Hundreds of IUSD Students Participated in 35th Annual Bren Honors Concert

Hundreds of IUSD’s outstanding musicians took center stage during the 35th annual Donald Bren Honors Concert at Segerstrom Concert Hall, located at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Approximately 625 top IUSD vocalists and instrumentalists in grades five through 12 participated in the musical showcase. This annual event is presented by the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, in partnership with IUSD.

“The Bren Honors Concert has become an important IUSD tradition and has given our exceptionally talented students the opportunity to showcase their music and vocals in a world-class venue,” said Brad Van Patten, IUSD’s coordinator of Visual and Performing Arts. “This year, the concert concluded with a special finale featuring 340 student vocalist in the high school honor orchestra having the honor to perform Peter Boyer’s “On Music’s Wings” with the composer also conducting. Students ended the night by receiving a standing ovation.”

The concert is named in recognition of the generosity of philanthropist Donald Bren. Under his leadership, the Donald Bren Foundation and the Irvine Company have provided more than $200 million to support education, including more than $45 million to preserve art, music and science programs in IUSD.
In addition to serving as an incredible performance opportunity for students, the Donald Bren Honors Concert also generates funds to support music education.  “The Donald Bren Honors Concert represents an outstanding effort by donors, parents, music instructors, students and members of the community to provide, preserve and expand outstanding music programs for kids in our schools,” said IPSF President and CEO Neda Eaton.

36th Annual IUSD Science Fair Feb. 28

IUSD’s 36th annual District Science Fair Open House is Tuesday, Feb. 28 at the Portola High School gymnasium (1001 Cadence, Irvine) from 5-6 p.m.  The award ceremony will immediately follow in the Portola High School Theater.

IUSD’s Science Fair gives students, in grades 6-12, an opportunity to showcase their innovative science projects.  Participating students will present a biological, physical, or Rube Goldberg project.

This year’s submissions include an impressive array of projects, including “Fungi Busters,”  “Maximizing Efficiency of a Wireless Energy Power System,” “Human Computer Interaction: Translating English into Code,” and “Bubble Gum Science.”  For a copy of this year’s event program, click here.

Family, friends, community members, IUSD teachers and staff are welcome to attend the open house and award ceremony.

This annual event is graciously sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation, though a STEM grant to Irvine Public Schools Foundation.

IUSD Middle School Students and Families Invited to Annual Mathletics Night at UCI

IUSD middle school students and their families are invited to IUSD’s annual Mathletics Night on Saturday, February 18 at 7 p.m. at the Bren uci-mathletics-image-2017Events Center on the UCI campus.  During this free event, which is a joint partnership between IUSD, UCI and the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, students and their families will catch a free game between UCI and UC Riverside men’s basketball teams.

However, as the name implies, there’s a twist – during the first half, students will be challenged to track game statistics and calculate percentages.  Scores will be calculated and winners announced during the halftime break.

Each IUSD middle school student — and teacher — is eligible for up to four free tickets to the game.  Additional tickets may also be purchased. Those interested should RSVP no later than Monday, February 13, by visiting

Tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Participants are encouraged to arrive early to the arena with their entire party.  For more information, click to enlarge the flier.

IPSF Annual Giving Campaign 2016

Dear IUSD Community,

This year marks the Irvine Public Schools Foundation’s (IPSF) 20th anniversary.  For two decades, IPSF has been committed to enriching the educational experience of each child in every school by providing programs, raising funds and uniting the community in support of educational excellence.

The collaborative efforts of IPSF, in addition to our students, parents, staff and community partners such as the City of Irvine, are critical to IUSD’s mission to provide our students with the highest quality educational experience we can envision.  This partnership contributes to IUSD consistently being ranked among the top school districts in the nation, despite being one of the lowest funded.

To help continue our tradition of excellence, IPSF is once again kicking off its annual fundraising campaign.  Funds raised make a difference where it matters most – in the classroom.  At the elementary level, proceeds from this campaign pay for additional qualified instructional assistants who work directly with your children, improving our student to educator ratios.  In our middle and high schools, class‐size support funds equate to additional offerings and smaller classes in critical subject areas.  In addition, IPSF enhances music education for students in kindergarten through grade six, as well as grants that enable our teachers and counselors to pursue new technologies and innovative learning strategies.

