Every two years the state of California honors the top high schools by designating them as Distinguished Schools.
This year, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson named Granite Hills and Grossmont High Schools as 2013 California Distinguished Schools for their strong commitment and innovative approaches to improving student academic achievement.
Granite Hills and Grossmont High School were officially honored on May 21, 2013, during a regional award ceremony in Irvine, where State Superintendent Torlakson presented each school with a 2013 Distinguished School plaque and flag.
GUHSD is proud to be the only District in the County to have two comprehensive high schools receive the designation this year. More information on the California Distinguished Schools honor is available here.
Mount Miguel High School JROTC’s Annual Memorial Day Ceremony
I had the pleasure of once again observing the Mount Miguel High School JROTC’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. The program began with Battalion Deputy Commander Cadet Major Mariz Timog providing a brief history and understanding of the significance of this important day. Throughout the years, Memorial Day has been celebrated on different days and in various ways. It typically occurs on the last Monday of May and is celebrated to honor all of the men and women who served in our nation’s Armed Forces and courageously gave their lives for our country.
The program included performances by the Matador Marching Band under the direction of teacher Ray Webb, and also 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 graves with flowers and flags. In honor of this tradition, Cadet Edgardo Blazado 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. I was very proud and pleased to witness this display of honor exhibited by our Mount Miguel JROTC and band students on this day.
In further JROTC news, Grossmont High School NJROTC cadets will spend their Memorial Day holiday weekend recognizing and remembering those who have died serving our great country. The Grossmont NJROTC Ceremonial Color Guard will present the colors during ceremonies held onboard the USS Midway on Saturday May 25, 2013.
On Memorial Day, May 27, 2013, 40 cadets from the Grossmont NJROTC program will also participate in ceremonies at the Point Loma Fort Rosecrans cemetery. Cadets will provide escort services to dignitaries and guests, as well as present the colors and participate in the 21 gun salute and TAPS ceremony. Recognizing those who have died serving our country is an honor and a privilege for the cadets from Grossmont High School.
I extend heartfelt appreciation to our dedicated JROTC instructors who daily inspire our students and motivate them to become better citizens: Major John Bachmann, First Sergeant Brian Bennett, First Sergeant Anthony Logan, Captain Clark Owsley, and Chief Petty Officer Flor Buncab.
2012-13 Sportsmanship Awards Ceremony
The 2012-13 Sportsmanship Awards Ceremony was held on Tuesday, May 21, at the La Mesa Community Center. At the annual event, 22 GUHSD student athletes took the stage to accept their awards in the presence of family members, coaches and school officials. Two students from each high school in the District were honored not just for excellence in sports, but in recognition of sportsmanship and character.
After accepting their awards, the students and their family members received complimentary photos courtesy of Boyd Anderson Photography. Parents, siblings and other family members stood with the pairs after pictures with coaches and administrators were taken.
The Grossmont Athletic Conference is the only one in San Diego County to present sportsmanship awards of this kind. I believe the event is an important extension of what we aim for as an educational institution and is consistent with upholding the CIF 16 Principles of Pursuing Victory with Honor.
Congratulations to the following 2012-13 Sportsmanship Award Recipients:
El Cajon Valley High School
El Capitan High School
Granite Hills High School
Dejovaughn (DJ) Palomera
Grossmont High School
Helix Charter High School
Monte Vista High School
Mount Miguel High School
Mercedes de la Rosa
Santana High School
Matthew L. Gearhart Jr.
Steele Canyon High School
Tyler Addison Lee
Marki Taylor Simmons
Valhalla High School
Courtney M. Bayuk
West Hills High School
CTE Spotlight: Agriculture and Natural Resources
The Agriculture and Natural Resources sector provides a foundation in agriculture. In the Grossmont Union High School District, El Capitan High School is well known for its Agricultural Pathway and Chaparral Continuation High School has a Floral Design Pathway. These pathways emphasize relevant experiences in Agricultural Business, Agricultural Mechanics, Agriscience, Animal Science, Forestry and Natural Resources, Ornamental Horticulture, and Plant and Soil Science.
Students in our Agricultural and Floral Design Pathways experience the real-world pressure of planning projects, meeting deadlines, and keeping customers happy. They tend plants, raise animals and create breathtaking floral designs. Students are also in the community participating in competitions, farming hay, hosting the Eastern San Diego County Junior Fair, and creating centerpieces for organizations such as Rady Children’s Hospital and the SDG&E Energy Showcase event, as well as for school and district events. Students in these pathways are learning skills that will prepare them for success in college and careers.
