NUSD Spotlight
Community Newsletter
 -- Dec. 18,  2017  

Hope you enjoy this edition of "NUSD Spotlight," the district's 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.
'Tis the season  
We wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever holiday you celebrate in this season of giving and joy. Best of everything in 2018!
Supt's Message: 
Setting the stage  for even brighter future 
Happy holidays to all of you!

Throughout the school year, this newsletter spotlights some of the good things happening in our classrooms and schools as we prepare students for college and career. With 2018 right around the corner, we also want to look ahead, detailing our blueprint for an even brighter future.

I released a community message last week describing plans to enhance our existing six college and career pathways by adding two new ones -- in Construction and Trades, to be located at Natomas High but available to all district high school students, and in Public Safety, to be located at Inderkum High.

I also announced that the Board of Trustees has approved a newly updated Facilities Master Plan identifying key project priorities for the future, including renovation and construction to convert America Lakes, Jefferson and Bannon Creek schools to K-8. Our blueprint also envisions ongoing district safety projects, a new high school as Natomas grows, a new K-5 school, and safety-related athletic fields. 

A new, permanent TK-8 site for Paso Verde School is in the design phase. Other facilities improvements at schools such as H. Allen Hight, Natomas Middle, and Witter Ranch are planned, and agreements with charter schools are in place to support our district. We also are a contributor to the planned aquatic center that will serve our whole community.

It's an exciting time for Natomas Unified as we chart a course to expand 21st century learning opportunities for children district-wide. If you haven't yet read about the plans mentioned above and other measures to benefit schools and students in coming years, please take a moment to read my message here. Thank you very much. We're honored to serve you -- and we look forward to 2018 and the many years to come.
Taking a look at NUSD achievements this year

Natomas Unified has accomplished quite a bit since the new school year began in August, including:

  • Opened Paso Verde School, completed a two-story classroom building at Natomas Park Elementary, and enhanced kitchen and dining facilities for Discovery High's Culinary and Hospitality Pathway. After Winter Recess, Heron School staff and students will move into six newly built classrooms and three labs. In March, a two-story NP3 classroom building is scheduled for completion.
  • Launched an innovative plan to recruit and invest in diverse, high-quality future teachers, with an eye also toward candidates who are bilingual, live in zip codes similar to Natomas, have a track record of supporting underserved students, or who will teach in Math, Science, or other hard-to-fill positions. We'll provide financial incentives after college graduation to help them earn a teaching credential.
  • Earned statewide honors from the California School Boards Association, a Golden Bell award, for an extensive and wide-ranging program by the Nutrition Services Department to teach students about nutrition, cooking, and healthy eating.
  • Proudly released our first-ever District Progress Report, a transparent, one-stop shop of data highlighting where we are succeeding, where we are making progress, and where we need to improve. Performance is tracked annually over three years.
Preparing for the future, we recently updated the 2014 Facilities Master Plan to accommodate future growth and to continue enhancing 21 st century learning opportunities.
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!
  Leroy Greene Academy's Mack Gregory:
'shining example' of college & career readiness 
If Leroy Greene Academy had a student "Hall of Fame," there's a good chance that senior Mack Gregory would be in it, because:
  • He's a straight-A student
  • He's taking six Advanced Placement (AP) courses this year, and he took three last year.
  • He has been an LGA student leader for three years, serving as school Historian for two years and as Technology Commissioner for two  years
  • He is widely known and appreciated for his voluntarism, including serving as a Friday Night Live mentor to counsel a middle-school student about the risks of driving drunk, using drugs, and other risky behavior; helping LGA staff resolve technology problems; raising the American flag and taking it down each day at LGA; running sound equipment for school events; and serving as the timekeeper for school athletic teams.
"He is a remarkable young man who is a joy to be around," LGA Principal Leslie Sargent said of Mack, an Eagle Scout. "He is a shining example of a college and career ready Lion." Read more here.
Students of 'Vision'
Please join us for a standing ovation ...
Award ceremonies held at all schools

They're talented kids, role models, shining stars with bright futures.

We're proud of you.

More than 200 stude nts of all ages were selected by their schools as exemplifying NUSD's Board-approved Vision of college and career readiness, productivity, responsibility, and engaged global citizenship. The annual award encompasses all grade levels.

