Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Los Medanos College welding program growing to meet industry needs, gets full-time instructor

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
New LMC welding instructor Dann Gesink.

New LMC welding instructor Dann Gesink.

Los Medanos College (LMC) has a thriving welding technology program, with hundreds of students of all ages learning a trade in demand by a wide array of industries. The program has been very popular, so popular that classes fill extremely quickly.

Recently the College has taken steps to help move the LMC Welding Technology Program forward. A new full-time, tenure track instructor (Dann Gesink) was hired this past fall. New cutting-edge equipment was purchased which allows students to be more precise and efficient in their work.

Dann Gesink has been teaching for LMC since 2011 as a part-time instructor. He comes to the college with years of training and experience. He holds an Associate of Arts in Welding Technology from Kalamazoo Valley Community College (Kalamazoo, MI), and a Certificate in Mechanical Drafting from Diablo Valley College. He also attended the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology (Troy, OH) for his certified welding inspector/educator test preparation. Dann has worked in the welding industry his entire career. The last four and a half years, he was employed as a welding inspector/testing technician, working on a wide range of projects, including the Hetch Hetchy water pipeline at the Hayward Fault, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, the SLAC National Accelerator Lab, Kaiser Oakland, Google and Facebook.

When asked why he began teaching, Dann replied, “I knew from my experiences training others on the job that I liked teaching welding, and when the opportunity to apply at LMC arose, I was excited to pursue it. My first week of teaching confirmed for me that teaching was something I want to do full time, and by hook or by crook, I was going to make that happen. I love the trade and enjoy passing my knowledge on. I’ve benefitted from a handful of generous mentors and co-workers who gave me a chance, a listening ear and a kind suggestion. It’s time for me to inspire others.”

Joe Meyer, LMC’s Welding Department faculty lead, is enthusiastic to have another fulltime faculty member in Welding. He explains, “With another fulltime professor, our evening courses become dramatically stabilized. Students now have the ability to take the same instructor for both theory and lab courses. This develops a much deeper relationship and stability for the students. It also gives the instructor more opportunity to work with the students and educate them to their full potential.”

“And then there’s the fact that our new fulltime professor is Dann,” he continues. “Dann is an exemplary performer. His industry experience and knowledge is an asset to our program. From the time he started here as an adjunct instructor, he has consistently exhibited a high degree of professionalism, commitment and competence as a welding instructor. He incorporates a positive attitude in performing his duties and towards instructing his students. He is very knowledgeable in demonstrating the different welding processes we offer, assisting students with the techniques, and critiquing their progress.  Lastly, his soft skills are what we all desire, someone who is easy to talk to, very approachable, and always passionate in teaching welding to students.”

The new equipment is also very exciting for the Welding Department. Joe explains, “Our new welding equipment will not only help our students succeed in class, but help them develop skill using the type of equipment they most likely will use on the job. This equipment includes shielded-metal arc welding inverter power supplies where students can set their amperage precisely and weld with very smooth arc characteristics. In addition, we have new flux-core arc welding power supplies with digital readouts so students can set their wire feed speed and arc voltage exactly to create quality welds. Our previous equipment was not as precise so it took longer to find the optimum settings. ”

Additional plans include acquiring equipment and tooling to create a “Fabrication Techniques” course where students will learn how to measure, cut, bend, drill, tap, rivet, metal items using hand and power tools. Joe feels this important because “”This would make the students more valuable to employers and lessen their learning curve and oversight in using tools, working to a drawing, and become more productive in their work. Overall, we strive to offer the latest welding equipment and technology thus providing students with the best educational experience.”

Natalie Hannum, Dean of Career Technical Education and Social Sciences, fully supports the efforts to optimize LMC’s Welding Technology Program. She explains, “This is an example of government systems working collaboratively:  Industry indicated it needed more welders; a TAACCCT grant provided funds to expand the lab and obtain state of the art equipment; and the college added capacity by hiring additional faculty to meet the need. It is a win for industry by providing a skilled workforce, and it is a win for students by providing more access to courses by offering night and weekend classes.  Welding is a high wage and high demand job and encompasses numerous industries, so there are a lot of opportunities for students.  It is an admirable career, and today’s welders are key to the California economy.”

