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Westchester wins Aspen Challenge; $100k to fix LAUSD instruments

Craig Clough | March 19, 2015

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school report buzzA team from Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet won first place in the 2015 Aspen Challenge: Los Angeles competition at last Saturday, beating out teams from 15 other schools.

The challenge asked students to propose solutions to global problems, and Westchester’s 10-member team took on water sustainability awareness in Los Angeles, according to a LA Unified press release. 

The team will showcase its solution in at the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival this July in Colorado.

“This was an adventurous journey for each team,” said Brenda Manuel, administrator at LAUSD’s Parent Community Student Services Branch, in a statement. “Each member brought his/her talent, creativity and dedication and in the process, gained a new voice as a leader.”

School Experience Survey

LA Unified is asking students, parents and school staff to rate schools through a new poll, the School Experience Survey.

“The School Experience Survey asks important questions about school quality, such as: what opportunities do students have to be leaders at their school; how welcoming and collaborative is the environment; how clean and safe is the campus,” a district press release said. “The deadline for responding to the survey is April 10, and the District hopes for total participation. L.A. Unified measures its performance against previous surveys, which have taken place for seven years. In addition, the information helps mark the District’s progress toward federal goals.”

Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship Award

The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) awarded five high school seniors with the Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship Award at its 22nd Annual California Charter Schools Conference, which is taking place this week in Sacramento. One of the winners is an LAUSD student from Academia Avance.

The award, which includes a $2,000 prize, honors students who demonstrate a passion for community service while reaching their educational goals.

According to a CCSA press release, Academia Avance student Jose Chitala “earned a plethora of accolades including the Principals List Award and Excellence in Leadership Award at the Hispanic Scholarship Funds’ Youth Leadership Institute. He is team captain for varsity soccer, class representative for the Associated Student Body, a facilitator of religious education at Saint Ignatius Loyola Church and volunteers for the Northeast Los Angeles Peace March. Jose also volunteers as a youth soccer coach at Kids Club Italia Soccer League.”

$100,000 donation to LAUSD music program

The LA Unified musical instrument repair shop had a huge backlog of broken instruments at the end of the 2014 school year, as was profiled in this recent KPCC story.

LA Unified said it reached out for help, and the LA Fund for Public Education answered by identifying John Hotchkis, a philanthropist dedicated to music and arts education, who made a donation of $100,000 to the LA Fund. The district said in a press release that approximately $65,000 from the donation was used to repair over 1,200 musical instruments, and the rest was used as grants for the purchase of new instruments.

“We are so grateful to the LA Fund and Mr. Hotchkis for his generous donation to our musical instrument repair program,” the District’s Chief Facilities Executive Mark Hovatter said in a statement. “As a result of his donation, nearly 80 percent of the backlog was repaired and put back into our schools and more students are able to benefit. We know that learning to play music enriches students’ lives and builds confidence, and it is crucial that we continue to make music accessible to our students.”

Cárdenas immigration meeting

U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas is holding a meeting at Panorama High School on Saturday to provide information on President Obama‘s executive actions for undocumented immigrants. Attendees can learn if they are eligible to stay in the U.S. as the parent of an American citizen or if they were brought to the U.S. as a child.

Click here for more information.

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