Eden Area ROP team takes state honors

Forensics science teams from the Eden Area Regional Occupational Program swept the state competition in April in San Diego, taking first, second and third place.

The three students who won first place will represent California at the national competition in June in Kansas City, Mo.

Instructor John Taylor's students have won at the nationals three times, including last year. That shows that the students are learning and able to apply that knowledge in pressure situations, said Craig Lang, director of the Eden Area ROP in Hayward.

"Mr. Taylor's class consistently winning helps demonstrate that he does a great job teaching the kids," Lang said.

In addition to being an instructor, Taylor is also a Hayward Unified School District board member.

The team that won gold includes Zara Jarillo, Flor Molina and Selena Hernandez. Chelsea Hudson, Zachary Bolar and Paola Lechuga earned a silver medal, and Gerardo Orellana, Abner Valasquez and Polo Sigala won the bronze.

At the competition, the students have to analyze crime scenes, using real kits, Taylor said.

"The analysis includes latent fingerprints, blood analysis, triangulating and sketching the crime scene, photographing the crime scene, searching for evidence and analyzing bullet casings," he said. "This is real-life practical experience."

Two students from the Eden Area ROP won silver and bronze in auto refinishing technology at the state competition: Derrick Deo and Raul Magana.

The Eden Area ROP includes students from the Hayward, Castro Valley, San Leandro and San Lorenzo school districts.

Middle school basketball game raises leukemia research money

John Muir Middle School teachers and students went toe-to-toe on the basketball court in San Leandro on Thursday afternoon to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The event is part of the society's national Pennies for Patients fundraiser drive and is organized at John Muir by the eighth-grade Character Matters Club.

Following the game, the club had raised more than $3,000 of its $5,000 goal by the end of the monthlong fundraiser this year, up from the $4,000 raised last year and the $2,200 raised the year before, school officials said.

The school began participating in the fundraiser two years ago after an eighth-grader died of cancer. The school has a cancer survivor on campus this year, said Julie Philipps, Pennies for Patients school coordinator.

Funds raised go toward cancer research at UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and Stanford University.

San Leandro High named model campus

Thanks to the volunteer work by San Leandro High School students, the school was named a model campus in the Bay Area for the 2012-13 school year.

The school, winner of the regional Jefferson Awards Students in Action, rose to the top in a pool of competitors from San Jose, San Francisco, the East Bay, the Peninsula and Marin County, officials said.

Students spent more than 8,650 hours volunteering and raised more than $10,000 for athletic scholarships for students in Oakland. Through a video, they also raised awareness about the impact of bullying and school violence, officials said.

The school will be recognized at the Jefferson Awards national ceremonies in June.