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The News Gallery

May 2001

PITCHING IN - California Friday Night Live Partnership Gives Valuable Leadership Experience to Young People

News Gallery - May 2001 Editor: Rob Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

M.J. Alms, Cheri Barnes, Gary Biggs, Darlynn Billingsley, Esmeralda Cano, Veronica Carmona, Christine Chapman, Vicky Contreras, Jeanne Croson, Randy Elzig, Frank Escobar, Linda Hamilton, Margaret Ibarra, LouAnn King, Donna Martin, Rick Mitchell, Donna Orozco and George Pilling.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. If you would like to receive the News Gallery, please contact Christine Chapman at (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

On the cover above: California Friday Night Live Partnership Administrator Peggee Davis (right) and Communications Coordinator M.J. Alms review the work of student intern Dustin Hall.

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A Working Partnership With Youth

Planning the Teenwork Conference Since 1995, the California Friday Night Live Partnership, housed in the Tulare County Office of Education, has been responsible for overseeing and directing the Friday Night Live system in 54 counties throughout California. In the Friday Night Live Program, youth are encouraged to create projects and activities, and to change their communities for the better while building meaningful relationships with one another.

Historically, youth programs have worked from a philosophical framework that viewed young people as having problems for adults to solve. Friday Night Live (FNL) sensed that an approach based on the assets of youth would be more effective. FNL studied the research and embraced a fresh perspective: youth are capable, amazing people, with incredible resources to offer. The research supported the idea that problems are reduced as capacity is built. Indeed, adults can be most effective with young people by joining with them in ways that build capacity, develop skills, and build caring and meaningful relationships.

Over the last three years, FNL adopted a mission statement that supports its commitment to California's young people: "Friday Night Live builds partnerships for positive and healthy youth development." But it takes more than words to make it happen. It takes action. So, as the state office for the FNL programs, the California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP), made it a goal to demonstrate what it means to work every day with young people: they provide them jobs in their office.

"It's one thing to bring young people into an organization to work," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "It's quite another to give them responsibilities for planning and implementing programs and events. But that's just what the California Friday Night Live Partnership does on a daily basis. Administrator Peggee Davis and her staff have an unflinching commitment to putting youth in partnership roles. The result is always more creativity and enthusiasm from everyone involved."

Over the last five years, the CFNLP has made internships available to local high school and first-year college students who have been involved in Friday Night Live or the California Youth Council. The criteria and experience required to get the job? Simple: the candidate has to be a young person with a strong desire to expand his or her skills and support the mission.

Interns are first interviewed and asked about their availability. They are asked about their goals and what they perceive as their strongest abilities. For example, do they like to work on a computer? Are they comfortable talking on the phone? Do they like graphics? Do they like to present in front of groups? Do they like to train others or lead activities? Skills are identified, and opportunities are defined.

Next, the Tulare County Office of Education's standard hiring process goes into motion — fingerprinting, paperwork and time sheets. These new experiences can be overwhelming for interns at first, but the Office of Education welcomes new employees, regardless of age, with warmth and helpfulness. Interns are introduced to employees in other departments and begin the process of learning one of life's most important skills — navigating systems of people and procedures.

Dustin Hall The first few weeks of an internship, participants are asked to reflect on their experience working in an adult environment. Dustin Hall, an intern at the Partnership for over a year, says: "Continual support and positive reinforcement make me feel more than welcome." Another recent intern, Christy Smaby, reflected that "the most important thing I learned while I was at the Partnership was computer skills. I really didn't have any before I came. I use my computer skills all the time now," she added. Each intern brings diversity and new points of view to the Partnership office, and it is apparent that these youth are truly skilled and capable. Lower-level tasks such as making copies and stuffing envelopes are soon replaced with navigating complex computer applications, weighing in on the images used on printed materials, writing articles for the website, and collaborating with other, more involved projects, such as preparing trainings for other communities.

Projects that the young people work on are often meaningful to them. For example, interns working to create packets of materials for a conference will see their work again, in its finished form, when they attend. The Teenwork Training Institute is a week-long conference for high school-aged youth that takes place every April. Participants come from all over the state to attend this large event. This year, CFNLP interns, including Jessica Equihua, worked not only on nametags, packets, t-shirts, and other items for the conference, but also attended as trainers and presenters and saw their efforts and work in action! In addition, youth interns collaborate on efforts to create images that are of interest to young people, participate in staff meetings, and plan trainings to offer their expertise and points of view.

For all that the young people learn, it is the CFNLP that benefits most from having youth in the office. The California Friday Night Live Partnership gets to have the top youth experts in our midst — youth themselves!

Photos above:
~ Mountains of work go into the planning of the annual Teenwork Conference in April. Students are partners in the process of planning and running the event.

