Tag Archives: William McKinley Elementary School

Four Burbank Unified Elementary Schools Recognized For Exemplary Arts Education

Four Burbank Unified elementary schools – George Washington, William McKinley, Joaquin Miller and Providencia – were selected by the California Department of Education for the Exemplary Arts Education Award. Only 13 total schools statewide received the honor.

In a media release on Tuesday, January 7, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said, “We know that access to arts and STEAM is an important part of closing the achievement gap, and these Exemplary Arts schools put the ‘A’ in ‘STEAM.”

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

“We are grateful the community of Burbank has invested in the arts,” commented Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill. “This is another example of how our students thrive when we invest in them.”

Image Courtesy Burbank Unified School District

“Congratulations to these 13 schools for supporting arts and STEAM education, which prepares students to be leaders in the creative economy,” Thurmond added.

Schools throughout the state were able to apply for the recognition if they met California Arts Standards for Public Schools as well as performance and progress on indicators on the California School Dashboard.

According to the CA State Department of Education release, the 13 Exemplary Arts Education Awardees include traditional comprehensive elementary schools, magnet schools and district and independent charters, and range in size from a 3700-student urban school to a 250-student rural school.

Some of the schools’ populations are a majority of Title I students from lower socio-economic backgrounds while others are primarily made up of students in the suburbs with strong district and community financial support.

Other criteria for the award required the schools to offer instruction to all students in at least three of five arts disciplines of Dance, Media Arts, Music, Theater and Visual Arts.

Schools also had to show improvement for at least one student subgroup in one of the following three areas based on the Dashboard: School Climate, in the area of Suspension Rate; Student Engagement, in the area of Chronic Absenteeism or Graduation Rate; Academic Achievement, in the area of English Language Arts, Mathematics, or College and Career Readiness.

Washington, Miller, Providencia and McKinley Elementary Schools and the rest of the California Exemplary Arts Education Schools will be honored on February 10 at a ceremony at Disneyland Resort, along with recipients of the California Distinguished Schools, National Blue Ribbon Schools, National Terrel H. Bell and National ESEA Distinguished Schools awards.

McKinley Elementary School Career Day Showcases Variety Of Potential Jobs

Students got to think about what they want to be when they grow up at the annual William McKinley Elementary School Career Day, held on Tuesday, November 19.

More than 30 people from a variety of different careers stopped by the school to talk about their jobs, including employees of the Burbank Police Department, Burbank Fire Department, Burbank Public Works Department, along with Burbank Vice Mayor Sharon Springer and other City officials.

Karate instructor Robert Meltzer demonstrates his skills at McKinley Elementary Career Day. (Photo Courtesy Sarah Brown)

Students learned about the training, education and preparation for those jobs, and several others, including karate instructor, audio and film/video engineer, medical professional and real estate agent.

Prior to the event, students were surveyed about their areas of interest, choosing from different options such as community helpers, science and math, music and art, business and medical. They were then assigned to attend three different sessions during McKinley Elementary Career Day at which they could hear presentations related to their interests.

Sergeant Henry Garay of the Burbank Police Department shows his police car to students at William McKinley Elementary School. (Photo Courtesy Sarah Brown)

Burbank Police and S.W.A.T team members brought a police car and S.W.A.T. vehicle.

“The students enjoyed climbing in and out of the vehicles and getting to learn about the equipment used to protect our city,” explained McKinley Principal Liz Costella.

Real Estate Developer Michael Cusumano talks with the children at McKinley Elementary’s Career Day. (Photo Courtesy Sarah Brown)

“The Burbank Public Works Department joined us for the first time and brought a trash truck and backhoe for the student to explore and learn about.”

“Mr. Michael Cusumano from Cusumano Real Estate Group joined us once again to share his insight and amazing construction projects with our students. The model he shared was a big hit with the students.”

