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May 11, 2020

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Photo of the Week

Sign saying we miss you, Starr Knights

Video of the Week

Video of the week
Student and Nurse Appreciation Week

Dates to Know

May 20 – 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

High Schools Post Signing Day Photos

Student holding poster

While high schools couldn't host traditional Signing Day celebrations on May 1, campuses encouraged seniors to send photos of themselves at their individual virtual signing "parties," wearing their college gear and highlighting the college, vocational training or military branch they have selected. High schools digitally celebrated the accomplishments of students on their social media

Celebrating Bus Drivers, Food Services Employees, Principals, Nurses and Teachers

School Bus Driver Appreciation LogoSchools may be closed, but the district wanted bus drivers, food services employees, principals, teachers, and school nurses to know how much they are appreciated. Bus Driver Appreciation Day was April 28, and School Principals' Day and School Lunch Hero Day were May 1, with pies delivered to food services employees at the 23 sites where meals are distributed to families every weekday.

Teacher Appreciation Day was May 5 and School Nurse Appreciation Day was May 6. Students, staff and parents sent short videos and photos celebrating teachers and nurses throughout last week.

District Hosts Livestream Discussion on Grades and Testing

A district panel gathered for a livestream conversation on May 8, hosted by Nikki Henry, chief information officer. The half-hour discussion, "What do I Need to Know about Grading and Testing?", was streamed on Facebook and Instagram. Panelists were Superintendent Bob Nelson, board member Claudia Cazares, student board member Joshua Camarillo, teacher Carol Padilla, College and Career Readiness executive director Heather Allen and Advanced Placement manager Chantea McIntyre.
Video of Town Hall on Grading and Testing

Fresno Unified News in 60 Seconds Video

The latest edition of 60 Seconds with Fresno Unified features a special shout-out to district  employees: School Bus Driver Appreciation Day was April 28, School Lunch Hero Day and School Principals' Day were May 1, Teacher Appreciation Day was May 5 and School Nurse Appreciation Day was May 6. It also reminded families that food distribution continues at 23 sites, along with instructional paper packets.
Fresno Unified News in 60 Seconds Video

Early Learning Enrollment

Group of children forming a circleChildren who start school early build an important foundation for success.
Registration is now open for parents seeking to enroll their child in Fresno Unified free early
learning programs. Children who turn 4 by December 1, 2020 can begin pre-kindergarten for the 2020-21 school year. The district is also enrolling children who turn 3 years old on or before December 1 into preschool, which is available at Addams, Birney, Calwa, Duncan, Mayfair, Olmos, Turner, Vinland, Winchell and Wolters. To learn more about registration visit the Early Learning page at Encourage families to enroll today!

Special Education Highlights: Sensory Socks Video and Video from Ewing Teacher and her Brother

Special education teacher Natalie Turner provides tips for teachers and families on fun tactile play using socks.
Sensory Socks YouTube

Becky Pings, a teacher in the autism program at Ewing Elementary School, created several videos to help support families of kids with autism with home routines while schools are closed. The videos have a unique perspective -- Ms. Pings' brother Adam, who has autism and Down syndrome, stars in the videos.

Handwashing Tutorial
Using Token Boards and Choice Boards
Daily Visual Schedule
Weekly Visual Schedule
Giving Directions - Limiting Language

College and Career Readiness Newsletter Available

Please click the link for the Career Technical Education Newsletter Spring 2020 Edition from College and Career Readiness.​
Career Technical Education Newsletter

District Recognized for Exemplary School Attendance Efforts

Fresno Unified has been awarded the title "Model SARB" for the first time by the California Department of Education. The Model SARB award recognizes excellence in specific content areas, including establishing goals and objectives, implementing prevention and intervention strategies, and developing collaborations with local agency resources. The district was recognized for developing a Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) that strategically tackles the challenges of chronic absenteeism in a large urban district. The district is seen as a model for other districts in developing effective practices that promote student success and reduce the number of dropouts. Fresno Unified's identified successes can be a model for many districts with huge barriers to school attendance.

Fresno Unified's Prevention and Intervention Department would have been awarded a plaque at the annual state California Association of Child Welfare and Attendance (CASCWA) Conference in San Diego on April 22, had it not been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Model SARB Award recipient, Fresno Unified will have the opportunity to participate at a state SARB videoconference Zoom meeting in May to discuss their model attendance practices and how they made the shift to participation in distance learning. Fresno Unified will also serve as a mentor to other districts across the state.