As LMC’s Welding Program continues to improve and thrive, courses fill early, students accomplish their goals with the program, and many get jobs quickly once they have earned a certificate and/or degree. Interested in exploring a career in welding? Check out our Welding Technology Program at

Los Medanos College (LMC) is one of three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District. LMC prepares students to excel and succeed economically, socially and intellectually in an innovative, engaging and supportive learning environment. It provides quality programs and state-of-the-art facilities to serve the needs of a rapidly growing and changing East County while enhancing the quality of life of the diverse communities it serves. LMC is located on 120 acres between Pittsburg and Antioch, with an additional education center in Brentwood.

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Teachers stage protest march before Antioch School Board splits 3-1 on Superintendent search firm

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
Antioch teachers march, wave signs and chant outside the School Services Building before the Antioch School Board meeting on Wednesday, January 20, 2016.

Antioch teachers march, wave signs and chant outside the School Services Building before the Antioch School Board meeting on Wednesday, January 20, 2016. photo by Allen Payton

By Nick Goodrich

A protest march by Antioch teachers was held before the Antioch School Board meeting Wednesday night, January 20th, during its first meeting of the new year. Holding signs that read things they’ve been speaking about at recent school board meetings, such as “Show Value to Your AUSD Teachers and Students,” “$ Recruit and Retain,” “Use Class Size Money to Lower Class Size,” and “Our Special Education Students Deserve Safe Class Sizes,” the teachers marched on the sidewalk surrounding the parking lot in front of the School Services Building, for a half hour before the meeting began. They chanted “What do we want? Respect. When do we want it? Now.”

The Board then began the meeting holding a ceremonial oath of office for new board member Fernando Navarro, and voted on a search firm to help select its new Superintendent on a 3-1 split, with Navarro dissenting. Trustee Debora Vinson was absent.

Navarro, who officially took his oath of office for his position on December 9th, last year during a special, early Board session, reenacted it so his family could witness the ceremony.

The January 20th meeting marked his first session as a participating member of the board, and he was the lone dissenting voice in several Board decisions throughout the evening. The meeting was also Diane Gibson-Gray’s first as President of the Board, with Walter Ruehlig serving as Vice President.

The meeting began with public comments from District employees, moved to the forefront due to the number of teachers that came to speak before the Board. Most of the teachers were protesting the District’s use of funds in the wake of Governor Jerry Brown’s newly released state budget.

Tech-certified teachers, who teach computer skills in elementary and middle schools, benefitted the most from the budget, receiving greater pay than many teachers who have worked in the District for 20 or 30 years, but without tech certification. In some cases, one teacher claimed, tech-certified teachers were being paid twice as much as veteran teachers.

“To keep new teachers coming in, the District needs to treat veteran teachers better,” she said.

Bob Carson, another teacher, noted that the Governor’s new budget marked the largest ever increase in the District’s budget, and that all Antioch teachers should benefit.

Other teachers decried the large class sizes of special education classes, telling the board that unless they adhere to a 20:1 ratio of students to teachers, then prospective teachers will be less attracted to the District and harder to hire.

One speaker, however, had something positive to say. Resident Frank Deluna spoke before the board and told of how his daughter, a student at Deer Valley High School, had been failing out of her Algebra class. After three weeks of enrollment in DVHS’s new after-school, math-intensive program, which received funding from the District late last year, Deluna reported that she was now getting A’s in her math class. He spoke highly of the program.

“She’s improved so much,” Deluna stated. “I would like for this program to be continued.”

After looking over the Governor’s new budget, the Board noted that they were in the midst of a 12-year decline in enrollment across the District, with most of the losses occurring in grades 9-12. Trustee Claire Smith asked the Board staff, as she has in previous meetings, where the students are leaving to; and was not pleased when there was as yet, no answer.

“The answer is always, ‘I don’t know,’” she said. “The City Council needs to get out in front of this. We have an image problem and a reputation problem. Maybe it’s time to get real.”

Board Hires Superintendent Search Firm

The Board discussed the institution of more comprehensive exit surveys to better discover where and why students are leaving, and plans to take action in future meetings.

The Board did, however, take action in its search for a new superintendent. After a thorough selection process, the School Board settled on the search firm Leadership Associates from among three candidates. Smith found that Leadership Associates were “highly professional” and was impressed at the level of experience they brought to the table. Ruehlig and Gibson-Gray agreed.

“We wanted the best and the brightest,” said Gibson-Gray.

Fernando Navarro was the sole dissenter in the 3-1 vote that brought Leadership Associates onboard. He argued that the Board should potentially look, first within the District for a new superintendent, rather than search for an outside hire, which would cost the Board significantly more than promoting someone from within and would bring in someone who knows the District well.

However, Smith stated that during conversations she had with several potential inside-hires, none were interested in the superintendent position, and Gibson-Gray added that she was willing to bear the extra cost of the search firm if it meant they could find the best talent in the state.

During the meeting, Navarro also brought up the possibility of moving the school board meetings to larger accommodations.

“This chamber seems a little small to meet our needs,” he noted.

Board meetings have been held in several different locations before, but none stuck. Board members cited a few reasons that they have remained in the School Services Building on G Street; cost, microphone and visual setups, and longer driving distances, were chief among them. Navarro mentioned the possibility of holding Board meetings in the City Council Chamber in downtown Antioch, but a possible location switch was not discussed further.

He also brought up the idea of televising Board meetings or webcasting them online, saying it could be a good idea to increase exposure to the Board and allow residents to be more informed and involved in District decisions. While the most of the Board seemed open to the idea, Smith said the Board had been over that before and it was just too costly. But, since it wasn’t on the agenda, the idea could not be fully discussed and would have to wait for a future meeting.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Deadline for high school students to participate in the 2015 Congressional App Challenge extended to Jan. 21

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, who represents parts of Antioch in the U.S. House of Representatives, announces he will be participating in the second annual Congressional App Challenge (CAC), an app competition for U.S. high school students.

The Challenge submission period will now run through January 21, 2016. Winners will be selected by panels of local judges, and honored by their Congressman. Winning apps will be featured on a display in the Capitol building.

“This competition provides a unique opportunity to high school students to showcase their STEM skills. I invite students from across California’s 11th Congressional District to join their peers across the nation in an opportunity to display their talents in the U.S. Capitol Building,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.

Established by Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013, this competition is a nationwide event intended to engage students’ creativity and encourage their participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. This competition allows students to compete with peers in their own district by creating and exhibiting their software application, or “app”, for mobile, tablet, or computer devices on a platform of their choice. By encouraging and recognizing our nation’s young programming talent, Congress hopes to shine a light on the growing importance of these skills.

In its first year, the CAC received submissions from students in 84 districts. This year, the Challenge is striving to double that number. Recognizing the racial, gendered, and other disparities in the tech sector, the CAC will also focus on inclusivity and making the Challenge as accessible as possible to people from all backgrounds. Deliberate efforts will be made to include students from all backgrounds, including those traditionally underrepresented in tech.

The Internet Education Foundation will be serving as the operational “sponsor” of the CAC. For further information about the Congressional App Challenge, please visit

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Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial seeks legal professionals to volunteer their expertise

Friday, January 8th, 2016

Bay Area soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are needed to provide assistance to their future brethren at the upcoming 35th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program, held in the early evenings throughout the month of February, at the Martinez Court Rooms. Last year, 150 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges, as well as third-year law students volunteered their time with the Mock Trials.

Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), Mock Trial is an academic event provided for high school students. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. This year’s trial: People v. Hayes – a murder case, and features a pretrial argument on the Fifth Amendment.

“I encourage all my fellow law professionals to join us in serving as volunteer Mock Trial judges and attorney scorers,” said Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Steve Austin. “Not only is it a wonderful service to our county’s high school students, but you will really enjoy watching them in action. You will be impressed with the skill these young men and women demonstrate in our courtrooms. Every year I volunteer, I am continually amazed at the obvious time each student has invested to participate in this challenging academic event.”

Teams of high school students work with teachers and volunteer coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives.  Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and court journalists. Mock Trial judges and attorneys score their performance and provide immediate feedback. Winning teams advance through seven rounds of competition. The county’s champion advances to the State finals. This year, there will be 16 Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams competing.

Volunteers will score two competing schools that argue the cases in their assigned court. Each night, will begin with a 15-minute rules and regulations training, then the volunteers will go into their scheduled courtrooms to serve as Mock Trial judge and scorers.  The Mock Trials’ scorers are made up of Bay Area deputy district attorneys and deputy public defenders, as well as public-sector, private-practice, and corporate lawyers. In addition, seasoned law students are also welcome to participate. A practicing or retired judge or commissioner will preside over each trial, and also serves as one of the trial’s scorers.

Teams from the following 16 Contra Costa County high schools will be competing: Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), El Cerrito (El Cerrito), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), Northgate (Walnut Creek), Pinole Valley (Pinole), and Richmond (Richmond).

