Friday, April 29, 2016

What's New in GUHSD

Monte Vista High Prepares 40,000 Packaged Meals to Alleviate Global Hunger

Monte Vista Students Packaging Meals for Stop Hunger Now
On Monday, April 25, Monte Vista High School’s gymnasium was transformed into a bustling, music-filled venue as more than 200 students and staff members worked with “Stop Hunger Now” to package 40,000 meals for needy children in developing countries. The community service event was hosted by the school and nearby Foothills United Methodist Church.

At 6:30 a.m., a semi-truck delivered raw ingredients and supplies to the school. Working in teams on an assembly line, volunteers combined rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a packet containing 23 essential vitamins and minerals into small meal packages. Each meal package only costs 29 cents to make and has a shelf-life of two years. After an intense two hours, all 40,000 meal packages were assembled, boxed and ready for shipment. Meals will be distributed to feeding programs that promote education, improve health, nutrition and aid in crisis relief.

Monte Vista High School has a tradition of giving and community service.  Events like this are incredible learning opportunities for our students. It opened their eyes to issues affecting other students in the world and shows them their small actions have a large impact. For more information on “Stop Hunger Now” go to

El Cajon Valley Welding Students Earn Certifications

 Student Norman Naeem Receives his Certification from AWS District Director Sam Lindsay
On Wednesday, April 13, 38 Advanced Welding and Fabrication students from El Cajon Valley High School’s CTE welding program were presented with 64 Welder Certifications from the American Welding Society. The American Welding Society (AWS) is the international standard bearer for welding governance, inspection and training. Students who have earned AWS certification are now qualified to work in a multitude of industries around the world in high demand/high paying welding fields.  

Students were presented with their certifications from Jeff Davis, Chairman of the San Diego section of AWS as well as Sam Lindsay, District Director for the Southwest and Hawaii. A representative from State Senator Joel Anderson’s office presented each student with a certificate recognizing their accomplishment.

Welding teacher, Ashley Wolters, spoke about the program's partnerships with local industries including shipbuilding, fabrication and construction. The welding program continues its pattern of developing strong industry partnerships with local businesses such as Trident Marine, GKN Aerospace, Weldmac, QCMI, NASSCO and BAE. Welding students who graduate with the requisite skills and certifications are being offered entry-level welding careers starting at $18-$30 per hour.

Following the presentation, families were served refreshments. I compliment these students for their dedication in achieving competent welding results and teachers Ashley Wolters and Ryan Sawyer for the success of this growing program.

Grossmont NJROTC Marksmanship Team Becomes a National Contender 

Members of the Grossmont High NJROTC Marksmanship Team
Grossmont High School’s NJROTC Marksmanship Team fired in 14 rifle matches this school year, the most ambitious season in the team’s history. The team achieved several milestones including the first 1000+ 3 X 10 match, the first 2000+ 3 X 20 match, the highest finish ever in the Area 11 Championship, the first ever trip to the Western Regional Championships in Utah, and the first ever Individual Match Champions. Both Anah Rosas and Khaing Than were individual match champions this season. Cadet Rosas won the Area 11 Qualifier in Phoenix Arizona, and Cadet Than won the Hollywood Match at Reseda High School.

The team has grown from five members in 2015, to 22 members this season. The final match of the season will be the Junior Olympic Qualifier at Orange Glen High School in Escondido. If they win that match, they will travel to Camp Perry, Ohio, for the national matches. 

Helix Water District’s 14th Annual High School Photo Contest

First Place Color Winner Maytham Ali with Teacher Matt Rabasco (El Cajon Valley)
Helix Water District awarded cash and prizes to winners of its annual high school photo contest. Eleven students’ work was honored with first, second and third places in color and black & white categories, as well as Best-in-Show.


