Tag Archives: BUSD

Burbank Council PTA Recognizes Over 50 People Making A Difference In Schools

Burbank Council PTA acknowledged many members of the public school community at the 64th annual Honorary Service Awards banquet held Wednesday, April 16. Fifty-six individuals and organizations were recognized for their efforts on behalf of children.

Board of Education members Dave Kemp, Roberta Reynolds, Charlene Tabet and Larry Applebaum attended the HSA banquet, along with BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz and BUSD Directors Emilio Urioste, Tom Kissinger and Sharon Cuseo. The event was put together and hosted by Brenda Burroughs from Burbank Council PTA.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“This is always one of my favorite evenings of the year because volunteer service is so important to PTA and it’s great to have a chance to give some recognition to the people and organizations who are out there everyday supporting our schools and the community,” commented Steve Fritner, Burbank Council PTA President. “None of the people honored at the banquet were doing this work for recognition or awards, they were doing it because they care about children, about the schools and about Burbank.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Steve Fritner and Brenda Burroughs flank Council honorees Annette Fiol and Barbara Miller. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The evening was a great success. Brenda and her committee did a first class job putting the event together,” Fritner added. “Many of our past HSA honorees come to the banquet each year. It’s great to see them, it helps remind everyone that PTA has a long history of volunteering in the schools and the community.”

HSA awards are given out by unit, council and district PTAs to acknowledge outstanding community service to children and youth, explained Fritner.

“I was especially happy to present the Council Awards to Barbara Miller and Annette Fiol. These two ladies personify what volunteer service is,” he also said.

John Burroughs High School Brass Quintet and the JBHS Woodwind Ensemble entertained the attendees and members of Burbank Girl Scout Troup 11456 were also on hand to present the Flag Ceremony.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Roosevelt honorees (from left to right) Gema Sanchez, Jana Mattison, Linda Walmsley and Kelly McGowan. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Two people and one organization were awarded the Golden Oak Service Award, the most prestigious of the HSA awards. It is given to recognize significant contributions made toward the welfare of children and youth in a school or community. Linda Walmsley from Roosevelt Elementary and Georgine Archer from Muir Middle School were awarded the Golden Oak, while Washington Elementary recognized Nickelodeon Animation Studios.

“Linda Walmsley, our beloved Kindergarten teacher and advocate for our community, received the Golden Oak Award for her 43 plus years of service to our kids and community!” said Kathy Wills, who has taught Kindergarten at Roosevelt alongside Walmsley for 15 years.

“She was raised in Burbank and went through the school here. She has always been involved in the Burbank Schools and is so knowledgeable about Burbank politics and history,” added Wills. “She is a great Burbank resource and has quite a reputation.She has always jumped into efforts that improve the life of kids.”

“[Linda] has dedicated her days to the classrooms but her weekends and evenings she [has] worked hard to bring programs, services and funds to the all the youth of Burbank.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Nickelodeon Animation Studio honorees. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The reason why our Parent Teacher Association awarded Nickelodeon with the Golden Oak is because of their continuous help and support at our school,” commented Aylin Ghookhassian, Washington PTA President.

“For over a decade, Nickelodeon’s artists come to our school and take part in the Chalk Day and surprise the kids with all of their cartoon character drawings all over the school play yard. Not a spot is left empty and after the kids come out they spend time teaching them and giving them few tips.”

“This year, they even committed to do more for our school and they send their artists into classrooms from K-5 to do drawing lessons,” Ghookhassian added. “The kids are loving it and the parents really appreciate it.”

Archer “does so much for our school community, from attending Muir PTA meetings, working in the school garden, organizing math field days, as well as endless noteworthy work with twenty years of work with the Girl Scouts and a fifty year member of Delta Gamma making a difference in the community,” stated the event program, describing Archer’s service to Muir.

“Whether it is a family in need, an abandoned pet or a dying plant, Georgine Archer will find a way to help. She calls it an investment in family. We call her an investment in our world. Thank you Georgine Archer for your tireless work for our school.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Honorary Service Award recipients for 2013-14:

Walt Disney Elementary

Shannon DiForte – Honorary Service Award

Dillon Ross – Honorary Service Award

Christina DiGiacomo – Honorary Service Award


Thomas Edison Elementary

Michael Spencer – Honorary Service Award

Jenny Geary – Honorary Service Award

Nalini Brigstocke – Honorary Service Award

Jennifer Tracy – Honorary Service Award

Michele Zepeda – Continuing Service Award


Ralph W. Emerson Elementary

Stephanie Lee – Honorary Service Award

Iberia and George Brogmus – Honorary Service Award

James Coomes – Honorary Service Award


Bret Harte Elementary

Sylvia Kelman – Honorary Service Award

Bernadette Reardon – Honorary Service Award

Robert Sanchez – Honorary Service Award


Thomas Jefferson Elementary

Stacy Eaton – Honorary Service Award

Nichole Moore – Honorary Service Award

Julie Barnhart – Honorary Service Award


William McKinley Elementary

Kathy Petzoldt – Honorary Service Award

Jamee Tingley – Honorary Service Award

Jenny Harris – Honorary Service Award


Joaquin Miller Elementary

Jennifer Bastian – Honorary Service Award

Christina Yang – Honorary Service Award

Debra Gaskin – Honorary Service Award


Providencia Elementary

Liz Pardo – Honorary Service Award

Natalie Porter – Honorary Service Award

Liz Watters – Honorary Service Award


Theodore Roosevelt Elementary

Jana Mattison – Honorary Service Award

Kelly McGowan – Honorary Service Award

Gema Sanchez – Continuing Service Award

Linda Walmsley – Golden Oak Service Award


Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary

Bernadette Galaviz – Honorary Service Award

Susan Gold – Honorary Service Award

Lisa Loomis – Honorary Service Award

Michelle Thornsberry – Honorary Service Award

Tina Rondinella – Outstanding Teacher Award

Karin Anderson – Outstanding Teacher Award


George Washington Elementary

Chandra Collins – Honorary Service Award

Arcy Covarrubias – Continuing Service Award

Susan Martin – Outstanding Teacher Award

Nickelodeon – Golden Oak Service Award


Luther Burbank Middle School

Black Sheep Squadron – Honorary Service Award

Vicki Thalheimer – Outstanding Teacher Award

Brain O’Rourke – Outstanding Administrator Award


David Starr Jordan Middle School

Jennifer Hughes – Honorary Service Award

Mike Graceffo – Continuing Service Award

Leonidas Tarca – Outstanding Administrator Award


John Muir Middle School

Michele Harris – Continuing Service Award

Georgine Archer – Golden Oak Service Award


Burbank High School

Tigran Khachikyan – Honorary Service Award

Augustine Garcia – Honorary Service Award

Kay Cee Mills – Outstanding Teacher Award


John Burroughs High School

John Paramo – Honorary Service Award

Yvonne Seta – Continuing Service Award


Burbank Council PTA Recipients

Barbara Miller – Continuing Service Award

Annette Fiol – Continuing Service Award


Arts For All Career Day Piques Student Interest

John Burroughs High School students enjoyed a recent school-day event focusing on the arts and careers in creative fields at the Burbank Arts For All Career Day. Held on campus in March, just before Spring Break, the many talents and interests of the high school’s students were celebrated and explored.

“This year we tried a different format with both student artists and community artists available for an extended period of time,” explained JBHS Library Coordinator Julie Grene, who co-chaired the event with BAFA’s Jamie Butterworth and Lisa Dyson. “In my opinion, this made the event even more dynamic and exciting. It was quite festival-like, with much creative energy on display.”

An art gallery in the mezzanine of the gymnasium displayed visual arts from every art class at the school, along with a demonstration of the new video game app design class.

“I was blown away by the variety and quality of their work,” commented Grene. “There were mini masterpieces, anti-bullying campaign graphics, beautiful details fine art in paint and pastel, self portraits done in the style of a famous artist, photography and even a student who was able to re-create the 3D effect of popular chalk artists by viewing his work through a lens on his phone!”

JBHS Dance Department performs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

JBHS Dance Department performs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Dance Department and JBHS Choir program presented live performances on the gymnasium floor. Drama students put on improvs in their studio.

Out on the quad, the catering class students provided refreshments and the school’s Jazz Band performed along with vocalists. Wood shop and airplane engine technology students showed off their items. Broadcast/journalism students interviewed those ambling about the quad.

Inside the library, two local writing duos set up with books, bookmarks and other fun goodies, added Grene. The young adult author teams of Kirby and Howell and Askew and Helmes shared their experiences with aspiring writers.

The school’s new Sketchbook Project booklets were available for students and a large table was set up for Zen Doodle, the meditative art of doodling.

“The students really seemed to enjoyed having this special place to come and simply draw alone or with friends,” commented Grene. “The paper I had covering the tables was a work of art in itself, with many choosing to do some beautiful artwork there or to leave a favorite quote or statement.”

Students try out Zen Doodle, the meditative art of doodling. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Students try out Zen Doodle, the meditative art of doodling. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The Art For All Day at the high school level is a celebration of the students’ contributions to the arts,” commented event co-chair Dyson. “Our goal this year was to also tie in some local schools and businesses where students might wish to go to pursue their creativity.”

Community-based artists such as Burbank Music Academy, actor/caricaturist Jordan Monsell, Animation Academy, actor/voiceover artist/writer Jennifer Hughes, director and animation artist Robert Hughes, photographer Randy Flosi and graphic artist Johnathon Gallagher participated, along with representatives from Education Through Music, Woodbury University, FIDM and the Song Writing School of Los Angeles.

Ceramic artist Michael Hirsch was surrounded by kids all day as they had a chance to try the pottery wheel, added Dyson.

Ceramic artist Michael Hirsch engages JBHS students. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Ceramic artist Michael Hirsch engages JBHS students. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Make-up artists from Cinema Secrets were there as well to demonstrate techniques of “zombie-style” make-up on students and were constantly busy, she also said.

“These are all volunteers from our community, willing to give up their time and talent, and we couldn’t have been happier with the result,” Dyson commented.

Although Visual Arts teacher Beth Morrison stayed with the student art projects on the mezzanine of the gymnasium and was unable to see many of the other attractions, she said, “I can tell you that it was a pleasure brainstorming ideas with Lisa Dyson and Julie Grene, they are both wonderful partners and I will collaborate with them on anything any time.”

Dyson, Butterworth and Grene worked with JBHS visual and performing arts instructors including Morrison, Vocal Music teacher Brendan Jennings, Drama teacher Guy Myers and Dance teacher Megan Macready to put together Arts For All Career Day. Assistant Vice Principal Matt Chambers and Debbie Stevens in the school’s Athletics/Activities office were also integral to the success of the event, said Dyson.


Tablet And iPad Testing Begins In Burbank Schools

Tablets and iPad testing is underway in Burbank Unified schools as the Technology Task Force works with teachers to determine their next recommendations to the Board of Education.

The Tech Task Force recently put forth two items, an interactive white board and a document camera, as integral components of the 21st Century Classroom BUSD plans to roll out district-wide in the coming years.

Luther Middle School students in Stefanie Enokian's 7th grade Social Studies class work on iPads alongside traditional pen and paper. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Luther Middle School students in Stefanie Enokian’s seventh-grade Social Studies class work on iPads alongside traditional pen and paper. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Funds for the selected device(s) will come from the Measure S Bond allotment. The task force is also having teachers try out and compare Microsoft Office and Google Docs as an interactive response solution.

“We are currently working with Amplify to receive two class sets of tablets and software at Jordan Middle School and Miller Elementary,” said Bob Martin, BUSD’s Teacher on Special Assignment for Instructional Technology. “We are testing an iPad cart at Luther. We are also working with other companies to see about testing other one-on-one devices.”

Testing with the Amplify tablets begins April 14 at Jordan and Miller, added Martin.

“We are hoping to put forth a recommendation at the end of this school year,” Martin continued. “If needed, we will continuing testing devices into the start of the 2014-15 school year. The important factor is to find a device that works for the students and provides the best solutions for the schools.”

Vivian Iniguez and Alexa Garcia work on a visual project about stained glass artists in the Middle Ages. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Vivian Iniguez and Alexa Garcia work on a visual project about stained glass artists in the Middle Ages. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Seventh-grade Social Studies teacher Stefanie Enokian has been using iPads with all of her students throughout the day at Luther Middle School. Various paid and free applications are employed for teaching, testing and special projects.

Using the iPad in class takes extra effort by to manage the kids and keep them on task, Enokian said. But, she has been impressed with the level of engagement from the students using the one-to-one technology.

“I could give them an assignment where they have to use pen and paper to write their answer and they will hardly write anything,” she said. “But if I give them the same assignment and have them type their answers using the iPads, they beg me for more time and every kid is engaged and typing away. It’s amazing!”

