Friday, May 25, 2012

Of Dan Lujan and the dearth of role models for youth

I'm so upset at the Salinas boxing coach I could scream. True, you're innocent until proven guilty, but if there was enough evidence for him to even be arrested on charges of child molestation, it doesn't look good already.

Dan Lujan was arrested Thursday accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl by rubbing topical cream all over her body. Lujan allegedly wanted to have a sexual relationship with her, according to the Salinas police. You can read more about it here and here.

I spent many afternoons with Lujan, and witnessed his dedication to young people in one of the most perilous neighborhoods for young people. His boxing gym in the middle of Closter Park served dozens of young men living on the edge of gang violence. To have him arrested with these charges is truly heartbreaking for me, as I'm sure it will be for many more. That's how many must have felt when Raul Ramirez, former assistant principal at Alisal High, was also arrested on child molestation charges.

Alisal is teeming with teenagers and youth. Role models are not abundant and can't keep up with the need -- the ones who exist are truly remarkable. So when one of these role models falls pray to human foibles, it's devastating.

I hope somebody steps up to keep the boxing club open. I also hope these allegations turn out to be false, but the journalist in me is not very optimistic.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Career day at Los Padres Elementary in Salinas

I envy our firefighters and policemen with such neat toys to show off during career day.

Hey, I have my iPad. But somehow, I don't think the kindergarteners at Vera Brazil's class of Los Padres Elementary were that impressed.

Along with two dozen other professionals, I ventured into the very challenging territory of an elementary school. Eva Silva and Jose Gil, parents and organizers extraordinaire, invited me to be a presenter during career day. Everyone seems to be going to one these days: California schools chief Tom Torlakson, Latino rockers Ozomatli. Their musicians definitely have better toys.

Although it was very challenging to try to inspire kindergarteners to pursue a career in journalism, I had better luck with the second graders. A couple of them already knew they wanted to be reporters, and wanted to know if it was hard work.

The hardest part, I think, it's to know whether there will be newspapers by the time they grow up. That's why having the iPad was a good prop. Maybe we won't have newspapers then, maybe not even tablet computers, but journalism will remain. And there's always TV and radio, right?

MPUSD solar suitcase builders graduate

MPUSD students who participated in the solar suitcase project had a "graduation" ceremony on May 20 at Spanish Bay, courtesy of the Pebble Beach Co.

"We had a good turnout with many students and parents who participated in the project," writes Alan Jensen, the teacher-coordinator for the program. The highlight of the evening was that Dr. Laura Stachel who started We Care Solar gave a very inspirational and motivational speech. She talked about visiting Africa and seeing that women were dying because they couldn't get adequate maternal care because of the lack of electricity."

Jensen learned about We Care Solar at a conference in Denver, and decided his students would benefit from participating in a project like this. The group built two solar suitcases that have already found homes in Africa.

"We used them as our inspiration for this project," Jensen writes. "For the students to actually meet and hear the story by this incredible woman is something they will remember the rest of their lives. I just saw that the students are pictured with Dr. Laura on the We Care Solar facebook page."

Which you can find here.

Congratulations, Mr. Jensen! You've inspired these young people to look at the world and do something good for it!

Carmel High ranked among the best highs schools in the U.S.

Carmel High School was listed among this year’s top public high schools in the United States in separate reports by Newsweek and US News & World Report magazines.

Carmel High ranks 256 by Newsweek and 288 by US News, placing it in the top one percent of all high schools in the country.

“We are proud to be recognized in these two reports," said Superintendent Marvin Biasotti in a statement. "They are a validation of the school’s work in recent years to broaden the college-going culture of Carmel High School, which is driven by our belief that all students deserve the option of a college or university education."

To evaluate the top high schools, Newsweek used the following criteria, according to their web site:

· Four-year, on-time graduation rate (25 percent)

· Percent of 2011 graduates accepted to college (25 percent)

· AB/IB/AICE tests per student (25percent)

· Average SAT and/or ACT score (10 percent)

· Average AP/IB/ AICE exam score (10 percent)

· AP/IB/AICE courses offered per student (5 percent)

US News & World Report used a three-step process to determine the best schools. According to their web site, “The first two steps ensured that the schools serve all of their students well, using performance on state proficiency tests as the benchmarks. For those schools that made it past the first two steps, a third step assessed the degree to which schools prepare students for college-level work.”

