Manteca Unified hosts district celebration

Manteca Unified School District Board President Stephen Schluer presided at a special district celebration. Along with San Joaquin County Superintendent James Mousalimas, awards were given to district employees and students.

Here is what MUSD said about the event:

“Student board member Joe Contreras conducted the meeting, with assistance from student board member alternate Shubnaz Kaur Jagpal. They begin the recognitions by celebrating employees of the year Jimmie Jacobs, Head Custodian from Neil Hafley school and Robin Miller, Office Manager from August Knodt.

MUSD honors educators of the year in multiple categories. This year, award recipients includes Great Valley educators Melissa King for K-3 Primary, Jeanette Pacheco for 4-6 Intermediate, and Kevin Niendorf for 7-8 Junior High. Also being honored are Lathrop High’s Allison Birakos for 9-12 Secondary and August Knodt’s Heidi Azevedo for her role as a Support Staff educator.

MUSD recognized honored Brock Elliot 8th grader Sofia Fiallos, who was selected by the Association of CA School Administrators of the San Joaquin Charter for the Every Student Succeeding Award. Sofia shows daily resilience in her efforts to be successful despite her health struggles.

The district also chose to honor New Haven School with the District Service to Others Certificate for the school’s efforts to raise $12,000 on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Eighth grade students Hunter Campbell and Nicole Sebastian were on hand to accept the award on behalf of New Haven.

District Spelling Bee winners were also recognized for their achievement, including 4th grader Marlon Montano from Neil Hafley, 5th graders Nolan Marley from Walter Woodward and Christina Nguyen from Joshua Cowell, 7th grader Trinity Hillyard from George Komure and 8th graders Melanie Nguyen from Brock Elliott and Jillian Urbano from Nile Garden.

For their excellence in the arts, MUSD honored Sierra High School’s senior Louisa Hunter, and Weston Ranch’s senior Kimberly Juarez. On this celebratory night, the district art show was also happening inside the district office.

Celebrated from Sierra High School, were junior Haris Hanif and senior Savannah Rohloff-Flores, whose student films were featured in the Grand Foundation student film festival.

Lathrop High School honored seniors Farhat Khairzadah and Ian Steffes with their LHS Gold Shield Award for academics and character.

Also receiving certificates for their being chosen as Boys and Girl’s Club Youth of the Year for 2016 were sophomore Eric Nascimento and junior Kiana Watson from East Union High. Lathrop Elementary’s Kevin Paz, grade 8, was also honored.

Next, Sierra High School honored sophomore Belen Ramos-Hurtado, junior Maleena Salehi, and seniors Kyndra Kiser and Devin Ontai for their attending the annual Focus on Freshman Conference in Los Angeles.

Recognizing students for their success in partner organizations is also important to MUSD. Manteca High Senior Guadalupe Piceno was honored for taking 3rd place in accounting at the DECA Northern California Career Development Conference.

Sierra High School was recognized for achieving the Superior Chapter Award from FCCLA. As members of that chapter, juniors Ashley Rodriguez and Deja Tuggle both won 1st place for their FCCLA service projects. Also recognized were Amy Lee, Valerie Flores, and Liz Aschenbrenner for their achievement of FCCLA silver medal as outstanding advisors.

Honored for the prestigious achievement of earning their FFA State Degrees were senior Dominic Romero and junior Elizabeth Townsend from East Union, senior Victoria Cabello from Lathrop High School and seniors Destinée Perales, Krystal Luis, and Bridgette Walraven from Sierra High.

From Weston Ranch High School, senior Teresa Novoa was honored for winning a top 5 HOSA reflection scrapbook and senior Rajdeep Singh for taking the HOSA Healthcase Issues Exam.

Also this year, freshman Angela Delgado and Sophomore Rosalinda Valdivia won gold and silver medals respectively in the Skills USA commercial baking competition. Also honored were Freshman Gianni Chavez for his gold medal in culinary arts and senior Donavin Arellano for his gold medal in welding, both at the Skills USA competition. Angela Delgado and Donavin Arellano also won medals at the state level, silver and bronze respectively.

Manteca High’s faculty member Dough Obrigawitch was next recognized for his achievement of being the UC Davis C-STEM Teacher of the Year.

