Eastshore Elementary students make a splash following PTA’s record-setting fundraisier

This probably wasn’t mentioned in the job description for principal at Eastshore Elementary School.

But there sat Lisa Kadam, perched on a plank over a small tub of water as yellow softballs were lobbed to her left.

And then it happened.


Actually, Principal Kadam couldn’t have been more pleased to be submerged in a dunk tank on the playground Friday. It was a warm day after all, and, more important, it meant Eastshore’s students and their families had successfully met their goal in a recent PTA Jog-a-thon fundraiser. The school set a record by netting more than $33,000 to help the PTA pay for things like assemblies, health clerks and computers.

Kadam said there were a number of lesser goals leading up to the $30,000 mark. But the kids raised that and more after she and a handful of teachers pledged to climb in the tank. They also promised a BMX bike show, which is coming.

On Friday, students who won awards for showing the most school spirit were the ones who got to do the dunking by hurling softballs at a metal trigger. The others cheered them on, squealing with every splash.

Beforehand, the towel-toting Kadam didn’t seem too nervous about getting wet. Maybe that’s because she had to kiss a pig after last year’s successful Jog-a-thon.

“This is easy,” she said. “It’s better than getting slimed or becoming a sundae.”

Meanwhile, at least one sixth-grade teacher went on offense when it was his turn in the tank. The renowned Bill Brooks casually blasted one would-be water assassin with his own squirt cannon. But then, later on, this happened. (Click below to enlarge.)

Santiago Hills principal becomes a human sundae following successful PTA fundraiser

They all screamed for ice cream.

And chocolate. And whipped cream. And caramel.

Days after Santiago Hills Elementary School shattered its PTA Jog-a-thon fundraising goal, Principal Corey Pace showed he was a man of his word — albeit a sticky one — as he allowed himself to be turned into a human ice cream sundae courtesy of some very excited students, who gladly poured on the aforementioned ingredients.

They also added some sprinkles and cherries just for good measure, as the Orange County Register reports. But Pace said it was all worth it to hear his students’ reaction.

“The squeals of the kids and how excited they were was my favorite part,” he said.

And the toughest part?

“Getting the whipped cream smell out of my nose,” he said. “It took two showers to figure all that out.”

Principals throughout IUSD have been offering to do some pretty embarrassing things as motivation for their campuses to meet PTA fundraising goals. You may recall that Oak Creek’s Carlo Grasso was recently the victim of a good ol’ fashioned sliming.

Pace pledged to become a sundae if his kids could raise at least $15,000 in this year’s Jog-a-thon. The school easily topped that with close to $25,000, prompting Monday’s celebration. (And special thanks to sixth-grade teacher Gregg Colbert for sharing the above photo.)

“I’m more than happy to embarrass myself if that’s what it takes to keep kids motivated,” the principal said afterward.

Share your photos from Walk to School Day this Thursday, Oct. 27

Thousands of Irvine families will put their best feet forward on Thursday morning, marking IUSD’s fifth annual Walk to School Day.

This year’s event is brought to you by the Irvine Unified Council PTA, along with the Irvine Public Schools Foundation and the City of Irvine. As the name succinctly implies, the idea is to promote walking or bicycling to school as a way to improve health, reduce traffic and highlight safe routes for kids. (And we don’t have to tell you that it’s pretty fun to walk with friends, particularly in neighborhoods that are well suited to pedestrian traffic.)

In years past, we’ve generally ventured out to snap a few photos on Walk to School Day, but we were thinking we’d kind of like to delegate the work this year.

So here’s the deal: If you are so inclined, send us a picture of your Walk to School Day experience, along with a description of no more than a sentence or two, to ihanigan@iusd.org. We’ll pick a few to post here on the IUSD NewsFlash. Oh, and let us know a little about yourself — like your name, your school and whether you’re a parent, staff member or student. (If you’re a student, tell us your grade level as well.)

Thanks for doing our work!

IPSF, PTAs and other organizations take different paths toward a common cause

Ever considered making a contribution to IUSD, but you’re not exactly sure who pays for what?

