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The News Gallery

July/August 2008

LES MISÉRABLES - Theatre Company Students Ready the Epic Story for Seven Performances in July

News Gallery - July/August 2008 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Linda Hamilton, Jeanne Nava, Jeanne Croson, Nani Rowland, Linda Salmeron, Charlotte Hartman, Brian Roberts, Vinee Arreola, Adela White, LouAnn Lubben, Kari Wilson and Jan Mekeel.

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 Marlene Moreno at marlenem@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.



Cover Photo:
~ Brooke Forsyth plays young Cozette, who lives with neglectful innkeepers when her mother can no longer care for her.



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11th Annual Summer Musical Opens July 18
Students Assist in All Aspects of Bringing Les Misérables to the Stage


Theatre Company's Les Miserables Rehearsals for a production of the much-loved musical Les Misérables began June 9. Cast members, selected in March, were expected to begin rehearsal with all lines and music memorized. "This score is musically demanding  every piece of dialogue is sung," says Brian Roberts, Theatre Company director. "From day one, the students impressed us with their thorough preparation, their love for the material and their drive to make this a spectacular production."

The Theatre Company will be performing the popular Broadway musical based on Victor Hugo's classic novel about Jean Valjean's struggle against adversity in 19th century France.

Theatre Company's Les Miserables Prior to rehearsals, many students also assist in constructing and painting the sets. At the shop operated by the Tulare County Organization for Vocational Education (TCOVE), teams work to build the many set pieces for the elaborate musical. This year, the set will feature a central turntable, affording cast and crew a new ease in changing pieces between scenes. "The sophistication of these productions continues to grow," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Whether students work behind the scenes or perform on stage, the skills they build through this program will benefit them their entire adult lives."

Theatre Company's Les Miserables Les Misérables stars Central Valley Christian senior Anthony Vander Schaaf as Jean Valjean and Mt. Whitney High School graduate Ethan DeJongh as Valjean's nemesis, Javert. Five evening performances and two Saturday matinees will be held at the L.J. Williams Theater in downtown Visalia beginning July 18. For a list of the performances, refer to the calendar section of this newsletter. For ticket information, call the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

Photos above:
~ Coleen Bremner prepares a set piece for paint in the TCOVE shop.
~ Choreographer Nicole Zweifel adjusts costumes for Melina Jahnigen (in pink) and Genevieve Becker (brown coat).
~ John Moon cuts steel supports for the set's bridge.



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Club Builds Independence and Enthusiasm
Girls in Burton Elementary Special Day Class Form a Girl Scout Troop


Father-daughter dances, service projects, merit badges and the much-anticipated annual cookie sales  all activities synonymous with the Girl Scouts. In six short months, the first-time members of Porterville's Troop 291, have experienced it all. Together, they have visited the Porterville Fair, had a luau dance with their fathers, made hot dogs for Porterville's annual Flag Day celebration and sold enough of the famous Girl Scout cookies to earn the troop $500 toward the cost of their uniforms.

Special Day Class Girl Scouts The small troop of six girls are all students in Robby Ridenour's special day class at Burton Elementary. The troop leader is Vinee Arreola, Mr. Ridenour's instructional assistant. "Last year, the regional Girl Scout council approached us about starting a troop for our students," says Ms. Arreola. "We thought it was a fun way for them to be included in the community." Ms. Arreola says that the girls meet periodically on their lunch hour at school. During their meetings, they may participate in reading or science activities, or work on one of the Girl Scouts' Try-Its badges, which aren't as involved as traditional merit badges.

Special Day Class Girl Scouts Parent, Sherri King, reports, "Since my daughter, Madison, has been in the Girls Scouts, she is excited about being involved in a "club" in which she is accepted when involved in activities, such as dances, outings and meetings. No one makes fun or gives her a second look because of her disability. She is truly one of them, a Girl Scout."

LouAnn Lubben, program manager for Porterville-area programs for the severely handicapped, concurs. "I think it's been such a good thing for the girls because they're learning to be more responsible and independent through the lessons of the Girl Scouts. They are also thrilled to be a part of activities, yet they really take it seriously," says Ms. Lubben.

Photos above:
~ Marissa Muñoz gives Miss Porterville, Emmylou Dowling, a flag at the city's annual Flag Day celebration. The event, held at Save Mart, is a fundraiser for Girl Scouts in the Porterville area. Troops benefit from proceeds of hot dogs and refreshments sales.
~ Instructional Assistant Vinee Arreola poses with Girl Scouts (l-r) Madison King, Serrina Hunt, Samantha Plunk and Marissa Muñoz.



