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April 30, 2018

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Photo of the Week

A Sunnyside High School student takes part in a photo shoot to promote the work students are doing in photography and marketing.

Video of the Week

Video of the week
Faces of Fresno Unified: Isaac Rodriguez

Dates to Know

May 9, 23 and 30 at 6 p.m.
Board of Education


Welcome to Community Zone, an e-newsletter from the Fresno Unified School District featuring news of the district and schools. Sign up to receive this newsletter every two weeks. Questions? Contact

Community News

Watch the New “60 Seconds with Fresno Unified” Video

Watch the latest edition of “60 Seconds with Fresno Unified,” featuring a sendoff for district students headed to Fresno State, awards for two district bus drivers, a beautification project at Winchell Elementary School and the CTE Summit.
“Fresno Unified in 60 Seconds”

Unified Basketball Concludes with Showcase

The district’s unified basketball teams finished their inaugural season April 25 with the Unified Showcase at Hoover High School. Unified teams feature students in special education playing alongside students in general education, a program promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition.

Bullard, Edison, Fresno, Hoover, McLane, Roosevelt, and Sunnyside, as well as Madera and Madera South high schools participated in the showcase festivities, which included games and an end of season celebration. 

CART Offers Summer Elementary Program

All incoming third through seventh grade Fresno Unified students are eligible to attend the Center for Advanced Research and Technology's (CART) Summer Academy program for FREE! Students will have the opportunity to experience CART's project-based learning environment during the week of June 11 through June 15 from 8-11:30 a.m. Students can select from a variety of classes like Movie Magic, Optical Illusions, CyberPatriot, Robotics, and Builder's Workshop. 
Registration materials will be available in all Fresno Unified elementary school offices. No transportation provided. Space is limited, sign up early! Questions: Contact Rachel Kuhtz at
CART Elementary Summer Program Flyer
CART Elementary Summer Program Registration Form  

Students Compete in Middle School Pentathlon

Congratulations to all the schools who participated in the 2018 Middle School Academic Pentathlon.  Eight middle schools and more than 130 highly motivated seventh and eighth grade students took part in the competition on April 10 and 14 at Ahwahnee Middle School.  The students were tested in five academic areas around the theme of Africa.  Students were tested in literature, social science, science, math, fine art and a written essay.  The Goal 2 office is very proud of all the students, parents, teachers and staff members who took part in this year's event.  When students combine arts, activities and athletics with academics, great things happen!  Students make connections with peers and faculty "champions" that last far into the future.  The top five winning teams for the second annual event are:



















Update on District Athletics

Athletics are flourishing around the district, keeping students connected with their schools and building positive relationships with coaches and other students.
Summary of Winter Athletic Highlights
Middle School Athletic Champions

AMAE Honors Students, Educators

The Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE) will honor $1,000 scholarship recipients and educators at the annual awards dinner Friday, May 11.
Scholarship recipients: Design Science Middle College High School, Kayla Gomez; Edison High School,  Victor Godinez and Icelyn Yepez; Fresno High School, Jaqueline Cervantes and Shaymany Suarez; McLane High School, Rosa Villalba and April Espinoza-Robledo; Patiño School of Entrepreneurship, Maria Navarro; Roosevelt High School, Salma Pantaleon-Damaso; and Sunnyside High School, Melvin Alas-Guerra.
Educator of the Year Award recipients:  Corina Valdivia, Yosemite Middle School teacher;  Sam Sanchez (posthumous), Yosemite Middle School special education instructional aide; Patricia Chacon, Sunnyside High School teacher;  and Erica Piedra, principal at Leavenworth Elementary School.

Superintendent Board Remarks from April 25, 2018

Superintendent Bob Nelson provided a brief report to the Fresno Unified Board of Education including:

• Thanking everyone who coordinated and attended this year’s Southeast Asian Family Education Conference organized by Parent University.  The event was held at Fresno City College.  It focused on building student’s academic success, both from the sense of the student and their parents.  The conference focused on students and parents in our Hmong, Lao and Cambodian communities by providing engaging workshops, leadership for middle school students and civic engagement for high school students.  Nearly 400 people attended the event.  Thank you, Parent University, for organizing this successful experience for many of our parents.

• Acknowledging Sunnyside High School digital photography and marking students and staff who are currently holding a launch party to unveil new technology and state-of-the-art equipment in their classroom.  Attendees will experience a career technical education classroom in action and receive a personal, professional portrait from students.  Nelson thanked industry partners who not only take the time to mentor students but also provide training and support to ensure they come the professionals they aspire to be.

• Thanking the district’s 90 professional bus drivers.  Tuesday was National School Bus Drivers Day and we appreciate our 90 drivers who are up before dawn every morning to inspect their buses and prepare to safely transport our city’s most precious cargo.  Nelson also thanked the California Highway Patrol who honored two district drivers: Richard Olivares and Michelle Thomas.  Both were recognized with the prestigious Blackwell Memorial Award for 20 consecutive years of safe driving.  This is absolutely no small feat!  Thank you, Fresno Unified bus drivers, for your continued support of our students!

