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The News Gallery

October 2007

READY, SET, GO! - Friday Night Live Launches New Year of School Activities Combining Fun with Lots of Positive Messages and Youth Development Opportunities

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Tom Byars, Chad Bellin, Gene Mendes, Angelina Huwe, Tony Cavanagh, Karen Osborn, Nani Rowland, Sheryl Silva and Sheli Silva.

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.

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School FNL Chapters Develop Annual Plans
Friday Night Live Energizes Students for a New Year of Growth and Advocacy

Friday Night Live School community liaison Tony Cavanagh cues up the final song for a dance hosted by the Sunnyside Elementary chapter of Friday Night Live (FNL). As the music rises, Tony takes a few seconds to reinforce the purpose of the event and to make a few announces. "Remember the ABC Dance is coming up this fall. Keep your grades at A, B or C and you can attend," he says. "You've been a respectful audience. I appreciate that, Sunnyside. We're Friday Night Live reminding you to stay alcohol, tobacco, drug and gang free."

At events like the Sunnyside dance this month, liaisons Tony Cavanagh, Gene Mendes, Chad Bellin and Angelina Huwe have been on hand to support student-led recruitment rallies for club chapters, FNL back-to-school night presentations, alcohol, tobacco, drug and gang-free dances, awareness rallies and assemblies, and countless other positive events planned by students and school staff from Richgrove to Kings River and everywhere in between. "Friday Night Live is a huge community asset in that it annually helps thousands of students build resistance to harmful influences, while empowering them to work on important social issues," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Friday Night Live In September, schools also appointed core leadership groups to attend the Junior High Youth Leadership Summit September 28. A record number of 15 schools participated this year with students eager to learn valuable skills to lead their chapters in making positive choices and fostering safe school environments. FNL Kids Chapters at schools such as Monson-Sultana and Castle Rock are working diligently again this year to continue their campaign of educating parents, students and staff on the need for seatbelt safety through awareness assemblies.

Students continue to research underage alcohol use, which they will present at assemblies and rallies throughout the county. Program Manager Tom Byars reports that students will also have the opportunity to participate in an upcoming Environmental Prevention Summit, where they will be equipped to work toward changing the negative environments that promote alcohol, tobacco and drug use. "The course is set for another great year of empowerment and positive growth in Tulare County's young people," says Mr. Byars.

Photos above:
~ Friday Night Live liaisons, like Tony Cavanagh, support well over 30 Tulare County school districts  working closely with school sites to continue the success of their youth-led chapters.
~ Middle school FNL chapters get help from high school students like Tulare Western seniors Elizabeth Lara and Nicole Soto, who recently applied to become FNL mentors.

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A Delicious Twist on a Social Studies Lesson
Tulare County Teachers Move to Integrate Nutrition Into Core Curriculum

Gina Wise, a fourth-grade teacher at Rocky Hill Elementary School in Exeter, is harvesting more than creative minds. Wise has developed a lesson consisting of commodities that farmers grow, colors that artists truly admire and elements that geographers appreciate.

Network for a Healthy California Wise constructs strawberry mountains, sunflower seed valleys and raisin rivers. What sounds like a recipe for a fruit salad is actually a topical map of California. Working in teams, students use large, oversized maps of the California regions. Applying a base of low-fat cream cheese with sugar substitute, strawberries are added to depict the majestic Sierra Nevada Range. A dollop of whipped topping is placed on "Mount Whitney," the largest strawberry. Red grapes are used to represent the coastal range where many grapes are grown. Sliced kiwis are placed appropriately to symbolize the Central Valley where kiwis are abundant. Dried raisins mark the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.

"This project originated with my desire to teach nutrition to students," says Gina Wise. "As with everything, I knew this had to be integrated into an existing lesson. Yet, I had students who had never eaten kiwi. In an effort to teach kids about the benefits of strawberries, kiwi and other fruits, I began thinking of how I could put the two together."

Network for a Healthy California Through collaboration with the Exeter Public School District and their Food Service Department, the Tulare County Office of Education's Network for a Healthy California provides grade-appropriate resources and encourages teachers to integrate nutrition education into all areas of curriculum. "Ms. Wise's lesson is a wonderful example of connecting social studies to nutrition," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "The students at Rocky Hill experienced an agriculture lesson mixed with geography in a format other teachers could easily replicate."

