NUSD Spotlight
Community Newsletter
 -- April 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.
New State Data Shows NUSD Excelling 
in College Access & High School Graduation
Natomas Unified continues to make progress in connecting students to schools and preparing them for college, with newly released state data showing our graduation rate rising, our dropout rate falling, and NUSD topping every other Sacramento County school district in the percentage of graduates eligible to enroll in a California college or university.

Over the past year, NUSD rose 8 percentage points in college access, measured by the a-g rate, representing the percent of students eligible to enroll in the University of California or California State University. Nearly six of every 10 NUSD graduates now meet that threshold, the highest percentage countywide. At Inderkum High School, the a-g rate rose by nearly 16 percentage points in 2016, with gains of nearly 16 percentage points by Hispanic students and nearly 7 by African American students.

More students than ever before are graduating from NUSD schools, nearly 95%, a one-year increase of 3.2 percentage points -- far exceeding the state increase of 0.9. The new data shows a continued rise in graduation rates for NUSD's Hispanic and African American students, which rose by 9.7 and 9.4 percentage points, respectively, in the past four years. Hispanic students now graduate at a higher rate than the district average, after jumping by 3.9 percentage points in 2016.

Not only are more NUSD students graduating, but fewer are dropping out, state statistics show. Our dropout rate fell to 3.2% this year, an improvement from 4% one year ago. This also continues a multiyear trend: NUSD's dropout rate has declined 7.4 percentage points in the past four years, records show.

The newly released state data reflects the hard work of Natomas teachers, counselors, classified staff and leaders, who are pushing each day to increase access and improve the readiness of our students. Together they demonstrate the commitment to our Board approved Vision that, "All NUSD students graduate as college and career ready, productive, responsible, and engaged global citizens."

Inderkum Among Top U.S Schools in New Study
For the third straight year, Inderkum High School has been ranked among the nation's top-performing high schools by an analysis of more than 20,000 campuses for service to all students, including disadvantaged populations.

Inderkum was the only NUSD campus to improve its standing in the newly released   Best High Schools Rankings, to Silver after Bronze finishes in 2015 and 2016. NP3 and Natomas Charter equaled their rankings of the past two years -- Silver and Bronze, respectively.

The national recognition came from U.S. News & World Report, a widely known online news and information service that published a magazine of the same name for decades.

Overall student performance on assessment tests was taken into consideration, along with graduation rates and college readiness, using Advanced Placement tests as a benchmark. Performance by disadvantaged students was a factor   Read more here.
High School Students -- Want a Job?

A year-long job might be just a click away for youth 16 or older ... 

Partnering with Natomas Unified, businesses and other local school districts, the city of Sacramento is launching a teen jobs program, "Thousand Strong" to provide paid, year-long internships to up to 1,000 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors.

The program promises up to 500 hours of paid work over the summer and school year. Participating students must complete training and be able to work 25 hours weekly over the summer and 7-10 hours weekly during the school year.

Thousand String is designed to provide workplace skills and technical training at no cost to participating teens. The program also could provide an opportunity to earn college credit.

"Let us come together to focus our incredible sense of community and aim big with 1,000 students participating because a more talented workforce for the future helps all of us prosper - business and community, hand in hand," Mayor Darrell Steinberg said of Thousand Strong.

Applications are due by May 19.  To apply or for more information, click here .
LGA's Mailee Lee Wins
Statewide Counseling Award

Mailee Lee has won a prestigious statewide award for student counseling, weeks before Leroy Greene Academy graduates its first senior class and one in which every student walking across the stage has met coursework requirements for college admission. She had a big hand in that accomplishment.

Lee was presented the H.B. McDaniel Individual Counseling Award at a banquet at Stanford University. The annual award is presented by a foundation of the same name in honor of the late H.B. McDaniel, touted as the "father of school counseling and guidance in California." It recognizes exceptional leadership, service and contributions to counseling.

"I'm very humbled," Lee said of the award, "because all the work I've done has been in combination with all the folks I've worked with. Without their support, assistance and help, I don't think I'd have been able to accomplish what I have."

Lee was honored both for her work at LGA and her prior service as an outreach counselor at California State University, Fresno, where she played key roles in a student ambassador program that increased the number of Fresno State applications and matriculations from numerous Central Valley high schools. Through the program, for example, applications to Fresno State from Fresno Unified School District increased by about 75% over six years.
"In my 11 years as a school administrator, I can truly say I've never worked with someone quite like Ms. Lee," LGA Principal Leslie Sargent said. "She is truly a remarkable woman who does whatever it takes to ensure that her students get to the college or career of their choice." Read more here.
NUSD's Silver Anniversary Fun Fest

Celebrating the Past, Looking to the Future 
Happy 25th Anniversary, Natomas Unified!
Under warm skies and even warmer memories of years gone by, a giant community party was thrown April 1 to honor the 25th anniversary of NUSD's expansion from an elementary to a unified school district committed to serving students through high school graduation.

A crowd estimated at about 3,000 people celebrated with fun-for-all-ages activities that included a rock wall, games, photo booth, student salsa-making contest and and a delicious free lunch of flame-grilled burgers, chicken sandwiches, salad, asparagus, fruit and dessert.

Numerous student performing groups entertained the crowd, including the Natomas High School Drum Corps and Marching Band, Bannon Creek Elementary School Junior Beaver Cheerleaders, Jefferson Elementary Ballet Folklorica Dance Group, Two Rivers Elementary Choir, Inderkum High School Orchestra, and the Natomas MIddle School Jazz Band.

Speakers included Dr. General David Jr., NUSD's first superintendent, and B. Teri Burns, who was on the district's first school board and continues to hold that seat today. Current Supt. Chris Evans also addressed the large crowd, which included two other 1992 Trustees -- Mike Wiley and Bob Reinhard, as well as numerous current district leaders, principals and staff. Read more here.
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.
Can You Help?
Inderkum High School Needs
'Senior Service Night' Judges

Inderkum High students who have given the community about 14,000 hours of volunteer service this year now need a few hours of your time. Will you help?

Senior Service Night is a time for 12th-graders to describe how they met their public service requirement -- from tutoring students to assisting food banks -- and what they learned by reaching out.

Adult volunteers are needed to evaluate their presentations as part of their grade. Judges will be trained about an hour before the presentations May 12 at Inderkum High.

Many more judges are needed. To volunteer, simply send an email to Thank you!
Fashion, food & dancing from around the world 
Inderkum High holds

Multicultural Celebration

Without leaving the Inderkum High School gym on Thursday, April 6, you could have seen fashion, food and dancing from around the world.

Simply click on this video for a peek at the loud, colorful, energetic Multicultural Celebration that reflected NUSD's Core Belief that, "Our diversity is a strength."

Scholarships, Contests, Info & Opportunities 
The following are scholarships, contests, opportunities or informational items for  NUSD students or families:
  • HEALTHY KIDS DAY --  Healthy Kids Day 2017 is a great opportunity for anyone who has difficulty accessing heath care.

    The annual event offers free medical, dental and vision screenings. Free health insurance information. Free community resources. Free farmers market, entertainment, family friendly games - even free rides to and from the event.
    Mark your calendar now: Saturday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.
    Healthy Kids Day is sponsored by Sacramento Covered, the Sacramento Kings, Dignity Health, Sutter Health, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente and UC Davis Children's Hospital. For more information, click here.
  • PARENT TOUR OF UC DAVIS -- To help parents prepare their students for college, NUSD's Parent University is offering a campus tour of UC Davis from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13. Topics to be discussed include admission requirements and financial aid. A parent and student panel discussion also will be offered. For more information, call Parent University at 567-5516.
Only 4 California Winners

Nutrition Services Wins National USDA Award 
NUSD's Nutrition Services Department is one of only four California winners -- and 49 nationwide -- of a national award for excellence in summer feeding, a vital time because schools are closed and hungry kids have fewer places to turn for a nutritious meal.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture selected NUSD for a "Turnip the Beet" Silver Award, honoring districts that "work hard to offer high-quality meals that are appetizing, appealing, and nutritious during the summer months." Consideration also is given to whether locally grown food is used in summer meals. NUSD is committed to all those things.
Our summer meals program ended this year with a giant community party, featuring a free barbecue lunch, free farmers market, and free games for kids. More than 1,300 people turned out ... Awesome! 
Cupboards Getting Bare
At Joey's Food Locker
NUSD's community food locker at Natomas High School served a record 203 people in April, but cupboards are nearly empty now. 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.
Hundreds celebrate language learner success
There was plenty of language learner success to celebrate at a giant banquet April 25, with more students than ever before earning the State Seal of Biliteracy this year and NUSD projecting that its percentage of English learners attaining fluency will be its largest ever.