Your contributions to support our schools will go even further with the City of Irvine’s Challenge Match Grant.  The City will match every donation made to IPSF, up to $1.3 million dollars.  In addition, if your company has a match program, your dollars will go even further to support IUSD students and schools.

This year is particularly special.  In honor of IPSF’s 20th anniversary, the City will temporarily double the Challenge Match Grant for community donations received by November 20.

That means for every $50 donated, $150 will go toward Irvine schools.  We need your support to maximize this opportunity.  Imagine what our district could do if each of our more than 20,000 families participated.  To make a tax-deductible donation now,  click here.  Every donation is appreciated, no matter how big or small.

Thank you for your continued investments, engagement, partnership and support of IUSD.


Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools,
Irvine Unified School District

IPSF campaign looks to raise $1.3 million for Irvine schools by New Year’s Eve

Have you heard about the Irvine Public Schools Foundation’s Annual Campaign to raise money for IUSD schools? Well, it’s netted about 90 percent of its goal with just two weeks to go, foundation officials announced today.

This year’s drive was launched back in October, and the target amount is about $1.3 million. That figure reflects how much the City of Irvine will match through its own challenge grant.

Logo.Full.Lg.Color.CenterThink of it this way: For every dollar donated to the IPSF campaign, the city will kick in an additional dollar until it has spent $1.3 million. By Wednesday, the foundation said it had raised approximately $1.17 million of that total.

That’s a lot of money, but it still leaves funding on the table, and the clock is ticking. The deadline to leverage the entire city match is Dec. 31

“We are deeply grateful for the community support of our Annual Campaign thus far,” IPSF President and CEO Neda Eaton said. “However, with 32,000 students currently enrolled in IUSD schools, we need additional funding to maintain the world-class education our community expects and our students deserve.”

The Annual Campaign represents IPSF’s primary call to action each year, reaching out to parents, community members and corporate donors. Proceeds continue to pay for instructional assistants and additional staffing hours across the district, reducing student-to-educator ratios.

IPSF is in fact the only organization that can raise funds to add teachers and instructional assistants in Irvine’s classrooms. Meanwhile, the foundation also fuels elementary music programs, science, technology and after-school classroom enrichment.

“Many Irvine residents moved to our community due to the high quality of our local schools,” Eaton said. “With the help of our community, we can reach our goal by Dec. 31 and help maintain the excellence of our schools.”

For more information, or to make a donation, click here.

IPSF teams up with local businesses as part of the global #GivingTuesday movement

We wouldn’t normally urge you to head out into the rain on a school night, but hear us out on this one.

Logo.Full.Lg.Color.CenterAs part of #GivingTuesday, a global movement that encourages charitable giving, local businesses are donating a percentage of their sales to the Irvine Public Schools Foundation on Tuesday, Dec. 2. That means you can pick up some food or gifts for the family today while generously contributing to IPSF’s annual campaign, which pays for instructional assistants at the elementary level and additional staffing at Irvine’s middle and high schools.

Participating businesses include Bearfruit at the Irvine Spectrum, Bruxie, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chloe & Isabel, Chronic Tacos, The Counter, Excel360 Learning Academy, Flippin’ Pizza, Kendra Scott, KOBA Tofu Grill near UCI, Pho Saigon Pearl, Rita’s Italian Ice, Smashburger and Spade Skin Care.

Remember that all donations to IPSF will be matched by the City of Irvine through its special challenge grant, which essentially doubles each gift. So go forth and shop on behalf of local schools. Just be sure to bring an umbrella.

Superintendent sends email to parents endorsing IPSF’s latest fundraising campaign

In a notice sent to IUSD families this week, Superintendent Terry Walker endorsed the Irvine Public Schools Foundation’s latest campaign to raise money for local schools, noting that every dollar donated will be matched by the City of Irvine.

TerryWalker“These funds make a difference where it matters most – in the classroom,” Walker wrote in the Oct. 6 email. “At the elementary level, proceeds from this campaign pay for the qualified instructional assistants who work directly with your children, increasing the amount of one‐on‐one interaction. In our middle and high schools, class‐size support funds equate to additional staffing hours that reduce student‐to‐teacher ratios in critical subjects.”

“Though any amount is appreciated,” he added, “IPSF and IUSD are asking you to consider a tax-deductible contribution of $100 or more by the end of the calendar year. This revenue will make an immediate impact in our classrooms, and just imagine what our district could do if each of our 20,000 families participated.”

Here’s the full text of the superintendent’s email:

Dear IUSD community member:

Since 1996, the Irvine Public Schools Foundation has been an invaluable partner to our district, leveraging this community’s generosity and passion for education while facilitating a number of innovative programs.

Well, IPSF is once again leading the charge to ensure excellence in our classrooms with a new fundraising campaign, and the City of Irvine has offered to match every donation. That means if you donate a dollar to IPSF, the City will kick in an additional dollar, potentially generating nearly $2 million.

These funds make a difference where it matters most – in the classroom. At the elementary level, proceeds from this campaign pay for the qualified instructional assistants who work directly with your children, increasing the amount of one‐on‐one interaction. In our middle and high schools, class‐size support funds equate to additional staffing hours that reduce student‐to‐teacher ratios in critical subjects. In addition, IPSF supports music education for students in kindergarten through grade six, as well as grants that enable our teachers and counselors to pursue new technologies and 21st-century learning strategies.

Though any amount is appreciated, IPSF and IUSD are asking you to consider a tax-deductible contribution of $100 or more by the end of the calendar year. This revenue will make an immediate impact in our classrooms, and just imagine what our district could do if each of our 20,000 families participated.

Keep in mind that IPSF is the only organization with the reach and resources to impact every school – and every child – in our district. If you’ve ever considered making a contribution to preserve excellence in the classroom, or even to help maintain the property values that are linked to our schools’ performance, now is the time.

To make a donation, or to learn more about the partnership between IUSD, IPSF and the City of Irvine, please visit the foundation’s website by clicking here.

As always, thank you for supporting education in Irvine.


Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools

IPSF’s Spirit of Excellence Gala honors alumni, raises money for IUSD

The Irvine Public Schools Foundation held its 5th annual Spirit of Excellence Gala at the headquarters of Kia Motors America over the weekend. If you weren’t able to attend this year’s glitzy fundraiser, here’s what you missed, courtesy of the foundation’s online publication, Insights.

On Saturday, September 27, IPSF proudly hosted the 5th Annual Spirit of Excellence Gala at Kia Motors America.  The sold-out event, co-chaired by IPSF board member Grace Lin and sports broadcaster Jim Rome, began with red carpet arrivals, silent auction and cocktail reception.  Guests were ushered into the ballroom by members of the Irvine High school marching band as well as cheerleaders and football players from all four IUSD high schools in a spirited “pep rally” style opening.

IPSF GalaSinger/songwriter Nilu, a graduate of Woodbridge High School, performed at the event and was presented with a Rising Star Award by IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker.  Jim Rome brought his talk show format to the stage, interviewing NFL great Warren Moon about his football career.  Following the presentation of a posthumous Spirit of Excellence in Leadership Award to Dr. Kevin Armstrong, IPSF President and CEO Neda Eaton announced that IPSF would begin funding the Dr. Kevin Armstrong Memorial Scholarship for a qualified IUSD high school student. David Meltzer, co-founder of Sports 1 Marketing with Moon, announced the company would match funds from IPSF to fund the scholarship.

Rome also spoke onstage with ABCNews correspondent Aditi Roy, a graduate of University High School. Roy received the Spirit of the Excellence in the Arts award and reminisced about her time in IUSD schools and the impact it had on her career.

The evening featured a series of videos produced by Orange County Films and a live auction featuring six amazing experiences, including  a wine tasting trip to Bordeaux, France donated by Total Wine & More, a getaway at The Resort at Pelican Hill and an Angels Baseball Experience from Angels Baseball Foundation.

Great Park Neighborhoods was the presenting sponsor of the event and has already committed to sponsoring the next two Spirit of Excellence Galas.   Additional  sponsors included  Wells Fargo,  Waste Management of Orange CountyCox Communications,Rutan & Tucker, Citibank, Dr. Lin Reproductive Fertility Center and Jim & Janet Rome.  “We are extremely grateful to all the sponsors and gala guests,” said IPSF CEO and President Neda Eaton.  “The generous support of IPSF’s mission will provide more teachers and instructional assistants in each IUSD school.” While the final results are still being tallied, net proceeds for the event are over $435,000.


[Update, 9 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2]  The Orange County Register has a breakdown of this year’s Spirit of Excellence honorees here.

Uni teacher takes STEM to new heights with ambitious satellite experiments

Tinh Tran was looking to integrate more hands-on science, math and technology activities into his classroom lessons, with the ultimate goal of sparking an interest in STEM career paths.

ArdusatSo when the University High science teacher heard about an ambitious program that would enable high schoolers to conduct space experiments, using data from real satellites, he was interested to say the least.

“Mind-blowing” is how Tran describes the technology offered by an education company called Ardusat, which has launched softball-sized satellites called CubeSats into low orbit. (One is pictured to the right.) Each is equipped with sensors that will allow Earthbound students to track temperatures, magnetic fields, UV levels and luminosity using classroom kits with microcontrollers.

Thanks to grant funding secured through the Irvine Public Schools Foundation’s Innovative Teaching Awards Program, the ninth-graders enrolled in Tran’s Earth science systems course will be among the first to pilot the new Ardusat system. And that’s drawn interest from the U.S. News & World Report, which recently interviewed the Uni educator for this story about CubeSats and the future of STEM instruction.

It’s an interesting read even without the IUSD connection. Meanwhile, Tran told us that the mini-satellites will have broad applications at Uni, allowing his students to analyze weather patterns, measure solar flares, monitor the greenhouse effect and much, much more.

“There’s a really steep learning curve for anyone jumping into this,” he said. “One of my goals this year is to integrate STEM (project-based learning) activities into my classroom to encourage more kids to think about STEM fields as a career path. This fits the bill nicely.”

As for his inclusion in the U.S. News article, he said he was happy to weigh in on a subject that’s becoming more critical by the day.

“Whenever there is a chance to promote STEM awareness, I’m in.”

Irvine named among ‘Best Communities for Music Education’ by NAMM Foundation

For the second year in a row, IUSD has been named one of the nation’s Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation.

The official announcement came Friday, as 376 school districts learned they had received the highly regarded designation for their efforts to provide exceptional music opportunities for students. You can read the news release here.

Now in its 15th year, the Best Communities program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards and overall access to music instruction. Irvine also received the honor in 2010 and 2013.

“This recognition is further evidence of our district’s commitment to the arts, which has endured despite inadequate funding at the state level,” Sharon Wallin, president of IUSD’s Board of Education, said Friday.

“Our staff, our families and this board have consistently demonstrated support for music education, recognizing its impact on academic achievement, and we are incredibly grateful for the added resources provided by the Irvine Company and the Irvine Public Schools Foundation,” Wallin said. “As a result of the collaboration that occurs in Irvine, music education is alive and well in our community, benefiting thousands of students.”

The basis for the Best Communities awards is the annual NAMM Foundation survey, and this year more than 2,000 schools and districts participated. Each was asked specifically about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and opportunities to make music in the community.

Responses were later verified with school officials and reviewed by The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

The Best Communities program is among the advocacy efforts of the NAMM Foundation, which cites a raft of studies linking music education with higher student achievement.

“These schools and districts make a strong commitment to music education in the core curriculum supporting its essential value to a well-rounded education for every child,” said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM Foundation executive director. “Strong, engaging programs that offer students access to music cannot thrive in a vacuum. The Best Communities designation and the SupportMusic Merit Award bring hard-won visibility to music classes, programs and departments that are keeping music education alive in our schools.”