Grossmont Union High School District Posts Significant Gains in 2013 API

District Records an Overall Gain of 14 Points

On August 29, 2013, the California Department of Education (CDE) released the 2013 Growth API for schools and districts in California. For high schools, the API measures how well students are performing on both the California Standards Tests (CSTs) as well as the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE).

The Grossmont District’s API increased by 14 points to 769, marking the tenth consecutive year of growth.

In addition to significant growth at the District level, two of GUHSD’s high schools demonstrated dramatic improvements. El CajonValleyHigh School increased its API by 73 points and Monte Vista posted a gain of 29 points.


  • At the subgroup level, the District realized dramatic growth among students with disabilities (+28 points), socioeconomically disadvantaged (+38 points), and Hispanic/Latino students (+30 points).
  • Performance in the core academic areas continued to improve with an overall increase in the percentage of students scoring at the Advanced or Proficient levels of 1.5 points. The strongest growth at the District level was in Social Science (+2.7 percentage points) and English Language Arts (ELA) (+2.0 percentage points).
  • The largest specific areas of improved performance include: Grade 10 ELA (+4.0 percentage points), Geometry (+3.5 percentage points), and US History (+3.7 percentage points).


Individual School Highlights:

  • El Cajon Valley demonstrated outstanding achievement in 2012-13. In addition to the school’s 73 point growth on the 2013 Growth API, these gains were matched in each of the school’s significant subgroups. African Americans were up by 79 points, socioeconomically disadvantaged students went up by 78 points, Hispanic/Latino students increased by 76 points, English Learners had a 47 point increase, and students with disabilities went up by 43 points. The school exceeded all of its API growth targets. The results from CST testing reflect improvement in all subject areas.
  • Monte Vista made substantial gains on both the CST tests as well as the California High School Exit Exam where the percentage of students passing increased by 8 percentage points. The 2013 Growth API shows a 29 point increase with dramatic improvements in the Special Education, English Learner, and Caucasian subgroups. The school was one among very few high schools Statewide to have met all of its targets under No Child Left Behind accountability rules. The largest gains were in English Language Arts, Science, and Social Science. Monte Vista’s achievement is particularly noteworthy for its similar schools ranking. With a similar schools rank of 9, Monte Vista is outperforming 90 percent of high schools Statewide that have comparable student demographics.
  • Santana continued to show improved scores, and its 2013 Growth API of 814 exceeds the State target. The school showed large gains in its Hispanic/Latino subgroup with a growth of 29 points. CST scores increased in all subject areas with the largest gains in Geometry (+16.0), Algebra I (+8.3), and Integrated Science (+18.3). Santana continues to score well above the State’s established target of 800.
  • Valhalla increased the percentage of students scoring at the Advanced or Proficient levels on the CST tests schoolwide, with the largest increases in High School Math (+4.0), Integrated Science (+5.6), and US History (+4.6). The school’s API went up by 7 points with significant growth among the Hispanic/Latino subgroup (+26) and the socioeconomic subgroup (+14). Valhalla continues to score well above the State’s established target of 800.
  • West Hills continued to exceed the State API target with a 2013 Growth API of 807 and demonstrated significant growth among its Special Education (+31) and Hispanic/Latino (+14) subgroups. Schoolwide increases in the percentage of students scoring Advanced or Proficient were most pronounced in Physics (+11.5), High School Math (+6.4), and 10th Grade English Language Arts (+4.7). West Hills continues to score well above the State’s established target of 800.
  • Grossmont improved at all grade levels in English Language Arts (ELA) and realized significant improvement in the areas of Integrated Science (+29.0), Physics (+14.9), and US History (+4.8).
  • Mount Miguel made gains in Geometry (+4.9), Algebra II (+6.8), and US History (+7.0) and showed significant improvement among its African American, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and English Learner subgroups.  
  • El Capitan posted a 10 point increase in the 2013 Growth API and showed significant growth among its Hispanic/Latino (+28), socioeconomically disadvantaged (+19), and English Learner subgroups (+22). The largest CST improvements were among the 9th Grade ELA (+12.0), Chemistry (+11.0), and Physics (+14.0) CST tests.
  • Granite Hills realized large gains on the Earth Science (+8.8), High School Math (+16.2), and Geometry (+6.7) CST tests. Overall, the school met its API growth target while showing significant improvement among students with disabilities (+27 point growth on the 2013 Growth API).
  • The District’s charter schools Helix Charter and Steele Canyon scored at 804 and 798 respectively.  More detailed information may be obtained directly from the schools.


