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Stories and photos from across Apple Valley Unified School District.


posted by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated ]

4 girls in front of a March of Dimes banner
Students walk together at Desert Knolls' March for Babies event.

Photos: Top and Left-Students at Desert Knolls show their support for March of Dimes by participating in their own March for Babies event. Right: The AVUSD Educational Support Center celebrates Purple for Preemies Day on March 22. 

Students and staff across Apple Valley Unified School District are wearing Purple for Preemies and showing their support for the March of Dimes.

“March of Dimes works hard to combat premature birth and birth defects, and is a fantastic partner in our efforts to support all students from cradle to career,” Kristin Hernandez, AVUSD Public Information Officer, said. “We recognize that these babies are our future students, future leaders, and the future of our community, and we want to give all moms and babies a healthy start.”

The fundraising efforts all lead up to the annual March for Babies-High Desert, which will take place on April 22 at Victor Valley College. Schools will be showing their support by wearing purple and participating in their own March for Babies events, which will emulate the larger event for the public. Students who donate any amount will be able to write their name on a pledge card, which will be posted on campus.

"Our K-8 schools all participate in Character Counts and one of the Six Pillars of Character is Citizenship--which also happens to be the purple pillar," Hernandez said. "These events are a perfect way to put this pillar into practice."

District Office staff wearing purple for premature babies. Group photo.

Desert Knolls Elementary School kicked off the district's series of March for Babies student events on March 23 and raised $1446 for the cause. Mariana Academy, Phoenix Academy, Rancho Verde Elementary, Rio Vista School of Applied Learning, Sandia Academy, Sitting Bull Academy, Sycamore Rocks Elementary, Vanguard Preparatory, and Yucca Loma Elementary will all follow with their own fundraising walks on March 24. Apple Valley High School, Granite Hills High School, and High Desert Premier Academy are also joining the cause by selling March of Dimes bracelets and hosting their own awareness campaigns.

Staff and family members from each of the district’s schools and administrative offices will also be participating in the annual March for Babies event this April. This year's Ambassador Family is the Hernandez Family, and our district's own Kristin Hernandez, AVUSD Public Information Officer. Hernandez has been asked to share about her son, Ethan, at the event, in hopes of raising awareness about premature birth and infant loss.

March of Dimes is a national nonprofit organization that focuses on the prevention of premature birth and infant mortality. For more information, visit or


posted Mar 22, 2017, 3:34 PM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated Mar 22, 2017, 3:36 PM ]

The cast of Sycamore Rocks' The Lion King sing "Hakuna Matata"

Top: The cast of Sycamore Rocks Elementary's The Lion King KIDS sing "Hakuna Matata". Right: A scene from the finale of Sycamore Rocks' The Lion King KIDS.

The cast of Sycamore Rocks' The Lion King KIDS.
Sycamore Rocks Elementary School is bringing the Lion King to life! 

On March 23 and 24, the school's 4th, 5th, and 6th grade performing arts group will perform The Lion King KIDS, based on the beloved Broadway production. The performance is complete with colorful costumes, vibrant sets, familiar musical numbers, and incredible choreography. The musical is directed by Head Director Barbara Woods, Co-Director Lori Mearig, and Assistant Directors Sherri Phillips, Holly Blagg, Marissa Moses, and Jessica Ward, with choreography by Amanda Rubio.

Students and teachers had the opportunity to have an early look at the stunning performance during the school day on March 20 and 21. 

For ticket sales and more information, contact 760-240-3332.


posted Mar 17, 2017, 2:55 PM by Kristin Hernandez

Earlier today, Mariana Academy students received a hands-on lesson in agriculture at the school's Annual Ag (Agriculture) Day. Classes rotated through various learning stations and learned about a variety of agriculture-related topics, such as horseshoeing, lassoing, gardening, crops, and animals. Thanks to all of the guest presenters, and to teacher Suzi Smith for working so hard to make this day a success!

Mariana Academy students pet a calf, brought to the school by Apple Valley High School's FFA students.
Mariana Academy students interact with Apple Valley High School's FFA students and their animals. 

Students get an up-close view of a tractor. 

Apple Valley High School FFA display their animals at Mariana Academy's Ag Day. 


posted Mar 13, 2017, 9:12 AM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated Mar 13, 2017, 9:12 AM ]

Group photo-Michael Spencer, Kalynn Willingham, Tom Hoegerman, Dylan Ast, Areli Gutierrez, Pamela Chaires, Calista Owens, Rylee Celie, Priscilla Sandoval, Erika Perrine at student advisory panel.
Photo: Apple Valley High School and Granite Hills High School students with AVUSD Superintendent Tom Hoegerman, GHHS teacher Pamela Chaires, and AVHS Counselor Erika Perrine, at the SBCSS Student Advisory Panel, High Desert. 

On March 8, students from Apple Valley High School and Granite Hills High School joined nearly 50 high school students in the High Desert to make their Student Advisory Panel presentations to 11 elected officials.

The eight participating AVUSD students worked together in teams with students from neighboring districts to prepare their presentation. The teams focused on key topics such as education, economy, safety and health and wellness.

The event was organized by the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. County Superintendent Ted Alejandre was among those who participated in seeing the student presentations.


posted Mar 13, 2017, 8:06 AM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated Mar 14, 2017, 9:35 AM ]

Phoenix Academy Logo
Congratulations to Maria (Sandya) Belino and Deanna Schafer for being named champions in the Individual Exhibit category at the 28th annual History Day awards ceremony on March 11! Both students are now eligible to compete at the State History Day Competition in May. 

History Day gives students a chance to compete in a variety of categories on a historical theme. The county History Day event had as its theme, “Taking a Stand in History.” There were three divisions with both individual and group competitions: Elementary (Grades 4-5), Junior (Grades 6-8) and Senior (Grades 9-12). Close to 250 students competed in the event.


posted Mar 9, 2017, 3:41 PM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated Mar 9, 2017, 3:41 PM ]

Students from the Granite Hills High School Performing Arts Department have been invited to participate in the San Bernardino County Superintendent of School’s Annual Celebration of the Performing Arts Showcase. The performance will take place at the California Theatre in San Bernardino on Mar. 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Earlier this year, the Granite Hills Performing Arts Department submitted a video audition, which included performances by the GHHS Chamber Singers and a scene from the 2016 performance of Superfreaks. The school was selected as one of only eight schools in the county to be accepted into the showcase.

Admission to the performance is free! The San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools values the arts and is offering an attendance incentive to participating schools. For each school that has 250 or more attendees at the showcase, the arts program will be rewarded with $1,000. The school with the highest number of attendees over 250 will earn $1,500 for their school’s art program.

Free tickets are available at Granite Hills High School.  For more information, contact Shane Churchill at 760-961-2290 extension 2407 or at

The California Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 562 West 4th Street in San Bernardino. 


posted Mar 8, 2017, 2:14 PM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated Mar 8, 2017, 2:16 PM ]

A student testifies in a mock trial.
Photos: Top Left- Adrian V. acts as the witness, as Viviana M. looks on as the bailiff. Bottom Right-Matthew M. declares the verdict of "guilty". 

Students in Mrs. Rincon’s social studies class recently experienced a behind-the-scenes look at a courtroom trial. On Mar. 3, the group from Phoenix Academy visited the Victorville Superior Court courthouse and participated in a mock trial alongside Judge Hutson. There students were each assigned roles, including bailiff, court clerk, victim, defendant, district attorneys, defense attorneys, witnesses, media, journalists, sketch artists and members of the jury.

"I have never been more proud of a class than when I had the privilege of watching my group of students present their case,” teacher Valerie Rincon said. “They worked very hard getting ready for this day and it showed."  

A student sits as judge at mock trial.

Students were also proud of their hard work, and left with a better understanding of a variety of careers and excitement for what their future may hold. “I was a defense attorney and I have always thought about being a lawyer,” one student said. “Now I’m sure that I want to become one.” 

“I was a DA and I learned so many things about how the court works,” another student said. “I might even do mock trial in high school.”

Phoenix Academy now offers Mock Trial as an elective for seventh and eighth grade students.  For more information, contact Phoenix Academy at 760-242-7011. 


posted Mar 7, 2017, 12:32 PM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated Mar 13, 2017, 10:23 AM ]

Students at Apple Valley High School using the new zSpace computers.

Photo: Medical students at Apple Valley High School experience health and anatomy in 3-D, using the school's new zSpace computers. 

Apple Valley High School recently received 15 zSpace virtual reality computers, which are being used in the school’s health-related courses. “We are providing a cutting edge way of learning,” MAHST teacher Stephanie Arrendondo said.

This technology allows medical students the opportunity to study human anatomy in a realistic, in-depth way, as well as to train in electrocardiography. It provides an interactive solution for medical training by combining immersive engagement and a high definition experience with a medically accurate software. Though these computers, students can manipulate organs, view bodily systems in 3-D, and much more. Unlike other virtual reality solutions, such as head-mounted displays, zSpace enables interaction and group collaboration. Best of all, zSpace empowers students to “learn by doing” in an environment where it is easy to undo mistakes, make changes, and not worry about material costs or clean up.

"The zSpace is a great way to get the whole class involved,” AVHS student Ashley Overson said. “We are all amazed at how real the 3D is. It's cool how our partners could see what we see and we could discuss the objects on the screen. When there is a lecture, we can be hands-on and grasp a deeper understanding of the topic." 

For more information about zSpace technology, visit


posted Mar 1, 2017, 2:21 PM by Kristin Hernandez

The AVUSD Science & Engineering Fair took place earlier today. Over 130 students presented their projects and participated 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 tonight 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. Congratulations to all of the students who were selected to represent their school at this year's event!


posted Mar 1, 2017, 2:19 PM by Kristin Hernandez

Students in AVHS' health programs learn about the process of caring for loved ones after death.
Last month, Sophomores in Apple Valley High School's MAHST and HOSA Academies spent a day at the Sunset Hills Family of Memorial Parks and Mortuaries to learn more about process involved in caring for loved ones after death. 
Approximately 60 students gathered in the chapel at Victor Valley Mortuary for some very valuable information regarding their futures in the medical field. There they were met by Chet Hitt, Owner/CEO of SHMP and his staff, as well as Michelle Brown, CNO and Brandon Lilya, Cath LAB manager of Victor Valley Global Medical Center and Rebekah Anderson, RN with Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group. Students learned how the medical community partners with the mortuary, as well as career possibilities at Sunset Hills. Students also received a tour and learned about the valuable process of caring for the family of those who have passed. 

For more information, please visit or

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