To access the Newsweek list, click here. To access the U.S. News & World Report list, click here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Middle and high school students: do you know what career path you want to take?

Do you know where you'd like to go to college? It may not be too soon for you to start thinking about this, and the California Department of Education wants to help.

California's chief of schools Tom Torlakson today unveiled the new California Career Center Web portal to help middle school and high school students explore their options and plan their next steps toward productive careers.

“Studies show that helping students connect their schoolwork to their future in the workforce helps keep them on track and headed for success,” Torlakson said. “The California Career Center Web portal gives students, parents, and teachers a one-stop shop to help demystify the process of moving from the classroom to careers.”

I paid a quick visit to the site, and it looks interesting. But I'm not the intended audience, so I don't think I'm a good judge. But maybe some students out there want to review it and tell me what they think???? I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More school districts are in financial distress across California

But with the exception of the South Monterey County Union High -- formerly known as King City -- none are in Monterey County.

The California Department of Education released the names of 188 districts that are walking on a financial tightrope, 12 of them have negative certification -- which means they could be in danger of not meeting their monetary obligations this year or the following one. One such districts is South Monterey County, but given the pricey loan they have from the state, they're destined to remain on the list for a long time to come.

Two or three districts in Monterey County have made an appearance on said list in the past, but none were listed this week, which is to the credit of district administrators and financial gurus with the Monterey County Office of Education, who keep careful scrutiny on all the districts spending.

Quite an accomplishment, given the financial times we live in.

It's the season to be solar

And Cal State Monterey Bay has been listed as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada, according to the Princeton Review. The education services company selected CSUMB for inclusion in the third annual edition of its free downloadable book, “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition.”

CSU Monterey Bay was praised for its initiatives including the revolving Energy Innovations Fund that supports energy-saving projects on campus and repays itself through energy savings, and the 6.4-acre solar installation that is meeting 16 percent of the university’s electricity needs.

Also drawing praise was the university’s food service operations, which include organic foods, compostable packaging and serving products, recycling of cooking oil and joining the “Meatless Monday” movement. All buildings on campus have designated recycling areas, and the ubiquity of the blue recycle bins has helped the university achieve a 50 percent waste diversion rate.

Even more impressive, according to the guide, is that 90 percent of campus buildings have undergone energy-related retrofits in the past three years.

The green learning opportunities, which allow students to take courses in subjects as diverse as environmental writing and food ethics, were also cited.

The guide pointed out that CSU Monterey Bay's commitment to green continues all the way to graduation – when students cross the stage to receive their degrees in gowns sewn with material made from recycled plastic bottles.

The guide can be downloaded here. More information on CSUMB’s commitment to sustainability can be found here.

Monterey Peninsula Unified voters ready to tax themselves

While some predicted MPUSD residents would not be willing to spend more money on its schools so soon after approving a bond measure, results from a recent poll conducted on behalf of the district say otherwise.

Results from a poll conducted by EMC Research on behalf of MPUSD show that 70 to 75 percent of potential voters are willing to vote for a parcel tax of at least $72 a year to improve schools. The result is similar to those found two years ago, before voters overwhelmingly approve a bond measure. Trustees heard a presentation about poll results at their meeting Monday.

These results are fascinating and they serve to prove one of my theories: the noise is distracting. While there's a lot of noise coming from MPUSD, that only tells a portion of the story. The real story is a lot more nuanced.

More on the parcel tax tomorrow on the printed edition of the paper.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Monterey County women have delicious breakfast for a good cause

A good time was had by all the women -- and few brave men -- who gathered at the Hyatt early Thursday to talk about the Women's Fund. Keynote speaker Chris Grumm, a graduate of Monterey High and cheerleader extraordinaire, had everyone in stitches with her family stories and her spirited exhortation for everyone to give give give.

The Women's Fund is trying to build a $1.5 million endowment -- Chris said it should be more like $5 million -- so they can give annually $75,000 in grants for women and girls. There's so much need in this county: high poverty, low educational attainment, high unemployment.

