|Friday Night Feeling||9/28/2021 7:00:00 AM|| Friday night football is back.
Though JUSD football teams competed in a modified season last spring, stands were mostly empty due to safety regulations.
“You didn’t get the atmosphere, and the atmosphere is what’s really the Friday night feeling. That atmosphere of the cheerleaders cheering, the crowd roaring, and the band playing,” shared Chris Fowler, Patriot High School's head football coach. “That’s what we all want to show our kids.”
That Friday night feeling was in full effect on August 27th during the preseason rivalry game of Patriot vs Rubidoux High School. The Patriot Cardinal Regiment played music in the stands while cheer teams from both schools performed on the sidelines. “It’s great to be back out on the football field and cheering with our girls,” said Shawna Bukarau, PHS head cheer coach. “Last year was really challenging through the pandemic and not being able to do what we love.”
It was a home game for Patriot, meaning their stands were packed with students, families, and staff supporting their team. Rubidoux had a good showing of support as well. Though Jurupa Valley High School is also considered a rival, the close proximity between Patriot and Rubidoux always generates excitement for their matchups.
“You don’t have to tell the kids to get ready. They’re ready for the Rubidoux week,” shared Coach Fowler. And ready, they were. Patriot took an early lead, and though Rubdioux fought until the end, the Warriors beat the Falcons 47-7. Despite the loss, Rubidoux maintained their school spirit with help from their cheer team.
“The best thing about cheer is cheering on our team and [empowering] them to get better,” said Liliana Castro, RHS senior and cheer captain. Brian Jones, RHS head cheer coach, added, “[This season], we’re raising spirits and really focusing on supporting our athletic department and our school and our community.”
Coach Fowler called the win payback for two seasons ago when Rubidoux beat Patriot. To honor the defeat, administrators at Patriot wore Rubidoux jerseys during school lunch. This year, Rubidoux lived up to the same agreement. “We’re a lot better than we’ve ever been,” said Brandon Lopez, PHS junior running back and varsity captain. “And we’re going to keep getting better.”
But Patriot could not maintain the title of “King of Jurupa Valley” for long. The following week, on September 3rd, the PHS Warriors fell to the JVHS Jaguars after a close game. The score was 13-12.
“That was an exciting game,” said Hugo Nevarez, JVHS head football coach. “It came down to the wire and we were fortunate to come away with the win. It was like a playoff atmosphere here.” Ismael Fuentes, JVHS senior running back and varsity captain, added, “It was a tough game. We both wanted the win and the stadium was packed. There was blue and red everywhere.”
With preseason games wrapped up, JUSD football teams are preparing for conference matchups, with the goal to make the playoffs. No matter the outcome, the Friday night feeling will prevail as long as cheerleaders keep cheering, crowds keep roaring, and bands keep playing.
“I think it’s important for cheerleaders to be at football games because we control the crowd in a way. We try to keep the momentum up, the spirit up. We try to hype up our football guys. It wouldn’t be a football game without the cheerleaders there," shared Brianna Ramirez, JVHS senior and varsity cheer captain. Andrea Ortiz, JVHS head cheer coach, added, “Without us, I’m not saying that the school’s nothing, but we are the spirit of the school.”
To learn more about JUSD football and cheer, visit the high school athletics websites JVHS
|Jurupa Marches On||9/28/2021 7:00:00 AM|| After a year without football games, parades, and competitions, high school band students are excited and determined to have an excellent marching season.
“It’s amazing. You know, seeing our bandmates who we haven’t seen for a year and some months,” shared Kanye, a junior trumpet player at Jurupa Valley High School. “It’s just an excellent experience to meet up with everyone [and] have fun with music together.”
Returning students often reference the friendships they have cultivated over their years in marching band, relationships that are strengthened by sharing a classroom or a football field, rather than performing in isolation in front of a screen. Not only that, but matching rhythms and relying on other students for guidance is much easier in person, resulting in smoother performances.
“On Zoom, it’s impossible to play in an ensemble setting,” explained Sarah Choi, Rubidoux High School's instrumental music director . On the first day of band camp, Ms. Choi had her students play Rubidoux’s fight song. Though their first attempt was far from perfect, witnessing the students play together was a powerful reminder of the impact of music performance. “It just reminded me of the reason why we go through all of this, and why the kids work so hard, and why I work so hard,” she shared. “What [students] gain from participating in marching band is that there are no benchwarmers. Every single kid on that field matters.”
