Category Archives: Education
Funds to support 3rd-grade students in the Escondido Union School District awarded to The Escondido Creek Conservancy
The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) has been awarded a national grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Planet Stewards Education Project to fund environmental education and stewardship in Escondido. The program will support 3rd-grade students in the Escondido Union School District (EUSD) as they work to address the problem of litter in their community, in conjunction with their learning about local habitats and the impacts of humans on the environment.
The Conservancy’s Education Manager, Jennifer Imm shared, “As a small organization, we are very honored to receive this national grant, and we are grateful to NOAA for supporting the important work we do to educate Escondido’s youth about their local environment.”
The $3,600 grant will be used to encourage community and civic engagement through environmental action. NOAA decided to award more funding than the Conservancy initially proposed due to the strength of the proposal and the importance of the project. After learning how litter in Escondido ends up in sensitive habitats and why it is a problem, students will pick up litter around their community, preventing it from ending up in the Escondido Creek and the ocean. Students will also record the types of litter they find, using NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker application, contributing to a citizen science dataset. Students will then engage the local community in their work by creating educational posters and videos, and even discussing possible solutions to the problem of litter in Escondido with local city government representatives.
“This grant enables us to expand our efforts to cultivate stewardship and civic engagement among youth. Empowering children to protect the environment for the benefit of their community, wildlife, and the planet we all share is a key goal for us.” said Simon Breen, Education Director.
Although many students won’t be able to participate in traditional field trips this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Conservancy is committed to ensuring that students still have access to high-quality environmental education programming. You can find out more about the NOAA Planet Stewards Education Project here.
As the death, disease, and financial devastation wrought by COVID-19 begins to recede in some communities, people who live in the San Elijo Hills community are wondering how best to protect their families as San Marcos moves to re-open restaurants and other businesses.
As a resident of San Elijo Hills, and as the Program Supervisor for Vista Community Clinic’s Tobacco Control Program, I have been learning a lot about the interaction between COVID-19 and tobacco and what it means for our families, friends, and neighbors. The combination of smoking/vaping and COVID-19 can be deadly – not just for those who use these products, but for people who may be exposed to secondhand or thirdhand smoke in their homes or in outdoor dining areas.
Residents are fortunate that almost every San Elijo Hills restaurant has voluntarily made its outdoor dining area smoke-free. Unfortunately, many restaurants in other parts of San Marcos still permit smoking outdoors, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check our online guide to find other San Marcos restaurants that offer healthy, smoke-free air: http://northcoastalpreventioncoalition.org/programs/tc/sfod/guide/.
Smoke-free outdoor dining helps people smoke less and do less damage to their lungs’ ability to fight off infections. Doctors are warning those who smoke or vape that they are at risk of developing more severe COVID-19 symptoms. (See: https://tobaccofreeca.com/health/covid-19-stop-smoking-and-vaping/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwuJz3BRDTARIsAMg-HxUrfGS2-LwXhn_lcFCw4av7b_4F4MQfvKHwbcCaAHWu4t-8fMIO9JgaAvLJEALw_wcB)
The benefits of smoke-free air where we live, work, and play go beyond those who smoke or vape. It is possible that secondhand smoke exhaled by an infected person can spread COVID-19 to others. Secondhand smoke spreads quickly, is detectable more than 6 feet away, and remains airborne for a long time. The California Tobacco Control Program warns, “When people are smoking or vaping, they are also exhaling particulates from deep within their lungs into the environment around them.” (See: https://tobaccofreeca.com/health/covid-19-and-tobacco-what-you-need-to-know/)
Now, researchers at San Diego State University are warning us about thirdhand smoke and COVID-19, saying that the coronavirus may be spread in indoor environments by “hitching a ride” on particles exhaled during smoking and vaping, and that the particles may linger for days on surfaces and in dust where thirdhand smoke and vapors accumulate. (See: https://thirdhandsmoke.org/dont-let-covid-19-hitch-a-ride/)
Last fall, well before COVID-19 captured our attention, Vista Community Clinic sponsored a series of community forums on secondhand smoke attended by more than 85 San Marcos residents. Many lived in apartments and expressed concern about secondhand smoke drifting into their units. “I am bothered by secondhand smoke in the apartment complex where I live. People are sometimes smoking around my kids, and my kids sometimes are curious to pick up cigarettes with their bare hands,” said Norma Vazquez.
