Tag Archives: McKinley Elementary School

Burbank Gets Into Saturday’s UCLA-USC Football Clash

By Rick Assad

When it comes to longstanding rivalries, the city of Burbank knows a thing or two about the subject.

After all, Burbank High and Burroughs play each other in every sport and when these two meet on the gridiron, basketball court, baseball diamond, soccer pitch, swimming pool, or tennis court, it’s usually filled with excitement and thrills for those participating and those watching.

On Thursday and Friday, the Burbank Unified School District pledged its support to different teams – UCLA and USC ahead of Saturday’s tussle between the Bruins and Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that was televised on KABC and had a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

On Thursday at William McKinley Elementary School ahead of the UCLA-USC football game, the annual “College Rivalry Day” was held with boys and girls donning the colors of the two universities and then breaking into two teams and having a series of relay races.

Amid the races, there was a lot of yelling and screaming and rooting. The idea behind the event is to get the boys and girls interested in furthering their education beyond high school.

In some cases, the school will even take a field trip to the respective campuses in Los Angeles for USC and Westwood for UCLA.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Of course, many of the teachers and administrators were dressed in the colors of the two famous universities – blue and gold for UCLA and cardinal and gold for USC.

Some of the administrators and teachers are alumni of UCLA and USC as they beamed knowing that these youngsters were having loads of fun and that the big game was just a few days away.

On Friday, at the Burbank Unified School building, with the fight song of each university blaring away, administrators likewise wore the colors of the two schools, including Dr. Matt Hill, the Superintendent of Schools, who earned a doctorate from USC.

Dr. Sarah Niemann, Assistant Superintendent and Head of Human Relations, was also there wearing USC’s colors.

Also in attendance was Dr. Greg Miller, an administrator at Muir Middle School, who is another USC graduate.

First-year Burbank High principal, Dr. Thomas Crowther, who attended USC and is seemingly at every sporting event, was also there showing off his colors.

Oscar Macias, an administrator at Luther Middle School is another USC alum and was in full swing over the event.

Burbank has another connection to Saturday’s game and that’s Traveler, USC’s iconic mascot, who is stabled in the city and owned by Joan Asman, while his rider, Hector Aguilar, is a graduate of Burroughs High.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Coincidentally, Saturday will be the last time Aguilar sits upon Traveler, whom he has ridden him since 2005 and is retiring.

Taking over the reins starting this year will be Dana Kanstul.

USC is a 14-point favorite in this Pacific 12 Conference matchup and owns a 7-4 overall record and are 6-2 in the conference.

Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis has enjoyed a successful season for the Trojans, having passed for 2,727 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions across 10 games after filling in for sophomore J.T. Daniels, who tore up his knee in the season-opening 31-23 win over visiting Fresno State.

USC began the season with two wins at home, but then lost in overtime on the road to Brigham Young University, 30-27.

The Trojans picked up a 30-23 win over No. 7 Utah at the Coliseum before suffering road losses to Washington 28-14 and No. 15 Notre Dame 30-27.

USC then produced four victories in its next five games including a 41-17 triumph over host California last Saturday.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

UCLA, which is 4-6 and 4-3 in the conference, is led by sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who has thrown for 2,056 yards in nine games and has tossed 17 touchdowns with 10 picks.

The Bruins began the season with three straight setbacks, but then defeated host Washington State 67-63.

UCLA then lost back-to-back games before picking up three consecutive wins, but then fell to host, No. 7 Utah 49-3, last Saturday.

The final score from Saturday’s 89th battle for the “Victory Bell” ended up being USC 52 and UCLA 35.

McKinley Community Day Highlights Kindness

Students and their families, staff and members of the Burbank community celebrated the annual McKinley Community Day at William McKinley Elementary School on Saturday, May 5. The theme for the event was kindness.

McKinley highlighted all the things our students do to be kind to our community,” explained Principal Liz Costella. “Our community presenters brought examples or activities to reflect how they are ‘kind to the community.'”

mckinley community day

Having some fun with Panther, the McKinley Mascot ,is Principal Liz Costella and Victoria Dochoghlin Field Rep for Assemblymember Laura Freidman’s office during the Community gathering before Open House. ( Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Special guests included City Councilmember Sharon Springer, Victoria Dochoghlin (a representative from Assembly member Laura Friedman’s office), School Board member Char Tabet, McKinley graduate and local businessman Michael Cusumano and  District staff including Anita Schackmann, director of Human Resources for Burbank Unified School District.

The Cusumano Real Estate Group provided dinner for all families and attendees from Habit Burger.

“The saying that it takes a village to raise a child comes across loudly each year at the community fair,” commented McKinley parent Karen Bowlin, who has a first- and second-grader at the school. “As a parent, seeing not only the incredible work inside the classrooms that the teachers have put together with their students, but also hearing about what the PTA, the Booster Club, the YMCA, the Dental Clinic and all of the other incredible resources found in our community reminds me of the support families find in Burbank.”

Kids got to draw and color at The Burbank Arts for All Foundation booth. ( Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“At the end of the day, we are so lucky to have a place like McKinley Elementary that brings together all of skill sets found in our city and reminds us that we all work towards a common goal of enrichment and support.”

Burbank Parks and Rec and Stough Canyon Nature Center, Boys and Girls Club, BTAC, the Burbank Public Library, Gordon Howard Museum, burbank Senior Apartments, Family Promise of the Verdugos, the Burbank Police and Fire Departments, Burbank Educational Foundation, Family Service Agency, BUSD Wellness Center, Burbank Arts For All Foundation, Burbank Animal Shelter, Burbank Recycle Center, Burbank TMO, Education Through Music – LA and the Jordan Middle School jazz band all contributed to McKinley Community Day.

The McKinley choir performs during the school’s Community gathering before Open House. ( Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“Our open house and community fair is one of my favorite events of the year,” added Costella. “Our students and teachers are so proud to show their progress and success from this school year.”

“I love seeing our community together and being able to work with incredible organizations that support our school and the community of Burbank daily. It was a wonderful night to celebrate McKinley and all those that make it great.”

McKinley Elementary is Looking for Grant Help with Votes

Liz Costella, the Principal of McKinley Elementary School here is Burbank, is also seeking help with votes to receive grant money for her school.

She has sent the following message to raise awareness for the voting process:

We are hoping to win the $10,000 to help provide after school enrichment for all students. McKinley has always provided free after school enrichment for our students, thanks to  volunteer parents. While we still have wonderful opportunities, the demand is higher than what we are able to provide. Our hope is to supplement additional after school enrichment opportunities such culinary arts, performing and visual arts, science, engineering etc. free of charge to all of our students. This grant will give us that opportunity.

People can vote daily from now until the 23rd at http://www.myscholardollars.com/vote/ they can search William McKinley Elementary (Burbank) to vote for us.

Thanks to everyone,

Liz Costella
McKinley Elementary School

McKinley Community Fair And Open House Brings Community Together

More than 500 people attended the 2016 William McKinley Community Fair and Open House on the evening of Thursday, April 28.

“This was a wonderful event that brings our school community and our Burbank community together,” commented Principal Liz Costella. “Families had the opportunity to visit the community groups to see what resources are available. Community members that attended had the opportunity to see our McKinley programs and visit the classrooms as well.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The new McKinley Elementary mascot, Mr. McPanther, made his debut and posed for photos with families and visited classrooms.

The David Starr Jordan Middle School Jazz Band played two sets of live music. McKinley’s Hip Hop Club performed, in addition to an act from the school’s Variety Show.

Children in grade TK-1 gave a vocal music performance under the direction of Education Through Music – LA (ETM-LA) teacher Erik Matthew Garcia. ETM-LA provides music instruction for grades TK-1 at McKinley, while the district provides weekly music classes for grades 2-5.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Free food, including a very popular taco stand, was provided by Cusumano Realty group. Walt Disney Studios gave prizes out to the children.

Booths at the McKinley Community Fair included school-associated groups such as the PTA, Boosters, Dual Immersion, GATE, Hablemos (English Learner advisory Council) and an art table including information about the McKinley Art Project, Reflections and Variety Show.

The McKinley Garden Club had a farmers market set up and sold fresh vegetables and herbs grown by the children.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Many community groups also participated, including Kids Dental Clinic, Burbank Parks and Rec, BTAC, Burbank Public Library, Gordon Howard Museum, Burbank Senior Apartments, Rise Leadership Program, Read Conmigo, Burbank Police Department, Burbank Chamber of Commerce, Bob Hope Airport and the Burbank Educational Foundation.

