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925.942.3429

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CCCOE Press Releases - 2015

November 2015

October 2015

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November

The holiday spirit of giving showcased at the
Marsh Creek Detention Facility

Handcrafted toys and refurbished bikes by inmates donated to county’s children-serving agencies

CLAYTON, Calif., November 19, 2015—For the 24th straight year, a number of representatives from Contra Costa County non-profit agencies were on hand Thursday at the annual Marsh Creek Detention Facility's Toy Show to fulfill their kids' Christmas wish lists. The representatives were able to choose from numerous newly handcrafted toys and bicycles refurbished by the facility's inmates. These gifts are given to the children who are being served by these agencies during the upcoming holidays.

Along with the many displayed toys and bikes, the inmates decorated the Marsh Creek Detention Facility’s workshop to look like Santa's own. Joining the non-profit-agency representatives were Contra Costa County's Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata and Sheriff David Livingston, as well as numerous representatives from both agencies to celebrate this longtime agency partnership that benefits the community.

Both Superintendent Sakata and Sheriff Livingston gave their thoughts to the many attendees about the extremely successful partnership of the Contra Costa County Office of Education’s (CCCOE) accredited shop classes being taught in a Contra Costa County Jail. “We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful agency collaboration that brings such value to our county,” said Superintendent Sakata. “With this project, these adult students will certainly bring a brighter Holiday Season to many children throughout our community.”

A small group of Marsh Creek Detention Facility inmates have been working on this project since the workshop re-opened in early October. They have been extremely busy fixing up used bikes to look and ride like brand new, and crafting colorful and beautiful wooden toys, such as, ball and cup games, spinning carousels, cars, doll houses, baby cradles, toy tractors, train sets, and more. All of the toy makers and/or bike mechanics are students in the Contra Costa Adult School, an accredited school directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), located within the detention facility.

CCCOE's woodshop teacher Paul Turner hit the ground running, directing this project, soon after being hired on September 28. “On October 7, we opened the doors to the woodshop and bike shop,” said Turner, “It was like going into someone’s garage,” he laughed. “We had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, but luckily my small group of students had plenty of skills to produce more than 400 toys and refurbish 170 bikes by the time this event rolled around. I’m very proud of how hard they worked on this project.”

Non-profit organizations participating in this special event included: Bay Area Rescue Mission, Brighter Beginnings, Contra Costa County Independent Living Skills Program, El Cerrito Fire Department, Shelter Inc., The Salvation Army-Antioch Corps, Ujima Family Recovery Services/La Casa, and VESTIA.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:
During the 2014-15 school year, approximately 2,343 adult inmates (throughout the three Contra Costa detention facilities) were enrolled in classes ranging from academic programs, including basic literacy and GED preparation, to vocational programs, including woodshop, construction, and state-of-the-art computer training. By the end of the school year, 17 student-inmates received their GED and 23 received a high school diploma, and 34 students passed the California High School Exit Exam. In addition, there were 207 students who demonstrated learning gains in reading or math, and 122 students earned a certificate of completion in computer applications. Another course directed by the CCCOE is the DEUCE Program (Deciding, Educating, Understanding, Counseling, and Evaluation). These three-part classes (90 days) focus on substance abuse prevention. Last year, 708 students completed at least one of the three phases, and 146 students graduated from DEUCE. The Parenting Inside/Out class teaches vital parenting skills to women and men, with 57 certificates issued last school year. Last year, the CCCOE opened a new re-entry class at the West County Detention Facility. The re-entry class offers workforce readiness, career exploration, soft skills workshops, and a nine-week cognitive-behavior-change program called Transitions. Currently, 46 inmates are enrolled in the re-entry course.

These classes help to provide education and skills needed for successful transition back into the community.


Student winners of county
Attendance Awareness contests named

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., November 10, 2015 – Twenty-six local students will soon be recognized not only for their skills and creativity, but also for helping to tackle the issue of chronic absenteeism in Contra Costa County. The Contra Costa County Attendance Awareness Poster and Essay Contest is just one of numerous strategies that are part of the 2nd annual Contra Costa County Attendance Awareness Campaign. Walt Disney Elementary (San Ramon) third-grader Sabir Seth was the Grand Prize Winner of the Poster Contest, and Diablo Vista Middle School (Danville) 6th grader Michelle Chen earned top honors in the Essay Contest. This year’s campaign theme is Every School Day Counts: Attend today, Achieve for a Lifetime.

Seth and Chen will be honored at the County Board of Education meeting, held on December 9, at 5:30 p.m., at the Contra Costa County Office of Education. Additionally, during this portion of the Board meeting, the program sponsor, Phillips 66, will be honored, as well as the members of the County Youth Health Coalition.

This year’s competition increased over last year’s in total with 316 submissions (256 posters and 60 essays).

Along with the two Grand Prize winners, $100 for the Essay Contest and $75 for the Poster Contest, the top 12 runner-up winners in each category will receive $20 gift cards. In addition, the winning posters’ artwork and excerpts from the winning essays will be featured, along with Chen and Seth’s entries, in a 2016 Attendance Awareness Annual Calendar.

“We are very proud of all the students who chose to participate in the poster and essay contests,” said County Superintendent Karen Sakata. “This campaign is a collaborative effort to tackle the issue of truancy and student attendance in our county, and this is a great way for students themselves to reinforce the message that every school day counts.”

The Attendance Awareness Campaign is a partnership between the Contra Costa County Office of Education, District Attorneys Office, Probation Department, and Juvenile Court. The campaign is designed to provide communication resources to schools, engage school communities, and boost student attendance in all grade levels.

Students suffer academically if they miss 10% or more of school days, regardless of the reason. Research shows that students who are chronically absent in kindergarten and 1st grade are far less likely to read proficiently by 3rd grade. By the 6th grade, if a student continues to be chronically absent, it is a leading indicator of whether he or she will drop out of high school. In the 9th grade, chronic absences are a better indicator than test scores of a student's likelihood to graduate from high school. 

Additional information about the Contra Costa County Attendance Awareness Campaign can be found online at: http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/attendance.html

POSTER CONTEST

Grand Prize Winning Poster:

Sabir Seth, grade 3, Walt Disney Elementary, San Ramon Valley USD

Poster Contest Runner-Up Winners:

Grace Song, Kindergarten, Country Club Elementary, San Ramon Valley USD

Leah De La Cruz, Kindergarten, Valley View Elementary, West Contra Costa USD

Laksh Kamboy, 1st Grade, Coyote Creek Elementary, San Ramon Valley USD

Suhan Anugu, 1st Grade, Hidden Hills Elementary, San Ramon Valley USD

Elena Nguyen, 2nd Grade, Golden View Elementary, San Ramon Valley USD

Lasya Puppala, 2nd Grade, Golden View Elementary, San Ramon Valley USD

Sania Bidurukontam, 3rd Grade, Coyote Creek Elementary, San Ramon Valley USD

Sanvi Gupta, 3rd Grade, Hidden Hills Elementary, San Ramon Valley USD

Hibah & Trisha, 4th Grade, Rodeo Hills Elementary, John Swett USD

Nikitha Bangalore, 4th Grade, Hidden Hills Elementary, San Ramon Valley USD

Kalyn Smith, 5th Grade, Laurel Elementary, Oakley UESD

Megha Bidhurakanthu, 5th Grade, Neil Armstrong Elementary, San Ramon Valley USD

ESSAY CONTEST:

Grand Prize Winning Essay:

Michelle Chen, 6th Grade, Diablo Vista Middle School, San Ramon Valley USD

Essay Contest Runner-Up Winners:

Macie Calvert, 6th Grade, Diablo Vista Middle, San Ramon Valley USD

Saloni Gupte, 6th Grade, Gale Ranch Middle, San Ramon Valley USD

Bill Li, 6th Grade, Windemere Ranch Middle, San Ramon Valley USD

Pujitha Nachuri, 6th Grade, Diablo Vista Middle, San Ramon Valley USD

Jason Xie, 6th Grade, Windemere Ranch Middle, San Ramon Valley USD

Alissa Crow, 8th Grade, Carquinez Middle, John Swett USD

Siddharth Gaur, 7th Grade, Diablo Vista Middle, San Ramon Valley USD

Tyler Wilson, 7th Grade, Carquinez Middle, John Swett USD

Zayhvhn Bicknell, 8th Grade, Carquinez Middle, John Swett USD

Rosa Heraldez, 8th Grade, Carquinez Middle, John Swett USD

Daphney Saviotti, 8th Grade, Carquinez Middle, John Swett USD

Michael Styles, 8th Grade, Carquinez Middle, John Swett USD

October

For a Quarter of a Century, Bay Area High School Students Continue to Undertake Our World's Challenges

More than 350 Bay Area students will convene this coming Friday and Saturday at Diablo Valley College for the 25th annual Contra Costa County Model United Nations Conference.

