The News Gallery
April 2006A HISTORY LESSON - Tulare County History Day Participants Examine People Who Had the Courage to "Take a Stand."
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Jonathan Janzen, Marsha Ingrao, Lynne Goodwin, Jim Kooler, Kelley Petty, Jeanne Croson, Randy Wallace, Tom Byars, and Rick Mitchell.
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 email@example.com or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.
History's Courageous Inspire Competitors
37 Projects Submitted for Annual History Day
Vanessa Ramirez quickly and quietly sets up a modest backdrop for her reenactment at Tulare County History Day held last month at Dinuba High School. The set included a mauve-colored living room on one side and a cold gray office on the other. When finished, she became her character, Roberta Walker, a frantic mother who is searching for answers concerning the failing health of her family and the suspicious activities of utility giant, PG&E. If the character in this reenactment seems familiar, it's because Mrs. Walker and her neighbors in Hinkley, California, were the subject of the movie, Erin Brockovich.
For her performance and the research she did to prepare for it, Vanessa Ramirez won "Best of Show." Like all the students participating in Tulare County History Day, Vanessa spent hours of her own time researching historical sources and conducting interviews, which for her included talks with Mrs. Walker and Erin Brockovich. Vanessa Ramirez will take her reenactment, entitled "Undercover in Hinkley: Roberta Walker v. PG&E" to the California History Day finals in Sacramento in May.
Reenactment performances were only a part of the 37 projects presented utilizing this year's theme, "Taking a Stand in History: People, Ideas, Events." Students in grades 6-12 also presented — individually or as a group — exhibits, media documentaries, historical papers and websites. Students in grades 4 and 5 submitted posters, either individually or as a group.
"Participation in History Day is a great way for teachers to build students' confidence in their academic abilities," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Although it is a competition format, all participants gain from developing their speaking, reading and writing skills, and from their historical research." History Day is coordinated annually by instructional consultant Marsha Ingrao. For more information, call her at (559) 651-0680.
~ Vanessa Ramirez, an eighth-grade student from Kings River Union Elementary, performs her reenactment entitled "Undercover in Hinkley: Roberta Walker v. PG&E."
~ Historians and teachers serve as volunteer judges for the competition.
~ Several teams entered media presentations like "The Colors of Baseball: Branch Rickey's Quest for the Pennant," by Nathan Aredian, Parker Hughes and Andrew Marquez, also from Kings River.
Exeter Student Plans Future Business
First STEM Scholarship Award Given to Young Entrepreneur
Deryk Garrett first entered a welding class when he was just an eighth grader. His interest in welding was an extension of his dream to build custom "chopper" motorcycles like the bikes he was seeing on television. The Discovery Channel is home to several popular motorcycle shows including Biker Build-Off and American Chopper. Biker Build-Off is the show Deryk says sometimes featured the man he considers his biggest influence — the late "Indian Larry," a man famous for his chopper designs since the 1960s.
Since his first College of the Sequoias-extension welding class, Deryk has completed four choppers. And he is building a fifth with plans to make this his career, opening a custom fabrication shop after college. Some of his creations have won him recognition including "Best of Show" at the Tulare County Fair for the past two years and a second place prize at the California State Fair. But, as good as he is in the shop, the Exeter High School junior also excels in the classroom.
He carries a 3.75 grade point average, is taking advanced math courses and just received the first annual Tulare County Student STEM Entrepreneur Award. The award, which was conceived by the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation in conjunction with their new Entrepreneurial Awards program, is designed to recognize students with business vision who excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or "STEM." It also raises awareness of the critical role these disciplines play in building entrepreneurship in America. The award includes a $1,000 scholarship, made possible by TUCOEMAS Federal Credit Union.
"Deryk Garrett exemplifies the spirit of the STEM Award program," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "He is an outstanding student with an interest in engineering. He's also an entrepreneur who took his love for mechanical things and turned them into a business that has earned him recognition and income."
After high school, Deryk plans to obtain a degree in industrial or mechanical engineering and fabrication and open his own custom motorcycle business. In a few years, we may be watching Deryk Garrett on the next Biker Build-Off.
~ Deryk Garrett enrolled in his first welding class — a COS extension class offered in Exeter — when he was in eighth grade.
~ Today, he is working on his fifth chopper, shown above with instructor Dan Crookham.
May 15 Blood Drive Begins Giving Tradition
Semi-Annual Event Grows Through Efforts of Human Resources Division
Blood is a precious human resource, particularly in the growing San Joaquin Valley, where 250 donors are needed each day to fill the demands of 1.5 million people. To meet the increased demands for blood, dozens of TCOE employees are rolling up their sleeves. A committee with representatives from many of the Tulare County Office of Education's programs has organized two Blood Drives in the past several months. The committee, led by Administrative/Executive Secretary Jeanne Croson of the Human Resources Division, worked with the Central California Blood Center (CCBC) organizing the first drive at the Education Building in August 2005 and the second at the Doe Avenue Complex in February 2006. "The CCBC appreciates that Mr. Vidak supports organized drives at TCOE," says Jeanne Croson. "They receive 35 percent of their supply from group-sponsored campaigns such as ours."
"As one of Tulare County's largest employers, we can make a significant contribution to the Blood Center, easing their needs," says County Superintendent Jim Vidak. "I appreciate the work that the committee has done to make donations convenient for many of our employees." The Blood Drive Committee, who worked to educate TCOE employees regarding the donation process and gain their commitment to participate, includes: Christine Chapman, Leslie Berry, Gail Kaulfuss, Lorena White, Margaret Moholt, Katie Moore, Carol Maldonado, Lori Harding and Flora Medina-Alvillar. See the box below for a list of Tulare County Office of Education donors.
The May 15 Blood Drive will be held at the Education Building in Visalia from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. The CCBC will conduct the drive from the Central California Bloodmobile. For more information on the May 15 Blood Drive or future campaigns, contact Jeanne Croson at (559) 733-6322, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vidak Appointed to National Organization
100 Superintendents & Trustees Comprise Civic Education/Service-Learning Network
Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak has been selected as a member of the newly formed 100 District Leaders for Citizenship and Service-Learning Network. The first 44 members of the Network were announced last month by the Education Commission of the States National Center for Learning and Citizenship – an organization whose goal it is to help state leaders advance civic education.
Mr. Vidak will attend the first meeting of the Network at the National School Boards Association Annual Conference this month in Chicago. The second cadre of leaders will be chosen for the Network later this fall, bringing the Network's total membership to 100 district or county office superintendents and board members. The purpose of the group is to advocate for quality civic education on a local, regional, state and national basis through professional development, curriculum and assessment and school-community collaborations.
"It is an honor to serve with and learn from district leaders from across the country as we collaborate to advance civic education and service-learning in our schools," Mr. Vidak says. "I look forward to working with teachers and administrators in Tulare County and throughout the region to increase our students' knowledge and involvement in the civic process."
El Diamante Students Present to Senators
California Friday Night Live Partnership Helps Students Create Awareness Video
Students at El Diamante High School have created a video entitled: "Alcopops-Alcohol Aimed At Youth." The California Friday Night Live Partnership, with a grant from The California Wellness Foundation, worked with the students to create a tool for other young people to use when talking to policy makers about "Alcopops" — flavored malt beverages such as Mike's Hard Lemonade, Zima and Smirnoff Ice. These sweet-tasting drinks are being marketed to young people because they do not taste like alcohol. The video captures students and adults voicing their concerns about how they are being targeted and the problems these drinks create. It also includes footage of students speaking in Sacramento to the Senate Governmental Organization Committee on the products. "The video is an impressive tool for communicating a dangerous trend in marketing alcohol to our students," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.
The El Diamante youth traveled to San Diego to premiere their video at a Senate Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families. The video is being distributed across California to be used at Town Hall Meetings on underage drinking, as well as at a variety of other policy-making opportunities. The California Friday Night Live Partnership wishes to thank Jim Sills and his students at El Diamante High School for bringing this issue to life!
~ California Friday Night Live Partnership Program Analyst Lynne Goodwin (center) poses with El Diamante students in San Diego at their presentation to the California Senate Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families. The students spoke to the committee on the prevalent marketing of Alcopops to young people.
Challenge Bowl Includes New Video Feature
Students Help Produce Anti-Tobacco Public Service Announcement
As part of the annual Anti-Tobacco Challenge Bowl — an event co-hosted by the Tulare County Office of Education, American Cancer Society and Health & Human Services Agency Tobacco Control Project — students had the opportunity to work with Bruce Royer from Royer Studios in Los Angeles to produce an anti-tobacco public service announcement video. Students provided the concept and illustration and watched as Royer animated it. A copy of the video can be seen at www.tcoe.org/choices. For the second year in a row, Mountain View Elementary in Visalia won the game-show style event with competition from 20 other sixth-grade teams from throughout Tulare County.
~ A scene from "Trash Tobacco", a student-created public service announcement.
On People in Service and Support
Visitors to the 46th Annual SCICON Barbecue and Wildflower Festival may pick up a free copy of a commemorative poster featuring a flower illustration by popular local artist Frances Pyles. The barbecue will be held on the SCICON Campus, north of Springville, on Sunday, April 23, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission to the campus and all activities is free. Tickets for the barbecue lunch are available by calling SCICON at (559) 539-2642, or by visiting the Tulare County Office of Education at 2637 West Burrel in Visalia.
The Tulare County Farm Bureau, in partnership with the Tulare County Office of Education and its Nutrition Network program, is proud to announce the availability of the 2006 - 2007 Student Art Calendar. This year's theme, "Tulare County Agriculture: Good for You," features 17 winners and, for the first time, 24 entries illustrating the "Harvest of the Month." The artwork judged "Best of Show" and featured on the calendar cover was produced by seventh grader Yvette Tafoya from Woodlake Valley Middle School. The contest received over 750 entries this year. Student artists pose in front of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors chambers at the unveiling of the calendar in honor of California Ag Day. Calendars are available at no cost at the Tulare County Office of Education, 2637 West Burrel in Visalia.
Evan Lawler, the sixth grader from Live Oak Middle School in Tulare, won the Tulare County Spelling Championship for the second year in a row. He competed at the annual contest in a field of 136 participant spellers representing 69 public and private schools within Tulare County. Evan will compete in the national Spelling Bee in Washington D.C., May 31 - June 1, 2006.
Top division scores in the first session of the annual Science Olympiad, held at College of the Sequoias, were achieved by Green Acres Middle School Blue Team from Visalia and Exeter High School Blue Team. Individual and team awards are presented with the top three teams in the middle and high school divisions advancing to the NorCal State Science competition at CSU Stanislaus, April 1. Elementary students will compete in the second half of the competition April 22 at El Diamante High School in Visalia.
Essays prepared by four La Sierra High School, Porterville students were chosen to represent Tulare County at the national Foundations for Life competition sponsored by the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Los Angeles. A maxim — or popular adage — forms the basis of the student essays. Students selected to compete in the national competition include: Rebecka Ince, Blaine Carvalho, Jacob French and Jamie Belcher. For more information about Foundations for Life, contact Marsha Ingrao at (559) 651-0680.
The editor regrets that Jessikah Saechao, the new accountant for the Business Services Division, was misidentified in the March 2006 issue of The News Gallery.
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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