The Burbank YMCA set up an obstacle course and the Boys and Girls Club had face painting at their booth.

Many City and school officials attended the McKinley Community Fair including City Treasurer Debbie Kukta, Director of Community Development for the City of Burbank Patrick Prescott, Board of Education President Charlene Tabet and Board member Roberta Reynolds. BUSD Assistant Superintendents Dr. Tom Kissinger and Sharon Cuseo attended along with Director of Human Resources, Anita Schackmann.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The McKinley Community Fair was a free event for families. It was organized by Costella, school business partner Michael Cusumano, Ashley Shinn (Cusumano Realty Group), Jessa Freemyer (Cusumano Realty Group), Nuria Lundberg (parent and English Learner Advisory Council President), Laura Chambers (McKinley Librarian) and Danielle Kuester (McKinley Curriculum Specialist.)

“The planning team was amazing and it was all possible because of all their hard work,” Costella said. “This was a wonderful opportunity for the students, staff and parent groups to show off all the wonderful activities and learning opportunities we offer at McKinley.”

McKinley Young Storytellers Program Puts On “The Big Show”

The McKinley Young Storytellers script to stage program held “The Big Show” in the William McKinley Elementary School auditorium on April 21.

Ten fifth-grade screenwriters from the school partnered with mentors from Walt Disney Studios to develop scripts over the 2015-16 school year. Professional actors came in and read those scripts for “The Big Show” to an audience of the entire fifth grade.

The students meet at lunch for several weekly sessions in the fall and the spring with their Disney mentors and learn about script writing, explained McKinley Principal Liz Costella.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“Their mentors help them create a script that can come alive on the stage,” she went on to say. “Disney gets actors to act out the scripts the day of ‘The Big Show.’ The actors don’t see the script before the day of the show.”

Disney’s Robert Bishop acted as head mentor for the program.

Scripts presented were:

“DFL” – A rookie T-Rex wide receiver must learn to believe in himself to defeat his rival, a professional linebacker velociraptor, in order to win the Dino bowl.” – written by Robert Garayoa, mentored by Brian McDevitt.

“The Lightsaber Steal” – “Four people. One trophy. Who will win?” – written by Adriana Flores, mentored by Alex Kang.

“Making Friends” – “How a cat and two marshmallows become friends and help each other.” – written by Samantha Aquino, mentored by Rene Benavides.

“The Minecraft Story Mode” – “A recent college graduate sets out to write and design the coolest Minecraft game for the chance to win $1.3 million prize.” – written by Guillermo Rodriguez, mentored by Manny Lima.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“Castle Moonlight” – “This is a story about a princess named Sarah and a Knight named Henry who has to fight an Evil Octopus.” – written by Alexander Aviles, mentored by Natalie Steffies.

“The Magical Adventure” – “Sunset the ghost cat must venture out to find a cure for her friend, Delta the Wold, who no longer is a wolf…” – written by Danielle Yap, mentored by Marcelina Hollender.

“The Strangest Story Ever” – “This is a strange story about an ordinary potato who saves his friends by doing something simple.” – written by Kelly Fitzgerald, mentored by Diana Stone.

“A Long Journey” – “The story of two people.” – written by Betel Merida-Flores, mentored by Beau Puckett.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“Dun Dun Duuuun…” – “In the woods, Caroline finds a doll, but the doll is actually eveil and curses Caroline and the whole town. So Caroline, along with the help of her friend Rene, must uncurse the town, learning how to do the dab along the way.” – written by Genevieve Corea, mentored by Amanda Oberg.

“The New Kind of Donoville” – “Two brothers must compete against each other for the kingdom as the king is dying.” – written by Donovan Feinberg, mentored by Amanda Raymond.

“This a wonderful program to have at McKinley; the students involved feel pride in seeing their script come to life,” commented Costella. “The other students who are the audience members are not only proud of their friends but they get see what an idea can become.”

The McKinley Young Storytellers program culminates with a visit to the Walt Disney Studios main lot in Burbank for a wrap party. Students will visit with their mentors a final time and check out a set or sound stage on the lot.

The Young Storytellers Foundation supports the Young Storytellers script to stage program at McKinley Elementary, in addition to the Young Movie Makers program at David Starr Jordan Middle and John Burroughs High School.


McKinley Elementary Rivalry Day Celebrates UCLA-USC Fun

Students at William McKinley Elementary School enjoyed fun and games during the annual Rivalry Day event on Thursday, November 19. Many children dressed in UCLA or USC t-shirts or red or blue colors to represent their chosen team for McKinley Elementary Rivalry Day.

Kids ran relay races with UCLA and USC footballs and got to meet visiting USC mascots Tommy Trojan and his horse, Traveler. Rivalry Day is put on every year by the McKinley PTA, whose volunteers also handed out stickers representing the two universities.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“All of this is part of McKinley’s College Month, which is celebrated every November with events and a field trip,” explained McKinley Principal Liz Costella. “At the beginning of November, there is ‘College Day,’ in which the kids wear t-shirts from any college of their choice and make pennants at recess.”

“The PTA takes pictures of the children, turns them into posters which say, ‘We’re going to college! Where will YOU go?’ and hang the posters in the hallways at McKinley.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“At the end of the month, the fifth graders go on a field trip to UCLA, where they tour the campus and see what a wonderful university they have in their own backyard,” Costella added. “McKinley students also learn to save for college, by donating to the McKinley Alumni scholarship fund all month.”

“In the spring, McKinley gives at least one sizeable scholarship to a Burroughs senior who attended McKinley and who is continuing to college. After they’re chosen, the recipients come back to McKinley for an assembly where they give inspiring speeches and answer questions from the students.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Former McKinley PTA President and current membership chair, Jenny Harris, also co-chaired Rivalry Day and College Month activities.

“Children who start believing that college is an attainable goal when they are in elementary school are more likely to see it as a reality for their futures,” said Harris. “Some kids love academics. Some kids love sports. We want kids to get excited about college, no matter what their interests are.”

“When it comes time to decide whether to go to college or not, we hope that our McKinley kids, who have been thinking about college since kindergarten, will be excited and prepared to go,” she added.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Harris and Costella  expressed gratitude towards Hector Aguilar, who portrays Tommy Trojan, and “interacted wonderfully with the students.” They also expressed thanks to Burbank resident Joanne Asman. Asman, whose grand-daughter attends McKinley, owns Traveler and she and her team transported the horse to the school for the event.


Alleged Testing Irregularity at McKinley Elementary School

On April 16, 2013 a student reported to Mrs. Bobbie Kavanaugh, principal at McKinley Elementary School, that a teacher had improperly assisted students with questions on the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) examination. The California Department of Education (CDE) requires that all test examiners sign the STAR Test Security Affidavit that includes the following direction, “I will not review any test questions, passages, or other test items independently or with pupils or any other person before, during, or following testing.”

Providing students with assistance on the test is defined as a testing irregularity. If the testing irregularity is confirmed by the CDE, then it could have negative consequences for the class, school, and district. The class may have its scores invalidated, the school may not get a score for the Academic Performance Index (API), and the district may have its API score reduced.

Immediately following the allegation, an investigation was conducted and the findings forwarded to the CDE. The investigation was conducted by Sharon Cuseo, Director of Instruction and Accountability; and Dr. Tom Kissinger, Director of Elementary Education and Categorical Programs. The classroom teacher was placed on administrative leave pending all results and outcomes of the investigation. On April 18, 2013, the Burbank Unified School District (BUSD) was contacted by the CDE with the initial determination. The CDE confirmed that it was likely that a testing irregularity occurred. The first consequence is that the scores for the students in the classroom will be invalidated. According to the CDE, the next step is to determine if the school’s API will be withheld. In order to make this determination, the details of the alleged infraction will be reviewed by a team at the state level and the results provided to the District Superintendent in writing in approximately six weeks.

McKinley Elementary School Hosts UCLA vs. USC Football “Rivalry Day”

First through third graders at McKinley Elementary School showed their colors on Monday morning as classes split up to represent their favorite Los Angeles area university.  The children divided into teams, one side UCLA, the other USC, and then it was off to the races as each group ran a series of relays with enthusiasm easily matching their elder upperclassmen’s university rivalry.

Photo By John Savageau

“They love it” commented Jenny Harris, PTA Representative in Charge of College Rivalry Day.  That was very apparent given the squeals of laughter and joy coming from all the competitors.  Whether the children knew the difference between UCLA and USC was not important – they were having a lot of fun.

Photo By John Savageau

Harris believes that if children are exposed to college as a part of their future in elementary school, then they will likely see college as a genuine vision for the future.  “If you get kids excited about college in elementary school then it will become a reality for their entire lives” continued Harris.

November is College Month at McKinley.  Activities planned to get children thinking about their academic future include wearing college T-Shirts, hanging college pennants in the hallway from schools located throughout the country, and taking a field trip to UCLA.

Photo By John Savageau

But today was the relay competition.  Originally planned for last Friday, prior to the crosstown classic pitting UCLA against USC football teams at the Rose Bowl, rain postponed the matchup until Monday morning.

Photo By John Savageau

The children did not mind the delay a bit.  In a demonstration of teamwork, determination, blue versus red, all competitors gave it their best.  “Some kids are excited about academics, some about sports” noted Harris.  Each child, in addition to having a great time, learned valuable life lessons in both competition, as well as working together to achieve goals.

Photo By John Savageau

Photo By John Savageau

It is unclear whether the UCLA side or USC side of each class won their competition, and in fact was not important.  The record book will simply state “classes had a lot of fun, learned a few lessons, mission complete.”

McKinley Students See Their Words Become a Book as Grand Prize Winners

By Juanita Adame


The McKinley Elementary School auditorium was filled with cheers and applause on Thursday afternoon as students of Mrs. Angie D’Mello’s class were awarded the Grand Prize for the Scholastic Book Fair’s “Kids are Authors” contest.

The assembled group of published authors, during a book signing in the schools library. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The seven third grade authors: John Alajijian, Sara Coen, Julia Guglielmo, Marion Hunter, Henry Keeney, Noel Pennington, and Russell Uvas, began the project nearly one year ago.

“It feels great to see our book and just to imagine that we won,” said John Alajijian. “I learned through this project that it can actually be fun writing with other people.”

D’Mello said Shari Wendt, who was the Parent Project Coordinator, wanted to volunteer the classroom after she heard about the contest.

“I told her, how about I give you a group of kids who work well together, and are really motivated” she said.

“So she’d come once a week, give them little assignments and they’d talk about it, then discuss what ideas they had and then collaborate. It just worked out great,” she said.

Author and cover designer Russell Uvas receives kudos from Scholastic officials during the book signing event.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

D’Mello also added that once the students came up with the story line, it was then about having the same ideas for illustrations to give the book some direction and rhythm.

Author, David Shannon told the kids at the awards ceremony that he really enjoyed their book and felt it was “very special and unique.”

“I’m never gonna see a dollar the same way again, I’m always going to wonder what its gone through,” he said.

“There is so much in it, you got history, geography, economics, and this new perspective there is even kind of a love story between the two”.

The book, which is titled, Two Dollars, One Wallet, follows a one dollar bill, and a gold Sacagawea coin living inside the pocket of a school custodian’s wallet.

“Part of it involved the perspective of the dollar and part of it is really familiar to me too,” said Shannon. “I think that is what makes a good story,”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Shannon said he felt what also made the book such a success was because it was a familiar idea shown through a different perspective.

“Things you can identify with, things that you know really well, and then they are show to you in a new way, all in all, it was just a great story and congratulations to you kids!”

For more information on this book, visit scholastic.com/kidsareauthors.






(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

No Horsing Around at ‘Rivalry Day’ at McKinley Elementary School

USC mascot Traveler shows his gentle side at McKinley Elementary School. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

This past week McKinley Elementary School held their ‘Rivalry Day’ with the idea that even while attending elementary school you can start thinking about colleges.

Kids played relay games and even got to pet Traveler, the real USC Mascot.  Traveler who is owned by Burbank resident Joanne Asman and is ridden by Hector Aguilar, who is also a Burbank resident and former Burroughs High student.

USC made sure they were well represented (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The idea of rivalry day came about a couple of years ago during a parent teacher meeting when a teacher and a parent were brainstorming how to get elementary students to think about their future. The days not only involve the fun & games, but the kids also collect funds for a scholarship program for McKinley grads who after high school decide to go on to a college of their choice and can submit an application for use of the student funds collected.

USC -UCLA Rivalry lives right here at McKinley Elementary School. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)