NUSD Community Newsletter -- January 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.
Happy Ending to Years of Planning 

Why are we excited about IB
Middle Years Programme? 
Let's count the ways
Natomas Unified notified families district-wide last week that the IB Organization has authorized Natomas Middle and Inderkum High as World Schools for the rigor, quality and content of their joint IB Middle Years Programme. Here is a quick rundown of why we're so excited about that development:
  1. Students can now begin taking official IB classes in 6th grade and continue taking them through 10th grade, at which point they can enroll in Inderkum High's IB Diploma Programme, culminating with diploma distinction recognized by top colleges and universities worldwide.
  2.  MYP is for all students at Natomas Middle School, and for all freshmen and sophomores at Inderkum -- not just the academically accomplished.
  3. Participants can complete A-G college admission requirements.
  4.  MYP's goal is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
  5. Curriculum covers Sciences and Social Science, World Language, Mathematics, English Language/Literature, Arts, Design, and Physical and Health Education. Critical thinking is a key component.
  6.  IB fosters community involvement and requires students to participate in service learning and personal projects in which students develop and apply 21st century skills and learning. 
Note:  NUSD's International Baccalaureate chain could be extended into elementary school soon. H. Allen Hight is an IB candidate school for its Primary Years Programme serving transitional kindergartners through 5 th -graders.
Standing together at Inderkum High 
Treasured  Tiger
Freshman Tradition

This 'Class of 2016' banner on display at Inderkum is part of a treasured tradition. Incoming freshmen sign this 'Commitment to Graduate' as a promise to work hard, to persevere, and to succeed together as a class. It creates a powerful bond among classmates. Four years later, dream becomes reality, and the banner is honored by seniors as a symbol of achievement at their graduation ceremony. 
College and Career Readiness 

'¿Habla Espanol,' Kindergarteners?
"Buenos Dias!" Izamar Ortiz-Gonzalez announces cheerfully and her class of kindergarteners responds in kind, "Buenos Dias!"

"Amigos, show me your manos," the teacher asks the 5-year-olds, mixing English with Spanish to simplify the question for them.

The kids wave their hands.

At H. Allen Hight Elementary, students are learning Spanish at every grade level, year after year, beginning in kindergarten when they're still perfecting their ABCs and learning to read basic sentences in English.

By the time they leave Hight, students are expected to write simple sentences and answer simple questions in Spanish, Ortiz-Gonzalez said.

Giving all kids at Hight a taste of a world language can spark them to continue taking it as they get older. Students who opt to take Spanish every year in middle and high school can receive 13 years of instruction before leaving NUSD. Early focus on Spanish is consistent with preparing all students to be college and career ready in an increasingly global economy. Read the full story here.
Food Scraps: New Frontier for Waste Diversion
Turning Lunch Leftovers into Gas 

Call it a new frontier for Natomas Unified waste diversion: Food scraps.

American Lakes Elementary School launched a pilot project this month in which students will separate their cafeteria scraps from landfill trash. The organic waste will be converted into clean-burning gas to run waste disposal trucks serving NUSD. The District's Environmental Support Program spearheaded the project.

Spurred by a new state law, plans call for the program to expand district-wide in coming months. Read more here.

Elementary School Sports Hits the Hoops  
Natomas Unified's first-year elementary school sports program launched its winter season of boys and girls basketball this month.

Hundreds of 4th and 5th-graders are participating districtwide. The goal of the elementary school sports program is to give young students a new after-school option through which they can make friends, learn new skills, gain confidence, and feel more connected to their campus.

These photos are from a boys game pitting Witter Ranch against H. Allen Hight. 

NUSD's Classified Employee of the Year is ...

CJ Moua: Caring & Collaborative

CJ Moua had no idea what was about to happen when he was called into Supt. Chris Evans' office on the pretext of fixing a computer problem Monday (Jan. 25).


Moua, an IT Specialist, was told that he is Natomas Unified's Classified Employee of the Year. Nomination papers touted his skill, commitment, follow-up, and caring attitude while keeping computer equipment in good repair in the Ed Center and Staff Development Center.

"For me, it was jaw-dropping," Moua said later about his selection. "I was elated. I didn't know what to say. Wow!"

Watch the Surprise Unfold 
Events, programs, opportunities 
Reaching Out to You   
'Secondary School Options Night' 

Entering middle or high school next year? Natomas Unified's "Exploring Secondary School Options Night" is meant for you. Mark your calendar for Thursday, Jan. 28.

The event, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Natomas High School multipurpose room, will bring officials from all NUSD secondary schools together at one time to make presentations and answer questions about their programs, options, and opportunities. For students weighing which campus to attend, the 90-minute event represents free, one-stop shopping.
For more information call Jennifer Arechiga at 567-5430.
Secondary School Open Houses

Time to roll out the red carpet.

Inderkum High, Natomas High and Natomas Gateways Middle School will hold Open Houses from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Open Houses are scheduled for March 17 by Natomas Middle School and Discovery High School. For more information about those events, call the campus you're interested in visiting. NUSD's other campuses will hold their Open Houses this spring. Dates and times will be posted in future newsletters.
Natomas Schools Foundation
 Offering Two Scholarships 

The Natomas Schools Foundation is offering two scholarships this year -- an "Academic College Scholarship" providing stipends of either $1,000 or $500 for higher education, and a technology scholarship offering free Chromebook, laptop or desktop computers.
Applications for the technology scholarship are due Feb. 11. Winners are selected by the foundation's scholarship committee on the basis of academic performance and potential leadership potential, service to others, and on their need for a computer to improve or maintain their school work.
Applications for the Academic College Scholarship are due March 31. At least $6,000 will be awarded this year -- three $1,000 and six $500 scholarships to high school and post-high school students. Winners must reside/resided and attend/attended high school within NUSD boundaries. They also must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher and have served 50 hours or more in formal employment or volunteer service, which can include community assistance or participation in a school club or organization. Awards can be used for educational expenses in accredited four-year colleges or trade schools. If you have questions, contact Jim Sanders, NUSD Director of Communications, at 561-5267.
More Local Scholarship Opportunities 

As NUSD seniors set their sights on college, we want them to know about the following two local scholarship opportunities in which thousands of dollars can be won:

1). The Schwab-Rosenhouse Memorial Scholarship is open to Sacramento-area seniors who plan to attend colleges, universities, or vocational/technical institutions within 100 miles of the Sacramento County courthouse. Applicants will be evaluated on their academic record, community activities, volunteer activities, and other personal circumstances. Awards will range from $1,000 to $4,000 per year. Financial need will be considered in setting final award amounts. Online applications, due Feb. 4, are available here.

2). Physicians for Social Responsibility Sacramento Chapter is awarding scholarships of $3,000, $2,500, $2,000, and seven $1,000 scholarships in an essay contest for high school seniors or early Class of 2016 graduates attending school in Sacramento or 11 surrounding counties, including Yolo, Placer and El Dorado. Applicants must write an essay of up to 500 words on the following quotation: "Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free." That quote is from the Nobel Lecture presented by the 14th Dalai Lama after he was awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize. Online applications must be submitted by Sunday, March 13. More information is available here.

Joey's Food Locker Needs Your Help

The Winter Break took a toll on Joey's Food Locker. The cupboards need a boost at the District's first-year food closet. 

Demand is growing and stock is getting a little low, so please consider donating canned or dried goods. Any type of non-perishable food is welcome, but canned fruit or staples such as pasta, tuna, peanut butter or macaroni-and-cheese are among items needed most.

Bins are located at each NUSD campus and at the Ed Center. Though donations are particularly needed now, the food locker serves families in need one day per month, so any help you can give it throughout the year is much appreciated. For more information contact Lynn Carr at 567-5414. 
Hats Off to Staff 

Natomas Park Teacher Scott Taylor:
Best job he never dreamed of...

Scott Taylor did not always dream of becoming a teacher - in fact, he never did.

"It wasn't a first choice for me," he says. "I always saw myself in some office or something."

At UC Davis, he majored in International Relations and minored in music, hardly a yellow-brick-road into teaching.

While growing up, Taylor says, he rarely talked in class and "I was the last person I wanted the teacher to call on."

But Taylor always liked children - "I was one of the only guy babysitters in my neighborhood" - and he always liked to have fun. Combining those two interests led him to a 5th grade class at Natomas Park Elementary, where he is Site Teacher of the Year for 2015-16.

Principal Kendra Shelton said Taylor is known for being kind, caring, committed and collaborative. "He is the type of teacher that other staff state they would be pleased to have teach their own children," she wrote.

Taylor said teaching is fun to him. "What we do is good quality learning, good stuff, but I like it and we have a good time." Read the full story here.
Teri Ortega: 'I always want to treat people the way I want to be treated'

Teri Ortega is the first person that many Natomas residents see or hear when they contact the District Ed Center.

Ortega's job is part switchboard operator, part receptionist, part greeter, and part referral service. She sits near the Ed Center's front door and handles hundreds of calls or walk-in contacts per day.

Ortega understands well the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

"I always want to treat people the way I would want to be treated," she said.

She tries hard to be a good listener, to be respectful, and to have a good grasp of District programs and personnel so she can put people in touch with whomever can answer their concern or request, without transferring them from department to department.

After nearly three years on the job, Ortega said, "it's still a learning curve." Read the full story here.
Here's What Driving Drunk Will Cost You 
Teens Watch DUI Sentencing 

While most of Inderkum High looked on, a 24-year-old drunken driver was ordered recently to pay more than $2,000 in fines and penalties, complete a first-offender DUI class, serve three years of informal probation, install an interlock device in his car, and spend two days in jail custody -- including one day in a county work project.

It wasn't a mock event: The adult defendant was caught on Highway 99 with a blood-alcohol level of .13, well above the legal limit.

Inderkum's Friday Night Live Club hosted the "DUI Court in Schools" session in the school gymnasium to spotlight the stiff consequences of driving drunk even once. Read the full story here.
Rookie Wrecking Crew at Natomas High 
First-Year Girl Wrestlers
Faring Well in Tourneys   

Nearly half the members are freshmen. All are rookie wrestlers.

Natomas High School didn't even have a Girls Wrestling Team last year.

But don't feel sorry for the Nighthawks' nine girl grapplers - what they lack in experience, they're making up for with hard work, practicing about two hours a day and carving out a reputation for success in regional tournaments.

The lady Nighthawks finished 5th out of 35 teams last month in the Women's West Coast Tournament of Champions, and 3rd out of 25 teams days later in the "No Guts No Glory" tournament hosted by Natomas High.

"They get better every week," Coach Jeremy Arsich said, adding that the team is made up of many hard workers, not one huge star. "They're doing really well. I'm very excited about how they're doing.

"I'm also proud because these girls are trying something new and giving it everything they've got," he said. "They're enjoying it, that's the best part, they're really having fun." Read the full story here.