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The News Gallery

April 2009

READING, WRITING & RUMBA - Three new after-school programs offer Tulare high school students academic assistance plus enrichment through dance, art, cooking and physical activity

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

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Marilyn Willers, Martha Alexandros, Jamie Burnitzki, Steven Woods, Larisa Atkinson, Paula Terrill, Juani Rubio, Tom Byars, Jeanne Croson, Randy Wallace and Art Villarreal.

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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New programs offer safe learning environment
TCOE and Tulare High Schools partner to provide after-school academics, enrichment

As the 3:00 p.m. bell rings on the Tulare Western campus, Art Villarreal's day kicks into high gear. Art drops in on numerous classes to offer assistance to teachers and to pass out juice and snacks to hungry students who will be on campus for one, two or three hours of tutoring and enrichment activities.

After School Programs Art is one of three campus coordinators for the new Smart Choices after-school programs opened in January at Tulare's three high schools. Art is responsible for the program at Tulare Western, while Liliana Aldaco and Jesse Medina oversee the programs at Tulare Union and Mission Oak, respectively. The Smart Choices program is a partnership between the Tulare County Office of Education's Choices Program and the Tulare Joint Union High School District funded by California 21st Century High School After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) grants. "We appreciate the opportunity to serve the Tulare Joint Union High School District through this important program," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "We also appreciate the enthusiasm teachers and administrators have shown in partnering to serve students."

After School Programs Each day, approximately 200 students take advantage of the tutoring and enrichment programs on the three campuses. Smart Choices is a drop-in program, allowing students to use the math and science tutoring service and the library and computer lab resources to prepare for an exam or complete their homework. Smart Choices can also be mandated by parents or teachers for students who are failing classes, or for athletes who are in danger of losing their eligibility. Enrichment activities vary from campus to campus, but most have some kind of dance, music, art and athletics. "For those students who are required to attend Smart Choices, academics come first," says Mr. Villarreal. "Before they can dance, cook, or hit the gym, we make sure their homework is done."

After School Programs In the two months since the program's establishment, Mr. Villarreal reports growth in the number of students using the program. "I'm also having more conversations with teachers about my players," adds Tulare Western coach Steve Chamalbide. "I'm getting reports from them about student assignments, tutoring and progress." The grant pays participating teachers for the additional hours they spend in the Smart Choices program. The extra hours students spend with teachers is expected to pay off in higher test scores and success on the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). Choices staff will closely monitor student academic progress in cooperation with school administrators.

After School Programs
"The grant is a very important resource for the students and staff in Tulare," says Choices Program Manager Tom Byars. "At the time of day when students might get into trouble, it provides a safe environment for extra tutoring and physical activity."

Photos above:
~ Students at Tulare Western High School can receive help daily in math from teacher AiChai Saesee.
~ After academic tutoring sessions, students can visit the gym for a supervised game of basketball.
~ Students in a ballroom dance class lead by Tulare Western coach Jennifer McDonohoe prepare for a performance at the Tulare County Support Staff Conference in May.
~ Smart Choices students can use the school library and computer center to study for exams or complete daily homework.

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Winners envision "green" resort to win trophy
The Gas Company-sponsored Student Entrepreneur Challenge grows to three counties

Student Entrepreneur Challenge Fifteen teams of young entrepreneurs from Fresno, Tulare and Kings County high schools recently presented business ideas at The Gas Company Student Entrepreneur Challenge. The Challenge is designed to encourage students to develop products, services or other economic growth ideas that can be applied in the San Joaquin Valley.

Top honors went to the team from Washington Union High School (Fresno County) that proposed La Bella Vie Verte Bed and Breakfast  an environmentally-friendly resort in Oakhurst, California. For information on upcoming Student Entrepreneur Challenges or scholarships, contact Randy Wallace at (559) 733-6101.

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Community lends support to student event
Over 190 projects entered in 24th Annual Tulare County Science & Engineering Fair

Tulare County Science & Engineering Fair The thought of using a burette to drop fluid into a beaker was reason enough for sixth-grade Columbine Elementary student Sarane Caratan to envision a Science Fair project entitled Titration Sensation. The burette is a vertical cylindrical piece of glasswork commonly found in laboratories. It is used to dispense a known quantity of liquid precisely and, to her, it has a cool technical appeal. "I got pretty excited when I saw the burette and thought about using it," she enthused.

Sarane's project used titration  the process of determining the unknown concentration of a known substance. In her experiment, she tried to determine whether different brands of household vinegar had different levels of acidity. They do, the young scientist discovered. For her work, Sarane captured one of 30 sweepstakes awards at the 24th Annual Tulare County Science & Engineering Fair held last month.

Tulare County Science & Engineering Fair "These students are asking some very creative questions and applying advanced principals to test them," said Science Instructional Consultant Jonathan Janzen. The creativity of Maverick Rauen, a fifth-grade student at Grace Christian School in Visalia, caught the attention of the National Weather Service's James Brotherton. Maverick won a special recognition from the agency for his project Meteorologist Take Cover, which Mr. Brotherton joked, "could put me out of a job." In addition, Tulare County's Community Services Employment Training (CSET) and The Gas Company provided special recognitions. "Thanks to the generosity of these and other community organizations, we can provide cash prizes for first-, second- and third-place projects plus a $100 prize to the teacher of the top project in each category," says County Superintendent Jim Vidak. "The Science & Engineering Fair is also generously supported by The Trophy Shoppe in Tulare with a donation of all plaques and ribbons."

Over 70 judges evaluated more than 190 entries from students in grades 4-12. Students competed in ten categories, including: Behavioral and Social Sciences; Botany; Earth and Space; Engineering and Mathematics; Environmental Science; Medicine and Health; Microbiology and Biochemistry; Physical Science; Product Testing and Materials Science; and Zoology. For a list of winners and the projects competing at the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles next month, visit

Photos above:
~ Sarane Caratan explains her project to judges during interviews for the top 30 projects.
~ College of the Sequoias' Dean of Science, Math & Engineering, Dr. Robert Urtecho, was one of more than 70 professionals from a wide variety of industries to judge the annual Science & Engineering Fair.

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S.E.E. Youth Program funded for summer jobs
Tulare County businesses sought to employe 1,000 young people beginning in June

Recovery Act of 2009 The Tulare County Office of Education's S.E.E. (Services for Education & Employment) Youth Program has received a substantial grant from the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) to fund 800-1,000 summer jobs for young people ages 14-24. The grant was given to the WIB as part of the federal economic stimulus program known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. "This is a huge boost to our employment and training program," says SEE Youth Project Coordinator Martha Alexandros. "We are eager to hear from young people who want to work this summer and from school districts and other public sector/non-profit businesses willing to employ them."

The SEE Youth Program is seeking young people from low-income families to apply for summer jobs that average 150 hours each. Ms. Alexandros explains that prior to employment, young people will receive ten hours of enrichment training on topics including workplace ethics, job safety and job readiness. Participants will earn $8.00 per hour and can start their work the week of June 8. "Young people don't have to be attending school to enroll," she says. "Our counselors are happy to help them with the enrollment and eligibility requirements."

SEE Youth Program Samuel Cortez found a job through the SEE Youth Program at a critical time in his life. "Coming to the SEE Program was, with no exaggeration, a decision that changed my life," Samuel says. "I was in a situation at the time that if I didn't find a job quickly, I would be living on the streets. I came to the SEE Program, completed eligibility requirements, and was in a workshop giving me detailed advice about finding a job in no time. SEE helped me a lot by taking into consideration my job interests. They got me a job at Goodwill which kept me from becoming homeless," he says.

"We are also looking for public sector and non-profit organizations to give Tulare County students 'real world' job experience and exposure to career possibilities of their own," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. The young people's salaries will be covered by the grant, but employers should provide any materials needed for the job and supervision of their work. Youth can be used for a wide variety of work including clerical, recreation aides, maintenance and construction. Businesses interested in employing young people this summer, should call Martha Alexandros at (559) 733-6730.

