Skip to main content

March 2016

Greenwood Elementary Selected as Wallis Annenberg Focus School

Grant to Boost Arts Education for Students, Staff and Families

MUSD WallSelected as one of only 10 schools in the region designated as a Wallis Focus School, Montebello Unified’s Greenwood Elementary School has provided its students, teachers and staff, parents and families with the opportunity to learn in and through the arts thanks to a grant by the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, located in Beverly Hills.

As part of the grant, The Wallis offers 300 tickets for two student matinee performances with transportation, professional development sessions and workshops to help teachers and staff integrate and support arts education in the classroom. The grant also includes a ‘Career in the Arts’ event where eight fifth-graders were selected by their teachers to travel on March 16 to the Center to learn more about potential careers in the arts.

Nearly all Greenwood students saw a show by internationally acclaimed pianist Jeffrey Siegel on Feb. 26 and will be bussed to see the theater production “The Girl who Forgot to Sing Badly” April 26. Two teacher workshops at The Wallis preceded the performances so that instructors could prepare students to think critically about the show’s themes.

“Our students are benefitting immensely from this exposure to the arts, which stimulates their creativity, encourages their self-expression, and opens a door to a world they didn’t know existed,”  fifth-grade teacher and grant writer Sara Aguilar said.

Additionally, the Wallis grant offers all Greenwood teachers the chance to participate in professional development sessions that cover key topics in the integration of arts education into the classroom. Skilled teaching artists from The Wallis will also visit the school throughout the year to support student learning, teacher development and family engagement.

“We strive to give our students the best educational experience and it is always improved when the opportunity affords their families to participate,” Greenwood Elementary Principal Bibi Alvarado said. “We are so grateful to Wallis Annenberg  for their partnership in helping us afford our students and their families opportunity.”

Students are also encouraged to bring along their parents during a designated weekend performance. Tickets and transportation are free of charge. The performance, “The Lightning Thief”, is scheduled for April 9.

“As we provide a comprehensive education to our students that includes the arts, our community partnerships are vital in connecting us to unique opportunities for our students and helping us to provide learning experiences that benefit our entire District community,” Montebello Unified Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith said. “Thank you to our Greenwood Elementary teachers, staff and administrators for their effort in securing this special grant.”

Housed in a breathtaking 70,000-square-foot venue, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts brings audiences world-class theater, dance and music, performed by many of the world’s most talented and sought-after artists. With eclectic programming that mirrors the diverse landscape of Los Angeles, and its notability as the entertainment capital of the world, The Wallis offers original and revered works from across the US and around the globe.

MUSD Recognized for Excellent Risk Management and Safety Program

In recognition of its proactive approach to risk management and effective safety program, Montebello Unified School District has received the Alliance for Schools Cooperative Insurance Program’s 2015 “Excellence in Loss Control and Risk Management” award. The award highlights how effectively and appropriately a district losses and minimizes risks.

The alliance, known as ASCIP, is a coalition of 120 school districts that work together to offer outstanding insurance, risk management practices and loss prevention services for students and schools. ASCIP annually presents the award to a district that best exemplifies safety and security for students and adults who use District facilities and resources. The award was presented to MUSD officials on March 4.

An effective safety program benefits students and taxpayers alike. Students are able to maintain the continuity of their education in a safe and healthy learning environment; taxpayers realize a savings as the District pays lower costs on insurance premiums, which are needed to protect the District.

Thorough consultation with ASCIP Risk Services staff on risk management, insurance matters and completion of audits to ensure the security of facilities are among the criteria used to determine selection for the award.

“ASCIP’s Excellence in Loss Control and Risk Management award recognizes the diligence of MUSD in its commitment to a healthy and secure District in all areas,” Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith said. “We continue to invest in the health of our District and are proud to receive this award from the alliance.”

Formed in 1980, ASCIP is a non-profit public agency that provides liability, property, workers’ compensation, health benefits coverage and school construction insurance to public school districts, charter schools, community colleges, and subsidiaries throughout the state of California.

Today was a Beautiful Day At Garfield Elementary

Garfield Career Day
Garfield Elementary hosted a successful Career Day. Two professionals  that spoke to the students are alumni of the Montebello Unified School District. Monica Navarro, Managing Director of the Private Bank of Cal and Officer Zarate, a MUSD Police Officer who was  accompanied by K-9 Officer Oscar. They spoke to the students about the importance of staying true to their dreams and reaching for the stars.

