February PTA meeting focuses on gang prevention

Parents and staff came together for the February PTA meeting on Feb 7 in the theater to discuss the school’s agenda for this month’s events. PTA president Martha Michael began the meeting with a list of topics that would be touched.

First on the agenda was the opening of a board position: treasury. The previous holder of the position Mary Skill resigned, an act that led to the new appointment of Debbie Fitzgerald. Preceding the announcement, Martha Michael shared about her recent conference attendance where she was informed of different types of bullying, such as cyber bullying. She advised the parents to talk openly and honestly with their children about the decisions they make online. She also announced that the TLC Family Resource Center Open House will be held on Feb 25. The Family Resource Center aids struggling students with the necessities they yearn. Administrators usually recommend certain students to attend the TLC center to receive aid, whether it is counseling, obtaining glasses, or helping the students with their homework.

The next speaker, Heidi Warhurst, introduced herself as the new testing coordinator. Back in her former position, Warhurst started by addressing the CAHSEE exam, which will be conducted on March 8-9. A sign up sheet was going around for parents who wanted to volunteer their time to assist as proctors during the exam. Those that were not available could instead donate some refreshments for the parents who would volunteer their time and effort. Warhurst also pontificated the CST STAR testing which will take place in May.

The following guest speaker, vice principal Anthony Zegarra, introduced the guest speaker Julian Mendoza of the AmeriCan program– a drug, alcohol, and gang prevention program. Zegarra hopes to apply the program to students in need. While working with the program at Warren High School, Zegarra approached the project as an experiment. He took a random group of students and directed them to the AmeriCan process for one semester. During that time, most students showed a tremendous academic improvement; some even doubled their GPA. Zegarra aspires to bring that success to Downey by working with XCEED students (those who have a 1.0-2.0 GPA).

After a brief preview of the program, Julian Mendoza followed by advising the parents and sharing his past experiences with violence, drug, and alcohol abuse. He has worked with prisoners who admitted to having their lives changed because of the program.

Activites Director Gordon Weisenburger then approached the stand with sophomore Vice President Dayze Castellanos and Commissioner of Student Recognition Kimberly Arias. They discussed the student related events of the month. Among the list was the senior Grad Night activity, which will be hosted by Boomers in Irvine and will sell tickets for $80.

Next month’s meeting will be on March 13 at 6:00 p.m. and will focus on the Horticulture and Landscaping Program.