Back to school: La Jolla Cluster, UC San Diego look forward to a new year
by BLAKE BUNCH and DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 09/12/17 - 03:58 PM | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the Aug. 28 early onset of the 2017 academic calendar, the five schools in the La Jolla Cluster — Bird Rock, La Jolla and Torrey Pines elementary schools, Muirlands Middle School and La Jolla High — are all hitting the ground running.

Students at La Jolla High and its four feeder schools are joining more than 111,000 students in the San Diego Unified School District this year along with SDUSD Supt. Cindy Marten, school board members, school administrators, teachers and parents in kicking off the 2017-2018 school year.

Dr. Michael McQuary, board trustee – District C, comprised of schools in the La Jolla, Point Loma and Mission Bay clusters, is excited about the new school year for students and staff alike.

“During the 2017-18 school year, our instructional leaders and staff will work with parents and community/business partners to support and challenge our students to master rigorous curriculum and instructional standards that will prepare them for success in a 21st-century World, including a readiness for college, career and civic/global engagement,” McQuary said. “An overview of the instructional program can be found in the District’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) www.sandiegounified.org/what-lcap, which is the three year strategic plan that lays out the vision, mission, goals, major objectives and activities, evaluation design, and budget for the district and all 180-plus schools in the district.”

This year, said McQuary, as outlined by the School Board and Marten, there will be an emphasis on these five key initiatives across all schools and grade levels in SDUSD:

• Academics offering continued implementation of a broad and challenging curriculum and rigorous graduation standards that have resulted in students achieving the highest graduation rates of the major urban school districts in the state (12 of our 16 high schools in San Diego Unified School District and 13 of our 16 high schools were ranked among the best in California).

• Visual and Performing Arts offering increased funding and support for the arts that research demonstrates has a positive impact on the academic and emotional growth and development of children. Music will be taught in every elementary and middle school across the district, and many of our high schools have outstanding and award-winning musicians, bands, marching bands, orchestras, symphonies, choral groups and drama departments.

• Technology offering coordinated and articulated academic and career pathways that link elementary and middle school readiness programs preparing students for more challenging science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) offerings in high school. This includes classrooms that have hands-on and state-of-the-art technologies; such as, 3D-printers, engineering software, computer programing software, and robots that can be designed and built by students. All classrooms have replaced chalk boards and augmented their white boards with computerized “smart” boards. And every student has a handheld device that links them to many computerized instructional tools, high-tech strategies and on-line learning.

• Health, Nutrition and Wellness: We offer expanded services that emphasize health, nutrition and wellness, including the establishment of School Wellness Councils at each school that will develop a School Wellness Plan and provide a place for stakeholders to review and discuss school wellness issues, services and programs. More information about this program can be found at https://www.sandiegounified.org/newscenter/videos/san-diego-unifieds-back-school-student-wellness-initiative-swaps-sugary-snacks-healthy-treats> In addition, many of our schools have school gardens and some are “Garden to Cafe” certified, which provides fresh produce for school lunches; as well as, enabling an outdoor education experience for students to learn about gardening and healthy foods. The District’s Cafeteria Program provides 130,000 school meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) that are prepared from produce and meats grown and raised by local farmers and ranchers.

• Civic and global engagement offering enhanced student leadership opportunities for students to be involved in civic learning activities that connect students with local, state, national and international partners. High school student “Equity Ambassadors” will be trained to represent their school and work with environmental clubs, gender-sexuality alliance clubs, and civic leadership organizations like the Cesar Chavez service clubs. School Equity Ambassadors will connect and engage with students at other schools in the United States and around the world, local community and global corporate leaders, and political representatives in city hall, state house, U.S. Congress and international organizations.

“We started class on Aug. 21,” said Keri Peckham, communications director at the Bishop’s School. “I just took over this position, and could not be more excited for this school year. One major change we’ve seen this year is our class schedule.

“Whereas students used to begin classes at 7:25 a.m., now they start at 8:15 a.m. It’s definitely been worth it to see some students and parents smiling early in the morning. Also, this week each individual class, from sixth to 12th grade, will be holding a retreat. These retreats typically involve bonding exercises for the sixth graders, while the rest go off to the mountains, Catalina or participate in volunteer work.”

Although UC San Diego does not commence classes until Sept. 28, there is a lot in the works for the upcoming fall semester.

 “We estimate that our enrollment numbers for undergraduate and graduate students to be a record 36,400 this fall,” said Christine Clark of UC San Diego communications department. “This number includes a diverse class of approximately 5,400 new freshmen and new 2,400 transfer students. This is a reflection of the growth on our campus which has been occurring in much of the University of California system.”

“To accommodate our growing undergraduate student body and increasing number of graduate students, UC San Diego’s Mesa Nueva graduate housing project was recently completed north of La Jolla Village Drive and west of Regents Road, and other elements to make the units feel more like a neighborhood.”
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