Point Loma Cluster heads back to school
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 08/26/19 - 08:05 AM | 4243 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On the first day of school, Aug. 26, the 800 building at Point Loma High School was torn down. / PHOTO BY SCOTT HOPKINS
On the first day of school, Aug. 26, the 800 building at Point Loma High School was torn down. / PHOTO BY SCOTT HOPKINS
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More than 6,400 students in grades K-12 in the Point Loma Cluster’s nine schools joined more than 100,000 students from the San Diego Unified School District in returning to school on Aug. 26. 

Returning pupils at Point Loma High, Dana and Correia middle schools and Cabrillo, Dewey, Loma Portal, Ocean Beach, Silver Gate and Sunset View elementary schools experienced ongoing changes cluster wide.

Point Loma Cluster’s pupils are a diverse lot. More than 40% qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. Twenty-five percent come from outside the cluster. Some 14% are English learners.

Point Loma High

“As you can imagine, we’ve been super involved with the campus whole site modernization project,” said PLHS principal Hans Becker. “We are excited to have new Spanish, English, special education and ROTC instructors.”

Added Becker: “We are very excited to become a partner with the Anti-Defamation League and become a ‘No Place for Hate” school. Our staff and students will begin the process to promote a campus that is safe for all of our students and staff. We will also be offering new classes and programs including new courses offered through Mesa College.”

PLHS instructor Anthony Palmiotto said his cinematic arts program this year “will begin making anti-vaping PSAs for social media,” while his advanced class plans to “make promotional videos for some of the vendors at the Liberty Station Market Place.” His students will also create several short films or media projects.

Dana Middle

New staff members include fifth grade counselor, Sabrina Cox, two new education specialists, Lizzy Palacz and Rubyat Kirbria, and two new sixth-grade language arts teachers, Jessica Guy-Smith and Myishia Whigham.

“Dana is proud to announce new components of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics pathways program that connect Dana, Correia and Point Loma High,” said principal Scott Irwin. “The program will integrate coding, Lego-Mindstorms Robotics, 3D design and printing, a black/green screen video studio and a host of new cameras and sound equipment.”

Added Irwin: “Dana continues a school-wide focus on reading instruction. Along with phonics, identifying central ideas, recognizing supporting details, and drawing sound conclusion, this initiative emphasizes critical-thinking skills.”

Additionally, Irwin noted: classroom air conditioning will be installed by October 2019; energy-efficient lights in the Dana Jackson Theater during fall 2019; water bottle filters in February 2020; and an exterior repainting project finishes in April 2020.

“We are saddened to announce the recent loss of Barbara Forster, our former school librarian,” said Irwin. “We have named our library in her honor.”

Correia Middle

Seventh grade math/AVID teacher Jean Tara’s following the common core standards while her seventh graders work on integers, equations, inequalities, probability, formulas and percents. Her eighth graders have algebra, geometry and formulas.

“In Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) we are teaching students to be leaders,” Tara said. “We study about colleges, work on organization and good study habits, practice our public speaking and continually work on our reading and writing skills. We do a lot of team building and collaborative activities. We visit two local colleges a year and we love having presenters that will talk about their journeys from school to college.”

Loma Portal Elementary

“Here at LPE, we are keenly aware that we are currently preparing students for occupations that do not even exist yet,” said principal Mark Morici. “Due to that, we have placed an emphasis on working with our students to make them better problem solvers, collaborators, and engineers. Making mistakes and thinking outside the box are traits we love. Like the other elementary schools in the Point Loma Cluster, we are taking part in SDUSD’s STEAM Innovation program in grades TK, kindergarten, and 1. As always, we are offering music for all students, a fully staffed technology lab and Library program. 

Dewey Elementary

“The USO/Padres partnered to create a Military Kids Club Connections Corner where military students can connect to the school, parents that are deployed, and receive support,” said principal Tanya McMillin. “We are also a part of the cluster wide science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) for the second year. Our kindergarteners and first graders will be immersed in an hour block of discovery, curiosity, and creativity daily while learning STEAM concepts with tools like Legos.”

Added McMillin, “Dewey’s second-, third- and fourth-graders will get to participate in Liberty School weekly, a unique, off- campus experience of fine arts classes they will attend at Liberty Station offering the opportunity to work with experts in their real work environment to be exposed to many different fine arts. 

Cabrillo Elementary

“We are so proud to be the ‘best little school in Point Loma,’” said principal Rebecca Vogel. “We are excited to be guiding our Explorer’s through their TK-fourth grade education experience using Steven Covey’s The Leader in Me teaching methods and leadership skill building. This year we are incorporating STEAM and Project Lead the Way into our common core education.”

Added Vogel: “We want our Explorer’s to be active and involved and have our Cabrillo Explorer’s Morning Expedition Run Club for all students to come out each morning and walk, jog or run before class starts. Around campus we have newly installed campus-wide heating and air conditioning, and our play structures are being remodeled into new and improved activity centers for all of our Explorers to carrying out their adventures on. The year 2019-20 is just beginning and it is already a fabulous year for Cabrillo. It’s Explorer’s and their guides.”

Ocean Beach Elementary

On the school’s website, principal Marco Drapeau noted OBE has been serving Ocean Beach for over 100 years.

“While some things have changed here, the core mission of delivering a world-class education to students has not,” said Drapeau. “We provide a solid educational experience, with most all of our teaching staff being GATE certified. We serve over 420 TK-fourth grade and 25 preschool students. Our student body is truly diverse, both ethnically and socio-economically. We celebrate our differences here in OBE.”

Crediting “a great deal of parent support,” Drapeau added: “At OBE we believe the arts are essential, not a luxury. We have a school wide arts program where every TK-fourth grade student receives lessons from a trained artist in dance, visual arts, theater, hip-hop, and poetry. We have also been recognized as a California Distinguished School for our academic success.”

Silver Gate Elementary

Friends of Silver Gate (FSG), a nonprofit fundraising organization, is dedicated to enhancing the education of Silver Gate Elementary students. Throughout the year, FSG produces many different fundraisers where Peninsula communities are invited to join in. The largest fundraisers of the school year are the Jog-a-Thon, Harvest Festival and the annual Silent Auction.

“The core to our success is our solid parent, teacher and community volunteers,” said FSG on the school’s website. 

FSG meets monthly on campus. Meeting times alternate between morning and evening, 7:45 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. respectively every first Wednesday of the month. 

Sunset View Elementary

Describing Sunset View, principal Jamey Jaramillo said: “We are lucky to have about 430 students attend our TK-4 school. With this enrollment, we have three or four teachers at each grade level giving our teachers the luxury to collaborate and work together. All our teachers eagerly participate in professional development … every classroom is equipped with technology including personal devices for all students. Between supporting the arts, integrating technology, and furnishing a STEM lab, our students have the opportunity to flourish in all sorts of ways.” 

“The PLC will see air conditioning being installed in every classroom in every school; as well as, major modernization underway at the high school,” said SDUSD Trustee Dr. Mike McQuary. “PLC schools are focused on preparing all students for lifelong success, including providing the necessary supports for students with special needs, reluctant learners, and students with a language other than English.

“There will continue to be a cluster-wide emphasis on restorative practices and social-emotional development. The PLC is a true collective of neighborhood schools, which has a long tradition of community collaboration and tight school feeder system articulation. In fact, the 'Cluster School' concept was created by Point Loma. Other high school feeder systems soon adopted the cluster school concept, which is now the basic organizational structure of schools in the San Diego Unified School District," McQuary said.

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