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Snow-capped Mt. Diablo behind Diablo View MS
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Snow-capped Mt. Diablo behind Diablo View MS
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News & Announcements


The Third Annual MDUSD Art & Digital Media exhibition at Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord kicked off on May 7th, featuring Art & Digital Media Pathways student work from College Park, Concord, Mt. Diablo and Northgate high schools. The artwork with be on display through May 21st in the mall's food court, through a partnership with the shopping center and the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce.

Concord HS photography teacher Jen Kennedy said the exhibition gives public exposure to students' work, and noted that many of the students are earning college credits through a partnership with Diablo Valley College for their Career Technical Education, or CTE, courses. At Concord HS, students can earn 6 college units in photography and 9 units in graphic design, she said. "That's what makes this so cool." 

The exhibition includes four large screen monitors that display digital photos of art created at each of the high schools represented, including photography, animation, graphic arts, and digital media. Three of College Park HS freshman Liza Vlasenko's Art and Design class creations are on display, including a blue and yellow Mandala in honor of her native country Ukraine, an "atmospheric landscape" featuring a dreamlike colorful digital collage, and a striking drawing of a tiger formed with the names of endangered animals in white, silver and gold on a black background. Liza, who immigrated to the U.S. with her parents two years ago, said she plans to continue taking art classes next year. "I like that people can express themselves through art - their passions and what they like - and there's no limit to what you can create," she said. Liza also said she loved that the student art is on public display because it can help others find out about the classes in MDUSD and possibly even interest more people in creating art. Her father Anton Vlasenko said he and his wife were impressed with the high quality of the displays and proud of the "astonishing results," which they photographed alongside their daughter. 

Concord HS art student Sobada Merzaie and her brother Rustam recently immigrated to the U.S. from Afghanistan. Although they speak little English, they are able to express themselves through art and photography. Rustam's macro close-up black and white photo of a hand grasping a chain link fence is displayed on a screen along with two other black and white photos created by his classmates. As the digital slide show continues, Sodaba's drawing of her own hand sketching animals and human figures appears in the center of a screen between two drawings by her classmates. "She is very good at drawing," said her teacher, Jen Kennedy, who communicates with the Merzaies using Google translate on her phone. "They like to photograph nature," she said, after asking them what they like about their art classes.

Northgate HS freshman Steven Olson brought his Uncle Vince Olson to see his Photoshop art project featuring a futuristic red sports shoe. Steven said he likes art because he gets to be creative and he hopes to take more art classes in the future. Vince Olson said he appreciated the exhibition of student work. "You really see some amazing talent," he said. "I think it's a great opportunity to introduce them to art development as a possible career path."

More information about MDUSD Career Pathway programs is here



Read More about MDUSD Art & Digital Media Showcase on display at Sunvalley Shopping Center through May 21st
Black Excellence Awards

MDUSD’s 2nd Annual Black Excellence Awards Night on May 9th at Concord High recognized and honored 140 student award winners in grades TK-12 for academic achievement and attendance. In addition, Black Educator Awards were presented to Mt. Diablo HS Principal Dr. Markell McCain, Shore Acres Vice Principal Dr. Tiffany Jackson, District Administrator Linda Pete, Teachers Malachi Tripp and Leah Lipscomb, Classified staff members Gordy Cruel and Rae Jackson Sr., Counselor Shalendell "Sissy" White, and Social Worker Deonne Curtis-Wesley. Parent Noelle Cummings received the African American Parent Advisory Committee Parent of the Year Award. And Gregory Gardens Elementary, Sequoia MS and College Park HS received Equity Awards.

African American Family Engagement Coordinator Dr. Lamont Francies welcomed families, noting that some students at the standing-room only event may only be used to hearing applause when they throw a ball or jump high in sports. But this celebration was not about sports. It was all about Black student achievement, with inspiring remarks from Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark and equity consultant Dr. Shelley Holt. Dr. Clark said he has been working with District administrators to "shake things up" and "change the narrative" in MDUSD by holding all staff and students to high expectations so that everyone feels welcome and all students can reach their full potential. He received applause from the audience when he said: "I will not accept mediocrity. When it comes to working with kids, they deserve our absolute best. I advocate for all of our students."

Holt urged families to teach their children to be future leaders by educating them about their history and culture; how to manage a home; how to budget, save and invest; to pursue to whatever careers interest them; and how to communicate and connect with others in positive, healthy relationships where they can disagree effectively and respectfully. "If we are going to continue to have Black excellence," she said, "it's got to start at home." 

Then the fun began, as students walked proudly across the stage by school to accept awards for top performance on standardized English language arts or math tests, top attendance, or top Grade Point Averages among Black/African American students at their schools. Click on these Social Media posts to see highlights featuring students from Gregory Gardens ElementaryHolbrook Language AcademySun Terrace STEM ElementaryWalnut Acres ElementaryValley View MS and College Park HS.

Black Excellence Awards


Read More about MDUSD's Second Annual Black Excellence Awards celebrate educators, schools and students
FMS Green Ribbon Award

Congratulations to Foothill Middle School in Walnut Creek, which has earned a 2024 California Green Ribbon Award for environmental excellence. It received a bronze level award for showing "entry level commitment" in three areas:

  • reducing environmental impacts and costs;
  • improving the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
  • providing effective environmental and sustainability education.

It first received a bronze Green Ribbon School award in 2018, when science teacher Devin Jackson submitted an application explaining how students in the after-school Environmentally Concerned Kids (ECK) Club work to divert waste from landfill into recycling and composting - and how the school educates students and families about eco-literacy. 

Building on that success, Jackson has continued to advise the club, which this year includes about 10 students in grades 6-8 who meet weekly for one hour after school to raise environmental awareness, and foster sustainable practices among students, with a goal of reducing the school's carbon footprint and qualifying for a Silver, Gold, or Green Achiever Green Ribbon School Award within the next 2 - 3 school years. This year, Foothill MS achieved 65% waste diversion and hopes to reach 80% or more by 2030, Jackson said.

"The E.C.K. Club's main initiative is a recycling and waste reduction program," he said. All students in the school can earn raffle tickets by correctly sorting waste and minimizing trash, with a chance to win prizes at the end of the year, which promotes a greener campus. The E.C.K. Club conducts trash collection walks and waste audits to manage and reduce school waste effectively. "This enabled us to reduce 65% of the landfill waste compared to 2021," Jackson said. In addition, the club has established a garden of approximately 600 square feet where students create their own compost, which enhances their learning environment and commitment to sustainability. "Looking ahead, we aim to expand this garden throughout the school to provide a vibrant space for students to engage with environmental issues," Jackson said. Club members also hope to build support for zero-waste sustainable climate change goals throughout MDUSD and Contra Costa County to generate community-wide solutions. 

"We want to spread awareness and create change in our world by thinking globally and acting locally" said club President Alex McCarty. Vice President Chloe Carey added: "As a club, we strive to teach our peers about the environment and what is happening in the world." Rhea Lokesh noted, "although educating others helps us grow, we also need to make change happen within ourselves." And Perry De Lucia said the club wants to create a native garden space "where students can talk and express themselves and their love of the environment." School pride also plays a role in their efforts. "We want the entire campus to be clean, and unlittered," said Sarika Puppala. Jackson, who teaches Science, STEM, STEAM, Engineering, Robotics and Environmental Literacy, engages students with his enthusiastic motto: "Science rocks and so do you!"

More information about the E.C.K. Club is on the school's website under "Foothill Clubs" here.

FMS Green Ribbon Award
Foothill MS Green Ribbon


Read More about Foothill Middle School is a California Green Ribbon School!

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