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December 13, 2021

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Photo of the Week

Photo of the week
Kratt Elementary School After School Program

Video of the Week

Video of the Week
Restorative Practices Video

Dates to Know

December 15
Board Meeting (see website for time)
Board of Education

December 20-January 9
Winter Break

January 10
Buy Back Day (no school for students)


Welcome to Community Zone, an e-newsletter from the Fresno Unified School District featuring news of the district and schools. Sign up to receive this newsletter every two weeks. Questions? Contact

Community News

District’s Digital Newspaper for December Available

The December edition of Building Futures, the district’s digital newspaper, is available. The new edition focuses on career technical education (CTE), highlighting career pathway programs at all high schools, CTE programs for younger students, outstanding CTE teachers and more.
December Building Futures

Employees Donate Coats

The stapler award Employees donated 224 coats to the Great Winter Holiday Coat Drive, with the Special Education Department winning the Golden Stapler prize for the department collecting the most coats – 150. The winner was announced December 3. The coats were donated to Project ACCESS to distribute to students in homeless situations.

Boys Cross Country Runners are Section Finalists

Cross Country team on podium The section Division 3 boys finalists in cross country from Fresno Unified were Tyler Speir, Fresno High School, third; Diego Gonzalez, Sunnyside High School, fourth; and Brian Borchers, Edison High School, 10th. They went on to competed November 27 in the state meet.

Schools Highlight Dangers of Drugs

Red Ribbon poster For Red Ribbon Week this year, Saint Agnes Medical Center partnered with Heaton, Anthony, Webster and Sunset elementary schools to demonstrate their school pride and their passion to remain drug free. Tiara Munoz, tobacco prevention coordinator at Saint Agnes, said: “The response from the schools and their staff was overwhelming! Each school did their own unique displays on the interior and exterior of their schools, as well as submitted hundreds of student essays and pictures on their reason to be drug free.”

Superintendent Board Remarks from December 8, 2021

Superintendent Bob Nelson
• Superintendent began his remarks sharing the saddening trend happening across the Valley currently, an increase of school threats mostly through social media. He recognized this increase of school threats following the tragic school shooting in Michigan where four students were killed and seven others were injured. Superintendent shared that all threats are investigated by the police and that parents are made aware of any threats and their investigation outcome. Many students making these threats are doing so as a joke and are putting very little thought into the heavy consequences of these split-second decisions. Superintendent asks parents and students to please talk about and think about those consequences before posting or reposting any school threats. Those consequences oftentimes include suspension, expulsion, arrest, and/or criminal charges which can effect a student’s ability to obtain employment or go to the college of their choice. You can see a video from our students here about thinking before you post and reporting not reposting any social media threat you see.

• Superintendent shared with staff that upon board approval this evening, payroll will start running for all staff to receive a separate check by December 17th accounting for the 4% pay raise retroactive from July 1st, 2021 through November, as well as the one-time half percent payment. Superintendent asked staff to please give our payroll team until the 17th to receive your check. In your regular December check, you will see your raise accounted for moving forward. Superintendent thanked our entire staff for the hard work you continue to do each day, to our fiscal and payroll teams for making this happen, and to the Board for their support.

• Superintendent reminded staff that recruitment for volunteer Academic Decathlon judges is now underway. Judges are needed for the speech and interview portions of the competition and there is training available for all judges. The events will be held virtually on Saturday, January 29th – so judges can do training and judging all from the comfort of their own homes. If you are interested, please email Mike Jones at

• Superintendent invited Trustees to please join our team for a press conference this Friday at 11am where we will be detailing some of Fresno Unified’s many family resources to support at-home learning with their students. This is in direct effort to continue moving forward with our district goal to increase inclusive opportunities for our families to engage in their students’ education. Superintendent shared excitement to share some of Fresno Unified’s new and existing resources for parents and students to encourage learning outside of the school day.

• Last, superintendent shared an ABC30 story on Tenaya’s Campus Culture Director, Austin LeMay, whose dance moves went viral on social media and garnered attention from national news, celebrities, and millions online. You can see that story by clicking here.

View Full Board Meeting Recap

School Buzz

Addams Principal sees Capitol Tree that Students made Ornaments For

Christmas tree at U.S. Capitol Addams Elementary School Principal Beth Boyle traveled to Washington, D.C. recently to see the lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and live stream the ceremony for her students. The tree, an 84-foot white fir, stopped at Addams on November 5 as part of its tour from the northern California forest where it was cut to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Addams students also made ornaments that are among the handmade decorations from California that adorn the tree.

Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary School Launches Web Site

Herrera rendering

The web site for Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary School has launched and can be found at The site is a great resource to learn more about Fresno Unified's newest school. Herrera Elementary will be unique because it will focus on STEAM, where teachers will use science, technology, engineering and the arts as they teach mathematics and English language arts. Teachers who are interested in teaching at Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary should submit a certificated lateral transfer request form by December 17, 2021.

J.E. Young and eLearn Students work on Gratitude Project

Word cloud surrounding Family

Six hundred students and staff from J.E. Young Academic Center and eLearn Academy focused on gratitude in November and participated in an online gratitude word art activity. In Community Leadership and Advisory classes, students and staff were asked to reply to the following question with a one-word response, "What are you Grateful for?" The results were formatted in a couple of different ways and students and staff were asked to use one of the images for their background in November. Heading into the holiday season, it was humbling to note that basics like food, housing, showers and health made the list of things students are grateful for.  

Roosevelt Cross Country Female Runners Compete at State Meet

Cross country students Two lady Roosevelt High School Rough Riders competed at the state Division 4 cross country finals at Woodward Park on November 27. The student athletes were sophomore Alyana Chavez and senior Leah Acosta. 

Edison Collects Toys for Poverello House

The Edison High School Key Club has collected hundreds of toys for children who will attend a Christmas Eve dinner at the Poverello House. This year, the Key Club is also inviting the community to a wrapping party 3-7 p.m. on Thursday, December 16 or Friday, December 17 at the Edison cafeteria.
The Key Club has been holding the Tiger Toys for Cubs toy drive since 2012 after learning that not enough toys were collected for all the children at the Poverello House dinner.  For many of the children, this will be their only Christmas gift.

Eaton Students Collect $1,300 for Poverello House

Students counting change Eaton Elementary School fifth and sixth grade students raised more than $1,300 in change over five days for the Poverello House, exceeding their goal of $1,000. The students were inspired by a visit last month from Poverello House representatives, who educated the students about hunger and homelessness in the Valley.

On December 1 at Eaton, the students presented a check to Poverello House executive director Zack Darrah, who shared how the money would be used to help the Poverello House.

Slater Clothing and Food Drive

Slater Elementary School fifth and sixth grade students and their teachers are collecting food items for the second year in a row. The drive will go through December 16. Slater students are typically the ones who benefit from support like clothing and food drives, however the students believe in helping others -- with support from the tight knit Slater community. The project directly connects to the school’s Positivity Project, focused on working with others and showing care, compassion and empathy. 

Edison Students Bring in Canned Goods

Students in Gary Mrkaich’s classes at Edison High School turned in 3,994 canned food items before the Thanksgiving holiday.

McLane Students’ Films Selected for Swedefest

Students at Swedefest Students from the ArtVenture Production Academy at McLane High School entered two films into Swedefest 2021, an international film festival hosted by CMAC and held in Fresno on December 2. Both films were selected to be a part of the festival and premiered in front of a live audience at the CMAC outdoor theater in downtown Fresno and streamed worldwide. Students had an amazing time watching their films, along with other short films, and had the chance to connect with other industry professionals. Students involved were Justin Vang, Alisson Yang, Aliyah Barajas, Evelyn Ramirez, Keyjuan Jones, Siahong Lor, Fabiola Martinez and instructor is Kevin Clifton. 

Phoenix Elementary Participates in ArtHop

Student standing in front of artwork Artwork by students from Phoenix Academy Elementary School was featured at the December 2 ArtHop in downtown Fresno in connection with the Family Farm project. It was a great event for the students and their families.

Coats for Greenberg Students

Greenberg Elementary School received 200 new coats from Sequoia Church. Students were very happy and loved their coats. The school thanks everyone their generosity.

CTE Corner

Sunnyside Multimedia and Marketing Students Learn from Industry Partners

Students watching videographer at work Multimedia and Marketing Pathway students from Sunnyside High School took a field trip December 6 to visit various industry partners. The students got to see firsthand the conception of a marketing idea and how it translates into radio, print and video. The trip concluded with a presentation from the Fresno Grizzlies marketing team about social media, with lunch provided by Jeffery Scott Agency. 

Employee Spotlight

Elementary Teacher is Music Educator of the Year

Anne  Hendrickson Anne Hendrickson, band director at Manchester GATE and Del Mar elementary schools, has been named Music Educator of the Year by the California Music Educators Association – Central Section.  Anne will be honored on Friday, February 18 at the California All-State Music Educators Conference in Fresno as one of California’s finest music educators.
Did you know?

• Music teachers Adam Elmore at Hamilton K-8 School, Ben Tenpas at Tenaya Middle School, and Esmeralda Rocha Lozano at Clovis High School were all middle school music students of Anne.
• As a musician, Anne backed up Phyllis Diller, Rita Moreno, and Jerry Lewis.

In addition to being a music educator, Anne had a career as a professional  musician, performing on several cruise ships as a woodwind musician and worked in New York City for several years performing in jazz bands, Broadway pit orchestras and on national Broadway show tours.

Yosemite Teacher is Educator of the Week

Gavino  Morales Gavino Morales, a teacher at Yosemite Middle School, was featured as NBC24’s Educator of the Week.
Educator of the Week Segment

Tenaya’s Dancing Teacher goes Viral

Austin Lemay dancing Tenaya Middle School teacher and campus culture director Austin LeMay is a TikTok sensation! A video taken of him dancing “the jerk,” surrounded by cheering students, has attracted millions of views. It was all of part of the Friday after school outdoor dance party that Tenaya routinely holds for students.
Video of Austin LeMay Dancing

Lincoln Teacher is Educator of the Week

Jose Gonzalez Jose Gonzalez, a teacher at Lincoln Elementary School was features as NBC24’s Educator of the Week on December 8.
Educator of the Week Segment on Jose Gonzalez

Computech Student Teacher Wins Award

Computech student teacher Caitlin Stahl Student teacher Caitlin Stahl was awarded the Best Student Teacher Award from Grand Canyon University (GCU) for her work this semester at Computech Middle School. Every year, GCU awards five student teachers from all teaching subjects -- and a theater education student teacher has never been honored. Caitlin has been doing her student teaching at Computech under Rachel Hibler. Caitlin has scored 100% on every evaluation this semester and is graduating with her degree and teaching credential from GCU on Friday, December 17. Computech is so proud of Caitlin and she will always be a Tiger. Computech wishes her well as she starts her teaching career.

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