There are, after all, a number of organizations that exist to support Irvine schools, including the Irvine Public Schools Foundation and our local PTAs. To clarify the roles of each, Superintendent Terry Walker emailed a letter to families last week. Here’s the full text:

Dear IUSD parent:

Surveys consistently indicate that our schools are among the top reasons families move to Irvine. That means there’s a good chance you’re here because you want the best educational opportunities for your child.

As we start another year, the Irvine Unified School District remains committed to sustaining those opportunities. Yet we know from experience that California cannot be relied upon to fully fund the level of quality and enrichment that our families expect. As a result, a number of local organizations have emerged over the years to help.

Admittedly, having so many supportive organizations may be a bit confusing for parents who would like to contribute but aren’t sure how. So allow me to take a moment to clarify the roles of a few groups that contribute to our success.

Irvine Public Schools Foundation. IPSF is the only organization with the reach and resources to impact every student at every school in our district, and it relies heavily on the support of parents and corporate donors. IPSF backs districtwide initiatives, providing funding for instructional assistant hours in larger classes, along with music, nurses, health clerks and grants for teachers, counselors, science and technology. The foundation also facilitates a number of vital programs including Afterschool Classroom Enrichment (ACE), the K-8 Summer Enrichment Academy (SEA), the popular Instrument Rental Program and the Donald Bren Honors Concert.

(How to support IPSF: You can make a tax-deductible donation to IPSF at any time by visiting www.ipsf.net. Or join the 365 Partners Program to donate the equivalent of one dollar per day for your child’s education.)

Your school’s PTA. School PTA units play a critical role throughout our district, coordinating essential volunteer efforts while raising money for supplies, equipment and site-based programs, including P.E. and assemblies. PTA funds cannot be used to hire additional teachers or to reduce class sizes, but they can be used for supplemental instructional assistant hours and health clerk hours. Every IUSD school has a PTA, and there are more than 13,000 PTA members throughout Irvine. Moreover, each site PTA is a member of the Irvine Unified Council PTA, which provides training and support through monthly meetings while coordinating district-wide advocacy efforts.

(How to support the PTA: Contribute your time and talents as a PTA member, or consider making a donation.)

Classroom collections, fundraisers and booster programs. Our schools may also seek voluntary donations to pay for classroom supplies, activities and special programs such as music, art, science and athletics at the high school level. Some schools have booster clubs, which are independent and voluntary membership organizations established to support a particular club, team or program. All contributions are optional, meaning no student will be excluded from an educational opportunity if his or her family opts not to pay. But donations are always welcome, and in fact they’ve become critically important in the wake of California’s budget crisis.

(How to support your child’s school: Look for information about volunteer and donation opportunities from teachers and the organizers of your child’s favorite activities.)

Just as the word “us” is right in the middle of “IUSD,” collaboration is at the heart of this district, which was established by forward-thinking educators who settled for nothing short of world-class schools and choices for parents. Nearly 40 years later, we are incredibly fortunate to offer some of the finest academic and enrichment programs in the nation, thanks in large part to our community partnerships and generous families like yours.

Again, all monetary donations are optional, and no child will be denied an educational opportunity, regardless of whether a contribution is made. But we hope you will help carry on this district’s collaborative spirit by spreading the word about IPSF, our PTAs and the many partners that contribute greatly to the success of each student.

As always, thank you for supporting education in Irvine.


Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools

IPSF and PTA team up to recognize this year’s outstanding volunteers and leaders

A Woodbury Elementary School mom has been named IUSD’s top parent volunteer by the Irvine Public Schools Foundation.

Bonnie Barlow

Bonnie Barlow, who is credited with building student confidence and changing lives through dance courses at Woodbury, was surprised with the honor on June 2 at the annual IUSD Volunteer of the Year Awards luncheon, sponsored by IPSF and the Irvine Unified Council PTA.

