Weekly roundup: Artist of the Year semifinalists announced, teacher scores on ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ and more

In partnership with OCDE, the Orange County Register has announced 105 semifinalists in its annual Artist of the Year program.

A panel of visual and performing arts teachers was tasked with evaluating the work of 616 talented high school artists in seven disciplines — dance, film/animation, instrumental music, vocal music, theater, computer-assisted visual arts and handcrafted visual arts — and multiple specialties within each discipline.

Student semifinalists

According to the Register, students submitted applications, performance videos, art portfolios, film samples and artistic résumés for consideration. A final round of judging that’s usually done in-person was conducted virtually.

From the pool of semifinalists, two dozen finalists are set to be selected, or one for each specialty. Ultimately, one student from each of the seven disciplines will be named a 2021 Artist of the Year on May 2.

And here are the other stories we’ve been following during this very busy week:

  • After a review of the data, 10 more Orange County campuses were added to this year’s list of California Distinguished Schools, bringing OC’s total to 21 in 2021.
  • A teacher at Melinda Heights Elementary School in Rancho Santa Margarita spun the big wheel, solved the word puzzle and won a Florida home during an appearance on “Wheel Of Fortune.” It marked the first time the gameshow has given away a house in its 46-year history.
  • Santa Ana Unified officials say the district will offer in-person instruction to 25,000 students this summer, with most school classrooms accommodating as few as 10 students and high school classes limited to 20 students per teacher. More details are expected during a May 18 school board meeting.
  • Middle and high school students in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District returned to full-day, in-person instruction four days a week, with one day of remote learning. Elementary students resumed on-site instruction the previous week.
  • For more than two decades, OCDE has been celebrating high school seniors through the OC AVID Senior Recognition Program. This year, the AVID team virtually recognized local students who received awards and scholarships.
  • In recognition of its sweeping efforts to couple sustainability with environmental literacy, Fryberger Elementary in Westminster was announced as one of five California schools to receive U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition after being designated as a “Green Achiever” by the state.
  • For Earth Day, Whitaker Elementary School in Buena Park unveiled a mural of two young children tending a flower garden. The mural adorns a wall next to Whitaker’s own Wellness Garden, which is being used for outdoor science lessons.
  • California schools should use their Covid-19 relief funds to embed mental health, equity and relationship support into all aspects of the school day, according to a new report co-published by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) and other groups, including the California PTA, the California Teachers Association and the Association for California School Administrators.
  • Calling for school officials to restore in-person middle school instruction full-time, a group of parents and students protested outside the headquarters of the Huntington Beach City School District.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.