Monte Vista Business Students Earn Finance Award at Entrepreneurs Showcase
On Thursday, May 16, Monte Vista High School business students showcased their business savvy at Junior Achievement of San Diego County’s The Next Big Thing: Entrepreneurs Showcase, presented by San Diego-based tech leader Cymer, Inc.
The Junior Achievement Company Program consists of business, entrepreneurship and economics curriculum. During the business planning and launching process, students develop an understanding of the practical applications of what they are learning in school. Under the guidance of a business volunteer, students select a product or service and market it to their classmates, family and neighbors, while maintaining the responsibility of managing company finances.
At the Entrepreneurs Showcase, our students successfully presented their business plan and products to two separate six-member panels of judges and were presented the 2013 Finance Award by representatives from Cymer Inc. and Junior Achievement. Their student-created JA Company, Get It Here Spirit Gear, was created with the support of Junior Achievement, financial industry volunteer Jeffrey Ginsburg of USE Credit Union and Monte Vista business education teacher Kenneth Palmer.
The 2013 Finance Award demonstrates that our students are acquiring the skills needed to succeed in the business community and that the more real-life, hands-on learning situations there are for our youth, the more students will understand the relevance of their education.
Mount Miguel Honor Show Choir Receives Superior Ranking
The Mount Miguel High School Honor Show Choir competed at the Music in the Parks Festival at Disneyland on Saturday, May 4, 2013.
Under the leadership of Director Heather Hargett, the Mount Miguel High School Honor Show Choir outshined its competition earning a first place, SUPERIOR ranking. Students performed musical numbers that included “Forget You,” by Cee Lo Green, “For Good” from the musical Wicked, “Blame it on the Boogie,” by the Jackson 5, and Louis Prima’s, “Jump, Jive an’ Wail.”
The Honor Show Choir program performs throughout the year at many civic events including a performance at the Mount Miguel Covenant Village at Christmas. The thriving program recruits from nearby La Presa and Lemon Grove Middle Schools.
String Orchestras Alive & Plucking
On Tuesday, April 23, string orchestras from seven different feeder schools performed on the theater stage at Valhalla High School. Student performers from Avocado Elementary, Fuerte Elementary, Rancho San Diego Elementary, Vista Grande Elementary, Jamacha Elementary, Hillsdale Middle School, and Valhalla High School (representing grades 4-12) performed separately in three different groups and then participated in a culminating combined performance of “Clocks” by Coldplay.
With nearly 150 string musicians performing on stage at the same time, these young musicians showed that interest in classical string instruments is experiencing a resurgence in the East County. This collaboration with the Cajon Valley Union School District further showcases how students have the opportunity to begin a string instrument in elementary school and continue this pursuit throughout high school.
GUHSD Talent Shines at Artissimo Awards
On Wednesday, May 22, GUHSD Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Robin Ballarin, Grossmont High School Principal, Dan Barnes, and Grossmont High School Photography teacher, Eileen Mandell were recognized for their promotion and support of the arts at the 2013 Artissimo: Awards of Excellence in Visual Arts Education hosted by the San Diego County Art Education Association. The program honors city and county Visual Arts educators and their site administrators for exceptional work in visual arts education.
Teacher Eileen Mandell was nominated for the Artissimo Choice award for excellence in teaching by Assistant Superintendent Theresa Kemper. Ms. Mandell was recognized for her development of curriculum combining art, digital media and photography as well as her promotion of student art. Dr. Ed Basilio, Choir teacher, nominated Principal Dan Barnes for his support and dedication to the Visual and Performing Arts at Grossmont High School.
GUHSD Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Robin Ballarin, received a special award – the Artissimo Academic Achievement Award. She was nominated for her strong support of the arts and her proactive approach to the Visual and Performing Arts in East County. We congratulate all on these well-deserved awards!
Save the Date: El Cajon Police Department Forum on 6/8
The El Cajon Police Department is hosting a Community Forum geared toward families with children and teens to address pedestrian safety and the effects of synthetic drugs on the community. A K-9 demonstration and SWAT display will be a part of the event as well. Student winners of the “Check Before You Step” Public Service Announcement video contest will be also revealed.
The Community Forum will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2013, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Community Center in El Cajon. More details on the event are located here.
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In closing, I wish you and your families a safe, fun, and family-filled Memorial Day. I also take this opportunity to thank all of the men and women who have fought and died to protect our freedom as well as those who are presently serving our country.
Superintendent Ralf Swenson