NU lunch walks open campus to community |

NU lunch walks open campus to community

To increase community accessibility to Nevada Union High School's campus, principal Dan Frisella is inviting parents, residents, educators and community stakeholders to take a walk with him during the students' lunch hour. "I just wanted to give the community access to the school," Frisella said. "And I wanted the community to be able to see our kids and get a chance to visit the place that the kids spend the majority of their days." Frisella said he began giving the lunch walks this year; he came up with the idea over the summer, as he explored different ways to give more people a chance to experience the culture and climate while being on campus. In his first year as principal, Frisella also wanted to be able to get access to the community while trying to improve communication between NU's administration and the community at large. "To be with them and finding time within my school day allows me to do that with them here," Frisella said. "It also increases their investment in the school to actually see and feel what the school is like." Held from 11:40 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday, the lunch walks are open to anyone who schedules to attend through the principal's office. Visitors sign in at the school's front office, then meet Frisella in the main hallway to begin a tour of the campus. "I tend to ask people what they want to see on the campus first," Frisella said. "That way, I can take them around and gauge their interests as we go. I also like to showcase our impressive areas on campus to give them a sense of what we can offer students, to let them know, if you're a student with an interest in anything, we have it here." Community members interested in taking a tour of the cafeteria can take a walk with Frisella into the back of the kitchen to see the food that is being served. Frisella said lunch activities and programs like culinary arts, painting, pottery, wood shop, and dance are available for lunch walk participants to sit in on. NU Librarian Jill Sonnenberg offers students a place to socialize and have their lunches while participating in games such as double-dutch and ping-pong. Sonnenberg said the lunch walks have given people outside of the school a chance to see what the library has to offer students, specifically since NU enacted a closed campus policy this year. "We feel glad to be more open to the community and we're glad to show the library to the community, because the kids are here and we want them to see that they're welcomed," Sonnenberg said. "I think Mr. Frisella has increased the level of transparency around what's happening at the school, and that can only be a good thing." Nevada City School District Superintendent Roxanne Gilpatric did a lunch walk with Frisella several weeks ago. "The perception that I took away when I was leaving campus is that it is a gentle place," Gilpatric said. "No matter where we went, I saw groups of students and everybody appeared happy. Students have an opportunity to be engaged, or just to be by themselves during lunch. So I walked away with a really nice feeling about the kids on campus." Mark Rindels, pastor at First Baptist Church in Grass Valley, did a lunch walk with Frisella and said he was impressed by the sense of community that the students and faculty had in their interactions with each other. "I think a lot of times we have an incorrect impression of the way schools are," Rindels said. "But going on campus and just experiencing it firsthand gives you a feel for the good quality of education that is taking place at Nevada Union." While it has been just over a month since the school year started, Frisella said he has gotten great feedback. "People are surprised about how happy the kids are on campus," Frisella said. "They're blown away about all the programs we have on campus, they leave excited about the facilities that are here for both their kids and the rest of the community. It's been overwhelmingly positive." Grass Valley resident Marty Lombardi, who recently donated picnic benches for students to use during lunch, attended a lunch walk Thursday and said the lunch walk opens the campus up to community members in a positive way. "He wants the community to view this place as their high school. Not all academic institutions do that," Lombardi said. "The lunch walks facilitate so much more social interaction between the school and the community." To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

Nevada Union High School makes closed campus changes as school year nears

Nevada Union High School will officially enact a closed campus policy for its students when the 2014-15 school year begins on Aug. 13. District and school staff, though, have worked throughout the summer to make changes to the school's lunchtime offerings, in order to serve the more than 1,800 students that will be on campus. "We've hired one extra campus security, our activities directors are working on creating some more lunchtime activities to keep students engaged," NU Principal Dan Frisella said. "We're also opening a couple more service windows, and we've made some renovations to our Ali foyer, making it a service station, and we brought on some additional cafeteria staff to help with what's going to be more traffic." At a Nevada Joint Union School District board meeting in June, Frisella announced that NU would be a closed campus, which would prevent students from going off campus during lunch. According to Frisella, the change in policy came after community members had reported misconduct, such as theft and substance abuse, by NU students who go off campus during lunch and regular school hours. "There's a logical disconnect," NU senior Kierra Newton said. "A closed campus is not going to be much of a deterrent for either of the offenses, theft or drug use. It seems ridiculous that there seems to be some expectation that the result of this edict being passed down will be that the students doing drugs or stealing are just going to say, 'Gosh darn it, foiled again!' and stop immediately." Frisella, though, says students that do go off campus will be punished as though they were cutting class, getting two hours detention for the first offense, and a progressively harsher punishment for chronic offenders. The school will have a total of three security guards on the lookout for students trying to leave during school hours. "In some cases, it's hard to anticipate everything, but our administration's going to be out and about during lunch and we're going to be encouraging teachers to take walks and keep their doors open, so that there will be more eyes and ears out there," Frisella said. In order to serve all students during the school's 45-minute lunch period, district Food Service Coordinator Theresa Ruiz says the school has put more money into buying more local and fresh foods. "We're hoping the kids will want to buy the food," Ruiz said. "The idea is we put out a good product and that the kids are interested in buying it, and that they're happy to eat here." Ruiz worked as food service manager for Bear River High School for 15 years, and says planning meals for Bear River, which has had a closed campus policy for years, was good experience for her to bring to NU. Ruiz says NU will be doubling the number of food service lines, and has also hired a more than 10-person staff to help cook and man each service station. According to district Assistant Superintendent Karen Suenram, NU has also partnered with local businesses to bring a wider selection of food into the high school for students to choose from. "We got a $14,000 grant through Sierra Harvest to buy a salad bar," Suenram said. "We'll be experimenting with an independent salad bar unit, so it will be separate from the regular service lines, and it will be an entire meal because there will be protein available, and bread type items, in addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables." Suenram says Sierra Harvest Treasurer and Chair of Finance Committee member Carlos Trujillo, as a paid contractor, has helped the school reach out to local farms and produce providers. NU will also be receiving food products from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at discounted prices. "But we're trying to buy everything locally, using local vendors, it supports our local community," Suenram said. "The local fruits and vegetables are going to be better quality because they're going to be fresher." Suenram said the school will also be experimenting with reusable plastic baskets that school lunches will be served in, to cut down on waste and expenses. NU will also have two new water bottle stations in the Ali and West gyms, to compliment the bottle station already installed in the cafeteria. Ruiz said BriarPatch Co-op has helped NU by providing the school with a template to purchase local produce, "as opposed to calling a produce company and just ordering it, you're getting different items from different people. They helped us with that, and gave us some good information on how to implement it and work with those growers who might be able to help us out with what we need." Frisella said they will be bringing in food trucks now and then, and sushi from a local restaurant. NU will be purchasing their pizza dough and bread rolls from the Truckee Sourdough Company, also offering hot soups, baked potatoes and grilled sandwiches during the colder times of the year. "I think we have a pretty good base here, entrees and items that the kids will like," Ruiz said. "It'll kind of be a guessing game for a little bit, part of that will be what happens with the food and word of mouth, if the kids like the food, they'll start eating it. Hopefully until they forget that they can't leave campus." Frisella said he will be implementing a lunch walk for parents and community members who want to meet with him and see the school and campus in action. "Hopefully, it's a new feeling and new energy for the school," Frisella said. "A lot of the feedback I've gotten is people are trying to find a way to get on campus, and there's stuff like fingerprinting and volunteering that can be laborious. But the easiest way for me to get them on campus is to take a walk with me at lunch." For more information, call Nevada Union High School at 530-273-4431. To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236. Staff Writer Maya Anderman contributed to this report.

Nevada Union High School lunches, closed campus gets mixed reactions

It has been two weeks since Nevada Union High School officially enacted a closed campus policy and began providing students with different lunch options on campus. Students, faculty and community members seem to have different perspectives on the changes. "I think it's a mixed reaction," NU Assistant Principal Kelly Rhoden said. "A lot of it is going to probably continue for these first couple of years because you've got the kids that have been here, and they're used to being able to go off campus and doing those things. But it's been great support from the community, I just know there's the other side of it too, which is important." In June, NU Principal Dan Frisella announced that the school would be a closed campus, which would prevent students from going off campus during lunch. According to Frisella, the change came after community members reported misconduct, such as theft and substance abuse, by students who go off campus during lunch and regular school hours. In order to serve the more than 1,800 students that will be on campus throughout the year, the district hired Theresa Ruiz, formerly the Bear River High School food service coordinator, as the district's new Director of Nutrition Services. Ruiz has since increased the number of lunch-time staff and serving stations in the main cafeteria and Ali Gym foyer, which serve a mix of scratch-cooking, grab-and-go snacks, and a la carte products. Ruiz has also added a new salad bar, sandwich bar, and two new water bottle stations near the Ali and West gyms. "We've made it through a couple weeks, we've tried a couple different menu items, but when we get it down to what they will stick with, we will be fine," Ruiz said. "The whole idea is to keep the menu varied so that nobody gets too bored. I don't want them to be discouraged because they have to wait in line so long, so we need to get that remedied also." Nevada Joint Union High School District Superintendent Louise Johnson said she recently had a staff lunch at NU, and says one of the challenges the school is facing is that certain meals and items have become so popular now that they are working to get a handle on how many lunches they need each day. "The longest wait, I believe, was 12 minutes," Johnson said. "But the food is very popular, so it's all a matter of knowing the market, and figuring out which foods are the most popular, and I'm sure we will make those adjustments." NU senior Mo Nieves said the food selection has gotten better, but he says he has seen it take up to 25 minutes for some students to get through the lunch lines. "They've doubled how many things you can eat," Nieves said. "But there's no vending machines, and you have to wait till lunch to get anything else for food unless you bring it from home, and then the line is horrible. That's one of the worst things, because it doesn't leave them much time to eat." Senior Caitlin Kelley, though, said she hasn't had an issue with the lines. "The food has improved immensely," Kelley said. "I didn't buy lunches at all last year, and now I buy lunches. But then again, I've never been a person who goes out to buy lunches, so I think it's a good program that they've started." According to Ruiz, on average, more than 700 students buy full meals at lunch on a daily basis, and that is not including students that buy a la carte items that include pizzas, quesadillas and other grab-and-go products. "Sometimes they're afraid to try new things," Ruiz said. "We'll have a bunch of something left over, so we definitely have enough food to feed them, but if everyone just wants pizza, then we have to adjust to that. I have kids and I know I would hate to see them stand in line and say, 'I stood in line this whole time because I wanted this particular salad,' and it's gone. So we're going to try to put different items in different spots so that everyone gets a chance at everything." To help monitor the lines, administrators often help by directing students into which lines have the type of foods they are looking to buy. Daily food menus, and the locations of food items, are now posted online for students and parents. Generally, all types of food selection are served in the main cafeteria, while a select few are distributed out of the Ali Gym. Ashley Smith, 17, says the issue she has is not with the food, but with the closed campus. "I enjoyed being able to get away from school and have 35 minutes to myself or with a few friends," Smith said. "There are also times that I have had to run home to do something or go do some errands because I wouldn't have time before work … I have to say that they have tried to improve the food and lunch options by bringing in a salad bar and improving the existing lunches, but I still feel like they are not what kids want." NU senior Jake Mcintire said the actual food being served at lunch has gotten a lot better, but says it isn't what the school promised students. "They dictate what I'm supposed to eat every day," Mcintire said. "It seems like they've just opened up a salad bar and a sandwich bar. They promised us on the student congress last year they were going to bring food trucks in and all of that, but so far, two weeks into school and nothing like that has happened." Rhoden said the school is working to bring in more mobile food carts and food trucks to the school's lunch, while also placing more picnic benches around campus for kids to eat and socialize. Frisella added that since the closed campus, the school has not had one report of drug abuse during lunch. Community member and former NU parent Sonia Britt says the closed campus should be turned into a positive for students who obey the rules. "I really think NU should look into doing some kind of incentive," Britt said. "Either the seniors get open campus and that's what leads them up to their senior year, or they hand out passes for kids that get good grades or do something great. Have some kind of incentive that leads to an off-campus pass." Frisella said the school has definitely anticipated pushback on the closed campus but thinks it will pass in due time. "It's going to take a little breaking in for some of them, which is fine," Frisella said. "A lot of students are really just saying things for the sake of saying things, because when we delve deeper in conversation with them, they end up coming around and telling us it's really not that bad." To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

