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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!  

Board Honors Super Star Students, Community Partner, CAAP

NEWS                                                                                   Walnut Valley Unified School District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            880 S. Lemon Avenue
October 4, 2012                                                                  Walnut, CA 91789

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

Board Honors Students and Community Members

WALNUT, CA— The Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees lauded two Chaparral Middle School Super Star students, a Community Partner in Education, and the Council of African American Parents (CAAP) during the October 3 meeting.

Chaparral 8th graders Valery Paredones and Samuel Kee were named Super Star students. Principal Ron Thibodeaux said he felt fortunate to be able recognize the standout students who share an interest in technology.

Technology Coordinator and teacher Jen Alcazar described introduced both students who she described as “phenomenal.”

When she learned about the Tech Trek science and math camp, Alcazar quickly decided to nominate Valery Paredones because she is an extremely hard working and dedicated student. 

The weeklong camp is designed to develop interest, excitement, and self-confidence in young women entering eighth grade in the fall.

Valery then submitted an application and participated in an interview, and was selected from hundreds of applicants. The summer program held at University of California, Irvine featured hands-on activities in math, science, and related fields.

“She is a wonderful student, incredibly hard-working, wonderfully respectful, and a great kid. I’m incredibly proud of her and it makes me very excited to see a girl in science and technology, “ Alcazar said.

Chaparral Middle School prides itself on the recent strides that it has made toward the integration of technology into its classrooms; this year it boasts two full cores with about 300 students who participate in a one-to-one laptop program. 

Along with this increased use of technology comes an increase in technical “glitches” and the need for extra support for both teachers and students. 

“I used to be the only one running around dealing with these issues,” Alcazar said. Then she learned about a “phenomenal” student from another teacher.  

Alcazar said she immediately began happily enlisting the help of computer savvy Samuel Kee last year in 7th grade.

Now the 8th grader is working alongside Alcazar as an official technology aide  - and all the teachers call him “the doctor.”

When they ask for help they’ll say, “will you please send over the doctor?” she explained. 

“I’ll say - hey Sam what’s wrong with this computer? And he’ll say ‘give me a screwdriver.’

Then he’ll crack it open and say ‘there’s something wrong with the CPU let me go find one.’ And he’ll dash out (and I don’t know where he finds these parts), comes back with one, and puts it back together,“ she described.

“Sam is incredibly brilliant when it comes to technology, a great kid, super respectful and humble, and a hard worker. He is a light at Chaparral and a wonderful asset to our team,” she said.

“And I highly recommend that Walnut Valley hires him when he graduates from college!”

Volunteer parent Yara Sands was honored with the Community Partner in Education award.

“Parent involvement is so important to any school, but we at Chaparral have some of the best parent volunteers around,” Thibodeaux said.

For the past four years, one of our greatest contributors has been Mrs. Yara Sands. Yara has spent two years as a Vice President and two more as President of the Chaparral Community Club, he said.

She is also a member of our School Site Council and the Chaparral HOPE (Hispanic Organization of Parents).

Yara also works as the President of the Evergreen Elementary Community Club, Vice President of the Diamond Bar High Brahma Foundation, and President of the WVUSD district-wide Coordinating Council.

“We are so blessed to have her as part of the Chaparral Community,” Thibodeaux said.  

Board Member Helen Hall introduced a special award for the Council of African American Parents (CAAP).

I think its important that people know how this organization was developed, and what came out of it, and the benefits to the children, parents, and our community, she said.

CAAP started in 1992 while Dr. Ron Hockwalt was superintendent at that time. He called community leaders together and listened to them to make sure that every child succeeded in Walnut Valley.

CAAP was one of the results of that meeting. Ingrid Johnson and Claudette Smith, and other parents got together and said ‘what can we do, how can we make a difference in the district?’ Hall said.

At first the group met in parents homes helping kids with their studies. And then CAAP grew to become the organization it is now – a non-profit 501 (C)(3) organization fostering kids in the community fostering and preparing them for the future.

“And they have done an outstanding job,” Hall said. CAAP now includes the elementary starting at 4th grade through 12th grade students.

2012 CAAP graduates were accepted to top colleges and universities in the country including West Point Military Academy, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, Stanford, NYU, Spelman, Howard, Stanford, Yale, CSU Fullerton, and Loyola Marymount.

“CAAP’s motto is ‘It takes a village to succeed’ and that’s so true. Because we know that when you’re behind kids, they’re going to succeed,” Hall said.

“I’d like to thank each and everyone of the CAAP members for all your hard work to give back to the community,” Hall added.  The audience was filled with many of the organization’s founding and current members.

CAAP co-founder and current president Ingrid Johnson said the group is grateful and humble to be celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Johnson paid tribute to founding board member, Claudette Johnson who passed away last summer after a long battle with cancer.

“Claudette was like the village mother and was such an inspiration to me. Any activity we had she was always there encouraging us and doing all the background information.  When I think of CAAP I know that she was the fuel to get us going and I miss her a lot,” she said.

CAAP will host the Claudette Smith Scholarship Golf Tournament on October 20 at the Royal Vista Golf Course and has established the Claudette Educational Scholarship Program in her honor. For more reservations and information, please call (909) 319-8550 or visit their website at

I am very humbled that you have recognized Claudette and I know she is smiling down on us,” said husband Gary Miller.

The WVUSD Board of Trustees recognized the CAAP organization during the meeting held on October 3. Shown: Claudette Johnson’s daughter Kenya Smith Williams, granddaughter Taylor Williams, grandson DJ Williams, husband Gary Miller, CAAP President Ingrid Johnson, and Board Member Helen Hall. 

The WVUSD Board of Trustees recognized Chaparral 8th grader Samuel Kee was recognized as a Super Star student on October 3. Shown with Principal Ron Thibodeaux, Technology Coordinator Jen Alcazar, and Board President Larry Redinger. 

Chaparral 8th grader Valery Paradones was honored as a Super Star student on October 3.
Shown with Board President Larry Redinger, Technology Coordinator Jen Alcazar, and Principal Ron Thibodeaux. 

The Board of Trustees presented Chaparral parent volunteer Yara Sands with the Community Partner in Education Award. Shown with Principal Ron Thibodeaux and Board President Larry Redinger.