News & Highlights
A Glimpse of Resources Available to SPHS Students
SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (April 26, 2016) – With more than 90% of SPHS high school seniors reporting that they will be attending either two-year or four-year colleges and universities, it seems like everyone at this time of year is talking about who’s going where for college. Throughout the spring, many high school seniors learn which of their top choice colleges and universities have accepted them. By May 1, most students will have decided where their next four years will be spent. How did they get to this point?
The college application process begins in full force during a student’s junior year in high school, but leading up to that time students as young as freshman at SPHS are introduced to Naviance – a web-based platform designed to help students identify their strengths and align their interests to long-term college and career goals. Each student creates a personalized success plan linking their high school path and accomplishments to meaningful post-high school goals. Parents also are able to create their own Naviance accounts in order to review their student’s college, career and guidance activities. Originally funded by the South Pasadena High School Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) and now funded through District resources, Naviance helps streamline student planning and advising. The PTSA also hosts a forum for parents, which covers how to sign up and use the system.
During sophomore year, the focus shifts to career exploration, and high school counselors encourage students to take the career interest inventory offered through Naviance in order to start matching their traits, skills and interests with colleges, majors and careers. A newly added feature this year, Roadtrip Nation is a series of interviews with experts in various careers. Students can select specific areas of interest and may watch videos featuring interviews with individuals working in matching fields. The interviews are conducted by young adults who are in the process of figuring out what their next steps will be for college and career.
At the start of junior year, SPHS is abuzz with colleges and universities that come to the school for on-campus visits, coordinated by high school counselors. Between September 1 and December 15, approximately 134 different colleges and universities set foot on the SPHS campus. Many report that SPHS produces well-rounded, high-achieving students who are increasingly sought after by top universities. Interested juniors also take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) – typically in October – which is the basis for national merit scholarships. This year, eight students from SPHS qualified as National Merit Semifinalists representing the top 0.5% of the state’s senior students.
“Working with students from South Pasadena is always exciting,” said Hillary Higgins, Assistant Director, Undergraduate Admission, University of Southern California (USC). “Many students are familiar with USC either from frequent visits to campus or a family connection to the university. My visits are always packed with thoughtful questions from a lively and excited audience. It’s wonderful to meet students who enjoy the application process and are enthusiastic about their futures.”
Throughout the year, the PTSA also hosts an interactive forum for parents and students called “Life Beyond High School” where a panel of experts share the ins and outs of helping prepare students for life after high school. SPHS counselors also work with the Regional Admissions Counselors of California to host an 11th grade College Awareness Night. Students and parents are invited to participate in workshops where they act as a mock admissions committee, reviewing three students’ college applications to further their understanding of how to create a strong college application. At the end of the evening, participants are able to gather additional information through a mini college fair held in the SPHS gymnasium.
Juniors wrap up the school year by taking the standardized test of their choice – the SAT, the ACT or both -- depending on their target colleges and universities. They also finish additional assignments related to preparing them for the college application process including filling out brag sheets – which both parents and students are asked to complete -- creating a resume, adding possible colleges to their list of interests, writing a rough draft of their personal statement, filling out a college data sheet and participating in some of the scheduled college visits, such as this spring’s visit to California State University’s Channel Islands campus.
Additional field trips are offered to students as a way to introduce them to college life. This year, SPHS students visited the University of Southern California for a campus tour and Loyola Marymount for a college fair in the fall. A group of students will visit the University of California, Riverside for a college visit and youth conference soon. A number of colleges return to visit in the spring as well, though the most common time for representatives to visit is during the fall semester.
By the start of senior year, many students are working on their college essays and are preparing their applications. This process dovetails again with the college visit cycle and seniors can take an even closer look at the schools that have risen to the top of their lists. Seniors meet with counselors to discuss the best possible college options and to work through planning for college application deadlines, which vary from October through January depending upon the type of application the student has undertaken. After this process is complete, students wait to hear from schools about admissions and financial aid. Armed with all this information, students with the help of families, teachers, counselors and more decide which college or university best fits their needs and the cycle begins again for the next group of students.
For more information, contact: Andrea Fox, South Pasadena Unified School District, email@example.com
Students Can Apply for Internships Through New Course Offered at South Pasadena High School
SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (April 21, 2016) – Beginning this fall, South Pasadena High School juniors and seniors will be eligible to participate in the District’s first career internship program. The program is designed to expose high schoolers to a variety of careers while engaging them in substantive projects and hands-on experiences. Planning for the new program has been underway since December 2015.
“Research indicates that students benefit from seeing and using life skills within the workplace,” said Christiane Gervais, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services. “The South Pasadena Unified School District board and administrators are committed to providing students with opportunities for real-world experiences to prepare them for college and career.”
Students begin by completing two pre-requisite workshops covering career exploration and basic work skills. Once the workshops have been completed, the students are eligible to enroll in the internship course through the high school. The course requires students to apply and interview for available internships and then complete 60 hours of work at one of the participating businesses or organizations. Upon satisfactory completion of the internship, students will earn five high school credits.
“Giving our students the opportunity to experience various careers first-hand takes the skills they learn in the classroom one step further,” added Andrea Fox, South Pasadena Unified School District Career Internship Specialist.
The District is working with several businesses and organizations to offer internships in various fields, aligned with the K-12 instructional pathways that the South Pasadena Unified School District offers. With a focus on arts, business, engineering, computer science and bio-medicine, new companies are continuously being asked to participate in the program.
“Our goal is to grow the program so that a large number of students will be attracted to the program and will complete the internships. The program will be offered year-round – including fall, spring and summer – so that students can fit the program to their needs,” added Fox.
Employers and organizations offering student internships will be asked to sign a memo of understanding, outlining the responsibilities for both the District and the business. The agreement requires that employers and organizations provide an internship coordinator who will communicate regularly with the supervising teacher to ensure that the internship is working as expected.
At this point, the District is continuing its efforts to build the program through presentations and meetings with local organizations and employers. Additional details about scheduling for the pre-requisite workshops and signing up for the course will be available to students by the end of this school year. For more information or if your student, company, or organization would like to get involved, please contact Andrea Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org. The community’s help in recruiting businesses to partner with South Pasadena Unified is critical to the program’s success as it continues to grow.
For more information, contact: Andrea Fox, South Pasadena Unified School District, email@example.com.
SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (April 20, 2016) – California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, recently announced that South Pasadena Elementary Schools -- Arroyo Vista and Monterey Hills – will be honored as Gold Ribbon Schools for their outstanding educational programs and practices.
Gold Ribbon School Awards recognize California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education. These include the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards. Nearly 6,000 elementary schools in California were eligible to apply for the award, and 758 schools earned the awards, based on a model program the school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies.
At Arroyo Vista Elementary School (AV), the model program centered on Project Based Learning (PBL). Today’s Common Core State Standards require teachers to move toward integrating communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills into long-term unit plans. Arroyo Vista teachers use PBL to enhance collaboration and improve students’ self-reliance, perseverance, and joy of learning. Grade level teams worked together to design projects that are based on challenging questions or problems and involve students in decision-making. By emphasizing a blend of knowing/doing and learning/demonstrating into their units, teachers encouraging students to apply what they know to demonstrate mastery of 21st century skills.
“The teachers at AV work collaboratively to design projects that embrace complex tasks that involve students in decision-making based on the challenging questions or problems presented to them,” said Cheryl Busick, principal. “The most exciting part of PBL is that both teachers and students love it!”
Monterey Hills Elementary School applied for the award based upon its model program of cognitively guided instruction (CGI), a strategy used to achieve the goal of meeting the common core math standards. CGI is based on two tenets, that students have an intuitive knowledge about mathematics and that there is a relationship between computational skills and math problem solving that, in turn, leads improved problem solving. With extensive training and planning, administrators and teachers have been implementing this program for two years.
“The power and potential of cognitively guided instruction is being felt in the classrooms at Monterey Hills Elementary School,” said Laurie Narro, principal. “As teachers moved from direct instruction to a pedagogy that encourages questioning and reflection, students are actively engaged in problem solving, collaboration, and becoming math scholars. That is the great work that is being acknowledged by the Gold Ribbon!”
The Gold Ribbon School Awards are temporarily taking the place of the California Distinguished Schools Program. The 2016 award-winning schools will be recognized later this month during regional ceremonies held in Santa Clara, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Visalia, and Sacramento. Please visit the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program on the California Department of Education’s website for additional information.
For more information, contact: Andrea Fox, South Pasadena Unified School District, firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Dates for the 2015-2016 School Year
Click HERE to view the entire instructional calendar.
Click HERE to view the List of Important Dates.
First Day of School - Thursday, August 20, 2015
Thanksgiving Break - November 23-27, 2015
Winter Break - December 21, 2015 to January 1, 2016
Spring Break - April 4-8, 2016
Last Day of School - Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Key Dates for the 2016-2017 School Year
Click HERE to view the entire Instructional Calendar.
First Day of School - Thursday, August 18, 2016
Thanksgiving Break - November 21-25, 2016
Winter Break - Thursday, December 22, 2016 to Friday, January 6, 2017
Spring Break - April 3-7, 2017
Last Day of School - Friday, June 9, 2017