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The News Gallery

May 2019

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, Therese Arnold, Gerald Arellano, Tim Budz, Gloria Davalos, Juliana Davidian, Kelley Petty, Kathleen Green-Martins, Tiffany Owens-Stark, Shantall Porchia, Paula Terrill, and Meade Williams.

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.

Students in AAP Program create winning project
Projects completed in the Step Up Youth Challenge address school, community needs

Step Up Youth Challenge

To their surprise and delight, middle school students at the Tulare County Office of Education’s Alternative Achievement Program (AAP) developed one of the two “best overall” projects in the 2018-19 Step Up Youth Challenge. The program used the creation of a native plants garden to teach students about the importance of working together and not resorting to bullying or violence. By connecting with local nurseries and farmers, the garden project also helped students see the importance of bees to Tulare County’s agricultural economy.

In their report to the Youth Challenge review committee, the students stated, “Our project addressed the issue of working together even though we did not like each other. By being forced to work together, we had to use our coping skills to not fight back. After a while, we started getting along and working together to get our project done. It made us feel excited and feel needed in the community.” For their efforts, the program received a $2,500 grant from the County of Tulare.

Step Up Youth Challenge

The AAP is the third step on a continuum of behavioral health services provided by Special Services. When a student’s needs exceed the services provided in one of Special Services’ countywide Intervention Resource Classrooms and they require a higher level of care, AAP is considered. At AAP, student mental health services are embedded with core academic curriculum to build the necessary skills to eventually transition back to their general education site.

In this eighth year of the program, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors awarded the administration of the Step Up Youth Challenge to the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE). Last fall, then County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak placed the event with the CHARACTER COUNTS! Program as it aligned with the Six Pillars of Character, particularly with the pillars of caring, respect, and citizenship. The county continues to fund the program and the grant awards provided to the winning schools.

Step Up Youth Challenge

Initially, the Step Up Youth Challenge was developed by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors as a program to engage at-risk youth in positive leadership development and community-serving activities and to deter gang involvement. Today the program is broader, as teams identify needs at their schools and in their communities involving issues ranging from nutrition and literacy to self-esteem and homelessness. This year, TCOE’s University Preparatory High School won its fourth Step Up Youth Challenge Award – the Impact Award – for its creation of a library for the Blue Oak Academy charter school in Visalia. UPHS students hosted a book drive and collected over 1,000 books for the new school to emphasize the importance of literacy among K-3 students.

“We are delighted to support the Board of Supervisors by overseeing the Step Up Youth Challenge,” said Tim Hire, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools. “This program is unique in that it gives schools – large and small, urban and rural – the same opportunity to address a real need and gather resources to address it. It’s an incredible example of 21st century learning.”

For more information on the Step Up Youth Challenge, contact Kelley Petty at
kelleyp@tcoe.org, or call (559) 740-4303.

Step Up Youth Challenge

2018-19 Step Up Youth Challenge Award Winners

Middle Schools
Best Overall: Alternative Achievement Program (Tulare County Office of Education)
Community Collaboration Award: Pioneer Middle School (Porterville Unified)
Impact Award: Reagan Elementary School (Lindsay Unified)
Meet the Need Award: Divisadero Middle School (Visalia Unified)
Sustainability Award: Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School (Tulare City School District)

High Schools
Best Overall: Tulare Tech Prep High School (Tulare Joint Union High School District)
Community Collaboration Award: Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center, Visalia
Impact Award: University Preparatory High School (Tulare County Office of Education)
Meet the Need Award: Accelerated Charter High School (Tulare Joint Union High School District)
Sustainability Award: Alpaugh High School

This year, the Youth Challenge Committee invited teams to create an optional presentation and bring it to the Fox Theatre to be judged by a panel of reviewers. Team representatives were given five minutes to present their project and answer questions from the reviewers. Ten of the 20 teams that participated in the Challenge created a presentation. Alpaugh High School’s presentation on its community garden project was chosen as the best presentation in the high school category; Pixley Middle School won the top prize in the middle school category for its presentation on the Color Me Healthy Fun Run project.

Photos above:
~ Students from the Alternative Achievement Program won “best overall” in the middle school category of the Step Up Youth Challenge for their native plants garden. The project taught students how to work together and how important bees are to local agriculture.
~ Students from Pioneer Middle School in Porterville share their Youth Day project with evaluators.
~ University Preparatory High School (UPHS) won its fourth Step Up Youth Challenge Award. This year, UPHS students received the Impact Award for their work in creating a library for the Blue Oak Academy charter school in Visalia, complete with 1,000 books.
~ Students from Accelerated Charter High School in Tulare pose on the red carpet with their Meet the Need Award. The students developed a project to provide the homeless with essential hygiene items and blankets.

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Migrant Journalism Project enters year four
Fifteen Tulare & Kings County districts participate in powerful EL development tool

The Migrant Education Region VIII Journalism Project, which began in the fall of 2015 and unveiled its first newspaper called The Migrant Voice in February 2016, is preparing to publish five new editions this spring. The editions will feature the work of Migrant students in 13 Tulare and Kings county school districts. Migrant programs in Visalia Unified and Porterville Unified are also preparing similar publications.

To prepare for the launch of their newspapers, students from throughout the county have been busy participating in field trips, interviewing adults, and photographing and writing about their experiences for editions that will include articles on a variety of careers in science and technology, including robotics and agricultural applications. Some students visited University of California campuses at Davis and Merced to interview scientists, while others toured Garner Holt Productions to learn about animatronics used in movies and theme parks.

The project, now in its fourth year, was created as an English language development tool. Through the process of interviewing people, the Migrant students gain confidence in their abilities to research, speak, write, and communicate their stories.

The Migrant Journalism Project was envisioned by Migrant Education administrators and instructional leaders from TCOE’s Educational Resource Services (ERS). Migrant Education Program Administrator Tony Velásquez says that the project was designed to assist students in transitioning from being English learners to proficient in the English language. Along with ERS staff, Migrant administrators also benefited from working with the language development specialists from Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Equity for English Learners.

To see past copies of The Migrant Voice and chronicle the development of this state-recognized program, visit
tcoe.org/MigrantVoice. For more information, call Tony Velásquez at (559) 651-3035.

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Event tests students with real-world problems
46th Annual Math Super Bowl attracts nearly 700 middle school students

Nearly 700 seventh and eighth graders participated in the 46th annual Math Super Bowl on April 9. The students, from Kings and Tulare county schools, competed in three events – working independently, in teams with their classmates, and with students from other schools.

Math Super Bowl

In the Pro Bowl portion of the competition, students were divided into teams of five students from different schools. This year, the problems they were presented all related to the Wheel of Fortune game show. With a diagram of a wheel, students were asked questions such as “If there are 3000 spins over the course of a television season, how many of those spins might you expect to land on the $500 piece and why?” Students were asked to determine both theoretical and experimental probabilities for a variety of scenarios and to justify their answers.

In the Pro Bowl portion of the competition, the top scoring seventh-grade team included Isaiah Hernandez of Kettleman City Elementary School, Joey Huntington of Three Rivers Elementary School, Annalya Luangamath of Bartlett Middle School in Porterville, Roman Macedo of Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School in Tulare, and Caitlyn Plumlee of Rockford School in Porterville. The top scoring eighth-grade team included Jackson Coon of Green Acres Middle School in Visalia, Elizabeth Jimenez of Strathmore Middle School, Taylor LaPoint of Cherry Avenue Middle School in Tulare, Lucy Maitland-Lewis of Sycamore Valley Academy of Visalia, and Konnor Moshier of Oak Grove Elementary School in Visalia.

For a complete list of winners, visit

Photo above:
~ Nearly 700 students from Tulare and Kings County middle schools attended the annual Math Super Bowl.

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Sixty schools participate in annual film festival
Slick Rock Student Film Festival set for May 10; 200 films to be shown at Premiere Cut

El Diamante student Mario Landeros wrote, animated, and scored a quirky film about an animation studio that is on the verge of being sued for developing a television program very similar to one previously on a network. The film, entitled Hawthorne Animations, features the studio founder Andres Hawthorne, the overly caffeinated colorist Sunshine Soleli, the young storyboard artist Fabian Ungren, and the all-seeing animator Charlie Mortimer. The three-and-a-half-minute video is just one of 500 student-produced films submitted to the annual Slick Rock Student Film Festival. The films were entered by students from 60 middle and high schools in Tulare, Kings, Kern, Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties.

Slick Rock Student Film Festival

To see Mario’s film in its entirety, along with 200 other top films entered in the Slick Rock Student Film Festival, the public is invited to attend the “Premiere Cut” screening Friday, May 10 at the Visalia Fox Theatre, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. “I encourage the public to make time to support the valley’s young filmmakers by seeing some of these incredible films,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire. A schedule of Premiere Cut showings will be available soon at

For the filmmakers, the awards ceremony will begin at 5:15 p.m. with a limo ride to the Fox Theatre. Students will emerge from chauffeur-driven cars to throngs of cheering fans and paparazzi, as they pause in front of the “step and repeat” wall to pose for photos, Hollywood premiere-style. The awards ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Winners in 18 film categories, plus several special awards, will be presented.

For more information about the Slick Rock Student Film Festival, call Kathleen Green-Martins at (559) 737-6350.

Photo above:
Hawthorne Animation was one of 500 films entered in the 2019 Slick Rock Student Film Festival. Written, animated and scored by El Diamante High School student Mario Landeros, this film will be shown during the Premiere Cut screening from 9:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on May 10 at the Visalia Fox Theatre.

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Community invited to follow TCOE on Facebook
Social media becomes important tool in sharing news and recognitions

Employees and school district personnel are encouraged to follow the Tulare County Office of Education on Facebook. The Tulare County Office of Education recently began utilizing the social media platform to share events. “The move to social media is one component of our communication efforts to share information in a timely manner,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire. “On a weekly and often daily basis, we’ll use Facebook to communicate program developments, celebrate awards and staff accomplishments, and share results from student events and information about upcoming activities.”

Mr. Hire says that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will become increasingly important tools to communicate with employees, district educators, and community members. He imagines using certain platforms to create online communities of educators built around grade level or content areas sharing the latest instructional practices and professional development opportunities. This summer the News Gallery, which has been one of the Tulare County Office of Education’s primary communication tools for employees and the public for 40 years, will be redesigned. During the school year, the News Gallery will be made available on a weekly basis.

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Spotlight on People On April 5, Educational Resource Services hosted the 14th Annual Region VII Literacy Conference in Fresno. Over 200 TK-12 educators representing Merced, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Mariposa, and Kings counties attended the conference, which carried the theme of “Literacy and Equity For ALL.” Regie Routman and Kelly Gallagher were keynote speakers. Mr. Gallagher (pictured) is an ELA teacher in Anaheim, an educational consultant who works with teachers around the world, and an author. He impressed the crowd with his presentation, “Moving Readers and Writers From Compliance to Engagement.” Next year’s conference will be held on April 23, 2020, with the theme “Seeing Clearly: 20/20 Literacy.” The conference will feature Jeff Anderson, author of several books about writing for teachers and the Zack Delacruz series of books for young readers. For more information, contact Tim Budz at

Spotlight on People The CHOICES Program held its 30th Annual Friday Night Live Lip Sync Competition on March 29 at the Visalia Convention Center. A team of students from El Monte Middle School in Orosi (photo above) captured first place in the dance category. The team included Ximena Carreon, Alexa Villa, Sonia Garcia, Jimena Fonseca, and Marisol Garcia. First place in the novelty category was awarded to students Ian Arrambide, Johathan Ghalandro, Sevee Johnson, Kari Pendegraft, Tristen Reimer, and Thomas Rosa from George McCann School in Visalia. The George McCann students (photo below) recently visited Wilson Middle School in Exeter to present Malachi Sweredoski with a gift bag and a special “most inspirational” trophy they helped create with the CHOICES Program. While Malachi did not win a trophy at the competition, the George McCann team felt his performance deserved special recognition. KSEE24 News captured the presentation for a segment of Your Character Matters, which will air on May 7. First place in the Lip Sync competition was awarded to a team from Lincoln Elementary CHOICES After School Program in Tulare. For a complete list of winners, visit tcoe.org/LipSync. Spotlight on People

Spotlight on People In the first annual Office Olympics, the “Nerd Herd” from Information Systems captured the Eupheus Cup in the nine-event competition. Office Olympics was created by the TCOE Health & Wellness Committee to motivate employees to participate in more physical activities. Pictured (l-r) are event organizers Jeff Ramsay and Cori Bernal; Information System’s William Reeser, Joe Cadena and Samantha Romero; and event organizer Chris Feierbach. Overall, Human Resources and Educational Resource Services tied for second place; a team from administration won third.

Spotlight on People The annual College and Career EXPO was held at the College of the Sequoias campuses in Visalia and Tulare on Friday, March 29. Hundreds of students from Tulare and Kings County high schools participated in more than 20 career-themed competitions, ranging from Anatomy and Architectural Design to Video Production and Website Development. In the culinary arts competition, La Sierra Military Academy cadets took home the top three awards. Pictured left to right are Jessica Jones (third place), Karla Esquivel (second place) and Vanessa Serrano-Bravo (first place). To view the competition results, visit tkccc.org/Expo. The College and Career EXPO also hosted the annual Access to Higher Education Conference for foster youth. A record-breaking 200 foster youth attended the event to learn about programs and services available to support them in transitioning to college and independent living.

Spotlight on People On April 11, University Preparatory High School Principal Eric Thiessen called an assembly of students and staff to unveil the California Distinguished School flag and banner he had received at an awards ceremony hosted by the California Department of Education. Mr. Thiessen congratulated the students and staff for their hard work in earning the prestigious award – the only school in Tulare County to receive the designation this year. Pictured holding the flag are Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire and lead teacher Helen Milliorn-Feller.

