A monthly update from the Whittier Union High School DIstrict.
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December 2020


Dear Whittier Union High School Community,

We have made it to the end of fall semester, and we have done so by staying true to our District motto to “Achieve and Maintain Excellence.” Our students, families and certificated and classified staff have shown their commitment to education, supporting Whittier Union throughout these trying times.
As superintendent, I have been very moved seeing how our community has come together to support each other through our shared challenges.
Though we started the school year off with remote learning, I know we all have been holding onto hope that we would all be back on campus before the end of the year. It has been difficult to watch COVID-19 numbers continue to rise. I know our students, parents and teachers are feeling that impact, too.
Nevertheless, given the constraints placed on us by the virus, our school community has done a great job.
To better connect students with each other, our schools increased their social media presence. Our teachers worked collaboratively with students to plan virtual events and activity nights, bringing some normalcy back into their school routines. Our students, teachers and staff also worked together to host virtual homecoming events, weekly club meetings, and even planned and presented virtual choir and theater performances.
Though it has been great to see this collaboration, we know it is not an ideal situation. Whittier Union continues to work tirelessly, preparing to welcome our students back to campus as soon as it is safe to do so.
I want to thank you all for your commitment to education and patience as we navigate through challenges. You are what makes Whittier Union a wonderful educational institute.
Please continue to do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and enjoy your holiday break safely. I wish you all happy holidays. I hope the new year brings new opportunities and positivity for us all.
Martin J. Plourde

Whittier Union Board Reorganization

Newly elected Whittier Union High School District Trustee Jaime Lopez and re-elected Trustee Dr. Ralph Pacheco took their oaths of office during a Special Board of Trustees Meeting on Dec. 15. The Board also selected officers for the coming year.
Whittier Union Board of Trustees
Board President: Dr. Ralph S. Pacheco
Board Vice President: Dr. Russell Castañeda Calleros
Board Clerk: Jeff Baird
Board Member: Jaime Lopez
Board Member: Leighton Anderson


Whittier High School Theater Company Presents Virtual Fall Play

Whittier High School theater students transformed their fall play into a virtual experience after auditioning and being cast in the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.”

Theater Director Jonathan Tupanjanin’s vision was to produce a show that made sense virtually, while still delivering the magic of a live performance.

The entire production ran as a live performance normally would, from auditions to the selection of hair and makeup, stage and house crew. Each group held weekly Zoom breakout sessions with teachers and play directors, which served as learning opportunities for students.

While the hair and makeup crew was focused on researching 1940s styles, the house crew focused on fundraising efforts. The crew was also in charge of researching historical facts to build the production’s program.

Though nervous about how they would get into character while filming themselves, students committed to their roles, and executed their costumes and hair and makeup. Tupanjanin emphasized that though students missed being together for their fall play, they understood the importance of “the show must go on,” and were dedicated to putting on a show that would uplift people during such trying times.

View the production’s program for more information by clicking HERE.

Cal High Theater Students Deliver Emotional Performance in COVID-Inspired Play

Twenty theater students at Cal High delivered passionate, emotional messages of what it means to live through the COVID-19 pandemic during “Scenes from a Quarantine,” a vignette-style play that highlighted various viewpoints and personal experiences of the pandemic with a common thread: We are not alone in our feelings.

Over the course of three days, Cal High students conducted a thorough character analysis, exploring how they related to their character, how they would dress and more; some students even created their own websites to emulate their character’s livelihood as a blogger.

The goal of the performances, senior English and theater teacher Brian Nguyen said, was to encourage students and the school community to become more understanding of how others deal with tragedy, become more empathetic post-pandemic, and reflect on what we have learned about ourselves during the pandemic.

Performances were recorded separately, edited together and presented to the school community on Zoom.

While the scenes focused on intense emotions experience by many in this pandemic – anger, sadness, fear and more – Nguyen said the performances also aimed to remind the Cal High community that while students remain apart for now, they can still find joy and a sense of community in creating art, even in a virtual format.

Santa Fe High School Choir Shares Christmas Spirit with Virtual Choral Performance

Under the direction of David Kwon, Santa Fe’s visual and performing arts (VAPA) teacher, and Mrs. Pamela Lyle on piano, VAPA students put on a three-minute winter performance of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” where they sang in harmony – despite the challenges of not performing together in-person.

Each individual performance was then edited together to create one performance piece that displayed intricate layers of each students’ voice. Click HERE to watch the holiday performance.