Marching band is not merely a one-class-period commitment. Students also attend after-school rehearsals multiple times a week to prepare for performances and competitions. Because of the physicality involved, participation fulfills a physical education requirement.
“It is not just a bunch of goofy people making fools of themselves on the field,” said Tony Mendoza, a senior mellophone player at Patriot High School.
“Participating in marching band has taught me many things such as responsibility, about being on time, and fulfilling a good leadership role,” added Sarah, a senior Drum Major at RHS.
Performing at football games makes up a large part of marching season. On August 27th, during the preseason rivalry game between Patriot and Rubidoux, the Patriot Cardinal Regiment played music in the stands. Their energy was infectious. “The marching band this year is looking stronger and powerful as always,” shared Chris Case, PHS band director. “They are elevating themselves as they return to the powerhouse of Southern California that they have been and continue to be.”
Though excellence is the ultimate goal, early-season priorities include teaching fundamentals to new students and helping everyone relearn what it means to be a team.
“Two of the classes haven’t been on campus, so they are joining this group with two other classes that have been here,” said Mike Alvarez, JVHS band director. “It’s a unique opportunity for the upperclassmen to mentor the younger students, even including the sophomore class.”
Playing an instrument is not like riding a bike, so returning to marching band after a year off is no easy feat. JUSD band directors recognize and admire the dedication of their students.
“What makes these kids so incredible is that they stuck through the worst parts of it,” said Ms. Choi, referring to the challenges of virtual learning. “They’re amazing and I have so much respect for them.” |
|Brick by Brick||9/28/2021 7:00:00 AM|| Exciting renovations continue across Jurupa Unified. Four principals recently spoke about the newly completed and ongoing improvements at their schools
Glen Avon Elementary
Funded by Measure EE, the modernization of Glen Avon Elementary resulted in a new office and library; 22 modernized classrooms; and new site landscaping.
“Students are excited to be back in the building,” shared Felicia Noel, Glen Avon's new principal. “Everything was new to them, especially the makerspace and the library. That area is phenomenal. One of the best I’ve seen in my twenty years of education.”
Glen Avon staff are enjoying the enhanced natural lighting in their classrooms thanks to added windows, as well as the many green spaces where students have the opportunity to work beyond four walls. Still to come is a bike track for TK and Kinder students; the resurfacing of the blacktop and parking lot; and a new playground structure.
The renovations are especially resonant after the school closures in March 2020. “To come back to something new and fresh, it just made them feel good,” shared Ms. Noel.
Van Buren Elementary
At Van Buren, the cafeteria received new flooring that is easier to maintain, with permanent mats that are safer for kids to walk upon. Maintenance and Operations also painted exterior doors, walls, and trim throughout the campus.
“They did something unique with our portables, where they tried to match the brick in our school,” shared Principal Veronica Gonzalez. “That lower piece that replicates the brick that we have around the school really tied everything together.”
Also in progress are renovations to the library and preschool room. The library, which was one small room, is expanding to include the room next door.
“One room will be the library room and the other room will be the makerspace,” explained Ms. Gonzalez. “It’s going to be called the Eagle’s Nest because we are Van Buren Eagles, and [this will be] the place where our kids can learn and grow until they are ready to fly away into middle school.”
Jurupa Middle School
Renovations funded by Measure EE remain ongoing at Jurupa Middle. Though a new main parking lot has been completed, the construction of a new office and eight-classroom building remains in progress. In the meantime, students are enjoying a remodeled library and makerspace as well as newly painted exterior doors.
“It is a big push here at Jurupa Middle School to increase literacy,” shared Principal Monika Montiel Turner. “We have an outstanding library tech who is going to nurture that process.”
Ms. Montiel Turner looks forward to the completed renovations, believing they will benefit students academically, emotionally, and culturally as a Panther family. But no matter how many changes occur, she maintains that alumni parents will always recognize their former home. “We’re still Jurupa Middle School behind our gates,” she said.
