Lynwood Unified Announces Districtwide Art Contest with $1,000 Scholarship
Lynwood Unified is channeling its commitment to the arts and a community spirit by launching a Districtwide art contest open to students from grades one to 12 that will reward the winner with a $1,000 scholarship.
The art contest, which will have no restrictions on style or size, is accepting submissions from now until April 1. The scholarship money will be drawn from donations provided by local Lynwood businesses.
“Lynwood draws upon a rich tradition of art to express solidarity, dignity and determination,” Lynwood Union co-founder Rowland Becerra said. “As we honor those who have left us, we want to begin a new tradition of championing art within our community, and encourage our children to develop their artistic skill as a way for their voices to be heard.”
Lynwood’s art community recently celebrated Día de los Muertos at a show held on Nov. 2-3 at the Lynwood Union Gallery. Elaborate ‘Day of the Dead’ altars decorated with flowers, candles and multi-colored skulls greeted more than 400 Lynwood parents and community members. The exhibit featured art created by kindergarten to third-grade students enrolled in the District’s Spanish-English Dual Immersion program at Will Rogers Elementary School.
The Dia de los Muertos show was inspired by Will Rogers first-grade Spanish-English dual immersion students who worked with their families to create altars to honor family, friends and pets. In addition to the altars, Will Rogers kindergartners made masks, second-graders drew skeleton recreations of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and third-graders made a poster filled with colorful skeletons.
“I liked making the altar with my dad because he helped me put glue on the cardboard,” Will Rogers first-grader Abbygail Hernandez said, through an interpreter.
Lynwood High School La Raza club members contributed an altar paying tribute to victims of the Sept. 19 earthquake in Mexico City. This same altar was awarded third prize during a City of Lynwood Dia de los Muertos altar exhibit held at Plaza Mexico on Oct. 28.
Parents of dual-immersion students brought traditional refreshments for those in attendance, including pan de muerto and champurrado. The exhibit also included an open mic for students to make presentations, traditional dancing, face-painting, music and community artwork for sale.
“Dia de los Muertos is a cherished and reverent holiday for Latinos that we proudly pass down from generation to generation,” LUSD Board President Alma-Delia Renteria said. “It is very exciting to see so many of our students, from kindergartners to high school seniors, honor their families by adding to the rich folklore of our heritage. Thank you to our dedicated teachers and advisors for helping to bring the Lynwood community together.”
The Lynwood Union Gallery is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing civic pride through the arts and City of Lynwood history. Promoting art, film and photography, Lynwood Union works with local businesses and the District to unite local artists with LUSD students for art projects, which include a student-designed mural painted by Lynwood and Firebaugh High artists at Lynwood City Park.
“Thank you to the Lynwood Union Gallery and our local business partners for recognizing the magnificent creative talent seen throughout the District, and their efforts to empower our students through their art,” LUSD Superintendent Gudiel Crosthwaite said. “This art contest and scholarship, open to all Lynwood students, is indicative of the spirit of giving that makes the Lynwood community strong and prosperous.”
Lynwood High Dance Ensemble Featured at Disney’s California Adventure
Lynwood High School’s dance ensemble students grooved with excitement following a Nov. 1 performance at the Hollywood Backlot Stage of Disney’s California Adventure Park, where the school’s dancers put on a 22-minute show featuring hip hop, jazz and musical theater routines for hundreds of park guests.
“I am so proud of all my students,” Dance ensemble teacher Brittany Washington said. “I could tell they put every bit of their effort into it and everyone in the crowd definitely enjoyed it – they pulled in a massive crowd at the park and everyone in the audience was smiling.”
Washington said the program applies at the end of each school year for the opportunity to perform at the theme park and has been welcomed back on a regular basis. She said her students performed their new dance routines flawlessly, despite receiving the approval to perform just one month before their scheduled date.
Lynwood High’s dance ensemble members are considered the elite dancers of the school, since students need to pass a beginning dance class and audition to join. Members take part in more than 20 performances each year, including dancing at sporting events and dance competitions.
Some 43 students from Lynwood High’s dance ensemble program visited the park, dancing to routines using various popular music by Sia, Bruno Mars and Rihanna.
