Burbank Elementary School in Hayward has been named the county's English Learner School of the year.

The award by the Alameda County Office of Education is just the latest honor for the school, which raised its test scores by 46 points to 841 in the last school year, well above the No Child Left Behind goal of 800.

The school has been recognized for its achievements by the Hayward school district and has been nominated as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Burbank, which serves a low-income community with many English learner students, received a $4.5 million, three-year School Improvement Grant in 2010-11 to boost its performance.

Other local award recipients at the English Learner Conference on Jan. 26 included Liza Muzaffery of the Language Assessment Center in Fremont, English learner administrator of the year; Melissa Valdivia of Roosevelt Elementary School in San Leandro, English learner teacher of the year; Laura Forrest of Milani Elementary School in Newark, English learner educator of the year; and Nahil Ireiqat of FAME Public Charter School in Fremont, world language teacher of the year.

The Fremont, Hayward and San Lorenzo school districts were recognized for awarding the Seal of Biliteracy to graduating seniors. The seal on the diploma means that the student is highly proficient in one or more languages in addition to English.


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In addition to Burbank, Jensen Ranch Elementary in Castro Valley and Joshua Chadbourne Elementary in Fremont have been nominated as Blue Ribbon Schools.

Fremont students play tech thieves, show crime doesn't pay in math-themed video

In a Hollywood pitch meeting, it might be called "Casino" meets a calculator, or "Reservoir Dogs" meets 'rithmetic. Instead, it's called "iRobbers," a lighthearted short heist movie that four Mission Valley Elementary students made for the Reel Math Challenge, a mathematics-themed video contest.

The national competition, sponsored by an education program called Mathcounts, aims to improve students' skills by asking them to make a video that applies math concepts to the real world.

Mission Valley sixth-graders Jessica Feng, Mathew Han, Forrest Rogers and Alex Zhu made a fun four-minute video in which they play thieves who have reconvened at a gas station after stealing Apple computer products. But the bandanna-wearing criminals do some quick math and realize they don't have enough money to pay for the gasoline needed to escape. Without giving away the ending, the students' strong math skills help them find the right answer, which helps them do the right thing.

Viewers of the video -- which is at www.reelmath.org/videos/irobbers -- have until Feb. 28 to vote in the national competition. Student teams who made videos with the top 20 vote totals will advance to the semifinals, from which four national finalists will be selected next month. Each student finalist will receive a $1,000 scholarship and will present their videos in a final competition.

Hayward hosts student music fest

Student musicians from several Hayward schools will perform at a free festival Wednesday at Chabot College.

Almost 200 students from grades 7 through 12 will play in a combined high school and middle school band, and more than 110 in a combined high school and middle school orchestra.

The schools taking part in the Hayward Band and Orchestra Festival include Bret Harte, Ochoa, Winton and Martin Luther King Jr. middle schools and Hayward and Mount Eden high schools.

Guest conductors include Michael Boitz of Saratoga High, John D. Eros of Cal State East Bay and Thomas Heuser of the Idaho Falls Symphony in Idaho. The festival is sponsored by the city of Hayward and the Hayward Arts Council.

Although the 7 p.m. concert at the Performing Arts Center, 25555 Hesperian Blvd., is free, there is a $2 parking charge.

Homeroom is a weekly roundup of news from schools in the greater Hayward and Tri-City areas