~ Dustin Hall reviews the California Friday Night Live Partnership's website, which includes the work of students from around the state. It can be found at www.fridaynightlive.org

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Tech Prep EXPO Attracts Middle and Senior High Students to COS

Tech Prep EXPO Construction Competition More than 800 middle and senior high students from 20 schools throughout Tulare and Kings Counties competed in 33 different categories at the Tech Prep EXPO in April. The competition is designed to showcase academic and career-related skills learned in classroom and work-based environments. "It was exciting to see the level of enthusiasm and participation from the volunteers and students," noted Amy Hermann, 2001 EXPO Coordinator. Students competed in projects ranging from food preparation and flower arrangement to drafting and computer troubleshooting to welding and mathematical problem-solving.

Tech Prep EXPO Computer Systems Routing Competition Approximately 385 middle school students, attending from 9 schools, were given tours of the COS campus and participated in interactive career pathway demonstrations. In organizing Tech Prep EXPO, the Tulare County Office of Education is joined by College of the Sequoias, Visalia Unified School District, TCOVE and Kings County. Tech Prep EXPO was developed as part of a local school-to-career grant six years ago. Since then, it has found a home with the College of the Sequoias.

"When TCOVE began the expansion of EXPO in 1995, our goal was to make it self-sustaining," says Randy Wallace, TCOE School-to-Career Director. "Thanks to the help of our partners and the community, we have a solid model that will work for a long time. I'm also proud of its success in encouraging students to explore their interests."

Photos above:
~ Students participate in competitions ranging from construction to computer systems routing. The first place awards received by each of the participating high schools include: Dinuba - 5; Golden West - 7; La Sierra - 1; Monache - 1; Mt. Whitney - 2; Porterville - 2; Redwood - 6; Strathmore - 1; TCOVE - 3; Tulare Western - 2; Tulare Union - 2.

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La Sierra Student Records First Win at Tech Prep

Reggie Martinez, a junior at our own La Sierra High School, became an EXPO finalist and first place honoree in his first competition. As a member of the La Sierra culinary arts program, Reggie will also be forever recognized as the first La Sierra student to participate in the EXPO event. Diana Garcia, vocational instructor for La Sierra, credited Reggie's "hard work and extra effort for his success." "Reggie was a little concerned because he had never competed before, but he did a great job." Congratulations, Reggie, job well done.

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Majority of Character Awards Go to Tulare County Middle Schools

Bonner Center Winners Seven of the twelve middle schools that received the 2001 Virtues and Character Recognition awards presented in April by the Bonner Center at California State University, Fresno were from Tulare County. Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School, Tulare; Cherry Avenue Middle School, Tulare; Divisadero Middle School, Visalia; Green Acres Middle School, Visalia; La Joya Middle School, Visalia; Live Oak Middle School, Tulare; and Valley Oak Middle School, Visalia, were among Central Valley schools to receive the prestigious award. The Virtues and Character Recognition Awards were presented last month by the Fresno State University Bonner Center for Character Education and Citizenship. All seven Tulare County schools use the CHARACTER COUNTS! Program provided by the Tulare County Office of Education. Overall, eleven of the twelve schools use the CHARACTER COUNTS! program.

Last year, three Tulare County elementary schools received the recognition: Burton Elementary in Porterville; Jefferson Elementary in Dinuba; and Pixley Elementary in Pixley. La Joya Middle School received its first Virtues and Character Recognition Award in 1997 and then again in 1999. Elementary schools are eligible for the award during even-numbered years. Middle schools may apply for the award during odd-numbered years.

Each of the middle schools implemented the Tulare County Office of Education's CHARACTER COUNTS! program. This national program focuses on teaching the Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. In Tulare County, over 3,000 educators, parents and community members have participated in CHARACTER COUNTS! development seminars.

"We have a 110 percent commitment to character education in Tulare County," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "I'm delighted to see that the CHARACTER COUNTS! program we initiated throughout the county in 1996 has resulted in such exemplary programs. Congratulations to the winners and all the other participating schools who have proven CHARACTER COUNTS! in Tulare County!"

The Bonner Center for Character Education and Citizenship at California State University, Fresno adopted and sponsored the Virtues and Character Recognition Award in 1997. The purpose behind the award is to recognize exemplary local schools where emphasis has been planned to enhance the moral thinking and behavior of students. The award is not specifically designed to compare schools, but rather to encourage all schools to participate in well-designed activities for students. The Virtues and Character Recognition Award application asks for evidence of three criteria: the promotion of core ethical values as the basis of good character; the encouragement of an intentional, proactive, and comprehensive approach to its core values in all phases of school life; and the development of opportunities for students to take moral action.