Teacher Stefanie Enokian works with two students on their visual project about jobs in the Middle Ages. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Teacher Stefanie Enokian works with two students on their visual project about jobs in the Middle Ages. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Enokian’s students use the iPads for research and to create poster presentations using the ComicLife app. They can word process documents via the iPad’s Pages feature and use the NearPod app for notes, imbedded video and quizzes. Students can also easily create video presentations.

“It’s a great teaching tool for kids to have non-fiction text at their fingertips and make connections with what we are studying,” added Enokian.

In-class use begins with students logging in to an individual iPad with their student number and then accessing the learning app with a class-specific code. As each class moves through the material, the app remembers which parts of the lesson were covered in class and the next day, the teacher can pick up where individual classes left off, if a lesson was not completed.

Student tech director Jay Vassaux highlights some text for the seventh-grade Social Studies class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Student tech director Jay Vassaux highlights some text for the seventh-grade Social Studies class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Enokian has one student act a tech director in each class. The tech director projects the day’s lesson on a screen in front of the class and may zoom in on a specific item to highlight as the teacher talks.

Enokian walks around the class with a master iPad and controls the pace of the lesson and the motion of the instructional slides. She can see each student log in and track their answers and responses to questions and quizzes.

If a student exits out of the app the class is using and opens another app, Enokian can see that immediately and correct the issue. Whatever students draw is visible, so if a student draws a doodle, instead of the specified activity, Enokian can see that too and get the student back on task.

Although students can log on to specific apps, another app allows Enokian to push programs and tests to student iPads. Scores from the tests and quizzes are sent immediately to her iPad and she can then send the grades to her grade book.

Students work on a lesson about feudal power structure utilizing both pen and paper and iPads, in preparation for a quiz. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students work on a lesson about feudal power structure utilizing both pen and paper and iPads, in preparation for a quiz. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Enokian has 40 iPads on the lockable cart in her classroom, allowing for a few spares if a device should have unresolved technical issues requiring support.

Other Luther teachers have borrowed the cart for specific lessons. One science teacher recently used the iPads to teach about the human eye, related Enokian. Students could see inside the eye and three-dimensionally and perhaps understand more clearly the structure of the eye.

Vivian Iniguez and Alexa Garcia, both 12, collaborated in class on a visual project about work in the Middle Ages. They found examples of stained glass windows online and added them to their poster presentation about work as a stained glass artist.

“Using the iPads just makes it more interesting,” said Garcia. “I remember what I do more.”

“Taking the quizzes are better on the iPad than on paper,” added Iniguez. “We get to look at the words we are learning and then can take the quiz right after.”

Students work in project groups using the iPads. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students work in project groups using the iPads. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The iPads connect with a wide range of students and differing styles of learning. For students, many of whom have grown up with access to technology, one-to-one tablets are familiar and easy to use.

“Reading on an iPad is more fun than reading a textbook,” said 12-year-old Maki Salvador. “There are videos.”

“We don’t have to write a lot and learn from the textbooks,” added 12-year-old classmate Hermine Keshishyan. “Textbooks are boring. Since we’ve been using the iPads for a few months now, learning about social studies is more exciting.”

Students take a quiz on the iPads. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students take a quiz on the iPads. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Nickelodeon Donates Computers And Monitors To BUSD

Burbank-based Nickelodeon Animation Studio donated close to 100 computers and monitors to the Burbank Unified School District earlier this month of March.

On Thursday, March 13, Nickelodeon’s Carson Smith, Omar Haro, Dominique Austin and Rafael Torres loaded up the Nickelodeon truck and their own private vehicles with 43 Mac Pros, 23 iMacs and more than 20 monitors and delivered them to BUSD’s Technology Services Divison.

“We at Nickelodeon think it is extremely important to partner with the community, and since our motto has always been ‘Kids First,’ we thought it was fitting that the gently used computers would benefit children in the area,” commented Smith.

“Additionally, they are in perfect working order, and by donating them we were able to keep them out of a landfill and put them in the hands of someone who could put them to good use,” he added.

Coordinated by BUSD administrators Sharon Cuseo and Charles Poovakan, the district’s technology department received the donation to prepare for disbursement to John Muir Middle School and George Washington Elementary School. Muir and Washington will receive the donated equipment as part of their ongoing partnership with Nickelodeon.

Nickelodeon in Burbank donated computers and monitors to Burbank Unified School District in March. (Photo Courtesy of Nickelodeon Animation Studio)

Nickelodeon in Burbank donated computers and monitors to Burbank Unified School District in March. (Photo Courtesy of Nickelodeon Animation Studio)

“This is yet another example of Nickelodeon’s commitment to supporting Burbank Unified schools and students,” said BUSD Arts Coordinator Peggy Flynn.

“Russell Hicks and Carson Smith are visionaries who understand the impact donations like these have on our efforts to meet the needs of our students,” Flynn continued. “Their leadership and the contributions of the entire Nickelodeon team help to ensure we will have the tools our teachers and kids need to develop the twenty-first century skills. We are so fortunate to have such amazing neighbors!”

Nickelodeon in Burbank donated computers and monitors to Burbank Unified School District in March. (Photo Courtesy of Nickelodeon Animation Studio)

Nickelodeon in Burbank donated computers and monitors to Burbank Unified School District in March. (Photo Courtesy of Nickelodeon Animation Studio)

Burbank Unified continues to develop their 21st Century Classroom plan, as the need for additional technology interfaces in the classroom grows. Educators see technology as a way to connect with a wide group of students, as well as a way to prepare young learners for their futures past secondary education.

As professional purveyors of media, Nickelodeon, along with other area studios, often quickly outgrow the abilities of their computers and monitors used for cutting-edge technology and creative services. While not old by consumer and average user standards, the hardware can often find a second life for use in local schools.

BUSD Tech Task Force Issues Recommendations To School Board

After more than a year of testing, the BUSD Tech Task Force has settled on two items to recommend for placement in Burbank Unified classrooms: SMART interactive white boards and Aver document cameras. Task force member Bob Martin and the District’s Director of Instruction and Accountability Sharon Cuseo presented these recommendations to the Board of Education recently.

“The projected roll-out is this coming summer for the first round,” commented Martin, a former Muir Middle and Burbank High English teacher who has been working for BUSD as Teacher On Special Assignment (TOSA) for Instructional Technology since 2012. “This is based on expectations of board approval.”

“Subsequent roll-outs will be determined by the second and third issuance of bond funds,” he added. “Our goal is to eventually have every classroom fitted with new technology.”

Teacher Debbie McHorney interacts with the SMART Board. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Teacher Debbie McHorney interacts with the SMART Board. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“While we do not have a definitive number of teachers willing to take on the new technology; based on conversations with teachers, our on-line survey, and interest at the October meeting where the technology was demonstrated, we believe that we will have more volunteers than available technology,” Martin explained.

The cost to outfit an individual classroom with an interactive white board, a document camera, an audio system and an interactive response solution for teachers and students, including labor, is approximately $10,000, according to Charles Poovakan, Director of Information Technology and Educational Support for the district.

While the current plan is limited to 20 classrooms because of the $200,000 budget the task force was initially given, the cost for complete district-wide implementation of the initial elements is expected to be close to nine million dollars, for over 800 areas in schools and offices, Poovakan explained.

The technology funds in the first issuance of the Measure S bond are being used to strengthen the infrastructure required for the 21st Century Classroom and typical daily operations. A relatively small allotment of funds in the first phase of the bond is planned for use to purchase the actual technology items.

Burroughs teacher Kevin Hiatt uses the Aver document camera daily. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burroughs teacher Kevin Hiatt uses the Aver document camera daily. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Eight teachers who tested the items for the task force will be among the first to receive the new technology. The other 12 systems will be placed at eight elementary schools, the Burbank Adult School, Monterey High School, Community Day School and the District Office.

“Anything you can do on a computer you can do on the SMART Board,” commented Burroughs High School teacher Debbie McHorney, who is also the high school JV Girls Basketball coach. “You can write right on the board, mark it up, with a pen or your finger.”

McHorney also finds Google Docs very useful to ask study questions of her students. She uses the voice amplifier system that came with the SMART Board, so she doesn’t have to stress her voice to be heard clearly throughout the classroom.

Burroughs High School teacher Kevin Hiatt also uses the Aver document camera every day. He is able to run a timer for the classroom to see while students complete in-class work and uses the device to go over student answers.

Kevin Hiatt fills in his answer during a timed in-class assignment.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Kevin Hiatt fills in his answer during a timed in-class assignment.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“The document cameras are wonderful. I can now show my students demos, notes, pictures, diagrams, drawings, etc. up on the large projector screen for everyone to clearly see,” commented Burroughs Biology teacher Jill Tobin.

