NUSD Spotlight
Community Newsletter
-- April 17, 2018
Hope you enjoy this edition of "NUSD Spotlight," the district's community newsletter. Contact Director of Communications Jim Sanders, (916) 561-5267, if you have comments, concerns or suggestions. Thank you for your support of Natomas schools
NUSD Tops County Districts in College Access 
For the second year in a row, NUSD has topped all Sacramento County school districts in the percentage of students completing college entrance requirements for the UC and CSU systems, new state data shows.

NUSD also has the county's highest percentage of college-eligible students in five student groups tracked by the state: African American, Hispanic, White, Two or more Races, and Socioeconomically Disadvantaged. 

Among NUSD student groups, the college access rate for Hispanic students jumped by 15% last year and has risen by nearly 28% over five years. African American numbers increased by 3% last year and 18% since 2012. Six of every 10 socioeconomically disadvantaged students completed minimum course requirements to enroll in college, about a 4% rise in one year. Their five-year increase was 23%.

Data for NUSD's English Learner program also stood out. Last year, NUSD redesignated nearly one of every five English Learner students to English proficient. That ranks third in Sacramento County and exceeds the state average by nearly 4 percentage points. These numbers are a tribute to our strong staff.  Read the full story here.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Length of a newsletter can cause stories at the bottom to be clipped from display. If that happens, click "View Entire Message" prompt at the bottom of this page. Thanks!
Student Spotlight
Natomas High senior accepted into MIT 
Daniel Ledesma shoots for the stars 

Daniel Ledesma shoots for the stars academically, which is only fitting, perhaps, for someone who wants to design rocket ships someday.

A Natomas High School senior, Daniel has been accepted into one of the nation's top universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and he dreams of a career in rocket science.

His dream job would be working as an aerospace engineer someday with a company like SpaceX, creating the next generation of spacecraft.

Colonizing Mars "is a dream of mine," said Daniel, who has been fascinated with space exploration since he was a young child and believes that sustaining human life on Mars is possible but can't predict whether it will take 10, 20 or 100 years.

The 17-year-old tends to dream big, then work hard and excel academically to make those dreams come true.

At Natomas High, Daniel has a cumulative grade point average of 4.4 while participating in the school's prestigious Advance Placement (AP) Capstone Program and its Engineering Pathway.

By graduation next month, Daniel will have completed 11 college-level AP classes, including Physics, Biology, Human Geography, U.S. History, two English courses, and two Calculus courses.

His extracurricular activities at Natomas High have included participation in the Math Olympiad, Science Bowl and MESA Club - Mathematics Engineering, Science Achievement. He also served as a student tutor last year. 

Last year, Daniel participated in a four-person Nighthawk team that won a regional MESA competition in the Math Quest category, which involved solving problems requiring core mathematical knowledge, creative deductive abilities and collaborative reasoning.  Read more about him here .
Parent Survey to Plan for Next Year 
What do you think of your child's school?
Already preparing for next year, NUSD needs your feedback about your children's school and its academics, school climate, and parent engagement. Please help us by completing our anonymous, multiple-choice Parent/Family Survey, which takes only a few minutes.

This survey is offered only once a year and focuses specifically on your children's experience at school, not on broader district goals or services. We're making it easier than ever to complete the survey. You can access it online by clicking on the link below, or you can fill out a printed copy sent home from school. It can be returned to school offices, by mail, or email. Your opinions are important to us. Thanks for helping us better serve students. To begin,  simply click here.
Inderkum's 'Friday Night Live' 
club honored  by state Senate 

As the top Friday Night Live chapter in California, Inderkum High's FNL club was invited to the Capitol recently, where its leaders accepted a resolution on the Senate floor recognizing April as California Friday Night Live Month.

Inderkum was named California's Friday Night Live "Chapter of the Year" last fall, recognizing it as a champion in fighting to save lives from drunken driving, distracted driving, or use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

Principal Dan Motherspaw said he's proud of Tiger FNL members for working to make their community better. They're using their collective voice to help peers make good, informed decisions. "I think our kids are really experiencing civic engagement," he said.

"There's nothing more powerful than a youth movement because they're the future of our society," added Eric Fong, club adviser. "They want to see change, they want to see a difference." Read more here.
Since student & family engagement are key ...
New leader to help connect families to schools
Newly hired Asst. Supt. David Rodriguez will play a key role in overseeing programs to connect students to their schools and enhance family engagement, both of which are Board-approved NUSD goals.

Rodriguez, who speaks Spanish, will support the growth of Parent University and supervise high school athletics and activities. He also will help to improve civics, collaborate with teachers on ethnic studies course development, and work to enhance school cultures of inclusiveness, culturally responsive instruction, and family participation in NUSD education. 

Rodriguez comes to NUSD from Sacramento City Unified School District, where he was Principal of West Campus High School.

