WCHS Receives California Distinguished School Award


Over the intercom on Thursday, April 11, Principal Alex Ruvalcaba announced that West Covina High School was one of the 218 public high schools and middle schools that won the award for the prestigious title of California Distinguished School.

“Out of our whole area, only two schools are nominated for the California Distinguished School Award, and I’m so proud we’re one of them,” said Ruvalcaba.

Eligibility for the award was based on API scores, the growth of scores on STAR testing, presentation of two “signature practices,” and a final visit by the board.

The process of applying and preparing for the observation was a long one. From November 6 to December 10, 2012 administration was busy putting together the paperwork for the application. In November, staff meetings were held to discuss the “signature practices” of the school–or the things that make Bulldog country unique.

The first of WCHS’s signature practices is the student-centered approach with academic programs, collaborative teaching models, and CAHSEE intervention courses. The instructional practices with the use of technology, collaborative learning groups, and strategy-differentiation also merit the student-centered approach. And finally, under this signature practice is the culture of the campus including the many student leadership programs, impeccable school spirit, and the amount of Bulldog pride.

“They seemed really impressed by the culture we have here,” said Ruvalcaba.

The second of the signature practices is the school-wide strategies through the use of thinking maps, AVID strategies, student “data talks” reflecting on STAR testing, and content specific vocabulary or “Words of the Week” in each classroom.

On Friday, March 8, a group of observers from the California Distinguished School Award board visited WCHS. The board spilt up and interviewed students and teachers, walked around campus, and sat in on classes.

“They remarked that our school is very different from the norm, in a good way,” said Ruvalcaba.

This is the first time WCHS has received the award since 2005.  The logo of the California Distinguished School Award was painted onto the gym then.

“We’re definitely considering adding a second one of the logos onto the gym to mark our great achievement if we do win the award,” said Ruvalcaba before the winners were announced.

The final recipients of the award were determined by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“These schools have gone the extra mile to provide high-quality instruction that puts their students on the right path toward career and college,” stated Torlakson in a press release. “Given the enormous challenges schools have faced in recent years, it is inspiring to see this kind of success in so many schools. Our future depends on meeting the needs of every student no matter where they come from or where they live.”

This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.



The School that Cried “FIRE!”

Cartoon by Aura Rodriguez

The safety of students is at risk. Despite the recent nationwide school shooting scare, I feel administration’s first priority on student safety shouldn’t be implementing the new ID cards for next year, but a problem that can pose a more serious, immediate danger if not addressed- the fire alarm situation. IDs are preventive measures; they help security to know whether a person on campus is supposed to be or not. Fire alarms protect students from immediate danger in the case of a fire.

The likelihood of someone bringing a gun on campus and declaring it student hunting season is very low. But can you imagine how easy it would be for a fire to engulf WCHS?  A careless Chemistry student could forget to turn off a gas burner. How easy is it for someone walking on the street to throw a lit cigarette onto dry grass along the fence? And it’s no secret that there’s an issue with students smoking marijuana on campus (Another school issue that hasn’t been fully taken care of).

Obviously, if they’re smoking, they have lighters with them. Stupid teens and fire don’t mix.There’s quite a few high voltage boxes on campus–one by the girls’ locker room and another behind L17. The computer labs have masses of tangled wires- just one faulty wire could start a fire. We’re not as fireproof on campus as we’d like to think we are. These are just a few of the countless ways a spark can start a blaze on campus.

Fire alarms no longer phase us. They go off so often–during class, lunch, in the mornings, and most recently fifth period March 6. The problem has been going on since the beginning of the school year, and now, second semester, it hasn’t been fixed yet.

We have a few fire drills a year. We’ve been doing practically the same drill every year since kindergarten, just at different schools. The alarm goes off. You get in line at the door.  You go to your class’ assigned spot.  You hold up a sign implying that everyone’s accounted for.  And then you leave.

You could say that we would know what to do in the case of a fire. But can we really boast that we’re safe at WCHS if not one person questions that the flashing lights and annoying, unmistakable “EH-EH-EH” is just the alarm going off on accident… again.

