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The News Gallery

May 2003

SCICON BBQ - Rain doesn't subdue SCICON's Annual BBQ and Wildflower Festival

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

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Lorena White, Rick Mitchell, and Jim Kooler.

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:
~ Rain doesn't dampen the spirits of guests as they enjoy the sights and smells of the rain-freshened trails, paths, and habitat of SCICON.



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SCICON Hosts Annual Spring BBQ and Wildflower Festival

SCICON BBQ The 43rd annual SCICON BBQ and Wildflower Festival was held April 13 at Tulare County Office of Education's Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation (SCICON) in Springville.

Visitors were treated to wildflowers in bloom and the natural beauty of the 1,100-acre outdoor education campus in the foothills above Springville. Despite intermittent rain, guests enjoyed wildflower hikes and nature walks led by the SCICON staff, as well as continuous showings in the Museum, Planetarium and Wildlife Raptor Center throughout the day. A variety of educational activities and items were available to children and families, including a free tree seedling for each family in attendance.

SCICON BBQ "We had over 1,200 visitors attend the SCICON BBQ and Wildflower Festival," said Rick Mitchell, SCICON Administrator. "This was a great turnout considering it was quite a rainy day. It's wonderful to know that the community supports SCICON, rain or shine!" added Mitchell.

Live entertainment was scheduled throughout the day and included performances by Troupe TCOE, Hall of Fame Old Time Fiddler Del Baker, folk singer Patti Torrey and the Carl Smith Middle School Jazz Band.

SCICON BBQ "The entertainment was outstanding - particularly Troupe TCOE. Those kids are real show stoppers!" says Mitchell. "Everyone at the BBQ wanted to know where we found such talented students," Mitchell elaborates.

In addition to the sounds of live entertainment by students and nature, the air was filled with the enticing aroma of the ever-popular SCICON barbecue lunch. Nearly 3,000 pounds of beef were simmered underground in the SCICON deep-pit barbecue and served with the famous SCICON BBQ sauce, baked beans, coleslaw and other foods. Volunteers from TCOE, the Sheriffs Department, school districts, and other community organizations were on hand to serve heaping portions of the down-home feast to guests.

SCICON BBQ "More than 40 different school districts and community organizations come together to make the SCICON BBQ possible," explains Mitchell. "Tulare City Schools brings the beans, Dinuba Unified brings the coleslaw. In some ways it's a huge countywide potluck!" says Mitchell.

All proceeds from the meal went to the Friends of SCICON, a non-profit group which helps support the SCICON program. However, County Superintendent Jim Vidak explains that the main purpose of the BBQ is to let the public come up and enjoy the SCICON campus.

"We have an incredible outdoor education facility for the students that would not be possible without the vast amounts of community support we receive," says Vidak. "The SCICON BBQ is our way of saying 'thank you' to everyone who has helped to make this program possible," Vidak adds.

Photos above:
~ California Department of Forestry volunteers help young people handle the two-man buck saw.
~ Nancy Bruce, Circle J-Norris Ranch Education Coordinator, assists guests in identifying SCICON's many wildflowers.
~ TCOE employees, Christine Chapman and Joyce Willis, joined by two volunteers from the Tulare County Sheriffs Department, prepare to serve guests the SCICON BBQ lunch.
~ "Rattle Snake Country. Please stay on trails." Signs remind guests of the natural dangers of not staying on designated trails.



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Board Holds Retreat at SCICON

The Tulare County Board of Education held both, its regular board meeting and annual Special Board Planning Meeting (Board Retreat), at SCICON on April 9.

Tulare County Board of Education Board members discussed important issues such as the budget, class size reduction and considerations for planning for the future.

In addition, board members heard plans for renovation and expansion of SCICON as part of Rick Mitchell's SCICON update. The update included a walking tour of the campus' trails during which members could enjoy the natural habitat (and some homemade SCICON cookies and snacks).

Photo above:
~ Board members (left to right) Dr. Edward Peterson, Leonard Hansen, Rudy Campos, Scot Townsend, Ruth Stouffer, Chris Reed, and Pat Hillman, enjoy a walking tour of SCICON that was part of a SCICON update.



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Nearly 1,000 California Teens Gather for Teenwork

Nearly 1,000 high school students and their adult advisors, from 54 California counties, spent their Spring Break in Orange County. In contrast to the images of alcohol-enhanced debauchery and destruction that Spring Break often yields, these teens, instead, dedicated themselves to preventing alcohol- and drug-related problems.

Teenwork The four-day teen leadership conference entitled, "Teenwork 2003 Sketching Our Future," was unique because it was designed and orchestrated by youth for youth. Workshop themes included "Mind Your Media,""True Life: I'm a California Teen," "Family (Really) Matters," and "Law and Order," with sessions on traffic safety, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, teen pregnancy, depression and other subjects that are important for today's youth.

A team of 30 California Youth Council members (CYC), all of whom were Teenwork alumnus, met over four weekends throughout the year to design and plan every detail of the conference from general session topics and presenters to theme songs and conference logos. Working in a true youth-adult partnership, the CYC members had the primary responsibility of ensuring their plans for the conference came to fruition once the conference was underway.

