NUSD Spotlight
 Community Newsletter
  -- May 13,  2019  

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 story ideas. Thank you!
Thankful this year? Let's count the ways 
Looking back on this school year, NUSD has much to be thankful for and our future appears very bright ...

Last summer, Supt. Chris Evans welcomed families back to school by noting that class-size targets had been reduced to 24-to-1 for grades K-3, and that NUSD was on a roll academically -- ranked first countywide in the percentage of graduates completing college entrance requirements for UC and CSU.

Since then, our progress has included:

* Voter passage of the Measure L facility school bond, which will provide $172 million for future facility improvements to accommodate growth and enhance 21st century learning environments
* We've laid the foundation for two new career pathways - Public Safety and Building & Construction Trades - to launch in the coming year
* New state data showed that NUSD's English Learners are outperforming their peers statewide by large margins in proficiency at reading, writing, speaking and understanding English
* NUSD's Board of Trustees approved an additional $1.2 million investment in technology, including 2,400 additional Chromebooks for student use to enhance critical thinking, problem solving, research, and innovative learning
* Jefferson School students moved into refurbished classrooms last August, and the remainder of the school's multimillion-dollar renovations - including to the library and main office -- were completed by last winter 
* State data showed that NUSD's graduation rate exceeds California's state average by 10 percentage points
* In both English and Math, the percentage of students in schools overseen by NUSD's School Leadership and Support Department who met or exceeded state academic standards rose in statewide testing, known as CAASPP.
Leroy Greene Academy and Inderkum High School were recognized as among America's best by a U.S. News & World report analysis of 17,245 schools nationwide
* The district celebrated language learner success that included 117 seniors earning the State Seal of Biliteracy and 342 students of all ages reclassified as fluent in English

Thank you for your support of NUSD schools. We wish you a happy and healthy summer, and we look forward to serving you again in 2019-20. Our Board-approved Vision is that, "All NUSD students graduate as college and career ready, productive, responsible, and engaged global citizens."
Break out the roses, grab the balloons --
Graduation Week starts next Monday!  
Leroy Greene Academy 8th Grade Commitment to Graduate  May 20 9:00 a.m. Multi-Purpose Room
Natomas Gateways Middle Promotion Ceremony May 22 10:00 a.m. Natomas High School (Paul Shimada Stadium)
Heron School Promotion Ceremony May 23 9:00 a.m. Quad
Natomas Middle  Promotion Ceremony May 23 3:00 p.m. Inderkum High School (David Tooker Field)
Discovery High School High School Graduation May 20 6:00 p.m. Quad
Natomas High School High School Graduation May 21 6:00 p.m. Paul Shimada Stadium
Inderkum High School High School Graduation May 22 6:00 p.m. David Tooker Field
Leroy Greene Academy High School Graduation May 23 6:00 p.m. Crest Theatre
Adult Transition Program graduates
Goodbye Natomas High, hello paying jobs
A heartwarming annual tradition occurred Saturday that reflects both the passionate commitment of an NUSD Special Education teacher and the deep bonds of friendship that develop among students with disabilities who spend up to four years together in the Adult Transition Program at Natomas High.

Every year, teacher Joel Schwieger hosts a huge barbecue lunch and a classy awards ceremony at his home for young adult students leaving his program, along with their classmates, parents, relatives, and various NUSD staff and Trustees. It's a happy ending and a hopeful beginning as graduates look to the future -- but saying goodbye is hard.

Unlike traditional high school classes, Schwieger's program serves the same students all day long, every weekday, year after year. They tackle their mental and physical challenges together, learning independent living skills along the way. They operate Joey's Food Locker together -- and they bond like a family. So losing two students to graduation is a big deal.

Saturday's graduates were Felicity Hall and Sean Foxworth, both of whom have job opportunities and are ready to tackle the future. You'll see a wristwatch in each photo above. Schwieger's tradition is to give each graduate a watch as a memento of his program and a symbol that it's always the right time to come back and visit. Congratulations Felicity and Sean! ... May this be the start of wonderful things for both of you ...
EDITOR'S NOTE:  Length of a newsletter can cause stories at the bottom to be clipped from display. If that happens to this newsletter, click " View Entire Message " prompt at the bottom of the page. Thank you very much.
Leroy Greene Academy and Inderkum High
earn spots on national  'best high schools' list 
Great news!