Officer Angela Burrows of the Burbank Police Department talks with students at McKinley Elementary School’s Career Day. (Photo Courtesy Sarah Brown)

“Our students were really excited about learning different careers,” Costella added. “Our presenters commented how happy they were to be here and the questions they had for them.”

“Career Day is such a fun and rewarding experience for our students here at William McKinley! We look forward to continuing this tradition and growing our event each year.”

Burbank Public Works Department stopped by McKinley Elementary Career Day to demonstrate some aspects of their work. (Photo Courtesy Sarah Brown)

McKinley Community Fair And Open House Draws Hundreds Of Families

William McKinley Elementary School held its annual Open House and Community Fair on Wednesday, May 1, with the theme “Panther Planet Pride.” Hundreds of the school’s families attended the event and several community organizations set up tables at the event for people to learn more about resources in Burbank.

The school featured “ideas and way to protect our earth,” according to McKinley Principal Liz Costella. “Student participateds in face painting, planting of seeds, composting, sorting recycling, art projects and so much more.”

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

“As part of our theme we featured Burbank TMO [Transportation Management Organization], the Burbank Recycling Center, Stough Canyon and CalSolar which demonstrated solar panels for our families.”

Families and their students could also climb inside a fire truck, a police car and an electric car with a solar panel roof.

Showing off a new electrical car with a solar panel roof is Principal Liz Costello and Tanner Cusumano. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

The Jordan Jazz Band performed and TK, kindergarten and first grade students sang three songs about recycling and a medley from the school’s “Willy Wonka” musical.

Visitors were also treated to dinner form the “Let’s Be Frank” food truck sponsored by Michael Cusumano of the Cusumano Real Estate Group.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

“The highlight of the night were the classroom visits. Families were able to see the amazing work their students have done all year, and students were able to show off all they have learned,” said Costella.

Incoming students for next year were also invited to attend the event to visit classrooms and “get a feel for our McKinley community.”

Donning a Firefighter Turnout Protective Coat is Principal Liz Costello with Engine Company 15’s crew during the Community Fair. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

“Community Fair and Open House night is one of my favorite nights of the year,” commented Costella. “It is a wonderful way to celebrate our community and a successful school  year.”

“I appreciate all of the community organizations joining us to share their resources with our families. The energy and excitement from our families and students is inspiring.”

McKinley Rivalry Day Brings Out Friendly Competition

As part of William McKinley Elementary School’s annual college month, the McKinley Rivalry Day has been a big event for several years. The school divides up in USC and UCLA teams and enjoy a day of games, races and fun activities.

Joanne Asman, owner of USC’s Traveler, brought the new Traveler to visit the school children on Thursday, November 15, This is the tenth Traveler to bear the famous name and status.

Photo By Ross Benson

Asman started bringing Traveler to visit McKinley several years ago when her grandchild attended the school.

“Truly a great opportunity for the kids to see USC’s inspirational mascot in action, boosting college awareness and competitive spirits,” commented McKinley parent Ray Juarez, who has organized Rivalry Day for the past three years.

“We calendar the event very close to classic USC/UCLA rivalry football game hoping to capture the students’ attention and promote college aspirations,” he added. “We encourage students to wear their favorite college gear that day and talk about the anticipated football game.”

Photo By Ross Benson

Students received free USC and UCLA stickers and participated in a USC/UCLA relay race.

“I personally enjoyed hearing the students cheer for their favorite team during the relay race,” Juarez also said. “Special thanks to Traveler and team for their ongoing support!”

In addition to Rivalry Day, McKinley also hosted a Career Day earlier in the month with approximately 40 members of the Burbank community, from police officers and firefighters to City officials and local business leaders, talking about their jobs.

The entire fifth grade class visited UCLA on Thursday, November 20, for a PTA-sponsored trip as part of college month.

Mobile Dairy Classroom Visits McKinley Elementary

The Mobile Dairy Classroom visited William McKinley Elementary School on Thursday, March 1. Students learned about how cows make milk and were able to pet the young calf.

