Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

New K-8 virtual academy coming to Antioch

Friday, June 25th, 2021

Named for Thomas Gaines, the city’s first Black resident

By Scott Bergerhouse, Director of Student Support, Antioch Unified School District

The Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) is pleased to announce the grand opening of the Thomas Gaines Virtual Academy. The Thomas Gaines Virtual Academy is an alternative school of choice open to all K-8 students who thrive in a virtual learning environment, and/or need a flexible learning option.  The Thomas Gaines Virtual Academy promotes student voice and choice, student goal setting and monitoring, critical thinking, community, and collaboration.

Thomas Gaines’ Virtual Instructional Program

  • Core content instruction (English Language Arts/English Language Development, Math, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education)
  • Standards mastery based learning
  • Project Based Learning (PBL)
  • Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Digital Citizenship

Thomas Gaines’ Virtual Instructional Components

  • Live daily instruction
  • Learning and social emotional supports
  • Collaboration with peers
  • Individual and group assignments
  • Voluntary in-person activities

How to Enroll Students in the Thomas Gaines Virtual Academy

The academy is named for Gaines (1821-1896), Antioch’s first Black resident. (See related article)

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Contra Costa college district announces four finalists, public forums for Associate Vice Chancellor, CFO

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

Contra Costa Community College District Associate Vice Chancellor-Chief Financial Officer candidate finalists Mazie L. Brewington, Phyllis A. Carter, Micaela Ochoa, Ed.D. and Peter A. “Tony” Wold, Ed.D. Photos from 4CD.

By Erin Brooks, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, 4CD 

The Contra Costa Community College District has announced the selection of four finalists for the position of Associate Vice Chancellor, Chief Financial Officer. The finalists are: Mazie L. Brewington, Phyllis A. Carter, Micaela Ochoa, Ed.D., and Peter A. “Tony” Wold, Ed.D.

Four separate public forums have been scheduled for Thursday, June 24, 2021. The public forums will begin at 9:00 a.m. and last 60 minutes. At each forum, the finalist will make statements and answer questions. The forums are open to the broad community, students, faculty and staff and will be held remotely via Zoom. A detailed public forum schedule, including Zoom links to the public forums is available on the District website at

Mazie L. Brewington

Mazie L. Brewington began her career in 1999 with the California Community College System as the Business Manager for Laney College. In 2006, she accepted her first Chief Business Official Position (CBO) as the Vice President of Administrative and Business Services for the Solano Community College District. And most recently, she served as the Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services in the Yuba Community College District. Throughout her 22-year career in higher education she has received many recognitions and awards. One of the most notable is when she was named for Excellence in Community Colleges by the Chief Association of Business Officials (CASBO) in 2004.

Ms. Brewington has served on the Board of Directors for the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA), the Cities of Lancaster, Palmdale and Yuba Successor Oversight agencies and participated with other professional organizations including the Association of Chief Business Officials (ACBO), and the California Community College Internal Auditors (CCIA). She is past chair of the Armed Forces Emergency Services (AFES), American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter; Service Delivery Chair, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter (ARBAC); Solano County Council, and a Board Member, Solano County Transportation Authority (STA). She has co-presented at the Association of Chief Business Officials (ACBO) Institute on the topic of Budget and Resource Allocation.

Ms. Brewington has served on three accreditation teams, starting with the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), West Los Angeles College (WLAC) and Kapi’olani Community College in Hawaii.

Ms. Brewington holds an MBA in Business Administration from Troy State University, a BA in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management from Columbia College, and an AA in General Studies from Columbia College.

Phyllis A. Carter

Phyllis Carter has more than 30 years of experience leading education, nonprofit and corporate organizations to greater financial health, efficiency, and sustainability. At institutions of higher learning where she has served for more than 10 years, she has been a thought leader who provides strategic, financial, and operational business advice to governing boards, presidents, chancellors, administrators, faculty, staff, and students.

Ms. Carter recently served as Interim Vice President of Strategy, Innovation and Operations and Chief Operating Officer at Samuel Merritt University, a premier Health Sciences institution with four campuses located in Oakland, San Mateo, Sacramento, and Fresno. Prior to this position, she served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Administration and Finance at San Francisco State University (SFSU), a top tier institution within the California State University System.

