Friday, December 18, 2015

New Three-Year Calendar Released

GUHSD Announces Early Start Calendar for 2016-17 School Year

On December 10, 2015, the Governing Board of the Grossmont Union High School District adopted an early start calendar for the 2016-2017 school year. Click here to view it. School year calendars were also adopted for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. Click here to view all three adopted calendars.

Benefits of the new calendar include:

Better alignment with elementary and middle schools

More instructional time to prepare for Advanced Placement (AP and IB) exams

Fewer school days after AP testing

Fall semester ends before Winter Break

Eliminates need for review in January before finals

More time to complete college applications and submit transcripts

Allows students to attend community college summer programs, internships, and college orientations

Creates greater opportunity for dual enrollment (students taking college courses)

Grossmont High Hosts “Topping Out” Ceremony

Trustees and school officials pose with signed beam
On Tuesday, December 15, we held a “Topping Out” Ceremony today for the new student support services and arts classroom buildings under construction at Grossmont High School. 

“Topping Out” is a ceremony held when the last structural beam is placed at the top of a building. Students, staff and construction workers signed the beam before it was lifted into place.

These new buildings will provide modern classrooms and offices to support our award-winning Associated Student Body, Art Department and Student Support Services.

The new art building will be a modern two-story building housing our art department in three classrooms – one for photography and digital design, one for 2-D art, and one for 3-D art (clay and metal). There will be two other rooms in the art building; one will house a portion of the school’s special education transition program and the other room will be used by the Associated Student Body, the finance office, and a student store. 

The new student support services building will be a two-story modern facility that will be home to the school’s Administrative Offices, Counseling Department, College and Career Center, and the Grossmont Resource Center.

I thank our taxpayers, board members and district staff who support our efforts to provide quality instruction and modern facilities for our students.

Construction of the new $13 million student support services and arts classroom buildings began this past summer and is expected to be complete by the end of July 2016.

Student Talent Shines at Senator Anderson's Holiday Party

Culinary students from Granite Hills High School
The culinary skills of GUHSD students from IDEA Center, Granite Hills, and Santana High Schools delighted guests at State Senator Joel Anderson’s Annual Holiday Legislative Open House on Thursday, December 10, at Toyota of El Cajon. Our students shined 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 IDEA Center made the event more festive.

Teachers Jill Enright (Granite Hills), Donna Small (Santana) and Laureen Botticelli and Brenda Davis-Landini (IDEA Center) did an exemplary job of guiding their students as they prepared for this event.

District Office Holiday Luncheon

Grossmont's Red Robe Choir performs at the Holiday Luncheon
The staff in the district office held their annual holiday party on Thursday, December 17. It was a fun event, made even more meaningful by the generous donations of our staff. Again this year, several families in need were selected from within our GUHSD family of schools and staff purchased clothing, gift cards, bikes 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 4.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, December 11, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

El Cajon Valley & El Capitan High Schools Named 2015 Golden Bell Award Winners

El Cajon Valley & El Capitan celebrate receiving Golden Bell Awards
On Saturday, December 5, El Cajon Valley High School’s Newcomer Academy and El Capitan High School’s Excellence through Community programs received the prestigious honor of being named 2015 Golden Bell Award winners.

The CSBA Golden Bell Awards, now in its 36th year, recognizes outstanding programs and governance practices of school boards in school districts and county offices of education throughout California. The awards program highlights best practices in education in all areas of operations, instruction and support services.

The Golden Bell Awards program recognizes exemplary programs in 19 major categories, which are essential to support effective governance and teaching and learning. 

El Cajon Valley’s Newcomer Academy was selected for the English Language Acquisition category. This interdisciplinary academy serves students who score low on tests and have been enrolled in U.S. schools for less than a year. Before the academy, students at this level did not receive access to core content classes. Because of this program, all students, regardless of their English proficiency, take classes in the core departments. The majority of the students come from Iraq, followed by Mexico, other Latin American countries and Afghanistan. Many of the students come with gaps in their education due to experiencing war, trauma, violence, poverty, and other unimaginable hardships. The goal is to accelerate the English language acquisition process and provide support for developing literacy, so students can catch up to their English-proficient peers and experience academic success.

El Capitan’s Excellence through Community program was selected for the School Climate Category. The Grossmont Union High School District, the Governing Board, students, families, and the entire staff at El Capitan High School, developed a positive school climate program that has truly made a difference for their school. The vision for the high school soon became, “Excellence through Community,” and four years later, the school is a completely different place. Students have been empowered and the school now has upperclassmen who have realized their undiscovered leadership potential to make positive change among their peers. 

Congratulations to our 2015 Golden Bell Award winners!

GUHSD Students Tour Two Local Manufacturers

CTE students tour Computer Integrated Machining in Santee
On Thursday, December 3, Career and Technical Education (CTE) students from Santana and El Cajon Valley 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 the Advanced Manufacturing Pathway students.

The tour was a product of the ECEDC’s Manufacturing, Education, and Workforce Subcommittee and was spearheaded by Mike Brown of Computer Integrated Machining (CIM), 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 Computer Integrated Machining in Santee, students also visited the Deering Banjo factory 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, music and medical 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 are also extended to GUHSD’s CTE Work-based Learning Specialist Jeff Wood and the event sponsors: Wells Fargo, SDG&E, Bank of America, US Bank, Comerica Bank and Cuyamaca College.

George Yousif Named Second Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee
Board recognition of George Yousif as Second Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee
At the Governing Board meeting on Thursday, December 10, George Yousif was recognized as the Second Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee of 2015-2016. George serves the Grossmont District as a Community Liaison at El Cajon Valley High School.  He is recognized for his outstanding contributions to his school and community in helping Arabic speaking students succeed in their education.

Classified employees provide critical support to our educational mission and programs. Congratulations, George Yousif, on being selected as the Second Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee of 2015-2016!

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, December 4, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

November Camp LEAD

Over 100 GUHSD and Mountain Empire students and staff joined forces at Camp LEAD (Leadership, Education and Development) from November 19 - 21, in Pine Valley. 

The three-day, two-night leadership and human relations development program provides an engaging and interactive learning environment where participants gain heightened interpersonal and personal-awareness skills. 

During this program, students and staff members come together to explore personal beliefs, challenge their biases and attain a better understanding of others. After attending camp, many students are inspired to make more positive choices for themselves and to serve as change-agents within their schools and communities.

Camp LEAD empowers students to "be the change they want to see in the world" and opens their minds to new ideas, perspectives and cultures. Participating GUHSD schools included Monte Vista, El Cajon Valley, Chaparral, IDEA Center, REACH Academy, El Capitan and Mount Miguel High Schools. 

Mount Miguel Students Receive Budgeting Lesson at JA's Finance Park

On December 2, the Mount Miguel High School Matador Business Academy's (MBA) junior class was the first GUHSD-CTE pathway to participate in Junior Achievement's new Finance Park.  Students received financial literacy training prior to the visit, and upon arrival at the facility, were assigned "virtual" life scenarios. 

In this high-tech simulation, students experienced real-world decision making and consequences involving personal finance, career and educational choices. Through various savings and investment scenarios, students found that it was helpful to learn financial literacy lessons virtually before "real dollars" were used.

GUHSD Student Art Exhibit Opens this Weekend

The Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Foundation is pleased to present, "Natural Views," an exhibition featuring art from students of the Grossmont Union High School District. This will be the fifth annual exhibit at Mission Trails in which GUHSD teachers selected five pieces of student art to submit to the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitors Center Gallery.

The exhibit will be on display in the Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Visitor Center Art Gallery from December 5, 2015 – January 1, 2016. The public is invited to an opening reception in honor of the artists on Saturday, December 12, 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: 11th Annual East County Young Men’s Leadership Conference on 1/23

Mount Miguel High School will host its 11th Annual East County Young Men’s Leadership Conference on Saturday, January 23, 2016, from 8:15 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Presenters will include esteemed educators, professionals, college students as well as 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

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, November 20, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

27th Annual Thanksgiving Feast at Chaparral

Students enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal at Chaparral
Chaparral High School hosted the 27th Annual Thanksgiving Feast on Wednesday, November 18. Students and staff were treated to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

The annual tradition is a fitting close to the week before break. Sponsored by Chaparral’s ASB, the event has its origins in the staff wanting to ensure that students at the continuation school received a Thanksgiving dinner and that this time-honored tradition enjoyed by so many is not taken for granted.

