The News Gallery
May 2004SCICON Open House - More than 1200 guests enjoyed SCICON's 44th Annual Barbecue and Wildflower Festival.
Editor: Pamela Kunze
Public Information Officer
Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, John Forenti, Rick Mitchell, Garyalynn Wilhelm, Donna Orozco and Scott Bailey.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.
~ Kara Moranville's face is painted by a volunteer at the Native American art station while Kara's father, Ron, looks on.
SCICON Hosts Annual Spring Barbecue and Wildflower Festival
The 44th annual SCICON Barbecue and Wildflower Festival was held April 18 at Tulare County Office of Education's Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation (SCICON) in Springville.
More than a thousand visitors were treated to a stunning array of wildflowers and inhabiting woodland creatures nestled in the lush green hillsides of SCICON. Visitors enjoyed the hourly wildflower walks and nature hikes led by the SCICON staff. Adults and children of all ages enjoyed a variety of nature activities such as painting their faces in traditional Native American style, creating nature crafts provided by the TCOE Educational Resource Services (ERS), meeting Recycle Rex (the recycling dinosaur) of the California Department of Conservation and sawing logs with volunteers from California's Department of Forestry and Smokey the Bear. Families visiting the SCICON tree nursery were able to take home living souvenirs of the day, in the form of tree seedlings planted by SCICON students. As always, the SCICON museum of natural history, planetarium and raptor center drew big crowds of inquisitive visitors throughout the day.
Live entertainment was featured in the picnic area, with guests enjoying everything from the traditional bluegrass sounds of Del Baker and Sierra Country to a medley of show tunes by TCOE's own performing troupe. Under the direction of Nicole Zweifel, some of the area's most talented students, ranging in age from first grade to eighth grade, performed an amazing selection of show tunes featured in past Theatre Company productions.
"The entertainment was outstanding! Troupe TCOE was one of the highlights of the day. Those kids were real show stoppers!" says Rick Mitchell, SCICON administrator. "The performing troupe members seem to have a lot of fun, and the guests really enjoy the show tunes," Mitchell adds.
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 2,400 pounds of beef were simmered underground in the SCICON deep-pit barbecue and topped off with the special SCICON barbecue sauce, ranch beans from Tulare City Schools, and cole slaw from Dinuba Unified. By all accounts, it was an outstanding meal. More than 40 school districts and community organizations contributed to preparing and serving the SCICON barbecue feast, making this one of the biggest potluck events anywhere.
All proceeds from the sale of meal tickets and SCICON souvenirs 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 open house is to let the public come up and enjoy the SCICON campus and all it offers.
"It's wonderful to see parents enjoying SCICON right along with their children," states Vidak. "In fact," Vidak adds, "many of these parents attended SCICON when they were grade school students, so they can share and compare their experiences with their children as they explore the outdoor campus together."
"The SCICON Barbecue and Wildflower Festival is a celebration of the community spirit that created this fantastic program for children," says Vidak.
"The SCICON barbecue is our way of saying 'thank you' to everyone who has helped to make this program possible," Vidak adds.
~ Wearing his recently created ERS nature craft visor, this guest prepares to grind acorns at the Native American art station.
~ A couple dances to a lively tune performed by the award winning bluegrass band, Del Baker and Sierra Country.
~ Guests enjoy viewing a magnificent display of over 100 different wildflower species. The display was prepared by Nancy Bruce, the Circle J - Norris Ranch coordinator, who was available to answer questions.
Board Holds Retreat at SCICON
The Tulare County Board of Education held its regular board meeting and annual Special Board Planning Meeting (Board Retreat) at SCICON on April 14.
Board members discussed important issues such as the budget, facility maintenance, child development initiatives and governance considerations.
In addition, Vice President Pat Hillman presented County Superintendent Jim Vidak with a "how-to" book about successful administration of schools. Hillman remarked that she'd recently acquired the book at a conference and thought it would be appropriate to share the book with Vidak.
~ Board members (left to right) Dr. Edward Peterson, Chris Reed, Ruth Stouffer, Leonard Hansen, Pat Hillman, Scot Townsend and Rudy Campos pose for a group photo in front of a hillside of blooming poppies during a recent meeting at SCICON.
Court and Community Schools Create Holocaust Display
How do you teach a student who is both a victim and a perpetrator of hate crimes the consequences of these choices? This is one of the many challenges faced every day by TCOE's Court and Community School staff and program manager, Angel Vazquez.
Vazquez and his staff are attempting to meet this challenge by teaching tolerance, character and ethics (CHARACTER COUNTS!) through curriculum. Tolerance education teaches what society should look like. Character education teaches what we should be like. Ethics education teaches us how we should interact with each other. Vazquez and his staff believe that putting a name and a face to the victims of hate crimes opens the door for healing victims and perpetrators. In turn, this process can help stop the violence.
Students from Dinuba, Superior, Farmersville, Murray, Carson and Success Community Schools came together and designed a thought provoking display for TCOE's Education Center. The students were determined to use the display to put a human face on the victims of the Holocaust, one of the largest genocides in modern history.
Planning began weeks in advance. Teachers from around the county met to coordinate the work of each school site into a single, composite project. Students and teachers worked together throughout the weeks and swapped ideas, information and supplies. Then, on April 1, students arrived at the Education Center to build the "Faces of the Holocaust" Project. Like a big jigsaw puzzle, the pieces came together.