Photo above:
~ SEE Youth counselors helped place Samuel Cortez at Goodwill Industries, where he works while planning to attend College of the Sequoias. Counselors available to assist others with job placements can be reached by calling (559) 733-6730 (Visalia) or (559) 782-4773 (Porterville).

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On People in Service and Support

Tulare County Spelling Championship The final rounds of the Tenth Annual Tulare County Spelling Championship, co-sponsored by the Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register, took some interesting turns with the top five spellers exiting and reentering the competition, until a winner emerged. That winner was sixth-grade student Joseph Maluyao from Golden Oak Elementary in Visalia. Joseph, pictured with Michelle Cisneros from Golden Valley Elementary in Orosi, will compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. May 25-28.

Tulare County Farm Bureau Calendar Art Contest Jessica Belmonte, a ninth-grade student at Orosi High School, produced the winning artwork for the 2009-2010 Tulare County Farm Bureau Calendar. Free copies of the calendar are available through the Tulare County Office of Education at 2637 W. Burrel in Visalia. Dozens of other original works from Tulare County students are included in the calendar along with numerous interesting nutritional facts courtesy of TCOE's Network for a Healthy California.

College Night Scholarship Winner Golden West High School (Visalia) senior Jesus Chavez is the winner of the annual College Night Scholarship. Jesus was selected out of 75 applicants for the scholarship, which pays $1,000 per year for up to four years. Jesus impressed a panel of scholarship judges with his academic record and extensive volunteer activities, including work for the Ronald McDonald House and The Fresno Bee's Kids Day, which helped raise over $25,000 for Children's Hospital Central California. Jesus has plans to attend UCLA, CSU Fresno or CSU Long Beach in the fall and pursue an international relations career.

Kids' Festival School Assemblies Carmen Serrano, vice principal at Houston Elementary in Visalia shows off some fancy rope tricks after a little training from the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls. The Riata Ranch team was at the school last month as part of Kids' Festival School Assemblies  an extension of the annual Kids' Festival event. Riata Ranch director Jennifer Welch Nicholson and her girls presented rope tricks and a positive message about building self-esteem. For information on Kids' Festival School Assemblies for your school, contact Nick Anthony at (559) 740-4230.

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Gallery Notes

During the 25th Annual Conference on Character and Civic Education at Fresno State on April 1, three Tulare County middle schools will be recognized for their exemplary attention to character education. Receiving 2009 Virtues and Character Recognition Awards are Live Oak Middle School, Los Tules Middle School and Mulcahy Middle School, all of Tulare.

Last month, Migrant Education program manager Olga Cortez received the second annual Cesar Chavez Service with a Heart Award. The award, organized by Radio Campesina, in partnership with the Cesar Chavez Foundation, recognizes an individual or organization for their integrity in service to others and for their promotion of confidence, courage and hard work. The recipient of the first annual Service with a Heart Award in 2008 was Migrant Education administrator Sheli Silva.

Green Acres Middle School's Green Team and Redwood High School's Blue Team captured the first place honors in the 2009 Science Olympiad Competition Divisions B and C, respectively. The Green Acres and Redwood High School teams will be joined by second-place finishers from Palo Verde Union Elementary (Tulare) and Exeter High School, and third-place finishers from St. Aloyius School (Tulare) and Tulare Western High School at the 2009 NorCal State Science Competition April 18, at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. Complete results are available at

Twenty Tulare County History Day projects representing Sundale Union Elementary, Palo Verde Union Elementary, Cherry Avenue Middle School (Tulare), John F. Kennedy Academy (Dinuba), Tulare Union High School and Liberty Elementary were selected as finalists in the annual competition, making them eligible to compete at California History Day April 30 in Sacramento. For a complete list of honorees, visit www.tcoe.org/HistoryDay.

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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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