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The News Gallery

November 2015

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, Paula Terrill, Martha Alexandros, Jill Santivanez, Anne Clifford, Kathleen Green-Martins, Kelley Petty, Conan Palmer, Charlotte Garcia and Nicole Zweifel.

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.



Character Counts!

Good character shines through service to others
20th Annual CHARACTER COUNTS! Week celebrated with over 6,300 student nominations

Tipton School sixth-graders Carla and Tania weren’t looking for recognition. They were simply moved to serve others as the result of research they did for a classroom assignment. This year, the 11-year-olds are taking a journalism elective from teacher Gina Manfredi. Since October is breast cancer awareness month, Ms. Manfredi asked the girls to do an article on the disease for the school newspaper.

Carla says that she was surprised to learn that the disease affects both women and men, and even animals. So moved by the information they found, Carla and Tania asked Ms. Manfredi if they could raise money to help fight breast cancer. “Their plans just grew from there,” she said, smiling. “They wanted to know if they could buy something to sell to other students and faculty. And then they incorporated a fund-raising goal with a special incentive.”

The girls made a deal with school administrators. If they raised $300 by October 30, then Tipton’s superintendent Dr. Guerrero and the school’s principal and vice principal would have to dress up in costumes of the girls’ choosing. Carla and Tania exceeded their goal by $50 and will donate their funds to the Stanford Medical Center for cancer research.

Carla and Tania’s story is just one of over 6,300 received by the Tulare County CHARACTER COUNTS! (CC!) Office during its 20th Annual CC! Week. CC! Coordinator Kelley Petty reports that the program has recognized well over 90,000 students in 20 years of joining the national celebration.

Character Counts!

With each year, the ways that Tulare County students are recognized continues to grow. Schools throughout the county honor students and athletes in countless ways for their good character and sportsmanship. During CC! Week, the Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register run feature articles on outstanding students each day. Throughout the year, the newspapers highlight a Kid of Character in their local sections.

This month, Visalia’s Direct Magazine will begin carrying an article on middle and high school students who have exhibited good character at school or in their community. Also this month, the Tulare County Office of Education will begin a partnership with KSEE24 television to produce a segment entitled “Your Character Matters.” Over the next eight months, the station will create 24 short stories on Tulare County students and their good character.

The Provident-Salierno Family Foundation Awards, now in its fourth year, is an event where the community can hear stories of exceptional character that have changed lives and comforted so many through selfless acts, courage and integrity. This year, 90 student winners and finalists from the 2015 CC! Week were honored with scholarships provided by the Provident-Salierno Family Foundation.

“The quality of the stories we hear each week from teachers and coaches is a direct indication that character education in Tulare County schools is delivered in intentional and purposeful ways,” said County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. “We appreciate all the parents, school staff, and community and media partners who have committed to highlighting those youth who make great choices for themselves and others. It’s an effort we will continue to encourage to grow.”

Teachers, coaches and administrators interested in building or expanding their character education programs are encouraged to contact Kelley Petty for ideas, resources and trainings. Mrs. Petty can be reached at (559) 740-4303.

Photos above:
~ Tania (l) and Carla are sixth-grade students at Tipton School. The pair turned a journalism assignment into a schoolwide campaign to fund breast cancer research. They raised over $350 selling bracelets to Tipton students and faculty. Their proceeds will be donated to the Stanford Medical Center.
~ Tanner Ragan, a seventh-grade student at Valley Life Charter, shakes hands with Marilyn Barr, a board member of the Provident/Salierno Family Foundation, at the annual awards presentation recognizing Tulare County’s top students of character. Tanner was honored for the Pillar of Caring for his support of teammates and students on campus.



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New Planetarium & Science Center dedicated
50-year-old program gets new home, a symbol of new era in science instruction

Planetarium & Science Center dedication

In the mid-1960s, Jim Vidak was a brand new fourth-grade teacher at Mineral King School, a single school district which later joined Visalia Unified. Mr. Vidak recalls attending an in-service presentation designed to introduce teachers to the new Tulare County Office of Education planetarium program. For the first few years of the program, the small theater was located in a temporary building on the Snowden School campus in Farmersville.

On October 14, some 50 years later, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak stood before a crowd of educators and community supporters introducing them to the brand new Tulare County Office of Education Planetarium & Science Center. The crowd assembled in front of the colorful building watched as cadets from La Sierra Military Academy raised the flags for the first time and listened as Mr. Vidak thanked special guests and shared a short history of the planetarium.

Planetarium & Science Center dedication

“From that simple theater I remember at Snowden School, the planetarium moved to a building at the Tulare County Fairgrounds,” said Mr. Vidak. “In 1968, Sam Peña, for whom the new planetarium is named, joined the young program at the fairgrounds. It was Sam who helped acquire the first planetarium projector and a small dome. I’m told that the planetarium walls at the fairgrounds were fabric and that the students sat on the floor.” From the fairgrounds, the planetarium moved to Conyer Elementary, the old jail building and the basement of the courthouse. In 1976 it found a home at 2637 West Burrel Avenue until it was expanded and moved across the street to the County Agriculture Building in 2003.

