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