Visalia Unified names new superintendent
Todd Oto, who had been serving Visalia Unified School District as the interim superintendent since Jan. 1, was appointed to the post permanently by the school board at its April 26 meeting.
Oto will transition into his permanent role effective June 1. The former superintendent, Craig Wheaton, is now serving as deputy superintendent for the Tulare County Office of Education.
“I consider it the highest honor to be selected to lead the organization that I have served for 29 years,” Oto said.
Oto began his career at Mt. Whitney High School in 1987, where he worked as an industrial arts and technology teacher for 12 years, the school district said.
Oto received his doctorate in educational leadership from a joint doctoral studies program at UC Davis and Fresno State.
Service academies all want Madera High student
A Madera High student had the rare honor of earning nominations to the U.S. Military Academy, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy.
Eric Niino Jr., who will be attending West Point, has a 4.5 GPA and is captain of the water polo team and an Eagle Scout.
Niino was nominated by Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno. Three other area students nominated by the congressman also received admission to a military service academy.
Fresno City College student and 2014 Edison High graduate Mitchell Soper will be attending the U.S. Naval Academy. Bullard High student Connor Vikupitz and Liberty High student Caleb Wiens will both be attending the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“Each year, I have the distinct honor of nominating San Joaquin Valley students to our nation’s military academies, and this year, four of the individuals I nominated have been accepted into the academy of their choice,” Costa said in a statement.
“To be nominated, students must not only excel academically, but also exhibit a passion for service and leadership. Eric, Mitchell, Connor, and Caleb are well-rounded and bright young men who are role models for their peers, and I am so proud of their hard work and efforts.”
To gain admission to a service academy, students must pass a medical and physical examination, as well as obtain a nomination from either the vice president or their U.S. representative or senator.
Accepted students receive a full scholarship to the service academy. After graduating, they complete the military service obligation requirement for each academy.
Merit awards go to Porterville 5
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield visited Porterville on Monday to present five high school students with the 23rd Congressional District of California Merit Award.
“The award embodies superior academic achievement while also recognizing positive values students and educators represent every day,” McCarthy said.
The five students who received the merit award were: Sabrina Banuelos (Granite Hills High School), Rhyane Shanley (Harmony Magnet Academy), Evan Ishida (Monache High School), Noah Kroutil (Porterville High School) and Shannel Miranda (Strathmore High School).
Fresno Pacific sends delegation
A group of faculty members at Fresno Pacific University will explore the question of “What can Fresno Pacific University teach an international leader about education?” and learn something themselves on an 11-day exchange May 12-22.
Finland is receiving close to 50,000 Iraqi and Syrian refugees, and leaders there believe Fresno Pacific has experience with diversity that might inform their approach to the challenge of changing demographics.
The Fresno Pacific delegation includes Darrell Blanks, director of multiple subjects; Christopher S. Brownell, program director, mathematics & STEM education; Gary Gramenz, dean of the School of Education; Linda Hoff, chair of the Division of Teacher Education; Roberta (Bobbi) E. Jentes Mason, retired professor; Sharon Merritt, director; Robin K. Perry, director, Tiffany Friesen Ylarregui, senior researcher, AIMS Center for Math and Science Education; and Andrea McAleenan, director of external relations and partnership development, FPU School of Business.
Mexican Consulate honors Fresno State’s Castro
Fresno State President Joseph Castro was honored by the consul of Mexico with the highest award given to “exceptional leaders” on Tuesday, May 3, for his contribution to improve the well-being of the Mexican, Mexican American and Hispanic community abroad.
Castro accepted the Ohtli Award in the Henry Madden Library from Vicente Sánchez Ventura. The award consists of a medal, a silver rosette and a diploma.
It is given to those who have “led the way” so that younger generations can follow and find success.
Castro joined the list of recipients that includes Judge Armando Rodríguez, labor-rights activist Dolores Huerta, Mexican American actor Edward James Olmos, Mexican businesswoman Yrma Rico and professor Luz Gonzalez.
Art competition winners announced
Rep. David Valadao announced the winners of the 2016 Congressional Art Competition for the 21st Congressional District on Tuesday, May 3.
The winning artwork will be displayed for one year in the national exhibition located in the Cannon Tunnel – a pedestrian walkway leading to the U.S. Capitol.
First place was Diana Aguirre from South High School in Bakersfield; second place was Jarrett Ruiz from Hallmark Charter School in Sanger; third place was Hailey Bohlander from Hanford West High School. Additionally, the online fan favorite was by Aaron Alba from Sanger High School.
West Hills trustee honored for 30 years of service
California Community College Trustees has recognized West Hills Community College District Trustee Jeff Levinson for his 30 years of service as a community college trustee.
Levinson and five other trustees from across the state were honored at a ceremony on April 30. Levinson – who represents Trustee Area 7 – has served the district since 1985 and is in his eighth four-year term.
“First, it’s been a privilege to serve the residents of Lemoore, Kings County and the district since 1985,” Levinson said. “Second, I’ve had the unique experience to work with a group of talented board members. From Vern Gordon and Edna Ivans to our current board led by Mark McKean, the focus has never really changed: providing West Hills College students with the best educational experience possible. Finally, I continue to enjoy the opportunity to work with the staff, faculty and administration of the WHCCD.”