Best-in-Show: Tanner Bingham, El Capitan
First Place Color: Maytham Ali, El Cajon Valley
First Place B&W: Josey Oliver, El Capitan
Second Place Color: Jessie Luetticke, El Capitan
Second Place B&W: Frans Shamasha, El Cajon Valley
Third Place Color: Andrew Kana, El Cajon Valley
Third Place B&W: Somaya Noori, El Cajon Valley
Honorable Mention Color: Jill Johnson, Grossmont
Honorable Mention Color: Jonas Carrillo, El Cajon Valley
Honorable Mention B&W: Jennifer Rodulfo, El Cajon Valley
Honorable Mention B&W: Saver Mikha, El Cajon Valley

Students received $250 for best in show, $200 for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third place. All winners received a certificate, ribbon and flash drive.

Celebrating its 14th year, the competition was created to bring awareness to water issues in East County.

All high schools within the Helix service area are eligible to participate. This year, 88 photos were submitted from four high schools: El Cajon Valley, El Capitan, Grossmont and Santana.

The winning photographs as well as several additional entries are on at the water district’s administration building lobby at 7811 University Ave., in La Mesa. You may view the slide show by clicking here.  

GUHSD-CTE Hosts Conference Tour

Touring Teacher Kathy Worley's Manufacturing and Design Class (West Hills)
On Wednesday, April 20, West Hills, Grossmont and Santana provided CTE-focused tours to visiting teachers from the Association of Career Technical Education (ACTE) Region 5 Conference. Thirty-eight teachers represented programs from California, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho and South Dakota.

The first stop was a visit to Grossmont High School with a tour of Jordan Lehr's transportation/auto shop facility, Carolyn Jungman's digital arts class and Chris Ray's sports medicine program.

The next stop was to West Hills High School. Kathy Worley featured her junior manufacturing and design class, followed by Susan Cooper's photography class.

The final stop, at Santana High School, highlighted Jackie Beckham's manufacturing students and facilities, as well as Jason Kay's engineering program.  Donna Small’s culinary students provided a wonderful lunch featuring chicken enchiladas and stuffed chilies.

Many of the visiting teachers were in the early stages of pathway planning and Linked Learning development and stated that our teachers and programs provided great models and valuable insight. Overall, the ACTE teachers were impressed with the variety and depth of the programs GUHSD-CTE has to offer.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson 

Friday, April 22, 2016

What's New in GUHSD

Grossmont Healthcare District Awards Scholarships to GUHSD Healthcare Scholars 

Grossmont Healthcare District Board with Healthcare Scholarship Recipients
The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD), a public agency that supports various health-related community programs and services in San Diego’s East County region, recently awarded $81,000 in scholarships to 24 GUHSD high school students who have expressed interest in a career as a healthcare professional. The scholarships were presented at the GHD board meeting on Friday, April 15.

Students were selected by school administrators for their academic excellence, outstanding citizenship and a desire to improve our world in the healthcare field. Two students from each high school will receive either a $3,000 or $1,500 check from GHD at the end of their first semester of college, contingent on completing at least nine units with a grade point average of 2.0 or better.

“We applaud these specially selected students who have demonstrated great potential in leading the next generation and shaping the future of healthcare,” said Board President Robert “Bob” Ayres. “We are proud to invest in America’s youth and encourage these young adults as they continue their studies in the healthcare field. We look forward to their future success through college and beyond.” 

GUHSD Scholarship Recipients Include:

El Cajon Valley:  Lenda Lawrence, Maryam Shaoo
El Capitan:  Vivian Maldonado, Ahtziri Gallegos-Enriquez
Granite Hills:  Andy Yousif, Kaylie Hildebrand
Grossmont:  Jazmin Morales, Halee Scott
Grossmont Middle College:  Nancy Tomka, Sara Froomin
Helix Charter:  Diondraya Taylor, Jessica Irvine
Monte Vista:  Jolissa Manuel, Bethany Mudge
Mount Miguel:  Brandol Camacho Frasco, Francis Evangelista
Santana:  Michael Chase, Catelyn Renna, Santana
Steele Canyon:  Allison Hall, Alexander Rodriguez
Valhalla:  Salam Allahwerdy, Regina Mansour
West Hills: Savannah Fakhouri, Dakota Betz

GHD has honored more than 500 local high school students interested in a healthcare career with scholarship grants since 1999. Over the years, hundreds of local high school students have received individual scholarships totaling more than $1 million.

