Sharing the Good News and Good Work of Students and Staff

September 2019 Edition

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Message from the Superintendent

A New Vision and Mission for PUSD

  • “To create a better everyday life for many people.” – IKEA
  • “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” – Microsoft
  • “To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground.” – JetBlue
  • “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” –Tesla

Some of the world’s most successful companies start with a grand vision statement like the ones listed above. Part of their success lies in their strong values, which are embraced by their employees and the customers they serve. With these vision statements as their guide, these organizations aim high, dream big, and achieve great things.

At the Poway Unified School District, we have a long history of excellence which has motivated people to buy homes in our neighborhoods, students to attend our schools, and staff to apply for jobs to work here. When I first came here as Superintendent in April of 2017, Poway Unified was doing a good job of meeting its vision of “college and career readiness for all students.” The college/career indicator, as measured by the California Department of Education, shows that in 2018, 71.2% of PUSD students were prepared for college and career, compared to 42.2% of students across the state. And 95.2% of PUSD students graduated from high school, compared to 83.5% of students across the state.

As a new leadership team, we made intentional efforts to visit and observe all of our sites and departments with the goal of learning, listening, and leading. We engaged in multiple community and school stakeholder conversations whereby we identified a need to move the District forward to the next level of innovation and achievement. There is much more work occurring at our schools and in our classrooms than just college and career readiness. When we surveyed our stakeholders, you shared the following as some of the most important things to focus on in our schools: social-emotional learning, physical and mental health, safety and inclusion, well-rounded and balanced student experiences, and future-ready life skills. As a result, PUSD’s former vision and mission statements no longer accurately reflected the depth and breadth of our work as educators in PUSD, nor the ever-changing, global society that our graduates are preparing for.

Last month, District leadership and the Board of Education engaged in a deep discussion around PUSD’s goals and desires for its students, which led to the development of our new vision and mission statements. They were adopted at the September 12th Board Meeting. A strong vision statement provides the direction and describes what the organization hopes to achieve in the future. It sets the big picture and is both inspiring and challenging so that it guides the work of every employee. PUSD’s new vision statement is: “to create culture and conditions to empower world-class learners.” This vision statement considers the wider impact that we hope to have on the world through our students and allows us the room to explore and develop innovative practices and experiences that support our students’ success.

A mission statement is the plan that describes whom we serve, what we do, and how we do it. It is a short summary of our current focus and tangible goals. PUSD’s new mission statement is: inspiring passion and preparing every student to thrive in college, career, and life by providing personalized, rich, and rigorous learning experiences.” Our mission statement builds on and expands on the work that Poway Unified has already been doing so well, moving from college and career readiness to thriving in college, career, and life. Our new mission statement acknowledges the work we are doing now and moving forward.

Together, these two statements unify the efforts of everyone involved with our school district: community partners, businesses, parents, staff, and students. As I told our employees during our back-to-school kick off: no one in Poway Unified does this work in isolation. We can all help promote changes that benefit all of our students. In everything we do, the question we all need to ask ourselves is, “What responsibility do I have in my day to day work and interactions in creating culture and conditions to empower our world class learners?” We can start with small, simple changes because an engaged student is an empowered student. Saying hello while passing a student in the hallway is an opportunity to let them know that someone cares about them. Making the effort to learn students’ names as they board the bus every morning lets them know someone notices them. Taking the time to find out why a student is having an “off” day lets them know someone is listening. Mentoring a student and encouraging their curiosity sparks their passion for learning. Together, we can move our District towards maximizing each and every student’s potential for greatness.

-Marian Kim Phelps, Ed.D.


As originally published in the Pomerado News


Student, School, and Staff Achievements

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Rancho Bernardo HS Girl's Golf Breaks State Record

The Rancho Bernardo High School Girl's Golf team is now the official holder of a new state record for most consecutive wins!

The Broncos are undefeated at 118 matches, and played a fantastic game with the Del Norte HS Nighthawks to claim the win. A special shout out to Broncos Head Coach Rich Deem for supporting the players every "putt" of the way.

Congratulations on making the history books, Broncos! Read more about their record-breaking journey here.

Westview Freshman Kara Fan Recognized for Work on Liquid Bandages

What started as an at-home bio project is now changing the medtech game: Westview High School freshman Kara Fan was recognized on behalf of San Diego County District 3 Supervisor Kristin Gaspar for her 3M "Young Scientist Challenge" project on liquid bandages.

At just 14 years old, Kara has developed a method of using nano-particles in liquid bandages to kill harmful bacteria in wounds. The labs at UC San Diego Health lent her microscopes for her research, and she is now one of only 10 students going on to participate in the national finals at the 3M headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota. Kara leaves in October to be mentored and find ways to build upon her work. Watch Kara's interview with KUSI here.

Rookie "Team Inspiration" Wins Awards at Local Robotics Competition

Rookie robotics team “Team Inspiration” took home two awards at the 2019 RoboSub competition at the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) on Point Loma: “Most Inspirational” and the “IEEE Innovation Award.” Out of 59 teams that participated, “Team Inspiration” was the only group comprised of middle and high school students from the San Diego region.

They outranked college teams including Caltech, Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, San Diego State and University of Southern California, and placed 12th overall. “Team Inspiration” is comprised of the following students from the Poway Unified School District: Mabel Szeto (Del Norte HS), Colin Szeto (Del Norte HS), Ashika Palacharla (Del Norte HS), Aditya Mavalankar (Rancho Bernardo HS), Eesh Vij (Westview HS), Raina Shapur (Black Mountain MS).

Bringing Libraries to Low-Income Areas, Schools in India

Mt. Carmel High School Sophomore Sravya Chittuluri is on a mission to bring reading and literacy to low-income areas and schools in India. This is what she had to say about her project:

"By selling handmade pendants at farmer's markets and my school, I raised enough money to start two school libraries in India. In total, I have bought over 1,100 books, as well as cabinets. The students there were overjoyed at the donation, as they would not have access to such books otherwise. It encouraged me to continue bringing such joy to low-income schools all over the world."
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Poway High's 'Team Syper' Wins 2019 Battleship Blast Competition

Poway High School's Robotics Team, 'Team Spyder,' won first place at the Battleship Blast Competition in San Pedro, CA. In a group effort with two other teams, and after repairing mechanical issues during the individual matches, Team Spyder defeated other alliance teams and was named the winner of the competition. The team is made up of 64 students.

64 Poway Unified Seniors Named as Semi-Finalists in National Merit Scholarship Program

The #PowayUnified School District is pleased to announce that 64 students from Del Norte, Mt. Carmel, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, and Westview High Schools were named as semi-finalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program.

These high school seniors entered the competition by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) as juniors, and were among the highest-scoring entrants in the state of California. They have an opportunity to continue for some 7,600 merit scholarships worth more than $31 million. Finalists will be announced in February 2020.

Read the full announcement here.

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Sunset Hills Elementary Unveils New 'Lightbulb Lab'

The new maker space and innovation lab invites children in Kindergarten through fifth grades to collaborate, engineer, and create projects to solve real world problems. Principal Lisa Wilken said the lab was two years in the making, and parents fundraised to make the dream into a reality. The lab is geared toward science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM), as well as teaching students soft skills needed for future careers.

Three Poway Unified Teachers Nominated for San Diego County 'Teacher of the Year'

It was an exciting evening for #TeamPUSD at the annual Cox Salute to Teachers awards ceremony at the Balboa Theatre. The three PUSD representatives were Coleen Montgomery (Rancho Bernardo HS), Sarah McCracken (Midland ES), and Stephen Whittaker (Oak Valley MS). Coleen was announced as one of the Top Ten Finalists for the entire county! We are so proud of ALL of our school site and District teachers of the year!

Board of Education Recognizes 2019 Classified Employees, Teachers, and Volunteers of the Year

The Board of Education officially recognized the 2019 Poway Unified Classified Employees, Teachers, and Volunteers of the Year during the September 12 Board of Education meeting.

Classified Employees of the Year: Deborah Seibert, Transportation; Alice Burge, Adobe Bluffs; and Vickie Norris, Facilities, Maintenance & Operations

Teachers of the Year: Stephen Whittaker, Oak Valley Middle School; Coleen Montgomery, Rancho Bernardo High School; Sarah McCracken, Midland Elementary School.

Volunteers of the Year: Eric Hellon, Chaparral Elementary School; Ed Oliva, Twin Peaks Middle School; Darlene & Dustin Dunn, Rancho Bernardo High School

Congratulations #TeamPUSD!

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Rolling Hills Elementary Celebrates 40th Birthday

Happy Birthday, Rolling Hills! The elementary school in Rancho Peñasquitos opened in 1979, and celebrated 40 years of world-class education this month. At the all-school Flag Friday assembly, students and community members sang 'Happy Birthday' and administration revealed five new murals to celebrate the milestone. Additionally, former staff came back for a visit and told stories from the past.

