Vallejo High grad Damany Hendrix begins new job with Vanderbilt – Times Herald

By Thomas Gase

It always helps to have a few good references on your resume. For Damany Hendrix, his top reference just happens to be a two-time all star in the NBA.

Damany Hendrix

After helping the Vallejo High 1998 graduate earn jobs in the NBA G League with the Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors organizations, Hendrix was once again called upon by Jerry Stackhouse to help with his coaching staff, this time at the Vanderbilt.

Hendrix’s new job is the new Director of Player Development and Quality Control for Vanderbilt, while Stackhouse is the new head coach.

Source: Vallejo High grad Damany Hendrix begins new job with Vanderbilt – Times Herald

Vallejo area schools among most diverse in U.S. – Times Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Public schools in Solano County are the most ethnically diverse among mid-size metro areas in the United States, a new study finds. But, this is nothing new to those who work in the Vallejo City Unified School District, one official here said.

Danny Dockterman, the Chief Methodologist of The School Review (www.theschoolreview.com), described the agency as being “dedicated to providing parents with greater transparency into their child’s local schools through comprehensive data and equitable report cards.”

The group grades schools on academics, learning environment and school safety using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the Civil Rights Data Collection and state departments of education, he said.

Source: Vallejo area schools among most diverse in U.S. – Times Herald

Fairies, wood nymphs and unicorns inhabit Solano County Fair – Times Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

If you look closely, in a green, shady corner of the Solano County Fair, you might catch a glimpse of Mother Nature, seated on her earthy throne near an inflatable unicorn; a forest nymph at her right hand, and winged unicorn fairies at her beck and call.

Also known as Jewel Fink, former prevention program coordinator for the Vallejo City Unified School District, Mother Nature and granddaughter Krista (the forest nymph) Fink both of Dixon, are part of the 2019 Solano County Fair’s Unicorn Garden Party area, located near where First Five Solano operates a giant sandbox, hair and makeup artists and other activities.

At the fair, the Finks are responsible for handing out magic pebbles, pennies for the wishing fountain, and directing people to where fairies read stories to interested children.

Source: Fairies, wood nymphs and unicorns inhabit Solano County Fair – Times Herald

Vallejo’s music teacher hopes to save decades of accumulated stuff – Times Herald

After some 30 years teaching music in the Vallejo City Unified School District, Merlin Chestnut says he doesn’t know what’s going to become of decades worth of equipment, as its longtime home is being razed.

“Where do I put all of our stuff that we use to deliver our music program to students? I mean instruments…all the wind instruments…all the percussion instruments (drums)…all the large keyboard instruments (Marimibas, xylophones, bells, chimes)…all the electronics/sound system…all sheet music/technique materials…props/floors that we recycle to save money…cases for all the percussion…supplies and a myriad of other items linked to the success of our kids,” he said.

“Oh, yeah, and right now it would be nice to have a specific assignment with school(s) and program planning. Also, our kids are preparing for the 166th, 2019 Annual Vallejo 4th of July Parade and Waterfront activities. That pretty much sums it all up in a nutshell.”

Source: Vallejo’s music teacher hopes to save decades of accumulated stuff – Times Herald

Vallejo school district says farewell to one year, prepares for the next – Times Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The end of an era, concerns over the state of music instruction, approving millions in budget cuts plus spending millions on transforming district campuses were the main issues at Wednesday’s Vallejo City Unified School District board meeting.

Board trustees heard again that the district’s budget would need to shrink by nearly $8 million next year and the year after to maintain its required 3 percent reserves.

Pam Hatter, the retiring principal of Widenmann Elementary School, told those present that the campus was packed into more than 2,000 boxes and ready for its move to the lower floors of what over the summer will become the Solano/Widenmann K-8 school. The campus of Solano Middle School will undergo a Measure S-funded transformation to accommodate the Widenmann students and faculty, a move made necessary by the launch of the ELITE charter school, which will inhabit the Widenmann campus. Although the Vallejo school board rejected the charter school — the brainchild of former VCUSD superintendent Ramona Bishop — the county office of education approved it, and directed the district to supply it a facility.

Source: Vallejo school district says farewell to one year, prepares for the next – Times Herald

Vallejo school district to weigh cuts, expenditures – Times Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The Vallejo City Unified School District will need to cut nearly $8 million in the next two years. With that in mind, its board of trustees will consider approving next year’s budget, an agreement with its bargaining units and an arrangement with ELITE Charter School at the school board meeting.

They will also consider approving millions in construction/improvement projects to be paid through Measure S funds at the meeting set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Revenue enhancements and/or budget reductions of $7,750,000 in 2020-2021 and $7,750,000 in 2021-2022 will be included in the district’s 2019-2020 first interim report.