GUHSD Celebrates Successful Completion of Proposition H 

Food Services Staff Created a Special Prop. H Cake for the Celebration
At the Governing Board meeting on Thursday, April 14, we officially celebrated the completion of Proposition H, a $274 million bond approved by voters in 2004 to fund repairs of aging schools, improve student safety and security, build new science classrooms and improve ADA compliance throughout the district.

Superintendent Swenson delivered a presentation sharing Proposition H project highlights, thanking the CBOC members past and present, and the voters for their investment in the future of education in East County. 

Click here to view the presentation; click here to access the program brochure.

Proposition H was approved by 62 percent of voters in March 2004 to fund repairs of aging schools in the district. It was the first bond passed by voters in the East County in 37 years. The $274 million program included student safety improvements, upgrades and expansion of technology and other infrastructures, renovations of outdated classrooms, the construction of new science classrooms, district-wide ADA upgrades and extensive infrastructure upgrades. 

Grossmont Middle College High Students Recognized

Grossmont Middle College English Teacher Christine Bisera-Morales with Student Winners
Grossmont Middle College High School students were recognized for a local literary contest put on by Write Out Loud, an organization located here in San Diego. The students were asked to read a work by Robert Louis Stevenson and then to re-imagine and recreate that novel and its themes in a creative format. 

They read Jekyll and Hyde and then the students submitted their projects. On Monday, April 18, at the Old Town Theatre many of the students were recognized for their efforts.

Our students received awards, including cash prizes, in the categories of Visual/Media Arts, Literary Work, and Performing Arts. The students’ projects included creative writing, dance, film, photography, and painting. The top three winners in each of these categories also received cash awards.

Mount Miguel Girls' Empowerment Conference a Huge Success

Conference Attendees Listen to Keynote Speaker Geena the Latina
On Saturday, April 16, Mount Miguel High School hosted its 10th Annual Girls' Empowerment Conference in the gymnasium. The theme for the event was, "Hardships Often Prepare Ordinary People for an Extraordinary Destiny," a topic that was addressed by many of the speakers, including the keynote, Geena the Latina from Channel 93.3.

The guest speakers shared their experiences with the girls and spoke to them about the importance of believing in themselves, their talents, and abilities. It was an incredibly powerful conference with break-out sessions for the girls, giving them the opportunity to share and to learn from each other. In addition, many of our girls came back with information about post-secondary opportunities and even door prizes. Deep appreciation is extended to Sylvia Sposato who has been the driving force and the inspiration for this conference over the past decade.  

CTE Hosts Annual District Advisory Committee Meeting

Participants attend the CTE District Advisory Committee Meeting
The Grossmont Union High School District Career Technical Education Department hosted the annual CTE District Advisory Meeting on Thursday, April 7, at Grossmont College. The goal was to obtain input on moving forward with our CTE Strategic Plan to better prepare students to be college and career ready. Over 70 participants attended, representing 11 Industry Sectors. CTE students at each table presented one of their CTE projects and shared their challenges and successes as they learned the skills needed to complete the project. 

The conversations and input at each table represented views from students, parents, teachers, community college partners, workforce development partners, and district and site administrators.  Using an interactive digital survey tool, participants shared their ideas and input on a variety of topics providing over 500 feedback entries which will be used for the continued improvement of our CTE programs and services.  

If you are interested in learning more about our CTE pathways and how you can become involved, please visit our website at

Save the Date: Online Safety Presentation on 4/26

GUHSD is proud to announce its partnership with State Senator Joel Anderson in hosting a presentation about online safety provided by Facebook on April 26, at 6:00 p.m., at West Hills High School.

The presentation will empower parents to be active participants in their children’s online experiences in order to help keep them safe. The presentation from Facebook will also explain the many tools available to members of the Facebook community to report harassment, inappropriate content, and other forms of cyberbullying.

Click here for the event flyer and to RSVP online. You may also call 619-596-3136.

Announcement: Parent-at-Large Vacancy on CBOC

The Grossmont Union High School District is seeking applications to fill a vacancy within the eleven-member Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC). The CBOC oversees the implementation of Proposition U, the $417 million general obligation bond measure passed in November 2008, to bring facility improvements and renovations to the Districts’ schools. 