Intergenerational Garden at Cuyamaca College

RANCHO SAN DIEGO - With the snip of the scissors, an intergenerational garden at Cuyamaca College was officially dedicated Tuesday with a “vine-cutting” ceremony led by county, college and college district officials, who touted the site’s educational and health benefits to East County.

Phu Nguyen/Cuyamaca College photographer for The East County Herald From left: East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Chancellor Cindy Miles and Cuyamaca College President Mark Zacovic join in the “vine-cutting” ceremony for Cuyamaca College’s Intergenerational Garden.

Phu Nguyen/Cuyamaca College photographer for The East County Herald
From left: East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Chancellor Cindy Miles and Cuyamaca College President Mark Zacovic join in the “vine-cutting” ceremony for Cuyamaca College’s Intergenerational Garden.

Funded in part by a $25,000 grant from the county’s Health and Human Services Agency, the garden is a 1/3-acre plot between the Child  Development Center and the Water Conservation Garden that is well on its way to produce a bountiful crop of produce at a site made possible by not only by the efforts of eight senior volunteers – the “Gardening Grannies” –  but several community groups and vendors.

For the children, ages two-five, the intent of the garden is to teach good nutrition to a population accustomed to diets heavy on processed foods. For the seniors, it’s a healthy outdoor activity and an opportunity to connect with kids.

“What a wonderful concept – our older generation working with and teaching the youngest generation who are here at Cuyamaca College in our early-childhood program,” said Chancellor Cindy L. Miles, who joined college President Mark J. Zacovic in holding the length of vine cut by Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents East County. “Not only do the generations interact, our youngest ones get to know about gardening and teamwork and about healthy eating. With today’s problems of childhood obesity and our kids not knowing where our foods come from – this is a very beautiful opportunity to address these issues.”Zacovic called the one and a half -year project a “collaborative vision” that served as an interdisciplinary learning opportunity for students enrolled in several college programs, including child development, ornamental horticulture, and surveying.“It was really a wonderful synergy that has come together,” he said about the garden, which, when complete, will feature citrus and other fruit trees, a variety of vegetable and flower beds, vines with pumpkins and melons, ornamentals, herbs, and more. “Cuyamaca College has a strong reputation as a leader in sustainability and this garden is a perfect addition to this.”

Jacob hailed the garden as an example of the county’s commitment to intergenerational ties, starting back in 2001 when the Board of Supervisors first approved the hiring of an intergenerational program coordinator.

“The county was the first in the country to set an example with an intergenerational program,” she said. “There is lots to be learned from folks who have lived for a few years, and never before have our kids needed that kind of teaching as much as they do now.”

Phu Nguyen/Cuyamaca College photographer for The East County Herald East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is presented with artwork from children to commemorate the dedication of Cuyamaca College’s Intergenerational Garden on Tuesday.

Phu Nguyen/Cuyamaca College photographer for The East County Herald
East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is presented with artwork from children to commemorate the dedication of Cuyamaca College’s Intergenerational Garden on Tuesday.

Health and Human Services Agency Director Nick Macchione said the garden carries an important message of a lifelong practice of health and wellness, noting that studies have shown that three lifestyle choices – poor nutrition, lack of exercise and smoking – have contributed to the more than 60 percent of the deaths in East County.

“There is great value in the lessons being taught to these children about the importance of making healthy choices,” he said. “Many of these children will back to their families and begin having these conversations.”

Macchione said when the county launched a program to improve the health of its residents, a decision was made to go out to the communities and nurture efforts such as Cuyamaca College’s Intergenerational Garden.“Projects like this make  a good investment,” he said. “It’s communities and government working together to make ourselves healthier and smarter.”

