Campus Connections
February 3, 2017 
Volume 1, Issue 2

School Programming
Rancho Middle School earns re-designation
as State and National School to Watch
Rancho Milpitas Middle School will retain its designation as a model middle grade school in the 2016-17 Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage program, according to an announcement from the California League of Schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the California Middle Grades Alliance on January 23.

"Rancho’s fourth consecutive redesignation as a State and National School To Watch is a validation of our collaborative work that continues to be carried out,” Principal Casey McMurray said.

Honored middle grade schools are high-performing model schools that demonstrate academic excellence, responsiveness to the needs of young adolescents, and social equity, according to an official statement from the California League of Schools and Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage office. These schools host visitors from California and around the world who are looking to learn practices they can use to improve their middle grades schools and close the achievement gap.


Russell's recycling program inspires students to be responsible about the environment
By Barbara Knitter
Quest/AVID teacher at Thomas Russell Middle School

Eight years ago, Thomas Russell Middle School started a recycling program. It was a tough beginning because not many people were interested in recycling. Back then, when you looked in a recycling bin or garbage can, they looked identical - both had garbage and recyclables.

Our recycling bins were not well marked, so the following year we applied for a grant through Allied Waste (now Republic Services) to purchase bins for our  school. We bought large blue bins with circles in the white lids. We spray painted “Bottles and Cans Only” on the lids and bins. We saw a small improvement in our recycling efforts, but it was still disgusting to clean out the bins. So we began the educational part of our program. My students in Quest and AVID researched why we should recycle and what happens if we don’t and here is what we discovered.  

If we recycle plastic water bottles, they can be recycled back into bottles again which happens to most of the bottles we recycle on our campus. However, after the third or fourth life as a bottle, the plastic becomes too weak and needs to be shredded. It is then turned into polyester to make backpacks, jackets or other items. It can also be turned into plastic lumber to make benches, picnic tables or of other plastic  tools. We found that the same oil used to make plastic bottles is also used to manufacture gasoline for our cars. We learned that aluminum comes from Bauxite and is number 13 on the Periodic Table. Once it goes through the process of becoming aluminum, it never loses its strength and can continuously be recycled back into another aluminum can (It only takes 60 days to do this). Or it can be recycled into parts used to make automobiles or even airplanes.   

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From Behind the Dais: Dan Bobay

Editor’s Note: This is the first article in an ongoing series about our dynamic and diverse Board of Education. The new feature is an opportunity to gain insight into their stories of success and the reasons they enjoy serving Milpitas Unified School District.


Board President Dan Bobay recalls his longstanding history with the Board of Education fondly. Sworn in as a trustee in 2008, “I was lucky to be able to get involved and I remember my first school board meeting as a fog. It hits you only after you have been elected that you are no longer part of the solution, you are part of the problem; whatever the problem is to solve, it’s in your lap.” 

Dan was sworn in for a third term in December 2016. He says while much has changed since starting, the drive remains the same. 

“Most of us get it pretty early on that we are here for the teachers, the students, the janitor, the people who work in the district, and the community,” Dan said. “We don't want to let any of them down and we do want them all to be proud of what we are. It's a heavy responsibility which requires thoughtful consideration and long range-vision to do well. Being on the inside is vastly different than my perspective before I became a Trustee.”

Dan reflects on that “time before” and his decision to run for school board nine years ago, a series of stepping stones he admits goes back to the Cold War. During that time, he worked for a military contractor in Sunnyvale in the Signal Intelligence/early warning industry. 

“I was a normal person in many ways and our kids were in daycare most of the time,” he said. “When the Berlin Wall came down and worldwide peace was declared, I was thrown out of work.”

Having four children with his wife Janice, they decided that instead of paying for people to raise their children he should become a stay-at-home dad. Before long, Dan was rising through the ranks of Spangler Elementary’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and joined the California Sixth District PTA. At that time, Berryessa Union School District was part of the PTA Council Unit. This led Dan to become involved in Milpitas and Berryessa schools for two years, before Milpitas split off to form the Milpitas Council of PTAs, for which he was the founding president. 