Each school is honoring its "Vision" students and presenting them with certificates of recognition at a campus celebration.

"We are extremely proud of you for representing the best of what we do here," Natomas High Principal Scott Pitts told a dozen Nighthawks singled out for recognition.

Winners district-wide were selected for demonstrating outstanding qualities in community service, leadership, grades, art, personal responsibility, or any other quality that exemplifies NUSD's aspirational Vision for all students.

"Chase is the type student that makes any teacher's job a dream," one nomination read. "He consistently shows up with a good attitude, participates in class discussion, and completes thorough and accurate work. Beyond that, he confidently greets his teachers and peers daily and is kind to those around him."

All the other nominations were glowing, too.

"Tyler lives the Panther Way every day at Natomas Middle School," read one. "He is respectful, responsible, and a problem solver. His patience, kindness, and sense of humor work together to make him an outstanding student." Read more here.
Hail to the new chief of NUSD's Board
Congratulations to Scott Dosick, elected by colleagues this month as the new president of NUSD's Board of Trustees. He'll serve as leader throughout 2018, with help from Sue Heredia, vice president, and Teri Burns, clerk.

Dosick replaces Lisa Kaplan as president. The move was part of an annual, regularly scheduled reorganization of Board officers.

Dosick is no stranger to Board leadership: He served as president in 2015, too. 
  Kindergarteners win grant to make videos 
(Part of a series looking at NUSD college and career preparation, starting in early grades.)  

Kindergarteners making videos? Yes! Georgia Schaaf's class of 5-year-olds has won a $330 mini grant to purchase a tripod, microphone, and other video equipment. 

The check was awarded by John Eick and Tyler Johnstone of CapCue, a nonprofit group of educators committed to innovative use of technology in schools.

Last year's 
kindergarteners in Ms. Schaaf's class were obsessed with learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and ended up making a video - with help from teacher Charles King and his students -- that featured the young kids' artwork and something each classmate remembered about the civil rights leader. The video won a regional award. With the new grant, Ms. Schaaf's students can dig even deeper into video-making with iPads this year, learning skills they can use in college and perhaps career.
Pictures of success: Nighthawk 'Class of 2017'
(Part of a series looking at NUSD college and career preparation, starting in early grades.)  

Nighthawk Nation's pride and joy. 

At Natomas High School, photos of the most recent graduates accepted into four-year colleges are on display in the school library.

Dozens of Nighthawk photos from the "Class of 2017" are posted under the banner headline, "University Bound." 

 Beneath each photo is the word "ACCEPTED" and the name of the college or university that Nighthawk was accepted into. 

The list of schools is impressive, ranging from the University of Southern California (USC), to UC
Berkeley, UC Davis, Hofstra, Holy Names, Fresno Pacific University, Sacramento State University, and many more.

The picture collage provides a visual reminder, throughout the year, that college is vital, attainable, and that Nighthawks who are studying today in universities throughout the country grew up in the same Natomas communities and attended the same Natomas schools as current students. There's light at the end of the tunnel for the current "Class of 2018" -- and much hope for the future.
Education that hatches from eggs & swims
Something fishy's going on at Heron School.
Seventh-graders in Karen McDaniels' class obtained nearly three dozen salmon eggs from Nimbus Fish Hatchery through a special program for education. The eggs hatched during Thanksgiving break, giving the kids a firsthand look at the cycle of life.
And the lessons keep on coming ...
The baby salmon are growing now, day by day, and the class will take a field trip to Discovery Park this week to release them in the river. Before the adventure ends, students will learn about conservation, eco-systems, habitat, invasive species, water quality, and other science .. Pretty cool, eh?
Free Winter Recess lunches
to be served at four schools 

NUSD will serve free lunches at four schools during Winter Recess to ensure that nutritious food is available to students during the holiday season.

Except for Christmas Day and New Year's Day, lunches will be served weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to noon at American Lakes, Natomas Park, Jefferson, and Witter Ranch schools through Friday, Jan. 5.

All youth ages 18 and under are eligible for the program, provided by NUSD's Nutrition Services Department. Addresses of participating schools and additional information is available on this event flyer.
  Free supper program expands to Two Rivers 
Fifty-two students turned out for a meal of flauquitos -- a hybrid of flautas and taquitos -- when Two Rivers Elementary kicked off its after-school supper program Dec. 11.

