Alert: Irvine Police seek child annoyance suspect following latest reported crime

The Irvine Police Department advised of another child annoyance incident on Tuesday, this time occurring in the area of Paseo Westpark and Hearthstone. You can read the news release here.

Authorities believe the same man harassed and exposed himself to children on multiple occasions in the Woodbridge area in January and February. He’s said to be 20 to 30 years old with light skin and short, dark brown hair.

Once again, victims are urged to call 911 immediately, and anyone with information that might help investigators should contact the department at 949-724-7200.

Registration is open for preschool program offered by IUSD’s Early Childhood Learning Center

Registration is now open for parents seeking to enroll their children in IUSD’s preschool program for the 2014-15 school year.

The program, open to children ages 3 and 4 who live within the district’s attendance boundaries, is administered by the team of professional educators at IUSD’s Early Childhood Learning Center. A sliding scale is available for income-qualifying families.

Established in 2002, the Early Childhood Learning Center has worked collaboratively with local families to build a world-class learning community, one designed to support each child’s social, emotional and pre-academic needs.

The ECLC campus is located at 1 Smoketree in Irvine. To learn more, visit the center’s website, or call 949-936-5890

IUSD’s next two elementary schools are asking for you to help select their mascots

What mascots will represent IUSD’s next two elementary schools?

Now’s your chance to have a say.

Cypress Village Elementary School and Portola Springs Elementary School will both open their doors in the fall, and they already have principals and leadership teams in place.

What they don’t have are mascots, but each school has come up with a list of 10 potential options, and now they’re encouraging the community at large to vote. The top three choices at each site will be presented to incoming students and staff members for a final vote sometime in May.

Candidates for Cypress Village include the Bobcats, Cyclones, Racers and Rockets, and you can pick your favorite by clicking here. The Portola Springs ballot, which can be accessed by clicking here, includes the Mountain Lions, Pumas, Lions and Wildcats. That school is also asking for the public to weigh in on its color scheme.

“Because our schools so are reflective of the community around us, we wanted to ensure that we were reaching out to them as well,” said Heather Phillips, who was recently announced as the first principal of Portola Springs.

The deadline for community members to submit votes for both schools is April 11.

Cypress Village Elementary is under construction south of Jeffrey Road and east of the Santa Ana (5) Freeway. Portola Springs, serving its namesake village, will be located at an interim site for a year, with a new facility opening for the 2015-16 school year.

Flash mob breaks out at Irvine High School as students celebrate Unity Week

Flash mob at Irvine High School

About 100 dance students, 20 ASB members and 10 teachers recently initiated a flash mob at Irvine High as part of the school’s Unity Week celebration.

The seemingly sudden spark of spontaneous dance took place around the quad between first and second period on Feb. 26, IHS Dance Director Sheryl Sloate tells us. (The photo above is courtesy of student Jenny Seo.)

“People gathered around and watched the flash mob unfold, and several joined in at the end as the performers invited people to join in and dance,” Sloate said.

The students and teachers apparently kept the whole thing hush, even as they secretly rehearsed for several days during lunch. Being Unity Week, which celebrates unity and diversity, the songs focused on togetherness. The dancing was coordinated by Irvine High dance captains Melanie Sakurada, Rachel Blevins-Boor and Kristen Ninonuevo, with help from Sloate and ASB Adviser Flip Lanard.

Said Sloate, “It was a new experience for Irvine High and hopefully a new tradition.”

IUSD to present information on proposed high school boundary changes at upcoming forums

The Irvine Unified School District will hold four upcoming parent forums to share information on proposed changes to the district’s high school attendance boundaries.

The sessions, which are open to families from any school, are scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m. and will take place on the following days (and at the following locations):

  • Wednesday, March 19 in the Woodbridge High School Staff Lounge
  • Monday, March 24 in the Irvine High School Theater
  • Wednesday, March 26 in the University High School Multi-Purpose Room
  • Tuesday, April 1 in the Northwood High School Media Center

As the maps below indicate, the vast majority of IUSD students would not be impacted by the recommended changes. But planning for the district’s fifth comprehensive high school requires a modest reconfiguration that may affect Irvine students who are currently enrolled in kindergarten through the sixth grade, as well as current seventh-graders who live inside the proposed boundary for the fifth high school.

IUSD is planning to open the new school by September 2016 with just freshmen and sophomores, though juniors will be added in 2017 and seniors in 2018 as the inaugural class advances. The campus, set to occupy one of two potential locations near the Orange County Great Park, will serve Irvine’s newer communities and alleviate crowding at Irvine, Northwood, University and Woodbridge high schools.