According to Jim Kooler, administrator for California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP), "The staff of the California Friday Night Live Partnership, along with the Board of Directors of Teenwork, were able to create an environment for young people and their adult allies to plan and implement Teenwork. The leadership training will leave a lasting impact and motivate youth to take action." Kooler continued, "It was an amazing example of youth-adult partnerships in action."

Teenwork The conference culminated on Friday, April 18, with a lunch and town hall style "listening session." During the sessions, legislators' representatives, educators, business leaders, law enforcement officials and others swapped roles with the teens to allow the young people to be in policy-making positions. Teenwork members made recommendations on resources, services and programs necessary for them to create the lives they envision. Those recommendations will eventually be reviewed by California's Governor Gray Davis.

Other afternoon activities on Friday included a multi-media presentation entitled "In Real Life," which explored pressures facing youth and the consequences of the decisions that are made in response to those pressures. Presented by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the session was especially poignant, as it was dedicated to the memory of Casey Goodwin, a CYC alumna and Teenwork board member who was recently killed by a drunk driver.

Photos above:
~ California Friday Night Live Partnership members (left) Laura Purcella-Buzo and Janis Killion were two of the key behind-the-scenes people orchestrating the conference.
~ California Youth Council (CYC) members created a mural in honor of Casey Goodwin.



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Young Authors Show Their Wares at the Young Authors' Faire

Young Authors' Faire Where might you find yourself browsing through books with titles such as "Super Robot Man," "The Adventures of Fish Man," and "The Life of Abraham Lincoln?" Why, at the Tulare County Office of Education's Young Authors' Faire, of course!

The Faire was held March 31 through April 4 and was open to all kindergarten through eighth-grade students. Young authors from throughout Tulare County showcased their original books in the Education Building for the week. Students were encouraged to select any category of their choice and then create the story idea, write and edit the book, illustrate, reproduce and bind the book. Books could be written in any language, constructed in any size, shape or color and made from virtually any material and illustrated with a variety of art techniques.

Young Authors' Faire As part of the Young Authors' Faire promotional materials, coordinators noted the following in a tongue-in-cheek manner: "Although we never judge a book by its cover, it has been our experience over the last three years that those publications that are visually appealing are picked up and read more frequently than others."

One of the highlights for many of the students was a reception that was given in their honor. In addition to treating the young writers to hors d'oeuvres, such as peanut butter crackers and cookies, the reception allowed the students to see other writers' works (and brag about their own to family and friends who were in attendance).

Young Authors' Faire County Superintendent Jim Vidak says he really enjoys the annual Young Authors' Faire event. "I never cease to be amazed at the creativity and talent of Tulare County students," he says. "The Young Authors' Faire provides a great opportunity for them to create their own masterpieces from start to finish," Vidak adds.

Photos above:
~ Some young authors from Three Rivers Union Elementary's second grade class take a break from eating snacks such as cookies, peanut butter crackers, cheese cubes and punch (at the reception in their honor) to be pictured with their class' contributions to the Faire. The books, entitled "Maybe I'll Be" and "Ocean Animals" were compiled and submitted by the entire class, rather than a single student.
~ Books with titles ranging from "The Life of Abraham Lincoln" to "Super Robot Man" to "The Adventures of Fish Man" were all displayed by individual students and classes as part of TCOE's Young Authors' Faire.
~ Maria Gaston, TCOE's Student Events Secretary, prepares to replenish the buffet table at the Young Authors' Faire reception with special animal-faced paper plates, while honorees and guests help themselves to snacks and punch.



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TCOE Employees Shows Their Support of "Jeans for Justice Day"

Jeans for Justice Day Never ones to shy from a worthy cause (or an opportunity to don jeans on a work day), TCOE team members showed their support of an international initiative known as "Jeans for Justice Day." Wearing jeans during Jeans for Justice Day became a symbol of international protest of harmful attitudes about rape in 1999 in response to an Italian Supreme Court decision to overturn a rape conviction because the victim wore jeans.

April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month.


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Gallery Notes

Senaida Garcia and Lorene Valentino were honored by the Soroptomist International of Visalia at their annual "Women Helping Women and Women of Distinction" Awards Dinner on April 21 at the Visalia Convention Center.

Both were selected for the award for advancing the status of women in Tulare County by actively working for the elimination of economic, legal, or political discrimination of women and improving their role. In short, Soroptomists refer to the awards as an opportunity for "honoring women who make extraordinary contributions to our community."

Both award winners were nominated by County Superintendent Jim Vidak who said, "I can't think of anyone who is more deserving of this recognition than Senaida or Lorene." Vidak added, "Personally, I feel honored to have worked with both of these fine ladies to make Tulare County a better place for our students and their families. Professionally, I feel extremely fortunate to have both women as part of the TCOE team."

CHOICES hosted the first annual "Night of the Stars" as part of its Reconnecting Youth Prevention Program on April 10. The program included entertainment by Troupe TCOE Theatre Group, guest speakers and students sharing their Reconnecting Youth experiences. Additionally, students were recognized for making positive choices in their lives.

The Reconnecting Youth Program helps students to achieve academic milestones and personal goals that will, ultimately, increase the students' chances for leading happier, healthier lives. By encouraging and rewarding positive habits, the program hopes to help students to succeed in school and their lives beyond.


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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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