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The News Gallery

February 2009

GET ON STAGE - Theatre Company's new On Stage program helps Tulare County schools prepare on-site productions

News Gallery -February 2009 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Brian Roberts, Kristin Crase, Charlotte Hartman, Kelley Petty, Gene Mendes, Sheli Silva and Rich McMullen.

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.

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Two-week On Stage brings theater to schools
Affordable traveling theater program helps build performing arts and community support

The old phrase, "the show must go on," reflects an attitude in theater circles that — regardless of the difficulties a production faces with cast members, finances or sets — the audience will not be disappointed and the show will not be cancelled.

On Stage In this year of looming budget cuts, school programs for the arts and field trips to performances are likely to be affected. Fortunately for Tulare County schools, a new Theatre Company program entitled On Stage, ensures that "the show will go on." The traveling children's theater program brings the props, costumes, sets, musical materials and talented directors to schools to oversee the production of Disney's The Jungle Book Kids for a very reasonable fee.

On Stage "The timing of this program could not be better," says County Superintendent Jim Vidak. "With funds for arts-related programs more at-risk than ever, On Stage is a way for schools to create or continue a theater program and involve the community at the same time."

Veterans of local theater productions, On Stage directors Kristin Crase and Gloriann Boni will assist six Tulare County schools produce Jungle Book shows this semester. Ms. Crase and Ms. Boni will travel to Hurley Elementary and Conyer Elementary in Visalia, Wilson Elementary in Dinuba, Cypress School, Mulcahy Middle School and Roosevelt School in Tulare and Alpaugh Elementary in Alpaugh armed with everything needed to stage the popular musical. The after-school program takes only two weeks from the beginning auditions and rehearsals to the final performance.

On Stage Theatre Company Director Brian Roberts says that On Stage is designed to help any elementary or middle school have a theatrical production. "We're particularly excited about offering this to small and rural schools that might not otherwise have a production of their own or visit one because of travel expenses," he says. "The beauty of this program is that it can be tailored to meet the needs of each school. It can be designed as an all-school production or one for upper-grade students only. It can be performed during a school assembly or in the evening as a community event. Schools also have the opportunity to use this as a fundraiser in conjunction with their parent organizations," says Mr. Roberts.

On Stage
On Stage is also designed to be a catalyst for performing arts programs in local schools. "We hope teachers who see the process may decide to take on the responsibility for future school productions," says Mr. Roberts. "After all, it's the process of developing the production and the lessons learned along the way that has the most lasting value on students and staff."

Reservations for schools interested in the On Stage program next fall are being accepted. For the 2009/2010 school year, The Jungle Book Kids will be offered. In future years, other productions will be available including some original musicals. For more information about the program, contact Brian Roberts at (559) 651-1482.

Photos above:
~ On Stage directors Gloriann Boni (l) and Kristin Crase (r) work this semester to pilot six productions of Disney's The Jungle Book Kids in select Tulare County schools. Their services will be available to all schools next fall.
~ Shayli Siegfried, who played Baloo the Bear in a recent production of the musical, waits for her cue backstage. All costumes, props and sets are provided to schools as part of the On Stage program.
~ Theatre Company director Brian Roberts explains to an audience of parents the new program's features, including detailed choreography and costumes.

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Schools immersed in character education
12 schools participating in grant noticing greater parent participation

Twelve schools in Tulare County — elementary, K-8, middle and high schools — are working hard to be national models for student character development. Utilizing the CHARACTER COUNTS! framework, teachers, staff and parents reinforce at every opportunity the lessons of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship contained in the program's Six Pillars of Character.

CHARACTER COUNTS! grant The 12 "project" schools are part of a large grant provided two years ago by the U.S. Department of Education's Partnership in Character Education Program (PCEP). The four-year study is measuring the effectiveness of character education on students in kindergarten through 12th grades. The 12 project schools are paired with carefully matched "comparison" schools.

Since the award of the grant, the Tulare County Office of Education's CHARACTER COUNTS! program has conducted extensive site surveys on student behavior — including bullying and cheating — and has provided support training. Last year, teacher Gina Wise was hired through the grant as a curriculum specialist. She has been working to integrate the program's framework with state Language Arts and History/Social Science content standards.

CHARACTER COUNTS! grant CHARACTER COUNTS! coordinator Kelley Petty reports that some schools are hosting monthly institutes for parents. Kim Silva, grant coordinator for Monte Vista Elementary in Porterville, says, "Our parents are realizing that the CHARACTER COUNTS! program is significant and can truly change a child's perspective through behavior. They are eager to get ideas that will help at home and to better themselves." County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak concurs, stating, "It's exciting to hear of these early successes from just a handful of schools that are fully integrating character education and to imagine a future with more schools participating."

Photos above:
~ Monte Vista Elementary in Porterville held a ceremony coinciding with the Presidential Inauguration which included an "oath" to abide by the Six Pillars of Character. Monte Vista is one of 12 schools participating in the countywide grant program that also includes: Kings River Elementary, Springville Union, Sundale Elementary, Lincoln Elementary (Lindsay), Olive Street Elementary (Porterville), West Putnam Elementary (Porterville), Divisadero Middle School (Visalia), Los Tules Middle School (Tulare), Tulare Western High School, Monache High School (Porterville) and La Sierra Military Academy (Visalia).

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Youth Council seeks to build membership
Group to tackle community issues that hinder drug-, alcohol- and gang-free lifestyles

The Tulare County Youth Council is making a resurgence this year with funding provided by the TCOE Red Ribbon Committee. A small, but enthusiastic group of high school students met recently to review the mission of the organization, make plans to recruit more members and identify community issues to address. The Tulare County Youth Council is designed to promote the positive achievements of young people in Tulare County and advocate issues that effect young people's efforts to live drug-, alcohol- and gang-free lifestyles.

Tulare County Youth Council Individually, members of the council have been involved in projects ranging from a seatbelt safety campaign and working with the state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) exposing businesses that sell alcohol to underage students to pointing out violations in the display of alcohol advertisements in local stores. In the next few months, the council will consider the types of issues it will address, as well as assist Choices staff with events including the Anti-Tobacco Challenge Bowl, COOL Night and the Friday Night Live Lip Synch Competition.

Pictured above (left to right) are Woodlake High School's Edward Vidal, Redwood High School's Ashley Eastman and Woodlake High School's Selesta Cazares and Heather Wood. The council is supported by Choices School Community Liaisons Angelina Huwe and Gene Mendes.

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Mike Stephens retires from Special Services
Veteran administrator served children with special needs for 31 years

"All through the little township, the knight was quite esteemed
His vision for their children saw beyond what had been dreamed."

Mike Stephens In a poem written for long-time Special Services administrator Mike Stephens, Charlotte Hartman described her boss as a knight. The description was fitting for the man who served Tulare County's most challenged students for more than 30 years.

Dr. Stephens retired as Administrator for Severely Handicapped Programs in December, having also served as both a teacher and program manager. As an administrator, he supervised over 50 sites, which included various Special Day Classes at elementary, middle and high schools throughout the county, the Bright Start Parent/Infant Programs, the Community-Based Instruction Classes for older students and the learning centers in Visalia, Porterville, Tulare and Yettem.

The Legend of the Knight

'Twas thought perhaps a legend, told in olden days of lore,
That there came in shining armor a fair knight from golden shores.
One trained to fight fierce battles, he was sent instead to do
A job so monumental those called are but a few.

'Twas a charge for building bridges to kids with special needs,
No trusty sword required nor even a valiant steed.
But patience, understanding and ability to see
Growth in all the little things were skills that would be key.

He built a bridge whose span reached out to children in his care,
Then he added small extensions so with parents he could share.
From there he kept on building, ever seeking new directions,
'Til the bridge was long and wide, with community connections.

All through the little township, the knight was quite esteemed,
His vision for their children saw beyond what had been dreamed.
To acknowledge his success and reward his dedication,
The lowly knight's assignment was given higher station.

Now a leader in the kingdom, his tasks grew more complex,
Innovation was required; at times he was perplexed.
The knight toiled even harder to expand upon his work,
As the bridges grew in numbers, not a duty did he shirk.

Without fear he advocated for those he'd come to serve,
So celebration was in order, with honors quite deserved,
When the call came once again to move higher in command;
The humble knight was now acclaimed, his wisdom in demand.

Protector and defender of all people in the land,
He listened to their problems and lent a helping hand.
He led through troubled waters yet little did he know,
How much he was respected 'til he said 'twas time to go.

The legend of this fearless knight just happens to be true,
And words alone cannot describe his worth to all his crew.
This knight in shining armor, the same one we all believe in,
Is none other than our very own…Dr. Michael Stephens.

As you leave us, Dr. Mike, may your life be fully blessed,
May it be filled with purpose, may you find a bit of rest.
May you seek some new adventures, smell some roses 'long the way,
And may you ne'r forget your work made a difference every day.

Charlotte Hartman
November 2008

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On People in Service and Support

Holiday Computer Giveaway Program In December, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors distributed over 100 computers to Tulare County students as part of their fourth annual Holiday Computer Giveaway Program. The computers and matching flatscreens, which were due to be sold as surplus, were purchased from the county by Visalia's four Rotary clubs so they could be donated. Volunteers from Office Depot assisted with the deliveries throughout the county. The COS computer club tested the computers, erased all sensitive files and installed fresh Windows XP operating systems. Tulare County school superintendents and principals nominated the deserving students based on outstanding character and good academic performance. One of the lucky recipients was La Sierra Military Academy's Jesus Gutierrez, who was nominated by principal René Moncada for his leadership at school.

Joe Enea and Chris Reed The Tulare County Board of Education welcomed two new trustees in December. Area 5 Trustee Joe Enea is an adjunct COS professor, who will represent the Visalia area. Veteran board member and Child Care/Head Start board liaison Chris Reed rejoins the board to represent the Porterville area (Trustee Area 6).

Last fall, the Tulare County Office of Education's Migrant Education program coordinated a student and parent conference called the "College-Going Culture." The event took place at Fresno State in cooperation with the university's College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). The goal of the conference was to inform and encourage students to continue their education beyond high school. Many students left the conference asking themselves, "Where do I want to go to college?" instead of "If I go to college, where would I go?" Students attended a variety of motivational workshops, where they learned about "college readiness," support programs and career options. In similar workshops, parents also learned ways they can help their children succeed in school and prepare for college. A total of 211 students and 64 parent/chaperones from Tulare and Kings Counties attended the event.
College-Going Culture conference

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Gallery Notes

Tulare County Mock Trial continues this month with trials set for 5:30 p.m. on February 3 and 5 at the Tulare County Courthouse. A record number of schools are participating including Dinuba High School, El Diamante High School, Exeter High School, Farmersville High School, Golden West High School, Lindsay High School, Mt. Whitney High School, Orosi High School, Redwood High School, Tulare Union High School, Tulare Western High School and Woodlake High School. The semi-final round will be held February 10 at the Courthouse, with finals taking place at El Diamante Theatre on February 17. The competitions are open to the public.

The Human Resources Division is pleased to announce that over 50 toys and gift cards were collected during the first-ever TOYS for TOTS campaign held in conjunction with its annual Holiday Tea. The toys were distributed exclusively to local families in need.

The Tulare County Office of Education, in partnership with the Tulare County Economic Development Corporation, is offering its annual scholarship for young entrepreneurs. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Entrepreneur Award is open to Tulare County high school students who excel in math and science and demonstrate a viable business idea. TUCOEMAS Federal Credit Union is sponsoring the $1,000 scholarship. Applications, which are available at
www.tcoe.org/STEMScholarship, are due February 19.

The Tulare County Youth Commission is now accepting grant applications for the Step Up Service Learning Grant Program, which is designed to reward at-risk youth for their involvement in hands-on projects aimed at improving neighborhoods, helping the disadvantaged and other meaningful community projects. Applications and guidelines can be found at www.stepuptc.com. Please contact Youth Commission staff member Jeff Forbes at (559) 636-5000 for more information.

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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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