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May 26, 2020

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Photo of the Week

Food service staff serving pattiesThe community donated $100 gift cards to five Columbia Elementary School families.

Video of the Week

Video of the week
Instructional Video: i-Ready Instructions

Dates to Know

Board Meeting June 10 (see website for time) Via Live Streaming
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

Fresno Unified Scholarship Recipients Announced

Fresno Unified Scholarship Fund logoSixty-one seniors have been awarded $118,000 in Fresno Unified Scholarships this year to help them achieve their dream of higher education. The awards range from $1,500 to $3,500. The Fresno Unified Scholarship Fund was established in 2009, made possible by generous donations from the community and district employees, with the State of Education luncheon in the fall the largest single fundraiser for the scholarship fund.

While the district was unable to hold the traditional scholarship banquet this year, recipients were surprised with the scholarships during virtual meetings May 12 that included Superintendent Bob Nelson, high school principals and other district leaders.
Virtual Announcement of Scholarship Winners
List of Scholarship Winners

Third Group of Steve’s Scholars Announced

Steve's Scholars logo The Steve’s Scholars program has reached a milestone by awarding 40 scholarships of $1,000 each this year, for a total of 101 scholarships presented over the past three years to students from Tehipite Middle School who went on to graduate from Fresno Unified high schools. Fifty of the first 61 Steve’s scholars also received another $1,000 for their second year of college. The scholarship program was created by Francine and Murray Farber with their daughter-in-law Cordula in memory of their son, Steven. All of the honored students maintained an academic average of at least 3.0, attendance rate of at least 95 percent, and completed California required pre-college courses for the six years from grade 7 at Tehipite through high school. More than half also earned medallions for community service. In addition, the students benefitted by attending concerts, theater productions and museums.
2020 Steve’s Scholars

Building Futures Available Online

A special COVID-19, online-only edition of the district newspaper, Building Futures, is now available. The May edition features the efforts of students and staff during school closures, a message from the superintendent and more news of the district.
May Building Futures Newspaper

Fresno Unified News in 60 Seconds Video

The latest edition of 60 Seconds with Fresno Unified features Classified School Employee Week, five Columbia Elementary School families receiving $100 gift certificates from the community, and tree planting by Tree Fresno at Tehipite Middle School received a green makeover.
60 Seconds with Fresno Unified Video

Design Science holds Senior Celebration

Student in graduation cap and gown celebrating in front yardVirtual celebrations for all of the district's high school programs began May 21 with Design Science Middle College High's and continue through June 3. Each celebration will recognize all seniors and include student and staff videos; messages from the board of education, superintendent and principal; and certification of graduates.
Schedule of Senior Celebrations

District Hosts Livestream Discussion on Stress

A panel gathered for a livestream conversation on May 22, hosted by Nikki Henry, chief information officer. The half-hour discussion -- "How do I Deal with the Stress of a Pandemic" -- featured panelists board member Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas; Ambra O'Connor, executive director for Prevention and Intervention; clinical school social worker Darnell Fisher; Kelly Van Cleave with Care Solace; peer mentor Keven Cordona; and Tobaise Brookings, a principal and pastor.
Livestream Discussion on Stress

Fresno State Honors Fresno Unified Future Bulldogs

Fresno State Bulldogs logoFresno State University expects to welcome 859 students from Fresno Unified high schools as freshmen this fall. Although the university was unable to hold its traditional recognition spring reception due to COVID-19, the university is honoring seniors who have been conditionally accepted with special certificates. Students will pick up the certificates during senior check out, along with their diploma and Fresno Unified swag bags. The recognition is part of the collaboration between the district and Fresno State and the ongoing efforts to encourage students to pursue higher education at either Fresno State or other colleges and universities.

Bus Wi-Fi Available to Students for Online Learning

Phone with wifi next to busFresno Unified is parking two buses in front of Kirk Elementary School to provide internet for students doing their online schoolwork while campuses are closed. The pilot program, which began May 20, takes advantage of the Wi-Fi capability of the district's buses, an initiative rolled out in October 2016 so that students could do their homework and research while traveling to and from school. Students can sit in the shade with their devices and use the internet connection.

T-Mobile Donates to Fresno Unified Food Program

​ Through the Giving Back to Schools program, T-Mobile is donating up to $2.5 million to over 100 local schools to help provide food or services to children during school closures due to COVID-19. Fresno Unified received $25,000, thanks to community donations made via text during a campaign that started in April. The funds will help Fresno Unified continue offering free meals to students and community members in need during sheltering at home. Fresno Unified provides on average 60,000 meals per day at 23 school sites.

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!

