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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Titan Drama to launch at Aspire Langston Hughes Academy

Aspire Langston Hughes Academy drama department Titan Drama, is gearing up for a reveal of its newest crowd-fundraising compaign, on Thursday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. on campus, 2050 N. West Lane, Stockton.

Titan Drama includes four sections: Titan Drama Club, Titan Productions, Titan Tech Team and Titan Drama Boosters. Titan Drama is poised to reveal its own website and crowd-fundraising campaign.

Website can be found here:

The funds raised are in support of LHA’s first musical production, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” which will take place at the University of the Pacific’s Long Theatre in early Feb. 2017.

The launch party is an informal gathering of supporters including staff, cast members and alumni. Organizers hope that the event becomes an annual tradition and that eventually Titan Drama Boosters can help to support graduating seniors with scholarships among other related opportunities as the department continues to grow.

Aspire Langston Hughes Academy is one of 40 Aspire Public Schools whose commitment is college for certain in underserved populations – college is the expectation not the exception.

For more information, contact Jody Sampley at (209) 662-2008 or email

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lodi and Manteca Spelling Bee winners

Two San Joaquin spelling bees were held this week in the Lodi and Manteca school districts.

On Wednesday in Lodi, Lawrence Elementary sixth-grader Martiza De Jesus took first place. Her winning word was “tranquilizer.”

On Thursday in Manteca, three winners of two divisions were named.

For the fourth- through-fifth grade division, Walter Woodward fifth-grader Nolan Marley, Joshua Cowell fifth-grader Christine Nguyen and Neil Hafley fourth-grader Marlon Montano won.

In the seventh-through-ninth grade division, Brock Elliot eighth-grader Melanie Nguyen, George Komure seventh-grader Trinity Hillyard and Nile Garden eighth-grader Jillian Urbano took the top prize.

The State Spelling Bee Competition will be held in the spring.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eight inductees to Edison High School Hall of Fame

STOCKTON — Eight people are to be inducted into the Edison Hall of Fame this weekend, and a celebration is planned to include a reception dinner Saturday at Edison High School at 100 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Stockton.

The inductees:

• Dennis Buettner, Class of 1981: After Edison, Buettner took a psychology class at San Joaquin Delta College that eventually turned into an Associate of Arts Degree in Social Sciences. He then went to attend the University of the Pacific to study psychology. and during that time, he began working for the Community Re-Entry Program, which is dedicated to helping the mentally ill reintegrate into society. “It changed my view on working with those who have challenges whether with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or other challenges,” he wrote in his bio. “It was incredibly rewarding work.” Buettner continued to work with the Community Re-Entry Program throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies. “Some of the people, including some of the clients that I met then, still keep in touch with me.”

Walt “Butch” Howell, Class of 1968After graduating from Edison, Howell worked for ten years at Berg’s Clothiers, thereafter he started managing a young singing group from Stockton before moving to Los Angeles to continue to work in the music industry as a manager. He returned to Stockton after three years where he became employed with Port of Stockton as a shipping and receiving clerk and affiliated with the Longshoreman Union as Chief Steward. After a massive lay-off Howell went to work with the city of Stockton as an intern. He was challenged and motivated to open his own business in downtown Stockton and become self-employed, opening a business known as Dijon’s House of Legs, featuring a very large selection of women’s hosiery in various colors and designs, jewelry and dance accessories.

• Myke Lewis-Tyson, Class of 1977: As a kid, Lewis-Tyson played football for the Southside Vikings, along with also playing basketball for COS and the boys club and ran track for the St Georges track club. At Hamilton Jr High, he made the honor roll with a 3.2  GPA and ran on an undefeated track team in 1974. At Edison High, Lewis-Tyson played football and ran track, and the Edison track team was consistently in the section meet. He’s a proud member of the Frosh/Soph 4×1 school record team of 1975 running a 42.97 that still stands today. After high school, he went to work for the city of Stockton. Lewis-Tyson was also a volunteer coach for the Edison track team coaching the sprinters and jumpers, and were back-to-back league champs in 1978-79, and their banner hangs proudly in the Taggart gym.

• Claudia Moreno, San Joaquin Delta College trustee president: Claudia Moreno was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She migrated with her parents to the United States in 1978 when she was 12 years old. Upon arrival, the family settled in south Stockton. Moreno attended San Joaquin Middle School, and was scheduled to attend Edison, but then earn a scholarship to St. Mary’s High School. She then went to Delta College, where she helped tutor students for the High School Equivalency Program (GED) and Mini Corp Program in local Stockton Unified schools. In order to finance her schooling, she would work for the Migrant Education Program and in local packing sheds, canneries and retail businesses. In 1987, she was hired permanently as a paraprofessional in SUSD. In 1991 Moreno was hired as Outreach Liaison for the Drug Free School Zone program at Edison High. Her early work at Edison began with helping support the establishment of the first school based health center in San Joaquin County. This marked the start of her work in creating support systems at Edison. Moreno is best known for advocating for at risk students, their parents, the school and the community. In her 25 years of service at Edison, she has spear headed multiple programs beginning with the DFSZ Coalition, Comprehensive Student Support Program, Summer Home Visit Outreach project for incoming 9th graders, the Academy for at risk youth, a Summer Adventure In Learning Program for students who were behind credits, work shadowing internships, supporting a Policing Grant that piloted the first School Resource Officer Program on the school campus and paid for a part-time Probation Officer and Peacekeeper.

• Mahlon Schmidt, educator:  In the fall of 1964, Schmidt transferred from Fremont Junior High to Edison High School as a teacher where his Edison Art Students won many awards including the award winning City Line Bus Competition which Edison won in 1976 and the following year in the Cinco De Mayo Parade. He also was involved as a set designer for Edison High Theater Productions to include “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Teahouse of the August Moon,” and “1984.” In 1965, he started teaching ceramics at the Blind Center which continued for 10 years and also taught night Adult Education classes and Summer School. In 1968, Schmidt joined the Board of San Joaquin Concert Ballet and served as president for 2 years and as a director until 1982. In 1984, he and his wife started a record company, Sanman Records. In 1970, he took over as advisor of the Edison High Yearbook for 17 years.

• Paula Ecker White, Class of 1982: Her career in law commenced two months after graduating from Edison. White worked full time in a small law firm while continuing her education through college and graduate school. White was debt free upon receiving her Juris Doctor in 1985 and by September 1998, she transitioned to working for Mullen & Filippi. In 1994, she and her husband created small church in the eastside of town. “Our ministry is very different than what we grew up with or what seminary prepared us for. My employment allows us the freedom to be very active within the community,” she wrote in her bio. Their church provides a safe place for victims of violent crime to meet and begin the healing process; feed the homeless in Mormon Slough; go to the homicide sites in town and pray. White is also a volunteer at Jim Elliot Christian High School as the school board president.

• Henry Wofford, Class of 1991: Wofford has enjoyed a 20-year career as a sports journalist, and has worked in California, Indiana, Michigan and Nevada. He earned a B.A. in Sociology at UC Davis and a Master’s in Journalism from San Jose State. Before joining Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area in 2010, Wofford covered sports in many prominent roles, including sports anchor/reporter at WTHR (NBC) in Indianapolis (2005-2010), sports director and anchor at WZZM (ABC) in Grand Rapids (2003-2005), and sports anchor/reporter at KOLO (ABC) in Reno (2000-2002). Wofford covered the Golden State Warriors in the 2015 and 2016 NBA Finals, the Detroit Pistons in the 2003 and 2004 Finals, and the Indianapolis Colts, who won Super Bowl XLI in 2007.  He did extensive reporting from 2006-2010 on the Indianapolis 500. In Indiana, Wofford’s reporting assignments included the 2006 NCAA Final Four, 2006 and 2007 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, 2007 and 2009 USA Swimming National Championships, NHRA U.S. Nationals, and NASCAR Brickyard 400.

• Dale Yurong, Class of 1979: For the past 33 years, Yurong has been on the air at KFSN-TV(ABC 30) in Fresno. Yurong anchors the 6:30 p.m. evening newscast and reports on stories ranging from politics to agriculture. To this day, he remains one of the few Filipino-Americans to anchor a nightly newscast. Yurong began his TV news career as a sportscaster so his interviews have varied from athletic icons like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan to entertainers like George Lopez and Damon Wayans. After graduating from Edison, Yurong earned a scholarship through the Community Involvement Program at the University of the Pacific. His broadcasting career began at KUOP-FM (91.3) where he delivered daily news and sports reports and live-mixed R&B records. He graduated from UoP in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

County Office of Education announce mini-grant winners

The San Joaquin County Office of Education announced several teachers and other employees who submitted innovative proposals were selected to be funded by the Making a Difference Through Mini Grants program.

Sponsored by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Better Together Giving Program, the mini grants give SJCOE staff the opportunity to obtain the funding needed to try out a new idea or enhance current projects that ulimately benefit students. A grant-review committee awarded $7,888 to eight successful proposals for the 2016-17 school year.

The winning proposals are:

Classroom Science Lab Setup

This project will supply additional science materials and supplies to SJCOE-run classrooms at the Discovery ChalleNGe Academy, a new program for at-risk youth beginning in January through a partnership with the California National Guard. Students will participate in activities that support crosscutting curriculum in life science, physical science, and introductions to biochemical processes.

College Tour

Approximately 60 high school students from Venture Academy Family of Schools (VAFS) will participate in tours of nearby colleges. Students will have the opportunity to get a feel for the campus culture and environment and learn about the major programs and degrees offered and cost of tuition.

Historic Durham Ferry SLEWS Riparian Habitat Restoration

The mini-grant award will fund the Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship (SLEWS) program field days for students at Historic Durham Ferry (HDF). The goal of the program is to create a mosaic of habitat types that will support a diversity of wildlife at SJCOE’s 290-acre Durham Ferry site and create a variety of learning opportunities. Students will plan and install a hedgerow driveway, pollinator garden, and restore riparian woodland habitat.

HOSA State Leadership Conference

Approximately 25 students from VAFS’ Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) chapter, a professional organization for students interested in pursuing careers in the healthcare industry, will prepare for and compete in this year’s annual HOSA State Leadership Conference. At the conference, students will compete in their selected competitive event, such as medical terminology, medical math, healthy living, CPR/first-aid; network with their peers and other HOSA advisors and sponsors; and meet with legislators at the State Capitol.

If you build it, they will come…

Students at Discovery ChalleNGe Academy will build model airplanes that teachers will use to teach mathematical processes, such as scale, geometry, and aerodynamics. The project will also complement lessons in history as students learn about the industrial revolution, and World War I and II. Students will research the era from which their models were created, paint their models from an artistic perspective, demonstrating their knowledge of the elements of art and principals of design, and present their completed project to peers and the National Guard Cadre.

Mock Trial Beach Ball Classic

VAFS’ Mock Trial team will prepare for the county mock trial competition by attending the Beach Ball Classic invitational where they will scrimmage against some of the best mock trial teams in the state to improve their overall performance and gain specific skills that are best learned through competing with other teams. The invitational is a team-building experience where students learn to trust one another, learn to support each other, and work as a team while also honing their individual skills.


The one.Growing and Reaching Opportunities through Work (GROW) project will prepare 35 at-risk youth and young adults enrolled in County Operated Schools and Programs (COSP) for careers in food or food service. Students will learn about COSP’s School Nutrition Program, receive training in proper hand-washing techniques and how to effectively prepare and sanitize food preparation areas. Upon successful completion of the project, students will receive an industry-standard food handler certificate from ServSafe National Restaurant Association.

Relationships and the Environment

This project will inform students about the relationships of all things in the environment. Students will create conservation action plans that target the California coastline. Students will travel to Asilomar State Park to conduct tide pool and sandy-beach research. Conservation action plans will directly address how to restore or counteract destructive factors in the ecosystem.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment