Thursday, 22 February 2024

Opinion

Kelseyville Unified Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

While the pandemic keeps grabbing all the headlines, many educators throughout Lake County are quietly doing inspiring work with local students, helping them build resilience while also teaching them the academic skills they need to be successful.

We also have many unsung heroes who do not work directly with students, but who nonetheless make sure students and staff have the resources they need to keep moving forward.

Collecting cans to help others

Kelseyville High School teacher Mr. Bailey recently congratulated his first-period class with breakfast at Woody's for collecting 600 cans of food during the Thanksgiving food drive.

Mr. Bailey’s students’ efforts amounted to 40%t of the whole KHS collection effort! Every donation counts and I'm proud of all the KHS first-period classes who participated. Together, they donated 1,500 cans to people in our community.

Big thanks to Freaky Fast Oil Change

Sometimes teachers, coaches, and athletic directors reach out in the community to help students. Big thanks to Freaky Fast Oil Change in Lakeport for supporting KHS Athletics. Owners Brian and Marilee Manson donated a dollar for each oil change in the month of December, which added up to $333!

Helping students who need a little extra structure

Our new Kelseyville Elementary School counselor, Nicole Sherrell, implemented a check-in/check-out system. CICO provides more structure, accountability, and motivation to help students improve behaviors. Most students on CICO have been demonstrating big improvements so far.

Working hard behind the scenes

Sometimes our less visible employees make huge contributions. At Kelseyville, we have a tech team of two — and they keep the entire district running.

It is truly incredible not only the volume of work they have taken on during this whole COVID mess, it is also impressive how they continually seek ways to help us use technology to make us more efficient and provide better quality results.

Recently, Bill Grossner figured out how to connect data from two different systems, saving our team countless hours of input by hand.

Testing, testing and more testing

Another team that deserves high praise is our nursing and district staff who have administered hundreds of COVID tests.

As you probably know, public school districts must comply with guidelines set by the California Department of Public Health and this includes a whole bunch of testing. To keep teachers in the classroom, testing staff have come in early and stayed late.

To make it more convenient for staff and students, nursing staff have traveled to school sites rather than requiring folks to come to a central testing location.

Modeling great attitudes

Some of the most impressive staff are those who continually share their positive attitudes with colleagues, students, and families. When the rest of us are at the end of our ropes, these folks give us the warm smile and words of encouragement that help us turn our day around.

Guy Fieri Foundation grant for KHS Culinary Program

Finally, in case you missed it, our culinary arts teacher Tami Cramer reached out to the Guy Fieri Foundation and, wow, did that make a difference in the lives of our students!

A $7,270 grant from the Guy Fieri Foundation has paved the way for KHS culinary arts students to fully participate in a newly formed local chapter of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, or FCCLA, a national career and technical student organization.

So, I guess I just want to say thank you. Thank you to our wonderful staff. Thank you to all the families who’ve been patient when we’re under pressure to perform in ways we couldn’t have predicted before the pandemic. Thank you to our wonderful community supporters for their financial contributions that make new opportunities available to our students.

From little things like warm smiles to big things like donations to the day-in, day-out dedication of people who continue to give when they don’t have much left in the way of emotional reserves, it all counts. It all makes a difference.

Let’s keep helping each other and helping our students.

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

Winter is a time for slowing down. Slowing way down. Like the seed underground, quietly growing its roots, we also need to take time for storing up and conserving our energy.

We have moved from the fall, the season of release and letting go, to receiving the time of winter, the most Yin and internal time of the year.

Winter is a time of rest, stillness and replenishment of our deepest resources. It's the time to connect with our root energy, to grow deeper within ourselves, in order to support growth for the coming Spring.

In Chinese Medicine the winter season corresponds with the water element.

Water is about our ability to flow and overcome obstacles. Water energy can resemble a mighty river or a trickling stream, the waves of the ocean, a frozen lake, or the gentle rain.

Water is a transformative substance. When we take the time to be quiet and internal, and “be” in the stillness of our Water energy, we allow a transformative process to occur.

The body/physical gift of water element is rest and solitude, to rebalance and replenish our reserves. When we have enough reserves, we have strength, drive, perseverance and the ambition to reach our fullest potential.

We can manage our physical energy in a balanced way. We don't go into an 'overdoing' mode, or feel too fearful to take risks and try new things.

The mind/emotional gift of the water element is trust, faith, and courage. Water is the renewal of our deepest self-essence and the 'blueprint' for the unfolding of our lives. If our water energy is too low or out of balance we may feel fear, anxiety, and stress from not being able to live our fullest lives.

The spirit gift of the water element is the will, the capacity to persevere and adapt, to nurture our intuition and tap into our creative side, to fully manifest who we are.

The water element grants us the capacity to more deeply discover the essence of our self, and to grow “roots” in our being that anchor ourselves into who we are.

Keys to being in balance in the winter season

Take time to be in the season's stillness. Allow yourself to be quiet and create a space to listen to your deepest self-essence.

Stay warm, reduce outward activities to conserve your energy during the colder, darker months. This is energy you are storing up for the coming spring.

Take a quiet walk outside in the fresh air, listen to relaxing music, read books or listen to books on tape. Take care of yourself, take a soothing bath or a hot foot soak. If you can, get a massage or an acupuncture treatment to stay balanced in the winter season.

Take time to discover more about yourself through reflection, being more aware of your senses, and paying attention to your dreams. The winter season is an especially good time to begin the practice of meditation.

Moderate exercises like Chi Gong, Tai Chi, yoga and Pilates are good for water energy.

Drink warm herbal teas, like camomile, ginger tea and Bengal Spice. Eat warm foods, soups, plenty of steamed vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Try dishes made with whole grains, squashes, beans, peas and dark leafy greens like Swiss chard, kale and bok choy.

Drink plenty of good quality water. Avoid too many cold foods and cold drinks, and eat less sugar and dairy, as all of these can weaken your immune system.

Stay warm, cover the back of your neck to not let the cold wind enter your body, as this is the pathogen that can cause colds and flus. Cover your low back area, to protect your kidneys and bladder area, which stores your reserves of energy.

All of these measures can help to maintain your strength and resilience, for preventive health and well-being.

Follow the wisdom of water: the effortless response to its environment, adapting to change, yielding yet persevering, the courage to stay the course, and staying rooted to one’s essence.

Spring always follows winter. We don’t know what next spring will look like, yet if we follow nature’s way and allow ourselves to be immersed in winter’s gift of rest and replenishment, we will emerge in spring with restored, vibrant energy, a clear vision and a strong rooted sense of how to move forward in our life.

Wendy Weiss has been practicing acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for 30 years. She can be reached for more information on acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at 707-277-0891.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — With the current push and extensive funding available for “brush” clearing I have to point out something that is missing from the conversation.

What is being labeled “brush” is an important and natural plant community called chaparral, and it is unique to California.

It is valuable habitat for numerous wildland creatures, providing shelter, food and nesting habitat for our declining bird populations and mammals.

For some birds like the California thrasher and the wrentit, chaparral is their primary habitat. chaparral is a shrub community composed of many different shrub species, including toyon and old-growth manzanita that provide berries for birds and mammals, and numerous other beautiful native California plants including the blue and white displays of various California lilac (ceanothus) species that cover our hillsides in spring.

The green hills surrounding Clear Lake are mostly carpeted with chaparral. It is what makes Lake County beautiful. It seems like with all the discussion regarding fire safe communities the fact that our chaparral ecosystem is a valuable and unique resource is never mentioned.

Chaparral is not brush or fuel but is an ecosystem unique to California. And it is not indestructible.

Numerous myths abound about chaparral. One being the idea that it is “overgrown,” or “decadent.” These are terms that are not carelessly slapped on other natural systems. Do we talk about old growth redwood forests being “overgrown”?