• Congratulating Board Clerk Valerie Davis for being elected to a seat on the Executive Committee of the Council of Great City Schools.  This is a huge honor and deserves great recognition!  Trustee Davis will begin her three-year term this summer.

• Recognizing Bullard High School boys’ volleyball coach Roy Verduzco who, last week, coached his 800th career win in a conference match!  The game was an exciting one against Madera South and gave Roy Verduzco the most wins of any coach in the State of California.  Roy’s record currently stands at 800 wins, 201 losses spanning his 35-year career.  Superintendent Nelson and Trustee Ashjian presented Roy with a plaque celebrating this milestone.

View Full Board Meeting Recap

School Buzz

Duncan Hosts Triskaidekaphobia Competition

In what is believed to be the first event of its kind in the state, Duncan Polytechnical High School hosted triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) competitions Friday evening, April 13, attracting 160 students. Duncan does not have traditional sports teams, so the event provided opportunities for students to compete on teams or individually in strenuous athletic obstacle courses and bounce houses. Students wore T-shirts that said “I survived triskaidekaphobia at Duncan Poly.”
Video of Duncan Triskaidekaphobia Competition

Easterby Students Raise Money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Easterby Elementary School students participated in a "Pennies for Patients" fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, raising $4,416.14, doubling their goal of $2,000. Steven Slattery's fourth grade class raised $440.80 and won the classroom competition.  The school held a celebration April 27.  

NFL Star Visits Lincoln Elementary

Robert Golden, who plays for the Kanas City Chiefs, returned to his first Fresno Unified school -- Lincoln Elementary -- on April 20. He spoke to students about overcoming challenges and keeping their eyes on their education. ​

Design Science and Patiño High Schools hold College & Career Fair

Design Science Middle College High School and Patiño School of Entrepreneurship held a College & Career Fair on April 27 to help students chart their path beyond high school. The fair featured representatives from Fresno City College’s Social Sciences Department, the Academy of Art University, UEI College, UC Merced, Clovis Community College, Fresno State’s Educational Opportunity Center, Agape College of Business & Science, UC Davis and Fresno Pacific University, as well as representatives from a variety of employers.

Norseman Collects Books for Reading Heart Book Drive

The students at Norseman Elementary School did a great job collecting books for the Reading Heart book drive. The students at Norseman are caring and ready to help.

Thomas Celebrates Earth Day

Thomas Elementary School TK and kindergarten students celebrated Earth Day with a Recycle Relay, pudding finger paint art, and a recycled crayon science experiment. ​

Heaton General Ed and Special Ed Students take Zoo Trip

Students in both special education and general education took a field trip together to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo on April 23. The outing brought together students in special education from transitional kindergarten and kindergarten and students with autism in grades 1-3 with general ed students in second grade.

Sunnyside Digital Marketing and Photography holds Open House

Sunnyside High School hosted an open house on April 25 to unveil a new digital marketing and photography classroom.  Thanks to numerous donations, students who enroll in digital marketing and photography courses will have access to state-of-the-art equipment.  The public had the opportunity to experience a working career technical education classroom and hear first-hand from industry professionals about how this new style of learning is benefitting students.   Students provided complimentary headshots using the new photography equipment.

Winchell works with Home Depot to Beautify Campus

Thanks to the Home Depot Foundation, Fresno Unified School District’s Parent University was awarded $8,250 to beautify Winchell Elementary School’s campus.  On April 21, parents and students joined Home Depot in installing several tables and benches, as well as flowers, plants and other greenery.  This was made possible by local Home Depot Store #1086.
Video of Winchell Beautification Project

McLane ArtVenture has Busy Year End Planned

The culminating activities for McLane High School’s ArtVenture Academy include:
May 18: ArtVenture Student Art Show and Gala; art on display and for sale; spoken word; catered meal; 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the River Center
June 7:  ArtHop at M Street Arts Complex on HomeWork: Foster Love. Foster Hope. Foster Home; 5- 8 p.m.
June 20: Community meeting on ArtVenture’s next year project on human trafficking;  9- 11; McLane T1

Sunnyside Wind Symphony will Perform at Carnegie Hall

The Sunnyside High School Wind Symphony, under the direction of Michael J. Angel, has been accepted to perform in the 2019 New York Wind Band Festival, March 10-14, 2019 at Carnegie Hall. ​​​The festival organization, World Projects Corporation, receives many applications from around the world for the prestigious New York Wind Band Festival every year, but only six high school ensembles are invited to participate. The Sunnyside Wind Symphony will join a long list of stellar ensembles that have earned the right to say that they have performed on stage in the prestigious Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall.

J.E. Young Academic Center holds College & Career Fair

The J.E. Young Academic Center held a college signing on April 19 to highlight students’ commitment to attend college. J.E. Young also held a College & Career Fair to help students chart their path beyond high school. The fair featured representatives from Fresno City College’s Social Sciences Department, the Academy of Art University, UEI College, UC Merced, Clovis Community College, Fresno State’s Educational Opportunity Center, Agape College of Business & Science, UC Davis, Paul Mitchel and Fresno State’s Air Force ROTC. The fair also featured representatives from a variety of employers.