Jurupa Adult School
After break-ins during the initial school closures of March 2020, the Jurupa Adult School looked boarded up and abandoned, according to Principal Annamarie Montañez, Ed.D. Now, with the 2021-2022 school year underway, the entire school has been repainted to match Rubidoux High School’s color scheme. “It had been many years since we’d had the school painted,” shared Dr. Montañez. “It just makes such a difference.”
Parking lot resurfacing is next on the list, along with the purchase of a marquee to advertise classes and events. Dr. Montañez believes the renovations will show her students that their school is important and valued by the district and community.
“Hopefully it will help to elevate the school culture and make them proud of where they attend,” she said.
|Breaking the Ice||9/28/2021 7:00:00 AM|| Though in-person instruction has resumed full-time, Back to School Nights remained virtual this year to limit the number of people on campuses. Here is a look at Virtual Back to School Nights across the District
Granite Hill Elementary - August 10th
“Back to school night is one of the most important events in the school year,” said Beatriz Farone, teacher on special assignment, during her school’s event. “It’s a chance for families to come into the school, albeit virtually this school year, and meet with the staff, with the teachers, with who their kids are going to be with all day long.”
Granite Hill teachers were on-site to host their virtual sessions, using their time with parents to explain schedules and provide resources. Many found unique ways to make the virtual format accessible, like Dr. Maria Gadsen, who picked up her laptop and carried it around her first grade classroom, showing parents her setup. The tour included where individual students sit, her PE materials, and even the neighboring cafeteria. Knowing what their child’s classroom looks like can bring parents comfort, and help them visualize their child’s day during after school conversations.
“It’s important to make that connection with the parents,” said Ms. Farone. “It’s important for them to make that connection with us as well.”
Rubidoux High School - August 12th
For many parents and guardians of high school students, Back to School Night was an opportunity to learn about the academic challenges their students might face throughout the year.
“My AP students are getting into their first-ever AP class, and so I try to give the parents a fair warning about the reading that’s coming,” said Briane Roble. “But most importantly, [I let them know] I’m here to support their students through any situation that they need, that my door is always open, and they can come to me for anything.”
In addition to offering support, the history teacher used her sessions to provide links to classroom resources, including study guides, College Board materials, and other outside sources.
“[Back to School Night is] part of relationship building. It’s important to reach out to the parents and show them who’s teaching their children,” said Mrs. Roble.
Mission Middle School - August 19th
Kevin Corona began building relationships with his students' parents by sharing his ties to the Jurupa community. Before becoming a math teacher, Mr. Corona attended Rustic Lane Elementary, Mission Middle School, and Rubidoux High School. “I am a Jurupa baby,” he said with pride. “I am part of this community. I did come back, and I am here to make a difference.”
Stephen Fox, Education Specialist, was also eager to connect. “Especially in special education, we’re going to meet the parents eventually anyway,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to first meet them. It’s like an icebreaker.”
As for Amber Harrell-Tobey, Back to School Night was about comfort, reassurance, and looking forward.
“I just want to let the parents know that their kids are in good hands,” shared the math teacher. “Assure them that they’re going to get the value of having in-person instruction and that I completely understand there are some skills that have definitely been missed over the past year and a half, but that we are going to work together [on those skills].”
|New Year, No Limits||8/24/2021 7:00:00 AM|| On July 30th, incoming freshmen to Patriot High School attended their 2021-2022 registration day. For Principal Damien Hernandez, it was a wonderful feeling to see students walk the grounds again. “We had a good summer school, but this is a lot different because with our freshmen today and with our sophomores yesterday, they haven’t been on our campus,” he shared. “So it’s just wonderful to see students back.” After checking in at the front gate, freshmen visited stations to purchase items for the school year such as PE clothes and ASB cards; receive information about various school clubs and activities; and pick up their schedules and take ID photos. Through it all, ASB students were on-hand as helpful guides. “We’re trying to get them prepared for the first day of school,” explained Priscilla, a Patriot senior. “We don’t want them to [feel lost], so we’re just trying to get them more comfortable so they don’t have that anxiety on the first day.” Alexis, an incoming freshman, admitted to being nervous. “But I’m really excited to go into high school finally,” she shared. That same Friday, Jurupa Middle 7th and 8th graders also attended registration, known as Panther Day. “Our 7th and 8th graders are here on campus - most of them for the very first time - picking up their schedules, taking their ID pictures, and touring the campus,” explained Assistant Principal Lindsay Connell. Middle schools in Jurupa Unified face a unique situation this year, as the majority of students are new to their campuses due to 8th graders attending virtually last year and 7th graders finishing elementary school. “It feels unbelievable to see kids on the campus and roaming our halls the way it was over a year ago,” expressed Principal Monika Montiel Turner. With registration complete, the next step was the first day of school. On Friday, August 6th, Jurupa Unified welcomed students back to full-time, in-person instruction. At Stone Avenue Elementary, Star Wars characters greeted students and posed for celebratory photos. Back-to-school rallies were held at high schools, and Mira Loma Middle school boasted a tropical theme to welcome students to the 2021-2022 school year. “We wanted to have a friendly, mellow entrance because we already know that middle school is an anxious time,” said Principal Mary Boules. “We know [our students] need social interaction right now, and they need a little bit of guidance. And we’re here, opening our doors and our arms, to help them come in and transition back on campus.” There is a lot to look forward to in JUSD. At the District’s new hire orientation, incoming teachers shared their excitement for a successful school year. “I am very excited about introducing the students to a completely new pathway that is going to be able to feed them into many careers,” said Benjamen Smith, the CTE teacher for Manufacturing & Design at Patriot High School. Angel Carrillo, the Agricultural Science teacher for Jurupa Valley High School, looks forward to revitalizing the greenhouse so students can participate in hands-on learning, a motivating factor in his decision to teach. “I think that’s the best way to learn for some students,” he shared. “I think it’s going to be very beneficial for students as they come back to the classroom.” |
|Jurupa Leapt into Summer||8/24/2021 7:00:00 AM|| This summer, JUSD held LEAP, a K-8 program where learning engaged all possibilities. Continue reading to learn more about the classes offered.
“Digging for Dinosaurs” at Granite Hill
Lorena Fong brought her K-2 students on a journey to the land of dinosaurs. Students learned the differences between carnivores and herbivores, what a paleontologist does, and much more. On the last day, Ms. Fong put together a Dino Museum to display completed projects, including papier-mâché dino eggs and dinosaur noodle art.
“We rolled them out to the parking lot and had the parents drive by and look at all the work the kids did throughout the four weeks,” explained Ms. Fong. Dressed as paleontologists in brown hats and vests, the students also attended their museum.
“A lot of kids came in with knowledge about dinosaurs so they were able to share that,” said Ms. Fong. “I allowed them to bring in some items from home they could share. I think, overall, they had a good summer school class.”
“Fun in the Sun!” at Mission Bell
Ivan Casas Diaz decided to prioritize hands-on experiences for his LEAP class. The indoor and outdoor activities - touching on subjects like science, art, and physical education - promoted teamwork for his K-2 students.
“One of my favorite experiences was having them do an activity where they got to grow a little radish seed,” he shared. “They got to plant it themselves in the cup and then every day we would spray it with water. My students really enjoyed it. Every morning they got to look at their plant and how much it grew.”
“Physical Fitness” at Pacific Avenue Academy of Music
When developing her LEAP course, Deborah Betz thought about what activities would be useful to kids who had been “cooped up for sixteen months.” Each day for physical fitness, Mrs. Betz set up stations for her 3rd and 4th graders to visit. Activities included playing soccer, volleyball, and kickball. Some of her students even learned to jump rope for the very first time.
“I like the fact that it’s not graded and [the kids] don’t feel like they’re under pressure,” said Mrs. Betz of LEAP. “It’s been a very trying time. It was fun to not have that pressure.”
“Cooking in the Classroom” at Jurupa Middle
“Cooking is a great way to incorporate science and math,” said Delilah Munoz, who learned fractions as a kid through baking and cooking. Her 7th and 8th graders practiced basic cooking skills as they baked cakes, made pretzels from scratch, and experimented with different flavors of popcorn.
Because of how much they enjoyed the activity, her students turned one day of making pretzels into two. While the first day involved technical aspects like how to use the Kitchenaid mixer and how to handle yeast, the second day was all about creativity. Students experimented with flavors and shapes, then brought home extras to their families to showcase what they made.
