Las Virgenes students return to class today amid changes on campus – Calabasas Real Estate and Community

Las Virgenes students return to class today amid changes on campus

New buildings and personnel welcome students on first day back

By Stephanie Bertholdo

SEPARATION ANXIETY—Wendy Cimino and her 5-year-old daughter Julia meet their new teacher on the first day of school.   WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers SEPARATION ANXIETY—Wendy Cimino and her 5-year-old daughter Julia meet their new teacher on the first day of school. WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers On the calendar, summer’s not over until Sept. 23, but for Las Virgenes Unified School District students the summer break ended yesterday. School is back in session.

Oak Park schools open Aug. 31.

Enrollment figures for Las Virgenes are down slightly. There will be 11,200 students attending the 15 LVUSD schools this year, about 100 fewer than last year.

Students returning to Lindero Canyon Middle School in Agoura Hills will see big changes on campus.

A new art building opened and will provide a combination tech lab/wood shop, an art room with a clay kiln and a gallery to display student projects. The building also has five classrooms.

The final phase of the Lindero remodel and expansion includes Building B, the school’s new multipurpose room with a band/ orchestra classroom and a strings/ choir room. A new lunch seating area will be completed in spring 2012.

SECURITY—Jennifer Iino comforts her daughter Kennedy, 4, on the first day of school at Sumac Elementary in Agoura Hills.   WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers SECURITY—Jennifer Iino comforts her daughter Kennedy, 4, on the first day of school at Sumac Elementary in Agoura Hills. WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers The gym at Lindero was also redone and, according to LVUSD chief business official Karen Kimmel, it “looks great.”

The performing arts education centers under construction at Agoura and Calabasas high schools are scheduled to open in the 2012-13 school year.

Five new administrators have joined the Las Virgenes district, including three elementary school principals.

Rosemarie Hibler took the helm at Chaparral Elementary in Calabasas, while Dr. Sarah Medler is heading White Oak Elementary in Westlake Village.

Jeremy Resnick, formerly the assistant principal at Agoura High School, has been promoted to principal at Round Meadow Elementary School in Hidden Hills.

Paul Astin joined Mariposa Elementary School of Global Learning in Agoura Hills as assistant principal, and Kristen Marsilio, formerly a special education teacher at Agoura High School, is now the school’s assistant principal.

Many new programs have been launched at the elementary level, Kimmel said.

“We have a foreign language immersion program at Sumac, which will bring foreign language instruction to the elementary level for the first time,” Kimmel said. “Our plan is to expand with a second pilot program next year on the east side of the district.”

Mariposa welcomed its first sixth-grade class on Wednesday. Eventually the school will expand to a kindergarten-through-eighthgrade school.

Willow Elementary School in Agoura Hills launched its CORE program this year in which teachers are called upon to embrace the “essence or core” of each student and build upon his or her diverse interests and talents.

Calabasas High School is now offering an expanded media production program.

A new service learning graduation requirement will be introduced at both high schools this year. Kimmel said the 2011-12 school year will be a building year for the program and the service learning requirement will not be enforced until the 2012-13 school year.

As for kindergarten through third grade class sizes, Kimmel said the district has hired enough teachers to staff 22-student classrooms, but depending on final grade-level enrollments, actual class sizes could range from 19 to 25 students.

Phil Scrivano, chief instructional technology officer, said the district’s online registration has been a success.

“I am hoping parents continue to use our parent portal to check grades, class assignments and update student demographic and medical information,” Scrivano said. Last week, the first group of teachers was trained on how to deliver online digital curriculum.

“We will soon be offering some classes in an online format,” Scrivano said.

Another area of technology that has moved forward in the district is common core assessments. Scrivano said these assessments will provide teachers with “real-time information on how students are mastering what is being taught.”

Most of these assessments will be offered in an online format, he said.

“This resource will enable teachers to focus on needs and make adjustments this year versus waiting for state test results over summer,” Scrivano said.

He said the district is also planning to implement “one-to-one wireless.”

Scrivano said that while students must use cellphones, computers and other technology in their daily lives, at school they have less access to the Internet and must learn to “power down.”

But plans are underway that would give students the same wireless access at school that teachers have. The technology would allow students to access district resources from campus.

Some schools may be able to use the technology this year, but for most of Las Virgenes schools the plan will not be completed until the 2012-13 school year.

“In the next two years we are hoping that being online is the same at school as it is in every other aspect of a student’s life,” Scrivano said.

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