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ALLmeansALL! Walnut Valley USD is proud to be a National Schools to Watch District with numerous National Blue Ribbon, California Gold Ribbon, and California Distinguished School awards. Our motto is KIDS FIRST... Every Student, Every Day!  

WVUSD Trustees Salute School Stars

January 21, 2021

By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources

WALNUT, CA—In keeping with tradition, the Walnut Valley USD Board of Trustees honored outstanding students and parent volunteers during the January 20 meeting.

This month, Castle Rock and Westhoff Elementary School stars were spotlighted along with winner of the Superintendent’s Holiday Card Contest.

Castle Rock second grader Christopher Oberholtzer Ballesteros was lauded with the Super Star Student Award. Teachers Julie Urbaniec and Julie Park reported that Chris’ personality shines through in class – friendly, respectful, thoughtful, positive, and cheerful. He begins every day with a smile, looks for new ways to learn, and never backs down from a challenge. Chris also leads with strong communication skills and an even stronger sense of empathy. When he senses that someone has had a rough day, he always provides words of encouragement.

“Chris, thank you for being a true example of an IB Knight. Your perseverance, empathy, and enthusiasm and confidence are a role model for all!” said Interim Principal Jackie Brown.

Parents Conchita and Richard Cawley received Partner in Education Awards. Even with busy careers, they have been dedicated volunteers in the classroom, workroom, field trips, and special events since 2014. Kindergarten teacher Cindy Feng, who taught their children, shared that Conchita supports students during classroom centers, helps with teacher prep work, and is always willing to provide assistance. Richard also volunteered to assemble classroom furniture and share during career day, bringing in visuals, and answering all kindergartener’s inquisitive questions!

“Most importantly, they do this all with a sense of humor, generosity, and genuine love for Castle Rock and our teachers! Thank you for all you do for all students, teachers, and Castle Rock’s community!” Brown shared during the awards presentation.

Westhoff Elementary fifth grader Jayden Zhang received the Super Star Student Award. Jayden has stood out as a shining “Westhoff Wrangler” from his very first day at school this year. He has participated in whole group and break-out sessions.  He is self-motivated, an independent worker, academically successful, and demonstrates leadership skills.  Jayden also went above and beyond during the virtual “Walk Through American Revolution” field trip by memorizing parts, dressing up in costume, and creating an accent for the Ben Franklin character he portrayed.

“Even though we are in distance learning, Jayden has taken the initiative to contact friends and hosts an after school online study group,” said Principal Dr. Sandra Lee.

Parent volunteer Tamoko Lew was acknowledged with the Partner in Education Award. Tamoko is known for her friendly smile and generosity of time. She helps in numerous behind-the-scene ways as a classroom volunteer, working with students, and taking photos at parties and events. One teacher reported that “Tamoko would always show up and help in any way that I needed her – art projects, party planning, or book bags.” Another said she captured a keepsake class photo to celebrate an academic accomplishment.  “Whenever I see this picture, I remember how sweet, caring, and kind Mrs. Lew is. She is simply amazing!”

Maple Hill fifth grader Irene Park was honored as the very first back-to-back winner in the annual Superintendent’s Holiday Art Contest. Her original winter wonderland-themed artwork was featured in a special postcard delivered to every student in the District.

“We are very proud of her!” said Superintendent Dr. Taylor.


Maple Hill 5th grader Irene Park honored as winner in the Superintendent’s Holiday Card Contest on Jan. 20. Also shown with Board President Layla Abou-Taleb, Principal Kelly Morris, Teacher Vanessa Mabini. 

Board President Layla Abou-Taleb salutes Castle Rock second grader Christopher Oberholtzer Ballesteros with Super Star Student Award. 

Castle Rock parent volunteers Conchita and Richard Cawley receive Partner in Education Awards on Jan. 20.  

Westhoff Elementary fifth grader Jayden Zhang honored with Super Star Student Award on Jan. 20. 

Westhoff Elementary parent volunteer Tamoko Lew is the recipient of the Partner in Education Award.