Tag Archives: Walt Disney Elementary School

Elementary Students Celebrate Disney Distinguished Day

Students and staff at Walt Disney Elementary School held Disney Distinguished Day on Thursday, May 17, to celebrate the school’s selection as a California Distinguished School and Exemplary Arts Program by the California Department of Education.

Students wore paper Mickey Mouse ear hats donated by the Walt Disney Company, enjoyed frozen fruit treats and drew all over the playground with buckets of chalk.

disney distinguished day

It’s all thumbs up at Disney Elementary, a California Distinguished School. Joining the celebration is Superintendent Matt Hill, Principal Molly Hwang, Board Member Char Tabet, Disney’s Jamie Keyser, Board Member Steve Frintner, Peter Knapik Director of Elementary Education and Sharon Cuseo Assistant Superintendent. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Special guests at the day’s festivities included Jamie Keyser from the Walt Disney Company, Burbank Board of Education members Charlene Tabet and Steve Frintner, Superintendent Matt Hill, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Sahron Cuseo and Director of Elementary Education Peter Knapik.

“Today was really about celebrating the students and the hard work they put in to be honored with the California Distinguished School Award,” commented Principal Molly Hwang. “At Disney, our goal is empower our youth.”

Students perform during Disney’s Special Assembly. ( Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“Disney depends on the support of our parents, BUSD, and our Burbank Business Partner, The Walt Disney Company, to help every student at Walt Disney Elementary School reach their highest potential,” she added. “Disney Eagles, Soar to Success!”

Disney Elementary was one of 287 schools out of 6,193 public elementary schools in California to receive the Distinguished School award. The school was one of 12 schools in the state to be honored with the Exemplary Arts Program award.


Arts at Disney Elementary Big Winner in Matching Funds Challenge

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

On Friday, March 17,  Walt Disney Elementary School’s community came together to thank Warner Bros. Entertainment for a Fundraising Challenge Grant to increase the ARTs for the 2017-2018 school year.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The assembly was attended by VIP from Warner Bros., Mary Elizabeth Michaels, Director of Community Affairs, Megan Martin, Vice President of Intellectual Property Counsel. In addition to BUSD’s Superintendent, Matt Hill, Sharon Cuseo, Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum and Assessment,  Dr. John Paramo, Director of Secondary Education and Molly Hwang, Walt Disney’s Principal.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

During the assembly, two student ambassadors, Caynin Simokovic and Andrew Francisco expressed their appreciation for the Challenge Grant and the fifth grade students sang “A Capital Idea” under the direction of the Disney Booster Club sponsored music teacher, Robyn Kreisberg. And of course, Disney’s mascot, Iggy the Eagle joined in on the celebration.

Disney was challenged to raise $10,000, and Warner Bros. Entertainment match the amount in a grant up to $10,000.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

In three short weeks, Disney parents, grandparents, friends and the Burbank community came together to raise $13, 823.10. All these fund will be used to fund increased ARTs at Disney, giving students the opportunity to express their creativity and increase their self-confidence. 

Walt Disney Elementary School wishes to thank Warner Bros. Entertainment for helping Disney Eagles Soar to Success!

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

City Year and Disney Studios Volunteers Spruce Up Disney Elementary School

More than 100 volunteers from City Year, Disney Studios and Walt Disney Elementary School joined forces Saturday, November 21, to beautify the elementary school campus. In just three hours, six murals were painted and benches and planters were built and painted, adding color throughout the school grounds.

The volunteers got to work after brief opening remarks at 9:00 a.m. from City Year’s Core Team Members, Disney Principal Molly Hwang, Burbank Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Tom Kissinger and Walt Disney Studios executives Joan McCarthy and Peter DrCecco.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes and BUSD Director of Elementary Education Dr. Peter Knapik were also in attendance.

Walt Disney Elementary School was selected to be the site of City Year Positive Impact project. Part of the nationwide AmeriCorp service network, City Year is a national service organization that emphasizes community service for older teens and young adults.

In addition to the six murals painted in various locations around the school, volunteers also added splashes of color to the school’s asphalt areas. Benches for seating were built and painted and planters for the school garden were also painted.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“The day ran like a well-oiled machine thanks to the behind-the-scenes efforts of Andrea Gibson and Claudia Acuna from Disney and Zach Metzinger and Melvin Noriega from City Year,” said Hwang, who is in her first year as principal at Disney Elementary.

”Walt Disney Elementary School is sometimes overlooked by the community due to our exterior,” commented Hwang. “The Disney voluntEARs and City Year changed that in a single day.”

“The outside of our school now matches the beautiful things occurring daily for students on the inside,” she added. “The students were thrilled as they walked onto campus Monday morning. You could hear them exclaiming, ‘Cool, awesome, this is the best day ever!'”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

After the morning’s work, all the volunteers and their families in the Disney school community were invited to the Disney studio lot on Saturday afternoon for a preview screening of The Good Dinosaur.

“Walt Disney Studios is a strong supporter of volunteerism and the Burbank community,” Hwang also said, as she expressed appreciation for the “generosity of the Walt Disney Studios and City Year.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

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.