WHAT: This Friday opens the 25th annual session of the Contra Costa County Model United Nations (UN) Conference. This academic event is produced and directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and coordinated by Ryan Villanueva, of Best Delegate, along with members of the Model United Nations Club at U.C. Davis. The two-day event enhances high school students' understanding of the United Nations and its role in global issues. Participating students (delegates) each represent a nation and negotiate on that country's behalf. During the conference, delegates will debate international issues in 10 committees, including Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), Security Council (UNSC), United Nations Women (UN Women), and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Topics discussed will include Rights of the Child, Situation in Iran, Nuclear Disarmament, Protecting the Oceans, and Renewable Energy.

“We are pleased to see so many high school students throughout our county and the Bay Area take advantage of our Model UN program,” says Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata. “Model UN is an excellent opportunity for students to display all the hard work and preparation they have put in, as they successfully discuss, persuade, and work with fellow committee members on real-world problems and complex international relations. The skills they are currently refining with this program will be the same ones they’ll use in college and/or in their future careers.”

This academic event also offers students an opportunity to gain substantive knowledge about the cultures and policies of the countries they represent. They can learn the mechanisms for peaceful resolution of disputes, while at the same time honing their interpersonal skills. They must practice writing and speaking skills in order to persuade delegates from other attending schools.

Model UN differs from the CCCOE's Academic Decathlon and Mock Trial academic-event programs, in that it is not so much a competition as it is an event. Participants are commended for outstanding committee work and certificates are awarded to committee rapporteurs. Individual delegate winners are recognized for their debate skills, leadership skills, knowledge of the issues, and presentation of key resolutions. The event closes with a ceremony that recognizes the outstanding delegates.

WHEN: Friday, October 30, 4:00 – 8:30 p.m. (Keynote speaker will begin at 4:00 p.m.)
Saturday, October 31, 8:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Closing and awards ceremony will begin at 3:00 p.m.)

WHERE: Diablo Valley College (DVC), 321 Golf Club Rd. Pleasant Hill, Calif. The event's opening and keynote speech will be held at the Outdoor Commons Area. The awards and closing ceremony will also be held at the Outdoor Commons Area. Committee breakout sessions will be held in DVC's Mathematics Building’s classrooms.

WHO: These are the Bay Area high school teams participating in this year's Contra Costa County Model UN: Acalanes High (Lafayette), Archbishop Mitty High (San Jose), The Athenian School (Danville), California High (San Ramon), Campolindo High (Moraga), Carondelet High (Concord), De La Salle High (Concord), Deer Valley High (Antioch), Dougherty Valley High (San Ramon), Dublin High (Dublin), Foothill High (Pleasanton), The Harker School (San Jose), Las Lomas High (Walnut Creek), Liberty High (Brentwood), Lycée de Francais San Francisco (San Francisco), and Miramonte High (Orinda).

MEDIA NOTES: Audio, video, and photos are welcomed. Great visuals of Model U.N. pageantry, including: more than 350 high school students (representing 60 countries) filling up the Diablo Valley College’s Outdoor Commons Area, each representative carrying a bright-colored sign signifying their country, and an elaborate decorated stage with numerous flags representing countries from around the world. Best action time slots will be:

  • Friday, 4:00 p.m., all students will be in attendance for the general assembly keynote address. UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco Professor of International Law and Human Rights Rita Maran, Ph.D., will serve as the keynote speaker at the Opening Plenary ceremony. The Plenary will be held at DVC's Outdoor Commons Area.
  • Saturday, 3:00 p.m., entire Model U.N. will gather once more for the general assembly awards and closing ceremony. This will be held at DVC's Outdoor Commons Area.

The Media is also welcome to cover the smaller committee sessions, as well. They will be held in nearby DVC classrooms, located in the Mathematics Building.

For additional information about the CCCOE’s Model UN and other academic events, please contact Terry Koehne at (925) 942-3420, or visit their website.

#COCOMUN

September

Four Contra Costa County Schools Honored as Blue Ribbon Schools: Second Most Schools in a California County

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., September 29, 2015–State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated 29 California public and four private schools that are being recognized as 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The California winners of the coveted award are among 285 public (traditional, charter, choice, and magnet) schools and 50 private schools announced this morning by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Contra Costa County had four schools honored with the prestigious award, which made the county home of the second most Blue Ribbon Schools, after Los Angeles County.

The schools are:

Campolindo High (Moraga), Acalanes Union High School District

Happy Valley Elementary (Lafayette), Lafayette School District

Del Rey Elementary (Orinda), Orinda Union School District

Neil A. Armstrong Elementary (Danville), San Ramon Valley Unified

“California’s newly selected Blue Ribbon Schools are among the best in the nation and reflect our state’s commitment to preparing students for college and career,” Torlakson said. “We celebrate these models of excellence as they shine in the national spotlight. I congratulate all the hardworking students, teachers, parents, staff, and administrators who made this recognition possible.”

The federal Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools from elementary through high school.

Public schools are nominated by each Chief State School Officer (CSSO), including the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education nominates private schools.

The California schools were recognized as Exemplary High Performing Schools and were required to be performing in the top 15 percent of schools statewide as measured by state assessments.

National Blue Ribbon Schools will be honored at a national awards ceremony on November 9-10, 2015 in Washington, D.C., where each winner will receive a plaque and flag. Blue Ribbon winners may fly this flag at their schools as a mark of excellence. In its 33-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has presented this award to more than 8,000 of America's schools.

Details of the 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools can be found on the U.S. Department of Education Web site.


High School Mathematics Teacher and Social Science Teacher Earn Top Honors: 2015-2016 Contra Costa County
Teachers of the Year Announced

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., September 25, 2015, Last night, in an energy-filled and packed Concord Hilton banquet room, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata, announced Maria McClain, of Antioch Unified School District and Kate Perry of Liberty Union High School District as the county's 2015–2016 Teachers of the Year.

Maria McClainMaria McClain recently began her 28th year of teaching grades 10–12 for the Antioch Unified School District. For the past 19 years, McClain has been at Deer Valley High School (Antioch). McClain has taught high school pre-calculus, AP Calculus, AP statistics, and algebra, as well as junior high school mathematics and algebra. McClain obtained her undergraduate college units at Diablo Valley College, followed by earning her bachelor's degree in mathematics and teaching credentials at California State University, Sacramento.

“Through her dedication, Maria McClain consistently demonstrates the finest qualities and attributes of a highly skilled educator and serves as a solid role model for her fellow peers,” says Susan Ceballos, vice principal, Deer Valley High School. “It is truly refreshing to observe how she creates an academic environment that is both engaging and enriching for all her students. On a daily basis, Ms. McClain maintains a standards-based instructional program that not only promotes an appreciation for mathematics, but also provides her students with the fundamental learning concepts for life-long application. At the same time, she implements successful instructional strategies that address the diverse learning needs of all students. In doing so, she differentiates her instructional approach by employing an array of strategies and activities to monitor student progress daily. Perhaps and most importantly, Ms. McClain is able to motivate her students by establishing high expectations while still maintaining a nurturing rapport with them during the instructional period.”

