Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Message from Superintendent Swenson

GUHSD Culinary students prepared and served delicious treats for guests at Senator Joel Anderson’s (center) Holiday Legislative Open House
The culinary skills of GUHSD students from Chaparral, Granite Hills, Santana, Valhalla and El Cajon Valley High Schools delighted guests at CA State Senator Joel Anderson’s Annual Holiday Legislative Open House on Wednesday, December 10, at Toyota of El Cajon. Over 2,500 people attended the event and were able to see our students shine as they represented GUHSD and offered hors d’oeuvres and refreshments to guests. In addition, the beautiful floral arrangements made by the floral design students at Chaparral made the event more festive.

The culinary arts program is part of the Hospitality Pathway offered at El Cajon Valley, Granite Hills, Santana, Chaparral and Valhalla High Schools.

Teachers Christine May (El Cajon Valley), Jill Enright (Granite Hills), Donna Small (Santana) and Eugenie King (Valhalla/Chaparral), did an exemplary job of guiding their students as they prepared for this event.

District Office Holiday Luncheon

Under the direction of Dr. Ed Basilio, Grossmont High School’s Red Robe Choir performs at the District Office Holiday Luncheon
The staff in the district office held their annual holiday party on December 18. It was a fun event, made even more meaningful by the generous donations of our staff. This year, eight families in need were selected from within our GUHSD family of schools and staff purchased clothing, gift cards and toys. After the holiday luncheon, the gifts were delivered to the families.

The luncheon itself was overseen by our talented Food Services Director, Vince Scimone and his staff. The meal was underwritten by District Cabinet members.

This act of combined generosity, along with all the many wonderful donation programs occurring at our school sites, embodies the true holiday spirit.I’m proud to be part of this amazing, dedicated and compassionate team.

As we begin our long-awaited holiday this weekend, I wish each and every one of you the very merriest holiday season. Please enjoy a safe and joyous time with your family and friends over the next couple of weeks. Classes resume on Monday, January 5.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, December 12, 2014

What's New in GUHSD

Swearing In

Trustees Gary Woods, Rob Shield and Jim Kelly were sworn in at the December 11 Board Meeting
The recent GUHSD school board election resulted in the re-election of incumbent board members Jim Kelly and Robert Shield, as well as the return of former GUHSD trustee, Dr. Gary Woods. They were sworn in for a new term at our Governing Board Meeting last night.

At the December organizational meeting, the GUHSD school board re-elected Robert Shield to serve as President. President Shield reaffirmed his continued commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of students as he leads the Board through 2015. The Board also elected Dr. Gary Woods as Vice President and re-elected Jim Kelly as Clerk for the next year.

Jim Stieringer, who joined the Board in 2012, and Priscilla Schreiber, who began serving in 2000, are the district’s other trustees.

Saul Hernandez Named Second Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee

Board recognition of Saul Hernandez as Second Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee
At the Governing Board meeting on December 11, Saul Hernandez was recognized as the Second Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee of 2014-2015.

Saul has served the Grossmont District as a Guidance Information Specialist at Monte Vista High School since 1998. He is known for his professionalism, careful attention to detail and genuine care for students and families.

Saul serves the District above and beyond the duties of his position with professionalism, positivity and dedication, and he is well deserving of being recognized as Classified Employee of the Quarter.

GUHSD Students Tour Two Local Manufacturers

Bob Grande, Founder & CEO of QCMI talks with civil engineering students from Santana
On Wednesday, December 3, Career and Technical Education (CTE) students from West Hills, Santana and El Capitan High Schools received an insiders’ tour of two local manufacturing plants. The tour was offered by the East County Economic Development Council (ECEDC) and was open to Civil Engineering and Building and Construction Trades Pathway students.

The tour was a product of the ECEDC’s Manufacturing, Education, and Workforce Subcommittee and was spearheaded by Rick Urban of Quality Controlled Manufacturing, Inc. (QCMI), which manufactures complex machined components and assemblies. The tour engaged our high school students in the manufacturing industry and helped them discover the many career opportunities in that field.

In addition to touring the facility at Quality Controlled Manufacturing, Inc. in Santee, students also visited the factory at Deering Banjo Company in Spring Valley.

During the tours, students were guided through facilities and developed an understanding of what it takes to produce products that are made to exact tolerances for the aerospace, oil and gas, and music industries. The tours concluded with a luncheon panel discussion at Cuyamaca College.

We extend our deepest appreciation to the ECEDC and our many partners and industry leaders for making this successful event possible. Special thanks to event sponsors Wells Fargo, SDG&E, and Cuyamaca College for underwriting the event.


The CIF San Diego Section Champion El Capitan football team is the top-ranked DIII football team in the State of California. They are hosting the Southern California Regional Championship game tomorrow night at El Capitan Stadium at 7:30 p.m. They are facing the Paso Robles Bearcats who will make the 700-mile journey to Lakeside after winning the CIF Southern Section Championship. 

Come on out and support the Vaqueros on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. If you can’t make it, the game will also be aired live on TWC SportsNet and live-streamed at

As the year draws to a close and you look for ideas to get into the holiday spirit, please consider attending one of our schools’ winter choral and band concerts. The dates and times of performances are available here.