FAQs on COVID-19 and Schools

The district has recently updated the frequently asked questions around district and school operations during the COVID-19 closure.
Updated Frequently Asked Questions about School Closures

Superintendent Board Remarks from May 6, 2020

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

• Highlighting that yesterday was Teacher Appreciation Day and today is School Nurse Appreciation Day, we decided to celebrate these two giants for the whole week. Thank you to everyone who has been participating in our daily challenges – chalk art, pictures, and videos. Without our teachers we would be nothing as a school district. And without our Nurses, especially in a time like now, we'd lost! Thank you to all our teachers and nurses for your commitment to our students and your hard work, day in and day out. We love you! Here is a video compiling videos and pictures sent to us to honor our amazing teachers and nurses.

• Next, the Superintendent recognized a few of our nurses that are retiring this year. Congratulations on your retirement: Lisa Balucas, registered nurse with Early Learning; Patricia Atitiya, registered nurse at Rata; Doris Austin, licensed vocational nurse at ATP; and Christine Mott, Medi-Cal technician with Health Services. I cannot thank you enough for your service to our district!

• Superintendent Nelson stated that last week we also honored our bus drivers, principals, and school lunch heroes! Thank you all so much for what you do!

• Superintendent shared that the district announced its plans regarding virtual senior celebrations and virtual summer learning on April 27. We will have more information coming out for both topics next week. I want to be clear – We are still committed to providing an in-person graduation when it is safe to again gather in groups. Keep an eye on our website for the updates.

• Superintendent Nelson highlighted that Fresno Unified students will have the opportunity to take their AP exams online at home May 11-22. Earlier this week, students received detailed instructions through their Fresno Unified email as to how to log on for each of their AP tests using their unique AP ID. On test day, students will need to log on 30 minutes before the start time, so we encourage students to practice and preview the test experience as well as their technology prior to the test. For further information regarding AP exam formatting and resources, please have your student check their Fresno Unified or other personal email account linked to College Board, contact their AP teacher or call the Fresno Unified AP help line at 666-4272. Also, tune in Friday to our district livestream conversation where we'll be talking about AP testing and grading. We will be live streaming live from our website, Facebook and Instagram at 12:30pm.

• Next Superintendent shared that the district is now accepting applications for all preschool and pre-kindergarten programs for the 2019-2020 school year. You can find the HOW TO ENROLL link under the parent tab at All new students, regardless of age or grade, can enroll online from this link as well. For more information and to make an appointment over the phone, please call The Early Learning Department, 559-457-3416. All new students, regardless of age or grade, can enroll online by clicking the HOW TO ENROLL link under the parent tab at as well.

• Superintendent shared that College and Career Readiness has begun issuing work permits during school closure by appointment only. In alignment to California labor law, students are only authorized to work outside of school hours, which remains in effect despite school closures, and cannot exceed recommended total number of hours. For more information, please email:

• Superintendent ensured to families that we are NOT returning physically to school this academic year. There has been some confusion this week that with "phase 2" of our state and city reopening that would include our classrooms. Unfortunately, that is not the case and our campuses are closed for the remainder of the school year.

• Last, Superintendent Nelson encourage the community to complete their census form if they have not already. It takes just a few minutes and means so much to the funding of crucial services in our community, including schools.

Full Board Meeting Recap

School Buzz

Duncan Students Create Face Shields for Medical Workers

Medical staff in face shieldsDuncan Polytechnical High School's junior Computer Integrated Manufacturing class has been working hard to design and produce face shields needed by the local medical community. They have donated 529 shields to facilities with the greatest need, as well as to district food services employees who are preparing and distributing meals to students and families.

The students and instructor Douglas Urabe have been working since March to streamline the process and refine the design after feedback from workers in the medical field. Students did the work from their homes, meeting virtually as a class.

Duncan is seeking donations to purchase more materials and produce more shields. Donations can be made at using a credit or debit card or send a check payable to Duncan Polytechnical High School to Duncan at 4330 E. Garland Ave., Fresno, CA 93726.  Please make sure to include "Face Shield Project" on the note or memo-line of the PayPal donation or check.

Medical facilities in need of face shields can submit a request to Duncan at

Rowel Dual Immersion Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

A virtual concertThe Rowell Elementary School dual immersion team celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a virtual student concert!  Students from the dual language immersion program joined together for a virtual sing along of "De Colores."

Kirk Students Receive Donation of New Shoes

Stacks of shoe boxes on a tableEvery student at Kirk Elementary School received a new pair of shoes through Shoes That Fit, a national nonprofit organization. The donations were possible thanks to Dena and Lou McMurray of Fresno.  Before schools were closed, students were measured to make sure the shoes were a correct fit. Students picked up their shoes on April 20 through a process that followed social distancing protocols.
Kirk Shoe Giveaway Video

Parents say Thank you to Food Services Staff

Parents brought juice and donuts to the food services staff distributing food at Figarden Elementary School in appreciation for their support for students and the neighborhood.

