Sweetwater Must Sees Newsletter
July 28, 2021
Sweetwater District School 2020-2021 Counselor of the Year Spotlight
Meet Verenice Hernandez School Counselor at Montgomery Middle School
What does it mean for you to be SUHSD’s 2021 Employee of the Year?
It most definitely is a great honor being selected as counselor of the year. I have such respect for the counseling profession and being recognized by your colleagues, whom you deeply admire is so special and a career highlight.
In what ways has this last year changed your perception on your profession?
School Counseling has always been a career with great impact and long reach but this year it became more abundantly clear that we are dealing with real life and death issues. We, as counselors, have become a lifeline to our students, however, this year we also became that for families and our community as well.
What do you look forward to the most in the next school year?
I look forward to supporting my students in person, especially after such a difficult year. I look forward to helping my students heal the post-covid trauma they may have endured during the quarantine period and set new social, emotional & academic goals. I also look forward to giving students hope. Hope in their emotional and academic journey.
What do you love most about your profession?
What I love about my school counseling profession is that I can impact other people's lives. I truly enjoy helping others see their own potential and strengths. I love being that catalyst in young people’s lives. I believe that being a school counselor makes me a better mom, friend, and daughter. I always say that my students are my heroes because they are. To see others be vulnerable during moments of fear, pain and worry and yet be hopeful for a better future is the greatest gift. It is an honor to be a witness to such strength.
How many years have you worked in education? How many years with the Sweetwater District?
I’ve worked for SUHSD for 25 years. I began as a student worker with the Area Superintendent at the impressionable age of 17 years old. This was my first job. I worked 8 hours a week making $4.25 an hour and I loved it. I then was promoted and began working in Student Services, department of Gangs and Drugs, which later became Safe Schools. I was then hired as the after-school coordinator at Montgomery Middle School during which time I finished my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling. I was fortunate to be hired as a school counselor at Montgomery Middle School 16 years ago.
What inspired you to pursue a career in education?
I was inspired to pursue a career in education because I had great mentors along the way who helped shape me into the counselor I am today. My high school counselor, Mr. Henry Silva was amazing, he was the work experience counselor who helped me get my first job as a student worker. It’s in that role that individuals like Martha Fraga-Lopez, Yolanda Hernandez, Ceci Martinez, and Wes Braddock inspired me by how they made me feel safe and supported. Although I was a young student worker, I was always treated with respect. I felt included, I felt like my voice mattered, like I mattered. That’s what ultimately inspired me to pursue a career in school counseling.
What inspires you daily to do your best?
I’ve always had a strong work ethic and a strong moral compass that pushes me daily to do my best. However, I most definitely am also inspired to do my best because I am surrounded by the best. I am surrounded with strong counselor role models who are pushing boundaries and are continuously elevating the school counselor profession. I also work with an amazing and dedicated admin team; Principal - Alejandra Inzunza, Assistant Principals – Elizabeth Wong and Jose Vargas. They have set the tone for our site. We all matter, and we are dedicated to our Montgomery Middle School community. Our students and families deserve our best every day.
How has this past year impacted how you view your profession?
I have always had a deep respect for the school counseling field; however, I have never felt as proud to be a school counselor as I did this year. This year I felt like my counselor colleagues and I carried the weight of the world on our shoulders. We had no time to emotionally prepare, we just went into triage mode. As the world around us was crumbling, we did not have that luxury, we had to stand tall, stretch our resiliency and carry those around us. All the while, we were also managing our own families/children at home with distance learning plus the 360 additional students every day. I had never heard so many stories of death and despair as I did in 2020. I had never experienced hearing cries of desperation and not being able to do more. Personally, and professionally, it was a life changing year.
Any fun hobbies or interests you’d like to share?
My hobbies include gardening and traveling. I love to explore, visit new places and restarting my travel blog thetravelingfive.com
Click here for a video clip of Ms. Hernandez Counselor of the Year recognition created by her school site (Montgomery Middle).
66th Annual ASB Leadership Camp
The Sweetwater District hosted the 66th Annual ASB Leadership Camp this month at Sweetwater High School! This years theme "Leadership Renovation", two-day camp included a welcome address from SUHSD Chief of Educational Equity and Support Services Dr. Vernon Moore and guest speaker/ class of 2015 ASB President from Bonita Vista High, Alex Huerta. Alex, now a motivational speaker, encouraged students on the importance and how-to rebuild a positive ASB program after a pandemic. Day-two included a keynote address from Bonita Vista High A.P. U.S. History Teacher, District and San Diego County Teacher of the Year and 2020/2021 Boys Basketball State Coach of the Year Mr. Don Dumas. Mr. Dumas, a Sweetwater District Alumni shared very inspiring words of wisdom with students. As always, this years ASB Camp was a wonderful and energetic event!
Chula Vista Middle Hosts Cybercamp
Chula Vista Middle hosted a CyberCamp over the summer break for students interested in cybersecurity and computers. Beginner students who had the desire to learn more about securing networks and hardening Operating Systems were also invited to join the camp! According to Principal Bumatay, this years camp was a huge success!
The Cyber Security Camp was such a wonderful experience for me. It was an amazing environment to learn all about a field I hadn’t been taught before. I loved getting the opportunity to try something new and I’d recommend this course to everyone, as it’s a great way to gain knowledge about computers and online safety. I loved getting a chance to participate in the camp and hope that others get to as well.
