Friday, February 19, 2016

What's New in GUHSD

Sparks Fly at Monte Vista Ribbon Cutting

Student Roxana Garcia cuts through metal ribbon with a plasma cutter
On Thursday, February 18, we hosted a ribbon cutting at Monte Vista High School to mark the completion of construction on three classroom buildings following a major renovation and modernization project to bring the outdated facilities up to modern standards and accommodate the district’s Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways.

In a unique twist on the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, Monte Vista’s manufacturing technology students fabricated a special metal bow for the event, and senior Roxana Garcia cut through it with a plasma cutter. Funded by Proposition U, the $7.6 million project involved the renovation and modernization of the 700, 800 and 800A Buildings, totaling nearly 32,000 square feet. 

Building features include:
  • 700 Building – features an all-new kitchen, which supplies meals for the entire campus, and two classrooms for the school’s music programs
  • 800 Building – includes new computer labs to support the school’s game design CTE pathway, new ASB facility, new student weight room, restrooms, office space and storage
  • 800A Building – houses the auto and metals CTE programs 

The building re-dedication ceremony was attended by school, community and district officials, including GUHSD Board Members Jim Kelly, Dr. Gary Woods and Jim Stieringer. Guests heard from students and teachers from the automotive and game design pathways. GUHSD business partner Ryan Ogden, owner of ASMAR Auto Care & Ed Hansen Muffler, spoke to the value of the auto program from an industry perspective.  

Following the event, tours were provided as students demonstrated brake, tire and fluid maintenance operations, welding and fabrication.

The district’s CTE classes utilize higher levels of academic and applied skills in preparing students for college and careers, and all CTE teachers have California teaching credentials and industry experience. More information about our CTE program is available here. 

ASB Presidents and GUHSD Schools Honored at Laurels for Leaders

GUHSD ASB Presidents at Laurels for Leaders 2016
On Wednesday, February 17, GUHSD principals, ASB Presidents and Advisors and District Administrators attended the 59th Annual San Diego County Laurels for Leaders Luncheon. The event honors San Diego County’s high school student body presidents. A Color Guard from Grossmont High School’s NJROTC program presented the colors at this year’s event.

School ASBs enhance campus life. They are concerned with the entirety of the high school experience and maximizing student activities and options while on campus. During the event, leadership awards were presented to high school ASB presidents.

I am very proud of our ASB students for their participation in the 7th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. High School ASB Food Drive Challenge. Granite Hills and Grossmont High Schools were recognized for finishing in second place and fourth place consecutively, for the number of cans donated for needy families. Their efforts, combined with other participating county schools will provide nutritious meals to San Diegans in need.

Granite Hills Students Have Their Day in Court

US Magistrate Judge David Bartick addressing Granite Hills students
On Friday, February 12, Granite Hills teachers Brenden Sexton and Gerald Lopez took 45 government students on a field trip to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. 

The students had the opportunity to watch actual sentencing proceedings before the Honorable Janis Sammartino and the Honorable Dana Sabraw. Seeing the ramifications of smuggling drugs, weapons and people over the international border was an eye-opening experience for these young adults. Court observation was followed by a presentation on the criminal justice system hosted by the Honorable David Bartick, a former criminal defense attorney who now presides as United States Magistrate Judge. 

Students had the opportunity to ask questions about Judge Bartick’s experiences both as a defense attorney and as a judge. Finally, the students participated in a mock trial presided over by the Honorable Karen Crawford in which they took on all the roles including witnesses, attorneys, judge and jury. Students acted out the scenario of a teen accused of manslaughter when he was involved in a car accident and evidence was presented that he was texting while driving. The day was a great opportunity for teachers to offer students a look at how what they are learning in the classroom relates to the real world. Other teachers interested in participating in a similar field trip may contact Community Outreach Programs coordinator Kathleen Walford.

IB Diploma Student Earns Top Award

Granite Hills student Dana Bakke with her mom, Principal Fowler and teachers Joni Mah and Matt Davis
Granite Hills High School senior Dana Bakke was awarded the inaugural Garry Prather Memorial Scholarship from the California Association of World Schools (CAWS), a network of International Baccalaureate (IB) schools throughout California. Her IB Coordinator Matt Davis nominated Dana for this highly competitive $11,000 scholarship due to her perfect academic record. This award recognizes her as being the top academic IB Diploma Program student for the Southern California region.

In addition to her academics, Dana has contributed greatly to the Granite Hills community as an editor on the school newspaper, co-captain of her academic league team, and as a leader in several service clubs on campus. She is greatly respected by her peers, not only for her intellect, but also for her willingness to help them succeed. Joni Mah, her current English teacher, said Dana “possesses maturity, insights and ability far beyond her years” and “in 23 years of teaching, she is one of the very best students I’ve ever had the privilege to teach.” 

Congratulations, Dana!

Third Public Hearing on Board Elections Moving to By-Trustee-Area Selection

The next opportunity for the public to provide oral input on the establishment of Trustee Areas will be held at a Special Meeting of the Governing Board on Thursday, February 25, 2016, at 4:00 p.m. The meeting venue is the East County Regional Education Center located at 924 East Main Street in El Cajon.

Following the third public hearing on February 25, the Governing Board will choose a trustee area plan to submit to the San Diego County Committee on School District Organization (SDCCSDO) and will also vote to submit a General Waiver Request to the California Department of Education. 

More information is available here.

Community Forum on Next Superintendent Selection

The Executive Search Firm of Dave Long & Associates is assisting the Grossmont Union High School District Board of Education in selecting its next superintendent of schools.  Wishing to have the greatest field of qualified candidates from which to choose, the Board has decided to conduct a high-profile search. Its members have also directed the search firm to meet with members of the staff, community and other interested parties in order to obtain input about the qualities, traits, experience, and other criteria that will describe the ideal candidate for the position.  

A Community Forum will be held on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at 6:00 p.m., in the Main Conference Room at the District Office, located at 1100 Murray Drive in El Cajon, to gather input from parents, community members and staff.

Once expectations for the traits of the best superintendent match have been identified, the search firm will begin an active and aggressive recruitment process that will conclude with the selection of several candidates who meet the Board’s criteria. Following reference checking, interviews, selection of a finalist, community visitations by the Board to the finalist’s current community and district, and successful negotiation of a contract of employment, the Board will take action to hire the new superintendent. Current plans call for the superintendent to be named prior to my departure in July.  

Superintendent Ralf Swenson