Monday, February 28, 2011

Attention budding Picassos

This year, the Monterey County Fair will hold a very special original artwork contest open to students 18 years and younger. There will be cash prizes for the winners, and one very special winner will be chosen as the cover for the Fair’s 2011 Entry Guidebook! The due date is Tuesday, March 15th and all rules and entry forms are on For more information, call (831) 372-5863.

The contest is open to students, preschool through 12th grade, who are residents of Monterey County. The art will be submitted on an 8 ½ x 11” sheet of paper and designed using the 2011 Monterey County Fair theme that celebrates 75 years of the Monterey County Fair and Horse ‘n Around. There are four categories of entries divided by age and all submissions will be displayed in the Monterey Room during the 2011 Monterey County Fair. All participants will receive one free pass to the Monterey County Fair, as well.

So sharpen those crayons or comb those brushes! The world needs to know of your great talents!

Friday, February 25, 2011

More on Diane Ravitch and inconvenient truths

If you missed the first of CSUMB's President's Speaker Series featuring Diane Ravitch, you will be able to listen to it in the upcoming days at KAZU (I'll post the broadcast time as soon as I find out it's been scheduled). If you don't want to wait, you may want to read her critique of "Waiting for Superman," the fall blockbuster that portrays the charter school movement as the savior of the education system of the good USA. Those who attended her presentation Wednesday will find the review oddly familiar.

Ravitch is a strong critic of the charter school movement, and she ripped Superman to pieces. Much of her criticism I've read before, but it was the first time I heard many of Ravitch's gems. That Geoffrey Canada's "miraculous" Harlem Children's Zone (one of the saviors in "Superman") kicked out an entire class of middle schoolers when they were not improving their test score and were going to make his funders look bad. That Locke High School (another Superman savior) did not produce much better test results than the surrounding schools in Los Angeles. That the SEED boarding school in D.C. (the fourth savior) spends $35,000 in spending per child. Like Ravitch says in her review: "Those who claim that better education for the neediest students won’t require more money cannot use SEED to support their argument."

A movie in response to "Waiting for Superman" -- aptly named "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" -- is in its final stages of production, but my guess is it won't have as wide distribution as Superman did. You can look at the trailer here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I can't possibly be racist/homophobe/etc.

Because my best friend is Mexican/Black/gay/disabled etc.

That should prove something, right? Well, all it proves is that you have one Mexican/Black/gay/disabled friend. Nothing else.

There's been quite a bit of stir caused by an article I wrote for last week's paper, "Racism Alleged at Carmel High," which describes allegations by the NAACP that three black students left the school after they were racially taunted and intimidated. The reaction has been along the predictable lines: yes, there's racism (I've already received phone calls about it) and no, there can't possibly be (emails and letters to the editor proclaim that). The students left because they couldn't rise to the academic standards of the school (and I wonder if people are implying these kids are inferior). Some of the proof offered about Carmel High's acceptance of others is its friendliness to homosexuals and the disabled. How can you be friendly to gays but not to blacks?

How can you compare one with the other?

I'm not saying here that racism exists in Carmel High. I'm not saying it does not exist, either. Racism, unfortunately, is alive and well, and like Principal Rick Lopez said, the ugly elements of mainstream society often trickle down to his school. To ALL schools. I'm sure nothing happens at Carmel High that does not happen in every other school in the United States of America.

But being the target of racism is like having back problems. You don't know what it's like until you've suffered from it. You don't know what it's like to be told "How come you're not white and pretty like your sister?" until somebody actually says it to you. You don't know how it feels to be told "I hate all black people" (even if it's meant as a joke) unless you're actually a black person. So if you're Anglo/Caucasian etc., I have no doubt you have good intentions and a good heart to go with it, but I doubt you'd know what it feels like to ride in the "other" people's bus. It's just not the same, and having a Mexican/black/gay/disabled friend who rides it won't give you an accurate picture either.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Speaking of college...

Kudos to three youngsters who were awarded scholarships from the David Love III Family Foundation (and more later on how to seek help for applying to college).
At this year’s Golf for Kids Pro-Am tournament held the week of the Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-AM, Guadalupe H., Jasmine R. and Guadalupe L. were presented with their scholarships at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The three of them attend the Boys and Girls Club, and that's how they found out about this scholarship opportunity.
Guadalupe H., a 17 year-old will be the first in her family to attend a four-year college, and plans to become a psychologist or High School counselor because “I want to ensure that teenagers are provided with opportunities and directed on the right path”.
Jasmine R, who was recently accepted to California State University East Bay, plans to pursue a nursing career. “I’ve seen many alumni before me who have been successful in their careers because of the big influences of the Boys & Girls Club. I am proud to say I will be following in their footsteps."
The third winner, Guadalupe L., says “I cannot imagine myself without the Boys & Girls Club…I am one step closer to being the first in my family to go to college and be someone my little brother can look up to.”
And if you want to be one of those youngsters who follows the college path, the Cesar Chavez Public Library will be providing free assistance both searching for and applying for college scholarships, as well as completing and submitting college applications and financial aid paperwork.
The help is intended for high school seniors, but juniors would also benefit tremendously. If they want to go to college, they need to apply in the fall, and time does travel fast. Librarian Kris Amaral will present a series of sessions beginning Saturday March 5th. Space is limited and attendance will be on a first come first served basis, so those interested in participating are encouraged to call and schedule an appointment.
Sessions will be held from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on March 5, 12, 19, 26. For more information, call the Cesar Chavez Library at 758-7345. The Cesar Chavez Library is located at 615 Williams Road, Salinas.

Monday, February 21, 2011

More technology classes for South County kids

The folks at Conexión Comunitaria, the digital media partnership that intends to wire the entire county, is gearing up for its five weekend video production workshop for South County youth.

Yes, transportation sometimes is a problem, but the Conexión folks have that taken care of: if you are 13 to 19 and you want to participate and don't have a ride to CSUMB, they'll pick you up. Can you get a sweeter deal anywhere else? Course begins March 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, and it takes place over the following four Saturdays. Free lunch, free transportation. To sign up, call 831.755-0389, email or visit

Friday, February 18, 2011

Accolades for life learners

Sixty-four students at Learning for Life Charter School were recognized on February 10 for having made significant improvements in their academic careers. Here's a list of the students recognized:

Perfect Attendance – Omar Alejo, Elizabeth Alexander, Dalia Banuelos, Barrett Blatter, Kristina Broaddus, Iris Carmona, Jassmin Carranza, Amilia Carter, Seamus Caveney, Samantha Dela Victoria, Erika Dorsey, Jonathan Dorsey, Nicholas Dorsey, Oscar Espinosa, Alyssa Ferguson, Kaitlyn Fletcher, Ana Karen Gallegos, Lesly Gallegos, Erica Gillis, Harry Greenwald, Randall Hancock, Brittnee Hardeman, Uriel Hernandez, Sergio Hernandez, Tuyen Huynh, Kelly Isidro, Kevin Le, Delores Leaming-Beck, Mikayla Martignoni, Candice Meggison, Christian Mendoza, Gabrielle Molina, Jacqueline Munoz, Carmen Ostiguin, Gabriel Partida, Sitlaly Partida, Jasmine D. Panlilio, Giovanni Ramos, Diana Reyes Quinones, Matthew Rios, Vanessa Rodriguez, Miguel Ruiz Ruiz, Adrianna Saavedra, Oscar Sanchez, Sharon Shah, Sherry Shah, Cheyenne Terry, Macie Thompson, Michael Tran, Tuan ‘Kevin’ Tran, Marshall Travis, Krista Turk, Alexis Vadnais, Charles Vann, III, Levi Ventura, Demerrick Wade, Roy Wahaus, Ryan Wahaus, Anna Wehrer, Michelle Wehrer, Craige Winkler, Nathan Wizard, Brandon Yates, Ryon Youngquist

Most Improved – Harry Greenwald, Charlotte Hastey, Isabel Jimenez, Sitlaly Partida, Macie Thompson, Charles Vann, III

Outstanding Achievement – Omar Alejo, Erika Dorsey, Ariana Elmore, Nicholas Feliciano, Kaitlyn Fletcher, Randall Hancock, Charlotte Hastey, Kelly Isidro, Jacqueline Munoz, Joseph Ontverio, Gabriel Partida, Giovanni Ramos, Taylor Rogers-Settnek, Adrianna Saavedra, Oscar Sanchez, Michael Tran, Tuan ‘Kevin’ Tran, Tyler Jacquoby, Alexis Vadnais, Ryon Youngquist

Exemplary Parent/Guardian – Jennifer Brazil, Troy Diatte, Monda Martignoni, Elva Raygoza, and KosinaKokoa’ Vega.

