A student-teacher team from University High School will be one of only 15 teams from throughout the country to participate in a National History Day program that includes travel to and research in Washington, D.C., and Normandy, France. University High student Sonia Kelly and teacher Judy Richonne will tell the story of a fallen World War II hero as part of the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom program. The goal of the program is to teach a new generation of students about the sacrifices and challenges faced during World War II. The Uni High team will research the war, D-Day and other aspects of the era while focusing on one WWII “silent hero” who died and is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery. During their time in France, each student will deliver a eulogy at the grave of the hero they spent a year studying and getting to know. “When they read their eulogies they are reading a eulogy for someone they know, someone whose story they are responsible for telling,” said Dr. Cathy Gorn, executive director of National History Day. “It results in a powerful, and often tearful, understanding of the sacrifice these Silent Heroes made in World War II.” The student-teacher teams will create websites as a lasting legacy to the year they spent, and to the hero they honor through the program. The teams will also make presentations to local community groups, schools and classes, and veterans organizations. Albert H. Small funds the program. A veteran himself, Small’s donation covers overseas travel, courses, and room and board for each student/teacher team. The University High team is the only one from a California high school participating this year.
As reported in the OC Register, Irvine Unified School District is planning for Measure E upgrades at 21 of the 28 schools to be improved with funds from the $319 million bond approved by voters in the June 2016 election. Construction on the first improvement projects will start after school lets out for summer.
Irvine’s excellent and deserving public school teachers are receiving a 3.7 percent raise this academic year, thanks to a new collective bargaining agreement with Irvine Teachers Association approved by the Irvine Unified School District board in November. Teachers who are working for the district on Feb. 1 will also get a 1.2 percent of salary bonus. The bonus and the pay bumps are necessary to retain and attract the top-level teachers Irvine families expect and deserve, and are designed to help make up for furloughs and salary freezes necessitated by the recession. Though fewer than 20 percent of Irvine teachers live in Irvine, according to reports, we hope any bonus celebratory spending takes place at least partly within the city. Restaurant servers, chefs and bartenders need love (and tips!), too.