El Capitan Shines at National FFA Convention & Expo

El Capitan FFA student Tatiana Woliung with her project
The El Capitan High School FFA program competed at the 88th National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky on October 28-31. The National FFA Convention & Expo is the organization’s premier gathering during which all FFA competitive events, programs and awards are recognized on a national stage. The event brings FFA members together to learn, be inspired and celebrate their accomplishments in the organization.

Top honors recognizing outstanding student achievement went to:

Tyler Mellott and Danny McMullen
3rd place
Gold Award
Food Products and Processing Advanced Team

Tatiana Woliung
9th place
Silver Award
Animal Systems Advanced Individual

Ralph Eastham
12th place
Silver Award
Food Products and Processing Individual

We are very proud of our students for their hard work in reaching this level of competition as well as the outstanding program at El Capitan High School.

Health Pathways Students Attend Men in Nursing Conference

A Health Pathway senior observes valves in a cow heart 
On Friday, November 6th, GUHSD Health Pathway students attended the Men in Nursing conference, hosted at Grossmont College. Students interacted with industry professionals, explored nursing as a career, met with local nursing programs, dissected a cow heart, toured the simulation nursing lab, and practiced the skill of manually taking a blood pressure. The hands-on experience, coupled with the mentorship of actual health care practitioners has helped prepare these future nurses to succeed in their future programs of study!

Special Education Hosts Dutch Educators

Dutch Educators meet with Superintendent Swenson
Last month, the Special Education Career Center and the El Cajon Valley High School Mod/Severe Special Education Department hosted eleven Special Education teachers from the Netherlands. The opportunity grew out of a partnership with the SDSU Interwork Institute and Director Dr. Caren Sax. This was the third year that the two departments collaborated in hosting the Dutch educators. The visit included the sharing of programs, curriculum, and strategies and services to assist the teachers in developing inclusive education and experiences for students with special needs. The group was treated to a visit by Superintendent Swenson, who shared his family's experience of when he hosted a Dutch Foreign Exchange Student. 

In 1973, the United States passed the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), the first groundbreaking legislation regarding education for students with disabilities. This Act ensured all students, regardless of the disability, a free and appropriate education. The Netherlands enacted their first legislative act, the Act of Inclusive Education, thereby strengthening the expectation that individuals with disabilities be educated and employed alongside their non-disabled peers. The goal of the Dutch Educator tour is to assist, educate, collaborate and support our fellow teachers around the world to provide what is every student’s right regardless of (dis)ability. 


The Grossmont Athletic Conference is experiencing quite a bit of success in the CIF-SDS Fall sport playoffs. 

Tonight we have six quarterfinal football games scheduled. Helix Charter, Grossmont, Valhalla, and Granite Hills will all be at home, while Steele Canyon travels to Grossmont, and Santana plays at University City. All games begin at 7:00 p.m.

The Volleyball Division 4 Championship will be decided tonight with El Capitan taking on Calexico at 7:00 p.m. at Canyon Crest High School.

On Saturday the Cross Country Championships will be held at Morley Field in Balboa Park. Ten races are run, with the first at 8:30 a.m. and the last race going off at 1:25 p.m. All eleven of our schools will be represented. 

Two more Volleyball Championships are scheduled for Saturday at Cathedral Catholic High School. In the Division 3 Final, Steele Canyon vs. Mission Bay will begin at 11:00 a.m., with Valhalla trying to defeat Olympian at 1:15 p.m. to claim the Division 2 crown. 

Also on Saturday, Valhalla's water polo match will be held at La Jolla High School at 4:45 p.m. to determine the Division 1 title.

Local news media will highlight our Football semifinals to be played over Thanksgiving weekend. We should also have teams playing in the State Volleyball playoffs and runners competing in the State Cross Country meet on Saturday, November 28. 