In addition to the young gardeners and their senior citizen partners, others joining in on the official launching were community partners and vendors who have donated time and materials:  the California Conservation Corps, Dixieline/ProBuild; HydroScape, A.D.D. Landscaping, The Fence Doctor, Xcel Remodeling, Inc., La Mesa landscape architect George Mercer and others.

Senator Joel Anderson and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis host Public Safety Town Hall

SANTEE – Senator Joel Anderson, Public Safety Committee Vice Chair and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis host “Keep Our Kids Safe” Town Hall Meeting. The event was at West Hills High School in the Performing Arts Center.

Jay Renard/The East County Herald

Jay Renard/The East County Herald

A five-member panel included various law enforcement agencies presenting ways to keep children save. The panel consisted of Sheriff’s Deputy Danielle Benjamin, CHP Public Information Officer Kevin Pearlstein, CASA Executive Director Dana Stevens, Deputy District Attorney Lisa Weinrob and Probation Director Lisa J. Sawin. Discussions covered how parents need to monitor their children, teen aged driving issues, child bullying and juvenile legal and probation issues among other critical public safety issues facing our youth and communities.

Santee Relay for Life – Wings of Love

riley_at_santee_lakes_2013_0066-XLPhotos by Jay Renard

Santee – Six year old Riley is an active child, a Santee Princess, and close to a 3 year cancer survivor. Riley was diagnosed with a Wilms’ Tumor (a type of childhood kidney cancer) on March 9, 2010, shortly after her 3rd birthday. She had to have her right kidney removed and spent a week in the hospital. She underwent 20 weeks of chemotherapy, lost all her hair, but never her smile. She went into remission August 20, 2010.

When Riley was in the hospital, she always wears a pair of fairy wings that she had received for her birthday. Every week at chemotherapy she would wear her wings and march into clinic with her head held high. They became her signature. To this day, 3 years later, when she goes in every three months for her scans, she always wears her wings.

Riley’s parents heard of the Relay for Life and were invited by a friend who had a team to come by and check it out. The 2011 Relay for Life in Santee was their first exposure to the event. Maria Maes, then Miss Santee, greeted Riley and her family. When Maria saw Riley putting on her purple Survivor shirt, she started to cry and came over and gave Riley, her mother, Janell, and Janell’s, sister Valeie, each a hug. Janell and Valerie were not even at the event more than 10 minutes when they turned to each other out with tears in their eyes and said, “Next year we will have a team for Riley and Mom!!”

For the 2012 Relay For Life, Riley’s mother and aunt, created a team for Riley, named “Riley’s Wings of Love”. They created a “Riley’s Wings of Love” Facebook page. Between Riley’s “Wings of Love” page, her mother’s and aunt’s facebook page, over 60 people signed up to be on her team, including 9 Cancer Survivors.
Riley’s brother Reef, who was 7 years old last year, came up with an awesome on-site fundraiser. Cancer ribbons were made out of Legos. The family made 350 of them in 12 different color to represent the different types of cancer. They raised over $1600.00 for the American Cancer Society.

Riley’s family is excited for the 2013 Relay For Life of Santee this year!!! They will once again offer the Lego ribbons and other fundraisers to make 2013 the best year yet. Santee’s Relay for life starts on Saturday June 1 at 10am and ends Sunday June 2 at 10am. The location is Santee Town Center Community Park East, 550 Park Center Drive, Santee, CA 92071. Be part of the celebration of life. Visit the American Cancer’s Relay for Life Site for more information on a Relay for Life site near you: http://www.relayforlife.org/ San Diego Video Marketing


Santee Mormon Helping Hands at Lindo Lake

helping_hands_2013_0024-XLPhotos by Jay Renard

Lakeside – Saturday, April 27th, over 300 volunteers from the Mormon Helping Hands descended upon Lindo Lake County Park today. They worked in conjunction with I Love A Clean San Diego’s Creek to Bay Cleanup project to clean several sites here in Lakeside. This well organized effort deployed groups of volunteers to Lindo Lake, the Lakeside Linkage Preserve, the Whitaker House, and the San Diego River at Cactus Park.

Working closely with the Lakeside’s River Park Conservancy, this mass of workers not only cleaned up debris around the lake and other sites, but did landscape work, painted public restrooms, the boat house and bridge, and re-stripped the parking lot and handicapped parking spaces. The project began bright and early this morning and by 8:00am hundreds of volunteers clad in yellow vests swarmed around Lindo Lake and the other locations looking much like busy worker bees. By 12:00 noon they departed our Lakeside community to reveal sparkling clean parks and grounds.


Santree Fest 2013

santree_fest_2013_0125-XLPhotos by Jay Renard

Santee – Saturday, April 27th, was Santree Fest at Town Center Community Park East. The event was from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Activities included the interblastive organic soap foam spraying from the fire department, Continuous Live Entertainment from Box Canyon Band, National Dance Week Performances with Incahoots Dance Team, and Off Broadway Live’s Ben Owens.
Kid’s Fun Zone included earth day crafts, splash science lab inflatables, educational bug booth, balloon animals, face painting, and games.

Waste Management hosted a booth where residents were able to drop off household batteries for proper disposal and learn more about recycling in Santee. The mini-trash truck was there as well.

At 10:00, Santee Mayor Randy Voepel dedicated the tree planting to the “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion 5th Marines. A contingent of Marines was on hand for the ceremony.


Helix Water District announces high school photo contest winners

La Mesa, CA – On April 17, Helix Water District Board of Directors presented awards to the winners of the eleventh annual High School Water Colors Photo Contest. This highly successful program has grown rapidly over the past few years and is designed to raise awareness of water issues within the high school community. Students compete for cash prizes, recognition, and publication of their work in the District’s reports, websites, and Facebook page. This year 136 extremely high quality entries from seven high schools within the District vied for awards.
Juried by professional photographers and Helix staff, winners were chosen in black and white, color, and Best of Show.
Throughout the summer, a rotating exhibit of winning and non-winning photos can be seen in the lobby of the Helix Administration Office, 7811 University Avenue, La Mesa, 91941. Public is welcome. Hours are between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Photos can also be seen on the Helix Water District’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/helixwater?ref=hl

best in show

Best of Show – Rand Al Urfali – CD With Water Drops

first place

1st Place Color – Michael LeTouzic, – Liquid Metal

first place bw

1st Place B&W – Chelce Blackwood – Dark Waters

Media Release

Joan MacQueen Speech Contest

speech-contestALPINE — Each year 8th graders from Joan MacQueen Middle School compose persuasive essays on a topic of their choice. The seven students that presented their essays
to the Kiwanis Club of Alpine at their regular weekly meeting, Saturday, Apr. 20 were chosen out of a pool of approximately 300 of their peers. Five anonymous judges in the audience gave each student
a score based on the following ten categories:

Thoughtful and challenging introduction;
Body language;
Voice projection and enunciation;
Knowledge of material;
Consistent eye contact with the audience;
Well organized material;
Thoughtful and challenging conclusion;
Energetic presentation;
Interesting content; and
The ability to stay within the allotted time of 3-4 minutes.

This years contestants and their topics were Sean McCann (Mental Illness), Dominic Garza (Censorship), Raynee Ludeke (Welfare),
Garrett Fletcher (Global Warming), John George (Body Image and the Media), Rebekah Meyer (Police in School), Michael Murphy (Cell Phones in Class),
and not able to be there to present her essay was Lauren Motter (Bullies).
While the votes were being tallied, Katie Quartuccio presented each contestant with a beautiful acknowledgement certificate from Senator Joel Anderson’s Office.

The 2013 winner of the Joan MacQueen Speech Contest was Dominic Garza.

Public speaking, as most would agree, ranks right up there with the fear of heights and the fear of snakes. We should consider all of this years participants winners for having
the ability and the courage to participate in this contest. Congratulations to the future leaders of our community!

