Irvine High Newspaper Staff Takes 1st in County Competition


Irvine High School’s El Vaquero newspaper staff won 1st Place in sweepstakes at the Orange County Journalism Education Association at Fullerton College on Saturday. The group also brought home 1st Place in Best of Show, Division 2.

Those contributing to the win included Mehr Bawa and Brian Zhou in news, 1st and 2nd Place, respectively; Claire Song and Michelle Ma in feature writing; Brenda Nguyen, 1st Place in editorial writing; and Sahil Patne, 1st Place in sports. Mona Chahine placed 1st in news photography and Joyce Hsiou and Jonathan Lam both placed in newspaper layout. Nineteen Irvine High staffers participated in the annual contest that this year consisted of 14 local area schools and around 300 student journalists.

This is the first time El Vaquero has had four 1st Place winners in a single write-off event.

Winners in the sweepstakes categories of news, feature, editorial and sports will advance to the state competition on March 25 in Long Beach, along with participants in several non-qualifying categories.


IUSD Elementary Schools Celebrate Read Across America Day


During the first week of March, IUSD elementary schools invited a cast of special guests to read their favorite children’s books to officially celebrate Read Across America Day.  Established by the National Education Association, Read Across America Day is an annual literacy campaign that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel — better known to kids as Dr. Seuss.

Local guest readers included Board of Education members Paul Bokota (pictured), Betty Carroll, Superintendent Terry Walker and IUSD staff.


IUSD Officially Dedicated Portola High School


 

IUSD hosted two Portola High School dedication ceremonies to celebrate the District’s fifth comprehensive high school, which opened last August.  Participants of both ceremonies learned about the features of this state-of-the-art educational facility, which was designed to leverage learning at the highest levels.

Community Dedication
The first dedication ceremony, on Thursday, March 2, was led by IUSD Superintendent Terry L. Walker, Board President Ira Glasky and Principal John Pehrson.  The community event included the Board of Education, parents, students, teachers, staff, the District’s development partners FivePoint and the Irvine Company, City of Irvine officials, community partners, and other state and local dignitaries.  All participants had the opportunity to tour the school site and experience innovative features such as design and science labs, high-tech and flexible-design classrooms, dedicated music and performing arts spaces, collaborative workspaces, top-level sports facilities, and a world-class performing arts center.

“Today’s celebration is not a beginning, nor is it a finish line but rather the dedication of this amazing facility is an important milestone in providing a world-class educational environment,” said Ira Glasky, Irvine Unified School District Board of Education President.  “Portola is our first high school built in accordance with IUSD’s award winning Education Specifications.   The result of countless hours spent by our teachers, administrators and architects, these ed specs detail the features needed to support instruction and 21st century learning at the highest levels.”

IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker echoed similar sentiments, “This school is more than a beautiful environment, it has been developed to create innovative spaces for learning.  Most importantly, it is a symbol of our sincere promise to provide the highest quality educational experience we can envision.”

Principal John Pehrson concluded the official dedication by discussing the importance of preparing students for college and careers.  “We’re so excited to take on this monumental task of preparing our students for 21st century college and careers.  We have and will continue to assemble a world-class staff to meet this challenge with fervor and complete dedication.”

He then went on to thank the many people in attendance, who had active roles in the development and opening of the school site.  “Thank you for your partnership in this journey  and we’re so glad you are here to celebrate with us.  Go Bull Dogs!”

To view the official dedication video, click here.

Student Dedication
The following day, Portola High School students held a special dedication ceremony during their first-ever spring pep rally.  It was a unique opportunity for students to come together and celebrate their school and their positive school culture.

Students representing the inaugural freshman class joined by Superintendent Terry Walker and Principal Pehrson for student ribbon cutting.  During the rally, each of Portola’s spring sports teams ran through balloon arches, while the band performed with the flag and cheer teams.  Students organized and ran the rally demonstrating their tremendous leadership as the school’s first-ever class.

Portola High School serves parts of North Irvine and in the years to come, the campus will accommodate approximately 2,400 Irvine students.  Below is school information and features

Portola High School Vision
“Where every learner belongs, contributes and thrives.”

Portola High School Motto
PRIDE (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Drive, Empathy)

Portola High School Stats

  • Principal John Pehrson (previously served as principal at University High School for 10 years)
  • More than 450 students are enrolled for the 2016-17 school year. (IUSD estimates the school will have more than 900 students for the 2017-18 school year.)
  • The school opened with only freshmen in 2016-2017 and will add an additional class each subsequent year, resulting in a full 9-12 comprehensive high school by the 2019-2020 school year.
  • The inaugural school staff for the 2016-17 school year is comprised of 65 employees, both certified and classified employees:
    • 25 Teachers
    • 12 Certified Staff
    • 9 Special Education Employees
    • 10 Custodial Staff
    • 4 Food Service Staff
    • 5 Administrative Staff

Portola High School Design and Features
Portola High School is a state-of-the-art education facility designed to meet the criteria developed by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, which helps establish campuses that are healthy, comfortable, energy efficient and aligned with modern teaching and learning.

The school’s educational technologies and amenities include:

  • A performing arts building with a 720-seat theater, black box and dance studio
  • An elective building that will house video production, 2D and 3D art, music rooms and more
  • A student center featuring collaborative learning environment, a library with dedicated quiet rooms and an Innovation Lab
  • Makers space
  • 21st-Century classrooms with common areas and flexible furniture for collaborative learning
  • Dedicated science labs
  • A special education facility to facilitate essential life skills
  • A green roof that will enable hands-on, sustainable learning
  • A 2,044 seat gymnasium that includes training facilities and dedicated team rooms
  • A 2,940 seat stadium with rubberized track and artificial turf
  • An aquatics center with a 50-meter pool
  • Eight tennis courts
  • Varsity and JV baseball and softball fields
  • Track and field facilities
  • Two full soccer fields

IUSD High School Students Arrive in Sacramento to Meet with State Lawmakers and Others


IUSD high school students, accompanied by teachers, District staff and IUSD Board Members, are in Sacramento today to meet with state lawmakers, journalists, government experts and staffers to discuss issues impacting education.  Below is are photos of the group, which just recently arrived to the state capital.  They have a full day ahead, including meetings with State Senator John Moorlach; Assembly Member Steven Choi; veteran journalists Jim Miller and Sam Stanton; representatives from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the California School Boards Association, the Public Policy Institute of California, and the California School Employees Association; and staffers from various representatives’ offices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top photo: IUSD students for visit to Sacramento
Left to right: Assembly Member Choi, IUSD students, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Assembly Speaker Rick Simpson, Senator Moorlach 

 


IUSD Announces 2016-17 Teachers of the Year


Early this morning, a caravan of District staff and IUSD Board Members traveled to seven schools to announce the three Teachers of the Year and the four Teachers of Promise.  Click here for the 2016-17 Teachers of Promise.

Now in its 31st year, IUSD’s Teacher of the Year program recognizes exceptional instructors at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  Below are this year’s honorees.

Elementary School Teacher of the Year

Mary Thomas-Vallens
Fifth Grade APAAS (Alternative Program for Academically Advanced Students) Teacher
Brywood Elementary

Mary Thomas-Vallens has been an educator since 1977.  Her passion for teaching is as strong today as it was when she first began 39 years ago.  Thomas-Vallens empowers students to strive for academic excellence in a supportive and empowering environment.  In addition to a focus on academic rigors, she encourages students to think beyond themselves and offers a range of service learning projects, such as Families Forward, Team Kids and more!

Her expertise extends beyond the classroom.  Thomas-Vallens has elevated the teaching of thousands of IUSD teachers through her Launch Point Professional Development training by teaching instructional strategies that support higher level thinking skills.  College students just beginning their careers benefit from her support through her coordination of field-study work for UCI students.

As best stated by Brywood Principal Astrid Ramirez, “She does more than teach…she touches lives.”

Middle School Teacher of the Year

Lauren Morrison
Education Specialist – Special Education
Jeffrey Trail Middle School

Lauren Morrison is a devoted and knowledgeable team player who has an excellent relationship with both her students and school staff.  She works tirelessly with her students to ensure they are supported and have every opportunity to be successful.

A typical day for Morrison starts before school with an IEP meeting, followed by a Special Education meeting; she then teaches a full class schedule.  Any free time is usually filled with principal, school psychologist or PBIS team meetings.  After school, she provides academic support to students.  This is only a snapshot of her day and does not fully capture her incredible work to serve our students each and every day.

Jeffrey Trail Principal Mike Georgino said, “Lauren is not only an enormous asset for JTMS but also to the teaching profession in general.  She deserves this recognition for being an outstanding teacher.”

High School Teacher of the Year

Christina Banagas-Engelerdt
English Teacher
Northwood High School

Christina Banagas-Engelerdt has been a member of Northwood High School’s staff since the school opened in 1999 and has established herself as a leader on campus.  From crating English curriculum in the school’s early days to her current role as WASC Chairperson, Banagas-Engelerdt embodies the Northwood core values of Compassion, Mutual Respect and Integrity.

As a compassionate teacher, Banagas-Engelerdt has served as the school’s intervention lead for several years and has had oversight of the creation of countless support classes – teaching several of these classes herself.  As a result, students know they can always come to her for guidance and support.  She is reflective in her teaching and strives to create a challenging yet supportive environment for her students.