Old growth is a natural and essential component of chaparral ecosystems, and it is just fine to have stands of old growth chaparral just like in forests and Redwoods. No one speaks of “clearing” redwood forests the way they speak about “clearing brush.”

Let’s look at some facts.

The most effective way to protect lives and communities from wildfire is to focus on making homes fire resistant, reduce flammable materials within 100 feet around them, and prevent developers from placing neighborhoods in harm’s way.

This focus is critical because the most devastating fires in California are wind-driven, casting billions of hot embers miles ahead of the fire front. It’s the wind-driven embers that destroy a majority of communities, not flames from burning shrub lands.

Maintenance of existing fire breaks, maintaining low vegetation along evacuation routes, and focusing on firebreaks near communities are also reasonable approaches. However, completely stripping hillsides of vegetation using masticating and bulldozing is not.

Also, too-frequently burning chaparral will kill it. It is not “meant to burn”; this is a myth that is often promoted about this unique and vulnerable ecosystem.

Lake County’s chaparral represents California’s most extensive and most misunderstood ecosystem. Chaparral can recover from occasional fire, but it is threatened by too much fire.

Also unmentioned is the role of chaparral in climate change. Chaparral plays an important role in carbon sequestration. Does Lake County have a climate change policy that clearly addresses how destruction of natural communities will impact climate change? No, it does not.

Various federal and state agencies have recognized the threat to chaparral: California’s Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment of the state’s terrestrial vegetation predicts chaparral will likely disappear within the next century if current trends continue.

The United States Forest Service established a new leadership intent to protect chaparral in California because human-caused fires have increased fire frequency to the extent that chaparral can no longer survive and is being replaced with non-native annual grasses.

The California Board of Forestry’s Vegetation Treatment Program states that, “coastal sage scrub and chaparral are experiencing fires too frequently resulting in changes to their ecology.”

The California State Legislature amended the Public Resource Code to mandate additional consideration for chaparral plant communities that are being increasingly threatened by fire frequency.

The concern for conservation of chaparral includes acknowledging the critical ecosystem services it provides, especially watershed protection, soil and hillside stabilization, as well as intrinsic value to biodiversity and wildlife habitat.

Vegetation management for the purpose of fire risk reduction should focus on thinning vegetation along evacuation routes, within 100 feet of structures and removing flammable invasive species, which are the primary ladder fuels, to reduce ignitions. Preventing roadside ignitions makes great sense, as this is exactly where many fires start.

Clear cutting, masticating, or excessive burning of chaparral is not a solution. This will create large swaths of unsightly cleared hillsides that will soon revegetate with flammable non-native grasses. These grasses can ignite with a single spark and rapidly carry fire into whatever wildlife habitat is left.

Large cleared open areas also create wind tunnels that can funnel fire at high-speeds, thereby creating wind-driven fires even when the weather is not intrinsically windy.

Please don’t call chaparral “brush” or “fuel”. Call is what it is and recognize it for what it is: an endangered unique California ecosystem that is important for the birds and animals that live here.

Roberta Lyons lives in Lower Lake.

Kelseyville Unified Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

What do you do when one of your favorite colleagues tells you they’ve been offered a wonderful job somewhere else? You congratulate them and wish them well with all your heart, even though you’ll miss them.

That’s what we did when our assistant superintendent, Tim Gill, shared the news that Middletown Unified asked him to become their district superintendent. We were sad to see him go, but happy that his skill and experience will be put to good use in another Lake County school district.

The vacancy created by Mr. Gill’s departure gave us a chance to see whether we had people in our district ready for new challenges. Turns out, we did!

Dr. Nicki Thomas has moved from being principal at Mountain Vista Middle School, or MVMS, to becoming our new assistant district superintendent.

Scott Conrad has moved from being the vice principal at Kelseyville High School, or KHS, to becoming the principal at MVMS.

And Adriana Macias has moved from teaching English language development at MVMS to becoming the assistant principal at KHS.