Photo above:
~ Representatives from the seven Tulare County middle schools pose with their awards from the Bonner Center for Character Education and Citizenship at Fresno State.

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New Reproduction Center Boasts High-Speed/Color Copy Capabilities

The Tulare County Office of Education Reproduction Center has been relocated to the Services for Education & Employment (SEE) Vocational Training Center at 1735 E. Houston Ave., Visalia. Duplicating Equipment Operators Vera Creek and Abel Garcia, and Vera's sister, Rita Lopez (volunteer), will become part of SEE's Graphic Design and Printing Department, and be responsible for all of TCOE's duplicating and printing.

Vera Creek and Rita Lopez SEE's Mike Franco will direct the new Reproduction Center and is very excited about the ability to develop and publish new products. "We have recently acquired a Xerox Docutech 6100 Copier, which is capable of reproducing 100 single-sided copies per minute," says Franco. "This machine can print textbooks, pamphlets and catalogs."

"We also have purchased a Xerox Doc 12 System capable of designing and producing full-color brochures, flyers, photographs and booklets, but in small quantities," explains Franco. "In the future, we anticipate purchasing a two-color offset printer so we can do mass color runs."

Students from La Sierra High School, also located at the SEE Vocational Training Center, may enroll in the Graphic Design and Printing Program for credit. Franco states that he is working with Xerox to develop a high school curriculum utilizing their equipment and offer Xerox Systems Certificates of Achievements to students who complete their courses. Franco adds that these certificates can open employment doors for La Sierra students.

Photo above:
~ TCOE staff recognized Vera Creek (seated left) and her sister Rita Lopez (seated right) for their years of service in the Reporduction Center, which will be relocated to SEE & Co. in May.

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Foundation Holds First Event & Announces Voluntary Deduction Plan

Farmersville CyberQuest Team Guests at the Tulare County Office of Education Foundation's first annual Spring Showcase, held March 29 at the Chinese Cultural Center, enjoyed an evening of entertainment and information. Over 200 community leaders and educators delighted to songs, poems and presentations made by Tulare County students and participants in Office of Education programs and events.

The Foundation designed the Spring Showcase as an event Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak says: "has and will continue to show the public the breadth and depth of programs offered by the Office of Education."

Employees of the Tulare County Office of Education and many of the school districts within Tulare County may now contribute to the Foundation through a simple payroll deduction.

Employees interested in making a regular, monthly contribution should contact their Human Resources department and request the appropriate form for Voluntary Deduction #4966. For information on giving in other ways to the Foundation, contact Jim Vidak at 733-6301.

Photo above:
~ Farmersville Junior High CyberQuest team at the Foundation's Spring Showcase.

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TCOE T-shirt Orders at Midtown Sports

Shirts embroidered with the Tulare County Office of Education logo may be ordered from Midtown Sports at 117 E. Main Street in Visalia, Monday through Friday between 9:30 am and 6:00 pm, or on Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Kristy Reed is the main contact person at Midtown. TCOE employees must pay Midtown Sports at the time of purchase and include a work phone number and job location on the order form for easier distribution. Orders will be accepted from May 15, 2001, through June 15, 2001, only.

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Gallery Notes

La Sierra Charter High School staff and Vocational Instructor for Graphic Arts Mike Franco received an Award of Merit from the California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA) for the design of their own promotional brochure. The colorful brochure, used in recruiting new students to the charter school, is notable for an intricate die-cut of the Sierra Mountains. CalSPRA awarded the Tulare County Office of Education four additional awards for various promotional materials, including its own brochure, directory and the Excellence in Education nomination packet.

Spelling Ace Scott Smith Scott Smith, an 8th grader St. Paul’s School, out-spelled 143 students from 40 schools to become the Tulare County Spelling Champion 2001. Scott will advance to Washington, D.C., May 30, 2001, to compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.  Scott spelled Bunyanesque and despotism to take the Championship. Alberto Santillan, a sixth grader from Golden Valley Elementary in Orosi, was the first runner-up in the close competition, which went 14 rounds.

Migrant Education was awarded funds to implement an English Language and Intensive Literacy Program in a consortium with the Exeter, Sunnyside, Strathmore, Visalia, Armona, and Woodville School Districts. The goal of the program is to help students become proficient in English and to increase their literacy skills. Approximately 450 students will participate in the program during the summer and the 2001-2002 school year.

Cherry Avenue Middle School in Tulare was named one of 157 distinguished middle and high schools by the California Department of Education, April 10.

Photo above:
~ Spelling Ace Scott Smith

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Jim Vidak, County Superintendent of Schools
Tulare County Office of Education
All mail to: P.O. Box 5091, Visalia, CA 93278-5091
Physical address: 6200 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA 93277
phone: (559) 733-6300 • fax: (559) 627-5219

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