“It was a very busy lesson. I was all over the classroom,” admitted Ms. Munoz. “But it was so much fun because the kids loved it. They did ask for the recipes after the class, so I made sure to send them all the recipes they did during LEAP.”
“Have Fun with Science!” at Jurupa Middle
Of the many science projects Marjorie Tanedo introduced to her 7th and 8th graders, students agreed the best project was designing mini-skateboards to protect an egg in transport. Ms. Tanedo developed this lesson to emphasize the importance of seatbelt safety. Because LEAP classes were not developed to a specific standard or grading scale, Ms. Tanedo’s students could “be wild in their imagination.” Her example of the mini-skateboard only included four wheels, but one of her students decided to add six, and their design was voted the favorite of the day.
Not only did LEAP encourage creativity, but the program also provided opportunities for social-emotional learning, with students developing strong friendships after a school year of isolation.
“The first day, they are strangers. The last day, it’s so hard to separate them,” shared Ms. Tanedo. “I said, ‘wow, this is LEAP.’ I feel like the goal [was] reached in just sixteen days.”
|Putting Kids First||8/24/2021 7:00:00 AM|| A new division has been established in JUSD.
Pupil Services manages three JUSD departments - Special Education, Parent Involvement & Community Outreach (PICO), and Educational Equity (formerly Pupil Personnel Services). Leading the division is Rosa Santos-Lee, who has served as the Director of Elementary Education for the past five years.
“I am humbled and honored to be able to serve in this role here in Jurupa,” shared the new Assistant Superintendent. “Even more humbled and honored to work with the three departments I get the opportunity to oversee.”
Mrs. Santos-Lee loves that each department in her division is “all about putting kids at the center.” In fact, before they were moved from Education Services to the division of Pupil Services, the three departments often found themselves overlapping. PICO and Special Education often work closely on mental health services, sharing and providing resources for special education and general education students alike. And equity plays a large role in establishing a successful Special Education Department.
“Special education is all about equity - providing students with equal opportunities regardless of their disability, regardless of their skill set,” shared Dr. Karina Becerra-Murillo, Director of Special Education. Dr. Becerra-Murillo believes the Pupil Services division will help all three departments better serve JUSD students.
Jose Campos, Director of PICO, agrees. “When our different departments work collaboratively to address the needs of our students, we are able to do so more effectively, more efficiently,” he shared. “Now you have the mind power of three wonderful directors under this division to really problem solve and foresee what those future needs may be. Through this division, you will see great things.”
For Monty Owens, joining a new division also means a new title and a new name for his department. Formerly the Director of Pupil Personnel Services, Mr. Owens looks forward to providing every student “with the resources, the support, and the sense of belonging that they need to be successful” as the Director of Educational Equity.
“When we use the term educational equity, what we’re really talking about is knowing that students and our families all have different needs, different talents, different life experiences that lead them through our gates at our school,” he said.
However, Mr. Owens believes these differences should not dictate student success.
“[Equity means] building relationships knowing what our students need to be successful, then trying to fill those gaps so that they have the best opportunity to reach or exceed their potential,” he said. “Our goal is to have no student walk through a campus gate feeling like they shouldn’t be there or they’re not important.”
The formation of a new division within JUSD is timely. The majority of Jurupa Unified students have returned to full-time, in-person instruction after more than a year of distance and hybrid learning, and these students will be counting on services that Pupil Services departments can provide.
“We are most looking forward to the expansion of our behavioral health services,” said Mr. Campos of his department. “We’re [expanding] mental health professionals on every school campus [and] we’re looking forward to keeping them as sustainable services.”
Added Mrs. Santos-Lee “Pupil services is a division that removes barriers for students, teachers, and families [in order to] accelerate learning.”
To learn more about Pupil Services, please visit the division's webpage .
|JUSD's New Superintendent||8/24/2021 7:00:00 AM|| On July 1st, Dr. Trenton Hansen became Jurupa Unified’s 7th Superintendent since the district unified in 1963.
Dr. Hansen grew up in Arizona, attending Wilcox High School before enrolling in Eastern Washington University to receive a bachelor’s degree in education.