When witnessing the unprecedented budget cuts California is facing -- in education, social services, etc., -- $75,000 feels like a drop in the bucket. But it can mean the world of a difference to a young girl's life, if she gets to experience a life-changing day camp or leadership training. So if you're inspired to contribute, you can find more information here

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Family fund day for mental health awareness month

 One in every five children and adolescents experience mental health challenges, but many don't receive the help they need because of stigma. On Sunday, May 20, the Monterey County Health Department and its allies will host a "Family Fun Day" at Natividad Creek Park, where families can learn more about services available for them.

This free community event seeks to reduce stigma and raise awareness that mental health is part of a person’s overall health and well-being. 

Improving mental health results in children have fewer arrests, getting better grades and school attendance and improving their functioning and well-being.

For more information click here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Carmel Unified to gauge support for a new bond

Carmel Unified trustees have given the go ahead to survey potential voters about their support for a new bond measure. It would be the third bond measure in the last decade, and while administrators and trustees have several projects they'd like to see completed, some residents have shown skepticism about more money for the district.

The results of the survey are expected to be presented to the board in early June, according to Superintendent Marvin Biasotti.

Bay View Academy charter looking good

It's been in operations for only nine months -- and its founders worked on putting together the new school for less than two years. And so far, Bay View Academy seems to be doing great.

At an update at the Monterey County Board of Education, Interim Principal John Favero told trustees the students were expected to do very well in the California Standard Tests, based on their benchmark results. The school is on target based on their financial projections, and they're planning to add a second 2nd grade classroom, based on community demand.

I see another project for me coming down the pike. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Santa Catalina's annual Lower School Art Show runs this week

And I'm being told by reliable sources the show shouldn't be missed.

So come on by to enjoy the artistic creations of students in Kindergarten through the eight grade at the 20th Annual Santa Catalina Lower School Art Show
Starting today and ending Friday, from 8 a.m to 4 p.m.
Lower School Multipurpose Room
Reception Thursday, May 17 following the Spring Music Concert
Santa Catalina is at 1500 Mark Thomas Drive, Monterey
(Art: "Pop Art Mona Lisa" by Grace Russell, Grade 8)

For Santa Catalina's site, click here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Everyone's invited to the Capstone festival

Even if you don't have a student graduating from Cal State University Monterey Bay, it's great to see their talent at play during the Capstone Festival.

At CSUMB, all students must complete a capstone project in their final year, publicly presenting and defending the project or portfolio of work that demonstrates what they have learned. They do this each spring at the Capstone Festival, which is organized by academic departments.

Capstone projects represent the skills, knowledge and abilities developed over the course of a student's education at CSUMB. They include research presentations, original poetry, oral histories, installation art, photography, performances, tabletop exhibits, films and videos, multimedia works, computer visualizations, and more.

Presentations will be held all day on May 17 and 18 at various locations around campus. The festival ends on Friday night with the Teledramatic Arts and Technology students showing their work in the World Theater starting at 6 p.m. Twenty-four short films will be screened. Admission is free.

New this year is a matinee showing of the teledramatic art students’ work, which will get under way at 1 p.m. on May 18 in the World Theater. The theater is located on Sixth Avenue near the intersection with A Street. A complete schedule is available online. Driving directions and a campus map are available here.

Congratulations, Steinbeck Younth Authors!

The National Steinbeck Center hosted the Steinbeck Young Authors’ ceremony on May 5 during its 32nd Annual Steinbeck Festival.

This year’s award ceremony featured author Francisco Jimenez with an inspirational talk about searching for the American dream. In addition, all of the student essays are published in the Gabilan Journal.

This year's award winners are:
Danicia Alfaro from La Paz Middle School
Natalie Rose Carbonel from Madonna del Sasso School
Yadira Chávez from Harden Middle School
Ryan Griffin from San Benancio Middle School
Anna Gumberg from San Benancio Middle School
 Jacqueline Hernández from La Paz Middle School
Daira Hipólito from Main Street Middle School
Julia Hwang from All Saints' Day School
Paul Kunz from International School of Monterey
Julianne McCoun from Madonna del Sasso School
 Jovany Medrano from La Paz Middle School
Daniel Rodríguez from Main Street Middle
Ellie Skromme from San Antonio Elementary
Mattie Trainor from International School of Monterey
 Sonia Vargas from La Paz Middle School
Megan Wasson from San Benancio Middle School

The Steinbeck Young Authors Program consists of three stages: a classroom component for all students, a Day of Writing event for teacher-nominated students, and an Awards Ceremony. Steinbeck Young Authors’ teachers select two students to attend a special Day of Writing at the National Steinbeck Center, where they write an essay combining their personal life experiences and their studies of The Red Pony. They are then paired with a volunteer writing ‘coach.’ A panel of experts judge the students’ works over a two-week period.