Kate PerryThis past July, Kate Perry began her fifth year of teaching social science to grades 9–12 at Independence High School, in Brentwood. The nine-year teacher also taught social studies at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School, in Vallejo, and worked as a service learning coordinator for Irvington High School in Fremont. Perry attained her bachelor’s degree in political science from San Francisco State University, earning her teaching credentials at Mills College and University of California Extension. Last year, she received her master’s degree in education from Mills College.

“I enrolled into Independent High School as a sophomore, after dropping out six moths prior from my first high school,” reports Perry's former student, Tiffany Montana. “When I came to Ms. Perry, I didn't have goals and graduation was farfetched. That was not good enough for her. She showed me that if I stayed focused on my schoolwork and I worked hard, I could graduate on time. Ms. Perry knew I could be anything I wanted, and helped me realize that I really could be anything I wanted to be. While attending Independence, she would text or call me before class to make sure I was going to come in. As a teacher, she provided me with the push I needed. Knowing my decisions could potentially disappoint her was enough for me to do my best. When I graduated on time, in 2014, I had a 3.7 GPA and was looking forward to my future. I owe this drastic change to Ms. Perry's dedication to my education.”

After both teachers were named Teacher of the Year by their school districts, last March, McClain and Perry successfully proceeded, with the other 16 eligible county candidates, through a rigorous countywide selection process, it included an application screening, classroom evaluation, interview, and speech presentation. Their fellow finalists are Dawn Foote, Liberty Union High School District (Ron Nunn Elementary) and Paul Fitzgerald, Acalanes Union High School District, (Miramonte High).

More than 400 attendees were on hand for an evening that will certainly not be forgotten. The audience was made up of the TOYs' family members and friends, as well as numerous local educators, business partners, and elected officials. Kicking off the festivities were a few high-energy musical numbers, featuring intricate rhythms of percussion instruments and complementary harmonies of a 60-student group from Alamo Elementary. The tremendous performance was lead by their music teacher, Nancy Raaum.

The evening also featured Sakata introducing the TOY class of 2015–2016 of sharing with the audience her visits to each of the teachers' classrooms, and the comments their students gave her about their teachers. This was followed by speeches of the TOY finalists on the topic: “What I have learned from my students.” After the finalists' speeches were given, McClain and Perry's announcement was made by Sakata.

McClain and Perry will now compete with all the other county representatives in the California State TOY competition. The California State Teachers of the Year are expected to be announced in late October. The county TOY program is coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education. (For additional TOY info, visit the CCCOE's Teacher of the Year page).

 

July

Teaching position open at Mt. McKinley Court
and Community School

MARTINEZ, Calif., July 23, 2015 – The Contra Costa County Office of Education is currently recruiting for a full-time multiple-subjects teacher at its Mt. McKinley Court and Community School, which is located inside the Martinez Juvenile Hall facility.

Applicants must possess a valid credential authorizing teaching more than one subject in a secondary setting, or meet the criteria and enroll in a university program, which grants a Multiple Subjects Intern Credential. In addition, candidates are required to have appropriate certification for teaching English Language Learners and provide evidence of compliance under No Child Left Behind.

Students at Mt. McKinley take grade-appropriate academic courses and work on their basic skills to complete appropriate courses or earn high school credits. It is a General Education Development (GED) Test Center and the test is administered to eligible students each month. The school is WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accredited. Lessons are designed to accommodate classrooms diverse in ability and learning styles. Technology is highly valued and all students have access to computers. This program also helps students develop pro-social behaviors and life skills.

All classes at Mt. McKinley School are part of a modified block schedule with 90-minute periods. Some students remain in one class for all subjects; others rotate through classes in which they see three teachers daily. The rotational classes include: language arts/social studies, mathematics/science, and health/physical education.

Interested candidates can review the details and apply by visiting the position’s Web page, listed on EdJoin. Resume and copies of credentials and transcripts are required with application. For additional information about this teaching opportunity, contact Lynn Stevenson at lstevenson@cccoe.k12.ca.us or 925-942-3326.

 

May

Annual CTE/ROP Students of Excellence Awards Ceremony Honors 37 Students

ROP Students of Excellence winners

CONCORD, Calif., May 8, 2015 – On Thursday, May 7, the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) honored 37 high school students, representing 24 schools in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, with the Students of Excellence Awards for their outstanding achievement in their CTE/ROP (Career Technical Education/Regional Occupational Program) classes. The celebrated students were each presented a certificate of merit and a $150.00 scholarship award. Scholarship funding was provided by John Muir Health, ConocoPhillips, Walnut Creek Honda, and Susan Lee.

More than 200 attendees were on hand at the Concord Senior Center. Along with the honored students and their families, the students' teachers and ROP business-partnership representatives were also on hand. Welcoming remarks were made by Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata, County Board of Education Member Pamela Mirabella, and County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho.

The Contra Costa County CTE/ROP serves nearly 12,000 students annually with classes in 34 high schools throughout Contra Costa and Alameda counties. Currently, there are 393 state-of-the-art career development classes in this program. CTE/ROP focuses on career preparation and exploration, hands-on experience, and academic excellence to prepare students for success in college and future careers. CTE/ROP provides students with the newest equipment, rigorous academic standards, and classes in emerging technologies. All of the CTE/ROP classes and programs are directed by and funded through the CCCOE. For more information about CTE/ROP classes, visit their website.

The following outstanding students received certificates of merit plus $150.00 in scholarship awards for the CTE/ROP courses they excelled in during the current school year:

(See below list, alphabetical by city)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY
Contra Costa County Office of Education ROP
Anastajia Pirone, Administrative Medical Assistant

ANTIOCH
Deer Valley High School
Nicholas Calvert, Marketing
Shannon Cook, Play Production
Daniel Harte, Advanced Automotive Technology

Dozier-Libbey High School
Crystal Wen, Sports Medicine

BERKELEY
Berkeley High School
Bianca Stern, Advanced Digital Photography

BRENTWOOD
Heritage High School
Penelope Stevenson, Computer Aided Drafting and Design

Liberty High School
Mauricio Baltrons, AP Environmental Science
Shannon Lamaestra, Desktop Publishing

CONCORD
Clayton Valley Charter High School
Tyler Vandal, PLTW Engineering and Design

Concord High School
Mireya Gonzalez Avina, Accounting
Christopher Jenkins, Computer Applications

Ygnacio Valley High School
Alejandra Cervantes, Careers in Teaching

CROCKET
John Swett High School
Alejandra Galvez, Multimedia

DANVILLE
Monte Vista High School
James Dolla, Advanced Sports Medicine
Ducati Mondani, Advanced Architectural Design

San Ramon Valley High School
Isabel Gervis, Introduction to Engineering

EL CERRITO
El Cerrito High School
Crystal Carter, Video Production

MARTINEZ
Alhambra High School
Ryan DeMello, Cabinetmaking
Andrew Silva, Creative Writing

MORAGA
Campolindo High School
Rebecca Seeley, Sports Medicine

OAKLEY
Freedom High School
Andrew Campbell, AP Environmental Science
Alicia Ronan, Careers with Children

PINOLE
Pinole Valley High School
Logan Elmore, Sports Medicine

PITTSBURG
Pittsburg High School
Jamie Hake, Web Design

PLEASANT HILL
College Park High School
Kelsey Hall, Advanced Sports Medicine
Walter Riker, Advanced Communications Media

RICHMOND
Kennedy High School
Geramani Martin, Digital Photography

SAN RAMON
California High School
Alexandra Gladchenko, AP Computer Science
Elizabeth Madrieres, Careers in Teaching
Christina Richardson, Analytical Forensic Science
Kimiya Shokri, Play Production

WALNUT CREEK
Las Lomas High School
Sanam Noorani, Medical Technologies

Northgate High School
Sarah Coyle, Careers in Teaching
Alyssa Lederman, Journalism Production


26 Contra Costa County Schools Named “Gold Ribbon Schools”
- Most in Northern California

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., May 5 2015 – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 193 middle schools and 180 high schools in California have been selected as 2015 California Gold Ribbon Schools, an awards program which is temporarily taking the place of the California Distinguished Schools Program. The program recognizes some of the state's most exemplary public schools. Contra Costa County is home to 26 of the secondary schools selected, most of any county in northern California. The Gold Ribbon Schools in Contra Costa County are:

  • Campolindo High, Acalanes Union High School District
  • Las Lomas High, Acalanes Union High School District
  • Miramonte High, Acalanes Union High School District
  • Dozier-Libbey Medical High, Antioch Unified School District
  • Excelsior Middle, Byron Union School District
  • M.H. Stanley Middle, Lafayette School District
  • Freedom High, Liberty Union High School District
  • Heritage High, Liberty Union High School District
  • Liberty High, Liberty Union High School District
  • Alhambra High, Martinez Unified School District
  • Martinez Junior High, Martinez Unified School District
  • Concord High, Mt. Diablo Unified School District
  • Foothill Middle, Mt. Diablo Unified School District
  • Orinda Intermediate, Orinda Union Elementary School District
  • California High, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • Charlotte Wood Middle, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • Diablo Vista Middle, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • Dougherty Valley High, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • Gale Ranch Middle, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • Iron Horse Middle, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • Los Cerros Middle, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • Monte Vista High, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • Pine Valley Middle, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • San Ramon Valley High, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • Windemere Ranch Middle, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
  • De Anza High, West Contra Costa Unified School District

“We are very proud of the schools in our county being recognized for some amazing model programs,” said Karen Sakata, County superintendent of schools. “The Contra Costa County Office of Education continues to coordinate verification visits to all schools that qualified for the award, and our site visit teams were extremely impressed with what they observed at each of theses schools.”

Schools applied for the award based on a model program their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies. The new award is recognizing middle and high schools this year and elementary schools in 2016.

“These schools are academically successful, vibrant, and innovative centers of learning and teaching,” Torlakson said of the 373 schools. “They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right—embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching, and creating a positive school climate.” The Gold Ribbon Schools will be recognized later this month during regional ceremonies held in Sacramento, San Diego, Visalia, and San Francisco. For more information, please go to the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program Web page.

March

2015-2016 Contra Costa County
Teacher of the Year Finalists Named

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., March 27 2015 – The following four teachers have been named as the 2015-2016 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year (TOY) Finalists: Paul Fitzgerald, Acalanes Union High School District; Dawn Foote, Brentwood Union School District; Maria McClain, Antioch Unified School District; and Kate Perry, Liberty Union High School District. Two of these four finalists will be chosen in late September, and will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program.

Paul Fitzgerald teaches history to grades 11-12 at Miramonte High (Orinda). The 40-year high school teacher has taught U.S. history, AP U.S. history, AP European history, English, and psychology. Prior to coming to Miramonte 18 years ago, Fitzgerald's education career also included teaching high-school courses in Denver; Chicago; and Costa Mesa, Calif.

Dawn Foote has been a speech pathologist for grades K-5 at Ron Nunn Elementary School (Brentwood) for the past 24 years. During her 25-year career, Foote has also served as a speech therapist for the Regional Center East Bay, the Valley Memorial Center, and the Pittsburg Unified School District.

Maria McClain is currently completing her 27th year of teaching grades 10-12 for the Antioch Unified School District. For the past 19 years, McClain has been at Deer Valley High School (Antioch). McClain has taught high school pre-calculus, AP calculus, AP statistics, and algebra, as well as junior high school mathematics and algebra.

Kate Perry is finishing up her fourth year of teaching social science to grades 9-12 at Independence High School (Brentwood). The eight-year teacher also taught social studies at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School (Vallejo) and worked as a service learning coordinator for Irvington High School (Fremont).

The Contra Costa County Office of Education directs the county's TOY program. With such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from (this year there were 20 eligible teachers), the CCCOE's TOY program uses a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidate as follows:

I Application Screening:
On March 20, a committee of 13, representing the county's education, business, and public-sector partners meticulously reviewed the applications submitted by the school districts. This committee independently rated each application. After the application screening and scoring was completed, these four teachers were selected to advance to the next two phases as TOY finalists.

II Classroom Observation and Interview:
During the months of April and early May, a small committee of education specialists and business partners will observe the four finalists interacting with their students during class, followed by interviews with the TOYs. The committee and finalists will discuss topics such as their teaching philosophies and student-progress techniques.

III Speech Presentation:
This coming August, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.

On the evening of September 24, 2015, all 22 TOYs, accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers (an audience of more than 400) will be honored at the annual Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Hilton Concord. Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata, who serves as master of ceremonies, introduces all the TOYs to the audience. This will be followed by the four finalists giving their three- to five-minute speeches (same speeches given at the Speech Presentation) to the filled banquet room. The always-exciting evening will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the two 2015-2016 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.

Currently, there are approximately 8,126 teachers educating more than 173,000 students in Contra Costa County's public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county recently named their Teachers of the Year (TOY) representatives (See entire list of the county's TOYs on our earlier news release.) This year's 22 TOYs represent 17 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Twenty of these representatives, those who teach grades pre-K thru 12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two winners of the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.


2015 Contra Costa County Teacher/Certificated Staff Recruitment Fair

Pleasant Hill, Calif., March 20, 2015 –The Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) will present its annual Contra Costa County Teacher/Certificated Staff Recruitment Fair, on Saturday, April 11, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, at the Pittsburg High School gymnasium, 1750 Harbor Street, in Pittsburg.

Attendees will discover a number of teaching positions in a variety of fields, including all levels of K-12 education, specialty, and substitute teaching positions. Representatives of some of these open positions will be offering interviews on site.

Along with the CCCOE, representatives from eight Contra Costa County school districts will be on hand: Clayton Valley Charter HS, John Swett USD, Liberty UHSD, Martinez USD, Mt. Diablo USD, Pittsburg USD, San Ramon Valley USD, and West Contra Costa USD. In addition, members from Brandman University and U.C. Berkeley Extension will be on hand to talk about earning teaching credentials and their teaching programs.

For additional information about this free event, call (925) 942-3387 or visit the Recruitment Fair's website.


Contra Costa County's School Districts Announce Their 2015-2016 Teachers Of The Year

Pleasant Hill, Calif., March 20, 2015 –Currently, there are approximately 8,126 teachers educating more than 173,000 students in Contra Costa County's public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county recently named their Teachers of the Year (TOY) representatives. (See list below.) The upcoming school year's 22 TOYs represent 17 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Most of these representatives, those who teach grades K thru 12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two top teachers in the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.

“We are immensely proud of these amazing educators,” said Karen Sakata, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools. “They were thoughtfully chosen to represent their schools and districts, and truly represent what is best about public education.”

The county's TOY program is directed by the CCCOE. With such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from, the CCCOE's TOY program uses a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidates as follows:

I Application Screening:
On March 20, a committee of 14 judges, representing the county's education, business, and public-sector partners carefully review the applications submitted by the school districts. This committee independently rates each application. After the application screening and scoring are completed, four teachers will be selected to advance to the next two phases as finalists.

II Classroom Observation and Interview:
In March and April, a small committee of education specialists and business partners observe the four finalists interacting with their students. Immediately following, the committee interviews the candidates discussing topics such as their teaching philosophy and techniques.

III Speech Presentation:
On August 11, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.

On the evening of September 24, 2015, all 22 TOYs, accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers (an audience of more than 400) will be honored at the annual Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Hilton Concord. Ms. Sakata, who serves as master of ceremonies, introduces the TOYs by sharing a special story that reflects her classroom visits of each teacher during the current spring and summer months. This will be followed by the four finalists giving their three- to five-minute speeches (same speeches given in August) to the filled banquet room. Finally, the night will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the two 2015-2016 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.

