Report Card

News and discussion on K-12 schools in the greater Sacramento region

February 11, 2013
Video: Kindergartener asks board not to close his school

Six-year-old Gavin Whelan approached the podium with confidence, stepping onto a stool and leaning into the microphone at Thursday's school board meeting regarding school closures in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Whelan immediately won the hearts of the room, as you'll see in the video below that captures the last half of his speech. For his bravery, as well as his patience in waiting through three hours of prior public comment, Whelan earns this blog's Gold Star award.

February 11, 2013
Sacramento County Poetry Out Loud winner named

Henry Molina, a student at John F. Kennedy High School, took top honors in the Sacramento County Poetry Out Loud competition Thursday.

The Sacramento City Unified student beat out 14 opponents and won the right to represent the county in the state finals March 25-26 in Sacramento.

The contest encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition, according to a press release from the Sacramento County Office of Education, a sponsor of the event.

Carinn Candelaria from Pleasant Grove High School in the Elk Grove Unified School District was the runner-up.

The winner of the state competition in March will win $200 and a trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the national finals April 28-30. A total of $50,000 will be awarded at the national finals, including a $20,000 prize for the champion.

December 3, 2012
Torlakson selects Mira Loma student for national honor

Kao.jpgGolden Apple: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson selected two California high school students to the highly competitive United States Senate Youth Program, including Mira Loma High School student Josephine Kao.

Torlakson selected Kao and Deeksha Goyal of Redlands East Valley High School in San Bernardino County for their "outstanding scholastic achievement, leadership qualities and strong commitment to their schools and communities," according to a press release from the California Department of Education.

Two alternates - Anna Page of San Diego and Stefano Rumi of Los Angeles - were also selected.

"I'm amazed at what these four outstanding young people have accomplished," Torlakson said in a press release. "They are among California's - as well as the nation's - top scholars, and I applaud their achievements, both inside and outside the classroom."

Kao, who lives in Roseville, was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to be the student board member of the California State Board of Education.

She is a synchronized figure skater with a 4.83 weighted grade point average, a former president and current commissioner on the Placer County Youth Commission; speech captain of the nationally acclaimed Mira Loma Speech and Debate Team; second-place winner at the 2012 California State Speech Tournament for Original Oratory; teen councilmember of the Roseville Teen Library Council; outreach manager and grant writer for the Arden Creek Project Natural Resources (internship) and founder of the local Literacy is for Everyone!

Kao plays the harp as a volunteer for the Kaiser Permanente Spiritual Healing Program. She plans to pursue economics and international relations in college.

"I am interested in pursuing a career that will incorporate my love for motivational public speaking, global economic development, and research," she wrote in her USSYP application. "It is a goal of mine to one day start a nonprofit organization that supports educational opportunities for youth in developing nations."

High school principals nominate students for the Senate Youth Program. Students are then reviewed by a state Department of Education committee and sent to Torlakson for selection.

For more information on the U.S. Senate Youth Program, click HERE.

November 5, 2012
School meals innovator wins award

GOLDEN APPLE: This week's Golden Apple goes to Brenda Padilla, a nutrition services manager for Sacramento City Unified School District. The California Endowment honored Padilla with the "Health Happens Hero" award for her efforts to deliver 40,000 nutritious meals to local students each day.

The California Endowment said Padilla increased the use of locally grown produce and developed well-received recipes that meet new nutrition guidelines.

"Our kids love the food, and we love preparing it for them, because we know it's fresh and delicious and will give them the energy they need to succeed," Padilla told the California Endowment.

For more on the award, visit

October 8, 2012
Golden Apple: Runnin' for Rhett gets kids moving

Rhettrace.JPGGOLDEN APPLE AWARD: This week's Golden Apple award goes to Runnin' for Rhett, an Elk Grove nonprofit that runs a youth fitness program at 24 local schools.

Runnin' for Rhett was formed in honor of Rhett Seevers, who was born with cerebral palsy and died in 2004 at age 7. His parents, Beth and Randy Seevers, founded the organization to encourage kids to run, which was something their son wanted to do, but never could.

The nonprofit runs a five week after-school training program in the spring and fall at two dozen schools. During the training programs, students meet twice a week with their coach to work on strength training, running and to learn about nutrition as they prepare to run a 5K.

The hard work of those students will culminate in the second annual Run Because You Can race on Oct. 28 at Crocker Park. The race is open to anyone, with the students beginning shortly after the general public. There is a 5K, 10K and kids run.

September 17, 2012
Golden Apple: Grant alumni honor history, support students

Grantmuseum.JPGThis blog will feature a weekly Golden Apple award on Mondays where we will spotlight a teacher, student, parent, staff member or community association making a positive impact on local schools.

This week's Golden Apple goes to the Grant Union High School Alumni Association, whose volunteer members operate the high school's alumni museum. Grant alumni have also been raising money to bring back the Pacer's marching band, as featured in a story I wrote last week.

In the past 28 years, the association has awarded $700,000 in scholarships to Grant graduates, including $101,000 last year alone.

About Report Card

Loretta KalbLoretta Kalb started her reporting career at The Sacramento Union, moved to KOVR-13 as a television reporter, editor and producer, headed to The Associated Press in San Francisco and eventually returned to Sacramento and joined The Sacramento Bee. Throughout her career, she has covered the state Legislature, courts, local government and, now, education. She is a Chico native and an Elk Grove resident.

Diana LambertDiana Lambert began her journalism career as a proofreader at the Lodi News-Sentinel. She is now a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee covering K-12 education and California State University, Sacramento. Previously she was The Bee’s Elk Grove bureau chief. Lambert was raised in a military family and lived at bases around the globe. She attended four high schools, graduating from Tokay High in Lodi and then Sacramento State University. She lives in Elk Grove.

(916) 321-1073
Twitter: @LorettaSacBee
(916) 321-1090
Twitter: @dianalambert

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