More than 40 volunteers were recognized at the ceremony, which was held at the South Coast Chinese Cultural Center in Irvine. In addition to Barlow, who earned her school a $700 grant courtesy of IPSF, grade-level awards were presented to Renee Cinar of the Early Childhood Learning Center, Jacqueline and Lawrence Guzzetta of Sierra Vista Middle School and Becky MacIntosh of Irvine High School. Their schools will each receive $400 grants.

Meanwhile, the Irvine PTA also presented its Honorary Service Awards in recognition of outstanding service to children and youth. This year’s Special Person Award was presented to Diane Aviles, while the Honorary Service Award went to Kerri Fung and Irvine Teachers Association President Rick Seibert, and the Continuing Service Award was won by Carol Boland.

PTA’s highest honor, the Golden Oak Award, was presented to Superintendent Gwen Gross, who will retire at the end of the month.

Thousands of Irvine students take important steps for health and the environment

More than 11,000 students in the Irvine Unified School District walked or pedaled to school on Thursday, Oct. 28, in support of the fourth annual Walk to School Day, according to estimates from the Irvine Public Schools Foundation.

In all, 26 IUSD schools formally participated in this year’s event. Sponsored locally by the Irvine Unified PTA Council, the City of Irvine and IPSF, Walk to School Day annual promotes walking and biking to school as a way to improve health, reduce traffic and highlight safe routes to school.

While a districtwide kickoff ceremony at Northwood Community Park was attended by school board President Sharon Wallin and Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang, many schools staged their own activities to inspire students. (Pictured above is Bonita Canyon Elementary and its principal, Bob Curley.)

Meadow Park Elementary, for example, held a contest that encouraged students to walk every day for the entire week.

Meanwhile, at Turtle Rock Elementary, more than 750 students – or about 90 percent of the student population – participated in this year’s Walk To School Day. Mr. Hofseth, a sixth-grade teacher, reportedly said he’d never seen the parking lot so free of traffic. 

“The air was so amazingly clear and fresh in front of the school,” he said.

The participation rate was close to 88 percent over at South Lake Middle School, and once again Assistant Principal Rick Blazer led by example. In fact, the Blazer family – including his wife, Jean Blazer, who is a sixth-grade teacher at Greentree Elementary, and their son, Myles, a Greentree student – traveled by train from their San Clemente home to Tustin and bicycled the rest of the way.

Irvine campuses gearing up for fourth annual Walk to School Day on Thursday, Oct. 28

Thousands of IUSD schoolchildren and their families are expected to abandon the family car in favor of comfortable shoes on Thursday, Oct. 28, in conjunction with International Walk to School Day.

This is the fourth year in a row that Irvine is participating in the campaign, which, as the name implies, promotes walking and bicycling to school as a means to improve health, reduce traffic and highlight safe routes to school for kids. We’ve also noticed that it gives families a little extra time to spend together, and Irvine’s pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods are pretty much tailor-made for the event.

This year’s Walk to School Day represents a collaborative effort between IUSD, the Irvine Unified Council PTA, the Irvine Public Schools Foundation and the City of Irvine, and it’s partially funded through the “Safe Routes to School” grant.

While many schools will celebrate with their own activities, a districtwide kick-off ceremony will start at 7 a.m. at Northwood Community Park, which is located at the intersection of Bryan and Yale avenues. There, students from Brywood, Northwood and Santiago Hills elementary schools and Sierra Vista Middle School will assemble before marching off to school with parents and local dignitaries. In case anyone needs a little extra pep, Northwood High School’s cheerleaders and band members will also be on hand to perform.

The Irvine Police Department will once again provide additional support to accommodate walkers throughout the city. Motorists are also urged to exercise a little extra vigilance that morning, as organizers predict as many as 10,000 students may take part.

IUSD students do their part to set a new world record for reading the same book

For the third year in a row, IUSD students joined a national effort to break the record for reading the same book on the same day, taking part in Jumpstart’s annual “Read for the Record” campaign.

We’ll have to wait a little longer to find out if they accomplished their goal, as organizers are still tallying the number of readers across the country. But the locals certainly did their part.

Leafing through “The Snowy Day,” by Erza Jack Keats, more than 4,000 children in Irvine’s classrooms, homes and parks participated in the Oct. 7 event, topping last year’s hometown total of 3,100. Guest readers in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms included IUSD Board of Education members Mike Parham, Dr. Gavin Huntley-Fenner and Sharon Wallin; Assistant Superintendent Cassie Parham; and Irvine Police Chief David Maggard. (Mike Parham is pictured above with students from Deerfield Elementary.)

Jumpstart picks a new book each year for its Read for the Record campaign, which was launched in 2006 to promote literacy and early education. This was the third straight year that the local nonprofit Team Kids and the Irvine Unified Council PTA took part, collaborating with IUSD, the City of Irvine and the Irvine Police Department to highlight the importance of reading at a young age.

In addition, a kid-driven book drive held on the same day netted 7,700 gently-used children’s books, which will be donated to families through the Orange County Early Literacy Program. Organizers say that represents a 75 percent increase over last year’s haul.

“Read for the Record is such a great service-learning project,” said IUSD Superintendent Gwen Gross.  “The reading events and the book drive help everyone understand how critical reading is for young learners.”

Local elementary schools will use ‘Snowy Day’ to attempt a new world record for reading

IUSD schools, in partnership with Team Kids, the Irvine Unified Council PTA and Jumpstart, will join a national effort to set a new world record for the most people reading the same book on the same day as part of “Read for the Record” on Thursday, Oct. 7.

Launched in 2006 by Jumpstart, a national nonprofit, the Read for the Record campaign seeks to promote literacy and early education. Each fall a different book is picked for kids and adults to read on the same day, and this year’s choice is “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats. The 1962 classic is about – spoiler alert! – a little boy’s adventures in a neighborhood blanketed by snow.

As in years past, dignitaries from IUSD and the City of Irvine are making plans to visit local elementary schools to read the book aloud to children in kindergarten and first grade. In addition, elementary students in Irvine will hold a special book drive to benefit kids throughout the county who don’t have age-appropriate reading material at home.

We’re told that gently used books will be collected throughout the day and delivered to the Early Childhood Learning Center between noon and 5 p.m. There, they’ll be sorted and counted by IUSD students and members of Team Kids, a local group that facilitates service-learning projects.

Children and their parents are invited to drop by the ECLC, located at 1 Smoketree Lane in Irvine, after 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 7 to help count books and to hear Assistant Superintendent Cassie Parham read “The Snowy Day.”

To learn more about “Read for the Record,” or to pledge to read on Oct. 7, click here.

‘Together We Can’ is the theme of the PTA’s 2010 Reflections arts competition

The Irvine Unified PTA Council is inviting IUSD students of all ages to participate in its annual “Reflections” art contest.

The national Reflections program has been around for about four decades, providing opportunities for students to express themselves – and to receive recognition for their artistic efforts. This year, students in preschool through high school are encouraged to submit original works of art based on the theme, “Together We Can.”

Submissions will be accepted in each of six categories: Dance/choreography, literature, musical composition, film/video production, photography and visual arts. (The latter includes drawing, painting, print-making and collage.)

“PTA believes that all children deserve a quality arts education,” said IUCPTA Reflections Chairperson Kathleen Sarangay. “Studies show that there is a direct link between the arts and student achievement. Students who study the arts develop critical-thinking skills, problem-solving techniques, and a drive for excellence. “

Irvine students have advanced to the state and national levels of the Reflections competition in previous years. Last year, 1,225 entries were submitted locally based on the theme, “Beauty is..!” (Pictured above is an entry by Northwood High School’s Leejon Kim that earned honors at the county level.)

“An arts education is important to the educational growth of children,” said National PTA President Charles Saylors. “That’s why we’re proud that PTA Reflections, in its more than 40 years, has given millions of students a way to express themselves through the arts. We’re excited for Irvine Unified Council PTA and the creative energy of their students.”

The deadline for submissions varies by school, though each campus will submit its winners to the PTA Council by November 1. For more information, families should contact the PTA Reflections chair at their school or visit www.irvinecouncilpta.org.