“My thinking at the time was that I was either going to be involved or I would home-school my kids,” Dan said. “I am glad I got involved in the public schools.”

Read more >
Student Spotlight: Linda Zhao
Editor’s Note: We are pleased to launch the new series “Student Spotlight." This feature will highlight some of the work created by students in Milpitas Unified School District, along with information about them.


For nearly as long as she can remember, 11-year-old Linda Zhao has been inspired by the arts. 

“Ever since I knew how to pick up a pencil, I always liked drawing,” the Spangler sixth-grader said earlier this week. “I feel like I can really show off my art and share my feelings in it. And it’s really fun because you get to spend time on it, like four hours for this instance, and once you’re done, you’re really proud of it.”

Linda said she created her piece “Hold On Pain Ends (HOPE)” at home using watercolor, acrylic, and marker. It is influenced by the work of Finland artist Jonna “Scandy Girl.”

“I saw her pictures and there was this one wolf that was howling and crying, but the tears had a picture to it, and I really liked that it was abstract but realistic,” she said. “So I wanted to draw it too.”

Linda added that the puzzle pieces on the bottom of the painting were inspired by another artist, where half of a tiger was drawn with fur but the other half looked like pieces were cracking. The final touch to the artwork was the quote “Hold On Pain Ends,” which she credits to her friend Naomi.

Upcoming Events
Want to learn more about Milpitas Unified School District's  Dual Language Immersion Program? Join us for one of our upcoming presentations on the following dates and locations:

• Randall: Tuesday, February 7 at 8:15 a.m.
• Spangler: Wednesday, February 8 at 8:45 a.m.
• Burnett: Friday, February 10 at 11:20 a.m. and 1 p.m.
• Sinnott: Tuesday, February 14 at 8 a.m. and 9:40 a.m.
• Weller: Wednesday, February 15 at 8:15 a.m. 
• CDC Rose: Thursday, February 16 at 8:15 a.m.
• Rose: Thursday, February 16 at 8:15 a.m.
• CDC Sunnyhills: Thursday, February 16 at 11:15 a.m.
Interested in a career in teaching? Attend the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s “Step into Teaching: Opportunities in Silicon Valley Public Schools.” The event is scheduled for Saturday, February 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the  SCCOE, located at 1290 Ridder Park Drive. For more information, visit the website.
Milpitas Unified School District will host its annual Parent University  6-9 p.m.  Wednesday, March 1 at the District Office, located at 1331 E. Calaveras Blvd. The event, open to parents from throughout the district, will include a resource fair and workshops on topics like "The Teenage Brain"; "Communicating Across Cultures"; "Effective Communication Strategies-Tips for Discussing Alcohol and Other Drugs with Your Youth"; "What is the LCAP?", "ELA and Health Curriculum Adoptions"; and MORE! For more information, contact Nicole Steward at or (408) 635-2600, extension 6043.
Alexander Rose Elementary School will host its second annual Bedtime Story Hour in celebration of Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss, and they need YOU! The school is looking for guest readers from the community to come read their favorite picture/story books to their children and families during the event, from 6-7 p.m. Thursday, March 2. This is a great opportunity to connect with the community and share your love of reading with children of all ages. If you're interested in being a guest reader, contact Principal Nanci Pass at or call her at (408) 635-2668, extension 1205.
Thomas Russell Middle School is seeking volunteers for Career Day Wednesday, March 8. The goal of Career Day is to provide each classroom with individuals who are willing and able to share information about their education, career path, and job experiences to help students learn about possible career opportunities. Volunteers are being asked to give 40-minute presentations between 8:30 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. that day. If you can present for a portion or the whole time, please contact Career Day Coordinators Dr. Latisha Roberts at, Chanae Wami at, or Valarie Lamb at, or call (408) 635-2864, extension 3210.