“I’m so proud of our students, who underwent a challenging process to reach California Adventure that included a lengthy audition tape and original choreography,” Lynwood Unified Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “Our students not only showcased their talent, but a determination that allowed them to reach the big stage.”
Sophomore Sema’J William said his first performance at the park was a special experience and will stand as an inspiration for his future dancing career aspirations.
“I got to experience what professional dancers do every day,” Williams said. “There were no pauses or breaks and it just gave us an energy that helped us push through any doubt or missteps we might have had. The feeling of performing in front of a real crowd will definitely help me strive for excellence.”
Junior Ashley Ramos said being able to perform outside of school is an important step for anyone interested in pursuing a career in performing arts because it helps dancers like herself build confidence.
“I love any opportunity to perform in front of a crowd because dance helps me express myself,” Ramos said. “Dancing at California Adventure always gives me such an adrenaline rush because it’s like being a professional dancer.”
After the performance, Lynwood High’s students were also allowed to stay at the theme park to enjoy the rides and sights with their friends and instructors.
Washington said she plans on applying again in May to bring her dance ensemble students back.
“Congratulations to our dance ensemble students – we are very proud of the many hours of hard work they put in to make this performance possible,” Lynwood Unified Board President Alma-Delia Renteria said. “We look forward to next year’s performance since it provides our students with an experience of a lifetime.”
Lynwood Unified Participates in Annual ShakeOut to Promote Earthquake Preparedness
Students at Lincoln Elementary School exchanged whispers in eager anticipation of their school bell during the Great California ShakeOut on Oct. 19, among 14,500 Lynwood Unified students to take part in the annual earthquake drill.
At precisely 10:19 a.m., alarms sounded across school campuses signaling to students the drill had begun and they should take cover under their desks. Students remained in their safe positions – with their heads tucked while holding onto the base of their desks – until a second bell announced that the drill was complete.
“It was fun, I wasn’t scared,” Lincoln Elementary first-grade student Emmanuel Flores said, of his school’s drill, which concluded with all classes filing outside for a roll call. “It was good practice.”
Leading up to the drill, administrators reinforced emergency procedures with students, including finding appropriate cover to prevent objects from injuring them, where to go for safety and where to find first aid kits in the classroom.
Lynwood Unified staff also reviewed emergency protocols, including procedures to check student and teacher absences, how to handle injuries on campus and what roles each staff member has during the drill.
Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite and LTA President Debbie Diaz joined officers from the Sheriff’s Department and monitored the ShakeOut from a District command center control room to ensure the drills were completed correctly.
“We want our students to always be prepared for an emergency, and ShakeOut is a great way to give our children the safety tools they would need in the event of an earthquake,” Crosthwaite said. “The program connects students with their peers and our District with the state as we all strive for safety.”
The Great California ShakeOut began in 2008 and encourages communities and schools to review and update emergency preparedness plans and supplies in case of an earthquake.
“ShakeOut is a day each year that helps us reaffirm our commitment to keeping all of our students safe,” Board President Alma-Delia Renteria said. “Our participation on this day has become a part of our culture as Lynwood Unified remains steadfast in our commitment to the well-being of every child.”
Lynwood Unified Unveils $250,000 Mobile STEAM Classroom Designed for Hands-on Studies
A group of 10 Lynwood Middle School students, dressed in matching blue science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) T-shirts, cut a ceremonial blue ribbon on Oct. 20 as nearly 100 community members cheered in celebration of the District’s new mobile STEAM classroom, a learning tool that aims to bring lessons to life.
“Today is an exciting day for our school because we get to see our favorite subjects like science and technology come to life,” LMS eighth-grader Fatima Garcia said in a speech with classmate Jose Manuel Ruiz. “I want to thank everyone who made today possible. We can’t wait to begin learning lessons in the new mobile classroom!”
The $250,000 mobile classroom was christened during a ceremony that featured Lynwood Unified Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite, National College Resources Foundation (NCRF) Founder Theresa Price and local elected officials. The classroom on wheels, donated by the NCRF, contains 18 Mac computers, coding programs and two 3-D printers to inspire student interest in STEAM careers.
