March 23, 2020
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA—Walnut Valley USD students, parents, and staff members are doing their best to come to terms with the new reality of mandated school closures due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Following the “stay-at-home” directive, technology and creativity use surged in an effort to be safe, stay connected, and remain positive.
During the first week, Quail Summit Elementary siblings Amanda, and Austin Toon decided to continue a morning tradition by hosting a Facebook live flag salute at 10 a.m. from their living room.
The fourth-and-second-grade children held a picture of an American Flag, placed hands over their hearts, and solemnly recited the pledge, while their mother, Jeanie, recorded the moment on her cell phone.
“I wanted to feel connected to my school again,” said Amanda, age 10. “I missed my friends!”
Walnut High ASB President Matt Mayo found a way to encourage and support classmates in lieu of making his morning school announcements by creating an online #WalnutWednesdayBroadcast with the help of Principal Ryan Maine.
“I know times are difficult right now, but just stay strong and stay safe,” Mayo said. “We’re Mustangs and we’re family!”
Teachers quickly began offering their expertise to students and parents navigating the new distance-learning terrain using Google Meet, Zoom, and Flipgrid platforms.
“We’re all trying to connect with kids in our own way,” said Walnut High English teacher Jennifer Chalew after leading her first Google Meet online class with IB juniors on March 19.
“All of them showed up prepared to work and we spent an hour discussing a Robert Frost poem. I am so proud of my kids,” she said.
“I just loved seeing their faces!” shared C.J. Morris Elementary 4th- 5th grade teacher Cindy Riggio after completing her first online Zoom session March 20.
“I met with 17 of my students for 45 minutes and we shared about something positive this week,” reported fellow 5th grade teacher Tara Noelte.
“It made my day brighter.”
South Pointe Middle School social studies teacher Kevin Duh took to social media to encourage his students to “start creating a new schedule and stick to it.”
He advised his charges to include the “must-have of daily reading, exercise, family time, and unplug time” during the school closure.
Educators, parents, and students flocked to the worldwide web with creative ways to stay connected.
Students gathered in cyber-space while hosting virtual choir and dance rehearsals and began journaling, crafting, and cooking in newly acquired free time.
Diamond Bar High drama teacher Jared Kaitz held a one-hour virtual choreography class for his musical theatre class in his garage.
“We’re going to learn a number from ‘Mama Mia’ and have some fun!” he said.
“Let’s start with a little stretch, step, pivot to the back, step, and pivot to the front,” he directed.
Castle Rock Elementary fourth-grade-teacher Tracy Young began offering online read-a-louds and art project YouTube tutorials.
“It’s Mrs. Young coming to you from the dining room!” she said during a Minecraft selfie class using grid paper and colored pencils on March 19.
Walnut Elementary parent and fitness instructor Nancy Lim launched a Facebook live kids’ boot camp from her backyard with sons Lucas and Zachary.
“All of us could use some exercise and movement in this crazy time,” she said about the 4 p.m. class airing every Monday and Wednesday.
Chaparral Middle School offered an online Cougar Challenge so students and staff could share positive thoughts using Flipgrid tiled video discussions.
Walnut High social studies teacher Justin Panlilio held free piano lessons via Zoom for students all around the District.
Diamond Bar High chamber music ensembles took to online rehearsals in preparation for a virtual recital scheduled for March 25.
“We are so fortunate to have developed a strong relationship between our performing arts academy and professional partners,” said director Steve Acciani.
“They are working diligently through these tough times to provide much needed opportunities for the kids to express themselves and stay connected.”
“I love how teachers and students can still connect using technology,” said Chaparral parent Josephin Ong after daughter Anastasia completed a Zoom class meeting with math teacher Jennifer Najera.
“I want her to remember this experience, how technology can help in education, and how much she has to appreciate school and meeting with teachers and friends face-to-face,” Ong said after snapping a photo to document the experience.
"Zoom will allow me to answer any content related questions, but, more importantly, stay connected with my students,” explained Najera, a Design-Based Learning teacher.
“It is important for them to have a sense of normalcy during these difficult times. They are able to see their friends and we can laugh together. I was even able to meet everyone’s pets!”
Quail Summit Elementary students Amanda, and Austin Toon broadcast flag salute on Facebook live from their living room.
Keeping Positivity! Walnut High Principal Ryan Maine and senior ASB President Matt Mayo launch new #WalnutWednesdayBroadcast.
Castle Rock Elementary teacher Tracy Young offers online art lessons during COVID-19 closure.
Chaparral Middle School students meet with math teacher Jennifer Najera during COVID-19 closure.
Diamond Bar High drama teacher Jared Kaitz hosts virtual choreography class.
Keep Calm and Play Music! Diamond Bar High Performing Arts students practice online for upcoming virtual recital.
Walnut Elementary fifth grader Audrey Hess reads “Little Pea” on Facebook for schoolmates while cozied on couch with dog George McFly on March 19. The school is hosting a daily read-a-loud during closure.
Chaparral Middle School 6th grader Rae Martinez takes first online piano lesson with Walnut High teacher Justin Panlilio.
C.J. Morris Elementary teacher Tara Noelte checks in with students using the Zoom Meeting app during school closure.
Walnut Elementary parent Nancy Lim offers kids’ bootcamp on Facebook every Monday and Wednesday at 4 p.m.
C.J. Morris teacher Cindy Riggio’s class has first face-to-face meeting during school closure.