Since it began, over 20,000 students have participated from public and private schools throughout California and beyond. Teachers report that participating students demonstrate increased confidence in their writing skills and develop a new self-image as a writer at a pivotal time in their development.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Shriners Hospital to evaluate children in Greenfield

Children up to age 18 are eligible for care at Shriners Hospital for Children, if after examination by a Shriners Hospital for Children Physician, there is a reasonable possibility they can benefit from the specialized services available.

Acceptance as a patient is based solely on a child’s medical needs. Care is provided regardless of patients’ ability to pay.

Shriners Hospital for Children provides care for:
Orthopedic conditions 
Spinal Cord Injuries 
Cleft Lip and Palate

An evaluation will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 2, 2012 at Clinic de Salud del Valle de Salinas, 808 Oak Ave., Greenfield. For more information, call Erick Lopez at 757-8689 or 240-1220

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hartnell and its bonds, cont'd

On its face, it looks a bit scary. To have to repay $460 million after getting only $48 million in bond money to build two buildings. So the alarm bells were sounded, and about two dozen community members -- including three Hartnell trustees -- attended a special meeting of the district's Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee on Thursday.

It is not exactly the job of the committee to be vigilant about how much interest the college's paying -- that's supposedly a job for the trustees. The committee's responsibility is to make sure the money's spent for its intended uses. But Bob Perkins, chairman of the committee is also vice chair of the Salinas Tax Payer Association, so he convened a special meeting to request some answers.

"We asked for the meeting as citizens, not as the citizen's oversight committee," Perkins announced. (The notice for the meeting, by the way, was advertised as a special meeting of the Citizen's Bond Oversight Committee)

The answers had already been given back in 2009 when the bonds were issued, but the only person who was around back then and is still around to remember is apparently President Phoebe Helm.

At the special meeting Thursday, Helm explained that trustees authorized to issue the type of bonds that accrue interest back then despite their cost because no investor seemed interested in the regular kind of bonds.  Not having authorized the sell of those bonds would have risked losing matching funds from the state, would have stopped construction already begun and exposed the college to lawsuits from builders with contracts already signed. At the time, the economy had begun its painful decline, and the bonds that Hartnell had been able to sell at enviable rates back in 2003, 2006, and even in June 2009 were no longer available by September of the same year. So the board voted to get capital appreciation bonds, with the knowledge that they would have to be refinanced in 2019 -- before repayment is scheduled to begin in 2022.

Homeowners in the Hartnell district began paying $17.37 per $100,000 of assessed value in 2003 to begin repaying the bonds, but their payments by law can't be higher than $25. The average they've paid is just under $20.

As comparison, payment for Cabrillo College's two bonds is almost $40. Gavilan's bond is $21.70. Monterey Peninsula's bond is $23.57.

Because college officials had been able to secure such good interest rates in the early bonds, even if the last bond remains at this much higher interest rate, it would all balance out to a repayment of five times -- compared to two times for the first second series of the bond, and three times for the third one.

So the bonds were sold in 2009, and the audit report was issued in 2010,  why is all this happening now, asked Faculty President Ann Wright.

It's the political climate, said Helm. 

"The issues should be to educate and not to alarm," Helm said. "Specially when you're dealing with what's already been determined."

Julie Tucker, another member of the oversight committee, felt her fears had been assuaged by the special meeting.

"I'm really glad we did this," she said. "I'm very confident things are being monitored."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Monterey teens: here's a rewarding way to spend your summer

The Monterey Public Library is seeking teen summer volunteers to help with the Summer Reading Program.

Volunteers should enjoy working with children and must be at least 14 years old. This is an opportunity to gain workplace experience, earn required academic community service hours and build resumes for college.

Applications are available at the Library Help Desk or online here. Interviews begin May 29. For more information contact Karen Brown at 646.3744. The Monterey Public Library is at 625 Pacific Street, Monterey.

More Monterey teachers being honored

The Rotary Club of Monterey will present their 24th annual Outstanding Teacher Awards on Thursday May 10 at the Monterey Hyatt Regency.

The awards are given each year to outstanding Monterey school teachers who have shown exceptional teaching skills and involvement in student activities. The awards include a $1500 savings bond and a plaque.

 This year’s winners are Mary Cunningham-Welsh of The International School of Monterey, Jill Hudson of Trinity Christian High School, and Krista Clarke of Monterey Bay Charter School.

Mary Cunningham-Welsh has been teaching 4th grade at the International School for 4 years. Her background in outdoor education has allowed her to make a special impact on her students. She has a degree in Environmental Studies and a bi-lingual Certificate from UC Santa Cruz. She worked at Año Nuevo State Reserve and also at the Catalina Island Marine Institute. Mary has worked with RETINA (Robotic Exploration Technology) to bring ROV’s into the classroom and teach students how they are used in research. She also involves her students in the Beach Garden Project restoring the dunes at Monterey State Beach, the Save our Shores Beach Cleanup project every September, and the Hope Services/Salvation Army Christmas Gift Program. She is married and has 3 teenage children.

Jill Hudson graduated Summa Cum Laude in English and History from Sonoma State University. She has taught for 15 years in both public and private schools and has been at Trinity HS for 9 years. She teaches Honors English and also serves as Faculty Chair. Her love of literature, teaching, and children all come together in the classroom. As a teacher she is constantly finding new ways to challenge and inspire her students. Her graduates always remember her personality and laughter and the way she brought characters to life. They also tell her how well prepared for college they were because of her efforts. Jill is active with tennis, softball, running and a book club. She is a committed Christian who also loves to serve her church.

Krista Clarke, who graduated from Carmel High, has B.A. with high honors in English Literature and an M.Ed. from UC Santa Barbara. Prior to coming to Monterey Bay Charter School, she taught at San Roque High School, a progressive private school in Santa Barbara. She was able to quickly adapt to the Waldorf inspired teaching methods at MBCS. When hired , she took over a seventh grade class six weeks into the school year. She carried that class through the year and then through graduation the next year before recycling back down to take her next class through sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. In addition to teaching, she serves as a mentor teacher, and as a member of the Hiring Committee and the school’s board of directors. In addition, she helped the students launch the Student Council and serve as its faculty host. Also, Krista helps students in the Lyceum Model UN Program.

 In addition to the Outstanding Teacher Awards, the Rotary will also award scholarships and vocational awards to students at Monterey High and MPC.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

El Sausal Middle School receives national recognition

El Sausal Middle School has been selected as national demonstration site for Advancement Via Individual Determination, a program that helps students get on the path to college.

 El Sausal was selected through an application screening and review process that included a site visit by a team from AVID headquarters in San Diego. AVID serves more than 450,000 in 4,800 schools nationwide, and about 125 other schools were chosen this year as demonstration sites.

The AVID program is very popular among educators for its ability to motivate students to go into college. AVID relies on peer support to inspire students and help one another. Many schools in Monterey County have AVID classes, and El Sausal has consistently been recognized for the success it has with students. 

Record Number of Monterey Institute Students to Receive U.S. Fulbright Awards

Six students from the Monterey Institute of International Studies will receive U.S. Fulbright scholarship awards for the 2012-2013 academic year, the most in the Institute’s 57-year history.

This surpasses last year's record of five, which had MIIS students landing more U.S. Fulbrights on a per capita basis than every top-ten school in the 2012 U.S. News & World Report college rankings, with a higher applicant success rate than all but one of these leading schools.

A seventh Fulbright applicant from the Monterey Institute is an alternate and may still be selected.

