Skip to main content

April 2016


Montebello– April 8, 2016 — Today, senior student Ulysses Acero at Montebello High School was surprised by Southern California Edison as a recipient of their $40,000 scholarship. Edison Scholars helps students from Southern California Edison’s service territory pursue studies in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Each scholarship is worth $40,000 and is payable over 4 years. Ulysses is planning on majoring in mechanical engineering and has been accepted to UCLA, a dream he has had since he was 7 years old. Ulysses is a second generation immigrant and is the middle child out of 5 brothers and sisters.  Ulysses expressed his gratitude for such award. He shared that he is excited that he received it because now his parents won’t have to worry about tuition and expenses. He also hopes to inspire his younger siblings to reach for their dreams. His mother, Patricia Acero related that her older two children also attend UCLA, and she is happy that Ulysses is going as well because it was his dream at the age of 7 that encouraged his older two siblings to attend the University. 

While Ulysses applied for the scholarship, it was a surprise to him that he had received it. He believed he was going to receive an award and rather was presented with the scholarship. His mother was pleasantly surprised as well. Both Southern California Edison (SCE) and Estrella TV were present to introduce the student, his parents and the principal, Helen Meltzer. This is a true example of what the Montebello Unified School District strives for, the celebration of all deserving students.

Principal Meltzer, shared that she believed there couldn’t be a more worthy recipient than Ulysses. He is a great student and has amazing drive. The Montebello Unified School District encourages students to reach for their goals and to apply for all scholarships available to ensure that they attend a college or university and be the best that they can be.

Montebello unified Student Earns Full-tuition Scholarship to Georgetown university 

When asked why he chose to commit to Georgetown University in the fall, Cesar Rios initially answered that he wanted to experience all four seasons at the top-ranked Washington D.C. school. Yet, as the Montebello Unified senior tells his story, he revealed a tenacious plan that extends far beyond the falling of leaves.

Rios, current ASB President at Schurr High School, received word this month that he would receive a scholarship providing full-tuition, all books and a monthly stipend from the U.S. Marine Corps. Upon completion of his studies at Georgetown and all requisite training, Rios will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marines. As a NROTC scholarship recipient, he will also receive a discount on room and board.

In August, Rios began the application for the scholarship, which included an intensive physical fitness test and a comprehensive evaluation of his academic performance and extracurricular involvement. It also included interviews with a Marine Corps second lieutenant and corporal. Ranked tenth in his class and a five-year veteran and captain of the Monterey Park Police Explorers, Rios managed all with flying colors.

“Cesar is an exceptional young man with a very bright future ahead of him,” Schurr High principal Francisco Arregui said. “His enthusiasm and energy will be missed on our campus, but we know his talents and drive will continue to carry him on a path of success.”

At Georgetown, Rios -- who is the first in his family to go to college -- plans to study political economics or science, tech and security and hopes to intern at the FBI or CIA headquarters. He credits his interest in national security to a Schurr High teacher who connected him to a member of the FBI who served as his mentor.

“My teachers have been incredible in providing guidance and encouragement – believing in me every step of the way,” said Rios. “I would not have been able to get as far as I have without their support, and I’m eternally grateful.”

 To ease his transition to Georgetown, Rios will head to the East Coast next weekend where he’ll be paired up with Schurr High alum and current Georgetown student Rio Djiwandana to learn more about college life. He’ll also be participating in a five-week summer bridge program to prepare for the rigors of his new academic institution – all expenses paid by Georgetown.

“On behalf of the entire Montebello Unified School District, we commend Cesar for all his achievements thus far – and  we thank his administrators, teachers, parents and community for their unwavering support in helping him achieve his dreams,” Montebello Unified Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith said. “We extend Cesar heartfelt  wishes for a successful collegiate and professional career and hope that he remembers he, like all of his peers, has resources and support here at MUSD.”

Rios is set to address his class at the Schurr High commencement ceremony on June 15 at 6:30 p.m. at East Los Angeles Weingart Stadium.


Montebello Unified-ELAC Partnership Holds Special College Day Event for Students, Parents

An estimated 250 Montebello Unified juniors and seniors and their parents learned about graduation requirements, the college admissions process, and financial aid during an April 9 college day staged exclusively for them as part of a District partnership with East Los Angeles College (ELAC).

The event, held at ELAC, featured a college fair, speakers, and sessions that provided information about high school courses required for college admission, the first-year college experience, transfer prerequisites, and the benefits of MUSD and ELAC’s joint Career Technical Education Pathways.

College Day began with welcoming remarks giving by Flores and ELAC Vice President of Student Services Julie Benavides. The event concluded with a college fair featuring representatives from college and universities

“College Day was great and I learned a lot – especially during the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) presentation,” Montebello High School senior Edward Lopez said. “The whole event made me aware of all the resources available to me.”

MUSD Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith said the ELAC partnership is part of a tapestry of programs MUSD has pursued on behalf of its students throughout high school and even after graduation.

“At Montebello Unified, we pride ourselves on preparing each student to be ready for college and career. Partnerships with like-minded institutions such as East Los Angeles College that help us keep that commitment,” Contreras Smith said.

Round-trip bus transportation from each of the District’s four high schools was provided for the event, and lunch was served following the informational sessions.

MUSD Students Take Home 36 Gold Medals for Public Speaking & Demonstration Skills

Montebello Unified students delivered an impressive performance at a March 19 4-H Field Day competition that challenged youths to showcase their skills in the areas of presentation, demonstration and public speaking. The 4-H Club is the largest youth development and mentoring organization in the country, inspiring students to reach their full potential through community engagement events and personal development activities.

Made up of District middle and high school students, the 4-H Club was represented by 21 students who placed in 60 categories at the event at Mt. San Antonio College. They garnered 36 gold medals, placed second in 20 categories and finished third in four others.

Among the awardees is Applied Technology Center High School sophomore Xavier Cruz, who garnered five gold medal awards, and placed second in three other categories, demonstrating his role as an exceptional student leader.  

The annual event is coordinated by the 4-H Club in conjunction with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County. The 4-H Club is the largest youth development and mentoring organization in the country, inspiring students to reach their full potential through community engagement events and personal development activities.

Cruz won gold in the demonstration category by performing an east coast swing dance and discussing the history of swing dance to win the gold in the informational prepared speech category. He also scored gold medal victories in the county impromptu speaking, extemporaneous speaking and interview categories. He took second place in educational display, state impromptu speech and cultural arts categories.

“By learning and practicing skills involved in public speaking and performance, Xavier and his fellow 4-H Club members are taking an extra step in preparing themselves for college and career,” MUSD Board of Education President Benjamin Cárdenas said. “Xavier demonstrates that our students are not only invested in strengthening their own talents and abilities, but in giving back to their communities.”

Cruz has been an active student leader at his alma mater Macy Intermediate – where the 4-H Club has been based since 2013.  

Cruz, along with all gold medal winners, will participate at the 4-H South Sectional Field Day on May 21 at Mt. SAC to compete in the same events with the hopes of advancing to the state competition May 28 at the University of California, Davis.

“Montebello Unified congratulates all of our students for their stellar performance at the Field Day event and for representing our District with tenacity and skill,” MUSD Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith said. “Their passion, commitment and service-oriented nature truly exemplify the 21st century students we have here at Montebello Unified.”

ATC principal Sterling Schubert – along with former Macy principal and 4-H Club advisor and community leader Mike Lopez – established the 4-H Club. It runs with the support of Macy principal Jacinto Zavala.

“The 4-H program is a perfect example of the collaboration between the intermediate and the high schools that Montebello Unified strives for while sharpening skills that will be useful throughout their academic and professional careers,” Schubert said.

Montebello Unified School District Named Model District for Stellar Attendance Program

The Montebello Unified School District’s attendance program was recently named as a 2015-16 model program by the California Department of Education (CDE) – one of only nine to receive the honor – for its use of superior strategies to promote attendance and prevent dropouts.

The designation was awarded by the CDE’s School Attendance Review Board (SARB), which evaluates local SARBs for the use of innovative and effective approaches to keep students in school. The state recognized nine model districts for demonstrating use of data-driven strategies in early identification, overall prevention, and collaborative intervention.

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlarkson praised the model SARBs for reducing student absenteeism, which costs school districts millions of dollars each year. Model SARBs serve as examples to other school districts to reduce barriers to attendance through collaboration with students, families, and staff.

“It is truly an honor for the Montebello Unified SARB committee to be recognized for its excellent work in improving and maintaining high attendance rates,” Montebello Unified Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith said. “We commend our District team for developing strategies and solutions that will now be used across the state as an example of how to improve attendance.”

The MUSD SARB team is comprised of District administrators, school-based social workers, attendance specialists and officers, parents, and representatives from county education and public safety offices.

The SARB Committee will be recognized at the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance Conference on Thursday, April 21 at the Wyndham Hotel in Garden Grove.

Four MUSD Schools Earn California Gold Ribbons for Effective Student Engagement Programs

Four Montebello Unified elementary campuses have been named California Gold Ribbon Schools for effectively engaging students through creative science lessons, a growing performance arts program, a strategic model for strengthening reading skills, and a data-driven method to close the achievement gap.

The Gold Ribbons – California’s highest academic award – were earned by Bell Gardens, Greenwood, Suva and Washington elementary schools.

The California Gold Ribbon School Award was created in 2014-15 as a substitute for the state’s Distinguished Schools Program to celebrate schools for model programs during rollout of the new California Standards. The program started with middle and high schools in 2015 and shifted to elementary schools this year.

“The Gold Ribbon awards are a strong indicator of how dedicated we are in meeting and exceeding expectations at our schools,” MUSD Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith said. “The application process provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the teacher, student and parent perspectives within our school communities to the visiting team of state officials who granted the awards.”

Schools applied for the Gold Ribbon program in November 2015. Applications were reviewed in January and site visits conducted through March. Regional award ceremonies will be held in May.

In all, the state honored 772 elementary schools.