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Stories and photos from across Apple Valley Unified School District.


posted by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated ]

Three paneled cardboard project displays. Civil Rights projects displayed on tables.
Students at Granite Hills High School brought a Civil Rights Exhibit to the AVUSD Educational Support Center on May 26.

The "Movement" exhibit was open for display during the entire day, allowing staff, parents, students and community members the opportunity to view the gallery of projects. In preparation for the exhibit, students in Ms. Chaires and Mr. Rivera's history classes each chose a major event, advocate, or a case related to the US Civil Rights Era, or any other US movement in our nation's history toward establishing equality. Students researched their topics and developed written outlines, which eventually came to life through visual aids.

Some examples of project topics/displays included:

-Chicano movement and activists

-Stonewall Riots

-Malcom X

-East LA Walkout

-Brown vs. Board of Education

-LGBT movement

-LA Riots

-Zoot Suit Riots

-Women's Movements/events and activists

-Freedom Writers

-Black Panthers

-Rosa Parks

-Coretta Scott King


posted May 25, 2017, 12:57 PM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated May 25, 2017, 1:00 PM ]

Marcos Clark, Tony Penna, Tom Hoegerman, Valerie Smith, Jen Waite, Rafael Velasco, Jim Hopper, Norma Armenta, and student April L
Photos: Main- (Left to Right) Marcos Clark (Principal of Yucca Loma, effective July 1), Tony Penna (Liberty Utilities), Tom Hoegerman (Superintendent, AVUSD), Valerie Smith (Paul Swick Family Center Director, Yucca Loma), Jen Waite (parent volunteer), Rafael Velasco (Contemporary Landscaping), Jim Hopper (Director of Facilities and Maintenance, AVUSD), Norma Armenta (Libery Utilities), and a first grade student. 

Left-Valerie Smith, Family Center Director, explains the plans for the garden renovation, which include a greenhouse and a water efficient irrigation system. 

Right-Students in Ms. Phillips' class participate in the "ground breaking". 

Valerie Smith, Family Center Director, explains the plans for the garden renovation, which include a greenhouse and a water efficient irrigation system.
On May 23, students, teachers, administrators, and community partners gathered to celebrate the scheduled renovation of the Yucca Loma School Garden at a special Ground Breaking Ceremony. The brief ceremony was led by Valerie Smith, Paul Swick Family Center Director at Yucca Loma Elementary School, and was attended by Principal Rey Rodriguez, future Principal Marcos Clark, Superintendent Tom Hoegerman, Director of AVUSD Facilities and Maintenance Jim Hopper, Tony Penna and Norma Armenta of Liberty Utilities, Rafael Velasco of Contemporary Landscaping, parent volunteer Jen Waite, and Ms. Phillips’ first grade class.

Smith opened the ceremony by recognizing Mojave Water Agency, Liberty Utilities, Contemporary Landscaping, and the students, staff, and parents at Yucca Loma for helping to make this project possible. Following the opening remarks, students were able to participate in the “ground breaking” by digging in a designated sandbox with plastic garden shovels. 

The renovations were made possible through funding provided by Mojave Water Agency, in partnership with Liberty Utilities. The renovation includes a green house and water efficient irrigation, and will allow the school to grow additional foods for school families while simultaneously providing a water efficient environment in which to grow them. The renovations are scheduled to begin May 30 and are projected to be complete by the end of June 2017.

Students dig in the sandbox with blue plastic shovels.
“The Yucca Loma School Garden has been a wonderful place for our community to gather, learn, exercise, and receive access to healthy foods, and we are so excited to see that impact grow even larger with this renovation,” said Kristin Hernandez, AVUSD Public Information Officer. “We would like to thank our community partners for their support and their generosity, which will allow for us to serve even more families while conserving more water.”

“Liberty Utilities Apple Valley is proud to support the Yucca Loma Elementary School Garden expansion,” said Norma Armenta, Conservation Specialist with Liberty Utilities.  “The garden will serve students, parents and the community in many ways including as a venue for hosting educational workshops on how to create a garden and teaching the importance of sustainability and using water responsibly. In addition, the garden’s harvest will be shared with the school’s families for healthy eating.” 

The Yucca Loma Garden was created 10 years ago in an attempt to encourage healthy eating and provide nutritious food for families in need. Since then, the garden has expanded to serve families from schools across the district and has become a popular location for family events, nutrition education, and physical activity classes.

“School-based projects are so important,” said Kimberly Cox, Mojave Water Agency Board President. “Teaching young students the natural beauty of native plants while teaching water conservation prepares the next generation to be good water stewards.”


posted May 22, 2017, 7:56 AM by Kristin Hernandez

Congratulations to Kaly Gasparico and Graham Gillespie, recipients of the 2017 Shirley Richard Memorial Scholarship.



posted May 19, 2017, 11:09 AM by Kristin Hernandez

Last night’s Board Meeting focused on the achievements of the Apple Valley’s students throughout the 2016-2017 school year. The Board of Trustees was joined by district and school administrators to recognize students for accomplishments related to robotics, environmental science, SkillsUSA, History Day, HOSA, Future Farmers of America, Academic Pentathlon, and the County Science Fair.

Four students hold their awards.
Representatives from Vanguard Preparatory School's Academic Pentathlon Teams. Vanguard Preparatory's 6th Grade Academic Pentathlon Team and 7th Grade Academic Pentathlon Team each came in 1st place overall. 

Four students holding their awards.
County Science Fair participants from Sitting Bull Academy and Yucca Loma Elementary. Students pictured were selected to complete at the county-wide competition after being selected from their schools to showcase their projects at the district-wide science fair.

Group photo of Apple Valley High School's HOSA team with their awards.
HOSA students from Apple Valley High School. Each of the students pictured received an award or special recognition at the Cal HOSA 2017 State Leadership Competition and three will advance to Nationals. 

Group photo of Apple Valley High School's SkillsUSA students with their awards.
Apple Valley High School's SkillsUSA competitors. All students pictured received Gold, Silver, or Bronze awards. Two students will advance to Nationals this summer. 

Arthur Sanchez with his award.
Arthur is one part of the six-member Chapter Business Team that will represent Granite Hills High School at SkillsUSA Nationals this summer. 

More photos are available at


posted May 16, 2017, 11:40 AM by Kristin Hernandez

The public is invited to attend public hearings at 6:00 p.m., on Thursday, June 1, 2017 in Conference Room A of the Educational Support Center at 12555 Navajo Road, Apple Valley. 


The purpose of public hearings is to solicit the recommendations and comments of the public regarding:

·      The actions and expenditures proposed to be included in the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) for Apple Valley Unified School District. 

·      The actions and expenditures proposed for the use of the Educator Effectiveness Grant.

·      The actions and expenditures proposed for the use of the College Readiness Block Grant Fund.

·      The request for the State Board of Education to consider a waiver of Education Code 35330.


posted May 15, 2017, 9:30 AM by Kristin Hernandez

We are updating our school websites! Your school website may have moved. Please update any bookmarks with the following links so we can stay in touch with you:

laptop computer

Apple Valley USD (Main Site):

Apple Valley High School:

Desert Knolls Elementary:

Granite Hills High School:

High Desert Premier Academy:

Mariana Academy:

Phoenix Academy:

Rancho Verde Elementary:

Rio Vista School of Applied Learning:

Sandia Academy:

Sitting Bull Academy:

Sycamore Rocks Elementary:

Vanguard Preparatory:

Yucca Loma Elementary:


posted May 12, 2017, 1:59 PM by Kristin Hernandez

Students and staff standing in the Granite Hills school garden.

Students and staff celebrate the completion of the Granite Hills High School garden. 

Earlier this year, Granite Hills High School received a grant of $422.17 from the Mojave Environmental Education Consortium to be used to purchase soil, netting, trays, kneepads, and other gardening supplies for the GHHS garden and greenhouses. Since then, students have worked diligently to establish and maintain the garden and an environmental awareness club has formed on campus.

The gardening supplies were purchased at the Apple Valley Lowes, where the company’s Patrick Rock and John Flores created a list of supplies that would best fit the needs of the school garden. Rock also volunteered time to help students prepare the garden area and properly plant the seeds. Students from various programs and courses were involved in the project throughout its various stages.

“It was truly a collaborative effort,” Pamelia Chaires, GHHS teacher, said. “A huge thank you to the families in Ms. Spini’s class who donated additional items and to MEEC and Samantha Murray for their support in giving Granite Hills a vision of not just creating a garden, but an opportunity to promote inclusiveness through environmental stewardship and education.”


posted May 11, 2017, 2:17 PM by Kristin Hernandez

Monique Bodle, Sarah Eller and Jasmine Sedillo at the MDAQMD offices
Granite Hills High School students received top awards in the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD) "Natural Gas: Part of the Solution" essay contest. Students were required to write an essay about natural gas and how it can be used to benefit the environment. The first place prize was awarded to Monique Bodle. Jasmine Sedillo's essay came in second and Sarah Eller's essay came in third. The students were honored at an award ceremony on May 9 at the MDAQMD offices, where they each received a certificate and a Target gift card. Congratulations!


posted May 11, 2017, 12:58 PM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated May 11, 2017, 12:59 PM ]

Students painting a dandelion flower.

Students creating cars out of toilet paper rolls. GHHS band and color guard performing at Rancho Verde.

Photos: Top-Students create dandelions flowers using Q-Tips and paint at the "Make a Wish" workshop. Left: Students create cardboard cars out of paper towel rolls. Right: The Granite Hills High School band and color guard perform for Rancho Verde as they arrive to campus for the day. 

Rancho Verde Elementary School's annual Arts Attack kicked off today! Students were welcomed to campus with a performance by the Granite Hills High School band and color guard. Throughout the day, classes rotated through ten different art workshops, where they put learning and imagination to work through a variety of artistic techniques. Classes also had the opportunity to view a high-energy performance by Street Beat, a hip-hop and percussion crew that uses household items and objects for drums.

Arts Attack continues tomorrow with an early morning performance by the Granite Hills High School choir, followed by another day of art workshops and an assembly by Bubblemania.


posted May 10, 2017, 10:05 AM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated May 10, 2017, 10:06 AM ]

Students, families, teachers, and administration listen to a presentation at the AVID certification.

Administrators, AVID coordinators, students, and families prepare to hear from opening speaker Sharon Pollack, an AVID coordinator at AVHS. 

Apple Valley Unified School District held it’s annual AVID District Certification Presentation on Tuesday, at which site team members and administrators from six schools gathered together to share the strengths and successes of their AVID programs, as well as plans for improvement. The presentation also included several student speakers who each explained how participation in AVID had positively impacted their lives. 

The AVID Secondary program is currently offered at Apple Valley High School, Granite Hills High School, Mariana Academy, Phoenix Academy, Sandia Academy and Sitting Bull Academy. High school AVID students completed their A-G requirements at a rate of just under 100%, while many eighth grade students completed the PSAT 8/9 and prepared a four-year plan of study for high school. Students in both groups also toured a variety of college campuses and heard from college representatives throughout the year.

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. 

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