The six MIIS students receiving Fulbright awards this year are:

  • Robin Chen – Proficient in three Chinese dialects and an expert in innovative language acquisition methodologies, Chen will promote language education and cross-cultural learning in Taiwan. ·
  • Patrick Gaebler  – An engineer and linguist by training, Gaebler will help increase the number of English-speaking Brazilians in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. 
  • Tess Harris – An expert in agricultural water conservation in semi-arid locations such as the Australia and California, Harris will research best practices for water conservation on farms in Cyprus. 
  • Jaymee Martin – Building on her French and Spanish language proficiency and expertise in art as an education tool, Martin will teach English in Andorra. 
  • Jessica Matzen  – Drawing on her master's in Teaching Foreign Languages, Matzen will use cutting edge methodologies to promote language proficiency and cross-cultural communication in Belgium. 
  • Elizabeth Romanoff  – Working with university partners in the Slovak Republic, Romanoff will research the role that women authors have played in catalyzing gender equality in that country. 

Administered by the U.S. Department of State since 1946, the U.S. Fulbright Program is the county's flagship international educational exchange program. A small number of awardees study, teach and conduct research in more than 155 countries each year.

Known for its selectivity and prestige, since its establishment in 1946 Fulbright has produced successful leaders in business, policy, science, and the arts, including 43 Fulbright alumni who have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.

Monterey migrant students shine at the state speech and debate tournament

Twenty-one out of the 29 migrant students from districts throughout Monterey County took honors during the Migrant Education State Speech and Debate Tournament in Sacramento this past May 4 - 5.

Monterey County students competed in high school and middle school English and Spanish debate, and English and Spanish prepared and extemporaneous speech.

Twenty-one students from the county placed in the state tournament and brought home a total of 13 trophies.
  • Marlyn Sanchez, El Sausal Middle School, 1st Place, prepared speech in English; 1st place extemporaneous speech in English
  • Yareli Vargas, Soledad High, 3rd place, prepared speech in English; 2nd place, extemporaneous speech in English
  • Yvonne Dorantes, Notre Dame High, 1st place, extemporaneous speech in English
  • Luis Alvarez, Alisal Community School, 3rd place, prepared speech in Spanish; 3rd place, extemporaneous speech in Spanish.
  • Carolina Mundo, Alisal High, 1st place prepared speech in Spanish; 1st place, extemporaneous speech in Spanish
  • Yesenia Aguilar, Vista Verde Middle School, 1st place, extemporaneous speech in Spanish

In the debate competition, the winners were:
  • Fatima Patino, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Sanchez, Imelda Uribe, and Ruben Uribe of Chualar: third place, middle school debate in English
  • Raul Barraza Ochoa, Elisa Bucio, Ulises Dueñas, Anabel Melgoza of North Monterey County Middle School, third place in middle school debate in Spanish
  • Ericka Arreola, Esther Hidalgo, Fernando Olivas, Verónica Pérez Pantoja of Soledad High School, 1st place in high school debate in Spanish.

The state tournament brought together approximately 270 local migrant winners students from 17 different migrant education regions throughout California to compete. Participation in speech and debate tournaments locally and at the state level are demanding endeavors for students, pushing them to move beyond their comfort zones in the area of public speaking, as well as requiring significant additional academic work to prepare for the events.

Congratulations, all! You make Monterey County proud!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hartnell, its bonds, and its repayment plan

Bob Perkins, chairman of Hartnell bond's citizen oversight committee, is urging members of the public to attend a special meeting where the bond repayment schedule will be discussed.

Since voters approved Measure H in November 2002, Hartnell College has raised $131 million for capital improvements through a series of bond increments. The projects are listed here.

Since the recession took hold, Hartnell College and other school districts around California have resorted to Capital Appreciation Bonds to raise money for capital improvements. Government treasurers have been raising alarms about the long-term costs of paying back this debt, which can total as much as ten times the amount borrowed. Hartnell College’s Capital Appreciation Bonds allowed the college to delay payments for several years. However, once payments begin, they escalate quickly. If tax revenue projections are wrong thirty years from now, Hartnell College could face problems meeting its debt payments.

It looks like a new conversation will begin at Hartnell College about what future options the college might pursue, Perkins writes in an email. "We need to know what restrictions are attached to capital appreciation bonds," he said.