Documentary Featuring Montebello Unified Students Screened at Two MUSD High Schools

French Film Shows Latino Students as Part of Changing Face of America

MUSD FilmMontebello Unified’s Applied Technology Center and Bell Gardens High School screened a French documentary March 10 and 11 that includes interviews with two MUSD seniors and an administrator in its poignant look at America’s evolving demographic landscape.

Titled “Latino: The Changing Face of America,” the film illustrates the emergent impact of Latinos in education, immigration and politics.

Filmmaker Roxanne Frias, a native of California, began the documentary with the story of Hector Reyes, a senior in the Health Sciences pathway at the Applied Technology Center, highlighting his family’s work ethic. Sirian Duarte, a senior at Bell Gardens High School, told of her struggle as she walked from Honduras as a political refugee, alone at the age of 10.

“The goal of my film is to educate and inspire the growing Latino population, particularly the youth, and show how they are changing the face of America,” said Frias, a Stanford graduate. “I also want to show our sheer strength in numbers and how important it is to motivate each other to use our voices, especially in a very important election year.”

Currently, 55 million Latinos live in the U.S., a number projected to double in roughly 35 years when nearly one in three people in the United States will be Latino. Moreover, young Latinos in California represent a majority within the state’s public school system.

Over the past 50 years, Montebello Unified has seen Latinos rise from 7 percent of the student body to 97 percent. Many students are children of immigrant parents or are immigrants themselves.

“As students, it is our job to get educated, to work, to make sure our parents dreams are realized,” said Timothy Reyes, a senior at the ATC who participated in the screenings. “This film, though it rings true for me and many of my friends, is shocking. But it’s a story that needs to be told.”

The screenings, held in a BGHS English course and during government and economics classes at ATC, featured a question and answer session with Hector, Sirian and Frias. Students related with their peers, posed questions about the immigration system and discussed what it meant to be part of this growing and powerful demographic.

“As we work day in and day out to educate our students, we are also very mindful of addressing and cultivating the historical identity of our students,” Montebello Unified Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith said. “This film illustrates exactly why we are committed to empowering our youth to appreciate their backgrounds and stories, and how they serve to strengthen the whole of their education – inside the classroom and out.”

Montebello Unified is working to implement an ethnic studies requirement for all graduating seniors and provides a robust dual-language immersion program, which develops or augments students’ bilingualism to better prepare them for the changing economic and political face of the country.

The film also features interviews with Univision’s Jorge Ramos, Texas Sen. Jose Rodriguez, Brookings Institute Demographer William Frey, professors from USC and UCLA, and Latino leaders from Washington D.C., Los Angeles, El Paso and Iowa.

Produced by ARTE, a French and German public television network, the film is scheduled to be screened throughout Europe and in Japan.

Macy Intermediate Sixth-Grader Wins Hard Fought MUSD Spelling Bee

Sofia Lopez to Move on to Regional Competition

Spelling BeeForty-six students from across Montebello Unified gathered Feb. 25 on the Bell Gardens Intermediate School stage to vie for the title as MUSD’s top speller during the District’s ninth annual competition.

After more than two hours and 17 rounds of competition, Sofia Lopez – a sixth-grader from Macy Intermediate – won after she spelled both “adolescent” and “civilization” correctly. She will represent Montebello Unified in a regional competition on March 30 that will feature competitors from across Los Angeles County.

Kenna Tagawa, a fifth-grade student from Washington Elementary, came in second, after correctly spelling three consecutive words in the last round.

Every student who participated in the Spelling Bee was awarded with a medal; the first- and second-place winners received trophies. Sofia received gift cards worth $50 from Costco and $25 from Clearman’s Restaurant. Kenna received gift cards worth $25 from Costco and $25 from Clearman’s Restaurant, as well as two tickets to AMC movie theaters.

Each school in Montebello Unified held its own Spelling Bee competition earlier in school year; the top two finishers went on to the District-wide competition.

“Each student exemplified dedication and bravery – it took a lot of hard work and preparation to get to this point,” Superintendent Susanna Contreras Smith said. “I am so proud of each student that participated in this year’s Montebello Unified Spelling Bee.”

The popular event is put on annually by the District’s Deputy Superintendent’s Office, under the direction of Silvia Krespan, the District’s coordinator of student and parent support services.

This year's judges included Director of Accountability & Support Lorraine Verduzco; Bell Gardens High School Special Education Teacher Dolores Gonzalez; Technology Integration Program Specialist Stephen Bartlett; and Bell Gardens intermediate School Assistant Director of CTE/ROP Richard P. Espinoza.

Janet Romo, teacher at Washington School, was this year's Spell Master.