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February 05, 2021 Friday Letter Volume 2, No. 33
Posted 2/5/21

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MDUSD's Friday Letter—updates and stories prepared weekly for the school district community.

We Celebrate and We Honor

     Great Kindness Challenge Week
     Hearts, smiles, puppies, and colorful posters. On all five days of the Great Kindness Challenge Week, Principal Marga Marshall and staff at Holbrook Language Academy tweeted out their fun, kindness-oriented group activities. It's no wonder that Holbrook families report their students being resilient and thriving—their súper positive culture is permeating from visibly active leadership.

Holbrook Banner

     Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Zoom Student     Inspired by example. Shore Acres teacher Patricia Hamachi shared how Learning For Justice curriculum had inspired students to independently research, create, and share presentations with their class. One student explained, when asked about its significance, “Since I was little, I wouldn’t really pay attention, it was more like, ‘Oh it’s just [MLK Day], we get a day off,’ or ‘Okay we celebrate him because he made a speech.’ But as I got older, I realized that his [words] changed the world. I thought that was so important… if he can change the world, I know someday I can too.”

     MDUSD's Sean Donelan (Northgate) Wins 2020 Congressional App Challenge
    Using a Raspberry Pi4B, an Arduino, a Nextion HMI Touch Display, a little elbow grease, and impressively applied STEM skills, Northgate 9th grader Sean Donelan programmed and hard-wired a very useful net controller application for Ham radio field operators. He calls it, "NetHam," with the subtitle, "The Public Service Event Coordinator’s Third Hand." Watch his video entry explanation and you'll see why Sean won the 2020 Congressional App Challenge in CA-11, awarded by Representative Mark DeSaulnier. 

Sean D.

     When asked what inspired the creation, Sean said, “I experienced firsthand the complexity and convoluted ways of running an Amateur Radio net at local public service events, such as the Walnut Festival Twilight Parade, Mt. Diablo Challenge Bike Ride, and Diablo Summit Stomp. To remove some of the tediousness of our Ham Radio volunteer’s tasks at these events, I created this app.”
     Over 6,500 students registered for the 2020 Congressional App Challenge. These students created and submitted 3,088 functioning apps, marking the end of an extremely successful Congressional App Challenge amid the COVID-19 pandemic. All told, 308 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 49 states, Puerto Rico, the Mariana Islands, and Washington, DC.
     Sean—we want you to know that all of us at MDUSD are very proud of you. Keep up the great work!

     Black and African American History Month
     Black and African American History Month is February, and district-wide, classrooms and schools are mirroring what the Governing Board resolution's first line conveys, that, "Black and African American history presents our educational institution with an opportunity for recognition, teaching, and celebration." The executed resolution and curriculum ideas were shared with every school in the district. 

     National School Counseling Week
     Many school principals named and celebrated their school counselors for a public and well-deserved thank you. Governing Board Resolution 49, in formal language, shares the same sentiment of gratitude.

     We love to honor and celebrate people and events. Since the new year, we've honored or celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ed Roberts Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Fred Korematsu Day, and Rosa Parks Day. We've honored or celebrated the Great Kindness Challenge Week, National School Counseling Week, and Black and African American History Month. Before the month is over, we'll see Lincoln Day, Frederick Douglass Day, Susan B. Anthony Day, and Washington Day.

     On social media, the MDUSD community is lively (and growing!), posting about school events, sharing curriculum ideas, fun happenings, meaningful moments, and more. Still, there is so much positivity that happens at our schools and in our classrooms that goes unseen. If you haven't already, I would invite you to create a Twitter or Facebook, follow MDUSD, and tag us in your district-related posts. Share what matters to you!

Twitter | Facebook

Can You Give 10?
STEAM-4-Students Needs Your Support

[From MDUSD Education Foundation]

     Dear Parents and the MDUSD Community,

     Many of you may have noticed that the MDUSD Education Foundation launched its STEAM-4-STUDENTS/GIVE 10! Campaign. For the month of February, the goal is to promote awareness about the foundation by donating 10 minutes of your time to follow, like, and share posts on social media, and to donate $10 per student (however, we do understand that some families cannot donate at this time).