The  numbers are a tribute to hard work by students and staff: 129 seniors earned the coveted Seal of Biliteracy and more than 350 kids of all ages are projected to attain fluency this year in English reading, writing, speaking and listening.

NUSD's language learner success represents an increase of 40% over last last year in Seal of Biliteracy reciplients, all high school seniors, and a projected boost of more than 60% in Redesignated Fluent English Proficent (RFEP) students of all ages, with final numbers pending.

Natomas High's Edgardo Gutierrez, 17, earned the state seal in English, Spanish and French. He dreams of owning his own business someday.

"It means a lot," he said of an NUSD trophy presented to him at the banquet. "I know I've worked my hardest to deserve this, and I'm happy to get this award."

Learning to speak different languages will help him get better jobs in the future and to assist people who can't speak English, Edgardo said. Read more here.
NUSD considers expanding three
So. Natomas elementaries to K-8
NUSD is exploring the possibility of expanding our three South Natomas elementary schools into K-8 schools. These schools are Bannon Creek, Jefferson and American Lakes. Supt. Chris Evans outlined the proposal in a letter distributed district-wide April 25.

The expansion would allow all three South Natomas schools to have:

1) Upgraded facilities with new classroom buildings and a gym with locker rooms
2) Their own academic program focus, such as dual immersion, robotics/STEM, or a third not yet identified academic program
3) The same opportunities as Heron K-8 and the soon-to-open Paso Verde School K-8.

At a Special Board Meeting, Trustees directed staff to continue gathering information  about the proposal. No date has been set for a Board decision. To read Supt. Evans' description of the expansion plan,   click here.
Read this to help us serve your child even better...
WANTED: Your opinion ...

To help us identify school-by-school priorities, we're asking parents and guardians to fill out this anonymous survey about the campus and education of their child or children. Results will be tabulated for each campus and given to each principal. The survey is designed so that nearly every question can be answered simply by indicating how strongly you agree or disagree with statements related to key elements of NUSD schools. Thank you in advance for helping NUSD better serve its students.

Click here for the survey in English.
Click here for the survey in Spanish.  

NUSD welcomes 2 new principals for next year

Ann Veu and Talin Tamzarian have been selected to lead American Lakes and H. Allen Hight elementary schools, respectively, next year.

Ms. Veu is a Natomas resident, bilingual, and has diverse educational experiences at the elementary and secondary school levels. She served this year as a Teacher on Special Assignment at Witter Ranch Elementary School.

Ms. Tamzarian has more than 20 years of service as an educator, most recently as principal of a K-8 school in Sonoma County. She has experience with Special Education, at-risk students, and implementing intervention programs. Please join us in welcoming both to NUSD.   Read more here.
Heron Kids win 3 awards in regional video contest

School kindergarten teacher Georgia Allen-Schaaf said her kids were obsessed with learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They couldn't get enough. The class ended up making a video featuring the kids' artwork of Dr. King and something each remembered about the civil rights leader. Now the kicker: Their tribute was one of three Heron student videos that won awards this month in a regional competition.

The other two winning entries were public service announcements by Carley Lewitz,   see here ,   and Leanne Dionisio,   see here .
Spotlight on Staff 
Campus Safety Specialist 
Rene Trujillo - 'I'm their uncle, role model, mentor'
By Kristi Matal
Rene Trujillo is a man always on the go, whether driving a golf cart around campus or running down the soccer field with his after-school team. He is tirelessly dedicated to helping young people excel.
Trujillo, father of several NUSD students, is a Campus Safety Specialist at Natomas High School and Natomas Gateways Middle School and mentors young athletes in soccer. He won his division's 2016 Classified Employee of the Year award because of his outstanding commitment to keeping kids safe and his devotion to sports and helping at-risk kids be successful.
"My focus is getting students to class on time and keeping the kids safe," he said. "I'm here for the kids! I don't care if I don't make a million dollars, I just love working with the kids."
Mentoring kids is Trujillo's passion.
Three years ago, at Natomas Gateways Middle School, he started an after-school co-ed soccer team. He is the head coach of this volunteer program, sponsored by local businesses. Throughout the season, March to May, the team competes against other middle schools.
Asked why he wanted to mentor young athletes, particularly at-risk students, Trujillo explained that he was raised by a single mother and quit playing soccer as a youth when he was influenced by gang activity and made some bad choices.
A Jefferson Elementary School yard duty supervisor, Otto, became a role model to Trujillo and encouraged him to excel in school, even after he moved on to middle school.
"That's why I'm here," Trujillo said. "Someone gave me a chance. I want to be able to help kids to turn away from drugs and get an education. I'm their uncle, role model, mentor." Read more here.
Leroy Greene Academy Counselor
What you May Not Know About Mailee Lee... 

Mailee Lee of Leroy Greene Academy was honored this month with a statewide award, the H.B McDaniel Individual Counseling Award, as noted in a story posted in this newsletter. But what do you really know about her?

Here are 10 things you may not know about Lee:

1)     She immigrated to the United States from Thailand when she was 7 and grew up on the outskirts of Fresno
2)     Watching TV helped her learn to speak English
3)     Three things she likes to do when not working are sleep, watch TV - especially foreign dramas - and spend time with her niece, nephew, and relatives
4)     She loves to read -- and the last book she read was "Sabriel," a fantasy novel by Garth Nix
5)     Her favorite movie is "Lord of the Rings"
6)     Three people she wishes she had met are the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa - and Superman, if he were real
7)     She considers herself a horrible cook
8)     Thai food is her favorite
9)     If money were no object, she'd love to spend much of her time attending school
10)  Favorite singers or music groups include Tim McGraw, Rascall Flatts, Park Hyo Shin (Korean singer) and CNBlue (Korean band)
Students pitch in to help environment

Hundreds of NUSD students helped pick up trash and beautify neighborhood parks this month, or they participated in other environmental activities honoring Earth Day or Creek Week.
"We want to teach them the importance of Earth Day not just being one day but every day," said Lori Lewis, who helped organize the events as NUSD's environmental support manager. "They can do something every day to beautify the area they go to school in, they play in, and their community engages in."
Park beautification projects included litter removal, weeding, planting and raking mulch. Students targeted Northborough, Valley Oak, Jefferson, Witter Ranch, Burberry and North Natomas Community parks. Most participants were 3rd- through 5th-graders, but the range extended from kindergarteners through 8th grade students. Park projects were assisted in North Natomas by Councilwoman Angelique Ashby's office and in South Natomas by the city parks department.
Other NUSD environmental activities during the month included a middle school poster contest, a field trip by Natomas Park Elementary School 5th-graders to study sustainability practices at California State University, Sacramento, and a month-long Two Rivers Elementary School "Trash Free Tuesdays" event at which students were asked to bring a lunch that generates no trash -- such as using recylable containers and cloth napkins. City Councilman Jeff Harris participated in NUSD's environmental campaign by speaking to 4th-graders at Bannon Creek and American Lakes elementary schools about the importance of keeping parks and creeks clean.  
Want to see kids serving the community?
"Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light" ... Members of Girl Scout Troop 337 are raising the American flag each morning before classes begin at Heron School. The 4th-graders took on the task voluntarily as a service to the school recently. To ensure they were handling the duty with proper respect, they studied flag etiquette. Asked why she does it, Hunter said, "It's the flag of our country, and it's important to us." Sabrina said her appreciation for the flag has grown, adding, "I respect it more." ... Nicely done, scouts. Read more here.
Inderkum High honors three scholar-athletes
After four years as Tigers, they're now Banana Slugs and Beacons. Inderkum High School sports standouts Mateo Ramirez, Michael Charbonneau and Sabrina Guerra were honored by classmates, coaches and staff April 20 in lunchtime signing ceremonies to commit themselves to college teams next year.

Mateo and Michael Charbonneau, track and cross country standouts with grade point averages of 4.0 and 3.7, respectively, will strap on their running shoes next year for the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. Sabrina Guerra, who carries a 3.0 gpa, won a scholarship to play softball for the Northwest Christian University Beacons in Oregon.   Read more about them here .
Nighthawk engineering students
audit library for energy savings   
They're learning that less is more, in other words, less energy is more savings.
So Natomas High School's Engineering Research and Development Class studied smart energy use and how to measure potential savings, then put their knowledge to use recently by conducting an energy audit of the South Natomas library.
 Dylan Chima-Sanchez, a senior, said the project provided practical experience in engineering and lessons learned will help in any project involving analysis, investigation, or collaboration.
 "I think it also helps us out in our own life, because we learn to save energy in our own house and be more energy efficient," said Beili Huang, 18. Posted above is a photo of several key participants. Read more here. 
NUSD Spotlight
             Brought to you by:
             Jim Sanders
   Director of  Communications
             (916) 561-5267