The meeting will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at the Learning Resource Center, Room 105 411 Central Avenue, Salinas

Attention Carmel parents: If your child turns five in November

This post is for you

A transitional kindergarten program may be put in place for students who become 5 years old during the month of November, 2012. This new program was eliminated in the Governor’s budget proposal, but now may be brought back to life when the budget is approved this summer.

Carmel Unified needs to know of any student who may qualify for this program. If you have a child who turns five in November, and you live in the district, please contact one of the districts elementary schools by May 15 so they can plan accordingly.

Captain Cooper School: 667-2452
River Kindergarten at Carmelo at 624-8047
Tularcitos School at 659-2276

Monday, May 7, 2012

Show teachers how much you care...

By donating new and used school supplies.

 The Teaching Resource Depot in Seaside is collecting traditional office supplies and non traditional materials, such as pencils, pens, and paper, to bring to teachers at the beginning of the school year this fall. Bring all your love to the Depot, 880 C-1 Broadway in Seaside.

Donations hours: from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday May 8  and Wednesday May 9.

For more information, click here.

Advisory group on MPC presidential search to meet

The Monterey Peninsula College advisory committee on the president's search is holding its first meeting Tuesday, May 8, at 1:30pm in the Administration Building’s Large Conference Room.

Members of the public and MPC faculty, staff and students are allowed to attend the meeting and have an opportunity to speak for three minutes at the beginning of the meeting.

There will be a presentation by Robert Griffin and Carl Ehmann of Professional Personnel Leasing on how the process will unfold.

Attention middle and high schoolers: Carmel Authors & Ideas wants you

Deadline for students and teachers to sign up for Students day of the 2012 Carmel Authors & Ideas Festival is May 18, so hurry up!

Since 2008, Student Days at the Carmel Authors & Ideas Festival has brought local students to higher order thinking in a broad array of ideas through interaction with award winning authors and highly accomplished individuals.

This year, the event will be held on September 27 and 28.

Past presenters have included Justice of the Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor; former Secretary of State and Stanford University Professor Condoleezza Rice; Khaled Hosseini, author of "The Kite Runner," "A Thousand Splendid Suns;" Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist; Frank Portman, author of "King Dork;" Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and historian; John Grogan, author of "Marley & Me;" and dozens of other highly accomplished and inspirational people.

For more information on the festival, click here.

To receive a registration packet, contact Ron Eastwood at or  755-0396.

Monterey County districts to receive tobacco prevention funds

Four school districts in Monterey County plus the office of education will receive almost $20,000 to support anti-tobacco education programs, the California Department of Education announced Monday.

Monterey County Office of Education 4,500
Pacific Grove Unified School District 4,500
Salinas Union High School District 4,500
Washington Union Elementary School District 1,332
North Monterey County Unified School District 4,500

Thirty school districts will share $410,826 in Tobacco Use Prevention Education, a three-year, $16 million initiative. The grants announced Monday comprise the first phase of funding for new applicants, and the 30 winners were selected because they had demonstrated the highest levels of involvement and commitment in their tobacco-use prevention efforts.

Happy teachers' week!

It's teachers' appreciation week -- officially it's only a day, but a week somehow feels more appropriate -- and the five Monterey County Lodges of the Free and Accepted Masons want to show they care.

They will host receptions for teachers in their community in recognition of California’s Day of the Teacher. All public school teachers are invited to attend. RSVPs should be emailed to: or by telephone to the numbers listed below.

The receptions, which include a light buffet and beverages, are planned on the following dates and times in the following locations:

Tuesday, May 8 – 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Salinas Masonic Lodge, 48 East Joaquin Street
 RSVP at 831-663-6418

Wednesday, May 9 – 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Carmel Masonic Center Lincoln between 7th and 8th
RSVP at 831-333-0369

Wednesday, May 9 – 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Santa Lucia (King City) Masonic Lodge 421 1Ž2 Broadway Avenue
RSVP at 831-710-0836

Wednesday, May 9 – 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Monterey Masonic Lodge 525 Pacific Street
RSVP at 831-236-4322

Wednesday, May 9 – 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Pacific Grove Masonic Lodge 130 Congress Avenue
RSVP at 831-238-1751

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Hartnell student and families participated at the family day at the Naval Postgraduate School last Saturday, an event much enjoyed by everyone involved. Students have a chance to show their families what projects they've been working on, and families are welcome into a premier research institute. A win win!

