Director/Actor Mario Van Peebles to Join Authors in Inspiring Student Success at Black Teen Summit

Mario Van Peebles, whose extensive list of acting and directing credits include a string of African American-focused films, is set to share keys of his success with Lynwood Unified students at the fifth annual Black Teen Summit.

Nearly 250 students will be greeted by Van Peebles, who will show his documentary film, “Bring Your ‘A’ Game”, in which a 17-year-old encounters a diverse group of African American icons. Van Peebles, who will conduct a Q & A session, is one of three guest speakers at the summit.

Tyson Amir, author of “Black Boy Poems,” and author Pamela Sye, who has written extensively about African American issues, will each share their stories and impart wisdom to the young attendees.

A representative from the office of California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon will attend as well, as will Lynwood Unified Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite.

Thursday, Feb. 22 | 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Lynwood Bateman Hall
11331 Ernestine Ave.
Lynwood, CA

Lynwood Unified is partnering with the District African American Advisory Parent Council to put on the event, which is themed “Right People, Right Place, Right Time – For Success.”

Breakfast and lunch will be provided for students, and gift cards will be offered in an opportunity drawing.

Contact Jahmal Corner for more information at 206-579-4432.

Washington Elementary Students Display Tech Skills during Family STEM Night


Building toothpick towers with mini-marshmallows, guiding tiny robots with iPads and creating lava lamps with common household items, Washington Elementary School students demonstrated for their parents a comprehensive knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects during a Family STEM Night on Feb. 7.

Parents attended a series of workshops, and were introduced to the extensive K-6 STEM curriculum at Washington, as well as to digital resources to best support their children at home. Among the popular exhibits were an inflatable planetarium and a mobile gaming truck. Students were entered in a drawing for a tablet.

 “We want Washington families to know that they play a crucial role in their children’s education and that we are here to assist them when they have questions or concerns about our digital platforms,” Washington Principal Shamell Wilson said. “Whether they want to check their child’s grades, learn about Google education tools or receive tips on digital citizenship, our doors are always open.”

Washington students begin training in STEM subjects as kindergartners, learning how to conduct a simple Google search. Each grade level learns a new concept – from programming robots to computer coding to Google Apps – augmented by hands-on activities that integrate critical thinking and collaborative learning.

Washington third-grade student Yuridia Lopez displayed her problem-solving abilities, winning a toothpick tower competition with a tower that measured over a foot tall. Lopez, who enjoys constructing projects with slime, had a simple solution for building her tower.

“I looked at a picture of a toothpick tower and I tried to make it just like that,” Lopez said. “I like to do science. You create and learn things.”

Students oohed and aahed as a STEM instructor from the afterschool program Think Together showed students how to construct a lava lamp with water, vegetable oil, food coloring, Alka Seltzer and a tiny light. A volunteer from the National College Resources Foundation challenged students to build a barge using only aluminum foil, masking tape and straws. Prizes were awarded to the students who could float 10 marbles on their boats.

 Parents were introduced to the Aeries Parent Portal, an online communication tool that allows easy access to grades, test scores and attendance rates. They also examined online education support tools like (for math) and Journeys (for reading), and received advice on providing cyber safety for their children.

 “Washington’s STEM programs are empowering our children to dream big and establish high expectations, as they develop the 21st -century technology skills necessary to compete for jobs,” LUSD Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “The innovative thinking at Washington is indicative of the support throughout our Lynwood Unified community.”

 Washington’s Family STEM Night was the result of a School Site Council (SSC) meeting in which members addressed the need to better support parents who want to help their children but have schedule constraints or are unfamiliar with the Washington curriculum. As teachers added their input, they realized the necessity for organizing a family night that incorporated all STEM classes and activities, including educational workshops for the parents.

 “As STEM education continues to expand, it is imperative that students begin to learn the basics of technology as they would with their ABCs and multiplication tables, and our children continue to amaze us with the ease that they absorb this information and apply it to their projects,” LUSD Board President Alfonso Morales said. “Washington Elementary understands that for students to succeed, a combination of teacher and parent support is required.”

Lakers Legend Michael Cooper Shares Secrets of Success during Visit with Lynwood Students


Hosler Middle School eighth-grader Andrew Boyd leaped as high as he could but could not reach the basketball held in the outstretched hand of 6-foot-5 Los Angeles Lakers legend Michael Cooper.

Like Boyd, many Lynwood Unified youngsters were inspired to reach for their goals after Cooper visited with about 100 District students on Feb. 6 at Cesar Chavez Middle School, where he shared secrets to his success and put them to the test during brief shooting drills.

The event gathered students from Hosler, Lynwood and Chavez middle schools in a Think Together after-school program to interact with Cooper, who starred with the Lakers in the 1980s alongside Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“He’s pretty tall, and I didn’t realize that he played in the NBA for 12 years,” Boyd said. “He gave me confidence that I can make my dreams happen if I work hard and stay focused on the right path.”

Cooper attended his hometown Pasadena City College and said his lack of focus on academics almost derailed his basketball hopes.

“I was an athlete student instead of a student athlete,” Cooper said. “I became academically ineligible to play basketball during my freshman year and had to sit out games away from my team. It was a fork in the road and I knew I had to improve as a student.”

Cooper solicited the help of counselors and professors to create better study habits, improving his grades enough to transfer to the University of New Mexico, where he caught the attention of the Lakers. The team drafted him as a third-round pick in 1978.

Cooper credits his success to what he calls the “five Ds”: determination, dedication, desire, discipline and decision-making.

“Basketball was just a small portion of who I am, but the lessons I learned as a student have helped me to become successful in life,” he said.

Lynwood Unified students, along with Chavez Principal Maria Pimienta, showed off their jump shots during shooting exercises that evoked cheers from the student audience.

Cooper answered questions about his relationship with former Laker Kobe Bryant, retirement, and whether he can still dunk – he cannot – during a Q & A session.

“To have Michael Cooper interact with our students and share his journey with them humanizes his great success,” Lynwood Unified Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “Our students were inspired to tackle their own challenges and work their way to positive results.”

Cooper’s visit to Lynwood was arranged by Think Together, a program that partners with California schools to expand learning programs for students.

“We are thankful to Think Together and Michael Cooper for coming together to embolden our students to dream big,” Lynwood Board President Alfonso Morales said. “We look forward to the day when some of today’s Lynwood students return to share their own stories of achievement.”