Mr. David Kwon - Director Mrs. Pamela Lyle - Piano Chris Arguello
Alan Arriola Ivonne Bernal Caleb Campero
Jazlyn Castruita Grace Flores Gabriel Gonzalez
David Gutierrez Daniel Guzman Tysen Ho
America Llamas Amelia Mejia Adrian Omana
Anthony Rodriguez Evelyn Ruiz Jasmine Sanchez
Evy Valentin    

La Serna’s Green & Clean Business Academy Seniors Participate in National Trade Show

Seniors from La Serna High School’s Green and Clean Business Academy participated in an online National Trade Show, where they had the opportunity to present their business and product, Cart Care.

From the ground up, and completely through Zoom, students created a business, a product and consumer packages, a website and employee handbook, business plan, and even a radio commercial and sales pitch.

Cart Care, a sanitation service, uses three models for effective sanitation: UVC-Sanitation Stations, Cart Tracks and a Canopy Tent.

The sanitation station takes dirty carts from a store and automatically cleans them. The carts are taken to the sanitation station through tracks that carry the carts to the cleaning station. Once the sanitizing is done, carts are redirected to the canopy tent where they are stored until needed by a consumer.

As part of the presentation at the National Trade Show, the Human Resources Department presented a monthly company newsletter that included facts and updates about the business. During the tradeshow, Cart Care was presented with a bronze award for their monthly newsletter.

The overall goal of Cart Care is to help promote health and well-being, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To learn more about Cart Care, visit their website or Instagram account.

Pioneer High School Teacher Adapts to Remote Learning with Creative Approach

Photo shown is not from this school year.

Christine Avila, ROP Teacher, drill team advisor and dance and cheer coach from Pioneer High School, has not let the challenge of remote learning get her or her students down. As a former graduate from the Class of 1990, Avila has a strong connection to Pioneer High and its students.

Though her instruction depends vastly on hands-on learning and choreography, Avila has found a way to transition to virtual instruction while still making a fun experience for her students.

Since the beginning of remote learning in March, Avila and her students have not stopped working. Through Zoom, Avila held summer practices where students worked on technique, stretching, conditioning and choreography.

As cheer coach, Avila keeps her athletes inspired by teaching them cheer routines so that they are well-prepared for when it is safe to return to school. The cheer team also continues to hold spirit weeks to bring students together.

Pioneer’s dance team is usually preparing for a season full of performances and competitions, but with the cancelation of those events, dancers have continued learning choreography throughout the semester and have even developed their own choreography, costumes and sets for the team’s virtual winter recital.

Yearly, under the direction of Avila, Pioneer High School hosts the Titanette Review, where alumni are invited back to choreograph a number for students to learn and perform. The goal of the show is self-expression and though unable to host the show this year, Avila remains optimistic for the future.

Whittier Adult School Students Successfully Complete Electrician 1 Course

Two Whittier Union Adult School class sections completed the Electrician 1 Course in December. The classes, held in-person with COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place, are designed to prepare students to enter the Union Apprenticeship Program at the Electrical Institute in the City of Commerce. The course also provides interview preparation as the apprenticeship requires students to pass an oral interview and pass the Math and Mechanical Reasoning Entry Test. Whittier Adult School will begin Quarter 3 on Jan. 5. Those interested in enrolling can do so online by visiting the school’s website.

Sierra Vista High School Announces New Staff Appointments

Sierra Vista High School has announced new appointments to its front office staff. Kris Polanco, former administrative clerk senior, has been promoted to a new position for independent study, student engagement specialist. 

The student engagement specialist supports student attendance, works with teachers to identify students who are not engaged in live online learning and assists families in getting their students back on track with school. This includes technology distribution of hot spots, Chromebooks, textbook distribution and referring families to community agencies if they need additional help.

Stepping in as new Administrative Clerk senior is Susana Campanelli, who was formerly at Santa Fe High School, where she served as business academy clerk.

Polanco will concentrate on attendance and credit production, while Campanelli will facilitate enrollments and technology distributions.

The personnel changes at Sierra Vista have restructured the school’s offices to provide even better services to independent study students during remote learning.

Frontier High School Undergoes Model Continuation School Validation Visit

Frontier High School is in the process of a Model Continuation School site validation visit, which includes visit to classrooms and meetings with administrators, staff and community groups. In January, meetings with parents and students are set to take place.

If the school passes all criteria, it will be the 10th consecutive year the school is recognized by the California Department of Education and the California Continuation Education Association as a model continuation school.

Model continuation high schools are known for meeting students’ academic and social-emotional needs. Schools with this title also host visits from other continuation school staff as a part of a professional network to improve continuation school education throughout California.

For more information about Frontier High School’s current Model Continuation School recognition, click here.

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Dr. Ralph S. Pacheco

Dr. Russell Castañeda-Calleros
Vice President

Jeff Baird
Jaime Lopez

Leighton Anderson

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.
Copyright © 2020 Whittier Union High School District, All rights reserved.