Irvine High Newspaper Takes First Place in County and Second in State

Irvine High School newspaper recently won first place in sweepstakes, as well as First Place in Best of Show, Div. 1, at the Orange County Journalism Irvine High JournalismEducation Association write-offs at Fullerton College.  More than 250 student journalists and 15 local schools attended the annual event.

Twenty-four El Vaquero student-staff members competed.  Anthony Nquyen and Brian Zhou placed in news, David Hsiou and Brenda Nguyen placed in editorial, Michelle Ma placed in feature, and Arvind Katta and Kevin Lee placed in news. These seven staffers advanced to the Southern California Journalism Education Association state competition on Saturday, March 12 in Long Beach. Sixteen El Vaquero staffers, overall, represented Irvine High at the state level and brought home a Second Place win, missing out on First Place by only one point to Beverly Hills High School.

Other Irvine High students who placed in county competition included Tyanna Adjie, Tiffany Chhuor, Joyce Hsiou, Patrick Nguyen, Claire Song, and Harrison Zhang in novice news; Anissa Govind and Hala Ozgur in editorial cartooning; Marwa Achikzai in critical review; Mona Chahine in news photography; and Teresa Kim and Saieashwar Mukund in news layout.

Congratulations to El Vaquero staffers for a great showing at both the county and state competitions!

565 Students Participate in IUSD’s 35th Annual Science Fair

IMG_2405This year marked the 35th anniversary of IUSD’s districtwide science fair in which 565 students submitted a total of 463 projects.  Once again, the event was organized and hosted by IUSD science teachers and specialists and sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation, in partnership with the Irvine Public Schools Foundation.

Submissions included “Extraordinary Elodea”, “Hydroelectricity”, “The Slime Awakens”, “The Effect of Varying Pitch on Voltage Generated by Vertical Axis Wind Turbines”, “Solar Powered-Water Desalination”, “A Math/Algorithm Model for Indoor Visible Light” and “The Exploration of Cellular
Responses to Transfection”

A select few of students were also presented an award from the Irvine Ranch Water District for projects that had water as the main theme. New this year, one student in High School was presented an award from Chapman University School of Pharmacy.

6th, 7th, and 8th graders who qualified are eligible to enter Broadcom MASTERS.  From there finalists enter the competition in Washington, D.C in the Fall 2016.

DSC01360DSC01383Eligible projects that entered in our district Science Fair can move on to The Orange County Science and Engineering Fair which is held on April 11-17, 2016. From there projects have the chance to move on to the California State Science Fair.

Parents are encouraged to check with their child’s school or science teacher to learn more about specific requirements and deadlines. And you may also want to check in with the rules and regulations for the Orange County Science & Engineering Fair.

In the meantime, here are a tips worth noting:

  • SF2016 Awards Ceremony4To be eligible for the Orange County Science & Engineering Fair, students must have participated in IUSD’s Science Fair, and they need to inform their science teachers, who must approve each entry.
  • OCSEF limits IUSD to 125 entrants, and county projects will be selected based on student interest, input from the students’ science teachers and ribbons awarded at the district level.
  • Not all blue ribbon winners from the IUSD Science Fair will be selected to participate in the OCSEF, and in fact some red ribbon winners might make the cut. The district’s Honorable Mention winners won’t be eligible to participate unless there aren’t enough blue ribbon and red ribbon winners to fill the 125 allocated slots.
  • The information above is subject to change.

Once again, be sure to check with your child’s school and the OCSEF Rules & Regulations before planning your project. And good luck!

Northwood High School Dedicates Culinary Arts Facility

Northwood High School recently held a dedication ceremony for its new Culinary Arts facility, which serves nearly 180 Northwood students as part of the District’s Career Technical Education Pathways program.  The Culinary Arts program is one of several career pathways in the Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation Industry Sector Pathway, giving students real-world experiences and skills that are relevant to any career path.  Such programs create an opportunity for students to learn and explore their interests, while earning elective credits toward college and career readiness.Insturctor and Students

“We are excited about this culinary option for our students,” said Dr. Keith Tuominen, Director of Secondary Education.  “It was due to the tenacity of Northwood Principal Leslie Roach, school administrators and community members that this dream became a reality.”

In addition to securing District funds, Roach and her team diligently worked to secure state and local grant funding with the support of key community members, such as Venkata Renduchintala and his wife Aruan Renduchintala, who is a teacher at Northwood.

IUSD will further expand the program Districtwide by opening a second Culinary Arts facility after the first of the year.  The new facility will be located on the Creekside Education Center campus at Harvard and Barranca.

When asked why Career Technical Education is beneficial to students, Tuominen said, “It gives students the opportunity to develop a concept and to work through a collaborative planning and design process to deliver a fully realized product.  These kind of experiences are invaluable for students in both their academic and professional careers.”

