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The News Gallery

May 2007

YOUNG SCIENTISTS - Elementary Students Compete in Final Division of Annual Science Olympiad Event

News Gallery - May 2007 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno-Woods, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Nani Rowland, Deena Pectol, Marilyn Willers, Jonathan Janzen, Juani Rubio and Donna Orozco.

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:
~ Speed and trajectory play an important part in the catapult competition.

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Younger Students Compete in Science Event
Final Segment of Science Olympiad Provides Hands-On Experience for Grades 3-6

The El Diamante High School campus was a flurry of scientific activity on Saturday, April 14, as elementary-aged students launched rockets, catapulted tennis balls, dropped eggs and tested their knowledge during the final segment of the annual Science Olympiad. In March, middle and high school teams competed in similar events at the College of the Sequoias. This year, a record-breaking 23 teams of students in grades three through six competed in 16 events.

Science Olympiad Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of individual and team events for which students prepare throughout the year. The events are balanced between the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology. There is also a balance between science facts, process, skills and applications.

"For our younger students, the Tulare County Science Olympiad tournament provides a venue to increase student interest in science," says TCOE Science Instructional Consultant Jonathan Janzen. "The event also improves the quality of science education and provides recognition for outstanding achievement in science education by both students and teachers."

Science Olympiad George McCann School in Visalia received first place honors in the elementary division competition. Second and third place prizes went to Golden Valley Elementary Yellow Team and Palm Elementary Orange Team from Orosi. For a complete list of winners, visit

"Science Olympiad is a great asset to teachers because it promotes a mastery of science and technology concepts requiring problem-solving skills and the ability to work together as a team," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Photos above:
~ J. B. Camaquin and Colleen Berry measure the length of a strand of "gunk," a substance students concoct from simple ingredients. The more elastic the mixture, the further participants can stretch it.
~ Students build cradles to catch eggs they drop from increasingly higher elevations.

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Child Care Providers Gather for Enrichment
Annual Conference Attracts Child Care Providers for Learning Opportunities

Some 550 child care staff and providers from Tulare and surrounding counties learned about storytelling, discipline, creative praise, children's games and many other topics at the 19th Annual Child Care Conference hosted by the Tulare County Office of Education's Child Care Educational Program on April 14 at the Visalia Convention Center.

Child Care Conference Kicking off the morning was keynote speaker Jerry Tello, director of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute in East Los Angeles, and his performing group, Sacred Circles. Two of the members performed in elaborate Aztec costumes while the other two members beat drums, played wooden flutes and used storytelling to emphasize the importance of cultural, spiritual and family ties.

Child Care Conference Another kickoff speaker was Milagros Acosta, a child care consultant and trainer. Acosta presented tools for positive discipline and talked about the sacredness of caretaking that meshed with Tello’s keynote discussion of four main values: love, dignity, respect and trust.

"Milagros really underscored compassionate parenting, explaining that you have to understand children's behavior and be compassionate before you discipline," said Bev Anderson, a counselor and one of the workshop presenters. "I was also really impressed that the workshop offered sessions in English and Spanish, which gave excellent access for all child care providers," said Anderson.

Child Care Conference The annual conference is the largest of its kind in the Central Valley, according to Lois Sheffield, manager of Child Care's Resource & Referral, which coordinated the event. The full day event included 44 workshops and 28 vendors. "Child Care providers perform a critical service in our community," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "For nearly two decades, this conference has supported providers with the latest in instructional techniques and opportunities to network with others."

Photos above:
~ Speaker Jerry Tello and his troupe used folk stories to emphasize the importance of character and family.
~ Rita Jahnke presented practical art lessons in Spanish during one of 44 breakout sessions.
~ Dozens of vendors offered information to support early childhood learning.