GUHSD Student Art Exhibit Opens this Weekend

Nightscape San Diego, a photography submission from Grossmont student Alex Harris
The Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation is pleased to present an exhibition featuring art from students of the Grossmont Union High School District. GUHSD teachers selected five to seven pieces of student art to send to the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitors Center Gallery.

This exhibit will be on display in the Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Visitor Center Art Gallery December 6, 2014 – January 2, 2015. The public is invited to an opening reception in honor of the artists on Saturday, December 13, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

The MTRP Visitor and Interpretive Center is located at One Father Junipero Serra Trail in San Diego and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free.

We thank Mission Trails Regional Park for recognizing the quality art produced in our East County high schools.

Save the Date: 10th Annual East County Young Men’s Leadership Conference on 1/24

Mount Miguel High School will host its 10th Annual East County Young Men’s Leadership Conference on Saturday, January 24, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

This year’s theme is: Protect and Defend Your Dreams. Presenters will include esteemed educators, professionals, college students and community activists who spend a day sharing their expertise. Workshops and breakout sessions by prominent educators and professionals will provide an innovative and engaging atmosphere for those in attendance.

The conference is open to all young men in grades 6 – 12 throughout San Diego County. The goal is to motivate, support and encourage them to effect positive change in their lives through self-empowerment and wise decision-making.

For more information on how to sponsor or attend the free conference, please contact Mike Love at

Friday, December 5, 2014

El Cajon Valley Dedicates New P.E. Facility

A ribbon cutting ceremony marks the completion of the new physical education building
On Thursday, December 4, the District celebrated the completion of the new physical education building at El Cajon Valley High School with a ribbon cutting and building dedication ceremony.

The new 22,780-square foot facility was built to replace two outdated locker room buildings, originally built 60 years ago, that did not meet current seismic safety standards. It will accommodate physical education instruction and campus sports conditioning programs.

The new ADA- and Title IX-compliant building features a weight room, comparable team rooms for boys’ and girls’ sports, coaches’ quarters, athletic trainers’ workroom, secure lockers, restrooms, showers, accessible outdoor restrooms for pool and stadium users, and a large general purpose/great room for gymnastics, wrestling and large-group assemblies. The last phase of construction will include restoration of the adjacent multi-purpose physical education courts.  

The dedication event included remarks by GUHSD Trustee Jim Kelly, Superintendent Ralf Swenson, El Cajon Valley High School Principal Erin Richison, student athletes Ninwey Esho and Michael Shearin, and Jerry Schniepp, Commissioner of the CIF San Diego Section.

Master Chefs in Training Whip up a Win

Santana students prepping their winning creation
High school teams from all over San Diego County participated in the second annual Master Chef competition at Orange Glen High School in Escondido on Tuesday, November 18. In a high pressure battle of culinary prowess, each team had $40 of shopping money and 60 minutes to prepare a winning dish for a panel of distinguished judges. 

Without any coaching from their culinary teachers, student teams were on their own to prepare, cook, and plate their masterpieces while judges roamed the kitchen areas watching techniques and asking questions. The Master Chef competition provides Career Technical Education students with an opportunity to bring their learning to life outside of their classroom.  In addition to applying math, science, and technical skills, teams needed critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and communication skills to get the job done in the kitchen and presented to the panel of judges.

At the end of a long day of cooking and fierce competition, the Santana High School team from Donna Small’s CTE Culinary Arts program brought home second place with their creation:  Chicken Schnitzel with parsley, pine nuts, and golden raisin Gremolata sauce served with creamy orzo and sauteed asparagus, peas, and basil.

Congratulations to our Culinary Arts teams:


Teacher – Donna Small
Students: Stephen Cliff, Noah Dotterman, Trystan Patron, Melanie Polonio, Griffin Rodvold


Dish - Seared salmon fillet lightly seasoned with olive oil and a hint of lemon on a bed of Basmati rice, drizzled with a pomegranate white wine reduction and served with a medley of seasonal vegetables.

Teacher – Eugenie King
Students: Matthew Hagen, Mayumi Booker, Isabella Busalacchi, Andrew Watkins, Andrew De Large

Granite Hills: 

Dish - Pan-seared salmon with chili cilantro couscous, sauteed asparagus and zucchini with Lemon Buerre Blanc Sauce

Teacher – Jill Enright
Students: Michelle Ramirez, Kyler Gilliland, Carlie Valdes, Jessica Garcia

GUHSD Innovators Share and Learn New Digital Strategies

Teacher April Baker and her students from Grossmont Middle College
On Saturday, November 15, over 30 GUHSD teachers and administrators actively participated in the annual San Diego CUE Tech Fair at La Costa Canyon High School.

Eight GUHSD teachers and administrators presented at the educational technology event, including April Baker (Grossmont Middle College), John Berray (West Hills), Jarrod Carman (West Hills), Mike Falconer (Santana), Dan McDowell (District), Matt Norris (West Hills), Josh Reyes (West Hills), and Mike Skocko (Valhalla). Our own Reuben Hoffman (West Hills) serves as the SDCUE Vice President and oversaw the organization of the entire event.

Additionally April Baker and Mike Skocko brought students and participated in the Student Showcase. Mrs. Baker’s students shared their Literature blog and Mr. Skocko’s students demonstrated the student built and supported gamification plug-in that is redefining classrooms across the country.