Tuesday, December 20, 2011

These Campolindo ROP Sports Medicine students rode on their football team's bus to Santa Clara for the Division 3 NCS semi-final game, held at Cardinal Newman High School.  The duties performed were stretching, taping, and treatment--before, during, and after the game.  In this game, Campolindo was down 21 points, but came back to win.  The team would go on to win in the Division 3 NCS finals in the Oakland Coliseum, but then eventually lost their state title game in Los Angeles.  ROP students Tessa Cummings, Nick Holden, and Dylan Wilson (seen her at the Santa Clara game) also provided trainer duties for the team at the playoff games in Oakland and Los Angeles.

Campolindo ROP Sports Medicine students:
Dylan Wilson, Alec Vigil, Tessa Cummings, Mykaela Lewis, Kristen Bowers, and Nick Holden

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Upcoming Contra Costa County High School Model UN Announces Record Participation

Contra Costa County Model United Nations Gavel Winners from 2010

An impressive increase in student participants planning to take part in the 21st annual conference of the Contra Costa County High School Model United Nations, is announced by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).  The Model UN, to be held on November 4-5, has a current count of 315 registered students – a jump of 38% over last year.

During these times of slashing school budgets and the continued downsizing of educational opportunities for our students, this increase of student participation is certainly remarkable.  Despite such obstacles, the students, as well as their parents and schools, find ways to take part in such important academic opportunities.

Model UN, is one of five academic events produced by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).  “This is a wonderful opportunity for these students to utilize what they have learned in their classrooms, Model UN school clubs, and on their own, as they participate in a professionally organized event,” reports CCCOE Chief Communications Officer Peggy Marshburn.  “Our Model UN program continues to grow in participating schools and students.  We often hear from the schools how our academic events [such as Model UN] are a tremendous hands-on learning option to offer their students, plus the experience makes a great addition to the students’ college applications.”  

The CCCOE’s other upcoming academic events include Academic Decathlon, Mock Trial, and National History Day, which are also looking at an increase in participating schools and students, evident by many early registrants.   In addition, the CCCOE’S second-year Mock Trial Invitational, to be held in early December, has already reached maximum capacity.

Model United Nations is a simulation of the UN General Assembly and other multilateral bodies. In Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors from UN member states to debate current issues on the organization's agenda.  While playing their roles as ambassadors, student delegates make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the Model UN conference rules of procedure – all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world.

Before playing out their ambassadorial roles in a Model UN simulation, students research the issue that their committee will address.  Model UN participants learn how the international community acts on its concerns about topics including peace and security, human rights, the environment, food and hunger, economic development and globalization.  Model UN delegates also look closely at the needs, goals and foreign policies of the countries they will represent at the event.  The insights they gain from their exploration of history, geography, culture, economics and science contribute to the authenticity of the simulation when the role playing gets under way. The delegates' in-depth knowledge of their countries guarantees a lively and memorable experience.

This year marks the 67th Anniversary of the United Nations founding in San Francisco.  To give students (delegates) a flavor of the UN’s real-world accomplishments, former United Nations Development Programme Senior Officer Herb Behrstock will be serving as the keynote speaker at the Opening Plenary ceremony.  Behrstock is the current president of the UN Association, East Bay Chapter. 

Participating in this year’s Contra Costa County Model UN are students from: Acalanes High (Lafayette), Antioch High, Athenian High (Danville), Campolindo High (Moraga), Carondelet High (Concord), Deer Valley High (Antioch), De La Salle High (Concord), Dougherty Valley High (San Ramon), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Liberty High (Brentwood), Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory High (Livermore), Marin Academy (San Rafael), Northgate High (Walnut Creek), and San Ramon Valley High (Danville). 

For additional information about CCCOE’s Model UN and other academic events, please contact Peggy Marshburn at (925) 942-3420, visit their website. 

10th Annual Contra Costa Shelter-in-Place Drill takes place on November 2

School children across Contra Costa County will participate in the 10th Annual Countywide Shelter in Place Drill to practice safety procedures in the chance of a nearby hazardous-material release.  Directed by the Contra Costa County Community Awareness Emergency Response Group (CAER), this year’s Shelter-in-Place Drill will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 2, and all public and private schools, and childcare centers throughout Contra Costa County are encouraged to participate.  Last year, approximately 200 sites participated in the drill.  (Schools are more than welcome to choose another date to participate with this drill.)

CAER Executive Director Tony Semenza says, “Contra Costa CAER is encouraged each year with increased number of participating Shelter-in-Place schools.  CAER works with, and will continue to work with, all the schools in our county to be sure that they know how and when to shelter in place.  Teachers and students should all know shelter-in-place procedures, just as they are trained about what to do in case of a fire or earthquake.  I encourage everyone to join us in preparing for the worst so that we may do our best during an emergency.”

This annual safety event gives children and their caregivers an important opportunity to practice responding to the Community Warning System (CWS) alerts, which sound a siren when there has been a dangerous chemical release or other disaster that requires a Shelter-in-Place.  These alerts can be sent via sirens, radio, TV, social media postings, and subscribed cell-phone-text messages.

Hazardous-material releases can result from many sources in Contra Costa County, including accidents at chemical treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, facilities that store and/or manufacture hazardous materials and refineries, but also from collisions involving trucks or trains that transport chemicals.  The possibility of accidents and the threat of terrorism make it important for residents, which include the county’s youngest members, to recognize and respond correctly to shelter-in-place alerts.

Shelter in place means to make a shelter out of the place you are in.  It is a way for you to make the building as safe as possible to protect yourself until help arrives or the emergency has passed.  You should not try to shelter in a vehicle unless you have no other choice. Vehicles are not airtight enough to give you adequate protection from chemicals.

CAER is a coalition of local agencies, businesses, industries, community groups, and emergency response organizations.  The non-profit organization works together to improve emergency response planning and inform the public about how to react in the event of a hazardous-materials emergency.
For additional information about this year’s Contra Costa County Shelter-in-Place Drill, contact CAER at 925-313-9296 or visit their website.

Announcing the County Teacher of the Year Deborah Bordeau, Oakley Unified Elementary School District

The COE’s Annual Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held on September 15, was another huge success!  Concluding an energy-driven and exciting evening at the Concord Hilton, our emcee, Dr. Joseph Ovick, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools, concluded the night-long anticipated naming of our county’s next Teacher of the Year – it was Laurel Elementary’s Deborah Bordeau (right).  Bordeau has been teaching at Laurel Elementary for the past two decades.

After accepting her award, Bordeau told the crowded room: “Exactly one year ago today, I was sitting in a chair receiving my last chemo treatment for breast cancer, and then this year, I’m on stage being honored as Teacher of the Year for the county.  So if anyone tells you not much happens in a year – don’t you believe them!”

Following being named by the Oakley Union Elementary School District as their district Teacher of the Year (TOY), this past March, Bordeau successfully proceeded with the other 17 eligible county candidates through a rigorous county-wide selection process, which included an application screening, classroom evaluation, interview, and speech presentation.  Her fellow finalists were Donna Kenyon, a fifth grade teacher at Baldwin Elementary in Danville, and Sue Noce, a Spanish and reading teacher at Foothill Middle School in Walnut Creek.

More than 400 attendees were on hand for an evening that will certainly not be forgotten.  The audience was made up of the TOYs’ family members and friends, as well as numerous local educators, business partners, and officials.  Kicking off the festivities was “Cool Beans 5,” Heritage High’s Jazz ensemble, directed by former 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year finalist Steve Ernest.  Dr. Ovick introduced the TOY class of 2011-2012 (19 on hand) by sharing to the audience his visits to each of the teachers' classrooms.  This was followed by speeches of the three TOY finalists, their topic: “What I have learned from my students.”  Following the three speeches, Bordeau's announcement was made.

The evening’s festivities were taped by CCTV, is scheduled for the following broadcast date:
* Thursday, October 20, 8:00 p.m.

CCTV is on Comcast channel 27, Astound channel 32, and AT&T U-Verse channel 99.  For additional air dates, check CCTV’s program guide.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Campolindo High ROP student hones his auto repair skills over the summer

Nick Holbrook
On a very warm July afternoon, Campolindo High School student, Nick Holbrook, was found in the bustling Nick’s Mercedes Service repair shop, located in Lafayette.  Dressed in the shop’s mechanic uniform, Holbrook was assisting one of the shop technicians with a transmission flush and ignition tune-up on a mid-2000 Mercedes.  Holbrook, an incoming high school senior, is working at his first ROP internship this summer at Nick’s Mercedes.  It is the repair-shop’s first experience of offering an ROP internship as well. 

