops with beneficial traits, such as disease resistance and improved nutritional profiles. He has also increased productivity through a combination of robotics and automation, and has helped to advance molecular breeding tools. Dr. Prado holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from Stanford University School of Medicine. He has also been a guest lecturer for the Introduction to Genetic Engineering course at Stanford.

Students will also bring their science projects to compete for top prizes and the chance to advance to the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles, April 23-24. Over 60 science projects have been registered in six competition categories: Life Science; Earth and Space Science; Physical Science – Chemistry; Physical Science – Physics; Engineering and Mathematics; and Behavioral and Social Sciences. The Science Fair is open to the public beginning at 12:30 p.m.

“With each year, the STEM Expo is engaging more students and families in learning about many of the educational and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Jim Vidak. “This year promises to be even better as we have added art activities to show how it supports STEM!”

For more information on the STEM Expo, call Jared Marr at (559) 651-3047.

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Planetarium upgrades projection system
New system will open doors to new programming available to high-definition theaters

The Planetarium & Science Center is nearing completion of its new planetarium projection system – a system that was designed and built in-house at a substantially lower cost than competing systems. This upgrade comes just two years after the program relocated to its new location on TCOE’s Liberty Campus on South Mooney Boulevard. In anticipation of changing technology, the planetarium facility was originally designed to support different types of projection systems. The new system, which features a significantly brighter and sharper image, is scheduled to be operational for shows in March.

New projection system at Pena Planetarium

“Our new projection system will allow us to acquire and show the newest programming that is currently only available to high-definition theaters,” said Conan Palmer, Planetarium & Science Center program coordinator. Mr. Palmer reports that visitors to the STEM Expo on March 10 will have an opportunity to see the improved projection system as the planetarium will show its popular program Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope throughout the day of the event.

“We appreciate Conan’s foresight and ingenuity in developing the new system,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “The improvements continue our commitment to providing students, teachers and astronomy lovers with extraordinary science-based learning that sparks their interest in worlds beyond ours.”

For information on the Planetarium & Science Center, visit
tcoe.org/planetarium, or call (559) 733-6433.

Photo above:
~ The photo above illustrates the improvements in brightness and sharpness achieved by the new planetarium projection system (left) and the former system (right).

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National History Day attracts over 120 projects
Students explore conflict and compromise through exhibits, videos, websites, performances

Outside the exhibition room, waiting to present their National History Day (NHD) project to judges, Luis and Cruz enthusiastically practiced their presentation to an audience of TCOE staff members. The elementary students in Cutler-Orosi Unified’s GATE program had prepared a two-dimensional poster on the Whiskey Rebellion – an uprising by farmers and war veterans protesting a tax conceived during the presidency of George Washington to help pay war debt. Luis and Cruz excitedly explained why the farmers were upset by the tax and the violence that erupted because of it.

National History Day - Tulare County

Luis and Cruz were among hundreds of Tulare County students, grades 4-12, who prepared more than 120 projects for the NHD competition. Through two-dimensional posters, historical papers, exhibits, performances, documentaries and historical websites, students explored the annual theme of Conflict and Compromise in History in local, state, national and world history.

National History Day - Tulare County Following the presentation of projects, students gathered in the Redwood Conference Center to see two “Best of Event” presentations, including a documentary by Yasoda Satpathy of Inspire Charter School entitled “The War of Currents” – a video about the long-running conflict between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla in the development of our modern electrical systems. Julissa Lopez, a student at Dinuba High School, presented her solo performance entitled “A Declaration, A Promise,” which enacted the creation of the United Nations.

Prior to the awards ceremony, keynote speaker Lorenzo Rios, a retired US Army lieutenant colonel, addressed the audience. Lt. Col. Rios shared his experience growing up as the son of migrant farm workers and his military career that included serving as a commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, teaching International Relations and Comparative Politics at West Point, and serving as a Professor of Military Science and department chair at Fresno State.

At the end of the day, event coordinator Gay Atmajian announced the names of 41 projects that were selected as finalists and eligible to advance to the state competition at William Jessup University in Rocklin on May 5 and 6. Six scholarships were given to help students with the expenses of attending the California NHD competition. For a complete list of the scholarship winners and the finalists eligible to advance to the state competition, visit

Photos above:
~ (l-r) Cruz Melchor and Luis Vargas of Cutler-Orosi Unified’s GATE Program present their project on America’s Whiskey Rebellion to judges at National History Day (NHD).
~ Julissa Lopez, a student at Dinuba High School, developed a performance project entitled
A Declaration, A Promise, which depicted the formation of the United Nations. Julissa’s project was selected as one of 41 Tulare County finalists eligible to compete in the California NHD in May.

