Thursday, March 31, 2011

More help for Japan

K-8 students from Stevenson's Carmel campus raised funds by selling handcrafts they made, ranging from jewelry, origami figures, Japanese character prints, pet rocks, sock animals, and decorated pencils. All their items were priced for one dollar, and they raised more than $1,600 in about 30 minutes.
"It was an impressive student-inspired effort, and the kids worked very hard to raise funds for Japan--in a very short amount of time!" said spokeswoman Elena Rhodes Sexton.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Big Sur students get a break

Caltrans has agreed to allow foot traffic near Rocky Creek in the morning and afternoon for school use only, according to news posted in the Carmel Unified District website. This means the district can provide transportation to and from town every day for Carmel Middle School and Carmel High School students.

Students will be driven by bus to the slide area and walk across under bus driver supervision. They will load into another bus waiting on the other side of the slide.

Bus stops on the morning bus run will be 10 min earlier than usual. In the afternoon, bus stops will be 30 minutes later than usual.

Please be aware that students are expected to go to their regular school each day. The district will no longer offer tutorial support at Captain Cooper.

To view the bus schedule, click here.

If I get more information about this from district personnel, I'll write it for Thursday's Herald. If not, I'll shoot for Friday. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Your representatives at work

Sam Farr wants your art. Luis Alejo wants your ideas to keep students from dropping out.

Submissions are now being received for the 2011 Congressional Art Competition, An Artistic Discovery. All local high school students in the 17th Congressional District are invited to participate by submitting up to three pieces of original student artwork.

Entries must be submitted to Congressman Sam Farr’s Salinas or Santa Cruz District offices, by May 6, 2011. Submitted entries will be judged at a reception on May 16, 2011 at Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, 710 Old Stage Road, Salinas, CA 93908.

The first place winner will receive two roundtrip tickets to Washington, D.C. from Southwest Airlines, and will join students from across the country to be honored at a reception in Washington, D.C. in mid-June. The winning student’s artwork will also be displayed in the Capitol for a year.

Artwork must be original, two-dimensional and when framed cannot be larger than 28 inches x 28 inches x 4 inches. Categories for competition include paintings, drawings, collage, prints, mixed media, computer generated art and photography.
For more information about the contest, click here.

For further questions and full details, please contact Bertha Munoz in Congressman Farr’s Salinas’ office at 831-424-2229. All submissions are due by May 6, 2011.

Last year, Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School student from Santa Cruz, Hanna Seltz, was awarded first place for her entry, titled “Buejuv, Zanzibar”. To view last year winning painting, click here.

Now on to Assemblymember Luis A. Alejo. The legislator will host a summit catchily named "Knock out the Drop Out," which is intended to reduce drop out rates in the Central Coast.

The summit will include a forum, a speakers’ panel and workshops for youth grades 6th to 12th.

On Sat., April 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hartnell College, 411 Central Avenue, Salinas.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Because our youngsters not just achieve in the classroom

Young members of the Salinas Kendo dojo did very well at the San Mateo kendo dojo's 30th anniversary tournament Sunday, March 20. Twelve year old Mikey Fletcher took 3rd place in the 11 to 13 year old division. Fourteen-year-old Douglas Inoue took third place in the 14-17 years old division. Mikey and Douglas made up a two-man team, and placed second in the children's 5-man team tournament. Mikey fought 2 matches against opposing teams, and Douglas had to fight 3 matches against each opposing team. Lance Pham took second place in the adult kyu (non-black belt) division, and Jimmy Eitoku placed third in the 4-dan (4th degree black belt) and above division. The Salinas kendo dojo practices in Salinas at the Salinas Buddhist Temple on Monday and Thursday nights; and in Monterey on Monday and Friday nights. For more information about the club, click here.
In the picture, from left: Jimmy Eitoku, Adam Eitoku, Mikey Fletcher, Eddie Hurt, Douglas Inoue, Lance Pham, and Heidi Rosenthal.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Of history and photography

Two events this weekend will showcase our talented youth: Monterey County History Day and "My View," a photo exhibit in Salinas.

About the photo exhibit: young people of the Alisal show their work developed to bring to life issues facing the community. Part of the conversation is to advocate for peace, equality and justice.

“Being part of My View opened up my eyes to the rest of Salinas, it is surprising how many things we can do for our community, through images you see what you are trying to transform; for instance: the run-down houses, the need for markets where they sell fresh products, helping out families and mothers who have lost their kids to violence,” said Cristian Trujillo, an 18-year-old student of Salinas High School.

The show will open Saturday at the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts - 745 N. Sanborn Rd. Salinas.

Also on Saturday, Monterey County’s 21st Annual History day will take place between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

This year’s them: Debate and diplomacy in history: successes, failures, consequences”

In History Day, students from 4th to 12th grade engage in activities that further student’s understanding of historical issues, ideas, people and events. Students compete in one of six categories: historical paper, exhibit, performance, documentary, historical web site, or 4/5th grade poster.

The winning projects of the Monterey County Competition will compete at the California State Finals in San Jose on April 28th to May 1st. The winners of the state competition will represent California at the National Competition in Maryland on June 12th-16th.

Organized by the Lyceum of Monterey County, the event takes place at All Saints' Episcopal Day School, 8060 Carmel Valley Rd. For more information, click here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A helping hand for Japan

After learning about the tragic events in Japan, Japanese teacher Shawn De Haven of Everett Alvarez High wanted to fight against the feeling of powerlessness and help the country where he lived for six years. Along with the Japanese Club, De Haven put together a fundraiser drive where everyone at the school was asked to donate at least a dollar. The Japanese Club and the Link Crew went around the school after lunch and together were able to raise $1,866 for the Red Cross. They’ll sent the money by the end of this week.

In the picture: Shawn De Haven, Cassandra Ruano, Tim Branche, Eddie Ruano, Manuel Pantoja and Cristy Criollo. Photo provided by Shawn De Haven.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A taste of college

About 450 youngsters from 36 schools in Monterey County and surrounding areas descended into CSUMB Tuesday to help them hone their writing skills in a college environment.

These are not your regular high and middle school students. They all take AVID classes – Advancement Via Individual Determination, a program that sets middle and high school students on a path to college. To be able to attend, they had to participate in a “Write of’, a timed writing exercise designed to get them exited about writing. Top writers were selected to attend the writer’s conference at CSUMB.

They cam from as far north as Palo Alto to as far south as Greenfield. They attended seminars such as “Boredom Boredom Busters: Strategies for Attacking Academic Texts,” by CSUMB professor Jennifer Fletcher (in the picture kindly provided by CSUMB).

AVID has helped thousands of students to get into college. With the help of their peers students stay motivated and encouraged, making their path to college easier. In California in 2009-10, 91 percent of AVID seniors had completed four-year college entrance requirements, compared to 36 percent of their peers who did not participate in the program.

For more information about AVID, click here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Salinas Union and Santa Rita have reasons to celebrate

Salinas Union High School District has been named to the College Board AP Achievement List for opening AP classroom doors to many more students while maintaining or improving the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher. The district is one of fewer than 400 districts nationwide that make it to the list.

This is no small feat. Much is being discussed about budget cuts and how these cuts are getting to the bone, which means, instruction. And in spite of it, we find the success stories: I've seen some of the students in AP classes, the content they have to learn, and it's very impressive. So congrats, Salinas Union High School District!

The complete AP Achievement list can be found here.

Now to Santa Rita Union: the 3,000- or so school district and its Measure C oversight committee will hold a grand opening ceremony for the Bolsa Knolls Middles School starting at 8:30 a.m. Saturday (March 26), 1031 Rogge Road, Salinas.

Bolsa Knolls Middle School and the Santa Rita Union School district are the first in the state to receive Gen7 environmentally friendly classrooms, designed to be energy efficient. And I sure hope they're also very comfortable!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The traveling president

Cal State Monterey Bay President Dianne Harrison heads to the Middle East this week in hopes of establishing exchange programs with universities in Oman and Jordan.

Harrison is one of seven college and university presidents selected for the 2011 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program. Her group leaves Thursday and returns to the United States on April 8.

Harrison and the other presidents are scheduled to meet with campus leaders in both countries to discuss institutional mission, resources, challenges and opportunities to work with American partners. The trip will provide an opportunity to refine and expand the international vision and agenda of CSU Monterey Bay and the California State University system.

A major objective of participating in the seminar, Harrison said, is the chance to develop and strengthen international exchanges and opportunities for students and faculty at CSU Monterey Bay.