Learning for Life is an independent study charter school for students who are at high risk of dropping out of traditional schools.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just because they're surrounded by nature...

doesn't mean Lockwood students don't need a bit of exercise.
The San Antonio Union School District, a stone throw away from Lake San Antonio, has received a US Department of Education Carol White Physical Education Grant that includes $9,000 for the Big Sur Marathon's Just Run Program. The tiny school district, surrounded by lovely rolling hills and vineyards, kicked off the event on Feb. 8 with Mike Dove and Susan Love from the Big Sur Marathon.
“We are excited to implement the PEP Grant this year with our students, staff and community” Superintendent/Principal Linda Irving said. “We were one of over 700 applicants with only 77 selected from throughout the country.” The goals of the grant are to improve physical fitness through activity and nutrition, promoting lifelong wellness.

I STAND CORRECTED: An earlier version of this post had the donor/recepient of the grant mixed up, so now you're reading the corrected version (and I erased the incorrect version to prevent further confusion.) Thanks to alert reader and Chinatown Renewal Project guru Ken Feske for setting me straight.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wonderkind Perry Choi

continues to impress with his accomplishments. The senior at York School recently performed at the popular classical music program From the Top, which showcases the most talented young musicians in the country as they're taped before a live audience. Choi performed Jan. 23 at the Lincoln Theater Napa Valley in Yountville. The show was performed again this weekend at 90.3 KAZU.
Not only is Choi an accomplished musician, but he's also a math genius (he earned top honors in Math last year at Monterey County Mathletics competition) he's a top athlete (top scorer in soccer) and a philantrophist (he was named the Outstanding Philanthropic Youth for 2010).

You can still hear Perry's performance in From The Top here. And for music aficionados, here's some good news. From the Top will be recorded live on April 7 at the Golden State Theater in Monterey. No word yet on whether Choi will perform.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New ag center at Everett Alvarez High

Parents, teachers and school officials will celebrate Friday the opening of the Agricultural Education Center at Everett Alvarez High, a $5 million center paid for by a grant from California's facilities bond, developer fees and reserves.
The 4,500 square foot building will house three classrooms: a biotechnology laboratory, a distance learning laboratory, and a business classroom combined with a market. The agriculture market will house a student-run retail store, which will sell products purchased wholesale by students in the agriculture business occupations class. A greenhouse facility will also be built adjacent to the agriculture education center.
Come by to take the self-guided tours and demonstrations by FFA students. The Ag Market will be open for business with produce available for purchase.
The event starts at 5 p.m. on the school campus, 1900 Independence Blvd, Salinas.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Need money for college?

The Financial Aid Office at Hartnell College will hold workshops on Saturday, February 5, 2011, to provide one-on-one assistance with understanding and completing all the forms required for students to apply for financial aid.

The "Cash for College Day" activities will help parents and students complete both state and federal forms, including the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which is required for all financial aid, and the Cal Grant application for fall 2011. The Cal Grant application deadline is March 2.

Event takes place
in room 110 of the CALL building on the main campus at 411 Central Avenue in Salinas. Workshops in English are at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and noon. A workshop in Spanish begins at 1:30 p.m.

Participants should bring documents needed to complete the 2011-12 FAFSA form, including information about their 2010 income taxes, W-2 forms or income statements, FAFSA pin numbers of students and parents, social security card or alien registration card, list of colleges they wish to attend, and, if applicable, the student’s driver’s license

Computers will be available for all participants to complete forms online with assistance from Hartnell financial aid staff.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bring the world to your home.

Become an international host family!

International outfit EF Language travel is coming to the Monterey Bay for the first time this summer, and they're looking for families to host around 150 middle school children from Asia and Europe.

I've always heard positive feedback from host families: the chance to learn about somebody else's culture, the tight bonds they're developed, the long-lasting friendships. So why not give it a try?

Here's a video EF produced about last year's summer experience in Southern California. To find more information about EF, click here.