I end this issue by wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday. It is my hope that each of you has an opportunity to spend time with your loved ones next week and that your holiday is safe and enjoyable.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, November 13, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

26th Annual JROTC Veterans Day Ceremony at Mount Miguel

Mount Miguel JRTOC Cadets render honor to those who have served
Veterans were remembered with honor on the morning of Monday, November 9, as the JROTC Program at Mount Miguel High School held its 26th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony. Principal Kim Hedrick was joined by parents and staff who witnessed the ceremony as more than 200 JROTC Cadets honored military personnel who have served our country throughout history.

The morning ceremony began with Cadet Battalion Executive Officer Dearmin Kassab introducing the key leaders of the battalion and their companies, and he delivered a brief message on the significance of this important day.

Battalion XO Kassab with his Principal & Supt.
He addressed the crowd with a message that from the first battle of the American Revolution to our ongoing war against terrorism in conflicts around the globe, and in humanitarian missions at home and abroad, our veterans have saved countless lives. Over 250,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are deployed and stationed in more than 100 countries. Their determination and readiness to go where needed serve as compelling symbols of liberty, justice and hope for freedom all over the world.

The program also included the Corps of Cadets conducting ceremonial procedures and marching in formation. The Flag Detail raised the flag in conjunction with the playing of Reveille, which was followed by the National Anthem.

To all our service members, past and present, whether far from home or here in the United States, we thank you for your countless contributions and selfless sacrifices.

Thank you to our students for honoring our veterans’ service to this great country.

Grossmont NJROTC Marksmanship Team Aims High

Grossmont NJROTC's Marksmanship Team
In further JROTC news, the Grossmont High School’s NJROTC program participated in the Area 11 Qualifier Match in Phoenix on Saturday, October 24. The match was hosted by Thunderbird High School and fired at the Ben Avery Range Complex. 

Grossmont High School’s Marksmanship Team Captain Anah Rosas fired a 276 to win the Area 11 Qualifying match in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday, October 24, besting the entire compliment of Arizona shooters along with shooters from three California schools.

Following up her impressive win was Cadet Khaing who fired a 272 to finish fourth. The team fired a school record of 1,030 to take third place in the intensely competitive match. The team also earned five individual medals. Cadet Rosas earned a medal for first overall and top kneeling shooter. Cadet Than earned medals for second place in both the standing and prone categories. Cadet Callista Zaenger earned a medal during the JV match for the top score in the prone position. The Grossmont High Cadets have now qualified for the Area 11 Championship Match in January. 

Mount Miguel Hosts Visiting Dignitary

Mount Miguel JROTC Cadets with LTG Jeffrey Talley
Mount Miguel High School hosted an Army Advisory Council luncheon with Lieutenant General Jeffrey W. Talley, Chief of Army Reserve and 7th Commanding General, United States Army Reserve Command, on Thursday, November 12.

Lieutenant General Talley holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, Executive MBA from Oxford University, and several masters degrees. He has taught at LSU and Notre dame and was recently named a Harvard Fellow. He is notably the strongest proponent of education in the US Army.

Mount Miguel JROTC’s Armed and Unarmed Drills Teams performed for the large audience that included representatives from the Union Tribune, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, QUALCOMM, The Heroes, Point Mortgage, Interfaith Community Services, Cubic Corporation, T-Mobile, Solar Heroes and more.

Monte Vista Students Outdo Competition at Surrealism Hair Show

Monte Vista Cosmetology Pathway Students
On October 18, Monte Vista High School Cosmetology Pathway students competed at the Surrealism Hair Show. The event was hosted by the California Hair Design Academy at the Joan Kroc Theater in La Mesa. The event theme was “Flight of the Imagination.”

Monte Vista students swept the competition, taking home first, second and third place in the hair, costume and make-up division. Congratulations to all of our competing Monarchs!

Upcoming Annual Marching Band and Color Guard District Fall Showcase

The District Fall Showcase is an annual tradition
On Thursday, November 19, 2015, West Hills High School will host the GUHSD Marching Band and Color Guard District Fall Showcase at 6:00 p.m. in their stadium. More information is available here.