“I believe it is essential that we are inclusive of countries from all parts of the world,” Dr. Harrison said. “And that includes the Middle East.” Our students and faculty can benefit by establishing partnerships with universities in the Middle East. By having their students come to the United States and to California we also add to our existing diversity on our campus.

Harrison's trip comes at a time of great turmoil in the Middle East. The wave of anti-government protests has swept through Oman and Jordan, although demonstrations have not captured the attention given to Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. At Oman, protesters have occupied a traffic circle in the port city of Sohar, and citizens have demonstrated at government buildings in Muscat, the capital.

In Jordan, thousands of residents have held protests since January demanding change, according to news reports.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The creativity of Salinas: make a film, watch a dance recital

Alisal High student Eduardo Velasquez told me today Salinas is a very creative city, even if it's not often portrayed that way.

Well, here's two events that speak to the creative work happening in Salinas. One is the kind where you sit and enjoy, the other one's the type that makes you work.

The Salinas Union High School District and the Salinas Public Library are sponsoring the High School film festival, which will take place at 7 p.m. on April 15. And your film could be the big winner.

Award winner receive cash and prizes. All genres, including animation, will be accepted. You can edit your film at the digital labs of John Steinbeck or César Chavez libraries. Each lab provides access to video editing software and personal instruction.

Submit your film via DVD with student names to Michael Roddy, Salinas Union High District, 431 West Alisal St., Salinas, CA 93901. All submissions must be received by March 31.

The second event happens this weekend : Tonatiuh, Danzantes del Quinto Sol, the dance troupe that enlivens the city at every step, will present its 18th anniversary concert Saturday, at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. At the Western Stage of Hartnell College, 411 Central Ave., Salinas. Tickets: $15 adult, $10 children under 12.

Come and support maestro Ramón Silva and his dancers. They’re one of the groups that make Salinas a better place.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Para variar, un mensaje para mis lectores en español

por que sé que estan ahí, en el ciberespacio.

La Casa Blanca publicó un comunicado la semana pasada sobre la importancia de la reforma de la educación para la comunidad hispana y para que Estados Unidos gane el futuro.

El Presidente dejó en claro que si Estados Unidos ha de tener éxito en el futuro, debemos educar más que nuestros competidores mundiales para que podamos ser líderes de la economía internacional en el siglo XXI. La comunidad hispana es crucial para lograr esta visión y alcanzar el objetivo del Presidente de que Estados Unidos vuelva a ser líder del mundo en términos de egresados universitarios. Un aspecto clave del éxito de la comunidad hispana es ayudar a los estudiantes a aprender inglés para que alcancen su pleno potencial. Con eso en mente, recientemente tuvimos una Conversación Nacional sobre la Enseñanza de Inglés.

El blog de Rosalinda Barrera detalla la conversación que tuvo lugar el 7 y 8 de marzo sobre la Enseñanza de Alumnos de Inglés (National Conversation on English Learner Education), la cual congregó a casi 160 educadores locales, miembros de la comunidad y padres de California y otros 10 estados con funcionarios del gobierno federal (incluyendola a ella) para expresar perspectivas diversas sobre la responsabilidad que tenemos todos de invertir en la educación de quienes están aprendiendo inglés.

Si quiere leer más sobre la conversación, pulse aquí.

Y no dejen de blogear! He estado leyendo sus blogs, y todos son muy interesantes. Sus voces son necesarias.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For those who say we only report "the negative"

here's an uplifting, tremendously sweet story I wrote for today's paper. It's about a group of Pacific Grove Middle School students raising fund for Rwandan orphans and connecting with them via Skype. If you missed it, you can access it here. It was a sight to see: the Rwandan children excitedly showing their Pacific Grove benefactors their humble home, the Pacific Grove children sweetly singing in Kinyarwanda. I should have brought my video camera.

Also, in today's electronic edition of the newspaper, some really horrendous news. An 11-year-old girl was sexually abused and ended up pregnant as a result.

Now guess which story has been the most viewed -- the happy story of Pacific Grove humanitarians, or the horrific story about the 11-year-old?

You probably guessed correctly. It's right there on the home page of the Herald, a top of the "most viewed" news for the past 12 hours. Or more.

