Friday, June 29, 2012

International students seek host families in Salinas

Salinas families are needed to host foreign students who will be attending Alisal High, Everett Alvarez, North Salinas High, and Salinas High.

Ayusa is a non-profit that matches high school foreign exchange students with host families in the United States. Ayusa’s international exchange students are 15-18 years old and come from more than 60 countries around the world. All students are fully insured, bring their own spending money, and are proficient in English.

There is no “typical” host family and Ayusa welcomes all interested families, with or without children, from both urban and rural communities. Host families provide three meals a day and a bedroom (either private or shared). Each student is supported by a professionally trained community representative from Ayusa who works with the family, student and local school for the entire program. All host families must pass a criminal background check and home visit from an Ayusa representative before being eligible to host.

Families interested in learning more about hosting a foreign exchange student can call 1-888-552-9872 or click here.

There's still time to apply for the 2012 young assemblymembers program

Assemblymember Luis A. Alejo (D-Watsonville) is accepting applications for his second annual Young Assemblymembers Program. The four week program is focused on developing leadership skills and empowering high school and college students to become leaders in our community. Applications must be submitted by July 3, 2012.

A Young Assemblymembers Program orientation for students and parents will be held on Saturday June 30, 2012 at the Salinas City Hall from 6:00 to 7:30pm. The orientation will cover information on the four week program. Applications for the program will be available at the orientation. Parents are encouraged and welcome to attend.

During the first week, program participants take part in a five-day leadership development training to enhance their leadership skills and learn new skills that can be used in their everyday school and future careers. The program runs from July 9 through August 4.

After the weeklong leadership training, program participants apply their acquired skills by identifying community projects and/or events of their choice and will work on them for the following three weeks. Program participants that complete the training and their projects will receive a special recognition certificate and a letter of recommendation from Assemblymember Alejo.

The Young Assemblymembers Program includes training on:

· Leadership Development,

· The Legislative Process,

· Project Planning & Coordination,

· Community Organizing, and

· Professional Development in Careers.

To attend the Young Assemblymembers Program orientation, for program information or questions can be directed to Rosie at (831) 759-8676 or via email at

Youth organizers: your participation is required

Is your organization helping organize young people? Do you sometimes wonder how you can improve your organizing skills?

Do you look around you and wonder how you can help young people become organizers for social change?

This conference is for you.

The UC Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California is inviting all organizations that help organize young people for a two-day conference to network and brainstorm. According to the Collaborative's flyer "Youth/young adults (18-25 years old) are a significant segment of Central California whose voices and experiences in civic engagement need to be better understood. Documenting and analyzing the current levels of multi-ethnic youth/young adult civic engagement, including how it can be strengthened, will enhance the capacity of youth/young adults to be leaders, problem-solvers, and active participants in their community’s efforts to address pressing California issues."

The conference will take place July 12 and 13 at Café Revolución in UC Santa Cruz. For more information, call 831-459-1991, email or click here.

El Gabilan Elementary gets $1.1 million

California education officials announced this week the Salinas City Elementary School District received $1.1 million for work already performed at El Gabilan Elementary, 1256 Linwood Drive in Salinas.

Jerry Stratton, the district's money guy, said the work included "gutting much old 1952 stuff, then building new kindergarten rooms and a kinder play area. We relocated the office into the school front area where the kinder rooms had been in order to better greet and control the flow of students and parents into the school."

The project was completed last summer and was closed out in October, Stratton said. I should drive over there to take pictures!

Chartwell gets $130,000 for financial aid

Chartwell School received a grant of $150,000 from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, $130,000 of which is designated for the financial aid program that benefits 35 to 40 percent of students at Chartwell School and The New High School Project.

It is the sixth year that The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has supported
financial aid for the school's student population. Chartwell serves students with learning disabilities.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Marine Debris gallery

Pat Ostrom, fourth grade teacher at Ord Terrace Elementary, added a new component to the school's Ocean Guardian project this year: an art gallery. Students collected plastic bottles and bags -- so they don't up in the ocean --- and stuffed them with drawings of marine animals, to symbolize how the plastic affects these living beings. Every student in the school colored a sardine or anchovy, which ended up on the wall of the 'gallery.'

