Manteca Unified launch high-powered rockets with CanSat technology


Nearly 200 students and 30 plus staff from Manteca Unified’s STEM Elective program came together at Snow Ranch in Farmington this past weekend to launch CanSat satellites in high-power rockets.

District officials said the students and their teachers have been working all year to construct their CanSat satellite – small enough to fit into a can of soda.

Inside the CanSat were sensors that collected data on acceleration, barometric pressure, humidity, temperature, GPS and magnetic field.  Now back on solid ground, students will analyze the data collected and will share their scientific results to their schools.

Launch logistics were facilitated by volunteers from LUNAR, the Livermore Unit of the National Rocketry Association and coordinated by, the creators of the CanSat curriculum. founders Ted Tagami and Tony So, sent off a high-altitude weather balloon with CanSat instrumentation from Delta Sierra Middle School a day before in Stockton.

You can read that story HERE.

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Wentinn Liao first San Joaquin County student to win MATHCOUNTS competition

Monte Vista Middle School eighth-grader Wentinn Liao has won several enormously competitive math competitions.

I wrote a story last year on the math wizard, which can be found HERE.

Liao’s latest accomplishment is participating and winning the local San Joaquin County Chapter Competition of MATHCOUNTS, he also took part in the State Competition and won the Northern California region.

The 12-year-old can now claim the honor of being the first student from the county to win such a title.

His father, Sen-Ben Liao, said the Santa Clara Chapter has been dominating the past 30 years. Along with three other students, Wintenn will represent California at the national level in May at a competition in Washington, D.C.

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Lodi Unified poetry contest results; winners to read at upcoming board meeting

The Lodi Unified School District held its sixth annual Superintendent’s Poetry Contest and had 1,400 poems submitted from grades ranging in first- through 12th.

The winners received a certificate, a “surprise prize bag” and the original poem returned to them. The first place winners in each category are invited to read their poems aloud to at the next regularly scheduled district board meeting on May 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Elementary School, 3777 Spanos Blvd, Stockton.

For the ninth- through 12th-grade category, poems were judged by Bob Stanley, a professor of English at California State University, Sacramento. Stanley is also a professional poet, a former Poet Laureate of Sacramento, and the President of the Sacramento Poet Center.

For the sixth- through eighth-grade category:

  • First place: Kaia Rivera from Christa McAuliffe Middle School for “Who I am”
  • Second place: Michael Castro from Lodi Middle School for “Nature of Nurture”
  • Third place: Jenesia A. Rosales at Reese Elementary School for “Chapter 7: Where the Red Fern Grows”

For the ninth- through 12th-grade category:

  • First place: Destiny Simmons from Bear Creek High School for “Clear Mind”
  • Second place: Alyssa Witbeck from Tokay High for “My Trip to Time’s House”
  • Third place: Clarissa Lule from Tokay High for “Sprouts”

For the third- through fifth-grade category, Ava Clark from Erma Reese Elementary and Annabelle Sikich from the first- through third-grade category have been invited to read their poems at upcoming board meeting.

In a statement, Stanley said the judging was a difficult job for me this year, with many well-written poems and featuring a wide range of topics and approaches.

He encourages all up-and-coming writers to keep up the good work.

“Hopefully, writing becomes something you do because you have something you want to say,” he said. “Real writers write, not because a teacher assigns writing, and not because we want to make money, but because we want to communicate to others. I believe these poems, as well as the other pieces that were entered in the contest, have communicated important sentiments and ideas.”

All prizes for the winners were paid directly out of pocket by Lodi Unified superintendent Dr. Cathy Nichols-Washer.

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Pittman Charter chess club compete at State Chess Championship

The Pittman Charter School chess club recently competed at the 2016 CalChess Scholastic State Chess Championship, held at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Over 900 competitors from throughout California were in attendance and each played five rounds.

The Pittman Charter team was the only team from Stockton at the event. Miguel Alegria, Marco Cervantes, Jacob Keopadubsy, Antonio Kovach, Matteo Kovach, Alexander Morales, Mario Ortiz, Valentin Padron, Gracie Quismondo and Nickolas Rodriguez secured 4th-place team trophies in both the unrated rookie K-6th grade team and the K-8th grade team.

“They played well, and had a good team spirit,” chess club coach and advisor Savan Prak wrote in an email. “It’s all about building character and empowering them to be the best person they can be through chess.  I’m proud of them and what they have accomplished in a short period of time.”

Pittman Charter School is overseen by the Stockton Unified School District.

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Bear Creek seniors honored in speech contest

Two Bear Creek High School seniors received honorable mentions in the Rotary District 5220 final speech contest on March 19 in Turlock.

Victoria Castro-Chavez and Sarah Seybold were recognized as the speech contest featured ten of the top speakers from throughout the Central Valley.

Castro-Chavez, captain of the Bear Creek High speech and debate team, took honors in Parliamentary Debate and Thematic Interpretation.

Seybold is active in speech and debate contests as well as a member of the Bruins’ girls’ soccer team.

Some 45 local Rotary clubs held a speech contest at their clubs with high school students in the area. District 5220 has clubs in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties among others.

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Torlakson announces online survey to improve LCAP

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has announced a new online survey to improve local educational agencies’ three-year plans to improve student achievement.

Known as Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs), they are used as tools for establishing goals to improve student outcomes and as well as spending decisions.

The rest of the statement and link to survey is posted here:

The survey will let anyone who is interested – students, parents, educators, community members and others – help make the plans easier to use, understand, and review.

The survey will be open until 5 p.m. March 25, Torlakson announced at the State Board of Education’s (SBE) March meeting. The SBE will be considering input from stakeholders about how to improve the LCAP template this fall.

 “The LCAPs should allow everyone to find out how well their local school district is doing,” Torlakson said. “The system is new and still evolving. Please use the survey and we can work together to make the system better.”

The Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown three years ago created a new school funding system called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which shifts decision making to local educational agencies and provides greater resources for programs and services for students with the greatest needs. The previous finance system was nearly 40 years old.

The new legislation also laid out the framework for LCAPs. State law requires school districts to involve teachers, parents, and community members in developing their LCAPs.


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Results from 30th Annual Science Olympiad

More than 600 San Joaquin County students participated in the 30th Annual San Joaquin County Science Olympiad Competition for Division B (middle school) and Division C (high school) at McNair High School on March 5.

In all, 26 Division B teams and 24 Division C teams from throughout the county participated in this one-day competition. Students received medals and the top-scoring teams were awarded trophies during a ceremony following the competition.

The Science Olympiad, according to the SJCOE, are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of individual and team events for which students prepare during the year. The competitions follow the format of popular board games, TV shows, and athletic games.

The top five teams per division are as followed:

Division B (middle school)

  • 1st-place: Wicklund Elementary (Black Team), Lammersville Unified
  • 2nd-place: Elkhorn Elementary (Gold Team), Lodi Unified
  • 3rd-place: Wicklund Elementary (Gold Team), Lammersville Unified
  • 4th-place: Questa Elementary (Red Team), Lammersville Unified
  • 5th-place: Lodi Middle School (Blue Team), Lodi Unified

Division C (high school)

  • 1st-place: Tokay High (Purple Team), Lodi Unified
  • 2nd-place: Franklin High (Chlorine Team), Stockton Unified
  • 3rd-place: Lincoln High (Red Team), Lincoln Unified
  • 4th-place: Lodi High (Red Team), Lodi Unified
  • 5th-place: Tokay High (Gold Team), Lodi Unified

Eight teams will represent San Joaquin County at the NorCal state competition in Turlock on April 16.

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Results from 58th Annual Science and Engineering Fair

Winners were announced on Thursday at the San Joaquin County Office of Education of the 58th annual Science and Engineering Fair.

Judges had spent the last two days reviewing 300 individual, group and whole-class projects, submitted by more than 600 K-12 students in the county. Overall, 26 schools from eight school districts, three private schools and three charter schools participated.

Several winners of the fair will proudly represent San Joaquin County in the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles in May. The winners are listed below:

Kindergarten through second grade:

  • Class winner: Mrs. Hoptry’s class for “Pop Goes the Kernel” (Bethany Elementary; Lammersville Unified)
  • 1st place (tie): Cade Riesenbeck for “Hot Marshmallows” (Dent Elementary; Escalon Unified)
  • 1st place (tie): Theodore Harp for “There is More Than One Way to Crack a Nut” (Dent Elementary; Escalon Unified)
  • 2nd place: Wyatt Riesenbeck for “Operation Parachute” (Dent Elementary; Escalon Unified)
  • 3rd place: Elijah Gori for “Let’s Race” (Lammersville Elementary; Lammersville Unified)
Third through fifth grade:
  • 1st place Science: Jordan Prawira for “Egg-cellent Parachute” (Altamont Elementary; Lammersville Unified)
  • 1st place Engineering: Genevieve Casazza for “Preventing a Water Pipe from Freezing Without Electricity” (Dent Elementary; Escalon Unified)
  • 2nd place: Mathilde Beckman-Forman for “Superhydrophobia Coating” (Wicklund Elementary; Lammersville Unified)
  • 3rd place: Jake Bowen for “The Effects of Video Games on Children’s Eyesight” (Bella Vista Christian Academy)
Sixth through eighth grade:
  • 1st place Science: Jacqueline Prawira for “Coffee-Doh Battery” (Altamont Elementary; Lammersville Unified)
  • 1st place Engineering: Anna Matthews for “Going Green-Water Detector” (Elkhorn School; Lodi Unified)
  • 2nd place: Alicia and Ashlyn Roice for “Cure the Burning Heart” (Altamont Elementary; Lammersville Unified)
  • 3rd place: Ashley Teele for “Save the Avocado!” (Bethany Elementary; Lammersville Unified)
Ninth through 12th grade:
  • 1st place: Baani Minhas for “The Effect of Honey on Shelf Life and Vitamin C Content of Fruits” (Mountain House High School; Lammersville Unified)
Environmental Awards
Environmental Award winners receive cash prizes donated by the San Joaquin County Audubon Society and the Synopsys Outreach Foundation.
  • Sanskriti Singh for “Does the Ocean Ever Freeze?” (Altamont Elementary; Lammersville Unified)
  • Miles McCarthy for “Filtration Station” (Tom Hawkins Elementary; Jefferson Elementary School District)
  • Bernice Lozasa for “Recycling Gray Water” (Questa Elementary; Lammersville Unified)

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Three SUSD students awarded $1,500 scholarships

From left: Anisah Zarif, Destynee McCullum and Kira Maszewki. COURTESY STOCKTON UNIFIED

Three Stockton Unified students were each awarded $1,500 scholarships from Wells Fargo bank and the Black Stuntmen Association on Tuesday at the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel in Stockton.

Anisah Zarif (Edison High School), Destynee McCullum (Stagg High) and Kira Maszewki (Cesar Chavez High) were handed the checks. The scholarship is also made possible by district Vice President Gloria Allen.

Tuesday’s ceremony also honored Mr. Willie Harris, President of the Black Stuntmen’s Association, an organization founded in 1967, was created to protect, preserve and honor the memory of African-American stuntmen and minority pioneers of the Motion Picture and Television Industry.

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Lodi Unified to hold board meeting in Stockton

The Lodi Unified School District board will hold the first of three meetings scheduled to take place in Stockton at Julia Morgan Elementary School tonight at 7 p.m.

Board President Ron Freitas said this is the first time since he’s been on the board in three years that such a meeting in Stockton will have taken place. While the agenda is normal business, Freitas said being available to more parents and students who attend Bear Creek and McNair, have the chance to meet their board without having to trek up to the district offices on 1305 E. Vine St. in Lodi.

Tuesday’s meeting at Julia Morgan Elementary, 3777 A G Spanos Blvd. in Stockton, will be more of a town hall feel.

“It’ll be more of a grass roots, town hall kind of feel to it,” Freitas said. “There’ll be no microphone, no projector and no PowerPoints.”

Lodi Unified will meet two more times at Julia Morgan Elementary later this year at 7 p.m. on May 3 and August 16.

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