We’re so used to the alarm just going off randomly throughout the day that administration no longer feels the need to let us know on the PA system that there’s no danger of being burned alive–example, February 19. Nor are we warned in advance that the alarm may go off during the day.

Apparently an alarm system that’s mandatory for every school to have takes the back seat to IDs. Why spend so much money on a new system instead of using that money to fix or replace a more important one?

This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.

Stephens Family Leaves to Colorado Springs

WCHS will no longer have the Stephens family on staff as of November 30, 2012.  Married Bulldogs and Boys’ Wrestling coaches Don and Shirley Stephens will be leaving to Colorado Springs in order to pursue a new life for their family.

“[We’re] really sad to leave, but it’s a good opportunity for our family,” said Mrs. Stephens, “Unfortunately, family comes before work.”

The Stephens are moving to Colorado Springs being that Coach Donnie Stephens now runs and trains pupils at his own Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) gym.

“[I’m going to] help train the fighters and operate the gym.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it,” said Mr. Stephens.

In Colorado Springs, Mrs. Stephens plans to extend her education further and possibly become a teacher.

“I’m very excited to go back to school, finish my degree in English, and who knows, maybe I’ll be a teacher! I will probably look for another secretary job though,” said Mrs. Stephens.

Mr. and Mrs. Stephens spent both of their high school and adult careers at WCHS.

“I have definitely realized that this school is the ideal place to be. It’s a great campus that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of. I’ll miss the staff, and mostly the amazing students. The culture at this campus; everyone is kind of like a big family. It’s very unique to see all the interaction here that the students are involved in,” said Mrs. Stephens.

Like his wife, Mr. Stephens finds leaving Bulldog country upsetting.

“It’s quite saddening. Considering I’ve coached here and graduated high school from here. This place will always have a special place in my heart. I’ll miss it,” said Stephens.

Mr. Stephens has contributed much to WCUSD.  He’s worked in special education, coached volleyball, and has worked security here at WCHS for eight years.  However, coaching wrestling will always be his passion.

“I have 30 year old graduates that come back and still call me coach! I’ve met many wonderful individuals. [Coaching] is more than just teaching them proper techniques, it’s about building them into better people at school and home. And teaching them things they will take with them for the rest of their lives,” said Mr. Stephens.

Coach George Munoz, previously a WCHS alumni wrestler, is replacing the Stephens as Boys’ Wrestling coach.

“I’m positive the team will go on and be successful. Having a great coach that’s taking over the program and traditions says a lot,” said Stephens.

Mrs. Stephens gave a positive final comment about West Covina and the school.

“Shirley and I both love the city and live quite near the school.  We stayed close to the school because it’s unique. There’s no other place like it.  If I had to pick one thing I’ll miss the most, it’d be the students, because that’s where I spent most of my time.  I’d just like to say, thank you, thank you! Thank you all and goodbye,” said Mr. Stephens.

Mrs. Stephens ended on a special note, “I’d like to give a special thanks for everyone who has supported me and Donnie throughout the years. It’s made a tremendous impact.  Also, I’d like to recognize the wrestling team for being wonderful individuals.”

This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.

Dat Ratchet Business

Cartoon by Aura Rodriguez
Cartoon by Aura Rodriguez

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a ratchet as a “mechanical device that transmits intermittent motion or permits a shaft to rotate in one direction but not in the opposite one.” However, recently it’s being used as slang to describe or insult others, particularly girls.

The word ratchet is slowly becoming more than just a word, but a lifestyle. All over your Twitter feed you can see tweets saying, “Getting ratchet tonight!” Facebook and Instagram are plastered with pictures captioned, “Me and my ratchets,” “I look so ratchet,” “Getting ratchet.” And comments like, “That’s so ratchet.”

It’s laughable people, including guys, are willing to announce on social media how “ratchet” they are or are getting on the weekends. Yet, they’re still infuriated when the term is thrown at them. But what’s even worse is those who are willing to completely ruin their lives for this ratchet craze.

Local Wal-Mart stores have had a slow incline of missing ratchet tools. It’s assumed many of the culprits have been teenagers trying to be “ratchet.”

In December, two teenage girls were caught and arrested for stealing a ratchet tool kit from a local Wal-Mart. Their motive was to post a picture of themselves stealing a ratchet on Facebook. The girls put themselves in an idiotic situation. They were willing to go to jail for a few Facebook likes for a picture of them “getting ratchet while stealing ratchets.”

Of course, not everyone who jokingly calls themselves a ratchet is going to pull a stupid stunt like that for attention, but it goes to show how sane people associate those who publicize their “ratchetness”.

If you think about it, why would you purposefully promote yourself as a ratchet? And to think it’s funny? It’s not, it’s redundant and old however you personally interpret the word ratchet. Leave the ratchets to the mechanics and handymen.

Ratchet word count: 22

This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.

Immature Halloween Fanatics

The smell of fog juice lingers in the air, filling your lungs.  Strobe lights flashing all around as you clutch to the person in front of you for safety.  The eerie screams of past victims ring in your ears as the creepy Halloween music blares from an unseen source.  We can smell your fear, we know you’re coming.  We can see you, but can you see us?  We camouflage in the dark haze of the mazes, you don’t know we’re near until it’s too late.  Are you scared yet?  You will be.

Gorey vampires, werewolves, swamp monsters, kill-thrilled clowns, and abused school children are the obvious actors of each room, you pass the horrific scenes thinking that was all there is.  Your heart is pounding, and you’re waiting for them to attack or do something.  They’re a distraction, you should not fear them.  Fight or flight will kick in the second you sense me.

You’re in the dot room now.  Circles of bright paint hang on curtains in a tightly enclosed space, you become claustrophobic. With dark makeup on my face and the black ,brightly colored dot costume, you can only see me when I’m inches from you.  I have the best view in this haunted house.

Halloween is a time for frights, candy, and costumes.  My tradition for the past  four years has been volunteering at the Covina Community Center for Girl Scouts helping as a performer who pops out of dark corners and scares the life out of our customers.  Personally, I feel the little Dora the Explorers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shouldn’t be scared out of their minds at haunted houses, they just can’t handle it.

When groups of small children take their turns walking through ,we leave the lights on and all scarers come out of their hiding spots in order for the little kids to feel safe going through the mazes.  Even then, those in costume or those like me in dark masks have to take the masks off to assure the kids they’re safe and that we’re friendly.  This is a hassle, and unfair to the performers who are there to be scary.   We shouldn’t have to take off our masks, turn on the lights, group together ,and to sing and dance to  allow the kids to still have fun. Despite the reassuring of the children, they’re still terrified to get on their hands and knees through the “Crawl to Freedom” located at the end of the maze.   Or to walk through the streamer-hung hallways.  Yet some Girl Scouts are still glued to the ground they stand on and have to be forced through. When us performers gather at the end of the night, we don’t just tell the stories of the kids who were utterly terrified, we keep tab of those we’re terrified of.  In fact, we have a watch-out list, so we remember the dangerous ones.

One step above the little scaredy-cats is the “I’m not scared of you!” kids who ruin the fun for everyone there who came to be scared.  They point out all of the performers, and they’re the ones that simply harass us.  They tend to hit, use words they shouldn’t be saying at a Girl Scout event, and get violent trying to prove to their friends their macho and tough enough.

To cope with the total fright, one girl dressed as a Twister game, beat me and other performers with her twister board that she carried around.  Another girl that dressed as a tube of lipstick decided to paint the walls and haunters with the lipsticks she brought, as if we didn’t have a lot of makeup on to begin with.  We had to pause and scrub it off due to the vibrant colors showing under the black lights.  But the worst one of all was from this year.

Rule number one, which every patron is told, is do not touch the actors.  Yes, there are exceptions, we do realize our job is to scare you and we may accidently be pushed or hit.  This year, a young girl who was coming through our maze came in to my room, the last part of the entire maze.  Walking in with swagger as the other girls cower around her, the pre-teen yells loudly, “I know you’re in here!  Come out!  YOU DON’T SCARE ME!”  My partner and I creep up towards the girls, camouflaged into  the dotted walls, and jump out at the girls.  All but the one screams.  Trying to be comical, we keep trying to scare her, me right in front, and my partner behind her.   She looks up at me, says hello, and hits me in the face with the lateral side of the water bottle she carried along with her, hitting me in the eye.  I take my mask off and start to argue with the girl and her Girl Scout leader. The leader simply wrote it off as an “accident”, when all of us knew she did it on purpose.

Haunted houses aren’t for everyone, especially every child.  Only those mature enough should be allowed through, so they don’t ruin the performers and other customer’s fun.  We plan for weeks. Money goes into decorating, designing, and painting.  And everything for us goes up the day before the event, and taken down after the last customer walks through, a total of two days.  We spend hours to dress and go through hair and makeup.  With all that trouble and hard work, it’s completely unfair that parents leave their immature kids to be babysat by their Girl Scout leaders who can’t control them, even when escorted through our maze by two other people.   For those who are too scared of the maze, the center has crafts and games outside for them to participate in.  Problem solved. No one wants to go if they’re trying to get scared, but can’t be because the kid in front of them pointed everyone out or is crying.  We shouldn’t have to pause to clean up lipstick graffiti or getting into arguments with customers. Their should be an age limit, or a maturity limit as to who goes through scary mazes, whether it’s at a Girl Scout center or a professional maze such as those of Knott’s Scary Farm, it ruins the fun for everyone.  And for those like me, who have to go to school the next day with a black eye.

This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.


Earl Goforth: Inspirational Custodian of 30 Years Retires

earl“We are here for the students, they are not here for us,”  is the legendary quote of 30 year custodian Earl Goforth written in bold at the bottom of every WCHS Vision poster.

Principal Alex Ruvalcaba made an announcement over the intercom after school Friday, August 24 reminding staff to report to the front of the cafeteria at 3:30 in order to surprise Goforth.

There, he was showered with posters, flowers, and balloons celebrating his retirement with staff members, students, ASB, Renaissance, the football team, the cheer team, and later, cross country.

Accompanying Goforth was his wife, daughter, and two grandchildren. Earl was encircled by students and staff alike and was then presented with the many going away gifts.  Afterward, the cheer team said the Bulldog Chant and the band played.

Many came out to say goodbye. Goforth mentioned students from previous years stopping by as well.

“We go through so many thousands of kids here, but it’s truly worth it,” said Goforth. “I really appreciated the kids I recognized that graduated years ago.  In the last few years, we’ve really turned this place from a dump to a great educational facility.”

Principal Ruvalcaba mentioned that the campus will not be the same without Goforth.

“Earl’s been here everyday for 30 years serving not only the students but the school.  We’ll be okay because he’s okay… and he’s retiring.  Just look at how many people showed up to say goodbye.  All the tears.  It’s just amazing,” said Ruvalcaba.

Goforth has been dedicated to WCHS all 30 years of his employment here.

“He’s leaving us a legacy,” said Vice Principal Roni Lui, “He’s one of the hardest working people here I know.  He’ll truly be missed.”

Teachers that see Goforth outside of school said that they would miss him.

“I live right by him, so I’ll see him all the time, just not as often.  I’ll definitely miss him though,” said science teacher Candace Franck.

As the crowd slowly died down, Goforth’s family started to gather all his flowers, tying down his balloons, and rolling up the many posters.

While preparing to leave, the Cross Country team came to the cafeteria to say goodbye.  Members of the team shook Goforth’s hand providing thank yous, good luck, and words of appreciation as Goforth reciprocated his wisdom.

Goforth’s family felt working at WCHS was the best choice for him.

“He couldn’t have picked a better place to work.  He loved it,” said wife Jeannette Goforth.

“I think it’s been the best thing for us, him, and the grandkids.  He’s helped and influenced a lot of people,” said daughter Danielle Goforth.

Finally, the Goforth family was ready to leave.

“In the last two or three years, this place has really changed,” said Goforth, “ I’m going to miss all the good repairs, but even more, all these great people and all the great memories.  You can’t always win, but you gotta keep trying.”

This article was originally published by Newsbytes Online.

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