It was the idea of Sue Ann Hillyer to create an art installation so it would be easier for the students to visualize the effects of plastic in the ocean. Sadly, because the classroom will be used for instruction next year, the Marine Debris Gallery will no longer exist :-(

Here's Ms. Ostrom in her own words:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Carmel students receive scholarships

Makena Loop, Matt Rudolph, Abby Ferrall, and Elizabeth Reyes were selected by the Rotary Club of Carmel Valley to receive their high school senior scholarships.

At Carmel High Loop received a $1,000 scholarship. Rudolph and Ferrall each received a $500 scholarship. They were selected based on their community involvement, leadership, financial need and grade-point average.

At Carmel Valley High, Elizabeth Reyes received a $500 scholarship. Instructors at the school selected a student who has shown strong aspiration in pursuit of higher education or vocation.

It's always nice to be recognized for strong efforts, so congratulations to these winners!

MPC's scheduled to approve "place holder" budget Wednesday

Trustees with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District are scheduled to approve Wednesday a "place holder" budget (in the words of President Doug Garrison). Unlike the budget approved for the 2011-12 year, which was based on a "worst case" scenario, this one takes a more measured approach. If you are so inclined, I highly recommend watching President Garrison explain it all in these three videos here , here and here.

Some of the highlights:

* MPC has lost $4.5 million in revenue since 2009
* A downward trend on enrollment translates into less money for the district
* The "February surprise" the mid-year budget cut, translated into a $670,000 cut for the district.
* If Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure doesn't pass, MPC would have to cut another $2 million from its budget.
* When all the potential cuts are added, the district could be in line to lose $4.2 million.

Besides approving a budget, trustees are scheduled to approve a 2 percent salary reduction for teachers and a 2 percent cut for classified employees through furloughs.

District administrators are scheduled to revise the budget and present a final version in August. Maybe by then California legislators will have already pass a budget.

The meeting Wednesday begins at 4 pm at the Sam Karas room in the library building.

Monday, June 25, 2012

CSUMB interim president gives keynote address at Cal State L.A.

Eduardo Ochoa, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education and incoming interim president at Cal State Monterey Bay, addressed the Class of 2012 at Cal State L.A.’s June 16 commencement.

In his address, Ochoa addressed the changing global landscape, and how the most important skill a student must learn these days is the ability to continue learning.

"The most valuable and enduring competency you have acquired is that you have learned how to learn. You’re starting your adult life in a globalized society undergoing rapid and accelerating technological change. In this information age, most of the specific knowledge you have obtained will become obsolete in a few years, with the sum total of human knowledge doubling every two to three years.

In addition, people entering the workforce today are expected to change careers—not just jobs, but careers—five to seven times during their lifetime. So in all likelihood, you will be applying lifelong learning skills you have developed in your college years to acquire knowledge that has not been created yet and to apply it in occupations that do not yet exist."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Turning trash into art

Come by Ord Terrace Elementary in Seaside to see the "Marine Debris Gallery Art Installation," pieces that students under the guidance of local artist Sue Ann Hillyer have been able to create.

The opening reception takes place from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, June 28 at the school. Come check out creativity that opens minds!

Where to "Stuff the Bus"

When I wrote for Friday's paper about Monterey County's "Stuff the Bus" campaign, I neglected to list the sites where items can be dropped off. Or at least let you know that you can call 211 for a list of locations.

Here's the list. Sorry for being so late.

ashion Bug- 1235 North Davis Road
Golden 1 Credit Union- 333 Abbott Street
Golden 1 Credit Union- 1273 North Davis Road
Monterey County Office of Education- 901 Blanco Circle
Rabobank- 301 Main Street
Rabobank- 1285 North Davis Road
Salinas Valley Community Church- 368 San Juan Grade Road
Salinas City Hall- 200 Lincoln Avenue
Santa Barbara Bank & Trust- 1818 North Main Street
Target- 1640 North Main Street
United Way office- 376 South Main Street
Wells Fargo Bank- 456 S. Main Street
Wells Fargo Bank- 820 Northridge Mall
Wells Fargo Bank- 1037 S. Main Street

CSUMB Campus- Peet’s Library Café, Divarty & 5th
CSUMB Campus- Starbuck’s at Student Center, Intergarrison between 4th and 5th
Monterey County Weekly- 668 Williams Avenue
Rabobank- 1658 Fremont Boulevard
Seaside City Hall- 440 Harcourt Avenue
Seaside Fire Department- 1635 Broadway Avenue

Comerica Bank- 35 Bonifacio Plaza
Community Foundation for Monterey County- 2354 Garden Road
CTB/McGraw-Hill – 20 Ryan Ranch Road
Monterey City Library- 625 Pacific Street
Rabobank- 439 Alvarado Street
United Way office- 60 Garden Court, Suite 350
Wells Fargo Bank- 399 Alvarado Street

King City:
King City Library- 404 Broadway Street

Rabobank- 10601 Merritt Street

BBR- 100 Clock Tower Place, Suite 120
Wells Fargo Bank- 26600 Carmel Center Place

Greenfield's science garage founder profiled

When I wrote about the Greenfield science workshop last year, I really wanted to talk to its founder, Dan Soudran. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Soudran's science workshops are filling a gap overburdened schools are less and less able to meet. NPR profiled Soudran, and Mari Lynch of Bicycling Monterey alerted me to it. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Good luck, Seaside's Monserath Espinola

Eight year old Monserath, who will start third grade in the fall at Del Rey Woods Elementary, will represent the state of California in the 12th Annual National Braille Challenge.

The all-day event on Saturday in Los Angeles will test students on their abilities to read, write and spell in Braille. Quite a challenge for such a young girl!

Monserath was born legally blind duet to congenital glaucoma.

Monserath will compete in the "apprentice" category for students in the 1, 2 and 3 grades. Last year, she won second place at a competition in Oakland, and this year she won her pass to the national event by winning first place in the state competition in Santa Clara, her father Bernabe Espinola said.

"She's excited," Dad said. "She's been preparing for two weeks."

Good luck, Monserath!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer! Run, read, have a good time in the parks

The Salinas Recreation Department is kicking off "Parks and Recreation Month" with a half mile children's race at Hartnell Park, 725 W. Acacia Street in Salinas. There will be a jump house, children's obstacle course, martial arts demonstration, and the bookmobile. Race registration: $5 per child or $3 for second child, toddlers are free.

On Saturday, June 30, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.

Volunteering opportunities are available! Call 831-758-7306.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Attention children ages 8-17: come fly for free!

Come get a free airplane ride and learn about aviation sciences this Saturday, June 23, at the Salinas Municipal Airport.

The Monterey Bay Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association will offer free ‘Young Eagle Flights’ as a way to introduce local youth to aviation sciences. Parental permission forms are available the day of the event and are necessary for the youth to fly. Additionally, other ‘hands –on’ programs will be offered to the youth in the terminal building.

Registration takes place from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Salinas Municipal Airport Terminal Building, 30 Mortensen Ave, Salinas. For more information contact Lori Atkinson or 831-422-6860 and visit or or

Monday, June 18, 2012

Write the summer blues away...

It's likely not how children would choose to spend their summer vacation, but I'm willing to bet it's probable the best way. Continuing their education. Writing in a fun way.

The National Steinbeck Center is offering one and two week writing camps for children in the 6th through 9th grades. Each week campers will have the opportunity to work on their writing skills through journaling, fiction and nonfiction writing exercises and exploring different authors, including John Steinbeck. Week 1 and Week 2 will feature different guest speakers who will encourage students to explore their creative writing skills and push themselves to become stronger writers.

Week one takes place July 16-20. Week two July 23-27. From 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Cost: one week, $150 per student, two weeks, $250 per student.

For more information or to register, call Phillip Saldana at 775-4721.

Measure P update

Administrators with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District will give an update on projects being paid with Measure P funds, the $110 million bond approved in 2010. They will also focus on future bond phases, and the need for possible selling Bond Anticipation notes (BANs). BANs are short-term interest-bearing security issued in advance of a larger, future bond issue. They can be used if the issue of a larger bond wants to be delayed.

The presentation will take place at a special meeting of the board of trustees at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18. The meeting will take place at the Instructional Materials Center
540 Canyon del Rey, Del Rey Oaks.

Friday, June 15, 2012

North Monterey County student headed for Indonesia

Darlene von Maschmeyer, a Prunedale high school student, has been awarded one of 53 scholarships to study abroad with the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad program. The award will provide Darlene with a full immersion experience through living with a host family in Indonesia and attending a local Indonesian high school. The Youth Exchange and Study Abroad program is operated under funding by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Darlene was selected from a national pool of applicants. The application process includes a written portion and a national selection event attended by all semi-finalists. Finalists will serve as “youth ambassadors” in their host countries, promoting mutual understanding through forming lasting relationships with their host families and friends.

Darlene must be thrilled about the honor and the adventure. Congratulations, Darlene!

Hartnell chooses women leaders

The Hartnell College Foundation's Women's Education Leadership Initiative has announced its 2012 scholarship recipients. Each scholar will earn a $1,500 scholarship by completing a 20-hour series of leadership skills workshops this summer, and will be matched with a career mentor before she starts the Fall 2012 semester at Hartnell College.

The awardees are:

Aromas: Suzie Garcia
Greenfield: Daniela Covarrubias
Hollister: Andrea Sharp
King City: Soledad Zamora, Ana Nava
Royal Oaks: Ana Ibarra
Salinas: Aundria Abad, Ymelda Carrillo, Elaine Duran, Sandra Fernandez, Virginia Gallegos, Orfa Garcia, Monica Garnica, Shannon Gattis, Anabel Guzman, Jessica Humildad, Lynn Lingbeck, Renise Mar, Miriam Munoz, Teresa Munoz, Isabel Nieto, Harriet Oakley, Estefania Palacios, Ariel Torres
Watsonville: Leslie Rios

In its second year, the program is designed to increase the leadership capacity, workforce skills, college enrollment, and college completion rate of women, single parents, and re-entry students in Monterey County.

Dozens of children will visit with their fathers on Soledad Prison

About 400 children from all over the state will arrive in Soledad to visit with their fathers on Father's Day. The children come mostly from low-income families, and many don't have frequent opportunities to see their fathers.

The Center for Restorative Justice Works is partnering with twenty-two parishes and nine schools in the Diocese of Monterey, along with various other faith communities to bring hundreds of children to visit their fathers in prison at Correctional Training Facility and Salinas Valley State Prison.

Called "Get on the Bus," the event bring eleven buses filled with more than 400 children and their caregiver from San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Central Valley, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Rosa.

Approximately 200,000 children in California have an incarcerated parent and live with relatives. Most parents in California prisons are incarcerated more than 100 miles away from their children. Regular visitation helps to decrease the negative impacts of parental incarceration on the children. For many of these children, this is the only time during the year that they will see their father.”

Approximately 200,000 children in California have an incarcerated parent and live with relatives or are in foster care, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Staying connected to their children is just as important for incarcerated mothers and fathers as it is for the kids; research indicates it’s the greatest indicator for a successful re-entry upon release.

Happy father's day, everyone! Enjoy your visit.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Of API, school rankings, and minor annoyances

Everyone has complaints about test scores, so I'm going to jump on the bandwagon.

The state released school ranks today -- Thursday (my head is spinning from all those numbers)

They also release the number on the academic performance index -- the blessed API -- schools must reach in order to be considered to be making progress.

I know this is a number the schools can calculate themselves, so why bother? Plus, the test results are going to be announced in a few weeks -- nobody is getting any time to know what to reach for. The students already took the tests in April.

Why bother?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Scholarship winners, anyone?????

So, the excitement of graduation has subsided, and the doldrums of summer begin.

Except for the occasional press release about a magnanimous company giving away thousands of dollars for scholarship, nothing much happens in education.

Or does it?

Well, I did hear that four of our high school seniors will be honored with $1,000 scholarships from a telecommunications company. It occurred to me that hundreds of seniors county wide must have received scholarships or some other distinction, and I'd like to give them a shout out in my blog.

So send their names my way. A picture would be awesome.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Seaside High graduation

It's always touching to be at graduation ceremonies. All that excitement, accomplishment, ceremony. Not sure about the "wave" as the keynote speakers delivered their addresses (is that why you faced the graduates, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera?) Yeah, I'm a boring adult, but isn't that a bit disrespectful?

In any event, here's some images and videos from a memorable day for the class of 2012. Go Spartans!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

There's still time to view Venus at Salinas High

Students of the astronomy club at Salinas High have been planning for months for the occasion: the Transit of Venus across the sun, an event that won't happen again until December 2117!

Ricky Maciel took the amazing top photo posted above. He and Ana Meza were some of the students who were staffing the astronomy camp today. There's a few hours to see the celestial event, so come check it out. It really is amazing.

For more information about Venus celestial journey, click here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Chiquillos, chiquillos everywhere at family day run in East Salinas

Over 500 people participated in Saturday's first Building Healthy Communities 5K Run/Walk and Family Day at Natividad Creek Park, an event designed to promote healthy activities in East Salinas.

Organizers were ecstatic with the level of participation. "It not only brought out a large number of participants to engage in health promoting activities, but it also encompassed the feeling of community that our city needs," wrote Carmen Gil, coordinator with Building Healthy Communities, The California Endowment initiative that organized the event.

The day kicked off with a 5K through the park which took the runners under a tunnel decorated by graffiti art done by local youth. The youth worked on the art piece the day before and they were ecstatic. They expressed how grateful they were to the city for allowing them to express themselves through their preferred art form. After the 5K there was a Children’s 1K in which over 80 Children participated, and that was finally followed by a Toddler Trot for children 3 and under which engaged about 20 toddlers.

“It was amazing to witness entire families engaging a health promoting activity. You got to see mom, dad, and their little ones running together. The smile’s on the parent’s faces when their children crossed the finish line and were awarded medals; were priceless. It was great to see parents encourage their little ones and begin to engage them in an activity that can help them live a healthier lifestyle," Gil said.

The day continued with a Health Fair presented by Students Interested in Medicine Association of Hartnell College, which offered free health screening and resources to participants. To conclude, there was live music and a Zumba dancing.

Ah, if we could only have these type of events every weekend in Salinas!!!

Sometimes, the way to help a child is to help an adult

Become a literacy tutor!

Imagine not being able to fill out a job application, help your children with their homework, or read the signs in a grocery store. In Monterey County, one in four adults read below the 4th grade level. Help them help themselves!

Become a literacy tutor with the Read with Monterey County Free Libraries’ literacy program and provide one-to-one tutoring to help learners read, write, speak and understand English better. New volunteers may join the program at any point during the year by registering for our new tutor training. Make a commitment of just two hours per week for at least six months.

There are over 70 adults in the Monterey our waiting list who are ready for your assistance.

The next orientation and new tutor training is at the Seaside Branch, 550 Harcourt Ave in Seaside. It takes place in two days: Monday, June 11, 6:00-8:30 pm and again on June 14 at the same time and place

For more information or to register for training, call Cathy or Edith 831-883-7597, or email

Sunday, June 3, 2012

MPUSD inexorable march to a parcel tax

Monday's regular meeting of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District is packed with important stuff, including a one-year extension to Superintendent Marilyn Shepherds contract (to 2015) plus the approval to hire a consulting firm to continue exploring the issue of a parcel tax.

Not without reviewing the budget, shifting funds from categorical programs, and the obligatory reports. It should be a long evening.

Open session starts at 7 p.m. See you there.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The "Right to Bare Arms" and the talented students of the Central Coast

It's the time of the year when Congressman Sam Farr announces the winners of the Congressional Art Competition, and this year it's Holly Hernandez of Aptos High, Liyanna Bea Sadausky of Carmel High, and Corina Cortes of Everett Alvarez High School who took first, second and third place respectively.

Holly won with her piece "Right to Bare Arms," pictured atop. Her piece will be displayed in the halls of the Capitol along with winning art from across the country.

Liyanna's piece, “Peaceful Burden,” will be displayed in Farr’s Washington, D.C. Office.

Corina's piece, “Another Day In Life”, will be displayed in Farr’s Salinas office.

“The Central Coast is known for its vibrant artistic culture and these students echo that tradition in their work,” said Congressman Sam Farr.. “I would like to congratulate Holly Hernandez and all the participants for their inspiring pieces of art.”

Holly will travel to Washington, D.C., courtesy of a major airline, to be honored at a Congressional Reception. Holly will also receive a $1500 scholarship from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

The Congressional Art Competition was open to all local high school students in the 17 th Congressional District, by submitting up to three pieces of original student artwork. This year, a total of 24 entries were submitted from 10 schools in the area.

Maybe the entries will double next year???

Pacific Grove school, city officias will consider sharing resources

The City Council and School District Trustees in Pacific Grove will discuss the potential sharing of services and resources at a special meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 4. The topics to be discuss is the sharing of facilities, the resources officer, recreation programs, and a fiber optic line.

The meeting will take place at the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum, 165 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove