Valley High School to Receive Statewide Civic Learning Award

For Immediate Release:                                                                                                                                                                                      

April 30, 2013

Valley High School selected to receive statewide civic learning award

Valley High School will receive the California Department of Education’s Civic Learning Awards Program Award of Merit from the Honorable Stacy Boulware Eurie, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge, in a special awards ceremony at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 3.  This program celebrates successful efforts to engage California public high school students in civic learning and spotlights replicable models for other schools to follow.

The awards ceremony will also feature remarks from Elk Grove Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Steven M. Ladd and EGUSD Board President Chet Madison Sr., as well as presentations from Valley’s Associated Student Body (ASB), Health TECH Academy and Social Sciences Department.

 “Civic learning is at the cornerstone of our society – one in which our students here at Valley are proud to serve,” said Chelsea Bowler-Shelton, principal at Valley.  “The Civic Learning Award shines a light on the students and teachers of Valley’s Health TECH Academy, Associated Student Body and Social Science Department who believe that giving back to their communities prepares students for civic engagement, college and career opportunities.”

To be considered for the award, schools must describe their civic learning practices and programs, with an emphasis on those that incorporate research-based proven practices in civic education.  A panel of experts assesses the applications according to both depth and breadth.

Valley was selected for the Award of Merit for their work with their ASB program, Regional Summer Academy for the Arts and Sciences, Health TECH Academy and Social Sciences Department.  ASB students are involved in numerous civic-minded activities, including School Site Council, Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee, blood drives and homeless outreach.  The Valley Regional Summer Academy of the Arts and Sciences is a week-long summer program planned and run by ASB students for fifth and sixth grade students.  The Health TECH Academy prepares students for careers in the health field and has forged a partnership with Kaiser Permanente to create the Cultural Awareness and Community Health Education Project (CACHE).  The Health TECH Academy also holds an annual Health and Fitness Expo on campus.  This event draws 50-60 outside vendors to the Valley campus to inform students, staff and community members about the importance of staying healthy and fit.

The Social Sciences Department, in particular, has posted impressive gains.  Through creative ways to bring history to life for students – such as a living history museum and debating as Roman senators while wearing togas – Valley students have made significant improvements in their social science test scores.  Over the past eight years, the number of students scoring proficient and advanced on the U.S. History CST has increased by 47 percent and World History CST scores have nearly tripled.

Click here for more information about the Civic Learning Awards Program.

WHO:              The Honorable Stacy Boulware Eurie – Sacramento County Superior Court Judge; EGUSD Superintendent Dr. Steven M. Ladd; EGUSD Board President Chet Madison, Sr.; Valley High School students, staff and administrators

WHAT:            An awards ceremony honoring Valley High School for receiving the Award of Merit from the California Department of Education’s Civic Learning Awards Program

WHEN:              May 3, 2013

10 a.m. to 11 a.m

WHERE:          Valley High School

6300 Ehrhardt Avenue

Sacramento, CA 95823



About the Elk Grove Unified School District

Since unification in 1959, the Elk Grove Unified School District has provided a learning community that challenges all students to realize their greatest potential.  With more than 61,000 students, Elk Grove Unified is the largest school district in Northern California and the fifth largest in California.  Elk Grove Unified covers 320 square miles and serves students in the cities of Sacramento, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, as well unincorporated areas of Sacramento County.  From elementary school to high school, the emphasis is on preparing students to be successful in college and their chosen careers.  Teachers and staff focus on rigorous academic skills and lessons that prepare students for the 21st century workforce and global economy.  Elk Grove Unified has been recognized both statewide and nationally for innovation in professional development as well as career technical education.  For more information about the Elk Grove Unified School District, please visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About California GEAR UP and Elk Grove

Elk Grove Unified School District has been a California GEAR UP Partner since 2006 and is currently part of our Bridge Project, a model project that is characterized by collaboration, student progress tracking, and data sharing among a family of schools across educational levels in Elk Grove for the purpose of preparing all students in the cohort for college.

EGUSD selected to participate in Linked Learning Pilot Program

January 9, 2013

The Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD), a California GEAR UP Partner and Bridge Project school district has been selected as one of 20 participants in a new state pilot program designed to help students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and careers.  EGUSD will implement the four-and-a-half year pilot program in its 16 “Linked Learning” California Partnership Academies as well through other district-wide programs.

The state-facilitated Linked Learning Pilot Program was established in 2011 through the passage of AB 790 by former Assembly Member Warren Furutani.  “Linked Learning” programs use coursework, technical training, work-based learning and other related support mechanisms to create connections between high school and college and career.  Both statewide and in EGUSD, students in Linked Learning programs graduate at higher rates and with skills and knowledge needed in the California workforce.  This pilot will be used to assess how Linked Learning can be expanded to other schools in California.

“The district has brought to fruition many career academies and pathways that offer rigorous and relevant educational experiences for our students,” said EGUSD Superintendent Steven M. Ladd, Ed.D. “Through these programs, our students leave high school well prepared to be successful in college or careers in the 21st century.”

At Elk Grove Unified, the district’s 16 California Partnership Academies and their success in connecting academics to workforce development will be the focus of the program’s implementation.  Through Linked Learning, the district will enhance district-wide systems of support to increase access to career pathways for every student in EGUSD.  The Elk Grove Unified School District also plans on serving as a model for other districts throughout California that are interested in starting or retooling their pathway programs.

“Participation in Linked Learning extends EGUSD’s ongoing commitment to career technical education and multiple pathways to student success in college and career,” said Kathy Hamilton, director of career technical, charter and adult education for the district.  “Through participation, EGUSD will be better positioned to receive state and federal funding for CTE-related programs as it becomes available over the next several years.”

Click here for more information about Linked Learning.


GEAR UP Student Ambassador: If You Believe, You Will Achieve


We are pleased to share the second featured GEAR UP Student Ambassador, Rosemarie Correa, an extremely forward thinking and intelligent tenth grade student at Monterey Trail High School in Elk Grove, CA. We were lucky enough to meet Rosemarie at the National GEAR UP Week celebration in Elk Grove where she was a featured speaker. Rosemarie was a recipient of a California GEAR UP Education Trust Award while a student at Harris Middle School and has since been an advocate for early college readiness, steadfast academic pursuit, and believing in her dreams. Harris Middle School has been a California GEAR UP school since 2006 and receives school-wide services to create a college-going culture by focusing on the adults within the school. One aspect of the services are the Education Trust Awards each school receives to distribute to a select group of students.

How did receiving the Education Trust Award effect your educational path?

Receiving the Educational Trust Award in middle school made me even more motivated to strive for my goals and that I am that much closer to going to the college of my dreams. Receiving the award in middle school was important because it helped me and my family to start thinking about college early.


How did your friends and family respond to you receiving the Education Trust Award in middle school since most college awards are usually given out in high school?

My friends and family were so proud of me! It also reminded me that anything is possible as long as you keep yourself motivated and remain positive.


What were some of the challenges in middle school and how have you overcome them?

A challenge I faced in middle school was not being very sociable. I was able to overcome my bashfulness by participating in different activities like GEAR UP college events, and by doing so I started to feel more comfortable talking to others. My teachers and parents were very supportive of me which helped greatly.


What is some advice you can give current middle and high school students that will help them stay on the road to college?

I would advise current middle and high school students that grades are very important and to remain motivated by focusing on your long term goals. If you don’t think about your future and all that you need to get done before hand, then you will most likely not push yourself and will not strive for your goals. Planning ahead of time is important, especially with your family and supporters at your school.


What are your college dreams?

My college dream is to go to The University of the Pacific and to get my Bachelors in Business. It is important to go to college so you can become successful in life. College is where you discover who you are and who you want to truly be. If you go to college, there are more opportunities and it’s also the place where all of your hard work pays off because it is the begining of your entire future.


What can you tell younger students that will help them be more prepared for high school?

Do not procrastinate on any homework no matter how much it may be, because it weighs heavily. They must be ready to take a lot of notes especially Cornell notes. As long as they maintain high grades and work hard they will succeed.


Anything else you want to share with us?

If you believe you will achieve.


Rosemarie’s philosophy of studying hard, staying focused on her goals, and relying on her family and school supports to achieve her college dreams are the true embodiment of GEAR UP school culture. Her passion and drive are an inspiration to all students and families with college aspirations.

For more information on California GEAR UP whole school services, Education Trust Awards, and inspirational stories from students, schools, and families please visit our website. If you are a former recipient of an Education Trust Award you can call our ETA line 916-479-6742, or email

Keep checking for updates, we will keep you apprised of Rosemarie’s continued success. Look for more GEAR UP success stories here on the blog or nationally on the GEAR UP Works! blog hosted by NCCEP.

