Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer of celebration!

Who says summer is just for camps or endless boredom?
It's also time to celebrate our local talent!
Yarieza Barboa, 14, is one of thirty-seven Boys & Girls Club artists whose work has been chosen to appear in the 2011 National Fine Arts Exhibit. Selected from more than 252 finalists vying for top honors at this year’s national competition, “Philosophical Angel” won in the collage division, and will travel with the National Fine Arts Exhibit on a nationwide tour. In recognition of their achievement, winning artists will receive a plaque and congratulatory letter from Roxanne Spillett, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Way to go, girl!!!

And speaking of local talent, two York students were among 25 in the Bay Area honored by the National Center for Women & Information Technology.
Marina and Natasha Nogueira were awarded the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing, which recognizes high-school women for their computing-related achievements and interests. Each recipient received a $250 gift card, A Day@Google, 1GB Microsoft flash drive, one year memberships to the Computer History Museum and The Tech Museum, an engraved award for both recipient and school, and much more!
The young women were feted at an award ceremony at The Computer History Museum on June 6.

And another local student, Minbo Bai of Salinas High School won a total of $11,000 in two scholarships from telecommunications company Comcast. One hundred and seventy six high school seniors won the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship, with carries a $1,000 award. But Bai, who will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall, also won one of two Comcast Founders Scholarships of $10,000 -- instituted in honor of Ralph J. Roberts, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Comcast Corporation.
The Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program, recognizes high school seniors for their leadership skills, positive attitude, academic achievement and various community service activities including mentoring and tutoring younger students, volunteering at hospitals and participating in relief efforts. The philosophy behind the program is to give young people every opportunity to be prepared for the future, to engage youth in their communities, and to demonstrate the importance of civic involvement, and the value placed on civic involvement by the business community.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Of graduates and scholarship recipients

Salinas high school seniors received over $7.2 million in scholarship offers to go on into college. The biggest recipient, Sarah Epperson of Salinas High, will get $300,000 to attend West Point. Among other big winners are:
Sarah Reams, Salinas High, a volleyball scholarship of $198,000 to attend Saint Mary's College
Taylor Camany, Salinas High, golf scholarship of $188,000 to attend Santa Clara University
Kyle Knoles-Barnet, Salinas High, $184,620 to attend Drexel College
Uriel Garcia, Everett Alvarez, $165,200 for UC San Francisco
Jamil Cary, Everett Alvarez, $121,836, Macalester College
John Antonio, North Salinas, $120,000, US Marine College Fund
Kelly Allyn, Salinas High, $120,000, St. Lawrence University
Nataly Raygoza, Everett Alvarez, $106,912, Saint Mary's College
Marisa Hernandez, Everett Alvarez, $100,600, Bay Path College

The Salinas Union High School District has made it a tradition to track down the money earned for scholarships by its students, and administrators hope to double the amount in the next couple of years.

Speaking of graduates, the International School of Monterey just celebrated a special graduation: their pioneering class, the students who "opened" the school when it started in 2001, graduated from 8th grade last week. Among the students were 11 "homegrown", who have started with the school, and 34 others who began their schooling at ISM afterwards.
The International School is a charter school under the umbrella of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. About 416 students from throughout Monterey County attend.
Congratulations, International School. And many more!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Healthy and colorful

Coming soon to a school or public gathering center near you: the winning posters of the county-wide artistic contest on how to stay healthy. Children from pre-Kinder to 5th grade were asked to depict behaviors that will help them stay healthy, and this is what they came up with: images of washing hands to get rid of germs, sneezing on your elbow a la "vampire cough" and animals hiding in their natural habitats when they're sick.
"The children captured the health messages with imagination and color.” Said Dr. Hugh Stallworth, Monterey County Health Officer “It is my hope, the messages will remind all of us to take three simple steps to keep our community healthy.”
And the winners are:
Wash your hands – Mrs. Varner’s Kindergarten Class, Prunedale Elementary
Stay home when you are sick – Madeleine Britt, Laurel Wood B.E.S.T. Program
Cover your cough - Sabrina Sheffer and Gisselle Chavez, Loma Vista School
The winning posters have been re-printed and will be distributed to area schools and community organizations.
The Health Officer’s Award for creativity went to Karina Carrasco of Boronda Meadows. Karina’s image -- a turtle that stays inside its shell when he's sick -- and other children’s artwork will be featured in the 2010-2011 the Health Department’s Stay Healthy Calendar.

Now that school's in summer session and many children will have to dispense with their school breakfast and lunches, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County will be serving FREE healthy breakfast and lunch to children age 18 and younger -- through August 6, 2010. Breakfast will be served Monday through Friday at 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and lunch is served Monday through Friday starting at 12:00 noon until 1:00 p.m. You do not have to be a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County to participate.
The Salinas clubhouse is located at 85 Maryal Drive (behind the Rodeo Grounds), Salinas CA 93906 and the Seaside clubhouse is located at 1332 La Salle Ave, Seaside, CA 93955.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Whatever you say about our low-performing schools....

at least they're not cheating.

Check out this article at the New York Times describing a major scandal in Houston where a principal, an assistant principal and three teachers resigned over allegations they helped boost students scores in a non-academic sort of way. Very sad, but with the pressure many teachers and administrators are facing to improve test scores -- or face takeover, like at the Alisal -- it's not surprising that cheating is on the rise. The Old Gray Lady promises a series, so keep your eyes open.

Most fascinating are the comments: frustrated teachers who are getting all the blame for kids who don't have a supportive environment at home that will help them succeed in school. They don't have it easy, and I'm afraid it's gonna get worse before it gets better.

And speaking of budget problems, with so many schools canceling their summer sessions, many more students will be idling about, getting bored and perhaps getting into a bit of mischief. The Monterey County Office for Employment Training is offering an alternative through its Youth Employment Program for youths ages 14-21.

But the good folks need your help. They want to place as many as 1,200 youth into a job so they can gain hands-on experience through full and part-time work.
The Office for Employment Training will pay the employment wages and provide workers compensation coverage to the youth who qualify.

Applications for both youth and employers are available online. Or contact the Youth Employment Program by phone at (831) 796-3600 or toll free at 800-870-4750, or by email at

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Parents take charge

A common complaint from teachers and administrators is that not enough parents get involved with their children's education. Well, that's not the category where parents from the Kamman Elementary School fall.
For the first time, Kamman Elementary School provided a two-month training to Spanish-speaking parents whose children are enrolled in school. Parents who participated in “LifeSkills” program graduated last week and got a certificate.
"LifeSkills" is training to give parents the tools to prevent their children from getting into drugs and alcohol. Kamman School collaborated with Sun Street Centers to offer the program.

Shifting gears from parents to their kids, summer time is here, the time to learn something fun rather than being stuck in just any old classroom. Learn animation from local artist, animator and surfer, Andrew Dolan. Free! Dolan will first teach fun and interesting facts about the ocean. Then he’ll teach how to use video and stop motion animation to tell stories about the ocean. Students will learn the entire animation process from start to finish. Fourth-grade through college-level students can then enter their completed animated short videos into the Blue Ocean Film
Festival Student Video Contest! Space is limited. For information or to sign up, contact, 831.869.6055 / The classes are free and will take place June 15-18, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Center for Employment Training, 930 Los Coches Road, Soledad.