“I had a lot of experiences growing up that were kind of life-changing experiences for me, and all of those experiences included an educator or somebody from the field of education who really helped me through those situations,” he explained. “I realized early on that [education] was a profession that I wanted to be part of - an opportunity to impact lives [and] to help people understand that they can reach their goals and pursue their dreams.”
As he was finishing the program at Eastern Washington, he and his wife, Amber, attended a job fair in Spokane. Having heard about a teacher shortage in California, the couple decided to visit one of the California booths, which happened to belong to Jurupa Unified. After meeting with the principal of Jurupa Valley High School, Dr. Hansen was offered a teaching and coaching position in the District.
“We decided to take the opportunity and kind of start our family and dig our own roots here in California, and that’s how I ended up here,” said Dr. Hansen.
Since joining the District in 2002, Dr. Hansen has held a variety of positions, including Principal of Rubidoux High School, Director of Planning & Development, and Assistant Superintendent of Organizational Leadership and Planning. Through all of these positions, he has been continually inspired by the hard work of JUSD teachers and staff.
“That’s something that has really kept me here in Jurupa,” he said. “It’s the people and their passion for the organization, for the students, and for the jobs that they do here in our district.”
During his JUSD tenure, Dr. Hansen has also received a master's degree in educational administration from National University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Northwest Nazarene University. He and his wife of twenty years are raising three boys Tyler, who recently graduated high school and will be serving a mission for his church this September in Ecuador; Nathan, an incoming freshman; and Cael, who is entering eighth grade.
“They’re a wonderful family,” he praised. “[They] have always supported me in all of my roles and positions. I’m just very fortunate.”
Though always on-call and available for whatever emergency arises, Dr. Hansen prioritizes spending time with his family outside of the workplace. Supporting his three boys as they participate in a variety of activities gives him great joy.
But he has also found family within Jurupa Unified.
“The best thing about our district is this idea of family, and the culture that we have in our district that we’re all part of a team,” he shared. “We all have a common goal in educating our students [and] providing the very best learning experiences that we can for them. The community, and the city as a whole, shares in those values.”
|On the Road Again||5/20/2021 7:00:00 AM|| Back in October, four JUSD buses were outfitted to provide library services to students during distance learning. After a successful trial run at the Swan Lake Community, the plan was to send the buses to multiple locations throughout the district. Then COVID-19 infections rose in November, postponing the official run of the mobile libraries. Anu Jindal, Library Technician for Del Sol Academy, was disappointed that the service could not move forward. Ms. Jindal was part of the library committee that planned the mobile library services, and she helped coordinate the trial run at Swan Lake. “It was a lot of fun planning for the mobile library and we were super excited about the whole concept, because this was our chance to go see the kids, get some books in their hands, interact with them, let them know we care,” she said. Thankfully, the opportunity to resume came with improving conditions and the transition to in-person/hybrid instruction. Throughout April, mobile libraries were deployed to ten different locations. The buses ran Monday through Friday from 230pm to 330pm, and each day offered a choice between two stops. Schedules and maps were available via JUSD social media and the district website. As with the trial run, Ms. Jindal was stationed at the Swan Lake stop, home to many Del Sol Academy students. She said the same kids visited every Wednesday, eager to check out more books. “The best part was definitely meeting the kids, meeting the parents,” she shared, “talking to them, letting them know we’re here, and getting books in their hands so they can read.” After months of abundant screen time, parents were happy to see their kids holding books. “The parents were so thankful. The kids were so excited. It was really heartwarming,” said Ms. Jindal. “It makes our job worth it.” At various stops, John Allen from Education Services brought out his guitar to perform a mobile library song. JUSD staff joined in, and the catchy tune featured the perfect lyrics for the occasion “We’re going down to the library bus, picking out a book, check it in, check it out. Gonna say hi to the dictionary, picking out a book, check it in, check it out.” “I think the students were ecstatic to see the mobile library,” said Ms. Jindal. On one occasion, a student showed up to her stop right at 330pm - the scheduled end time - and asked if it was too late to check out books. “We were more than happy to wait,” she said. Ms. Jindal would like to see the mobile library return in the future, but would prefer a dedicated mobile library day so library techs can devote their attention to the service without letting duties pile up at their school sites. “You get to know the community better - you get to know the students better - in their own environment, in their element,” she said. “And I think it’s an amazing concept to take the books to the families and to get to know them better and to encourage them to read.”
|Smaller Audience, Same Enthusiasm||5/20/2021 7:00:00 AM|| Celebrating the return of high school sports by showcasing three dedicated programs.
Cheer, Jurupa Valley High School
When Riverside County first entered the red tier, competitive cheer was permitted but sideline cheer was not, preventing the athletes from fully participating in their sport. Cheerleaders across the County protested the decision, and the guidelines were revised.
“It was great to support these girls during protest,” said Jacob Singhavong, JVHS Head Cheer Coach. “This is kind of the victory over cheer not being a sport, and kind of proving that it is a sport and it’s a very athletically demanding sport.”
The JVHS Cheer program has a Varsity Team of 25 and a Junior Varsity of 18. For sideline cheer, the girls act as crowd engagers and entertainers for high school sporting events. They perform general cheers during gameplay and routines during halftime. Memorization, coordination, and enthusiasm are essential to cheerleaders as they support and rally the athletes on the field or on the court.
“We really care about our teams here at JVHS,” said Venessa Gonzalez, All-Squad Captain. “We want them to know they have a support system even though they can’t fill the stands like they used to.”
On the competitive side, JVHS Varsity recently closed out their season as the Varsity Novice Show Cheer Division Champions for World Class Cheerleading’s Virtual Competition. “It’s not just a cheerleading squad,” said Aleena Valles, Varsity Captain. “It’s a lot of hard work and sweat that we put into this team.”
However and wherever they cheer, the most important part is that they cheer together. “The bond these girls have with each other is like no other,” said Jacob.
Boys Basketball, Rubidoux High School
Academics is the priority for the RHS Basketball program. In his first two years as Head Coach for Varsity Boys Basketball, Roberto Corella never had a player become ineligible due to grades.
“We never had that issue because every day we were always having the conversation,” shared Roberto. When COVID-19 hit, the conversations happened more sparingly. “Instead of a daily conversation it turned to more of a weekly conversation.”
When Roberto learned in early April that basketball might resume, he had about seven boys ineligible to play. Then the players heard they might compete again. “Their mindset just changed completely,” said Roberto. “We didn’t have one kid be ineligible when the [grades came out] in mid-April.”
Now, though the season looks different and some skills are underdeveloped after a year off the court, the 21 players across the Varsity and Junior Varsity teams are just happy to be back. “It feels good to finally be on the court playing other teams again,” shared Dylan Shevette, Varsity Captain.
The two RHS teams have struggled to pull off wins this season, but neither has lost the grit and determination needed to push forward. “We’re competing. That’s the number one thing,” said Arturo Perez, JV Coach. “We want the kids to compete. It’s not about winning, it’s about them getting better. They love to play basketball, and that’s the most important thing. If they love it, they’re going to play hard for sure.”
Girls Swim, Patriot High School
When the so-far undefeated PHS Girls Swim Team went up against Arlington, a larger team made up of fast swimmers, they knew the meet would be close.
“It’s definitely exciting because it’s going to come down to, well, who’s faster,” shared Head Coach Bryan Vides before the meet. “The kids are definitely excited because now they’re getting to put themselves to the test and really go for it.”
And go for it, they did. Though events were tight in the beginning, Patriot’s 14 swimmers ultimately came out on top, winning the meet with 107 points to Arlington’s 64. Riley Ackerman, one of two Varsity Captains, became the third PHS swimmer this season to qualify for CIF. “It’s kind of surreal,” said Riley of competing again after the last swim season was cut short. “But it’s good to be back.”
With one of their toughest competitors behind them, the defending League Champions continued their dominance of the sport. At the 2021 River Valley Championship, the Patriot girls swam to first place, beating five other teams to maintain the title of League Champions. At the end of the day, though, winning pales in comparison to feeling part of a team.
“The best thing about being on the swim team is all the support, all the love the team members give you,” shared Brooke Larsen, Varsity Captain. “You come to practice feeling down, you go to your friends - your girls - and they’re like, ‘we got you, this is going to be great, we’re going to have fun.’ And they just change the whole vibe and the feeling of everything.”