Source: Vallejo school district to weigh cuts, expenditures – Times Herald

Elsa Widenmann bids farewell to longtime home – Times Herald

By Richard Freedman

At 1:30 p.m. Thursday, every Vallejo school was dismissed for the summer, returning for a fresh start Aug. 19.

For Elsa Widenmann Elementary staff and students, it’ll be …. different. A lot different for many. Not so much for some.

After 58 years, the school packs up everything and relocates to the second floor at Solano Middle School. For Principal Pam Hatter, it’s been challenging keeping her usual happy face as the staff packed all belongings with district trucks arriving June 19.

Source:  Elsa Widenmann bids farewell to longtime home

Vallejo adult school grads defy odds – Times Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

“Life happens.”

It’s a truism spoken by Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Adam Clark, to explain the circumstances that brought the 58 graduates of the district’s Regional Education Center, to Friday’s commencement ceremony.

Also known as the “adult school,” the center is where many people who didn’t finish high school the usual way still accomplish their goals when the time is right.

There were high-fives all around, and loud shouts and applause from a crowd that filled the Hogan Middle School auditorium which was just as celebratory as those attending typical high school graduations.

Source: Vallejo adult school grads

Graduation at Jesse Bethel – Times Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The graduation ceremony of Vallejo’s Jesse Bethel High School class of 2019, held at Vallejo High School’s Corbus Field on Thursday, differed in a couple of unusual ways from the typical such event.

For one thing, the Valedictorian’s speech hit some seriously political notes, not to mention the Valedictorian herself was the school’s first Latina woman to earn the honor.

But also, the class included two people tied to tragedies that shone an unfortunate spotlight on the city of Vallejo some 50 years apart.

Vallejo graduating class from Elmer Cave Language Academy makes history – Times-Herald

By Vallejo Times Herald

On Friday, 24 eighth-graders graduated from Vallejo’s first Spanish dual-immersion public TK-8 school, Elmer Cave Language Academy, teacher James Quinn said.

The graduation event was held at the Vallejo Community Center.

Making Cave unique is its providing the foundation for biliteracy — and thereby opening “numerous doors of opportunity” for its graduates, Quinn said.

Source: Vallejo graduating class from Elmer Cave Language Academy makes history – Times-Herald

Spare the Air Day on Tuesday for Vallejo students – Times-Herald

By Vallejo Times Herald

With temperatures heating up, Vallejo school district officials are keeping an eye on students and a third Spare the Air Alert was issued in as many days.

“We will monitor the situation,” Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Adam Clark said Monday. “It is currently 90 degrees. Luckily, most of our schools have an early release today. Things we would do if it gets too hot includes limiting outdoor activity.”

Nevertheless, as the Bay Area Air Quality management District issued its third Spare the Air day in three days — the third this year — residents are urged to find alternatives to driving alone.

Source: Spare the Air Day on Tuesday for Vallejo students – Times-Herald

Vallejo’s MIT class of 2019 graduates with honors – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The members of the 17th graduating class of Vallejo’s Mare Island Technology Academy didn’t choose a theme for themselves, so Superintendent Matt Smith thought for a moment and came up with “Rising Above.”

“There have been significant changes in the seven years they’re been here, and they’ve hung in there,” he said. “This is by far the largest graduating class we’ve ever had. So, ‘rising above.’ That’s their theme. They’re fantastic kids.”

The 107 graduates assembled on the MIT campus — a first in many years — for the commencement ceremonies Thursday. The school usually holds these events at some other venue, Smith said.

Source: Vallejo’s MIT class of 2019 graduates with honors – Times-Herald

Pride Flag ceremony planned for Saturday in Vallejo – Times-Herald

By Vallejo Times Herald

In celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, the nonprofit Solano Pride Center is hosting a series of events for the month of June.

To kick off the month, the city of Vallejo and the Solano Pride Center will be holding a Pride Flag Raising Ceremony at 11 a.m., Saturday, in front of City Hall, 555 Santa Clara St.

Local residents will enjoy light refreshments as they see the flag go up.

The Pride Center has been active in June accepting proclamation from various local agencies celebrating pride month.

Source: Pride Flag ceremony planned for Saturday in Vallejo – Times-Herald

Bond funds banked, millions must be cut- Vallejo school budget – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

With millions of Measure S dollars in the bank, the Vallejo City Unified School District must still find a way to cut millions from its budget, it was learned at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

At the meeting, trustees learned both that the first sale of Measure S bonds, which will help pay for facilities repairs and upgrades, went better than expected and will cost slightly less per taxpayer to repay, but also that projected enrollment declines are expected to wreak havoc on the district’s budget.

Nearly $39 million came in from the bond sale – some $600,000 more than expected — and is in the bank and ready to use. The next bond sale should happen in 2021.

Source: Millions in bond funds banked, millions must be cut from Vallejo school budget – Times-Herald

Sick Life car show at Jesse Bethel this Saturday – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Growing up in Vallejo, Ezequiel Martinez, AKA “EZ,” said he’s been shot, stabbed and sent to jail, and hopes he can help keep some other local kids from traveling that path to nowhere, with his Sick Life Car Club and its second annual car show, planned for Saturday, June 8.

The free event is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Jesse Bethel High School parking lot, he said.

“There will be face painting for the kids, jump houses, activities, raffles, food, vendors, a DJ, even a mechanical bull,” Martinez said, adding a kick-off ceremony at about 11 a.m. will feature Aztec dancers – a rare sight in Vallejo. And, naturally, there will be all kinds of cars and other types of vehicles, he said.

Source: Sick Life car show at Jesse Bethel this Saturday – Times-Herald

Dress for Success’ fifth year draws 100-plus high school students in Vallejo – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The idea behind the Dress For Success Global Education Foundation’s annual high school event is to present students with “the soft skills necessary so they can further their education and career goals,” foundation CEO, founder and Vallejo native Tony Santos said.

These are the skills that aren’t always taught in the classroom, but are nevertheless essential to success in the real world. Often, these types of lessons come from trial and error over time. This program hopes to cut down on some of the more painful and time consuming avoidable mistakes.

The fifth outing for the event was held Tuesday at the Vallejo High School auditorium, though it was the first time all juniors, in all the academies, were invited, organizer and bio-tech academy director, Twila Jackson said. The event launched five years ago, as one directed toward the Law Academy at Bethel High School.

Source: Dress for Success’ fifth year draws 100-plus high school students in Vallejo – Times-Herald

Vallejo school district to discuss how to use bond money – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Vallejo City Unified School District officials will discuss how to spend the millions of dollars coming in from bond sales, even as they prepare for deep cuts to compensate for continued declining enrollment.

Items dealing with having enough teachers are also on the agenda during Wednesday’s meeting.

One of the items on Wednesday’s meeting agenda would make it possible to sell the district offices if needed. Right now, the district is leasing the site for $1 per year from Lennar Mare Island, which has yet to draw up the required paperwork conveying ownership to the district for the agreed-upon price of $1.

Source: Vallejo school district to discuss how to use bond money – Times-Herald

Hogan Middle School students create new mural with a message on campus – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

An entire wall at Hogan Middle School — visible from anywhere in the quad — is nearly finished as it has become the site of a student-designed and painted mural with that message.

P.E. teacher and longtime wrestling coach Jason Guiducci, and Vice Principal Erin Riley are the two school officials most involved with the project, which they say is the first mural painted since the campus became a middle school. It was built as a high school but the school district closed Hogan High for good in 2010.

“We needed a mural,” Guiducci said. “I took the wrestling team to Castlemont High School in Oakland, and they have some great murals, and I got to talking with leadership/year book, and I started with saying, ‘let’s do a mural,’ and four amazing kids ran with it. Ninety-nine point nine percent of it is student centered. It was great to see the ownership and leadership from these kids.”

Source: Hogan Middle School students create new mural with a message on campus – Times-Herald

Solano Middle School Call to Action Family Day a hit – Times-Herald

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

It started with a broken washing machine and culminated with an outpouring of community concern providing “wrap-around services” for an under-served Vallejo neighborhood.

Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan said she was given a tour of Solano Middle School in early May, and learned two things she hadn’t known before — one was that the school had a washer and dryer for students who needed it, and the other, was that the washer was broken and had been for some time.

It was out of this that a Call to Action Family Day was conceived, planned in the space of two weeks, and held on Wednesday in the parking lot in front of the school. It is believed may be the first event of its kind in Vallejo, she said.

Source: Solano Middle School Call to Action Family Day a hit – Times-Herald

Special Olympics athletes get weather break at Corbus – Times-Herald

By Richard Freedman

It was a day Spider-Man, Captain America and Wonder Woman gladly surrendered the spotlight Friday to the lesser known super heroes — Special Olympics athletes.

With a weather reprieve between unusual May rains, roughly 100 special needs students ran the 50-yard dash, hurled a javelin and leaped some hurdles in the annual event at Vallejo High School’s Corbus Field.

Seven Vallejo elementary schools, three middle schools, Bethel and Vallejo high schools, Adult Transition School and the Benicia Unified School District participated — all to the delight of Dr. Adam Clark, Vallejo City Unified School District superintendent.

Source: Special Olympics athletes get weather break at Corbus – Times-Herald