NUSD Spotlight
Community Newsletter
 -- March   2016  

Hope you enjoy this edition of "NUSD Spotlight," the district's monthly community newsletter. Contact Director of Communications Jim Sanders, 561-5267, if you have comments, concerns or story suggestions. Thank you for your support of Natomas schools.
Samer Dhillon

Amazing 20-year-old Inderkum grad  
gives back to school with  scholarships  
Less than three years after graduating from Inderkum High School, Sam Dhillon is only 20 years old but already he:
  • owns an investment firm
  • plays basketball for the University of Southern California
  • is studying for a medical career
  • researches Alzheimer's disease
  • is co-founder of a mobile health clinic.
Now, Dhillon wants to give back to his alma mater: He's offering two $1,000 scholarships to Tiger athletes through a nonprofit organization he created, "Deep Roots," named in memory of his deep roots in Sacramento. Application forms are available here.

"I never forget where I came from," Dhillon said.

Dhillon also counts his years at Inderkum as invaluable. He was Student Body president and graduated as valedictorian, with a 4.5 grade point average. A 6-foot-8 basketball standout, Dhillon averaged 13.6 points per game and served as team captain his senior year, according to a biography posted by the University of Southern California.

Inderkum enhanced his ethic of hard work, taught him leadership skills, provided a solid academic foundation, and gave him confidence in approaching and reaching out to others, Dhillon said.

"I really learned a lot at Inderkum," Dhillon added. "It helped shape who I am." Read his full story here.
Yuri Penermon gets 'pied' 
in cancer-fight fundraiser 

 Natomas High School Principal Yuri Penermon gets "creamed" with a pie in the  face by student body president Danisha  Gipson as part of a campus fundraiser that  generated $500 for cancer research and  patient care. 

State Civics Award for Natomas High School 

Student-helping-student project promotes civic engagement

 A student-helping-student project last year not only was  fun, it was educational and played a key role in Natomas  High winning a state civics award this month.

 Natomas High was one of 78 California schools selected for  an "Award of Merit" in the state's annual Civic Learning  Award program, designed to celebrate exceptional student  engagement in that subject. Winners were announced by  state Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and  Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

 Natomas High's major civic engagement last year was "Invitational Field Day" in which more than  180 Nighthawk senior social science students, drama students, and student leaders volunteered  to help special-needs students from Natomas Unified and other districts participate in athletic  events ranging from running to wheelchair races to Frisbee toss.

 "The unique civic engagement aspect of the event was to provide regular education students  with the experience of working with (special-needs) students in a way they never have before,"  said Janet Mann, an American Government teacher spearheading Natomas High's civic  engagement efforts. Invitational Field Day, held at the Nighthawk campus last spring, was  coordinated by NUSD teachers Kim Taxara and Stacy Kalfsbeek-Hickel.

 During the Invitational Field Day, Nighthawk students cheered on their special-needs buddies,  played games with them, had lunch with them, and did whatever necessary to help them  compete and enjoy the festivities. Student volunteers served more than 500 hours that  day.  Read the full story here.

Supt. Chris Evans applauds Field Day collaboration 
The state civics learning award won by Natomas High School this month is a  testament to NUSD's talented workforce and the good we can do for students,  schools, families and our community through collaboration by certificated and  classified staff, Supt. Chris Evans said in a message to NUSD staff.

 The superintendent added the following:

 The keystone event leading to Natomas High's state civics honor was last  spring's "Invitational Field Day" for special-needs students that was made possible through  teamwork by student volunteers, teachers, administrators and classified staff.

 "Invitational Field Day" at Natomas High was a friendly, athletic competition for 100 to 200  special-needs students who participated in events ranging from running and long jump to Frisbee  toss, softball throw or wheelchair races. Other Nighthawk students volunteered as "buddies" to  cheer and assist the special-needs competitors.

 Certificated staff played key roles in organizing the feel-good event and ensuring that special-need 
participants were paired with a Nighthawk "buddy." Classified staff were instrumental, too, in ways ranging from set-up by custodial staff to the preparation of lunches by Nutrition Services, busing of participants from other NUSD campuses, and participation by Special Education instructional aides and campus safety specialists.

Everybody won at Invitational Field Day -- ribbons were awarded to all participants. Special-needs students enjoyed a happy day of fun and friendship. Regular education students gained by participating in real-world civics through service to others. Natomas Unified and its staff benefited, too, by creating a community event that left a legacy of goodwill and special memories.

 This year's "Invitational Field Day" is set for April 29 at Natomas High.

 Thank you, staff, for collaborating again to make it happen.
Read-to-Feed Project
at Two Rivers Elementary
Fight poverty by reading books?
Yes! ...Here's how:
Two Rivers Elementary School library technician Jessica Esperanza launched a campaign in which students solicited penny-per-page sponsors for every book they read last month, with proceeds going to Heifer International to buy farm animals for poverty-stricken families worldwide.

The kids raised $982, helped families less fortunate, and gained academically by reading so much.

If you're counting, that's a win-win-win.
Tahir Bradford Succeeding
Despite Life's Obstacles 
Natomas Middle School's Tahir Bradford, 14, has attended multiple schools in his life, including several within the same year. He lacks consistent transportation to school. He has faced family challenges. Nothing has been easy. Yet he keeps pushing forward.

Tahir is passing all his classes, and teachers describe him as smart, talented, mature, goal-oriented, and a leader in the classroom.

The Association of California School Administrators honored the 8th-grader this month as one of its regional nominees in the "Every Student Succeeding"  program.

Awesome accomplishment, Tahir!
Super volunteer Carole August:
'I just love seeing the kids learn'

Carole August doesn't want to leave the 3rd grade.

That's where you'll find her, year after year.

August is a Bannon Creek Elementary School volunteer who thinks 3rd grade is pivotal to a child's academic success, so she is committed to helping struggling students boost their reading skills.

"I want to do something worthwhile, something satisfying," she said of her senior years. "I just love seeing the kids learn."

What advice would she give to a potential school volunteer?

"Just dive right in!" she said.

Programs, notes & opportunities 
Reaching Out to You   
Natomas Schools Foundation
Scholarship: D eadline April 4 

The Natomas Schools Foundation has extended its deadline for accepting scholarship applications to 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 4. The original deadline was March 31.

NSF will award at least $6,000 in academic scholarships this year -- three for $1,000 apiece and six for $500 apiece -- to high school and post-high school students to defray educational expenses at an accredited two- or four-year college or university, or trade school.

Winners must live -- or have resided -- within NUSD boundaries. They also must attend -- or have attended -- high school within the District. Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher and have served 50 hours, within the past two years, of formal employment or volunteer service. The latter can include community assistance or participation in a school club or organization.

Applications, available here, can be dropped off at the NUSD Ed Center, 1901 Arena Blvd., when it reopens April 4 after Spring Recess. Completed forms also can be mailed to: Natomas Schools Foundation, Attn: NSF Scholarship Committee, c/o School Leadership and Support, 1901 Arena Blvd., Sacramento, Ca., 95834.
Trustee Lisa Kaplan helps students 
with computer scholarship program 

For the third consecutive year, NUSD Trustee Lisa Kaplan is reaching out to help two local high school students who don't have a lot of money but are determined to succeed in school and in life.

Kaplan, through the "Closing the Digital Divide" scholarship program, will provide at least two Chromebook computers for distribution to high school students in need, defined as qualifying for free lunches, foster youth, or homeless youth.

Chromebook winners also must have a minimum 2.5 grade point average and be enrolled at Natomas, Inderkum or Discovery high schools. Candidates will be evaluated on the basis of financial need, academic performance, leadership potential, and courage in overcoming adversity. Applications, available here, must be submitted by April 15.
Cesar Chavez Youth Leadership Conference -- April 9

Middle and high school students can get expert help in planning for college and career by attending the Cesar Chavez Youth Leadership Conference from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at UC Davis. The free event will include a college resource fair, financial aid information, community resources and live entertainment. Free breakfast and lunch will be served. Activities throughout the day will honor the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez. More information is available here.  Middle and high school students who lack transportation to the event should register at their school and ask their parent to call NUSD's Lisset Mijares at (916) 893-3234.

  Earn Community College Credit While in High School 

High school students can earn college credit at American River, Cosumnes River, Folsom Lake or Sacramento City colleges through an Advanced Education program offered by the Los Rios Community College District.

Participating students may take up to two courses per semester or during the summer session. The normal fee of  $46 per unit will be waived for California residents and for certain non-residents. 

 Participating students must be between 16 and 18 years old OR have completed the 10th grade  by the first day of the college class. They also must be enrolled in a public or private high school  and have a grade point average of 2.7 or higher.

 Details and registration are  available here.
Scoring big points with Mom 

 Awwwwww .... 

 If you're a parent, this crayon drawing is sure to hit  home. 

 Here was a 1st-grader's response when a class at H.  Allen Hight Elementary was asked to describe one way  they treat others as they want to be treated ...  :o)
How do you Capture a Leprechaun?

