A monthly update from the Whittier Union High School DIstrict.
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September 2021


Dear Whittier Union High School District Community,
Whittier Union has seen a promising start to the new school year, and I am thrilled to highlight the events and activities taking place across the District that are bringing our students, teachers and staff together again.
Our students have transitioned fully back into in-person instruction, and our schools are bustling with excitement with the return of back-to-school assemblies and homecoming festivities.
I would like to thank our certificated and classified staff members for continuing to put our students first, ensuring they have access to opportunities that more closely resemble a traditional school year – while still following protocols that support their health and safety.
Whittier Union remains committed to the health of our students, teachers, staff and families and to support us in this effort, we have launched weekly vaccination clinics in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Our weekly clinics are held every Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the District Board Room. Walk-ins are welcome, but we encourage you to register in advance by visiting the MyTurn website.
At Whittier Union we pride ourselves in doing Whatever it Takes to keep our students safe, while supporting their health and wellness as they engage in an enriching curriculum that prepares them for life after high school. The District provides students, staff and families with a variety of resources such as individual and group counseling, parent workshops, informational videos and more. For more information, visit our tools and resources for support page on the District website.
As the season begins to change and we transition into fall, I encourage you all to remain vigilant in keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe. I look forward to highlighting the successes of our students and staff as they continue to embrace our motto, “To Achieve and Maintain Excellence.”
Martin J. Plourde

Whittier Union Food and Nutrition Services Resumes Supper Meal Distribution for Students

Whittier Union High School District’s Food and Nutrition Services Department has resumed its free afterschool supper meal service, ensuring that WUHSD students continue to have access to nutritious daily meals.

The service, which resumed Sept. 7, provides meals Mondays through Thursdays at all five comprehensive high schools.

In-person breakfast and lunch meal service has also returned after more than a year of curbside pickup service, initiated following the school closures toward the end of the 2019-20 school year. Between March 2020 and July 2021, the Food and Nutrition Services Department served more than 620,000 meals throughout the District.

Whittier Union students are entitled to one free breakfast and one free lunch per school day, as well as a supper meal they can take home. For more about the Supper Meal Distribution, visit the District’s Food and Nutrition Services Department website.

La Serna High School Celebrates 60 Years of Educational Excellence

La Serna High School students showcase their Lancer pride during the school’s anniversary event.
La Serna High School celebrated 60 years of excellence on Sept. 7, highlighting La Serna’s dedication to providing a high-quality education and empowering students to reach their full potential.

Students, teachers, staff and administrators all pitched in to make the school's 60th anniversary celebration a memorable event. As music played throughout the campus, students excitedly took photos that showcased their Lancer pride and took in the vibrant decorations hung throughout the school. Students and staff were also surprised with sweet treats and party hats to commemorate the school’s milestone.

“It feels great,” Assistant Principal Randy Castillo said. “It is special that the school has been around for 60 years, and that we are here in 2021 to be a part of it.”

La Serna High School plans to celebrate this milestone throughout the school year, and festivities will continue at the homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 15.

California High School Student Uses Coding Skills to Build Interactive Game

California High School Senior Justin Toyoshiba works on his game Delivery Blitz, which challenges players to complete deliveries whilst dodging obstacles.
California High School senior Justin Toyoshiba was struck with inspiration as he watched shopping shift online and home deliveries increase during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Equipped with coding skills developed in Cal High’s Advanced Placement computer science class, Toyoshiba designed Delivery Blitz – an interactive game that challenges players to complete an abundance of deliveries while overcoming obstacles along the way.
“With so many people now making purchases online, I think home deliveries have skyrocketed significantly,” Toyoshiba said. “I decided to turn this real-world issue into a quirky, fun game that includes challenging obstacles for people to complete.”
Toyoshiba applied his coding skills learned at Cal High, as well as talents in art and 3D modeling, to create Delivery Blitz’s virtual world. Through a program called Unity, Toyoshiba developed the physical aspects of the game, including the movements of the car and the layout of the city.

Pioneer High School Students Celebrate Homecoming with “A Night in Hollywood”

Pioneer High Homecoming Queen Raylene Serna and Homecoming King Nicolas Montalvo
Students from Pioneer High School cheered, celebrated and danced the night away during the school’s homecoming festivities on Sept. 9 and 10.

On Sept. 9, Pioneer High crowned its Homecoming King and Queen during the football game against Adelanto High School. Class of ’92 alumna Adrienne Janic was invited back to her alma mater to kick off the game with the coin flip. Janic, most notably known as the former host of the show “Overhaulin'” on TLC, was a member of Pioneer’s drill team and varsity cheer squad.

The celebrations continued on Sept. 10, as more than 350 students dressed up for “A Night in Hollywood” and enjoyed entertainment by DJ Mar, photo opportunities and boxed meals from Chick-Fil-A at the homecoming dance.

Attendees followed health and safety guidelines that included proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before the event.

Preparation for the celebrations was done by the Associated Student Body (ASB) team, who worked every Saturday since the beginning of the school year leading to homecoming weekend.

“Our homecoming festivities were different from the past, but our students had a great time being able to once again enjoy some of the high school experiences that have been missed this past year and a half,” ASB Advisor Patty Hill said. “Thanks to those who attended, the ASB cabinet for all the work they put into planning these activities and to admin for helping in the testing and organizing of our students so they could attend and make lasting memories.”