Steve Boone, Holbrook’s ROP Advanced Automotive Technology teacher, at Campolindo, recently checked in with his student at the work place: “Nick [Holbrook] is doing fine and still has the excitement in his voice when he talks about the shop.  Nick Wilhelm (proprietor of Nick’s Mercedes) and the rest of the employees are wonderful people, and they tell me how great Nick Holbrook is, working and learning in their shop.  Nick's mentors are Andre and Jerry, who are the full-time technicians at the shop. Nick [Holbrook] only had wonderful things to say about these guys.” 
In his classroom, Boone says that Holbrook is one of his hardest workers in the shop.  “He goes right to work and always tries his best.  He is eager to learn and always willing to give a hand to anyone working on a car.”

Holbrook reports that the internship has been, “Awesome!  I have been learning so much this summer.”  Holbrook said that he will be taking ROP Advanced Automotive Technology II this coming fall at Campolindo. 

Wilhelm said that Holbrook’s internship has really worked out well.  “He and I talk every day about the cars in the shop and the repairs we are providing.  Yesterday, I worked one-on-one with Nick [Holbrook] for two hours on a car.  He is a quick learner, and he’s getting a lot of hands-on experience working with Mercedes models that range from 1980-2007.”

Boone recalled that earlier this year, Holbrook came to him a few times after class asking questions about the possibility of a summer internship.  “I answered his questions and he took a liking to the idea, even though I was pushing him to take an unpaid internship.  With an unpaid internship, I can get the local auto shops in the area interested in working with us, because ROP will pay for the work-site insurance coverage that is needed while the student is being trained.”

Boone asked Holbrook to come up with a list of auto-repair shops he would like to work for.  Holbrook came back with a prioritized list, with Nick’s Mercedes on the top.  “I called them up, talked to them about Nick [Holbrook], and how he wanted to intern in their shop.  Soon after, they all met together, along with Holbrook’s father and Contra Costa County Office of Education Principal of Student Programs Sally Savage, to discuss and finalize the internship contract.
The entire staff at Nick’s Mercedes is still amused – as well as impressed – with Holbrook’s arriving to work on time, but exactly a week early.  Apparently, he wanted to time his bike ride from home to work on a weekday morning, just to make sure he knew how long it would take him to show up on time, when he officially started his internship.

What sparked his interest in working with cars?  “Before entering high school, I enjoyed taking mechanical things apart, figuring out how they work, and then putting them back together,” said Holbrook.  Though he never worked on cars, he was hooked after taking the Beginning Automotive Technology class, also taught by Boone.  After he finishes high school, Holbrook said he would like to attend an automotive technology school.  “My goal is to work for an independent car repair shop, just like Nick’s Mercedes,” Holbrook said with excitement in his voice.

Thanks to an encouraging ROP teacher, internship opportunity classes, and, of course, his supportive family, Holbrook’s goal will certainly be achieved in the upcoming years.  And maybe someday, another Nick’s specialized repair shop will be opening up in the area.

(l-r) Nick Wilhelm, Nick Holbrook, Steve Boone
The Contra Costa County ROP serves 11,000 students with classes in 33 high schools throughout Contra Costa and Alameda counties.  Currently, there are 361 state-of-the-art career-development classes in this program.  ROP focuses on career preparation, hands-on experience, and academic excellence to prepare students for success in college and future careers.  ROP provides students with the newest equipment, rigorous academic standards, and classes in emerging technologies.   All of the ROP classes, internships, and programs are directed by and funded through the Contra Costa County Office of Education.  For more information about ROP, visit their website

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

San Ramon student does well in recent National History Day National Final

Julienne Sauer in front of her exhibit.
Windemere Ranch Middle School student Julienne Sauer did a wonderful job representing Contra Costa County at last week’s National History Day (NHD) Finals, held at the University of Maryland.   Sauer was a National Finalist in the Junior (middle school) Individual Exhibit category and placed 10th in the nation among 84 junior individual exhibit projects.  

NHD is a national program, with state and regional (county-level) competitions, in which middle and high school students prepare projects – posters, exhibits, papers, websites, dramatic performances and documentary films – on a historical theme.  Students can choose to enter as individuals (as did Sauer) or teams (two-to-five members).  During the 2010-2011 school year, National History Day invited students to research topics related to the theme of Diplomacy and Dialogue in History: Successes, Failures, and Consequences.   This program provides an opportunity for students to improve academic achievement through deep and broad study addressing multiple standards and including tasks such as formulating questions, reading widely and thoroughly, bridging reading to writing, doing primary research, evaluating evidence, organizing, presenting, explaining and defending ideas.

Sauer’s exhibit title was: The Cable Car Wars: A City Debates to Preserve its Character.   She said her interest in this topic began when she visited San Francisco’s Cable Car Museum.  She had always enjoyed riding the country’s only moveable landmarks in the past, but she became fascinated with the science behind the cable cars, their history, and why they were the city’s symbol.  “When I found out that San Francisco almost lost its beloved cable cars and a public debate had saved them, I immediately knew that I had the right topic for this year’s NHD theme,” says Sauer.

The NHD California State Competition has been held since 1999, but this was the first year that Contra Costa County students had competed in the program.  “It began last year when representatives from the Kenneth Behring Foundation approached Dr. Joseph Ovick, County Superintendent of Schools, on developing this new county-wide academic event, reports Chief Communications Officer Peggy Marshburn of the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).  “We recruited student and teacher participation throughout the county, and the Foundation provided a $5000.00 grant to assist our students and their teachers with the costs of participating in this excellent program.”  For more than 20 years, the CCCOE has directed other annual county-wide academic events, including Mock Trial, Model UN, and Academic Decathlon.
On March 12, Sauer was one of 15 Contra Costa County students who competed in the NHD local competition, along with students from nine other nearby counties.  The event was held at the Oakland Museum of California, located in Oakland, Calif.  The (then) six-grade student and 13 other Contra Costa County participants went on to the NHD California State Competition, which was held on April 28, in San Jose, Calif.  Winning her category, Sauer was the only Contra Costa County participant to go on to the national competition.

Julienne at the NHD opening ceremony at the University of Maryland 
Sauer’s mother, Sia, says “Julienne really enjoyed the whole experience, including meeting Mr. Behring and his family.  They told her how proud they were to have someone from Contra Costa competing at the finals.” 

Julienne’s mother continued, “We are grateful to the Behring Foundation and the CCCOE for making this possible.  Julienne says she can't wait to start next year's project now that she has seen how amazing the competition is at the nationals!” 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

ROP biotechnology students continue their winning ways

The Contra Costa County ROP (Regional Occupational Program) congratulates two of its students, Blake Marggraff and Matthew Feddersen, who won the Best in Fair award at Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair (CCCSEF), held in early April, and then went on to present their science project to a robust international judging team last week in Los Angeles, at the Intel® International Science and Engineering Fair® 2011.  In Los Angeles, the high school seniors, Marggraff and Feddersen, received the Intel ISEF Best of Category Award, Medicine and Health Sciences ($5,000.00); First Place Grand Award, Medicine and Health Sciences ($3,000.00); and the top prize, First Place-The Gordon E. Moore Award ($75,000.00) for their project: Simulated Treatment of Cancer with Photoelectric Effect-Produced Secondary Radiation.

Matthew Feddersen and Blake Marggraff
During this school year, Marggraff and Feddersen have been attending ROP’s Accelerated Biotechnology and Research course, taught by Jay Chugh, at Acalanes High School.  Chugh, encourages all of his students to submit projects to the Contra Costa Fair. Students must go through and win a regional Intel affiliated science fair before being submitted for international competition.  During the same week he was in Los Angeles, Marggraff was also one of the 36 recipients of the Contra Costa County ROP Students of Excellence Awards.  “This is a perfect example of how quality ROP classes can impact students’ lives and their communities,” said Sally Savage, principal, Student Programs.

"We are proud of these young scientists' accomplishments!  They have stimulated a flurry of attention at the international fair, where more than 40 countries compete," said April Treece, CCCSEF director.

The Contra Costa County ROP serves 11,000 students with classes in 33 high schools throughout Contra Costa and Alameda counties.  Currently, there are 361 state-of-the-art career-development classes in this program.  ROP focuses on career preparation, hands-on experience, and academic excellence to prepare students for success in college and future careers.  ROP provides students with the newest equipment, rigorous academic standards, and classes in emerging technologies.   All of the ROP classes and programs are directed by and funded through the Contra Costa County Office of Education.  For more information about ROP classes, visit their website.

The CCCSEF was held on March 31, April 1 and 2, at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg.  Six high schools and eight middle schools submitted 120 projects and engaged more than 140 students in this year’s competition.
At the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair:  
Matt on the far left, Blake right next to him
The County Science and Engineering Fair competition would not be possible, nor would the two students be able to attend the international competition to share their innovative science without the contributions of the following sponsors: John Muir Health, Chevron, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Kaiser Permanente, The Dow Chemical Company, Eichleay Engineers, and GenOn Energy. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

High school ROP teacher and student teach college students on the weekends

Recently, on a cold, rainy Saturday early morning at San Francisco State University’s Downtown Campus, the college students of the day-long WordPress (a blog program) class were introduced to their class professor, Lane Good (left). Lane has been teaching electronic media course at San Francisco State since 1999 – he is also a Contra Costa County Office of Education ROP Web Design II instructor at Kennedy High School in Richmond. Along with Lane were two of his Kennedy students, serving as classroom teaching assistants.

Throughout the day, Lane would present his course material in front of the class with his PowerPoint presentation, while he and his assistants would check in with the students who requested some one-to-one assistance at their individual computers. This turned out to be a very effective way of teaching the attendees how to produce their own blogs and websites.

One of his very helpful assistants on this day was current ROP student German Rodriguez (above, right). German is in his senior year at Kennedy, and has been also serving as one of Lane’s teaching assistants for the past few years. While possessing a quiet and somewhat shy demeanor, German had no problem answering the students’ questions throughout the day. It was obvious that he really enjoyed working with students, and sharing his knowledge of the WordPress program.

German said how much he likes Lane’s classes: “He is always introducing us to the very latest technology, so we will be the most up-to-date when we move on to our next class. And, I really enjoy working with him here at San Francisco State University!” German’s experience in tutoring college students while he’s still in high school will certainly look good on his resume.

“What a phenomenal opportunity for a high school student to experience college culture,” said CCCOE Principal David Fendel. “Lane's dedication to giving his students the skills and experience necessary to thrive in the real world is outstanding, and a great example of the productive relationship that ROP and pathway academies are forging in our high schools. Lane's expertise, coupled with the ROP web design curriculum, arms students with the technical and work skills they need to be successful after high school.”

Lane has been teaching a variety of digital arts courses at San Francisco State since 1999, and has been a teacher at Kennedy High for close to five years. Prior to coming to Kennedy, he taught at El Cerrito High and Richmond High. At Kennedy, Lane serves as the lead teacher in the school’s Information Technology Academy. Other courses he teaches at Kennedy include digital arts/web design, computer systems management, and computer networking.

With the combination of his longtime natural gift of freehand illustration, his love for digital arts, and Lane’s guidance, German has his future mapped out after Kennedy High School. He has been accepted to attend Ex’pression College, in Emeryville, where he’ll begin this fall to earn his B.A. degree in digital animation. His dream is to work for a company such as Pixar or Disney.

After a long and fruitful day of learning the new skill of WordPress, all the students agreed that they really appreciated Lane’s class and instruction, along with the assistance of future star digital animator German Rodriguez.

German assisting a student

Thursday, March 10, 2011

County Office of Education instructor earns distinguished award from Sheriff's Office

Due to his service as an outstanding and dedicated teacher, whose knowledge and skills are respected by students and staff alike, Contra Costa County Office of Education’s (CCCOE) adult education instructor Rick Boughton was one of 11 candidates who earned a special award given by the county’s Sheriff David Livingston (Sheriff Livingston and Rick Boughton, pictured above left). During the recent Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff’s 2010 Officer and Employee of the Year Awards Ceremony, Boughton was presented the Detention Services Division (non officer) Employee of the Year Award. The four-tour Vietnam War Navy veteran and 35-year professional woodworker, Boughton has served as the woodshop instructor at the Marsh Creek Detention Facility, in Clayton, since 2001.

In the crowed Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chambers, in Martinez, Lieutenant Brian Kalinowski, who originally nominated Boughton for the award, introduced him to the numerous attendees. During his introduction, Lieutenant Kalinowski said, “Thanks to the partnership of the Sheriff’s Office and the County Office of Education, we are able to deliver services, such as Rick’s woodshop class, to the inmates that make them more productive during their stay, as well as being more productive when they re-enter society.”

For the past 20 years, the Sheriff’s Office and the County Office of Education collaboration have produced the annual Holiday Toy Distribution. Lieutenant Kalinowski continued, “Because Rick’s ability to lead the inmates, they annually build between 1,000-1,200 hand-made toys and refurbish about 300 bicycles, which are then distributed to our county’s at-risk youth, through local non-profit organizations.” These county organizations include The Salvation Army, Friends Outside, George Miller Center, Solomon Temple Mission, Contra Costa Crisis Center, Bay Area Rescue Mission, La Casa Ujima, and a number of others.

When you enter Rick’s woodshop, you certainly can’t help but think of Santa’s Workshop: students busily building and painting beautiful hand-made toys or refurbishing junked bicycles into just-like-new ones. Lieutenant Kalinowski added, “There are literally thousands of children in our county whose lives have been brightened because of this program, with a big thanks to Rick and his men." (Lieutenant Kalinowski and Rick Boughton pictured above left)

Boughton is known for his “low-key” teaching style and his positive attitude. It’s obvious that he loves his job as a teacher and mentor. He treats everyone fairly and with the respect each person deserves, including his inmate students. This may be the reason why in 2010 he did not have one discipline or safety/accident issue reported to the school or custody staff.

According to the Office of the Sheriff, the application process for this award includes the bureau commanders submitting their choices to the departmental selection committee. A number of criteria are evaluated by the committee, including performance, job knowledge, judgment, relations, communications, initiative, dependability, attitude, and demeanor.

Boughton’s woodshop class is part of the Contra Costa Adult School. This educational program is a partnership between the CCCOE and the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff, and is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. More than 4,000 students participate in educational opportunities each year at one of the three jail facilities:

  • Marsh Creek Detention Facility - Clayton
  • West County Detention Facility - Richmond
  • Martinez Detention Facility - Martinez
Students demonstrate success by obtaining a high school diploma; passing the GED; increasing basic skills; completing a 90-day substance abuse education program; and completing competency-based certificates in computer applications, completing steps to getting a job, landscaping facility grounds, and building toys and refurbishing used bicycles for needy children.

CCCOE Adult Education Principal Tom Scruggs reports, “Rick is a talented teacher, providing instruction in safety, woodworking, and bicycle repair, while he fosters a sense of commitment, dedication, and community in his students. He has a natural way of inspiring these men to learn something new, to be responsible, and to feel what it is like to give back to the community. We are grateful for his services!”

At the 2010 Annual March Creek Detention Facility's Holiday Toy Drive, Rick demonstrates one of his toy creations... The Canjo.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mt. Diablo High School students enjoy an outstanding hands-on education on solar energy construction

Recently 12 students from Mt Diablo High School’s Academy of Construction & Mechanical Engineering (ACME) enjoyed an in-depth and up-close look at our country’s ever-increasing future in solar energy production, when they visited the Contra Costa County Office of Education’s (CCCOE) current solar construction project.

Led by a panel group, that included the solar project’s architect, contractor, solar engineer, electrical engineer, and inspector of record, as well as CCCOE’s General Services Director John Hild, the students began their day by receiving an overview presentation of the project. The presentation covered such issues as environmental studies, financing, hiring the best contractors for the job, timelines, and the cost savings benefit to the CCCOE. (Over the next 25 years, this new source of energy will save the CCCOE close to $11 million in electricity costs.)

The presenters stressed how their personal math, writing, and communication skills are so important in their line of work. Gopal Shanker, solar engineer, of Récolte Energy, told the kids not to neglect their non-engineering classes: “Over the years, I have found that it’s not always the best contractor that gets the job, it’s the ones who can successfully communicate what they can and will do if they get the proposed job.” The entire panel nodded and chuckled when contractor Andy Brophy, of Roebblen Contracting, Inc., said, “I’ll tell you, in my job, I do a whole lot more writing than drawing.”

Following the presentation, the students were able to sit in, and listen to the group’s bi-monthly construction meeting – two of the students were invited to sit at the meeting table. The gathering’s agenda included future material delivery and installation dates, staffing issues, and several deadlines. The students and ACME instructors listened closely to this rare learning opportunity.

Throughout the morning presentation and construction meeting, high school senior, Jonathan Blanco (pictured above left), intensely listened to the speakers and read through the handout materials. He said that ACME has been a great program to help him find his interest in construction and engineering. “After high school, I will be enrolling into Caterpillar’s ThinkBig Technician Education Program,” said Blanco. “Where will I go after graduating the program? I’m not really sure what I’ll do next, but I do see myself working in mechanical engineering.”

Junior student, Cynthia Sandoval, (pictured left) said that she has enjoyed her enrollment in the ACME program. “I’m not sure if engineering will be the profession I choose, but I am learning a lot in this program, and I can certainly decide what career I’ll go into after high school and college graduation.”

After the construction meeting, everyone went out onto the construction site for a hard-hat tour. Wearing their hard hats and safety goggles, the students saw, up close, the massive solar-panel structures that are being installed in the CCCOE’s parking lot. Though it was pouring rain, the students had plenty of thoughtful questions they were more interested in hearing the answers to, than running back to the dry indoors.

After the site tour, the presenters, students, and teachers sat down for lunch and some more individual questions and answers. ACME’s Director Steve Seaman said, “This was certainly an outstanding opportunity for our students. We all learned quite a bit today, and really appreciate the CCCOE and the construction team providing a great learning experience!” Seaman reported that currently ACME has an enrollment of 156 students, but they are gearing up for 400 students in the very near future.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dress For Success Fashion Show and Luncheon

What fashions will the well-dressed soon be wearing in the workplace? Well, if you attended the recent Dress for Success Fashion Show and Luncheon, at Liberty High School, in Brentwood, you would know. More than 150 attendees got a glimpse of what our Community Based Instruction (CBI) students will soon be dressed in when they go to their jobs or job interviews. 

Now in its 8th year, the annual fashion show and luncheon was created to thank all the participating businesses, schools, and community organizations, that support CBI programs, and to increase the awareness in the community of our students' abilities and potential as excellent employees.

CBI is a class for students with severe disabilities, ages 18-22 years old. The goal of this program is to facilitate the transition from K-12 school to adult life. Curriculum and transition strategies include: independent living skills, social skills, recreation/leisure opportunities, employment training, mobility training, economics/money management, community awareness and services, and volunteerism. 

This year, seven East County CBI classes took part in the soireé. These classes are led by teachers: Sue Madole, James Koch, Julie Duncan, Gary Wickman, Debbie Ross, Alona Saturnino, and Sue Kent. Also helping the teachers with the production details were the CBI administrators and the staff from the Workability Program, while the students starred as the runway models or the very capable luncheon servers. 

The program kicked off with the CBI student servers (above, white shirts) professionally maneuvering the food carts from the kitchen into the dining area, and then serving every attendee their delicious lunch. This was followed by a special welcome by Diane Misasi, principle of student programs, and Sue Madole, CBI instructor. Madole told the crowd: "We are so grateful for our community business partners! Thanks to these wonderful people, our students have real-life-work experience they need when they go out on their own to find employment!"

The fashion show started when the very capable co-emcees Liz Wilson-Palmer and Janet Brown (at left) took control at the podium, and began introducing the models, giving full descriptions of what they were wearing. The models strode along the runway that circled around the crowded tables, which were filled with CBI student sponsors, families, and friends. During their walks, the models would stop to pose for the numerous photographers or to hug someone they knew in the audience, as the crowd cheered and clapped loudly. 

CBI student, Joseph (left), proudly sported a brand new three-piece blue suit—he was very excited about being one of the stars of the event. Prior to the action, Joseph talked about his CBI employment-training history, working with ROP's Restaurant and Hotel programs, which has taken him to work at the nearby Holiday Inn, Red Lion, and Crown Plaza hotels. And now, when he gets home, he cooks dinner for his family. Like the other 23 models, Joseph's outfit was generously supplied by Kohls department store of Brentwood. A few days before the fashion show, the models were invited to visit the store and pick out their outfits for the runway.

After the last model made her way down the runway, the entire group returned for an encore, proudly displaying their brand new outfits, with plenty loud appreciation from the audience! 

The event concluded with all seven CBI teachers individually stepping behind the microphone and giving special acknowledgments and gifts to the 31 recognized employers of their CBI students.

Special thanks to the following CBI employers and volunteer organizations:

• ACE Hardware - Brentwood • ACE Hardware - Pittsburg • Aladino's Pizza • Amanda Krause • Antioch Covenant Church • Antioch Senior Center • Asahi Nursery • Baskin Robbins • Brentwood County Library • CAPS Bar & Grill • City of Brentwood Park and Recreation • CVS Pharmacy • Delta Informal Gardeners • Delta Park Athletic Club • Dollar Tree • Domino's Pizza - Brentwood • Domino's Pizza - Pittsburg • Friends of Marsh Creek • Houston Orchard • Krey Elementary School • Liberty Union High School Cafeteria • Marshall's • Network of Care • Pittsburg Senior Center • Salvation Army Church • St. Vincent de Paul Society • Straw Hat Pizza • Sutter Elementary • Sweeney's Bar & Grill • Togo's - Antioch • Togo's - Brentwood • Turner Elementary • Willy's Bagels & Blends

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Contra Costa County Mock Trial Program Looking for Attorneys to Assist

Miramonte High School, 2010 Mock Trial Winners

Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys are needed to provide assistance to their future brethren at the 30th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program, held in early evenings throughout the month of February and early March, at the Martinez Court Houses. (Complete listing of dates and times listed below.) Along with attorneys, 2nd- and 3rd-year law students are also welcome to participate with the scoring process. Last year, 100 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys, law students, and sworn judges volunteered their time with Contra Costa County’s Mock Trials.

Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), Mock Trial is an academic activity for high school students. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. This year’s case is a murder trial: People vs. Woodson.

Teams of high school students work with teachers and attorney coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives. Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and court journalists. Real life judges and attorneys score their performance and provide immediate feedback. Winning teams advance through seven rounds of competition. The county’s champion advances to the State finals. This year, there will be 16 Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams competing.

Attorneys and law students, who volunteer with this program, will score the two competing schools that argue their cases in court. Each night, will begin with a 15-minute rules and regulations session, then the volunteers will go into their scheduled courtrooms to serve as Mock Trial scorers—between three to seven scorers in each courtroom. The Mock Trials’ scorers are made up of Bay Area district attorneys, public defenders, and private practice and corporate lawyers, as well as seasoned law students. A practicing judge or commissioner will preside over each trial, and also serves as one of the trial’s scorers.

The two highest-scoring teams will advance to the finals on Tuesday, March 1. The winning team will then represent Contra Costa County at the State Mock Trial competition in Riverside, Calif., March 25-27. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held in Phoenix, Ariz., May 5-7.

Schedule for 2011 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials
• Preliminaries Rounds: February 8, 10, 15, 17 (5:00-8:00 p.m.)
• Quarterfinals: February 22 (5:00-8:00 p.m.)
• Semifinals: February 24 (5:00-8:00 p.m.)
• Finals and Consolation: March 1 (5:00-8:00 p.m.)

Interested attorneys and 2nd- and-3rd-year law students can find out how to serve as Mock Trial scorers by contacting Jonathan Lance, at jlance@ccccoe.k12.ca.us or (925) 942-3429. Participants may review and fill out this Attorney Volunteer Form, then e-mail back to Jonathan Lance.

In 1977, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the concept of mock trials to the Los Angeles schools. In 1980, the program expanded to the state level. The California Mock Trial Program currently involves more than 35 counties and over 8,000 student participants from more than 400 teams. Approximately 1,500 attorney volunteers serve as team coaches and scorers, and 500 Municipal, Superior, and Appellate Court judges preside over the trials.