For more ideas on linking nutrition education with California content standards, call Nani Rowland at (559) 651-0130.

Photos above:
~ The delicious-looking California map was completed by students at Rocky Hill Elementary in Exeter. Pictured with the fruit masterpiece are Exeter's deputy superintendent Diane Graziani-Orton and TCOE's Cheryl Silva.
~ Fourth-grade teacher Gina Wise developed the idea of blending agriculture and nutrition with her geography lessons.

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Centralized Eligibility List Registers 14,500
Parents Seeking Subsidized Child Care Now Have "One-Stop" System

Throughout California, counties are working to make it easier for parents to find and enroll their children in subsidized child care. Instead of parents having to put their children on lists at several different local centers, they now have to register only once. Each county now has a Centralized Eligibility List (CEL)  a one-stop registration point for subsidized child care.

Centralized Eligibility List (CEL) In Tulare County, applications are accepted at 16 community agencies mandated to use the CEL for enrollment in their programs. Karen Osborn, Tulare County CEL coordinator, reports that an average of 626 new applications are processed throughout the county each month  70 percent of them through the CEL administrative office housed at the Tulare County Office of Education's Child Care Education Program.

This summer, the Tulare County CEL celebrated its first anniversary and its phenomenal growth. Beginning with a pool of approximately 2,500 children needing subsidized child care services on July 1, 2006, the program has grown to over 14,500 children registered in the system by the end of March 2007. A recent report from the California Department of Education ranks the Tulare County CEL the third largest in California, preceded only by Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. "Parents accustomed to being contacted by only the agency where they submitted their application, are now receiving calls for openings in programs they didn't know existed," says Ms. Osborn.

One-on-one recruitment by members of the Tulare County CEL network, combined with a public marketing campaign with newspaper and radio ads, helped build the numbers of children registered with the CEL. "Access to quality child care services is critical for Tulare County families," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "The CEL has been very successful in streamlining the process and giving parents peace-of-mind in finding quality, affordable care for their children."

For more information on the Tulare County CEL, contact Karen Osborn at (559) 651-3026.

Photo above:
~ Jennifer Flores found child care for her son, Joel, by registering him with the Centralized Eligibility List (CEL). Mrs. Flores was given several choices, but ultimately chose a Tulare County Office of Education Child Care Center in Visalia that her husband had attended. Throughout the county, 16 agencies have access to the CEL. For a complete list of agencies, or a copy of the registration form, visit

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Confucius' Birthday Celebrated With Honors
Annual Event Recognizes Tulare County Elementary, Middle and High School Teachers

Over 2,500 years ago, Chinese teacher and social reformer, Confucius, argued that the most effective way to achieve a just society was through universal education. In September of each year, people around the world celebrate their nation's free and universal education systems by honoring Confucius in a variety of ways on his birthday. Locally, members of the Central California Chinese Cultural Center partner with the Tulare County Office of Education to recognize three of the county's best educators. "It is a privilege to honor these outstanding teachers for their work in molding young people into ethical, life-long learners and citizens," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "This year's winners, who represent one elementary, middle and high school, exemplify all the qualities of great teachers." On September 27, friends and family gathered at the Chinese Cultural Center in Visalia to honor the 2007 winners: Carolyn Hill, Hoss McNutt and Dennis Borges.

Carolyn Hill Carolyn Hill, Kindergarten teacher at Kings River Union Elementary, graduated from Fresno State and spent the first 10 years of her career in sales and marketing. Over the past 29 years in education, she has blended her experience in sociology, sales/marketing, and education to help form wonderful, inquisitive young minds and  at the same time  develop self-esteem in her students that they will carry with them for their entire lives. Mrs. Hill's philosophy of teaching is to help students reach her high aspirations. She says, "Believe in them, because they believe in you!"

Hoss McNutt Hoss McNutt teaches seventh- and eighth-grade elective courses at Burton Middle School. His classroom at lunch and after school looks like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. One student referred to it as Hoss' House of Numbers and Motion. The real joy of being a teacher for Mr. McNutt comes when a student says that he couldn't wait to get to school on Monday to share an idea he had been thinking about on the weekend. His biggest reward is realized when he can celebrate with the student that "Oh yeah, now I get it!" moment. That, he says, has been recharging his batteries for years!

Dennis Borges Dennis Borges is a Portuguese Language teacher for Tulare Union High School. He feels that enthusiasm is incredibly important when teaching a foreign language. Part of Mr. Borges' philosophy of teaching is based on the Chinese proverb: "Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand." By engaging his students in the learning process with enjoyable lessons, he is hopeful they will become life-long learners. He also engages students by learning and discussing their interests in school and their extra-curricular activities.

Photos above:
~ 2007 Chinese Cultural Center Educators of the Year:
(photos from top) Kings River Elementary's Carolyn Hill, Burton Middle School's Todd "Hoss" McNutt and Tulare Union High School's Dennis Borges. The teachers were honored at a dinner celebration September 27.

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On People in Service and Support

Physics Day at the Fair Approximately 150 Tulare County middle school students attended the second annual Physics Day at the Fair on September 13. While at the Tulare County Fair, students spent the afternoon participating in numerous hands-on activities. Topping the list of their favorites were four fairway rides which served as laboratories for measuring acceleration, velocity and altitude. To record the data, students, like Tyler Hendrick and Lennyn Andrade of George McCann School in Visalia (top photo), donned bright orange vests outfitted with electronic probes activated at the beginning of each ride. Students also had the opportunity to visit several activity centers, like the straw tower construction exercise (lower photo), and demonstrations led by Professor Larry Owens from the College of the Sequoias.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial A half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is coming to Tulare County November 29 - December 2, 2007. The monument, which is entitled The Wall that Heals, features a traveling museum and information center for a comprehensive educational experience. Since its dedication in 1996, the half-scale replica has been displayed in more than 250 cities throughout the nation. A limited number of guided school tours are available November 29 - 30. For information, contact Priscilla Gomez at (559) 733-6326.

Migrant Education mural Elizabeth Rivas, Migrant Administrator Sheli Silva, Anna León, Magdalena Milward-Marquez and Carol Maldonado stand by a new mural completed by Migrant Education staff at a recent pre-service conference. The mural, which contains 48 individual tiles, now hangs in the Migrant Education office in Visalia. An artist and Ms. Silva collaborated to create a miniature version of the piece. The small-scale concept was then cut into squares and given to staff to replicate on larger wood tiles. Each staff member painted his or her own tile. The beautiful mural was revealed when the tiles were pieced together.

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Gallery Notes

Parents, school personnel and community members have until October 5 to nominate Tulare County students as "Kids of Character" for CHARACTER COUNTS! Week (October 21-27). The public may nominate students they have observed exhibiting one of the Six Pillars of Character  Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship  on-line at
www.tcoe.Org/KidsofCharacter. Every student whose nomination is accepted will receive a Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! t-shirt and a certificate.

The Peña Planetarium, in partnership with the Tulare Astronomical Association, has developed a new public program entitled The Skies of Autumn. This program, which is recommended for older children and adults, incorporates both a short planetarium show and outdoor star-gazing with the aid of telescopes. The first showing of the series will be held October 5 at 7:30 p.m. The program will be shown again in November. A new segment in the six-part series will be offered in January. The program is designed to give in-depth information about the constellations and deep sky objects, visible at different times of the year. Seating is limited. Tickets are $4 for adults and $3 for children. For information, call (559) 737-6334.

Red Ribbon Week (October 22-26) is an annual opportunity for schools to make a visible stand against drugs, showing their commitment to a drug-free lifestyle through the symbol of the red ribbon. This year, committee members Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Lorena White, Shelly DiCenzo, Lori Harding, Laura Rodriguez, Shirley Ready, Katie Moore, and Chad Bellin have chosen a theme of "Believe in Yourself  Stay Drug Free." Proceeds from the sale of t-shirts and other items will benefit local charities. Copies of the t-shirt order form, a schedule of the week's events and a list of raffle prizes are available at www.tcoe.org/redribbon.

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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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