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The News Gallery

April 2004

News Gallery - April 2004 Editor: Pamela Kunze
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Jeanne Croson, Marie Holguin, Lorena White, Priscilla Gomez and Jonathan Janzen.

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 chrisc@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.


Cover Photo:
~ Lori Harding directs a student to her group during pre-conference registration.



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Expanding Your Horizons Helps Students Explore Career Fields in Science and Math

For the fourth consecutive year, the Tulare County Office of Education and College of the Sequoias hosted "Expanding Your Horizons" (EYH), a student event designed to encourage young women in grades four through 12 to explore careers in the fields of mathematics, technology, science and engineering. The fun-filled, educational conference held at College of the Sequoias showcased math- and science-related fields in innovative and interesting ways.

Expanding Your Horizons This year, Dr. Martina Newell-McGloughlin, director of the University of California's Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Education Program, delivered the morning keynote address to more than 350 conference attendees. Dr. Newell-McGloughlin said her interest in science began at a young age in Galway, Ireland, when "the nuns told me on my first day at secondary school (high school) that this was an unsuitable subject for girls and we should all opt for home economics."

During her address, Dr. McGloughlin explained how biotechnology is helping to develop plants that are improving the food supply in under-developed countries and providing new medicines to fight diseases. She also shared the story of how she became a scientist and encouraged the girls to pursue one of the many interesting careers available in the field. McGoughlin excelled in physics and chemistry and continued to focus on science throughout college.

Expanding Your Horizons Following the morning address, hands-on workshops and sessions were taught by professional women from throughout the state. The students explored careers and opportunities throughout science and math fields by attending workshops such as, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun with Science," "Want to be a Veterinarian?," and "Mutant Flies as Research Tools." Depending upon which workshop they attended, the young ladies may have built bridges, solved math puzzles, examined how diseases spread, made butter, used a stethoscope to take heart rates, planted beans, learned new methods of multiplication, and studied flies using a microscope.

"The response of the students, chaperones, and presenters was enthusiastically positive," said event coordinator, Julie Joseph. "The students had a wonderful day, learned new things about math and science, and became exposed to career opportunities. They expressed that they look forward to returning next year for another fun day exploring mathematics, science, technology and engineering," continued Joseph.

"I am proud to once again host Expanding Your Horizons. The purpose of the conference is to explain options and expand opportunities for our students that they may have not otherwise considered," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "It's important for young women to not only hear about careers based in math and science, but also to identify with the women who are leading the way in these fields. EYH presents outstanding opportunities for both," Vidak explains.

Photos above:
~ Maria Gaston, student events secretary, registers some of the more than 350 conference participants for their day's sessions.
~ Participants wait in line for their continental breakfast.



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County Superintendent Reads to Students as Part of "Read Across America" Day

"Are you from Sacramento? Are you Arnold's dad?" asked one inquisitive student of the Tulare County Superintendent of Schools.

"Nooooo," was Vidak's simple response.

"How can you do your face like that?" asked another of Jim Vidak.

"Oh, I've got a face like that," said Vidak with characteristic good nature.

Read Across America Day The barrage of questions continued as Vidak greeted the class of second graders and settled into the rocking chair in front of them. Vidak was one of many community volunteers and educators who were participating in "Read Across America," the nationwide program spearheaded by the National Education Association or NEA.

NEA's President Reg Weaver says: "For the seventh year, NEA is the proud sponsor of the nation's biggest reading party." Weaver further elaborates the purpose of the "party" is "to show young and old alike not only the importance of the written word, but the joy of reading as well."

The County Superintendent explained the importance of reading to the students in this way: "You know, reading is like a key to all of the things in the world."

That said, Vidak began his animated rendition of Thacher Hurd's "Mama Don't Allow," a story about an alligator, his swamp band and the adventures they encounter. For the duration of the presentation, the students were completely engrossed in the story, the vivid pictures and Vidak's comical gestures and delivery.

When he finished, Vidak closed the book, and asked, "Now, wasn't that cool?"

The students agreed.

With that agreement, Vidak proceeded to recite what he explained was "a very serious poem" about worms. Once the laughter subsided, Vidak thanked the students for allowing him to come to visit, and, with "Mama Don't Allow" tucked under his arm, was off to his next reading site, Rocky Hill Elementary.

Photos above:
~ The many faces of Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, as he performs a stirring rendition of the classic, "Mama Don't Allow" by Thacher Hurd, to Exeter's Lincoln Elementary School second-grade students.



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Tulare County Spelling Bee Challenges Students from Throughout County

Tulare County Spelling Bee Tulare County Office of Education, in partnership with the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register, sponsors the Tulare County Spelling Championship each year for students in grades four through eight. Participating schools hold their own local spelling bee and select two spellers to attend. Sixty-seven schools were represented in this year's event with a total of 129 spellers competing.

"Although the event is designed to be an exciting and challenging competition for the student spellers, every effort is made to make participation a positive experience," says Jim Vidak, County Superintendent of Schools.

This year's Tulare County spelling champion is Juan Mejia, a sixth grader from Live Oak School, Tulare City School District. Along with winning the county trophy and the recognition it affords, Mejia will go on to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Juan became the champion when he correctly spelled "expiate" and "rhubarb" in Round 11.

Photo above:
~ A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N. Students wait nervously for the start of the Tulare County Spelling Championship.



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Nearly 500 Attend Teacher Recruitment Fair

Teacher Recruitment Fair The 19th Annual Tulare and Kings Counties Teacher Recruitment Fair was held at the Visalia Convention Center on March 6, 2004. Nearly 500 teacher candidates spent the morning and early afternoon exploring potential teaching positions for the 2004-05 school year with area school district administrators. Recruiters in booths from 32 school districts from throughout Tulare and Kings Counties interviewed prospective teachers for anticipated positions in their respective districts.

This year, fair access was limited to candidates who either possessed a valid teaching credential, or provided assurances that they would have their credential before the start of the upcoming school year. This annual fair serves as the main teacher recruitment event for area school districts, and is one of the longest standing events of its kind in the state. Numerous follow-up interviews were scheduled between school districts and candidates, and eleven teacher contracts were signed on the day of the event.

Photo above:
~ Angel Vazquez speaks with a teacher candidate at the recent Tulare and Kings Counties Teacher Recruitment Fair.



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Student Scientists Compete in Annual Science & Engineering Fair

The Tulare County Science & Engineering Fair was recently held at the Sequoia Mall. This year, 310 students representing 35 schools participated, entering 243 science projects that were on display for public viewing throughout the week.

Students solved problems, such as "Are Lefties Left Behind?" (a comparison of hand-to-eye coordination in left and right handed people) and "Blood Plaque Removal: Non-invasive Electronic Procedures," as part of the 19th annual Science & Engineering Fair.

Tulare County Science & Engineering Fair Early in the week, a group of science teachers, local scientists and engineers judged the science fair projects on a variety of criteria including: creativity in selecting and solving the problem, clarity of the process, thoroughness, skill level and above all, evidence of scientific thought. The judges chose the top 18 projects that were recognized with the "Sweepstakes Awards" at an awards ceremony.

Additionally, students who created the top 18 projects were interviewed and judged to determine which seven projects would represent Tulare County at the State Science Fair at the State Science Center, Los Angeles, on May 24-25.