If you have an inspiring college dreams story, please contact us here:


California GEAR UP Honored With Statewide Proclamations

As part of continuing statewide National GEAR UP week celebrations, California GEAR UP is honored to have received proclamations from officials across the state, including: Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA3), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA5), and current Sacramento, CA mayor Kevin Johnson.

Proclamation ceremonies were held at a luncheon hosted by Elk Grove Unified School District and attended by Greg Darnieder, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Education on College Access, community leaders, board members, principals and teachers, students and GEAR UP staff.

National GEAR UP Week is September 10-14, 2012. Across the nation and in California, school communities will mark this occasion through activities, contests, college fairs and other events in celebration of college access for ALL students.

GEAR UP is a program of the U.S. Department of Education, developed to provide school-based services to ensure that students and their families have multiple college and career choices after high school. Since 1999, California GEAR UP has effectively served over 300 schools across the state by providing local and efficient community based services.

Working in collaboration with nine schools in the Elk Grove Unified School district, GEAR UP provides direct support to students, principals, teachers, counselors and families. More information is available at

National GEAR UP Week Celebration Announced in Elk Grove

September 7, 2012
Elizabeth Graswich
EGUSD Director, Communications


California GEAR UP and the Elk Grove Unified School District will celebrate National GEAR UP Week from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday, September 10, 2012 in the Board Room at the Robert L. Trigg Education Center (9510 Elk Grove-Florin Road, Elk Grove 95624).

Greg Darnieder, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Education on College Access, will attend this celebration as a special guest. Event attendees will also include local and state education officials, teachers, students and family and community members.

National GEAR UP Week is September 10-14, 2012. Across the nation and in California, school communities will mark this occasion through activities, contests, college fairs and other events in celebration of college access for ALL students.

GEAR UP is a program of the U.S. Department of Education, developed to provide school-based services to ensure that students and their families have multiple college and career choices after high school. Since 1999, California GEAR UP has effectively served over 300 schools across the state by providing local and efficient community based services.

Working in collaboration with nine schools in the Elk Grove Unified School district, GEAR UP provides direct support to students, principals, teachers, counselors and families. More information is available at

For more information about this event, contact Elizabeth Graswich at 619-686-7732 or Sean Brennan at or 415-948-9262.


Valley High School Celebrates National GEAR UP Day

The Valley High School-California GEAR UP Collaborative celebrated National GEAR UP Day today with a business and community leaders breakfast. Attendees listened to testimonials from students representing various organizations across the school, including the student body president, AVID students, athletes, and Leadership Skill Initiative students who are all college bound thanks in part to California GEAR UP. Students had this to share:

“Benefits of hard work are evident and GEAR UP showed us that.”

“GEAR UP and AVID helped us to become financially literate.”

“GEAR UP Leadership Skills Initiative taught us how to go from teenagers trying to do to young adults doing.”

“Our teachers listen to us and that makes all the difference in our success.”

Principal Keven MacDonald was eager to share how GEAR UP has helped shape perceptions at Valley of college access and academic excellence for all students. His enthusiasm was in part due to the Valley-GEAR UP partnership that has contributed to recent achievements in API and school ranking.

Superintendent Dr. Steven Ladd addressed the crowd, again celebrating the many acheivements at Valley and the contribution of California GEAR UP. Here are some excerpts:

“GEAR UP Looked at our students and saw greatness.”

“The leadership of GEAR UP and Shelley Davis in this partnership has contributed to much of the success at Valley.”

Other folks gathered at the celebration included GEAR UP Partner and former WNBA star Ruthie Bolton who mentors in the Leadership Skills Initiative students, Tina Penna, Associate Superintendent of Secondary Education, Paul Burke, Jackman Middle School Principal, Penny Edgert Principal Investigator, California GEAR UP, Executive Director, California Education Roundtable, and Timoteo Rico, Director, EAOP UC Davis.

National GEAR UP Day is a celebration of transformative work of California GEAR UP and the 68 partnership projects have impacted over 1/3 of the 1200 middle schools in California, with the State grant serving over 236,000 students in 260 schools in 106 school districts in 25 counties since 1999.

National GEAR UP Day celebrates students, families and school communities across the United States and beyond. The occasion marks more than ten years of support from Congressional, State and local leaders and recognizes our collaborative efforts to close achievement and opportunity gaps for ALL students.” ~Shelley Davis, California GEAR UP Director.

For more pictures of the event and the Valley High School College Door Decorating Contest, checkout our Facebook page here.