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SEE Youth Expands Job Opportunities
Program Helps Young People Find Summer Jobs Locally and With National Parks

SEE Youth The proximity of the national parks seemed closer than ever last month at the Services for Education & Employment (SEE) Youth Job Fair. One of the primary employers attending the fair was the Delaware North Companies – the concessionary services provider for the national parks. Human resources representatives from the company conducted interviews for temporary summer positions in food service, guest accommodations and maintenance for dozens of young people. The event was the first collaboration between SEE and the national parks. "We are broadening our recruitment efforts by collaborating with new employment partners," says SEE Employment Supervisor Martha Alexandros. "These partnerships allow us to employ our youth and assist our partners with their personnel needs."

Young people could also get information from other organizations including the U.S. Army, the California Conservation Corps and the National Guard, as well as SEE's Summer Youth Employment Program, which is open to 16 – 21-year-olds. This month, SEE will continue to enroll young people in its Summer Youth Employment Program, which is funded by the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board. "Over the years, the Youth Employment Program has not only given thousands of young people work experience, but valuable career counseling as well," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

For more information about the SEE Youth Employment Program, call Marilyn Willers at (559) 733-6730.

Photo above:
~ Recruitment Manager Laura Chastain with the Delaware North Companies met with applicants applying for summer positions in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks last month at a SEE Youth Job Fair.

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New Street Gangs Book Available
Popular Community Resource Expanded

Street Gangs in Tulare County A completely revised edition of Street Gangs in Tulare County was published last month. The booklet was first presented to attendees at the annual Tulare County Support Staff Conference as part of a session on gangs led by Angel Vazquez, TCOE Court/Community School Program Manager, and Visalia Police Officer Rob Zieg.

The booklet, which has been greatly expanded from its original 2001 edition, is the work of editor Mel Borbolla, TCOE's gang intervention consultant. "Mel has worked very hard to include the latest information on street gangs along with helpful instructions for parents, community members and school staff," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "This booklet is an important tool in our ongoing efforts to educate students on the dangers of gang involvement." To obtain a copy, call (559) 733-6172.

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Harvest of the Month Serves Up New Tastes
Students Experience New Fruits and Vegetables They Study Each Day

Harvest of the Month Students at Wilson Elementary School in Dinuba were well versed on the subject of asparagus. They knew that the vegetable is related to onions and garlic and that it contains lots of Vitamin K. What most didn't know, was how it tastes. Last month, they got their chance to sample cooked asparagus during a classroom presentation of the Nutrition Network's "Harvest of the Month" program. After some hesitation, the students ate the slender green stalk and most responded positively that they would eat the vegetable again.

Harvest of the Month Over 2,500 Tulare County students participate in the taste-tests each month, with the opportunity to experience a different fruit or vegetable each time. The Harvest of the Month program is a joint project of the Tulare County Office of Education's Nutrition Network, the Tulare County Office of Education Special Services programs and the Alta Vista, Cutler-Orosi, Dinuba, Exeter, Porterville and Woodlake school districts. Nutrition Network Project Coordinator Nani Rowland explains: "The purpose of the program is to increase consumption and enjoyment of fruits and vegetables. By visiting the classroom, we give students a chance to try healthy foods in a fun and interactive way, while supporting the nutrition curriculum they learn each day."

Harvest of the Month To support teachers in participating schools, the Nutrition Network provides a monthly educator's newsletter, food fact calendar, Harvest of the Month student workbooks and an informational resource packet with ties to curricular areas such as mathematics, science, art, reading and history. In addition to the school partnerships, the Nutrition Network works closely with local farmers to provide students with wonderful fruits and vegetables. Gene Etheridge, a local organic farmer and principal of Orosi High School, donated 2,000 Fuji persimmons in November for students to taste. Bob McKellar, a citrus farmer and owner of Family Farm Fresh, provides fresh seasonal produce each month to Special Services for nutrition education and cooking classes.

