Before becoming an English teacher at California High School, Lori Davies spent 12 years as a successful corporate lawyer, analyzing writs, combing over legal briefs and winning cases for her clients. But it was her passion for transforming the lives of students through teaching that led her to transition from the courtroom to the classroom. Now after 15 years as an educator, Davies is equally successful at administering exams, reviewing common assessments and teaching the works of Steinbeck while helping to guide students on their path to college and growing the school’s acclaimed Puente academic support program. Davies has been named the Whittier Union High School District’s 2017-18 Teacher of the Year.
California High School student Hannah Ridge loved to sing from the moment she joined the children’s church choir. It has since turned into a passionate calling that has led her to spend countless hours practicing her skills and perfecting her craft as a member of the Cal High Chamber Choir. She is now poised to share the stage with professional vocalists in one of the most elite women’s choruses in the country. Ridge was one of three high school vocalists recently selected to participate in the Choral Scholar Program for Vox Femina, a nationally acclaimed professional women’s choir based in Los Angeles.
The new California School Dashboard – a tool that evaluates district, school and student performance – was released March 15 for a statewide field test, providing Whittier Union families and educators a glimpse of the new accountability and improvement system before its official release in fall 2017.
When California High School senior Lauren Anderson opened a letter from Harvard University, she was on the school’s track preparing for practice. Only two words – “congratulations” and “accepted” – sunk in before she ran across the field to her coach. During what she described as a surreal moment, Anderson’s track and field coach read the letter for her, which stated she was accepted to the Ivy League school for the 2017-18 academic year as part of its early admission program. Only 14.5 percent of early applicants – or 938 out of 6,473 students – were admitted to Harvard’s class of 2021. The overall acceptance rate is 5.4 percent.
The Whittier Union High School District has launched a new electronic communication tool that will help strengthen engagement between students, parents, teachers and school administrators. Already integrated into the District’s Aeries Parent Portal student information system, Loop supports one- and two-way announcements and messaging between any system users through phone calls, text messages, e-mails, text-to-speech and instant messaging.
Four-legged therapists were recently enlisted to bring some peace and calm to California High School students as the stressed-out scholars filled the College and Career Center to file their college applications ahead of the Nov. 30 deadline. In partnership with Pet Partners, a national nonprofit focused on animal-assistant therapy, Cal High invited therapy dogs to three college application workshops held in the library for students filing Cal State University and University of California college applications. During each four-hour session, college-bound students dropped in to work on applications, get questions answered by experts and de-stress with the help of friendly pets.
Whittier Union in September hosted its annual District College Fair, attracting hundreds of students and their parents to the California High School campus, where they met with dozens of college representatives and learned how to prepare for college.
As Whittier Union concludes its first quarter of the 2016-17 school year, the District will begin the process of evaluating data from the previous school year and review its Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) to ensure students are receiving a high-quality, customized education. Meetings are planned March 8 and April 27.
Jashandeep Anand arrived to the United States at 14 years old, apprehensive about the environment he was walking into and struggling to understand an unfamiliar language and culture. Born and raised in New Delhi, India, Anand’s worries and concerns began to dissipate when he and his family first walked onto the California High School campus. Affectionately known as “Jash,” Anand has been embraced by his Condor family and was recognized with an Award of Merit by the Whittier Union High School District Board of Trustees.
Dozens of students in California High School’s Culinary Arts Academy who are learning to whip up sizzling recipes and concoct delicious innovative creations dedicated a “kitchen” to a local inspiration of their own – Chef Marco Zapien, executive chef and owner of Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria in Pico Rivera.
To prepare students for a future in technology and innovation, the Whittier Union High School District this year is launching a host of new courses in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields at its comprehensive high schools, with topics ranging from crime scene investigation to video game graphics and design.
Hundreds of Whittier community members on Aug. 12 converged on the California High School campus to celebrate the dedication and grand opening of Whittier Union’s second 7,000-seat District stadium – this one named in honor of visionary educational leader and former superintendent, Sandra Thorstenson.
In an effort to eliminate any first-day jitters before the official start of school on Aug. 17, each comprehensive high school welcomed freshmen with opening pep rallies with colorful balloons, spirited music and displays of Condor, Lancer, Titan, Chieftain and Cardinal pride as part of Freshman First Day.
