Thursday, January 20, 2011

MEDIA ADVISORY -- Elementary School Hosts Most Diverse Chinese New Year Celebration

NEWS RELEASE from the San Diego Unified School District, January 20, 2010


WHAT: Barnard Elementary Mandarin Chinese Magnet School's third annual
PASSPORT TO CHINA: Year of the Rabbit

WHEN: 9:30-11:30 a.m. Wednesday Feb. 2, for local dignitaries (journalists
welcome) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, big public celebration (please

WHERE: 2930 Barnard Street, San Diego, CA 92110

SAN DIEGO -- You could close your eyes and imagine you're in Beijing – but
once you opened them, you couldn't possibly make that mistake.

The children at Point Loma's Barnard Mandarin Chinese Immersion Magnet
School are 37 percent Hispanic, 30 percent white, 21 percent African
American, 12 percent Asian/Pacific Islander. Thirty percent are English
learners. Sixty-one percent are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Many
students belong to military families, with parents fighting in distant

Yet here they are, like something out of "Rainbow Nation," shouting "Xin
Nian Kuai Le!" (Happy New Year!) and lecturing guests on the Year of the
Rabbit – "Nián de tùzǐ" – in Mandarin, of course.

This is an unlikely educational rags-to-riches story. In 2006-07, Barnard's
low enrollment and poor academic performance pushed it dangerously close to
closure: Only 28 percent of its second graders scored proficient or better
in English on standardized tests. Something had to give.

The school district rolled the dice and tried to turn things around by
opening one of Southern California's first Mandarin magnet schools, wagering
that learning another language and culture would spark little minds. In came
a raft of new teachers, and a singular, quixotic mission: Groom these
children to handle the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, and
help make them competent and confident global citizens.

Three years later, the gamble is clearly paying off. The number of second
graders scoring proficient or better in
English skyrocketed from that dismal 28 percent to a stunning 69 percent by
2008-09 – and the gains are as
impressive in other grades as well.

Barnard has been named a California Distinguished School, and in 2010, it
clocked one of the greatest gains of
any school in San Diego on the Academic Performance Index and other
standardized tests (see accompanying
fact sheet). There is still much to do, but there is also much to celebrate.

Please join us on Feb. 2 and Feb. 5 to celebrate Chinese New Year – and our
achievements! We'll have a traditional
lion dance, martial arts demonstrations, Chinese musical performances, and,
best of all, performances by Barnard's
incredible students. The festival draws hundreds of people from all over the

# # #

Principal Eddie Park, (619) 224-3306
Lorenza Levy 858.334.5237 (
Teri Sforza 714.350.5365 (

You are a subscriber to the news release mailing list for the San Diego Unified School District. To unsubscribe, send a message to "media@lists-sandi-net" with the word "unsubscribe" in the body of the message. For an archive of these releases, go to