“I haven’t yet used the microscope adaptor, but am excited about its capabilities. I honestly use my document camera every single day, and it is as vital to my instruction as my computer,” she added. “I couldn’t imagine teaching without it. Being a visual learner, as many people are, it is nice to be able to show my students virtually anything we’re learning about; live and in color!”

At a February School Board meeting, Board Member Larry Applebaum expressed frustration with the relatively small number, 20, of classrooms for the initial roll out.

“I don’t care what we have to do, we need to come up with a plan to get one hundred of these into the classroom in the next year,” Applebaum said.

“We need to get on this post-haste, but let’s make sure that our plan is exactly what we want,” commented Board President Dave Kemp about getting technology components for the 21st Century Classroom project up and running in the schools. “We’ll get it out there and get it in the hands of kids, ’cause they do need it.”

Teacher Debbie McHorney uses the SMART Board in class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Teacher Debbie McHorney uses the SMART Board in class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“This is how we reach those GATE students and special ed. students,” Applebaum added, emphasizing ways technology can help with teaching to differentiated levels of learning in the classroom.

“Mr. Poovakan and I are happy to move in any direction the Board directs us. That is not a problem,” Cuseo underlined at the meeting, indicating the district’s ability to increase the number of classrooms outfitted in the initial 21st Century Classroom roll out, if the Board of Education allocates additional money to the project.

The current Technology Task Force started meeting monthly in spring 2013 and is headed up by Poovakan. A typical meeting usually has around 12 members, including teachers from elementary, middle and high schools, classified staff, technology personnel and administrators.

“The task force is an open committee that anyone can attend. In the past, we have had a parent present as well,” said Martin.

During the meetings, the technology department updates the members with the current projects regarding infrastructure, explained Martin. They “discuss needs throughout the district, ways technology can better support teachers and software/hardware that should be researched for possible inclusion in the classroom.”

A student selects an answer on the SMART Board. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

A student selects an answer on the SMART Board. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Board of Education is expected to reach a decision soon on approval and scope of the initial outfitting of classrooms with the SMART Boards, Aver document cameras and accompanying components. The Tech Task Force is currently overseeing testing of additional elements, including tablets and one-to-one devices, at various schools this spring.




Principal In Pink And Cat In Hat Read At Washington Elementary

Washington Elementary celebrated Read Across America Day with a principal dressed head-to-toe in pink, new books and a special visit from the Cat in the Hat. Principal Brandi Young rode a scooter down the ramp from the cafeteria and around the entire group of approximately 450 children gathered on playground, as the youngsters cheered.

 (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Young thanked the students for their efforts and the whole school applauded their achievement. She presented new books donated to classrooms on behalf of Washington Elementary families and staff.

“Back in the early fall, I asked all of my students to read their AR [Accelerated Reader] books and continuously take AR assessments weekly at their zone of Proximal Development Level,” explained Young. “I asked them to reach a school-wide goal of 5,250 AR points by Read Across America week and I would show up to school all in pink… head-to-toe!”

By morning of the Thursday, March 6, program, students had reached a total of 9850.8 points on the AR assessments.

Kindergarteners don’t take the AR tests until they have mastered their first 120 sight words, so about 400 children in first through fifth grades took the assessments. AR is a program from Renaissance Learning and is the world’s most widely used K-12 reading software, explained Young.

“It’s  a way to encourage children to read more, read better books and it obviously works at our school,” she commented. “Students take a  STAR Reading computer-adaptive assessment which gives our teachers a tool to help them quickly and accurately assess reading levels for their students.”

Washington Elementary Principal Brandi Young and Michelle Meta pose with scooter and carts of books for new breakfast reading program. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Washington Elementary Principal Brandi Young and Michelle Meta pose with scooter and carts of books for new breakfast reading program. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Teachers and parents have commented to me that were never this inspired to read and take AR tests in the past,” added Young.

Young also introduced Michelle Meta, with whom she has been developing a breakfast reading program called “Read and Feed Each Day!” Meta showed the children the carts of donated library books available for the children to read in the mornings before school and talked about the program.

The books, along with board games, comics, magazines, recipes and more, will be set out for the students to read between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m.

The goal of this project is to: ‘Help build brighter futures for our kids, schools, communities, and country by starting healthy habits early. Eating a good breakfast and reading before school sets kids up for success!’” explained Young. Our goal is to get children to read these books every morning, before school begins.”

 (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

After the presentations, the whole school separated into established buddy reading groups for a mass read-in.

The Cat in the Hat character appeared later that morning and read to the students from the Dr. Seuss classic The Cat In The Hat.

 (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

(Photo By Lisa Paredes)


BUSD Survey On Program Priorities Available Online

As the Burbank Unified School District moves forward in developing its plan to reinstate programs and positions cut since 2007 and come up with a comprehensive district plan for the future, the district has assembled a large group of people including teachers, administrators, school site members, parents, students and other members of the Burbank community to help draft a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP.)

BUSD LogoOne of the ways BUSD seeks community and stakeholder input is through an online survey available now on the district’s website. As the school moves forward in establishing a priority list, data is needed to help the group working on the LCAP and the online survey is a way to get some of that data.

The BUSD survey asks respondents to choose priorities from a predetermined list and also allows for personal or specific input or comments about programs, positions and priorities.

BUSD has lost about $100 million dollars in State funding cuts since 2007. Since public education funding by the State is mandated to be at 40% of the California budget, the amount available to BUSD and other school districts has been dramatically cut over the recent years of recession.

Governor Jerry Brown has announced there will be more money available to public schools in the future through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), directly related to California’s improving economic situation. Just over $2 million has been made available to BUSD for the 2013-14 school year and that number is expected to increase for 2014-15.

While BUSD will not be able to reinstate right away most of the deep cuts that have been made over the years, the group working on the LCAP will draft the list of top priorities for funding for the coming years. BUSD seeks stakeholder input and encourages all parents, students, teachers and members of the Burbank community to speak up.



High Schools Host Career Days

Burbank and Burroughs High Schools held Career Technical Education (CTE) Days on February 20 and 21 in the schools’ auditoriums. Thousands of each school’s students were able to visit with varying career and education representatives during classes and lunch.

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Coordinated by Diana Dysthe, Regional Occupation Program (ROP) Counselor for BUSD, representatives from Burbank city services like Water & Power, Police, Fire, Public Works, film industry business including special effects, makeup and film schools and the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines were on hand to talk with interested students.

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Schools and universities including Woodbury, Syracuse, Musicians Institute, Santa Fe, Burbank Adult School, ITT-Tech, LAVC, Mt. Sierra, Otis College of Art & Design, CSUN, Le Cordon Bleu, Academy of Art, Columbia, DeVry, FIDM, Westwood, Culinary Institute, Arts Institute, Marinello’s School of Beauty, NY Film Academy, California Institute for the Arts, New School of Architecture & Design, Everest College and Columbia College also had tables at the event and plenty of information to hand out to students.

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Photo By Lisa Paredes

Animal care, medical and nursing, aviation, information communication and technology career speakers were some of the additional options available for students to learn more. The event was sponsored by Ralph’s, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Fresh n’ Easy, Chevy’s, Domino’s and Corner Bakery, provided snacks and drinks for exhibitors and spokespersons.

Student representatives of the ROP program, which includes all manner of technical, creative and practical work also spoke about different aspects of the high school program and preparation for the world after secondary school with their fellow students.

The events at both high schools were very successful, according to Dysthe. Teachers brought many classes to the career day events and hundreds of students filled the gymnasium at a time, gathering information and talking and thinking about their futures.


Cartoon Network Thanks Community Partners

Cartoon Network’s Director of Operations and Community Relations Zita Lefebvre hosted several community partner representatives at a thank you luncheon at the animation studio’s offices in downtown Burbank on Friday, February 14.

Guests of Zita Lefebvre of Cartoons Networks Valentines Day Lunch include Burbank Police PIO Darin Ryburn and Bonnie Teaford Director of Burbank Public Works. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Guests of Zita Lefebvre and Cartoons Network’s Valentines Day lunch include Burbank Police PIO Sgt. Darin Ryburn and Bonnie Teaford, Director of Burbank Public Works. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Members of the community came out to enjoy the Zita’s hospitality, including Police Chief Scott LaChasse and Sgt. Darin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Department and Bonnie Teaford from Public Works.

Rick Madrid from Paramount, Chris Ramos from the Family Service Agency and Edna Karinski from the Foundation of the Verdugos made an appearance.

Representatives from the Boys and Girls Club, the Burbank Center for the Retarded, the Family Service Agency, Warner Bros. Studios and local Burbank public schools also attended, among others.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Zita Lefebvre and Edna Karinski from the nonprofit Community Foundation of the Verdugos. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I am honored to call them friends. The City has been so amazingly helpful to us and Bonnie Teaford is so responsive and supportive,” commented Lefebvre. “Both the Police and Fire Departments include us in trainings and are our best neighbors.”

“Chris Ramos was here to represent FSA and accepted a check from Edna Karinski from the Foundation of the Verdugos, for a grant I wrote before Christmas,” said Lefebvre.

Cartoon Network funds the Art Therapy Program at the Family Service Agency, which Lefebvre calls “powerful and heart wrenching all at once.”

Former Burbank Police Lt. Rick Madrid, a long time friend of Zita Lafebvre, stopped by to wish all a Happy Valentines Day. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Former Burbank Police Lt. Rick Madrid, a long time friend of Zita Lafebvre, stopped by to wish all a Happy Valentines Day. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Marilyn Collins of Cartoon Network is also a member of the Board of the Burbank Center for the Retarded.

Lefebvre noted the studio tries to “help them in any way we can. We hope to host an art show with drawings from their clients later this year.”

Sherry DeLizia and Brittany Vaughn from Boys and Girls Club worked on a PSA with Lefebvre recently, with help from myBurbank’s Vice President and Chief Photographer Ross Benson.

Cartoon Network volunteers are nearing completion of the PSA which will be screened for the young Boys and Girls Club attendees when finished.

Guests of Zita Lefebvre of Cartoons Networks Valentines Day Lunch. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Guests of Zita Lefebvre enjoy Cartoons Network’s Valentines Day luncheon. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Lefebvre also talked about some of the projects and programs she organizes with local public schools and the Burbank Arts For All Foundation, in which studio animators, artists and production personnel work with children in creating animated shorts and PSAs. Additionally, Cartoon Network reaches out to support local agencies and schools needs, such as the recent planter built for disabled children access at Stevenson Elementary in a partnership with Lowe’s Home Improvement store.

Creative Circles Forum Discusses Technology And The Arts In Schools

Burbank Arts For All Foundation (BAFA) presents the first Creative Circles Forum of the year on Monday, February 24,  with Art + Technology: Experts Explore Innovation in Burbank Schools. Experts in the fields of science, the arts and technology will discuss the ways in which artistic perspective and approach helps develop greater scientific and technical applications for many businesses and creative endeavors.

Panelists include FotoKem’s Senior Vice President Tom Vice, Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Vice President of Technology, Web and Digital Media Amy Heibel, Woodbury University’s Associate Professor of Architecture and Coordinator of History-Theory Curriculum Dr. Ewan Branda and Luther Middle School science teacher Joe Reed, a recent Grantee of BAFA for the “Luther Mobile” project.

Photo Courtesy Burbank Arts For All Foundation

Photo Courtesy Burbank Arts For All Foundation

“In post-production, we use software and hardware to paint images and create worlds that truly defy the imagination. As technology becomes more accessible and the artists become more adept in its application, an amazing deluge of art and innovation fuels modern storytelling,” commented Vice, Senior Vice President of FotoKem.

“We are continually inspired by what technology can bring to the creative table and the ways it can enhance and elevate the audience experience,” Vice added. “Burbank Arts for All Foundation is embracing this wave by collaborating with professionals from many walks of life to engage in a creative conversation at the Creative Circle Forum. I look forward to an open and eventful dialogue.”

“We are seeing the presence of advanced technologies in nearly every aspect of our lives. What does that mean for our Burbank students? CEO’s are now requiring knowledge and skills in both the arts and the sciences,” stated Trena Pitchford, Director of Development for Burbank Arts for All Foundation.

“We are thrilled to present this prestigious panel of experts from a cross section of industries influenced by innovation,” Pitchford continued. “The evening allows for an open discussion between guests and panelists to explore how we can create a truly comprehensive education that prepares students for life where everything is increasingly interconnected in the 21st century.”

Art + Technology: Experts Explore Innovation in Burbank Schools will be held Monday, February 24, from 7:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank. The evening is sponsored by FotoKem, a post-production facility located in Burbank, and is open to the public. General admission tickets are $20.

Following the discussion there will be a hosted wine and cheese reception with the expert panel and attendees in the theatre’s lobby. All proceeds from the Creative Circles Forum will benefit Burbank Arts For All Foundation, a nonprofit organization funding arts programs in Burbank public schools.  For more information regarding speakers and tickets visit: http://www.burbankartsforall.org/creative-circles-forum/.