Monday, February 22, 2010

Acalanes High School (Lafayette) was announced as the overall team winner of the 2010 Contra Costa County Academic Decathlon, at the Awards Ceremony, held on February 10. This is Acalanes' fourth year in a row as the county's team winner. The top high school teams that followed Acalanes were, in order, Campolindo (Moraga), Miramonte (Orinda), and Pittsburg.

Everybody Counts

The US Census Bureau has designated April 1, 2010 as Census Day and will be mailing census questionnaire forms to households sometime in mid- March. It is crucial to get an accurate count because data collected will have a significant impact on the quality of life in our communities. Census data are used to distribute Congressional seats to states, allocate more than $400 billion in federal grants to state and local governments, and help guide decisions at every level of government that will impact our communities. Significant work is now being done in our communities to promote the importance of the census and increase the mail-in response rate of our county residents. Special efforts are being made to reach the hard-to-count population including minorities, non-English speaking households, low income households and the transient population. The Census questionnaire is quick and easy to complete - 10 questions, 10 minutes. Responses are held in strict confidence and by law cannot be shared with anyone, including government, law enforcement agencies, not even the President of the United States! Please do your part to help our county and our communities. Fill out the questionnaire and mail it back promptly. Be counted and make a difference! For more information, please visit or

2010 Census "Everybody Counts" Poster Contest
Contra Costa County is launching a countywide poster contest for all K-12 students in Contra Costa schools. The goal of the contest is to raise awareness of the importance of the census - that it is safe, easy and important - and that everyone must be counted.

"Everybody Counts" Art Poster Contest

Open to all K-12 students in Contra Costa County

Poster entries are due March 10, 2010 at your school or may also be submitted to 651 Pine Street, 10th floor, Martinez

To help promote the 2010 Census in Contra Costa County.

For more information about the contest, please visit our
Web site.

Know anyone who has lost their healthcare coverage?

Let them know they still have options if they have:
  • Been laid off from a job with health benefits
  • Can't afford COBRA benefits
  • COBRA benefits have run out
There are programs that might help them and their family get medical coverage.
Call 211
The service is free, confidential, and available 24/7.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Juvenile Hall Library Receives Grant, Benefits Mt. McKinley School Students

Students attending Mt. McKinley School, located at Juvenile Hall, are learning the therapeutic qualities of self-expression through creative writing, poetry, performance of written word, and a fine arts curriculum. In 2007, Alison McKee (former Juvenile Hall librarian) applied for, and received, a federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant funds a three-year Artists In Residence Program. After an initial year of preparation, the 2009/10 school years marked the start of the two-year-classroom program. During the course of the program, every visiting artist will conduct four one and a half-hour workshops in each of the nine classrooms at Mt. McKinley.

The following artists have committed to the first year of the program (2009/10):

Jennifer Scaife, creative writing instructor, will introduce students to ways of expressing memories and feelings through poems and stories. "I will teach different strategies to writing, ones that are not encountered in normal high school classes. The goal is to teach students that writing can be a form of therapy." She is program director of the Prison University Project, a college program dedicated to providing higher education to inmates at San Quentin Prison.

Youth Speaks is a nonprofit group in San Francisco dedicated to teaching and creating spoken word performance. Jose Vadi, a Youth Speaks mentor, will take the lead in this residency, aided by Kirya Traber, residency program manager. Visit their Web site for more information.

Javier Reyes, is one of the founders of Colored Ink, a hip hop theater group composed of young adults from urban neighborhoods in the Bay Area. Javier's goal is to demonstrate to the kids in Juvenile Hall the therapeutic power of live performance.

Tim Hancock is from ArtReach, a division of the City of Walnut Creek's Civic Arts Education program. Gearing his workshops toward beginner artists, Tim will teach the kids how to express their individuality through visual art.

Cindy Wolley, a teacher at Mt. McKinley, commented, "I have seen a breakthrough with one particular student in the serious offenders' unit. This student had been angry and not willing to participate. These workshops have helped this student express himself."

At the end of the first year, there will be a reception at Juvenile Hall, which will include a display of the students' artwork (date will be announced when scheduled).