Tag Archives: William McKinley Elementary School

“School House Rock Live!” Proves A Big Hit For McKinley Students

William McKinley Elementary School presented the musical School House Rock Live! last weekend, March 10-12. A school-wide collaboration of staff, more than 100 students in grades Kindergarten through five and parents, the three performances were the culmination of seven weeks of preparation.

Sponsored by the McKinley PTA and directed by Sandra Johnson from the book written specifically for elementary-age children by Scott Ferguson, Kyle Hall and George Keating, School House Rock Live! began with auditions in January.

From the 60 students who turned out for the auditions, nine students were selected for the five main characters, including four understudies. The rest of the children were placed into either Vocal Ensemble or Dance Ensemble, based on what they said they wanted to do at the auditions, explained Johnson, “Everyone who auditioned got to take part in the show.”

The other main character was third-grade teacher Rorry Hadden, who “surprised all of us with his acting and singing skills,” commented McKinley Principal Liz Costella.

Volunteer parent Angela Pupello, who teaches a Hip Hop club after school, led the Dance Ensemble. Twenty additional students in the after school Hip Hop Club performed two dances in the show.

Johnson approached Hadden to be cast as the central character “Tom.”

“The show opens as Tom contemplates his first day as a new teacher,” explained Johnson. “He overcomes his anxiety as the five characters, each representing a sort of voice in his head, pop out of the Schoolhouse Rock television show to guide and encourage him as he prepares for his new professional venture.”

Rehearsals were held every day after school until 5:00 p.m. for seven weeks before the debut, focusing on different aspects of the musical. Vocal rehearsals and blocking with principal actors and understudies occurred twice a week. Work with choir and dance ensembles happened on the other two days. Then on Fridays, the production focused on putting the scenes together with all of the cast.

In the week leading up to the performances, complete technical and dress rehearsals with both principals and understudies casts were held.

“Originally, we only had two shows scheduled, but we added a third show so that our understudies would have a sure chance to perform after all of the work they put in,” said Johnson.

She also noted some “awesome parents at our school who donated their time and talents to building our cool set (Danny Cistone) and providing all of the microphones and sound mixing (Joshua Slobig) during our rehearsals and our three shows.”

In addition to Cistone and Slobig, all of the production’s backstage work was provided by approximately 20 students in grades 2-5.

“We had fifth graders operating our lightboard and spotlights in the back of the house,” explained Johnson. “Backstage, we had kids organizing the props, wardrobe and sets and making sure everything got onstage when and where it needed to be.”

“There wasn’t a single adult back there telling them what to do, only one for supervision. They were well-rehearsed and literally ran the show themselves.”

In preparation for the show, Johnson met with the backstage and lighting crew once a week “where they learned about stage directions, got a tour of the backstage area, learned about backstage conduct and how to keep their areas organized. They learned how to mark the stage with tape for sets, how to pull the curtain smoothly and they put hours into making props.”

McKinley Elementary’s performances of School House Rock Live! were a big hit.

“I have received so much positive feedback and everyone that saw the show tells me how great it was,” added Costella.

McKinley Community Fair Showcases School And Neighborhood Services

William McKinley Elementary School held its first annual Community Fair in conjunction with the yearly Open House on Wednesday, May 6. Free tacos and live entertainment from the McKinley Hip Hop Club and the David Starr Jordan band drew lots of interest.

“The idea behind the fair was to bring resources in our community to our families while also displaying all of the great things we do at McKinley,” explained McKinley Principal Liz Costella, who estimated approximately 350 people attended the event, which was free and open to school families, neighbors and community members.

McKinley Community Fair committee members (from left to right): Ashley Shinn (with son Aiden), Sandra Johnson, Principal Liz Costella, Nuria Lundberg, Juan Avila, Laura Chambers and Michael Cusumano. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

McKinley Community Fair committee members (from left to right): Ashley Shinn (with son Aiden), Sandra Johnson, Principal Liz Costella, Nuria Lundberg, Juan Avila, Laura Chambers and Michael Cusumano. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The McKinley Community Fair was held on the grass area outside the school from 5:00 p.m. until Open House concluded at 8:00 p.m. Tables were also set up to showcase the clubs and PTA programs at the school. Once the schools’ doors opened at 6:30 p.m. for Open House, a steady stream of people kept the Community Fair tables busy.

“The vision was to bring a sense of community to our school,” continued Costella, who acknowledged the sponsorship of the free taco cart by Cusumano Real Estate Group. “We wanted to bring in community members to offer resources to our families but we also wanted neighbors and community members to know all of the great programs we have at McKinley.”

“I think we succeeded in building a sense of community. I got many compliments from parents that even called [the day after the event] to tell us how much they enjoyed it and what a great feeling it brought to the school and to open house,” she added. “During open house we not only had our families visiting classrooms but  community members also came in to visit class rooms which is unusual for open house.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The McKinley Community Fair committee included Costella, Michael Cusumano of Cusumano Real Estate Group/Burbank Business Partners, Ashley Shinn of Cusumano Real Estate Group, Juan Avila (McKinley Office Manager), Laura Chambers (McKinley Librarian) and two McKinley parents – Nuria Lundberg and Sandra Johnson. Shinn attended McKinley and her mom worked at the school, noted Costella, and Shinn’s son plans to attend McKinley when he enters Kindergarten.

“The McKinley Community Fair was a fantastic event that was an opportunity to showcase for the community all of the wonderful things that are going on a McKinley,” commented Cusumano. “McKinley was able to show case their Hip Hop Club, who performed several dance sets at the Fair, their Garden Club, their fantastic arts program and many other of the great programs that they have.”

“The Jordan Middle School Band, where the students of McKinley will go when they graduate McKinley, was outstanding,” added Cusumano. “It was a great opportunity for our community groups, such as The Burbank YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, BTAC, Kids Dental Clinic, The Gordon Howard Museum and many, many others to network with and get to know the families in and around the McKinley neighborhood.”

BUSD Adds Second Dual Immersion Language Program At McKinley

School officials plan to move forward with adding a second series of Bilingual Dual Immersion language classes for the 2014-2015 school year, however the additional program classes will be located at William McKinley Elementary, according to Dr. Tom Kissinger, Director of Elementary Education.

BUSD LogoIn a report to the Board of Education Thursday, April 17, Kissinger detailed the decision district officials made, once they realized that the current site of the growing Spanish-language Dual Immersion Program at Walt Disney Elementary could not contain two full cohorts, or specialized series, of K – 5 classes.

“The community needs and really wants a second Dual Immersion class,” said Kissinger. “McKinley is the perfect site for a K – 5 Dual Immersion program.”

A full cohort of classes in the program requires six classrooms, and while Disney can accommodate six classes, finding room for 12 would be nearly impossible. After checking around, McKinley Elementary seemed best suited to add six classrooms for the program in the coming years.

“New McKinley Principal Liz Costella is fantastic and will provide excellent support for the program,” said Kissinger. Costella, finishing out the school year in her current position as Vice Principal of Instruction at Luther Burbank Middle is bilingual, speaking Spanish and English, and a Burbank native.

By the 2019-2020 school year, both Disney and McKinley can support a full cohort of Dual Immersion classes along with all of their neighborhood students for traditional elementary education, explained Kissinger. No teachers would be displaced and the district would have two principals and administrative staffs to support the program.

By 2021, the students emerging from both elementary schools’ Dual Immersion language programs will feed into Jordan Middle School, added Kissinger, intimating the district has plans to continue the program in some fashion at the middle school level.

All of the program students would spend their time at one elementary school instead of being switched to a new school site midway through the program, as space issues would eventually arise, were they to keep everything at the Disney site, he added.

“We were able to market the program successfully to the Spanish-speaking community,” said Kissinger, who expects to have full 50% native Spanish-speaking students participating in the programs for 2014-15 at both Disney and McKinley.

“I’m really pleased,” said school board member Larry Applebaum. “This shows a lot of reflection on the impacts the program was going to have and Dr. Kissinger has really put together something that’s going to be very positive for the school district.”

“It’s going to provide us with a basis for expanding Dual Immersion into other sites and potentially into other languages,” he added.

“I think this is going to be a true win for this community in a lot of ways,” Applebaum concluded. “While it’s not what I would love to see as the goal of being able to provide every Kindergartener with an opportunity of learning a foreign language, it’s a start.”

There has been so much interest in the program, both from Burbank residents and those outside of the school district, that a lottery was held to determine program placement. Those students who start out in Kindergarten in the program are automatically continued on to subsequent-year’s placement.

In its inaugural year at Disney Elementary, the Spanish Dual Immersion language program had 29 children enrolled in Kindergarten, “with virtually no attrition,” said Kissinger. All of those students are expected to continue on with the program in first grade.

The District is currently interviewing candidate teachers for the expanding program.

McKinley Elementary School Awards Scholarship to Alumni Student

Five years ago the PTA at William McKinley Elementary School created the McKinley Alumni Scholarship both to help a young person who went to McKinley as a young child achieve their dreams of a higher education AND to inspire current McKinley students to aim high in their own educational efforts. This year’s recipient, Karen Moreno, has volunteered countless hours at the

Suzanne Weerts (Scholarship Chair), Jay Geisenheimer (local realtor and donor to the scholarship fund) Cathy Moreno (sister of winner), Karen Moreno (scholarship recipient), Juan Antonio Morena (father of the recipient) and Emilio Urioste (JBHS Principal.)

Buena Vista library, excelled in numerous ROP courses at John Burroughs High School, maintained exceptional grades and graduated 25th in her class of 666 students. She credits her parents Juan Antonio and Hortencia Moreno with inspiring her to always do her best and leading her to believe that college wasn’t just an option – it was a certainty for her future.

On Friday, May 18th, Karen read her application essay to the staff and students of McKinley Elementary. Also in attendance were BUSD Director of Elementary Education, Dr. Tom Kissinger; School Board Member Ted Bunch; and JBHS Principal Emilio Urioste. Three of Karen’s former teachers were also present for the awards ceremony. Shawn Mulloy and Laura Mixon still teach at McKinley and Marie Coyne is now at Providencia Elementary. In her speech, Karen encouraged the “little panthers” in the audience to work hard in school, but to also make plenty of time to play and be kids.

The 2012 McKinley Alumni Scholarship was for $2012. The money was raised partly by the McKinley students during “College Month” in November, when the children collected spare change in a scholarship jar on their library days. Other donations were contributed by Alumni along with a generous donation local Rancho Realtor and McKinley community partner, Jay Geisenheimer of Rodeo Realty.

McKinley Third Grade Students Become Published Authors

At a surprise school assembly on Thursday, May 10, a group of third-grade students at William McKinley Elementary School

During a special assembly a surprise announcement was made and this is their reaction. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

learned they won the grand prize for fiction in Scholastic Book Fairs’ Kids Are Authors competition, a national book-writing contest that encourages teams of student writers to use their reading, writing, and artistic skills to create their own books.

The students’ winning entry, Two Dollars, One Wallet, will be published and sold at Scholastic Book Fairs in schools nationwide this fall. This year’s panel of distinguished judges included renowned children’s book authors and illustrators Henry Winkler, Lin Oliver, Francis O’Roark Dowell, Audrey Wood, Wendy Mass, and Derek Anderson.

Parent volunteer who came up with the idea Shari Wendt and Scholastic Regional Sales Manager Alan Gilreath. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

To recognize their accomplishment, each young author will receive a medal and a framed commemorative certificate during an official award ceremony to be held at their school this fall. The school will receive a $5,000 Scholastic Book Fairs shopping voucher and 100 copies of the published book.

In Two Dollars, One Wallet, money takes on a personality of its own. From the printing press to your wallet, discover the amazing adventure a dollar must take to end up in your hands.

The McKinley Elementary School third grade students of teacher Mrs. Angie D’Mello were John Alajijian, Sara Cohen, Julia Guglielmo, Marion Hunter, Henry Keeney, Noel Pennington and Russell Uvas and were also guided by parent volunteer, Mrs. Shari Wendt

The book "Two Dollars One Wallet. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)