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Stories and photos from across Apple Valley Unified School District.


posted by Kristin Hernandez

Phoenix Academy was recently recognized as an AVID Schoolwide Site of Distinction for the 2016-2017 school year. Phoenix received this honor based on current data, such as Process Metrics and Impact Metrics, and the implementation of AVID strategies from kindergarten through eighth grade. 

Phoenix Academy logo“It's an honor to receive this very special recognition at Phoenix Academy,” Principal Mariana Torres said. “Our staff works hard everyday with our students and their families to become college and career ready. This is just another reason why Phoenix Rocks!”


“I am very proud of my AVID team and Phoenix teachers, and all of the hard work they have put into the AVID program over the last seven years,” Cynthia Navarro, Phoenix Academy Counselor and AVID Coordinator, said. “AVID at Phoenix Academy has worked hard to promote college and career awareness for all students school wide and we plan to continue promoting student success by closing the achievement gap.”

AVID logo

In a letter from AVID Center, Dennis A. Johnson, Ph.D., Senior Director and Chief Research Officer, and Ellen Nickerson, Director of AVID Schoolwide, commended Phoenix Academy for their “diligence in attaining this achievement”. “An AVID Schoolwide Site of Distinction represents the highest level of AVID implementation fidelity demonstrating excellence in instructional practice and the promotion of college readiness schoolwide,” the letter said. “We look forward to your continued efforts in transforming the lives of students across your campus.”

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap by preparing all students for college and other postsecondary opportunities. 


posted by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated ]

Teachers and staff from Apple Valley High School's MAHST academy.

Photos: (Left) The MAHST Academy team. (Right) CAMP students at Sony Studios. 

The California Department of Education recently selected Apple Valley High School’s Computer and Media Pathway (CAMP) and Medical and Health Science Technology (MAHST) Academies as 2 of 14 programs in the state to be recognized as a 2017 California Partnership Academies’ Distinguished Academy. This select group was chosen out of 406 programs in the state, after demonstrating excellence in the implementation of high quality educational programs that combine core academics with career technical education for California’s at-risk students. Apple Valley High School was the only institution to be recognized for multiple academies.

“Having the California Department of Education validate what we all know about our academies is a very special honor. The students that represent these programs are top notch and will be outstanding contributors to our community. The teachers that lead these academies follow their passion and exemplify what it means to be an educator. I am proud to be part of such an amazing school,” Dustin Conrad, AVHS Principal, said.

The designation as a Distinguished Academy makes both programs eligible to participate in an eight-year national study and to participate in state-wide curriculum development. 

To be selected as a CPA Distinguished Academy, a team from the CDE, along with partners at the Career and College Academy Support Network and Graduate School of Education, UC Berkeley, reviewed reporting documents and visited each site to determine complete compliance with the California Education Code, articulation or dual enrollment with post secondary institutions, industry certifications earned by students, effective partnerships with industry, low attrition rates and exemplary graduation rates.

The CAMP and MAHST Academies will receive their awards on March 6 at a ceremony in Sacramento.


posted by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated ]

Shaun Rickerl shows young chickens to her Kindergarten class.

Photo: Shaun Rickerl shows 2-day old chicks to her Kindergarten class. 

This school year, Sandia Academy implemented an agriculture program which is designed to introduce students to gardening and raising and showing poultry. The two-part program is taught by Kindergarten teacher Shaun Rickerl and sixth grade teacher Kristy Croft, and is geared toward students in each grade level.  Students in the “Ag” Program tend to the school garden twice a week, and spend classroom time learning about the breeds, care, diseases and terminology that applies to poultry, particularly chickens.

Sandia’s Ag Program recently received 12 chicks from Van Wagoner’s Dutch Farms in Joshua Tree, Calif. The breeds delivered were researched and selected by the students. As the chicks were shown to the students, even the youngest Kindergarteners were able to identify the specific breeds by name. The chicks will be housed under an appropriate heat lamp in Rickerl’s class, until they are large enough to graduate to their chicken coop.

As a culmination of the year, several students are expected to show the chickens at the San Bernardino County Fair in May. 

Granite Hills hosts 2nd annual Literacy Day

posted Feb 23, 2017, 1:56 PM by Kristin Hernandez

On Feb. 22, over 60 students and their families celebrated a love of reading at the Granite Hills Family Center’s second annual Literacy Day. The Family Center teamed up with the school’s Cougar Tutors to host an afternoon of story time, activities, and free books for attendees of all ages. Guests were encouraged to dress like their favorite literary character and books were available for all reading levels, including parents. Families also had the opportunity to take home a bag of canned items, donated by the Vanguard Preparatory School Kindergarten classes. 