The "Faces of the Holocaust" is an interactive display that features photos, testimonies, artistic renditions, books, clothing, emblems and uniform items from the era. While the images can be disturbing to viewers, they are an accurate representation of atrocities of the Holocaust.
"It was a great experience," said Aricela G. of Dinuba. "I enjoyed working with the students from the other schools." When asked what she learned from the project, Aricela replied: "Evil can take over the whole world if you let it, and it can start with just one person."
~ Students from Tulare County's court and community schools worked together to design and display "Faces of the Holocaust" in the Education Center. The project allowed students to put a human face on the suffering caused by hate crimes.
TCOE Observes "Week of the Young Child"
Children's activities and parenting information were the focus when the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) and area child care agencies hosted "Week of the Young Child" activities at the School Store in the Sequoia Mall on three consecutive Saturdays in April.
A variety of children's activities including flower potting, art projects and coloring contests were hosted by the TCOE Child Care Educational Program, the TCOE School-to-Work program, the YMCA and the College of the Sequoias Child Development Program.
Tulare County Health and Human Services held drawings to give away car seats. First 5, which administers programs benefiting children 0-5, gave away parenting videos and materials. Children of all ages enjoyed story time in Borders book store and all received free books, simply for participating.
"Week of the Young Child" is a nationwide event sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The event focused public attention on the needs of young children and their families and recognized the importance of the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.
More than other educational innovations, high quality programs for young children living in poverty have demonstrated the promise of lasting benefits and return on investment. Studies also show that only high-quality programs have lasting effects, because they empower young children, parents and teachers. This is especially important for areas like Tulare County where licensed child care is an option for less than 20 percent of those needing it.
"I am proud to host events that honor the importance of quality child development programs and the many people throughout the county that provide vital services to children," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.
~ While her family waits, a young mother writes her personal information to enter the drawing for automobile child safety seats. Tulare County Health and Human Services provided free car seats to several lucky winners.
~ School Store employees helped children create art projects using brightly colored markers, paper, feathers, wooden sticks and the always popular "google eyes."
~ In celebration of "Week of the Young Child," volunteers from TCOE's Resource and Referral department gave parents, child care providers and children useful educational and entertainment items.
Michael Josephson Presents "Living Up to the Public Trust"
On March 23, Tulare County Superintendent Jim Vidak hosted an ethics presentation by Michael Josephson entitled: Living Up to the Public Trust. Approximately 30 people attended the session including educators, board members, local superintendents, county counsel and school administrators. Mr. Josephson, the president and founder of the non-profit Joseph and Edna Josephson (named for his parents) Institute of Ethics and CHARACTER COUNTS!, provided a dynamic program which challenged the audience to not only examine ethical dilemmas they might face, but to also look closely at their own ethical standards as well.
Making ethical decisions is often a difficult task. Participants learned that the essentials are "discernment and discipline." Discernment is the ability to determine what is right and what is wrong. It is usually the easier of the two. Discipline is about having the courage to do what is right and refrain from doing what is wrong even though the cost may be more than we want to pay. Discipline is where it often gets tough.
Those who are familiar with the Josephson Institute of Ethics and Michael Josephson are equally familiar with the simple yet profound observation that Michael Josephson routinely references. Josephson states, "Ethics is not for wimps."
"The message of 'Living Up to the Public Trust' is clear," elaborates Superintendent Vidak. "There is a need to establish an ethical culture in school districts and individual schools that reflect their commitment to the highest ethical standards. Michael encourages us to 'advocate' vigorously and persistently, and leave no doubt about what we believe and value," Vidak continues.
Thanks to Josephson's innovative thinking and Vidak's unwavering dedication to delivering the message, students and administrators throughout Tulare County know the principles of "CHARACTER COUNTS!" and understand that character is simply ethics in action.
~ Members of the inaugural session of "Living Up to the Public Trust" are pictured with president and founder of the Josephson Institute, Michael Josephson, and presenter, Gary Smit. Designed for school administrators, the purpose of "Living Up to the Public Trust" was to challenge participants to examine ethical dilemmas and personal ethical standards. The session was enthusiastically received and a follow-up is planned in the near future.
Thanks to the coordination efforts of Kathy Williams, the next bloodmobile visit to TCOE will be at Doe Avenue on May 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. For the past two years, Williams has arranged bi-monthly visits by the bloodmobile to TCOE. All TCOE employees are invited and encouraged to participate.
If the thought of giving blood makes you uneasy, consider the following: Tulare County Board of Education's Vice President, Pat Hillman, has regularly donated blood since the Korean War. When last asked, retired General Services administrator Ken Hochnadel had donated 104 pints of blood and 81 platelet units. TCOE employees Dorcus Mayben, Joyce Willis and Garyalynn Wilhelm are all long-time regular donors.
It is surprisingly easy to donate and a field drive can be set up at any TCOE location with 20 or more donors. Donors must be in good general health, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be at least 17 years old. Senior citizens are encouraged to donate, as there is no upper age limit. Donors should eat a good meal and drink plenty of water within four hours prior to their donation. Donors can give blood every eight weeks (the time it takes for the body to completely replace a pint of blood). A Social Security Number is required and first-time donors must present photo identification upon registration.
Anyone who needs additional information or is interested in participating in a field drive should contact Garyalynn Wilhelm in Business Services at 733-6312.
TCOE's public information officer, Pamela Kunze, was recently recalled to active duty service in the U.S. Navy as a Public Affairs Officer or PAO. Commander Kunze reports for duty in May and will serve as the PAO for the Navy's education and training command located in Pensacola, Florida.
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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