Planetarium & Science Center dedication

Before Mr. Vidak and members of the Tulare County Board of Education cut the big red ribbon and welcomed attendees into the Planetarium & Science Center, Mr. Vidak concluded, “Since the founding of the planetarium, the program has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Central Valley students to learn about the world we live in and worlds far beyond ours. I would like to dedicate this building to inspiring future generations of scientists – exploring here on Earth and beyond.”

Planetarium & Science Center dedication Once inside, visitors enjoyed tours of the lobby, gift shop, planetarium and science center, which will be showing history programs until the staff is able to develop and build the new interactive science exhibits. Planetarium & Science Center Supervisor Conan Palmer reports that the center is already booked with school tours for the month of November. The first students will be welcomed to the new center beginning the week of November 2.

“We are working on some new features for our Friday evening public shows,” said Mr. Palmer. “In the meantime, the public is welcome to attend several shows in November and December.”

Perfect Little Planet will be shown on November 20. On December 4, Earth, Moon, and Sun will be the featured program. Christmas Traditions Around the World and Mystery of the Christmas Star will be offered December 11. All shows begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available at the Planetarium office from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on the day of the show. Tickets are $4 for adults and $3 for children 11 and under. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information on arranging a school tour or attending one of the Friday evening public shows, call (559) 737-6334.

Photos above:
~ The new Planetarium & Science Center was dedicated on October 14.
~ La Sierra Military Academy cadets prepare to raise the flags at the dedication ceremony.
~ At the ribbon cutting are (l-r) Board Vice President Chris Reed, trustees Debby Holguin, Judy Coble and Tom Link, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, Board President Joe Enea, and trustees Pat Hillman and Celia Maldonado-Arroyo.
~ Jim Vidak poses with Harman Smith, the artist who created the solar system image for NASA which became a mural painted by local artist Colleen Mitchell Veyna.



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Popular production premieres November 19
Theatre Company prepares production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Theatre Company

Andrew Cantelmi is enjoying the challenges of playing Joseph in the Theatre Company’s fall production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Andrew, a freshman at Redwood High School, has appreciated the support of Theatre Company veterans Jack O’Leary, who plays Pharaoh, and Carly Caviglia, who plays the narrator. At the same time, Andrew admits that the production has been a growing experience as he has to play an older adult who wrestles with the wrongs done to him by his brothers. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is based on the biblical story from the Book of Genesis about Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers. Joseph arrives in Egypt, where he eventually rises to become head of the household for a prominent Egyptian captain.

"Choreographer Nicole Zweifel and I have wanted to bring this show to our Theatre Company for years!” said Charlotte Garcia Da Rosa, Theatre Company vocal director and the show’s director. “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is an all-singing, all-dancing experience that brings mature performers and children together. It’s a show that inspires us all to dream big and never lose hope – a message that our youth need to hear in today's world. Joseph is a party on stage, and we can't wait to share it with our community!"

The Theatre Company will offer four performances November 19-21. Tickets will be on sale beginning November 2 in the offices of Educational Resource Services (Suite A) at TCOE’s 7000 Doe Avenue facility. Three evening performances begin at 7:00 p.m. November 19, 20 and 21. A Saturday matinee performance is offered at 2:00 p.m. November 21. Tickets are $12 per person for general admission and $20 per person for preferred seating.

For more information, call the Theatre Company at (559) 651-1482.

Photo above:
~ Andrew Cantelmi (center) plays Joseph in the Theatre Company’s fall production of
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He is surrounded by members of the production’s children’s chorus (clockwise from top) Jessica Peters, Josh Peters, Ashlyn West, Manjari Perry, Katie Peters, Tessa Hemphill, Shelby Wisehart, Seth Monty and Anu Perry.



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29 teams kick off Step Up Youth Challenge
Students begin creating sustainable, community partnerships that make a difference

Step Up Youth Challenge

The man of a thousand voices had one message for the students attending the fifth annual Tulare County Step Up Youth Summit on October 21. Michael Pritchard, a motivational speaker and stand-up comedian who has voiced many of the Star Wars characters, encouraged over 300 participants in attendance to welcome and involve all students on their campus. “The kid you’re picking on at school might just turn out to be the nurse who cares for your mother at the end of her life or the doctor who sets your son’s broken leg.” Mr. Pritchard told the audience a story to drive home his point, “I knew a girl who ran in a Special Olympics event. When the race began, she jumped out in front. We were all cheering for her, when suddenly she stopped.” Dumbfounded, Mr. Pritchard urged the girl to finish the race to claim the gold medal. Still, she waited. “When her teammates caught up to her, she grasped their hands and led them across the finish line,” he said. “When I asked her why she waited, she said, ‘together, we all win.’”