Granite Hills Family Center Director, Zayra Hall, dressed as The Cat in the Hat.
Family Center Director, Zayra Hall, dressed as "The Cat in the Hat"

Granite Hills Literacy Day coloring page with crayons.
Custom GHHS Family Center Literacy Day coloring pages

A Granite Hills High School student reads a Dr. Seuss book to an elementary student.
GHHS student Annah Aunger reads a Dr. Seuss book to a young visitor. 


posted Feb 23, 2017, 9:59 AM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated Feb 23, 2017, 10:00 AM ]

A student proudly displays her Science Fair Award.
Apple Valley Unified School District’s annual Science Fair will be held Mar. 1 from 8:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the AVUSD Educational Support Center. A total of 135 students have been selected to represent their schools at this year’s event. Students will present their projects and will participate in a variety of grade-specific STEM activities, such as an engineering challenge, computer coding, rocket launching, and a DNA study. An award presentation will follow at 6 p.m., at which a select group of students will be selected to advance to the County Science and Engineering Fair in April.


The AVUSD Educational Support Center is located at 12555 Navajo Road, Apple Valley, Calif. For more information, contact 760-247-8001.

Media & Press: Visit for official press release and media contacts. 


posted Feb 17, 2017, 1:08 PM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated Feb 17, 2017, 1:09 PM ]

Ron Whalen, Vicki Campbell, and Devon Ades
Photo: Top-Ron Whalen (CTA Board Director), Vicki Campbell (4th Grade Teacher), and Devon Ades (Fuel, Licensing, Permitting Manager, Apex Logistics, LLC) Left- Mrs. Campbell's class, along with Principal Carnahan, and representatives from CTA Printing Co-op and Apex Logistics, LLC. 

Mrs. Campbell's class with Ron Whalen, Devon Ades, Principal Carnahan, and a truck.

Students in Mrs. Campbell’s fourth grade class were surprised with a special assembly today, after winning first prize in the California Trucking Association (CTA) annual poster contest. The theme of this year’s contest was “Truckers are Champions of Commerce”. Ron Whalen, CTA Board Director, presented a $500 check to Mrs. Campbell to be used in her classroom at Sitting Bull Academy.

The assembly welcomed several other elementary classes for an educational presentation on the trucking industry. Whalen and Devon Ades, with APEX Logistics, spoke to students about the purpose of trucking, the mechanics of these vehicles, and the idea that “if you got it, a truck brought it”. APEX brought a “big rig” truck which Mrs. Campbell’s class had the opportunity to view up-close following the assembly. 

AVUSD Police Department welcomes new officers

posted Feb 16, 2017, 12:19 PM by Kristin Hernandez

New officers are sworn in by AVUSD Chief of Police, Cesar Molina.
Officers B. Davis and J. Rosales are sworn in by Chief of Police Cesar Molina. 

On Wednesday, February 16, two new officers were sworn in as official Police Officers with the Apple Valley School District Police Department. New officers B. Davis and J. Rosales were joined by officials from AVUSD, members of the AVUSD Police Department, and their families.  

The AVUSD Police Department is a specialized law enforcement agency, dedicated to providing an ideal learning environment by “Protecting Our Future”. We are thankful for their service to our community and commitment to the wellbeing of each of our students!


posted Feb 8, 2017, 3:47 PM by Kristin Hernandez

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools representatives with AVUSD staff.
Photo: Theda Smith (AVUSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction), Tom Hoegerman (AVUSD Superintendent), Ken Davis (AVUSD ASES Coordinator), Kristin Dupree (Principal, Mariana Academy), Ted Alejandre (County Superintendent), Thelma Evans (Mariana Academy ASES Coordinator), and John Duran (County Expanded Learning Lead). 

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, Mariana Academy's A.S.E.S. program was visited by the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools! Ted Alejandre, County Superintendent, and SBCSS Expanded Learning Lead, John Duran, met with Principal Dupree and had the opportunity to see this exciting after-school program in action.


posted Feb 3, 2017, 3:48 PM by Kristin Hernandez

On Feb. 3, Rio Vista School of Applied Learning held their annual Chinese New Year Celebration. The entire school assembled on the playground to watch a parade, created by the school's second grade classes. Each second grade class made a dragon, which paraded around the audience as the Granite Hills High School Band played music. Second graders were treated to a traditional Chinese meal, including fried rice, egg rolls, chow mein and chicken. 

Photos: Second grade students show off their cardboard dragons, in celebration of Chinese New Year. 

A paper dragon, created by the second grade classes at Rio Vista.


posted Feb 3, 2017, 3:18 PM by Kristin Hernandez

Two representatives from Apple Valley Animal Protection talk to students.
Two fire fighters speak with elementary students at Phoenix Academy.

Photos: (Left) Representatives from Apple Valley Animal Protection present to a group of elementary students at Phoenix Academy. (Right) Students learn about the day in the life of a firefighter. 

On Feb. 3, Phoenix Academy students in grades TK-8 had the opportunity to hear from professionals in a variety of careers. The school's Career Fair included guest speakers from the Apple Valley Animal Shelter, Apple Valley Fire Protection District, Granite Hills HS Catering, Leary Sport, VVC Fire, the Marine Corps, Desert Valley Hospital, Probation, and AVUSD. Students had the opportunity to ask questions, experience hands-on demonstrations, and learn about the steps they can take now to pursue those careers in the future. 

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