San Antonio High School's Thanksgiving Tradition Brings Community Together

The Claremont Unified School District takes immense pride in celebrating San Antonio High School's long-standing tradition of hosting a community Thanksgiving meal. This annual event, a hallmark of the school's commitment to community spirit and inclusivity, has been a part of SAHS for over 18 years, with Ana Avilez playing a pivotal role in its organization.

The Thanksgiving Feast at SAHS is more than just a meal; it symbolizes unity and care within the school community. Each year, the event draws together students, staff, and families from across the district, fostering a sense of belonging and shared gratitude. The preparation for this feast is a significant undertaking, beginning in the early morning hours. While the turkeys, the meal's centerpiece, are prepared by dedicated staff members like Ana Avilez, the CUSD Nutrition Services team contributes by creating various delicious side dishes. 

Ana Avilez says, "What makes this event special is its impact on the students. For many, this feast may be their primary opportunity to experience a traditional Thanksgiving meal." The joy and satisfaction seen on the smiling faces of the students directly reflect the event's significance. Last year alone, the feast welcomed around 160 participants, showcasing its popularity and the warmth it brings to the school community.

This tradition at SAHS is a testament to the values of CUSD – nurturing a supportive and inclusive environment where every member feels valued. The Thanksgiving feast is a beacon of these values, bringing people together in celebration and gratitude.

In her role, Ana Avilez has been instrumental in ensuring the success of this event. Still, the essence of the feast lies in the collective efforts of the entire school community. From sending out invitations to every school in the district to ensuring every aspect of the meal is prepared with care, the SAHS community works tirelessly to make this event a success year after year.

CUSD extends its heartfelt appreciation to San Antonio High School for nurturing this wonderful tradition. It's a reminder of the power of community and the importance of coming together to celebrate and give thanks.

CUSD Celebrates: Chaparral Elementary School's Innovative 'Chap Shop' Initiative

Claremont Unified School District is excited to celebrate the innovative 'Chap Shop' initiative at Chaparral Elementary School, a new program designed to foster a sense of community and reward students for their positive contributions.

The Chap Shop is an inventive system where students earn tickets during the school day, which they can exchange for toys or experiences. This initiative, the brainchild of Principal Pak, was brought to life with the collaborative efforts of the Parent Faculty Association (PFA) President Kara Palumbo. Together, they have created an engaging and motivating environment for students.

What sets the Chap Shop apart is the inclusion of the 'In School Experience' option. These experiences, though costing more tickets, offer students unique opportunities beyond tangible rewards like Pokemon cards. Students can choose from various experiences, such as having lunch with Mrs. Pak or Mrs. Simpson, getting a special marquee shout-out, or reading a book to a kindergarten class. These experiences are not just rewards; they foster leadership, empathy, and a deeper connection with the school community.

The experience list also includes fun group activities like a Pajama Day for the whole class, enjoying a class-wide Stuffed Animal Day, or having a Popsicle Party. These collective rewards promote a sense of unity and shared joy among students, enhancing the community spirit at Chaparral Elementary.

The Chap Shop is more than a reward system; it teaches valuable life skills such as responsibility, goal-setting, and the joy of earning and saving for something meaningful. This innovative approach aligns perfectly with CUSD's Purpose Statement: "Igniting curiosity, strengthening resilience, and inspiring excellence to empower each student's academic journey."

CUSD applauds Principal Pak and Kara Palumbo for their vision and dedication to bringing the Chap Shop to life. Their efforts in creating this unique system exemplify the district's focus on student development.

Vista del Valle Student Author Abigail Haughton's Literary Journey

Claremont Unified School District is thrilled to celebrate the extraordinary achievement of Abigail Haughton, a talented young author from Vista del Valle Elementary School. With the support and encouragement of her family and teachers, Abigail has penned a historical fiction novel at an impressively young age.

Abigail's novel, set on the Titanic, delves into the adventures of a young boy and his family as they encounter trials and tribulations intertwined with the story of an undercover friend. Abigail's participation inspired this intriguing narrative in literature groups at school, where she developed a love for storytelling and historical themes.

The nurturing environment at Vista del Valle Elementary played a pivotal role in fostering Abigail's creativity and writing skills.The guidance and inspiration from her teachers have been instrumental in Abigail's journey as a young writer.

Abigail's mother, Bobrea Haughton, has been a pillar of support, fostering her daughter's reading and writing skills from an early age. She shared that Abigail started reading at four and has been an honor-roll student since kindergarten. Her mother's encouragement to write led to Abigail exploring her creative talents more deeply.

Abigail's book has been two years in the making. This novel is a testament to her dedication and hard work. Her mother proudly notes that while she wrote short stories at school, Abigail's achievement in writing a full-length book is extraordinary.

The young author's aspirations don't stop at writing. She dreams of becoming a film director, combining her love for storytelling with visual arts. Her favorite school activities, like field trips focusing on arts, further inspire her creative endeavors.

Abigail's journey is a personal accomplishment and an inspiration to her peers in the Claremont community. It highlights the importance of nurturing young talent and the significant role parents and teachers play in encouraging each student's interests. 

CUSD is immensely proud of Abigail Haughton for her remarkable achievement in writing her first novel. Her story is a shining example of how passion, supported by a nurturing environment, can lead to extraordinary accomplishments. Congratulations, Abigail, on your impressive journey as a young author! 

To purchase Abigail's book, Treacherous Waters: The Rouge Voyage, visit the link below.

Young Martial Arts Masters Achieve Black Belt Status

Three students from the Claremont Unified School District have reached a remarkable milestone in martial arts, earning their black belts in Karate. Noah Steckling, an 8th grader at El Roble Intermediate School, and Aiden and Amira Woodcock, 10th graders at Claremont High School, have demonstrated exceptional dedication and skill in their martial arts journey.

Noah Steckling began his Karate training at the age of five. Inspired by his older brother Jack, a sophomore at CHS, Noah has been dedicated to the discipline for over eight years. The journey to his black belt was not just about acquiring the belt itself but about enjoying the process, mastering techniques, and setting a personal goal to excel. He juggled his Karate training with other activities like Boy Scouts, playing guitar, and being part of the school's jazz band, showing remarkable time management and commitment.

Aiden and Amira Woodcock, twins at CHS, started their Karate journey at eight years old. Their journey to black belts was challenging, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted their training. Their final push towards achieving the black belt status involved:

  • Waking up early for practice

  • Attending classes after school

  • Managing their academic workload, all while staying disciplined and focused

They view Karate as not just a sport but a way to develop self-control, responsibility, and time management skills. 

Their black belt tests were intense and challenging, involving breaking boards, sparring with other black belts, and maintaining resilience despite physical and mental fatigue. These experiences have significantly contributed to their personal growth, teaching them valuable life lessons.

Noah, Aiden, and Amira's achievements in Karate go beyond physical prowess; they represent dedication, perseverance, and the ability to balance multiple responsibilities while pursuing personal goals. These young martial artists embody the spirit of determination and inspire their peers and the community. 

CUSD is proud to recognize and celebrate these outstanding students' hard work and accomplishments. Their journey to black belt status is a testament to their commitment and a shining example of what can be achieved with dedication and perseverance. Congratulations, Noah, Aiden, and Amira on this significant milestone!

Dr. Natalie Taylor's Achievement of the Valuing Diversity Award

Claremont Unified School District proudly celebrates Dr. Natalie Taylor, our Director of Intervention and English Learner Programs, for receiving the prestigious Valuing Diversity Award from ACSA. With a dedicated career spanning since 2004, Dr. Taylor has been an unwavering advocate for inclusive education and equity.

Her innovative approach transformed Claremont USD's homecoming tradition into a gender-inclusive celebration, setting a new standard for inclusion and representation. This change, initially met with skepticism, has now become an embraced norm, thanks to Dr. Taylor's leadership and the students' commitment to inclusivity.

Dr. Taylor's contributions extend far beyond event reforms. Her doctoral dissertation on "Recognizing Whiteness" and subsequent presentations have sparked crucial conversations about racial identity and consciousness among educators. As a director, she reimagined the English Language Learner Reclassification process into a multicultural celebration, recognizing the hard work and unique challenges ELL students face.

Dr. Taylor led the formation of the Equity Advisory Council in CUSD in response to racial equity challenges. This council, comprising staff, community members, and students with lived experiences of racism, plays a critical role in addressing racial inequities and fostering an inclusive environment in our schools.

Under her guidance, CUSD has seen significant advancements in addressing achievement gaps and promoting Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Her efforts ensure that our schools recognize and actively work to correct racial inequities.

Dr. Taylor's belief that "an injustice to one is an injustice to all" drives her dedication to making CUSD a place for all students to feel safe and supported.

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