BCS Hosts Junior Olympics for Area Charter Schools

The fourth biennial Bullis Charter School Invitational Junior Olympics drew a crowd of nearly 1,000 student-athletes and spectators June 1 at Foothill College.

The event is the only athletic competition of its kind in the area for students who attend charter schools. In addition to Bullis Charter School, participating schools included Charter School of Morgan Hill, Livermore Valley Charter School, Voices College-Bound Language Academy, Rocketship Discovery Prep and Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary School.

“I can’t believe how amazing this event is,” said Sandra Lopez, parent of a student at Voices College-Bound Language Academy. “This is such a wonderful opportunity for all the children to experience something of this caliber – it feels like the real Olympics.”

Darcie Green, member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education Board, kicked off the event by welcoming the crowd during the opening ceremony, which featured a performance of the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the entrance of all student-athletes onto the track and a choreographed rhythmic gymnastics routine starring students from first through eighth grades. Students carried a ceremonial Olympic torch, which traveled to all of the competing schools in the weeks leading up to the event.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to bring charter schools together for an event that promotes athletics and sportsmanship,” said Wanny Hersey, superintendent and principal of Bullis Charter School. “It is important for us to work together with our fellow charters not just in improving academic education for children, but in developing the whole child through events like this that incorporate goal-setting, resiliency and strong character.”

The daylong competition included traditional track and field events plus an egg and spoon race, a beanbag toss, a soccer-kick battle and a basketball shootout. Four local Olympians handed out medals to the event winners – including gold medalist Keshia Baker, who won the 4×400-meter relay at the 2012 Summer Games in London.

“I love that I get to come out here and support something that I enjoy doing and to see students and parents participating in activities that encourage a healthy lifestyle,” Baker said. “It’s important that it doesn’t end here, but that families go home and keep running, jogging and being active.”

BCS Celebrates 10 Years, State Recognition

More than 1,000 supporters gathered at Bullis Charter School May 22 to mark the school’s 10th anniversary.

Guests included alumni, founding families, current families, incoming families, charter school board members, representatives from the California Charter School Association and local elected officials.

The evening included a picnic dinner, photo booths, tile painting, an art show featuring the work of every student and a Maker- Space showcase.

Principal and Superintendent Wanny Hersey addressed the crowd briefly before they joined in singing “Happy Birthday” and cut the anniversary cake.

Following the cake presentation, a group of teachers, parents and students surprised the audience with a flash-mob dance to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”

“It was very special for us to see over a thousand people from our local community come together to celebrate how far Bullis Charter School has come over the last 10 years,” said Vivian Lufkin, a charter school parent who helped organize the celebration. “As a community, we tend to move quickly from one thing to another, and it was important for us all to take a moment to celebrate what we have created here – a truly remarkable educational experience for the children in Los Altos.”

Distinguished School

Its 10th anniversary wasn’t the only achievement the charter school group celebrated. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson recently named Bullis Charter School a California Distinguished School.

The school’s signature Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) curriculum and personalized learning in the form of Focused Learning Goals qualified it as a Distinguished School. The charter school is one of only 14 schools recognized for an Exemplary Program in Visual and Performing Arts Education.

“I am really proud of how diverse our recognitions are for the Distinguished School award – it is a tremendous honor for us and shows the breadth and depth of what we offer at Bullis Charter School,” Hersey said. “Not only are we being recognized for our robust Visual and Performing Arts program, but also for our STEAM curriculum and Focused Learning Goals. It is a testament to the strength of our staff members and school culture that we are able to thrive in these different areas of instruction.”

The California Distinguished Schools Program recognizes schools whose signature practices demonstrate a commitment and an innovative approach to improving student achievement. The practices are shared with public schools across the state to improve education for all students. Torlakson added the Exemplary Program in Arts Education Award in 2013 as part of his initiative to redesign statewide learning.

“Bullis Charter School has a very diverse Visual and Performing Arts program with extremely high performance standards and outstanding administrative support and program design,” said Jack Mitchell, educational programs consultant for the state Department of Education, after he observed music, choir, drama and art classes at the charter school. “During my visit, I saw confident, self-assured students thriving in an environment of extremely high artistic expectations.”

Rhonda Beasley, coordinator for English language arts and literacy at the Santa Clara County Office of Education, also evaluated the STEAM and Focused Learning Goals programs at Bullis Charter School.

“When the authors of the new Common Core State Standards came together to create this whole new movement of really changing the education world for the better, I think this is what they had in mind – for all kids, for every kid in every corner of this country,” she said.