A teacher with a school mascotOn October 5, 2011, more than 1,100 Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) employees “kicked off” the 2011-2012 school year with a lively and energizing event that brought employees from all levels and sites together to reunite and affirm the direction and focus for the school year.

The Back-To-School Kickoff, which took place at the Robert Livermore Community Center, included presentations by Superintendent of Schools Kelly Bowers, Board of Education President Chuck Rogge, Clerk Dr. William Dunlop, Trustees Stewart Gary, Kate Runyon, and Anne White.

Centered on the District’s four theme words, INFORM, INCLUDE, INNOVATE, and INSPIRE.

Superintendent Bowers opened by saying, “We are on the right track! We have our priorities and focus set, a
Board President Rogge gave evidence of our continuing ability to THRIVE in the face of fiscal challenges. Trustee White stated knowledge is power and information is liberating. She reiterated we will INFORM our Livermore community of our successes, our staff and student accomplishments, the challenges we face, financial and otherwise, and of our solutions.nd we are moving in the right direction: our students are achieving; our schools are safe and beautiful; our students display amazing character and citizenship; our enrollment is on the rise; we are weathering the State fiscal storm far better than most districts; we are partnering with industry and the community; we are cultivating a culture of collaboration that is keeping our momentum going; and we are recruiting, hiring, and retaining the best and most committed staff.”

Trustee Runyon emphasized our community is increasingly diverse, and the need to embrace our differences and how are we are richer because of them. She said that as the District grows and thrives, we must support collaboration and INCLUDE all employees in leadership roles and professional development.

Board Clerk Dr. Dunlop, commented that as we strive to have student achievement surpass other districts and to have vibrant, knowledgeable students, our success will depend, to a large degree, on our ability to INNOVATE, to listen to others, to accept and be open to their ideas, and to challenge our ways of thinking.

Trustee Gary challenged the audience to work together to INSPIRE the minds of our students, to see them as artists waiting to fill the palettes for their lives, and to give them the proper environment to inspire their work and fulfill their dreams. He stated, “We are all here today as successful adults because some teacher or coach or other adult cared to inspire us to learn, care and be our best.”

A highlight of the afternoon was Delaine Eastin, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1995-2003, as the keynote speaker. Ms. Eastin boasts being the first and only woman in history elected to that position. As an elected constitutional officer, Delaine managed more than 40% of the California budget and oversaw the education of 6.1 million children. Superintendent Eastin championed state standards and assessments aligned to standards, reducing class size in kindergarten through third grade, and strengthening arts education and hands-on science. Delaine Eastin as received numerous awards and State and National recognition for her contributions to education.

Ms. Eastin’s speech was centered on education being the cornerstone of America. The phrase, ” … and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” found in the Preamble to the United States Constitution, proves educating future generations has been a priority since the early formation of our country.

Mrs. Bowers expressed sincere gratitude to the generous sponsors and donors who contributed to make the event possible: Alden Lane Nursery, California School Employees Association, Fantasy Sound Event Services, Chris LeBel, Livermore Area Recreation and Parks District, Livermore Education Association, Livermore Management Association, National Electrical Contractors Association, Safeway, Inc., Wente Vineyards, Alexander Chiropractic, Baughman’s, Castle Rock, Cattleman’s, Cooleykatz Toys, Fantastic Sam’s, Great Clips, Livermore Glass, Livermore Valley Florist, and Lifestyles RX. She also recognized the teachers, classified support and service staff, parents, and administrators who served on the planning team and helped coordinate the gathering to ensure it was a unifying experience.

A moment of silence was observed in memory of three staff members who had passed away in the preceding year.

Students from across the District were showcased during the event. Granada High School alumnus Chris LeBel, Class of 2011, was highlighted with his musical performances of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and “Teach Your Children.”

Various school mascots along with Granada and Livermore High School Cheerleaders, held a cheer rally that celebrated a combined total of 11,318 years of service completed by District employees! One employee, Vicki Scudder, Principal of East Avenue Middle School, received a standing ovation to acknowledge her 43 years of service in the LVJUSD.

A diverse and articulate group of Pre-K thru Adult Education students were featured in “Shout Out for Science,” an amazing display of what LVJUSD students accomplish in science during their years in the District. Students featured included: Devon Yearby, Croce Elementary School, Pre-K; Kairi DeBerry, Rancho Elementary School, Kindergarten; Tatiana Grant, Jackson Elementary School, First Grade; Ozzy Cervantez, Michell K-8 School, Second Grade; Manvitha Nandamuri, Croce Elementary School, Third Grade; Kylie Saal, Altamont Creek Elementary School, Third Grade; Celeste Summers, Smith Elementary School, Third Grade; Alise Goucher, Junction K-8 School, Fourth Grade; Maximiliano Gomez, Marylin Elementary School, Fourth Grade; Spencer Margosian, Arroyo Seco Elementary School, Fifth Grade; Christopher Gonzalez, Sunset Elementary School, Fifth Grade; Raenelli Orlino, Mendenhall Middle School, Sixth Grade; Melissa Torres, Junction K-8 School, Seventh Grade; Andrew (Drew) Shehtanian, East Avenue Middle School, Eighth Grade; Amani Sleiman, Christensen Middle School, Eighth Grade; Misha Brewster, Livermore High School, Ninth Grade; Lauren Sweeney, Granada High School, Tenth Grade; Rio Orozco, Livermore High School, Eleventh Grade; Paola Casillas, Vineyard Alternative School, Eleventh Grade; Taveon Hurd, Del Valle High School, Twelfth Grade; Chris Henry, Granada High School, Twelfth Grade; and Khalid Akbari, Adult Education.

Superintendent Bowers roused the audience in conclusion, by saying, “Livermore is a District of Choice and Preference where all students find their niche and graduate, fully prepared to contribute and thrive in a constantly changing world.”

The event was extremely well received by all in attendance.