District News

Tech tinkering to send Lodi students to Google robotics competition

Posted: Friday, January 20, 2017 12:08 am

Tech tinkering to send Lodi students to Google robotics competition By Christina Cornejo/NEWS-SENTINEL STAFF WRITER Lodi News-Sentinel

Tyler Smeenk, an eighth-grade student, held what appeared to be a gaming controller while moving a robot across a foam mat with his thumbs. He and other members of the Lodi Middle School Robotics Club were prepping their new robots for competition on Thursday afternoon.

The robot was equipped with a large wide fork attachment to a moveable arm which he used to pick up a foam star-shaped piece.

“It’s based on a forklift,” said Nicolaus Hilleary, an eighth grader who was also working on the robot.

He tried to flip the fork up to send the star up and over the height of 25 feet, but it got stuck in the bend of the robot’s arm for the first few runs. His group worked to rearrange parts and adjust a gear chain before trying again.

The robotics program headed by teacher Steve Box at Lodi Middle School is still in its infancy. Although students are already eager and very engaged in using tools and programming skills in the classroom, the competitive team has had a slow start due to the need to gather funding. GOT Kids Foundation, the Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation and several local businesses and organizations have lent their support to Lodi Middle’s program.

Donations were especially important as the Vex Robotics sets needed to get started cost between $1,000 and $1,200.

Students received the first three VEX Robotics sets in December of last year and have been working diligently to put together functioning robots for a big competition this coming Saturday.

Their destination is the Google campus in Mountain View to compete in the Google VEX Starstruck tournament against schools from all over Northern California. The goal is to build a robot that can toss cubes and stars over a fence at a 20 foot height and 29 foot height to score points for their team and also robots that can block the opponent from tossing items over from the other side of the fence. Rounds are timed and the ones who toss the most items over the fence by the end win.

“It’s like sports for the nerds,” Hilleary said.

Given the short amount of time they’ve spent with the robots, the team is not expecting a big win right away, but instead are hoping to gain experience to bring back. With that the team can be better prepared for future competitions.

In addition to putting their robot building and programming skills to the test, students will also get to tour the Google campus to see what it’s like inside the giant technology company.

Students spent Thursday testing the controls of a fully-constructed robot, which was hand-programmed by a seventh-grade student in the class. They had to record logs of everything they changed or did during the preparation for the competition in an engineering notebook.

“One team went to nationals just because they had a great engineering notebook,” Hilleary said.

In another group, three seventh-grade girls were working on tightening bolts and nuts to attach a metal panel to a set of two robotic arms.

The panels were meant to block enemy fire of stars and cubes over the fence.

“We had some minor mistakes. When the arm comes up, it’s too flimsy and is not able to block,” said Madison Gallard, a seventh grader.

Classmates came over to offer suggestions as they tinkered such as, “can you add another motor here” and “what if you extend this part?” Despite being sectioned off into groups, there was a sense of working together ever present in the room.

The troubleshooting and creativity that students apply to figure out how to make their robots work are invaluable skills for them to learn, according to Box.

Until they experience failure and have to solve those problems, they won’t know how they’re doing, he said.

They build, test and then evaluate if the robot is doing what they need it to do.

“The kids have learned a lot. It’s a very student-driven process,” Box said. “When you own the learning process you get more out of it.”

Box is also working on creating an engineering course at Tokay High School so students who move up from Lodi Middle School can continue to build on what they’ve learned in his robotics class and in the after school competitive team. Outside of robotics, Box also teaches the Manufacturing Principles class at Lincoln Technical Academy and coaches basketball.

He is glad to be able to offer this kind of program for students and get them engaged in school in their middle school years.

“The kids have learned a lot. It’s a very student-driven process,” Box said. “When you own the learning process you get more out of it.”

Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at christinac@lodi news.com.

Lodi Middle Robotics team members Justin Weber, 14, and Nicoulas Hilleary, 14, adjust the robotics as they test their competition robot Thurs, Jan. 19, 2017. The robotics team will be traveling to the Google campus in Mountain View Saturday for its first competition.