Nevada Union High school hosts school-wide walkathon Friday

Nevada Union High School students are pounding the pavement to raise money for their school. The high school will cap off homecoming week by hosting its first-ever all-school walkathon on Friday morning. At around 9:30 a.m., the school's more than 1,600 students will don specially-printed T-shirts and hit the road for an approximately 2.25-mile walk. Their route will take them down Hughes Road, where they'll turn left on East Main Street and continue down Sierra College Drive. They'll end up back on campus, where they'll finish the activity with a barbecue lunch, as well as games and activities sponsored by nonprofit New Events & Opportunities, or NEO, on the school's field. Each student at the school was encouraged to raise $200 in support of the walk. All the funds collected are set to go back into the school. About 40 percent of the money raised will go toward funding classroom projects and instructional materials; the rest will go toward student enrichment, technology, funds for the school's Associated Student Body and staff and student incentives. But the fundraising is just part of the walkathon's goal, said Nevada Union Principal Dan Frisella. "We looked at this as an opportunity to do something together as an entire school," he said. Frisella said the school drew its inspiration for the event from San Francisco's Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School, which has put on a walkathon fundraiser for the past 26 years. Nevada Union's athletic department held a walkathon last year; this year, the entire student body was asked to participate. "It's about trying to start a tradition that we can look forward to at homecoming every year," Frisella said. Although the walkathon takes place Friday, any community member who would like to donate to the walkathon can do so through October by sending cash or a check payable to Nevada Union High School to the campus, or by visiting Frisella said he appreciates the community's support for the fundraiser. He added that school-wide activities help enrich to the school's culture, and give students a sense of ownership over their experience at Nevada Union. "My hope is they can walk away knowing that they contributed to the school in a positive way," Frisella said. To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email or call 530-477-4230.

Open house: NU hosts middle school students, spreads program awareness

Nevada Union High School hosted an open house for local eighth grade students Monday, exposing the county's future freshmen to the school's campus, along with its social and academic offerings. "Our goal was to get them excited about Nevada Union, to give them information of what we offer here, and show them a good time," NU Principal Dan Frisella said. More than 500 students from 11 different middle schools around the county came to visit NU Monday, and were greeted by the school's leadership team, who served as ambassadors to each school. The eighth-grade visitation day gave the students a tour of the campus, giving the future high-schoolers and their teachers a sense of what NU's campus life is like. The students were then brought to the NU Cafe, where they were treated to a free lunch, music and a slide show presenting the various activities and programs. NU students then held a rally in the Ali Gym for their younger visitors that included performances, videos, games and other fun activities. "After the rally, the staff remained and had their classrooms open and labs open," Frisella said. "Students then had three sessions where they were given the opportunity to hear about, or see, different programs and facilities, and ask staff questions." Students also got to learn more about extracurricular activities, along with academic options in NU's partnership and humanities academies, and its Science Technology Engineering and Math component, also known as STEM. According to Frisella, NU hasn't held the open house for eighth graders in 12 years, but the school brought the event back due to community feedback. "We hear a lot from our community and people who come hear about how surprised they are about our facilities and all the different programs that we offer," Frisella said. "Students have a lot of choices these days in where they go to school, and we want our eighth-grade classes to understand all the different opportunities that they have at Nevada Union." Frisella said the school hopes the outreach event will help with enrollment. "Just like most schools in the county, we are suffering from declining enrollment," he said. "A lot of it's due to the aging population of our community, but some of it's due in part to different choices out there. So we're making a case (that) given the choice, Nevada Union is the best choice in the county." Frisella said NU will also hold an preview for parents in the spring. "Almost every day I'm blown away about the opportunities that there are here and by the quality of the programs that are here at the school," he said. "So I'm really excited about hosting these students to come and show some of that off… We have it all here at Nevada Union, and really, why go anywhere else?" To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

