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Walnut valley Unified School District

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!  

Diamond Bar CHAMPS on and off the field

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NEWS                                                                                        Walnut Valley Unified School District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                880 S. Lemon Avenue
April 3, 2012                                                                             Walnut, CA 91789

Diamond Bar CHAMPS on and off the field

DIAMOND BAR, CA—On Wednesday afternoons a group of Castle Rock Elementary boys gather in the school courtyard excitedly waiting for their new friends to arrive – Diamond Bar High Varsity football players.

The new cross-age mentoring and tutoring program connecting the Walnut Valley students is called Creating Honorable Aspiring Mentors with Purpose (C.H.A.M.P.).  

It launched on January 27 and was developed by Head Football Coach Ryan Maine, a Castle Rock alumnus.

Maine wants his players to be positive role models on and off the football field.

“I believe this will really help develop their character,” he said.  

Ten football leaders read, tutor, and mentor with the primary grade students for about 30 minutes each week. 

Principal Carol Sullivan enjoys seeing the smiles on her students’ faces.

“The boys are swiggly and wiggly until the moment they see their mentors and then they get right to work,” she said.

“I like reading and playing with him on the playground,” said 2nd grader Matthew Ziroli. “They’re really nice and cool!”

The busy Brahma athletes fit the new program into their schedule during cardio workout training.

The volunteer athletes jog down to the school at 2:15 p.m. and immediately pair up with their “buddy” in a nearby classroom.  They listen to the 2nd and 3rd graders read from books, magazines, and school assignments.

Then it’s time to play and the group comprised of all-sized kids sprints down to the primary playground with a soccer ball.   

The muscular teen athletes carefully bob and weave through the grass with the seven and eight year-old boys.  Everyone gets some exercise while having fun!

“They play soccer with us and they are good!” said 2nd grader Alek Silva.

The athlete leaders received training from 5th grade teacher Steve Thayer on January 11.

“This has been really exciting,” Thayer said. The primary students are currently working on sight word recognition and fluency.

“They just need someone to pattern for them and that’s what these guys do,” he said.  

Right now, they’re spending time getting to know each other and later he’ll teach additional tutoring techniques. Pre and post testing will show reading level improvements.  

“There’s more to it than just reading,” said Thayer. “They’re getting quality individual time and that’s gold!”

Our players really enjoy the program and they feel like they have a purpose, Maine said. And they wish they could spend more time with the kids!

“I like helping the kids read and getting to know them. It’s something special,” said junior linebacker Vincent Zambrano.

He’s a smart kid! He told me he likes to play chess,” said junior wide receiver Matt Carrillo after helping his buddy read a poster about Christopher Columbus.

“It’s an honor to be part of the program. I feel like I’m making a difference,” said sophomore middle line backer Bill Preciado.

He said his buddy is a “really cool kid and he likes football too.”

Diamond Bar High School plans to invite the elementary students to a football game for a special half-time recognition.


Daniel Solis practices reading with sophomore Bill Preciado. 

DBHS varsity football players are positive role models on and off the field.

Danny Valenzuela enjoys the CHAMPS program. 

Jordan Croom reads with his CHAMP buddy Tyler Peterson.

Castle Rock students practice reading skills with their CHAMPS buddies. 

After reading, the students head over to the primary playground to play soccer.