The dedication event was attended by Board Clerk Ira Glasky, school administrators, IUSD administrators, students, parents and community supporters.  To read the County Register’s coverage of the event and IUSD’s Culinary Arts Program, click the following link

IUSD Pilots Google’s Virtual Reality Fieldtrip Program

The Irvine Unified School District was selected to pilot Google Expeditions, a fully immersive virtual reality platform that provides teachers and students with access to educational virtual field trips.  There are more than 100 Expeditions that range from trips to the Amazon, Buckingham Palace, Gettysburg, Madagascar, the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Wall of China, the Moon, and more.   IMG_4631

With 360° panoramic photo spheres, 3D images and video that include annotated details, highlights and questions, the program is designed to easily integrate into curriculum already used in schools.

Twelve IUSD schools are participating in the pilot, including more than 7,500 4th-12th grade students.  Adding to the excitement, ABC7 news visited Oak Creek Elementary to film the experience (air date: 10/26/15 at 4 p.m.

Guided by their teachers, Oak Creek students were able to visit the Amazon, Ancient Greece, the Galapagos Islands, the Natural History Museum, and more exciting locations.  Among the screams and cheers of excitement, students could be heard saying, “Whoa…no way!” to “This is so cool!” to “I wish we could do this every day.”

Principal Carlo Grasso best summed up the experience, “We continually look for new ways to make learning fun and beneficial for our students and it doesn’t get any better than this.”

IUSD’s Marching Bands to Perform Together for ‘Band Spectacular’

After taking the field for separate performances, marching bands from IUSD’s four comprehensive high schools will join forces for a big finale during “Band Spectacular” tonight.  More than 1,200 students, including middle school musicians, will participate in this exciting mega concert.  Band Spectacular

This fun family event will be held at the Irvine High School Stadium at 7 p.m. tonight, October 21.  Parking is free; admission is $5 for individuals and $10 for families.  Proceeds will support instrumental music throughout the District.

For more information on IUSD’s Visual and Performing Arts Department, click here.


IUSD Ranks Highest in State in Math

The Irvine Unified School District’s state standardized test scores ranked highest in the state in math and second highest in the state in English Language Arts/Literacy, for school districts of 25,000 or more.  This comes on the heels of IUSD being ranked first in Orange County for both math and English Language Arts/Literacy.    Elementary classroom

“I am incredibly proud of Irvine Unified students’ outstanding performance.  These results are a testament to our collective efforts and the special partnership between our hardworking students, dedicated families, and talented staff,” said Superintendent Terry Walker.  “IUSD continues to thrive in a challenging environment, including a new state funding model that will continue to adversely impact our educational resources.  As we strive to ensure that the Irvine Unified School District remains one of the highest-performing districts in the country, we will continue to leverage collaboration and connections with our students, parents, staff and community partners.”

Last spring, IUSD students in grades three thru eight and grade 11 participated in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), which provides information on each student’s progress on the new standards.  While the scores are just one of many measures of student performance, they help to enhance IUSD’s understanding of each student’s needs and inform our educational efforts.

For more information about state standardized testing and IUSD’s perspective, click here or visit

To read the Orange County Register article, click here.

Message from Superintendent Terry Walker: State Assessment Scores Rank IUSD Highest in Orange County

Dear IUSD Community,

I am proud to announce that Irvine Unified School District’s state standardized assessment scores have outperformed both state and county score averages, with IUSD ranking the highest of all Orange County school districts.  Please click here to view the official rankings for Orange County school districts.

Last spring, IUSD students in grades three thru eight and grade 11 participated in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), which provides information on each student’s progress on the new standards.  While the scores are just one of many measures of student performance, they help to enhance our understanding of each student’s needs and inform our educational efforts.

Irvine Unified’s Continuous Improvement Efforts (CIE) were designed and adopted well before the new state standards. We believe our exemplary score results reflect the CIE alignment with the same critical thinking, creativity, communication, and other learning outcomes in the new state standards. These student capacities have always been an integral part of IUSD’s educational mission and vision. We recognize that there will continue to be opportunities for reflection and growth but these results are a testament to our collective efforts and the special partnership between our hardworking students, dedicated families, and talented staff.

California is in the process of distributing individual student score reports and released this statewide aggregate data on Wednesday, September 9, 2015.  IUSD anticipates that we will receive and then mail home individual student score reports between late September and early October.

In the interim, please keep the following in mind about these new assessments.

New Scores Cannot be Compared to Old Scores
The Smarter Balanced Assessments are aligned with the new state standards and are scored in a completely new way.  Therefore, scores from these new assessments cannot be compared to older state testing scores.  Click here for a sample score report.