2015-2016 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Representatives:

  • Michele Bain, Knightsen Elementary School District, Knightsen Elementary
  • Lourdes Beleche, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Cambridge Elementary
  • Kathleen Doerr, John Swett Unified School District, Carquinez Middle School
  • Paul Fitzgerald, Acalanes Union High School District, Miramonte High School
  • Dawn Foote, Brentwood Union School District, Ron Nunn Elementary
  • David Giordano, IV, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Olympic High
  • Sripriya Gopalan, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Live Oak Elementary
  • Debbie Henry, Oakley Unified School District, Almond Grove Elementary
  • Vickie Hilty, Orinda Union School District, Sleepy Hollow Elementary
  • Diane Klaczynski. Pittsburg Unified School District, Hillview Junior High
  • Georgeann Kurtz, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Gale Ranch Middle School
  • Maribel Lopez, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Dover Elementary
  • Maria McClain, Antioch Unified School District, Deer Valley High School
  • Juanita McSweeney, Lafayette School District, Happy Valley Elementary
  • Takeo Nobori, Byron Union School District, Excelsior Middle School
  • Laurel Patterson, Contra Costa County Office of Education, Marchus School
  • Katheryn Perry, Liberty Union High School District, Independence High School
  • Don Read, Moraga School District, Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School
  • Christina Schreiber, Martinez Unified School District, Martinez Junior High School
  • Shauna Tatum, Walnut Creek School District, Walnut Heights Elementary
  • Keith Valdez, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Hanna Ranch Elementary

Note regarding eligible participants:

  • Seventeen of the eighteen Contra Costa County school districts represented, plus the CCCOE are participating in this year's TOY program. (Because this year's CCCOE candidate teaches ages 18-22, she is not eligible in the California State TOY competition.)
  • Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.) This is Las Lomas College's turn, their chosen TOY will be announced in the near future.
  • Due to the larger number of students in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to submit two TOY candidates

Follow Contra Costa County's Teacher of the Year program on Twitter: #CoCoTOY


11th Annual Young Children's Issues Forum

Pleasant Hill, Calif., March 12, 2015 – The public is invited to The Eleventh Annual Young Children's Issues Forum, to be held on Saturday, March 28, 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., at the Pleasant Hill Community Center, at 320 Civic Center, Pleasant Hill. This year's theme is Speak Out for Children: Educate and Advocate. The free annual community event is sponsored and organized by the Contra Costa Local Planning & Advisory Council for Early Care and Education (LPC), and is coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).

The purpose of the program is to provide a forum for discussion among legislators, local elected officials, public agency representatives, business leaders, and the community regarding current children's issues. Annually, this award-winning special presentation is a favorite for numerous local elected officials to take part in, as presenters and/or in question-and-answer sessions. Confirmed guest legislators and elected officials include: Assemblymembers Susan Bonilla and Catharine Baker, Contra Costa County Supervisors Candace Andersen and Karen Mitchoff, and Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools, Karen Sakata.

Superintendent Sakata, will present opening remarks overview of the importance of early childhood education. Additionally, the topic of focus for this year's forum is the national movement towards Quality Early Care and Education, legislation, and the impact of current state and federal investments on California's early care and education programs. The Forum agenda features an impressive list of invited guest presenters, including: Ted Lempert, executive director, Children Now; Matt Regan, senior vice president government relations, Bay Area Council; Moira Kenney, executive director, First 5 Association; Sean Casey, executive director, First 5 Contra Costa; Camilla Rand, director, Contra Costa Community Services Bureau,; Karen Mitchoff, supervisor, Contra Costa County; Candace Andersen, supervisor; Ruth Fernández, manager, Educational Services, CCCOE; Eduardo Aguilar, education policy associate, Children Now; and Cathy Roof, chair, Advocacy Committee of the Contra Costa Local Planning & Advisory Council for Early Care and Education (LPC).

In 2014, the Annual Young Children's Issues Forum received Assembly and Senate recognitions for ongoing quality civic engagement opportunities offered to the public through this annual event. In 2012, California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA) awarded the Young Children's Issues Forum with the California Gold Award, their highest accolade of annual Excellence in Communications.

For more information about the Annual Young Children's Issues Forum, please contact Ruth Fernández at (925) 942-3413 or visit: www.plan4kids.org. This is a free event, but attendance registration due to limited space.


Contra Costa Receives Grant to Improve Preschool Quality
for Low-Income Children

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., March 11, 2015—The California Department of Education (CDE) recently announced that the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) has received a $1.4 million block grant to directly implement improvements to its county's preschool education programs for low-income children. Contra Costa was one of sixteen California counties to receive this grant.

The block grant was included in California's 2014-15 State Budget and provides $50 million in ongoing funding to support quality improvements in California preschools. The goal of the grant funding is to increase the number of low-income children attending high-quality preschool programs, which research shows prepares children for success in school and life.

The CDE block grants were designated for the California counties currently piloting a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), a uniform system to rate, improve, and communicate levels of child-care quality. Contra Costa is a QRIS pilot county and currently has 100 child-care programs participating.

Per the CDE block grant, funds must be used to support California State Preschool Program (CSPP) sites. These are preschool programs that receive state subsidies to serve low-income children. There are 58 CSPP sites in Contra Costa County, primarily run by nonprofit child-care centers and school districts. More than half of the CSPP programs in Contra Costa already participate in the QRIS rating system.

Funds from the CDE block grant will be used to recognize providers who score high QRIS ratings and to help programs with lower scores raise quality. The incentives are designed to improve and maintain quality by keeping teacher/child ratios low, paying for qualified staff, and supporting strong teacher/child interactions.

Contra Costa County's $1.4 million grant will support:

  • Stipends between $2,500 to $5,000 to all CSPP sites participating in the QRIS
  • Site quality improvement mini-grants for sites seeking help reaching top ratings
  • Quality grants to CSPP providers who successfully score in the top two ratings
  • Training and support for CSPP sites not currently participating in QRIS
  • A public awareness campaign about the nature and importance of quality preschool
  • Monitoring and rating of new QRIS participants

The CDE block grant builds on the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge funding First 5 Contra Costa received to pilot a QRIS in Contra Costa County, along with funds the CCCOE allocated over the last 15 years to increase the education and training of Contra Costa's child-care workforce.

In addition to CCCOE's fiscal role, the agency will be responsible for the monitoring and rating of sites' participating in Contra Costa's State Preschool QRIS Block Grant. Other quality improvement services and support are implemented in partnership with First 5 Contra Costa, Contra Costa County's Community Services Bureau, and the Contra Costa Child Care Council. All above mentioned partner agencies make up Contra Costa's QRIS Consortia members who regularly interface to coordinate services for current and potential participating CSPP sites. First 5 Contra Costa is the lead consortia agency for the block grant.

For additional information about the grant and/or QRIS program, contact First Five Contra Costa Early Childhood Deputy Director Cally Martin at (925) 771-7322 or Ruth Fernandez, CCCOE, at (925) 942-3413

February

California High named Contra Costa County's
High School Mock Trial Champion

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., February 26, 2015 — After a number of speeches made by the coaches and individual awards given out to participating students, the exciting 34th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial's Awards Ceremony concluded with the naming of this year's championship team: California High School (San Ramon). California beat Alhambra High, this past Tuesday night in the final round, inside the Bray Courthouse, in Martinez. The match's final scores were not revealed until tonight. This is the second year in a row that California High School has won the county competition.

Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Hon. Steven Austin was on hand to address the large crowd, congratulate all the participants, and hand out the Mock Trial awards. “I've been involved with Mock Trials for 15 years, and it's still so much fun to watch your hard work and talent come together in our courtrooms. At work, I often hear my fellow judges, who volunteer with Mock Trials, speak so highly of how well you all did the night before, during your matches. We are all so impressed! The skills you honed for Mock Trials will certainly be an asset to you, when you go on with your continued education and careers!”

Most of the teams begin their Mock Trial training when they begin the new school year – which makes Mock Trials one of the longest seasons of all the participating schools' sports and academic activities.

For the past four weeks (seven evenings), the California High School and sixteen other Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams have been battling it out with each other inside the superior courthouse courtrooms of Martinez. California High School will now represent Contra Costa County at California State Mock Trial competition, held in Riverside, Calif., March 20-22.

