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The News Gallery

April 2013

View and print a pdf version of this News Gallery.
Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Marlene Moreno, Jennifer Fisher, Lorena White, Shelly DiCenzo, Linda Horsting, Joy Soares, Beth Olshewsky, Mike Franco, Gina Perez and Sara Torabi.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. To receive the News Gallery, visit www.tcoe.org/GetTheGallery, or contact Jennifer Fisher at jenniferf@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172.

Slick Rock Festival
Slick Rock holds new film industry workshop
Students meet young Tulare county writers and directors now making films in Los Angeles

Slick Rock logo Last month, young Tulare County filmmakers had an opportunity to get some tips from former Tulare County students now making their own films in Los Angeles. About 100 students from around the county gathered in the Tulare Community Auditorium to hear from two teams of film writers/directors. The forum, entitled “Meet the Producers and Directors,” was held to give students insight into careers in the film industry and to promote the upcoming Slick Rock Student Film Festival. Tulare County Film Commissioner Eric Coyne arranged to bring producer Michelle Lang, brothers Ian and Eshom Nelms and Lauren Fitzgerald and Karin Schneider back to Tulare County for the “Meet the Producers and Directors” forum.

At the event, which was moderated by Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel, the Nelms brothers and Lauren and Karin discussed their efforts to make films of their own. Both teams described the challenges of making a film on a limited budget without the support of a large studio. The Nelms brothers, who graduated from Mt. Whitney High School, have recently completed the film Lost on Purpose – a film which stars C. Thomas Howell, Jane Kaczmarek and Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer. While the film has not been released commercially, it is being shown at some of the nation’s top film festivals this year. The Nelms brothers and their producer, Michelle Lang, explained that success in Hollywood does not come overnight. Each of them has spent the past 10 years building careers to the point that they could make Lost on Purpose. While they cautioned against expecting overnight success, they were positive about the possibilities for students. They encouraged students to pursue their goals and develop their creative ideas to share with others.

Slick Rock Festival Karin Schneider and Lauren Fitzgerald, 2007 graduates of Golden West High School in Visalia, are making a film entitled Ripe, a coming-of-age story about five young women who reunite after high school for a friend’s wedding. Ripe has been filmed on a small budget using their friends for the acting roles. Karin and Lauren encouraged the students to surround themselves with creative, positive people who would collaborate on their projects and support their careers.

“We appreciate the efforts of the County Film Commissioner to bring these talented young people back to Tulare County to share their success in the film industry,” says Adam Valencia, Choices Prevention Programs supervisor and Slick Rock coordinator. “We look forward to planning future film industry seminars as we build a new component to the successful Slick Rock Student Film Festival.”

Students were reminded that April 15 is the deadline for submitting films to the 2013 Slick Rock Student Film Festival. The festival, now in its tenth year, was conceived by Scott Smith, film and media instructor at Golden West High School, Visalia. This year, the Tulare County Office of Education is administering the program under the leadership of Adam Valencia.

Slick Rock is open to middle and high school students in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties. Students may create videos in more than a dozen competition categories ranging from 30-second public service announcements and animated films to music videos and action/dramas.

The Slick Rock awards ceremony will be held Saturday, May 18, at the Visalia Fox Theater. The films receiving a “Premiere Cut” designation will be screened at the theater beginning at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. At 5:30 p.m., students who played a central role in producing "Premiere Cut" films along with their advisors are eligible to participate in the Limo/Red Carpet Walk. The awards ceremony will begin at 7:00 p.m. For more information, visit
www.slickrockfestival.org, or call the Choices Prevention Programs at (559) 651-0155.

Photos above:
~ Ian Nelms discussing the making of his latest film,
Lost on Purpose. Mr. Nelms is flanked by his brother, Eshom, and producer Michelle Lang. To the right are filmmakers Karin Schneider and Lauren Fitzgerald. Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel (l) moderated the panel discussion.
~ Karin Schneider and Lauren Fitzgerald take a moment to talk with students about their film,

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Veteran and new authors coming to Día event
Free April 27 literacy event features book giveaway, young performers and resources

Dia de los Ninos/Dia de los Libros Nationally-known authors are scheduled to visit Tulare County this month as part of the annual Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros event. Best known is Margarita Engle, a Newbery Honor winner and author of The Surrender Tree, The Poet Slave of Cuba, Tropical Secrets, The Firefly Letters and The Wild Book. Ms. Engle will be joined by Harjot Singh, Thien Pham and local author Virginia Pilegard, who is well-known for her Warlord series of books.

Educational Resource Services is coordinating the Día event, scheduled for 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. on April 27 in Mooney Grove Park. The Día celebration will include hands-on activities and performances from young people involved in local mariachi, roping, guitar, and Ballet Folklorico groups. Families will also have the opportunity to view films created by the staff of the TCOE Impact Center for the Tulare County Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture in Mooney Grove Park. The films - featuring various ethnic groups that have been involved in Tulare County agriculture - will be shown continuously in the museum’s theater.

Library Media Supervisor Beth Olshewsky reports that every student who attends will have the opportunity to take home a new book. Students will be given a passport card which they can get stamped by visiting the community resource booths. Once the passport is full, students can redeem it for a free book. The books are donated by several publishers and the Tulare County Public Library.

Admission to Mooney Grove Park is free for the Día event thanks to the support of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, who have also made the county Loop Buses available for transportation from Visalia, Tulare, Dinuba/Cutler and Lindsay/Exeter/Farmersville locations. “We appreciate very much that the County of Tulare is helping to make Día as accessible as possible to students and their families,” says Ms. Olshewsky. “They have been wonderful partners.” Other partners include Visalia Parks and Recreation and the Tulare County Public Library. For information about the Día event or the Loop Bus schedule, contact Beth Olshewsky at (559) 651-3042.

Photos above:
~ Veteran authors Margarita Engle (top) and Virginia Pilegard will be special guests at the free Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros event scheduled for Saturday, April 27, in Mooney Grove Park.
~ Also in attendance will be authors Harjot Singh and Thien Pham.

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Women's Conference created to empower
April 13 event envisioned to motivate young women by connecting them to role models

Women's Conference Staff members at La Sierra Military Academy and the Choices Prevention Programs have met many young women who suffer from low self-esteem and an absence of long-term goals. This reality sparked the creation of a conference where young women can connect with older women who lead admirable personal and professional lives. La Sierra principal Anjelica Zermeño explains, “Women in leadership positions can inspire our young women by sharing their experiences, tragedies and accomplishments."

The event will be Saturday, April 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the La Sierra campus at 1735 E. Houston in Visalia. Admission is just $5 per person and includes breakfast and lunch. Keynote speakers include La Sierra Military Academy principal Anjelica Zermeño, Tulare Joint Union High School District superintendent Dr. Sarah Koligian and Visalia Police Department Sergeant Amy Watkins. Attendees will also hear from women about health and wellness, fitness, safety, drug and alcohol prevention and various other topics. For tickets and additional information, call (559) 733-6963.

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National History Day - Tulare County expanded
Students showcase their work, immerse themselves in Japanese American history

History Day Big Band music from the 1940s greeted students who came to present 60 projects at the National History Day - Tulare County (NHD) event. Across the Doe Avenue campus, students noticed copies of the federal evacuation order issued to “people of Japanese ancestry” in 1942. And as they waited to present their projects, they had the opportunity to engage in crafts that Japanese American children used to pass the time in their internment camps.

All of the activities were new to NHD, “designed so that students understand that they are part of a larger learning experience,” says Joy Soares, the staff development and curriculum specialist for History/Social Studies. “Students who entered the annual History Day event did more than just present their projects to a panel of judges. They were immersed in learning about a piece of modern American history - the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.”

History Day Following their presentations of two-dimensional displays, historical papers, exhibits, performances, documentaries and historical websites, students heard from Japanese American World War II internees Reverend Sab Masada, his wife Marion and decorated WWII Veteran Robert Yano. Facilitating their presentations was national historian, filmmaker and author Kerry Nakagawa. Mr. Nakagawa’s work has led to the development of outstanding curriculum for Social Studies. He was also the curator for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Japanese Internment Baseball Exhibition.

History Day The theme for NHD 2013 is Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events. Students could have chosen any topic in local, national or world history and explore its significance relative to the annual theme. Students from nine Tulare County schools competed in three grade categories: 4-5, 6-8 and 9-12, entering 60 projects. Twenty of the projects were judged eligible to compete in the state competition in Sacramento at the end of April. “Students demonstrated rigorous and relevant Project Based Learning as evidenced by their extensive research, critical thinking, and collaborative efforts,” says Educational Resource Services administrator Charlene Stringham. “The afternoon panel of Japanese American World War II internees brought history to life for students, teachers, and parents. The stories shared of the internment camp experience, and more importantly the lessons learned, made a powerful impression on all in attendance.”

NHD is a key program in the Tulare County Office of Education’s new Project Based Learning (PBL) initiative to support Common Core curriculum, instruction and assessment. Project Based Learning is a process for students to respond to a complex question, problem or challenge. Projects are carefully planned, managed and assessed to help students learn academic content, as well as the skills of collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. Joy Soares, who leads the History Day program, is also the staff development and curriculum specialist for PBL. “National History Day – Tulare County has all the essential elements to qualify as a rigorous and relevant PBL experience!,” says Mrs. Soares. She will offer teachers a one-day training in September, entitled “PBL: National History Day - Tulare County,” explaining how NHD supports the Common Core State Standards through the use of PBL.

For more information on Project Based Learning, contact Joy Soares at (559) 651-0501. For more information on History Day, including a list of the 2013 NHD - Tulare County finalists, visit

Photos above:
~ Kings River students present their project “The Amazing Creation of Walt Elias Disney” to a panel of judges.
~ Japanese American internees Sab Masada, his wife Marion (left), and Robert Yano (right) spoke to students about their experiences in an internment camp. Historian Kerry Nakagawa (standing) facilitated the discussion.
~ Students participated in many traditional Japanese craft activities and were entertained by a dancer and koto planer.

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Spotlight Redwood High School (Visalia) students compete in the Experimental Design portion of the annual Science Olympiad held last month. Eleven middle school teams (Division B) and 16 high school teams (Division C) battled for top honors and the chance to represent Tulare County at the NorCal State Science Olympiad April 13 at Mission Oak High School in Tulare. The four Division C schools selected to advance to state finals are Redwood High School (Blue Team); Exeter Union High School (Gold Team); Tulare Union High School (Gold Team); and University Preparatory High School, Visalia (Black Team). The four Division B teams advancing to the NorCal Science Olympiad are St. Aloysius Parochial School, Tulare; Wilson Middle School, Exeter (Blue Team); Divisadero Middle School, Visalia; and Sundale Union School, Tulare.

Spotlight Seven Tulare County student projects entered in the annual Science & Engineering Fair were selected to advance to the California Science Fair this month in Los Angeles. One of the winning projects came from Kings River seventh-grade students Morgan Waldner and Skylar Mattos. The aspiring engineers will compete with their project Comparing Bridge Designs: Suspension, Arch and Beam. For a list of all winners, visit

Spotlight Migrant Education Region VIII has selected Ana Dominguez as the program’s student of the year. Ana is a senior at Lemoore High School and has been accepted to San Jose State University. She is pictured with Migrant Education administrator Tony Velásquez at the 34th Annual State Migrant Parent Conference.

Spotlight Students from Lemoore High School won the high school portion of the annual Southern California Gas Company Challenge for Student Entrepreneurs for their Blu Water project, a water filtration venture designed to serve Kings County. At the Challenge event, Alex Gong, a senior at Redwood High School in Visalia, received the annual STEM Student Entrepreneur Scholarship, which is sponsored by TUCOEMAS Federal Credit Union. Alex, who plans to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering and start a solar power engineering firm, is pictured with TUCOEMAS’s Kurt Hardcastle and President Linda Reese.

Spotlight Orosi High School produced a number of winners in the annual Farm Bureau Student Art Calendar, which is sponsored by TCOE and the Network for a Healthy California program. Pictured with County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak are (l-r) Erendira Morales, a senior whose artwork is featured on the cover, Ediberto Gonzalez, a senior whose artwork is featured in the month of May, and Karina Arenivaz, a ninth-grade student whose artwork is featured on the back cover. Elise Stringham (far right) is the students’ art instructor.

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Gallery Notes

The Resource & Referral Program will hold the 25th Annual Child Care Conference Saturday, April 6, at the Visalia Convention Center. Whitcomb Hayslip, an early childhood education consultant and former assistant superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District, will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Hayslip will present ways educators can use the growing body of knowledge about young children and families to enrich their work. The conference will also feature dozens of breakout sessions and vendors, including those who specialize in early childhood education instructional materials. For more information, contact Celene Ayon at (559) 651-0185.

During the month of April, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the School Health Program will distribute bookmarks for all K-8 students in Tulare County. Each bookmark, which is printed in English and Spanish, contains tips students can use to keep themselves safe from predators. The tips were gathered from materials presented through School Health’s long-running Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) Prevention Program. CAN Program presentations are tailored to first- and fifth-grade students, and are available to Tulare County schools at no charge. To arrange a CAN presentation, call Kathy Johnston at (559) 651-0130.

On April 25, 13 middle school and 7 high school teams from throughout the county will attend the second annual Step Up Youth Challenge Awards to receive grants for their work in developing community service projects. The awards ceremony, which begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Visalia Fox Theater, is open to the public. The top five projects in both the middle and high school categories will receive prizes totaling $30,000, awarded by the County of Tulare’s Step Up initiative and the Tulare County Youth Commission. Students at TCOE’s University Preparatory High School will be contending for a grant for their teenage pregnancy prevention campaign. The students have developed a multimedia program which they hope to present to middle school audiences next year.

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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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