Meanwhile, a new high school requires the formation of new attendance area, and boundary adjustments will be needed to ensure enrollment is balanced districtwide. The latter consideration is an important one, as IUSD’s Board Policy calls for high schools of no more than 2,400 students when possible. With the dramatic residential growth we’ve seen in Irvine, keeping high schools at this size has been an ongoing challenge.

Tony Ferruzzo, a facilities consultant and former IUSD principal, delivered this presentation on the proposed changes at the March 4 Board of Education meeting. The recommendations, he said, were drafted by the district’s Boundary Advisory Committee, which includes district staff, as well as one principal, one teacher, one student and two parents from each of IUSD’s comprehensive high schools. Ferruzzo said the panel has met regularly since October. After receiving public input, the school board is expected to vote on the proposals in June, though changes wouldn’t take effect until the fall of 2016.

Again, families can find out if they’re impacted by taking a look at the maps below — click on each one to enlarge — and they can learn more by attending one of the upcoming parent forums. Additional developments will be posted on the IUSD website and here on the IUSD NewsFlash.

IUSD's current high school boundaries

IUSD's proposed high school boundaries

Brywood and Canyon View choral singers shine at conference in Santa Barbara

This picture was sent to us by IUSD vocal music teacher Kaii Lee, who recently chaperoned eight Brywood Elementary sixth-graders and a Canyon View Elementary fifth-grader to the American Choral Directors Association’s Western Division Conference in Santa Barbara.

Selected from about 1,200 applicants to be members of the ACDA Honor Chorus, the Irvine students rehearsed with renowned conductor Henry Leck for four days beginning on Feb. 19 before a final performance at the Granada Theatre on Feb. 22. Lee says they sang a half-dozen songs in English, Latin, Hebrew, Portuguese and an East African dialect — all from memory.

“Our students performed beautifully,” she said. “It is a great accomplishment for them at this age.”

The students are: Brywood sixth-graders Sasha Anand, Ally Chao, Shounok Ghosh, Nathan Hsu, Joshua Kwon, Amala Neernannan, Shivani Pasricha and Varsha Sampath; and Canyon View fifth-grader Angeline Xu.

Stonegate Elementary principal will be IUSD’s next director of elementary education

An experienced IUSD principal with expertise in curriculum, instruction and operations has been selected to serve as the district’s next director of elementary education, Superintendent Terry Walker announced Friday.

Stan Machesky, who oversaw the opening of Stonegate Elementary and has since successfully managed that school’s rapid growth, will succeed Lauren Sipelis, who announced recently that her family is pursuing a unique opportunity to live overseas.

“Stan has been an exceptional leader in this district, excelling in a number of roles and under a variety of circumstances,” Superintendent Walker said. “As such, he brings a breadth and depth of expertise in so many areas, including instruction, curriculum and assessment, technology integration, facilities planning and budgeting. He has also capably managed the accelerated growth in one of our newest communities, and he is highly respected by parents, students and his colleagues.”

Now comes the task of finding a successor to Machesky, and there will undoubtedly be a large pool of qualified candidates. District officials said they will seek input from the Stonegate staff and community before selecting his replacement.

Machesky began his career in IUSD in 1996 as a teacher at the former Alderwood Basics Plus School, and in 2001 he was named principal of Santiago Hills Elementary School. Four years later he became principal at Plaza Vista School, a K-8.

Machesky later moved to Westwood Basics Plus, where he oversaw a smooth transition for the staff and community to a new home in Irvine’s Stonegate village in 2009. In August of that year, Machesky left Stonegate Elementary to serve as fiscal director for the Irvine Unified School District. But he returned the following year to fill a principal vacancy at the school.

Since returning to Stonegate, Principal Machesky has led efforts to accommodate a temporary surge in enrollment spurred by new residential development. Yet even with the larger student population, Stonegate has earned a string of recent accolades.

The campus earned a National Blue Ribbon in September, and earlier this month it was named the No. 1 elementary school in the county by the Orange County Register. In addition, it was recently announced that this year’s Elementary Teacher of the Year is from Stonegate, as is one of four IUSD Teachers of Promise.

Machesky, in an email to his community, acknowledged that his decision to leave was a difficult one.

“The part that is most difficult,” he wrote, “is the fact I will be leaving all of YOU, the wonderful families of this still growing and vibrant community. I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed our time growing and learning together and we have accomplished much since our start.”

Machesky has a master’s degree in educational administration from Cal State Fullerton and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Diego State University. A resident of Lake Forest, he is married with three sons, ages 8, 9 and 13.

IUSD gearing up for field test of modern assessments tied to Common Core standards

IUSD, along with hundreds of school districts throughout California, will be participating in a field test of the state’s brand new student assessment system this year.

You may already be familiar with the old STAR testing program that launched in 1999. Well, that’s being replaced statewide by the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress – or CASPP – which features modern computer-based exams that are aligned to the Common Core standards for English and math. While these exams won’t be officially administered until 2015, they will be piloted for many students this year.

One of the goals of the “field test” is to determine how well specific questions measure what students know and still need to learn. IUSD is also welcoming the opportunity to see how well its technical capabilities meet the demands of the new computer-based assessments — and whether additional resources may needed for teachers and schools.

Meanwhile, students may want to view this year’s test as an opportunity to try out the new system without consequences, as IUSD won’t be capturing or utilizing their scores. Instead, district officials plan to use what they learn to help ensure a successful launch of the new system during the 2014-15 school year.

In the weeks and months ahead, the field test will be administered to students in grades 3 through 8 at each of the district’s elementary schools, as well as grade 11 at each high school. If you’d like to preview what types of questions students will see, or how the test will be presented, you can access an online practice test by clicking here.

For more information, visit the California Department of Education’s Smarter Balanced webpage. And if you have any questions regarding your child’s participation in Irvine, you may want to check out IUSD’s Common Core webpage.

Alert: Irvine Police continue to seek suspect for child annoyance and indecent exposure

The Irvine Police Department advised Thursday that it continues to search for a suspect who may have harassed and exposed himself to children on multiple occasions in the Woodbridge area. Police are also urging any victims to call 9-1-1 immediately.

The latest crime reportedly occurred at about 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, near Eastshore and East Yale Loop. Authorities say a man exposed himself after asking a 12-year-old victim for the time.

Two weeks earlier, on Feb. 12, a man allegedly exposed himself to one high school student and harassed another at about 3:20 p.m., while the two 15-year-old girls were walking home near West Yale Loop and Warner Avenue.

The suspect has been described as a male with light skin, possibly 20 to 30 years old, with short, brown hair. Detectives believe he may have also been involved in similar incidents in the Woodbridge area on Jan. 17 and Feb. 4. He allegedly drives a dark four-door sedan with tinted windows. A news release for the Feb. 12 crime, which includes a composite sketch of the suspect, can be accessed by here.

Police have maintained an increased presence in recent weeks, particularly around local schools, and the Irvine Unified School District has pledged its ongoing assistance, including communications. Once again, victims are advised to call 9-1-1 immediately, and anyone with information is asked to contact the department at 949-724-7200.

IUSD and IPD are also jointly encouraging families to remind children of the following safety strategies:

  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings
  • If approached by a suspicious stranger, run away and immediately notify your parents or a trusted adult
  • If wearing headphones, look for approaching people or vehicles as you may not hear them
  • Whenever possible, walk with a partner or in a group
  • Stay away from remote or unfamiliar areas
  • Stay on the part of the walkway that is farthest away from shrubs, dark doorways and alleys where people can hide
  • Do not approach vehicles that may slow or stop ahead of you
  • If you see suspicious activity or persons, immediately leave the area and call 9-1-1
  • Always avoid substances that may make you vulnerable, such as drugs and alcohol

Irvine High newspaper takes first and Northwood is second in county journalism competition

For the second straight year, high school newspapers from Irvine have taken first and second place at the Orange County Journalism Education Association Write-Offs.

Irvine High School’s El Vaquero won the overall Division 1 sweepstakes at the Feb. 22 competition for student newspaper reporters and yearbook staffs. The Howler, which is Northwood High’s student newspaper, finished in second place, and Oxford Academy in Cypress placed third.

Julie Braun, the El Vaquero adviser, said more than 200 students from 15 schools traveled to Fullerton College to compete in this year’s event. Her students now have their sights set on the Southern California Journalism Education Association State Write-Offs, which will be held March 15 in Long Beach.

Interestingly enough, Northwood took the county sweepstakes last year, with Irvine High finishing second. But El Vaquero has historically been a force to be reckoned with at the SCJEA Write-Offs, winning in 2000, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 and 2012. (In sports we’d call that a dynasty.)

Contributing team points to the county win and advancing to the state contest are: Alex Williams, news; Clara Baik, Melanie Sakurada and Alex Thompson, sports; Tracy Nguyen, Sally Oh and Jennifer Shin, editorial; and Joseph Kim, features.

Other El Vaquero staffers to earn honors include Avrita Brar, Carissa Chow, Prosperity Fields, David Hsiou, Angela Lee and George Parampathu in novice news; Anissa Govind and Saieashwar Mukund in cartooning; Sreyas Samantula in critical review; Jenny Seo in photography; and Jillian Kido and Jessica Lin in newspaper layout.