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Spotlight on People On February 21, Jaskarn Singh (left photo), an eighth-grade student at Alpine Vista School in Tulare, was named the 2018 Tulare County Spelling Champion. The annual event, which included 225 spellers in grades 4-8, lasted 19 rounds over six hours. As part of the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register sponsorship of the competition, Jaskarn is eligible to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee beginning May 27 in National Harbor, Maryland. The top three spellers in this year’s event are (right photo, l-r) Hannah Cooper, second-place winner from Classical Conversations Challenge homeschool program; Jaskarn Singh; and Saksham Narwal, third-place winner from Live Oak Middle School, Tulare.

Spotlight on People Sitting before Tulare County Superior Court Judge Brett Hillman at the Mock Trial finals February 20, Redwood High School’s Silver Team successfully defeated challenger Exeter Union High School to earn a spot at the state competition beginning March 16 in Santa Ana. Redwood defense attorney Josh Gilcrist (left photo) is pictured questioning a witness. The Redwood Silver Team (right photo) is coached by Andre Gaston (front row right), and includes Noelle Andrew, Kayla Cabanas, Kyvontei Campbell, Justine Fonseca, Josh Gilcrist, Lisa Kim, Kenya Ochoa, Grant Peck, Caleb Rodriguez, Baylie Teela, Kylie Tyson, Beckie Vang, Ezra VanGronigan, Kendall Walton and Claire Yang.

Spotlight on People On February 3, the Tulare County Academic Decathlon championship title was once-again captured by Granite Hills High School of Porterville. Since 2003, the Granite Hills team, coached by Elissa Lombardi, has held the title 11 times. This year, the school earned the large school and overall honors in the 10-event contest and the opportunity to compete in the state finals beginning March 22 in Sacramento. Team members include (top photo) Savannah Banuelos, Emilly Ceballos, Mackinzie Thomason, Ana Morales, Jaden Perez, Sergio Quinonez, Daniel Diaz, Gwenyth English and Jacqueline Gonzalez. Orosi High School captured the small school division title for the fourth year in a row. All Academic Decathlon teams are comprised of 2-3 students in each of three grade categories: Honors (GPA 3.75-4), Scholastic (GPA 3-3.74) and Varsity (GPA 0-2.99). The top students in the three categories are (lower photo, l-r) Gwenyth English, Granite Hills High School, Porterville (Varsity); Ying Yan, El Diamante High School, Visalia (Honors); and Alyza Boriphanvichitr, El Diamante High School, Visalia (Scholastic). For a complete list of results, visit
tcoe.org/AcademicDecathlon. Spotlight on People

Spotlight on People In March, visitors to the Administration Building and Conference Center can enjoy 230 drawings, paintings and sculptures from 46 Tulare County schools in the "Best of Show" Student Art Exhibition. Among the artwork in the exhibition is “Abstract Face” (right photo) by Wayne Brandon, a fifth-grade student from Kings River Union Elementary. The exhibition, is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A public reception honoring the artists will be held in the lobby of the Mooney Boulevard building from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 1.

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Gallery Notes

Student athletes are invited to apply for the annual Pursuing Victory With Honor (PVWH) scholarships. With additional support this year from the Provident/Salierno Family Foundation, the CHARACTER COUNTS! program is able to increase its award of $500 scholarships from four to eight for graduating seniors who best exemplify sportsmanship, leadership, and school and community service. An application form, which includes detailed eligibility requirements, is available at
tcoe.org/pvwhscholarship. Applications are due by April 4. For more information, call the CHARACTER COUNTS! program at (559) 740-4303.

Coaches, athletic directors, administrators, officials and other youth leaders are invited to register for the Tulare County Office of Education's Pursuing Victory With Honor sportsmanship workshop. This in-service will help attendees build better character through their coaching efforts. The workshop takes place on March 8 from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in the Redwood Conference Center. To register to attend this free workshop, please visit tulare.k12oms.org/1530-145568, or call Kelley Petty, CHARACTER COUNTS! program coordinator, at (559) 740-4303.

Video entries for the 2018 Slick Rock Student Film Festival are due before midnight on March 9. Middle and high school students living in Kern, Kings, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Merced or Mariposa counties may enter videos in a total of 19 categories. Visit tcoe.org/SlickRock for information on submitting films to the festival and the awards ceremony, which will be held at the Visalia Fox Theater on May 11.

Registration is now open for the 2018 Support Staff Conference, which this year has an outdoor theme of “Come Unplug and Unwind.” The conference will be held at the Visalia Convention Center May 1 and feature comedian, playwright, director and educator Tim Clue as the keynote speaker. Mr. Clue has had a successful comedy career on the national circuit, working with many well-known comics, including Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Wright and Larry Miller. His stand-up routines can also be heard on SiriusXM satellite radio’s comedy channels. For registration information, visit tcoe.org/support.

The CHOICES Prevention Programs' Anti-Tobacco Challenge Bowl was held February 14 with 24 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 Three Rivers Union School captured the championship. The Three Rivers team team included Ethan Jeter, Allie Carpenter, Sierra Sherwood, Joey Huntington and Jasmeet Sall. Isaac Warner was the team’s advisor. A team from Sunnyside Union School placed second with a team from Pleasant View School coming in third.

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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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