Friday, January 15, 2016

Superintendent Swenson to Retire on July 1, 2016

The Governing Board of the Grossmont Union High School District held its first board meeting of 2016 last night, during which I announced my plan to retire as Superintendent on July 1, 2016, after six years of service to GUHSD. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such a fine collection of teachers, staff and administrators. Our district is home to innovative and creative teacher leaders who are gaining recognition on the state and national level for the work we are doing in preparing our students to be college and career ready upon their graduation.

My retirement letter is available here. Please know that my full attention will be on the many pressing matters and important initiatives in which we are presently engaged over the next several months.


GUHSD 2016 Governing Board Officers
In further Governing Board news, at its annual organizational meeting in December the Board appointed Robert Shield to serve as President, Dr. Gary Woods as Vice President, and James Kelly as Clerk. President Shield reaffirmed his continued commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of students as he leads the Board through 2016.

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

Board Elections Moving to By-Trustee-Area Selection, Effective November 2016 Election

The Governing Board of the Grossmont Union High School District will host three public hearings to receive input and testimony regarding proposed trustee areas. The Board has determined to apply to the San Diego County Committee on School District Organization to change the District’s method of electing its Governing Board from “at-large” voting to “by-trustee area” voting, in which members of the Board are elected by the voters of the trustee area in which they reside. The Board will consider plans prepared by the District’s demographic consultant and based on the 2010 Census. 

The proposed maps and related materials will be available online at: after January 22, 2016. The public hearings are scheduled to take place on: January 26, 2016, at 4:00 p.m.; February 11, 2016, at 6:00 p.m.; and February 25, 2016, at 4:00 p.m. The first and third public hearings will take place as part of Special Governing Board meetings and will commence at 4:00 p.m.; the second public hearing will take place as a part of a regularly-scheduled Governing Board meeting and will commence at 6:00 p.m. The meetings will be held at the East County Regional Education Center located at 924 East Main Street in El Cajon.

More information is available here.

Grossmont Tops La Mesa Urban Trails Design Competition

Grossmont Students win La Mesa Urban Trails Design Competition
Last fall, students at Grossmont High School accepted an invitation from the La Mesa Urban Trails Design Committee to participate in a high school competition to redesign University Avenue in La Mesa from Troy Street to La Mesa Boulevard. Students were encouraged to use Sketchup, a 3D modeling and design application for the drawings. Teacher Patrick Giovengo introduced the idea to his AP Computer Science students and had seven teams from freshmen to seniors prepare designs using Sketchup, Maya 3D animation software, and paper drawings.

Design firm KTU+A sent two representatives who presented to students the general parameters and displayed some creative urban ideas from other cities. The students made decisions based on the amount of space to work with and the general layout of University Avenue. Students had about four weeks to complete their designs and submit them to KTU+A. The designs were printed and mounted for display at the La Mesa Block Party in downtown La Mesa.

Students Jacob Ennis and Jack Curtin won the overall contest by designing a dry creek bed with designated bicycle and pedestrian paths. Their design beat out nine other submissions that came from Grossmont and Helix Charter High Schools. The design greatly improves the concrete landscape that currently exists and made it a more natural area to walk or ride. 

The picture that follows is the winning design. I think you will agree that exceptional student talent is on display here:

Valhalla Student Named an Essay Contest Winner  

Valhalla Junior Cameron Elliott with his winning essay
Students in Valhalla teacher Stephanie Sellers’ AP English Language and Composition were given the opportunity last fall to enter an essay contest for extra credit. The contest was part of The LegiSchool Project, which is a civic education collaboration between California State University, Sacramento, and the California State Legislature, administered by the Center for California Studies. The Project's mission is to engage young people in matters of public policy and state government by creating opportunities for students and state leaders to meet and share ideas on the problems affecting Californians. 

The essay contest’s theme was "political participation by youth," challenging students to write about why they think voter turnout among youth is low and the importance of voting to them and their peers.

Valhalla Junior Cameron Elliott, was named one of ten winning essayists who will receive round-trip travel to Sacramento to take part in a Legislative Summit on March 2, 2016. Winners will have the chance to meet with state leaders and share their thoughts on this important topic.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson