A monthly update from the Whittier Union High School DIstrict.
Having trouble reading this?
View this in your browser

October 2022


Dear Whittier Union High School District community,
It has been an exciting month as our students, teachers, staff and administrators continue to live up to our motto, “To Achieve and Maintain Excellence.”
We have seen our students interact with one another in positive ways as they host and take part in activities such as spirit rallies, homecoming football games, dances, assemblies and events for Breast Cancer Awareness.
I would be remiss if I did not take this time to shine light on two very important members of the Whittier Union High School District – Board Vice President Jeff Baird and Board Clerk Leighton Anderson. Both have dedicated their time to serve on the Board of Trustees since 1997, during which they have helped Whittier Union and its students reach high levels of success.
Whittier Union is extremely grateful to Vice President Baird and Clerk Anderson – their commitment to do Whatever It Takes has inspired us all. To Mr. Baird and Mr. Anderson, we wish you the very best on your retirement from the Board of Trustees and we thank you for everything you have done for the Whittier Union High School District.
October marked the end of Quarter 1 at Whittier Union and as we begin Quarter 2, I am excited to see all that our students, teachers and staff will continue to achieve.
Dr. Monica Oviedo

La Serna High School Hosts Inaugural Student Leadership Conference

La Serna High School students participate in the school’s first-ever Student Leadership Conference on Sept. 27 and engage in breakout sessions to learn more about communication, conflict resolution and more.

La Serna High School student leaders participated in the school’s inaugural Student Leadership Conference on Sept. 27, where they received training on how to be effective student leaders on campus and how to best connect with their peers to create a fulfilling high school experience.

Link Crew leaders, academic mentors, academy leads, sports captains, Associated Student Body members and OASIS/HAVEN leaders made up the 295 students who attended the conference and heard from keynote speaker Felix Bobo. As an accomplished educator, businessman and leader, Bobo works to support and coach individuals on how to achieve higher levels of success.

"It was amazing to hear the unique leadership expertise from so many great speakers,” senior mentor Kaeya Hernandez said. “I learned about the importance of communication and actively listening to others, which will help me in my leadership position.”

During the conference, students engaged in breakout sessions that covered a wide range of leadership topics including emotional intelligence, the power of a story, and the importance of communication and conflict resolution.

Click HERE to read more!

California High School Senior Receives Award of Merit for Determination, Resiliency

California High School senior Sarah Plascencia receives an Award of Merit from the Whittier Union Board of Trustees during its Oct. 11 meeting.
As a foster child, California High School senior Sarah Plascencia has become accustomed to change, never knowing when she will have to relocate to a new house or attend a new school. When Plascencia arrived in Whittier, however, she knew that she wanted to stay close to the community and has taken extraordinary steps to maintain the friendships she has made as a Cal High student.

Even after her longtime foster mother died last December and she moved to South Gate, Plascencia successfully advocated for herself to continue at Cal High, even though the commute can take up to an hour each way.
To honor Plascencia’s determination to complete her schooling and graduate with the Cal High Class of 2023, the Whittier Union Board of Trustees recognized Plascencia with an Award of Merit during its Oct. 11 Board meeting.
“Thank you to everyone who is supporting me here today and to the Board of Trustees for this recognition,” Plascencia said. “This is my first time being recognized and I would not have gone this far without the support of everyone. I am looking forward to what the future has in store for me after graduation.”

Plascencia is on track to graduate with her A-G requirements and a Health Academy completion certificate. Although her interest in pursuing a career in the medical profession has waned, Plascencia is looking forward to attending Río Hondo College and finding the academic path that is right for her. Plascencia has grown to love art and drawing and said she would like to be in a field where she can develop creatively.  

Click HERE to read more!

Santa Fe Girls Volleyball Honors Breast Cancer Victims, Survivors During Breakthrough Year

Santa Fe High School girls volleyball team sports pink as they raise awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Santa Fe High School girls volleyball team is experiencing a breakthrough year, finishing the year with a solid 20-12 overall record, tying for second place in the Del Rio League and returning to the CIF playoffs for the first time since the 2018-19 school year.

Santa Fe math teacher Gay Brokenbough returned as coach of the volleyball team after Principal Craig Campbell coaxed her out of retirement in 2020. Brokenbough had previously been Santa Fe’s coach from 2000 to 2006. Brokenbough credits the improved play this year to her player’s willingness to work hard and put in the extra effort.

“Coming into the year I sensed that we had a special group of kids. This allowed me to push them a little harder because of the talent,” Brokenbough said. “The players bought into everything I said and that makes the difference. They give me 100% in practice and during the games.”

At the beginning of the season, Santa Fe partnered with the Whittier High School volleyball squad to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing pink uniforms and gear and raising money to help local families who have been impacted by the disease. Several Santa Fe players went a step further, making homemade T-shirts honoring family members who have succumbed to or survived cancer.

Each school raised $200 apiece and will donate the money to one family at each school.

Pioneer High School’s Expanded Horizons Puts Students on Path to Success

A Pioneer High School student and parents receive college resource information during a Financial Aid Kick-Off event on Oct. 8.

Pioneer High School’s Expanded Horizons program has been serving students and families for more than 30 years, providing a welcoming environment for students to thrive and do their best on their path to graduation and higher education. It is the place for Pioneer Titans to celebrate academic milestones, receive advice on college and career, or catch up on their homework in a safe and quiet space.

Expanded Horizons oversees a variety of student service programs at Pioneer, including the college-prep elective AVID, the Early College Academy dual enrollment partnership with Rio Hondo College, and the English Learner program. Pioneer students can meet with a college and career advisor or consult with a success coach from CSU Long Beach. Expanded Horizons also offers support for parents, coordinating membership in Pioneer’s English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC).

Expanded Horizons Director Karen Verduzco is a Pioneer High graduate and remembers spending hours in the Expanded Horizons room.

“When I was a Pioneer student, Expanded Horizons helped me tremendously,” Verduzco said. “Our goal is to ensure that students understand they have options. I want our students to be able to self-advocate for themselves. Whether they are high-academic or low-income students, they will have to make a choice on their future. Expanded Horizons helps students discover what they are passionate about.”

Expanded Horizons held a bilingual Financial Aid Kick-Off seminar on Oct. 8, providing more than 60 families with general information on the benefits of financial aid and what resources are available on campus. Staff assisted families in creating a Federal Student Aid ID and navigating the application process. Information about PTSA Senior Scholarships was also provided to families.

Whittier High School Debuts New Cardinal Academy of Technology Science and Engineering Pathway

Two Whittier High School Cardinal Academy of Technology students discuss
an upcoming project during class.

The 2022-23 school year sees the long-awaited rollout of Whittier High School’s Cardinal Academy of Technology (CAT), a four-year pathway that will give students a comprehensive overview of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) concepts and put them on the path toward college and career.

CAT combines the best of two courses offered in previous years at Whittier High – the Cardinal Computer Academy and the STEM Academy – and is updated to provide students with the tools to navigate the rapidly expanding STEM job market.

“When we looked at the two academies, we saw a lot of cross-over. It didn’t make sense to try to compete for students and resources,” Whittier High School Principal Tim Liggett said. “Our teachers, Daniel Oliver and Steve Swanson, had the brilliant idea to put them together and it’s really exciting to see where it’s going.”

Over the course of four years, students will learn robotics, coding, engineering design, computer-aided design, 3D printing and mechatronics – a combination of mechanical and electrical engineering – before putting it all together with a senior year capstone project. Students will also go on field trips to local universities and science centers.

Click HERE to listen to Principal Liggett discuss the Cardinal Academy of Technology, the importance of equal gender representation in STEM, the benefits of exploring higher education options, and the tradition of innovation at Whittier High School during a special episode of the California School News Radio education podcast.

Sierra Vista High School, Frontier High School Celebrate Successful Quarter 1 with Field Day

United Sierra Education Center students prepare to race each other through an inflatable obstacle course during Field Day on Oct. 21.

Sierra Vista and Frontier high schools celebrated the end of Quarter 1 by hosting a joint Field Day for students on Oct. 21, featuring activities such as laser tag, a video and arcade truck, a DJ, photo booth, and inflatable obstacle courses and games.

“The United Sierra Education Center Field Day reflected the appreciation that we have toward our student bodies,” Frontier High School Assistant Principal Richard Rodriguez said. “We wanted to thank our students for all the hard work and effort they put into this first quarter.”

All United Sierra Education Center (USEC) students were invited to attend the free event, held at the Sierra Track during school hours.

The Field Day is just one of the many student incentive activities for which the USEC has set aside funding.

“We are excited for all of our upcoming student activities that will take place throughout the academic year,” Rodriguez said. “We are always looking to celebrate our students!”

Whittier Union Adult School Handy-Person Maintenance & Tech Class Provides Students Hands-On Experience

A Whittier Union Adult School student works on a maintenance project during the inaugural Fall Quarter 1 Handy-Person Maintenance & Tech class.

Whittier Union Adult School launched its inaugural Handy-Person Maintenance & Tech class during Fall Quarter 1, providing students with hands-on experience with industry equipment and real-world scenarios.

Students worked on projects such as installing and removing toilets and faucets, patching drywall, basic electrical, door framing and more.
“The inaugural class went great,” teacher Giovanni Masia said. “Students expressed their gratitude for the skills they learned, and some even said they wished they could have taken a class like this a long time ago.”
Masia made slight changes to the Quarter 2 Handy-Person Maintenance & Tech class, which began on Oct. 18, including modifying the list of tools students receive and replacing skills in the curriculum that students already knew with others he believes they will appreciate more.
Students enrolled in the class learn valuable skills and concepts that will help them to approach home maintenance scenarios in a correct and safe manner.
“A student expressed her fears to several of these projects in the beginning of the first quarter,” Masia said. “With this class, the student was able to make holes, replace electrical outlets and patch putty drywall without any fear. That is what makes this class so special!”


Whittier Union Transition Program Partnership with Roadhouse Grill Provides Students Valuable Work Experience

Roadhouse Grill Manager Terry Willis gives Whittier Union High School District Transition Program students real-world work experience in a restaurant setting.

Whittier Union High School District Transition Program students have benefitted from real-world work experience, thanks to a partnership with Terry Willis, manager of Whittier’s Roadhouse Original Grill.

The Transition Program’s eight-year partnership with Willis has granted students the opportunity to work in a restaurant setting to better prepare them for life after the program.
“Terry is incredibly supportive of our Transition Program students,” Transition Program teacher Steven Ducoulombier said. “She challenges them to present themselves as if they are typical employees of the restaurant and really helps them unlock their potential.”
Typical work assignments include preparing the restaurant for lunch and dinner hours by wiping down booths, tables and chairs, as well as preparing utensils and folding napkins. Students ensure the restaurant is in the best condition possible upon opening to adequately meet customers’ expectations.
“Terry’s support of the community doesn’t just extend to Whittier Union High School District,” Ducoulombier said. “She is really an invaluable member of the city, and we are honored to have her supporting our students.”


Connect With Our Schools On Instagram

Follow WUHSD on Facebook! Follow WUHSD on Facebook!
Dr. Russell Castañeda-Calleros

Jeff Baird
Vice President

Leighton Anderson
Jaime Lopez

Dr. Ralph S. Pacheco

Dr. Monica Oviedo
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.
Copyright © 2022 Whittier Union High School District, All rights reserved.