Before her role at SFSU, she served as Chief Business Officer and held the title of Director of Business and Administrative Services at Laney College, supporting the success of community college students in downtown Oakland. At Laney College, she was a member of the president’s executive cabinet and she had oversight of all campus administrative functions. Prior to this position, Ms. Carter was Chief Financial and Administrative Officer at Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), an international post-doctoral research organization located on the UC-Berkeley Campus. MSRI is an independent nonprofit and primarily funded by National Science Foundation, National Security Agency, academic sponsorships, endowment, and other philanthropic donations. In addition, Ms. Carter was an adjunct faculty member teaching general and financial accounting at Merritt College. As an adjunct faculty and to encourage student career development, she developed and implemented an in-class instructional program representing an accounting speakers’ series with professionals across various industries and government.

Ms. Carter’s previous corporate career included management positions in telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, corporate venture capital and various technology companies.

Ms. Carter earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Washington University Olin Business School and an Advanced Certificate in International Affairs from Washington University. She earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accountancy from the University of Missouri. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA not licensed) and the certificate was awarded by the Kansas Board of Accountancy. She is a Fellow of the Executive Leadership Academy at the Center for Studies in Higher Education on the University of California, Berkeley campus.

Ms. Carter has a passion for serving and contributing to institutions which provide access, equity, and social justice. Her mission is to enable students to achieve their educational goals and her efforts extend beyond her professional life to her community. She is an active board member on the Diablo Valley College Foundation, reader in Oakland Public Schools and she has served in international humanitarian organizations providing education and support.

Micaela Ochoa, Ed.D.

Dr. Micaela Ochoa has 25 years of experience working at federal, state, and local levels of government, and in the private sector. She is an experienced leader in higher education and K-12 public school districts with equity at the forefront of her decision making. Her expertise includes over 17 years of senior cabinet level experience responsible for business and administrative services and operations, financial management, policy review and analysis, strategic planning, and business process re-engineering. Dr. Ochoa provides systemic strategic leadership that is collaborative, results-oriented, transparent, and student equity focused.

Currently, Dr. Ochoa is the Vice President of Administrative Services (VPA) at the College of San Mateo (CSM). During her time at CSM, she has served in dual roles as VPA and Vice President of Student Services overseeing multiple areas including Admissions and Records; the Wellness Center; Financial Aid; Veterans Program; Response and Evaluation of Students (CARES) team; and Student Disciplinary Officer.

Prior to her current role at CSM, she was the Chief Business Official/Assistant Superintendent of Business Services in K-12 school districts in Alameda, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties. Dr. Ochoa has also taught in higher education at Notre Dame de Namur University.

Prior to her work in K-12, Dr. Ochoa served as an administrator in higher education at Stanford University and UC Berkeley. She also worked as a management consultant for KPMG Consulting, and Fiscal and Policy Analyst for the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Dr. Ochoa earned her Doctorate Degree from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, Master of Science Degree from Carnegie Mellon University, and her Bachelor’s Degree from University of California, Berkeley.

Peter A. “Tony” Wold, Ed.D.

Dr. Tony Wold brings over 30 years of education experience to the District, including the past two years as the Associate Superintendent, Business Services of the West Contra Costa Unified School District where he served as both Chief Business Official and Chief Labor Negotiator and helped lead the District from a significant financial crisis to a positive budget certification while supporting all of the District’s operations during the pandemic. Prior to that he served as Assistant Superintendent, Business in the Westminster School District for four years and was responsible for budget development and staffing in Santa Ana Unified for seven years serving there during the great recession.

Dr. Wold brings an extraordinary amount of educational experience both in and outside of the classroom having also served as a teacher, site administrator, educational services director, and football coach in his educational career. Dr. Wold has a strong sense of the K-14 finance world and has been active in the California School Business Officials Association (CASBO), Coalition of Adequate School Housing (CASH), and serving as a mentor for aspiring Chief Business Officials.

Dr. Wold most recently served as Associate Superintendent, Business Services in West Contra Costa Unified School District, where he oversaw the daily operations and management of accounting, budget, purchasing, payroll, employee benefits, labor relations, school operations, athletics, safety, warehouse, transportation, nutrition services and risk management. Dr. Wold was also responsible for managing the WCCUSD’s $420 million budget. He was instrumental in the passing of the $575 million Measure R Bond in March 2020 while navigating a $49.9 million structural deficit to restore the District to a positive budget certification in collaboration with the District’s 5 labor associations.

A native of Redwood City, Dr. Wold received his bachelors of science in Business Administration from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California (USC). He subsequently completed both his School Business Management Certification and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the Rossier School of Education at USC. Dr. Wold and his wife Lisa, have been married for over 25 years and have one daughter who is a senior who will be graduating from the University of San Francisco in December in preparation to join the educational system as a teacher.

