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Over the last four years, La Puente High School student-athlete Josiah Hernandez has emerged as a leader, scholar and advocate for his school and District community, participating in various extracurricular activities, clubs and sports, earning him the Hispanic & Latino Excellence in Youth Football Award by the National Football League (NFL).
Hernandez was recognized for his exceptional football abilities, academic achievements and dedication to civics. During the selection process, each of the 32 teams in the league selected one male and one female student to be recognized during game day on Oct. 15. The Los Angeles Rams selected Hernandez, leading to his inclusion as one of eight finalists in California eligible to receive a college scholarship.
The awards are part of the NFL’s Por La Cultura, an annual initiative featuring a variety of cultural and community-driven activities in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, and partnership with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF). The awards and scholarships are designed to recognize Latino high school seniors who excel in the classroom and community.
“When I heard about this opportunity, I knew I had to nominate Josiah,” La Puente High head coach Laron Johnson said. “He is an outstanding athlete because of his skill, determination and heart but also his ability to connect, empathize and truly lead by example. He cares about his school, church, friends, family and making a difference in the world. It was such a joy being able to accompany Josiah at the Rams game and I know he has a very bright future ahead of him.”
To be selected, Johnson sent in an in-depth application, including photos of Hernandez on and off the field, MaxPreps stats, school transcripts and contributions in school and community engagement. The application included a long list of achievements, including Hernandez being named a National Advanced Placement Scholar, a Tulane University Posse Scholarship semi-finalist and participant in the Kaiser Permanente Work Certificate Program and Summer Youth Internship, where he worked more than 24 hours a week, assisting in the Critical Care Unit of the hospital.
His submission highlighted leadership roles in the Associated Student Body, Health Occupations Students of America, and as a four-year football captain. Additionally, he served as the California Scholarship Federation co-president, Student Board Representative, and participated in the Youth Legislative Program.
“I’m a huge NFL fan, so winning this nomination and having the chance to be on the Rams field, seeing how big it is and just soaking in the atmosphere was such a surreal experience and I feel so blessed,” Hernandez said. “I want to thank my coaches, counselors and family for their constant support and of course, I want to thank God. I also want to remind my peers and younger students within our District to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities that HLPUSD offers us. Even if you don’t know if you can do it, trust me, with the amount of support that is offered here, anything is possible.”
During the game, Hernandez and female nominee Maria Murilla received a special on-field moment where they shook hands with professional football players and coaches and received a standing ovation from the audience.
The NFL and the HHF will host a ceremony for Hernandez and the other seven finalists where they will receive their scholarships during Pro Bowl or Super Bowl week in Feb.2024.
“Congratulations, Josiah on this well-deserved and outstanding accomplishment,” Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez said. “At HLPUSD, we are proud to offer robust programs, athletics, extracurricular activities and community partnerships that support our students academic and personal aspirations. Josiah, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.”
HLPUSD_NFL1: Senior Josiah Hernandez cheers alongside the LA Rams mascot during the Hispanic & Latino Excellence in Youth Football Award nominee NFL game on Oct. 15.
HLPUSD_NFL2: Josiah Hernandez prepares to be sworn-in as La Puente High School student Board representative during a meeting on Sept. 14.
Dear Hacienda La Puente Unified families,
At Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, we are committed to providing equity across all schools in our District and ensuring our students have the essential tools they need to achieve their academic and personal aspirations.
Over the last decade, school districts throughout the state have faced unprecedented challenges due to declining enrollment. The same is true for Hacienda La Puente Unified, requiring us to make some difficult decisions to ensure the continued success of our students and District.
Closing and consolidating schools is a very difficult decision, one that the District does not take lightly and community input and engagement are an integral part of the process. Thank you to the 3,027 individuals who completed our community input survey and the 227 participants who attended one of our three virtual and/or four in-person community meetings.
After reviewing enrollment, budgetary data and input from the community, Hacienda La Puente Unified’s Board of Education approved a Reconfiguration Plan during a meeting on November 9.
The reconfiguration includes the closure of Bixby, Del Valle and Sunset elementary schools and Los Robles Academy at the end of the 2023-2024 school year; and reconfiguring La Puente and Workman quads grade K-6 schools to become grade K-5 sites; Sparks and Sierra Vista middle schools to become grade 6-8 school sites; Grandview College Prep Academy to become a grade 6-8 school site and Valinda School of Academics and Lassalette School to become grade K-5 sites.
For the 2024-25 school year, all Bixby, Del Valle, Sunset and Los Robles staff will be transferred to other HLPUSD schools; no staff will be laid off as part of the reconfiguration process. Students within the closed and reconfigured sites will be assigned to a nearby school.
The District will continue its open enrollment policy and allow students to apply to transfer to other schools within the District; students impacted by the reconfiguration plan will have priority in the open enrollment process.
The reconfiguration plan does not include the high schools, no properties are proposed to be closed or sold, and there will be no staff or teacher layoffs due to reconfiguration. Class sizes will continue to follow state guidelines and remain consistent with current levels. The District will also hold school-site meetings for parents at the schools affected by the closures or grade reconfiguration to discuss the logistics of the transition and provide support for families. We will provide more information on these meetings as it becomes available.
Additionally, the school reconfiguration process will not impact services provided to our students receiving special education services in the District.
We encourage you to visit our District’s Reconfiguration Information webpage to learn more about reconfiguring our campuses and find answers to frequently asked questions.
This is an exceptionally difficult situation, and we understand that our District community will need time to process and adjust to the change. We extend our gratitude to all the students, families, and community members who shared their thoughts during last week’s Board meeting. Despite the final vote in favor of the Reconfiguration Plan, rest assured that we heard and acknowledge all your comments and concerns, which will inform our steps moving forward in this process.
Hacienda La Puente Unified is committed to ensuring a smooth transition for our students, staff and families.
I want to thank our staff, families and students for their patience, collaboration and support as we move forward to ensure the ongoing excellence of our District for our students. We are partners in community, but above all, we are partners in your child’s future and will continue to provide every student with the tools and resources to achieve academic and personal success.
Dr. Alfonso Jiménez
Superintendent of Schools
Students and staff from William Workman High School welcomed the Hacienda La Puente Unified community to its annual Dia De Los Lobos Community celebration on November 2, an exciting evening filled with games, face painting and educational activities designed to underscore the importance of creating a safe, collaborative space to embrace diversity and honor a traditional Mexican holiday.
The event featured exciting hands-on activities, including career technical education (CTE) pathway demonstrations, arts and crafts and games led by Workman’s various education departments and opportunities to connect with current Lobos leaders. The celebratory booths and demonstrations aimed at inspiring elementary and middle school students in the Workman community and get them excited about future possibilities at HLPUSD.
“The Dia De Los Lobos celebration is a highly-anticipated and cherished event that provides us with the opportunity to connect with our local elementary and middle school families and highlight all the amazing things our Lobos are accomplishing,” Principal Tim Espinosa said. “When the Workman community is together, amazing things happen. I look forward to future events that engage, inspire and motivate our future Lobos.”
The Lobo Market, which was hosted by familiar faces from Workman and the mighty Lobo mascot himself, included an assortment of delectable treats and traditional Mexican cuisine, including candies, baked goods and sweet drinks.
Centered at the heart of the quad was a large cloud of smoke, where attendees laughed and shrieked as they immersed themselves in the thrilling haunted house experience hosted by the school’s theater department.
In addition, guests hopped on the video production pathway’s green screen to sing karaoke in front of a virtual background of their choosing or let the CTE students select the setting – a hilarious and crowd-favorite choice amongst singers.
For those seeking connection and support, wellness tables were setup throughout the event, providing a wealth of resources for mental health and information from the Workman High School counseling team, the school’s gay-straight alliance club and the HLPUSD Equity and Access department.
"It’s always a joy to see our students and families come together to show their school spirit,” Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez said. “Watching our vision of inclusivity and District pride come to life in the form of celebrations like Dia De Los Lobos is something I look forward to every year.”
The HLPUSD community continued its celebrations during the annual City of La Puente Dia De Los Muertos Celebration, where students and staff from across the District set up traditional Día de Los Muertos ofrenda altars, poetry, crafts, candy and school merchandise to pass out to attendees on November 4.
HLPUSD_LOBOS1: Workman High School theater students prepare to scare as they welcome guests to enter their haunted house during a Dia De Los Lobos celebration on November 2.
HLPUSD_LOBOS2: Workman High School Class of 2023 alum Julian Hamric returns to his old stomping ground to support the Workman community and get his face painted during a Dia De Los Lobos event on November 2.
HLPUSD_LOBOS3: Video Production Career Technical Education students set up a green screen and karaoke machine at the Workman Dia De Los Lobos celebration, welcoming guests to sing and learn more about the school’s state-of-the-art equipment and technology.
Dear Hacienda La Puente Unified Community,
Inspired by the excitement of the fall season, our students are continuing to thrive as they engage in community events, innovative programs and Districtwide celebrations.
In October, our campuses recognized and celebrated Halloween, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Custodian Day and National School Lunch Week. Our Cedarlane Academy Dual Immersion students also performed at this year’s Korean Autumn Festival, a dynamic celebration of Korean culture, music, arts and cuisine.
Our school sites celebrated Red Ribbon Week with fun and creative activities that embraced this year’s theme, “Be Kind to Your Mind. Live Drug-Free.” At the same time, our Equity and Access and Family Engagement departments partnered with Foothill Family, school site leaders and elementary school counselors to share important resources in honor of World Mental Health Day and Unity Day with our District community. These events included informational lesson plans and workshops related to the impacts of bullying, helping families effectively address issues related to bullying and the importance of spreading kindness and embracing diversity.
I want to also thank our local law enforcement and non-profit organizations for partnering with us to bring our students, staff and families helpful town halls and assemblies regarding fentanyl and substance abuse to highlight the importance of being drug-free.