Please come out and support our music programs. This annual fundraiser by the Parent Music Advocacy Group (PMAG) features spectacular musical performances by students throughout the district. Tickets are $8.00 at the gate.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, November 6, 2015

Update on the Alpine Lawsuit

Dear Parents and Staff:

Over the past year, I have communicated with you regularly regarding the Alpine lawsuit and its impact in blocking 11 of 14 bond-related school improvement projects on campuses throughout the Grossmont Union High School District. 

Today, I am writing to update you with information regarding the recent series of decisions and rulings related to the lawsuit filed against our school district by a small group of Alpine residents.
This week, after reviewing the evidence, Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman issued his final ruling in the case, dismissing the lawsuit and canceling all scheduled court dates, including a December trial date.

On the heels of that decision was an opinion entered by the Court of Appeals on GUHSD’s appeal to the Superior Court’s earlier granting of a preliminary injunction (which forced us to set aside $42 million).  The preliminary injunction would have remained in place pending the outcome of the permanent injunction trial in December, unless the matter was overturned on appeal or the final matter was decided or dismissed.

On Wednesday, we received word that Judge Pressman had vacated his final ruling in light of the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s decision.  Judge Pressman indicated he will set a hearing to reconsider his ruling.  He has requested that both parties appear in court today at 1:45 p.m. for a Status Conference and to set dates for the new hearing.

We remain optimistic that after further consideration of the evidence, the court will come to the same conclusion as issued in the final ruling and ultimately dismiss this matter. We will update you as this matter unfolds.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, October 30, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

L: Director of Instructional Technology Dan McDowell and Superintendent Swenson at the White House
This week I have been in Washington, DC, along with our Director of Instructional Technology Dan McDowell, for the kick-off event of the U.S. Department of Education's Open Education Symposium and the launch of #GoOpen. 

We're meeting with other Future Ready school leaders at the White House to engage with senior administration officials and demonstrate the positive impact that openly licensed educational resources can have on teaching and student learning. For our district, Open Educational Resources (OERs) serve as a major piece of the bigger puzzle, which is balancing the financial challenges of maintaining updated curriculum and giving students a viable education that prepares them for a digital world. GUHSD is excited to explore this new opportunity.

In the last few years, a movement called Open Educational Resources has started gaining traction. Various organizations and districts have been pooling digital content resources together in dynamic units and making them available online at no cost. Teachers are able to use this curriculum, modify, add to, and even share it with others. As part of the national Future Ready program, the Office of Educational Technology in the White House is developing a program called #GoOpen to better harness and grow these resources across the country. They are building partnerships between tool providers and school districts to start expanding this program. 

Traditionally, we have relied upon textbooks and other printed materials, but FutureForward and Chromebooks are changing the educational culture of GUHSD. As students gain increased access to a device and a web of resources, teachers are starting to think differently about content creation and delivery.

I look forward to communicating with you more on this important initiative. 

In the meantime, click here for a summary of our 2015 Goals and Objectives, which underscores the progress we are making in ensuring that our students are prepared for their future.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, October 23, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

Grossmont High School Celebrates 95th Anniversary

2015 Inductees into the Grossmont High School Hall of Honor
Our flagship school, Grossmont High, celebrated its 95th Anniversary at homecoming last Friday. Grossmont is the oldest high school in San Diego County to have its original school building still standing in what is now the District Office. The granite “Castle,” an East County landmark since its construction, has been beautifully restored.

That afternoon I led a tour of the renovated original school that included many members of the Class of 1955. It was a pleasure to hear tales as they relived their memories while wandering the halls.

The 95th Anniversary included the induction of six alumni and two faculty members into the Grossmont Hall of Honor. Six inductees were present along with the families of Merle Donahue and “Woody” Clarke. Each were presented with a commemorative plaque. The 2015 Hall of Honor Induction Ceremony included performances by Grossmont's Red Robe Choir and Royal Blue Regiment Band.

The eight inductees included:

Jean Landis, Class of 1936, WASP (Women’s Air Force Service Pilot) during WWII

Timothy Miller, Class of 1956, Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon for Combat Wounded through Operation Mend

Bill Woolman, Class of 1962: Grossmont High School Benefactor

Brian Sipe, Class of 1967, NFL MVP Quarterback for the Cleveland Browns

“Woody” George Clarke, Class of 1969, SD Superior Court Judge and National DNA expert

Julia Stewart, Class of 1973, Chairman and CEO of DineEquity, Inc., Restaurant Businesswoman

Merle Donahue: 1929-1962 GHS Choral Director

Jim Nichols: 1959-1988 GHS Instrumental Music Director

The event program is available here. Grossmont High School also has a museum, which opened in 2008. It celebrates the traditions and the pride that have distinguished Grossmont since it began in 1920. More information is available here.

El Cajon Valley Students Explore STEM Careers

An El Cajon Valley science student examines a marine invertebrate
On Thursday, October 5, Health Pathway students from El Cajon Valley High School participated in three fields. They interacted with STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) professionals at the High Tech Fair on the the Del Mar Fairgrounds, toured Grossmont College, and Torrey Pines State Beach, where students connected learning about ocean ecology to an actual ecosystem.

The High Tech Fair, hosted by San Diego Science Alliance, is designed to excite and inspire students through hands-on demonstrations from colleges and STEM industry professionals. Our students were exposed to dozens of careers in STEM, while connecting what they are learning in the classroom to the world around them. 

GUHSD Health Pathways Students Participate in Breast Cancer Walk 

GUHSD students participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk
GUHSD Health Pathways participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at Balboa Park last Sunday. The team, comprised of health pathway students, parents, and staff, joined over 25,000 participants to walk the four-mile course. The team was thrilled to be a part of the monumental event. Students were particularly excited to have the chance to march on a closed section of the 163 freeway.

Save the Date: GUHSD Marching Band and Color Guard District Fall Showcase on 11/19

I’d like to inform you of an upcoming student performance you won’t want to miss: the GUHSD Marching Band and Color Guard District Fall Showcase on Thursday, November 19, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. at West Hills High School Stadium. This annual fundraiser by the Parent Music Advocacy Group (PMAG) features spectacular musical performances by students throughout the district. Tickets are $8.00 at the gate.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, October 16, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

L: 2014/15 Teacher of the Year John Berray with 2015/16 nominees Matt Norris, Andrea Cooke and Superintendent Swenson
On Saturday, October 10, two of Grossmont’s finest educators were honored at “A Salute to Teachers,” the San Diego County Teacher of the Year awards. Representing GUHSD in the competition were this year’s nominees, Matt Norris (West Hills) and Andrea Cooke (El Capitan), who competed against many outstanding teachers countywide. Also present was 2014-15 San Diego County Teacher of the Year from West Hills High School, John Berray.

The annual event honors San Diego County’s public school teachers and was televised live on Channel 4 San Diego from the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego. This year’s telecast marks 41 years of honoring teachers in San Diego County. 

The culminating event of the evening was the naming of the five San Diego County Teachers of the Year.

The San Diego County Teacher of the Year Awards program is the official stepping-stone to the California Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year events. The five Teachers of the Year selected last week will represent San Diego County in the California Teacher of the Year program, which will be announced later this year. Nominees for San Diego County Teacher of the Year were selected based on student achievement, teaching philosophy, familiarity with current issues in education and community involvement.

El Capitan Hosts Halftime Ceremony to Honor Synthetic Field Contributions

L: Travis Lyon (EC Foundation), Clifford LaChappa (Barona), Supervisor Jacob and Rich Hurst (EC Stadium Association) are recognized for donations
A brief halftime ceremony took place on Friday, October 9, to honor those whose contributions resulted in the replacement of the synthetic turf playing field at El Capitan High School over the summer. Asphalt sealing work was also completed, with a total construction cost of $430,000.

The synthetic turf stadium field was replaced with grants awarded by: The County of San Diego Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant - $200,000, El Capitan Stadium Association - $60,000, The Barona Band of Mission Indians and the El Capitan High School Foundation - $30,000, and the Grossmont Union High School District - $140,000. 

