Schools at Compton Unified celebrated Halloween with literacy events. Our children dressed up as their favorite story books; what is your kid's favorite book?
By Elissa Granger
The new installment of our Compton School Success television program begins airing today on CUSD’s YouTube channel (ComptonSchools) and tomorrow on Time Warner Spectrum Compton's Channel 26 (see below for days and times)
The program, which is a monthly student production, is hosted by CUSD School Board Vice President Micah Ali.
The program highlights a progress report on the $30 million Emergency Repair Program underway on many Compton school campuses. Compton residents are beginning to see progress in the construction and repair projects that will be mostly finished late this fall.
“This program is a great vehicle to not only give our students real world experience in producing a television program but also in informing the community of the many positive developments that we are achieving in the Compton schools,” said Satra Zurita, Compton School Board President.
The program also tackled the issue of cyber-bullying and included a one-on-one interview with CUSD’s Sahar Moshayedi who explains the problem and what parents and students should know about it.
The District’s new Chief Technology Officer, Anthony Burrus stopped by to talk about his job and his plans for continuing the technology upgrade underway in the Compton schools. The Ed Tech program that is expanding in the district will also be featured.
You’ll meet Kennedy elementary principal Cecilia Madrid, see a one-on-one interview students conducted with Superintendent Darin Brawley and go on a trip in the LA Harbor with Emerson Elementary students.
Continuing the progress and strong efforts of our CUSD students, they are excited to continue their participation in the film and television program with the assistance of Director, Roger Alcocer (Far-right). With this program in place it has opened many doors of opportunity and career choices for our Compton Scholars.
“Watching the production up close and how the students work hard to get the program recorded is very rewarding,” added Ali.
Compton School Success is a monthly production of the School District.
Telecast Schedule for October
8:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays
8:00 a.m., and 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays
By Elissa Granger
Student leaders from several CUSD high schools and middle schools spent a day learning leadership skills at the Jefferson Awards Foundation – Students In Action Training on yesterday at the L.A. Mart in Downtown L.A.
CUSD Board of Trustees President, Satra Zurita (Far-left), Myla Rahman, Jefferson Awards Foundation Regional Executive Director of Los Angeles (Second-to-the-left), Darren Dickerson, Publicist for Lemuel Plummer (Center), and President & CEO of L. Plummer Media, show creator of Music Mogul’s, BET’s most popular show, Lemuel Plummer (Far-right).
CUSD Board of Trustees President, Satra Zurita was in attendance and excited to witness students engaging in a conference that focused on leadership, because taking the lead in their education as well as their goals will be an important factor in their success.
"Exposing our Compton students to what it takes to lead, whether it's sensing need and opportunity, problem solving to overcome challenges and understanding community engagement are qualities that will serve our community today and in the future," said Zurita. "We congratulate the young people who participated today and thank the Jefferson Foundation for this outstanding program."
CASC Staff, Student Leader, Perah Ralin, a Senior at South Pasadena HS, is in her third year running workshop, called Introductions and Expectations. Which shows students about the expectations and skills that will help them to focus on different aspects of their education and help to build confidence.
CUSD students have achieved so much since being a part of the great work that The Jefferson Awards Foundation has been doing. Willowbrook Middle School represented the greater Los Angeles area at the Jefferson Awards Foundation's Students In Action national competition in Washington, D.C. last school year and presented their award-winning community service projects including their school cleanup initiative, and recycling and clothing drive.
These accomplishments show that students are benefiting greatly and impacting communities. The Jefferson Awards Foundation’s Students In Action challenges students at middle and high schools around the country to organize community service teams, inspire activism in their schools, and highlight their efforts through presentations.
Hollywood Wunderkind show creator and executive producer Lemuel Plummer was the day's keynote speaker and provided some insight on the importance of leadership. "It’s all about focusing on the goal. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what ethnicity you are or your gender. If you put in the work, you will accomplish your goals.”
Plummer added, “The music moguls (Birdman, Snoop Dogg, Damon Dash) on the show, didn’t have it easy and focused on changing their situation. As a leader you have to recognize those things and being around the right people. And when I say have good character, I mean being a good person.”
Myla Rahman, Jefferson Awards Foundation Regional Executive Director of Los Angeles remarked, "Changing lives, changes communities, and changing states can change the world. So we are all about making global changes and global positive impacts and we put all our heart and our soul into doing that which in essence we put our heart and soul into the students and they deserve it and they give it back to us, by making an impact on the world."
More than 400 educators representing high schools, school districts and California community colleges will discuss research and collaboration regarding dual enrollment during the Third Annual Conference of California Coalition of Early & Middle Colleges.
The mission of the California Coalition of Early & Middle Colleges is to promote and expand best practices to support K-12 and college partnerships which enable high school students to transition successfully to colleges and new careers. Dual enrollment, or "Early College" programs give high school students the opportunity to gain college units while still in high school.