The appointee will serve a two-year term beginning June 2016 in the capacity of “Parent-at-Large” and will be eligible for up to two additional two-year terms, with the condition that the appointee have a child or children continuously enrolled in a District school for all term periods.

Click here to view the application.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson 

Friday, April 15, 2016

What's New in GUHSD

2016 – 2017 Teacher of the Year Recognition Ceremony

GUHSD 2016-17 Teachers of the Year
At the Governing Board meeting on April 14, we recognized the Teacher of the Year nominees from each of our schools. This is a great honor, as each nominee was selected by their peers. 

School site nominees are interviewed by a panel comprised of previous Teachers of the Year and District personnel. The panel selects two representatives from this distinguished group to recommend to our Board of Trustees for consideration for the San Diego County Teacher of the Year competition. If selected to represent the County, the next step is the California Teacher of the Year Competition. 

These GUHSD teachers are representative of the quality of our educators. I am pleased to present to you the GUHSD 2016-2017 Teachers of the Year:

El Cajon Valley High School ~ Anthony Devine 

El Capitan High School ~ Abigail Anders

Granite Hills High School ~ Carrie Gaeir

Grossmont High School ~ Megan Long

Monte Vista High School ~ Travis Engstrand

Valhalla High School ~ Christa Glavas

West Hills High School ~ Jamie Gwyn

Alternative Education/Chaparral High School ~ Matt Farley

Idea Center High School ~ Todd Meyers

And our two 2016 - 2017 GUHSD Teachers of the Year who advance to compete at the County level for San Diego County Teacher of the Year:

Dr. Mark Jeffers and Brooke Crocker, GUHSD Teachers of the Year, who advance to the County Competition

Brooke Crocker – Representing Santana High School

Ms. Crocker is a History Teacher who began teaching at Santana in 1994. She is very involved at Santana as AP/GATE Coordinator, US History PLC Leader, and Varsity Academic League Coach. She received the Varsity Academic League Coach of the Year award seven times and was a Golden Apple Award winner in 2007. 

Ms. Crocker realizes education is powerful and that being an educator is a gift. She is a well-respected teacher by her peers and the students at Santana. A senior student had this to say about her Ms. Crocker, “She is supportive, compassionate, and extremely hardworking. It’s obvious how much she cares for her students and how dedicated she is in helping them achieve success.” A colleague noted, “I have come to know her as one of the most dedicated and talented educators with whom I have ever worked.”

Dr. Mark Jeffers – Representing Mount Miguel High School

Dr. Jeffers is an English Teacher, who began teaching at Mount Miguel in 2004. He is very involved in the life of Mount Miguel as English Language Arts Department Chair, Academic Board of Directors, Matador Early College Coordinator/Facilitator, and East County Education Alliance – English Council Co-Chair. 

Dr. Jeffers founded the Matador Early College program at Mount Miguel at the start of his career as a teacher and has since grown the program to a position of being the highest-quality academic program on campus. He led a team in the development and implementation of a school-wide research and writing program. Those efforts have led to 82% of Mount Miguel’s students scoring near, at, or above standard in both writing and research this past school year, scores that exceed those of many traditionally higher-performing schools. Perhaps Mount Miguel Principal Dr. Kimberlee Hedrick said it best, “He’s not just our Teacher of the Year, he is the ambassador of all things great at Mount Miguel.”

Please join me in congratulating Brooke Crocker and Mark Jeffers, as well as our other inspirational Teachers of the Year! We are very proud to have these fine teachers represent their school sites and our district as our 2016-2017 Teachers of the Year.

Grossmont NJROTC Hosts Annual Military Inspection

Grossmont NJROTC Cadets Participate in Annual Military Inspection
Grossmont High School’s NJROTC unit conducted their annual military inspection on Thursday, April 7, 2016. The inspection, which requires a thorough review of all internal unit procedures as well as a detailed inspection of each cadet was conducted by Lieutenant Danielle Redmond, USN of HSC-70 Helicopter Squadron based on North Island. 

Lieutenant Redmond, a former High School NJROTC Commanding Officer, inspected the entire unit, was the reviewing officer for the cadets’ parades, and heard the cadets staff briefing before departing. Lieutenant Redmond met with cadets and spoke about setting and achieving their career goals. Her review of the unit will be forwarded to the Commanding Officer of Naval Service Training Command. The cadets were rated as excellent/outstanding by the Lieutenant. 

El Cajon Valley Students Conduct Brain Surgery

El Cajon Valley students dissecting a sheep brain
El Cajon Valley teacher Lynette Smith's Physiology students had the opportunity to test their skills and knowledge this week when they dissected a sheep brain. Working in teams, these El Cajon Valley Health Pathway students applied their learning from their current Nervous System unit by identifying brain structures such as the corpus callosum, pituitary gland and medulla oblongata. 

Many Health Pathway students list "Neurosurgeon" as one of their possible career objectives, so having the opportunity to participate in these types of hands-on experiences in high school gives these young people a head start on their futures.

GUHSD Students Attend Pre-Professional Health Conference

GUHSD Health Pathway Students Attend SDSU Health Conference
Nearly four dozen Health Pathway students representing all six health careers pathways in Grossmont Union High School District attended the 11th annual Catch the Wave to Success Pre-Professional Health Conference at San Diego State University last month. The annual event was hosted by SDSU's Pre-Professional Health Office.

The day began with inspiring keynote speaker Dr. Connie Mariano, the first military woman to become the White House Physician and the first female Director of the White House Medical Unit. She motivated the group to follow their passions and grow from their mistakes. Students and Health Pathway teachers Penny McDowell, Corrie Biggerstaff and Brendan Casey then ventured out into intensive workshops where they learned about career pathways in medicine, stem cell and cancer research, as well as college and military options from doctors, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, nurses, chiropractors, and researchers. 

Some students attended a breakout session where they practiced suturing. Following lunch, Dr. Kristian Brown, provided insight about the life of a transplant surgeon. The day wrapped up with a campus tour and a graduate school and volunteer fair where Health Pathway students were able to practice their soft skills and learn about volunteer and community service opportunities related to health and medicine.

SDCOE Unanimously Approves Trustee Areas for GUHSD

On April 13, the San Diego County Board of Education, acting as the San Diego County Committee on School District Organization (CCSDO), unanimously adopted the resolution approving the implementation of by-trustee-area elections for the Governing Board of the Grossmont Union High School District.

On February 25, the GUHSD Board of Trustees adopted Map Option #1 and also voted to seek a waiver from the California Department of Education as outlined above.  As the next steps in the process, the By-Trustee Area Election Plan and GUHSD Adopted Map were submitted to CCSDO and the waiver was submitted to the State Department of Education for separate consideration by each body. 

The CCSDO conducted six duly-noticed Public Hearings throughout the GUHSD boundaries to gather public input regarding the proposed change in election process and the GUHSD adopted Trustee Area Map.  Hearings were held in La Mesa, El Cajon, Alpine, Lemon Grove, Jamul and Lakeside, and on April 13 the CCSDO approved of the plan for Grossmont to move to By-Trustee Area elections as well as the GUHSD adopted Map. 

The State Board of Education will act on the waiver at its regular meeting on May 11 and 12.  Upon approval of the waiver, the Registrar of Voters will begin the process of establishing the GUHSD trustee areas and the new By-Trustee-Area election process will be effective with the November 2016 GUHSD Governing Board election.


In closing, I share with you a number of board recognitions which showcase the athletic achievements of our talented students:

2016 CIF-SDS Girls Varsity Basketball Division IV Champions, Grossmont High School

2016 CIF-SDS Girls Varsity Soccer Division II Champions, Valhalla High School

 2016 CIF-SDS Girls Varsity Soccer Division III Champions, Helix Charter High School

2016 State CIF Wrestling Champion Trence Gillem, Helix Charter High School

Friday, April 8, 2016

What's New in GUHSD

Santana Robotics Team Earns Top Regional Honor

Santana Robotics Team Wins 2016 Las Vegas Regional
The Sultan Robotics team competed in the 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition at the Las Vegas Convention Center from March 31 to April 3. The game was called First Stronghold, and students had six weeks to build a robot for the event.

On Friday, April 1, the team won the Imagery Award, in honor of Jack Kamen, for his dedication to art and illustration and his devotion to FIRST. This award celebrates attractiveness in engineering and outstanding visual esthetic integration of machine and team appearance.

The next day, the Santana team left the competition as the Las Vegas Regional Winners! Congratulations to the team on their first place finish. We are proud of their hard work, dedication and the team comradery demonstrated in front of the judges and the FIRST community.

El Capitan FFA Wins Regional Awards

El Capitan FFA Students Showcase Awards
The annual Southern Region FFA Awards event was held at Sonora High School in La Habra on Saturday, March 19. 

Top honors recognizing outstanding student achievement went to:

Ag Mechanics Design and Fabrication
Dustin Suttles, region winner and state finalist

Ag Mechanics Repair and Maintenance, Placement
Tanner Pies, region winner

Agriscience Research Animal Systems
Tatiana Woliung, region winner and state finalist

Agriscience Research Plant Systems
Blake Jackson, region winner and state finalist

Agriscience Research Integrated Systems
Tyler Mellott, region winner and state finalist

Diversified Agricultural Production
Anne Signore, section winner

Equine Science Entrepreneurship
Tera Galea, section winner

Forage Production
Jacob Nichols, section winner

Landscape Management
Robert Fryhling, section winner

Outdoor Recreation
Aaron McCranie, region winner and state finalist

Poultry Production
Tatiana Woliung, region winner and state finalist

Small Animal Production & Care
Garrett Rebarchek, section winner

Swine Production, Placement
Elizabeth Garcia, section winner

Southern Region Star in Agriscience
Tyler Mellott, region winner

Southern Region Star Administrators
Joe Cota, bronze
Lynelle Nicholson, bronze
Dave Watkins, bronze
Laura Whitaker, gold

Southern Region Star Support Staff
Michele Storton, bronze

Southern Region Star Counselors
Joe Herman, bronze
Stephanie Picon, silver
Frank Quinones, bronze

Congratulations, El Capitan FFA students and staff on these outstanding accomplishments. 

El Capitan was also notified from state FFA that the school’s FFA Chapter is a finalist for the National Chapter Award. There are six schools from the state of California that will be interviewing for this award on April 24. Best wishes El Capitan FFA in the pursuit of this national award! 

El Cajon Valley Hosts SkillsUSA 2016 Competition

A Student Welder Competes at El Cajon Valley High School
On Saturday, April 2, El Cajon Valley High School hosted SkillsUSA. High school teams competed in a fabrication tournament building sand diggers. Individual welders – both high school and college - competed in a skill competition in four different welding processes. All students were assessed by American Welding Society certified welding inspectors. 

El Cajon Valley welding students acted as hosts. They organized, provided and cut materials for the welding competition, set up the equipment, served as guides and replaced gas cylinders as they ran out.  

Teachers Ashley Wolters and Ryan Sawyer oversaw guest school comfort, helping competitors set up our welding equipment, positioning tables and heavy shop equipment, and provided instruction to visiting students and teachers on proper use of El Cajon Valley High’s equipment. 

It was a rewarding experience for all involved. Several attendees remarked on what an extraordinary welding facility El Cajon Valley High School has as well as the beauty of the campus. 

Hearings on Establishment of Trustee Areas Continue

The Governing Board of the Grossmont Union High School District is taking steps toward changing the trustee election process from an at large system to the establishment of trustee areas. This responds to the changing demographics of East County and reduces our legal exposure. 

The San Diego County Committee on School District Organization continues to hold Public Hearings on this topic throughout our District. The next hearing will be held at 6:00 p.m. on April 11 (Lakeside Union School District - Administration Center). 

