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:


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.

Registration for 30th Annual Irvine Games is Now Open

Young athletes in grades four through eight are encouraged to sign up for the 30th annual Irvine Junior Games, which will be held on Sunday, May 7 at Irvine Stadium.

The long-running track and field competition is comprised of a number of activities including distance running, sprints, relays and field events, such as the standing long jump, the basketball shoot and the soccer kick. The entrance fee is $35 per athlete, and students can register at irvinejuniorgames.com

The Irvine Junior Games was established in 1986 both as a fundraiser for the Irvine Children’s Fund as well as a platform to encourage elementary-age kids to embrace health and athletics. Each year, more than 1,500 IUSD students participate in the event.

Superintendent Walker Delivers State of the District in New Video

Superintendent Terry Walker delivered the State of the Irvine Unified School District in a new video, which can be viewed by clicking here

State of the District topics include:

  • An overview of IUSD’s vision to prepare students for 21st century college and careers.
  • District funding realities, as one of the lowest funded school districts in California, and how IUSD is maximizing investments to best serve our students.
  • New State Standards and IUSD’s instructional strategies.
  • How the District is using technology to enhance and empower students and teachers.
  • IUSD’s facilities, which are designed to foster flexibility, innovation and collaboration.
  • Important District’s partnerships with parents, students and the community, which are critical components of IUSD’s success.

Thank you for taking the time to watch this important video and for your continued investments, engagement, partnership and support of IUSD.

IUSD to Host Free E-Waste Recycling Event

On Saturday, January 28 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., the Irvine Unified School District will host a free electronics recycling event at the District Office, located at 5050 Barranca Parkway in Irvine.

IUSD staff will team up with All Green to collect e-waste, which can range from the dated laptop in your hall closet to that VCR you haven’t used since you got the new DVD player to the dust-covered monitor in your garage.  E-waste is basically anything with a plug that is unused, obsolete or non-working. All Green accepts the following:

  • Computers
  • Smart phones
  • Monitors
  • Printers
  • TVs
  • VCRs
  • Stereos
  • Miscellaneous electronic equipment (anything with a plug and circuit board)

Items not accepted include:

  • Batteries
  • Furniture
  • Household hazardous waste
  • Kitchen appliances

E-waste contains heavy metals such as lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium and zinc that contaminate our soil and water, and is responsible for 70 percent of all heavy metals found in landfills today. A recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency says E-waste in landfills will grow four-fold over the next five years.  Help do your part to protect our environment by safely recycling your old electronics at this free public event.

Irvine Company Issued Latest Installment of $45M Commitment to Art, Music and Science

During the first Board Meeting of 2017, the Irvine Company presented IUSD with a check for $2.15 million as part of the Excellence in TIC PhotoEducation Enrichment Fund grant, which supports art, music and science education for Irvine Unified School District students in grades four through six.

In September 2016, Mr. Donald Bren and the Irvine Company announced that they would renew the Excellence in Education Enrichment Fund grant with an additional $20 million over the next 10 years, bringing the Irvine Company’s commitment to IUSD students and families to more than $45 million.  Each year, more than 7,000 students are positively impacted by the Enrichment Fund.  To date, this unprecedented support has benefited more than 70,000 IUSD students.

Robin Leftwich, Vice President of Community Affairs for the Irvine Company, presented this year’s check to the IUSD Board of Education and IUSD students.  Board President Ira Glasky expressed the District’s gratitude for the generous donation, which has sustained critical educational opportunities in IUSD.

Superintendent Terry Walker stated that the Enrichment Fund has had a lasting and positive impact for IUSD students, before introducing IUSD Student Board Member Allie Hunter, who performed “Always Starting Over” from the musical If/Then.  Hunter, who is a Senior at Woodbridge High School, delivered a pitch perfect performance and was an excellent example of how the Enrichment Fund has benefited so many IUSD students.

Established in 2006, the Excellence in Education Enrichment Fund pays for specialists to work in IUSD’s fourth through sixth-grade classrooms. Students receive two 60-minute science lessons per week, two 40-minute music lessons per week and six hour-long art lessons per year, all taught by highly qualified instructors.

The program has been extremely popular in IUSD, enabling schools to preserve and continue hands-on courses that may have been lost due to budget cuts.

Irvine Company Renews Enrichment Fund with $20M Commitment to IUSD Students

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.


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 ucirvinesports.com/iusd2017.

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.

School Board Hosts Swearing-In for Elected Board Members and Selects New President

During the December 13 Irvine Unified School District Board Meeting, incumbents Paul Bokota and Lauren Brooks, and newly-elected Board paul-lauren-and-betty-2016Member Betty Carroll, took the oath of office.  This is the second term for both Bokota and Brooks.

The Board also selected a new president and clerk, which are one-year terms.  Ira Glasky was selected to serve as president and Sharon Wallin was tapped to serve as clerk.  The Board and District staff honored Paul Bokota for his service as president since last December.

In addition to being the final session of 2016, Tuesday marked the annual organizational meeting for the five-member board, which approved school site liaison assignments, determined Board Member committee participation, appointed representatives to various District committees and established meeting dates through December 2017. The next two regular meetings are scheduled for January 17 and February 7. paul-and-ira-passing-gavel-2016

Board Certifies First Interim Report
Also Tuesday, the Board voted to certify IUSD’s First Interim Report of 2016-17 as “positive,” meaning the district is expected to meet its financial obligations over the next two years.

Every school district in California is required to examine and certify its financial condition as “positive,” “qualified” or “negative” twice during each fiscal year. Positive is the ideal certification, while qualified indicates a district may not be able to meet its financial obligations for the current year and the two subsequent years. A negative certification indicates that a district will not be able to meet its financial obligations over this period.

Sierra Vista’s Henry Miller Named 2017 GRAMMY Music Educator Finalist

IUSD is proud to announce Sierra Vista’s Music Teacher Henry Miller has been named, by the GRAMMY Foundation, one of 10 finalists for henry-miller-2016-2the 2017 Music Educator Award.  This prestigious honor is particularly impressive, given that there were more than 3,300 nominees from all 50 states.  The winner will be announced in Los Angeles during GRAMMY week and will attend the GRAMMY Awards.

The Music Educator award recognizes teachers who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in schools.

Below is a link to CBS This Morning’s national coverage of the 10 finalists.

Congratulations and best wishes to Henry!

Related News:
Sierra Vista’s Henry Miller Named a GRAMMY Music Educator Semifinalist
Woodbridge High School Named Top GRAMMY School in the Nation
All Four IUSD High Schools Named 2016 GRAMMY Signature School Semifinalists