Message from the Superintendent

February 3, 2023

In this Message

  • Sora App Update
  • California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA)
  • Spartacon
  • El Modena Nature Center Named in Honor of Jeanne Carter
  • Transportation Survey
  • Now Enrolling for 2023-2024

Upcoming Events

  • February 7: Special Education Parent Workshop
  • February 8: El Modena High School Community Open House & PreK-12 School Showcase
  • February 15: Orange High School Community Open House & PreK-12 School Showcase
  • February 17: Lincoln Day Observed- All Sites Closed
  • February 20: Washington Day- All Sites Closed
  • February 22: Canyon High School Community Open House & PreK-12 School Showcase

Dear OUSD Community,

As all are aware, the Sora digital library app was suspended districtwide starting Monday, January 30, while staff investigated concerns regarding the accessibility of grade-level-inappropriate content on student devices. The intent was to pause the availability of the app to our students to protect them from content not appropriate for their age group while we determined what caused such content to be available.

Upon review, staff found a few different issues that have since been addressed:

  • The first issue was that four books were improperly classified in Sora, including The Music of What Happens. These books have been reassigned to the correct grade levels. No books or book categories have been removed from the app.
  • The second issue was a glitch with the data synchronization between student devices and the Sora app. While Sora has been in place since 2014, the District did not have 1:1 devices for students until the pandemic hit. Throughout time, changes to accounts and data synchronization features caused account inaccuracies. This issue has been addressed.
  • Finally, a default setting in the app allowed for uncategorized accounts to have access to all levels of content. This has since changed to default to the lowest grade level content as a safeguard.

With these adjustments, we feel that our students are protected from content beyond their respective grade levels, and the Sora app will be reinstated by Monday, February 6.

In addition, it is my recommendation moving forward to have a committee review app content before apps are approved for installation on student devices. Who is included and how this is handled is something I will leave for the next Superintendent to determine.

Virtual libraries are a critical resource for students, and I appreciate that staff has worked quickly and diligently to allow us to provide digital access to grade-level appropriate reading materials to our students once again.

As educators, it is our job to provide the skills and resources necessary to facilitate future career and college options. We are committed to providing access to grade-level-appropriate content and respect that different families have different values and priorities. At the end of the day, it is my hope that parents are aware of and speak to their children about the types of media they are consuming – at school and at home – and discuss what aligns with parental expectations.


Edward Velasquez
Interim Superintendent
Orange Unified School District

California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA)

The California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA) of 2016 requires school districts to ensure that students receive comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education at least once in high school (grades 9-12) and once in middle school Grades 7-8).

State law allows parents/guardians the right to opt their students out of comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education. Comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education are not taught in OUSD elementary schools.

You can learn more about comprehensive sexual health education on our website at


We were excited to host our first High School Community Open House & PreK-12 School Showcase Wednesday at Villa Park High School. The event featured visual and performing arts, CTE, robotics, and informational sessions about athletics, Advanced Placement coursework, and early learning. The public was also allowed to tour the Villa Park High School campus and beautiful new STEM building.

Our next High School Community Open House & PreK-12 School Showcase is Wednesday, February 8, at El Modena. We hope to see you there!

Additional showcase dates and times are as follows:

  • Orange High School— February 15 from 5:00-7:30 p.m., with elementary and middle school presentations and performances from 5:00-6:00 p.m.
  • Canyon High School— February 22 from 5:00-7:30 p.m. with elementary and middle school presentations and performances from 5:00-6:00 p.m.
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El Modena Nature Center Named in Honor of Jeanne Carter

In 1972, the El Modena High School Nature Center was established by El Modena High School Chemistry Teacher Jeanne Carter, who has been its driving force since its inception. The Nature Center is dedicated to teaching water conservation and ecological principles to students and community members.

The Nature Center occupies approximately one acre with a large pond and a 200-foot stream with wetland areas and is home to over 100 different native California plants. The Nature Center has served and educated over 50,000 students through high school student-led tours developed by Ms. Carter, who continues today to build strong partnerships with community organizations such as the Orange Rotary Club, Love Orange, Circle K (Kiwanis) from California State University, Fullerton and the Boy Scouts to support the flourishing of the Nature Center. Today, the Nature Center continues to provide a significant hands-on learning science environment for students and community members.

