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Walnut valley Unified School District

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Our motto is KIDS FIRST... Every Student, Every Day!   Valley USD is proud to be a National Schools to Watch District with numerous National Blue Ribbon, California Gold Ribbon, and California Distinguished School awards. 

Back to Class!

August 12, 2022

By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources

WALNUT, CA--Walnut High School cheer squads and student leaders gathered 30 minutes before the bell to officially welcome students on the first day of school.

Teens waved blue and gold pompoms chanting “Let’s Go, Mustangs!” while the Blue Thunder marching band filled corridors with music as students streamed through the entrance on August 8.

“Playing some of my favorite pep tunes early in the morning for everyone was a great way to get back in the rhythm of daily school life!” shared senior alto sax player Lance Vinculado.

“It really got me into the swing of things and gave me that true school spirit for my final year of high school,” added trumpet player Sameer Chowdhury.

At Diamond Bar High School, USB leadership re-established its first day pep rally held in the gymnasium.

The long-standing tradition had been paused during the pandemic.

“Seeing everyone’s smile and bringing back the energy we all missed made the rally more memorable!” said USB vice president senior Aunica Dionisio.

The school’s competitive spirit was definitely “in the air” during the high-octane assembly according to USB senior Bell Liu.

The “Star Wars” themed-event featured spirit contests, fall sports team introductions, band, and dance team performances.

“Our culture is to go big and make sure everyone knows how special it is to be a Brahma!” advisor Janna Van Horn said.

In total, Walnut Valley USD welcomed over 13,300 students at the 15 Diamond Bar and Walnut campuses.

This year’s motto is “Take care of yourself, each other, and the team.”

During his videotaped staff welcome message, Superintendent Dr. Robert “Bob” Taylor spotlighted a recent example of “creating a community of care.”

He witnessed Evergreen Elementary kindergartners caring for baby chicks that hatched in their class last spring.

“And, it could not have been more perfect when Eziel Dagnino announced ‘Bob’ as our first hatching’s name not knowing who asked him that question!” recalled teacher Susan Chang of the class visit.

At Suzanne Middle School, students with schedules in hand dashed from class to class during passing periods.

“I love seeing smiling faces, learning new names, and making new connections,” shared social studies teacher Josh Henness of the first day exhilaration.

“I have a feeling this is going to be a great year!”

During a vision board activity, division teachers ask students to come up with academic, social, and personal goals, Henness explained.

“We also ask them write down goals for character growth, taking care of their wellness, and how they can help with their families and home,” he said.

Henness challenges his students to hold onto that assignment and report their progress at the end of the year.

“And, they even earn a little extra credit!” he said.

After the morning recess, Westhoff Elementary teacher Raelene Waddell gathered her second-grade class to create a “friendship web.”

While sitting in a circle, each student took a turn introducing themselves, sharing a fun personal fact, and then carefully rolling the yarn ball to a classmate.

Building a classroom community is key to a successful year!” said Waddell, who is the 2022 District Teacher of the Year.

“We are ready for the new school year!” announced C.J. Morris Elementary Principal Kelly Morris.

The school leader shared “students and parents didn’t skip a beat” adjusting to the new bell schedule and systems in place.

“We can’t wait to RISE UP and create the most memorable year ever for our school communities,” she said.

Construction projects made possible by voter approval of Measure WV are in full swing around the District.

Diamond Bar High’s 500 Science Building opened with 18 state-of-the art classrooms featuring collaboration spaces for activities and experiments.

Science teachers moved from portables into the modernized two-story building during the last weeks of summer.

Biology teacher Diana Wai was thrilled to greet students to her spacious, light-filled learning arena.

“It feels so refreshing and I already can feel myself being happier!” she reported.

“Perhaps it’s the lighting, the color scheme, or the anticipation of upgrading my lessons to make the most of that giant lab space!”

Biology teacher Kerry Iwanago, who taught 29 years in the original “dark and dingy” classroom, echoed the excitement of his colleague.  

“The new science classrooms feel so new and professional!” he shared.

“It’s like we’re teaching on a college campus!”

A ribbon cutting ceremony has been slated for September 21.

New South Pointe Middle School Language arts teacher Jocelyn Alvizo included a classroom scavenger hunt among her first day activities.

“The kids have so much energy and I am having so much fun feeding off their positive vibes,” she said.

“I cannot wait to see what else is in store!”


Walnut High cheer, leadership, and band welcome students on the first day of school.

Classroom Community! Raelene Waddell’s second graders create a friendship web. 

Diamond Bar High Thundering Herd band performs at first day pep rally on August 8. 

Diamond Bar High dance team performs at first day pep rally on August 8. 

Diamond Bar High School biology teacher Diana Wai welcomes students to modernized classroom on August 8

“I have a feeling this is going to be a great year!” shares Suzanne Middle School social studies teacher Josh Henness.

C.J. Morris Elementary Principal Kelly Morris, teacher Megan Cowles, and students welcome Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor on the first day of school.

Walnut Elementary second graders pose with first day of school hats and supplies. 

South Pointe Middle School Language arts students join a classroom scavenger hunt. 

Ice Breaker! Maple Hill Elementary fifth graders vie in a cup stacking class competition

Community of Care! Evergreen Elementary student Eziel Dagnino meets with Superintendent Taylor and receives keepsake chick

Caring Community! Supt. Dr. Robert Taylor, shown with Evergreen kindergarten teacher Susan Chang, and last year’s students Melanie Kim, Alais Matheny who recalled caring for baby chicks in a staff welcome video.