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Antioch High School sends off 400 graduates

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

The Antioch High School class of 2021 celebrates their graduation while remaining socially distanced in Eels Stadium, Friday night. Photos by Jesus Cano.

Valedictorian is just 13-year-old 

By Jesus Cano

Principal Louie Rocha called the class of 2021 a special group of people.

Principal Louie Rocha has gone through 21 graduation commencements but, says that the Antioch High School class of 2021 stand out as a special group due to all they had to go through because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was impressed that they placed the welfare of their loved ones before their own self-interest. School closure resulted in missed school activities and milestone events,” Rocha said. “I am so very proud of the class of 2021 throughout their high school years,” he continued. “I have been impressed how they come together to support one another during some challenging times.”

Ceremonies for the final of six high school graduations for the Antioch Unified School District, this week, were held in the school’s Eells Stadium.

13-year-old Ella Nguyen could be the youngest valedictorian in Antioch High School history.

13-year-old Ella Nguyen was this year’s valedictorian, perhaps the youngest in Antioch High School history. She congratulated her classmates as they went through 12 years to earn their diplomas and battled through the COVID-19 pandemic. (See related article)

“But after 15 months of being shut in confined isolation. It is especially important to recognize that we as a class of 2021 are more than this academic achievement,” Ella said. “But I know for a fact that from joy to misery, passion to empathy, spring to summer to fall to winter, through the year in solitude. It was your final year of high school, you’ve made it.”

Senior ASB president Arianna Grady’s opening speech emphasized with her classmates about being people of color and not letting negative stereotypes deter them from the success that they could have. Grady did so by introducing a quote Malcom X said during an interview.

ASB President Arianna Grady addresses her peers for a final time during Antioch’s commencement ceremony Friday night.

“Malcolm’s quote made me think of how we have allowed people to construct our mindsets, the way we are perceived, perceive others and how we respond to others’ beliefs,” Grady said. “To that I say refuse. Refuse to allow yourself to be manipulated. Refuse to conform based on others’ beliefs. Refuse to be anything but unapologetically you. Question everything you read. Find your truth, with a school that has 85% racial and ethnic minorities.”

Antioch also honored fallen classmate Andrew Gonzalez, who passed away during his sophomore year of high school in a car accident on James Donlon Blvd.

400 students graduated this year from Antioch High School, according to Rocha.

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Deer Valley High graduates Class of 2021 on a warm Friday morning

Friday, June 18th, 2021

The Deer Valley High School Class of 2021 graduated in the school’s stadium Friday morning, June 18, 2021. Photos by Jesus Cano

Spent their senior year “All Alone Together”

Senior Class President Sienna Nepacena speaks to her classmates.

By Jesus Cano

Deer Valley High teachers Allison Adkins and Maria McClain both got to work closely with the class of 2021 through their senior year. They both agreed that this year’s graduating class has one thing in common – grit and determination.

They both even think Deer Valley’s yearbook theme – All Alone Together – is a great theme for this school year.

“Many of them rose to the challenge,” Adkins said. “I think it teaches them down the line, that they’re way more flexible and capable of moving.”

“I think because they are a generation of social media, the technological aspect of distance learning, they are still connected because they connect so often with their phone and with Instagram and all of those other things.” McClain said.

Valedictorian Dennis Gavrilenko addresses his fellow graduates.

In spite of scheduling the graduation ceremony in the school’s stadium Friday morning, it was still warm in the sun for the graduates in their caps and gowns.

Antioch Unified School District board president Ellie Householder said the class of 2021 are more technologically ready for anything that comes their way post-graduation, and emphasized in her speech to the graduates that she validates for all the hard work they put in during this virtual year.

But the school’s class of 2021 did get a sense of normalcy, valedictorian Dennis Gavrilenko highlighted in his speech, like him and his volleyball teammates winning the 2021 BVAL boys’ volleyball title. He reminds his class all they learned at Deer Valley.

Even with a rough start, Gavrilenko was proud of the way the class broke through barriers.

Principal Olubukola Oyebade congratulates the graduating seniors.

“I would have never thought that during our junior year, we would have to adjust to distance learning inside our entire senior year, apart from each other. While we were resilient. We were strong, and in the face of all that adversity, we succeeded.” he said.

He also added that as the class of 2021 grows, they are in control of their future.

“As we transition from poverty to our adult lives, I urge you all to never lose your curiosity and fascination in our world,” Gavrilenko said. “We are the ones who must seize the future that we envision for ourselves. It’s up to us to lead others, and to make the world a better place, and I am certain that we will succeed.”

See video of ceremony, later on YouTube. Please check back later for the link.

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Antioch’s Dozier-Libbey Medical High School celebrates Class of 2021 in the heat

Friday, June 18th, 2021

The Dozier-Libbey Class of 2021 listens to their classmates speak during graduation ceremonies in the Deer Valley High stadium Thursday night, June 17, 2021. Photos by Jesus Cano.

“they’ll carry on and do great things with their leadership” – Former principal Scott Bergerhouse

Valedictorian Sidrah Rabiah Shah speaks to her classmates.

By Jesus Cano

Dozier-Libbey Medical High School valedictorian Sidrah Rabiah Shah reminded her class of 2021 how much they went through over their four years as high school students. (See ceremony video)

“Our class is different. We will forever be etched in the history books, who have been able to graduate without ever stepping foot on campus (during their senior year).” Shah said. “We are the class that barged into the quad to protest a shooting that killed 17 in Parkland. We are the class that stuck together and helped one another through a deadly pandemic.”

Ceremonies for this year’s graduating class of the certified pathway academy, estimated to be between 150-160 students, was held in the Deer Valley High School stadium. Unlike the rest of the district’s high schools, Dozier-Libbey specifically focuses on health and science.

Salutatorian Adanna Chimara shares about her and her fellow graduates’ high school experience.

During salutatorian Adanna Chimara’s speech, she recounted her first thought of Dozier-Libbey, which consisted of a rigorous amount of schoolwork, but said at the end of the day it allowed herself and her peers to be more prepared for the real world.

“Today, a combination that has allowed us to grow and learn more about ourselves,” she said. “And so, because of our time here, we’re there to take on any challenges or longer stuff that might come in our way.”

Former Dozier-Libbey principal Scott Bergerhouse was in attendance as a representative from the Antioch Unified School District – where he serves as director of student support services. He said being at the graduation was an honor, especially since he got to work first-hand with these students.

Former principal Scott Bergerhouse speaks to the graduating seniors.

“I remember when they were little freshmen and sophomore students working so hard. It’s so nice to see their success tonight,” Bergerhouse said. “Dozier-Libbey truly prepares them for not just the academic world but their whole life. And some of the challenges that they face in today’s world, they’ll carry on and do great things with their leadership, so I am very proud of them.”

The graduation was originally slated for 7 p.m. but was postponed until 8 p.m. due to this week’s heatwave. Spectators and students were provided with iced cold water as they entered the stadium. All five of the school board members and Superintendent Stephanie Anello attended the ceremony.

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Antioch’s Bidwell High graduates largest class in school history

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

Bidwell High graduated 106 seniors Wednesday night, June 16, the largest graduating class in school history. Photos by Jesus Cano

By Jesus Cano

Graduate Xotchil Ramirez thanks Bidwell’s teachers and staff for helping the class of 2021 graduate.

One of first-year principal Raj Naicker’s goals was to get more students to graduate from Antioch’s Bidwell High School, especially since many students entered the school with low credits at the alternative high school. (See ceremony video)

Naicker and his administration were able to reach that goal, as Bidwell High had its largest graduating class in school history with 106 students receiving their diplomas as part of the class of 2021, during ceremonies, Wednesday night, June 16 at the Deer Valley High School stadium

Naicker admits his goal came with a little bit of assistance as he said the Antioch Unified School District lowered the amount of credits to graduate this year from 220 to 130. He credits his administration staff with being much more interactive with the students and motivating them to graduate.

“I entered this school with a very open heart, with a very open mind,” Naicker said. “And my goal was to make sure to provide them opportunities to take classes in multiple ways, so that they could end those credits and graduate on time.”

Among the 108 students that graduated, Xotchil Ramirez and Angelique Romero were chosen to speak. Both of them touched on coming into Bidwell in a credit deficit but were able to preserve through Bidwell.

“I was told I could graduate if I went to Bidwell and I was excited to see what I could truly accomplish,” Ramirez said in her speech. “I was able to develop such amazing relationships with my fellow classmates and teachers as they helped me and all of us to where we are today.”

Antioch School Board Vice President Dr. Clyde Lewis speaks to Bidwell’s graduating class.

Bidwell was truly a very welcoming place where students can get a warm feeling of accomplishment, and the confidence that drives them forward,” Romero said in her speech. “I got help every step of the way, and never once felt alone.”

Antioch Unified School District trustee Dr. Clyde Lewis spoke at the graduation ceremony and recounted his days of growing up in East Oakland – an area that has a similar demographic to the students at Bidwell.

“Once we have success. It’s easy to build. It’s not easy, but it’s possible to build on that success,” Lewis said. “So, it’s important that we sort of really highlight that these kids are graduating, and then we push them and provide them opportunities.”

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Applications for City of Antioch paid summer youth internships accepted through June 28

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

In architecture and design

The City of Antioch is inviting young adults ages 18-24 to learn while you EARN this summer.

Join BUILD ANTIOCH, summer jobs program. BUILD ANTIOCH is a paid internship and unique, fun immersion in the world of architecture and design. Attend the program virtually for 15 hours a week for six weeks starting July 19 – August 27 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

2021 Summer Program Eligibility

  • Resident of Antioch
  • Ages 18-24 at the start of the program
  • Able to commit to working 15 hours a week

The Internship Experience

  • Learn how to sketch, model, build and more!
  • Design process and presentations
  • Collaborate with peers
  • Meet with mentors, architects, and engineers
  • Learn how to create designs to meet real-world challenges

Design your own FUTURE!

The application will remain open until Monday, June 28 at 4:00 PM. For more information, please click on the link below:

Build Antioch – City of Antioch, California (

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13-year-old girl becomes valedictorian at Antioch High School

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

Ella Nguyen. Photo courtesy of Antioch High School

By Luke Johnson & Jesus Cano

While many kids her age are excited about watching PG13 movies without their parents for the first time, Ella Nguyen is focused on graduating high school at the top of her class.

At just 13 years old, Ella is this year’s valedictorian at Antioch High School with a 4.43 GPA.

Principal Louie Rocha said he believes Ella is the youngest valedictorian in the school’s history, confirming that she is the youngest graduate during his time at the school. Rocha graduated from Antioch High in 1979 and has been an administrator on campus for over 20 years.

“Being at the top of my class was something that had never really crossed my mind,” Ella said. “I’m thankful to have gotten to where I am, but it’s more of a bonus than anything. It’s simply a part of my journey as a high schooler.”

Ella first skipped kindergarten, then third grade. By the time she finished fifth grade, she had an IQ of 147.

Ella’s parents and Mission Elementary administrators approached Rocha with the idea of Ella bypassing middle school and entering high school at nine years old.

He had concerns at first and immediately thought of worst-case scenarios.

“I asked her, ‘Are you willing to take the risk of being around older kids?’” he said.

Rocha was worried that Ella could possibly be on the receiving end of collateral damage from a scuffle in a hallway. She was around 4-foot-8 and 70 pounds at the time. He also wondered how the school would accommodate Ella in P.E. — who might risk injury by competing with bigger kids — and in health class — which covers sex education.

With Ella’s parents and Mission Elementary administrators insisting that she’s a genius and ready for a higher-level education, Rocha said he turned to Ella and asked why she wanted to attend Antioch High so badly.

“She looked me in the eye and said, ‘Mr. Rocha, I have never been challenged in school before. I hope by coming to high school that it will push and challenge me to be successful,’” Rocha said.

After enrolling at Antioch High, administration ultimately waived Ella’s health and P.E. classes. It was also agreed that then-Vice Principal Michael Flosi would walk her to class everyday.

However, by the third day of freshman year, Ella told Flosi that she was embarrassed of being escorted to class and she needed to find her own way.

Some classmates were “freaking out” when they initially discovered that a nine year old was a student on campus. However, Rocha said that quickly changed as several students wanted to befriend Ella, because they were inspired by her profound academic skills and wanted to learn from her.

Jason Ebner, a teacher at Antioch High, worked closely with Ella. Over the years, he’s seen her grow firsthand.

“The young lady speaks with such confidence and grace, Ebner said. “It’s scary to understand in four years to hear the level she was to the level where she is now — the conversations that we have had about what she thinks about education, where she thinks her life is going to go.”

Now Ella and her family are getting ready to move to Stockton while Ella gears up for college at the University of Pacific. She was accepted into the pre-dentistry program and — with some of her undergrad classes out the way from attending Los Medanos College — she could possibly become a licensed dentist at 18 years old.

Ebner and Rocha both compared Ella to Najee Harris — who graduated from Antioch High in 2017 and was recently drafted first round in the NFL — because their academic and athletic talents are in the “top one percent” of the world.

“As we honor Najee for putting Antioch on the map, we should do the same for Ella,” Rocha said.

Antioch High’s commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 will take place Friday 8 p.m. at Eells Stadium with limited capacity. Ella will be one of the speakers.

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