Campus Connections
May 12, 2017 
Volume 1, Issue 8

Superintendent's Message: New District webpage offers 'Resources for Immigration Support'

According to the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau, 50.8% of our Milpitas residents are foreign born, and in 66.2% of all Milpitas households languages other than English are spoken regularly. What does this mean for our school community? At least half of our students have a family member or friend who is an immigrant, and WE want every one of them to know how much we value their perspectives and contributions to making MUSD the unique UNIFIED school district that it is.

Given the national debate on immigrant status, it is important for us to remind our children that they all have a constitutional right to attend our schools. We have increased our efforts in creating a Culture of We so that our students feel they belong, and can continue to learn in a safe environment. Students are encouraged to talk about their feelings with their parents and trusted adults, including principals, counselors, support staff, and teachers. Parents and guardians are key partners in MUSD and we welcome their insights and collaboration in achieving a culture that is truly focused on WE.

​To further extend our support, we have created a new District webpage: “ Resources for Immigration Support.” This site has been compiled to assist our families and schools with community and legal resources that are available in multiple languages, and will continue to be updated as information is provided to our office. Feel free to send information or resources you receive to  Shannon Carr for consideration.    

Thank you Milpitas for supporting our staff, students and families; together we are the vibrant tapestry that makes our MUSD family!


Cheryl Jordan
Board approves names for facilities
including new elementary school
By Shannon Carr
Board Support & Communications Specialist

Milpitas Unified School District's Board of Education approved naming the new elementary school at McCandless after Mabel Mattos, the land on which the Milpitas Community College Extension is built after former Mayor Ben Gross, and the Family Resource Center at Randall Elementary School after Josephine Guerrero following a public hearing during its meeting on Tuesday, May 9. 

The name recommendations came from the work of the Milpitas Advisory Committee, which consisted of 11 members of the Milpitas community. While five are parents, four of the six staff members are also community members: Elizabeth Correa, Maria Vasquez, Lisa Ciardella, Pearl Bray Chavez, Mauricio Gavidia, Silvia Dias, MaryJane Gertz, Patti Belanger, Michelle Eacret, Deana Harn, and Reena Choudrey. In addition to the committee, staff consulted with Milpitas librarian Steve Fitzgerald, who suggested names, as well as Renee Lorentzen, the Milpitas City Parks and Recreation Director. 

Superintendent Cheryl Jordan explained the committee was careful to consider people who represented a range of ethnicities and in particular, looked for female leaders of the past as Pearl Zanker is the only school property named for a female leader of Milpitas. As requested by the Board, the committee only considered those historical figures who have made significant contributions to Milpitas.

Longtime resident Harriett McGuire, Margaret Rodrigues, and Mabel’s son James Mattos spoke in support of naming the new facilities after these residents and the significance of their lifelong contributions to the City of Milpitas. 

James brought a picture of his mom from 1966 (second from left, above), when she was president of the PTA, and gave Board Members a history of Mabel, born in Madera, California .

MUSD partners with City of Milpitas
for Summer Meal Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Seamless Summer Feeding Option (SSFO) Meal Program can help feed your children healthy meals, at no charge, during the summer. This program will serve all children through age eighteen. No application or registration is required but all meals must be consumed on site. Children will receive a complete, wholesome meal, while parents receive help stretching their food dollars.

The District's Student Nutrition Services Department will operate three Seamless Summer sites during the following days and hours:

  • Robert Randall Elementary School (1300 Edsel Drive):June 5-July 21 (Monday-Friday) from 11-11:30 a.m.

  • Alexander Rose Elementary School (250 Roswell Drive): June 5-June 16 (Monday-Friday) from 10:45 a.m.-11:15 a.m.

  • Calaveras Hills High School (1335 E. Calaveras Blvd): June 12-July 21 (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    *Closed on Tuesday, July 4, 2017.

For more information, call (408) 635-2894.

Community Recognition
Weller volunteers announced as 2017 Junior League of San Jose Volunteers of the Year
Linda  and Bob Gray, long-time kindergarten volunteers at Joseph Weller Elementary School, were announced as the 2017  Junior League of San Jose Volunteers of the Year during the 48th Annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon on April 28.

They were nominated by Weller kindergarten teacher Susan Von Tersch for their dedication to Weller kindergartners for the past seven years. They volunteer every day in her class and in Ms. Hirano's class.

"They do not have children or grandchildren at Weller ... they just enjoy helping our students. They are truly making a difference in the lives of the students and WE are very thankful to have them," Principal Alicia Padilla said.

More photos > 

Elementary Band Spring Concert a beautiful tribute to former Board Vice President
By Raquel Kusunoki
Director of Elementary Education

The MUSD elementary school band which has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years gave an astounding performance during its Spring Concert on Wednesday, May 10 at the Milpitas High School theater.

Proud parents, grandparents, siblings, Board Members, teachers, and administrators filled the theater, as they came to show their support.  

The event was a beautiful tribute to Danny Lau, former Board of Education Vice President who advocated for music.

Thank you Chris Kaldy, Joe Santomieri, Melanie Work, Emily Moore, Nicole Poultin, and Michael Vierya for instilling the love of music into our children. Because of your dedication, our budding musicians confidently shared the joy of music as they played "Danza Africana"; "Morpheus"; "Adventures in India"; "Declaration and Dance"; "When the Wind Whispers" and "Parade." 

Teachers reflect on professional learning and growth during a 'Celebration of Learning'
By Steve Caringella
Educational Technology Coach

Teachers from throughout the district came together for a "Celebration of Learning" on Monday, May 8 to reflect on their professional learning and growth by participating in one or more of the district's initiatives while giving presentations about work they did with students during the 2016-17 school year.
Peggy Bowen from Rose Elementary School, Brenda LeBeck from Burnett Elementary School, and David Carter from Milpitas High School spoke about the Milpitas Innovators Exchange (MIX). Lillian McCall from Burnett Elementary School presented about both the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) model and Project Based Learning (PBL), which she utilizes together with her students. Martha Chen from Milpitas High School presented about technology and PBL that she employs with her students. Jennifer Baumgartner from Zanker Elementary School and Carla McNeil from Curtner Elementary School presented on Writers’ Workshop. Ashley Grilli and Michael Sommese from Rose Elementary School jointly presented on their work with Rose’ innovative Exploratory Program. Adelina Vargas, Leslie Singh, and Alexandra Santacruz jointly presented on Randall Elementary School’s dual immersion program.

Guests attending the presentations included teachers, school and district administrators, and other staff from throughout Milpitas Unified. Both presenters and guests participated in a “World Cafe Protocol,” in which presentations were followed by a reflective question for discussion in small groups. The protocol lasted four rounds, with guests moving to different tables each time. This process allowed for a diverse range of reflection and discussion, ending with a call to action - to consider the impact of the presentations, reflection, and discussion on one’s own practice.

Overall, the event was a great success.  It was inspiring to see the impact that professional learning has had on Milpitas teachers, and how that learning  greatly benefits students.

More photos >

2016-17 Science Olympiad season successful for Milpitas middle and high school students
By Letta Meyer
Milpitas High School Chemistry Teacher, Science Olympiad Coach

The 2016-17 Science Olympiad season has been a busy and successful one. Science Olympiad is an Olympic style competition where a team of 15 students compete with partners in 23 different science oriented events. The top finishers in an event receive medals. Additionally, the placement in each event contributes to an overall team score. Medals are also given to the top teams as well.

These events fit into two basic categories, building or  knowledge, with some events being a blend of the two. In a building event, students are required to build a device to a detailed specification that accomplishes a task. For instance, in Electric Vehicle students design and build a car completely powered by electricity that must travel a specific distance revealed at the competition. Knowledge events have the students study a specific subject area at a higher level than their typical grade level and take a test to demonstrate their knowledge. For example, for the Invasive Species event students learn about different species that have invaded a natural environment and changed it. In order to prepare to compete and different competitions, students meet after school several days a week and several Saturday mornings each month. They spend hours of intense studying, building, and testing to be ready to compete.

Read more >

Zanker Elementary School raises $8,000
during festive PTA carnival 
Pearl Zanker Elementary School raised more than $8,000 during a fun-filled day of activities at its Parent Teacher Association carnival on April 22. 

The event featured student and teacher made sponsored carnival games, face painting, and a teacher dunk tank. 

All carnival game prizes were donated by Pilar Zatarain, a long time friend of MUSD and Zanker Elementary School, who was inducted into the Milpitas Hall of Fame a couple years ago.

Also in attendance was a Milpitas Fire Department truck and engine, Sammy the Spartan from San Jose State University, and a live DJ. Food was featured from Jayden's Kettle Corn and a parent bake sale, in addition to cotton candy and snow cones.

A raffle was held with prizes including tickets to Disneyland and a San Francisco Giants game, gift certificate to Burke Williams Spa, electric cars, a GoPro, and Beats by Dre ear buds.

Board Recognitions
Trustees recognize students from MCEE's Building Foundations Tutoring Program
The Board  recognized Milpitas High School students who participated in the Milpitas Community Educational Endowment's Building Foundations Tutoring Program: Akimmi Navarro, Aly Bennett, Amy Vu, Carl Cerezo, Erica Callanta, Justin Pang, Maricarmen Garcia, Michelle Phan, Nirali Vyas, Parth Bhargava, Priyanshi Nigam, Sara Vien, Sharon Vien, and Snigdha Garlapalli.

“We are very pleased to have your work and time and also the role modeling you did for the students. You made a big difference in their lives this year, so thank you,” Superintendent Cheryl Jordan said during the meeting on Tuesday, May 9.  

While Michelle Phan, Amy Vu, and Priyanshi Nigam were the only ones who could attend the meeting, Board Member Robert Jung shared an online video that highlights the program and work of all the students.

Students earn medals during SkillsUSA Regional Leadership and Skills Competition
During its meeting on Tuesday, May 9, the Board  recognized the following Milpitas High School students for earning a medal in the 2017 SkillsUSA Regional Leadership and Skills Competition , hosted by Silicon Valley Career Technical Education (SVCTE), an MUSD sister school: Athena Caldwell, Cesar Garcia (pictured), and Danielle Phan.

Athena and Cesar both received a silver medal,  in the Job Skill Demonstration A and Job Skill Demonstration Open categories respectively, while Danielle earned a bronze medal in the Job Skill Demonstration Open category. In addition, Cesar went on to compete at the state competition, where he earned a bronze medal.

Read a Press Release about the regional competition online.

Russell Science Olympiad team earns 14th place in regional competition
The Board  recognized Russell Middle School's Science Olympiad team for earning 14th overall out of 32 teams during the regional competition held on March 18 at San Jose City College. Superintendent Jordan thanked Joyce Tang and Letta Meyer during the May 9 meeting.

“They are our science teachers extraordinaire at Russell and Milpitas High School, and I greatly appreciate all the work that you put into Science Olympiad and carrying it through from middle to high school,” she said.

Russell Principal Damon James introduced the students, who brought their projects to the meeting, to share what they created and how they came up with it in Science Olympiad. Displays ranged from hovercraft made with the basic principles of levitation and thrust; a Wright Stuff plane which weighs 7 grams; a Rube Goldberg machine using only ramps and pulleys; and a food calorimeter, which is a device used to measure the amount of energy and type of food.   

Irene Hentsche earns Milpitas Arts Commission Artist of the Year Award
The Board recognized Irene Hentschke, retiring Milpitas High School art educator, who received the Milpitas Arts Commission Artist of the Year Award, during its meeting on Tuesday, May 9. 

Irene’s class is responsible for the beautiful artwork on the utility boxes throughout the city as well as the lettering on the Milpitas High School campus on each building and the doors and murals throughout the campus.
Upcoming Events
An open house is scheduled for Milpitas' Josephine Guerrero Family Resource Center at Robert Randall Elementary School from 5-7 p.m.  Wednesday, May 24. The celebration of the resource center, the second one to open in Milpitas, is being held in partnership with First 5 Santa Clara County and The Health Trust. The event will include a special raffle. The new site opened in January and provides literacy, health, and parenting supporting to low-income families located in the attendance areas of Randall and Rose elementary schools. For more information about the event, contact Shannon Carr, Board Support & Communications Specialist, at or  (408) 635-2600, extension 6031. For more information about the center, contact Toby Librande  at or  (408) 648-4785.

Now in its 20th year, the Milpitas Police Activities League will host its Junior Giants program this summer to provide free baseball to children ages 5 through 13 years old. Last year the league scored the highest marks among all 92 leagues in California, Oregon, and Nevada in making a difference with kids participating in summer reading, health, and anti-bullying elements of the program. The Giants Community Fund has placed an early cutoff date for registration this year: Monday, May 15! Online registration is available now at

The Santa Clara County Office of Education has launched a Curriculum and Instruction Professional Development Portal, with information about upcoming workshops divided by the following categories: Career Technical Education, Curriculum and Instruction, English Language Arts, History, Learning Multimedia Center, Mathematics, Multilingual Education Services, Science, STEAM, and Visual and Performing Arts. Visit the page to view related professional development training and resources.