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


Dear Whittier Union High School District Community,
August was a very busy month at Whittier Union High School District, bringing excitement back to our campuses as they reopened for full-time, in-person instruction once again.
The success Whittier Union has had in our transition back on campus is due to the amazing leadership and tireless work of our certificated and classified staff. Both teams have continued to prioritize the health and safety of our students while providing them with the high level of education Whittier Union is known for.
While the 2021-22 year more closely resembles a traditional school year, Whittier Union continues to put the health and safety of our students and staff at the forefront of our decision making. The District has many health protocols in place, such as the use of face masks and continued efforts to provide our students and teachers COVID-19 testing and vaccines in partnership with community partners.
Whittier Union has developed a 2021-22 COVID Compliance and Safety Information Guide for Families, which thoroughly explains our protocols for this school year. I invite you to review this booklet and use it as a guide as we move into the new school year. This guide will continue to evolve as we adapt to the changing guidelines provided to us by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health.
Whittier Union remains steadfast in its commitment to provide our students with a safe and engaging learning environment. We continue to focus on our students social-emotional well-being by always providing them tools and resources for support.
We are encouraged by the strong start to this academic year, and are excited to see how our students, teachers, staff, and families will seek new ways to “Achieve and Maintain Excellence” in 2021-22.
Martin J. Plourde

Whittier Union Welcomes Students Back to Campuses for 2021-22 School Year

Whittier Union ASB students prepare for the first day of school by painting posters to hang around campus.
Nearly 11,000 Whittier Union High School District students made their way onto campuses bedecked in welcome posters and balloons on Aug. 12, where they were greeted by enthusiastic administrators and staff – all eager to kick off the school year.

Freshmen and sophomores across the District got a jumpstart on the school year through the District’s Frosh/Soph First Day, held at each school site on Aug. 11. Frosh/Soph First Day aims to ease the transition into high school and help students build connections with one another.

Traditionally known as Freshmen First Day, this school year Whittier Union included sophomores as they were unable to participate in their Freshmen First Day during the 2020-21 school year.

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California High School Teacher Paints Inspirational Mural for 2021-22 School Year

California High School students celebrate the start of the 2021-22 school year by taking photos with the new Condor mural.
California High School students walked onto campus for the start of the 2021-22 school year on Aug. 12, surprised with a new Condor mural painted by Mark Quintero, a Cal High English and art teacher.

Several designs were drafted for the piece before Quintero and other Cal High staff finalized one that worked best for the theme. Quintero painted the mural as a symbol of Cal High’s strength and endurance; the details throughout the vibrant mural represent a path toward enlightenment and growth.

Quintero, who has taught in the Whittier Union High School District for 18 years, has a longstanding passion for art – with a special interest in sculpting. Despite it being slightly outside of his comfort zone, painting the mural allowed him to expand upon his talents and make a positive contribution to the school community.

“The idea is that we all have these obstacles, but eventually we find our way.” Quintero said.

The finished product was an excitement for the entire campus community, with students stopping to take pictures in between the electric blue wings for their social media or other memorabilia.

La Serna High School Celebrates School Culture During Senior Sunrise and Back-to-School Assembly

La Serna High School students participate in activities during the school’s back-to-school assembly.
La Serna High School students gained a glimpse into their school’s culture during a "Welcome to the Kingdom" themed back-to-school assembly, hosted by the Associated Student Body (ASB) on Aug. 18.

Inspired by “Welcome to the Jungle,” each grade level represented an animal returning to their kingdom. In addition to performances by the band and cheer squads, students engaged in activities such as musical chairs. 

This year’s event, traditionally held in the gym, was instead hosted outdoors for the safety of all students.

“One of the things about this ASB is that they are incredibly creative and flexible,” ASB Advisor Jenna George said. “They're rolling with the punches and they're making this happen.” 

ASB also hosted a senior sunrise event, where nearly 400 seniors dressed in pajamas and wrapped in blankets were treated to a breakfast of donuts and juice. 

The ASB team spent long hours setting the scene for the seniors, including decorating and coordinating food, music and activities.

