Watch the Groundbreaking Ceremony for Beacon Park School

IUSD, joined by Five Point Communities and the City of Irvine, broke ground on Beacon Park School Wednesday, April 1. Set to open in August 2016, the District’s 38th school will serve up to 1,000 K-8 students.

This world-class educational center is located in the heart of the Great Park Neighborhoods. Features include 33 classrooms, a design lab, innovation lab, fitness lab, and dedicated music and science classrooms.

IUSD Board President Lauren Brooks envisioned the future of the school during her remarks to the capacity audience. “This is where dreams will begin for thousands of young children. This state-of-the-art facility will be more than a beautiful building…Beacon Park School is a place where children will be empowered to learn and to open countless doors of opportunity and growth.”

Attendees included Board President Lauren Brooks, Board Member Paul Bokota, Board Member Ira Glasky, Board Member Sharon Wallin, Superintendent Terry Walker, Mayor Steven S. Choi, Lynn Jochim with Five Point Communities, City Manager Sean Joyce, IUSD staff, parents, students and other local dignitaries.  

IUSD to host Beacon Park School groundbreaking ceremony today

Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) will host a groundbreaking ceremony for Beacon Park School today, April 1 at 3:30 p.m. at the new school site – 200 Cultivate, Irvine. The ceremony marks the start of construction on Irvine’s 38th school, serving the Great Park Neighborhoods. Beacon Park School (K8) is expected to open in August 2016.

HFK8 Cover Image (edit)

“This new K8 school will not only serve the immediate needs of the Irvine community, it will provide a world-class educational center for generations to come,” said School Board President Lauren Brooks. “Beacon Park School will continue the IUSD tradition of excellence.”

Guests are encouraged to carpool and park on site. For safety, please wear flat, closed toe shoes.


Event attendees include: IUSD Board Members, Superintendent Terry Walker, Five Point Communities, City Councilmembers and other local dignitaries.

Woodbridge Academic Decathlon team places eighth in state competition!

The Woodbridge Academic Decathlon team placed eighth in the 36th annual California Academic Decathlon competition in Sacramento earlier this month.

Academic Decathlon Team 2015During the four-day event, the team competed against the top 66 California schools in a series of 10 academic events, ranging from mathematics to social science to speech and interview. This year’s theme was “New Alternatives in Energy.”

“Although Woodbridge won the Division 2 and Division 3 State Championships in past years, this eighth place finish in the extremely-competitive Division 1 is the highest a Woodbridge team has ever finished,” said teacher Shan Wu.

The team had prepared since June 2014 for this prestigious competition. Team members include senior captain Divya Prajapati; seniors Sana Datar, Neha Sheik and Gretchen Alviar; and juniors Joseph Kim, Sean Hoffman and Jai Kakwani.

Of special note, several team members placed in the top of their respective events:

 Divya Prajapati: 3rd in the entire state in for essay; 1st in the entire state for interview; 2nd in the entire state for art; 3rd in the entire state for math; 2nd in the entire state for science

Joseph Kim: 3rd in the entire state for interview

Sana Datar: 3rd in her GPA category in the entire state for speech; 2nd in her GPA category in the entire state for interview


Irvine High takes first and Northwood is second in state journalism competition

Irvine High brought home first place honors from the Southern California Journalism Education Association state write-offs, an annual competition for student newspaper reporters and yearbook staff. This is the seventh time Irvine High has won sweepstakes – 2000, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 – and now in 2015.
According to El Vaquero advisor Julie Braun, 200 students from 27 Los Angeles and Orange County high schools participated in the competition held in Long Beach on March 21. scjea photo

Individual student winners included Angela Lee and Alex Williams in news; Dana Lansigan in editorial and Kevin Lee in sports.  Other category winners included Anissa Govind and Saieashwar Mukund in editorial cartooning; Carissa Chow and Prosperity Fields in critical review; Renee Chan and Uma Sen in photography and Sila Adhiningrat in newspaper layout.

Northwood High School placed second in sweepstakes, followed by Schurr, University LA and Hollywood high schools.



Student advocate speaks at capitol

By Jacqueline Carr

Minutes after arriving in Sacramento, a University High School Junior, Tristan Malhotra, was speaking in front of the California Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance. Malhotra was one of 22 students from the five Irvine high schools who traveled to the California state Capitol on March 10 to lobby on behalf of IUSD on education issues.

IUSD Sacramento 2“While this program has been ongoing for nearly 10 years, this is the first time our students have actually had the opportunity to speak at a hearing,” said Irvine High School Social Studies Department Chairperson, Jon Resendez.

When the students first arrived they observed the hearing, then the Subcommittee Chair, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty opened up the floor for public comments. The IUSD contingency quickly jumped at the opportunity to have their voices heard.

Malhotra talked about the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) from the perspective of IUSD and said, “districts like mine, IUSD, are funded $2,000 (per year per student) under the state average.”  The LCFF allocates funding levels to school districts based on various criteria, and Irvine’s share per student is one of the lowest in the state.

Also speaking at the hearing was Superintendent Terry Walker, who said, “We’re trying to make sure we don’t exacerbate that inequity as we begin to see the effects of the LCFF.”  The one-and-a-half hour hearing was videotaped and can be accessed at the State Assembly website . The portion of the hearing with just the IUSD’s speakers is posted on YouTube.

To prepare for the hearing and the trip to the Capitol, the students reviewed the 23-page budget subcommittee meeting agenda and studied education issues at four weekly meetings.

IUSD Sacramento 3At the Capitol, the students also met with Senator Lois Wolk, a 12-year veteran of the legislature, Majority Whip, Chair of the Government and Finance Committee and a former teacher. She gave each of the students a detailed chart entitled, “The Life Cycle of Legislation – From Idea Into Law” which shows the complicated steps for passage of a bill, but she also encouraged the students not to be cynical about the process.

Lobbyist Bob Blattner organized the meetings and coordinated the visits with the lawmakers whom the students met, including:

  • Assemblymember Rocky Chavez, Education -Vice Chair Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance member, Higher Education Committee member.
  • Rick Simpson, the Assembly Speaker’s Policy Director
  • Roger Mackensen, Chief Education Policy Consultant for Senate Republicans
  • Edgar Cabral, Education Budget/Proposition 98 expert, Office of the Legislative Analyst
  • Nick Schweitzer, Deputy Superintendent at California Dept. of Education and
  • Craig Reynolds, Veteran Chief of Staff for Senators Wolk, Killea and Assemblywoman Thompson.

The students asked questions on topics including the Local Control Accountability Plan (district’s allocation of own funds), Common Core (new curriculum), mental health, technology and facilities.

Five IUSD teachers accompanied the students, along with IUSD administrators, and staff, IUSD board member Lauren Brooks and Sharon Wallin, and leaders from the Irvine Teacher’s Association, California School Employees Association, IPSF, and the Irvine Unified Council PTA which organized this ninth annual Sacramento Advocacy Trip.

The annual Sacramento trek is an opportunity for students to learn more about the legislative procedures at the state level and to provide the elected officials with a voice from the students. This year’s PTA Sacramento Student Trip was coordinated by Deloris Yang, Irvine Unified Council PTA Secretary and Seth Grossman, Irvine Unified Council PTA Finance Chair, under the direction of IUSD School Board President Lauren Brooks.

The program provides an insight into the life of a legislator and the busy nature of the capitol and gives the students a view of the complex procedures for legislating education matters.

IUSD Sacramento 1

Jacqueline Carr is a junior at Irvine High School and part of the Sacramento Advocacy Program.

Photos courtesy Lauren Brooks and Deloris Yang.

Northwood High has been named a Grammy Signature School for the sixth time

For the third straight year — and the sixth time since 1999 — Northwood High School has been selected as a Grammy Signature School by the Grammy Foundation.

This is one of the most prestigious accolades for music education, and in 2015 it’s being presented to just 13 schools throughout the country. In addition to the special designation and a custom award, Northwood’s music program will receive $3,500.

Established in 1988, the Grammy Foundation promotes the impact of recorded music on American culture and recognizes schools that provide exceptional music opportunities for students. Each year, more than 20,000 public high schools have an opportunity to apply to become Grammy Signature Schools, but only a small number earn the honor.

IUSD’s four comprehensive high schools have now won 11 Grammy awards with half of those going to Northwood, which opened in 1999.

Applications for the honor were submitted in the fall. Northwood high school was among many semifinalists that were later asked to submit additional documentation, including concert recordings. Those materials were reviewed by an independent committee of top music educators and professionals, who decided which schools merited the designation.

Janelle Cranch named as one of OC’s Classified Employees of the Year

In an exciting announcement from the Orange County Department of Education, IUSD’s very own Janelle Cranch, a buyer technician who works in the district office, has been named as one of Orange County’s Classified Employees of the Year for 2015.

IMG_2418Cranch has been a vital employee since 1989. Known for her customer service and leadership, her expertise is regularly sought after, and she has served in a variety of committees with IUSD.

Willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, Cranch inspires others through her level of commitment. From initiating a Red Cross Blood Drive to advocating for educational funding, she is an active and engaged member of the community.

Described as a tenacious advocate for staff and students and an iconic leader, she serves as chapter president of IUSD’s California School Employees Association. Her commitment, compassion and work ethic have earned her a reputation as one of the most beloved and respected members of the school community.

Established in 2008 by the California Department of Education, the Classified School Employees of the Year program annually highlights the contributions of employees who have performed exceptionally in support of public school students, from preschool through grade 12. Classified workers with a minimum of five years of service are eligible for the recognition, whether they serve at traditional schools, charter schools, district offices or county offices of education.

A committee consisting of community representatives and educators selected this year’s Classified Employees of the Year in the areas of child nutrition; maintenance, operations and facilities; transportation; para-educator and instructional assistance; office and technical services; and support services and security. A total of 60 employees were nominated in Orange County, and judges evaluated each application based on a state selection criteria organized around four themes — work performance, school and community involvement, leadership and commitment, and actions that go above and beyond.

Each of the six Orange County finalists are now scheduled to be honored at the OCDE Board of Education Meeting on April 15, and they’ll be eligible to compete for recognition at the state level.

Board of Education unanimously approves name for IUSD’s next K-8

In accordance with the district’s policy to assign names based on an adjacent street, park or village, the IUSD Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday night to name IUSD’s third K-8 campus Beacon Park School, referencing the village in which it will be built.

With construction underway, the school is scheduled to open in August 2016.

Beacon Park School will be located south of Sand Canyon Avenue near Irvine Boulevard.  The address will be 200 Cultivate, though you probably won’t find that on a map yet.

Board members had five names to consider Tuesday, with other options being the nearby street names: Beacon, Benchmark, Cultivate, and Paramount.

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place on Wednesday, April 1 at 3:30p.m.

IUSD selects new Public Information Officer to start in March

In an announcement today from Asst. Superintendent of Human Resources, Eamonn O’Donovan:

We are pleased to announce that Annie Brown will be the new Public Information Officer for Irvine Unified School District. Annie joins IUSD from the City of Irvine, where she served as Senior Media Services Coordinator in the Public Information Office (PIO). She will make the transition to IUSD in late March.

A manager in the public information division for the City of Irvine, Annie was responsible for communications with employees, residents, and local businesses, and her knowledge of Irvine will be of benefit in IUSD’s efforts to engage the community in the education of our students.

Her experience includes marketing, media relations, publications, issues and crisis management, emergency management, community relations, economic development, corporate communications, corporate giving, and event production.

Prior to working with the City of Irvine, Annie handled corporate communications for Honeywell Transportation Systems, based in Torrance, California.

Annie earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University, Chico.

A resident of Newport Beach, she has a 6-year-old daughter.