"The discussions between the Hartnell students and their family members, as part of the day's events, are both poignant and inspiring," said Joe Welch, Hartnell instructor. "The effect of a world class research institution reaching out to encourage and mentor, in an innovative and heartfelt manner, is life changing to these Salinas Valley students."

You can't hear enough good things about the NPS partnership with Hartnell, it's great! 

For more photos of the NPS interns, click here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Buena Vista Middle School shines at California State Science Fair

Five Monterey County students -- including two current and one former from Buena Vista Middle School -- took honors at the 61st annual California State Science Fair held in the California Science Center in Los Angeles on April 30 - May 1.
The winners are:

Ailis C. Dooner from Carmel High School. 
Third Place in the environmental science division with her project: Endosymbiotic Sustainability: Effects of Ambient Nitrate and Phosphate on Zooxanthellae of Anthopleura elegantissima

 Chaitra S. Subbarao from Buena Vista Middle School
Third Place in the plant biology junior division with the project: An Elegant Test to Measure Post-Harvest Decay of Different Lettuce Cultivars

Aradhana Sinha from Salinas High School
Third Place in the plant biology, senior division with her project: Triforine Sensitivity in Lettuce: Year Two

Kapil Sinha, Buena Vista Middle School, 
Second place in the microbiology, junior division  with his project: Organic Remedy for Tomato Plants: Effects of Vicia sativa and Rye Secale cereale for Protection from Verticillium dahlia

Jenna Mazza from Santa Catalina Lower School
Special Award in the applied mechanics & structures junior division
Wave Bye Bye

These budding scientists competed with 993 participants from 421 schools throughout the state.

Ailis Dooner and Aradhana Sinha, along with Jimmy Lin from Stevenson School, will represent Monterey County at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 13-18.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tecnifícate, conferencia sobre computación en español

Ariel Coro, fundador de Tu Tecnologia, será el invitado especial durante la conferencia "Tecnifícate" en el colegio comunitario Hartnell.

 Tecnifícate es todo un día, y esta diseñado para presentar al público de habla hispana las ventajas de conectarse a la Internet. El evento también motivará a los participatnes a usar computación en el desarrollo profesional y personal, y en la educación de los hijos.

 El evento se llevará a cabo de 10 a.m. a las 2 p.m. el sábado 19 de mayo en Steinbeck Hall de Hartnell, 411 Central Ave., Salinas. Para reservar su lugar, llame al 888-444-5507 or pulse aquí.

Get help for your child with disabilties in Monterey County

Attention parents: of you have a child with different abilities, this resource fair is for you. The Monterey County SELPA will hold a community resources fair called “Getting Help for My Child with Disabilities” from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 16 at the Monterey County Office of Education.

The resource fair will help parents and caregivers become more aware of services and programs for children of all ages with a variety of disabilities. Representatives of agencies and programs serving special needs children in Monterey County will be available to discuss the services offered. Educational, recreational, health and governmental agencies will be invited to participate in the community resources fair.

The session will be offered in English and Spanish. Spanish translators and childcare are limited, but available upon request. Those interested in attending must register online at  or by telephone at 831.755.6464 no later than May 11. Please leave number of adults and number of children, including ages and disabilities, if any. The resource fair will take place at the Monterey County Office of Education, 901 Blanco Circle in Salinas.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The tea leaves on Hartnell's new president

My trusted friend Scuttlebutt tells me Willard Lewellen, president of West Hills colleges, is more likely to become Hartnell's new president, by a 4-3 vote. Wanting to please ag leaders, who are rooting for Lewallen, two female candidates and two of the males will pick him. The two Latina  females will side with Betty Inclán, president of Berkeley City College. One of the Latino males could break the male pact that's been dominating the meetings and vote with the Latinas.

Ah, the dilemma. To vote with your ethnic group or your gender? That's the million dollar question. 

And before anyone comes screaming at me because the breakdown on votes and how I'm reporting based on ethnicity/gender, etc, I want to reiterate: I'm not creating the news. I'm just reporting on it. There's some very deep divisions at Hartnell, and they won't magically go away just because I chose not to report on them, or because people decide to look the other way.