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The News Gallery

February 2003

OPEN HOUSE - La Sierra High School Hosted an Open House - Complete with a Climbing Wall - at its Porterville Satellite Campus

News Gallery - February 2003 Editor: Pamela Kunze
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Lorena White, Priscilla Gomez, Kathy Johnston, and Maria Gaston.

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.

Cover Photo:
~ Jordan Bailey contemplates his next move on the artificial rock face.

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La Sierra Opens Satellite Campus in Porterville

La Sierra Charter High School hosted an open house on January 7 to showcase its newest satellite campus in Porterville. By all accounts, the event was a success with more than 100 prospective students and their families in attendance.
La Sierra Satellite Campus in Porterville La Sierra course instructors were available to answer questions about classes and materials. Sierra Corps instructors brought their climbing wall and gave free demonstrations and hands-on opportunities for anyone who was brave enough to put on a safety harness and strap onto the rope. The admissions staff was available to help students and their families complete all of the necessary enrollment forms. The County Superintendent even stopped by to check things out. When families finished the facility and classroom tours, they were treated to freshly made pepperoni pizza from The Birdhouse Restaurant.

According to Lorene Valentino, La Sierra Administrator, "This was the best open house we've ever had." Valentino continues, "It was really wonderful to hear how excited the students and families were to have us here."

La Sierra Satellite Campus in Porterville Valentino points out that student "excitement" was obvious when students and families arrived with admissions paperwork completed and ready for processing. In fact, several students left the open house fully enrolled and ready to start classes on opening day, January 15.

"I've never seen that before," says Valentino. "Never."

Perhaps what makes the community's excitement even more rewarding for Valentino and her staff is the fact that the Porterville satellite campus was the topic of numerous heated discussions.

Ultimately, the issue of whether La Sierra High School should open a satellite campus in Porterville was brought before the Tulare County Board of Education at a special board meeting on December 18, 2002. After hearing arguments for and against the expansion, the board unanimously agreed to open the site.

Today, La Sierra High School in Porterville is fully-operational. The staff is instructing and helping students whose needs might otherwise not be met in more traditional educational environments.

Behind the scenes, Valentino is a flurry of activity. If you can catch up to her -- or get her to slow down long enough to talk -- she has one word to describe the satellite campus. "Wonderful," she says with a smile.

Photos above:
~ La Sierra instructor, Frank Hanggi, explains several La Sierra courses to prospective students at the Porterville open house on January 7. Hanggi teaches courses including math, building trades, and computer technology and repair.
~ Jordan Bailey gets help with his safety harness from Sierra Corps graduate and work site supervisor, Fernando Gonzalez, prior to climbing the artificial rock surface. In the background, Jeff Pierce offers climbing tips to a prospective La Sierra student while County Superintendent Vidak looks on.

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Vidak Sworn In, Deputizes Seven

County of Tulare Oath of Office Ceremony "When do I get my badge, Boss?" asked Rich Graham in true Old West deputy fashion. The light-hearted question was asked of County Superintendent Vidak, immediately after Vidak swore Graham in as his Deputy Superintendent for General Services.

"When your prints clear," Vidak answered Graham, not missing a beat.

And thus, concluded the Tulare County Office of Education Oath of Office ceremony that "deputized" seven Tulare County Office of Education Employees.

While the ceremony to swear in the Deputy Superintendents seemed somewhat informal, taking place in County Superintendent Vidak's office, the basis for the ceremony is anything but informal.

California law states that "every person who exercises any function of a public office without taking the oath of office, or without giving the required bond, is guilty of a misdemeanor."

As an elected official, Superintendent Vidak must take and execute an oath of office in order to begin his term of service. On January 7, Mr. Vidak was sworn in for his fourth four-year term as Tulare County Superintendent of Schools.

One of his first official acts as a newly sworn in County Superintendent was to swear in key members of his staff as Deputies. In doing so, Mr. Vidak delegates authority to his deputies to act on his behalf to conduct the business of Tulare County Office of Education. Although Mr. Vidak empowers the deputies to act on his behalf, he is still ultimately responsible for their actions.

"Serving the students of Tulare County as their County Superintendent is an honor and privilege. Every time I take my oath of office it is very special to me," says Vidak.

"When I appoint staff members to be Deputy Superintendents to help me execute my duties as the County Superintendent, I trust that they understand what a special privilege it is to serve our county's students," says Vidak.

In addition to Graham, the following personnel were sworn in and issued Certificates of Appointment as Deputy Superintendents: Dr. Sally Bakke, Patty Blaswich, Enid Brinkman, Jeanne Nava, Dr. Marilyn Rankin and John Wilborn.

Photos above:
~ Several Tulare County elected officials were honored at an Oath of Office ceremony on January 7, 2003, at the Tulare County Courthouse. To the far right is County Superintendent of Schools, Jim Vidak.
~ Shortly after Superintendent Vidak's swearing in, he "deputized" seven TCOE employees who also took oaths of office. Here, a close-up view of Rich Graham taking his oath.
~ Superintendent Vidak congratulates Deputy Superintendent Graham, while fellow deputies Patty Blaswich and John Wilborn await their turns.

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Remembering Don Atkinson, TCOE Board Member and Career Educator

Don Atkinson Tulare County Board of Education member Don Atkinson passed away Jan.19, 2003, after a courageously fought battle with cancer. A career educator, Don dedicated more than 31 years of his life serving in various capacities as teacher, principal and superintendent for local schools. Don taught in Monson-Sultana and Orosi and later became the superintendent of the Monson-Sultana School District. After retiring in 1993, Don served as an interim superintendent at Sundale School, Liberty School and Sequoia Union.

Don was elected to the Tulare County Board of Education for Trustee Area 5 in 1996 and again in 2000. During his tenure as a board member, he served as the board president and represented Tulare County on several state legislative committees. Additionally, Don served as treasurer for the Tulare County Education Foundation Board and was a member of the Association of California School Administrators.

"Don never missed a board meeting in the entire time he served on the Tulare County Board of Education," says County Superintendent Jim Vidak. "He was well-respected and always offered a tremendous amount of insight to our board proceedings," Vidak said.

"Don had a special place in his heart for La Sierra High School and its programs. He was a huge supporter of La Sierra," Vidak continued. "In fact, he rarely missed a La Sierra or Sierra Corps graduation or event."

"But, I think what I'll always remember about Don -- and will miss the most -- was his smile," said Vidak. "Don's smile would light up the room. It was infectious. When you'd see Don smile, you couldn't help but smile with him," said Vidak, smiling sadly at the thought.

Don is survived by his wife, Beverly; his mother, Rose Decker; four daughters: Pam DeGeer and her husband, Doug; Candyce Van Berkel and her husband, Arnie; Janie Graham and her husband, Tom; and Trish Krstic and her husband, Mario; and two sons, David Russell and his wife, Juanita, and Scott Russell. He is additionally survived by 11 grandchildren.

Those wishing to honor Don Atkinson's memory may do so by making a financial contribution to the Don L. Atkinson Scholarship Fund, Hospice of Tulare County, or the American Cancer Society.

Photo above:
~ Don L. Atkinson (1933 - 2003)

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The School Store is Honored with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The School Store is officially open for business.

On December 11, the Visalia Chamber of Commerce performed a ribbon cutting ceremony to congratulate the store, its employees, sponsors and supporters, and to notify local businesses and community members of the store's opening.

The School Store Located in the Sequoia Mall, The School Store is an innovative retailing concept that showcases the products, services and ideas of Tulare County students and schools. The shop's inventory offers everything from environmentally themed items to holiday gift baskets to school supplies and memorabilia. Items are sold on consignment with a portion of the proceeds benefiting county schools and students. The store is staffed by students who gain valuable retailing and management experience while earning a competitive salary.