District News


Liberty High School graduates record senior class By Kyla Cathey/Lodi Living Editor Lodi News-Sentinel

A hum of excited conversation and an air of expectation filled the Charlene Powers Lange Theatre at Hutchins Street Square on Thursday morning.

When the first notes of “Pomp and Circumstance” rang out, though, the audience turned in their seats to watch the stream of seniors slowly marching toward the stage, and the murmurs turned into cheers of excitement.

Clad in white and light blue graduation gowns, the excited teens couldn’t keep the infectious, proud grins off of their faces as the procession curled through the theater to their seats on the stage.

They had a lot to be proud of, Principal Tamara Dillon said.

“Today marks an important milestone in the lives of these young people,” she told the families and friends gathered to celebrate the record-breaking 70 graduates.

But the students at Liberty High School, a continuation school in Lodi, have faced challenges many of their peers did not, she said.

Many transferred to Liberty at the beginning of their junior or senior year, because they had struggled in traditional high school or fallen behind on coursework for a large number of reasons: they had lost one or both parents to illness, death, prison or addiction, they were in a situation where they had no steady home, they had to work to help support their families and fell behind in academics.

All 70 of the graduates had met with her for an orientation when they began attending Liberty, Dillon said.

“At that first meeting, they often looked frustrated and tired,” she said. “But every student has a desire to be successful.”

Some had their own personal hurdles to face; some were the first in their families to attend high school and had no support network at home when they struggled with school work.

But every one of the students on stage had overcome those hurdles to earn a high school diploma.

“They are champions,” Dillon announced to cheers. “They have survived, thrived, overcome and achieved their goals.”

Student speaker Adilenne Ruiz thanked her family and friends, especially her mother, who pushed her when she needed it, she said. Then, she spoke to her fellow graduates.

“We all had one common goal: to survive and graduate,” she said.

They entered Liberty feeling like they were facing an overwhelming amount of work, but with the support of the school’s staff and their friends and family, they were able to prove to themselves — and those who thought they could never do it — that they could overcome.

“We learned through hard work and perseverance that we could reach our goals,” she said.

It was fitting that graduate Blakeley Halloran’s performance of “Rise Up” should follow Ruiz’s speech. When Dillon introduced her, she said Halloran should be on “The Voice,” the singing competition show — but the audience wasn’t prepared for her powerful rendition of Andra Day’s soulful hit.

“That was awesome!” one man in the audience screamed out as the last note faded, unleashing a wave of cheers.

Then, Levana Ascencio Barrios, gave her valedictory speech, opening with a nod to her own personal struggle.

“Dad, losing you didn’t make me give up,” she said. “It made me work harder.”

She thanked Liberty’s teachers and the audience before offering a few words of advice to her fellow graduates.

“No matter how hard life gets, no matter what bumps we hit, never give up. That’s the easy way out,” she said.

Jose Santillan offered one final performance before diplomas were handed out. He’d never played guitar before transferring to Liberty in the fall, but took the guitar classes the high school offers.

Now, 10 months later, he was able to navigate the tricky melody for “Cherry Wine,” to the delight of the audience.

Afterward came the most triumphant part of the ceremony, as each student stepped forward to accept their diploma and shake hands with Lodi Unified trustees George Neely and Bonnie Cassel.

And then, diplomas in hand, tassels dutifully transferred to the left sides of their caps, and the notes of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” filling the theater, all that was left to do was file onto the grounds of Hutchins Street Square for hugs and photos — and their next adventure.



Independence High graduates cross finish line By Danielle Vaughn/News-Sentinel Staff Writer Lodi News-Sentinel

The Charlene Powers Lange Theatre at Hutchins Street Square was filled with family members, teachers and mentors anxiously awaiting the moment that their graduate would walk across the stage and receive their diplomas during the Independence High School Class of 2017 graduation ceremony Thursday afternoon.

After so much hard work and overcoming so much adversity, 55 students made it to the finish line and were excited to share this moment of accomplishment with all who supported them over the years.

“Family members and friends, thank you so much for coming today,” Dr. Dominee Muller-Kimball, Independence High School principal, said. “It means so much to the students. It means so much to the faculty and staff and also Lodi Unified School District.”

After the graduates made their way into the auditorium, three of the students each welcomed everyone in their native language. Jayla Washington welcomed the crowd in English, Sayra Briano in Spanish and Shorook Hassan in Arabic.

Muller-Kimball took a moment to address the students and the crowd while conducting the ceremony Thursday afternoon.

“This year the students who are sitting on this stage are the true definition of the term game-changer,” Muller Kimball said. “Students come to Independence for a variety of reasons. Irregardless each student came to independence to start a new game plan.”

She recalled the first time she met with the students and learned their stories.

“What’s so amazing and this common element with all of these students is that each was determined to graduate from high school and each was determined to earn a diploma,” Muller-Kimball said. “To me that means everything.”

During the ceremony, graduate Jayla Washington shared her story and how she came to be a student at Independence High. Washington came to Independence from Bear Creek High School in her junior year after getting pregnant. Washington continued to pursue her education while juggling motherhood and a part-time job at McDonald’s. She credited her son as well as her family and teachers as motivators to keep her going even when she wanted to give up.

“It’s been really hard,” Washington said. “There were times when I wanted to give up. About a month before graduation what changed my mind was everybody telling me I could do it and seeing my baby smile when I put my cap and gown on. Now I know I can go to college and have the life that I want for Demarcus and me.”

Valedictorian Shabana Ahmed addressed her fellow classmates as well as the audience during the ceremony.

“As a group, we did start from the bottom. I can see now the whole team made it,” she said. “I can’t believe that the day has come for us to finally say our good-byes and begin a new chapter in our lives. ”

During the ceremony Adam Paulin was recognized as the class’s salutatorian while Athena Campero and Sunnie Jamieson received art awards, Samone Mouton received the English language arts award, Zoe Martinez received the social science and mathematics awards and Victor Nemecio received the mathematics award.

Eight students were recognized for maintaining honor roll all four years of school. Those recognized included Romana Ahmed, Shabana Ahmed, Cayley Duncan, Malak Hassan, Destiny Jones, Alexis King, Zoe Martinez and Adam Paulin.

Malak and Sharook Hassan were presented with the Alfred C. Platt Scholarship award, Shabana Ahmed was the recipient of the Charlotte Elias Scholarship award and Romana Ahmed was the recipient of the Matilda Alcalay award.

The Job Redi Foundation also awarded $10,000 grants to Malak Hassan, Shorook Hassan and Christine Chavez.

As Muller-Kimball called out the names of the graduates, school counselor Susan Rosales presented the students with their diplomas. The students shook hands with Rosales as they were presented with their diplomas and then paused for pictures.

The graduates were congratulated by Lodi Unified School Board Trustee Bonnie Cassel and board Vice President George Neely on the way to their seats.



By Nicholas Filipas
Record Staff Writer

STOCKTON — Tears were shed, hugs were shared and local educators were celebrated Friday evening as the Weberstown Mall Barnes & Noble store honored the 2016 My Favorite Teacher contest.

Sandra Starr, an Advanced Placement environmental science and biology teacher at Tokay High School, was honored as the local winner and was nominated by Tokay senior Julie Fukunaga.The bookseller’s contest ran earlier this year and gave middle and high school students the chance to express how much much they appreciate their teachers.

More than 70 submissions were received in the form of essays, poems or thank-you letters.

Fukunaga’s essay detailed the impact that Starr has had on her and biology students at Tokay High, including club mentoring, volunteer work and teaching grant writing and project proposals.

Although Fukunaga was not in attendance as she was touring the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her sister, Tokay High junior Kristen Fukunaga, read on her behalf.

Coincidently, Kristen Fukunaga also wrote her own essay nominating Starr, who had spent nine years teaching marine biology and had received eight nominations overall from current and former students.

“I really love what I do, I love seeing the students light up with excitement,” Starr said. “I love science and I love teaching.”

The winning essay detailed Starr’s leadership for students in organizing and running the first NorCal Science and Technology Festival in February and appreciation for STEM-related fields focuson in science, technology, engineering and math.


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Her cheerleading and perseverance for the festival, Julie Fukunaga wrote, led to the 2,500 attendees that came.

Starr was selected out of 39 other educators from elementary and high schools from Aspire Public Schools, Delta Middle College, the San Joaquin County Office of Education and Lincoln, Lodi and Stockton unifieds.

Among those teachers in attendance to listen to their students read essays were Vanessa Romo from Able Charter; Nicole Perez, George Gardner, Kristina Hardison and Erlinda Selga from Edison High and Chao Lor from Kennedy Elementary School.

Rebecca Iacovino, community business development manager for Barnes & Noble in Stockton, said they had more than 70 nominations, many for the same teacher.

She said there were many essays sent in from younger grades that did not qualify to be in the contest, but the students wanted to write an essay acknowledging their favorite teachers anyway.

Starr received a $500 Barnes & Noble gift card and a Samsung NOOK tablet. She now is entered in a pool of regional winners for the Barnes & Noble National Teacher of the Year, in which the winner and their school will each receive $5,000.

— Contact reporter Nicholas Filipas at (209) 546-8257 or nfilipas@recordnet.com. Follow him on recordnet.com/filipasblog or on Twitter @nicholasfilipas.


By Nicholas Filipas
Record Staff Writer

STOCKTON — The weather conditions on Friday were just right. Light winds; low humidity and sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky. A perfect day to launch a weather balloon 100,000 feet and beyond into the atmosphere.

Seventh- and eighth-grade students from Delta Sierra Middle School watched with anticipation as Ted Tagami and Tony So, co-founders of Magnitude.io, prepared to send the high-altitude weather balloon with CanSat instrumentation into the air.

“Everybody ready?” Tagami asks to the sounds of cheers. “OK, countdown...5...4...3...2...1!

The CanSat satellite, small enough to fit into a can of soda, was set to travel across San Joaquin County for 2 ½ hours. Its projected route was to fly over Stockton and land somewhere between Ripon and Escalon, but in reality, it eventually landed outside of Modesto. A GPS tracking system allowed students of Harold Ross’ seventh-grade science class to track and locate the landing spot in real time.

After careful observation of the wind and weather patterns during the week, Friday’s liftoff just before noon went without a hitch, and the balloon, for the 

most part, stayed on course.

“We originally were going for Wednesday, but if we had, it would’ve taken us all the way down to Gilroy,” Tagami said of the winds not being favorable. “The recovery would be a little bit on long side and there was a chance it would be in the mountains.”

Principal Brad Watson said Delta Sierra in the Lodi Unified School District is in its second year as a STEM Academy with focuses on robotics, medical technology, forensics and creating of apps for mobile devices.

Tagami and So of Magnitude.io bring STEM related projects to classrooms with the goal of inspiring students and to get them interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The two 

men have been working with the district and Ross’ class since the start of the school year and have also assisted in rocket launches with the Manteca Unified School District.

After recovery, students are expected to be able to download and transfer data collected on the pre-built CanSat canister, including data on altitude, temperature, speed, velocity and moisture readings.

A tiny camera also made the ride and will be able to provide the view what it looks like to almost touch the outer limits of the atmosphere.

“We are here to bring students right to the edge of discovery,” Tagami said.

Hours before the launch, Tagami said they were approved by the Federal Aviation Administration as a notice was filed to alert any aircraft out of Lodi of the balloon’s voyage.

The launch also benefits another class project: how the upper atmosphere affects its urban garden that grows vegetables approved to be served in the school lunch program.

What happens in the atmosphere, said Watson, can have an effect on growth and quality of life.