Rodriguez said he is drawn to NUSD because of its diversity, its growth potential, its commitment that every student can learn, and its Vision that all high school graduates be college and career ready, productive, responsible, and engaged global citizens. Read more about him here.
NUSD to launch 'On Track to College' letters 
NUSD is continuing its efforts to promote college and career readiness this spring with a new tool for students and families to monitor students' progress and identify possible colleges to attend. In early May, all 10th and 11th grade students at Inderkum High School, Leroy Greene Academy, and Natomas High School will receive the new, personalized "On Track to College" letter for the first time.  
The six-page letter provides a wealth of information to families based on each student's achievement, grades, and courses. If a student is off track, the letter will identify options to get back on track, such as registering for summer school to recover credits. These letters will provide our students and their families information about progress toward graduation, completion of a-g course requirements necessary for college admission, competitiveness for California colleges and universities, and recommendations for how to stay on track to be successful in college.
Beginning next fall, our new "On Track to College" letter will be sent home to families, once in the fall to students in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, then in the spring to students in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades.  

These new "On Track to College" letters are just one more resource in NUSD to help students get on track or stay on track for success after high school. The goal is to continue progress that, over the past few years, has seen NUSD's a-g rate used by colleges to determine student readiness climb to the highest in Sacramento County while our graduation rate has continued to remain above 90%, well above the state average. Read more here.
New layout for portal to monitor your child's work
Natomas Unified has a tool for parents and guardians to monitor how students are doing in school and to stay informed about what's happening at school.

We are excited to share that beginning this week there will be a new, easier to use and friendlier layout for our Parent Portal, where you can view your children's grades, attendance, assignments and other information.

To try this new feature, sign in to the Parent Portal, then click the green button titled "Try the new Campus Parent Portal." This new version of the Portal also makes it easier to view on mobile phones or tablets without using the App.

We're also pleased to share that we have new tools to help you access the Parent Portal; a new online password reset tool in both English and Spanish; and a video from our Parent University located here.
Marcel Baker to lead Natomas Middle School 
Marcel Baker, vice principal of Foothill High School in Pleasanton, is coming to NUSD as the new principal for Natomas Middle School next year.

Baker has a strong record at all levels of K-12 education. After beginning his career as a 4th-grade teacher in Oakland, he switched to school administration in 2013. Since then, he served he has served as an assistant principal or vice principal at the middle and high school levels.

Baker has led efforts to enhance school cultures, improve instruction and increase student performance.

"I'm very much about relationships," he said when asked to describe himself. "I think people would call me friendly and easy to get along with, but very committed to helping students thrive." Read more about him here.
Breaking news this month: NP3's new addition
Natomas Unified achieved another success this week in enhancing learning facilities with the opening of a new, two-story classroom building at NP3.

 The nearly 20,000-square-foot project consists of 20 classrooms, including a student learning center and a staff professional development room. Students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades are housed in the new addition, so 510 students per day are taught there. Student and staff restrooms were part of the project, too.

NP3's new classroom building is one of numerous NUSD construction or renovation projects the past few years to amplify 21st-century learning opportunities.
(A series of short videos  highlighting how NUSD is enhancing facilities to create 21st-century learning opportunities.)
Heron School 
At Heron School, we've boosted an already strong science program by adding two new science laboratories. Six new classrooms for 7
th- and 8 th -graders also were built, along with new restrooms and a video production studio that will offer quality lighting, backgrounds, microphones, editing and other equipment. Outdoors, students will benefit from a landscaped learning area where teachers can present lessons in the fresh air. We're proud of the new learning opportunities created at Heron, a school known for its focus on STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.
Westlake Charter School

Construction of Westlake Charter's new school brought together its students from two campuses into a 10-acre facility offering kindergarten through 8th grade. Features include an outdoor amphitheater, outdoor learning spaces, multipurpose room, library, classroom technology, flexible seating options, and middle school science labs. Completion freed space elsewhere for Paso Verde School to open, and for Jefferson School to be converted over the next couple years to accommodate both elementary and middle school students. The Westlake project clearly had wide-ranging impact and benefit. 
One, two, three feats for the record books  
To achieve something that no other Nighthawk has in the two decades of Natomas High's existence is extraordinary, so we salute Hayden Castillo, DeAndra McDaniel and Najaa Pruitt. Each set a new school record this year in physical fitness.

Hayden and DeAndra did 52 push-ups apiece, the best all-time performance for 10th- and 11th-grade boys, respectively. Najaa, who set the 10th-grade girls record for sit-ups last year, followed that up by smashing the 11th-grade record this year. Her 106 sit-ups in 2 minutes demolished the old mark of 78.

All three chart-toppers will receive special T-shirts as prizes and their names will be placed on a commemorative plaque in the school gym.
To show students at a very young age that college and career are important and attainable, NUSD schedules field trips to local college campuses and invites speakers into classrooms. Here are a few examples over the past two weeks.
What are these 3rd-graders doing in college? 
A college campus is an entirely new world to young kids, as demonstrated by some of the questions asked by Bannon Creek 3rd-graders recently while visiting American River College in Foothill Farms:

1) Is there a playground here?
2) Do you have to pay for each class?
3) Do you have a computer program?
5) How many teachers do you have?
6) How many types of classes do you have?
7) Are there classes where you can take coding?

