Superintendent`s Update - Bonita Unified School District
Thank You and Farewell
It has been said, “Everything has a beginning and an end.”
As you are aware, I will be retiring from Bonita Unified School District on June 30th. I am truly
humbled to have had the opportunity to serve the students, staff, and parents within the Bonita
Unified School District community. To all of the wonderful School Board members, teachers,
administrators, support staff, students, parents, and community members whom I have had the
opportunity to work with over the past 8-1/2 years…THANK YOU!
I leave Bonita Unified School District with great confidence in the people here and know that
together you will continue the path from “good” to “great” to “exemplary.”
I wish all of you every success for the future.
With warm regards,
Gary Rapkin, PhD
Kurt Madden Named New Bonita Unified
Superintendent of Schools
The Bonita Unified School District Board of Education concluded their yearlong search for a
new Superintendent of Schools by signing a contract with Mr. Kurt Madden at the May Board
meeting. Madden will take his post July 1, 2015, succeeding Dr. Gary Rapkin who announced
his retirement at the beginning of the school year. Madden has served as Superintendent of the
Bear Valley Unified School District since 2011. Prior to that, he has served as a middle school
and high school principal, high school assistant principal, science teacher, and physical education
“In our interviews, Mr. Madden demonstrated his skills with communication, his passion for
team building, and his ability to set a vision,” Board President Diane Koach said. “He is in tune
with what we were looking for.”
“I am intrigued by the eight areas of focus the Board has set—they have done a great job setting
a framework for success,” Madden said. “My first objective is to reach out and develop
relationships within the District and the community in order to formulate trust with the
stakeholders so that we can multiply the collective genius within the community and together
build on the great works this District has already accomplished.”
“Kurt shares with the school board and the community, a vision that the Bonita Unified School
District is an exceptional educational organization striving to provide the best available learning
opportunities for all our students,” Board member Chuck Coyne said. “He will be an
inspirational and invaluable member of the BUSD leadership team as the District faces
challenges as well as exciting opportunities in the coming years.”
Board member James Elliot said, “In our view, Kurt Madden brings to Bonita Unified that
special combination of skills and personality traits that are essential for our success. The
relationships and partnerships that have been so carefully crafted and built over the years
throughout Bonita Unified, are very precious to us and our District family. From the classroom
to our principal corps, to the District Office, to the communities we serve locally, regionally, and
at the state level, we believe that Kurt is the right person to lead us into the future.”
Board member Patti Latourelle said, “I have found Kurt to be thoughtful and very
knowledgeable. He exhibits the knowledge base that is critical for a Superintendent. He also has
the personality traits that we were looking for.”
Outside of his professional endeavors, Madden is a triathlete. Despite temperatures in the high
80's and low 90's at the Ironman Triathlon in Houston in May, Madden finished 397th out of
2,800 competitors, first in his age group, which is considered an Ironman North American Age
Group Champion. His success in that race qualifies him for the Ironman Triathlon in Kona,
Hawaii in October.
Madden and his wife Kelly currently live in Big Bear, but are “ecstatic to relocate into the Bonita
Unified Community. As a former middle school principal, Kelly is thrilled about supporting the
schools and the community in any way she can,” Madden said. Together, the Maddens are
advocates for art, athletics, and community connections.
Kurt Madden was selected to be Bonita Unified School District’s next Superintendent of
Christopher Regan Selected as new Lone Hill
Lone Hill Middle School will start the 2015-2016 school year with a new principal. As Sean
Grycel takes a new role at Kranz Intermediate School in the Mountain View School District,
Christopher Regan joins the Bonita Unified family. Regan is currently an Assistant Principal at
Malibu High School.
“I applied for the position because I was looking for a school and district that has high
expectations for their students, a dedicated staff and a collaborative environment,” Regan said. “I
like the sense of family that I have found in the District and community as a whole. In my first
year, I plan to focus on getting to know the school, teachers, staff, parents and students. I want to
start to build relationships of trust and caring so that the school community can work together to
be a great place for everyone.”
Regan began his career as a Spanish teacher at Calabasas High School and more recently has
been serving as an Assistant Principal in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, at
Malibu High School, and John Adams Middle School. Regan holds two masters degrees, one in
Education and the other in Educational Leadership.
Current Principal Sean Grycel has taken a position in the Mountain View School District. “I have
thoroughly enjoyed being principal of Lone Hill for the past two years, and being a part of the
Bonita Unified School District for the past eight years,” Grycel said. “I am excited to now be
taking on a new challenge as principal of Kranz Intermediate School.”
Christopher Regan was selected to be the next Principal of Lone Hill Middle School.
Employees of the Year and Retirees of BUSD
Honored at May 19 Reception
Bonita Unified School District honored a host of retirees and three District Employees of the
Year at a reception on May 19, 2015, at the Meeting House at Hillcrest.