Whittier High School Hosts “Into the Enchanted Forest” Homecoming Celebration

Homecoming Queen Hannah Ramirez and King Steven Curfman
More than 500 students dressed up for Whittier High School’s “Into the Enchanted Forest” homecoming dance on Sept. 18. This year’s homecoming festivities were a summer-long effort with the central goal of bringing students together after a year of remote learning, while also highlighting the natural beauty of Whittier High’s landscape.

Homecoming week included a night festival, where Hannah Ramirez was announced as Homecoming Queen and Steven Curfman as Homecoming King, and student groups raised funds for the clubs by selling goods and hosting carnival games.

Whittier High’s Associated Student Body (ASB) also hosted a spirit week, encouraging students to dress up in pajamas, hats, sports apparel and Disney attire on specific days.

“Our vision for ASB has always been to serve our student body, staff and local community,” Whittier High senior Briana Madrigal said. “Hosting homecoming this year was important in order to truly bring that vision to life and provide some normalcy all week with the events and activities we were able to provide. Most importantly though, it was a fun atmosphere for everyone!"

Stadium Press Box Named in Honor of Late Santa Fe High School Teacher

The press box at Dick Torres Stadium has been named in honor of Juan “Carlos” Casillas, a Santa Fe High School teacher who died in February. 

On Aug. 17, Whittier Union High School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the motion to rename the press box, which unveiled its official name – the Carlos Casillas Press Box – during a football game on Aug. 26. 

The dedication of the press box in Casillas’ memory is a tribute to his love for the community and years of service to the Whittier Union High School District.

In 1982, Casillas started working as a substitute teacher for Whittier Union High School District, later earning a permanent position as a social science teacher at Santa Fe High School. His infectious personality and positive relationships with his students made him popular on campus.

Casillas achieved his dream of becoming a sportscaster after being named the official announcer for Santa Fe High. Later on, Casillas was known as "The Voice of the Santa Fe High School Chiefs." 

Whittier Union Adult School Expands Opportunities for High School Diploma and Equivalency Certificates

Whittier Union Adult School has combined its High School Diploma (HSD) and High School Equivalency (HSE) programs to better meet the needs of its school community. The combined program has already yielded a positive response, recognizing 60 HSD graduates this summer – one of the largest groups of graduates Whittier Union Adult School has seen in recent years. 

Over the course of the last year, the Adult School has seen a growth in the number of students who are looking to receive their HLD or equivalency certificate. 

These students have expressed the need to secure a higher paying job – in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic – and ensure job stability.

“We have combined these programs so that we can offer both high-level, in-person instruction as well as more accessible and convenient remote learning classes,” Assistance Principal Juan Anzaldo said.

For more information on the programs and courses offered at Whittier Union Adult School, please view the Fall Course Catalog

Sierra Vista High School Encourages Students to Pre-Register to Vote

Sierra Vista High School students participate in an Early Voter Registration event on Sept. 24.
Sierra Vista High School cultivated a positive and interactive school culture through the promotion of Voter Registration Week, which encourages students ages 16 and 17 across all public schools in California to pre-register to vote.

Promotion for voting registration occurred over two weeks, culminating in two registration sessions on Sept. 24. The first session allowed students to pre-register on campus, and second session took place virtually for students who are completing their studies from home.

“A lot of teenagers forget that on their 18th birthday they’re eligible to vote," Sierra Vista Instructional Aide Oscar Pierce said. “We’re actively letting 16- and 17-year-old students know that they can be a part of the process and get more involved, and that it’s never too early to register.”

Pre-registering students to vote encourages them to become more involved in making important decisions about the future of their country and community, while ensuring that they are ready to vote when they turn 18.

Frontier High School Art Students Beautify Campus with a Mandala Chalk Mural

Student from Frontier High School create a mandala mural out of chalk.
Frontier High School's art students have been fine-tuning their artistic talents by creating a chalk mural, which took three days to complete. Their hard work and creativity resulted in a beautiful addition to the Frontier campus.

The mural, a mandala drawing consisting of several vibrant colors and patterns, allowed students to execute their knowledge of radial symmetry through meditative art. After having practiced mandala drawing individually in the classroom, the students were elated to work collaboratively to create one large masterpiece.

Art teacher Cynthia Nalbach was delighted to see her students interact with one another outside of the classroom, with each student contributing their creative ideas.

“It gave them a feeling of accomplishment to see that they transformed an area of blank pavement into a colorful feature that's bringing joy to others,” Nalbach said.

The masterpiece can be seen at the Frontier High entrance by students, faculty, and staff as they begin their day, and has contributed to brightening the campus and bringing a sense of community to the United Sierra Education Center.

Transition Program Students Give Back to Their Community Through Volunteering

Transition Program students gain valuable work skills as they volunteer in local retailers such as Old Navy.
After a year of remote learning, Whittier Union’s Transition Program students have gotten back into the swing of having a powerful impact on their community. 

The Transition Program has been working with young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 to provide vocational and transitional services for decades. Recently, the program partnered with several local retail and food businesses to offer volunteer opportunities to students.

An outstanding 140 students have been able to take part in the program this year, gaining valuable work and volunteer experience through their collaboration with companies such as Old Navy, Smart & Final, retirement homes and other small businesses.

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Dr. Ralph S. Pacheco

Dr. Russell Castañeda-Calleros
Vice President

Jeff Baird
Leighton Anderson

Jaime Lopez

Martin Plourde
The Whittier Union High School District provides all students with an engaging, quality standards-based instructional program delivered by a well-trained staff resulting in improved student achievement.  Whittier Union High School District works to achieve and maintain excellence in providing a comprehensive education for all students.
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