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BACK TO SCHOOL [ 2007 ]

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BACK TO SCHOOL [ 2007 ]

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FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT’S DESK:

This year’s theme is

teamwork Dear Community Members, The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District welcomes you! As lifelong learners, we look forward to providing thought provoking, 21st Century learning experiences to all students and professionals in our world-class public school system. The theme for the 2007-08 school year is TEAMWORK. Research indicates that teamwork is an essential ingredient found in high performing school districts. We have phenomenal, talented players on our team who represent multiple stakeholder groups. Our goal this year is to focus on the coordination and unification of our internal district team and our external parent and community constituencies. A tremendous level of energy will be spent on improving communication and customer service to strengthen our existing team. We are also committed to improving attendance across the district as one way to increase student achievement. “It’s not OK to stay away” is the slogan every school will be using to help remind students and parents how important it is to attend classes. Together, we will continue to positively impact the lives of the children we serve. In SMMUSD, we provide challenging, relevant, and engaging work. Thanks for joining our team; we are excited to be partners in educating your child!

FABIAN LEWKOWICZ FABIANL@SMDP.COM

Students play outside Edison Language Academy last school year. The campus features bright murals.

Word from the top Editor’s note: Attempts were made by the Daily Press to contact each principal of a school within the SMMUSD. Understandably, several were unable to be reached during the summer break.

EDISON LANGUAGE ACADEMY Edison Language Academy, SMMUSD’s dual immersion magnet school, kicks off the year with an Aug. 26 afternoon picnic to welcome its 80 new Kindergarteners! Instruction begins on Sept. 5 at 8:10 a.m. and parents are invited to a welcome back coffee in the kelpforest courtyard that morning. Come see our newly refurbished Kindergarten courtyard, featuring murals of local butterflies by parent artist Mia Bunn! This year, Edison adds the SmART Schools program to our PS Arts Theater program and music programs to strengthen teaching through the arts. We also have many technology upgrades, new computer-based reading support programs (in two languages!), new science texts, and two outstanding new teachers! Our scores in English and Math continue to exceed state objectives for all groups of students, even as they study in two languages! Families will hear about these and other exciting developments at Back to School Night on Sept. 27. Lori S. Orum, Principal

FRANKLIN ELEMENTARY Franklin Elementary School is excited about the 2007-2008 school year! We have 40 of the most talented, experienced teachers I have ever worked with, as well as an awesome support staff!! Our PTA and Site Governance councils are already busy at work providing the best support possible for our staff, community and students! Academically, we look forward to providing students with a rigorous, standards-based curriculum that will enable them to be lifelong learners and “leaders” in the 21st century! We are continuing our focus on strengthening out achievement in Science, Technology, and Writing as we herald the arrival of our new Science Curriculum,

Sincerely, Dianne Talarico, Superintendent

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Smartboards for the fourth grade, and Accelerated Math will now join our Accelerated Reader supplementary curriculum. In addition to their academic experiences, Franklin students will have many social and physical growth experiences to look forward to as well. Experiences gained from music, PE, science, drama, and art instruction contribute to the well-rounded learning experience that embodies Franklin School. Thank you for your continued support of Franklin School! Tara Brown, Principal

GRANT ELEMENTARY Grant enters its 102nd year with excitement and promise. We are excited to welcome five new teachers, two new Special Day Class programs and Martha Monahan, our new assistant principal. Grant students will benefit from a PTA sponsored arts program that will include art, music, ceramics, dance/movement and drama. We have added three additional instructional aides — and will now staff four reading teachers. All fourth and fifth grade students will participate in instrumental music or chorus, and special courses in poetry, art and law. The fifth grade will be part of an innovative program called, “Rock the Classroom” which is being funded by the Ed Foundation. We promise to continue to provide an absolutely wonderful and outstanding educational program by a teaching and support staff that blends experience and youth. We pledge to make every Grant parent not only feel welcome but needed to make Grant School a very special place to learn. Finally, Grant will continue to create an educational and school environment based on inclusion, trust and high expectations. Alan Friedenberg, Principal

JOHN MUIR ELEMENTARY Just like our eagle mascot, we are soaring to new heights this SEE PRINCIPALS PAGE 11

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BACK TO SCHOOL [ 2007 ]

04

‘You smell me?’ New year, new lingo for students • BY GERRY SHIH SPECIAL TO THE DAILY PRESS

S

ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

Feeling ‘fly’ in the schoolyard never goes out of style. activities, and even Ivy League-bound Presidential Scholars need a change of pace. For those interested in a schoolyard pre-prandial smoke to make a dull lunch a pinch zestier, the word is “burn" — an expression originally from Hawaii, multiple well-placed sources told the Daily Press. Let’s be honest, the old terminology made it sound like someone got thrown in a garbage truck, or worked in home construction. These days, partakes who liberally quaff get “bent” or “ghosted.” But, of course, every self-respecting teenage troublemaker strives to uphold the nonchalant veneer — allegedly, pretending like it’s nothing just makes being bad feel so much badder. In any case, don’t bother “keeping it on the d/l” anymore. This is no longer 2004. In this new era, just keep it “low key.” • NEWS@SMDP.COM

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Dorm life a crowded scene • BY MAGGIE KOERTH-BAKER

AMOHI Sometimes, talking the talk is just as important

as walking the walk. Especially in the social pressure cooker that is high school. As students return to a life of early morning classes, rowdy lunch periods and afternoon sports practices, out goes the slow summer living and in comes the new textbooks, new fashions ... and new slang. Brian Leyva, 17, said that most slang hasn’t changed dramatically, but there is indeed a trend of dovetailing with hip hop music. For fashion, “fly” and “fresh” are suitable superlatives. Calling a shirt or shoes “clean” is casual, but complimentary. Nicole Auren, 17, from Santa Monica, added that “legit,” — short for “legitimate” — can be used to describe something good or satisfactory. “Bomb,” that wearily familiar substitute for “scrumptious” usually used to describe food or perhaps intimate interpersonal activities, is undergoing an uncertain phase, and the Samohi teens expressed some skepticism about its lasting power. Our take: It may be on its last legs, so use sparingly, and pay close attention to when it’s finally phased out. Inglewood native Antoine Richardson, 17, said that while the peer pressure to use all the right words to fit in is certainly a palpable — a testament to the timeliness of our reporting — he comes up with some of his lingo to stand out. He borrows heavily from Bay Area rap legend E-40, whose culinary predilections are unknown, but nevertheless uses phrases such as “what’s cooking, Pepperoni?” and “You smell me?” in place of “what’s up?” or “you understand?” Richardson also noted that many students said “I’m smooth” as a positive response to “how are you?” Sometimes, “I’m smooth” just isn’t true. The pressures of academic life can be maddening. Add the extracurricular

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What most people expect when they move into their first college dorm: one (maybe two) roommates, a basic bedroom setup, and a decent amount of privacy. What Leah Lage got: Five roommates, one huge, open room, and a window into a public hallway. Arrangements like Lage’s are more common than you probably think. Although the Association of College and University Housing Officers (ACUHO) says nobody knows exactly how many schools and students are affected by overcrowding, they say the problem is fairly common. It forces housing directors to shuffle excess students into a creative variety of alternative living situations — and students are left to cope with odd furniture arrangements, loss of what little privacy they may expect and more people with whom to argue about decor. But being young, they may not mind any of it. Lage, now 21 and working as a sales assistant in Newark, Del., experienced not one, but two, of the most popular solutions. Her freshman year at Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University was spent in a former study area that had been temporarily converted into a six-person super room. The next year, she transferred to Emerson College in Boston, Mass., where her “dorm” was a nearby Doubletree Hotel. Lage says that she enjoyed both experiences. In fact, as a freshman, she and her five roommates bonded so well that they ended up requesting to stay together for the whole year, rather than being allowed to move out as other spaces became available. •


BACK TO SCHOOL [ 2007 ]

05

Test scores need some work California students show only minimal gains in annual survey • BY JULIET WILLIAMS ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER SACRAMENTO After several years of steady progress, California students made only slight gains in English and none in math on academic achievement tests last year, according to the latest results released this month by the state Department of Education. Even more worrisome, the double-digit achievement gap between black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian counterparts persists on the annual standardized tests, and does not appear to be linked solely to socioeconomic status. “These are not just economic achievement gaps. These are racial achievement gaps. We cannot afford to excuse them,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said in a conference call with reporters. For instance, the gap between white and black students in English language arts has remained at 31 percentage points since 2003, despite gains in that time for both groups. In math, the gap between white and black students has stayed at 28 percentage points, and similar gaps remain between white and Hispanic students. When scores in the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program are broken down by ethnicity and poverty levels, white students from poor families performed better than black or Hispanic students who are not poor, O’Connell noted. The state superintendent and other leaders have called the achievement gap the most pressing problem facing California schools, but they have not made much progress in addressing it.

O’Connell said educators need to examine whether they are truly holding all students to the same expectations and whether all schools and all students have access to the funds and teachers they need. He said it is vital for the state to close the gap, “not just for the moral imperative, but for the economic imperative. These are the subgroups that are growing the fastest in our state.”

“These are not just

forming schools in the state. Also this year, districts were required to report for the first time how much they spend per student in each of their schools. But a survey released this week by Public Advocates, a nonprofit San Francisco law firm that lobbies for education equality, found that two-thirds of the schools it surveyed statewide

The leveling off in student achievement also mirrors a nationwide trend. University of California, Berkeley, education and public policy professor Bruce Fuller reported last month that many states were successful in cutting racial and economic achievement gaps in the 1990s, but those effects have faded since the federal No Child Left Behind Act took effect in

economic achievement gaps.

These are racial achievement gaps. We cannot afford to excuse them.” Jack O’Connell, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jim Lanich, president of California Business for Education Excellence, said state officials need to stop talking about the achievement gap and actually do something about it. Education leaders need to “stop making excuses for poor performance and instead learn from high performing schools in high poverty neighborhoods throughout the state and systematically replicate their proven best practices that close achievement gaps,” Lanich said in a statement. His group has aggressively lobbied the state to change its school ranking system to penalize schools that do not cut performance gaps between ethnic groups. Legislators have also sought to establish spending equity between districts and even schools. A deal between the state and the California Teachers Association last year is funneling $2.9 billion into some of the lowest-per-

did not comply with the requirement to publish school-level data on per-student expenditures and teachers’ salaries. Overall, Tuesday’s results showed achievement levels similar to those reported in 2006, with slightly more than four in 10 students scoring as proficient or advanced across all grade levels in English language arts and math. Students in several grades and subgroups made slight improvements in English, but math scores remained largely stagnant overall. In history tests taken in the eighth and 10th grades, a third of students were proficient or advanced. The exception to the flat performance was in science, where fifth- and eighth-grade proficiency rates improved by five percentage points in each grade. In 10th grade, the improvement was 1 percentage point.

2001. Fuller noted that while the federal law may not have harmed those programs, it hasn’t necessarily helped. State education officials have repeatedly tangled with federal officials over No Child Left Behind, which they claim is unrealistic in its goal of having all students reach grade-level proficiency by 2013. O’Connell said Wednesday that he is optimistic Congress will approve changes this year so California won’t face the harsh penalties for schools considered failing under the federal law. The federal law includes escalating sanctions for schools that don’t improve fast enough, ranging from extra tutorials for failing students up to closing schools. •

ON THE NET ■ STAR test results: star.cde.ca.gov


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n a e l c A

DROP-OFF

Following the crossing guard’s orders is an essential part of arriving to school safely. FABIAN LEWKOWICZ FABIANL@SMDP.COM

Schools have unique pedestrian As Santa Monica’s kids gear up for another school year, eager to flash their fashion-forward threads to their peers, and traffic school administrators are preparing for a considerably less safety issues enjoyable, but ever-important annual rite — traffic safety. • BY MELODY HANATANI DAILY PRESS STAFF WRITER

It’s that time of year again, when thousands of parents flood the streets surrounding the 12 primary and secondary schools within the district, often frazzled as they jockey for parking spaces so they can hop out and walk their child to class. Oftentimes, the parents are left to circle the block in neighborhoods where parking spaces are at a premium. Congestion has long been a source of misery for Westside drivers, but during the school year, the angst intensifies amid the 30 minutes before and after school as many parents drive their children to school on their way to work. It’s a problem for every school community in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District from September to June, each featuring its own unique dilemma. Many schools have instituted a valet service in the past few years, whereby parents can pull up to the designated area and quickly drop off their kids with the assistance of several teachers and assigned student helpers who open the doors and unload the passengers. The valet service has proven successful at schools like John Muir Elementary, Edison Language Academy and Grant Elementary, where the program was first piloted.

Plaguing the Grant community is the lack of available parking space in the immediate vicinity of the school, causing some parents to illegally double park or, in some cases, occupy faculty spaces. Double parking is a concern, in that it could one day lead to an accident involving a car and student, said Grant principal Alan Friedenberg. Illegal parking often sets off a chain reaction — one parent parks in a prohibited zone as they run in to drop off their kid, prompting the next parent to double park and so forth. “It’s not safe to double park or triple park,” said Sgt. Larry Horn of the SMPD’s Traffic Services division. Grant parents are often encouraged to either park a block or two further from the school, where parking is more plentiful, or to walk with their kids to school from home, saving both the parent and children time. Then again, the parents could also leave five minutes earlier than normal. “A lot of times, parents are waiting to drop kids off as the bell rings,” Friedenberg said. “Reschedule your morning, because a lot of times, we find everyone is in a hurry and traffic is horri-

ble ... impatience sometimes compromises the judgment.” In anticipation of the new school year, the Santa Monica Police Department is getting ready to step up traffic enforcement to change driver behavior, deploying more officers in some of the hardest hit areas. “The best bit of advice for (parents) is to drive and park the way they would want other people to drive and park,” Horn said. “If you drove the way you want other people to drive around your kids, that might help.”

A SPEEDWAY A disturbing trend that has drawn the ire of both the John Muir Elementary and SMASH communities is the speed at which cars travel along Ocean Park Boulevard. Residents along the corridor are unhappy with the drivers that zoom through at high speeds, petitioning the city to make some changes. School administrators have found that many drivers who are fed up with Fourth Street traffic cut through Fifth or Sixth streets to access Ocean Park Boulevard, speeding their way through, posing a threat to the students who


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PHOTOS BY FABIAN LEWKOWICZ FABIANL@SMDP.COM

Some campuses have attendants to assist parents with dropping off students.

Metered parking is an option at some area campuses.

enter the school via the two streets. School officials and several residents may ask City Hall to render Fifth Street a one-way street in order to prevent drivers from using it as a thoroughfare. “People just speed up and down Ocean Park, even though it’s marked at 35 mph,” said John Muir Principal Martha Duran-Contreras.

TAKING ACTION At the beginning of the 2005-06 school year, two pedestrians, including one Lincoln Middle School student, were struck by a car while crossing the intersection of 16th Street and California Avenue. As a result, the school’s assistant principal, Carl Hobkirk, met with various city officials to discuss the dangers that pedestrians face in the Lincoln community. In the months following the incident, certain areas around the school were designated as no parking for drop off or pick up to deter double parking. “Our charge is to really keep that in front of people that there are other places to stop around the schools,” Hobkirk said. The main issue with Lincoln seems to be parents’ use of California Avenue as a drop-off location. Hobkirk said he hopes the parents will begin breaking the pattern of using California, and use the considerably less congested 14th and 16th streets and Washington Avenue. “That will spread parking out,” Hobkirk said. ‘We think that will relieve congestion in general.”

JETTISON THE JAYWALKERS The Edison Language Academy has long dealt

with the problem of students cutting through the Venice Family Clinic parking lot and jaywalking across the street into the school parking lot. A quick and easy shortcut to the school, the clinic is a favorite among students. “That’s fine, as long as they use the sidewalk and are careful crossing through the back part of the lot, where there is still no pedestrian walk,” said Principal Lori Orum. Orum is working with the staff at the clinic to build a pedestrian walkway through the lot. “The clinic has been good about letting our parents park briefly in their back lot in the early morning for drop off — although it’s a constant challenge to get people to drop and go rather than linger and impact clinic parking needs,” Orum said.

SAFETY IN NUMBERS To increase pedestrian safety, students and parents are advised to walk in larger groups to be more visible to drivers. One of the biggest safety hazards involves the use of cell phones — not just by drivers, but also students, who sometimes have music player earphones in one ear and a cellphone on the other, crossing the street without paying attention. Never assume that a car will stop for pedestrians just because they’re in a crosswalk, Horn said. “Make sure to make eye contact with a driver so they know you’re there before crossing the street,” he said. • MELODYH@SMDP.COM

WHAT DO YOU THINK? ■ Send letters to editor@smdp.com

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The right school supplies can plant big smiles on the faces of returning students.

Making a list, checking it at least twice • BY MEGHAN BARR ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER If you’re letting your child pick a couple of fun items for the school that may or may not be on the teacher’s list, there’s plenty to choose from. Here are some picks for the fall:

1901 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica (at 19th St.) 310-453-1928

COST: $9.99 WHO: Math-averse kids

• MEAD FIVE STAR SOUND PRODUCTS COST: $14.99-$29.99 WHO: Music-loving kids

• THE TRAPPER KEEPER BINDER

Teachers may disapprove, but Mead’s line of plug-and-play products are meant to be used outside the classroom, not during a science lesson, its makers say. “This is intended more for those down times because kids are always on the go,” says Brian Effer, marketing communications manager for MeadWestvaco. The line includes notebooks, binders and desk cases with lightweight built-in speakers and fitted pockets designed to store any type of device, including iPods, MP3 players and cell phones.

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• SPLAT CALCULATOR FROM STAPLES This calculator’s funky shapes and bright colors make learning about fractions a little more fun. “It’s a fun item, it has a different shape to it,” O’Neill WWW.STAPLES.COM says. “It’s one of the items that’s hot and new and cheap and isn’t very expensive.” The calculator’s unique designs come in teal, pink, green and blue.

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remember so much when school starts, to remember three digits on a lock might be a little overwhelming. But to remember their dog’s name is a little easier.”

COST: $6.99 WHO: All kids

• WORDLOCK COMBINATION LOCKS

The iconic object of the 1980s is back and revamped WWW.TRAPPERKEEPER.COM for the 21st century, with changes intended to quell teachers’ reservations about the item. The old, noisy Velcro flaps have been replaced with magnetic ones, and this Trapper Keeper is slimmer than its predecessor. “We’ve put a clear cover on the front that allows the students to add pictures and special notes in there, to personalize and customize,” Effer says.

COST: About $12, varies by retailer WHO: Forgetful kids

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Instead of struggling to remember that tricky three-digit combination, with WordLock, an innovative letter-based lock, students can pick a word to remember instead. “It’s one of those items that you say, why didn’t I think of that?” says Tom O’Neill, founder of schoolkidz.com. “Kids have to WWW.WORDLOCK.COM

COST: $5.99 WHO: Kids just learning to measure Roll this “ruler” across a flat surface and it announces the measurements in 1/8-inch increments up to 1 foot. As it moves, a pen draws with ink that disappears. Great for kids learning their numbers or those who just want to have a little fun in the cafeteria comparing who has the biggest sandwich. •

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TRUMPETS • TROMBONES • KEYBOARDS •FRENCH HORNS • SAXOPHONES • CLARINETS • FLUTES • OBOES • VIOLAS • VIOLINS • CELLOS • BASSES • DRUMSETS • PERCUSSION • KITS • CONGAS • SUPPLIES • GUITARS


BACK TO SCHOOL [ 2007 ]

09

Fueling healthy, hungry bodies Proper nutrition is key to a student’s success • BY DAILY PRESS STAFF MMUSD HDQTRS Jerome Maxwell is a nutritionist’s nightmare. The soon-to-be sophomore at Santa Monica High School is surrounded by healthy choices at school now that district officials are phasing in new calorie and fat restrictions approved by state Legislators. But instead of picking up a Chinese chicken salad or a juice made from 100 percent fruit, Maxwell, like many of his classmates, quiets the growl in his stomach with pizza, French fries and sodas containing a high concentration of sugar. What may be the worst thing about that is Maxwell knows what he is eating isn’t healthy, but he goes for it anyway. “They have salads and stuff, but it’s too expensive, and it doesn’t taste as good,” Maxwell said, adding that he generally avoids the more nutritious selections and heads for pizza or chili cheese Fritos. “It’s good, but it’s not healthy.” As kids head back to school, parents may be wondering how to keep their children fit and eating healthy. Schools are making it easier, especially in Santa Monica where the “Farmers’ Market Fresh Fruit and Salad Bar Program” is now in its 10th year, but for the most part, parents are on their own, forced to rely on the knowledge they picked up from their own parents or through reading articles focused on child nutrition. “It can be tough getting your kids to eat better, especially if you haven’t been setting a good example,” said Karen Cohen, a certified nutritionist with a private practice in Westwood. “Parents need to be the role model for their children when it comes to their eating habits. Instead of lecturing them, get them involved in going to the supermarket, meal planning, buying the foods and then show them the connection between good food and good health.” Growing boys need about 3,000 calories per day while girls need around 2,400. That’s a lot, but it’s not just about meeting the requirement. A parent has to make sure the calories their children are taking in are quality calories and not just junk. That means no fast-food cheeseburgers or greasy pizzas. Trying to pry a teen away from a McDonald’s or a KFC may sound tough, but Cohen said parents can be successful if they keep the focus on one’s health, and she’s not talking about the dangers of clogged arteries. More like the embarrassment of clogged pores. “A teen’s body is growing through so many changes that it seems like every week there is something new to deal with,” Cohen said. “Parents need to connect the two and use that in speaking

S

about how food helps them grow and affects their bodies. Someone who is concerned about their skin should try eating essential fatty acids that help the skin look smoother. Parents can suggest eating salmon, tuna or avocado.” When it comes to eating at home, parents should sit down with their children and share a meal. That means breakfast. Oftentimes families skip this most important meal. Cohen says that’s a bad move, leaving kids drained of energy when they walk into school in the morning. “You’ve got to replenish yourself and that means eating a balanced breakfast with carbohydrates and protein,” Cohen said. “A good example is yogurt with granola, sliced applies, scrambled eggs and orange juice with calcium. Whole wheat waffles are good with fruit.”

“You can’t

expect your kids to

eat healthy if you don’t.”

Karen Cohen, nutritionist For lunch, Cohen said a parent can select a whole-wheat hotdog bun, spread some peanut butter and jelly on the inside and then pack it with a banana covered in chopped peanuts and raisins. “It’s a nutritious lunch that is different, very cute and fun for the kids to put together,” she said. In the end, it really is about the lessons learned at home. “You can’t expect your kids to eat healthy if you don’t,” Cohen said. “You need to make the kid feel as if they have a hand in this, that they have a choice of what they want to eat. Get them involved and have them try new things. Make it fun.” Once you’ve figured out what the little ones want, put as much energy into finding appealing and functional ways of packing it. Let your children help select their lunch boxes. Many lunch box companies now sell models intended to be customized, either with craft supplies or professional monograming done when they are ordered. The food itself can be fun too. Some parents like to pack lunches with themes. For “zoology,” cut your child’s sandwich with a lion or bear

FABIAN LEWKOWICZ FABIANL@SMDP.COM

Eating right at school is a learning experience all its own. cookie cutter. Add “bugs” on a log (cream cheese filled celery with raisins on top) and decorate a banana with monkey stickers. For younger kids, it may be good to keep a stockpile of comic strips, riddles, jokes and Mad Libs, and include them with the lunch. It sounds like a lot of extra work, but it doesn’t have to be. “Get organized. A little bit of effort on the weekend can save you a lot of stress,”said Kit Bennett, founder of the family advice site AmazingMoms.com. “Keep everything in one place so you aren’t running around in the morning looking for things.” • NEWS@SMDP.COM

The four-star lunch box: • BY J.M. HIRSCH AP FOOD WRITER For boys, it was between G.I. Joe and Star Wars. For girls, My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake. A generation later, the back-toschool ritual of selecting a new lunch box involves much more than choosing among pop culture icons. Upgrades in style, storage and technology — not to mention changes in eating habits — have redrawn the lunch box landscape. Will it be a soft-sided, multi-pocketed tote, variants of which are pushed everywhere from Wal-Mart to Pottery Barn? Would your budding gourmet prefer one of the fancier bento box-style carriers, long popular in Asia but now catching on here? Maybe your tyke is ironic enough for the retro metal box of your youth, albeit with some upgrades? This year, Americans will spend some $18 billion on back-to-school shopping, with more than $3 billion of that going to school supplies, the retail category that includes lunch boxes, notebooks and folders, according to the National Retail Federation. But lunch boxes no longer are just a

FABIAN LEWKOWICZ FABIANL@SMDP.COM

Character lunch boxes are becoming less popular amongst kids. back-to-school industry. In part because of healthy eating concerns, more adults and teens are packing lunches, and that has forced manufacturers to rethink form and function, says industry leader Thermos. The results can be elaborate. Consider the new Zojirushi Mini

Bento Stainless Lunch Jar ($48 or $52): It includes a vacuum-insulated main bowl, two smaller lidded bowls, chopsticks and chopsticks holder, all in a metallic blue or cheerful avocado-colored print bag. Tupperware last year introduced the Meal Solutions to Go (regularly

Full of compartments, containers and cool

priced at $30), a set of four stackable blue containers in a stylishly coordinated brown and blue bag. At Lands’ End, it’s all about compartments, with the soft-sided Hot Stuff lunch box ($29.50) offering three storage areas, a mesh pocket and an insulated soup or beverage canister. The Container Store sells a soft messenger bag-like Lunch Tote ($12.99) intended to be filled with their line of small plastic containers. Until the early 1990s, most lunch boxes were aimed at children. The gaudy metal or plastic boxes offered little insulation and even less protection for their contents. (Raise a hand if you remember hating sandwiches and chips smooshed by drink bottles.) Manufacturers also had to bet on what character would sell well — harder today with more media-savvy kids. “These days, once kids get past about the second or third grade, they don’t want to be seen with a licensed (character) lunch box. It’s just not cool,” says Andy Birutis, director of marketing for Toronto-based lunch box giant California Innovations. Character lunch boxes now make up

only one-third of the market, when once they had dominated it. And so came the rise of the universally-appealing soft-sided lunch tote. These souped-up brown bags were insulated, adult friendly and decreased the school yard weapon factor of the hard boxes. But now it’s gone well beyond just a bag, as lunch boxes must accommodate all manner of previously uncommon foods, from sushi and giant water bottles to Lunchables and special veggie-and-dip cups. Those new designs can help make food, especially healthy food, appealing to children, says Jennifer McCann, a Kennewick, Wash., mother who blogs about the lunches she packs for her son in the multiple compartments of a bento box-style container. “It makes it easier to make a wellbalanced meal,” says McCann, whose blog is called Vegan Lunch Box. “You are compelled to get a little bit of something in each of those compartments. So you’ll have a fruit and a veg and a whole grain and a protein.” Many newer lunch boxes include a mesh pocket for holding a freezer pack, as well as an adjustable strap.•


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Hey kids, go ahead, snack on this! • BY PATRICIA SAMOUR ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER Weight-conscious adults may be leery of snacking, but for active children a nibble here and a treat there can be vital parts of an overall healthy diet — as long as the snacks themselves are healthy, of course. “With my kids, snacks are a regular part of their day,” says Julie Robarts, a registered dietitian and mother of three from North Reading, Mass. “They grow so fast and they need the energy, but with their small tummies, they can’t possibly get all the calories and nutrients they need in just three meals,” she says. “We make frequent use of low-fat granola bars, nuts, pretzels, cheese and crackers, fruits and veggies.” Most school-age children should consume at least one healthy snack a day, which should account for about 20 percent of their calories. Younger children may need two snacks, depending on what else is eaten during the day. Here are some guidelines and tips to consider as you try. ■ Make your home a nutritional safe zone, says Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston and author of the recent “Ending the Food Fight,” a book about helping children eat healthy diets. He says that snacks such as ice cream are fine occasional treats, but keep them out of the house. This limits their availability. Otherwise, healthy snacks have trouble competing with sugary and fatty treats for children’s attention. ■ Read food labels and look for whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat breads, crackers, pasta or corn tortillas with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Whole-grain foods aren’t just more nutri-

tious than refined grains, they also are more filling. ■ Model good behavior. Don’t expect your child to nosh celery if you’re chomping on cookies and chips. Teach your children moderation, and to balance treats with physical activity. Children need at least an hour of physical activity a day. “All foods can fit into a healthful eating style if consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with regular physical activity” says Judith Gilbride, registered dietitian and president of the American Dietetic Association.

colors as possible. Again, younger children can use stickers and a rainbow poster to make a game out of keeping track of all the colors they eat in a day. And snacks are an easy time to add colors that are missing. At snack time, ask your children what colors they’ve eaten that day and what colors they would like to add to their rainbow. “Teaching school-age children about healthy snacking is imperative as this is the parents’ last chance to influence their child’s eating habits” says Aida Miles, a registered dietitian and head

of the American Dietetic Association’s pediatric nutrition practice group. ■ Teach yourself and your children proper portion control. Many Americans have adopted restaurant-style portions, which are too big. For easy portion control, use the guidelines on nutrition labels. ■ Beverages count. A lot. Juice drinks and sweetened beverages amount to empty sugar calories. Limit 100 percent real juice to 1⁄2 cup a day. For the rest of the day, offer water (seltzer water

“Kids love to be part of the process decision making, preparation, taste-testing, and of course,

enjoying eating.” ■ Aim for more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, or at least 21⁄ 2 cups of vegetables and 11⁄2 cups of fruit. For young children, make a game out of counting the servings, perhaps with a wall chart and stickers. Older children can help select and prepare the food. “Kids love to be part of the process, decision making, preparation, taste-testing, and of course, enjoying eating” says Dr. Christina Economos at Tuft’s Friedman School of Nutrition. — Variety is the best way to ensure children get the nutrients they need. Work in as many

Dr. Christina Economos, Tuft’s Friedman School of Nutrition

can make it more interesting) or milk. Sports beverages can be as bad as soda. Only highly active children need these. ■ Timing matters, too. Snacks should be served at least 11⁄2 to 2 hours before meals, otherwise children won’t be hungry for dinner. ■ Get creative. Children love interesting finger foods, many of which can be purchased already prepared. Sushi, salsa and chips, precut slices of cheese with crackers, or single-serving bags of baked chips, pretzels or baby carrots make excellent, easy snacks. Store these snacks in fun containers that children help pick out. •

Packing your child’s lunch doesn’t need to be a nightmare • BY ANNMARIE TIMMINS ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

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If you don’t know what to put in your child’s lunch box, look to the wide variety of lunch boxes out there for inspiration. Insulated bags and boxes often come with separate compartments to keep food at different temperatures, and everything in its place. And there’s plenty of room for individual tiny containers, so kids can have fun “making” their own food. “I’ve had four kids, and if the lunches are fun, parents aren’t going to get resistance,” says Kit Bennett, founder of the family advice site AmazingMoms.com. “It’s worth a little bit of extra effort the night before if you know you are providing healthy food.” For example, in an insulated, multi-compartment lunch box, pack a “make your own taco” kit, complete with lettuce, shredded cheese, meat and salsa your child can use to assemble a have-it-yourway healthy Mexican meal. Or instead of assembling a sandwich yourself, pack the ingredients separately and let your child put it all together at lunch (or eat it in deconstructed fashion). Of course, you’ll need to make sure you’re packing foods your child likes in the first place. “Get kids involved so they are more likely to eat it,” suggests Deanna Cook, director of creative development for FamilyFun magazine. “I often talk with my kids about how lunch went that day. I ask them if there was something someone else had that looked good.” Several times a year Cook even joins her daughters, ages 6 and 10, for lunch at school to

see what their peers are eating. Many parents are inclined to underestimate how adventurous their children’s palates are. But if your family is like many today who eat out more, often at ethnic restaurants, your child already may have expanded tastes. So don’t be afraid to borrow some ideas. Bennett said her kids enjoy Asian and Mediterranean foods, so she has packed sushi, falafel and Greek salads. And the once-exotic hummus is now so mainstream many children enjoy it as a dip for vegetables. Once you’ve sussed out what the little ones want, put as much energy into finding appealing and functional ways of packing it. Let your children help select their lunch boxes. Many lunch box companies now sell models intended to be customized, either with craft supplies or professional monograming done when they are ordered. The food itself can be fun, too. Bennett likes to pack lunches with themes. For “zoology,” cut your child’s sandwich with a lion or bear cookie cutter. Add “bugs” on a log (cream cheese filled celery with raisins on top) and decorate a banana with monkey stickers. If Bennett is going for a circus theme, she’ll add sides of popcorn and animal crackers. She also keeps a stockpile of comic strips, riddles, jokes and Mad Libs and includes one with the lunch. “Get organized. A little bit of effort on the weekend can save you a lot of stress,” says Bennett said. “Keep everything in one place so you aren’t running around in the morning looking for stuff.” •


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Administrators welcome back their students PRINCIPALS FROM PAGE 3 year. Our academic focus will be mathematics: Numeracy, literacy and technology. We begin our year with 300 children, 15 teachers and many other support staff members. We will have our annual Welcome Back Picnic on Tuesday, Sept. 4 from 4-6 p.m.. On Wednesday, Sept. 5 the doors will be open and our families will be welcomed to our freshly painted campus complete with new carpeting and tiles. Our staff has worked many hours to ensure that we are off to a great start. The recently released STAR testing shows we have made remarkable gains. We continue to upgrade our technology by adding two new SmartBoards and 20 new iMacs. At Muir we are also working on having our school and school community be more eco-friendly by creating a Green Committee . We are always looking for volunteers, donors, and donations to enhance our programs. Working together we are making a difference in Ocean Park and beyond. Martha Duran-Contreras, Principal

SMASH ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL The SMASH Community is excited about the coming year. Our work over the past few years with Responsive Classroom has really strengthened the culture of our school and we have been able to focus our efforts more intensely on our curriculum and assessment practices. This summer our staff participated in a week-long workshop based on Understanding by Design, an approach to project-based curriculum planning. Our campus has been given a much-needed facelift with new carpets and new tile floors. In conjunction with our new exterior paint last winter, the campus looks fantastic. Our amazing PTSA will sponsor the third year of our arts program and will be working to fund a foreign language program for all grades to expand on the pilot program we began last year with parent volunteers. Our community came together on Saturday, Aug. 18 to get the school ready for the coming year and we will have a social gathering for the entire school at the beach on Saturday, Aug. 25. We are always looking for ways to work with our community through community service and community study, business and

organizational partnerships, mentoring opportunities, and fundraising opportunities. Carrie Ferguson, Principal

also courtesy of our hard working parents. We are looking forward to a great year. Martha Shaw, Principal

WILL ROGERS LEARNING COMMUNITY

LINCOLN MIDDLE SCHOOL

We welcome our new and returning families to Will Rogers. Our school is an exceptional site with dedicated staff that continues to be committed to high achievement for all. We are excited to announce that Will Rogers is now a SmART School which is currently in 16 New England schools. This program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. In SmART Schools, the arts are integrated into the regular content areas. We have master teaching artists who will assist us in infusing the arts into the curriculum. A math-music curriculum for example, engages students in the application of the line graph-a mathematical concept to melodic cantor and instrument classification. Our school site has an extended partnership with the Getty’s Art and Language Arts program, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History and other resources that will help the curriculum come alive. We have made great efforts to integrate technology into our daily instruction and are expanding our use of SMART boards in classrooms school-wide. The campus now boasts a total of 18 SMART boards. We are very excited to welcome our new Kindergarten families to our Kindergarten playdate on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 5 p.m. The first day of school is Sept. 5 and commences at 8:35 p.m. We look forward to interacting and talking with both returning and new students. Irma Lyons, Principal

Lincoln Middle School is organized into three interdisciplinary teams per grade level that work together to support the academic, social, and emotional development of their students. In addition to their team of core teachers, students are assigned one counselor to support their growth. This counselor follows their students through each of their three years here at Lincoln — moving from sixth to seventh to eighth grade along with them. Each grade level is organized around an essential guiding question. In sixth grade we have implemented Student Led Conferences around the question of “What Makes A Good Student.” Seventh grade focuses on the questions of “Who Am I?” and “What is a Worthwhile Life?” and eighth grade finishes with “What is a Good Citizen of the Community?” Consistent, on-going, professional development occurs in a variety of ways: Across departments; in collaborative grade-level teams; in core interdisciplinary teams; and in whole-faculty meetings. To find out more about Lincoln Middle School — surf our Web site at: www.lincoln.smmusd.org. Carl Hobkirk, Assistant Principal

JOHN ADAMS MIDDLE SCHOOL JAMS has a new paint job so it is fresh and clean and ready for the new year and it will be an exciting year. We will have some new activities including a Recycling Club, an Art Academy where students can enroll for after school art classes, and noon sports under the direction of our PE staff. At the end of last year a new shade structure was erected in the quad so students no longer have to eat in the sun if they choose not to. This was funded by our PTA and I’m sure students will enjoy the shade, especially in September and October. We have a beautiful new garden next to our auditorium with benches for relaxation and contemplation,

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OLYMPIC HIGH SCHOOL Olympic High School is proud to start the school year with accreditation awarded this summer by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges/WASC for the first time in its 41 years. The work of students and staff was praised by the WASC visiting team this past spring, and all will continue to engage in coursework aligned to the state’s content standards throughout the coming year. Olympic High was also presented an exemplary program award in May by the California Continuation Education Association, for its selection of elective courses to engage students. Staff members are currently preparing to add new classes in Drama, Drums, Photography, and Carpentry to our course offerings. We’re all looking forward to the start of school and returning to our small and nurturing, learning community. Janie Gates, Principal


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