"With abundant agriculture all around them, our students have a unique opportunity to learn about the importance of good nutrition," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "The Nutrition Network program is creating a positive link for students to the healthy foods they need for growth and energy." To learn more about the Nutrition Network, call Nani Rowland at (559) 651-0130.

Photos above:
~ Students in Ms. Loveall's class at Wilson Elementary sample asparagus.
~ Each month, Education Specialist Deena Pectol delivers a lesson on featured fruits or vegetables that culminates in a taste-test.
~ The Nutrition Network supports teachers with books and instructional material on the "Harvest of the Month."

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On People in Service and Support

Virginia Sepeda Virginia Sepeda was recently named After School Program Coordinator with the Choices Program. Virginia will oversee the after school enrichment programs that began operating in February on approximately 20 school sites throughout Tulare County.

Jessica Hong Jessica Hong, a senior at Mt. Whitney High School, is the recipient of the second annual Tulare County College Night Scholarship — a renewing scholarship that pays $1,000 per year for up to four years. The scholarship judges were impressed with Jessica's academic performance, community service and leadership in many school organizations including yearbook, advanced orchestra and varsity tennis. She was chosen for the award from a field of 62 applicants. Jessica has been accepted to the University of Southern California in the fall, where she will prepare for a medical career.

Alvin Cha Alvin Cha, a senior at Lindsay High School, was the recipient of the second annual STEM Student Entrepreneur Award. The $1,000 scholarship is sponsored locally by TUCOEMAS Federal Credit Union. Alvin is pictured with his principal, Lana Weatherly (left), and counselor, Bonnie Armstrong (right), at the awards ceremony last month hosted by the Tulare County Economic Development Corp. Alvin has been accepted to U.C. Merced and plans to pursue a career in business.

Friday Night Live Lip Synch Competition Friday Night Live's annual Lip Synch Competition featured 25 middle school teams performing for recognition in the annual event. Approximately 1,000 students, parents, relatives and classmates attended. Pictured is the Waukena Elementary team performing Fifties Melody in the Lip Synch Category. For their performance, the Waukena team placed second. The Tipton Elementary team took first place honors in the novelty and lip synch categories. The top team in the dance category was Kings River Union Elementary. For a complete list of the 2007 Lip Synch winners, visit

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Gallery Notes

Fifteen young people were selected as winners in the second annual Tulare County Foundations for Life Essay Contest. As part of the competition, each winner received a $50 award and had their essays entered in the national contest coordinated by the Josephson Institute of Ethics. Winners include: Kirby Hartley, Elizabeth Mitchell, Amanda Lufur, Karyn Davis, Erica Frees, Savannah Dougherty, Annie Aleman, Shelby Woods and Danielle Betita from Wilson Middle School in Exeter, and Amanda Martinez, Miranda Martinez, Tana Davidson, Derrick Joyner, Elliot Trueblood and Holly McElfish from La Sierra High School in Porterville.

Four of the eight middle schools that received the 2007 Virtues and Character Recognition Awards presented by the Bonner Center at Fresno State were from Tulare County. Live Oak Middle School, Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School and Los Tules Middle School in Tulare, and Green Acres Middle School in Visalia were honored at a Fresno State event April 20.

Students enrolled in the Theatre Company's semester-long workshop will perform Annie five times this month. The workshop, available to Tulare County students in grades 1 - 12, features instruction in musical theatre methods such as dance, acting and voice. Public performances of Annie will be held at El Diamante High School Theatre, Visalia on May 10, 11, 12 at 6:30 p.m., and May 12 and 13 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $5.00. For more information, call 651-1482.

The U.S. Department of Education recently released the names of this year's Title 1 Achieving Schools. The program recognizes schools that have met their Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements for two years in a row and doubled their growth on the Academic Performance Index (API). Tulare County schools designated as Title 1 Achieving Schools are: Columbine Elementary in Delano, Monache High School in Porterville, Strathmore High School, Sundale Elementary School in Tulare, and Cypress and Heritage Elementary Schools in Tulare.

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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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