NEWS Walnut Valley Unified School District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 880 S. Lemon Avenue
August 19, 2011 Walnut, CA 91789
Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources
(909) 595-1261 ext. 31204
District employees kick off new school year
WALNUT, CA--Walnut Valley Unified School District staff kicked off the beginning of the 2011-12 school year during a breakfast and welcome program held on August 17.
More than 1,000 employees – including teachers, classified personnel, and administrators gathered at the event held at Calvary Chapel in Diamond Bar.
Local boy scouts from troop #777 led the opening flag ceremony and Chaparral Middle School 8th grade class president Justa Hoang sang the National Anthem.
The Diamond Bar High jazz band and Walnut High pep band provided high-spirited entertainment at the event featuring t-shirt giveaways and raffle prizes donated by local businesses.
The program honored more than 250 certificated and classified employees for milestone years of service, the 2010-11 Teachers of the Year, and Classified Cornerstone Award recipients – an award presented for service and performance.
One dedicated Walnut Valley educator, Suzanne computer teacher Connie Castro, was recognized for celebrating 40 years of service to students.
“She always approaches each day as a gift and her students are never disappointed,” said Director of Pupil Services Jan Keating, a former Suzanne Principal and one of the event hosts.
Walnut High 2011 graduate Andrew Rodriquez spoke about how the District teachers and staff all contributed to his success.
This District shaped and molded me into a young adult ready to make my mark on this Earth, he said.
“Walnut Valley has truly acquainted me with the necessary qualities to secure a meaningful and purposeful life,” he said.
“I am truly grateful,” he said.
Superintendent Dr. Dean Conklin acknowledged Andrew’s parents in the audience and all the teachers and staff from schools he attended – Collegewood Elementary, Suzanne Middle School, and Walnut High.
Andrew smiled and waved from the podium as each group stood during the recognition.
“You have all had an influence on Andrew, “ said Dr. Conklin.
“When we talk about a team in Walnut Valley - this what we’re talking about. When you hear “Kids First” - this is what we mean. When teachers, staff, and parents work together to support our kids, those kids leave us and embark on a wonderful journey,” Conklin said.
The Walnut High graduate flew to Rutgers University in New Jersey immediately after the event to begin college.
During his address, Superintendent Conklin thanked staff members for their dedication and commitment to the main thing – the teaching and learning that takes place every day.
“Earlier this week STAR results were released, and once again our District’s scores are the highest around. And it is not just test scores that reinforces what we do. We’re focused on educating the whole child and each and every one of you plays an important role,” said Dr. Conklin.
“We are committed to providing a 21st century learning environment. Our teachers are the best, our support staff is the tops, and our students are second to none, and I know it is my job to make sure that we have 21st century schools for 21st century students,” he said.
“I believe Walnut Valley continues to be an extraordinary place because all of you work to put Kids First every day,” he said in the closing video featuring students and staff from across the district.
“I am thankful to go to a school where teachers know the students and try really hard to get to know us on a deeper level,” said one Class of 2011 Walnut High member. Another student thanked teachers for their dedication and said he will cherish all the life lessons and memories.
“You are changing our lives. Every day to us is another chance to learn and grow and experience valuable life experiences,” said R. J. Rycraw, Diamond Bar High Class of 2011.
Walnut Elementary second grade teacher Susan Trautz said her method of keeping the learning exciting is ”learning about each child, creating relationships, seeing what excites them, and then building on that.”
“I love learning because Mrs. Sims keeps teaching us until we all get it!” exclaimed one Castle Rock Elementary fourth grade student.
“It’s an amazing place to be – it’s a family!” said Suzanne Middle School math teacher Helen Papadopoulos.
"I believe in public education and I believe that the work that goes on in schools is the most important work you can strive to do," Superintendent Dean Conklin said.
"Do your job as if the world depended on it, because it many ways, it does. We’re going to have a great year!” he said.
Walnut High 2011 graduate Andrew Rodriguez addressed staff members during the program.
Chaparral Middle School staff members cheered as winners were announced during the raffle prize drawing.
Collegewood staff members, including teacher Jane Dyer-Smith and new Principal Carolyn Wills, clapped during the pep rally opening ceremony featuring the Walnut High pep band.
The Diamond Bar High jazz band provided entertainment outside during the staff breakfast.
Walnut High Principal Jeff Jordan with 2011 graduate Andrew Rodriguez before he addressed WVUSD staff members.
Chaparral Middle School 8th grader Justa Hoang sung the national anthem.
Boy Scouts from troop #777 and Suzanne Middle School student Justa Hoang opened the WVUSD Welcome Back program on August 17.