Nominating committees sited the following achievements in their selection of the District
Employees of the Year:
Certificated Employee of the Year: Kelly Leyva
In her tenure as Lone Hill Middle School’s band teacher, Kelly Leyva has transformed the band
program from two partially-filled classes to four stage-filling bands. Students under her tutelage
progress from beginning, to intermediate, to advanced, to jazz bands. Leyva has led her student
groups to victory in several band competitions this year. Both the Advanced Band and the Jazz
Band received a Gold Rating at the San Francisco Heritage Festival in April. Jazz Band took first
place in their division at the Western States Jazz Festival in February and third place in the
Riverside Community College jazz band competition in May.
Classified Employee of the Year: Debbie Mc Garry
Debbie Mc Garry is an office clerk at Oak Mesa Elementary School, but her service to the school
and the community goes far beyond the title. She is caring and thoughtful as she interacts with
students. She puts her training as a Registered Nurse to practice by assisting the health office and
plays a big role in monitoring the budget as she orders supplies and administrates the details of
field trips. She is also the treasurer of the St. Vincent de Paul in the Holy Name of Mary
conference, which allows her to meet with families in need to assist with emergency financial
Management Employee of the Year: Dr. Gary Rapkin
Gary Rapkin joined Bonita Unified in 2006 as Superintendent of Schools. With a focus on high
achievement in a culture of mutual respect, Dr. Rapkin has led this District to increases in
student achievement and national, state, and regional recognition. “We have gone from a District
focus to a school focus during his tenure,” one nominating employee wrote. “Gary’s focus is the
student; he brings us back to this in meetings and in all of his speeches.”
The following individuals are retiring from service at Bonita Unified School District. The
District wishes each one well as they go.
Certificated Retirees (Teachers)
Classified Retirees (Administrative & Support Staff)
Dr. Gary Rapkin
Student Art Competition Winners
CONGRESSIONAL ART CONTEST WINNERS
Students from Bonita, San Dimas and Chaparral High Schools participated in the 32nd
Congressional District Art Competition. Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano sponsored the
event, which included 305 entries from high schools throughout the Congressional District. Five
BUSD students placed in the competition:
Top 3 Finalist: Dayna Murri, “Daffodils,” grade 12, Bonita High
Judges Choice Award: Thomas Beach Tucker, “The Land Forgotten,” grade 12, Bonita High
Judges Choice Award: Lilianna Fournier, “Cactus Flowers,” grade 12, Bonita High
Honorable Mention: Dallas Bagshaw, “The Misty Meadow Music Maker,” grade12, Bonita
WESTERN ART SHOW RESULTS
Students from Bonita, San Dimas and Chaparral High Schools took part in the Western Art
Competition sponsored by the San Dimas Festival of Arts. Interpreting their views of “California
Images and History,” the students created original paintings and ceramic pieces. Board of
Education President Diane Koach coordinated the student program for the competition.
Best of Show Artist
Devin McGilvra, “California Gridlock,” grade 12, Bonita High School
Most Promising Artist
Lindsey Hughes, “Trail of Tears,” grade 12, San Dimas High School
Division 1: Two Dimensional
First: Thomas Beach Tucker, “The Land Forgotten,” grade 12, Bonita High
Second: Bryn Riihimaki, “#1 With Animal Style Fries,” grade 12, Bonita High
Third: Dayna Murri, “Daffodils,” grade 12, Bonita High
Honorable Mention: Dallas Bagshaw, “The Lily Garden,” grade12, Bonita High
Honorable Mention: MacKenzie Reyes, “California Symbols,” grade 12, Bonita High
Honorable Mention: Kathleen Geiger, “The Sweet Life,” grade 12, Bonita High
Honorable Mention: Rebecca Harding, “Cruising on PCH,” grade 12, Bonita High
Division 2: Three Dimensional
First: Victoria Cirrito, “Sky Full of Stars,” grade 11, San Dimas High
Second: Sarah Calderon, “The Hawk,” grade 9, San Dimas High
Third: Natalie Carter, “The Golden State,” grade 11, Bonita High
Honorable Mention: Summer Blanco, “Young Horse,” grade 12, San Dimas High
Honorable Mention: Miranda Barbiere, “We Are One – Cowboys & Native Americans,” grade
12, Bonita High
Ed Foundation Recognizes 85 Students for
Kindness, Perseverance and Achievement in
Spite of Challenges
June 1, the La Verne / San Dimas Educational Foundation recognized students from each school
in the Bonita Unified School District for kindness, perseverance, and achievement.
Two Acts of Kindness Awards are given by the Foundation annually to students who have
accomplished something remarkably kind in their community. Nominations are sought from the
community, and this award is given in honor of former Board Member Ed Jones who gave much
of his life to the schools and his community. The 2014-2015 Acts of Kindness Awards are given
to: Owen Hughes from La Verne Heights Elementary School and Celine Peltekci from Chaparral
The Perseverance Award is given to two students in grades three through eight at every
elementary and middle school who have persevered through hardships in their lives. The
Foundation salutes their courage and admires their ability to continue in spite of great difficulty.
