NUSD Spotlight
Community Newsletter
 -- May  2017  

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.
Banner Year for NUSD College Eligibility 
LGA's first graduating class:
All seniors eligible for college

Leroy Greene Academy is graduating its first class of seniors this year and here's the kicker: All 30 students have passed coursework required to enroll at the University of California, California State University or other four-year colleges.

The requirements, known as "a-to-g," include four years of English, three years of college-prep math, two years of laboratory science, history/social science, and world language; and one year of a college-prep elective class and a visual or performing arts class.  

By enrolling at LGA, students commit to taking college-prep courses during their high school years and to complete an academic pathway in Art or Business. Teacher Carolyn Walker, an adviser to the senior class, said she's proud of the Class of '17's academic success. "I think they've learned that if they put their mind to something, they can accomplish it," she said.
Inderkum High's school record for college access  
Inderkum High this month honored a school-record 205 seniors who have been accepted into four-year colleges or universities. One by one, these college-bound Tigers were introduced to a cheering student body, then each signed a giant banner for campus display. To put their achievement into perspective, nearly 50% of the Tiger Class of 2017 already have been accepted into a UC, CSU, out-of-state, or other four-year college -- and that number will jump once community college enrollment is added. ... No wonder they're celebrating at Inderkum today!
More good news: Natomas High
college eligibility applauded   

More terrific news for Natomas Unified: The percentage of Natomas High School students meeting college eligibility requirements is projected to increase by about 7 percentage points this year. Final numbers are pending, but roughly 44% of the Class of '17 has qualified to enroll at UC, CSU or other four-year colleges -- and where they're headed is impressive, including UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Hofstra, Santa Clara, New York University, Azusa Pacific, CSU Sacramento, Florida Memorial and Holy Names. Nighthawk students crowded into the gym May 5 to bid the seniors goodbye and cheer their academic success. A good time was had by all. 
EDITOR'S NOTE:  Length of a newsletter can cause stories at the bottom to be clipped from display. If that happens to this NUSD Spotlight, click "View Entire Message" prompt at the bottom of the page. Thank you very much.
South Natomas elementary schools
to convert to K-8 over next 3 years
The Board of Trustees this month approved conversion of Jefferson, Bannon Creek and American Lakes elementary schools to K-8 over the next three years.

 The plan, called "3 in 3," will allow new facilities, new academic programs and expanded enrollment to be phased in, with this year's 5th-graders remaining at their current campus next year. The South Natomas campuses will add one grade level per year through 8th grade.

Students will be able to build upon continuous and consistent relationships with classmates and staff from their earliest grade until they leave for high school.  The K-8 configuration has been popular and successful for years at Heron School and is planned at our soon-to-be-opened Paso Verde School.

Conversion of the three South Natomas elementary schools is expected to include specialized academic programs, new classroom buildings, and a gym and locker room at each campus.  Popular programs such as elementary and middle school athletics will continue.
For more information, read this letter by Supt. Chris Evans.
Congratulations to all NUSD Graduates! 
Kudos for all the hard work, graduates, that led you to this special week. Graduation and Promotion Ceremonies are scheduled as follows:

Promotion/Commitment to Graduate

1) Leroy Greene Academy, 8th Grade Commitment to Graduate, May 22, 9 a.m., LGA multipurpose room
2) Natomas Gateways, 8th Grade Promotion, May 24, 10 a.m., Natomas High stadium
3) Heron School, 8th Grade Promotion, May 25, 9 a.m., Heron quad 
4) Natomas Middle School, 8th Grade Promotion, May 25, 3 p.m., Inderkum High stadium

High School Graduation

5) Discovery High, Graduation, May 22, 6 p.m, Discovery High quad
6) Natomas High School, Graduation, May 23, 6 p.m., Natomas High football stadium
7) Inderkum High, Graduation, May 24, 6 p.m., Inderkum High football stadium
8) Leroy Greene Academy, Graduation, May 25, 6 p.m.,. Crest Theater
Here's an amazing story of student grit ...
Breanna Green, only 16 years old, volunteered to direct a theater performance for Natomas High. She got permission from the principal, then talked two teachers into supervising after school for many weeks. Breanna picked a play, found a script, chose a cast, selected costumes, oversaw props, chose makeup, scheduled rehearsals, directed the acting, overcame unexpected issues -- she even spearheaded the play's promotion and created a program for spectators. 

Public performances were held this month for "Check Please," in Natomas High's Theater. Admission was free. Keep in mind: Breanna Green is only a 10th-grader. ... Incredible! ...   Read more here
Teen community service
-- that money can't buy 

Here's how much Inderkum High seniors gave back to the community this year in volunteer service: $157,000. That would be the grand total if Tiger seniors were paid just minimum wage for the thousands of hours they spent meeting a community service requirement for graduation. They helped at the Sacramento Food Bank, Sacramento Zoo, Natomas elementary schools, Loaves and Fishes, Salvation Army and WEAVE, to name a few.

 The teens didn't earn, but they learned from public service.

 "They were proud of what they did," said Melissa Mathews, Inderkum's senior project coordinator. "Most of them got that positive vibe you get when you do something good for somebody just because it's the right thing to do."
Nighthawk Leslie Glover:
Program Manager now for 
California State Department

Former Nighthawk Leslie Glover took many of the advanced and AP courses at Natomas High, which set her up for college, which set her up for career -- and voila! -- she's a program manager now for the California State Employment Development Department.

Her   advice to NUSD teens? "Envision a plan to make your career dreams come true. Focus and follow through with your plan and if you hit a bump in the road, it's okay. Keep moving forward." Read more about this member of the Nighthawk Class of 2000   here.
Julia Gahagan -- Attorney 
PREPARED TO SUCCEED @ NUSD -- Former Nighthawk Julia Gahagan is an attorney now for the Sacramento County Superior Court system. But she didn't set out to be a lawyer. She graduated from CSU Sacramento with a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Journalism. 
"Don't be afraid to try something new if you aren't sure what you want to 'grow up to be,'" she says. "I did not go to college thinking I wanted to be a lawyer, and now I am in a career I love with a great work/life balance."
Julia credits NUSD's GATE and AP classes with helping her to think creatively and be prepared for college rigor. Read more about her here .
Please help us spread the word 
No Natomas child should go hungry this summer ... We'll serve free weekday breakfasts and/or lunches to anyone 18 and under at nine NUSD schools from May 30 through July 28, except for Independence Day, July 4. 

Please help us spread the word. Thanks!

For locations, hours and other details, in English or Spanish,   click here.

Let's take another peek ...

Thanks for the memories!


Last month, we published photos of NUSD's Silver Anniversary celebration, which attracted a crowd of about 3,000 people for a free community barbecue and festivities honoring our 25th year as a unified school district.

As the school year winds down, we've created a video of highlights from that special day of student performances, delicious food, nostalgic memories, and fun-for-all activities that included a rock wall, games, photo booth, and a student salsa-making contest. Click the video above to relive the Silver Anniversary fun. 
'The Next 5' nears completion
to chart our district's course

Twenty-eight strategic directions have been approved by the Board of Trustees to support NUSD schools over the next five years. These measures will represent the core of the district's full strategic plan, which will be presented to the Board in June and spotlighted to the community when Summer Recess ends and classes resume in August.

The newly approved 28 strategic directions -- listed in this   Board presentation  -- already are being used to benefit students in coming years. Feedback from staff, parents, students and community stakeholders was crucial in helping us identify community priorities for our schools and programs. Thank you very much for helping us chart a course for the next five years.
Nighthawk junior honored    
as College Prep Scholar 

Bryana Castillo, a standout in Natomas High School's rigorous AP Capstone diploma program, has been selected as a 2017 College Prep Scholar. 

The honor comes from QuestBridge, a nonprofit group partnering with more than three dozen top universities nationwide -- including Yale, Duke, Notre Dame, and MIT -- to identify outstanding low-income 11th-grade students for future college placement. Fewer than 4,000 Prep Scholars were chosen nationwide.

Bryana is taking five AP classes and has a 4.66 gpa this year. She is co-president of the Latinos Unidos Club, secretary of a campus women's rights club, and has played varsity tennis for three years. She previously served as Freshman Class President and as an Associated Student Body (ASB) officer. The 17-year-old is considering a career in medicine. Congratulations, Bryana!
Invitational Field Day 

Spotlighting ability, not disability,  at NHS
Special-needs students paired with 
Nighthawk volunteers for day of fun

Not everyone could run fast, jump high or throw far -- but at this athletic event, every single competitor was a star.

The third annual Invitational Field Day at Natomas High offered special-needs students a full slate of competitive events and paired them with Nighthawk "buddies," volunteer helpers, for a feel-good, smile-on-every-face type of day.

Nearly 300 special-needs students from Natomas Unified, Twin Rivers, San Juan and Center school districts competed for ribbons, but in the end there were no losers -- everybody won, everybody got a medal, everybody shined.