Workshop & Scholarship Opportunity for High School Students:

Apply for Summer Journalism Workshop

The San Diego Union-Tribune Community Journalism Scholars Program is accepting applications for its summer program for high school students interested in learning about journalism and media careers. During the five-week program, up to ten high school students will receive instruction and work in the Union-Tribune’s new downtown offices as paid community journalists. The program is underwritten by San Diego Gas & Electric. The application deadline is April 15. Applications and more information are available here. 

Cal Coast Cares Foundation Offers Scholarships

California Coast Credit Union will award $15,000 in scholarships to college-bound high school seniors in 2016. The James L. McPheters California Coast Credit Union High School Scholarship Program will provide two scholarships for $2,500 each and 10 scholarships for $1,000 each to 12 college-bound high school seniors in San Diego County and/or Riverside County. Scholarship applications must be received or postmarked by April 11. Applications are available here. To be eligible, a graduating high school senior must be a member of California Coast Credit Union, or have a parent, grandparent, or guardian of a member; have a minimum 3.0 grade point average; and have been accepted by or plan to attend an accredited college or university full-time. Click here for more information or call (858) 636-4233 or (858) 636-4229.

El Cajon Valley Hosts Faculty Follies this Friday/Saturday

El Cajon Valley is hosting its 34th annual show to raise money for scholarships. Tickets are $5.00 at the door, and showtime is at 7:00 p.m. tonight and tomorrow.

SAVE THE DATE: Girls Empowerment Conference on 4/16 

On Saturday, April 16, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mount Miguel High School will host its 10th Annual Girl’s Empowerment Conference in the gymnasium. The theme for this historic event is, "Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny," a topic that will be addressed by many of our speakers. The keynote speaker will be Geena the Latina from Channel 93.3. The conference is free to all in attendance. 

For reservations or questions, please contact Sylvia Sposato at (619) 667-6451.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, April 1, 2016

What's New in GUHSD

San Diego County School Board Association’s 14th Annual “Honoring our Own” Awards

Gary Schwartzwald & Dan McDowell honored as Administrators of the Year

Lisa Stewart honored as Parent Volunteer of the Year

On Friday, March 18, GUHSD was prominently featured at the San Diego County School Board Association’s 14th Annual “Honoring our Own” Awards Dinner at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel. The Valhalla Orchestra performed at the ceremony and the beautiful floral centerpieces for the tables were created by the IDEA Center High School’s Floral Design class.

One of ACSA Region 18’s priorities is to ensure that school leaders are recognized for their excellence. Through the annual San Diego County School Boards Association (SDCSBA) and ACSA Region 18 “Honoring Our Own” Awards Dinner, they honor school board members, administrators, staff, parents, college professors, and community members for their achievements and dedication to public education. Many of their honorees have gone on to be recognized at the State and National levels.

GUHSD had three award recipients:

Lisa Stewart, Parent Volunteer of the Year

Dan McDowell, Technology Administrator of the Year

Gary Schwartzwald, Career Technical Administrator of the Year

Please join me in congratulating each of them on attaining this high honor. We deeply appreciate their commitments to our schools and the field of education.

Foothills Adult Student Proves You’re Never too Old to Learn

Jose Vargas with Principal Meredith and teachers Daria Conyers and Jeremiah Stewart
Jose Vargas was born in Bananera, Guatemala, in 1946.  He attended the local school until he was in the sixth grade. In 1965 his family immigrated to the United States, first to New Jersey and then to Massachusetts. Jose worked in shipyards on the East Coast for many years. With the opportunity to move to San Diego, he took a job with Mattel toys in Tijuana, Mexico, and crossed the border each day to his home in Bonita.  Jose spent 15 years working for the toy company. 

Over the past two years Jose has been in a GUHSD program to earn his High School Equivalency through Foothills Adult School. Pictured above is Jose along with two of his teachers: Daria Conyers and Jeremiah Stewart along with Principal Jeff Meredith.  

Every day, students from all walks of life earn their High School Equivalency Certificate by passing the HiSET exam. What makes Jose Vargas special is that he accomplished this at the age of 70, proving that you’re never too old to learn or pursue your educational goals. Congratulations, Jose!

