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Hacienda La Puente Unified Students Connect Insatiable Curiosity, Problem-Solving Skills through Engineering Pathway
Andrea Torres

CITY OF INDUSTRY – Hacienda La Puente Unified's award-winning engineering pathway has provided hands-on learning experiences, vocational training, and a student-led curriculum centralized around math and science for Los Altos High School students for the past 35 years.

With more than 1,000 program graduates, the Los Altos Academy of Engineering (LAAE) continues to grow in popularity each year. Due to its long-standing success, the District expanded the pathway to Newton Middle School at the start of the 2013-14 school year and was launched at Orange Grove Middle School in 2020, introducing seventh and eighth-grade students to computer, science, engineering, and technology (C-STEM) through various courses, electives, and clubs.

To be considered for the three-year pathway, incoming freshmen are offered the first year principles classes and if they wish to continue they must apply for engineering tech by filling out an application and interview with a panel of LAEE students and instructor Edward Richter. During the interview, the team leaders ask various questions to learn more about the student's experiences and interests to find the perfect team for them to join.

"When I interviewed as a freshman, Mr. Richter talked to me about how hands-on the pathway was and described the various teams I could join if admitted," senior and mechanical engineering project manager Samantha Sandoval said. "When I first joined LAEE, I didn't know anything that had to do with engineering. Now I get to help guide my team members by making decisions that will impact the program. I am so proud to graduate this spring with a stole signifying my completion of the pathway. I look forward to continuing my educational journey and becoming a mechanical engineer."

Once accepted, LAAE students will join one of six teams: mechanical, electrical, composites, design, information technology, or public relations. As a student-led pathway, a leadership team is also formed from individuals from the six divisions who coordinate the projects and plan the tasks for their respective teams. Additionally, they make executive decisions for the program,
such as budgeting funds, performing team member check-ins, and selecting competitions to pursue.

To ensure students are both eager and qualified to begin their journey as LAEE team members, Orange Grove and Newton middle school instructors engage students in the principles of math, coding, and physical computing with robotics to learn programming, computational thinking, and problem-solving using integrated learning tools and simulation applications.

“I attended Orange Grove Middle School and while the pathway was not there back then, I was still able to take one of the STEM electives and had such a fun time that it made me want to pursue engineering,” senior and electrical team leader Gavin Sandoval said. “I was recently accepted to Cal Poly Pomona’s Electrical Department, and could not be more excited.”

Some of LAEE’s notable achievements include winning the Congressional APP Challenge three times for best original application and earning various recognitions at more than 15 solar vehicle competitions including the Solar Boat/Cup Challenge award for transforming an empty boat hull into a fully operational solar-powered boat, and being named first place National Champions at the Build Your Dream Vehicle Challenge.

To spark motivation, memorabilia and academic honors from the late ‘90s are still displayed across the classrooms, including project and team photos from when the team traveled to Australia to compete in the World Solar Challenge and to Texas when they won first place at the Winston Solar Car Challenge.

Families interested in learning more about the engineering pathway at Los Altos High School or looking to enroll at Newton or Orange Grove middle schools are encouraged to contact the school site directly for more information.

“At Hacienda La Puente Unified, we are committed to providing students with a broad range of programs and pathways designed to help our students explore their interests and aptitudes while identifying potential career options,” Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez said. “From creating solar-powered vehicles to designing mobile device applications, the engineering pathway is preparing our students to make a tangible impact on the world around us.”

Photo Captions:

HLPUSD_ENGINEERING1: Los Altos Academy of Engineering mechanical and electrical engineering students work together on their built-from-scratch vehicle “Volt” on Feb. 16.

HLPUSD_ENGINEERING2: Engineering students at Newton Middle School share last year’s prosthetic leg projects with their peers during class on Jan. 23.

HLPUSD_ENGINEERING3: Los Altos Academy of Engineering students welcome middle schoolers and incoming freshmen to learn more about the engineering pathway during a college and career fair on Oct. 14.


Hacienda La Puente Unified Students Increase Reading Fluency Using Cutting-Edge AI Learning Tool
Andrea Torres

Fifth-grade students at Baldwin Academy are benefiting from Microsoft Education’s public preview of its latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) learning tool, Reading Coach. The free immersive experience harnesses generative AI to help learners produce their own stories and independently practice reading-aloud content that gets them excited about reading. 

In addition to generating engaging stories from characters and settings selected by students in real-time, Reading Coach also tracks each student’s progress to help educators gauge their growth, find areas of opportunity and earn badges to track their amount of time, proficiency and reading level. 

“We’ve been using the pilot of Reading Coach for a few months now and I love it and think AI is so cool,” fifth-grader Kayleen Torres said. “I like to select a cat as my main character and then choose the setting to be in space, and you don’t have to wait at all; AI creates a story for us to read within seconds and afterward gives me feedback on which words I should practice.”

The progress tracker works to identify the five words each student struggled with the most and presents them again with tools to support the learner in practicing independently. Based on educator preferences, tools available to students can include text-to-speech, syllable breaking and picture dictionary.

“I’m able to quickly look over their shoulder and see on their screen how accurate they were, progress areas and badges they earned, which show me how much they are reading,” teacher Ana Ruiz said. “Just as quickly they can create their story, I can get the feedback. Reading Coach is so important because before this tool, I would be in a class with 36 students, and trying to hear each student read would have taken a long time. Now, within a single day, I can assess the reading progress of all 36 students.”

Baldwin Academy students, Ruiz and District Tech Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSA) Ricardo Recinos and Teresa Magpayo Castro were featured on Microsoft’s Digital Transformation News for their efforts and success using the innovative application on Jan. 24. 

“When Microsoft approached me about initiating this exciting pilot program at our District, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for our Baldwin Bulldogs, as our students are avid learners who consistently thrive on exploration and creativity,” Recinos said. “At HLPUSD, we truly are at the forefront of technology in TK-12th-grade education and we look forward to what’s to come.” 

On Feb. 15, KTLA-TV Channel 5’s tech report Rich DeMuro visited the school to learn more about Reading Coach by interviewing students, Ruiz and Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez. During his time on campus, students showed DeMuro how the application works by selecting their character components, reading stories and checking their results together.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Education I want to thank Microsoft for providing us with this amazing opportunity that is helping our students develop reading fluency and become proficient readers,” Jiménez said. “As you may know, each program at HLPUSD begins as a pilot model, which means we implement a new initiative to a small group to see how it best works for our students and teachers before moving forward. The Reading Coach pilot has exceeded all our expectations. It is wonderful to hear first-hand from our students that they feel more confident and are enjoying reading more than ever.”



HLPUSD_READINGCOACH1: From left to right: District Director of Data, Research and Innovation and immediate past principal of Baldwin Academy Lilia Picado, Tech TOSA Teresa Magpayo Castro, KTLA Tech Report Rich DeMuro, Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez, fifth-grade teacher Ana Ruiz, Tech TOSA Ricardo Recinos and students celebrate the generative AI learning tool, Reading Coach, during an exclusive interview on Feb. 15.

HLPUSD_READINGCOACH2: Baldwin Academy Principal Kelly Arena watches a fifth-grade student read aloud a story generated by Microsoft’s immersive learning tool Reading Coach.

HLPUSD_READINGCOACH3: Baldwin Academy Teacher Ana Ruiz helps students track their reading progress during a Reading Coach lesson on Feb. 15.


Workman High School Girls Wrestling Team Wins First League Title, Advances Eight Individuals to CIF
Andrea Torres

Hacienda La Puente Unified School District’s girls wrestling program at William Workman High School is celebrating a historic 2023-24, which saw the team secure its first-ever Montview League championship and qualify all eight team members for the upcoming California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIF-SS) postseason.

Workman High’s success is building on the program’s rapid growth from a group of three wrestlers in 2021 to eight this season. The Lobos put together dominant performances both individually and as a team as they made their way to the Mountview League Meet on Jan. 23, where they produced five individual champions and three more placers in their respective weight classes, with all eight qualifying for the CIF-SS Individual Wrestling Championships held Feb. 9-10.

“This sport is different from most, in the fact that it has given me a different outlook on life,” senior and middleweight wrestler Sabine Ticas said. “It also helps me push myself in school and with the simple things in life. My coach always pushes me even when I have doubts and motivates me to be the best wrestler and captain I can be.”

The program models itself on hard work and heart, which has been instilled by Workman High’s Coach Richie Santoyo, who began coaching in 2021 and leads both the girls and boys wrestling teams. Leading into the CIF tournament season, Santoyo shared his excitement for both the girls and the boys teams’ recent wins and emphasized the leadership of his returning female athletes and their strength in guiding the first-year competitors to a successful season.

“Wrestling is all about taking care of yourself and family and being a team player – it’s also the main reason I fell in love with the sport,” sophomore and lightweight wrestler Jazmine Olvera said, “This is my first year competing and although wrestling may seem like a more masculine sport, it’s actually an awesome sport for girls and women. It’s not only really fun but I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m stronger and more confident, too.” 

In recognition of National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Feb. 7, Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez gave the Workman girls wrestling team, along with other female winter sports teams, a special shout-out via the District’s parent and teacher notification system on behalf of the Board of Education, recognizing their outstanding efforts and wishing them luck as they head into the postseason.

“The Workman wrestling program is more like a family,” junior and lightweight wrestler Kyra Kreidel said. “We practice with the boys team and receive a lot of support and encouragement from them, and I’m just really excited that we’re all advancing to CIF. We have worked so hard and it has paid off. I would encourage all girls, especially incoming freshmen to take a take step and join the team, once you get on the mat it is an indescribable feeling.”

The CIF-SS Individual Wrestling Championships consists of six divisional meets conducted at San Dimas High School. Wrestlers will compete for individual championships and the opportunity to advance to the CIF-SS Masters Meet on Feb. 16-17. The CIF girls wrestling season will conclude at the CIF State Championships on Feb. 22-24.

“Congratulations to our Lobos on a phenomenal season and to coach Richie for being a been a pillar of strength and inspiration for our student-athletes,” Jiménez said. “From athletics to STEM programs and everything else in between, our District advocates for equality and perseverance for women in male-dominated fields by encouraging our girls to participate, develop interests and boost self-efficacy to pursue their dreams. Best of luck to all our winter sports teams.”



HLPUSD_WRESTLING1: Workman High School’s girls wrestling team won the program’s first-ever Montview League title in the 2023-24 season at the league championships on Jan. 12.

HLPUSD_WRESTLING2: Workman High School’s boys and girls wrestling teams celebrate being named first-place champions during a co-ed dual match on Jan. 11.

HLPUSD_WRESTLING3: Workman High School girls lightweight wrestler and junior Kyra Kreidel gets her hand raised after defeating her opponent from Duarte High School.

January Superintendent's Update
Andrea Torres

Dear Hacienda La Puente Unified Community, 

January brought our District an abundance of joy as students, teachers, staff and administrators returned to campuses recharged and ready for the new year.

This month, we celebrated 100 Days of School, observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day and recognized our Board of Education for School Board Appreciation Month.

On behalf of the entire Board of Education, I want to congratulate all our phenomenal student-athletes, Mardi Gras Speech and Debate tournament contestants and visual and performing arts students from across the District for their outstanding efforts and achievements over the past two months. We have numerous sport teams and student-athletes wrapping up their winter seasons as defending League Champions and title-holders, advancing to the semi-finals and preparing for CIF championships. No matter the outcome, we are proud of each and every one of you.

On January 10, students and staff from across the District attended the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s (LACOE) Promising Learners Project Grant event, where Conga Kids members showcased a special performance titled, “Discover the African Diaspora Assembly & Introduction to Bridging Families/Communities HLPUSD” to commence the day. The grant, which aims to support youth in foster care and youth who are unhoused through high-quality in-person professional development, online modules, arts integration and social-emotional learning strategies, was presented to Hacienda La Puente in Fall 2023 and will continue its partnership with LACOE for the next three years.

As part of our triumphs during January, we presented to the community our ninth annual State of the District, which provided us the opportunity to highlight our student, staff and District accomplishments, while highlighting the importance of teamwork, collaboration and community. Please visit our YouTube channel to watch the recorded event.

Lastly, I want to remind you all that we are now accepting enrollment applications for the 2024-25 school year. If you know of anyone who works in the District boundaries, has children as early as two years or older, or is looking to advance their child’s educational experience, please direct them to our enrollment webpage.

Thank you to all of our students, teachers, staff and community for your continuous support throughout the first half of the school year and I look forward to finishing the school year off strong.

As always, we are #ProudtobeHLPUSD.

Sincerely, Dr. Alfonso Jiménez



Andrea Torres

To ensure we meet the needs of our District community, consistent with the District's Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), Hacienda La Puente Unified invites our students, staff and families to participate in a brief survey, and share your anonymous thoughts and feedback.

We appreciate your input as we continue to improve the programs and services that foster success across HLPUSD!

Please visit to complete the survey today!