"It is great to be open for business and I give credit to (County Superintendent) Jim Vidak for that," Randy Wallace, store manager, remarked at the ribbon cutting ceremony. "Mr. Vidak never questions what I do and only asks what I need. That's refreshing in these times."

Always eager to expand the product line, Wallace took the opportunity to point out that some county schools' items were not represented. "If we don't have it, it's because they haven't sent it," he said.

The combination of Wallace's can-do attitude, Vidak's support, and the fresh ideas and dedication of Tulare County students, bodes well for The School Store.

The store is open daily during normal mall hours. Call (559) 624-1050 for more information or visit the website at www.tcoe.org.

Photo above:
~ TCOE's The School Store celebrated its ribbon cutting at the Sequoia Mall on December 11, 2002. Provided by the Visalia Chamber of Commerce, the ribbon cutting honored The School Store and signified that it was open for business. Community members and Chamber of Commerce ambassadors surround Assistant Manager Jilaine LeRoy (center) while she performs the ribbon cutting honors. To LeRoy's left, Store Manager Randy Wallace and TCOE Board President Chris Reed look on.

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TCOE Presents "Children of Children" Exhibit at Sequoia Mall

Tulare County Office of Education will host an interactive photography exhibit entitled "Children of Children -- Portraits and Stories of Teenage Parents" at Visalia's Sequoia Mall from February 4 through March 7.

The exhibit presents 50 portraits and stories of those whose lives have been crucially affected by teenage pregnancy. Half of the subjects are current teenage parents while the other half are individuals who were touched by teenage pregnancy at some time in their lives. Each portrait is accompanied by an audio story that brings the subject of teen pregnancy to life and offers the viewer a glimpse into lives that have been dramatically changed by young pregnancy.

The "Children of Children" exhibit is open to the public during normal Sequoia Mall hours and may be viewed, free-of-charge. The audio biographies and stories are available in both English and Spanish.

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Gallery Notes

Tulare County Office of Education will, once again, host the annual Mock Trial Competition. This year, twelve teams from Tulare County high schools are scheduled to compete in the first four rounds of the Mock Trial Competition. The rounds of competition will take place in the Tulare County Superior Court on January 28, January 30, February 4 and 6, with trials beginning each night at 5:15 p.m. Semi-final rounds will be held at the courthouse on February 11, beginning at 5:15 p.m.. Finals are February 13 at Visalia's Rotary Theater from 5:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. This year's hypothetical case, People v. Martin, features a pretrial argument on the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

La Sierra Nursing Assistant Program On January 17, La Sierra High School had an emotional pinning ceremony for the first-ever graduates of the La Sierra Nursing Assistant Program. In tears before the ceremony began, the students and their families were obviously proud of their accomplishments. The graduates presented their instructor, Sheila Caldito, with roses and thanked her for helping them to discover what they had inside that would allow them to be successful. The graduates were, in turn, presented with certificates of accomplishment and lapel pins at the ceremony's completion. The Nursing Assistant Program is an 18-week syllabus that includes classroom and hands-on clinical training. Students who complete the program are qualified to take the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) examination. Graduates were Rebecca Becerra, Erika Fregoso, Alma Lizarraga, Kristi Silva and Maria Valencia.

The Child Abuse & Neglect (C.A.N.) Prevention Program is seeking volunteers. Sponsored by Tulare County Office of Education, C.A.N. is a preventive program designed to help reduce the incidence of neglect, as well as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Serving two to four hours per month, volunteers will work in teams of two and speak from a prepared informational script to kindergarten and fifth-grade classes throughout Tulare County.

A C.A.N. informational meeting will be held Thursday, February 6, from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., at 7000 Doe Ave., Building 300. For more information, contact Kathy Johnston at School Health Programs at (559) 651-0130.

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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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