2016 All-CIF Winter Sports Stars Honored

Helix Charter's Trence Gillem, Destiny Lyng & D'Rell Gist with their awards
More than 350 student-athletes, coaches and parents celebrated the 2016 Winter All-CIF Awards Night at the San Diego Hall of Champions on March 23.

Student-athletes from eight winter sports who earned All-CIF first or second team honors were presented with the coveted Breitbard Certificate. This is named after the founder of the Hall of Champions, the late Bob Breitbard, who began the certificate program more than 60 years ago.

Of the nearly 100 athletes who were honored, eight were selected as Athletes of the Year in their respective sport. State Champion Trence Gillem of Helix Charter was selected as the top boys wrestler.

Congratulations to the following GUHSD students-athletes for their respective 2016 All-CIF Winter Sports designations noted below:


First Team:
Tommy Rutherford, Grossmont, Senior

Second Team:
Bryce Parsons, West Hills, Senior


First Team:
Satera Bates, Mount Miguel, Junior

Second Team:
Destini Anderson, Mount Miguel, Junior


First Team:
Richard Flores, Granite Hills, Senior
Jacob Odenkirk, Santana, Senior


First Team:
Alaina Melanson, West Hills, Senior
Savanna Nager, Steele Canyon, Senior

Second Team:
Claire Watkins, Helix Charter, Junior
Cameron Douma, Valhalla, Senior


First Team:
Trence Gillem, Helix Charter, Senior

Second Team:
D’Rell Gist, Helix Charter, Senior

Athlete of the Year: Trence Gillem, Helix Charter

Coach of the Year: Adam Krzywicki, Helix Charter


First Team:
Destiny Lyng, Helix Charter, Senior

Second Team:
Maria Valencia, Steele Canyon, Senior

Winter 2016 CIF San Diego Section All Academic Teams & Cymer Scholars Named

Cymer and the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) San Diego Section have announced the top-achieving winter athletic teams from each of five regions in the San Diego Section.

The CIF All Academic Teams honor the school teams in each sport and region with the highest, combined, weighted grade point averages. From each of those teams, Cymer honors the individual junior or senior with the highest, cumulative, weighted high school grade point average, and those students are known as Cymer Scholars.

East Region winners from GUHSD include:

Girls Soccer – Valhalla, 3.61 Team GPA 
Cymer Scholar: Kara Whitaker, 4.56 GPA

Girls Water Polo – Granite Hills, 3.40 Team GPA
Cymer Scholar: Sidney Hollinger, 4.66 GPA

Boys Wrestling – Grossmont, 3.13 Team GPA
Cymer Scholar: Benjamin Slater, 4.20 GPA

Congratulations to these outstanding students on their athletic and academic achievements!


Ninth District PTA Reflections Gala on 4/7

The annual Ninth District PTA Reflections Gala will be held on Thursday, April 7, 2016, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., at the San Diego County Office of Education (Rooms 401-402), 6401 Linda Vista Road in San Diego. The event is free and open to the public. 

The Reflections Gala is a great way for parents and students to be inspired by nearly 200 entries that received Award of Excellence, Award of Merit or Honorable Mention status at the Ninth District PTA round of judging. 

The art entries of seven GUHSD students will be featured: Courtney Reiter (El Capitan), Cierra Ross, Zachary Petrie, Julian Lorenzana, Desiree Rodriguez, and Ian Navarro, all from Monte Vista. Ian Navarro received an Award of Excellence for his entry that will advance to the California State PTA level. Congratulations to all on their entries.

GUHSD School Board Election Hearings Continue

The Governing Board of the Grossmont Union High School District is taking steps toward changing the trustee election process from an at large system to the establishment of trustee areas. This responds to the changing demographics of East County and reduces our legal exposure. 

The San Diego County Committee on School District Organization continues to hold Public Hearings on this topic throughout our District. Future hearings will be held at 6:00 p.m. on April 4 (Joan MacQueen Middle School Gymnasium); April 5 (Jamul Intermediate School Library); April 6 (Lemon Grove Library Community Room) and April 11 (Lakeside Union School District - Administration Center). 

The hearing notice and additional information regarding this process is available on the GUHSD website at

Superintendent Ralf Swenson