Disney Carnival Benefits School’s Music And Arts Programs

Disney Elementary School hosts the annual PTA Carnival this Saturday, March 15, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the school playground at the corner of Mariposa St. and Clark Avenue, across from Olive Park.

The Disney Carnival has free admission and lots of rides, games, prizes and food. A photo booth will provide some extra fun, along with a free art table at which children can color and make their own thaumatropes. All the proceeds from the event go to the PTA and sponsors programs in music and the arts for the school’s nearly 400 children.

We really need support this year, as our current funds are at low levels and we need to really boost them up so that we can keep music and the arts strong in our baby school,” commented Shannon Blaney, PTA Arts Chair.”The carnival is Disney’s main fundraiser for the arts, as well as all the other activities the kids enjoy throughout the year.”

Nickelodeon And Disney Elementary Team Up For Garden Refurbishment

Disney Elementary’s school garden had been overgrown and under-utilized for years, until some very motivated fourth-graders got involved a year ago, in 2012. “We were doing area and perimeter measurements in the garden last year, and my students noticed the area was neglected and in disrepair,” commented Dillon Ross, Disney Elementary fourth grade teacher. “The children wanted to do something about it, and their enthusiasm, desire and belief they could make a difference inspired me to take on responsibility for the garden.”

Nickterns and students plant seedlings in the raised garden boxes. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Nickterns and students plant seedlings in the raised garden boxes. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

So last year, Mr. Ross organized clean up parties and planted vegetables and herbs and created a plan for twice yearly cleanup and plantings. Nickelodeon’s Veronica Esquivel and Carson Smith found out about the need for some extra help and organized a garden spruce-up project for the animation studio’s Fall 2013 group of college interns, which the studio proudly refers to as Nickterns. Nickelodeon’s internship program draws juniors and seniors from colleges across the nation and was recently rated one of the top best overall internships for 2014 for the fourth consecutive year by Vault.com.

On Thursday, November 14, about 10 Nickterns, plus Ms. Esquivel and Mr. Smith, headed over to Disney Elementary to lend several helping hands. “Every semester we do a philanthropy project and we knew this garden was in need, so the interns went out and got donations and studio donated money for supplies and soil,” explained Ms. Esquivel, who oversees the studio’s internship program and recruiting. “Students took off time for the day to work here. The entire intern class contributed in some way to the project.”

Disney Garden-1

Nickterns rest in the shade and check out a compost barrel on a hot November day. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

“One of the great things about our program is that we infuse camaraderie and giving back,” added Ms. Esquivel. “Interns spend time on their assigned show, and we offer a number of free educational classes for our interns and give beyond just the standard internship experience in many ways and in giving back to community.”

With donations from Village Nurseries, Home Depot and Starbucks, armed with shovels, trowels and rakes, the Nickterns descended upon the garden, clearing out old growth and spent plants in the morning and prepping garden boxes with fresh soil. School children from Mr. Ross’ fourth grade class came by to help out too, along with some parent volunteers.


Clean up work kept everyone busy in the garden. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“We love the garden and are happy to help clean up,” commented Vanessa, Jocelyn, Jazmine, Karmello and Mason, all fourth-graders. The youngsters were kept busy pulling weeds and loosening earth with trowels and hand rakes.

Principal Melissa Kistler stopped by to check on the progress during morning recess. “When I was a child growing up near Sacramento, I grew a squash in the school garden. My mom stuffed it and made an Italian-style vegetarian dish out of it and we were able to eat it for Thanksgiving that year,” said Principal Kistler. “I will never forget that squash and I will always remember the experience my school garden gave me.”

As Common Core rolls out, teachers and administrators see an opportunity for connecting Nutrition, Science and Math programs, among others, with the school garden and its crops.

Nickterns spent the day cleaning out and re-planting Disney Elementary's school garden. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Nickterns spent the day cleaning out and re-planting Disney Elementary’s school garden. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

“My kids used to go to Disney,” added volunteer and PTA Arts Chair Shannon Blaney. “I’m still here involved with planning for the arts and being involved wherever I can and am thrilled to help with this garden.”

By the end of the school day, the Nickterns, Disney students and volunteers had cleaned up the garden and planted a host of herbs and winter vegetables, including squash, green onion, cabbage, lavender, rosemary, peas, cherry tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, chard and thyme.

Hawaiian Fiesta Coming to Walt Disney Elementary School Saturday

On Saturday, March 9th, from 11 to 4 pm, the Walt Disney Elementary School PTA is hosting it’s 2nd Annual Spring Fiesta – this year it’s a Hawaiian Fiesta.

There will be Classic Carnival Games and Prizes, Music, Food (including cotton candy and snow cones, pizza and hot dogs,) and Art Table and “Rides” including a 65 foot inflatable Obstacle Course, a 24 foot dual lane slide and laser tag.
Walt Disney Elementary School is across from the Olive park baseball fields on Clark Avenue. The entrance is on Clark.  Everything is Ticket based and tickets may be purchased at the entrance. Tickets and Wrist Bands are available for Pre-Sale till the 7th.
The entire community is invited to come.  This event is a fundraiser for the PTA and the money raised is used to pay for buses for field trips, classroom enrichment (like magazine subscriptions,) and art days and assemblies.
So come and have fun and support Burbank’s Smallest School!