The New Assessments Provide a Baseline for Future Progress
The new assessment results will provide a baseline to track student progress over time.  As students and schools become more familiar and proficient with these new standards, we expect the scores to continue to increase.

Scores are One of Many Measures
Assessment scores should be recognized as only one measure when evaluating student learning; they provide some but not all information about a student’s knowledge and skills.  Results from tests should be reviewed in combination with other measures, such as in-class assignments, classroom tests, teacher conferences and other factors.  For more information about your child’s academic progress, please stay in close contact with your child’s teacher(s) and school.

How Test Scores are Used
IUSD will use these baseline scores to better understanding each student’s learning and help the District continue to improve upon the high-quality instruction we provide.  The scores will not be used to determine student advancement to the next grade level or as the sole piece of information when making academic decisions about students.

For additional information, please visit the following resources.

On behalf of our Board of Education and IUSD staff, we deeply appreciate your engagement, partnership and support. Our combined collaborative efforts continue to enable IUSD to deliver on our promise to provide the highest quality educational experience we can envision.  Thank you.






Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools

Six Irvine Students to Join All-National Honor Ensembles

Six Irvine Unified School District students have been selected as members of the prestigious National Association for Music Education’s 2015 All-National Honor Ensembles.  Performance categories include Honor Band, Mixed Choir, Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Band.  Irvine will send six of the 30 California students to participate in this year’s concert.National Ensembles

Eliott Chung, University High School and Eric Li, Northwood High School will perform in the All-National Honor Concert Band.  Elysia Ouyang and Mina Rhee from University High School and Michael Suh and Andrew Yang from Northwood High School will perform in the All-National Honor Symphony Orchestra.

The concert is October 28, 2015 at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee and is part of the National In-Service Conference.  This is an exciting opportunity for our talented musicians to work with other young musicians and prestigious conductors from across the nation.

For more information, visit and click on the video at the top of the webpage.

Congratulations to our Irvine students and best wishes as they prepare for this exciting concert!

Northwood and University Receive 2015 California Gold Ribbon Schools Award

Northwood and University high schools have been named 2015 California Gold Ribbon Schools, the State’s highest recognition for public schools.  Both schools were among 180 high schools to receive this prestigious designation.   Instagram-logo

The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to honor schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while California creates new assessment and accountability systems.  Schools applied for the award based on a model program their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies.

“These schools are academically successful, vibrant, and innovative centers of learning and teaching,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.  “They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right—embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching, and creating a positive school climate.”

In addition to being chosen as a Gold Ribbon School, Northwood was given an additional honor of being selected as having an Exemplary Program in Arts Education.

“We are proud of Northwood and University teachers, staff, students and parents, who exemplify our mission to provide the highest quality educational experience we can envision,” said Irvine Superintendent of Schools Terry Walker.

IUSD Receives Prestigious National History Day Recognition

Four Irvine schools will send two team and three individual student projects to the national Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest at University of Maryland at College Park, from June 14-18.  National History Day, is a non-profit education organization dedicated to engaging middle- and high-school students around the world in conducting original research on historical topics of interest.  The National History Day Contest in Maryland is the final stage in a series of contests at the county and state levels.  Guo Project NHD State 2015

To qualify for the national competition, Irvine students competed against more than 1,000 students from 25 counties at the state competition in early May.  Irvine projects moving on to the national competition are:

Junior Individual Exhibit

  • Augustus Caesar: His Leadership Through an Empire and Legacy of its Fall
    • Lakeside Middle School
    • Alina Guo
  • Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    • Lakeside Middle School
    • Morgan Kopecky 

Junior Group Documentary

  • Henry Ford
    • Sierra Vista Middle School
    • Michelle Kroll and Frances Kroll

 Junior Individual Website

  • Florence Nightingale: The Lady with the Lamp
    • Jeffrey Trail Middle School
    • Mulan Homo

 Junior Historical Paper

  • Harry Truman: A Leadership and Legacy in the Truman Doctrine
    • Sierra Vista Middle School
    • Miranda Wu

Senior Group Documentary

  • The Legacy of Ed Sullivan: Bringing the Civil Rights Movement into America’s Living Room
    • Woodbridge High School
    • Cullen Darius, Garrett Moore, Josh Morrison, Mitchell Cronin and Scott Armstrong

National History Day has also recognized two Irvine teachers.  University High School teacher Judy Richonne, was one of only two winners from California to receive the National History Day Teacher of the Year for her outstanding creativity, commitment and inspiration in developing student interest in history.  She is eligible for the national Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced on June 18 at the competition in Maryland.

In April, Judy also received the Outstanding Contributions to Education award from the Orange County Board of Education.

Additionally, Sierra Vista teacher Jonathan Millers was named runner up for the State of California as the National History Day Teacher of the Year.