Friday, January 30, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

Grossmont Students Model Career Readiness

Superintendent Swenson conducts a mock interview with student Ranya Gorgees
On Wednesday, January 21, I joined more than 20 local business professionals who took time out of their busy schedules to assist Grossmont Business teacher Nicole Thren’s mock interview program. For more than 17 years, the mock interview is the culminating final project for the first semester in Grossmont’s English for Business class.

Many local companies and District personnel have assisted in the effort year after year, lending their knowledge and expertise to our students as they prepare for real-life job interviews. The process helps students refine their job-seeking skills and provides them with valuable feedback concerning their appearance, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, documentation, and the overall content of their answers.

Grossmont students prep for their interviews
For this activity, students were required to select a job that they are qualified for presently, or will be qualified for upon graduation from high school. Next, they craft professional resumes, cover letters, and reference pages that were emailed to their prospective interviewers a week prior to the actual interviews. Upon arriving at the library for their interviews, students check in, complete applications, and wait to be called. Once called, they present their interviewers with a clean copy of their resume, cover letter, reference page, and their application. Following the interviews, students wrote follow-up thank you notes that were immediately emailed to their interviewers.

The community members that interview the students then grade the students using four “p’s” – presence (appearance), preparation (documentation), presentation (communication skills), and  performance (body language). This project constitutes 20% of the semester grade.

This year, Grossmont High School has expanded the program and is offering six sections of the course with the help of English teacher LeAnne Ginn. Together, Nicole and LeAnne prepare the students to meet the challenges of the job market. Students are using their documents they created in class to obtain real jobs within weeks of beginning the unit. 

The commitment by our community volunteers, especially those who are willing to incorporate interviews for open positions, is equipping our students with vital skills that will help them outshine the competition in the pursuit of their goals.

Mount Miguel Students Hone Industry Skills

Mount Miguel students present their travel destination projects to industry leaders
On Tuesday, January 13, sophomore students enrolled in Mount Miguel High School's Academy of Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) presented in front of their HTM Advisory Board. Several students outlined their experiences and the benefits learned from their mentoring session with San Diego State University HTM students. Activities in the mentoring sessions included goal-setting strategies, college life lessons, and with the assistance of members of Sea World's Human Resources staff, resume review and mock interviewing skills. Student also presented their "travel expert" projects, which included informational brochure design and promotional videos developed for countries they selected.

Key agenda items for the meeting included plans to expand Mount Miguel High School's three-year academy to a four-year academy by implementing a ninth-grade component. Additionally, the Academy is "re-branding" to be more inclusive of other business sectors without losing the hospitality focus. Beginning in 2015-2016, the Academy will become the Matador Business Academy (MBA) with the tagline "emphasizing hospitality and tourism management, marketing, sales and service."

The meeting was co-chaired by Luis Barrios, Director for the California Hotel and Lodging Association, and Jim Greene, General Manager of the Bahia Resort.  Representatives from Sea World, the Declan Suites of San Diego, Hotel Indigo San Diego, and Viejas Enterprises were present. Additionally, Anthony's Fish Grotto, the Multi-Cultural Convention Services Network, SDSU School of HTM and the National Association of Minorities in Hospitality were present. Their ongoing commitment to the success of this program is vital to ensuring that the skills learned by our students translate into careers.

Grossmont Health Occupations Center Holds Vocational Nursing Graduation and Capping Ceremony

Members of the "Class 61" graduating class
Over the past 50 years, the Grossmont Union High School District has graduated more than 1,000 Vocational Nurses who are trained to work in our community. On Thursday, January 15, 2015, the Grossmont Health Occupations Center celebrated the commencement of its 61st graduating class. “Class 61” was comprised of 29 dedicated students who have completed 18 months of rigorous classroom instruction, lab simulations, and clinical rotations.

The event commemorated their hard work and passion for entering the nursing field. The audience was full of proud supporters as the students took their Nurse’s Oath. Many of these students are planning to continue their journey as Registered Nurses while others will find their special niche as Licensed Vocational Nurses. Whichever road they choose, we know they will help many patients and touch many lives.

Before the graduating class left, the festivities continued for “Class 62.” With family and friends looking on, students of “Class 62” received their nursing caps. Each new student was “capped” by a graduating Vocational Nursing student. The capping ceremony is the traditional way to recognize students who have completed their school work prior to beginning hospital training. “Class 62” students will now begin 12 months of clinical training at hospitals around the county, while continuing their classroom learning.

The evening graduation of “Class 61” and the celebration of the milestone for “Class 62” at the Health Occupations Center were full of promise, passion, and excitement for the road ahead. Congratulations to all!

GUHSD Honor Band & Orchestra to Perform on Saturday

The GUHSD Honor Band and Honor Orchestra are performing at West Hills High School on Saturday, January 31, at 7:00 p.m. The ticket booth opens at 6:00 p.m.

The Honor Band and Orchestra are comprised of talented high school musicians from throughout the District. We are fortunate to have guest conductors working with these students. Emily Threinen, Director of Bands at Temple University, will be working with the Honor Band and Michael Gerdes, Director of Orchestras at San Diego State University, will be directing our Honor Orchestra. 

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, January 23, 2015

Update on the legal process regarding Alpine

I would like to provide our Grossmont Community with an update on the most recent development in the legal process regarding Alpine. Yesterday, the Court issued a Preliminary Injunction that has a grave impact on the Grossmont Union High School District’s Proposition U bond program. The Court ordered the District to set aside $42 million dollars in cash for the Alpine High School, money that was intended to be used right now for classroom modernization across the District and construction jobs throughout East County. Denying our District the ability to spend this money on classroom improvements means that 13,000 students sitting in 60 to 70 year-old facilities today, will have to wait several more years for modernized classrooms, technology, safety systems, etc.

The Court's ruling today, which we believe had no legal or factual basis, removed the discretion of our District’s elected Governing Board to determine the timing of projects that would occur under Proposition U. The Alpine High School is planned and budgeted to occur when enrollment levels reach the enrollment threshold approved by the voters in the Prop U Bond language; enrollment today is 1,700 students below that threshold. In the Court’s own words, the Grossmont District has, “valid enrollment concerns and other economic reasons to justify delaying construction.” Further, the Court found the plaintiff failed to prove their allegation of waste and abuse.

By ordering the reservation of funds, modernization projects that are ready to construct today, will be put on hold in order to reserve funding for a project that doesn’t yet meet the criteria called for in the bond measure approved by the voters.
Projects currently planned to start construction within the next two years are now in jeopardy. They include:

Valhalla HS – modernization of the entire main campus building - approximately 50 classrooms

Grossmont HS – new student support services/counseling/career center and 6 arts classrooms - replacing 70 year-old structures. Also, an events center with drama, choral, black box, dance, scene shop that serves 1,000+ students in performing arts program

Mount Miguel HS – modernization of 50 year-old classroom buildings and construction of multipurpose space

Monte Vista HS – modernization of 11 Career Technical Education classrooms - 700, 800, 800A with auto shop and industrial arts

Granite Hills HS – modernization of 12 classrooms that currently house students in relocatable classrooms

Helix Charter HS – modernization of classroom buildings

Santana HS – construction of performing arts spaces and modernization of older buildings

West Hills HS – replacement of 25 year-old HVAC equipment

Districtwide – upgrade security cameras and safety systems

I will be recommending to the Governing Board that we appeal this very devastating decision, in an effort to support our District’s commitment to our students, to our schools, and to our communities.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, January 16, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

2014 All-Academic Team Captain Honored

Governing Board Recognition of Valhalla student Trent Rule
Valhalla student Trent Rule was recognized last night at the January 15 Governing Board meeting for his selection as the 2014 All-Academic Team Captain for San Diego County and All CIF-SDS First Team, Boys Cross Country.

Trent was selected as one of eight U-T San Diego All-Academic Team Captains for fall sports. The Captain’s plaque represents each sport’s Academic Athlete of the Year.
Trent has a 4.65 GPA, never earning anything below an "A" during his high school career. His course load includes five AP classes in addition to him running.

Trent hopes to run cross country in college where he plans to study mechanical engineering at an Ivy League school, Stanford, USC, UCSD or Cal.

2014 CIF-SDS Football Division III Champions Honored

Board recognition of the El Capitan Vaqueros
The Governing Board also honored the El Capitan Vaqueros football team, which finished the 2014 season with a record of 14-1. After an undefeated regular season, the Grossmont Hills league champions went on to defeat Rancho Bernardo 14-7 in the CIFSDS Division II Finals and win the Southern California Regional Championship with a 41-0 shellacking of Paso Robles High School.

The Vaqueros went on to Carson to compete for the Division III State championship. With 2:32 left in the third quarter they had a 28-7 lead but a four touchdown surge by Campolindo led to El Capitan being crowned State runners-up.

All-CIF honors went to Brad Cagle, Isaiah Capoocia, D.J. Smith, and Jared Turner, and Coach Ron Burner was named San Diego Section Coach of the Year. Congratulations to our amazing El Capitan Vaqueros football team!

Academic League Season Update

Members of the JV Team at Granite Hills discuss their response
The Academic League program has just entered the second half of its season. Following Wednesday night’s matches, Santana held onto first place with a perfect record at the JV level. At the Varsity level, three teams were tied going into the matches. Helix Charter is now in first place, following its win against Grossmont High School. West Hills upset Granite Hills High School, knocking them out of first place.

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 before the season draws to a close.

Medical Pathway Students Explore Career Options

Valhalla students receive an up close view of the Dental Assisting Program at HOC
The Health Occupations Center (HOC), which is a part of the Adult Education program in GUHSD, offers tours to a variety of interested parties. Recently, Santana and Valhalla High Schools brought Medical Pathway CTE students to visit the HOC campus. The Medical Pathways offered at several GUHSD sites have honors-level science curriculum designed for students interested in careers in the health/medical field.

These highly motivated students were introduced to the many allied health and nursing programs available to them right in their own district. Students viewed clinical and nursing labs, a veterinary lab, and an independent student computer lab. Our high school students then interacted with the Medical Assisting students learning how to take vital signs, patient history, and worked one-on-one with the Adult Ed students. This form of hands-on training gave these high school students the opportunity to see firsthand many educational options available to them in the healthcare field.

Special Governing Board Meeting/Bond Review Workshop on 1/22

The Grossmont Union High School District Board of Trustees will host a Prop. U bond review workshop at 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 22. The meeting will be held in the library at Grossmont High School, which is located at 1100 Murray Drive in El Cajon.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, January 9, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

Welcome to 2015! As January signals the start of a new year, I am pleased to announce construction program updates. Significant progress continues at campuses throughout the District as part of the Proposition U school bond program.

Weight Room at El Cajon Valley
El Cajon Valley – On December 4, the District celebrated the completion of the new $6.4 million Physical Education/Sports Complex on the campus of El Cajon Valley High School with a ribbon-cutting and building dedication ceremony.

The new 22,780-square-foot facility replaces two outdated, 60-year-old locker buildings that did not meet current seismic safety standards. The new facility is ADA- and Title IX-compliant and 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 use with gymnastics, wrestling and large-group assemblies. The last phase of construction will include restoration of the adjacent outdoor multi-purpose physical education courts.

Granite Hills – Work is approximately 31% complete on the new 10,000-square-foot Student Support Building. The new facility will be energy-efficient and feature state-of-the-art technology and will house finance, attendance, registrar, guidance, career center, school nurse and administration. The $4.7 million project provides a new campus entrance with visitor parking and student gathering area for events. Also at Granite Hills, modernization plans for Buildings 30 and 80 have received DSA approval and construction will start upon completion of the Student Support Building.
Rendering for two new buildings at Grossmont
Grossmont– Architectural renderings have been unveiled for two new two-story buildings, totaling 23,840-square feet, to house Student Support Services and arts classrooms. The project involves demolition of several outdated, 60-year-old buildings and extensive regrading of the site to accommodate the new facilities, which will provide a dramatic new entry for the campus. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2015 pending funding approval.
Pool at Helix Charter
Helix Charter – Modernization work is complete on the Physical Education buildings, as well as the pool and pool deck areas at the District’s second oldest campus. The $7.3 million project, funded in part by a grant from the County of San Diego, brings the facilities up to ADA and Title IX compliance, and includes new boys’ and girls’ sports rooms and physical education classrooms, locker rooms, restrooms and showers. The pools have a new plaster lining along with new starting blocks, lighting and scoreboard.
Monte Vista – A $6.3 million project to modernize the 54-year-old Physical Education building is now 98% complete. The Title IX-and ADA-compliant building features new locker and shower facilities, shared meeting room, fully equipped classroom, wrestling area, dance room, coaches’ facilities, trainers’ room with whirlpool tub, enhanced classroom/testing technology, and secure equipment storage areas. Site work continues, with temporary classroom and restrooms to be removed at year’s end.
Santana – Modernization work is 90% complete on three classroom buildings, with a construction cost of $6.3 million. The project includes Building 400 (culinary arts and video production classrooms), Building 500 (weight room/fitness classroom) and Building 700 (two special education suites, 3D/2D art classroom with an outdoor kiln, nurse’s suite, psychologist and speech therapist rooms, and two restrooms). The project also includes a connection for the school’s gym to the campus chiller system.
Valhalla Theater
Valhalla – Modernization plans for the four-story Main Building are currently in DSA review. The project will include approximately 50 classrooms, as well as restrooms and new administrative and guidance counselor offices, energy-efficient lighting and HVAC upgrades, as well as fire/life/safety and technology upgrades. Plans to modernize the theater are also being submitted to DSA. The project will include a 2,000-square-foot stage with wings, sound room and fixed/sloped seating. Work will be completed in conjunction with the modernization of the Main Building, which is planned to begin in Summer 2015.
SAVE THE DATE: District Cheer Competition on 1/24

The 29th Annual Grossmont District Cheer Competition, also known as "Districts," will be held in the West Hills High School gymnasium on Saturday, January 24, at 6:30 pm. There is a $10 entry fee at the door. Children under five are free.

The annual competition will feature teams competing at the restricted and non-restricted, Junior Varsity and Varsity levels. "Districts" offers a unique opportunity for the teams to come together to compete and showcase their skills. It encourages school spirit, promotes school morale and crowd sportsmanship, supports interscholastic athletics and demonstrates high standards of leadership.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson