Friday, April 24, 2015

What's New in GUHSD

I begin this issue of Newsline with the announcement of two leadership changes:

Robin Ballarin was appointed as the new Principal of West Hills High School at the Governing Board meeting last week. During her 21-year career with the District, Robin has served as a teacher, Vice Principal and Director II, Curriculum. Robin is recognized as a leader both in the District and in the educational community. Her experience as an educator and administrator will enable Robin to be successful in leading West Hills High School.

Dr. Kimberlee Hedrick has been appointed as the new Principal of Mount Miguel High School. Dr. Hedrick’s start date is July 1, 2015. She is currently serving as the Principal of Kenmore Junior High School in Bothell, Washington; she also was a Vice Principal at Lynnwood High School. She earned her Doctorate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, Education Specialist Degree in Education Administration, Masters in Teaching, Master’s in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication.

Congratulations to both!

Annual AVID Student Leadership Conference

Valhalla students complete a "Home Group" poster at the start of the AVID Conference
On Thursday, April 16, I delivered opening remarks to GUHSD’s Annual AVID Student Leadership Conference, which was held at the Ronald Reagan Community Center. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It is a post-secondary, college readiness system that is designed to increase schoolwide learning and performance for all students, focusing on those students in the academic middle. Monte Vista High School has been recognized as a National AVID Demonstration School.

The AVID Student Leadership Conference focuses on developing leadership skills and exploring ideas on how to become student leaders on their campuses. This year’s theme was, “AVID is my Superpower!” Annual keynote speaker Steve Gonzalez, Founder and President of Dream Weavers, guided students through a series of team-building activities that challenged them to solve problems and work collaboratively.

I’ve witnessed firsthand the difference that this vibrant program can make in the lives of students. I thank our Categorical Programs office and AVID site coordinators for their commitment to this vital program.

Granite Hills Brings the Heat

The "Mean Beans" culinary team from Granite Hills
The recent record-breaking radiating heat in San Diego County was also felt at the annual chili cook off at Granite Hills High School. On Wednesday, March 25, teams of students from teacher Jill Enright-Stewart’s CTE Culinary Arts pathway presented their creations to a panel of judges made up of teachers, administrators, and members of the El Cajon Police Department.

There was a tie for first place between “Mean Beans” (Sarah Black, Emily Wujek, Brianna Swenson, and Karena Sanchez) and “Afterburn” (Jazz Phillips, Blake Branvall, and Alicia Vargas). Third place went to “Fiery Flame” (Tilea Armstrong, Sofia Medina, Marcos Dobia, and Marissa Ackerson).

The Afterburn team will be entering their winning chili in the City of El Cajon’s Chili Cook-Off on May 16, where they will represent the El Cajon Police Department.

“Bowls of Steel” (Johnathon Francis, Angelica Sarenana, and Kyler Gilliland) won for best cornbread.

The Culinary pathway at Granite Hills High School prepares students for post-secondary educational opportunities and careers in the Hospitality and Culinary industries. For more information about this and other Career Technical Education programs in the district, visit the CTE website.

El Cajon Valley Students Examine US Legal System

An El Cajon Valley student tries on the robe aside Hon. Janis Sammartino
Twenty-two students in El Cajon Valley teacher Brad Sheffer’s government class participated in the Open Doors to the Courts program. This national program welcomes thousands of students into local federal courthouses around the country. The annual event was divided into three segments: Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) hosted by experts in the field of bankruptcy law; a Legal Careers Panel; and a mock trial in which students took on the various roles.

Bankruptcy Court Judges Laura Taylor and Margaret Mann discussed the ramifications of using credit and how to wisely use credit cards. They also discussed the pros and cons of student loans. The goal of the CARE program is to train young men and women to intelligently manage their credit and to keep them from ever seeing the inside of a bankruptcy court.

Students also heard from an Assistant U.S. Attorney and Federal Defender, as well as  a U.S. probation officer, courtroom deputy, court reporter, interpreter, and Deputy  U.S.  Marshal, who each discussed their individual roles. These professionals also shared information about the education and experience required to attain these positions.

Finally, the students participated in the culminating event: a scripted Mock Trial presided over by U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino. The trial  explored  the  real-life  hazards  of texting while driving. The day emphasized the importance of civic responsibility, good citizenship and impartiality to these young men and women preparing to leave high school and enter the adult work force.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson