June 16, 2000

Sweetwater District Programs Catch Eye of County's Business Community

Two Sweetwater district programs-one that teams students with U.S. Navy career mentors and the other that has students writing a bilingual newspaper-were among four high school programs countywide to be showcased as Best Practices in Education by the San Diego Business Roundtable for Education.

The Navy internship program at Palomar High and La Voz Azteca newspaper at Montgomery High caught the attention of San Diego businesses because of their innovation and proven success. In the Roundtable's first-ever Best Practices Showcase-held May 23 in La Jolla-the two Sweetwater programs were selected from 46 programs countywide.

"Best Practices 2000 is a way to share high quality educational practices with business people and with other schools, while simultaneously providing recognition to the educators who have developed them," said Ginger Hovenic, President/CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation Business Roundtable for Education.

"These two programs are among the best in the county," Hovenic said. "They engage students in ways that are different from many schools, yet they are building student success. We hope the Best Practices process can be a way for other schools to implement these programs into their campuses or school districts."

"The Best Practices process enriches the learning experience for all students involved," Hovenic added.

About the programs

At Palomar High, students have interned with Navy workers in such fields as welding, computer repair, dental care, legal services, shipboard maintenance and administrative office work. Students spend part of their day on the Palomar school campus and part of the day at different Navy commands doing their hands-on internships.

"Many students have found a purpose to their academics by participating in this program," said Vern Von Sydow, program coordinator. "And over 90 percent of the students who graduate from the program get jobs after their first interview."

The second Sweetwater district program to be honored was La Voz Azteca-The Aztec Voice. La Voz Azteca is a Spanish-language newspaper published five to six times a year and is one of the few school newspapers in California written completely in Spanish.

La Voz was formed in 1988 by a group of students who convinced their teachers and administrators that more students on campus could be reached by publishing a newspaper in Spanish.

In this class, students manage the newspaper by soliciting advertising, writing and editing stories, taking pictures, and designing art and graphics. Students also take turns conducting the journalism classes for the program and all are considered newspaper layout artists.

La Voz Azteca is a very rewarding experience for students, said newspaper advisor Esteban Navarro.

"Students get to express their opinions and ideas, they maintain their language and culture and obtain journalism experience," Navarro said.

Board President Greg Sandoval congratulated those honored.

"The students and teachers are the ones who make these programs successful," Sandoval said. "I'm sure they are as gratified by receiving countywide recognition as we are."

Program teachers were honored with a plaque, a first place ribbon and $500 for the program.

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