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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!  

Back to Class!

August 16, 2016

Back to Class!

School Begins in Walnut Valley

WALNUT, CA—Over 14,500 students said goodbye to summer vacation and hello to backpacks and books as classes begin in the Walnut Valley Unified School District on August 15. 

“I can’t wait to do math!” announced Collegewood Elementary first grader Summit Purcell.

“I started to love math in kindergarten!” he shared.

Over 675 teachers welcomed their new charges with handshakes and high-fives all around the 15 Diamond Bar and Walnut campuses

At Castle Rock Elementary, students and their parents flocked to the courtyard eager to mark the first day in a new handcrafted photo booth.

Students held up grade level signs as proud parents captured the moment on cell phones and cameras.

“I’m excited for everything!”  exclaimed 5th grader Inaaya Ahm, 10, as she happily greeted her friend Clair while waiting to take a photo.

Principal Dr. Resma Byrne was thrilled to welcome eight new teachers for the new school year, including fresh-faced Naomi Sunshine.

“It’s like she was born to be a kindergarten teacher!” exclaimed one parent before the first bell rang.

Before the 8:20 a.m. bell, Sunshine opened the door to her class signaling her very first day as a teacher.

She greeted each of her 22 students individually as they walked up the ramp to their new classroom.

“I’d have to say that was my favorite moment from the day. My nerves went away instantly, and I was ready to begin the new school year with them!”

Sunshine reported that it was a very successful first day.

“My students were ready to learn and have fun!” she said.

Across town in Walnut, first grade teacher Jane Dyer-Smith, who has been an educator for 38 years, gathered her students together for a phonics lesson on Wednesday.

When she held up the Honey Horse animal alphabet card, the eager youngsters had fun patting their thighs to make galloping sounds while saying the “H” sound. 

While saying the Nigel the Night Owl “N” sound, the children cupped their hands around their eyes, and then wiggled their fingers in the air like an inchworm while practicing the “I” sound.

“I am having fun with my first grade students reviewing letters and sounds using the Zoo Phonics method of signing and signaling!” Dyer-Smith said.

“This helps them remember the concepts and they love doing it! It's a great way to start the year!”

At middle and high schools, students flocked from class to class with schedules in hand during the minimum day.

Teachers, staff, and administrators were ready to help students find their way around campus and answer any back-to-school questions.

Diamond Bar High hosted an Olympic-themed first day rally featuring drumline, pep, cheer, and dance performances.

As the fanfare played, the school’s brahma mascot strode into the decorated gym to light the torch.

Students cheered as gold medal contenders’ teachers Letitia Thomas and Mary Gaxiola competed in inflatable sumo wrestling costumes.

The school will host its annual Rodeo Round-Up on August 19 with dinner, music, and games beginning at 5 p.m. The event is open to the community.

At Walnut High, choir teacher Lisa Lopez warmed up the elite Chamber Singers ensemble during fourth period.

All five school choirs will begin a packed performance season during a Cabaret Night on September 23 at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. A Pancake Breakfast is slated for October 29. 

“It’s going to be a great year!” said Walnut High senior Brianna Roach. 

“I’m looking forward to classes, athletics, and having a chill last year!” added Daniel Yang.

By Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources


Castle Rock Elementary new kindergarten teacher Naomi Sunshine welcomes students on the first day. 

Collegewood Elementary first grade teacher Jane Dyer-Smith makes learning fun! 

Collegewood Elementary students have fun practicing letters and sounds. Shown: first grader Eileen Chen. 

Walnut High leadership students Brianna Roach, Chloe Hsu, and Daniel Yang walk to class on the first day of school. 

Diamond Bar High hosted an Olympic-themed first day rally

Diamond Bar High’s first day rally included exciting drumline, pep, cheer, and dance performances. 

A crowd favorite! Diamond Bar High teachers Letitia Thomas and Mary Mary Gaxiola compete in inflatable sumo wrestling costumes during a first day rally. Photo by Bill Foley. 

Keep Calm and Learn Math! Chaparral Middle School teacher Laura Ise welcomes 7th grade students on the first day of school. 

Castle Rock 5th grader Inaaya Ahm poses for a first day photo. 

Castle Rock kindergarten teacher Amy Yee begins the first day with “The New Bear at School” story. 

Walnut High choir teacher Lisa Lopez warms up the Chamber Singers ensemble.

Mason and Evelyn Kim begin the new school year, crossing the street safely with dad Harry.