Celebrations spread across the District when we learned that we had earned a Golden Bell Award for our community involvement and advocacy program, Project LEAD. Congratulations to all our students, teachers, staff, administrators and community partners who put in the work to ensure the success of this program at not one, but nine of our school sites.
This month, I also had the opportunity to present at the annual UC Davis C-STEM Conference alongside Director Professor Harry H. Cheng, where I discussed our District’s success and dedication to integrating C-STEM K-12 math and computer science into our curriculum. Thank you to all our amazing educators and administrators who participated in the conference and to our entire team for your commitment to enhancing our C-STEM curriculum and programs across the District.
Lastly, I want to thank our families and community members for their continued feedback regarding the potential school reconfiguration at HLPUSD. The District does not take this decision lightly, and we are committed to continuing to deliver robust instruction and extracurricular programs to our students with the least possible disruption. The Board will discuss and decide on whether to move forward with the reconfiguration during the Regular Board meeting on Thursday, November 9. Please visit the District’s Reconfiguration Information webpage for more information, including community input meeting results, presentations and a full reconfiguration report available in English, Spanish and Chinese.
Hacienda La Puente Unified remains focused on implementing innovative educational opportunities for our students and we look forward to what the last two months of 2023 have in store for us!
As always, we are #ProudtobeHLPUSD.
Dr. Alfonso Jiménez
Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Superintendent
Sparks Elementary School kindergarten through second-grade students stepped into the past and experienced the glacial age when the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and Supervisor Hilda Solis joined forces to bring the La Brea Tar Pits Mobile Museum’s Ice Age Discoveries program to Hacienda La Puente Unified from Oct. 25-27.
The new program was celebrated with a special event during its final day at Sparks Elementary School on Oct. 27, where the NHMLAC President Lori Bettison-Varga, Solis and distinguished guests gathered to see students experience the museum for the first time.
Working alongside museum experts, students journeyed back to a 50,000-year-old Los Angeles, where they explored fossils and worked together as fellow scientists to make discoveries about Ice Age Los Angeles. The 45-minute program is designed to teach early learners about the past through play, embrace the unknown and inspire wonder, discovery and responsibility for our natural and cultural world.
“I think that the mobile museum is an exciting experience for my peers and it’s exciting that I get to be a part of this amazing event,” sixth-grade student Natalie Munoz said. “I’m excited to see what our kindergarten through second graders will learn. I think it’s important for younger students to learn about the past and better understand our history to build a brighter future. Who knows, maybe one of these students will discover their love for science and become an archaeologist one day.”
Munoz, Sparks Elementary School Principal Gilbert Barraza, Bettison-Varge and Solis opened the event with inspiring remarks on the importance of integrating science and history into the everyday lives of young learners and the impact hands-on and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning has on their path to success.
The event concluded with a lively performance led by a second-grade class, where students acted out and sang a song about paleontology and discovery. The energetic bunch was then escorted into the museum alongside distinguished guests, journeying back in time for an exciting excursion.
“On behalf of our Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez, the Board of Education and our entire District community, I want to extend my gratitude to the Natural History Museum, Supervisor Hilda Solis, Principal Barraza and all the helping hands that made this opportunity and special event possible for our Eagles community,” Executive Director of TK-8 Angela Lin said. “It takes a village to ensure our students have access to enriching educational experiences. We are proud to be a part of such a strong and supportive community that values forward-thinking and deep learning.”
Dedicated to educating students on the past and innovating a brighter future, the National History Museum’s mobile museum events have been a long-standing staple throughout Los Angeles Unified Schools. For the first time, the portable experience touched ground in the San Gabriel Valley to provide Sparks Elementary School students with an unforgettable scientific adventure. The program plans to expand the mobile resource to additional school sites and Districts in the near future.
The Mobile Museum experience is one of many opportunities offered within the District this year aimed at inspiring students through hands-on learning. Through seasonal and afterschool programs, career technical education, STEM courses and Visual and Performing Arts, HLPUSD students engage in various activities at all grade levels that teach them life-long skills and inspire them to explore their interests and discover their passions.
“At Hacienda La Puente Unified, we value innovative learning practices and understand that our students will build connections between classroom curriculum and hands-on experiences like the mobile museum to explore new heights and discover their future passions,” Jiménez said. “Thank you to everyone who helped make this experience possible for our District.”
HLPUSD_MOBILEMUSEUM1: The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles team, Supervisor Hilda Solis and HLPUSD community gather to celebrate the La Brea Tar Pits Mobile Museum’s Ice Age Discoveries Program on Oct. 27.
HLPUSD_MOBILEMUSEUM2: Second-grade students at Sparks Elementary School perform a lively song about scientific discoveries during a Mobile Museum launch party on Oct. 27.
HLPUSD_MOBILEMUSEUM3: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles educator welcomes second-grade students from Sparks Elementary School and distinguished guests to the inaugural Ice Age Discoveries Program on Oct. 27.