NUSD Spotlight
Community Newsletter
 -- Dec. 4,  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.
Hats off to Nutrition Services ... 
 Teaching kids to eat healthy & cook  
 wins statewide award for 'best practice' 
NUSD's Nutrition Services Department has won a coveted Golden Bell from the California School Boards Association for a wide-ranging program teaching students of all ages about nutrition, healthy eating, and food-related careers.

CSBA's Golden Bells honor educational "best practices" that can be replicated by other school districts.

In its student outreach program, Nutrition Services staff work directly with high school culinary students, campus culinary clubs, and students of all ages through cooking demonstrations, cooking instruction, classroom presentations, and farm field trips.

Over the past four years, NUSD's Nutrition Services has helped create culinary clubs at three high schools, helped special-education students learn independent living skills in the district's central kitchen, taken culinary club members on annual farm field trips, organized a district Health and Wellness Fair, spoken about nutrition in classrooms, and organized numerous special events. 

"In education, we're in the business of teaching kids about things they don't know they love yet," said Vince Caguin, NUSD Nutrition Services Director. "That's as true of fruits and vegetables as it is for math." Read more here. 
'Cooking with Kids' is prime example of outreach
OK, kids take this class with a grain of salt - and a pinch of cilantro, too, if you'd like.

"Cooking with Kids" is a monthly after-school class at Paso Verde School, taught by NUSD's Nutrition Services Department, that brings parents and kids together with a simple recipe for success: Have fun, learn something new, and never go home with an empty belly.

"Hopefully, they'll take it from here and implement it in their own homes," said NUSD Chef James Valles, a former NUSD "Classified Employee of the Year" and longtime culinary arts aficionado who dispenses more cooking tips than Starbucks does coffee -- well, almost. He is assisted by Anna Liggins, an NUSD Nutrition Services colleague.

At one recent "Cooking with Kids" class, each family member made his or her own parfait by mixing or topping a cup of yogurt with berry mix, peaches and granola. Later, they made soup and salsa by using identical ingredients: tomatoes, beans, chickens, peppers, onions, cilantro and oregano.

Valerie, 8, had a hard time choosing a favorite among foods cooked in the class. "I think all of them," she said. Read more here.
... And summer meals program wins USDA award 
For offering a lifeline to every hungry local child by serving about 91,000 free breakfasts, lunches and snacks last summer, Natomas Unified has won a U.S. Department of Agriculture "Summer Sunshine Award."

Winners are chosen from an eight-state Western Region for providing exemplary food service during summer months while schools are closed. NUSD distributed free meals at 18 local sites, including 10 campuses. The program ended with a huge community party and BBQ chicken lunch at Natomas High that attracted nearly 1,000 people.

 We're honored to receive this USDA award, but we're even happier about what it means: No local child needed to go hungry last summer. Healthy kids make better learners -- and we're proud to do our part. Read more 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!
District Progress Report available at all schools  
Our first-ever District Progress Report (DPR) is available now in the main office of all district-operated schools and at the NUSD Ed Center, 1901 Arena Blvd. It features charts and graphs describing our district's performance and progress in student achievement, school climate, graduation rate, student attendance, and other key areas.

Soon, the state anticipates publishing new performance results on its California School Dashboard. Both reports will show strengths and areas that need improvement. They also are meant to provide consistency and reassurance that performance will be monitored and the community kept informed. Thank you for your support of NUSD schools. 

For more information about the DPR, click here. To view the DPR in its entirety online, click here. Thank you for your support of NUSD Schools.
'Kindness Week' kicks off holidays at Natomas Park
"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can." - 
John Wesley

John Wesley would have made a great Coyote.

Natomas Park Elementary School featured the 18 th century theologian's quote in its recent "Kindness Week," which stressed the importance not only of earning good grades but being a good person - friendly, generous, caring and concerned.

At least two other NUSD campuses, Paso Verde and Leroy Greene Academy, also offered kindness campaigns recently.  At Natomas Park, each day of the designated week featured a theme: Say something nice. Be kind to a stranger. Value friendship. Give generously. Make a new friend.


As one example of how classes expanded on the themes, 4th-grade teacher Robert Burnes led a  character-building activity around a children's book, "How Full is Your Bucket?" The book's message is that everyone has an invisible bucket that is filled up or emptied by good or bad interactions every day.


Since kindness is a bucket filler, each student in Burnes' class had a container that classmates were encouraged to fill with written compliments. On Friday, students got to read the praise they received.

Another 4 th-grade class, led by teacher Jill Roberts, learned about and raised money for UNICEF, a United Nations program providing humanitarian and other assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.  Roberts' class collected $197.59.

Natomas Park's multipurpose room contained a "Compliment and Thank You Box" to collect written praise and encouragement from students and staff.

"Olivia - you make my day even better," one message said.
"Thank you Jordyn James for being my best friend," read another.
 "Thank you for being so kind Jayden." Read more here.
Video production: Learning computer skills
to tell stories & express yourself via images  
Creative use of technology fits 21st century education 
(One in a series of stories looking at NUSD college and career preparation, starting in early grades.)

Don't just tell me, show me.

Video images are becoming as much a part of 21st century life as laptops and cellular telephones, perhaps, used for everything from real estate ads to wedding photography to marketing pitches and college admission applications. You Tube alone attracts more than 30 million visitors per day.

Heron School embraces this societal trend toward images, not just words, by offering video production classes preparing students for college and career by teaching valuable technical skills in story planning, recording, camera angles, sound, voice-overs, intros, outros and other editing skills.

Heron's good thing is about to get a whole lot better. Video classes currently are held in a traditional classroom, but a new wing about to open at the K-8 school includes a video production studio with quality lighting, backgrounds, microphones, teleprompters, editing and other equipment.

The new studio will expand student opportunities and make it faster to produce "The Heron Show," a student-created, school-focused video production which currently airs every two weeks and could expand to weekly. Someday, perhaps, the show could be broadcast live in the new facility.

Many of Heron's students graduate from 8thgrade into Inderkum High, which offers additional opportunities in video production through a Broadcast and Media Arts pathway led by former TV newscaster Melissa May.

Heron teacher Charles King offers beginning and advanced video production classes to 7th- and 8th-graders. He spends one period a day exposing other classes to video, and he supervises an after-school video production club for 4th-6th-graders who learn the basics and record "Heron Show" segments.

In addition to technical skills, King said, video students practice planning, writing, storytelling, collaborating, thinking outside the box, and deadline-meeting skills that can benefit them forever. 
Jonathan, 12, said he took Heron's video production class because he likes technology, likes making videos for the school, and "all my friends are in this class, so it's really fun." Would he advise others to enroll? "If you really like technology, I would recommend it a lot," he said. Read more here .
NUSD toy drive
Help make a child happy this holiday season 
Please join us in helping kids in need this holiday season by donating a new toy for distribution through Joey's Food Locker at Natomas High.

Last year, hundreds of homeless, foster and other local children 12 or younger benefited from NUSD's Toy Drive through the generosity of students, staff and local residents. Excitement and smiles on the faces of those kids while they picked out a toy last December emphasized the joy a simple gift can bring during the holiday season. Let's continue that tradition this year.

New toys can be dropped off through Wednesday, Dec. 13, at any NUSD campus during school hours or at the district Ed Center, 1901 Arena Blvd. between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Toys will be distributed from 4-5:30 Friday, Dec. 15, at Joey's Food Locker, located near the Natomas High School tennis courts at 3301 Fong Ranch Rd Questions? Call NUSD Constituent and Customer Services at 916-561-5253. Thank you.
Enrollment open for next year
Know someone who wants to attend NUSD?  
Do you know a family member, friend, or acquaintance who wants to attend an NUSD school next year?

Enrollment forms are being accepted now to attend any NUSD non-charter school for the 2018-19 school year. We are excited to share that NUSD is offering an online enrollment option for the first time.

Requests to transfer from one NUSD school to another next year also are being accepted.

For details on how to enroll, click here.
Student & Parent Opportunities   
You're invited! Paso Verde plans 'International Festival'
Family fun for all is planned at a free "International Festival" to be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15 at Paso Verde School, 3800 Del Paso Road.

A parade is planned, along with children's activity booths, live entertainment, continent exhibits, a photo booth, and international food vendors. Early holiday shopping opportunities will be available.

In keeping with the spirit of the event, participants are urged to dress in a multicultural outfit. 

More information is available on this flyer or by emailing
  Learn about newly released Dyslexia guidelines 
Natomas Unified's Community Advisory Committee is pleased to host presenters from the California Department of Education's Special Education Division to provide information and answer questions about how newly released guidelines on Dyslexia will affect school districts.

The session will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, in the NUSD Board Room, 1901 Arena Blvd. Questions? Call Lisset Mijares at (916) 473-0053. To see the event's flyer or to register online,  click here
Inderkum's Shauna Jackson earns scholarship
to play basketball for Sonoma State University  
Tiger Shauna Jackson will be a Seawolf soon.

Inderkum High honored the 17-year-old senior Nov. 15 with a lunchtime ceremony at which she signed a letter of intent to attend Sonoma State University next year on a basketball scholarship. 

Shauna proves there's a place in college basketball for a versatile 5-foot-11 team leader who doesn't have eye-popping statistics -- 4 points and 5 rebounds per game last year -- but is respected by peers, works hard, can play two positions, loves the game, is very athletic, and has all-around skills and high potential.

 "She's very coachable and she's unselfish almost to a fault," said Inderkum Coach Phillip Hampton.

After college, Shauna wants to be a sports physical therapist. Congratulations on your hard-earned success, Shauna, and here's a message from your mama: Sonoma State is not too far to stay in touch! 
Trivia: Which NUSD Board member
is an all-league football player, too?

Jadon Johnson may be the answer to a trivia question for many years to come. It's not every day that a sitting member of NUSD's Board of Trustees makes All-League in football.

Jadon, a student Trustee and standout wide receiver, made the Golden Empire League's First Team Offense after leading the league in receiving yards and finishing third in total points and fourth in TDs.

Among other Nighthawks, Darrius Vance was co-Outstanding Lineman of the Year. GEL First Team selections included Adrian Torres, Tyler King, and Aiden Baker. Named to the Second Team were Ivan Velasco, Julian Navarette, Jamar Walker, Damani Richardson, Chris Gary, Brian Sims, and Chris Sims. Congratulations to all!
Getting holiday season off to great start ... 

Hundreds benefit 
from generosity

A little girl walked beside her Mom, admiring their Thanksgiving bounty from Joey's Food Locker several days before Thanksgiving.

"Look at that TURKEY," the youth squealed. "I know, it's huge!" the Mom shot back. Their joy was palpable.

Another local resident, Arnold, said he lives in a home with eight people "so I'm trying to get a turkey for all of us." Wey had a two-word reaction to getting a turkey and bag of groceries. "It's wonderful," he said. 

The holiday season got off to a great start, thanks to 300 turkeys donated by Keller Williams Realty to the food locker at Natomas High. Can't help but feel the spirit.
300 Thanksgiving turkeys  
donated by Keller Williams 

There's something very special about Natomas -- and Keller Williams Realty spotlighted that by donating 300 Thanksgiving turkeys to Natomas Unified for distribution to local families in need.

The frozen turkeys were handed out Nov. 17 at Joey's Food Locker on the Natomas High School campus.

"Our community gives to us and we want to give back -- having a nice meal at Thanksgiving is something everybody deserves," explained Rico Rivera, manager of Keller Williams on Truxel Road.

Michael Soares, owner of the local Keller Williams branch, said that he'd like to see every family enjoy a nice get-together for the holiday. He hopes the 300 donated turkeys will contribute toward that.

"It's all about community," Soares said.

Thank you, Keller Williams, for showing what holiday spirit is all about.
Pass the drumstick and stuffing, please 
Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same
without this annual NHS tradition 

Thanksgiving came early.

Six days before the annual holiday, a turkey-and-trimmings feast for dozens of students, staff and guests at Natomas High School was cooked and served by special-needs students in NUSD's Adult Transition and Independent Living Skills programs.

Honoring an annual tradition, each diner pointed out something he or she is thankful for this Thanksgiving: Family or friends was a popular response, as were Mom, Dad, teachers, and "everyone." Also singled out were pets, pumpkins, the military, the food, the chance to get together - and the fact that it's Friday.

Attendees filled their plates from a smorgasbord of turkey, ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, cranberries, salad, rolls and dessert - pumpkin, apple or pecan pie.

Special-needs teacher Joel Schwieger, who helps spearhead the annual feast, said that a lot of his students don't have Thanksgiving get-togethers at home. So he wants to make sure they get a bellyful of holiday cheer at school. The tradition is 24 years old.

"It's going to be a tradition as long as I'm teaching - and probably longer than that," he said, smiling. "Everybody loves it. It seems to get bigger and bigger every year." Read more here.
NUSD Spotlight
             Brought to you by:
             Jim Sanders
   Director of  Communications
             (916) 561-5267