Step Up Youth Challenge

This year, 18 Tulare County middle school teams and 11 high school teams will be working to develop projects that will make an impact on their communities. At the Youth Summit, participants attended breakout sessions on leadership development and best practices. The summit concluded with a time for teams to begin planning their project, which they will complete by April 14. Both of TCOE’s charter high schools, La Sierra Military Academy and University Preparatory High School, are participating this year.

Step Up Youth Challenge

Step Up Youth Challenge In the past, students have tackled community issues that include gang involvement, hunger, water conservation, bullying, domestic violence, health and wellness, and more. Thanks to the support of TCOE College and Career Readiness Director Joy Soares, Step Up team advisors recently received training in Project Based Learning (PBL) with the goal to improve the quality of the final projects. Regardless of the type of project each team develops, students will be challenged to engage community partners in meaningful ways, demonstrate how their project can be sustained into the future, and prove that they made a measurable impact on their school or community.

Once the projects are completed and evaluated, teams will share in awards totaling $30,000 provided by the Tulare County Gang Prevention Task Force, the creators of the Step Up program. All teams will celebrate their accomplishments at a red carpet awards program at the L.J. Williams Theater on May 2.

Photos above:
~ Comedian and the voice of many Star Wars characters Michael Pritchard greets students at the Fifth Annual Step Up Youth Challenge.
~ Gene Mendes, advisor for the La Sierra Military Academy team, helps students prepare for team building activities.
~ Students attending the Youth Challenge participated in leadership-building activities, learned best practices from past entries and had time to begin planning their projects.



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Spotlight

Spotlight on People In October, nearly 70 students from the Porterville Academy of Business at Porterville High School visited the SEE Challenge Course for a day of team building exercises. The Challenge Course contains a ropes course, a rock-climbing structure, a balancing platform, plus grassy space for team games. The Challenge Course, which is fully staffed with trainers/facilitators, is available to student groups and community organizations. For more information on utilizing the Challenge Course, call Steve Tellez at (559) 733-6730.

Spotlight on People Over 800 young women, grades 4-10, are expected to attend the annual Expanding Your Horizons conference at College of the Sequoias Visalia campus on Saturday, November 14. Attendees will have the opportunity to attend various hands-on breakout sessions led by women working in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). This year, the keynote presenter is Dr. Suzanne L. Singer, who holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from U.C. Berkeley. Dr. Singer is currently an energy systems and thermal analyst at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). She supports engineering and energy security through energy flow chart analysis, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Dr. Singer also has a passion for renewable energy and energy independence for Native American Tribes.

Spotlight on People In October, Hope Gonzalez was crowned homecoming queen for Dinuba High School. Hope is pictured with senior quarterback Isaac Leppke. Hope is a member of the Emperor Fusion Club and a student in TCOE’s Special Day Class at Dinuba High School. Her teacher is Brooke Ikuta.

Spotlight on People Dozens of students attended Educational Resource Services’ first annual Cardboard Challenge on October 10. Many students brought their cardboard creations to exhibit. Michela Pasquini (l) and Makayla Malmsten pose in front of their pink Barbie limo. The girls are first-graders at Shannon Ranch Elementary in Visalia. With plenty of cardboard and other building supplies on hand, many students took the opportunity to build something on site.

Spotlight on People Over 500 students from high school programs and Community Based Instruction (CBI) Classes throughout Tulare County attended the 10th Annual Harvest Festival last month at the Tulare Youth Center, where they were treated to recreation and entertainment. Pictured are members of Anne Clifford’s CBI class, which is based at the Youth Center and helps to maintain the building and its grounds.


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Gallery Notes

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak recently announced that Dr. Craig Wheaton will be joining the Tulare County Office of Education leadership team in February as deputy superintendent of Administrative Services. Dr. Wheaton has served as superintendent of the Visalia Unified School District since 2010. He will take the place of John Caudle, who retired in August, in a deputy superintendent position which has been retitled from Business Services to Administrative Services. In his 37 years in education, he has had a very wide range of teaching and administrative experience at both large and small districts. Prior to his tenure at Visalia Unified, Dr. Wheaton served 24 years with Corcoran Unified as a high school counselor and coach and an elementary principal. He joined the Visalia Unified School District in 2002 as director of state and federal projects, before being promoted to area administrator and finally district superintendent.

The Tulare County Farm Bureau has announced the theme of its annual Calendar Art Contest: Tulare County Agriculture, From the Farm to You. Students have until February 15 to complete their artwork for the 2016-17 Calendar. Details of the competition are posted on the Bulletin Board section of www.tulcofb.org. The contest is annually sponsored by the Tulare County Farm Bureau and the Tulare County Office of Education.

Mr. Vidak reports that staff members currently working in the Burrel Avenue buildings, along with staff from the Migrant Education program at Doe Avenue, will soon begin moving into the new administration building at 6200 S. Mooney Blvd. The move will take place in phases over several weeks beginning in mid-November. Phone numbers and email addresses for employees involved in the move will remain the same. Staff members relocating to the new building are urged to confirm in advance any appointments, meetings or deliveries – notifying district personnel and vendors of their new location.


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For a list of upcoming events,
visit our Calendar of Events web 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

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