The state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held in Raleigh, NC, May 14-16.

Teams from the following 17 Contra Costa County high schools competed: Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Dougherty Valley (San Ramon), El Cerrito (El Cerrito), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), Northgate (Walnut Creek), and Richmond (Richmond). The top four teams finished in this order:

  1. California
  2. Alhambra
  3. Las Lomas
  4. Acalanes

Mock Trial is an academic event for high school students coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. The purpose of this program is to teach students about the law and the workings of the legal system. To prepare, the students conducted legal research and received guidance on courtroom procedures from their schoolteachers and volunteer attorneys and judges, to acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system.

This year, an impressive 112 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys, senior law students, and sworn judges volunteered their time to serve as Mock Trial Attorney Scorers and Judges. These volunteers represented judges from Bay Area Superior Courts, the California Bankruptcy Court, and the California Appellate Court. Attorney Scorers included Bay Area attorneys from county District Attorney and Public Defender offices, the State Attorney General's Office; and the California Department of Justice. Also assisting were non-profit, public, private, and corporate attorneys. In addition, senior students from five Bay Area law schools lent a hand in scoring.


Congressman Mark DeSaulnier dialogues with local
superintendents as part of Education Listening Tour

PLEASANT HILL – Most of the 18 school district superintendents within Contra Costa County spent the first part of their monthly meeting in dialogue regarding local education issues with the newly appointed member of the House Education & Workforce Committee. As part of his “Education Listening Tour,” newly elected Congressman Mark DeSaulnier paid a visit to the Contra Costa County Office of Education in Pleasant Hill to speak with the education leaders of the county’s 18 school districts about issues that impact them and their communities.

“An important part of my education listening tour involves having meaningful discussions with school administrators about ways to improve our educational system. I am grateful to Contra Costa County’s new Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata for inviting me to participate in the first Superintendents' meeting of the year,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11).

Issues of common interest to both DeSaulnier and the superintendents included equitable funding related to California’s Local Control Funding Formula, and potential partnerships related to federal and state education grant opportunities.

“The fact is that California public schools are still woefully underfunded, and we are still well below 2007-08 funding levels in per-pupil funding,” said Contra Costa County Superintendent, Karen Sakata. “Congressman DeSaulnier shares our concerns and we look forward to an active partnership on this and other issues while he is a member of Congress.”

DeSaulnier’s tour will take him to visit schools and districts throughout California’s 11th District.


Campolindo High School named 2015 East County Regional Academic Decathlon Champion

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., February 12, 2015 – At Wednesday's energy-filled Academic Decathlon Awards Reception, Campolindo High School (Moraga) won the 2015 East County Regional Academic Decathlon for the fifth straight year. Along with being the Regional winner, the team will also represent Contra Costa County in the California State Academic Decathlon competition. Following Campolindo, were Acalanes High School (Lafayette), second place, and Las Lomas High School, third place.

Directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and with the assistance of 180 community volunteers, the county's Academic Decathlon provides an opportunity for high school students to compete as individuals and teams in a series of ten academic tests and demonstrations. The subjects in the competition include art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, social science, essay, interview, and speech (prepared and impromptu), plus the popular SuperQuiz™, a Jeopardy style team competition which brought the program to a close.

Approximately, 140 participating high school students have been studying and preparing for this event with their coaches since September. This year's Academic Decathlon theme was New Alternatives in Energy: Ingenuity and Innovation.

This year's teams represent the following high schools: Acalanes (Lafayette), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Concord (Concord), Dublin (Dublin), Freedom (Oakley), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), and Pittsburg (Pittsburg). Along with Campolindo High School being Contra Costa County's champion for five straight years, they were last year's national winner in the Medium School Category. Visit this Web page to see Contra Costa County winning schools over the years.

High school teams are made up of nine students, grades 9-12, with a maximum of three students in each of the following divisions: Honors (3.75-4.00 GPA), Scholastic (3.00-3.74 GPA) and Varsity (2.99 GPA and below).

The Campolindo High School team will represent Contra Costa County at the California State Academic Decathlon, to be held in Sacramento, March 19-22.

The 2015 East Bay Regional Academic Decathlon overall school rankings:

  1. Campolindo
  2. Acalanes
  3. Las Lomas
  4. Freedom
  5. Concord
  6. Pittsburg

Due to not being able to field the necessary number of students for their schools to compete, Dublin and California High Schools were not eligible to place in the overall team rankings. But, these two teams' participants were eligible to earn individual awards.

Compolindo High School also won this year's East Bay Regional Academic Decathlon SuperQuiz™, held last Saturday.

Individual Gold Awards (highest individual score)

Top Scoring Individual – Varsity
Holden Kolner (11th grade), Campolindo

Top Scoring Individual – Scholastic
Will Coates (12th grade), Campolindo

Top Scoring Individual – Honor
Katie Coates (12th grade) Campolindo

Individual Perfect Test Scores

Katie Coates (12th grade), Campolindo – Science Test
Uma Gaffney (11th grade), Campolindo – Speech Test
Nick O'Dea (12th grade), Las Lomas – Speech Test
Iris Wang (11th grade), Acalanes – Interview Test

The Academic Decathlon was first created by Dr. Robert Peterson, former Superintendent of Schools in Orange County, California. Firmly believing that everyone's learning potential can be maximized through competitive challenge, Dr. Peterson set in motion the contest that has since come to be recognized as the most prestigious high school academic team competition in the United States. The program spread rapidly throughout the states due to the success and excitement it engendered. USAD was founded in 1981.

This year's National Academic Decathlon will be held in Garden Grove, Calif., April 16 – 18.


East Bay Regional 2015 Academic Decathlon concludes with
the always thrilling SuperQuiz™

WHAT: This year's East Bay Regional (Contra Costa and Alameda Counties) 2015 High School Academic Decathlon will conclude this coming Saturday, with objective testing and SuperQuiz™. Directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and with the assistance of community volunteers, the county's Academic Decathlon provides an opportunity for high school students to compete as individuals and teams in a series of ten academic tests and demonstrations. The subjects in the competition include art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, social science, essay, interview, and speech (prepared and impromptu)–plus the popular SuperQuiz™.

Approximately, 140 participating high school students have been studying and preparing for this event with their coaches since September. This year's Academic Decathlon theme is New Alternatives in Energy: Ingenuity and Innovation, and the Super Quiz™, a Jeopardy style team completion will bring the program to a close.

ACTION: Providing outstanding audio, video, and photo opportunities, the approximately 60-minute SuperQuiz™ portion of the Acadeca Decathlon (a team-relay event) always produces the excitement and electrifying mixture of the remaining minute of a tied countywide basketball championship game and the final winning question on a TV game show. The gym's bleachers are filled with families, friends, and teachers, cheering on their teams. The SuperQuiz™ will open up with the traditional entrance of the teams into the gym, while brandishing their school's banner.

WHO: This year's teams represent the following high schools: Acalanes (Lafayette), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Concord (Concord), Dublin (Dublin), Freedom (Oakley), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), and Pittsburg (Pittsburg). Campolindo High School has been Contra Costa County's champion for the past four years, and was last year's national winner in the Medium School Category. Visit this Web page to see Contra Costa County winning schools over the years.

High school teams are made up of nine students, grades 9-12, with a maximum of three students in each of the following divisions: Honors (3.75-4.00 GPA), Scholastic (3.00-3.74 GPA) and Varsity (2.99 GPA and below). The winning team will represent Contra Costa County at the California State Academic Decathlon, to be held in Sacramento, March 19-22. This year's National Academic Decathlon will be held in Garden Grove, Calif., April 16 – 18.

(The winning Contra Costa and Alameda County teams will represent their county in the California State Academic Decathlon.)

DATES / LOCATIONS:
Saturday, February 7, 8:00 a.m.–3:50 p.m.; Los Medanos College (gymnasium),
2700 E. Leland Rd., Pittsburg
** SuperQuiz™ begins at 2:35 p.m., finishing around 3:50 p.m.

Best time for photo, video, and audio opportunities:
**Saturday, February 7, 2:35-3:50 p.m. at Los Medanos College (gymnasium)—The SuperQuiz™ Relay.

Wednesday, February 11, 6:00–7:30 p.m.; Contra Costa County Office of Education,
77 Santa Barbara Rd., Pleasant Hill—Academic Decathlon Awards Ceremony.

HISTORY: The Academic Decathlon was first created by Dr. Robert Peterson, former Superintendent of Schools in Orange County, California. Firmly believing that everyone's learning potential can be maximized through competitive challenge, Dr. Peterson set in motion the contest that has since come to be recognized as the most prestigious high school academic team competition in the United States. The program spread rapidly throughout the states due to the success and excitement it engendered. USAD was founded in 1981.

January

Karen Sakata Sworn In as Contra Costa County's
New Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent of Schools Karen SakataPLEASANT HILL, Calif., January 5, 2015 – On a bright, shiny, and a bit chilly morning, more than 300 attendees witnessed former Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) Deputy Superintendent Karen Sakata be sworn in as the county's new superintendent of schools. She is the county's first female superintendent schools, as well as the position's first Asian American.

The program's opening awed the crowd with Los Medanos College student Justin Everhart singing a spectacular a cappella version of the National Anthem. This was followed by Sakata's introduction and remarks made by Joseph A. Ovick, Ed.D. Dr. Ovick, who officially retired his 18-year service as the county's superintendent of schools on this day, told the crowd: “With her wealth of experience and great reputation here in Contra Costa County, we are very excited about Karen taking over as the new superintendent. Karen is a proven, dynamic leader who is passionate about life-long learning. She has tremendous knowledge in all aspects of school leadership, and our students, educators, and administrators will certainly benefit from her guidance.” Following his speech, it was Dr. Ovick's final duty to introduce and swear in his elected successor.

After being sworn in, Sakata told the crowd, “Our agency has an amazing reputation in Contra Costa County and beyond, thanks largely to Dr. Ovick's leadership during the past 18 years. What I want for students in our county is what I always wanted for my own children – to be ready for college and work, to follow their passions, and to be good citizens.”

The exciting morning also included words of grateful thanks to Dr. Ovick and overwhelming confidence in Sakata, made by the county's Board of Education Vice President Pam Mirabella. In addition, the audience heard a moving poem written and read by Kathy Moore, curriculum coordinator, San Ramon Valley Unified School District and poet laureate for the City of San Ramon.

Sakata literally finished the ceremony with a bang (numerous bangs, actually), as she joined her fellow drummers with the Diablo Taiko Club, to perform two exciting rhythmic pieces.

Sakata, who was elected as the Contra Costa County superintendent of schools in the past June 2014 election, had been the CCCOE's deputy superintendent. While serving in this position, Sakata also directed the agency's Human Resources department. Before transferring to Human Resources, Sakata was the CCCOE's associate superintendent, student programs and services, from July 2008 to July 2010. Prior to joining the CCCOE, she spent 14 years as principal of Ayers Elementary School in Concord (Mt. Diablo Unified School District). Earlier in her professional career, Sakata worked primarily as a special education program specialist, special education teacher, and administrator in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Her teaching positions include special education teacher, speech and language pathologist, resource specialist, and an early childhood specialist.

Sakata holds an M.A. in speech pathology from San Jose State University and a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, at Berkeley. In addition, she has earned a number of education-related certifications, credentials, and licenses. She and her family reside in Danville


Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial is looking for legal professionals to volunteer a few hours of their expertise

MARTINEZ, Calif., January 8, 2015—Bay Area soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are needed to provide assistance to their future brethren at the upcoming 34th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program, held in the early evenings throughout the month of February, at the Martinez Court Rooms. Last year, 130 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges, as well as third-year law students volunteered their time with the Mock Trials.

Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), Mock Trial is an academic event provided for high school students. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. This year's trial: People v. Shem – an art theft case, featuring a pretrial argument on the Fourth Amendment.

“I encourage all my fellow law professionals to join us in serving as volunteer Mock Trial judges and attorney scorers,” says Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Steve Austin. “Not only is it a wonderful service to our county's high school students, but you will really enjoy watching them in action. You will be impressed with the skill these young men and women demonstrate in our courtrooms. Every year I volunteer, I am continually amazed at the obvious time each student has invested to participate in this challenging academic event.”

2014 Mock Trial winning artist

Teams of high school students work with teachers and volunteer coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives. Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and court journalists. Mock Trial judges and attorneys score their performance and provide immediate feedback. Winning teams advance through seven rounds of competition. The county's champion advances to the State finals. This year, there will be 18 Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams competing.

Volunteers will score two competing schools that argue the cases in their assigned court. Each night, will begin with a 15-minute rules and regulations session, then the volunteers will go into their scheduled courtrooms to serve as Mock Trial judge and scorers. The Mock Trials' scorers are made up of Bay Area deputy district attorneys and deputy public defenders, as well as public-sector, private-practice, and corporate lawyers. In addition, seasoned law students are also welcome to participate. A practicing or retired judge or commissioner will preside over each trial, and also serves as one of the trial's scorers.

Teams from the following 18 Contra Costa County high schools will be competing:
Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Dougherty Valley (San Ramon), El Cerrito (El Cerrito), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), Northgate (Walnut Creek), Pinole Valley (Pinole), and Richmond (Richmond).

Schedule for 2015 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials:

Preliminaries: February 3, 5, 10, 12, 5:00–7:30 p.m. (Nine competitions each night)
Quarterfinals: February 17, 5:00–7:30 p.m. (Four competitions)
Semifinals: February 19, 5:00–7:30 p.m. (Two competitions)
Final and Consolation: February 24, 5:00–7:30 p.m. (Two competitions)

Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward Street, in Martinez.

Interested volunteers can learn more by visiting the CCCOE's Mock Trial Web page, or contacting Jonathan Lance at (925) 942-3429.

The two highest-scoring teams will advance to the finals on Tuesday, February 24. The winning team will then represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial competition, held in Riverside, Calif., March 20-22. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held in Raleigh, NC, May 14-16.

In 1977, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the concept of mock trials to the Los Angeles schools. In 1980, the program expanded to the state level. The California Mock Trial Program currently involves more than 36 counties and over 8,000 student participants from more than 400 teams. Approximately 1,500 attorney volunteers serve as team coaches and scorers, and 500 Municipal, Superior, and Appellate Court judges preside over the trials.

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Advisories

January 2015

Measles Update From Contra Costa Health

The following is a letter to Parents, Students, School Employees, and Volunteers from Contra Costa Health Services.

Versión en Español (pdf)

We are writing to update you on the measles situation in California and Contra Costa County. At this time there are no measles cases reported in Contra Costa County, but other counties in the Bay Area have reported cases. It is possible that there will be more measles cases. As of January 27, 73 people in California have been confirmed with measles since late December 2014.

We want to reassure parents that although measles is very contagious, it is highly preventable through vaccinations. If your children have been fully vaccinated, they are well protected from catching measles. However, California's measles outbreak serves as an important reminder that everyone needs to be vaccinated if they have not had the disease in the past.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and pediatricians recommend that children get two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. The first dose is given at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose usually at 4 to 6 years of age. Two doses of MMR vaccine are more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles.

Not only is the MMR a doctor-recommended vaccine, it is also required for school. School immunization requirements make schools and our community safer and healthier. Unless they have an exemption, most children who attend public and private schools in California have received MMR vaccine.

However, in settings where large numbers of unvaccinated people gather, such as international tourist attractions or schools with high exemption levels, vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles can spread quickly and sicken many, including babies too young to be vaccinated and those who cannot be vaccinated because of a health condition.

Adults also need to be up to date on vaccinations. We recommend that everyone, including parents, teachers and volunteers, review their vaccination records.

People born before 1957 are considered immune as they likely had measles as children and developed immunity from the disease. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about your vaccination status.