Poway Unified's Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI) Model Featured on Local News

The SAI Model is focused on creating the culture and conditions necessary to support equity, equality, and innovation in the classroom with students receiving Special Education services. It was also recently featured on 10 News ABC San Diego (KGTV). The Model is being piloted at Mt. Carmel HS, Twin Peaks MS, and Monterey Ridge ES, with staff at an additional seven schools receiving training.

Watch the clip here.


News and Fun Photos

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From September 15 - October 15, #PowayUnified is celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to the United States. Across our social media platforms, we share the accomplishments of figures such as Ilia Calderón, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz, and more. To read more about the celebration, click here.

Annual PUSD College and Career Fair Oct. 17

Mark your calendars! We are less than one month away from the College and Career Fair at Rancho Bernardo HS on October 17. All high school students and parents/guardians are invited to attend. You'll have the chance to meet with representatives from colleges and universities across the nation, and hear from trade schools and branches of the military. Attendees can also learn about topics such as financial aid and different career options in informational workshops.

More information and a list of participating vendors can be found at the link here. Have questions? Email collegeandcareerfair@powayusd.com

Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

Captain Thomas L. Adams III, US Navy (Ret.) was scheduled to be in the Pentagon at the same time Flight 77 hit the west wing at 9:37 a.m. on September 11, 2001. He switched his watch command that day, and missed the impact by three-quarters of a mile. Capt. Adams lost 42 friends and colleagues that day. Now, as an NJROTC Instructor at Westview High School, he teaches his students the importance of remembering the first responders and victims of that day, 18 years ago. CBS Channel 8 News caught up with Capt. Adams in a Sept. 11 memorial feature.

To watch, click here.

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Taking Care of Business in Biztown

Every year, 5th graders across PUSD become JA Biztown "citizens" for a day. After learning about it in the classroom, students use their knowledge of how the economy, job market, businesses, and finances work to successfully run a town. NBC7 San Diego tagged along with a class from Morning Creek Elementary School and gave us an inside look! Watch the story here!
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The Poway Rotary Parade

The 55th annual Poway Rotary Parade was held on Saturday, September 7, 2019 on Poway Road between Pomerado and Bowron roads. Formerly known as the Poway Days Parade, the annual September parade included 90 entries, including several from the Poway Unified School District. More than 10,000 spectators enjoyed floats, all five PUSD high school marching bands, and even a rolling robot! The parade theme was “Celebrate Country Living,” and intern Jovanna Vega-Albela captured the fun entries from that day.

Missed the parade this year? No problem! Click the button below to see all the fun.

Scrunchies for a Cause: Providing Clean Water to Vietnamese Children

Leaders of the Vietnamese Students Association at Westview High School are cutting, sewing, and selling homemade hair scrunchies to raise money for new clean water systems that will go to Vietnamese school children. Each water system costs $1,300 and the club has already provided a system for a middle school in Vietnam. Their efforts were even featured on CBS Channel 8 with reporter Jeff Zevely. Watch the story here.

#StartWithHello Week

All across the District, schools partnered with the Sandy Hook Promise organization to create a campus environment of inclusion and belonging during #StartWithHello week (September 23-27).

School administrators, peer students, and counselors welcomed people to campus with posters, high-fives, stickers, and more to let them know they are welcome and seen. The program, which is adopted by schools nation-wide, teaches students to "take small but powerful actions to promote connectedness ... and to identify and help lonely students."

To learn more about what Sandy Hook Promise is doing to inspire a culture of change, click the link here.

Poway High Ambassadors Begin School Visits

What's better than recess? Spending it with the Poway High Titan Ambassadors! The Titans began their scheduled visits to schools around the District this month, and we caught them in action as they joined the fun and games at Garden Road and Valley Elementary Schools.

Many PUSD high schools have ambassador programs, where high school students show younger students what it looks like to have good character, be respectful, and be a responsible citizen of the world.

Adobe Bluffs Mandarin FLES and Immersion Students Perform at Balboa

In honor of the Moon Festival holiday, our Adobe Bluffs Aztecs in the Mandarin foreign language and Immersion programs performed Chinese song and dance in Balboa Park at the Spreckles Organ Pavillion.
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A "Sweet" Homecoming for Rancho Bernardo HS

The Rancho Bernardo Broncos sure know how to throw a Homecoming Rally! Students made their way through the gym, covered in 'Candyland' themed decorations, to increase excitement for the football game on September 13 and the dance September 14.

Suicide Prevention Week

Throughout the week of September 8-14, many campuses across Poway Unified raised awareness about Suicide Prevention. The SAVE Promise and Mental Health Clubs at Bernardo Heights Middle School teamed up to put up yellow suicide awareness ribbons around campus, played Mental Health Jeopardy and Bingo, and educated their peers about the signs for suicide, depression and anxiety.

If you or someone you know is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Harvest Season throughout Poway Unified

Autumn is officially upon us! To kick off the harvest season, we took a peek into the gardens of some of our elementary schools. From exploring sustainable farming methods to learning multiplication tables from greenhouse planters, the garden provides an abundance of teaching opportunities that are outside the classroom. Watch the video below!
Poway Unified: Outdoor learning in school gardens

Three Brothers in Poway Unified Earn Eagle Scout Award at the Same Time

Do you know the Hulterstrom brothers? Daniel and Jacob are twins at Meadowbrook Middle School, and David is at Poway High. All three brothers became Eagle Scouts at the same time! News8's Jeff Zevely sat down with them for this fun story - with a dose of sibling rivalry thrown in. Click the link below to watch the full feature.

Poway Titans Take on the Wolverines in Homecoming Battle

The Poway Titans took on the Westview Wolverines for their Homecoming game Sept. 20, and Titan pride at the pep rally was nothing short of spectacular. In addition to the pep rally the day of the game, Poway held a homecoming assembly early in the week to gear up for the big day.

Surprise Homecoming

Brotherly love! Sundance Elementary 5th grader Brendon was surprised by his brother, who serves in the US Air Force, also a former Wildcat! He hadn't seen him in 6 months, so their reunion was a tear-jerker. Thank you to those who serve and to the families who sacrifice as well!

A "Silly" Surprise at Creekside Elementary

As an incentive for those who brought in more than $180 of donations for the Creekside Parent Teacher Association membership drive, students gave Principal Christine Donnelly a Silly String shower during a Friday morning assembly.
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Bus Evacuation Drills

Throughout September, the Poway Unified Transportation Department is teaching school bus safety to TK-12th graders through bus evacuation drills.

In case of emergency, students will be taught how to safely access emergency tool kits, stop the bus, radio for help, and exit the vehicle, among other things.

Watch Here how they're empowering our kids to put safety first.

#PowayUnified Transportation Bus Evacuation Drills



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Marching Band and Color Guard Tournament Season

Fall brings a much-anticipated field competition season for Poway Unified high schools' marching bands and color guards. This is the cumulation of months of practice and hard work, providing spectators with visually stunning shows, full of precise movements and music and artistry. For more information, click on the name of the event below:

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Join friends and neighbors on Sunday, October 13th, while your kids play on the playground and participate in our spooktacular Halloween Trunk-or-Treat activity! Grab some lunch and shop our returning and new vendors for your speciality foods, unique gifts, and so much more! Go to www.ds4smarket.com for more information.

School Bus Safety Poster Contest

Top Prize:

$50 to the First Place overall winner

$50 toward a class pizza party

Posters due to Chapter 3 - December 1, 2019

Send completed posters to the address below.

Poway Unified School District

ATTN: Cheryl Hallin

13626 Twin Peaks Rd

Poway, CA 92064


Be sure to read the rules and requirements for submission here. The overall winner will be submitted to the California Association of School Transportation Officials (CASTO) STATE BOARD in January.

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PTA 2nd Annual Suicide Prevention Symposium

The goal of the 2019 Suicide Prevention Symposium is to provide a county-wide forum for parents/guardians to learn, engage, and plan together to address the problem of youth suicide, with a focus on young people between ages 10 and 19. To register, follow this link.
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PUSD Tipline

As part of Poway Unified’s ongoing efforts to improve school safety and security, we have been sharing this “See Something, Say Something” public service announcement with many of our students. But this message applies to our parents and community members as well: help spread the word by watching and sharing this video so that we have as many eyes and ears out there working to keep our students and staff safe from threats. Save the tip line number in your phone: 844-787-3847. Special thanks to our law enforcement partners who participated in this PSA and continue to monitor the tip line and investigate any threats.

Poway Unified App

Did you know we have an app?

On our app, you can:
1. Choose which schools to follow in Settings
2. Receive emergency messages from the alert center
3. See what's happening on the calendar
4. Follow along with the News Stream
5. Catch the latest sports scores

And MUCH MORE! Download for FREE on the App Store and Google Play Store.

Poway Unified School District

The Poway Unified School District is located in northern San Diego County, California. PUSD operates 25 elementary schools (K-5), one elementary & middle school combination (TK-8th), six middle schools (6-8), one continuation high school, five comprehensive high schools (9-12), and one adult school. 24 schools are located in the city of San Diego; 11 schools in the city of Poway; and 3 in the County of San Diego. The District serves approximately 36,000 students and is the third largest school district in the county.