The mobile classroom will be stationed at Lynwood Middle School throughout the year before cycling to a new school each year beginning in 2018-19.
“The arrival of our new mobile classroom represents the kind of innovative tools that we need to inspire the students of today,” Crosthwaite said. “We’re excited to be growing as a District and equipping our students with new tools that will stimulate new possibilities for them.”
Lynwood Middle School robotics students guided guests through the classroom, which includes a large video monitor, a white board and two gaming stations. It accommodates 18 students and two educators. The National College Resources Foundation donated the classroom.
“We want to connect young people to their potential and ensure that no barriers keep them from reaching their goals,” NCRF’s Price said. “We’re pleased to partner with Lynwood Unified to help develop leaders, and today we took a step forward by introducing students to STEAM education that can help shape their future.”
Lynwood Unified offers a host of STEAM-focused tools, including a new robotics computer lab at Washington Middle Elementary School and a newly launched science camp that combines chemistry and entrepreneurship.
“STEAM curriculum, and our new mobile classroom, is helping us to inspire students through fun, interactive instruction,” LUSD Board President Alma Delia-Renteria said. “One of Lynwood Unified’s priorities is to prepare our students to thrive in the modern world, and special days like today ensure we’ll continue moving in the direction of future success for our students.”
Lynwood Unified Project 2-INSPIRE Program Empowers Parents to Become Leaders
Since joining Lynwood Unified’s Project 2-INSPIRE program, District parent Patricia-Laura Ramirez-Beltran has newfound confidence to serve as a mentor to other parents throughout the District as she actively participates within the school community and shares her motivation with others.
Ramirez-Beltran is one of nine parents of Lynwood Unified School District students to recently receive certification for becoming parent leaders and completing the Project 2-INSPIRE program, which aims to develop leadership skills and teaches parents to be actively engaged in their child’s education.
Project 2-INSPIRE started at Lynwood Unified in 2013, with courses organized through the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), to teach parents how to create a positive learning environment at home and how to engage and motivate their children’s success at school. The program has helped empower parents to become leaders as they pave the way for other parents and strengthen the Lynwood community.
“Parents are the biggest advocates for their children so they can help ensure their students receive the best education possible,” said Jasmine Muñoz-Velasco, Lynwood Unified’s Parent Involvement Specialist. “It is powerful for parents to see parents like themselves in leadership roles and it encourages others to get involved. In turn, they can also become role models and mentors.”
The program is structured into four sections with level one being awareness, level two being mastery, level three as expert and the final level is advanced. At the first stage, basic content and skill development is addressed, such as how to create connections within the school and how to set personal and academic goals. Each level then goes more in-depth by addressing points like collaborative strategic planning and how to address a diverse community.
After completing the four levels of the program, parent leaders are certified to teach the level one workshop series to new participants and they will serve as mentors to build a parent community throughout the District.
“This program helped me to grow and learn about different topics related to education, and in that way, guide, motivate and encourage my children to achieve their greatest academic performance,” parent leader Ramirez-Beltran said. “It has helped me to become more secure with public speaking and I have developed personally and professionally.”
The most recent level one series started Oct. 6, and for the next 12-weeks parent leaders will present a wide range of topics including early childhood education, financing higher education, A-G requirements and common core standards.
The next three Friday sessions will cover the following topics: Education in the Digital Era, The U.S. Education System and The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The workshops are held 9 to 11 a.m. on scheduled Fridays at Cesar Chavez Middle School, with childcare and interpretation services provided. Presenters conduct the workshops in Spanish but the material for the series is provided in English and Spanish. Maria del Rocio Romero, another recent Project 2-INSPIRE certified parent, said that the program has helped her grow comfortable with public speaking while further teaching the value of education to her child.
“We are proud of the dedication and commitment that our Lynwood Unified parents have shown during the course of the program,” LUSD Board President Alma-Delia Renteria said. “We are excited to have active and informed parents working at our schools to ensure their children can reach their full potential.”
“Preparing our students for the future requires a collective effort by our staff, parents and the surrounding community. Our goal is to empower parents to be active participants in their children’s education,” Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “Congratulations to our parent leaders and to the incoming participants for their dedication to their students and the District.”
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Community News (Lynwood Unified School District)