 How do you capture a leprechaun? ... Natomas Park Elementary School kindergarteners in  teacher Linda Pugh's  class tackled that engineering challenge head-on using plenty of  imagination to concoct traps for snaring one of  the mischievous little creatures on St. Patrick's  Day. The  kids' creations are displayed here ... (But don't tell a leprechaun, OK?)
College and Career Readiness 

Did You Know? 
To spread the word about NUSD efforts to promote college and career readiness, the District has launched on Facebook and Twitter a series of graphic snapshots spotlighting achievement, program improvements, or other district-wide data.

Here is a sampling of the "Did you Know?" snippets. 

To follow the series, please "Like" NUSD's Facebook page and follow the District on Twitter -- @NatomasUSD. Thank you.

       Round of Applause  


Rosa Torres: Reaches out to English Learners after being one herself 

Rosa Torres gives her cellphone number to parents of her 2nd-graders.

"You can text me, you can call me any time," the American Lakes Elementary School teacher tells them. "I want them to know I'm not just a teacher, I'm a human being like they are."

Torres remembers well the difference one person can make in a child's life.

When Torres was about 6 years old, her family immigrated to American from Mexico and she struggled to keep up in school because she did not speak English. An aide at her Courtland school, Ms. Cruz, reached out with individual attention that kept her afloat in class.

Decades later, Torres has not forgotten her roots and plays a key role at American Lakes in helping Spanish-speaking families who struggle with English. 

"Ms. Torres teaches from the heart," Principal Suzen Holtemann said. "She doesn't give up when students struggle, and she believes and expects that all students can and will achieve."

LGA's David Scheuermann
-- aka 'The Scheuerminator

His nickname is 'The Scheuerminator.'

No matter how hard the task, he gets 'er done.

David Scheuermann, an instructional assistant at Leroy Greene Academy, was a divisional winner this year in Natomas Unified's "Classified Employee of the Year" program.

Principal Leslie Sargent said students and staff at LGA consider him a "second teacher" in classrooms. He brings a positive attitude, a smile, and students know that he'll do whatever it takes to support their learning, she said.

"Mr. Scheuermann consistently goes above and beyond to ensure high levels of learning for all LGA students through his positive and encouraging nature, and his ability to make connections with our Lion students," Sargent said.

Perhaps the seeds of Scheuermann's career as an instructional assistant were laid years ago when he was a volunteer, after-school mentor at the Bannon Creek campus where his son attended elementary school.

"I've always liked to see the lightbulb go off, when someone 'gets it," Scheuermann said of the learning process. "It's a really good feeling.

 Pi Day a 'Smashing Success'
 at Natomas Gateways

 Natomas Gateways Principal Lore Carrillo got  pied -- or "pi'd" -- five times as part of a Math  Club fundraiser celebrating Pi Day this month.

 Club Supervisor Jorie Fields held math-related  activities for an entire week in honor of Pi  Day, which spotlights the symbol  representing the ratio of a circle's  circumference to its diameter.

 Pi is a math constant, meaning it will be the  same regardless the size of the circle -- or  cream pie -- you're measuring ... As Carrillo discovered, pi can be tasty, too.
Bannon Creek 'Art Night'
is family fun for all

Everyone goes home a winner.

That's the idea behind Art Night, a longtime tradition at Bannon Creek Elementary School.

Almost every month, students and parents come to the campus for a night session of creating art, learning new techniques, appreciating creativity, spending time together, and mingling with other families who share a common interest.

"The kids seem to really enjoy making art, it allows them to be creative," said Teri Slingerland, a Bannon Creek speech therapist who oversees the sessions, often with retired school psychology Jerry Kuzla.

Principal Amreek Singh added that Art Night is educational but with a casual, all-in-fun flair. "There's no pressure," he said. "You don't have to be an artist. There's no judging. You just come and do the art."

Read the full story here. 
 Pilot project in food scrap recycling a hit   

 I n its first six weeks, American Lakes Elementary  School's cafeteria recycling program diverted nearly  13,000 pounds of food -- 6.5 tons -- from the  landfill. Food scraps will be turned into clean-  burning fuel for waste-disposal trucks. Meanwhile,  students learned about helping the environment.  American Lakes is so proud that it has posted this  "Keep Up the Great Work" poster in its cafeteria.  Terrific start to an excellent program that is  targeted to expand district-wide.
'Celebration of the Arts in Honor of Cesar Chavez'  
Civil rights activist 
honored at Inderkum

Cesar Chavez's legacy was honored last Friday (March 25) with music, dance, performance and fashion in a community celebration at Inderkum High School.

March 31 marks the birthday of Chavez, a farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded the union that became United Farm Workers (UFW.)

Natomas residents of all ages attended Friday's festivities at Inderkum, which raised funds for the school's Safe and Sober Grad Night and for scholarships. Photos from the festivities are posted below.