Valley High School Ready for National GEAR UP Day

Valley High School is finishing preparations for their second annual National GEAR UP Day celebration to be held on September 30. Activities include:

  • Business and Community Leaders Breakfast starting at 8:00 am.
  • Campus tours and classroom visits
  • Lunch-time Student activities and performances
  • An opportunity to network with business and community leaders, families, and educators.

National GEAR UP Day is a celebration of transformative work of California GEAR UP – Valley High School Collaboration that includes dramatic gains in the statewide API, the opening of a Family Center, distribution of 100 Education Trust Awards, the implementation of a Leadership Skills Initiative, as well as on-going school-wide academic support.

Confirmed attendees include:

For information on this event or to attend, please contact Deisy

Continue to follow events across the state as we cover National GEAR UP Day across California.

Valley High School is Number 1 in California Similar Schools

Click on the image above to view the video!

As many of you who follow this blog know, California GEAR UP works with Valley High School in Sacramento, CA in a unique collaboration that provides the school with innovative resources and support services for students, families, teachers, counselors and administrators to create a community-wide college-going culture.

This year Valley High was excited to announce the remarkable achievement on the statewide API. The API reports include a “similar schools rank.” This information shows where a school ranks on a scale of 1–10, compared with 100 other schools with similar demographic characteristics. California public schools serve students with many different backgrounds and needs. As a result, schools face different educational challenges. The similar schools ranks for 2010 allow schools to look at their academic performance compared to other schools with some of the same opportunities and challenges.

Here are some of Valley’s newsworthy accomplishments:

  • Valley is the Number 1 (non charter) in Similar Schools and demographics in California.
  • Of 100 Similar Schools in California, Valley scored a perfect 10. They are the only non-charter to do so!
  • Valley had the highest API score of any non-charter school and had the 8th highest API overall.

The VHS increases are very impressive even compared to the new schools (Monterey Trails, Pleasant Grove and Franklin) which includes more affluent students who moved to these schools from the Valley area. Valley is one of the oldest schools in EGUSD and it compares very well indeed! GEAR UP has much to be proud of in providing academic support.

–Josephine Blick, Valley GEAR UP academic advisor

These accomplishments come along with more great Valley news: a 24 point increase in API since last year!

Special thanks to principal Keven MacDonald and the Valley High School staff for making these achievements possible. Thanks to Chris Wong for the video production!

Valley-GEAR UP Collaboration Celebrates 50 Student Awards

On Monday, May 17 the California GEAR UP-Valley High School Collaborative celebrated it’s annual Education Trust Awards with a ceremony and dinner. 50 student awards were handed out, each with a value of $2,000 which will be held in trust in a Scholarshare account until the students enroll in college.

The California GEAR UP Program’s expectation is that offering a monetary incentive to students would stimulate the entire family and school community to support his or her preparation for college. College savings accounts are established in the name of each of the selected students that will accrue interest until students enroll in college. Students can access these funds to pay for college expenses once they enroll in a college or university.

Here are some quotes from those in attendance:
The energy in the room was like Christmas Day! Excitement was everywhere. -GEAR UP Staff
GEAR UP provides a remarkable service to these students, as they are handed a direct link to their future. -Parent
The Valley – GEAR UP collaboration is a model of success. -Valley High teacher

California GEAR UP is excited to provide  288 awards to students across the state during May and June at Education Trust Award celebrations organized by Leadership Teams at participating schools. We will be sharing these events with you on our blog, so be sure to check in with us daily!

Special thanks to Chris Wong for the pictures and video (coming soon).

Harris Middle School Hosts Family University

harrisms 005

The Family Initiatives Project is designed to encourage a partnership between families, schools, and communities in the educational process, especially but not exclusively for African-American families. Five-week sessions or one Saturday Family University offer college and career information and connect families to local community and social services. Through interactive sessions that increase understanding of the school system, family members enhance their knowledge of the middle school years, the “road to college”, and their critical role as support for their children. This greater knowledge and understanding is expected to enhance their ability to be effective advocates for their children in the school system.

FIP brings together families, schools and communities as partners in the education process. FIP services are based on recommendations from the GEAR UP school leadership team and the unique contributions of each school community.

Here are some comments from families who attended this weeks Family University at Harris Middle School in Sacramento:

Keep up the great information – parent from Harris.

Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge, the information was very helpful. – Parent.

Excellent program, good information great opportunity to network with other parents and good resources – Parent.

Share with us what you are doing at your school to engage families by commenting on this post or contacting us here.

For mor information on FIP. please read our FIP policy brief on our website.