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Countywide Service-Learning Grants Awarded
Students to Develop Community Programs and Present Findings at Youth Summit


In March, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors allocated $25,000 to fund the Step Up Service-Learning Grant Program, which is administered by the Tulare County Office of Education. The program was designed to fund five small-scale, youth-directed community projects that focus on reducing adolescent violent crime, aggression, delinquency and/or substance abuse. One $5,000 grant was awarded to each supervisorial district. Supervisor Steve Worthley made an additional $5,000 available from his annual "good works fund" for a sixth project.

"Now that the winning projects have been selected, we look forward to supporting them and watching the positive impact they have on their communities," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "We also greatly appreciate the vision and generosity of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors in encouraging our students to create solutions to community issues."

Two of the grants awarded went to Tulare County Office of Education programs  La Sierra High School in Porterville and the Reconnecting Youth (RY) program at Tulare Union High School. RY teacher Kari Wilson describes her students' excitement about the project, "Once the students understood that I was asking them to take charge and create something of their own, their confidence grew tremendously. They are excited to have their own set of resources to use to encourage younger kids from their respective communities to connect with school and avoid obstacles such as gangs, drugs, etc. This experience will be invaluable for the RY students as they strengthen and solidify the goals they developed last semester, as well as the eighth graders they mentor."

Each group of students will present their completed projects at a Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting and at the Step Up Youth Summit on November 20, 2008.


Step Up Service-Learning Grants
  • J.J. Cairns High School, Lindsay
    Students will mentor at-risk fifth- and sixth-grade students and develop a collaborative summit. The summit will focus on topics such as increasing tolerance, the danger signs of gang involvement and conflict resolution. Students and mentors will also visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles to better understand the consequences of violence.

  • Tulare Union High School
    Students in the school's Reconnecting Youth program will work together to design ten mini-workshops. The students will deliver the workshops to an audience of Tulare-area eighth-grade students and focus on topics such as improving self-esteem, decision-making skills, stress management, and interpersonal communication.

  • Visalia Police Activities League (PAL)
    At-risk students will be chosen from area high schools to participate in an intensive leadership program, in cooperation with the Visalia Police Department. Officers will lead students through training in community service, etiquette, job interviewing, and youth leadership. All youth involved will sign a pledge to be drug, alcohol, tobacco and gang free during the six-month program.

  • Orosi High School
    Students will develop an anti-gang-related graffiti program in the Cutler-Orosi communities. Specific activities may include: setting up and monitoring a graffiti hotline, participating in graffiti abatement, collecting data on graffiti sites, and conducting community surveys to determine the effects of their anti-graffiti campaign.

  • La Sierra High School, Porterville
    Students will work with Three Rivers Master Artist Nadi Spencer to design and paint two wall murals in the community. At the completion of the project, students will host an artists' reception to share their experience. Parents, community leaders, and students at neighboring West Putnam Elementary School will be invited to view the students' successful work.

  • Woodlake High School
    Students in the Woodlake YMCA after-school program will participate in planning, creating and promoting a mural at Woodlake High School that will show their pride in their school and community. Students will learn art, organization, team work and community pride.


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Retirees Honored at Annual Reception
Twenty-Seven Employees Retire Having Served a Combined 612 Years


2007/2008 Retirees With over 600 years of service between them, 27 teachers, accountants, administrators and aides retired this year from the Tulare County Office of Education. At the annual celebration in their honor, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jeanne Nava and co-workers celebrated their varied careers.

2007/2008 Retirees

Photos above:
~ (l-r) Bob Grieb, Rod Ahlmeyer, Russ Dahler, Rita Galaviz, Linda Zumaya, Pat Hansen, Ed Ray and Gwen Coughran were among the employees honored at the reception.
~ Jeanne Nava and Jim Vidak pause as Carolyn Stoebig expresses her appreciation.
~ Pat Hansen listens as Assistant Superintendent Pansy Ceballos reflects on their work spanning over 30 years.



2007/2008 TCOE Retirees
Rod Ahlmeyer (41 years)
Teacher, Severely Handicapped, Special Services

Rosamund Barteau (8 years)
Human Resources Manager, Child Care Educational Program

Timothy Burket (15 years)
Technician II, Educational Resource Services

Yolanda Cordero (16 years)
Personnel Clerk, Human Resources, Child Care Educational Program

Gwen Coughran (28 years)
Business Services Technician, Internal Business Services

Russell Dahler (17 years)
Teacher, Special Services

Jeane Downs (26 years)
Instructional Assistant, Special Services

Francisco Duran (3 years)
Custodian, Child Care Educational Program

Fred Escalante (20 years)
Social Worker, Court/Community Schools, Special Services

Rudy Fernandez (28 years)
Resource Coordinator, Migrant Education

Mary Flores (8 years)
Job Developer, Services for Education & Employment (SEE)