For more information about measles and measles vaccine, please visit: www.cchealth.org/measles

October 2015

Ebola Facts and Information From Contra Costa Health

The following is a letter to Parents, Students, School Employees, and Volunteers from Contra Costa Health Services.

To Parents, Students, School Employees and Volunteers: With the news of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and of the recent arrival of the disease in the United States, many of you may have questions and concerns. At this time there are no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in Contra Costa County, or any reported cases in California, and the risk of someone becoming infected in our community remains very low.

As your county public health department, we at Contra Costa Health Services wanted to share the facts about Ebola, and let you know about the proactive steps being taken to keep the community as safe as possible from Ebola and other serious diseases.

Many people are understandably concerned about the possibility of becoming exposed to Ebola through travel, particularly air travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some information regarding this on its website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/ebola.

It is important to understand that Ebola can only be spread through direct contact with the blood or other body fluids of a sick person. Infected people become contagious when they begin experiencing symptoms, which include fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

Ebola does not spread through the air. The only people who are likely to become infected with Ebola are those who are in direct contact with a person who is or was sick at the time of contact. In this case, “direct contact” means that the body fluids of an Ebola patient would need to touch your eyes nose, mouth, or through broken skin.

Though the risk of an Ebola case appearing in Contra Costa County is low, we must still be prepared and are taking steps to protect our community. All of the county's hospitals and other parts of the healthcare system are working together to ensure that our plans are up to date for safely detecting, isolating and treating Ebola patients to protect the public and contain the disease, should the need arise.

We are in regular communication with the school districts to ensure your schools are informed about the latest developments on this disease.

To learn more about Ebola, or to keep up with local information about the disease, visit www.cchealth.org/ebola. The CDC also maintains current information about Ebola at www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola. If you have any questions about Ebola, contact your healthcare provider or call the Contra Costa Public Health Communicable Disease Program at 925-313-6740.

William B. Walker, M.D.
Director and Health Officer
Contra Costa Health Services


 

Prevention Tips for Enteroviruses

The following is a letter to School Administrators, Teachers, and Day Care Providers from Contra Costa Health Services.

As your school prepares for cold and flu season, please remember that the Contra Costa Public Health is available to answer questions, provide information and support your efforts to protect students and staff from getting ill.

One of the most important ways that you can help is to encourage staff, students and families to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

We also hope you will promote frequent hand washing with soap and water at your school, and teach younger children how to do a good job. We have included links to hand-washing signage that you can post in hallways, bathrooms, classrooms and the lunch room.

We are counting on you to let us know when an unusual number of students in a class get sick with a respiratory illness OR have vomiting or diarrhea. We can provide advice about when to send notifications to families, how long children should stay home from class and how to help people who were potentially exposed to a disease.

Many of you have questions and concerns about Enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68), the respiratory illness affecting children across the country. We do anticipate EV-D68 cases in Contra Costa County, and are working with local hospitals and providers to test people hospitalized with serious respiratory infections. EV-D68 is concerning because it can be serious for certain people, particularly children with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses, and they are very common in children. This enterovirus, EV-D68, is not new – it was first identified in 1962 – and it mostly causes symptoms that are similar to those of a cold or flu, such as cough, sneezing, runny nose, body aches, or fever. Many children infected this year by EV-D68, however, do NOT have a fever.

EV-D68 can spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or contaminates a surface with respiratory secretions. It can also spread through contact with stool (poop). Measures we can all take to stay healthy include:

  • Avoid touching the face (nose, mouth and eyes) with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Encourage everyone to cover their coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash frequently with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners do not kill enteroviruses.

Clean often-touched surfaces, such as toys and door handles, especially if someone is sick. Disinfect them with a diluted bleach solution (1/4 cup bleach to 1 gallon water) or another EPA-approved disinfecting product that indicates use for non-enveloped viruses (such as norovirus).

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS AND RESOURCES:
The Contra Costa Public Health Communicable Disease Programs can be reached Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 925-313-6740 (phone) or 925-313-6465 (fax).
More information may be found at cchealth.org/enterovirus/ or cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/ev-d68.html

October 2013

Bats Can Carry Rabies—Don't Bring Them to School

Has anyone ever brought a bat to your school or classroom? It happens more than you might think.

Three times in the past year, the Public Health Division of the county health department has received reports of elementary school students bringing bats to classrooms for show-and-tell. In two of those cases, parents gave their children the bats to take to school with them. These parents didn't realize bats are often carriers of rabies and they were putting their kids and others at risk. Please make sure parents, students and teachers know that bats should never, ever be brought to school.

Of the 252 animals that tested positive for rabies in California last year, 227 of them were bats. Handling a rabid bat can result in exposure to the virus through unnoticed scratches or bites (bats have very small teeth and sometimes people don't realize they've been bitten). Even coming into contact with a dead bat can be dangerous.

Though rabies infections in people are rare in the U.S., once symptoms begin rabies is almost always fatal, making it crucial that an exposed person receive treatment to prevent rabies. Fortunately, none of the children who brought the bats to their schools got sick, although one child did need shots because the bat she showed her teacher later tested positive for rabies.

These episodes at Contra Costa schools reinforce the need to educate people about the risks of handling wildlife, especially bats.

For more information about rabies, including what to do if you do have contact with a bat, please visit cchealth.org/rabies


January 2012

Controlling the Spread of Norovirus in Schools
and Child Care Settings

Outbreaks of norovirus infection are more likely to occur during winter months within institutions such as residential facilities, hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, and child care settings. The virus is easily spread from person-to-person through direct contact, contact with contaminated surfaces, and ingestion of contaminated food. This information is provided by Contra Costa County Communicable Disease Control to assist with the recognition and control of norovirus infections in schools and child care facilities.

Norovirus Characteristics
The typical symptoms of norovirus are nausea, vomiting, low-grade fever, abdominal cramps, and watery, non-bloody diarrhea. Vomiting is more common in children. Symptoms usually develop within 24 to 48 hours after exposure, but can appear as early as 12 hours. Illness typically lasts 12 to 60 hours and usually will resolve on its own.
Norovirus is spread very easily from person to person, and people can become infected with the virus in several ways, including:

  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus.
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then eating or placing their hand in their mouth.
  • Having direct contact with another person who has norovirus. Examples include, caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill.

The virus can persist on surfaces in the environment for weeks and is not destroyed by many disinfecting products. When an individual with norovirus handles or prepares food and drinks improperly, they can contaminate those items and can cause infections in people who consume those products; therefore, food workers with diarrhea or vomiting should not work until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped.

Re-infection can occur multiple times during a lifetime. An outbreak of norovirus infection is suspected when more than two students and/or staff in a facility or classroom have symptoms of this virus, starting within a 48 hour period. Report any suspected outbreaks to Communicable Disease Programs at 925-313-6740.

Diagnosis and Treatment
Individuals with diarrhea and vomiting should drink plenty of fluids and follow the control measures on the next page to prevent spread in their households. There is no vaccine or specific therapy for norovirus infection; treatment is supportive and focuses on preventing dehydration. If symptoms do not improve, individuals should contact their primary care physician. Confirmatory laboratory testing for norovirus during an outbreak can be arranged through the Contra Costa Public Health Laboratory by contacting the Communicable Disease Program. During community-wide outbreaks or periods of high norovirus transmission, laboratory diagnosis may not be necessary.

Control Measures
Strict infection control practices are necessary to control norovirus spread. Hands should be washed vigorously with soap and warm water for> 20 seconds:

Wash Hands AFTER:

  • Toilet visits
  • Cleaning up vomit or diarrhea
  • Changing diapers
  • Handling soiled clothing or linens
  • Contact with a symptomatic person
  • Sneezing, coughing

Wash Hands BEFORE:

  • Eating or feeding children
  • Food preparation
  • Serving food
  • Providing healthcare services

Read Complete Article Here
Contra Costa Health Services Link

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Page updated on: June 06, 2017

Rev: 0.4-010514-BETA4