Schedule for 2016 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials:

Preliminaries: February 2, 4, 9, 11, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Eight competitions each night)

Quarterfinals: February 16, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Four competitions)

Semifinals: February 18, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Two competitions)

Final and Consolation: February 23, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Two competitions)

Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward Street, in Martinez.

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Antioch to hold 8th annual Martin Luther King Day event, January 18

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

King CelebrationThe City of Antioch and Antioch Unified School District along with community partners and sponsors, will present its 8th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration in the Deer Valley High School Theater, located at 4700 Lone Tree Way, on January 18, 2016, from 1:00-3:00 PM.

This citywide celebration was created in 2009 by the late Antioch City Council Member Reggie Moore who passed away February 2014 from cancer. He desired to celebrate Dr. King’s historical contributions by bringing the entire community of Antioch together in addition to creating a scholarship program for high school and middle school students. Prior to Reggie Moore’s passing he handed the task of keeping this event going to Wade Harper who at the time was a Council Member. Antioch’s Mayor Harper and Antioch Unified School District Board President Diane Gibson-Gray continue the celebration with the support of businesses and community leaders.

This year’s theme is Moving Beyond the Dream, a Salute to Greatness. The celebration will include presentation of the scholarships to the top three winners in High School and Middle School who competed in the Essay and Art Contest, various student performances, Praise Dance, Youth Comedian Leonard “The KYD” Jackson, Bay Area Gospel artist Lawrence Mathews and Keynote Speaker, three-time Super Bowl Champion and former SF 49er William “Bubba” Paris.

This event is sponsored by the City of Antioch, Antioch Unified School District, Antioch Community Foundation, County Supervisor Federal Glover, Pacific Gas & Electric, Mayor Wade Harper, Arts & Cultural Foundation of Antioch and more.

For more information please visit or contact Diane Gibson-Gray at (925) 325-9897 or email

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Travis Credit Union to give out 20 scholarships to high school seniors

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Great news for college bound seniors – Travis Credit Union announced today that it will award twenty, $1,500 scholarships.

Travis Credit Union encourages all graduating seniors to apply.  Each applicant must be a high school senior with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, bound for a two–or four–year college or university and a member of Travis Credit Union in good standing.  Students who live in Travis Credit Union’s twelve-county service region and are not yet members may join the credit union and apply for a scholarship at the same time.

“In the last 12 years, we have received a tremendous response from young members who have exhibited a commitment to academic excellence and community service.  We look forward to recognizing even more of our deserving young members this year,” says Barry Nelson, Travis Credit Union’s president and CEO.

The Travis Credit Union Board of Directors established the scholarship program in 2004 and named it the Mary Keith Duff Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of a long-time board member, who passed away in December 2004.

Scholarship applications are available at any branch location or online at Travis Credit Union’s website at  In addition to a completed application other requirements include: a 250-word essay, a certified high school transcript and a letter of recommendation from a teacher.

Completed applications must be received no later than the close of business Monday, March 7, 2016.

“As a credit union, we are founded on the philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ and we stand behind the principles that promote human development and social responsibility,” adds Nelson.  “Offering these scholarships is just one way Travis Credit Union adds value for our members and is assisting them with the increasing cost of higher education while reinforcing our commitment to their financial success.”

Headquartered in Vacaville, California, Travis Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Contra Costa, Alameda, Colusa, Merced Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo Counties. Currently, Travis Credit Union is the 13th largest credit union in California with more than 177,000 members and more than $2.5 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Napa, Yolo and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members and the community; its solid, secure history; and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.

Travis has branches in Antioch at 2721 Lone Tree Way in the Terraces Shopping Center and 5819 Lone Tree Way, Suite A in the Slatten Ranch Shopping Center.

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County School Board Trustee Belle admits to, fined by state for claiming to be a Respiratory Care Practitioner without a license

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016
Jeff Belle, courtesy of the Contra Costa County School Board

Jeff Belle, courtesy of the Contra Costa County Board of Education

By Allen Payton

Research by Barbara Zivica, a regular, contributing columnist for the Herald, revealed that on August 17, 2015, following an investigation by the California Medical Board that began in 2010 and a prosecution by the California Attorney General’s office, Contra Costa County School Board Trustee Jeff Belle admitted he “is not now, nor has ever been, licensed by the Respiratory Care Board of California” and agreed to pay a fine of $8,200 in a settlement.