“Kids need to know what happens in atmosphere it effects what you eat,” said Watson. “They can see the connection.”

— Contact reporter Nicholas Filipas at (209) 546-8257 or nfilipas@recordnet.com. Follow him on recordnet.com/filipasblog or on Twitter @nicholasfilipas.


Middle College High student to graduate later this week

  • Lodi Unified senior earns nine college degrees

Lodi Unified senior earns nine college degrees


Dangelo earned 9 associates degrees


Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2017 6:00 am

Lodi Unified senior earns nine college degrees By Danielle Vaughn/News-Sentinel Staff Writer Lodi News-Sentinel

Middle College High School student D’Angelo Martinez is back at it again. The high school senior has earned three more associate degrees from San Joaquin Delta College making it nine degrees total since the beginning of his high school career.

Over the years, Martinez has earned associate degrees in the areas of arts and humanities, Spanish, teacher education preparation, business, retail management and merchandising, mathematics and science. He is now adding degrees in social and behavioral science and business along with an additional degree in Spanish to his roster.

“I had the opportunity to take college classes in the morning and it was just up to me how much of a big work load that I wanted to take,” he said. “With that I took the opportunity and made the most of it by packing in as many college classes as I could to try not only get the degrees done but also save time and money as the classes are also transferable to my university.”

Martinez feels that getting a college education at a younger age was very valuable to him and taught him a lot. In order to complete all of his degrees Martinez was forced to make several sacrifices including giving up football and missing out on various social events like school dances. Despite the many sacrifices he had to make he doesn’t regret a thing.

“My whole time was consumed by school work, but it’s not that it was a burden because it obviously helped me become who I am today, and I enjoyed learning so all the time I had to give up was worth it,” he said.

His family and his desire to help others fueled his motivation to complete his associate degrees.

“I just want to help others and inspire people, and I really want to help my family and community but also want to help make an impact much bigger than that,” he said. “I knew that with hard work and dedication if I could just impact one life I would have accomplished my goal.”

Martinez is set to receive his final three associates degrees when he graduates from San Joaquin Delta on May 25. He will graduate high school May 26.

Not only will Martinez be graduating high school with nine associates degrees but he was also accepted to at least 12 universities including all nine of the Universities of California as well as University of the Pacific, San Diego State and San Jose State.

He will be attending the University of California Davis in the fall.

“I was definitely going to go to a UC, but out of all of the UCs I felt UC Davis was the one that will help me grow more and prosper more because it had more opportunities not only with research but just as way to develop better,” Martinez said.

At UC Davis Martinez will major in biological sciences with the goal of becoming a physician. He did want to be a doctor at first but after participating in the Decision Medicine summer program he changed his mind.

“It introduced me to the medical field and I saw just how much help a doctor can give not only with medicine but the impact they can have on someone’s life. That’s something I feel like I won’t get tired of and I can do everyday.”

Martinez hopes his accomplishments will encourage others to reach their goals.

“I just want to show that no matter what your current situation is or what you’re going through anything is possible and don’t try to set your limits low just shoot for the moon,” he said. “ Anything is possible with dedication and hardwork. I just want to show that even though you feel like you’re not privy or you’re in area or situation that you can’t prosper that it can be done. I just want to help not only younger people but show people it’s never too late to just do what you want to do and enjoy your life.”


Posted: Friday, June 10, 2016 11:41 pm

S.J. County honors LUSD teacher By Christina Cornejo/News-Sentinel Staff Writer Lodi News-Sentinel

Adrianne Go-Miller, a fifth-grade teacher at Elkhorn School, works hard to challenge her students in the classroom and give them important life skills to take with them throughout their lives.

This past school year, she was able to offer her class an exploratory learning experience in coding with tiny robots called Ozobots, with help from students and their parents and other teachers.


Students spent a week working together in figuring out how these robots worked on their own before she directed them on what they could do. It’s part of her philosophy in getting students to learn from “failures,” which she models as something they can fix and grow from.

“It’s something you can’t learn from a book,” she said.

This project was an opportunity for students to learn and find a more meaningful experience in new discovery, rather than being told what to do. It is one of the many projects and ways that Go-Miller has enhanced the learning experience of students in her classroom.

Her passion and dedication to teaching in the classroom and beyond were some of countless reasons why the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) named Go-Miller the 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year on Thursday night. Earlier this year she was also named Teacher of the Year within the Lodi Unified School District.

“She takes the best approach to assist every student, knowing that every student learns in a different way,” said Elkhorn Principal Pat White, who nominated her for this award.

White offered several compliments to Go-Miller’s teaching in her nomination including the way she introduces the Socratic method of questioning to engage students in critical thinking to inviting a therapy dog named Rosie into the classroom during book discussions to encourage students to participate.

That dog has moved away with her owner, but will occasionally make an appearance in the classroom through Skype video conferencing, Go-Miller said.

Before becoming a teacher, Go-Miller received her bachelor’s in journalism from California State University Fresno and once had a brief summer internship at the Lodi News-Sentinel. She eventually migrated to education, where she found a passion for working with children. Teaching is in her family — her mother worked as a kindergarten teacher in Lodi Unified School District for many years. She knew she wasn’t cut out for teaching kindergarten, but found a nice fit with fifth graders.

“Maybe in my heart, I’m still a 10-year-old,” she said jokingly. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Go-Miller credits the many great mentors she’s had who have helped her along the way to becoming the teacher she is today.

She pays it forward by mentoring and teaching other teachers as an instructor at the SJCOE’s Teacher’s College, with the Making Sense of Science team and on a teacher training team for Next Generation Science Standards.

Her advice to aspiring teachers: “Learn from everyone around you. Everyone has something to offer. It’s what has gotten me to where I am. Take every opportunity to learn, because we never stop learning,” she said.

Go-Miller continues to learn as a student herself. She holds two masters degrees — the first in curriculum and instruction from the University of the Pacific and the second in educational psychology with an emphasis in gifted education from the University of Connecticut. She is now studying to receive a doctorate in educational administration.

On Thursday, she was honored along with several other nominees for the award. Go-Miller also received $1,000 from Premier Community Credit Union, a long-time supporter of educators in San Joaquin County and co-sponsor of the annual awards banquet for teachers and classified school employees.

As the San Joaquin County Teacher of the Year, her application will be submitted to the state for consideration as the California Teacher of the Year.

“I’m honored by the recognition. It was humbling as I sat there (Thursday) night and watched videos of the other finalists. I’m in awe of the work other teachers have done,” Go-Miller said. “Teaching is a tough job. It’s nice to be recognized.”

Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at christinac@lodi news.com.


By Kyla Cathey/Special to the News-Sentinel Lodi News-Sentinel

Melissa Zermeno, a teacher with Lodi Unified School District, got a pleasant surprise this week: She is one of five California teachers to win an AVID Teacher Advocacy Award.

With the award comes $10,000 that Zermeno and the Lodi district can use to expand the AVID program at local schools.

“I’m still somewhat in shock over it. I’ve been in shock since I got that first phone call,” Zermeno said.

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Most of the winners are surprised, said Rob Gira, executive vice president of the AVID program. They’re supposed to be.

“It’s a statewide competition. They don’t put their names in for this. They’re nominated by someone who knows their work,” he said.

Zermeno was nominated for the honor by the district AVID coordinator, Cindy Mettler.

The award was established in 2013 by an anonymous donor who wanted to give back to educators in California, especially those who work with the AVID program, Gira said.

Competition is stiff, he added.

“This award is one of the great joys that we have,” Gira said.

What is AVID?

AVID — short for Advancement Via Individual Determination — is a nonprofit college preparation program.

At Lodi Middle School, where Zermeno has taught for the past five years, there is an AVID elective class students can enroll in, as well as programs and workshops to help teachers implement AVID techniques in their own classroom.

The techniques students learn in the elective class include how to read texts critically, how to take notes, the best ways to participate in classroom discussions, and other academic, study and interpersonal skills such as networking.

“Every kid is learning how to write at a higher level, how to read critically, how to ask those questions whether to find out a piece of information or push that group discussion,” Zermeno said.

The students also get a hands-on look at life in college, both through field trips to visit local campuses, and from visits by college students who come to the class as mentors and tutors twice each week.

The college-aged mentors help tutor students with their classwork, as well as sharing information about college classes, application tips and more, Zermeno said.

Field trips go to area Universities of California, California State Universities, and private colleges like University of the Pacific.

When the kids first step foot on campus, “They get the widest eyes,” Zermeno said. By the end of each trip, they’re enthusiastically discussing going to that college, and even asking other students if they want to be roommates.

“It’s been a fun class to teach the past few years. I’m kind of sad I won’t have my own class to teach next year,” Zermeno said.

While Zermeno has been a dedicated AVID teacher, she has been invited by Lodi Unified to serve as an instructional coach for other teachers as the district rolls out a new English arts curriculum next year.

Next steps for Zermeno

As an instructional coach, Zermeno will serve as a guide for teachers as they work the new curriculum into their classroom lessons and implement new learning strategies, she said.

The move may not be a surprise to anyone who knows her. According to Gira, nominees for the award are selected based on their achievements in leadership, overcoming a professional challenge, or advocating for students.

“Melissa was chosen for leadership,” he said — though he noted that all of the winners stand out in all three areas.

As for the monetary prize, Zermeno hopes to use it to help train more non-AVID teachers in AVID organizational and study skills, so they can pass it on to their students, as well as funding more field trips to colleges.

“There’s also the idea of purchasing binders for the students,” she joked. “A lot of people associate the AVID students with big binders. We kind of joke that we love big binders and we cannot lie.”

Zermeno was grateful for the recognition.


By Nicholas Filipas
Record Staff Writer

Posted Aug. 29, 2016 at 8:41 PM
Updated Aug 29, 2016 at 9:05 PM

STOCKTON — Before the doors to the main gymnasium and theater at Bear Creek High School were set to open at 5:30 p.m., thousands of Lodi Unified students and their families were ready to begin the process of asking questions and gathering information about the next level in their education.

Bear Creek High was the site of the ninth annual College and Career Planning Night on Monday. The yearly two-hour event enables juniors from the district’s four high schools and their families to meet with more than 90 representatives.

The free event had booths set up for students to connect with six University of California schools, nine California State universities, as well as private and military representatives and businesses like Lodi Electric about potential careers.

“It’s a well-rounded representation,” said Kim Collier, a Lodi Unified district official who helped plan the event. The main gym was already bustling 10 minutes into the event and Collier said vendors would be answering questions until the doors were closed for the night.

“It’s a madhouse. It ends pretty early, but there will be people here talking to a rep until we lock the doors — which I think is great,” she said.

Several colleges and universities that were available included California State University, Chico, the University of San Francisco, Seton Hall and Oregon State. Fliers were given and many students carried plastic bags to hold booklets and information cards. In the theater next door, presentations on financial aid were given.

Dennis Jones, a West Coast regional admissions coordinator with Maryville University, a private college in St. Louis, said students who are starting to think about applying for college should apply for as many as they want so they have options.

“Apply anywhere they are interested in, even if they think the price tag or sticker price looks too expensive,” Jones said. “I would still apply to whatever you’re interested in. We always tell students because you might be surprised where you get into for a lot of reasons.”

Sixteen-year-old Chris Shout, along with brother Nathan Shout, 14, and mother Tonya Shout, were eager to browse booths and get some of their questions answered about admissions and academics.

Chris Shout said he plans to major in mechanical engineering.

“I’m interested in just knowing the colleges are here and seeing what kind of majors they acquire and admissions,” he said.

— Contact reporter Nicholas Filipas at (209) 546-8257 or nfilipas@recordnet.com. Follow him on recordnet.com/filipasblog or on Twitter @nicholasfilipas.