Great Valley’s Principal Patricia Boutte was honored by the University of Pacific chapter of Phi Delta Kappa for Distinguished Service in School Administration. Health Service’s Homeless Liaison Lynda Donelson was honored for the San Joaquin County Children’s Services Coordinating Commission for winning the 2017 Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Award.

Academic and Scholarship Recognitions

Continuing the celebration, the valedictorians of MUSD’s five high schools were next recognized. From East Union, Emma Rice, has been accepted to USC. From Lathrop High, Navneet Garcha has been accepted to UCLA. From Manteca High School, Lejla Pepic has been accepted to Stanford University. From Sierra High, Komalpreet Badial has been accepted to UC Davis, and from Weston Ranch High School, Charlie Zhang has been accepted to UCLA.

Also showing his unique academic achievements, East Union’s Jordan Barajas was honored for receiving the Quest Bridge Full Scholarship to Stanford University.

Next, winners of the Pappas Foundation Scholarship were recognized. Seniors Arshjot Kaur from Manteca High, and seniors Emily Kehl and Brianna Wollaston from Sierra High were recognized. This local scholarship is awarded to students who wish to attend Modesto Junior College.

Also recognized for their scholarships were some gifted musicians from Sierra High. Seniors Zachary Zumstein and Diana Ayala both received University of the Pacific music scholarships. Xachary Wagner was honored for receiving the UOP Brubeck Jazz Institute full music scholarship.

Manteca High senior Gladis Sandoval was next recognized as the recipient of the VOL Dale Lackey Scholarship for her contributions to the girl’s tennis team. Then, Loretta Kakala of the Manteca High Girl’s Basketball Team was recognized for being named a McDonald’s All-American and for her achieving a Full Athletic Scholarship to the University of Louisville, KY.

Athletic Recognitions

For their athletic achievements, East Union High School’s senior Jack Weaver was honored for being named a CIF San Joaquin Scholar Athlete, recipient of the National Federation Award, and being named to the Valley Oak League (VOL) 1stTeam All Area.

Branden Rullan, Sierra High senior, was then recognized for being a CIF State Qualifier in Wrestling.

East Union’s Manuel Pines was then recognized for his being awarded the Sac-Joaquin Section Model Coach award.

From the Lathrop High Boy’s Golf team, junior Christian Guzman was honored for his being named the Stockton Record Athlete of the Week. Also from Lathrop High, freshman Kassandra Ceja was recognized for being named to the Stockton Record All-Area Team for her contributions to Girl’s Soccer.

Next, East Union’s Natalie Cowan and Kendra Cambell, both juniors, were recognized for being named to the VOL All Team and All League for Girl’s Golf.

For his achievements on East Union’s Boy’s and Girl’s Basketball teams, seniors Gysbertus Hulseboch and Ruby Daube were then honored for being named to the VOL 1st Team All League. Also being given this honor from East Union were Boy’s Soccer players Enrique Garcia, Arturo Galvan, Cameron Chapman and Victor Hurtado—all seniors— and Daniel Gomez and Jesus Jurtado who are juniors on the varsity team. For Girl’s Soccer, junior Chelsey Medeiros and senior Ilena Rivera were also honored for achieving this recognition for being named  VOL 1st Team All League.

Likewise, the CIF Div. III Section Champion Girl’s Tennis Team and the CIF Div. IV Section Champion Football Team, both from Manteca High, were also honored. The football team could not be present, but the MHS Girl’s Tennis Team came up in style with matching team shirts and their coaches.



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Ripon Unified teachers also in fight for contracts

If you’ve missed today’s paper, I wrote about contract negotiations between Lodi Unified and the Lodi Education Association, which represents teachers. That can be found here.

Further down south in San Joaquin County, Ripon Unified teachers are also in the fight for fair contracts.

In an email sent by Susan DaBranca, a RUSD official, the district (with eight elementary schools and one high school) participated in fact finding on April 10 and currently are waiting 30 days with hopes it “will provide clarity and a path for all of us to move forward.”

On the district’s negotiations update page, in 2015-16 there was an offer of a 3 percent raise on the salary schedule but no agreement was reached.  An additional 2 percent was offered for 2016-17 for a total of 5 percent over two years (and 13 percent over three years).

DaBranca stressed that Ripon Unified receives much less funding per student than most neighboring districts, and they are already spending out of reserves, on top of facing the CalPERS and CalSTRS increases in contributions.

Negotiations are ongoing.

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Calaveras Unified kindergarten registration

Below is information regarding how to enroll children in kindergarten and transitional kindergarten in Calaveras Unified for the 2017-18 school year:

2017-18 Kindergarten Registration Poster

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31st annual San Joaquin County Science Olympiad Division B/C Results

More than 600 San Joaquin County students participated in the 31st annual San Joaquin County Science Olympiad Competition for Division B (middle school) and Division C (high school) at McNair High School in Stockton over the weekend.

According to the SJCOE, the Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of individual and team events in the format of popular board games, TV shows, and athletic games, with questions ranging in topics such as biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, computers, and technology.

Division B (middle school)

  • First Place: Wicklund Elementary (Black Team), Lammersville Unified
  • Second Place: Elkhorn School (Gold Team), Lodi Unified
  • Third Place:  Elkhorn School (Blue Team), Lodi Unified

Division C (high school)

  • First Place:  Tokay High School (Purple Team), Lodi Unified
  • Second Place: Mountain House High School (Blue Team), Lammersville Unified
  • Third Place:   Franklin High School (Chlorine Team), Stockton Unified

Eight teams will represent San Joaquin County at the NorCal State Finals in Turlock on April 1:

Division B (middle school)

  • Wicklund Elementary (Black Team), Lammersville Unified
  • Elkhorn School (Gold Team), Lodi Unified
  • Lodi Middle (Blue Team), Lodi Unified
  • Questa Elementary (Red Team), Lammersville Unified

Division C (high school)

  • Tokay High (Purple Team), Lodi Unified
  • Mountain House High (Blue Team), Lammersville Unified
  • Franklin High (Chlorine Team), Stockton Unified
  • Lodi High (Red Team), Lodi Unified

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Winners of the 59th annual San Joaquin County Science and Engineering Fair

The San Joaquin County Office of Education announced Friday the winners of the 59th Annual San Joaquin County Science and Engineering Fair at the Community Science Night and Awards Ceremony.

Judges spent two days reviewing 166 individual, group, and whole-class projects submitted by more than 445 K-12 students in the county. In all, 15 schools from five school districts, three private schools, and one charter school participated in the fair.

Awards were determined by volunteer judges’ evaluations. This year, 35 professionals from the community helped judge the projects and conduct interviews to determine the winners.

The SJCOE Office of STEM said it seeks to promote science and engineering exploration and understanding for students. Each year, SJCOE awards thousands of dollars to students and teachers who exhibit and articulate superior levels of understanding in the areas of science and engineering.

Five project winners of the Fair will represent San Joaquin County in the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles on April 24 and 25:

Kindergarten through second grade:

Class winner: Mrs. Hoptry’s Class for “Ice Ice Baby”Bethany Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District

First-Place: Aniston Hunt for “Soaking Through” Dent Elementary School, Escalon Unified School District

Second-Place: Cade Reisenbeck for “YETI vs. RTIC” Dent Elementary School, Escalon Unified School District

Third-Place: Dara and Aviana Reese for “How Pure is Rainwater in My Backyard?”  Montessori Elementary and Middle School of Tracy, a private school

Third through fifth grade:

First-Place: Jordan Prawira for “Turbines, a Wind-Wind Design” Altamont Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District

Second-Place: Julia Sorenson for “What Temperature is Your Lunch?” Wicklund Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District

Third-Place: ­­­­­­Roen Magbanua and Madden Harada for “Jingle Bells, Needles Fell” Altamont Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District

Fourth-Place: Rylan Koops for “Straw Rocket Flight” Dent Elementary School, Escalon Unified School District

Sixth through eighth grade:

First-Place Science: Jacqueline Prawira for “Rice Plasticity:  The Effect of Amylose and Amylopectin in the Formation and Tensile Strength of Rice-based Bioplastic” Altamont Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District

First-Place Engineering: Vishnu Matta and Ayush Sheth for “i-Therapy, Robotics Companion for Physical Therapy” Bethany Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District

Second-Place Science: Alicia and Ashlyn Roice for “Hidden Sugar Strikes Back, Investigating Hidden Sugars (Glucose and Sucrose) In Food, Using Invertase” Altamont Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District


Engineering: Arsh Muhib for “My 4th Step Towards a 360deg. Periscope” Wicklund Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District

Ninth through 12th grade:

First-Place: Nathaniel Chien for “Analyzing Proteins of the BCL-2 Domain” Lincoln High School, Lincoln Unified School District

Second-Place: Meigan Loomis for “Purell vs. The Contenders” Kimball High School, Tracy Unified School District

Environmental Awards 

Environmental Award recipients receive cash prizes donated by the San Joaquin Audubon Society and their teachers receive gift cards donated by Acorn Naturalist.

Paton Pungchai for “The Effect of CO2 on the Temperature” Altamont Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District

Avitha John for “Got Water?  How to convert salt water into useable water” Altamont Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District

Lizzie Su for “Growing with Greywater” Wicklund Elementary School, Lammersville Unified School District

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Torlakson: State law protects transgender students’ rights

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released a statement Wednesday, reiterating his support for the rights of transgender students and reminded all Californians that state law requires public schools to allow students’ access to the restroom or locker room consistent with their gender identity.

The statement came shortly before it was announced by the Trump administration that federal protections on transgender bathrooms in schools would be withdrawn.

“All students deserve a safe and supportive school environment. California will continue to work to provide that environment for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students regardless of any misguided directives by the federal government and the Trump administration,” Torlakson said.

The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice revoked federal guidelines adopted by the Obama administration that protect the rights of transgender students at schools by allowing them to use the bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity.

According to the press release, California became the first state in the nation to enshrine certain rights for transgender K–12 students in state law in 2013, including the right to choose the bathroom or locker room consistent with their gender identity.

Torlakson said action announced by the White House does not roll back protections for California students and educators.

“California students will continue to have their civil rights protected,” he said. “In California we move forward, not backward.”

Governor Brown signed AB 1266 in 2013 and created protections for transgender students.


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More on Mable “Jimi” Choice

Record reporter and colleague Roger Phillips recently wrote about the possibility that during a recent City Hall meeting, it was suggested that when east Stockton’s Fair Oaks Library reopens in two months, it should renamed to honor Mable “Jimi” Choice.

You can read the rest of that story here, but for those who are curious to learn more about Ms. Choice, the first teacher of color at Stagg High School, you can find her profile.

“They hired me sight-unseen,” Choice told me right before her 80th birthday in January, “right on the telephone.”

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SUSD students featured on Notre Dame “First Time Fans” series

It was a trip of a lifetime: Taylor Leadership Academy fourth-graders and their teacher, Allison Silva, finally stepped foot onto the campus of their adopted school, the University of Notre Dame.

I’ve covered Silva and her class a few times as they prepared their trip east to South Bend, and the excitement that these kids had for a university and program that they adopted as their own, was incredible. In addition, the support and love that the Notre Dame community showed, there are no words.

Catch up on their incredible journey here, when they finally touched down, and when they came back to Stockton to share their experience.



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Three Manteca Unified schools named to 2016 list of “America’s Healthiest Schools”

Three Manteca Unified elementary schools will be awarded and recognized in Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s 2016 list of “America’s Healthiest Schools” this weekend in San Diego at the Healthiest Schools Summit.

Brock Elliot, Joseph Widmer and Lathrop elementary are among 328 schools nationwide to be on the list of the country’s healthiest schools.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Kaiser Permanente will honor 37 schools from California, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia named to the 2016 list.

Published by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, these schools are based on a rigorous set of criteria – from availability of nutritious foods to access to quality physical education opportunities, as part of the healthy schools program.

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Holiday shopping event at Barnes & Noble Weberstown

On Saturday, Dec. 3, Barnes & Noble bookstore at the Weberstown Mall in Stockton will celebrate a special day of shopping, savings and personalized service for teachers in pre-K to 12th grade.

Those with a B&N Educator Discount Card can take 25 percent off on books, toys, games, music, movies and 10 percent off café items at the annual Holiday Educator Shopping Event.

The store is also offering 10 percent off select NOOK devices and free gift-wrapping for holiday gifts.

The Educator Shopping event also features all day demonstrations and activities including:

9 a.m. – Appreciation breakfast

10 a.m. – 3 p.m. – “Tech Tools” demonstration

11 a.m. – “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” story-time & activities

11:30 a.m. – Free cheesecake decorating (with the purchase of a slice of cheesecake)

Noon – Teacher spelling contest with holiday words

1 p.m. – “Elf on the Shelf” hide and seek, story-time, and prizes

2 p.m. – “NOOK in Education” presentation

Shoppers can also enter for a chance to win 1 of 3 gift baskets valued at $60, $40 and $30.


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