The SMMUSD Wave- Nov 2022
A Message from the Superintendent
Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff, Students and Community Members,
It’s hard to believe we are approaching the holiday season! Many of our schools have planned holiday and winter concerts, theater performances and other events. The weather is changing, and it’s a festive time of year. Students are engaged in learning and exploring, teachers have built relationships with students and parents, and programs are in full swing throughout the District.
With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I want to express my thanks for the hard work and dedication toward student achievement, creating safe school environments, and implementing our district goals, by all staff, certificated and classified, throughout the year. We are blessed to have a number of community partners who support our work every day, including for the mental health and wellness of our students. We appreciate all of our partners. I am thankful to be part of Santa Monica and Malibu, which are two very caring and generous communities always looking out for the best interests of our families, staff, and community members.
Board of Education election results
The majority of votes have been counted and the results are clear regarding our four open school board seats. Returning for another four-year term will be incumbents Laurie Lieberman and Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, with new board members Stacy Rouse and Alicia Mignano. While Ms. Rouse and Ms. Mignano will be new to the school board, they are both very knowledgeable about the inner workings of the District. They have been dedicated parent and community volunteers who have served in a multitude of capacities and committees serving our families, students and schools for many years. They will take their seats on the dais for the first time at the Dec. 15 school board meeting. New board officers will be selected during the same meeting. Congratulations to all four! They will join President Maria Leon-Vazquez and members Jon Kean and Jen Smith.
Working together to prevent illness
As I described in my health update letter we all need to work together to help prevent illness and protect ourselves against illness. We are seeing a rise in COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in LA County and amongst our students. If your student is sick, or you are a staff member with an illness, please stay home. We all need to look out for each other during this season of easy virus spread. Please take note of the prevention tips in my letter. We strongly encourage the ongoing weekly COVID-19 testing of students and staff on Sunday evening or Monday morning. With many families traveling and gathering for Thanksgiving, this is a very critical time to continue our testing program.
Educational benefits form
Parents, please fill out this form to help our schools qualify for additional federal and state funding! Previously thought of as the free and reduced meal program application, this form serves to help our schools qualify as Title I, which provides additional programs and services to families at the designated schools. Even if you don’t think you qualify, please submit the form, as it will increase the accuracy of our counts and best ensure this funding. All students receive free meals from the state, but we want to get the word out that this application provides for so much more.
Financial Oversight Committee opening
The SMMUSD Financial Oversight Committee (FOC) is now accepting applications. Seeking a qualified business / financial candidate. Info:https://bit.ly/FOC103122. App: https://www.smmusd.org/Page/3901. Deadline 11/25/22. Get involved with your local school district!
As you have liked heard by now, I have accepted the position of Superintendent with the Bellflower Unified School District, effective sometime in early 2023. You will hear more about the process to fill my position in the coming months. Read my announcement letter.
Please enjoy our holiday programs at our schools as our students shine bright this year, following limited performance opportunities the past couple of years. Check our school calendars / websites for information.
I wish everyone in Santa Monica and Malibu, and all your loved ones, a healthy, safe, warm, festive and Happy Thanksgiving.
Dr. Ben Drati, Superintendent
You can read my latest "Superintendent's Message" here.
SMMUSD’s American Culture and Ethnic Studies Curriculum Shines Bright
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District was one of seven school districts from Los Angeles County to be recognized as an “Ethnic Studies Bright Spot” at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) Ethnic Studies Conference. Being an “Ethnic Studies Bright Spot” means that the American Culture and Ethnic Studies (ACES) curriculum at SMMUSD is a leading example for other districts.
Read more about this recognition here: https://bit.ly/ACESBrightSpot
SMMUSD Students Recognized by National Merit Scholarship Program
Congratulations to the five SMMUSD National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists and the 18 Commended Students. Out of 1.5 million entrants, about 50,000 with the highest Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test scores qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program as Semifinalists and Commended Students.
See the full list of Semifinalists and Commended students here.
Samohi Student Earns Rare Perfect Score on Advanced Placement Exam
SMMUSD would like to congratulate Samohi senior, Maya Knauf, for earning a rare perfect score on the Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition Exam in Spring 2022. Knauf, who is also a Merit Scholar Semifinalist, is one of 22 students to earn every point possible on the College Board administered exam, which is taken by approximately 530,000 students worldwide.
You can read more about her accomplishment here.
Malibu Middle and High School Participate in Red Ribbon Week
Malibu Middle School and Malibu High School participated in this year’s Red Ribbon Week. With the theme of “Natural High,” the week-long events and activities encouraged students to focus on finding natural highs and their passions.
Read more about the events and activities of Red Ribbon Week here: https://bit.ly/MMS-MHSRedRibbonWeek2022
Samohi Students Network and Fly Drones During AviNation Visit
All eyes were to the sky as Samohi students gathered outside the Discovery Building and flew drones as part of AviNation's American Dream Tour. In correlation with Samohi's Career Technical Education for Aerospace Engineering, the students were given the unique opportunity to network with professionals and peers in various aeronautics career paths and fly drones.
Read more about AviNation's visit to Samohi here: https://bit.ly/AviNationVisitsSamohi2022
SMMUSD Announces Franklin Elementary as Golden Sneaker Award Winner
Congrats Franklin Bolts! SMMUSD is honored to announce Franklin Elementary School as this year’s winner of the Golden Sneaker award. Franklin had the highest level of participation, at 94% during the Bike It! Walk It! Bus It! (BIWIBI) campaign, held in October. Grant Elementary was the runner up with 93% participation.
Read more about BIWIBI here.
The SMMUSD Spotlight
Mark Stevenson, Malibu High ‘12
Meet Mark Stevenson, SMMUSD’s musician and humanitarian. Stevenson was one of SMMUSD’s most talented musicians. Playing the trumpet since the fourth grade, his talent and skills ultimately earned him a music scholarship to UCLA. Yet, it was there he discovered that his life calling was to be a firefighter.
Read more about Stevenson and how his time at SMMUSD led to his success here: https://bit.ly/MarkStevenson-Spotlight
Samohi Celebrates the Groundbreaking of the Exploration Building and Gold Gymnasium
The Santa Monica High School (Samohi) campus continues to improve and evolve. A community groundbreaking ceremony took place on Aug. 29, 2022 for the Exploration building and Gold gymnasium. The SMMUSD Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati, Samohi Principal Marae Cruce, SMMUSD and Samohi staff, local elected officials, community members, students and building partners attended the celebration.
Watch the groundbreaking ceremony below.
Samohi Celebrates the Groundbreaking of the Exploration Building and Gold Gymnasium
The Santa Monica High School (Samohi) campus continues to improve and evolve. A community groundbreaking ceremony took place on Aug. 29, 2022 for the Exploration building and Gold gymnasium. For more information visit: bit.ly/SamohiGroundbreaking
Building Futures - Grant Elementary School
SMMUSD is completing its extensive modernization projects at Grant Elementary School and preparing to start new construction projects. From renovating classrooms with state-of-the-art technology to upgrading and modernizing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, changes in every corner of the school can be seen and experienced. SMMUSD is in the process of transforming Grant into a progressive, cutting-edge campus for 21st-century learning.
Learn more about upcoming projects here: https://bit.ly/GrantBF2022.
Take our Parent and Community Career Interest Survey!
Update from our Independent Study Program
SMMUSD has an independent study program. It is a voluntary program in which students follow a self-paced curriculum from home. It is an alternative instructional model for students whose needs may be best met through study outside of the traditional, in-person, classroom setting and is available for all grades K-12. This is an option for those who feel that they need an alternative non-in-person method of learning.
Learn more about our Independent Study Program here: https://www.smmusd.org/Page/6537
Make sure to also check out their newsletter, Soar.
Events & Important Dates
- November 23, 2022 - School recess (no school for students)
- November 24-25, 2022 - Schools / offices closed (Legal Holiday, Thanksgiving)
- December 6, 2022 - Will Rogers Campus Master Plan Meeting
- December 12, 2022 - John Adams Campus Master Plan Meeting
- December 14, 2022 - Franklin Campus Master Plan Meeting
- December 19, 2022 - Schools / offices closed (Legal Holiday & Winter recess begins)
- January 3, 2023 - School resumes for elementary, no school for secondary students