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The News Gallery

May 2006

A WHOLE NEW WORLD - Theatre Company Workshops, Like Upcoming Aladdin, Jr., Transport Students Into A Magical Learning Environment

News Gallery - May 2006 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Darlynn Billingsley, Christine Chapman, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Rick Mitchell, Nicole Zweifel, Veronica Carmona, Deana Craighead, Donna Orozco, Tony Cavanagh, Gene Mendes, Vicky Contreras, Susan Scott, and Nani Rowland.

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:
~ Aladdin, Jr., which runs May 5-6, stars sixth grader Kaitlin Molina and fifth grader Josh Golombek.

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Theatre Company Workshops Build Skills
Students Apply Theater Training in Recital Performances

Cinderella Fifth-grade student Daniel Townsend can't quite say what it is he likes best about participating in a Theatre Company workshop. He mentions the friends, the fun and the hard work and then says: "It's cool to see how it all turns out." Daniel is talking about the performance, but to Theatre Company Choreographer Nicole Zweifel "how it all turns out" is about the students. "The most amazing thing about these workshops is to see how these kids grow from the beginning of the semester to the end and how they mature from year to year," she says. "In the nine years since the Theatre Company was created, we've had time to watch many kids become confident young adults through the training they've received".

Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys The workshops are semester-long classes open to all students. They are an additional offering by the Theatre Company, which also runs a big summer musical production and an ongoing performing troupe. Zweifel reports that students enrolled in the after-school workshops begin immediately with weekly instruction in dance, voice and acting. Their training is then showcased in an end-of-the-semester recital. This year has been a milestone for the workshop series. Zweifel and Theatre Company Director Brian Roberts have presented three significant recital productions in the past six months. Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys was a dance production performed in November. In March, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella was staged to showcase the talents of some of the older students. Disney's Aladdin, Jr., featuring many of the younger workshop members – including Daniel Townsend as the Genie – will be performed three times May 5-6, at the El Diamante Theater in Visalia.

"The workshops are an exceptional opportunity for students looking to explore theater arts," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "They receive excellent instruction in building their performance skills plus the chance to take to the stage in only a few months." Registration is closing soon for the fall class. Students in the upcoming workshop will have the opportunity to perform a recital in November and then be a part of a full-scale production of Annie in the spring. For more information, call Nicole Zweifel at (559) 651-1482.

Photos above:
~ Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella was performed by older students in March and starred Erin Ludlow as Cinderella and Ian Forsyth as the Prince.
~ Younger workshop members performed Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys last year.

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Annual Barbecue Serves Up Future Vision
Visitors to SCICON Event See Plans for New Village

Amidst the wildflowers dotting the trail to SCICON's museum, something new is growing. On the relatively flat area northeast of the center, exhibits have sprouted. They were planted by director Rick Mitchell not as an educational tool for bird watchers, but to show guests at the 46th Annual SCICON Barbecue the plans for the new student village. The exhibits were colored renderings of the proposed buildings, located approximately where they will be constructed.

Click to see a larger pdf file of the campus map

Planning for the new student village began with input from a group of district superintendents just a few years ago to address the growing student population in Tulare County. In the fall of 2004, Rick Mitchell brought a vision for the New Village to the Tulare County Board of Education, which was enthusiastically received. That same year, a large donation for the construction of the village was given by an anonymous source through the efforts of County Superintendent Jim Vidak and members of the board. "This project has come together very quickly thanks to early planning and the support of community members who recognize the extraordinary learning experiences offered at SCICON," says Mr. Vidak.

SCICON New Village In recent months, architect Rick Mangini has been working to complete the plans for the new campus. The project will include six student cabins, student restrooms and showers, a meeting arbor, staff/teacher housing and an outdoor amphitheater. The New Village is designed to accommodate approximately two classes of 70 students at a time. These students will have their own trail guides and attend their own evening programs, but will join the other SCICON students in the John Muir Lodge for meals.

"We are hoping to begin construction in a few months," says SCICON Director Rick Mitchell. "So, by barbecue time next year, our renderings should be replaced by cabins and instruction areas!"

Photos above:
~ The drawing shows the SCICON Campus as it will appear when the New Village (indicated in yellow) is complete. (Click on the map to see a larger pdf file of the campus map.)
~ Visitors to the recent SCICON Barbecue could visit the site where the village will be located.

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Creativity Flourishes at Young Author's Faire
Book Publishing Brings Out Artistic and Literary Talents

Santa has a problem. It is Christmas Eve and he can't find the Shrink-o-Matic – the device which enables him to reduce his considerable girth and fit down chimneys. Santa is panicked. "'Now the children cannot get their gifts just because I can't get in the house. The children will hate me and at our monthly poker game, the Easter Bunny will call me Fatso and Lardy Larry. Boo Hoo!' said Santa - sadly tears running down his face." So begins Ben Church's wildly imaginative story entitled: Santa's Weight Loss Program.

Young Author's Faire Ben Church is a fifth-grade student at Westfield Elementary in Porterville and one of nearly 300 students representing 18 Tulare County public and private schools participating in the annual Young Author’s Faire exhibition. His book, along with dozens of others written individually or in groups, was on display for one week in April in the Education Center.

Young Author's Faire Young Author's Faire, which is coordinated annually by Instructional Consultant Connie Smith, is open to all kindergarten through eighth-grade students. Students are encouraged to select any category and then create the story idea, write and edit the book, illustrate and bind it. Books can be written in any language, constructed in any size, shape or color, made from virtually any material and illustrated with a variety of art techniques. Ben enjoys both writing and illustrating saying: "You can't have one without the other."

Young Author's Faire "The skills students are learning by participating in Young Author's Faire can certainly be applied later in life," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Whether they choose careers in business, education or public service, these young authors have the ability to think creatively, package their ideas and communicate them to their audience. It's a skill that has universal applications!"

Photos above:
~ Ben Church shows off his work at the Young Author's Faire evening reception.
~ An illustration from Ben's book shows Santa working out as part of his weight loss program.
~ Students and parents review the books throughout the event, writing positive comments in the back of each book.

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Friday Night Live Holds 17th Lip Synch
High Energy Event Promotes Fun - Free of Drugs, Alcohol and Gang Violence

Friday Night Live Lip Synch Competition Friday Night Live's annual Lip Synch event certainly included nearly every genre of pop music — from punk and doo-wop to World Music and hip hop. More than 1,000 students, parents, relatives and classmates watched as 25 middle school teams vied for recognition in the annual competition. Students mimic recording artists for first, second and third place awards in three different categories: dance, novelty and lip synch.

"Lip Synch is a night where we can celebrate the work of these talented young people and show our support for their commitment to lead healthy, productive lives, free from gangs, drugs and alcohol," says County Superintendent Jim Vidak. For a complete list of the 2006 Tulare County Friday Night Live Lip Synch winners, visit www.tcoe.org/choices.

Photo above:
~ Novelty Category winners from Springville include Larissa Clem, Roxy Arreola, Raven Kapphahn, Liz Harris and Cori Snyder, performing 1, 2, Step Remix. Tipton teams performing Jailhouse Rock and Jenny From The Block won first place in the Dance and Lip Synch Categories respectively.

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Child Care Centers Focus on Early Literacy
Events Help Form the Basis of Reading for Preschoolers

Early Literacy "That’s you!" shouted the Wilson Child Care Center preschoolers in their homemade hats as a real live "Cat in the Hat" turned a page in the book of the same name. All eyes and ears were on her as she read. In April, Child Care Centers throughout Tulare County engaged in extra literacy activities as part of Reading Month. Children were encouraged to share favorite books, act out stories or make their own book. "Positive early experiences with books and stories are linked to learning to read," says Lorena Davis, Child Care's acting education coordinator. "And the way to promote a positive literacy experience is to provide an atmosphere that is fun, verbal and stimulating."

Child Care provides federal Head Start services to help low-income families prepare their preschoolers for kindergarten. For more information on the program or enrollment, call (559) 651-3022.

Photo above:
~ Clinite Center teacher assistant Gloria Birkholz, dressed as "The Cat in the Hat," read to preschoolers at Wilson Child Care Center in Tulare last month. Ms. Birkholz's visit was part of Tulare County Child Care's Reading Month which included group story time and reenactments.

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On People in Service and Support

Victor Rivers The Tulare County Office of Education is again sponsoring the Annual Community Breakfast benefitting Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Tulare County. This year's breakfast features Victor Rivers — a leading activist in preventing violence against women and children. As the spokesperson for the National Network to End Domestic Violence, he uses his own harrowing story to raise awareness about what he considers our greatest, yet most curable social disease. Mr. Rivers is also a veteran actor, football player and now author, with the publication of his memoir, A Private Family Matter, which will be available for purchase at the breakfast. Tickets for the May 6 event are available by calling 625-4007. The breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn, Visalia. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students. Continuing education credits are available.

Make-a-Wish Foundation Elijah Flores, a four-year-old who attends both the Vandalia Child Care Center and L.B. Hill Learning Center in Porterville, was the recipient of a trip to Disneyland and Universal Studios theme parks in Southern California. The trip was courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Fresno. Elijah, who was born with a condition which has enlarged his brain, was nominated for the trip by his mother, Melanie Flores. Elijah's father, Chris, and his brothers, Christopher and Daniel, also enjoyed the three-day trip. Elijah (pictured in the white T-shirt) was able to celebrate his fourth birthday with his family and Goofy and friends at Disneyland.

2006 College Night Scholarship Winner Kelli Calloway is the recipient of the first annual Tulare County College Night Scholarship. The award is a renewing scholarship that pays $1,000 per year for up to four years. Kelli is a senior and ranked first in her class at Redwood High School. She was chosen for the award from a field of 73 applicants. Kelli has been accepted to and plans to attend UCLA in the fall and credits her College Night experiences with helping her make important decisions about her future. Kelli plans to study business at UCLA and continue with studies in law or perhaps education.

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Gallery Notes

Stacey Sedwick has been chosen as one of the Outstanding Credential Candidates for 2006 by California State University, Fresno. She will receive the award at the Convocation Ceremony on May 19, 2006. Stacey is a teacher of the severely handicapped with Occupational Training Program in Visalia. She has worked for the Tulare County Office of Education's Special Services Division since August 2000.

Brent Borum, a teacher with the Tulare County Office of Education since 1974, was recently recognized as an "Unsung Hero" by the Porterville Recorder. The awards program, entitled "Spirit of Freedom," was created in 2004 to spotlight citizens in the south county for their community contributions. Mr. Borum will retire from his position as teacher for the severely handicapped at L.B. Hill Learning Center in Porterville this summer, but will remain active in serving students with disabilities through the Porterville Sheltered Workshop. He has been a member of the board of directors for the Sheltered Workshop, which helps disabled adults gain skills and obtain jobs.

The Nutrition Network is sponsoring an essay contest for fourth and fifth grade students to share the reason they think people should eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. The goal of the contest is to develop an understanding of the wide variety of fruits and vegetables that are available to us in the Central Valley. Gift certificates will be given to the top three winners. Essays must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 12, 2006. For contest rules and entry materials, contact Nani Rowland at 651-0130, or nrowland@tcoe.org.

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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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