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San Diego Unified School District News
  1. Clairemont Day at the Bay highlights neighborhood schools
    Marston Middle School student Audrey Cummings at event. Photo courtesy UT San Diego
    Marston Middle School student Audrey Cummings at event. Photo courtesy UT San Diego/John Gibbins.
    IN THE NEWS: “Clairemonsters” have worked over the years to restore a sense of community in the area. Their efforts were on full display Saturday at De Anza Cove during the second annual Clairemont Day at the Bay, a festival that celebrates the area’s schools — and the residents, civic leaders and businesses that support them. Read more from UT San Diego»


  2. Serra High Advanced Placement grant ups the number of AP students
    Students in Elizabeth Ward's Advanced Placement English class at Serra High School had some high-level visitors: US Representative Scott Peters (D-San Diego), Board of Education President Kevin Beiser, Superintendent Cindy Marten and local military leaders.
    In an AP class
    Rep. Peters (D-San Diego) and Supt. Marten join teacher Elizabeth Ward in working with students on Advanced Placement English projects.
    News Coverage

    The reason for the VIPs? Encouragement for their performances on the Advanced Placement Tests coming up soon — the weeks of May 5 and 12.The school's nearly 25 percent increase in Advanced Placement class enrollment is part of Serra High's college-going culture, but also a result of a three-year, $716,000 grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) and a program from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI).

    Advanced Placement tests allow students to take challenging, college level classes in high school, then take an exam that, should they get a high-enough score, will be accepted by universities and colleges. The student not only passes a graduation requirement at the university, but in most cases also receives credits for the work.

    In his remarks to students, Board of Education President Kevin Beiser noted that the grant, which is being used to add classes, special tutoring sessions, mock tests and help families pay for the exams, not only helps students earn college credit while still in high school, but it challenges all the students at Serra.

    "By furthering the established college-going culture that Principal Mike Jimenez and his staff have created, whether or not a student is a military dependent has less of an impact," said Beiser. "This grant is raising the bar for everyone on this campus, whether they’re a student, teacher or staff member. It’s what continues to make Serra one of the top schools in our district."

    To mark the first anniversary of the grant's award, Beiser joined Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego); Superintendent Cindy Marten; Col. John Farnham, Commanding Officer, MCAS Miramar; Capt. Curt Jones, Commanding Officer, Naval Base San Diego; and Dale Fleury, Senior Regional Director for NMSI.
    Beiser also noted that with a student population that is nearly 30 percent military dependent, it is an obligation of the San Diego Unified School District to support the children of America's soldiers, sailors and marines.

    "There isn’t a big city in the world that has more of a commitment and appreciation of the sacrifice of our sailors, marines and other members of the military than San Diego," he said. "And I don’t believe there’s a school district that has more of a commitment to educating their dependents than San Diego Unified."

    Superintendent Cindy Marten said the grant aligns with the district's Vision 2020 plan by challenging the students to achieve, helping train teachers to create higher quality teaching and professional learning, raising expectations for students at Serra High and helping to close the achievement gap, and encouraging members of the community to get involved in schools.

    "This grant is an important partnership between the Department of Defense, the National Math and Science Initiative and Serra High School," she said.

    The large Murphy Canyon military housing complex is within Serra's enrollment boundaries and several other military housing neighborhoods are nearby.

    The three-year grant has boosted the number of students taking tests this year to 604 and has funded special Saturday practice sessions for the Advanced Placement students. Mock tests — with a critique of the students' work — have also been used to help get the students ready.

    The grant has also reduced the cost of the tests for families from $89 to $45 for most families; students from low-income families pay just $5 per test. As many students take more than one Advanced Placement class, the reduction in price allows families to afford more tests.

    Facts and Figures

    • Serra High School Enrollment: 1,762.
    • Students who are military dependents: 466.
    • Students taking AP classes: 2013-14, 681; 2012-13, 546.
    • Number of passing (grade 3 or above) AP tests: 2012-13, 207; 2013-14 (target): 330.
    • National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI): NMSI was formed to address one of this nation’s greatest economic and intellectual threats — the declining number of students who are prepared to take rigorous college courses in math and science and equipped for careers in those fields. This crucial project was initiated as a public-private partnership, led by private donors such as Exxon Mobil Corporation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.
    • Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA): With a mission of "Educate, Engage, and Empower each student to succeed in a dynamic world," the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) administers schools on United States military bases around the world and is involved with public schools that have large numbers of dependent students. DoDEA is a field activity of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. It is headed by a director who oversees all agency functions from DoDEA headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.


  3. Future attorneys shine in mock trial competition
    Lincoln High team

    Lincoln and La Jolla high schools placed in the top 10 teams in the recent San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition, sponsored by the San Diego County Bar Association.

    Of the 26 schools that competed, Lincoln's team placed sixth and La Jolla seventh. Other San Diego Unified schools participating were Crawford, San Diego High School of International Studies, Scripps Ranch and University City high schools.

    "The experience was rewarding and fulfilling," said Lincoln student Adrian Hernandez. "I felt a part of something bigger than myself with enough responsibility to stand out as well. It got me out of my shell.”
    Lincoln advisor Ray Beattle saluted his future advocates.

    "You can be proud that our students showed that they can compete against the most talented of teams, and finish in sixth place," he said. "Please congratulate the students if you have any of the students in your classes. They put in a lot of hours after school and on Saturdays, in preparing for this competition."

    According to the Bar Association, more than 500 students in San Diego County and 8,000 statewide participated in the program this year.

    The trial itself is a simulation of a criminal case, in which students portray each of the principals in the cast of courtroom characters. Student teams study a hypothetical case, conduct legal research, and receive guidance from volunteer attorneys in courtroom procedures and trial preparation. Students participate as lawyers, witnesses, court clerks, and bailiffs, thus acquiring a working knowledge of our judicial system.

    Local attorneys coach the team; San Diego attorney Sallie Blackman worked with the Lincoln students.
    “It was an honor and a privilege to coach such talented, enthusiastic, dedicated, and intelligent group of students,” she said.

    The Mock Trial Competition Program encourages young people to develop their analytical abilities and communication skills while gaining increased self-confidence, says the association.The Mock Trial Competition program also allows students to develop the skills necessary for the mastery of state standards for history, social science and language arts.

    Through performance-based education, the program furthers an understanding of both the content and processes of our legal system; increases basic skills, analytical ability, and self-confidence; and promotes cooperation among students of various cultures and interests. Based on responses to formal surveys, teacher-sponsors report significant improvement in students’ basic skills, critical thinking skills, presentations skills, participation skills, and self-esteem as well as increases in students’ content knowledge about the law.

    For more information on the Lincoln students, contact Beattie at rbeattie@sandi.net or the Bar Association at www.sdcba.org.


  4. Two Las Patronas grants go to Muirlands Middle
    Las Patronas, a local philanthropic organization, has donated $17,000 to the Muirlands Foundation to provide new audiovisual equipment at Muirlands Middle School in La Jolla.

    According to the foundation, parents Marc Jaffe and Pamela Wagner were instrumental in securing the 2014 La Jolla Public School Grant and a 2014 Spring Minor Beneficiary Grant from Las Patronas. Muirlands Middle School

    A new school public address system is projected to be purchased, along with a projector and portable video production camera for the auditorium.

    "A huge thank you to parents Marc Jaffe and Pamela Wagner, the Muirlands Foundation, and especially Las Patronas for this generous grant,” said Muirlands Principal Harlan Klein. “This new technology will improve the capabilities of our school and our auditorium.  Many students, staff, parents and the community will certainly benefit from the upgrades."

    Las Patronas is a philanthropic organization with a long history of giving. Since its inception in 1946, Las Patronas has donated more than $16 million to over a thousand charitable institutions in San Diego. The funds distributed to these organizations are generated through year-long fundraising efforts and the annual presentation of the Jewel Ball, one of San Diego’s most enduring social, cultural, and philanthropic traditions.

    The Muirlands Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit fund-raising organization dedicated to enhancing the middle school experience through financial assistance and community building events for our students, staff and parents. The foundation raise funds through three main fundraisers: its annual giving campaign (Muirlands Gives), Muirlands Rocks, and the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival. For more information on the foundation, visit its web page.


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