Spotlight on People The annual Arbor Day Celebration was held at Mooney Grove Park on March 28. Over 100 elementary students attended the event to participate in a variety of environmental lessons, including presentations on insects, mulch, water, and the importance of trees. Amy King (pictured), Tulare County Museum curator, spoke to students about the importance of oak trees and their acorns to local Native Americans.

Spotlight on People Beginning May 1, nearly 300 pieces of student artwork will be displayed in the lobby of the TCOE Administration Building at 6200 South Mooney Boulevard in Visalia. The exhibition of paintings, drawings, sculpture, and mixed-media art was organized by Special Services Division’s AcCEL Programs. Among the artwork created by students from AcCEL special day classes throughout the county is an illustration entitled “Monsters,” (pictured) by Noah Gregg, a student in the Tulare North Community Based Instruction Classroom. The exhibition will remain on display in the lobby through May 31.

Spotlight on People Hundreds of elementary and middle school students developed books that were displayed at the 27th Annual Young Authors’ Faire. The students worked alone or in groups to write and illustrate over 530 print and digital books this year – 100 more books than last year. A reception for family members to celebrate their children’s work was held on April 9.

Spotlight on People Over 2,800 people visited the annual SCICON Barbecue and Wildflower Festival on Sunday, April 14. Visitors were able to tour the campus and admire several recent improvements, including renovations to the barn (pictured). The renovations to the structure, which is believed to be the oldest on the SCICON campus, were made possible by support from the Tulare County Office of Education and a grant from the Sense Foundation. The annual barbecue event is organized by the Friends of SCICON to benefit the outdoor education program.

Spotlight on People Nearly 50 examples of Project Based Learning were on display at the annual Night at the 21st Century Museum event April 2. Elementary, middle, and high school students displayed projects involving engineering, medicine, history, robotics, agriculture, business, and technology applications. Students from the Orosi High School Academy of Engineering & Green Technology (pictured) display the process they used to develop a hovercraft from ordinary household items.

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Gallery Notes

On April 17, Shelah Feldstein and Christine Roberts were featured speakers at the Carnegie Foundation's annual Summit on Improvement in Education in San Francisco. Ms. Feldstein and Ms. Roberts presented on behalf of the Central Valley Networked Improvement Communities (CVNIC), a group of local teachers and administrators formed under a previous grant from the Gates Foundation. CVNIC, in partnership with Stanford University and the Carnegie Foundation, works to improve student achievement in mathematics. The Carnegie summit attracted 1,700 educators from 48 states and six countries.

On August 28, the TCOE CHOICES Prevention Program will host a Youth Anti-Bullying Symposium at the Visalia Convention Center. This symposium is geared toward ASB, leadership students, or socially-influential young people who want to create a strong, positive climate on campus. Tulare County middle and high schools may register one adult ally and up to 10 students in grades 8, 10, 11, and 12. The symposium will feature leadership training to help participants go from being bystanders to taking a proactive role in preventing bullying, while working side by side with school personnel. The leadership students will be equipped to address issues on campus and help to create a positive school culture. The symposium will also feature motivational speakers, including keynote speaker Jeremy Bates, “The Hope Dealer,” and local guest speaker Steve Amundson, “Dude Be Nice.” California Education Code requires that all school districts adopt on or before December 31, 2019, procedures for preventing acts of bullying, including cyberbullying. Registration is limited. Please register online by June 5 at

Beginning this month, over 150 students will graduate from TCOE programs, including La Sierra Charter School, University Preparatory High School (UPHS), Special Services AcCEL Programs and Community Based Instruction Classrooms (CBICs), and the Court/Community Schools. Dates for the graduation ceremonies are available in the calendar section. For the fourth year in a row, the Court/Community School program will graduate students. Since 2016, the program has partnered with Instructional Access, a widely-used online resource, to enable students to complete needed courses at a pace that meets their learning style and to fulfill their graduation requirements.

Young actors and singers will have an opportunity to learn and perform the adventure story of Disney’s Winnie the Pooh Kids during the Theatre Company’s fourth annual Summer Camp. Open to students entering grades 1-6, the Summer Camp program will help young performers develop their stage skills through three weeks of performance training. The Theatre Company Summer Camp will be held daily Monday-Friday, June 10-28 from 9:00 until 11:00 a.m. The program will culminate with a recital performance on June 28 at 7:00 p.m. The Summer Camp will be held in the Sequoia Room at Tulare County Office of Education’s Doe Avenue complex. The cost of the Summer Camp is $100 per student. Registration is due June 4. For registration information, visit tcoe.org/TheatreCo, or contact the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

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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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