NUSD provides college field trips for 3rd, 6th, 8th and 11th-grade classrooms to demystify the college experience and to send a message that it's attainable by anyone who works hard on their NUSD schoolwork. About 2,000 of our students have visited a college campus thus far this year. 
Former Inderkum scholar-athlete 
talks to Pumas about their future 

UC Davis quarterback C.J. Spencer returned to NUSD April 13 to talk to Paso Verde School students about the importance of preparing for college, beginning in elementary school.

 C.J. knows his stuff, on and off the field.  He was an Inderkum High School honor-roll student who won Offensive Most Valuable Player honors from the Tri-County Conference his senior year after passing for 1,724 yards and 23 touchdowns. 

Paso Verde's Transitional Kindergarten, Kindergarten, 4th- and 5th-grade students were thrilled when C.J. talked to their classes today.  Inspired? Absolutely, Principal Tonja Jarrell said. "They were so excited!" 

Thank you, C.J., for scoring a different kind of touchdown at Paso Verde. 
Taking the 'real world' to Natomas Park school 
N atomas Park Elementary School held a College and Career Week recently, a time when professionals in numerous fields speak to students about what their jobs are like, why education is needed, and how to prepare for a bright future. 

Speakers on Wednesday, March 28, included Lisa Kaplan, an attorney and NUSD Trustee, and Mellissa Meng, a transit program manager.

Others visiting classrooms included a pediatrician, airline pilot, real estate agent, banker, broker, professor, UC student, businesswoman, and law enforcement representative. The event is consistent with NUSD's goal of preparing all kids for college and career, beginning in early grades. 
Paso Verde pie-in-the-eye for a job well done  
Principal & staffers get 'creamed'

Paso Verde How sweet it is! ... So sweet, in fact, that Paso Verde Principal Tonja Jarrell probably is still picking whipped cream from her hair.

The school's head honcho, several teachers and an instructional aide got "pied" March 30 as prizes for the student body, which raised about $2,800 in "Pennies for Patients," a fundraising drive for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Others getting "creamed" were staffers Heather Gohn, Kristen Martin, Sigrid Bankston, Lauren Szoboscan and Noah Dwyer-Voss.

Icing on the cake, so to speak, was that a Paso Verde student who survived leukemia was one of the happy pie throwers - and an inspiration to all. Click on the video to check it out.
Student & Parent Opportunities and Info 
Coming this week:
Nine schools to hold open houses 
Please join us if your child attends one of the nine NUSD schools holding Open Houses this week.

Rolling out the welcome mat on Wednesday, April 18th, are Bannon Creek, Jefferson, Natomas Park and Heron. 

Greeting parents on Thursday, April 19th, are Witter Ranch, Two Rivers, American Lakes, H. Allen Hight and Paso Verde. All Open Houses are scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m.

 They're a terrific opportunity to meet teachers and view classwork. See you there?
Apply now for NSF cash scholarships or Chromebooks 
Deadlines are fast approaching to apply for cash scholarships or Chromebook computers from the Natomas Schools Foundation.

Separate programs are offered by NSF to award cash scholarships for current seniors or former graduates to further their education, and Chromebooks to deserving students in grades 5-12. Both programs applications to be submitted by April 30. Details below:

Scholarships - A total of $6,000 in scholarships -- in denominations of $1,000 and $500 - will be awarded to deserving high school seniors or former NUSD students who plan to further their education in college or trade school. Winners will be announced in May. For contest criteria and an application, click here.

Chromebooks - Laptops are a vital part of 21st century learning -- and not all students can afford to have one of their own. The Natomas Schools Foundation can help. It's giving away 18 Chromebooks to deserving youth in grades 5-12. Apply now! Info and application are available here.
Ages and Stages Questionnaire

NUSD is offering parents a simple and free developmental screening tool, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, for children up to 5 years old.

The questionnaire provides a quick check of a child's development and an opportunity to learn about developmental milestones in five areas: Communication Skills, Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Problem-Solving Skills and Personal-Social Skills.

Free copies are available by calling NUSD's Early Learning Office at (916) 567-5516. More information is available here.
NUSD's health and wellness fair a big hit
Hundreds of people flocked to Jefferson School on Friday, March 30, for NUSD 's Health, Wellness and Resource Fair, which offered a free barbecue meal, farmers market, lively music, health screenings, vision screenings, immunizations, performances by the Bannon Creek Beaver cheerleading squads, and plenty of information about nutrition, community resources, and NUSD services. 

There were smiles galore and fun for all ages at the event, spearheaded by NUSD's Nutrition Services Department, Natomas School Readiness, and the district's Health and Wellness Committee. 

Featured Parent University video
How can I help my child transition to high school?
e transition to high school is different for everyone. Some students find it easy, others find it more difficult - but it's a new and exciting adventure for all. NUSD is committed to ensure that every student can learn and succeed. We will engage our families and community as partners for student success. Check out this video for tips on how to support your student's transition to high school.

NUSD's Parent University has created and posted brief videos on its website to help answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on a wide range of other subjects at all levels of K-12 education.  To view any of these videos, click here . Each of our newsletters will feature one Parent University video through the end of this school year.

 NUSD Spotlight 
Brought to you by:
Jim Sanders
   Director of Communications
 (916) 561-5267