The top seven projects and student scientists were:
  • "Wood Business" by Jakob Duffin, an eighth-grade student at Sunnyside Union Elementary School, Strathmore. The project explored what type of wood produces the most heat.
  • "Do Four 25-Watt Light Bulbs = One 100-Watt Light Bulb?" by Jayne McCauley, an eighth-grade student at St. Paul's School, Visalia, whose project compared four 25 watt lights bulbs with one 100 watt light bulb.
  • "Diabetes & Exercise" by Johnnie Elliott, an eighth-grade student at Three River Elementary School, Three Rivers. Elliot's project studied the effect of exercise on a diabetic.
  • "Staining Teeth" by Christopher Vargas, an eighth-grade student at Washington Intermediate school in Dinuba. Vargas' project explored what type of beverage causes the strongest stain on human teeth.
  • "Does Medical Ionized Radiation Effect the Cell Growth of Living Plant Cells?" by Dalton Miller, a sixth-grade student from Mineral King Elementary School, Visalia, who researched how radiation effects cell growth in plants.
  • "What a Drag!" by Kelsey Proctor, an eighth-grade student at Springville Union Elementary, Springville, researched the effects of different materials on water resistance on swimmers.
  • "The Evaluation of Nitrogen, Phosphorous & Potassium in Corn Grown Hydroponically" by Tyler Hines, a sixth-grader from Rockford Elementary, Porterville, for a project on hydroponically-grown corn in different nutrients.
In addition, three projects from the top 18 were selected as "State Science Fair Alternates" if one of the above students could not compete. Those projects included:
  • "Electricity From Waterwheels" by Scott Rodat, a sixth-grader from Jim Maples Academy, Burton. Rodat's project explored efficiency in waterwheels.
  • "Sammy: Say It Ain't So" by Cory Cobarruvias, a seventh-grade student at Springville. The project compared different types of cores of baseball bats and their impact on hitting distance and/or swing speed. Cobarruvias explained that you should never cork a bat, because it is illegal... but if you do, use a bouncy ball for more distance.
  • "Moldy Mozzarella" was a project completed jointly by Erin and Kate Carlisle, seventh and eighth-grade sisters from St. Paul's School, Visalia. The project addressed the effects of radiation and an electrical discharge on mozzarella cheese.
Tulare County Science & Engineering Fair The title community sponsor, The Gas Company® presented Shawndell Randolph, a seventh-grade student from Columbine Elementary, with the new "Environmental Vision Award" for her project entitled "Nature's Way Vs. Man Made."

TCOE Instructional Consultant, Jonathan Janzen, commented, "Now, more than ever, we live in a technology-based society. We see evidence of that in the projects that are submitted as part of the Science and Engineering Fair. Today's students display a higher degree of science- or technology-based sophistication and a greater overall knowledge base than we've seen in the past."

Janzen also noticed a greater percentage of students seemed interested in researching issues that are especially relevant to the Central Valley such as water quality, conservation, pollution, air quality, pesticide use and agriculture-related topics.

Photos above:
~ Project judge, Samantha Tate, Math/Science coordinator for Visalia Unified School District, shakes the hand of student scientist, Cory Cobarruvius, while judges Steve Bock, FCOE Science Coordinator; Jonathan Janzen, TCOE's Science Instructional Consultant; and Rick Mitchell, SCICON administrator, look on. Cobarruvius was named as an alternate for the state competition.
~ Alexandra Shew stands in front of her project comparing ring studies to tree diameter as measurement tools for determining the age of a tree.



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TCOE and Farm Bureau Present Winners of Calendar Art Contest to Board of Supervisors

Calendar Art Contest In recognition of National Ag Week, the Tulare County Farm Bureau and County Superintendent Jim Vidak, presented the 2004 Ag calendar and contest winners to the Board of Supervisors at their regularly scheduled March board meeting. The calendar, entitled "A Salute to Tulare County Agriculture," features 17 pieces of ag-themed winning artwork created by students in grades K-12.

Photo above:
~ Superintendent Jim Vidak and Tulare County Farm Bureau's Nancy Pitigliano are pictured with the student art contest's overall winner, Floriberto Gutierrez Jr.



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Gallery Notes

Poetry & Prose This year marked the 20th year for the Tulare County Office of Education's Poetry and Prose Onstage. For four days, 650 students from 69 schools regaled audiences and judges with their amazing recitations, grand gestures, perfect inflections and remarkable poise as they presented poetry of their choice.

The countywide oral interpretation event is open to all students in grades K-8. Students are judged and oral and written assessments are offered to each reciter. All students receive personalized certificates denoting their rank of Superior, Excellent, Very Good or Good.


The Visalia Convention Center was once again the site of the annual Friday Night Live Lip Synch Competition. More than 1200 students, parents, relatives and classmates gathered to watch 27 middle school teams compete for recognition in the annual competition. Students vied for first, second and third place awards in three different categories: dance, novelty and lip synch. Additionally, special performances by the Creative Center and Exeter High School's Rachel Osbourne were featured.

Friday Night Live creates opportunities for school-age youth to be involved in high energy, life-affirming activities promoting abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gang participation and violence. Participation in major activities of this type encourages the productive use of after-school time, develops students' talents and self-confidence and recognizes their achievements.

Photo above:
~ Tanner Pattee, a fifth grader from Monson-Sultana Joint Union Elementary, recites Shel Silverstein's "Obedient." Pattee's expert recitation was judged as "Superior."



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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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