Friday, April 24, 2015

Carmel Middle School Celebrates Earth Day with National Award

Carmel Middle School, along with four other educational institutions in California, were honored on Earth Day by the U.S. Department of Education with its fourth annual Green Ribbon School awards.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the winning schools and districts as part of Wednesday's Earth Day celebrations. A total of 58 K-12 schools and 14 districts in 26 states, plus the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity, were honored. The complete list of the honorees can be found on the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Awards Page. A brief description of their award-winning Green Ribbon programs is available from the U.S. Department of Education report, Highlights from the 2015 Honorees.

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools have developed a comprehensive approach to creating "green" environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education program. Torlakson selected California's nominees for the honor based on a competitive application reviewed by the California Department of Education, along with state and federal agency partners and the California Association of Private School Organizations.

To read more about Carmel's program in the story I wrote about them click here.

PK Diffenbaugh not the only one in his family to make the news

Come to think of it, the name Diffenbaugh seems destined for headlines. Be it the Monterey Peninsula Unified Superintendent's or his best-selling author wife's, the name seems to capture a lot of attention.

Most recently, Diffenbaugh's brother Noah Diffenbaugh, Associate Professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University, was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle for his research on changing weather patterns that are causing California's drought. Actually, he's been featured in the newspaper several times.

Noah Diffenbaugh's research is fascinating and depressing at the same time. He and his team are predicting California's dryness is here to stay, thanks to the "Ridiculous Resilient Ridge." Check it out here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Santa Catalina students join international conference on nuclear disarmament in Japan

Earlier this month, Santa Catalina seniors Shaden Beltran Ibarra and Laura Colosky, along with global issues teacher Masha Serttunc participated in an international event designed to discuss nuclear disarmament. It's the Critical Issues Forum, organized by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

The forum took place in Hiroshima, Japan, this year. They were joined by groups from six other U.S. schools, two Russian schools, and five Japanese schools.

The forum is the culmination of a semester-long program aimed at developing critical thinking skills and engaging high school students and teachers around issues related to international peace and security. All participants presented their findings on a humanitarian approach to nuclear disarmament and took part in a Q&A session with their peers and teachers. This year's conference coincided with the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and include a public forum at the Hiroshima International Conference Center. Shaden Beltran Ibarra was the M.C. for the public forum on April 4. The event was televised in Japan, with the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs in attendance.

Sounds like it was an exciting event, one the girls enjoyed and learned a lot from. Exciting things are happening in Monterey County schools!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cornel West lectures at CSUMB

Cornel West, a professor, author, civil rights activist and interpreter of African American experience will come to Cal State Monterey Bay to lecture on April 24.

He is best known for his classic books Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book is Black Prophetic Fire (Beacon Press, 2014). In it, West and scholar Christa Buschendorf provide insight into the work of six African American leaders – Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells.

He has been praised by The New York Times for his"ferocious moral vision" and hailed by Newsweek as "an elegant prophet with attitude."

The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. in the University Center ballroom. Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is free for CSUMB students, $5 for CSUMB faculty and staff, and $10 for everyone else. Tickets will be on sale at the door; no advance purchase or reservations are available.

For more information or to request disability accommodation, call 582-4070.

Migrant families to attend La Famlia conference

More than 300 migrant parents from throughout Monterey County have been invited to participate in La Familia Conference on Saturday, April 25th from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Soledad High School, 425 Gabilan Drive in Soledad.

The conference gives migrant parents an opportunity to engage and learn parenting strategies and information regarding the upbringing and education of their children. The conference supports the ultimate goal of the Migrant Education Program, which is to ensure that all migrant students experience a high quality education and improved way of life, organizers said.

Participants can choose from a field of 18 workshops in family issues, technology, health, mental health education, and leadership.

The conference is free to migrant parents.Parents wishing to attend must pre-register with their school district migrant education personnel no later than Wednesday, April 22. For more information, contact Annabel Castro at 755.6408 or Lenina Sánchez at 755.6403.

Salinas City officials to consider re-opening Boronda School.

Salinas City Elementary officials will consider re-opening Boronda School, shuttered 10 years ago, at a special board meeting on Monday. The district now uses Boronda School, shuttered 10 years ago, as a storage facility, Superintendent Juvenal Luza said in an email. The district also rents some rooms to the Monterey County Office of Education for its community day school. "If we re-open the school this coming school year ... we are recommending to the board to adopt "Option #2", which is a Magnet Dual Immersion School beginning with Pre-School, Transitional Kindergarten, and Kindergarten classes. The following year we will incorporating 1st grade, and every year after we will be adding a new grade level," Luza said. The board will also discuss the questions to be asked of candidates for the superintendent position.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hartnell’s Ag Business and Technology Institute hosts an open house

Hartnell Community College will host an Agricultural Business and Technology Institute open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m on Saturday, April 18, at the Hartnell College Alisal Campus.

The Open House will provide an overview of Hartnell's programs: Advanced Diesel and Automotive Technologies, Welding, Agricultural Industrial Technology, Food Safety, Agribusiness, Agricultural Production, Construction and Green Design, Drafting, Sustainable Agriculture, and Horticultural Technician, and Computer Information Systems.

The event will offer a good opportunity for faculty, students, and graduates to interact and enjoy a free meal. In addition, over 18 different industry vendors will be present – many of whom serve on Ag Institute Advisory Committees and hire Hartnell interns and graduates.

The Alisal Campus is located at 1752 E. Alisal Street, Salinas.

Monterey Arts Council showcases Everett Alvarez High artists

Meet the great young artists from Everett Alvarez High School at the Third Annual High School Art Exhibition presented by the Arts Council for Monterey County. The event takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 24. The Arts Council Gallery is at Sunset Center, Carmel, Room 5. Guests will meet the young artists and have the opportunity to purchase their work.

This is the third high school exhibition and organizers are always impressed with the talent the young artists demonstrate. They also find moving the way that experienced artists and gallery owners come by to meet the young artists and encourage them to continue their work. Many pieces were sold last year – including three to Community Hospital.

The Arts Council previously featured King City High School and Monterey High School.

Admission is free but RSVP is required:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Walter Colton is seeking community members to take part in Career Day

UPDATE: The career day has been postponed until the fall. Stay tuned for more details.
The second annual career day at Walter Colton Middle School will take place on May 28, and organizers are looking for volunteers to come share their professional experiences with students and  help them connect classroom learning with the real world.
 Career Day takes place from 1:10 p.m. -3:45 p.m. Presenters get to stay in one classroom, when students get to travel to three different breakout sessions (pre-selected.)

 If you are interested in serving on the Walter Colton Middle School Career Day Planning Committee, as a Career Day Speaker or helping the  Career Day in other ways, contact Maria Toledo, event coordinator, at or Kim Evert at By phone, (831) 649-1951.

Congressional art contest is back! High school students, here's your chance!

The Congressional Art Competition, a yearly contest open to all local high school students in the country, is back again. If you have a two-dimensional work of art worthy of being displayed in the U.S. Capitol,along with other students’ works from across the country, here's your chance.

Each school can submit up to three works of art that display the best of what their students have to offer. Students are allowed to submit various styles and types of art, ranging from paintings and drawings to photography and mixed media pieces up to 28 inches in size. Sculptures and other three dimensional pieces will not be considered. The winners will be determined using criteria based on originality, skill of execution, excellence in use of materials and conceptual strength of the project. All pieces of artwork must be accompanied by a student release form signed by an instructor and submitted by no later than Tuesday, April 28.

Entries can be submitted to Congressman Sam Farr's offices: in Salinas, 100 W. Alisal Street Salinas, CA 93901, or Santa Cruz, 701 Ocean Street, Room 318C, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

A reception announcing the winners will be held on Monday, May 4 at the Salinas Police Activities League Youth Center. The first place winner will travel to Washington, D.C. to be honored at a Congressional reception along with other first place winners from across the nation. The art will then hang on display in the halls of the Capitol.

The second place winner’s artwork will be displayed in the congressman’s Washington office. The artist that earns the third place prize will have their piece displayed in the congressman’s Salinas office.

Last year, Robert Louis Stevenson sophomore Jung Hoon Ki, was awarded first place for his entry “Differing Perception of Covered Eyes.”

For more information click here. refer to

Friday, April 10, 2015

Radio Bilingüe's Founder to be commencement speaker at CSUMB

Hugo Morales, who transformed a community radio station for California farmworkers into a national Latino public media network, will be the keynote speaker at CSU Monterey Bay’s commencement ceremony.

Morales, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, organized farmworkers, teachers, students and artists to launch Radio Bilingüe in 1976 as a single public radio station for the large Latino communities of Fresno and the surrounding San Joaquin Valley.

At the time, Morales was an adjunct professor of La Raza Studies at Fresno State. Ever since, he has been executive director of Radio Bilingüe and a pioneer and advocate for bilingual and minority-controlled public media throughout the country. The network now includes 11 stations in California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

A Mixtec Indian from Oaxaca, Mexico, he was a child farmworker in Sonoma County. He was appointed to the California State University Board of Trustees in 2012, and his honors include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award.

CSUMB’s 19th commencement will take place at 10 a.m. on May 16 at the Freeman Stadium on the CSUMB campus. Approximately 1,450 students will receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees; about 8,000 family members and friends are expected to attend.

Carmel Unified approves contract for new superintendent

As expected, trustees of the Carmel Unified School District approved a three-year contract for incoming superintendent Scott Laurence at their regular board meeting of April 1.

Laurence will earn $255,000 a year -- a little bump from his predecessor, who was earning $225,000. He's declining health insurance, as he participates in his spouse's health plan. He has to work 225 days of the year and is entitled to 12 sick days per year, which he can accumulate but not cash out when he leaves. If you want to learn more about his contract, here it is.

Dual Language Academy hosts International Day.

Parents and teachers of the Dual Language Academy of the Monterey Peninsula invite the public to their First International Day, a continuation of the International Night tradition from the old Dual Language Immersion Program at Marshall Elementary.

The event seeks to enrich the lives of the students by sharing their culture or international experience. There will be tables representing different areas of the world  highlighting their culture with artifacts, special foods, clothing, musical instruments and traditions. Also, all students will be part of different performances, and guests from the community will perform. Invited groups include the Monterey Bay Chinese Lion Dance Team; El mariachi, and El ballet folckorico Aguila Blanca.

Admission is free. There will be food for sale and a silent auction. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday April 18. At the Dual Language Academy of the Monterey Peninsula, 225 Normandy Rd, Seaside.

Ord Terrace hosts Family Science Night

Ord Terrace Elementary School will host its third annual Family Science Night from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14.

Teachers will conduct hands-on activities based on grade level standards. Activities will feature animal habitats and camouflage, ecosystems, electricity, plant parts, animal adaptations, and even computer science.

Student work, such as ocean animal reports, travel brochures to the solar system, and visual displays of the stages of plant growth, will be on display. The event is open to the public.

“Our family math and reading nights have been very successful, and we have expanded the evenings to focus on science,” said Joe Sampson, Principal, Ord Terrace. “Family nights are an excellent way to showcase our students, staff and school to parents and the community at large.”

Ord Terrace is located at 1755 La Salle Street in Seaside.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Salinas celebrates "Dia del Niño" -- day of the child

Salinas residents are invited to celebrate "dia del niño (y niña)"  -- day of the child -- on Sunday, April 12, from 11 to 4 p.m. at La Paz Park, 560 Roosevelt St., Salinas.

The event will begin with a ribbon cutting ceremony of a new stage at La Paz Park, an $80,000 project completed through the joint efforts of the Center for Community Advocacy (CCA) and the City of Salina.  Poder Popular leaders, Youth for Change and senior citizens of Los Abuelitos and Salinas city staff will host the Mexican-style Dia del Niño with music, food, face painting, games raffles, and booths with information about resources available to families.

The event is free of charge.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Here's the winners of the Migrant Education Speech and Debate tournament

The Migrant Education Region XVI of the Monterey County Office of Education held its sixth annual Migrant Education Speech and Debate Tournament at Salinas High School on March 21.

Dozens of migrant students from 6th through 12th grade from throughout Monterey County participated. First place winners will advance to compete at the Migrant Education State Speech and Debate Tournament to be held in Monterey on May 16.

And the winners are:

1st: Gonzales High School
2nd: So. Mo. Co. Joint Union High School District (King City and Greenfield High Schools) and North Monterey County High School
3rd: North Salinas High School

1st: Alisal High School Team #1
2nd: Alisal High School Team and Soledad High School
3rd: Greenfield High School Team #2

1st: Chualar School
2nd: Fairview Middle School and Vista Verde Middle School
3rd: Washington Middle School Team #2

1st: Nancy Ramírez, Alisal High School
2nd: Michelle Aguilar, Soledad High School 
3rd: Roberto Lara, Salinas High School

1st: Nancy Ramírez, Alisal High School
2nd: Roberto Lara, Salinas High School 
3rd: Michelle Aguilar, Soledad High School

1st: Cecilia Cornejo, Alisal High School
2nd: Alma Martinez Garcia, Gonzales High School 
3rd: Nelson Antonio Cruz, King City High School

1st: Alma Martínez García, Gonzales High School 
2nd: Cecilia Cornejo, Alisal High School
3rd: Nelson Antonio Cruz, King City High School and Maricruz Pérez, Alisal Alisal High School

1st: Yaqueline Rodríguez, Gavilan View MS 
2nd: Kimberly Márquez, North Monterey County MS 
3rd: Jocelyn Torres, Gavilan View MS

1st: Kimberly Márquez, North Monterey County MS 
2nd: Cynthia Patricio, La Paz MS 
3rd: Ximena Meza, La Paz MS

1st: Paulina Quiroz, Gavilan View MS 
2nd: Ivan Valdez, Fairview MS 
3rd: Patricia Regalado-Rangel, Chalone Peaks MS

1st: Patricia Regalado-Rangel, Chalone Peaks MS 
2nd: Antonio Jaimes Pérez, Chalone Peaks MS 
3rd: Paulina Quiroz, Gavilan View MS


1st: Carlos Rodríguez, Gavilan View MS 
2nd: Jaqueline Llanos, Castroville School
3rd: Erwin Márquez, Castroville School

1st: Erwin Márquez, Castroville School 
2nd: Jairo Alejo, Fremont School 
3rd: Rosario Serrano Garibay, V. Rocca Barton School; and  Fernanda Moto, Castroville Elem. School

1st: Manuel Jaramillo, Dr. Oscar Loya School 
2nd: Yadhín Piñón, Dr. Oscar Loya School 
3rd: Kevin Vásquez, MLK Jr. Academy

1st: Kevin Vásquez, MLK Jr. Academy 
2nd: Leonardo Guerrero, Chalone Peaks MS 
3rd: Areli Regalado-Rángel, Chalone Peaks MS

Congratulations, young men and women! Good luck in the state competition!

TedxYork described as a "resounding success"

The beautiful people of York School hosted their first ever TedxYork, and sounds like it was awesome.

The event featured a variety of creative thinkers from the York community who each uses a new medium to solve problems or retell good stories. There were graduates, current students, and a faculty member among the presenters; and as with many Ted style events, there were also tears and laughter.

For a full list of the presenters, click here.

Launched in 2009, TEDx is a program of locally organized events that bring the community together to share a TED-like experience. Some of the best talks from TEDx events have gone on to be featured on and garnered millions of views from audiences across the globe.The independently organized event, licensed by TED, featured local voices and TED Talks videos under the theme of “A New Medium.”

Sounds like a 'not-to-miss' event. Next year!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Upcoming events in Seaside tackle prescription drugs for children

L. Alan Sroufe, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development, wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times that three million children in this country take drugs for problems in focusing.

"In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder" he writes in his piece here.

The Peace Resource Center will host a two-part event titled "Prescription Drugs: Do children really need them?"

Part 1 will take place from 4 to 6 pm on April 18 at the center, 1364 Fremont Blvd, Seaside, and will focus on Ritalin Gone Wrong, a reading and dialogue on the topic of prescription drugs for kids. The group will discuss Sroufe's article.

Part 2 will take place at the same time on April 25, when the documentary "Medicating Kids" will be screened.

Both events are free but donations are accepted.

Sponsored by CSUMB’s Student Awareness for Disability Empowerment Club and the Monterey Peace and Justice Center.

For questions or disability accommodations, please contact Justin Frago via email at

Local lawyers host fundraiser for Tom Torlakson

If you have a cool $100 to spare, and you're dying to meet California Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson, this fundraiser is for you.

Lombardo and Giles -- the high powered land use attorneys that are reputedly expanding their expertise into education law -- will host the "Agriculture & Hospitality Industry Fundraiser" for Torlakson on April 16 at Corral de Tierra Country Club.

The event will also feature a special recognition for Margaret D'Arrigo-Martin for doing both the agricultural industry and school children a favor by increasing the number of salad bars in local schools.

Torlakson just got re-elected in 2014 in a very competitive race. If he's starting fundraising so early it must mean that: he's running again (this one from the duh! files) and that he's expecting another strong challenger.

And if you feel generous, you could support the supt at different financial levels. Call Holly Davis at 754.2444 ext 333 or email to find out how.