http://www.sgvtribune.com/ci_21329875/walnut-valley-ready-start-school-monday?IADID=Search-www.sgvtribune.com-www.sgvtribune.comDiamond Bar/Walnut Highlander
August 16, 2012
By Richard Irwin, SGVN
Walnut Valley ready for start of school on Monday
Walnut Valley students will find many new faces, places and programs when they start school on Aug. 20. More than 400 students from C.J. Morris Elementary in Walnut will move to Ron Hockwalt Academy. The elementary school has been closed while contractors renovate it.
"We'll save both money and time by moving the students while we work on C.J. Morris," said Facilities Director Jeff Bloedorn. So the district packed up all the desks, books, paper and pencils to ship them to the academy. Teachers arrived this week to unpack everything. WCCR Construction has already begun replacing the facade at Morris Elementary. Construction should be completed by June.
Students at Diamond Bar High will discover crews busy at work on the new aquatics center and classroom building. The $10.7 million project will be paid through bond measures S and Y, passed by voters in November 2007.
"It'll involve some dust and noise, but we've been waiting for a pool for 30 years," said Principal Catherine Real in an earlier interview. Novus Construction is finishing retaining walls near the site of a new two-story modular building that will hold 20 classrooms.
"The high school really needed the new classrooms, which will cost $4 million," said Bloedorn. "The new building will allow them to consolidate the math department in one facility." He noted this is just the beginning phase of a modernization project at the local high school. Last summer, giant cranes installed new heating and cooling units at the busy campus.
The aquatic center will offer a 12-lane swimming pool. It will also have locker rooms, two fitness classrooms and public rest rooms, as well as rooms for coaches and teams.
The facility also will feature a new electronic scoreboard, a small concession stand and lots of stadium seating with a shade structure.
"With all the decking around the pool, the center will be able to hold almost the entire student body for special events," Bloedorn said.
Over at Walnut High, contractors are finishing the $3 million music building. The new 11,000 square foot facility includes large rooms for the band and orchestra.
"It reminds me of a music conservatory, a state-of-the-art facility that you'd expect to see at a university," said band co-director Buddy Clements, who teaches 400 young musicians with Corey Wicks.
Tucked beside the football field, the new facility even has five recording studios.
"Buddy's program reaches so many students that it has outgrown the small band room they have now," Bloedorn explained.
Walnut High is also launching a new Academic Design Program. Students will work in groups to complete hands-on projects that combine the core subjects of math, science, English and social studies.
Another new program in Walnut Valley is the transitional kindergartens. The classes offer a bridge between preschool and kindergarten for children who turn 5 from Sept. 1 to Dec. 2. Castle Rock Elementary in Diamond Bar will have one class of 24. Vejar Elementary in Walnut will have two classes of 24. Next year, the youngsters will move on to regular kindergartens.
"Transitional kindergarten will provide our young learners with the gift of time by giving them the opportunity to learn and grow in an environment that is tailored to meet their developmental, emotional, academic and social needs," explained Educational Services Director Jackie Brown.
Chaparral Middle School in Diamond Bar is expanding its one to one laptop program. Last year, sixth-graders received new HP Netbooks. This year, the program expands to the seventh grade.
"The new computers are part of the new technology core we're starting at our campus," explained Principal Ron Thibodeaux in an earlier interview.
The laptops push the National Blue Ribbon School further into the digital age. Teachers will use the new computers to enhance their instructions.
Construction of a new science building has also begin at Chaparral. The building will contain 14 new classrooms and labs. It will be located next to the new 86,000-square-foot gym. The school district spent $3.6 million on the project, including $1 million for modernizing the school's infrastructure. That work prepared the site for a new science complex, performing arts wing and food service facility.
Walnut Elementary is also expanding its dual language immersion program. It began last year with 48 students in two kindergarten classes. They will now move to first grades taught in Mandarin and English. "The government saw a need for more language instruction, especially in critical languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Japanese and Korean," Walnut program specialist Jenny Kwan-Hata said.
"So it decided to give school districts money to develop new language programs." Walnut Valley got $1.2 million for the program it calls "Global Connections - Creating 21st Century Biliterate/Bicultural Children." The goal is to have students fluent in both languages by the end of the fifth grade.
The school district is welcoming 30 new teachers and 15 classified staff members. New administrators include Joan Perez, who returns to Walnut Valley as the principal of Collegewood Elementary in Walnut. Former Collegewood principal Carolyn Wills will relocate to Evergreen Elementary in Diamond Bar. Jennifer De Anda will become the principal at Vejar Elementary.
Junior Joey Liao checks out his textbooks from Cathy Lobretto at Diamond Bar High. (Staff photo by Keith Durflinger)
Sophomore Catherine Larcheveque picks out her school books at Diamond Bar high