The Field Turf synthetic field features CoolPlay infill, which is made of cork instead of rubber, reducing the surface temperature on the field. 

Jason Van Named First Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee

Jason Van is honored by the Governing Board
At the Governing Board meeting on Thursday, October 15, 2015, Jason Van was recognized as the First Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee of 2015-2016.

Jason serves the Grossmont District as a Special Education aide at REACH Academy. He is recognized for his exceptional dedication in the classroom and his ability to motivate and lead students to success on the sports fields.

Classified employees provide critical support to our educational mission and programs. Congratulations, Jason Van, on being selected as the First Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee of 2015-2016!

Ambassador to Senegal Addresses Granite Hills Students

US Ambassador to Senegal James P. Zumwalt talks with students at Granite Hills
On Tuesday, October 13, advanced level IB/AP Spanish and French classes gathered in the new College/Career Center at Granite Hills to hear from a distinguished guest, U.S. Ambassador James P. Zumwalt. An El Cajon native, he is the brother of teacher Fran Zumwalt and is currently serving as the United States Ambassador to Senegal. He has an extensive career in Foreign Service and spoke to students about foreign service, the importance of learning a second language, and he told interesting tales of his service to our country. 

Jim Zumwalt was sworn in as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal and the Republic of Guinea Bissau on January 9, 2015.  Previously he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Japan and Korean affairs from 2012-2014 and as Embassy Tokyo’s Deputy Chief of Mission from 2008-2012.

Academic League Season Schedule

The 33rd Academic League season schedule is here. Matches begin on Wednesday, November 5. All schools play each other at least once during the ten-game season. The team with the best record will advance to the County Championship in May. 

I hope you will find an opportunity to view a Wednesday afternoon match at your school before the season draws to a close.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, October 9, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

Got Plans? is TOMORROW!

The East County Education Alliance is hosting our twelfth annual Got Plans? Career & College Fair for high school students and parents tomorrow, Saturday, October 10, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Grossmont College in El Cajon.

The annual event awakens students to the many opportunities available to them after high school, both locally and across the country. Once they make contact with college and career representatives at Got Plans?, students begin to think more seriously about their options after high school.

At the event, students and parents will be able to interact with admissions representatives from public and private universities, community colleges, vocational schools, and the military.

Free workshops will be presented on topics including financial aid and career opportunities. Additional information will be available regarding NCAA eligibility for student-athletes, updates and changes to the SAT and ACT tests, transfer options and more. Workshop information is available here.

Grossmont College is located at 8800 Grossmont College Drive in El Cajon. Admission to the fair is free and open to the public. 

We hope to see you there! 

Celebrating 25 Years of Saluting Teachers

GUHSD nominees Matt Norris and Andrea Cooke
Saturday, October 10, is the 25th anniversary of "Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers." The annual event celebrates and honors the county’s 26,000 public school teachers.  

We will cheer on GUHSD’s nominees Andrea Cooke (El Capitan) and Matt Norris (West Hills). Of the 44 nominees, five finalists will go on to represent the region at the California Teacher of the Year program later this year.

The Academy Awards-style extravaganza will be held at 8:00 p.m. at the Balboa Theater in downtown San Diego. The show will honor the county’s hardworking teachers and feature student performances. The host this year will be Emmy Award-winner Sherri Shepherd of “The View.”
The show will air live on Channel 4 San Diego.

Best wishes to Andrea & Matt!

District Advisory Council (DAC) Parent Forum

Superintendent Swenson discusses recent District achievements
On Tuesday, October 6, at the District Office, I delivered a State of the District report at the District Advisory Council meeting. My report is available here.

The forum was open to all parents of the Grossmont Union High School District. Representatives from parent groups on all campuses attended, including PTSA, PTO, ELAC, foundations, school site councils, and parent booster organizations.

Proposition U Bond Program Update

In closing, click here to view Proposition U Bond program updates from several of our schools, including a spotlight on the major renovation underway at Valhalla High School.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson