Message from the Superintendent

March 25, 2022

Upcoming Events

  • March 25: End of 3rd Quarter - Minimum Day (High Schools)
  • March 28 - April 1: Spring Break
  • April 14: Board of Education Meeting

In this Message

  • Orange Unified School District Saves Green by “Going Green”
  • Project Lead the Way
  • March 2022 Employee of the Month - Mary Shamamian
  • National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Chapter at Villa Park High School
  • Crescent Elementary Robotics Teams Advance to World Finals
  • Color It Orange
  • Super STEAM Saturday & eSport Academy
  • French Wedding
  • CARES Fall Registration

Dear OUSD Families,

It is hard to believe how quickly this year has gone by as we approach the final stretch of the school year.

Our four beautiful new Measure S science centers are open for teaching and learning, and plans to begin the work for Phase 2 are in place to start over summer break. We continue to work to leverage all available funding resources to maximize the positive impact on our students, including additional educational program options and district-wide facilities improvements. We are proud to also continue to support the social and emotional well-being of our students and staff through enhanced program offerings, wellness workshops, and resources for families through Care Solace. Our students and staff continue to inspire us with their achievements (more on that below), and we appreciate the support our community has shown as we work together to focus on what’s best for our OUSD family.

I hope you and your family have a safe and enjoyable Spring Break!

Warmest Regards,

Gunn Marie Hansen, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools
Orange Unified School District

Orange Unified School District Saves Green by “Going Green”

With gas prices on the rise, Orange Unified School District (OUSD) is reaping the financial benefits of “going green.” Funded by a mix of grants and other resources, the district currently has seven electric buses, with eight more on the way and seventeen compressed natural gas (CNG) buses in the district’s transportation fleet.

Research has shown that school buses provide the safest mode for home-to-school transportation. OUSD’s new Blue Bird electric buses can transport 78 passengers up to 120 miles on a 7-hour charge. These new buses come equipped with passenger restraint systems (individual seatbelts) and will provide ongoing savings as they do not require transmission maintenance and engine oil changes. OUSD will also receive money back from the state for using green energy to produce fewer emissions.

Congresswoman Katie Porter tours OUSD's new Electric Buses and Infrastructure

Bringing STEM to the Classroom with Project Lead the Way

We are bringing STEM to life in our classrooms through Project Lead the Way, a project-based academic program that offers daily hands-on learning opportunities. PLTW is currently offered at Crescent Elementary, McPherson Magnet, and Villa Park High School.

Project Lead the Way 2022 | OUSD

March 2022 Employee of the Month - Congratulations to Mary Shamamian, Counselor at McPherson Magnet School

Mary demonstrates all four of OUSD’s core values in her daily work as our school counselor. Mary is generous with her time and always makes decisions that support the best interest of kids. Mary is a kind person who genuinely cares about the people around her and takes pride in the work that she does. She coaches every season of middle school sports, and she greets and welcomes elementary students at the gate each morning. She does all of these things and more with consistency and passion because she cares deeply for her students, colleagues, and profession. Mary is a person with outstanding character and professionalism, and we are so grateful to have her as a counselor at McPherson and an employee of OUSD.

Congratulations Mary, the Board of Education thanks you for your dedication and devotion to the Orange Unified School District!

National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Chapter at Villa Park High School

Orange Unified’s student chapter of NAMI is at Villa Park High School. The students in this club are “board members” who are recognized for their academic excellence and high character that resonate on campus and in the community. This peer-driven and organized student team express a passion for supporting mental health and de-stigmatizing mental illness. Their last community service event was highlighted in the Orange County Register – read more at

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Crescent Elementary Robotics Teams Advance to VEX World Finals in Dallas

Crescent Elementary School has done it again! Two robotics teams with students in grades four through six - coached by STEM Resource teacher Richard Ireland - will showcase their game strategy, design, and teamwork skills at the 2022 VEX Robotics World Championships in Dallas, Texas. Teams from all over the world will compete to be crowned champions at this world-class global event.

Both teams at Crescent have competed in local events and qualified for the state championship in San Diego. One of the Crescent teams won the top prize at States with the Overall Excellence Award (highest award given at the event), and another team won the Judges’ Creation award for design.

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Crescent Elementary’s robotics program is open to all students in grades three through six, and eligibility to compete is based on an application process and a commitment to work and practice with the teams after school and on weekends. The student teams work collaboratively in problem-solving, critical thinking, designing the STEM project, and the building of robots in order to compete. These VEX IQ competitions utilize Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education as well as social skills to increase and enrich learning.

For more information about Crescent Elementary, please visit

Color It Orange

Canyon High School visual arts students, taught by Kathy Flanagan-Rose, will be featured in the 47th Annual COLOR IT ORANGE exhibition at Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD). This exhibit will showcase a variety of original works from Orange County high school students from April 7-24. Color it Orange is one of the longest-running collaborative exhibitions between a college and Orange County high schools. The goal is to inspire and encourage the next generation of artistic expression and to honor teachers by providing the opportunity to showcase works by their most talented students.

Canyon Students Participating:

Lorena Audet Marrero, Grade 9

Madeleine Farnes, Grade 12

Gabriela Henriquez, Grade 12

Scout Quick, Grade 9

Sofia Vilches, Grade 12

LCAD will host an opening reception to provide special recognition and to announce scholarships for these talented student artists. Gallery admission is always free.

Super STEAM Saturday & eSport Academy

Saturday Enrichment Academies were successfully hosted at both Canyon and Villa Park High Schools for students in their high school attendance areas.

Canyon High School CTE students hosted elementary school students from students in their attendance area to provide an opportunity for students to have fun participating in various STEAM lessons and give students with absences a chance to make up for some lost instructional time. Thank you to all who helped donate items and materials so that this day was a huge success!

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The district also hosted 120 enthusiastic elementary students at its first Saturday eSport Academy. Students learned about outdoor gaming for fun and health, building a cyber-safe home with Minecraft, designing digital villains and heroes with iPads, and using Nintendo Switch devices to build healthy competition.

To learn more about OUSD’s Saturday Enrichment eSport Academy, please visit

French Wedding

Villa Park High School’s 16th annual French Wedding took place last Friday, complete with flowers, a cake, and traditional wedding attire. As usual, the event was conducted completely in French. Principal Ken Miller, Ed.D., walked “bride” Lauren Meredith down the flower-petal-lined aisle to groom Adrien Banales. This wonderful program was put together by students in Villa Park High School’s French Club. The French Wedding event is the brainchild of Madame Fatima Pazargadi, who has been passionately teaching French at VPHS for 22 years.

CARES After-School Child Care Registration

CARES After-School Child Care registration for the 2022-2023 school year is now open.
For information about the program and monthly fee schedules, visit their website at

We invite you to take a moment to follow Orange Unified on social media to receive the District’s latest news and announcements. Social media may also be a critical line of communication during emergencies and will be an excellent place for you to get up to date information: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube