A Fun and Free Spring Break


Spring break should be a week of fun with friends and family, but what can you do if your budget’s on a break before you are? Catch spring fever rather than cabin fever with these fun and free ideas.

California Science Center: Open Year Round

The science center in LA has always been a field trip favorite. It’s free, it’s fun, and open from 10am-5pm. What could be better? New exhibits are always going in, including one on the spacecraft the Endeavour. And there’s over 100 hands-on activities. There’s a beautiful garden right outside. And don’t neglect the other free or cheap museums nearby such as the Natural History Museum and California African American Museum. If you’ve got the time and the cash you can check out the center’s IMAX theater now showing “Island-Lemurs Madagascar,” “Flight of the Butterflies,” and “Hubble” all in 3D.

700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037

California African American Museum: Open Year Round

Right down the way from the California Science Center is the CAAM. With art galleries and exhibitions the museum, although usually quiet, isn’t a boring one. The museum is currently featuring five exhibits with other art galleries around the halls. But don’t bother taking your camera, the art is supposed to be admired on the wall, not on an LED screen. No cameras allowed.

600 State Drive Exposition Park, Los Angeles, CA 90037

Historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus: Saturdays

Griffith Park isn’t free to the public, but the Historic Southwest Museum is! Check out the exhibits: Four Centuries of Pueblo Pottery and Highlights from the Southwest Museum Collection. From 10am-1pm you can join UCLA students and the American Indian Family Partnership to learn about gardening and healthy living.

234 Museum Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90065

FIDM Museum: Open until April 26

From 10am-5pm Tuesday through Saturday, FIDM’s museum of costumes from a plethora of 2013 films and the Christie Romero jewelry collection are on display. If fashion’s your thing, FIDM’s fabulous museum is for you.

919 S. Grand Ave, 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90015

Venice Arts Youth Workshops: Available until May 3

Enjoy workshops on photography, filmmaking, comics, animation, and more for low income families (proof of income i.e. bank account statement, 2012 taxes, or pay stub may be required) or for a minimal fee. Registration can be done in person or online to join a class you’re interested in, but hurry, they fill up fast! Check out their website for a list of class schedules and to see if you qualify for free classes. Ages 8-18 only.

1702 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, 90291 For more info call (310) 392-0846 or visit http://www.venicearts.org/index.php?view=section&id=7915

Spring Festival at St. Christopher’s Church: April 11-13

At St. Christopher Church’s spring festival, you can play games, go on rides, or check out the array of food booths. If you’re strapped for cash there’s free entertainment with concerts every night featuring Cold Duck, The Answer to Classic Rock, and Rhythm Jukebox. Check out the festival 5pm-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday, and noon-10pm Sunday.

629 S. Glendora Ave, West Covina

The Spring Citrus Fair: April 11-13

Head “Back to the Farm” at the La Habra Spring Citrus Fair including rides, hands-on activities, exhibits, live entertainment, food, and vendors. Bring your own snacks and lunch to save on cost or splurge a bit on the delicious fair-style grub being sold. Open Friday 5pm-11pm, Saturday 2pm-11pm, and Sunday 2pm-9pm.

321 E. La Habra Boulevard, La Habra 90631 For more info call  (562) 697-1704

West Covina’s Annual Egg Hunt Celebration at the Cameron Community Center: April 12

This annual egg-citing event includes photos with the Easter bunny, a petting zoo, crafts, games, and of course the egg hunt. It’s all free! Just bring your egg-hunting skills and a basket. This isn’t just an event for your younger siblings, you can hunt for eggs too, people of all ages are welcome. The event is from 10am-2pm. Hunt times are 10:30am for ages 2-3, 11:00am for ages 4-5, 11:30am for ages 6-7, and 12:00pm for ages 8 and up. Lucky hunters may find the golden egg for a special prize. If you come an hour early you can enjoy the pancake breakfast- $5 a person.

1305 E. Cameron Ave, West Covina 91790

Glendora Village Chalk Festival: April 12

From 10am-4pm watch the sidewalks come to life as chalk artist demonstrate their skills. Walk around, shop, and explore the Glendora Village. You can interact with the artists, take pictures, and vote for your favorite masterpiece. The art will be on display until the first rain April 19, so you can check the street art out all break!

Village Goldsmith 158 N. Glendora Ave, Glendora 91741 For more info call (626) 335-2723 or visit www.villageglendora.com

Free Movies at La Fetra Center: April 15

The La Fetra Center will be showing “Machine Gun Preacher” on this particular day, but the center shows movies every Tuesday at 1pm. The movie is free and no reservation is required, however the center provides lunch at noon for $3.75 if you call two days ahead. Come full and bring your own snacks from home to cut costs.

333 E. Foothill Blvd, Glendora 91741 For more info call (626) 914-0560

The Golden Age of Piano at Mt. Sac: April 19

No tickets are required for this 7:30pm piano recital in the Feddersen Recital Hall. Just pop on by and enjoy the music. It’s sure to be a blast

1100 N Grand Ave, Walnut, CA 91789

This article was originally posted by Newsbytes Online.


Wong Recognized as Teacher of the Year

ms wong

On any given day, students can see ASB Advisor and AVID Teacher Melanie Wong busy in the ASB store, running errands around campus, preparing for rallies, or getting the school ready for an event.

Due to her dedication to WCHS and her unnoticed hard work that she does on the sidelines, Wong received WCHS’s prestigious Teacher of the Year award this month.

“One of our greatest strengths as a school is our incredibly positive and welcoming school culture. I can say with great confidence that this is due to Ms. Wong’s hard work and effective guidance of our student leadership groups,” said Principal Alex Ruvalcaba.

Wong has been a teacher at WCHS for all 12 years of her career.

In a statement on her teacher’s page, Wong wrote, “I love being at a school where our students and staff are active in campus life and love showing their Bulldog pride. My goal is to provide every student with the opportunity to be involved in our school so they can experience why WCHS is such a great place to be!”

At the age of 21, Wong started her career on an emergency teacher credential. Since then, she’s served as an English, ELD, and AVID teacher.  She credits the start of her ASB involvement to her position as class of 2006 advisor alongside Math Teacher Christina Mansour.

“I’m honored to represent AVID, ASB, and other student activities. We have such an amazing staff and I’m just grateful to be a part of it,” said Wong.

Many students feel the school would not be the same without Wong’s involvement.

“I’ve known Ms. Wong for two years and she’s one of the most influential people I’ve met in my high school years. She’s more than a teacher; she’s a friend to everyone. She’s done more than teaching us leadership skills and advising us. What makes her so special is her passion and how determined she is to make WCHS a better place. Her love for this school is what makes everyone around her- everyone that interacts with her- motivated to do all they can to make this school better as well. WCHS and ASB wouldn’t be the same without her. I wouldn’t be the same without her,” said senior Lanli Su, ASB director of publicity.

In the past, Wong has been named Renaissance’s Inspirational Teacher of the Year, which is nominated by students. For Teacher of the Year, the nomination comes from faculty within the departments. She is not part of a department on campus per se, which may have been why she has not been considered previously.

“Melanie has always been a very important member to our school community and has done a ton of work with our student body. I believe that she has been overlooked for this award since the only class she taught was ASB. With her current caseload I should think that she would be eligible for this award, and I cannot think of any person on this campus that is more deserving,” said Physical Education Teacher Mercury Simonian.

This year, Ruvalcaba asked departments to nominate any teacher to represent their department in the pool of Teacher of the Year nominees- Fine Arts chose Wong.

After each department nominated a teacher, instructor, or advisor, the final decision went to the Leadership Team- a committee of department chairs, administrators, and teacher leaders on campus.

“I’m on the Leadership Team. I wasn’t at the meeting that chose the teacher of the year, but if I was I would be full force supporting this decision. I’m under no illusion that someone equally qualified can’t just come in and take my job. I always say that all of us here are replaceable- all of us except Ms. Wong. No one here’s really aware of all that she does. I’m learning all the time about the things she does for the school I didn’t know about before. The hours, dedication, the students she’s impacted; it’s something no one else could do. She’s so modest about getting the award, but it really does belong to her. It’s not just a culture she’s created with leadership and the students, it’s beyond these walls. She makes us all better Bulldogs,” said Dean Lisa Maggiore.

There were many unaccredited compliments to Wong on the WCHS Weekly Staff Bulletin.

“Unyielding dedication.”

“Efforts to create things and make things happen.”

“Always offers to help.”

“She’s the bomb diggity.”

Wong is thankful for receiving the award.

“I wouldn’t have thought I’d be the one receiving this, but I’m so honored. Thank you,” she said.

This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.


WCHS Receives California Distinguished School Award


Over the intercom on Thursday, April 11, Principal Alex Ruvalcaba announced that West Covina High School was one of the 218 public high schools and middle schools that won the award for the prestigious title of California Distinguished School.

“Out of our whole area, only two schools are nominated for the California Distinguished School Award, and I’m so proud we’re one of them,” said Ruvalcaba.

Eligibility for the award was based on API scores, the growth of scores on STAR testing, presentation of two “signature practices,” and a final visit by the board.

The process of applying and preparing for the observation was a long one. From November 6 to December 10, 2012 administration was busy putting together the paperwork for the application. In November, staff meetings were held to discuss the “signature practices” of the school–or the things that make Bulldog country unique.

The first of WCHS’s signature practices is the student-centered approach with academic programs, collaborative teaching models, and CAHSEE intervention courses. The instructional practices with the use of technology, collaborative learning groups, and strategy-differentiation also merit the student-centered approach. And finally, under this signature practice is the culture of the campus including the many student leadership programs, impeccable school spirit, and the amount of Bulldog pride.

“They seemed really impressed by the culture we have here,” said Ruvalcaba.

The second of the signature practices is the school-wide strategies through the use of thinking maps, AVID strategies, student “data talks” reflecting on STAR testing, and content specific vocabulary or “Words of the Week” in each classroom.

On Friday, March 8, a group of observers from the California Distinguished School Award board visited WCHS. The board spilt up and interviewed students and teachers, walked around campus, and sat in on classes.

“They remarked that our school is very different from the norm, in a good way,” said Ruvalcaba.

This is the first time WCHS has received the award since 2005.  The logo of the California Distinguished School Award was painted onto the gym then.

“We’re definitely considering adding a second one of the logos onto the gym to mark our great achievement if we do win the award,” said Ruvalcaba before the winners were announced.

The final recipients of the award were determined by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“These schools have gone the extra mile to provide high-quality instruction that puts their students on the right path toward career and college,” stated Torlakson in a press release. “Given the enormous challenges schools have faced in recent years, it is inspiring to see this kind of success in so many schools. Our future depends on meeting the needs of every student no matter where they come from or where they live.”

This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.


The School that Cried “FIRE!”

Cartoon by Aura Rodriguez

The safety of students is at risk. Despite the recent nationwide school shooting scare, I feel administration’s first priority on student safety shouldn’t be implementing the new ID cards for next year, but a problem that can pose a more serious, immediate danger if not addressed- the fire alarm situation. IDs are preventive measures; they help security to know whether a person on campus is supposed to be or not. Fire alarms protect students from immediate danger in the case of a fire.

The likelihood of someone bringing a gun on campus and declaring it student hunting season is very low. But can you imagine how easy it would be for a fire to engulf WCHS?  A careless Chemistry student could forget to turn off a gas burner. How easy is it for someone walking on the street to throw a lit cigarette onto dry grass along the fence? And it’s no secret that there’s an issue with students smoking marijuana on campus (Another school issue that hasn’t been fully taken care of).

Obviously, if they’re smoking, they have lighters with them. Stupid teens and fire don’t mix.There’s quite a few high voltage boxes on campus–one by the girls’ locker room and another behind L17. The computer labs have masses of tangled wires- just one faulty wire could start a fire. We’re not as fireproof on campus as we’d like to think we are. These are just a few of the countless ways a spark can start a blaze on campus.

Fire alarms no longer phase us. They go off so often–during class, lunch, in the mornings, and most recently fifth period March 6. The problem has been going on since the beginning of the school year, and now, second semester, it hasn’t been fixed yet.

We have a few fire drills a year. We’ve been doing practically the same drill every year since kindergarten, just at different schools. The alarm goes off. You get in line at the door.  You go to your class’ assigned spot.  You hold up a sign implying that everyone’s accounted for.  And then you leave.

You could say that we would know what to do in the case of a fire. But can we really boast that we’re safe at WCHS if not one person questions that the flashing lights and annoying, unmistakable “EH-EH-EH” is just the alarm going off on accident… again.

We’re so used to the alarm just going off randomly throughout the day that administration no longer feels the need to let us know on the PA system that there’s no danger of being burned alive–example, February 19. Nor are we warned in advance that the alarm may go off during the day.

Apparently an alarm system that’s mandatory for every school to have takes the back seat to IDs. Why spend so much money on a new system instead of using that money to fix or replace a more important one?

This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.

Stephens Family Leaves to Colorado Springs

WCHS will no longer have the Stephens family on staff as of November 30, 2012.  Married Bulldogs and Boys’ Wrestling coaches Don and Shirley Stephens will be leaving to Colorado Springs in order to pursue a new life for their family.

“[We’re] really sad to leave, but it’s a good opportunity for our family,” said Mrs. Stephens, “Unfortunately, family comes before work.”

The Stephens are moving to Colorado Springs being that Coach Donnie Stephens now runs and trains pupils at his own Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) gym.

“[I’m going to] help train the fighters and operate the gym.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it,” said Mr. Stephens.

In Colorado Springs, Mrs. Stephens plans to extend her education further and possibly become a teacher.

“I’m very excited to go back to school, finish my degree in English, and who knows, maybe I’ll be a teacher! I will probably look for another secretary job though,” said Mrs. Stephens.

Mr. and Mrs. Stephens spent both of their high school and adult careers at WCHS.

“I have definitely realized that this school is the ideal place to be. It’s a great campus that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of. I’ll miss the staff, and mostly the amazing students. The culture at this campus; everyone is kind of like a big family. It’s very unique to see all the interaction here that the students are involved in,” said Mrs. Stephens.

Like his wife, Mr. Stephens finds leaving Bulldog country upsetting.

“It’s quite saddening. Considering I’ve coached here and graduated high school from here. This place will always have a special place in my heart. I’ll miss it,” said Stephens.

Mr. Stephens has contributed much to WCUSD.  He’s worked in special education, coached volleyball, and has worked security here at WCHS for eight years.  However, coaching wrestling will always be his passion.

“I have 30 year old graduates that come back and still call me coach! I’ve met many wonderful individuals. [Coaching] is more than just teaching them proper techniques, it’s about building them into better people at school and home. And teaching them things they will take with them for the rest of their lives,” said Mr. Stephens.

Coach George Munoz, previously a WCHS alumni wrestler, is replacing the Stephens as Boys’ Wrestling coach.

“I’m positive the team will go on and be successful. Having a great coach that’s taking over the program and traditions says a lot,” said Stephens.

Mrs. Stephens gave a positive final comment about West Covina and the school.

“Shirley and I both love the city and live quite near the school.  We stayed close to the school because it’s unique. There’s no other place like it.  If I had to pick one thing I’ll miss the most, it’d be the students, because that’s where I spent most of my time.  I’d just like to say, thank you, thank you! Thank you all and goodbye,” said Mr. Stephens.

Mrs. Stephens ended on a special note, “I’d like to give a special thanks for everyone who has supported me and Donnie throughout the years. It’s made a tremendous impact.  Also, I’d like to recognize the wrestling team for being wonderful individuals.”

This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.