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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!  

Staff Gets Started on an Extraordinary Gold Medal Year

NEWS                                                                                    Walnut Valley Unified School District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             880 S. Lemon Avenue
August 16, 2012                                                                   Walnut, CA 91789

Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources
(909) 595-1261 ext. 31204

Walnut Valley Staff Gets Started on an Extraordinary Gold Medal Year
Olympic themed welcome back program featured food, friendship, and fun

WALNUT, CA--Walnut Valley Unified School District employees began the 2012-2013 school year during an Olympic themed opening ceremony on August 15. 

The annual staff kick-off breakfast and program was held at the Calvary Chapel in Diamond Bar. 

Beginning at 7:15 a.m., the Diamond Bar High School Pep Band under the direction of Steve Acciani performed during breakfast served by the WVUSD Food Services Department. 

The Walnut High School Pep band performed as hundreds of WVUSD staff members streamed inside the beautiful venue that was once again provided free of charge for the event.

Several WHS Blue Thunder band members even danced revving up the energy during the pep rally music.

WVUSD administrators tossed “Inspire a Generation” Olympic themed t-shirts to staffers cheering, clapping, and waving pompoms in hopes of catching a coveted golden prize.

The Olympic Fanfare played as hosts Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Kathy Granger and Director of Human Resources Robert Chang took to the stage to begin the program.

“In honor of the 2012 London Olympic Games, we’d like to welcome you to the Opening Ceremony for the 2012-2013 school year,” Granger said while holding an Olympic torch with colorful tissue paper flames.

Boy Scout Troop 777 and Cub Scout Pack 737 from Diamond Bar then presented the flag and Diamond Bar High senior Tori Berba performed the national anthem.

Superintendent Dr. Dean Conklin welcomed new staff members – including teachers, classified personnel, and administrators.

“It’s a great pleasure to see so many new faces this morning,” he said.

The program honored nearly 150 certificated and classified employees for milestone years of service, the 2011-12 Teachers of the Year, and Classified Cornerstone Award recipients – an award presented for exemplary service.  

Grammy songs of the year played as the names of the employees celebrating 10, 15, 20, 30, 30+, and 40 years of service scrolled on the monitors.

Linda Cuesta, an Instructional Aide II-Special Education at Collegewood Elementary, received a standing ovation for four decades of extraordinary service to students while the 1972 song You’ve Got a Friend by James Taylor played.

And when the music stopped, Collegewood staff members continued singing acappella in a moving tribute to their long-time friend and co-worker.

WVUSD Employees of the Year were also introduced. The 2011 Classified Employee of the Year is Adam Doty, Technology Department Network System Specialist. The 2011 District Teacher of the Year is Sandy Davis, Diamond Bar High School English/Peer Counseling.

Congratulations and good luck to Sandy who has also been named a Semi-Finalist in the L.A. County Teacher of the Year competition.

The Welcome Back program’s breakfast, t-shirts, and raffle prizes were generously donated by local businesses.

“I want to thank each and everyone of you who help make Walnut Valley unique in the San Gabriel Valley, the State, and perhaps in the Nation.” said Board President Larry Redinger.

“You all work very hard to make sure our students are ready to take on the world when they graduate,” said Superintendent Conklin. “You prepare students for a world that is constantly changing and we know your preparation must constantly change as well.”

Conklin said he’s had the opportunity to visit all the Walnut Valley schools on numerous occasions.

“It is my privilege to watch these professionals at work. It’s the highlight of my day and this commitment to students extends beyond the classroom,” he said. 

DBHS Instructional Dean Gabriel Aguilar who competed in the New York City Ironman Triathlon on August 10 was among several staff members he acknowledged.

Conklin also introduced two short videos of extraordinary people during the one-hour program.

The first featured Diamond Bar High graduate and 2012 London Olympic gold medal winner Alex Morgan during a recent “Back Home” visit to her alma mater.  She met with coaches, teachers, varsity soccer players, and reminisced about her life as a Brahma.  She was thrilled to receive her favorite fresh-baked cookies from Food Service Supervisor Rita Vidal.

”I love them! I would come here every morning just to get these cookies- so thank you,” Morgan said.

The second video highlighted ten inspiring quotes from the late Steve Jobs, a dynamic visionary who dared to dream and as a result changed the way we use technology around the world.

“A number of amazing young people will come through our doors next week. Perhaps you will be working with a future Steve Jobs, a future teacher, a future Ironman Triathlete, or a future Olympic gold medalist,” Conklin said.

“This is a remarkable and extraordinary place and you are an extraordinary team. So let’s get started on an extraordinary gold medal year,” he said.

“I love coming to our Back to School event because it just puts everything back into perspective about why we’re here,” said Lead Electronics Technician Brian Culross.


Welcome Home Alex! Dr. Conklin introduced a video featuring DBHS graduate and Olympian Alex Morgan when she visited her alma mater. 

Diamond Bar High’s Pep Band provided entertainment during the reception and breakfast. 

Showing their Panther Pride, South Pointe teachers gathered during the Welcome Back breakfast. 

Walnut High’s Blue Thunder Pep Band performed during the program.

Westhoff Elementary second grade teacher Katie Jeanal celebrates with staff members after catching an Olympic themed gold "Inspire a Generation" t-shirt. 

Hosts Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Kathy Granger and Director of Human Resources Robert Chang welcomed WVUSD staff members to the 2012-2013 school year Opening Ceremony. 

Boy Scout Troop 777 and Cup Scout Pack 737 from Diamond Bar presented the flag as Diamond Bar High senior Tori Berba sang the National Anthem. 

Administrative Director of Educational Services Jose Annicchiarico delivered a raffle prize to Castle Rock Transitional Kindergarten teacher Bonnie Carren.

C.J. Morris fifth grade teacher Jennifer Veneracion was thrilled after winning a Kindle during the phone in raffle. 


DBHS grad and Olympian Alex Morgan gets her favorite cookies from Food Services Supervisor Rita Vidal. Also shown Athletic Director Kurt Davies. (Alex Morgan)