-Samantha Rivera, incoming 9th grader for CVH
Southwest High School host interactive tour of farm
Huge Kudos to Southwest High School for hosting an interactive tour of the schools farm at the Imperial Beach Collaborative & Food Vision 2030 meeting. The memorable tour was hosted by Eric Span, Sweetwater Nutrition Services Director, Devon Walker, Sweetwater Nutrition Services Registered Dietitian/Area Supervisor, Arturo Montano, Southwest High School Principal and Hector Arias, Engineering teacher and Eco-Engineer Coordinator.
Southwest High School, in cooperation with the district’s Nutrition Services department and a number of grants, has developed its own food system, in the form of a sustainable farm which can grow produce to sell and serve at schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District.
The work at Southwest is designed to serve as a model for other farming programs across the district, and Span envisions possibilities on every campus. “We may have some that are specialized, growing spices, or installing fruit orchards, whereas other schools may grow leafy vegetables, and so on. The goal is to have a food system that students can look at and know where their food comes from every day.”
SUHSD 2021 SUMMER ARTS ACADEMY RECAP
This years Summer Arts Academy was full of enrichment, building new skills, relationships and much, much more! This years Sweetwater Summer Arts Academy is a FREE two-day learning opportunity offered each summer to Sweetwater Union High School District students in Visual and Performing Arts classes.
Teachers from school sites district-wide coached students from the seven VAPA disciplines (Visual Art, Orchestra, Choir, Concert Band, Dance, Baile Folklorico, and Mariachi) during the Academy.
With nearly 50 students district-wide attending daily workshops from 10am-3pm each day.
Bonita vista high
Congresswoman Sara Jacobs with Ronan Daglish, student at Bonita Vista High. 1st Place. "Beside the Golden Door." Ronan’s artwork will be displayed for a year at the Cannnon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. Congressional Art Award. CA 53rd District. 6 BVH students will have an exhibition at the San Diego History Center for a month starting from June 21, 2021. Teacher: Ed Lim. Photo: Thomas Daglish
Kudos to Bonita Vista High School’s Green Team and Progressive Club for being selected as an Honorable Mention for grades 6-12 at the United States President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA)!
The Green Team and Progressive Club is where students work together to make their school and/or local community more sustainable. This group of students collaborate to find and implement solutions to reduce waste and increase recycling through advocacy and action.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will virtually celebrate the incredible accomplishments of student winners in August.
chula vista middle
Kudos to Isabella Lora from Chula Vista Middle for hosting the San Diego County Expanded Learning Program Highlight Video previewed at the June San Diego Expanded Learning Consortium District and Charter School meeting.
This highlight video aptly showcases all the wonderful experiences offered in the Consortium expanded learning programs for students throughout San Diego County! We in Sweetwater are proud to be a part of it!
Six SUHSD Students out of 40 County-Wide Win New Laptops as part of MTS and Reyes Coca-Cola Essay Contest
In May the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) announced 40 winners of the annual MTS and Reyes Coca-Cola Laptop Scholarship Essay Contest, which awards top-scoring students with
brand new laptop computers. Each winning student were awarded a Lenovo - Ideapad 3.
Congratulations to the following SUHSD students:
David Castellon, Otay Ranch High School (10th grade)
Angelina Cano, Eastlake High School (9th grade)
Elijah Gagnier, Castle Park High School (11th grade)
Martin Martinez, Chula Vista High School (9th grade)
Cesar Ivan Torres Sandoval, Montgomery High School (12th grade)
Jonathan Ty, Sweetwater High School (10th grade)
“It’s been a very challenging year for these students. They all faced an unprecedented learning experience,” said Nathan Fletcher, MTS Board Chair, and Chair, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “I am very proud of them. It is encouraging to see that this up-and-coming generation has a lot of talent, resolve and perseverance.”
The laptop scholarship essay contest is a long-standing event partnership between MTS, Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling Company and the San Diego County Office of Education. To be eligible to win, students had to be San Diego County residents and enrolled in a San Diego County high school.
Congratulations on completing a successful first week of school! It is our hope your child has had a positive experience thus far and great start to the 2021-2022 school year.
We wanted to share a quick reminder to our families regarding the COVID-19 virus.
If your child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher or has any of the following symptoms, your child should remain at home. Reminder: If you keep your child at home for any reason, please contact the school’s attendance line to report the absence.
COVID-like symptoms include:
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Muscle or body aches
• Headache (not due to a chronic condition)
• New loss of taste or smell
• Sore throat
• Congestion or runny nose (not due to known allergies)
• Nausea or vomiting
If you are awaiting results from a COVID-19 test, please notify your child’s school/teacher(s) to for assignments until the test results have been confirmed as negative.
You may have lots of questions as we return to in-person school under the COVID-19 Prevention rules.
We encourage you to reach out to your school site. We are here to help and make sure school is a positive experience for your children!
- Tuesday: EastLake Middle School
- Wednesday: Chula Vista High School
- Thursday: Southwest Middle School
Time: 9:30am-12:30pm with a pause for lunch & reopen from 1:00pm-4:15pm
Here is the link for SUHSD COVID-19 Testing Registration Form
We encourage you to sign up. You only need to register and provide consent once to participate this year at any site.
To do so you will need their Sweetwater email address (student or staff) as it is required to access the form. Each person can only access the form once so it should be accessed/started only when you are able to complete it and sign the consent form/parental consent form.
If you have trouble registering, please still come (parent presence is needed to complete the consent). Our team will have procedures onsite to assist anyone who is unable to access this registration in advance.
Thank you for continuing to keep our school community safe through testing such as testing, wearing masks, practicing good hand washing hygiene and getting vaccinated.