Ahwahnee Challenges Students to Get Outside

A student standing by a riverLike schools across the district, Ahwahnee Middle School is engaging its students through virtual spirit weeks. It recently held an Outdoor Challenge Week that encouraged students to come up with creative lunchtime picnics, chalk or tape obstacle courses, outdoor games played against parents, nature photography and star gazing.

Edison Students Get Shout Out from "Hamilton" Production

Hamilton logoEdison High School's Jason Leong, Renato Ramirez and Elaine Marez were selected to perform an original song about the Articles of Confederation following a San Francisco matinee performance of "Hamilton" on March 18. The show was canceled due to COVID-19, but "Hamilton" released their entry video on social media and acknowledged the students.
Edison Students from "Hamilton" Twitter

Broadway Actor Talks to Edison Cast during Zoom Meeting

Josh GadJosh Gad, voice actor and Broadway performer, joined Edison High School's "Chicago High School Edition" cast for a Zoom meeting recently. Teacher Bianca Ankrum had reached out to Gad regarding the theater program and the postponement of all activities, including shows, and he offered to "hop" on the group's meeting to speak with students. He graciously answered questions and spoke with students about performing in film and stage. It was an experience to remember! Gad voiced Olaf in "Frozen" and played LeFou in the live action movie of "Beauty and the Beast." On Broadway, he played Elder Cunningham in "The Book of Mormon."

Edison Student Selected for Leadership Program

Michelle YangEdison High School senior Michelle Yang has been selected as a Bank of America Student Leader and will be receiving a financial award. Because of social distancing requirements, Michelle will participate in the program's leadership activities virtually this summer. Michelle is an AP Ambassador at Edison.

Roosevelt Students and Community Sew 2,200 Face Masks

A student with sewing machineSpearheaded by Tamara Norris, a Theatrical Costuming and Makeup teacher at Roosevelt High School, about 25 Roosevelt students, teachers, alumni and other community members sewed more than 2,200 cloth masks that have been delivered to more than 50 medical facilities, health care providers, senior centers and dentist offices from Visalia to Madera. The masks used more than 225 yards of fabric and 900 yards of elastic. After receiving a request from Kaweah-Delta Medical Center, Tamara put out a request for volunteers to her students and others and created mask kits, using fabric from her personal supply and from volunteers' supplies. Business partner A&A Textiles also donated supplies.

Roosevelt Singers Hold Virtual Concert

Roosevelt School of the Arts P.A. Singers held its yearly themed concert virtually this year, airing on YouTube on April 22. Students provided videos of vocal solos by any means available to them. The virtual concert was a way of sharing with each other and lifting spirits during this time of sheltering at home. Vocal music director Richard Woods and his son, a Fresno State graphic design student, put the show together.  ​
Roosevelt School of the Arts P.A. Singers Virtual Concert

Sunnyside holds Virtual Prom with Entertainment from Alumni

It may not have been the prom they dreamed of, but Sunnyside High School alumni came together to give the Class of 2020 a prom to remember. Students celebrated separately and virtually through Instagram on April 25. Alumni provided a night of music: DJ Roeski (Roe Borunda, (Class of 2004), DJ Sirena (Sirena Garza, Class of 2005) and DJ Cruzthecreator (Cruz Gonzales, Class of 2016). Prizes were given away while the DJs played their sets.

Anthony Wins Character Award

Anthony Elementary School was among 37 schools in the Central Valley to win a Bonner Character Award. Schools are recognized for exemplary practices in character and civic education. To receive this award, schools must plan well in advance to infuse character education into their school curriculums, the plans must also be modeled by the adults, and students must be provided opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways to the school, to others, and to the community.

J.E. Young Student wins Scholarship to Fresno Pacific University

AthenaAthena Silvas, a student at J.E. Young Academic Center and CART, has earned a prestigious $54,000 Dean's Scholarship to attend Fresno Pacific University. After attending a School Choice Expo during her freshman year, she learned about options to accelerate her learning. Because of her hard work and commitment, Athena was able to graduate a year early to pursue her dream of being a pharmacist.

McLane Golfer Headed to College on Athletic Scholarship

JosselineMcLane High School senior Josseline Garcia Morales is headed to The Master's University in Santa Clarita on a golf scholarship. She is also the recipient of several other scholarships, including $2,500 from the First Tee of Fresno and $4,000 from Youth on Course. Josseline's McLane coach is Joe Creamier, who described her as "the most humble person I have ever been around."

Sunnyside Mindfulness Club Meeting Virtually

The Sunnyside High School Mindfulness Club is taking a positive, healthy and proactive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said English teacher and founder Everardo Pedraza.
The club in meeting online through Zoom to continue its focus on mindfulness practice, personal development and higher education and responding to the pandemic in positive ways. The club is believed to be the first of its kind in a public high school in the United States.

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