Weekly roundup: Water district contest winners, celebrating student artists, school agriculture programs, and more

How’s this for drip marketing? Students from the Newport-Mesa Unified School District recently earned cash prizes for producing the winning informational videos in a contest sponsored by Mesa Water District.

Sarita Plata, a junior at Early College High School, was presented with $1,000 for her first-place submission. Costa Mesa High School sophomore Jaidyn Soldin and ninth-graders Karla Gurrola, Andi Lopez and Daisy Serrano won second place and a prize of $750, while Costa Mesa High seniors Esmeralda Andres, Elizabeth Palma, Victoria Perdomo and Alexa Santiago took third, winning $500.

Students holding check posters
From left, Karla Gurrola, Andi Lopez, Sarita Plata, Victoria Perdomo, Elizabeth Palma and Esmeralda Andres display their contest prize amounts.

The contest was open to students who live or attend school in Mesa Water’s service area, and the videos were judged on accuracy, creativity, quality and entertainment value. The winners were recognized by Mesa Water’s Board of Directors on April 13.

“It’s an honor to recognize this new generation of talented storytellers for highlighting Mesa Water’s commitment to provide 100% local, reliable, clean and safe water,” Mesa Water Board President Marice H. DePasquale said.

And here are some of the news items we’ve been tracking during this very busy week:

  • The Orange County Register has announced 105 semifinalists in its annual Artist of the Year program. A panel of arts teachers evaluated the work of 646 nominees in specific categories within seven disciplines — dance, film/animation, instrumental music, vocal music, theater, computer-assisted visual arts and handcrafted visual arts. The Artists of the Year will be announced this Sunday, May 1.
  • Young entrepreneurs from Fountain Valley High have earned honors and scholarships through their school’s Virtual Enterprises program, which tasks students with launching simulated business. Following a regional competition victory, the team won the Intuit Social Innovation Challenge, which challenges students to help underrepresented business owners gain access to equitable opportunities in entrepreneurship.
  • OCDE has partnered with leaders of the Acjachemen community and Vanguard University to offer local educators a deep dive on Orange County’s first peoples with a half-day history lesson and cultural tour. Three tours have been held so far, each offered at no cost. The OCDE Newsroom has a story and brief video about the program.
  • A lot of attention is swarming around a new addition to the agriculture science program at Westminster High School, which recently added 60,000 honey bees. The OCDE Newsroom caught up with California’s first high school beekeeping program for a story and video.
  • Magnolia High School’s campus garden has become a small farm, producing carrots, cauliflower, snap peas, three kinds of lettuce, turnipps, cucumbers and much more. It was recently showcased at the Anaheim Union High School District’s “STEAM-a-palooza” event, which exhibited projects and classes that focus on science, math and arts.
  • Nearly 150 schools and 15 districts in Orange County were announced as winners of a new state award celebrating innovative practices from the 2020-21 school year, when many California schools were transitioning back to in-person learning. The California Pivotal Practice Award Program, or CAPP, was unveiled this year in place of the California Distinguished Schools program.
  • “Be nice to everyone, most importantly, be inclusive” is the message displayed on one of two new buddy benches installed at Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar high schools through a collaboration between two high school seniors and the Patrick’s Purpose Foundation. Another buddy bench is coming to Whittier Elementary.
  • The Newport-Mesa Unified School District is considering five possible locations for a proposed $41-million theater at Estancia High School. A recent town hall meeting sought input from students, parents and residents.
  • In an effort to prevent underage drinking, members of the Orange County Youth Council visited alcohol retailers in Anaheim, where they met with store owners and managers to discuss strategies to reduce alcohol sales to minors.

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.