Teachers Put Reading Ahead of Lunchtime


Even the most devoted teachers enjoy a brief lunch break and a timely exit at day’s end. Not so for Jovita DeGuia, Hilda Marino, Lisa Cespedes and Grace Hernandez of Canoga Park Elementary School. The four teachers have given up their lunch hours to screen students for the privately run Rolling Reader program, an in-school tutoring service that offers help to Canoga Park, Sylmar and Sun Valley first- through third-graders who are reading below grade level.

The teachers, who were recently honored for their dedication by City Councilwoman Laura Chick, also meet regularly with program tutors and write progress reports for parents.

“The kids have gotten the message that reading is fun, and we’re already seeing the positive results in their ability,” said program coordinator Betty Wexler. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”



Top Scholars: Eight Valley high school seniors have won corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship Corp. awards, based on academic achievement, national test scores and personal essays. In all, 1,100 students nationally won the coveted awards of between $500 and $10,000 annually.

Local winners are: Berj Doudian, Burbank High School; Kent Conrad, Crescenta Valley High School; Vincent Hsu, Van Nuys High School; Ganesh Shankar and Erin Sheley, Westlake High School; Nicole Miller and Evan Robinson, El Camino Real High School, and John Skinner, North Hollywood High School.

Always There: Sometimes perfect report cards and perfect attendance go hand in hand. That seems to be the case for Brandon Shindo, 11, a straight-A student who hasn’t missed a day of school since he first greeted his kindergarten teacher at Superior Street Elementary School in Chatsworth almost six years ago. The fifth-grader served as student body president this year and will deliver the valedictory speech at Friday’s graduation ceremony.



Black Tie: It’s prom time, and seniors at New Directions School for severely emotionally disturbed teens got to participate in the ritual. The North Hills school’s first-ever prom was held at the Woodland Hills Hilton Hotel. Dresses and tuxedos were donated to the celebrating seniors by supporters of Penny Lane, the residential treatment program that operates the school.

All’s Faire: Culminating a yearlong study of medieval cultures, authentically dressed seventh-grade students at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies in Reseda hosted an exhibit of the ancient arts, crafts and cuisines of Europe, Africa, Asia and Central and South America at their Multicultural Medieval Faire recently. The students and their guests tried origami, archery and candle making.


Dancin’ Feet: Students at Calabash Street Elementary School in Woodland Hills were treated to a special performance by the Francisco Martinez Dancetheatre recently. The show, featuring classical ballet and contemporary dances, was presented by the Music Center on Tour program, which provides live performances and hands-on workshops to Southern California schools.



Preregistration for Burbank Adult School parent education classes is available through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 3811 Allan Ave. in Burbank. Morning and evening classes are available for parents, who may attend with their children.

Class Notes appears every Wednesday. Send news about schools to the Valley Edition, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Or fax it to (818) 772-3338. Or e-mail them to