Two Rivers became the 12th NUSD school to offer free, daily after-school suppers to students. Its inaugural meal also included fruit, salad, and milk.

Other schools participating in the supper program are American Lakes, Bannon Creek, Jefferson, Natomas Park, Witter Ranch, and H. Allen Hight elementary schools, Natomas High School, Inderkum High School, Natomas Middle School, Natomas Gateways Middle School, and Leroy Greene Academy.

The school supper program, subsidized by the federal government, ensures that no student at participating schools needs to go to bed hungry at night.
Student & Parent Opportunities & Info   
Free ACT online test preparation for 11th-graders
NUSD is partnering with ACT to offer juniors at Inderkum High, Natomas High, Leroy Greene Academy, and Discovery High schools FREE online preparation for the college admissions test. During the school day on Tuesday, Feb. 27, Natomas Unified will administer the ACT to all 11th-grade students at these schools, free of charge. ACT is used by many colleges and universities to make admissions decisions, so the better that students prepare and score on the exam, the more opportunities they will have in an increasingly competitive process. Students should look for an email from ACT to activate their online prep account.
Check out these Adult Education classes for 2018
NUSD's Adult Education program offers free courses to help you recover high school credits, earn a diploma, learn to speak English, and become a U.S. citizen. Consider a New Year's resolution that includes enhancing your education and creating new possibilities for yourself. Check out the options by clicking here
Regional Transit drops student monthly pass to $20 
Sacramento Regional Transit has dropped the price of its monthly student passes from $55 to $20 for all students in grades Kindergarten through 12th.

A monthly pass allows unlimited rides on all RT buses and light rail trains. RT operates nearly 70 bus routes and 43 miles of light rail lines throughout Sacramento County. A half-month pass is available for $10.

"The reduction is part of SacRT's effort to encourage young people to learn about the region's public transportation system and travel without restriction," said Andy Morin, SacRT Board chairman. "It's our hope that students in grades K-12 will adopt this mode of travel as they become adults, so providing them affordable transit access in their youth seems to be an excellent approach."

The new prices will be available through June 30. For a list of sales outlets, click here.
We'll miss you! 
Leaving NUSD with jobs already lined up 
Last Thursday was huge for Frank Torres and Marquis Flores, who graduated from NUSD's Adult Transition Program, which teaches adult special-needs students how to ride buses, handle checkbooks, and other basic skills needed to live independently. 

Teacher Joel Schwieger describes Frank and Marquis as terrific human beings, a pleasure to work with, and destined to do great things. Both already have jobs lined up -- at Easter Seals ... Success stories already!
Season's Greetings from NUSD 
NUSD toy giveaway
Jolt of holiday joy for hundreds of kids
NUSD's toy giveaway on Dec. 15 provided a holiday jolt of joy to hundreds of kids ages 12 and under.

It was a dream come true for kids like Annalise, 4, whose mother -- a former Natomas High School student -- had suffered a leg injury and lost hours at work, cutting into her income.

Toys for the giveaway were donated by the Natomas community, and their generosity was priceless to Annalise and many other youth.

Toys were distributed at Joey's Food Locker on the Natomas High School campus. Remaining toys will be distributed through the schools to foster students, homeless students, and to local children in need. The giveaway truly was an awesome people-helping-people effort -- and a great way to spread holiday spirit.
Anthem United Homes and contractors
donated dozens of toys for NUSD giveaway 
Hot Wheels, Legos, Incredible Hulk, Spider Man, a musical rhyme book, stunt car, dolls, construction crane set -- dozens of gifts were donated by Anthem United Homes to NUSD's Holiday Toy Drive for children in need. 

The construction firm, builders of "Willow at Natomas Meadows," collected the toys from employees and contractors. "We love to give back to the community," said Matt Gustus, Anthem's Director of Operations.

Contractors who joined Anthem United in collecting toys were Sherman Loehr Custom Tile Works and Contract Interiors, Kleary Masonry Inc., NorthCal Hauling Co., and Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery.

Those and many other donated toys will be distributed to foster, homeless, and other children in need on Friday, Dec. 15, at J oey's Food Locker on the Natomas High School campus. Thank you, donors. Your kindness truly will spread joy this holiday season.
NUSD Spotlight
             Brought to you by:
             Jim Sanders
   Director of  Communications
             (916) 561-5267