go to Tulare County Office of Education HomePage go to Tulare County Office of Education HomePage

The News Gallery

July/August 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, Brian Roberts, Rick Mitchell, Michelle Lapadula, Tammy Bradford, Linda McKean, Brook Killingsworth, Kelley Petty, Charlene Stringham and Jeanne Croson.

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.

Shrek the Musical
Theater Company to perform Shrek the Musical
Local students bring high energy new musical comedy to the Valley in July

The Theatre Company is preparing to produce possibly the first amateur version of Shrek the Musical in Central California. Theatre Company director Brian Roberts was able to obtain the rights to the popular Broadway musical when it became available earlier this year.

Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical, which is based on the Oscar-winning movie of the same title, is a fairytale turned upside down. Instead of a handsome prince, Shrek the ogre is the unlikely hero who attempts to rescue an imprisoned princess, Fiona. Shrek will be played by Redwood High School’s Jack O’Leary. In the musical, Princess Fiona, who is imprisoned in a castle for most of her life, grows from childhood to adulthood. As she grows, Fiona will be played by three actresses - Abby Cantrell, Mikayla Hays and Carli Caviglia. Redwood High School’s Ricky Reyes plays Shrek’s chatty sidekick, Donkey. The show features over a dozen musical numbers and plenty of adventures and comedy. One of the highlights of the show is a large, flying dragon, which guards the castle where Fiona is imprisoned.

Shrek the Musical “Shrek is a tremendous challenge for any actor as they not only have to portray larger-than-life fantasy characters, but deliver demanding performances while wearing outrageous costumes and intricate makeup,” says Mr. Roberts. “Our performers are up to the challenge and are thrilled to be working on such fun and fresh material. The Central Valley’s premiere of Shrek promises to be two hours of high energy entertainment with lots of humor wrapped in captivating music.”

The Theatre Company will perform Shrek the Musical seven times in July at the L.J. Williams Theater in Visalia. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on July 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27. Matinee performances begin at 2:00 p.m. on July 20 and 27. Tickets will be available July 5 at both TCOE Visalia offices: 2637 West Burrel Avenue and 7000 Doe Avenue, Suite A. General admission tickets are $12 per person. Reserved VIP seating is $20 per person. Any remaining tickets will be available at the theater’s box office 30 minutes before each performance. For more information, call the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

Shrek the Musical
Key Roles
Shrek - Jack O’Leary, Redwood High School (Visalia)
Young Fiona - Abby Cantrell, Royal Oaks Elementary School (Visalia)
Teen Fiona – Mikayla Hays, Redwood High School (Visalia)
Fiona – Carli Caviglia, Golden West High School (Visalia)
Voice of the Dragon - Casandra Castaneda, Redwood High School (Visalia)
Donkey - Ricky Reyes, Redwood High School (Visalia)

Photos above:
~ Adrienne Terry (foreground) leads the 55-member cast through the show’s finale. Ms. Terry, who is assisting Theatre Company choreographer Nicole Zweifel with the production’s dance sequences, performed with the Theatre Company when she was in high school.
~ Jeff White (left) and Theatre Company director Brian Roberts work quickly to make a mold of actor Jack O’Leary’s head for the mask he will wear as the character Shrek.
~ Ricky Reyes (foreground), who plays Donkey, rehearses with a prototype of the giant mechanical dragon. Carrying the dragon are Parker Lewis, Jared Gayer, Javier Camacho and Sabin Adams.

to Top of Page

SCICON opens doors for week of fun, learning
Students enjoy week of physical and academic activities at annual summer program

SCICON Summer Academy
For Connor Craven, the highlight of his six days at the SCICON Summer Academy was the robotics class. “My dream was to just hold this part of the robot,” he said excitedly, pointing to the NXT micro-computer of the LEGO MINDSTORMS robot. In the week that Connor spent in his afternoon robotics class, he not only held the micro-computer, but added wheels, gears, arms and programming to navigate the machine through mazes and in battle with his fellow students’ robots.

SCICON Summer Academy Elsewhere on campus, students participating in the technology classes were creating a blog to share their Summer Academy experiences with parents back home, shooting and editing their own videos and creating their own video games. Students engaged in wildlife studies were studying various animals in SCICON’s natural history museum, handling reptiles and dissecting owl pellets.

During the Summer Academy, the afternoon academic classes were balanced with plenty of morning outdoor activities. Students moved through all areas of the campus, rock climbing, riding mountain bikes on trails, target shooting with bows and arrows and creating illustrations of nature.

SCICON director Rick Mitchell reports that over 70 students participated in the two, week-long academies. On the last day of the program, students had the opportunity to get autographs in their journals from fellow campers. As they hurried from group to group signing each other’s journals, it was clear that through all the fun and learning, friendships were made. “The SCICON staff has done an amazing job of designing an educational experience students will never forget,” says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “As they look back on their time at the Summer Academy, we hope that they will appreciate SCICON for the treasure that it is and even return to serve as high school cabin counselors.”

SCICON Summer Academy
For information on the 2014 Summer Academies as it becomes available, visit

Photos above:
~ During mornings at the Summer Academy, students could choose to participate in outdoor sports or survival skills activities.
~ Afternoons were spent engaged in academic enrichment options, including a robotics class, which was student Ezra’s favorite activity.
~ Students participating in the wildlife studies portion of the program learned about many native plant and animal species all within the SCICON Natural History Museum.

to Top of Page

TCOE programs make new home at Liberty
Eight Special Services programs, equipment and supplies consolidated to new site

Special Services programs – once scattered on school sites and in office spaces around the county – will soon be calling the former Liberty School site south of Visalia their new home. This year, the Liberty School District built a new campus in northeast Tulare, leasing its former site to the Tulare County Office of Education.

The Special Services Division quickly consolidated many of its wide-spread programs to Liberty School, filling every available classroom. Relocating this summer are the Visalia Center of the Bright Start Parent/Infant program, the Hearing Center (which was previously located at Kohn Elementary in Tulare), the Itinerant Teachers for the Visually Impaired, the Itinerant Teachers for the Deaf, the Orientation/Mobility Specialists, the Adaptive Physical Education program and the Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy (OT/PT) program. A number of clinicians from the Behavioral Health Services program will also move to Liberty School, while the Sound Beginning Preschool Program for the deaf and hard-of-hearing will remain at Kohn Elementary in Tulare. The school’s former multipurpose gym will be used for large staff and parent trainings.

Special Services Assistant Superintendent Linda McKean reports that one of the added bonuses of the Liberty School relocation is the consolidation/centralization of special education equipment and supplies. Hundreds of items ranging from Braille books and VisioBook readers for the blind and visually impaired to Wii machines and tricycles used in OT/PT will be relocated from sites around the county. “The greatest benefit of the move, however, is that we now have many special education disciplines concentrated in one location,” says Mrs. McKean. “This will afford us greater collaboration than ever before to better meet the needs of our students.”

to Top of Page

Slick Rock Film Festival introduces Quick Shops
New workshops designed to help students learn to create videos for annual film festival

Modern technology available on most iPads has made it considerably easier for students to create their own videos. To show them how to make a video, the coordinators of the annual Slick Rock Student Film Festival are launching a new program called “Quick Shops” this month. Quick Shops are free, short instructional workshops on shooting, editing and scoring student-produced videos. They can be delivered during the regular instructional day or to after school programs.

Quick Shops
“Our goal is to increase the size and participation in the 2014 Slick Rock Student Film Festival,” says Adam Valencia, program director for the Choices Prevention Programs. “One way to do that is to provide training to middle school students who don’t have a video production class on campus.” Choices staff member Michelle Lapadula, a former El Diamante High School video student and Slick Rock participant, is leading the Quick Shop program. She and a team of young videographers will be available to provide Quick Shops upon request to schools in Tulare County. In just a few hours, the Choices video instructors will teach students about the Slick Rock Film Festival and the basics of moviemaking, with the hope that students will be prepared to create their own video to submit in the 2014 festival.

The 2013 Slick Rock Film Festival, which was held May 18, received over 200 videos from middle and high school students from throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley. Mr. Valencia reports that the number of categories for middle and high school students to enter will expand at the 2014 festival. “We are envisioning the creation of several new categories, including one for bullying prevention and another for sports highlights.”

To schedule a Quick Shop, contact Michelle Lapadula at (559) 651-0155. To view the winning videos from the 2013 Slick Rock Film Festival, visit

Photo above:
~ Michelle Lapadula conducts a Slick Rock Quick Shop for middle school students at Pixley Middle School.

to Top of Page


Spotlight On August 10, the History of Tulare County Farm Labor and Agriculture Museum will hold a reception from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. to unveil its new exhibition highlighting the contributions of Croatians and Slavonians in Tulare County. Beginning in the 1920s, Croatians and Slavonians settled in the Porterville and Delano areas. They built farms on credit, developing crops of cantaloupes, watermelons, vegetables, prunes, cotton, and, most notably, table and raisin grapes. In the 1960s, new immigrants from totalitarian Yugoslavia joined their fellow countrymen to work in Tulare County agriculture and to develop modern dehydration plants. Teachers can arrange a visit to the new exhibition, located in Mooney Grove Park, by calling the museum at (559) 733-6616.

Spotlight On June 12, the Human Resources Division honored 50 employees who have retired during the 2012-2013 school year. Early Childhood Education Program administrator Connie Smith (top photo, left) poses with retiring administrative secretary Carol Gutierrez, who worked for the program for 32 years. Migrant Education Program Managers Anna León (bottom photo, lower row, center) and Isabel Espinoza (bottom photo, top row, center) pose with retiring Migrant Education staff: (l-r) resource coordinator Mary Ann Luna, nurse Anita Solis, accounting clerk Carol Maldonado, quality control specialist Blanca Chavez and quality control specialist Guida Avila. Together, the retirees served to recruit, support and connect migrant students and their families with educational and health care resources.

Spotlight Over 110 students recently graduated from Tulare County Office of Education’s University Preparatory High School, La Sierra Military Academy and Special Services programs for the severely handicapped and Community Based Instruction (CBI) classes. La Sierra graduate James Wiggins adjusts his cap prior to the commencement exercises. James plans to enter a two-year barber apprenticeship in August.

Spotlight In May, the Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District celebrated receiving seven Healthier US School Challenge Awards - new awards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. The district received gold awards for nutrition programs at Cutler, Golden Valley and Palm elementary schools, El Monte Middle School and Yettem Continuation High School. Orosi High School and Lovell Continuation High received silver awards. Cutler-Orosi director of food services Brenda Lightfoot-Handy thanked TCOE’s Network for a Healthy California for help in developing their nutrition program, particularly the student education portion. As part of the district’s awards celebration, students from the Palm Elementary Nutrition Advisory Council performed a skit they wrote about making healthy food choices at the grocery store.

to Top of Page

Gallery Notes

Dates for the Tulare County Office of Education’s 2013-2014 Student Events have been set. A print-ready copy of the new Calendar of Student Events is posted on the front page of the TCOE website (
www.tcoe.org). The event dates, contact information and flyers (if available) can also be found at www.tcoe.org/CalendarOfEvents.

Last month, the Instructional Services Division honored 33 Tulare County schools as part of its annual Torch Academic Achievement Awards program. The schools receiving the award have demonstrated effective instructional practices that are making a difference in improving student achievement. Additionally, 57 schools received the Sustaining the Flame Award. These past Torch Award recipients have continued to show, year-after-year, significant gains in academic performance. The “best practices” of the Torch Award winners have been compiled into a booklet, which is available at www.tcoe.org/TorchAward.

For the first time, the Tulare County Office of Education CHARACTER COUNTS! Program recognized four high school senior student athletes with a $500 college scholarship for their exemplary character on and off the field. The recipients, who possess exceptional traits in sportsmanship, leadership and initiative, are: Stephanie Griesbach (Tulare Western High School), Bryant Hernandez (Mission Oak High School), Hannah Vehrs (Granite Hills High School) and Kylie Webb (Tulare Union High School).

This summer, Educational Resource Services (ERS) will welcome five new instructional consultants/curriculum specialists. Joining the ERS team will be Jared Marr, STEM consultant (from Tulare Joint Union High School District); William Kimbley, technology consultant (from Fresno Unified); Michelle French, STEM consultant (from Tulare City School District); Kim Webb, Math consultant (from Visalia Unified); and Alesha Ramirez, English/Language Arts consultant (from Fresno County Office of Education).

to Top of Page

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

| Home Page | Site Index |

Please direct web site problems or comments to tcoeweb@tcoe.org.

Copyright © 2018, Tulare County Office of Education