     To date, these some of the educational enrichment your donations have funded:

  • Elementary school chalk art, Art in Action, Bridges Math, Mystery Science software, RAFT science kits, and consumables for life science;
  • Middle school robotics tools and science supplies, Mosa Mack science software, and a pilot science program that included field trips to the Chabot Space and Science Center; and
  • High school science supplies for science and engineering classes, the Bay Area Urban Debate League (BAUDL), Gizmos science software.

     With your support, we can continue to provide quality enrichment for your student, and so much more! Please share our messages and follow us on Facebook, Twitter@MtDiabloEF, Instagram@MtDiabloEF, LinkedIn

MDUSD Education Foundation

This Week in District Operations

     Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark is continuing to publish transparent, detailed operations reports on a weekly basis. You can read department updates directly from our district leaders in our weekly Organizational Update to the Board, which is continuously archived for reference. Here is this week’s full Organizational Update to the Board:

Organizational Update

     Negotiations Update:
     from the weekly Organizational Update to the Board

     On Friday January 29, both sides of the CSEA negotiations came to the point where forward movement on the final four articles was difficult. CSEA President Annie Nolen suggested that she and members of her team meet with the CBO to ask questions about the Districts current fiscal situation.
     Teamster negotiations continued on Wednesday, February 3. Multiple articles were exchanged with a tentative agreement reached on one of the articles.  Ten (10) articles remain with both sides currently working on five (5) articles each. Subcommittee work is showing some successful results on those articles where agreement was originally difficult.
     [The teachers' union] (MDEA) and MDUSD met for negotiations on Thursday January 28. MDUSD wanted more Daily Live Interaction minutes on the behalf of the community and MDEA wanted fewer Daily Live Interaction minutes on behalf of its membership. MDEA and MDUSD settled on not changing the amount of Daily Live Interaction (DLI) Minutes. The workshop discussions around student re-entry criteria were informative, but did not result in a substantive change at this time. MDUSD continues to refer to the criteria put forth by medical experts in the Contra Costa County Health Department, and MDEA continues to refer to CTA and MDEA concerns about member safety.

HELP Contra Costa's Science Fair Competitors on March 12

[From Bay Area LEEDS]

Science Fair Judges

Join us on March 12 | 8:00AM - 5:00PM
Support Contra Costa's Budding Young Scientists & Engineers


     HELP! Contra Costa County Science & Engineering Fair—a VIRTUAL FAIR in 2021—is scheduled for Friday, March 12 from 8:00AM to 5:00PM and we need your help! In existence since 2005, the Contra Costa Science Fair expects to have more than 200 student competitors who will need your expertise to evaluate project boards and conduct interviews.

     The virtual fair, using the ZOOM platform, will require a full 8 hours of judges' time to ensure every child gets interviewed about their project. With the pandemic, we hope you will be able to accommodate this need in 2021. Won’t you volunteer to be a judge on March 12?

     There are two student competition levels: JUNIOR: Grades 7 and 8; and SENIOR: Grades 9 through 12. You may choose the competition level and competition categories most suited to your preferences.

     Our goal is to engage more than 140 judges to be on hand to give every child the opportunity to share their science and engineering projects with multiple judges during the competition. The winners of the Contra Costa regional fair are then eligible for further competition at the California State Science Fair, the National Middle School Science Fair, and the Regeneron-affiliated International Science & Engineering Fair. Without your involvement, further competitions would not be available to our student competitors.

     It's easy to register to be a judge, and you will have same-day training to prepare you for the virtual experience. Won't you join other volunteers, experienced and new, at our 2021 fair by completing the registration link now?

For more information, please contact:

Judge Committee Chair Linda Mayo | | 925.937.0804
Science Fair Director April Treece | 925-672-3759

Message from Superintendent Clark on Reopening Efforts 

     [Published Wednesday, February 3, 2021]

     Dear MDUSD Families and Staff,

     I hope this message finds you well during this challenging time. This communication will focus on efforts that have been and are currently taking place to transition to in-person learning, in other words, to welcome students back onto their school campuses.
     As you may recall, I presented an update on reopening schools on October 21, 2020. During this Special Governing Board Meeting, I shared two sample schedules, one elementary and one secondary... [Read the complete message].

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Each week, the MDUSD Friday Letter is written and compiled by the district's Communications Specialist and sent to a staff and community audience totaling around 32,000. To sign up for our distribution list, send an email to To view an archive of district communications, visit the Superintendent's Office page. Do you have a story or event to share with our community? Contact me ( with your ideas or suggestions.


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