To ensure that special education students receive high-quality services closer to home, Whittier Union this summer launched the PRIDE Santa Fe program, which will offer specialized instruction to students with emotional challenges who would otherwise have to attend private facilities.
California High School English teacher Mark Quintero recently earned National Board Certification, the most respected professional certification available in education.
More than 3,000 students from the Whittier Union High School District’s five comprehensive high schools, two alternative high schools, adult school and transition program celebrated the end of their high school careers and beginning of the next chapter of their lives at commencement ceremonies May 31-June 2. Click on the story link to see photos!
More than 3,000 students from Whittier Union High School District’s five comprehensive high schools, two alternative high schools, adult school and transition program will cap their high school careers with commencement ceremonies from May 31 to June 2. Please click the link for ceremony schedules.
Whittier High School Principal Lori Eshilian, who has helmed the Cardinal campus for almost eight years, and Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services Rich Russell, who has been with the District for 22 years, will retire from their posts in June.
Pioneer High School Principal Monica Oviedo and Santa Fe High School Principal Kevin Jamero will help lead the District as assistant superintendents in the wake of Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson’s impending retirement and the selection of Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Martin Plourde as her successor.
The Whittier Union High School District will name a new 7,000-seat District football stadium under construction at California High School the “Sandra Sanchez Thorstenson Stadium” in honor of Superintendent Thorstenson, who is retiring in June after 39 years with the District.
More than 300 female students from Whittier Union’s seven high schools packed into Rio Hondo College’s Wray Theater for the 21st annual Women’s Conference, an event aimed to inspire participants through a series of workshops that provided resources and helped strengthen young women’s wellness in mind and body.
California High School arts teacher Julie Tonkovich is one of only 10 public school teachers appointed to serve on the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), an advisory body to the State Board of Education, providing her the opportunity to help develop and strengthen education standards that will benefit students across the state.
As football fans around the world revel in the Denver Broncos’ victory in Super Bowl 50, Whittier Union is celebrating five coveted Golden Footballs that four of its comprehensive high schools received from the National Football League to recognize distinguished alumni who participated in 10 Super Bowls and amassed eight championships.
The Whittier Union High School District Board of Trustees on Feb. 9 selected Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Martin Plourde, who has served the District in various leadership capacities for 15 years, as its next Superintendent.
Whittier Union provides a rare example of a collaborative culture that successfully boosts student achievement and teacher development, according to international education expert Michael Fullan, who on Feb. 3 visited the site as part of case study on high-achieving school districts.
California High School student leader Sophia Aldecoa is a homecoming princess who dreams of one day becoming a brain surgeon. But fulfilling these lifelong goals has not come easy for the 18-year-old, who once grappled with a low self-esteem that stemmed from growing up in a difficult home. Still, the shy youngster never wavered from the high expectations she set for herself, persevering personally and academically while at Cal High, where she has been named a Top 100 Student for four consecutive years. Aldecoa was recently recognized with an Award of Merit by the Whittier Union High School District Board of Trustees.
With the valuable input of stakeholders from the Whittier Union community, the District has begun the process of updating its Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), a three-year guide required under the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) that provides districts with flexibility on how to best address the needs of students. Community meetings will be held on March 2 and April 14.
To further strengthen community outreach and communication efforts among the school district community, the Whittier Union High School District has launched its official Facebook page, where it will distribute up-to-date news and information about its schools, activities and District initiatives.
The Whittier Union High School District Board of Trustees decided is gather written and oral comments from a wide array of sources and stakeholders within the school district community prior to selecting its new executive leader. As part of the process, the school community and public are invited to submit written comments through an online survey available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/H8LV8RS through Friday, Jan. 29.
After a 39-year career as a teacher and administrator in the Whittier Union High School District – including over 14 years as District Superintendent – Sandra Thorstenson has announced she will retire in June 2016.
Nearly a dozen marching band and color guard members from Whittier Union will proudly represent their schools and exhibit their talents when they perform in the 127th Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day. The Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band, which has marched in every Tournament of Roses Parade since 1930, chose for its 2016 band seven students from California High School, two students from La Serna High School and two students from Whittier High School.
Following the extensive modernization of campus classrooms and facilities, the Whittier Union High School District is focusing its efforts on completing the final items on its bond list. The District has issued the final $18.9 million in Measure W bonds and has successfully refinanced a portion of the $98 million in bonds issued through 1998’s Measure C, saving taxpayers $12.2 million.
Balancing the demands of school life with the pressures of planning for college and career can be intimidating for some students, especially when having to navigate the variety of campus resources needed to inform those tough decisions. To simplify the process, Cal High this year created the College and Career Zone Team, a consolidation of several support services to provide a more streamlined process for students seeking guidance on their post-secondary options.
Renovation and improvement projects – including the construction of a new 7,000-seat stadium at California High School – are in full swing this summer at the Whittier Union High School District. Workers are busy upgrading facilities across the District to increase school safety and provide 21st century learning environments for students, who will head back to school Aug. 12.
In anticipation of another rigorous year at the Whittier Union High School District, instructors spent their summer months attending professional development workshops at the Sierra Education Center, breaking into teams and setting an ambitious agenda designed to continually enhance teacher development and student achievement. This work will help prepare students for the Smarter Balanced tests, which assess students’ understanding of content under the rigorous California Standards. All 11th-grade students will complete the exams in the spring.
Whittier Union High School District plans to invest $15 million to expand summer school courses, broaden student mental health services, strengthen technology support and implement a unique Academic English course that will directly support English learner students as part of its 2015-18 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). The plan, a requirement of the state’s school funding system, guides District efforts to improve student learning.
More than 3,000 students from Whittier Union High School District’s five comprehensive high schools, two alternative high schools, adult school and Transition program for special education students ages 18 to 22 capped their high school careers with commencement ceremonies June 2-3.
The Whittier Union High School District unveiled its spectacular 7,000-seat football stadium at Pioneer High School – among the largest high school stadiums in the San Gabriel Valley – to the community during a grand opening ceremony on May 28. The $17.5 million facility, built with proceeds from the $75 million Measure W facilities bond, was dedicated as the Dick Torres Memorial Stadium in honor of Richard (Dick) Torres, who died in 2010 after serving more than 30 years as an educational leader and inspiration to Whittier Union students.
More than two dozen California High School seniors completed the first-ever Whittier Students in Government (WSIG) program, a collaboration between the Whittier Union High School District and the City of Whittier to provide students with a real-world look at the challenges and rewards of running a city. The 25 Advanced Placement government students – who were elected to serve in roles paralleling those of mayor, mayor pro-tem, council member, city manager and administrative staff – were recognized for their diligent work at a Whittier City Council meeting.
All five of the Whittier Union High School District’s comprehensive high schools on May 5 were named California Gold Ribbon Schools – the state’s highest award for academic excellence. Gold Ribbons were awarded to California, La Serna, Pioneer, Santa Fe and Whittier high schools; the latter three received an additional award for being Title I Academic Achieving Schools that demonstrate success in meeting the educational needs of all students.
California High School senior Ivan Delatorre is one of a select 1,000 students from across the nation to be named a Gates Millennium Scholar. Delatorre, who holds a 4.3 GPA and is ranked seven in a class of 720 at the Whittier Union school, was chosen from among tens of thousands of applicants for the Millennium Scholar Program. He will use the scholarship to pursue a degree in accounting at UCLA.
Nearly 96 percent of the 2,812 seniors from the Whittier Union High School District’s five comprehensive high schools graduated last year, according to data released April 28 by the California Department of Education (CDE) for the 2013-14 academic year. Dropout rates among the schools fell to 2.7 percent.
Two Cal High seniors have made history, scoring the school’s first-ever invitation to the National Speech and Debate Tournament after winning first place at the East Los Angeles District Speech and Debate Association Tournament. Sporting matching gray suits and bow ties, seniors Jared Cohen and John Ramirez received the top score of the March tournament for their interpretation of Mel Brooks’ comedy “The Producers." The duo will travel to Dallas in June to complete with fellow high school students.
More than 300 California High School students sat in silence in their school gym as Holocaust survivor Peter Daniels told the harrowing tale of his childhood in Nazi Germany and the two years he was held in a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Daniels, however, wasn’t in the room when he was garnering the students’ attention and taking their questions during the March 11 event. He was at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, talking to them through Skype, an online video chatting application.
California High School culinary students have been waiting all year long to use their newly renovated classroom kitchen facility to whip up new recipes, cook up sweet and savory delights and learn what it takes to be a professional chef. The 103 students in the school’s Culinary Arts Academy have broken in the $1.2 million industrial facility, which includes new appliances, baking and cooking equipment, cabinetry and more.
University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks visited California High School on Feb. 5 to observe its widely acclaimed Puente Program, which has been recognized as one of the highest-performing Puente sites in the state based on the numbers of students who applied to four-year colleges and the number who were accepted.
The Whittier Union High School District is one of four school districts across the state selected to participate in a three-year case study administered by one of the world’s leading educational researchers and reform advocates who will observe the District’s successful use of collaboration to improve student achievement.
The number of students who are completing the courses necessary for entrance into four-year universities has nearly doubled since 2006, the highest rate in Whittier Union’s history.
Ushering in the holidays with music ranging from uplifting classical works to fun Christmas favorites, the choirs of Whittier Union’s five comprehensive high schools celebrated the season during the District’s annual Choral Festival on Dec. 4. Choral ensembles from California, La Serna, Pioneer, Santa Fe and Whittier high schools performed their pieces and received critiques from this year’s adjudicator, Dr. Iris Levine, an award-winning composer and conductor and Cal Poly Pomona’s Music Department Chair.
Surrounded by coaches, family and friends, California High School varsity softball player Jessika Jaime signed her scholarship letter to play the sport she lovingly devoted her entire childhood to. Jessika, who has been playing softball since she was 5 years old, signed her letter of intent to join the Siena Saints softball program at Siena College, a private Division I university in Albany County, New York. D-I schools are the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the country.
The Whittier Union High School District is expanding its award-winning mental health program at Santa Fe High School to all schools District-wide, with the expansion of wellness centers, counseling services and overall support for students who are experiencing barriers to their personal and academic achievement.
The talented marching bands, color guards, pep and cheer squads and a drill team from the Whittier Union High School District’s five comprehensive high schools gave rousing performances to a packed house at California High School for the annual Band Jamboree celebration on Nov. 3.
More than 200 Associated Student Body (ASB) members from throughout the Whittier Union High School District attended the annual ASB Social/Dinner on Oct. 28, in which students bonded, held friendly competitions, a sing-off and even evaded a zombie apocalypse.
Students at the Whittier Union High School District continue to raise the bar for college- and career-readiness, with the latest state data showing more students than ever taking Advanced Placement exams, passing the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and narrowing the achievement gap.
In celebration of its longtime tradition of student achievement, the Whittier Union High School District commemorated the 50th anniversary of its esteemed Horizons program, founded in 1964 by educator Dr. Henry M. Ramirez in an effort to close the opportunity gap and catapult students to success. The District held an anniversary celebration for the pioneering program on Sept. 16.
California High School gave the new freshman class a cheerful welcome when students debuted a music video inspired by the Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy,” aimed at promoting the school’s Condor PRIDE model and helping the nearly 750 incoming ninth-graders feel right at home.
For the first time in the school’s history, Cal High's Cross Country team advanced to state and national competitions, earning special recognition from the Board of Trustees that recently celebrated the team’s remarkable 2012 season.
California High School math teachers Justina Straub and Monica Diaz recently received their National Board Certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. Click on the title above to read the full story.
In an effort to ease the transition not only for incoming ninth graders but also for their parents, California High School held several special orientation meetings this summer as a part of their Parent Partnership/Ninth Grade Orientation Program. Click on the title above to read the full story.
Ashley Ruiz of California High School received recognition from the WUHSD Board of Trustees for turning around her academic career, raising her grade point average and setting her path for college. Click on the title above to read the full story.
Everyone at California High School is enjoying its new administration building centrally located near the new main school entrance off of Hawes Street. Click on the title above to read more on this and WUHSD's other modernization projects.
Students in the Academic Community for Enrichment Program (ACE) at California High School are making tremendous strides in academic achievement. Click on the title above for the full story.
Associated Student Body members from each Whittier Union high school bonded over tacos, cookies, games and gifts during the annual ASB Night. Click on the title above to see a photo gallery.
“We congratulate Virginia on this significant achievement,” said Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson. “She joins a distinguished circle of 18 District teachers who have now received their National Board Certification.” Click story title for full details
CHS now offers students and parents the opportunity to view student info, grades, attendance, transcripts,etc. all online within our new Zangle Portals. Click the story title for full details about these new website resource options.