To mark the end of the Class of 2022’s high school journey, La Serna High School will hold a sunset ceremony at the end of the academic year.

Pioneer High Students Light the Titan Torch to Kick Off New School Year

Pioneer High School ASB students celebrate the lighting of the Titan Torch during Frosh/Soph First Day on Aug. 11.
During Frosh/Soph First Day at Pioneer High School, students made the stadium roar with enthusiasm as they filled the bleachers for a morning pep rally. The day concluded with a spirited lighting of the Titan Torch, which signifies unity across the campus and community.

“Pioneer High School is unified together because we are a small school and we have immense Titan Pride,” Associated Student Body President Victoria Castellano said. “I am looking forward to building new connections this school year, which is easier in an in-person setting. As ASB president, my goal is to help make students happy. When students are happy, they show spirit and look forward to being in school.”

Events during Frosh/Soph First Day included meet-and-greets with teachers and administrators, a walkthrough of class schedules and campus, a series of games, activities and student performances, and photo opportunities for students and their parents.

Whittier High School Welcomes Seniors with Annual Luau

To help students kick off the school year on a high note, Whittier High School's Associated Student Body (ASB) hosted a luau dance for seniors on Aug. 28.

The Luau dance has become a long-standing tradition for Whittier High School, providing students the opportunity to engage with each other outside of the classroom and celebrate the beginning of their final year of high school.

Seniors dressed in theme for the dance, where they enjoyed Polynesian food and snow cones, as well as a Polynesian dance performance, an exciting limbo competition and a DJ – all coordinated by ASB.

The senior luau dance provided students with a sense of normalcy as they returned to campus for full in-person instruction and reunited with their peers.

Santa Fe High School Students Showcase Campus Clubs and Sports

Members from Santa Fe High School’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math club set up their information table during Frosh/Soph First Day.
Santa Fe High School was bedecked in black and gold as students kicked off the 2021-22 school year with a showcase of its campus clubs and sports during Frosh/Soph First Day on Aug. 11.

The showcase provided freshmen and sophomores the opportunity to learn about the various enrichment opportunities on campus, meet members, sign up and make new friends.

Students sporting their Santa Fe gear set up informational tables decorated with trophies and banners and connected with interested students to help them better understand the mission of the club/sport.

Athletes from boys and girls basketball, cheer, girls tennis and more excitedly discussed their sports and recent accomplishments with interested students, while members of Black Student Union, Garden club, Yearbook and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math club showcased their organizations and worked on recruiting new members.

Whittier Union Adult School Student Receives U.S. Citizenship

Manuel Acosta celebrates his U.S. citizenship during an Oath Ceremony in August.
Manuel Acosta enrolled in Whittier Union Adult School’s citizenship class to receive the guidance needed to become a United States citizen. With hard work and support from Whittier Union Adult School, Acosta passed his test in August, realizing his goal of becoming a U.S. citizen.

Students are motivated to enroll at Whittier Union Adult School for reasons varied and personal – such as gaining employment, a desire to connect with their community and country and wishing to join family members who are already United States citizens.

Most students complete their coursework and successfully pass their citizenship exam in three months to a year. More than half of students start off in Whittier Union Adult School’s ESL courses, with a desire to learn English. Teachers and staff work with Citizenship and ESL students to help them improve their job readiness and capacity to contribute to their community.

Citizenship classes are available from 8 to 9 a.m. Monday – Thursday or 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursdays. Students interested in the program can call (562) 698-8121, ext. 1300, or visit the Adult School main office to enroll.

United Sierra Education Center Recognizes High-Achieving Students

Sierra Vista High School, Frontier High School and Whittier Union’s Transition Program celebrated 125 Summer School (SS) students during an Aug. 25 virtual awards ceremony.

The ceremony recognized students in the categories “Student of the Term” and “Top Producers,” awarded to those from the 2021 summer session.

Students of the Term were recommended by teachers based on their achievement, work habits and improvement during the summer session. Top Producer awards were given to students who earned a total of 10 or more credits during summer.

“Recognizing our students for doing amazing things is our favorite part of the program,” Principal Margie Moriarty said. “These awards are one of the highlights of the year.”

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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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