The Ed Foundation’s college scholarships are given to commend Bonita Unified high school
students who have faced significant challenges, but succeeded in spite of them. Sixteen students
from Bonita Unified high schools received scholarships from the Ed Foundation this year.
Schools in the Spotlight
Lone Hill Middle School
Academic Olympiad Teams Earn First Place
Lone Hill’s Science Olympiad and Math Olympiad teams both had a tremendous year. The
Science Olympiad Team led by Dr. Craig Benzel and parent volunteers finished in fourth place
at the LA County Regional Competition in February. This achievement qualified the team to
compete in the State Finals competition for the first time in Lone Hill’s history. The team
finished in twenty-sixth place, which is in the top twenty percent of teams in California. Two
team members, Sean Ono and Elissa Zhang, finished fifth in the state in the Entomology
Lone Hill’s Science Olympiad Team Competed at the State Finals in February.
The L.A. County Office of Education’s Math Field Day is a contest to demonstrate knowledge of
mathematics through competition and celebration. All three of Lone Hill’s grade level teams, led
by Alecia McGill and Alyssa Doniak, placed in the top two categories at the competition in
April. The sixth grade team took home a gold medal in the Problem Solving category. The
seventh and eighth grade teams both took home silver medals in the Conceptual Understanding
Lone Hill’s Math Olympiad 6th, 7th, and 8th grade teams earned gold and silver medals at
the L.A. County Office of Education’s Mach Field Day.
Lone Hill Lions Roar at Local Music Competitions
Students participating in the Lone Hill music department have also had a very successful year.
The Jazz Band took first place in the Western States Jazz Festival in February, and then won the
Adjudicator’s Award at the San Francisco Band Festival in April. The Advanced Band also took
home the Gold award at the San Francisco Band Festival. The bands are led by the recently
named Bonita Unified School District Teacher of the Year, Kelly Leyva. Lone Hill’s Chorus
students, led by Alyssa Cossey, have been busy performing in numerous concerts and festivals
throughout the year. They recently achieved the Superior rating at the Southern California Vocal
Association Festival in April.
ASB Receives 7th Consecutive Outstanding Student Leadership Program Award
Lone Hill’s ASB leadership students, led by Leslie Sandoval, recently participated in the
California Association of Student Leaders conference. During the conference, the ASB team
received the coveted Outstanding Student Leadership Program Award. This marks the seventh
year in a row that Lone Hill’s ASB team has received this award!
Track Team ‘Breaks Tape’ in Several Races
Lone Hill’s track team, led by Keith Ensman and Daniel Lopez, just completed a very successful
season. At the final meet held at the University of La Verne where over a dozen teams competed,
Lone Hill had three first place winners. Aidan Ferguson won both the 400 and 200-meter events.
Austin Rivera won the 800-meter event, while Stephen Manalo won the High Jump event.
Shull Elementary School
Shull 4th Graders – HEART Detectives
In May, Shull Elementary School was chosen by the Heart Education And Research Team
(HEART) from Pomona College in Claremont, California to participate in a “Health Detective”
project. The HEART Team is composed of pre-health students interested in the challenge of
community health promotion. As mentors, these college students engage young students, like
Shull’s 4th graders, to become problem solvers.
The HEART Team first taught 4th grade students about research and how to use a worksheet to
ask meaningful interview questions. As “HEART Detectives,” their mission is to discover
healthy snacks that get everyone through the day. The Shull 4th graders are now collecting data
from parents, relatives, neighbors or school personnel by asking 14 questions about snacks they
enjoy and snacks for on-the-go lifestyles.
Through this collaborative learning lesson, the HEART Team will help transform our students’
efforts into a creative list of advice on snacks designed for the busy lifestyles of families in our
communities. After the students collect the data, the HEART team will compile the data and
present the results to the students. Shull students will share their “healthy snack” advice through
the school’s website and through a website created by the HEART Team.
Vincent Little, Scarlett Munoz, and Kaiden Melnyk, fourth graders from Shull Elementary
School, interview Principal Chris Ann Horsley as part of a collaborative research project
with Pomona College. The Heart Education And Research Team (HEART) are helping the
school develop and publish a list of healthy snacks for on-the-go families.
Ramona Middle School
In late May, all sixth graders and their 8th grade Where Everybody Belongs (W.E.B.) leaders met
at lunch for a play day and a celebration of the successful completion of sixth grade year.
Through the W.E.B. program, hand selected eighth grade students acted as mentors to incoming
sixth grade students. It began with a special half day summer camp in 2014, to which each
incoming 6th grade student is invited by their W.E.B. leader. That day, the students learned a
little about each other and the campus. In addition, they practiced all things middle school, like
opening a combination lock, setting goals, and traveling from class to class. Throughout they
year the W.E.B. leaders and their mentees met during lunch, checked on goals, solved problems,
played games and had fun!
Current seventh grade students have submitted applications to participate in W.E.B. for the 20152016 school year and are anxiously awaiting their chance to be part of this special class. Dates
for W.E.B. Orientation for next year’s class are Aug 12 and 13.