Stoney’s Kids receives generous donation


From left: Stoney’s Kids President Odie Goward, Mr. East County Stoney Stone, Bonnie Stone-Davis and Gary Case

The Case family began a golf tournament 12 years ago in memory of their daughter Cheryl after she lost her battle with cancer.
This year Stoney’s Kids was one of the chosen non-profits by Cottonwood Assistant General Manager Christina Liska and Gary Case, Cheryl’s brother.
They believed that Cheryl would have truly loved Stoney’s Kids and the support they bring to kids in East County. After this years Golf Tournament at Cottonwood, Stoney’s Kids received an amazing donation of $5,000 from Gary Case on Thursday, Apr. 25. at their regular board meeting.
For more information on Stoney’s Kids visit www.stoneyskids.org

Cajon Classic Car Cruise Starts

cajon_classic_cruise_04_24_13_0147-XLPhotos by Jay Renard

El Cajon – Wednesday, April 24th was the start of the “Cajon Classic Cruise” night. hosted by Downtown El Cajon Business Partners. From April 24th to September 25th, Wednesday nights on Main Street and Magnolia Avenue will have a weekly theme. More than 200 cars are at downtown El Cajon. Visitors can see the best theme cars on the Prescott Promenade. Local restaurants offer dinner and drink specials, bounce houses for the kids, and street vendors peddle delights including kettle corn and hot dogs.


California Native American Heritage Commission Declares Ocotillo Wind Project Area a Sacred Native American Site; Seeks Enforcement Assistance from Calif. Attorney General

SAN DIEGO – April 23, 2013 – The California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) has declared the Ocotillo Wind Project area in Imperial Valley a sacred Native American site. The determination came yesterday afternoon following hours of testimony from Southern California tribes, impacted community members, conservation organizations and representatives from Imperial County and the project developer, Pattern Energy. The lead agency on the utility-scale wind energy development, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to appear at the hearing to defend its record.

Among those submitting testimony on behalf of the tribes were representatives from U.S. Congressmen Juan Vargas and Duncan Hunter, and California State Senator Joel Anderson.

Following hours of testimony, the Commission voted unanimously to declare the Ocotillo Wind Project area a sacred Native American site afforded protections under section 5097.9 of the California Public Resources Code, and asked for assistance on enforcement options from the California Attorney General’s office.

The Commission determined that the BLM failed to engage in federally-required meaningful consultation with affected tribes, and that the BLM’s development partner, Pattern Energy, failed to mitigate significant negative impacts on documented historic Native American cultural resources.

The Ocotillo Wind development project is located in the sensitive Ocotillo Desert in western Imperial County and includes 112 massive turbines, each with a blade sweep larger than a football field, and a height of 450 feet, which is taller than most skyscrapers in downtown San Diego.  The BLM’s own archeologists declared the project area a cultural resources “mega site.” Hundreds of significant Native American cultural resource sites have been documented, including cremation sites, petroglyphs, geoglyphs, ancient villages and prehistoric trails.

Viejas Tribal Chairman Anthony R. Pico commended the Commission for its careful deliberation and objective assessment of evidence submitted by all involved parties. “It is gratifying to finally get a fair and objective hearing, after years of having Native American concerns dismissed by the BLM and their development partner, Pattern Energy. While we support renewable energy, Ocotillo Wind is clearly the wrong project in the wrong location. We express our gratitude to Commission members for recognizing this travesty and we hope that their ruling helps prevent similar situations from occurring on future development sites.”

About the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians

The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians is a sovereign Nation whose people have inhabited the Southern California and northern Mexico for tens of thousands of years. For more information on the history and current government of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians visit www.viejasbandofkumeyaay.org.

NFL Play 60 Kickoff at Cajon Park School in Santee

nfl_play_60_2013_0364-XLPhotos by Jay Renard

Santee – Tuesday, April 23rd, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, San Diego Chargers, and the Santee School District a announce that the Santee School District will again be hosting the NFL Play 60 Challenge. This year’s campaign will reach all students grades 5-8 in the Santee School District. More than 2,700 students from the district will be making the pledge to be more active.

The campaign kicked-off at Cajon Park School in Santee with Chargers Darrell Stuckey and Derek Cox. The program will culminate in May with Jr. Chargers Training Camps held at two locations in the district. Students from across the district will have the opportunity to attend one of these events. The camps will feature fun drills and activities to keep kids moving and will include special guests from the Chargers organization.

The NFL PLAY 60 Challenge is a 6-week program that educates youth about the importance of staying fit and creates an engaging and fun environment at school that seeks to inspire students to be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day.


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