Maybe I'm naive, but I've been noticing this for quite some time: we write "positive" news almost as often as "negative" ones. Sadly, the "negative" is more eye-catching, more memorable. Not surprisingly, we reporters get blamed for it more often.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kudos to Julian Brown and Perry Choi

both seniors from York School, have been named as candidates in the 2011 Presidential Scholars Program. There are only 3,000 candidates nationwide out of 3.2 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools this year. Choi and Brown were the only two students out the the Tri-county area (Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties) to be selected.

Brown, son of Susan Brown of Carmel, and Choi, son of Eunah Seo of Monterey, were selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in community and school activities. Inclusion in the Presidential Scholars Program, now in its 47th year, is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Candidates are also selected for their exceptional performance on either the College Board SAT or the ACT Assessment. The selecting panel also takes into consideration students’ essays, self-assessments, descriptions of activities, school recommendations, and school transcripts.

500 semi-finalists will be selected in early April by distinguished educators.

The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of some 32 eminent citizens appointed by the President, will make the final selection of some 90 Scholars, who will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education in May. Scholars will be invited to Washington, DC, in June to receive the Presidential Scholars medallion at a recognition ceremony and to participate in events and activities with their elected representatives, educators, and other leading individuals in public life.

It's been quite a year for Choi: a musician, athlete and scholar, he's been capturing quite a number of headlines recently. Looks like his lucky year, maybe he'll end up capturing the Presidential honor as well. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 11, 2011

You may not believe it from all the Tsunami coverage...

But there's other stuff going on around the world. Right here, in the Monterey Peninsula, hundreds of physical health educators are gathered for the annual conference of the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. They're on site to learn the latest on physical education and how to keep kids active in this age of budget cuts.

Two local schools (King City Charter in King City and Learning for Life Charter in Marina) received $1,000 each as a Front Runner in the Governor’s Challenge. The Governor’s Challenge Competition is a statewide fitness contest among K-12 schools that promotes increased physical activity and better health among California’s youth. The competition’s three grand prizes—brand new fitness activity centers for the winning elementary school, middle school and high school—and eleven regional awards of $6,000 of physical activity equipment will be awarded to schools that succeed in getting students and teachers to be physically active 30-60 minutes a day, at least three days a week for at least four weeks.

In town were also California chief of schools Tom Torlakson and U.S Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to speak about childhood obesity.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Monterey Peninsula Unified trustees

are interviewing today three candidates to fill the vacancy on Trustee Area 3. The candidates are real estate broker and former educator Ben Nurse, food stylist and stepparent of a MAOS sophomore Diane Gsell, and attorney and former custodian for the MPUSD Richard Glenn. Only in the United States of America!

The interviews are scheduled for 6 p.m. at the district board room in the MPUSD district offices, 700 Pacific Street, Monterey.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Monterey Peninsula College is about to get eviscerated

and students and community members want to know what they can do to prevent it.

It may not be that easy, but a good way to start would be to contact Republicans who could still vote to place a tax extension on the ballot -- so said MPC President Doug Garrison and trustee Charlie Page. One of them is Sam Blakeslee, who represents the 15th district that includes Monterey. At this stage in the game (Blakeslee sent a letter to Gov. Brown saying he and the four Republicans willing to consider a tax extension had reached an impasse in negotiations) it may be too late. Still, judging by the passion expressed last night at the meeting, there may be hundreds of people who should let Blakeslee and other Republicans know how they feel. Click here for information on how to reach him.

The other Republicans who were in negotiations with Blakeslee are: senators Anthony Canella, Tom Berryhill, Bill Emmerson, and Tom Harman.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On the road to success.

Sam Pacheco, Professor of Chicano Studies, CSUMB and a Talent Search Coordinator for the University, was the keynote speaker at Saturday's conference for migrant middle schoolers at CSUMB. About 100 migrant youth learned about what it takes to avoid drugs, gangs, and getting pregnant at a young age.

What was unique about this conference was the organizing committee, which was made-up of local high school migrant students.
Last summer, these high school students participated in a one-week leadership and civics educational field trip to Washington, D.C., and part of the commitment the students made before going on the trip was to serve on the planning committee for this middle school conference. The high school students developed their leadership skills as they selected the workshops’ topics and conducted the planning of the event. At the conference, the high school students served as facilitators, ran the conference and co-presented in the workshops.

Friday, March 4, 2011

talented youngsters of Monterey County...

You're being sought: if you draw, take amazing photos, or are actively involved in the Alisal, here's your chance for the spotlight.

