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April 6, 2020

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Photo of the Week

Stacks of laptops
The district’s Information Technology staff sanitized and re-imaged 40,000 laptops for fourth through 12th graders to use during the school closures.

Video of the Week

Video of the week
Health Update Video

Dates to Know

April 15 – via live streaming (see website for time)
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

Schools will Remain Closed to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19

Schools will remain closed throughout the rest of the 2019-20 school year, following a unanimous vote by the Fresno Unified Board of Education on April 1.

District Distributes more than 15,000 Exercise Your Brain Packets

Brain face wearing glassesThe district delivered more than 15,000 packets – more than 500,000 pages – of Exercise Your Brain instructional packets to the 19 meal distribution sites that were distributed to students beginning March 27. These optional packets are for the families who do not have internet access to the instructional material the district made available on its website since schools after schools closed on March 13. The district printed 60 packets per grade level per school, including materials for dual language immersion and special education. New packets will be available every Friday.

Superintendent’s Video Message

Superintendent Bob NelsonSuperintendent Bob Nelson provides an update on district work to support students during school closures.
April 3 Video from Superintendent Bob Nelson

Fresno Unified News in 60 Seconds Video

The latest edition of 60 Seconds with Fresno Unified features the extension of school closures to the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. Learning will continue online and through paper packets for those without online access. Students on track will advance to the next grade or graduate.
Fresno Unified News in 60 Seconds Video

District Providing Meals at 19 Sites

Two students look at laptopThe district is now serving more than 40,000 meals a day to students and families after the closure of district schools March 13 to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Thanks to the dedicated work of Food Services employees and school and district staff, breakfast and lunch meals are being distributed every weekday from 9-11 a.m. at 19 schools through a grab-and-go process. Fresno Unified will continue serving meals to students during the spring break, April 6-9. On Good Friday (April 10), which is a district holiday, generous community partners have stepped forward to fill the gap and provide food.

Meal distribution sites:

Addams Elementary School
Ahwahnee Middle School
Birney Elementary School
Columbia Elementary School
Computech Middle School
Cooper Academy
Figarden Elementary School
Fort Miller Middle School
Hamilton K-8 School
Kings Canyon Middle School
Lincoln Elementary School
Scandinavian Middle School
Sequoia Middle School
Tehipite Middle School
Tenaya Middle School
Terronez Middle School
Tioga Middle School
Wawona K-8 School
Yosemite Middle School

Connecting during COVID-19

McLane collage photo

During school closures, campuses across the district continued to figure out ways to stay in touch with students and encourage school spirt and connections. Those efforts included:

• Scandinavian Middle School: Scandinavian Middle School students have been staying connected through Character Strong challenges, such as creating a formal invitation to ask a parent or guardian to hang out and then tagging Instagram with a photo of what they did together. The campus also conducted third quarter sports awards via coach videos, posted on social media to celebrate players' hard work. The staff has started weekly birthday shout-outs and many teachers are reaching out through their own teacher Instagrams, which the school is pushing out to encourage students to follow their teachers.

 McLane High School: The staff creates weekly video message and sent a collage photo. Link Crew and leadership applications are underway using Google forms. Staff continues to post daily on social media the Character Strong 30-Day Kindness Challenge, videos, questions and more. Leadership students are meeting weekly via Zoom and leadership students are looking at different ways to keep students engaged and positive.

• Yosemite Middle School:  Yosemite Middle School students are participating in virtual spirit week and students and staff are posting photos to the school’s Instagram page. Some staff met virtually over the last week to brainstorm ideas for staff involvement, leading to a whole staff TikTok video. Teachers are holding Zoom class meetings.

• Cambridge High School: Cambridge High School’s virtual Spirit Week included posting favorite comedies on April Fool’s Day and pet photos on April 2. The staff will continue its monthly tradition of First Friday Breakfast by meeting via Team Chat.

• Edison High School: Edison High School students are staying involved from home, including participating in Activities Week. Students post their photos with a chance to win Amazon cards. For example, March 30 was Cooking and Baking Monday and April 1 was Writing Wednesday.

• Hoover High School: Hoover High School is doing a drawing as well for students who participate in daily virtual activities, including Throwback Thursday on April 2 and Lip Sync Challenge on April 3. Through an Instagram Live drawing on April 3, a student won a delivered dinner for their entire family.

• Tioga Middle School: Tioga Middle School students are connecting through virtual spirit week, with Starbucks gift card drawings for students who participate. Staff has also arranged fun insta trend activities, such as designing a T-shirt for 2020-21, gifs fill-in-the-blank, see a pup/post a pup, daily motivators, and shoutouts from the staff. Many teachers are contacting students via email and are advising them to work from home online through the Summit platform.

Superintendent Board Remarks from April 1, 2020

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

Highlighting the amazing work of our food services team in providing hundreds of thousands of meals to our community throughout these unprecedented school closures.
• Next, the superintendent recognized today as Census Day and asked all to ensure they complete their 2020 Census online, by mail, or by phone.
• Last, Superintendent Nelson recapped remarks from State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, Fresno County Superintendent Yovino, and Governor Gavin Newsom regarding their recommendations for extending school closures through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

View Full Board Meeting Recap

School Buzz

Fresno High Female Construction Students Win Challenge

Fresno High construction studentsFresno High School’s construction students competed for the first time in the National Association of Women in Construction 2020 doghouse competition earlier this month, emerging as champions. Arianna Arias, Ruby Mendez, Ayanna Moore and Gabriela Vasquez, from Fresno High’s Construction, Design, and Architecture Technology Academy, beat female construction students from Clovis High School, breaking Clovis High’s win streak. The winner was announced March 12. The doghouse was donated to a local no-kill animal shelter.

Edison Students Medal at History Day

Edison High students Edison High School students excelled at the Fresno County History Day competition. All winners and runners-up qualify for the online state competition May 9. Student award:

• Third place, Individual Exhibit about Brown v. Topeka Board of Ed:  Sofia James
• Third place, Historical Paper about Shirley Chisolm: Cheyenne Graves
• Third place, Group Documentary about the internet-: Omar Lara, Cody Heinks, Stephan Harris
• Third place, Group Performance about Loving v. Virginia: Dominic Samaniego, Kendall Hergenroeder, Sabrina Ponce, Venus Xiong, and Ryan Nunes
• Runner up, Group Website about Louis Pasteur: Bella Threlkeld, Mateo Caro, Moses Castillo, Chris Faught
• Co-champion, Individual Website on Edith Irby Jones: Alena Cotton
• Co-champion, Individual Website on gay rights: Alyssa Hayashi
• Co-champion, Group Documentary on the Berlin Wall: Mark Sanchez, Jefferson Sok
• Co-champion, Group Documentary on women’s suffrage: Luis Guzman, Maricela Carrillo
• Co-champion, Group Website on the Human Genome Project: Janette Salazar, Hli Vue, Daisy Mejia, Tiwat Ratanasamlee
• Co-champion, Group Exhibit about the Third World Liberation Front: Lucy Chielpegian, Gia Finkle, Kelly Alfaro, Mia Robles
• Co-champion, Group Performance about Muslim discrimination after 9/11: Cyrus Najmi-Vaninni, Esteban Benitez, Rafael Bryant, Oscar Arellano, Younus Ahmad
• Co-champion, Group Performance about Marie Curie: Cruz Soto, Leo Paragili, Michael Salazar, Laura Heyano, and Timothy Reyna
• Co-champion, Group Performance about removing the marital exception to rape laws: Emma Pitcher, Austin Kern, Tyler Mrkaich

Employee Spotlight

Principal and Executive Assistant Move on to County Educator of the Year Competition

Annette MontagueRebecca Wheeler

Great news! Annette Montague, the administrative assistant for School Leadership, and Rebecca Wheeler, principal at Hoover High School, have been selected as finalists for the Fresno County Educator of the Year awards. Annette is a 26-year veteran of several departments with the district and is known as a problem solver with exceptional work ethic and a heart for helping families. Rebecca has been with the district since 1997 and principal at Hoover for six years. She is a collaborative, highly involved leader who has fostered a sense of community on the Hoover campus.
Annette and Rebecca will go through an interview process. Educators of the Year will be announced in November. Both were among the district’s five Excellence in Education winners announced February 4.

Teacher from Academic Center Helps Homeless Family

Nancy Swanson, a teacher on special assignment at the district’s Academic Center for Suspended Students, was recently instrumental in getting much needed help to a student from the center and his family. The academic center is part of the district’s African American Academic Acceleration initiative. When Nancy met the student, he and his family were homeless and living in family accommodations at a shelter. In talking with the student’s mother, Nancy learned that the family’s belongings had been stolen. She has four children – 9 months old to the middle school student Nancy was tutoring. She gave the mom – who is from out of town – some guidance and gathered clothes for the entire family.
After the mom was able to move her family into an apartment, Nancy, friends and employees from the academic center donated a bed, towels and other household items. “She was just so grateful,” Nancy said. The mom’s attempt to get a job has been derailed by the COVID-19 virus, but the family at least is in an apartment.
Nancy said she loves her job at the Academic Center for Suspended Students: “I not only get to do the academics, but I can really come alongside these families.”
The center is housed in the West Fresno Family Resource Center. The center, which opened in October, offers academic support for students who are suspended from school for non-mandatory expulsion offenses. It aims at preventing an academic slide for these students and assists in accelerating them to grade level.

Cambridge Women’s Alliance Teacher Reaching out to Students

Vanessa WallersCambridge High School teacher Vanessa Wallers has not let the shelter in place directive and the closure of schools stop her from staying connected to her students, especially her Women’s Alliance students. Using her training in Personalized Learning Initiative strategies, she is keeping her students engaged and is infusing social emotional learning as well. Vanessa is using videos, chats, phone calls, remind app, and other platforms.
“I am doing anything I can to keep in contact with students and help them stay connected. Girls can ask questions about school, but we also talk about how we are feeling with everything going on and what they are doing to stay healthy and safe, as well as how they are keeping busy,” Vanessa said.
Vanessa has a special connection to Cambridge High – in the late 1990s, Cambridge was located at a church where Vanessa’s father was the pastor.

Edison Teacher Hosts Campfire Concert on Facebook

Bruce Radcliffe with guitarDuring the school closure, Edison High School science teacher Bruce Ratcliffe is hosting Friday night campfire concerts via Facebook, inviting staff and students to submit songs they would like to hear through a ballot.
Bruce Ratcliffe Facebook

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