On June 2, 2022, the Board of Education issued a proclamation for the El Modena High School Nature Center's 50th Anniversary, acknowledging Ms. Carter and the significant role she has played in developing and maintaining the Nature Center. Her active participation continues even though she has been retired for 20 years.

A naming ceremony will take place in March.

National Letter of Intent Signees, February 2023

On February 1, scholar-athletes at our high schools signed National Letters of Intent to play sports at the competitive level in college. Congratulations to these outstanding young people, their families, our teachers, coaches, and administrators who support OUSD student achievement and athletics!

Canyon High School:

Jessalyn Gallegos—Softball/Colorado Mesa University

  • All-League 2nd Team Performer
  • Team Member of the Michelle Carew Tournament Winner
  • Canyon’s Best Defensive Player of the Year 2022
  • Top of the Tribe and Scholar-athlete All Four Years

El Modena High School:

Katelyn Beaman--Girls Soccer/UC Santa Cruz

  • 4-year Varsity Athlete
  • Scholar Athlete (3.5+ Grade Point Average)

Elishah Jackett--Football, Basketball/University of Washington

  • 3-year varsity Football, 3-year Varsity Basketball
  • 1st All North Hills League
  • 2nd Team All County
  • 1st Team All-State
  • Scholar Athlete (3.5+ Grade Point Average)

Mayson Hitchens—Football/Weber State

  • North Hills Defensive Player of the Year
  • 1st team All CIF
  • 1st Team All County
  • OC All-Star Game
  • Scholar Athlete (3.5+ Grade Point Average)

Jonathan Tabb—Football/Harvey Mudd College

  • 3-year varsity athlete (Short/Long Snapper)
  • Scholar Athlete (3.5+ Grade Point Average)

Elodie Danet--Girls Volleyball/Viterbo University

  • 3-year varsity athlete
  • Scholar Athlete (3.5+ Grade Point Average)

Ryan Guzman--Boys Volleyball/Central Christian College of Kansas

  • 2-year varsity athlete
  • Returning First Team All-League Player
  • Scholar Athlete (3.5+ Grade Point Average)

Spencer Jacobs--Baseball/Arizona Christian

  • Returning 1st Team All-League
  • Ryan Lemmon Tournament MVP
  • Team Offensive player of the year
  • Scholar Athlete (3.5+ Grade Point Average)

Sebastian Metoyer--Cross Country/Track and Field/Hope International University

  • 4-year Varsity Athlete in Both Sports
  • 2-year Team Captain
  • Scholar Athlete (3.5+ Grade Point Average)
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Villa Park High School:

Eddie Rodriguez—Football/University of San Diego

  • Straight-A Student for 4 Years
  • 3-Year Varsity starter with All-League awards

Transportation Survey

In June 2022, the Governor & State Legislature voted to pass the largest funding increase for home-to-school transportation in recent history. (See California Education Code Section 39800.1.)

Orange Unified is eligible to receive approximately $3.89M in ongoing funding beginning the 2022-23 school year. In order to receive this grant funding, we are required to create a Transportation Plan and obtain feedback from our community partners regarding transportation for our students.

Please complete the Transportation Plan Feedback Survey to help determine where additional funds would be best allocated and prioritized for OUSD.

Parent Survey

Student Survey

Thank you for your time!

Orange County All-Star Football Game

The Orange County All-Star Football Game will be held on Saturday, February 4, at Davidson Stadium, Newport-Harbor High School. Players from all four of our high school football teams will be participating. These are some of the most outstanding players in Orange County, and they will be playing before a large crowd with many college recruiting coaches in attendance. Congratulations to these star athletes!

Canyon High School:

(Anders) Christian Lundsberg

Kayvon Monfared

Troy Mills

El Modena High School:

Mayson Hitchens

Anthony Lopez

Owen Smith

Orange High School:

Khalil Lawrence

Jaelen Lightfoot

Jonathan Smith

Villa Park High School:

Canyon Dietrich

Eddie Rodriguez

Now Enrolling for 2023-2024

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  • 1:1 Take Home Devices
  • 100% WASC-Accredited Middle & High Schools
  • Extensive Advanced Placement Course Offerings
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