What's New at Walnut

April 4, 2016

Principal's Message

Welcome back! I hope you all had a refreshing and rejuvenating spring break. While spring brings up images of flowers, brighter days, and new life, at school it also brings up thoughts of...state testing. While it is tempting to link testing season with stress and worry, it is helpful to re-frame it for students as a way to celebrate their learning and "show what they know." Teachers have been working hard to present engaging lessons that reflect the new State Standards, and our Achieve3000 computer program gives students in grades 2-5 specific practice with interpreting nonfiction passages at their correct reading Lexile level. Students are using multiple forms of technology to increase their digital fluency as well, which is an important tool to help them succeed in communicating their thinking. California's current State Standards for English Language Arts and Math were adopted a few years ago, but the term "Common Core" has become politicized and can lead to confusion and misinformation. It is important to remember that California State Standards are standards, or targeted goals for each grade level, not curriculum. The curriculum used at Walnut has been adopted at the local level by CVUSD. We are currently piloting new math curriculum, and the process of choosing an appropriate, research-based program involves many CVUSD educators and lasts nearly a year. You will hear more about what has been chosen in Fall 2016. The State Standards were reformulated to help students meet the demands of the 21st century. They are similar to our previous standards but grow systematically across the grade levels. It is interesting to trace one standard across the grade levels from K-5, seeing how it grows in depth and complexity. The actual standards are available on the CDE (California Department of Education) website, although I find them easiest to access on www.corestandards.org. A few significant changes for our elementary students, which will continue through grade 12, include the need to cite evidence from the text, more nonfiction reading (although literature is still a core component as well), and the ability to model and describe mathematical thinking. Our students are doing a fabulous job with this demand for higher-level thinking, and I am confident that they will be able to show their stuff on the state assessments in May. Only students in grades 3-5 will participate in these computer-based tests. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

PTA NEWS

April PTA Updates

The 2016 Wildcat Strut will be held Friday, April 15th. It is the BIGGEST PTA event of the year. Students, teachers and parents will be involved in this highly anticipated day!

We are aiming high this year, with a goal of raising $10,000. 100% of the funds raised at the Wildcat Strut stay at Walnut. Assemblies, Field Trips, Teaching Specialists, and Classroom Technology will all benefit from this fundraising effort. Be looking for information packets after Spring Break. They will fill you in on volunteer and donation opportunities. We look forward to a great day!

We are still looking for many new PTA Board Members for the 2016-2017 school year. If you are curious about PTA, you are welcome to join us for our next meeting Thursday, April 7th at 6:30 in room 21. Or you can email Jill Frazier j4frazier@gmail.com, with any questions.

Happy Spring, Wildcats

Walnut Recycles!

Walnut has been committed to recycling for years, but we stepped up our efforts last month to participate in the California K-12 Schools Recycling Challenge. As part of this renewed focus, you will see signs around campus with clear labels regarding what is recyclable and what is not. We have large blue recycling cans in every hallway, recycling boxes in the workroom, and recycling cans in the lunch shelter and cafeteria. Students do an excellent job of sorting their trash at lunch time, including stacking the cardboard cafeteria trays for recycling each day. During the month of March, we measured the amount of recyclables collected and gave a report to Green California Schools for the competition. Schools will be ranked according to the amount of recyclables collected per capita. Go, Wildcats! Protect our Earth!

Parent Survey

The Walnut School Site Council, along with Mrs. Wall and our Parent Outreach Specialist, Mrs. Blasi, have designed a new Parent Survey. Our goal is to listen to all parents to ensure that our academic programs, interventions, specialist programs, and social activities truly reflect the needs and values of our community. In order for this to happen, we need YOU. Please take a few minutes to complete the written parent survey which will be sent home soon. Your voice matters! Attached to the survey is a separate sheet to fill out if you would like to volunteer at Walnut or share a special talent with the school community. The survey itself is anonymous. We appreciate your willingness to provide this important feedback! The survey will count as a homework assignment in order to free up extra time at home for completion.

Odyssey of the Mind

Congratulations to Walnut's first two Odyssey of the Mind teams. These 3rd-5th grade students and their coaches successfully competed recently in San Marino at the L.A. Basin Odyssey of the Mind Tournament. Students in these competitions must think outside of the box and use their creative skills to solve a detailed problem. There were 5 different problems to choose from this year, and Walnut's teams both chose performance-based activities. One team wrote their own short play, including an original song and dance number, to propose a way to promote the survival of all animals in Feathers, Furs, and Fins. Our second team wrote a modern adaptation of an Aesop's Fable, demonstrated in two different contexts. Students were 100% responsible for the writing, props, costumes, and performances. A few weeks ago, our two teams performed their pieces for the Walnut student body, explaining what it's like to be an Odyssey of the Mind team member. New teams will be formed next year. A big THANK YOU goes out to Coach Claudia Hernandez and Assistant Coach Shivali Waikar. Ms. Brady and Mrs. Wall participated as judges for the tournament.

Meet a Walnut Staff Member--Mrs. Peloquin

We are happy to have Mrs. Marian Peloquin on our Walnut staff. Although she has only been at Walnut for 2 of her 20 years as a Speech and Language Pathologist, Mrs. Peloquin says that our school feels like home. A California Native, she was born in Canoga Park and grew up in Chatsworth. Mrs. Peloquin has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master of Science degree in Communicative Disorders from CSUN. She and her husband, a retired LAPD Detective, met on the beach in Carpenteria. They have three grown children and will be grandparents in July. In her spare time, Mrs. Peloquin loves to read and travel. In fact, she has visited 13 countries! She and her husband have a passion for paragliding and have flown in Alaska, Hawaii, Austria, France, Italy, and Switzerland. Mrs. Peloquin says that she loves working at Walnut and particularly enjoys the enthusiasm of the students.

Walnut Elementary School

Walnut is a little elementary school with a BIG heart, where every student is valued and encouraged to develop a lifelong love of learning. We believe in developing the whole child, so we invest in the visual and performing arts, technology, and physical fitness in addition to traditional academics. Walnut has an active PTA, School Site Council, and English Language Advisory Council. Each of these groups of parents and community members would LOVE to have YOU join them in making sure Walnut provides the best possible learning environment for students and families. Please contact us if you'd like to know more. --Mrs. Wall, Principal