Rita Galaviz (23 years)
Supervisor, Child Care Educational Program

Delores Gonzalez (39 years)
Instructional Assistant, Special Services

Kristine Graham (34 years)
Teacher, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Special Services

Robert Grieb (31 years)
Teacher, Severely Handicapped, Special Services

Patricia Hansen (25 years)
BTSA Induction Program Director, Instructional Services

Marilyn Lindsay (11 years)
Instructional Assistant, Severely Handicapped, Special Services

Theresa Lujan (10 years)
Teacher Assistant, Child Care Educational Program

Edward Ray (16 years)
Accountant, External Business Services

Bonnie Rivera (27 years)
Teacher, Early Childhood Special Education, Special Services

Yvonne Schiebelhut (22 years)
Instructional Assistant, Severely Handicapped, Special Services

Carolyn Stoebig (30 years)
Instructional Assistant, Severely Handicapped, Special Services

John Stoebig (28 years)
Speech Language Specialist/Trainer, Special Services

Victor Sylvester (14 years)
Custodian, Special Services

Pamela Wallace (20 years)
Instructional Assistant, Severely Handicapped, Special Services

Patricia Wescott (36 years)
Teacher, Severely Handicapped, Special Services

Linda Zumaya (36 years)
Program Supervisor, Child Care Educational Program


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Spotlight
On People in Service and Support


ACSA Honorees The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) honored four TCOE employees at the annual Tulare County Summer Institute. Honorees in ACSA's Region XI, which encompasses Tulare, Kings, Kern and Inyo counties were: (l-r) La Sierra's René Moncada (Continuing Education Options Administrator of the Year), Educational Resource Services' Dr. Lupe Solis (Curriculum and Instruction Administrator of the Year), and California Friday Night Live Partnership's Dr. Jim Kooler (Classified Manager of the Year). Choices Program Manager Tom Byars was named the Tulare County Chapter Central Office Administrator of the Year.

Special Services Graduation Andrea Ramos from the Visalia Community-Based Instruction Program cheers during the graduation ceremony for Visalia-area classes. Andrea and many of her classmates  who become eligible to graduate at age 22  have received vocational training to transition to community programs like Social Vocational Services, ABLE Industries, the Creative Center and Porterville Sheltered Workshop. A total of 48 students from the Special Services Division graduated this year.

La Sierra Graduation La Sierra senior Yesica Mercado receives a certificate from counselor Sally Wells honoring her as the valedictorian for the Cal-SAFE independent studies program for teen mothers. The valedictorian for La Sierra Military Academy was Joel Epstein. The La Sierra programs in Visalia and Porterville graduated 55 students this year.

The Network for a Healthy California program recently announced the winners of its "Why Eat Harvest of the Month Fruits and Vegetables?" essay contest. The grand prize winner was Joseph Gwilliam, a fifth grader from Kristi McCracken's class at Westfield Elementary in the Porterville Unified School District. The second-place winner was Alexis Cox, a fourth grader from Sue Qualseth's class at Westfield Elementary. Alexis is pictured with teacher Sue Qualseth, principal John Buckley and Porterville Unified's Health and Wellness Coordinator Kevin Hays. Viviana Hernandez, a fifth grader at Wilson Elementary in Dinuba, was the third-place winner. She is pictured with her teacher, Melissa Vega.

Essay Contest Winners


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Gallery Notes

Last month, The Friends of SCICON held its annual awards dinner to recognize students and adults for exceptional service to the SCICON program. Four students were given the Laurel Leaf Award as the top high school cabin leaders for the year. Denise Oliveras of Strathmore High School, Seth Emerson of Porterville's Citrus High School, Whitney Qualls of Farmersville High School and Manuel Vejar of Tulare's Tech Prep High School were selected out of 1,000 high school cabin leaders for being exemplary role models to the sixth-grade students visiting SCICON. In addition to their awards, the students received a scholarship from the Friends of SCICON and the Association of California School Administrators Region XI. Of the 14 adults honored by the organization, three were employees of the Tulare County Office of Education. Danni Franklin, SCICON liaison, was recognized for her work in preparing sixth-grade classes to come to SCICON and for the leadership trainings she conducts for high school students. Lorena White, programmer analyst for Information Systems, was recognized for developing the outstanding SCICON website. Kevin Matteson, network services manager for Information Systems, was recognized for his assistance in developing the internet connectivity for the SCICON campus.

This month, Candy Hilvers, program manager for School Health Programs, will begin a two-year term as president of the Central Valley Section of the California School Nurses Organization (CSNO), which serves 11 counties in the region. CSNO works to promote comprehensive and constructive school health programs and the professional advancement of school nurses.


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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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