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WC Beat Ed. IX

A hush falls across the auditorium . . . the scrambling of people trying to find their seat – what is in the air? It’s the moment everyone has been waiting for, it’s the All Male dance team from West Covina High School. 

It’s normal during competitions to find other teams off to the side, or outside, preparing for their turn to compete, However, when it is time for West Covina High School’s All Male Hip Hop dance team to perform, the audience is given several minutes to return to their seats. It is an unspoken expectation. The rest is a competition, but now it is time for the show to start. That is the “normal” that this team established for themselves. They are the show.

Assistant coach, Valarie Ramirez adds, “They are like celebrities. They walk into the competition and everyone exclaims, ‘Oh, it’s West Covina!’ They’ve built up the reputation to be not only respected as competitors, but they are actually the sweetest kids and they’ve earned the respect of everyone. You’ll even see guys come up and ask to take pictures with them. When the guys come around and say ‘Hey, man. Let me take a picture with you.’ You know we have something special.”

They have been on a winning streak for three years. That would normally bring on the competitiveness of the other teams – where other teams are going after them and waiting for them to fail. However, the boys on the West Covina team are so nice and supportive of the other teams; the other teams can’t help but respect and look up to them. 


“It’s nice to see a team on top who are also so well liked,” shared coach Carrie Calkins. Calkins continued, “That is a difficult feat considering they have been undefeated in every division at every competition, for three years.”


Coach Valarie Ramirez adds, “The chemistry of this team is so strong. As teenagers, it is very difficult to fully commit to something, but this team has been so committed for so long. It has withstood the graduation of very strong dancers, and the team hasn’t missed a beat.”
Coach BrittanyRoblez claims, “We are the number one Hip Hop program in the country.” 


She may be right. Even Hollywood has taken notice. Set in West Covina, the producers of the CW’s CrazyEx-Girlfriend, were looking for an opportunity to showcase something special about the city, and the All-Male team popped up all over their Google search. They were featured in Season 1, Episode 8 where several members of the team were asked to perform in a dance number with one of the main characters played by Vincent Rodriguez III (pictured below).



The team has also attracted students from throughout the San Gabriel Valley, but no one has a story like Utah native Jon Slajer. “My parents decided to relocate to California and I started researching the best high school dance teams. I came across West Covina, and I’m so glad I did.  It’s opened so many new doors for me.”


Talk about dedication – Slajer’s family ended up moving to San Bernardino, and he wakes up every morning at 5:30 a.m. to take the 6:00 a.m. train to Covina, and returns home every day by 10:30 p.m. Now, that’s dedication.


Dancing may be their passion, but dancing isn’t the only area in where they see positive results. The team encourages each other well beyond the dance floor. Team captain, John Garcia shares how the team set him on the right path, “I was hanging out with the wrong crowd in middle school, and thankfully my sister suggested that I join this team. I am so glad that I did. It’s changed everything for me.”


“This team pushes you to work hard, and that hard work translates to other areas in life. For instance, I’m taking five AP classes this year and we still practice every night,” says senior, Chris Guerrero.


“That’s what we do. It is a brotherhood and we just hype each other up,” says Captain Garcia.


West Covina High School is very proud of their Hip Hop dance program. It is just another source of pride in a school already so rich in the Performing Arts. 


Edgewood High School just earned its third straight Medium-Sized School National Championship.  The team earned the highest score in the ten-year history of this competition, beating their own record set just last year. The top six scorers in the competition came from Edgewood: Benjamin Lin, Jessica Doan, Nathaniel Lyons, Peter Tran, Darren Lam, and Andrew Obeso. Every team member, including Kelly Xie and Mark Ochave, earned individual medals.


Edgewood High outscored other medium schools by a large margin. Way to go, EHS Lions!


Sidney Jones IV was selected in the second round (43rd overall) of the NFL (National Football League) player draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Sidney was a star player for the University of Washington for the past two seasons, and for four seasons with the West Covina High School Bulldogs under coach, Michael Maggiore. Maggiore shared, “He worked hard to get to this point and he is not going to stop anytime soon. We wish him all the success possible. We are so proud of him. Now I need an Eagles shirt.”


Sundays are about to get a whole lot cooler. The WCUSD family will be cheering you on, Sidney!


Edgewood High School has been named a Gold Ribbon School by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. Edgewood High is one of 275 secondary schools that are being honored under the Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program.


“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st-century careers and college,” Torlakson said. “I look forward to traveling the state to honor these schools and to help share the programs, methods, and techniques that are working.”  


The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to honor schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while California creates the new assessment, accountability, and continuous improvement systems. 477 middle schools and high schools applied this year.


The Gold Ribbon Awards recognize California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education. These include the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.


These schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaborating, but also highly successful school climate efforts, ranging from real-time conflict resolution to positive behavior intervention.



West Covina High School has once again earned the honor of being named a U.S. News and World Report’s Best High School. West Covina High School reached Silver Medal status with a ranking of 369 within California and 1895 in the National Rankings. Schools were awarded medals based on their performance on state assessments, their graduation rates and how well they prepare students for college. The data represents more than 21,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Only about 10% of high schools reached Silver medal ranking – making this feat an even greater distinction. 



After an extensive analysis of student data for every public school in California, the following schools were clear leaders in getting students to grade level and beyond: Edgewood High, Hollencrest Middle, Merced Elementary, Merlinda Elementary, and West Covina High School.


These schools have been named an Honor Roll school for the 2016 California Honor Roll presented by Educational Results Partnership (ERP) and the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE). Honor Roll schools will receive recognition in the press as a leader in student achievement.


The 2016 Honor Roll recognizes public elementary, middle, and high schools that demonstrate consistently high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement over time, and reduction in achievement gaps. For high schools, Honor Roll recognition includes high college readiness in students. This year, the California Honor Roll recognized 1,866 higher performing, schools that are distinguished for their academic achievement and for closing achievement gaps. 



A major goal during the 2016-17 school year has been to expand the level of resources, programs, and support services provided to foster students and their guardians.


On April 21st, 9-12th-grade foster students attended the “Winning Your Challenges: High School Foster Youth Empowerment Conference” hosted by Mt. San Antonio College.  Ana Gutierrez (WCUSD Foster and Homeless Youth Liaison), chaperoned our students and they experienced a full day of learning about housing, career planning, financial literacy, and much more. 


In related news, this past April, Ana Gutierrez and Marc Trovatore (Director of Student Services) were invited to co-present at the “Foster Youth Education Task Force Ed Summit” in Sacramento.  Their presentation titled, “Using Professional Learning Networks to Promote Continuous Improvement in LCAP Development and Implementation for Foster Youth” focused on how our participation within the Foster Youth Learning Network has enhanced the level of support and range of services that are currently being provided for WCUSD students in foster care.  






Months of planning, fund-raising, and coordinating with parents, students, first-responders and organizations at the state and local levels culminated over two days on Wednesday, April 19, and Thursday, April 20, when juniors and seniors at West Covina High School took part in the Every 15 Minutes program.


Every 15 Minutes is a unique opportunity for students to reflect and experience the real-life consequences of drinking and driving. A simulated vehicle collision took place in front of the school on Cameron Avenue and students witnessed two of their classmates taken by ambulance, and another by a police officer for suspicion of driving under the influence. On the following day, a mock funeral service for those who “died” was held at the gym with guest speakers and testimonies from members of the community.  With prom scheduled that weekend, the program aims to remind us all that drinking and driving is a deadly combination and these dramatic visuals are meant to leave a lasting impression. 


It has been seven long years since this program last visited Bulldog Country and with continued interest and support, the program returns in two years when today’s freshmen and sophomores are of driving age.   The event wouldn’t be possible without the help of the California Office of Traffic Safety, CHP, West Covina Police and Fire Departments, Plaza West Covina, and countless others whose support made the program possible.  West Covina High School Principal, Dr. Stephen Glass expressed gratitude to those involved, “A special thanks to the students and their parents who courageously committed their time, hearts and minds for the purpose of making a difference, and saving lives.”


The WCUSD Special Education Department hosted its first Community Resource Fair.  District families were given the opportunity to learn about various agency resources and opportunities for their students within the community. 


Fair booths were available to parents/guardians and educators and included: Parents Place, San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center, West Covina Parks and Recreation, West Covina Library, Girls and Boys Scouts, Foothill Family Counseling, Masonic Center for Youth and Families, WCUSD Foster & Homeless Youth Center, WCUSD Mental Health Center, Workability, Job Corps, US Dept. of Labor Southern California, West Covina Youth Soccer - TOPS Soccer Program, ENKI Youth & Family Services, a Conservatorship Attorney and Down Syndrome Family Resources.                                                                                           


Diana Casato, director of special education, believes that families left with a lot of information and resources. Casato shared, “The district looks forward to hosting more events like this in the years to come”.