Santa Monica, a Lifelong Learning Community

Lifelong Learning Community News - JUNE 2008...

June 2008. Another school year draws to a close.
This year more than 700 seniors will be graduating from Santa Monica, Malibu, and Olympic High Schools. They have been accepted at close to 200 colleges and universities across the country, and, as in year’s past, these include our nation’s most prestigious and finest schools. For a listing of college acceptances for the Samohi class of 2008, please go to

Our school district continues to prepare our students to be successful in college and in life and this year we have some new remarkable accomplishments to be especially proud of. Newsweek magazine ranks both Malibu High and Santa Monica among the top 200 high schools in the nation. They were two of only 20 high schools selected in California. Both schools also saw their ranking improve over last year: Samohi went from 203 up to 195 on the Newsweek list and Malibu High climbed to 171 from 185. See

The Samohi Science Bowl Team won the National Science Bowl Competition in Washington, D.C., beating out more than 60 teams from across the nation! This is a huge achievement. Congratulations to students Dimitry Petrenko, Alexandre Boulgakov, Marino Di Franco, Ian Fels Scheffler and also to Acadeca (that stands for Academic Decathalon) advisor and Ocean Bowl, Science Bowl, and Quiz Bowl Coach Ingo Gaida.
All of this year’s senior AVID students from SAMOHI and Malibu High have been admitted to four year universities. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination and is a program that helps support and guide students through Middle and High School to be the first in their family to attend college.
Samohi’s SAGE team (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship), international winners last year, have won first place in the state, and first place in the nation again!!! They will be going on to compete in the SAGE World Cup in Nigeria in July. This, like the national Science Bowl victory, is truly an extraordinary accomplishment. Congratulations and good luck!!
The other big news from the school district is that Superintendent Dianne Talarico has decided to take a job in the Burlingame School District in Northern California where she will be closer to her family. While Ms. Talarico’s tenure here for the past two years has been tumultuous, she has managed to accomplish and lay the groundwork to accomplish a number of significant projects which I think it’s worth taking some time to consider:
  • Improved Communication and Accountability:
    The 07/08 school year saw the long overdue and much needed comprehensive upgrading of the district’s website. You can now find the budget and full staff directories for the district and every school site at  School Accountability Report Cards (SARC) are also available online for every district school.
    The district also partnered with the PTA Council, and Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) to present the second Annual State of Our Schools report ( in both Malibu and Santa Monica.
    World Class Public Schools communication efforts began with the district partnering with PTA Council, the Teacher’s Association, and SEIU to host the first ever Public Schools Week, Fall and Spring editions of the World Class Public Schools newsletter, and monthly emails to the community from the superintendent. More information can be found at

  • Fiscal Management
    The district completed contract negotiations giving a 3% raise this year to teachers, classified employees, and administrators. The employee raises reflect efforts to maintain the attractiveness of our district for top quality candidates.
    The fiscal situation continues to be difficult due to inadequate state funding combined with threatened reductions and state funding volatility. However the district has managed to build its reserve to more than $10 million, the highest district reserve ever. That’s a good thing because the district will have (and need) that reserve to soften the blows coming from the continuing state budget fiasco.
    Local voters demonstrated their strong support for our high quality public schools by passing Measure R which renewed two parcel taxes that were set to expire.
    On April 28, citing “the district's substantially improved financial performance and financial flexibility,” Standard & Poor's increased its bond rating of the District by two notches to AA from A+.

  • Special Education
    The path to restructuring SMMUSD’s Special Education program so that all children and families feel respected, included, and valued has been difficult and painful. However, since the Lou Barber Independent Evaluation of Special Education was released in April, much work has been done.

        • Significant personnel shifts have been made at the District level.
        • The moratorium on settlement agreements and confidentiality clauses has been re-affirmed and strengthened.  
       • The District, PTA Council, and SEDAC (Special Ed District Advisory Committee) co-sponsored a great workshop from San Ramon Valley (SRV) Unified School District on building an inclusive Special Ed department.
        • The Board of Education, working with the Superintendent, has repositioned special ed under Chief Academic Officer Sally Chou rather than as a separate department.
        • The District is looking into bringing in an outside mediator and/or creating an ombudsman-type position to help mediate conflicts within the IEP process and is consulting with SRV to better understand the job description and duties of their Special Needs Liaison position.
        • The Board has also taken action to form a Design Team of community stakeholders to work with an outside facilitator on re-designing the special ed program, including quarterly reports, with the main focus on improving the IEP process, teacher/staff recruitment and retention, and programming and placement for special needs students.

    These actions and the processes and personnel they will put in place, will hopefully set our district on the path toward establishing a supportive, transparent, and collaborative Special Education Department. Stay tuned.

  • Partnerships & Facilities
    Ms. Talarico and the Board of Education have partnered effectively with Santa Monica College to increase the articulation between the high school curriculum and college requirements, the availability of college credit classes for high school students, the availability and quality of pathways to careers for high school students interested in college certificate programs, to expand summer school offerings, and to re-turf the John Adams playing fields. With the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, they have worked to expand the annual high school job fair including related pre-job fair seminars and trainings, to develop internships with local businesses for high school students, and mentors, and are piloting an exciting new project for AP classes to help solve real world business problems once the students have finished with their AP exams. A thrilling partnership opportunity with the City of Santa Monica is the collaborative and joint planning in process now regarding facilities plans for both the Samohi campus and the Civic Center campus. This is a wonderful opportunity that can have enormous benefits for our students and the entire community. The Samohi campus and other sites in the district are being re-considered and modernized with funding from Measure BB. From what I hear, sites across the district are happy with the architects they are working with and good results are expected.
During the past school year, through thick and thin, our local schools have worked tirelessly to continue to serve our students well. We have much to celebrate. Thank you, Ms. Talarico, for keeping your mind on our students and for helping our district work through some difficult issues and some wonderful opportunities. You will be leaving SMMUSD in a position where we can build upon these experiences, strengths, and gains. Good luck to you in your new job!
Now for some wonderful Lifelong Learning Community Events in June....
 Sunday, June 1, 7:30pm
"A Festival of Music"

First United Methodist Church
11St. & Washington Avenue
 $15/$10 Admission – Tickets available at the church
This annual concert, performed by the SMC Concert Chorale along with the Santa Monica First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir and the L.A. Concert Orchestra will include a pre-concert lecture by Kimberlea Daggy of KUSC at 6:30pm. For tickets or more information, please call 310-393-8258.
Monday, June 2, 7:00pm
Talk by Disney Animator Andreas Deja
SMC Academy of Entertainment & Technology
1660 Stewart Street
Free with free parking.
Andreas Deja, one of the top Disney character animators, speaks on animation, drawing and storytelling. Deja animated such characters as GASTON in Beauty and the Beast, SCAR in Lion King and LILO from Lilo and Stich. For more information please call (310) 434-3700.
Tuesday, June 3

Please don’t forget to vote in this very important but very low key election. There is a potentially devastating initiative on the ballot, Prop 98 (NOT the prop 98 that guarantees minimum school funding!). Prop 98 is opposed by the Santa Monica City Council, the Santa Monica Malibu Board of Education, and the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees. Prop 99 is endorsed by all of the above. For more information on Props 98 & 99, please go to the League of Women Voters’ website at
Senator Sheila Kuehl will be termed out in November and this is also a very hard-fought Democratic primary election for candidates wishing to replace her.  Voter turnout is expected to be very low which makes each vote count even more. Please remember to vote!
To find your polling place, go to
Friday, June 6, 7:00pm
Santa Monica High School Spring Choral Concert

Barnum Hall (Located on Samohi campus)
Tickets sold at the door
$5 Students, $10 Adults
Come and hear the beautiful music performed by the Samohi Choral Students and experience this outstanding Choral Program first hand. Presented by The Santa Monica High School Choral Department.
Friday, June 6, 2:30 p.m.
"Human Anatomy: From Mummies to Plastination"

Santa Monica College Main Campus, Concert Hall
1900 Pico Boulevard

The Santa Monica College Life Sciences Department is pleased to present a lecture on human anatomy from Ms. Gunther von Hagens, anatomist, inventor of Plastination and creator of BODY WORLDS, currently being exhibited at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
The phenomenon of BODY WORLDS is fueled by the average person's desire to learn about anatomy and health. von Hagens has made it his life's work to demystify anatomy and engage the public, having dedicated the past three decades to the art and science of Plastination. BODY WORLDS 3 & The Story of the Heart is currently on exhibit at the California Science Center.

The talk is free and open to the public. Space is limited and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please call (310) 434-4051.
Sunday, June 8, 3 pm
Emeritus Concert Band: "Pops" Concert
Santa Monica College Main Campus, Concert Hall
1900 Pico Boulevard

This exhilarating "Pops" concert is an annual favorite not to be missed. Wallace Umber is the conductor. For tickets and information, please call (310) 434-3000 or (310) 434-4323.
Sunday, June 8, 4-7 pm.
Samohi Artists Show at Bergamot Station

William Turner Gallery
Bergamot Station
Students are free; tickets for all others are $10
For the first time ever, Santa Monica High School AP (Advanced Placement) art students will be showing their work off campus at “ArtLoud,” a special exhibit at Bergamot Station. Bring your friends, family, and neighbors to this one-day-only event! Sponsored by Samo4Art, the event will feature student paintings, drawings, and multimedia pieces—as well as music, food, a raffle, and silent auction.  All proceeds will be used to support visual arts education at SAMO. For directions to the gallery, go to For more information about Samo4Art’s support of the visual arts, go to
Tuesday, June 10, 6pm
SMC’s 78th Commencement
Santa Monica College Main Campus, Corsair Field
1900 Pico Boulevard
Parking available at 17th & Pico
The entire community is invited to join Santa Monica College in honoring the students who will be getting their AA degrees, and in welcoming UCLA Chancellor Dr. Gene D. Block to SMC. Chancellor Block will be the commencement speaker, reinforcing the long and strong relationship SMC has had with UCLA since 1929. SMC will also be honoring and recognizing two outstanding alumni. Jeremy Pal, Ph.D is the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Winner for Professional Achievement. Dr. Pal shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. Eddie Guerboian, recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Winner for Community Service, has been extremely active in many Santa Monica community organizations, and served in 2006-07 as the President of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. For more information on the 2008 SMC Commencement Ceremony, please call 310-434-4209.
Saturday, June 28
Celebrate America
Gates open at 5pm, Fireworks at dusk.
New Temporary Location: John Adams Middle School
2425 16th Street
SMC’s Corsair Field is undergoing major improvements this summer so the Celebrate America picnicking, entertainment and lawn seating will be moved next door to John Adams Middle School field.  Fireworks will be shot from the college and the college’s stadium seating will be opened to the public shortly before the fireworks show. It will still be great fun and a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together.
Corsair field and the SMC track will be closed for the entire summer for renovation. A new artificial turf field will be installed along with a new track surface and lighting. After Celebrate America, SMC will also renovate the John Adams Middle School field with artificial turf.
I spent so much time talking about our schools in this issue that I’ve left out a lot of June events. Please do check out the lifelong learning community calendar at  and use the links at to keep up with different organizations’ and theaters’ regular special events.
Thank you for forwarding this email to others who may be interested.
Cheers, Onward, and Please Vote on June 3rd!
Louise Jaffe
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