Superintendent Board Remarks from May 20, 2020

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

• Highlighting that May is Mental Health Awareness month. Taking care of our mental health is crucial and even more so during times of a global pandemic. There is a lot to be stressed about during these times and we must be proactive in taking care of ourselves to function at the extremely high level our community needs us to right now. Fresno Unified has several resources for our students, staff, and families in need of social emotional wellness support. Head to our website at and click the social emotional wellness picture to be taken directly to those resources including direct referral forms for help. This Friday, tune in live at 12:30 p.m. through our website, Facebook or Instagram for our district livestream conversation, "How Do I Deal with the Stress of a Pandemic?"

• Next, the Superintendent shared that today our teams started a pilot program utilizing our school buses to provide Wi-Fi in the Kirk neighborhood for our students. We had two buses parked at Kirk Elementary School today from 10:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. Those two buses will be available for students this Thursday and Friday, as well as Tuesday through Friday next week from 10:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. After next week, we will analyze the utilization and need and talk about expanding the program.

• Superintendent Nelson stated that this board meeting is the first meeting before the end of the traditional school year – which ends on Thursday, June 4. We encourage everyone to continue engaging in your learning like you have over these last couple of weeks and make sure you get your grades improved before the deadline of May 22 for seniors and June 1 for all other grades. We are so proud of all our students and families for adapting along with us during these school closures.

• Superintendent shared that the end of the school year also means that we are transitioning to our summer meal program:

    - On Thursday, June 4, the last day of school, we will be providing meals for both Thursday and Friday at all 23 meal sites as we will NOT be serving meals on Friday, June 5.
    - We will re-open meal services on Monday, June 8 serving at 22 sites from 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. We will post all sites and times on our website and social media.
    - The summer meals program will continue through Friday, August 14 and we will serve on weekdays, except Friday, July 3 which is a district holiday. We will serve two days of meals on Thursday, July 2 to prepare.
    - Monday, May 25 is a district holiday so this Friday, May 22 we will be serving two days of meals to prepare. 

• Superintendent Nelson reminded everyone that our virtual senior celebrations start tomorrow with Design Science. You can find the full schedule on our website and social media.  We hope you will join us in celebrating our seniors. Please tag us in all your celebrations from home using the hashtags #WeLoveFUSDSeniors and #FUSDClassOF2020.

• Next Superintendent shared that as the traditional school year winds down there is a lot of concern and anxiety swirling around what next school year will look like. While we don't have any hard and fast answers at this time, I want to ensure you that we are working diligently on how we safely reopen school and serve our students. We are committed to provide high quality instruction and safe environments for our students and our teams. We will keep you informed through our website and social media as we have more information throughout the summer.

• Last, Superintendent Nelson encouraged 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

Roosevelt holds Inspire Tomorrow features Alumnus Speaker

Roosevelt logoWhile not able to currently hold events in person, Roosevelt High School held the ninth annual Inspire Tomorrow event virtually on May 21. Anna Morales, who has been a mentor at all previous eight Inspire Tomorrow dinners, was the keynote speaker. She has mentored as undergraduate student, graduate student, and now as a community member.

Inspire Tomorrow was created at Roosevelt by teachers and counselors as an opportunity for graduating seniors who will be attending Fresno State (many are the first in their families to attend college) to interact with Rough Rider alumni who are Fresno State students or alumni. The event allows students to gain insight into the college experience, ask questions, and reduce anxiety prior to beginning as a student at Fresno State. California Endowment and EECU have been ongoing supporters of Inspire Tomorrow.

Bullard Drama Program Conducts Awards Virtually

This year's Jester Awards for the Drama Program at Bullard High School were co-hosted online by theater teacher Marc Gonzalez and Drama Club president Avalon Lone on May 15. Despite the closure of schools, the virtual awards program celebrated seniors and announced best performer awards for theater and improv shows and technical awards and provided an opportunity for senior speeches.
Jester Awards Virtual Show

Columbia Teacher Featured in PBS' The Reading Room

Ed Martinez, a sixth-grade teacher at Columbia Elementary School, participated in PBS's The Reading Room on May 5. The reading is to promote growth mindset, as students continue social-emotional distance learning. ​
The Reading Room

Hamilton Pre-K Teachers Is Awarded Grant

Hamilton K-8 School pre-kindergarten teacher Debbie Sharp was awarded a Donors Choose Grant to purchase school supplies for her students to use at home. Each student received scissors, crayons, glue, Handwriting Without Tears pencils, eraser, journal writing paper, a pack of construction paper, an alphabet book, Pete the Cat book and Play-Doh. This brought smiles to the students and their families.

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