The first opportunity comes from the Building Healthy Communities group, which is actively engaged in creating a better East Salinas. A group of teenagers have been very involved in the effort, and the group is trying to recognize their work. The Deadline is March 18th. Hard copies of the application are available at the 2nd Chance Office, Alisal High School, and Cesar Chavez Library. Or you can and ask for one.

If you're too young for volunteering, maybe you're perfect for drawing! Monterey County kids in grades Kindergarten to 8th are invited to use their artistic talents to create posters to draw attention to the need to stay healthy during flu season and all year long.
Students can choose to draw about one of the following themes: Wash Your Hands, Cover Your Cough, Stay Home When You Are Sick, Eat Healthy. ¡Y también lo pueden hacer en español si quieren!
Deadline for submitting posters is March 31.
For more details, see the poster contest rules here.

Or maybe you're too old for drawing and snapping pictures is your thing.
All Monterey County 6th through 12th grade students are invited to use their artistic talents to take/submit photos depicting how they live healthy.
Students should focus on and depict any aspect of health in their photo submissions. The following themes are suggested or, students may create their own:
· Get vaccinated!
· Practice Healthy Habits: be germ free, eat a well balanced diet, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, keep stress in check, etc.
· Keep your toys clean (big kid toys obviously! For example- cell phones, keyboards, steering wheels, remote controls, etc.)
· Spread the love/music/fun/health, not the flu!
· Wash your hands/clean hands
The deadline for photo contest submissions is Friday, April 29, 2011.
For more information and to see the contest rules, click here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Help Monterey Bay Charter and Return of the Natives

The Monterey Bay Charter School is launching its Fifth Annual Plant-A-Thon fundraiser in partnership with California State University Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) Return of the Natives Restoration Education Project. On March 5th, Kindergarten through 8th grade students, parents, and faculty will work together with the Bureau of Land Management and Return of the Natives to restore thousands of native drought-resistant plants at Sandstone Ridge on the BLM Fort Ord Public Lands. Funds raised through this project will benefit the facilities and educational programming at the Monterey Bay Charter School and 5 percent of net proceeds will benefit Return of the Natives. The school and Return of the Natives are asking the business and local communities to support the project with tax-deductible donations.
Plant-A-Thon Contact Information: Tomasina Burgess, Plant-A-Thon Chair, 831-920-1111
For more information about Monterey Bay Charter, click here.
For more on Return of the Natives Restoration Education Project, click here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Walking School Bus

is coming near you...

Thanks to "Safe Routes to School" state grant, communities in Soledad and King City will be able to organize "walking school buses" which are one or more parents guiding a group of children on their way to school. Walking school buses may be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school, or as structured as planned route with meeting points, a time table and a schedule of trained volunteers.

The object of a walking school bus is to provide a safe, structure way for kids to walk to and from school, in addition to encouraging fun and exercise. They also reduce traffic and pollution around the schools, which in turn helps the environment.

The walking school bus program is NOT replacing or eliminating any buses or bus routes. Parents and grandparents interested in becoming a walking school bus leader can contact their local school or Susan Kent at 755-8975.

M-a-g-n-i-f-i-c-e-n-t spellers

E-x-c-r-u-c-i-a-t-i-n-g was but one of the many spelling hurdles jumped by the 52 finalists in the Lyceum of Monterey County’s Spelling Bee. The 27th anniversary of the event was held at San Benancio Middle School last Saturday morning. The auditorium was packed with parents, grand-parents and proud teachers who came to watch and support the 4th and 5th Grade participants from twenty-seven Monterey County elementary schools -- I wasn't there, but Tom Nelson, interim executive director of the Lyceum was and sent this report, along with photos.

Placing first was Jason Hoech of Mission Park School in Salinas (wearing red). Second place went to Joseph Johnson of All Saints Day School in Carmel Valley (next to Jason). Third and fourth place finishers were Ilhara Gray of Tularcitos Elementary in Carmel Valley (next to Joseph) and Aidan Van Der Bijl of Carmel River School (last but not least).

The treacherous list of challenging words provided a formidable, pandemonic, yet asymmetric spelling campaign, thus immortalizing these gregarious connoisseurs of the written word in our record books. (Italicized words spelled in the contest). Yes, it’s an awkward sentence!

To see more photos of the event visit