Four Natomas Unified high schools were recognized as among America's best in an analysis of more than 17,000 public campuses based on student performance overall and among disadvantaged populations.

Inderkum High School and Leroy Greene Academy made the "Best High Schools" list, as did the district's two independent charter high schools - Natomas Charter and Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep (NP3).

To qualify for the list, campuses had to finish among the top 40% of 17,245 public high schools analyzed nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, an online news service that published a magazine of the same name for decades.

The "Best High Schools" list is based on data related to student performance on state Reading and Math testing, graduation rates, college readiness, and achievement by disadvantaged students.

"Education drives the country's future," U.S. News said of its list. "Recognizing schools that are performing well and providing them as models to other schools will inspire educators and communities to do better." For more detail, click here.
Here's how Tigers are leaving their mark:
more than 15,000 hours of public service 
Inderkum High challenges seniors each year to test Mahatma Gandhi's view that "the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." Deeply embedded in the school's curriculum and tradition is that each member of the graduating class perform at least 30 hours of community service.

This year's Tigers totaled more than 15,000 hours of voluntarism to causes and groups ranging from Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE) to the Front Street Animal Shelter, 4th R after-school program, Boys & Girls Club, park cleanups, youth sports, tutoring programs, elementary schools, and dozens of others. The cumulative value of their volunteer work exceeded $150,000 at minimum wage.

The final chapter was written Friday night at Inderkum, "Senior Service NIght," where the graduating 12th-graders made presentations describing their public service, its challenges, its benefits, and how they grew because of it. Listening to them was touching. Gandhi would have been proud of this "Class of 2019." You've truly made a difference, Tigers. Hats off to all of you.
Inderkum's Friday Night Live club named best
in Sacramento County for 6th straight year
When it comes to fighting to save teen lives from alcohol, drugs or distracted driving, Inderkum High School's Friday Night Live program was named best in the county in 2014, then 2015, then 2016, then 2017, then 2018 -- and yes, they just won again!

These Tigers are building a deep, unmatched legacy of advocating for healthy lifestyles and against risky teen behaviors.

For the sixth consecutive year, Inderkum won the Friday Night Live "Chapter Challenge," which goes to the most active FNL club countywide, based on points earned for meetings, activities, and more. The lives these teens save could include yours or mine. They're passionately committed to helping others and derailing tragedy before it occurs. What could be better than that?
A Tiger FNL leader
A dream comes true for Kristina Alonso 
Some things were just meant to be, perhaps, including this bittersweet chain of events involving Inderkum High School senior Kristina Alonso ...

When Kristina attended Natomas Middle School, years ago, she was president of the school's Club Live, which advocates for healthy teen lifestyles. She worked closely with and admired Jackie Herrera, the county Office of Education staff person overseeing such clubs. Jackie was like a mentor to her.

Time passed, Kristina entered high school, and she became too busy to participate in Inderkum High's healthy-lifestyle program - Friday Night Live.

Then came tragedy: Two years ago, Jackie Herrera died in a traffic collision. "She's someone I looked up to a lot," Kristina said. "I was really close to her, so when she passed away, I wanted to be involved again." Inspired and committed, Kristina joined Inderkum's FNL program last year and became a leader this year.

Here the story takes a heartwarming twist ... Kristina recently was selected for a prestigious award given to a Sacramento County senior who goes above and beyond to discourage teens from drinking, drugs, and distracted driving. She was deeply touched by the honor. "It was amazing, it was emotional for me to receive it," Kristina said.

Why? The award is the "Jackie Herrera - Ready to Make a Difference Award."
Plenty of NUSD student language learner success! 
459 honored for biliteracy or English proficiency  
NUSD threw a giant party to spotlight its language learner success this year - and there was plenty to celebrate, with 117 seniors earning the state Seal of Biliteracy and 342 students of all ages attaining English fluency.

Proud students, moms, dads, relatives, and NUSD staff gathered at Jefferson School for the festivities, which included awards, food, music, and entertainment under sunny spring skies.

Honorees interviewed randomly said they hope that biliteracy will help them obtain future jobs or assist others in a society where many families do not speak fluent English.

"You can help out your community," said Rocio Matar, 17, of Natomas High.

But Nighthawk Daniel Santana, 17, had a more basic reason for earning the Seal of Biliteracy. "I just wanted to make my parents proud of me," he said, smiling.
California Day of the Teacher
Thanks for making a difference in kids' lives! 
Thank you, teachers, for the incredible job you've done this year. A light breakfast was served in school staff rooms May 8 to celebrate California Day of the Teacher, which occurs during National Teacher Appreciation Week.

 As a small token of appreciation, staff could enjoy muffins, bagels, bananas and strawberries, along with coffee or orange juice. Cookies were delivered, too, for a snack at lunch. 

Please join us in thanking our dedicated teachers for the difference they make in kids' lives every day.
Kaplan4Kids Scholarships
Giving Chromebooks & a powerful message: 
You're special, I believe in you - never give up
When she finished, Trustee Lisa Kaplan was a little teary-eyed and emotional - she saw a lot of herself in these kids.

Every year, Kaplan buys Chromebooks for a handful of high school students who persevere despite adversity. She met this year's winners face-to-face recently and delivered a powerful message: You're special. I believe in you. Never give up.

The teens have overcome hardships ranging from homelessness to poverty, foster care, or family challenges. Winners are Aman Rahod & Adrian Zamora, Natomas High; Paris Ramson, Discovery; and Kristina Alonso, Ashley Brewer, & Renie Overbey, Inderkum.

Kaplan gave each teen her business card, containing her email address and cellphone number. She urged them to call if they ever needed help, advice, a letter of reference, or simply want to talk.

"I want these kids to know that somebody else believes in them," Kaplan said. "And they can make a difference." Read more here.
Classified Employee Job Fair TOMORROW from 2:30-5 p.m.
NUSD will hold a Classified Employee Job Fair from 2:30-5 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, in the Staff Development Center, 1931 Arena Blvd.

For the current year, NUSD is hiring Behavior Specialists, Custodians, Bus Drivers and Bus Attendants.

For next year, we are hiring for Food Service, Grounds, Maintenance, Instructional Assistants, Occupational Therapist, School Secretary, and all Classified Substitutes.

Candidates should bring their resume, with references, and be prepared to interview on the spot. Applications can be filed online through
Immunization Opportunity TOMORROW 
Parents and guardians, don't wait until the last minute to get your child immunized for the coming school year. Beat the rush! Free immunizations will be given from 5-8 p.m. TOMORROW (Tuesday, May 14) at the B. Teri Burns Health Clinic, located near the tennis courts at Natomas High, 3301 Fong Ranch Road. Click here to check out the new requirements for 2019-20. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Tracy Cobb in the Student Services and Support Department at (916) 567-5434.
Who said there's no such thing as a free lunch?
To promote free meals programs for youth while schools are closed for the summer, a "Picnic at the Capitol" event will serve a free lunch and offer games, activities and more from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, near the west steps of the state Capitol.

Natomas Unified is a key member of the Sacramento Summer Meals collaborative that is organizing the event.
Healthy students make better learners, and NUSD does not want any child who depends on school cafeterias for meals to go hungry during summer recess. For more information about the May 21 event, click here.
South Natomas Grocery Outlet reaches out
to assist NUSD students with disabilities
South Natomas Grocery Outlet owners Tony and Nikki Chand wanted to give back to their community.

So they have, bigtime, to Natomas Unified.

The Chands have created and nurtured a special relationship with NUSD students with disabilities, including:

* Once a week, South Natomas Grocery Outlet hosts all students in Joel Schwieger's Adult Transition Program at Natomas High to work for an hour in the store, learning skills that can help them land jobs in the future.
* The store has donated more than a thousand pounds of canned and non-perishable goods to Joey's Food Locker, which is run by the Adult Transition Program students and serves local families in need.
* South Natomas Grocery Outlet also is participating in NUSD's Workability program, through which students with disabilities, ages 16 or older, get paid through state funds to gain on-the-job experience for 70 hours in a local business.

The Chands say they live in Natomas, they care about the community, and they want to help strengthen and uplift it. Reaching out to students with disabilities is particularly gratifying, they said, because their son has autism.

"We don't look at a disability as a negative, we want to turn it into a positive and do what we can as owner-operators to help (students) grow," Tony Chand said. Read more here.
$500 scholarship
Goodbye Mai Mai, thank you, we'll miss you
Goodbye Mai Mai, thank you -- and we'll miss you very much.

That was the Board of Trustees' message last week as they bid farewell to student Trustee Mai Mai and presented the graduating senior with a $500 college scholarship, per Board policy. She plans to attend UC Davis next year to pursue a degree in the medical field.

An Inderkum High School International Baccalaureate (IB) student, Mai Mai has a grade point average above 4.5, is a section leader in the Tigers' award-winning band, is secretary of the school's National Honor Society, and participates in the local Youth Action Corps, which offers community-based projects that foster leadership skills.

Amazingly, Mai Mai, who immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam when she was 11 or 12, could not speak English seven years ago but became so proficient in the language that she took on the responsibility of speaking for all NUSD youth as student Trustee this year. Mai Mai now speaks three languages -- English, Vietnamese and French.

President Sue Heredia quipped that it's hard to imagine how Mai Mai finds time to sleep ... Thank you, goodbye, and we'll miss you, indeed, Mai Mai.
Five NUSD schools cited for extraordinary impact
in CORE 'Growth Awards' from last year's testing 
Like a fresh set of eyes, a California education group evaluated last year's student scores in statewide testing in a non-traditional way recently and concluded that five NUSD schools are having extraordinary impact: Heron, Natomas Park Elementary, Leroy Greene Academy, and two independent charters - Westlake and NP3.

Growth was calculated by measuring the progress of the same set of students from one year to the next, using a mathematical model to adjust for unique circumstances and demographic factors. That perspective is quite different from simple year-to-year comparisons at a particular grade level.

The goal of the 2019 Academic Growth Awards by CORE Districts, a coalition of California urban school districts, was to identify schools that are achieving academic gains faster than similar schools statewide and, thus, campuses where teachers and programs are having the most positive impact.

Heron and LGA were honored for gains last year both in Math and English Language Arts in California's academic testing program, known as CAASPP. Natomas Park, NP3 and Westlake were recognized for English Language Arts. Students currently are engaged in CAASPP testing, so NUSD has a chance to make it two in a row in 2019-20! ... Read more here.
Inderkum's Athena Cayetano wins prestigious SEVA Award for student-produced videos 
NUSD's broadcasting programs at Inderkum  High and Heron School scored big  at the equivalent of an Oscars ceremony -- called SEVA awards -- for student-produced videos in Sacramento County.

Inderkum student Athena Cayetano won a prestigious SEVA -- Student Educational Video Award -- in the "Instructional Video" category for her nearly 5-minute entry providing step-by-step instructions for sketching a face with pencil and eraser.

Fellow Tiger Jaylen Thompson and four Heron School students -- Malia Jones, Jorge (George) Lopez, Shane Bains, and a youth identified only as Sophia -- won Awards of Merit in the annual contest, which attracted 475 entries in five categories.

SEVA's winning videos were shown on local cable TV, Comcast channel 16. Click on the video above to see Athena Cayetano's winning entry.
Student work on display 
Leroy Greene Expo Night attracts hundreds
Expo Night 2019 attracted hundreds of parents and community members to see and admire work by students in Leroy Greene Academy's two academic pathways -- Business Entrepreneurship and Visual Arts/Technology.

All LGA students complete one of the pathways en route to preparing for college and career.

LGA's arts pathway covers graphic design, web design, animation, art history, digital photography and commercial art. Its business pathway examines business technology, web design, innovation studio, and entrepreneurship.

Seniors in both pathways combine in teams for a yearlong entrepreneurship project in which they identify a problem, then solve it by designing a product or service and creating a marketing plan to promote it.

Here's a taste of what was on display at Expo Night ...
American Lakes Multicultural Fair
'Around the world' without leaving school --- cultural richness celebrated by Eagles
Students, staff and families traveled "around the world" without ever leaving American Lakes School last week in a Multicultural Fair that embraced and celebrated the school's rich diversity.

Eagle students were served traditional dishes from other countries, everything from Irish soda bread that originated in Europe to tres leches cake from Mexico. YUM!

Kids also learned about cultural contributions through artwork, music, dancing - and food for thought, including a student poster touting African dance and claiming Africans dance more than any other people in the world! ... Hmmmm ...

This was American Lakes' second annual Multicultural Fair and we must say, it was one for the books!

Maya Angelou was right, "In diversity there is beauty and there is strength."
They did it for the kids at American Lakes...
They did it for the kids at American Lakes School. The Tandel family worked hour after hour -- they estimated four hours a day for three days -- to create tiny sand figures, known as rangoli art, for the school's Multicultural Fair last week. 

The eye-catching designs reflected  the Tandels' Indian culture, and their artwork was a labor of love because no glue was used and the colorful sand blows away in high winds.

For the Tandels, however, the intricate figures were worth the time and trouble because Eagle students are special to them. Two Tandel children, Bhumika and Diya, attend the school.

The American Lakes Multicultural Fair was special, too, spreading cultural goodwill through food, entertainment and art.
Senior Signing Ceremony
Honoring college-going seniors sends message 
to younger Tigers: You can do this, too! 
Finally! ... After four years of book-poring, test-sweating, grade-pursuing, head-scratching, nerve-wracking, homework-filing, application-completing, big-dreaming, and phone-a-friend-for-help in chasing a bright academic future, Inderkum High School's college-bound seniors got their big day in the sun today. They call it "Senior Signing Ceremony."

Inderkum seniors bound for four-year colleges walked through a giant rubber replica of the school's Tiger mascot. They were introduced, one-by-one, and the college they'll attend next year was announced, sending a strong message to younger classmates: You can do it, too, if you put your mind to it.

In solidarity -- and relief, perhaps -- the college-bound seniors then signed a giant display banner celebrating their accomplishment. A total of 231 Inderkum seniors have been accepted into four-year colleges, representing 50% of this year's graduates. That total does not include Tigers who will attend two-year colleges next year ... Awesome!
Summer Santich has City Council support 
for her 'wet & wild' vision for waterfront 
When Summer Santich heard two years ago that the Sacramento City Council was soliciting ideas for revitalizing the waterfront, she was 13 years old and planning a trip to Disneyland in a few weeks.

So the idea struck her: How about a Disneyland-style water show in Old Sacramento?

Council members loved Summer's idea when they heard it in June 2017, so they encouraged Summer to work with a city consulting firm on design. She did and - voila! - her dream is coming true.

Inspired by Summer's idea, an interactive water fountain with a possibility for light shows was part of a $47 million waterfront revamp plan approved recently by the City Council. No final design for the water attraction has been chosen.

After the council vote, Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby tweeted a photo of herself with Summer, saying she was "beyond proud of this young lady."

Summer is a straight-A Inderkum sophomore who plans to become a teacher - when she's not changing the world, starting with Sacramento's waterfront. Read more about her here.
'Class of 2019' retirees honored for 144 years
of cumulative service to students and district
Shakespeare got it right -- parting truly is sweet sorrow.

The Board of Trustees presented appreciation plaques last week to NUSD's "Class of 2019" retirees, 11 employees from a wide range of jobs who cumulatively have spent 144 years serving students and contributing to the district's growth and success.

Honorees were Howard Barker, Lynn Carli, Victoria Carmon, Lynn Carr, Kathleen Morgan, Michel Redding, Jim Sanders, Michelle Townsend, Kelly West, Leslie Wolfson, and Deborah Young.

Though you'll be gone next year, retirees, you won't be forgotten. Thank you for your service to the Natomas community.
Please 'Like' us on Facebook
and follow us on Twitter 

Let's work together. We urge parents and staff to stay up-to-date on district developments. We provide multiple opportunities to learn about NUSD successes, plans and events throughout the school year. 

Two key sources are Facebook -- we're listed as "Natomas Unified School District" -- and Twitter, under @NatomasUSD.  District and school websites also are a good source of information ranging from lunch menus to parent opportunities. Thanks for taking a look. We're honored to be your partner. 
NUSD Spotlight 
Brought to you by NUSD communications team of Jim Sanders, Lauren Schnitzler and Jeff McPhee. If you have questions, comments or story tips, please call (916) 561-5267.