The conference will take place in Ontario this week, October 27-28. Compton School Board Vice-President Micah Ali and Bill Newberry, Vice President, Corona-Norco Unified School District Board will preside the event as Honorary Chairs.
"We must continue to find innovative ways to challenge our students to succeed," said Ali. "Our Early College High School is already inspiring Compton Unified students to achieve new academic heights."
Ali added that Dual Enrollment is a very high priority for CUSD. "We worked closely with Assembly Member (Chris) Holden on AB288 to strengthen the partnerships between colleges and school districts which are key to the success of dual enrollment programs."
Mattie Adams, the Vice-President of the California Coalition of Early and Middle Colleges, helped launch CUSD's Early College High School and served as its first Principal.
Calling it a threat to public safety, a group of southeast area elected officials and community leaders announced their opposition to Proposition 64, the marijuana legalization initiative, yesterday at a news conference in Compton.
The effort was spearheaded by Smart Approaches to Marijuana, known as SAM Action, a national group co-founded by former Massachusetts Congressman Patrick Kennedy.
Policymakers from the cities of Compton and Lynwood, the Compton Unified School District and others, lined up to condemn the measure saying drugs have already done enough damage to their respective communities.
“Drugs are already a problem in our community,” said Satra Zurita, President of the Compton Unified School District Board. “Prop 64 can only make that worse. We are engineering a significant turnaround in the Compton School District and quite frankly legalized marijuana could impede our progress.”
“Those dispensaries are nothing more than modern-day dope houses,” said Janna Zurita, who represents the 1st District on the Compton City Council.
“If everybody is high, nobody is work-ready. We need to make sure that our youth is ready to apply to well-paid jobs, but the first step in any application is to pass a drug test.”
Tana McCoy, who represents the 3rd District in Compton, said enforcement of laws and regulations regarding the marijuana dispensaries is what concerns her the most.
“(Prop) 64 will not limit children’s access to drugs. We already have kids having access to illegal contraband in the first place but this proposition will open infinite possibilities for kids to buy marijuana.”
According to Satra Zurita from Compton Unified, there are as many as 21 dispensaries open for business in the Compton area, some within 600 feet of schools. The District has demanded the City enforce regulations to keep the dispensaries far from schools but in the last several months more dispensaries have opened.
By: Elissa Granger
Did you know that there are over 1,300 students in the Compton schools who are currently homeless? It's a challenge for the Compton Unified School District that John Keane, the Administrator for Foster Youth in the Pupil Services Department, faces every day.
“John Keane has been coming through for me. He’s got some power to him,” says A.J., the father of three CUSD students who find themselves homeless. Keane and his team have been working with A.J. and other families with help finding housing, counseling as well as making sure they assist in the "little things" like having access to bus tokens, back packs and other supplies. The key is to make sure homeless children don't lose valuable classroom time.
"The success of our students, no matter what their situation, is our goal," says Keane.
A.J.'s story - which he recently shared with our reporter - provides a window into the many challenges homeless families face in Compton. His story also demonstrates that Keane and others at CUSD are making a difference in their lives.
A.J. and his three sons came to Compton two years ago, culminating a journey that he could not have ever imagined. A.J. (who understandably didn't want to use his real name) was born and raised in Los Angeles, but has been a traveling man, a spoken-word artist who lived in Paris, France and New York City working on his craft in spoken word and rap venues, and, as he says, ”just seeing the world."
His travels took him to Portland Oregon, where his life changed. He fell in love.
“I saw a home video, some chick on a home video and just knew she was the mother of my children, and for 14 years I stayed in Portland”, says, A.J.
He told himself that he was not going to be able to make the kind of money he needed if he were to go back home to L.A. and decided that Portland was a more suitable place to begin his family and focus on career in film and television.
“I did my big man stuff in a small pond.” He also became a father, three times.
After 14 years A.J. felt it was time to change things. The relationship with the mother of his sons had soured.
“We didn’t have a relationship; we didn’t love each other.” All she was doing, he says, was holding on to the kids. And the fatigue of holding on to one another was now unbearable.
A.J. left his sons and came back to Los Angeles, seeking a change. Seeking to plant himself back into his L.A. roots, he wasn't prepared for how things had changed.
"I’m brand new. I’m seeing people – not knowing that a generation has passed since I’ve been here. Inglewood is different. The Rams are coming back. I’m seeing gentrification here.”
Then he received a phone call that he wasn't expecting. His son's mother said she couldn't raise their boys anymore. While the timing wasn't perfect -- he was still trying to get settled in L.A. -- he knew he had to go get his children. He took the train to Portland and they returned to L.A.
“I came here with a plan. Coming here and having money saved up to get a house. I thought it was only a matter of time before I'd get a job. I was confident in that."
But like for many in LA County who struggle--the cost of housing was a hurdle.
"It was the affordable housing that was the issue. I didn’t know that Inglewood - when I came back - was gentrified, where a two bedroom is now $2,200 a month on Century and Prairie,” he recalls.
As he started to seek assistance from social services things turned worse.
“We were going from motel to motel, but once documentation came into play and accountability for the services they offered, I had to go through those hoops. So we did the Motel 6 thing - $36 a bed… It got to the point and got so wicked we just went to Vegas and did $15-$20 a day – that was affordable housing," says A.J.
“We stayed in Vegas for a couple of months, then we came back here… and lived in the park and we stayed in the park for … way too long, man. And I was embarrassed and so – I never felt that. I never felt that kind of emotion. Because I couldn’t get the assistance from the services, with all these services – these social agencies they get millions of dollars but they can’t assist me. I didn’t come from a precondition. I didn’t come from a history of violence. I didn’t have no rap sheet."
The housing system has a formula and guidelines, where if you don’t fit into the formula – and if you can’t check the boxes and categories that determine one eligible, then you can’t get the help. Most services are set up to help single mothers, rarely are their programs available for single fathers.
"Seventeen months later we’ve been living in the car. For 17 months. I documented everyday through film, poetry, even making a documentary. That’s what helped me to get through it”, says, A.J.
Most importantly, his boys are in school.
For John Keane, A.J.'s story is one of hundreds that he has heard about families in transition. "A.J.’s three sons have been able to attend school and receive their education while the family is in transition," said Keane.
While A.J.'s sons are in school, he remains optimistic about the future.
“I’m always at the place I need to be and the pace and purpose of my path determines when I reach the goals. I don’t predict I only prepare.”
Thanks to Compton Unified, A.J. and his family have a chance.
Meet Mayo Elementary's "TechnoloChicas" - a group of fifth grade girls who provide their classmates with tech support.
By Elissa Granger
We caught the students in Darleen Perez’s class playing with something called a "Fling Machine." While they are clearly having fun, they're also learning about engineering and problem solving -- all part of Project Lead the Way which uses project-based learning in robotics and model design while using their iPads.
The students worked on designing and building the “Fling Machine," made from cotton balls, Popsicle sticks, straws and pipe cleaners, to catapult a cotton ball as far as possible through the air. The goal of this lesson is to design a device that will work effectively at least ten times without breaking.
Ms. Perez says, “they (students) had to do a sketch, which is part of the pre-design process. After that they were given the materials to build it. Students were able to test it out [on their own] and then we tested it out as a class.”
Ms. Perez goes on to explain that after the testing process, “[They now can do] the before and after, they are putting in their measurements in their charts… And so, if there is a malfunction for any reason, they’re writing what happened and writing a reflection on how they could make their machine better.”
This is how they are being introduced into the concept of problem solving.
In charting their devices measurements and outcomes students are also using Google Docs to document their reflections, which is accessible through their personal iPads which house all data and progress throughout the class.
Once students are finished adding their data to Google Docs -- which Ms. Perez is able to see immediately because all her students are connected to her shared folder -- students get busy on a new app called Quizlet. Ms. Perez uses Quizlet as a tool to teach students engineering principles such as designing, building and problem solving.
Students utilize Quizlet, an application that is featured on their personal iPads, which allows them to access and complete their assignments and allowing their teacher to view their progress in real time. "Quizlet also allows us (teachers) to add photos to flash cards to help with visually understanding new vocabulary much easier”, explains Ms. Perez. Quizlet brings a whole new dynamic to the education process as well as student achievement in understanding technology based education.
“In Quizlet I upload the vocabulary and they have virtual flashcards that have the definitions of the words and students can study them along with reading the vocabulary words in sentences. This is really cool because for English learners they can use the flash cards which also use audio to assist students in pronouncing (pronunciation) words. Quizlet also allows us to add photos to flash cards to help with visually understanding new vocabulary much easier," explains Ms. Perez.
Walton Middle School is one of five ConnectED schools in CUSD - and one of only 114 schools in California. The ConnectED Initiative was launched by the White House to increase student achievement and bridge the digital divide.
Students at Jefferson Elementary - along with students at Anderson, Tibby and Laurel Elementary Schools - scored very well on recent CAASPP tests. In some cases, they did better than the LA County or state averages. We featured them in a story recently.
We asked these schools to let us come and visit their classrooms and Jefferson Elementary Principal Diana Phillips invited over last week to share how their hard work translates into student academic success. We want to note that Mario Marcos, who is now the Director of English Language Services Department, was Principal of Jefferson for five years up until last year.
Compton Unified is filled with brilliant scholars working hard towards academic success. But there are also many artists and athletes. This photo gallery is dedicated to both the athletes of Dominguez HS football team as well as the talented photographers who documented their Homecoming.
Many thanks to Mzz. Leticia Acevez and her students at Dominguez High School!