Whenever we can promote qualified candidates from within our district, that’s what we do. Ms. Macias is not only a qualified candidate who is ready to put her administrative credential to good use, she is also a 2002 KHS graduate. So, the silver lining of Mr. Gill leaving is that Middletown gains a great administrator and we get to welcome Ms. Macias to our leadership team.

In other good news, we’re making it easier for people to support their favorite Kelseyville schools and projects. We’ve partnered with DonorsChoose, an online fundraising platform that makes it easy for people to help our teachers on projects that require extra support.

DonorsChoose was started in 2000, when a high school history teacher from the Bronx in New York looked at all the money he and his colleagues were spending on books, art supplies and other materials for their students. He figured there were people out there who'd want to help as long as they could see where their money was going, so he developed a website where teachers could request support for their classroom projects, and donors could support the ones they liked best. Now, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated to schools across the country.

If you would like to support a classroom project at Kelseyville Unified, visit www.donorschoose.org/kvusd?active=true.

As one year ends and another begins, it’s a great time to appreciate the blessings in our lives. Some are big and some are small, but they all make our lives better.

I’m really sad to see Tim Gill go, but I’m grateful to have a bilingual, bicultural administrator who knows our students and can step into leadership at the high school. So, even when life seems to be throwing you a rotten tomato, sometimes good can come of it.

The more you look for the positive, the easier it is to find. And the more you find it, the happier you’re likely to be.

I’m not just making this up. Harvard Medical School says, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

I am grateful that I work in a wonderful school district with wonderful staff, parents and students. I wish you a happy new year!

Dave McQueen is superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

I am writing to express how deeply moved I was by the interview I heard on KPFZ Dec. 15, with Annina van Voorene of Any Positive Change.

It is my belief that the public is woefully uninformed about the benefits of syringe exchange programs, or SEPs.

Drugs that are injected have a higher instance of transmitting HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases, injury to skin and soft tissue, substantial raises in acute and chronic diseases, and death. Injection drug use leads to a high cost of health care that California must bear.

Any Positive Change is doing exactly what its name implies, making small sustainable changes by providing clean safe injection materials to a portion of our community that is often marginalized.

These people who are currently unable due to pain or simply unwilling at this time to stop injecting substances can still be provided with clean materials that reduce sharing and disease transmission with the added benefit of drastically reducing the occurrence of injury, disease and loss of life.

It grieves me deeply that the Lake County Board of Supervisors is not throwing its full support behind a program that the California Public Health Department, or CDPH, and federal government have acknowledged works very well.

It appears that our residents and board members are sadly not aware of the science behind SEPs handing out glassware and any other material that makes substance use safer.

The CDPH has determined that many drugs that are commonly injected — including heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine — may also be smoked, which is a significantly less risky mode of consuming.

CDPH has written that the distribution of safer smoking materials may actually stop consumers from injecting and lessen chances of others initiating first time injection use. The availability of safer smoking supplies may reduce the risk of respiratory infections and injuries such as cuts and burns from using damaged pipes.

Sharing pipes or using broken pipes also leads to higher transmission rates of hepatitis C and respiratory infections such as tuberculosis, influenza and SARS-COV-2 that are spread by respiratory droplets.

Lack of access to new pipes is the primary reason drug smokers share pipes and use damaged pipes. People who smoke drugs may also resort to altering and using objects such as soda cans as makeshift pipes. This may introduce additional harmful chemicals from any printing or lining that may be on or in the can. Providing pipes to people who use drugs leads to decreased risks from sharing.

It was three years ago that California amended Health and Safety Code section 121349.1 to allow programs to distribute smoking materials. Why is Lake County so far behind in implementing these lifesaving changes?

I think law enforcement and local government should have been much more respectful of the wonderful service Ms. van Voorene has been providing for close to 30 years. Her service should be invited to every community in our county as her expert voice should be valued as the true expert in this county.

Lake County was one of 220 jurisdictions nationwide which were identified as high risk for HIV/hepatitis C outbreaks. It is high time we quit turning a blind eye to the problems we face.

We must embrace change. If our Board of Supervisors is not educating the public but instead are hampering programs that reduce risk, then I call on the local media and community groups to shine a light on the issue. We must disseminate factual science-based evidence countywide.

Linda Hatfield lives in Finley, California.

Kelseyville Unified Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. — No matter how qualified you may be for a new opportunity, it can be intimidating to go for it — especially if you’ve never filled out an application, don’t have a resume, and the idea of answering interview questions makes you panic.

This is the situation many of our students find themselves in at some time or another.

To make the transition to life after high school a little easier, our Career Technical Education, or CTE, teacher, Donelle McCallister, took a page from the Future Farmer of America handbook and created an interview competition for Kelseyville High School CTE students.

She invited students to apply for one of the sample jobs that aligned with their CTE pathway: agriscience, ag mechanics, woodworking, digital media and hospitality/culinary.

Then she asked a bunch of us teachers and administrators, including our county superintendent of schools, to serve as judges. I have to say, the whole event was a huge success.

More than 100 students started the process by submitting a resume and cover letter. Many quickly learned how important it is to get the details right, including spelling. If the only thing someone has to go on is what you put on paper, that information had better be good.

The top applicants were then invited to complete a job application, and the top finishers from that phase were invited back for a 10-minute personal interview.

We asked students about their skills and experience, as well as dropping in questions that tested their ability to think on their feet, for example, having to do basic calculations in their head. It’s one thing to perform well when you’re calm and relaxed. It’s a very different thing when you’re nervous.

Kelseyville High School Principal Mike Jones and I were two of the 12 judges, and we agreed that some of the interview questions might have stumped us for a second, but most of the students didn’t miss a beat. They answered with poise and professionalism.

One of the things we talk about a lot in education is “college and career readiness.” In addition to academic skills, it is often the soft skills (or interpersonal skills) that open doors. If a brilliant artist is too shy to talk to another human being, his art may never find an audience. If a student loves math and science but struggles to explain why, she may never be able to connect with people who could help her use those disciplines in her future.

It’s hard to put ourselves in situations where we might fail, but experience is a great teacher and it is better for students to learn where they need to grow when they are applying for a job as part of a competition, as opposed to a job in the real world. I am proud of these students who took a risk and grew from their experience.

The top three finishers in the competition were Iyali Aguirre, Diana Cortez and Madelyn Madrzyk.

Madelyn said, “I am very grateful for the opportunity I was given to be able to compete in the competition. As someone who has never been in a job interview, the experience I have gained in this competition is going to benefit me tremendously in my future careers. I would like to thank the teachers and judges who made this competition possible and congratulate all of the other competitors on their success.”

It’s pretty clear from her thoughtful comment why she was one of the top finishers.

I want to thank Donelle McCallister for organizing the event and to both Jeff and Donelle for offering a $250 scholarship to the first-place finisher.

I also want to thank ag mechanics instructor Maille McCallister from Elsie Allen High School for creating the laser-etched water bottles as prizes, and all the judges who took hours out of their busy schedules to invest their time and expertise to help our students.

As adults, it is up to us to give young people a chance to spread their wings, to see what they are capable of. If you have opportunities in your workplace where high school students could learn new skills, please reach out to our Career Technical Education Department. Let’s help our students soar.

Dave McQueen is superintendent for Kelseyville Unified School District.

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Upcoming Calendar

22Feb
02.22.2024 11:30 am - 1:00 pm
‘Hands on History’ celebration
22Feb
02.22.2024 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Clear Lake Information Order virtual workshop
24Feb
02.24.2024 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Lake County Theatre Co. lip sync event
28Feb
2Mar
03.02.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Special Olympics Polar Plunge
10Mar
17Mar
03.17.2024
St. Patrick's Day
31Mar
03.31.2024
Easter Sunday
1Apr
04.01.2024
Easter Monday

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