The International Baccalaureate Dance welcomed the season with their Winter Showcase attended by over a thousand family and friends. Edgewood dance teacher and show director, Kaely McPhee, choreographed dances with themes ranging from Hip Hop, Swing, African tribal, American contemporary, and Bollywood (Indian cinematic influence). McPhee shared that integrating the traditions of other cultures is a large part of the IB learning philosophy.
The Bollywood dance was performed by elementary students from Orangewood and Cameron and choreographed by elementary IB teacher, Hartley Clement.
McPhee added, “We are still a growing program. This is our second year and tonight we have over 180 performers ranging from fourth grade to twelfth grade. It’s about building confidence and building an appreciation for the Arts.”
Every year the Rotary Club, with the help of the local fire and police departments, donate shoes and socks to local elementary students during the holidays. Over 200 students from the West Covina area were given the chance to choose what they wanted from Payless Shoe Source at the Westfield Mall. This year, Orangewood Elementary students were escorted one-by-one through the store. Volunteers from the Rotary, including several district administrators, fire and police personnel, and Edgewood High School students took charge to accompany each student through the store to help them pick out their favorite pair.
Disney themed shoes were a definite favorite, with many girls choosing Elsa rain boots. Star Wars shoes were a big hit with the boys. The students were also able to meet with Santa Claus who presented each child with a toy and several books.
On January 10, 2017, a small ceremony was held to commemorate the opening of the new Family Resource Center located on the Willowood Campus adjacent to San Jose Charter. The Family Resource Center is comprised of three divisions providing a variety of support services for WCUSD students and parents.
The Foster and Homeless Youth Center offers after school academic support services, student and parent workshops, and a state of the art computer lab.
The Pre-School Assessment Center offers initial assessment and support for special education services for our preschool age population.
The Counseling Center offers mental health support services to address barriers to learning and academic performance for students who have been referred and who demonstrate significant needs in the area of social-emotional well-being. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers along with Comprehensive Counseling Program trainees and interns provide individual and group counseling services to students K-12. Additional services available for this school year include: Grand Parenting Support Group, Successful Step parenting, Parents of Children with Autism, and Love & Logic ®--a parent training with “relationships” at the core, and the Speech Center offering speech services for our preschool age children.
The grand opening ceremony was attended by several school board members, district and site administrators, and high school counselors. Marc Trovatore, Director of Student Services, kicked off the ceremony with the welcome address and school board member, Cami Poulos, spoke of how this new facility was what she had always envisioned for the district. As a foster mother herself, she shared how happy she was to bring her foster daughter to use the new facility and take advantage of the array of services currently available.
The City of West Covina and the West Covina Unified School District are excited to join together to launch the new Shop Local After School Program. Business owners in West Covina are being asked to sponsor after school programs for schools throughout the district. The district is looking forward to establishing after school programs in music, robotics, and technology. However, nothing will be finalized until funding becomes available.
The district will also be acknowledging the businesses that donate to the district. Students and parents will be encouraged to support participating businesses through various forms of acknowledgement including school signs, Web site links, and certificates for in-store display. Director of Secondary Instruction, Dr. Gloria Duncan has been working with city manager, Chris Freeland and city councilmember, Tony Wu to make this a reality for the district. Dr. Duncan shared, “This is an exciting opportunity to bring local businesses and schools together. After all, our schools are filled with tomorrow’s consumers and employees. Who knows, some of our students will be business owners themselves. Everyone has a good reason to invest in education.”
The City of West Covina has started to reach out to local business owners to encourage their participation in the new program. Parents and guardians who own local businesses can find more information on our district Web site at www.wcusd.org/shoplocal.
Stay tuned for exciting updates on the program and remember to Shop Local!
Schools throughout the district participated in the Great Kindness Challenge this past week. Students were challenged to commit acts of kindness to their classmates, teachers, and other school staff as they went through their day. They were also encouraged to point out acts of kindness that they observed of others.
Hollencrest Middle School students kicked off Kindness week by going through the “kindness gauntlet” as they entered campus on Tuesday morning. Teachers, counselors, staff and students lined up and cheered as students arrived on campus and passed through the “gauntlet”. Principal Devon Rose addressed the campus during morning announcements and detailed the events of the week. Events included Hippie Day, Crazy Sock Day, and everyone’s favorite, Pajama Day. More importantly, each day focused on the acts of kindness that every student was tasked to commit. At Coronado High School, students were given an “Acts of Kindness Checklist” and were challenged to complete as many of the kind tasks/deeds on that list. Their mission was to document (photo/video) each kind deed they performed from the list.
Similar events and themed days also took place at West Covina and Edgewood High Schools, as well as Walnut Grove Intermediate.
The Great Kindness Challenge is a national campaign presented by Dignity Health and Kids for Peace Global. The campaign lists suggestions for kindness acts ranging from “Smiling at 25 people” to “Hold the door open for someone”. Good ideas for kids of all ages!
The hottest and most sought after ticket on Broadway is for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Hamilton. Before there was Hamilton, however, there was In the Heights, the 2008 Tony Award winner for Best Musical. The story depicts three days in the life of a Washington Heights neighborhood in New York.
West Covina High School’s performing arts department is known for putting on a good show, and last week’s production did not disappoint.
Drama teacher and director, Kimberly Segura shared, “In the Heights has been on my directing bucket list for a while and to be able to see my vision come to life on stage was amazing! This cast put everything thing they had out on that stage and I couldn't be prouder of my students.” Segura has been teaching drama at West Covina High School for over 13 years, and in that time has directed many plays and musicals that have received rave reviews. This production, however, was attended by Hollywood Pantages Theater’s director of education, Paul Gleason. Segura added, “The cherry on top was when Gleason, spoke to our cast on closing night and said it was one of the finest productions he has ever seen”. Segura had applied for the Jerry Herman Awards which is ran by the Nederlander Company and hosted at the Pantages. Adjudicators from the program came to the first two performances and then Mr. Gleason asked if he could attend the final show.
Choir Director, Tyler Wigglesworth recalls, “The best compliment I heard throughout the run of the show was that our audiences forgot that the actors were high school students and they lost themselves in the story and music as though it was a professional show.” Wigglesworth gives all the credit to Segura, “[She pushes] the boundaries of what a high school musical should/could look like.”
Segura also arranged a Skype workshop with Janet Decal who played Carla in the original Broadway production after principal, Dr. Stephan Glass linked Segura to the company that connects students with Broadway stars. Decal workshopped some of the numbers and gave a few pointers about performing.
Although senior Justin Larkin had been enrolled in Mrs. Segura’s drama class since his sophomore year, In the Heights is his first foray onto the public stage. He played the lead role, Usnavi (played on Broadway by Lin-Manuel Miranda). Larkin always heard his drama classmates talk about the fun they had working on other WCHS productions like Legally Blonde and Shrek, and he admits he wanted to know what that was like. After three years on the football team, he knew what it meant to be a part of a team. Being in this play, however, showed him what true camaraderie could feel like. “There were so many seniors on that stage. We were so proud to be a part of the show. Seniors went out with a bang!” Senior, Samantha Solis echoed Larkin’s sentiment, “Everyone was rooting for each other. We were a community. No egos.” Unlike Larkin, Solis has participated in her share of plays and musicals and she hopes to continue in musical theater. “Hearing feedback from people like Mr. Gleason, and others, made me realize that the only difference between us and those on Broadway is that they are on Broadway. We can keep working hard and eventually get there too.”
How’s that for inspiration?
Science teachers are getting a head start by using their investigative skills to research options for building state-of-the-art science labs throughout the district. They have been given the mission to find the best, and they are taking their job seriously. West Covina High School teacher, Katarina Garcia is excited about what she saw, “Some of the classrooms we visited were just . . . Wow! We had to remind ourselves that we were in high school classrooms - not a graduate research lab.”
Garcia is also grateful that she is being given a say in how the district moves forward with the bond money. “You always wonder how decisions are made in situations like this. I’m glad they are coming to us. We are the ones in the classroom. We are the Science experts. It only makes sense.” Garcia continued, “In West Covina, our goal is to build new labs that mirror how scientists work in their industry and at universities. Scientists work together to solve problems and our high school labs should allow for that opportunity.”
The research conducted by the science teachers has been shared with district administrators, and the search will continue. However, this is only a part of the process. The suggestions will be presented to the Equity Committee who will make the decisions on how to move forward. It will be the Oversight Committee that will ensure all decisions fall under the parameters set by the bond measure. The district is still accepting applications for the Oversight Committee until February 28, 2017. Applications can be found on our district Web site at wcusd.org.
The school board recently approved the hiring of an architectural firm who will draw up plans for individual school sites.
Hold on to your hats and glasses! Progress is coming!