According to the Stipulated Citation and Order, before the Respiratory Care Board, Department of Consumer Affairs, State of California, Belle violated “Business and Professions Code section 3760, subdivisions (a) and (c) and 3761, subdivision (a), by misrepresenting himself as a respiratory care practitioner and engaging in the practice of respiratory care without a current and valid license in California.”

Those sections state “no person shall represent himself or herself to be a respiratory care practitioner…or use the abbreviation or letters ‘R.C.P.’…without a current and valid license issued under this chapter” and “granted under this chapter, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.” The maximum penalty for doing so is $15,000.

According to the Cause for Citation, Belle applied for a license as a respiratory care practitioner in California on December 24, 2010 and completed the “Board’s Statement of Understanding acknowledging he understood the following:

‘During the application period, the applicant shall be identified as a ‘Respiratory Care Practitioner Applicant’ and may only practice with a valid work permit while under the direct and immediate supervision of a licensed respiratory care practitioner.’

‘No person who has not been licensed by the Board shall engage in the practice of respiratory care despite holding a CRT or RRT credential.’

‘No person shall engage in the practice of respiratory care or represent him/herself as such through verbal claim, sign advertisement, letterhead, business care, badge/name tag, or representation unless he or she holds a valid license issued by the Board.’”

Yet, the Citation further states that “Jeffery Johura Belle was and is not licensed to practice respiratory care in the State of California nor was ever issued a work permit. On May 23, 2015, Subject’s (Belle’s) application for licensure was deemed abandoned as he failed to complete the application process.”

The investigation conducted by the California Medical Board, whose findings were forwarded to the state Respiratory Care Board, found that Belle “was owner and Chief Executive Officer of the business, Respiratory Clinical Institute (RCI), which provided tutorial and clinical rotation services to students who were completing their respiratory care studies using an online program. On March 2, 2012, the Subject appeared for an interview with the Medical Board investigator wearing a white lab coat, a name badge and a stethoscope. During the interview, the Subject introduces himself as Jeffery Belle, Respiratory Care Practitioner. On the lab coat was an embroidered patch and name badge that identified the Subject as ‘RCP.’ Subject also provided advertising and contractual/student materials to the investigator. Within the signature block of the Tutorial Agreement between RCI and the Student, the Subject is identified as an ‘RCP.’

During the interview, the Medical Board investigator informed Belle that “he was illegally representing himself as a respiratory care practitioner and again educated the Subject with the laws that govern the practice of respiratory care in the State of California.”

Belle then “signed an affidavit on March 30, 2012, stating he would no longer represent himself as a respiratory care practitioner in California.”

As part of his settlement with the state, Belle was ordered to “immediately cease and desist any and all unlicensed activities pursuant to the Respiratory Care Practice Act” and to “pay civil penalties in the amount of $8,200…to the Board” for “misrepresenting himself as a respiratory care practitioner and engaging in the practice of respiratory care in California without a valid license.”

He is to make payments of $136.66 per month for five years from the date of the decision and if Belle “fails to make a monthly payment, the remaining amount of costs shall be immediately due and payable,” that the “filing of bankruptcy…shall not relieve (him) of his responsibility to reimburse the Board” and “the Board will collect cost recovery from the Franchise Tax Board, Internal Revenue Service, or by any other means of attachment of earned wages legally available to the Board.”

In spite of the citation and order, and Belle signing the affidavit in 2012, as of January 6, 2016, on his LinkedIn account it states the following:

President/Senior Lecturer

Respiratory Clinical Institutes

January 2008 – April 2011 (3 years 4 months)Sacramento, Contra Costa County, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Oakland

Company founder and leader in training respiratory care students through clinical rotations, clinical coordination and partnerships. Established and Trained over 100 students at 10 clinical sites. Attained a student passage rate on National Board Exams of 93 percentile. The Gold Standard in Clinical Education!

Respiratory Care Specialist ( RRT)

Registered Lobbyist and Contract Practitioner

January 1999 – 2008 (9 years)CA, WA, OR, AR, TX, AZ, OK, NM,VI

Served as contract therapist with a speciality in adult critical care and pulmonary diagnostics at various hospitals, clinics and outpatient medical facilities from the U. S. Virgin Islands to Northern California. In addition, I worked as a contract lobbyist in Washington, D.C. for various companies.

Prior to entering the race for County School Board, in 2014, Belle claimed to have been licensed in other states as a respiratory care practitioner and stated he didn’t need a license in California in order to teach in the state, since he wasn’t actually practicing medicine, and that only his students were.

Belle is currently being prosecuted by the Contra Costa District Attorney for lying on his candidate ballot statement, during his 2014 election to the County School Board and faces a maximum fine of $1,000 for that violation if found guilty. Belle stated he had a “Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science,” but had not completed his course work, according to the college. He has pled not guilty and his next court date is set for 8:45 a.m., February 11, 2016 in Martinez. For more information about that case click here.

Barbara Zivica contributed this report.

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Antioch Rotary Club works to empower high school girls with film, stories of local women

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

Angela Juarez Lombardi, Public Information Officer and Marketing Manager at Sutter Delta Medical Center, speaks to the Deer Valley High School girls, as part of a panel of local women, including Antioch Councilwoman Monica Wilson, attorney Amy Hilton and chiropractor Dr. Stacey Duckett, following the showing of the Empowerment Project film in October.

By Allen Payton

In order to motivate young women in Antioch on their own personal journey of empowerment, the Antioch Rotary Club sponsored the screening of the film “The Empowerment Project” to all female students at Antioch High School and Deer Valley High School, in October. The film, created by filmmakers Dana Michelle Cook and Sarah Moshman, follows the travels of them and two other female friends across 7,000 miles throughout the United States as they find strong, positive role models in a wide variety of industries.These role models include a Four Star Admiral in the U.S. Navy, social entrepreneur, pilot, professional athlete, chef and an architect.

All the girls at Deer Valley High School attended the special Empowerment Project event in October.

All the girls at Deer Valley High School attended the special Empowerment Project event in October.

Besides the film, the club members, lead by their President, Dr. Stacey Duckett, arranged for five panelists, each a positive female role model, to be at each screening to be available to discuss their professional careers and to answer any questions that students may have.

“We are very committed to the success of the youth in our local community of Antioch,” said Duckett. “We want girls to know that their options are not limited and that there is a wide arrange of careers available to them.”

Last year, Lindsay Wisely from Antioch High School started the concept of “Girl Power” with its theme of female empowerment and organized a group of 20 Antioch High School alumni to speak to the female population.  Deer Valley High School is exploring developing a club that would focus on empowering its female students, if they have an interest in doing so.

As part of the project, the Antioch Rotary Club worked closely with Antioch High School’s Vice Principal Lindsay Wisely and with Deer Valley High School’s Vice Principal Susan Ceballos. Panelists included Iris Archlutta, Mary Rocha, Lindsey Wisely, Jennifer Yu, Lynnette Giacobazzi, Amy Hilton, Sylvia High, Julie Haas-Wajdowicz, Christine O’Brien, Angela Juarez-Lombardi, Monica Wilson, Misha Dunford and Duckett, following the two showings.

Kimberly Sbranti, the daughter of club member Sal Sbranti, was the transcriber for the film, and was instrumental in bringing it to Antioch.

During the screening of the 54-minute film at Deer Valley High, attended by all of the school’s female students, the greatest response of applause was given to former Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriwether and Michelle Howard, the first female Four-Star Admiral in the Navy, and an African-American.

Following the film and a strong round of applause, four of the women panelists shared their experiences and thoughts with the teens, including Antioch Councilwoman Monica Wilson, the first African-American female elected to the council; Angela Juarez Lombardi, the Public Information Officer and Marketing Manager at Sutter Delta Medical Center and an Antioch High School graduate; family law attorney Amy Hilton, and Duckett, a chiropractor in Antioch.

In response to the question, what advice would you give to your teenage self, Lombardi told the girls “You have to live out of your comfort zone.” She also said “and this too shall pass,” whether things are going good or bad in your life.

“Find what you’re passionate about,” Wilson shared, and “be open to new ideas, new experiences.”

Hilton said the girls should “first, pay attention in your English class,” to laughter from the audience.

“I’m not joking,” she continued. “Learn grammar and how to write and you’ll be in the top five percent of your profession.”

“Do everything and enjoy yourself,” Hilton added.

“Don’t give up,” was Duckett’s advice. “Pick something different. Have a cub or start a club, like Toastmasters, to help you communicate.”

One more bit of advice she would give her teenage self was “You really should have taken Spanish, not French,” with a chuckle.

To learn more about the Empowerment Project, visit To learn more about the Antioch Rotary Club, visit

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