Banagas-Engelerdt is held in the highest regard by her colleagues for her tremendous work ethic and her constant willingness to help others.  She has mentored numerous student teachers, helped innumerable students through many obstacles and has been a key player in the school’s evolution.

Principal Leslie Roach stated, “Christina is everything we could ask for in a Timberwolf and we are honored to have her here and Northwood High School.”

More information about the Teacher of the Year program
Nominations are submitted by District employees and candidates are later interviewed by a committee that includes teachers, principals and administrators.  That panel ultimately narrows the field to three, using the following criteria: Evidence of a wide range of instructional strategies used effectively; commitment to the teaching profession; and demonstration of Irvine teachers’ values of integrity, empowerment, learning, collaboration and trust.

Teachers of Promise
IUSD also recognizes a handful of standout first- and second-year teachers, who are announced as “Teachers of Promise.” Click here for the 2016-17 Teachers of Promise.

Excellence in Teaching Awards Banquet
All of this year’s honorees will be formally recognized on Friday, April 21 at the Excellence in Teaching Awards Banquet, which is organized each year by the Exchange Club of Irvine and the Irvine Teachers Association.


2016-17 Teachers of Promise Announced


Today, in addition to announcing the 2016-17 Teachers of the Year, IUSD announced four “Teachers of Promise.” This annual honor goes to first- or second-year instructors who go above and beyond, while demonstrating professional curiosity and an unbridled enthusiasm for teaching.

The 2016-17 Teachers of Promise, as shown above, are Quyen Ly, humanities/social science teacher from Southlake Middle School; Jared Gray, sixth grade teacher from Woodbury Elementary School; Kevin Miller, second grade teacher from Beacon Park K-8 School; and Lauren Hoffman, education specialist – special education from Legacy Education Center.

Ly was recognized in front of colleagues during an early morning meeting.  Gray was surprised in his classroom in front of students.  Miller was recognized during a surprise fire drill in front of the entire school.  Finally, Hoffman was honored in front of her students during a meeting at the Legacy Education Center.

All four Teachers of Promise will be formally honored Friday, April 21 at the 31st annual Excellence in Teaching Awards Dinner.

Once again, congratulations to this year’s Teachers of Promise!

Click here for the 2016-17 Teachers of the Year honorees.

(Photo caption from left to right: Quyen Ly, Jared Gray, Kevin Miller and Lauren Hoffman.)


Woodbridge High Team Earns Top Honors at the Orange County Academic Decathlon


Woodbridge High School has punched its ticket to the California Academic Decathlon in March with an impressive win in this year’s Orange County Academic Decathlon.  

Rounding out a raucous awards ceremony Friday night at Santa Ana High School’s Bill Medley Auditorium, the nine-member Woodbridge squad was announced as the Overall Team Winner by the Orange County Academic Decathlon Association and OCDE.

That means Woodbridge advances to the state-level competition in Sacramento.

Woodbridge, which last won the county title in 2006, scored 52,038.4 total points at the 49th annual event, which was staged over the course of two consecutive Saturdays. Along with a plaque, bragging rights and a plethora of individual medals, the team received a $3,000 travel stipend for the state showdown, which will draw high-performing contenders from California’s 38 counties.

“It is great to see the students rewarded for all their hard work and commitment to each other,” said Mike Nakaue, a retired science teacher who coaches the team along with English teacher Shan Wu. “It took the right mindset, grit, commitment, dedication, and they trusted each other.”

Here’s a breakdown of the top Orange County teams by division:

DIVISION 1

  • 1st Place: Woodbridge High School, Irvine Unified School District
  • 2nd Place: Valencia High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
  • 3rd Place: Westminster High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District
  • 4th Place: Trabuco Hills High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District
  • 5th Place: La Quinta High School, Garden Grove Unified School District

DIVISION 2

  • 1st Place: El Dorado High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
  • 2nd Place: Esperanza High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
  • 3rd Place: Servite High School, a private school
  • 4th Place: Sonora High School, Fullerton Joint Union High School District
  • 5th Place: El Toro High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District

DIVISION 3

  • 1st Place: Los Alamitos High School, Los Alamitos Unified School District
  • 2nd Place: Brea Olinda High School, Brea Olinda Unified School District
  • 3rd Place: Segerstrom High School, Santa Ana Unified School District
  • 4th Place: JSerra Catholic High School, a private school
  • 5th Place: Santiago High School, Garden Grove Unified School District

Held at the local, county, state and national levels, Academic Decathlons are designed to prepare students for college and careers by promoting 21st-century skills. And here’s a fun fact: The contest was founded in 1968 by former Orange County Superintendent of Schools Robert Peterson.

Nine-member teams battle for the highest scores on multiple-choice exams, speeches, interviews and essay assignments based on a yearly theme. (This year it was “World War II.”) Each decathlon team must include three “Honor” students (those with GPAs of 3.75 or above), three “Scholastic” students (GPAs of 3.00 to 3.74) and three “Varsity” students (GPAs of 2.99 or below).

The event culminates with the popular Super Quiz Relay, which takes place in front of an audience.

“Academic Decathlon is much more than learning information, it deals with goal-setting, improving and making adjustments over a long period of time,” Nakaue told the OCDE Newsroom. “It deals with more than just bonding for social activities as a team, but involves bonding to the standards and goals established by the team.”

“Many decathletes become lifelong friends,” he added. “These lifelong lessons only come from embracing moments, and the Academic Decathlon creates a platform for these moments, resulting in students experiencing the important things in life.”

This year’s Orange County Academic Decathlon was presented by the Orange County Academic Decathlon Association and OCDE with support from community members and sponsors, including NuVision Federal Credit Union, Del Taco LLC, the Orange County Register, Aeries Software, Illuminate Education and Power School.

You can learn more about the program by visiting OCDE’s Academic Decathlon 101 webpage.


Uni High Student/Teacher Only Calf. Team Selected to Study D-Day in France


University High School is the only California high school to have a student/teacher team selected to Picture Judy Richonne Sonia Kellyparticipate in the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute.  In addition, this student/teacher team is only one of 15 teams, nationwide, to be selected to participate in this prestigious program by the nonprofit education organization National History Day.

As part of the program, University High student Sonia Kelly and social science teacher Judy Richonne will tell the story of a fallen World War II hero.  After a year of research, Kelly and Richonne will first travel to Washington, D.C. this June to finish their research with help from the National Archives, historians and college professors. While in D.C. the teams will tour the World War II Memorial, attend a dinner hosted by the White House Historical Association and prepare for the voyage of a lifetime to Normandy, France.  Once in France, the teams will visit the D-Day beaches, walking in the footsteps of their Silent Heroes. After seeing museums, historic sites and churches that were used as field hospitals, the teams will visit the Normandy American Cemetery. There, each student will deliver a powerful graveside eulogy for the Silent Hero he or she spent the year researching.

“Throughout their research these students and teachers have become incredibly connected to their Silent Heroes,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “When they read their eulogies they are reading a eulogy for someone they know, someone whose story they are responsible for telling. It results in a powerful, and often tearful, understanding of the sacrifice these Silent Heroes made in World War II.”

During the program, teachers and students will also create a memorial webpage about their Silent Hero. After the conclusion of their travels, teams use these websites in presentations to local community groups, schools and classes, and veterans’ organizations.  The overall goal of the program is to teach a new generation or students about the sacrifices and challenges faced during World War II.

The program is coordinated by National History Day® and is funded by Mr. Albert H. Small, a veteran himself.  Mr. Small’s generous donation includes overseas travel, courses, and room and board for each student/teacher team.


30th Anniversary of Astounding Inventions


Innovative student inventions will be featured during the 30th annual Astounding Inventions contest on Saturday, January 28 from 11 a.m. astounding-invetions-image-2016to noon at the Irvine Valley College Hart Gymnasium.  The awards ceremony for grades K, 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 starts at noon.  The awards ceremony for grades 4 and 5 starts at 1:15 p.m.  This year’s theme is, “Reducing your carbon footprint: small footprints help our environment.”

Supported by Cox Communications, Astounding Inventions brings together kindergarten through 8th-grade students from the Irvine and Tustin Unified School districts for an elaborate science, technology, engineering and math competition that fosters student entrepreneurship and creative thinking.

This free event is open to the public.  In addition to this year’s student displays, the event will feature a stage show, “Mad Chemists.”

For more information, see the attached flier.

2017-astounding-inventions-ivc-flyer


Irvine High School Dedicates Student Art Panels


Irvine High School recently hosted a dedication for student artwork that was commissioned by the

Principal Monica Colunga, Sahil Patne, Grace Lee, and Sun Ah Lee representing her sister Jung Ah Lee

Principal Monica Colunga, Sahil Patne, Grace Lee, and Sun Ah Lee representing her sister Jung Ah Lee

school’s Student Forum to demonstrate the values of Integrity, Honoring Self and Others, and Social Responsibility.  These values are a representation of behavioral expectations under the school’s Positive Behavior Interventions Support (PBIS), which among other benefits establishes guidelines for positive student behavior.

Last year, the Student Forum requested that students provide an artistic representation of Irvine High values.  Various artistic renditions were vetted and the student body was asked to vote on the three that they felt best identified the school’s values.
The selected artists were asked to paint their work on canvas panels, which are now on display in the school library.
The artists listed by their work are as follows:

  • Integrity by Jung Ah Lee Integrity
  • Honoring Self and Others by Grace Lee
  • Social Responsibility by Sahil Patne

To read more about Irvine High School’s PBIS, click here.