Sent by the Dairy Council of California, the Mobile Dairy Classroom also teaches how milk goes from farm to consumers and the technology used on a dairy farm, in addition to the healthy foods made from milk.

mobile dairy classroom

Mobile Dairy Classroom instructor Louis Batista talks with the children at McKinley Elementary. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

Instructor Louis Batista also talked about the anatomy of a dairy cow and related it to people’s body parts: a cow uses a tail to swat flies away, while people use a hand; the cow’s tongue is rough to groom herself, while people use combs and brushes.

Mobile Dairy Classroom instructor Louis Batista with Oreo. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

“It was a great opportunity for our students who may never see a cow in person,” commented Principal Liz Costella.

“Besides Lucy the cow, [Batista] also brought a calf named Oreo, which the students got to pet.”

“Petting the one-month old calf was very exciting  for the students and allowed some of them to be pushed out of their comfort zone,” she added.

“Many were a little cautious and even scared but after petting Oreo they were very excited and were glad they took the risk.”

“The teachers also felt the assembly was great and very educational. They appreciated the experience it provided to the students and the connections that could be made in the classroom.”

The Mobile Dairy Classroom does not charge for their school visits. A school can receive a visit once every five years.

The organization also provided resources for teachers to use in their classroom after the assembly. For more information on the program, visit the Dairy Council of California’s webpage.

Mobile Dairy Classroom instructor Louis Batista with Lucy. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

Traveler Visits McKinley Elementary Ahead of USC – UCLA Game

Photo By: Kelsie Hernandez

On Thursday, November 16th, staff and students at William McKinley Elementary school participated in their annual College Rivalry Day. The day centers around another big event that takes place every November: USC vs. UCLA.

During the class recess, students were encouraged to go out the playground where they were able to take part in a variety of activities. The majority of the students each had on shirts or jerseys representing their favorite team. To help kids get into the spirt of Los Angeles’ Crosstown Rivalry, two large speakers were set up on the far side of the field. The speakers played one of College Football’s most iconic songs, Tribute to Troy, which is USC’s fight song. As the fight song played, kids ran relay races, threw footballs, visited booths to representing each college, and waited in line to pet USC’s official mascot, Traveler, who was also there in attendance.

The storied history behind Traveler began in 1961, when he and his rider appeared in USC’s first home game of that season against Georgia Tech. As the story goes, USC’s director of special events saw Richard Saukko riding his white horse, Traveler I, during the 1961 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. By the fall of that year, Saukko and his horse were doing laps inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. From 1961 to 1988, Saukko himself would train and ride each iteration of Traveler. After his death, the Saukko family continued the tradition until 2003. Starting in 2003, Joanne Asman took over seeing the tradition through. Since the original Traveler in 1961, there have been several iterations of USC’s mascot, with the current horse, named Traveler IX, completing its first football season this year.

Photo By: Kelsie Hernandez

This year, Raymond Juarez, a parent who has children attending William McKinley Elementary, organized the event. Juarez, who also organized the event last year, said his favorite thing about putting the event together is “getting the college exposure to the kids and just making sure they’re exposed to the two powerhouse colleges that we have here – UCLA and USC – and just to build that college experience that hopefully they’ll have later on.”

The program, which is over six years old, is always planned for the Thursday before the big game, but is not limited to just USC or UCLA school spirt. Much of the staff also sported different college tees, increasing the exposure of a variety of universities among the young students. According to Juarez, past organizers and his team always try to help from outside resources to make the event special for the kids. “Our big help is the Burbank Print Center,” said Juarez, “Joanne and her team really helps us out, and we do reach out to UCLA and USC, to try to get any items from them.”

At the end of the day, the program was a success. “The McKinley school community had a great time meeting Traveler, the team, and adding to great USC and UCLA memories”, said Juarez.

USC is set to host UCLA at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 PM, PST, and will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN. USC leads the overall record between the two teams at 48-31-7.


“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.