Friday, June 2, 2017

Superintendent's Summer Send-off

The end of another school year is here with final exams and commencement exercises concluding next week. I extend congratulations to the Class of 2017 and their families! 

As graduations occur next week, we reflect upon our many accomplishments as we wish our nearly 5,000 graduates continued success. We are confident that they leave us prepared for great futures and with many fond memories of their educational experience.

I thank our employees for their hard work and commitment to our students’ success. I also want to acknowledge the certificated staff and classified employees who are retiring. Thank you for your years of service and commitment to public education.

Please note, the first day of school for students in the fall is Tuesday, August 15. The Superintendent’s Newsline will return at that time.

GUHSD Goes Green to Save (Big) Green

Solar carports at Valhalla High School are one energy-saving measure
The projected savings from extensive conservation projects and utility management strategies in GUHSD are on track to reach nearly $1.2 million in annual utility cost savings. The projects, funded through California’s Proposition 39, the Clean Energy Jobs Act, and Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), include photovoltaic installations, consolidation of the number of utility meters, lighting retrofit projects, and energy storage batteries to offset peak demand.

Annual districtwide utility costs typically top just over $5 million, including $4.2 million in electrical costs, approximately $714,000 in water and sewer fees, and approximately $253,000 in gas costs.

This summer, under an additional PPA, new photovoltaic arrays will be installed at eight more campuses and, collectively, will generate 1,963,939 kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year.  Resulting utility cost savings are projected at $42.1 million over the course of the 25-year PPA. The solar arrays will contribute to a reduction of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the consumption of more than one million gallons of gasoline on local roadways.

Utility costs take up a sizeable portion of our overall operations budget and have historically been a relatively fixed and inevitable cost. By tapping into a variety of innovative conservation tools and best practices, and leveraging them with utility incentives, we are seeing dramatic utility cost savings. By combining these efforts with greater engagement of students, staff, and faculty on behavior-based conservation strategies, we can truly improve our schools’ energy profiles.

More detailed information on GUHSD's strategies for resource conservation are available here and here.

Mount Miguel JROTC Memorial Day Ceremony

JRTOC Cadets participate in annual Memorial Day Ceremony
Mount Miguel High School JROTC held its annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Friday, May 26. The program began with Battalion Executive Officer Cadet Major Logyn Kelsey providing a brief history and understanding of the significance of this important day.

The program included the playing of Reveille followed by the National Anthem, as the flag was raised.

Originally, Memorial Day was called “Decoration Day,” because it was traditionally marked by parades, memorial speeches, ceremonies, and the decoration of gravesites with flowers and flags. In honor of this tradition, Cadet 1st Lieutenant Johnlester Simon served as Honor Bearer, placing an American Flag, a helmet, and a pair of boots at the base of the flag pole. He then slowly saluted the flag as a symbol of respect and honor to those who have served and sacrificed their lives for America’s freedom.

The ceremony closed as the flag was lowered while To the Colors and Taps were played.

Santana High School's Design ACEs

Santana students present their mock design to professionals in the field
Santana's Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (ACE) mentorship is a year-long after-school program where any student interested in pursuing a career in the STEM field can participate. Students who participate create a mock design that would benefit the community.  Mentors from industry visit with the students once every two weeks to help guide the students with their design, ensuring that the students take everything into account when managing a public works project.  At the end of each year, schools from around San Diego present their designs to architects, engineers, and contractors from industry. 

The students who participated took on the task of developing a mock redevelopment of the Lakeside Rodeo.  Their project included repurposing the existing site to an event stadium with shops, extending the trolley line from Santee to Lakeside, and a parking structure. The event center would still hold the iconic rodeos while attracting other events such as concerts, shows, conventions, etc., to improve the amount of use while also helping property values increase in the local area.

This year's ACE banquet was held at San Diego State University on Saturday, May 20. The students presented their ideas and design to a panel of architects, contractors, and engineering professionals at San Diego State University.

Following the presentations, members from industry award scholarships to individuals based on academics, professionalism, and commitment throughout the year. This year, seven Santana students were awarded $17,500 in scholarships.

Monte Vista & Grossmont Auto Programs Excel at Cuyamaca College’s Auto Skills Day

Monte Vista and Grossmont auto students with their tools
On Saturday, May 6, the Cuyamaca College Automotive Department held their 38th annual Skills Day competition. There are two divisions, "Basic" and "Advanced." Grossmont and Monte Vista High Schools had a combined total of 17 students compete in both divisions.

It was a challenging event that tested the students’ technical expertise. Both instructors, Jordie Lehr and and Michael Fleming, are proud of the performance of the students from the District's two automotive pathways. The winning students each won approximately $400 in tools. Congratulations to the following students for representing both of their respective schools and the Grossmont Union High School District:

Advanced: 1st place: Matt Rempel (Grossmont), 2nd place: Jacob Byerline (Grossmont), 3rd place: Ashley Martinez (Monte Vista)

Basic: 2nd place: David Garibay and Mario Espinoza (Monte Vista)

Thanks is extended to Cuyamaca College for their partnership in helping our students grow in their passion.

Special Education Students Celebrate Progress

PEERS Class students enjoy a social outing
On Friday, May 5, students from high schools in GUHSD who participate in the PEERS class (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) met at Parkway Bowl after school to meet other students who have been participating in the same class and celebrate their growth and progress. 

The students from El Cajon Valley, Monte Vista, Valhalla, West Hills and the Home Choice program have been developing their social and friendship-making skills. They enjoyed bowling, eating pizza and putting their new social skills to work getting to know one another and finding students who shared common interests.  It was an opportunity to get together with other teens after school that many of the students in the class had previously not experienced. Students left the bowling alley that evening with new friendships and plans to get together with one another for future get-togethers.

Second Annual Reclassification Celebration

GUHSD Board Member Elva Salinas and Dr. Glover celebrate with students
On Thursday, May 18, the English Learner Programs office held its second annual Reclassification Celebration to recognize students who recently reclassified as fluent in English (R-FEP). English learners from across the district gathered in Grossmont High School’s “Old Gym” to be honored for their accomplishment. 

They were joined by their families, site administrators, and teachers for celebratory speeches, photo ops, and refreshments. Todd Linke, a science teacher at Mount Miguel High School and one of San Diego County’s Biliteracy Award recipients, delivered a keynote address on the importance of acquiring a second language while honoring and preserving their first language and culture. Students also received a certificate of achievement from the office of State Senator Joel Anderson.

In addition to gaining proficiency in English, these students were able to maintain passing grades in academic subjects, show basic skills in academic English on the NWEA MAP assessment, and score advanced on California’s English language test in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. What makes their accomplishments more remarkable is that many of them have only recently arrived to the United States.

El Capitan Hosts Global Language Summit

Junior Capstone students participate in a breakout session on Global Competency
Thanks to the efforts of Program Coordinator Abigail Anders, the El Capitan High School Global Language and Leadership Program's first Annual Global Summit on May 25 was a huge success.

The Global Language and Leadership Program provides an innovative and rigorous course of study for students who are interested in furthering multiple language proficiencies in high school. The goal is to provide a dynamic, international perspective to students who wish to continue with rigorous language and cultural studies from their middle schools, while offering a flexible choice of AP courses and content in the target languages of study.

The program provides a pathway for the incoming ninth graders who have been in language immersion courses since kindergarten (either Chinese or Spanish). At El Capitan, they move into advanced levels of both language study and content courses in the target language (Art in Chinese, Theater or World History in Spanish, to name a few.) Many of them are on a triliteracy pathway; taking two classes a day in a second language and another course in a third language.

The conference brought together eighth graders as well as ninth through eleventh graders in the program. Keynote Speakers included Dr. Glover, Maria Angeles Olson, Honorary Consular to the Embassy of Spain, and Olympia Kyriakidis, Immersion Coordinator at the San Diego County Office of Education.

The summit also included a tour of El Capitan High School for incoming 8th graders, a showcase of language projects, break-out sessions on leadership, college preparation, studying abroad, and awards presentations. More information on the program is available here.

Higher Edge Scholarship College Visits

GUHSD students visit Grossmont College
Students who are seeking a Higher Edge Promise Scholarship will be required to participate in engagement activities and college preparation events throughout their time in high school that will help ensure they are academically prepared for the rigors of a college education.

Part of the effort is introducing high school students to Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges to give them a taste of life on a college campus and inspire them to see that college is attainable for them.

Over the past two weeks, selected students from El Capitan High School visited Grossmont College, while Granite Hills’ students visited Cuyamaca College. The students learned about some of the academic and career education programs offered and about the activities and support available to them at the colleges.

We’re delighted that the East County Education Alliance is getting our students excited about the prospect of going to college. We want our students to know that a world of opportunity is open to them when they graduate from high school.

El Capitan Water Polo Coach Named Eagle Spirit Award Recipient

On Friday, May 19, El Capitan Water Polo Coach Dave Thomas was honored along with only two others at the "Victories of Spirit" event hosted by Sharp Health Care Group at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

 The 2017 Eagle Spirit Award celebrates extraordinary patients of the Sharp Rehabilitation Services who have overcome adversity and have gone on to help others. These three individuals were recognized for their inspiring actions that encourage all others to live life to its fullest and give back to the community. 
Highlights of the evening included a professional video presentation showcasing how special and important Coach Dave Thomas is to the program at El Capitan.

The Master of Ceremonies was Raul Martinez from Fox 5 Morning News.  He was genuinely excited to see so many students present at he ceremony and mentioned that El Capitan is well-represented by several alumni in the news room.

Over 45 members of El Capitan's polo family were in attendance to share in the celebration, along with hundreds of others.  We are exceedingly proud of the accomplishments he has made, and grateful that he is a part of El Capitan's coaching staff.

Graduates Can Get A Head Start on College

If your student is graduating this June, you may wish to consider enrolling them at Grossmont or Cuyamaca College this summer. Classes begin June 12, and many online classes are being offered in addition to classes being taught at the East County campuses.

For students wanting to learn how to become successful in college, both colleges are offering College and Career Success (COUN-120) in class and online, teaching study skills such as note-taking, listening to lectures, managing time, studying for tests and improving memory. Also covered are topics such as stress management and discovering motivations and personal strengths.

Popular general education courses both colleges are offering include Cultural Anthropology (ANTH-120); Art Appreciation (ART-100); Business Communication (BUS-128); Prep for General Chemistry (CHEM-120), a prep course for science and engineering majors; College Composition & Reading (ENGL-120); Early American History (HIST-108); Elementary Statistics (MATH-160), Introductory Psychology (PSY-120) and many more.

Classes are $46 a credit unit for California residents and financial aid is available. For summer class schedules for both colleges and information on registering, go to or call Admissions and Records at Grossmont College -- (619) 644-7186, or Cuyamaca College -- (619) 660-4275.

I close by wishing you a wonderful summer and leave you with a sampling of recent photo highlights that showcase student and staff achievements:

West Hills Gymnastics - CIF Champions

Santana Softball - Division 2 Champions

Mount Miguel Softball - Division 5 Champions

Brian Wilbur speaks upon receiving 2017 CIF Commissioner's Award
Congresswoman Susan Davis and GUHSD Board Member Dr. Gary Woods congratulate Congressional App Contest Winners at Grossmont High School
Superintendent's Choice Art Award recipient Nicole Donskaya (Grossmont) with teacher Susan Phillips and Principal Dan Barnes
Mount Miguel Academy of Medical and Health Sciences Graduates
Senior welders at El Cajon Valley receive ASW National Welding Certifications as well as certificates from CA Senator Joel Anderson
Mount Miguel Teaching and Learning Pathway student Erica Williams and teacher Courtney Jameson were honored by the Phi Delta Kappa Foundation
Granite Hills Teaching and Learning Pathway student Julissia Martinez and teacher Jennifer Hanzel were also honored for leadership by the Phi Delta Kappa Foundation
The Valhalla Jazz Band performed in Coronado at the opening reception for the Association of California School Administrators Conference

Dr. Tim Glover