Sunnyside Student Wins Film Award

Senior Alia Avalos from Sunnyside High School’s Video Production Academy won the Public Service Announcement - Civility category at the Picture the Valley Student Film Festival April 18. Sunnyside has won the category two years in a row. The video will be played before every movie shown at Maya Cinemas for the rest of 2018. 
Watch Alia Avalos’ Winning Video

Roosevelt Ecology Club Cleans Out Pond

The Roosevelt High Ecology Club volunteered at the Fresno Discovery Center to clean up their over-grown pond after school on April 12.  The two-hour service project involved pulling and trimming plants blocking the waterfall, cleaning the water filtration system and skimming debris from the ponds surface.  The half dozen volunteers had to carefully avoid falling into the pond while working and observing the habitats of numerous species of fish and turtles.  More than 20 wheelbarrows full of plants, roots, leaves, and muck were hauled out and moved to the compost pile.  The students with their muddy, smiling faces left behind a free-flowing ecosystem to be used for exploration and understanding for all future visitors!

Mayfair Families Paint Together

Mayfair Elementary School held its second Family Paint Night of the school year recently.  Families painted a blossoming tree with the guidance of a local student artist and support from the after school program.  Families filled the cafeteria and​ enjoyed snacks and working together to create their own authentic piece of​ art​ that they proudly took home.

Addicott Elementary Students Take First out of Town Field Trip

Students from Addicott Elementary School visited the SpiritHorse Connections therapy horse facility in Kingsburg April 19. With the help and support of the district’s Transportation Department, this was the first out of town field trip for Addicott, which serves kindergarten through eighth grade students with severe disabilities, including those who are orthopedically impaired, intellectually disabled, have multiple disabilities, are deaf and have other health impairments. Students had the opportunity to experience a petting zoo and farm animals, and some students will get to ride the therapy horses.

Employer of Choice

Kings Canyon Principal will Throw out First Pitch at Bulldogs Game

Kings Canyon Middle School principal Edith Navarro has been selected from among nominated principals to throw out the first pitch at the May 1 Fresno State baseball game as part of National Principals Day. Other district principals who were nominated and will also be recognized at the game are:

• Matt Phanco (Thomas Elementary)
• Deborah Marquez (Hamilton K-8 School)
• Kevin Evangelinos (Tioga Middle School)
• Lynn Salazar (Ayer Elementary School)
• Andrew Scherrer (Computech Middle School)
• Kelli Wilkins (Slater Elementary School)
• Nichole Horn (Yosemite Middle School)
• Charlie Reynolds (Starr Elementary School)
• Gia Picchi-Shirley (Storey Elementary School)
• Carla Manning (Kirk Elementary School)
• Annarita Howell (Wishon Elementary School)
• Sherry Tharpe (Olmos Elementary School)
• Joey Munoz (Edison High School)
• Carson Wood (J.E. Young Academic Center)
• Michael Allen (Roosevelt High School)

They were selected from a nomination process. All school district employees are invited to attend the game for free with a valid ID to help celebrate the Valley's amazing principals. The game starts at 6 p.m. For group sales at special pricing: Aaron Johnson, (559) 278-1688. 

Adaptive P.E. Teacher Wins Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year Award

Adaptive P.E. teacher Troy Brown will receive a Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year Award in the Schools Program category at the upcoming Summer Games at UC Davis this June.  He will be cheered by thousands of athletes and their families for his work.  Troy was instrumental in launching the unified sports program (students in special education play alongside students from general ed) at the high school level in the district and has been involved with Special Olympics for 20 years. 

Vote for Edison Teacher for All-Start Teacher Award

Edison High School chemistry teacher Jennifer Click is one five finalists for the NBC Sports Bay Area 2018 All-Star Teacher. A film crew from NBC Sports film her in her classroom and conducted interviews with students and staff. The three-minute video is posted online and voting is ongoing through June 1. On June 21, Jennifer will attend a Giants baseball game and the winner will be announced on the field. The winner will receive $20,000 for their school.
Vote for Edison Teacher Jennifer Click Here

Edison High School Hires Jackie White as Girls Basketball Coach

Jackie White, a former McDonald’s All-American and Harlem Globetrotter, has been hired as the girls varsity basketball coach at Edison High School. White retired from the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation-Juvenile Division and is currently working as a private coach. After starring at San Joaquin Memorial High School, White was an All-American in college and the second woman selected as a Harlem Globetrotter.   

Bus Drivers Recognized for Safe Driving

As part of National School Bus Drivers Day on April 24, the California Highway Patrol honored district bus drivers Richard Olivares and Michelle Thomas with the prestigious Blackwell Memorial Award for 20 consecutive years of safe driving.

Tenaya Teacher Receives Grant

Tenaya Middle School Spanish teacher Susana Rodriguez received a $1,000 One Classroom at a Time grant from FOX26 and Mor Furniture to use in a variety of ways to support student learning inside and outside the classroom.

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