Other participants were concerned about exposure to secondhand smoke in outdoor dining areas. “This hits close to the heart for me because my mum passed away when I was 12 years old because of an asthma attack. I have asthma and my daughter tends to wheeze and has an inhaler,” said San Elijo Hills resident Sharmin Jesuthasan. “While we love sitting outdoors enjoying a meal at a restaurant, we typically don’t go if others are smoking in the outdoor dining area.”
I encourage residents to thank restaurants in San Elijo Hills for their leadership in offering smoke-free outdoor dining to protect our health. For more ideas about what you can do to promote smoke-free air, contact Jennifer.Gill@vcc.org.
With a decade’s long history of supporting one another, the city and district serve the community of San Marcos together and their destinies are intertwined.
While growth presents challenges, it also brings energy to the community and strengthens the local economy. Growth has been instrumental in supporting a robust School District and is a key component in providing funds to build future schools.
The recently established Task Force is focused on sharing information with their respective elected bodies and the public, identifying possible locations for school sites, and planning for the future.
Already, the Task Force has taken numerous steps to understand school needs and growth trends, and to come up with solutions for the current challenges:
- Data Sharing & Growth Projections: While the district regularly collects data regarding growth trends, the Task Force has further examined information on the City General Plan – a 20+ year long term planning document –and data regarding actual build out.By analyzing current and anticipated residential growth, the School District is better able to determine its needs to increase capacity at school sites and to locate and purchase land for new school sites.
- Exploring Options for Schools: The Task Force continues to review options for addressing increasing student enrollment across the city.Options include ways to optimize existing schools to handle current and projected demand, and ways to increase resources for school infrastructure.
- School Site Search: A focus of the Task Force has been to identify possible sites for new schools.The district is in the initial phases of exploring several potential sites.
A comprehensive update on Task Force progress will be shared during a joint public meeting between the San Marcos City Council and the San Marcos School Board on Thursday, March 29 at 6 pm at the San Marcos Community Center, 3 Civic Center Drive.
North County’s most challenging 10K race returns to San Marcos on Saturday, Sept. 30. The race will feature a 10K timed race, a 5K untimed event and a free kids trail trot starting from San Elijo Hills Park, 1105 Elfin Forest Road. All participants must register online at www.doublepeakchallenge.com or in-person on race day at 6:30 am.
“Double Peak Challenge is a trail run like no other,” said Friends of San Marcos Parks and Recreation Board Member Nick Buck. “The race is a celebration of outdoor recreation where trail runners will experience unparalleled beauty atop one of North County’s highest point.”
With festivities kicking off at 7 am, runners can participate in a pre-race cardio stretch and warm-up.
Runners participating in the 10K Double Peak Challenge will set out at 7:30 am to begin a nearly 2,000-foot elevation gain up to Double Peak’s summit while winding along rugged hillside trails with sweeping views of North County.
While the 10K race will be a tough, timed event that will challenge even the most experienced runners, Double Peak Challenge will also offer a shorter 5K untimed course at 8 am and a free kids trail trot at 9:30 am. All registered 10K and 5K participants will receive a commemorative Double Peak Challenge completion medal and awards will be given to the top 10K race finishers in each age category.
The event concludes with an expo and beer garden that will be located in the lower softball fields at San Elijo Hills Park. 10K race participants over 21 years of age with proof of ID will receive a complimentary beer in the beer garden. Additional beverages can be purchased for $5 each.
All race proceeds will benefit the Friends of San Marcos Parks & Recreation and The San Marcos Promise.
“Your participation in the Double Peak Challenge supports two great causes integral to the city of San Marcos,” said The San Marcos Promise Executive Director Herbie Smith. “Your commitment to #ReachthePeak promotes health and economic prosperity for our entire region through investment in local parks and higher education.”
The Friends of San Marcos Park & Recreation invests in events, programs, parks and facilities to enhance the quality of life in the City of San Marcos.
The San Marcos Promise provides students in the San Marcos Unified School District with a path to prosperity by providing scholarships and career guidance to inspire academic achievement and post-secondary educational opportunities.
To register for a race or to volunteer during the event, visit www.doublepeakchallenge.com. Corporate sponsorship packages are also available.
Officials from Palomar College and San Marcos Unified School District (SMUSD) are shown celebrating the establishment of The Palomar Promise, which will provide eligible SMSUSD graduates with free tuition while attending Palomar College. From left are (standing) Palomar College Foundation Executive Director Richard Talmo, Herbie Smith, Executive Director, San Marcos Promise, (sitting) Palomar College Interim Superintendent/President Adrian Gonzales and SMUSD Superintendent Dr. Kevin Holt. (photo by Kurt Lightfoot)
Palomar Promise Program Guarantees Free Tuition to San Marcos Unified School District Graduates
The Palomar Community College District Governing Board has approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Palomar College, The Palomar College Foundation, San Marcos Unified School District and The San Marcos Promise to create The Palomar Promise, designed to provide all eligible SMUSD graduating high school students with free tuition for up to two years while pursuing an associate’s degree, transfer requirements, and/or a certificate program.
Starting in the fall of 2017, upon successful completion of Palomar Promise eligibility requirements, students will receive tuition assistance up to $600/semester or $1,200/year for up to two consecutive years from The San Marcos Promise and Palomar College Foundation. This unique opportunity will allow students to attend college, tuition-free, full-time.
“Palomar College has been serving this region for over 70 years and our partnering with San Marcos Unified to provide a free community college education to eligible students sends a strong message to local families that we are united in supporting our community,” said Adrian Gonzales, Palomar College Interim Superintendent/President. “We could not be happier to be in a position to offer the financial support that will make a difference for many students and their families.”
Dr. Kevin Holt, San Marcos Unified School District Superintendent said “San Marcos Unified, in partnership with The San Marcos Promise, is proud to announce its ‘promise’ with Palomar Community College. This is a historic partnership, considering SMUSD will be the first district in North County to establish admission to Palomar College with a guaranteed scholarship provided by The San Marcos Promise and the Palomar College Foundation. We are so grateful to Palomar College for providing this opportunity for SMUSD graduates.”
The program eligibility requirements include that students graduate from SMUSD with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA and place into transferable Math, English and Reading, as indicated by Palomar placement test results. In addition, students will be required to complete the Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA) by the federal deadlines for each school year. Students will be required to complete the Palomar College Foundation Scholarship Application prior to the deadline each year, to maintain eligibility.
“The Palomar Promise is the right thing to do. It’s right for our kids, for business, and for our community. Having affordable pathways to college and career in the comfort of your city makes San Marcos a special place to live,” said Herbie Smith, Executive Director of The San Marcos Promise Foundation.
Palomar College Foundation Executive Director Richard Talmo said, “We are excited to work with San Marcos Unified as our first Palomar Promise partner. It is fitting that we begin the first of many Promises for Palomar collaborating with a K-12 district here in San Marcos where our main campus is located.”
The Palomar College Foundation will continue to establish community partnerships and to solicit financial assistance from businesses and individuals to ensure that the Palomar Promise continues to grow throughout the District. The Palomar College Foundation provides financial support to Palomar College matriculating students and the San Marcos Promise prepares students for an experience in higher education. Both the Palomar College Foundation and The San Marcos Promise are ideal organizations to maintain responsibility for an agreement to provide financial support for SMUSD college-bound students.