Thursday, August 28, 2014

Monterey High senior lands third place in national essay contest

Cathy Hsu, a senior at Monterey High, is the third prize winner of a national essay contest sponsored by the Religious Liberty Council of the Washington, D.C.-based Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

The topic for the 2014 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest asked students to discuss whether or not religious messages, such as Bible verses on “run-through” banners at football games, should be permitted at public school-sponsored events.

More than 630 students from 48 states and the District of Columbia entered the contest, as well as students from China and Albania.

Hsu received a $250 scholarship for her essay, “Christianity in Cheerleading: The Role of the First Amendment in Public Schools.”

She wrote that “... to exploit the cheerleading squad, a school-sponsored activity, as an outlet in promoting Christian messages would position the school into appearing to endorse religion, an obvious transgression of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.”

 Hsu plans to study political science in college. She is the daughter of Tienhui and Huichu Hsu.

The grand prize winner is Daniel Ingham of Ellicott City, Maryland, who received a $2,000 scholarship. Sienna Li of Portland, Oregon, won a $1,000 scholarship for her second prize essay.

The Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest was established in 2006 to engage high school juniors and seniors in church-state issues. A panel of judges issued scores based on the content of each essay and the author’s writing skills. For more information, click here.

Salinas High to participate in construction trade pre-apprenticeship program

Nine California high schools will take part in a pilot project this fall designed to help students earn pre-apprenticeships into the construction trade industries, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced this week.

Salinas High is one of them.

The course of study will lead students to a better-than-entry-level position or pre-apprenticeship with a number of construction trades industries. The curriculum includes: building trades math; labor history; training to recognize and prevent hazards in construction sites; first aid and CPR training; and an introduction to the trade industries. This type of program has only been previously used with adults over 18 years of age.

Torlakson is a champion of career technical education, and this program gets at the type of learning California students should be getting, he said in a release.

The program "makes clear to students that what they are learning in school can have a direct effect on their careers after they leave school, keeping them engaged in their own learning," he said.

Nine career technical education teachers in the pilot project have received training and earned certifications to teach the program. Teachers will now design lessons to assure students are prepared for each succeeding step, ultimately building up to a “capstone” course. The capstone course prepares students for a pre-apprenticeship position in the construction trade industries or for further training in college or certification programs.

It looks like this year will be dedicated to recruiting students, so maybe I won't get to profile the program. But you never know. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Salinas girls take to the sky

The "Young Eagles Flight," sponsored by the non-profit EAA Aviation Foundation, took about 30 girls from the Hartell SEMAA program on a tour of our Salinas skies last weekend. It's a new partnership between the aviation group and the Science Engineering Mathematics and Aerospace Academy to provide its participating students with a free airplane ride and teach them about aviation science.

Only girls already participating in the SEMAA program could attend. Only girls because much is being done to encourage ladies to pursue careers in sciences, and only those already attending SEMAA because you had to limit participation somehow.

It looks like they had a lot of fun. This should serve to encourage more girls to, at the very least, take science classes during the summer!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Alisal recall moves forward as Castaneda reportedly loses his cool

My colleague Jeff Mitchell at The Californian wrote in July that Juan Sandoval, an Alisal Union School District employee leading a recall effort against Salinas Councilman Jose Castañeda, reached an agreement with the councilman and his supporters to suspend the recall effort. Read all about it here.

It doesn't look like the truce with the supporters lasted long. Sandoval, who's also leading the effort to recall Alisal Trustee Meredith Ibarra, is taking a hit in the form of a mini-documentary. Very nicely produced. And so much effort went into research. Fascinating.

The documentary has the fingerprints of the Ibarra family -- staunch Castañeda supporters -- all over it.  You can find the video here.

I bring this up for two reasons: one, because the recall election is in full swing, and if the video is any indication, it sounds like it's getting nasty over there. Two, because part of the agreement asked of the councilmember to seek psychological counseling -- as reported by Mitchell.

And judging by yet another fine piece of journalism by Mitchell, either the counseling didn't happen or is not working. Mitchell wrote that Castañeda almost went to blows with the city attorney and the assistant city manager last week, after a meeting in which only two councilmembers and the mayor agreed to a $400,000 settlement with former librarian Elizabeth Martinez. Apparently, Castañeda wanted to know how the settlement was reached, and he was trying to use his charm to get the information out of city employees.

I doubt it worked, but you never know.

The great thing about having elected officials such as Castañeda and Ibarra is that they provide endless opportunities for writing juicy stories. The sad part is the damage inflicted on the children, starting with the example they set on so many different fronts. Behavior, to begin with.

It'll be interesting to see how the Alisal recall unfolds. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Monday's the last day to register to vote in Ibarra recall

If you live in trustee area 1 of the Alisal Union School District, and you've been following the saga of Meredith Ibarra and efforts to recall her, you'd probably want to know the last day to register to vote in the election is Monday.

You can register to vote, update your registration, or verify your registration status at the Elections Department, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1370-B South Main Street in Salinas, or online here.

Registration forms must be received or postmarked by Aug. 25 to be qualified to vote on the Sept. 9 Recall Election.

Go vote!

York School alumni featured in the Wall Street Journal

Several former students of York School were featured in the Wall Street Journal for their senior class project -- a video "Message to My Future Self," which is done as a way to start the college application process.

"For almost two-decades we've been asking our seniors to look into a video camera and respond not only to the question, ‘What do you want to do?’ but more importantly, ‘What kind of person do you want to be?’" said Chuck Harmon, head of school, referring to the project. "Our experience, as well as educational research, confirms that the character traits that students develop are the key factor in their living meaningful lives characterized by success and happiness.”

Fourteen members of the 53-student class of 2004 returned to the York campus this month to reconnect and watch what their teenage selves had planned for the now present future. Their reactions are nicely condensed in the WSJ article, which grouped their reactions based on this question: what do you wish you'd known then?

You can find the article here

Welcome back!

You've all probably noticed it's been a couple of weeks since I posted anything. Summer doldrums, I suppose.

But things are starting to get in gear in schools, so I'm hoping my inbox will soon be flooded with your photos and events. Gossip and innuendo is always welcome (not sure I'll make it into the blog, but it's always fun to read).

Happy and successful 2014-15!