Events ranged from wheelchair races to bean bag toss, bowling ball roll, and numerous running or walking events. Something for everyone. Special-needs students from middle school to adult transitional classes enjoyed the competition, their buddies, and each other.   Read more here.

Scott Pitts promoted to lead Natomas High 
Once a Nighthawk, always a Nighthawk, apparently.

Scott Pitts was promoted this month to principal of Natomas High School, where he got his first full-time job in Natomas Unified as a teacher 16 years ago.

"I'm excited about it," Pitts said. "A large part of my identity as an educator is as a Nighthawk, having spent so much time, energy and passion at that school."

Pitts has 18 years of experience working with 9th- to 12th grade students, including six years at Natomas High, nearly a decade at Inderkum High, and a stint at Tranquility High. He has extensive experience both in classrooms and administrative offices.

His resume includes teaching Advance Placement (AP) courses; teaching History, Government, Student Leadership and Algebra; coordinating campus activities; implementing academic pathways; leading student government programs; coaching football, basketball and track; and providing intervention and support programs for students struggling with academic or social-emotional problems.

Click here  to read more about Pitts, who served as principal of Natomas Park Elementary School this year.
Honoring Certificated and Classified Staff 

To honor California Day of the Teacher, a light breakfast of bagels, muffins, bananas and strawberries was provided May 10 at every school (see above). As an extra treat, cookies were provided about lunchtime. All staff were treated to a free Farmers Market at every district school and office on May 17 (see below). A breakfast parfait bar is planned at all NUSD facilities on May 23. These are small tokens of appreciation for our nearly 1,150 employees who make a difference every day in classrooms and the community. Thank you, staff, for all you do to serve students and families.
NUSD-CSEA announce plans 
for Interest Based Bargaining 

NUSD and CSEA jointly announced May 17 that they will participate in Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) training this fall to continue supporting collaborative and mutually respectful bargaining. Mutual efforts led to short and successful labor contract negotiations earlier this year and both sides would like that to continue.

NUSD and CSEA also collaborated to select School Services of California to conduct a Custodian Services review.

Collaborative actions support NUSD's Core Beliefs and support "The Next 5" strategic directions.

For more information,   read this joint communication  by NUSD and CSEA that was distributed district-wide to staff and families May 17.

 Farewell, retirees 

Gone Next Year -- But Not Forgotten
Shakespeare got it right ... Parting, indeed, is sweet sorrow ... Such was the case May 10  as Trustees bid farewell to more than 40 certificated and classified retirees. Collectively, they total more than 800 years of service. Along the way, they've impacted countless young lives. They'll be gone next year, but not forgotten. Click here for a complete list of names.
Joey's Food Locker
Needs a Helping Hand 
Cupboards continue to need a boost at Joey's Food Locker, which served a record 203 people in April but nearly depleted its stocks doing so.  Donations are needed badly. Canned goods or non-perishable foods can be dropped off through the end of the school year at any NUSD campus or at the Ed Center, 1901 Arena Blvd. If you have questions, call Amreek Singh at 567-5437.
              Round of Applause:
       Natomas Schools Foundation
Show me the Money?
$6,000 for college 

College costs can hurt, so the Natomas Schools Foundation is doing its best to ease the pain for a handful of 12th-graders. The nonprofit group gave away $6,000 in college scholarships and plans to award another $3,000.

Two $1,000 scholarships were presented May 17 --  to Mateo Ramirez and Olivia Johnson. A third $1,000 winner was selected but has not yet received the prize.

Six $500 scholarships also were given away, to Mikaela Carrillo, Madelyn Peterson, Sarah Jacobs-Luttress, Alyssa Wagner, Brenda Hernandez and Kelly Anne Lumaquin.

NSF scholarships are designed to further the education of students who not only have shown promise academically but have a solid work ethic and/or go out of their way to serve their campus or community.   Click here  to read more.
Chromebooks to 15
standout students 

Here are some of the kids who received Chromebook computers from the Natomas Schools Foundation this week to further their education:

1) Priyanka, a 5th-grader whose goal is to become a doctor and find a cure for a genetic disease that ails her close friend.
2) Kush, 15, who tutors young kids in Math and computer coding
3) Yesenia, 17, who is poised to become the first in her family to attend college and wants to be a role model for her siblings.
4) Charlesa, 15, who volunteers in an organization promoting tobacco-free living and whose goal is to "help my mom in any way possible" and "give her all that she deserves."

Thank you, Natomas Schools Foundation, for investing in students with big hearts, big dreams, and who are determined to make this world a better place. Read more here
NUSD Spotlight
             Brought to you by:
             Jim Sanders
   Director of  Communications
             (916) 561-5267