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National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis on Valuing the Journey

October 30, 2014
Jennifer Pharr Davis

Jennifer Pharr Davis in the French Alps

In California we are blessed with soaring Sierra peaks, ocean vistas and towering redwoods. The East Coast is connected by the famed Appalachian Trail, covering 14 states and 2,185 miles, stretching from Georgia to Maine. The natural beauty of our wilderness is a draw for hikers around the world, but the call into the wild goes beyond postcard moments.

I recently had the privilege to speak with 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis about her experiences as a long distance hiker. Ms. Davis is known for setting the fastest through hike record on the Appalachian Trail, averaging a staggering 47 miles per day to complete the trail in 46 days (with the support of her husband and an army of volunteers). For most hikers, completing the “A.T.” is measured in months, not days.

What I learned is that hiking is not about accolades and records, but about the journey and connecting with our natural environment. Ms. Davis is currently touring the United States to promote her latest book, Called Again, which chronicles her record-setting Appalachian Trail journey.

James Morehead: What makes hiking so compelling that hikers are willing to endure pain, fatigue, weather and discomfort on the trail?

Jennifer Pharr Davis: “You are willing to endure a lot as a hiker because it’s real. In some ways I think the romantics did a disservice to our concept of the wilderness because they painted beautiful lovely days with roses and butterflies, and made everyone think that going outside was always going to be fun and relaxing. The truth is that nature is harsh. Nature can be calm and beautiful but it can also be windy, cold, buggy, and scorching hot. But it’s always real.

“In our society we have a tendency to flatline our existence through creature comforts and sometimes through medication. We’re always supposed to feel a certain way, or be entitled to a certain level of comfort. As humans I feel like our spirit is more in tune with nature and that at times we need to endure highs and lows, get through the valleys to appreciate the mountain tops even more. I think hikers go to nature not always to have the beautiful, romantic vision of how nature’s portrayed, but instead to experience something real.”

Morehead: You have had the opportunity to visit many schools. What advice do you have for students?

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DUSD Holding Common Core Parent Workshops Nov 19-20

October 27, 2014

DUSD Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments Parent Information NightsThe Dublin Unified School District is holding a series of workshops for parents to learn more about important changes impacting schools across the country in the form of Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments. On November 19 and 20, from 6:30-8:30pm at Dublin High School, parents will have the opportunity to learn first hand about these important changes in our schools. Parents are encouraged to take advantage of these important educational workshops. These workshops build on sessions held earlier this year.

DUSD Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hanke, “In Dublin, our mission is to ensure that every student is college and career ready.  In order to accomplish this important goal, teachers, support staff, leaders, and parents must understand and be able to help our students thrive in the new era of Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments.  These new standards and the way we assess student achievement are changing teaching and learning in all of our schools. No longer will students be required merely to memorize and recite facts. They will be focused on deeper learning activities, explaining the  ‘how’ and ‘why’ of answers, and using right brained skills of critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. All are essential for success in college and in today’s world of work, and are closely aligned with our stated mission for Dublin students.”

Workshop registration information:

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College Admissions Advice from Dublin High School Alumni

October 23, 2014

High school seniors across the country are in the middle of the high stress / high stakes college admissions process, and juniors are honing their resumes. has had the privilege to publish articles profiling Dublin High School alumni as they completed their first semester in college. Below are highlights from those articles, focusing on college acceptance advice:

Dublin High School Class of 2012 graduate Rebecca Beasley, now attending the U.S. Air Force Academy:

US Air Force Academy Cadet Rebecca Beasley“Be a well-rounded student and look for opportunities to display leadership skills. One of the missions of the Air Force Academy is to build leaders of character. Athletics is important and, of course, test scores and grades. While many of the elements are similar to other competitive colleges, it’s important to understand that mentally the Air Force Academy will be different from a typical college experience, but the opportunities are awesome. The most important thing is to know what you are getting into if you want to attend a military college like the Air Force Academy.” Read more…

Dublin High School Class of 2012 graduate Ina Deljkic, now attending Georgetown University:

Ina Deljkic

Ina Deljkic (left)

“If I could share one piece of advice with any current Dublin High School student, it’s this: be limitless and don’t be afraid to go against the norm. The University of California school system is phenomenal, but remember— the popular route may not be the right fit for you. It wasn’t for me. Leaving my beloved small town of Dublin, CA to study on the East Coast has been the most rewarding experience of my entire life. Not only have I become an independent person, I have also been exposed to a completely different style of living.” Read more…

Dublin High School Class of 2013 graduate Tristan Elias, now attending the University of Colorado – Boulder:

Tristan Elias

“I was a victim of senioritis to a degree; I wanted to establish study habits in my senior year that would prepare me for entering college but I also didn’t want to overwhelm myself with classes to the point where I couldn’t enjoy my last year of high school and all the senior events. My advice to Dublin High seniors is enjoy your senior year but be careful not to throw away the year academically because most college look at your final grades. Going into the fourth quarter of high school my GPA was slipping and it was a wake-up call to balance senior year events with academics, and keep up my study habits.” Read more…

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City of Dublin Councilmember Abe Gupta Speaks Out in Opposition to Measure T

October 21, 2014

by Abe Gupta (City of Dublin Councilmember)

Doolan Canyon (credit Marc Davis)

Doolan Canyon (credit Marc Davis)

As City Councilmembers we are called on to be custodians of the public trust – more than anything else, we are charged with making land use choices – choices that affect the nature and scope of development and whose consequences, good or bad, often are not felt until decades later. Key to those choices is understanding and appreciating balanced, smart growth.

A few months ago, I had the chance to drive to the end of Doolan Road, a beautiful, bucolic terrain skirting the boundary between Dublin and Livermore. Dotted with small family farms, horse stables and open pastures, the area is a haven for wildlife. Visitors cannot help but be awestruck imagining how similar the land looked to early pioneers hundreds of years earlier – undisturbed and undeveloped.

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Popular Mechanics Recognizes Dublin High School’s Kumaran Ratnam with “Visionary” Breakthrough Award

October 17, 2014
Kumaran Ratnam and Family

Kumaran Ratnam and Family

Popular Mechanics Magazine recently recognized Dublin High School sophomore Kumaran Ratnam with a “Next Generation: Future Breakthrough Award“.  But before sharing the details of that recognition, let’s start at the beginning.

Earlier this spring, we featured a Dublin High School freshman, newly transplanted native from the Boston area Kumaran Ratnam. Mr. Ratnam and his family had moved from the east coast and settled in Dublin in mid-2013. This move was made largely to take advantage of career opportunities for his parents, Karu and Devi. Karu settled in professionally at Cisco and Devi attained her position at Oracle. But, we learned in March that both the Ratnam children are high achievers. Kumaran and his younger sister, Jayani received early exposure to scientific competitions and both of them relished the opportunities to participate.

A key element of the freshman Biology with Research course at Dublin High School is to present either an individual or group research project at the Alameda County Science and Engineering Fair in March 2013. Kumaran seized this opportunity to explore a rather provocative concept. While he was touched by the condition of Macular Degeneration by a member of his own family, he chose to explore a remedy to this condition that could be improved. While a prosthetic exists to help treat this condition, the surgical replacement of batteries can be quite painful to the patient. He researched alternatives to this concept and theorized that the Piezo electric concept might serve as a reasonable alternative and might serve as a continuous source of renewable energy to serve the device. This theory is based upon a platform that could continuously harvest energy based upon sound and/or vibration.

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Lowe’s Heroes Program Rallies Employee Volunteers to Improve Wells Middle School

October 13, 2014

Lowes Heroes Program Improves Wells Middle School 2“Never stop improving.” These are good words to live by. In this particular case, it is the corporate credo of Lowe’s Home Improvement. Under their heading of Social Responsibility, Lowe’s funds and staffs numerous community improvement projects. They call the program “Lowe’s Heroes.” This company-wide program encourages employees in a location to work together, adopt a volunteer project with a local non-profit organization or K-12 public school and to make a difference.

Earlier this year, Dublin Lowe’s General Manager, Sly Renard, was making local phone calls. He reached out to Cindy Leung at Wells Middle School. Ms. Leung is the School Community Liaison. Sly proposed a visit to the site to explore improvement possibilities. Along with Principal Kevin Grier, the team identified opportunities for more drought resistant landscaping and some touch-up painting. There was also a need for additional outdoor seating adjacent to the new Humanities building. The project scope was hatched and the wheels went into motion. At store #2273 on Dublin Blvd. a sign-up sheet was posted for the Wells project near the lunch room. This was not something new. As a corporation, Lowe’s Heroes has completed more than 1,200 community improvement projects across North America in 2013. More importantly, this mission represents true volunteerism. The employees contribute their own time and are not compensated. recently visited the Wells campus to check in on the work in progress and to visit with two Lowe’s volunteers. Virginia Corvello is the Human Resources Manager and Red Agdeppa is the Operations and Administrative Manager. How do you determine which projects to take on? Do non-profits or schools contact you?

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Dublin High School Hosts 3rd Annual Special Olympics Soccer Competition

October 9, 2014
Special Olympics Soccer Event at Dublin High School

Special Olympics Participant

A full and fall sun sparkled over Gaels Stadium on Tuesday morning at Dublin High School. It was only fitting as the third annual Special Olympics of Northern California (SONC) soccer event took place at Dublin High School. Tuesday’s event was dedicated to students from pre-Kindergarten to the fifth grade throughout the Tri-Valley. The athletes participating represented elementary schools from Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore. As in years past, Dublin Unified School District Adapted Physical Education teacher Eric Hamilton invited to cover this spectacle. We were pleased to do so.

While the Special Olympics movement has been firmly entrenched in our national consciousness, the Tri-Valley did not necessarily have a school based program until fairly recently. Fortunately, the program has expanded to soccer, basketball and track & field activities for all local athletes. On Tuesday, the emphasis was on younger students. In another week, on October 14th, a subsequent event will be sponsored at Dublin High for those in both the middle and high school levels. The celebration will start with an Opening Ceremony at 9:30 AM and the games will begin at 10:00 AM.

As for today, the festivities included a stadium-wide Pledge of Allegiance and the recitation of the Special Olympics Oath. “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” The Dublin High Band and Irish Guard added a musical touch to the overall celebration.

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