Nevada Union High School cafeteria makes switch fresh, local foods

Pesto chicken and pulled pork sandwiches, Mediterranean pizzas, chicken Caesar and Thai wraps, sushi and a variety of composed salads are now on the menu at the NU Café creating a buzz among teachers, parents and students. An incentive to get kids to stay on campus during lunch, the new offerings at Nevada Union High School are part of a bigger picture plan to get kids eating healthier while supporting local farms and meeting stricter and stricter state and federal nutrition guidelines. On a recent morning, Kelli Wood, a lunch lady for 10 years at Nevada Union, and Assistant Manager Dayna Crowley, with the district for 20 years, flattened and rolled whole grain dough for 26 pizzas in anticipation of the day's lunch crowd. "I think the kids are going to eat a lot better than they did before. It makes me feel good," said Crowley. When school administrators first contemplated the idea of a closed campus during lunch, what they heard loud and clear from students was a demand for more food choices. "They wanted tastier and healthier food," said Dan Frisella, principal of Nevada Union. A self-proclaimed health conscious eater who rarely ate school lunches in the past, Frisella now eats from the school's cafeteria every day. When the school's food manager retired last year, administrators took a long look at the overall program and decided to make some changes. A meal program overseen by kitchen manager Theresa Ruiz at Bear River High School was getting noticed by parents for a back-to-basics, scratch-cooking style more reminiscent of home. Nevada Joint Union High School District hired Ruiz as Director of Nutrition Services and in one week, she is already making waves at NU. "The timing was really perfect. People have noticed and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from staff and students," Frisella said. "Students have been super excited about the addition of Way Yum Sushi and also the fresh salad bar. These are obviously healthier choices than bean and cheese burritos and processed chicken sandwiches. So far, I've also seen less discarded food on campus. They don't eat what they don't like, so this is a good sign," said English Teacher Keri Kemble. Theresa Ruiz has a long history in the food world. She owned and ran a restaurant, "Theresa's Deli" in Truckee before coming to Western Nevada County where she has worked in NUHS District's kitchens for 15 years. Ruiz favors a "scratch cooking model" even though it usually takes longer. She chooses to do things the old fashioned way because she says it's what people want. "It seems like there's a real demand all the way around. People are eating differently," she said. Rather than pay the cost to send government commodity foods to a processor to turn into frozen corn dogs, pre-cooked hamburger patties, pizzas and burritos, Ruiz takes the commodity foods raw and processes them in the kitchen. She cooks pots of beans, makes her own salsa, cooks chicken and pork, bakes biscuits and shreds blocks of cheese. "That's how programs with a kitchen are meant to work," she said. A recent guideline requires school food handlers to provide bread containing 51 percent whole grains. Ruiz has partnered with Truckee Sourdough who now supplies all the bread for the district and whole grain pizza dough. During her restaurant years, Ruiz worked just a couple doors down from the bakery. "It's really hard to find stuff. Truckee Sourdough really came through," Ruiz said. With the school year just beginning, the kitchen re-organizing will take time to settle into place. Shaking up an old system is bound to have a few kinks like long lines but those issues are being addressed, says Ruiz. New staffing, new recipes, new cooking methods, etc. will require some patience by the hordes of teens and teachers who only have 38 minutes to grab a bite to eat. In addition to cooking from scratch, Ruiz is working with consultant Chef Carlos Trujillo, board member of Sierra Harvest and BriarPatch Co-op, to procure locally grown produce from area farms. Sierra Harvest also donated a salad bar. Already, peaches from Marysville, tomatoes form Greg's Organics and a lettuce supplier is in the works. The goal this winter is to work with local farmers to gear up for next spring's planting season. "They can actually plant for the high school," said Trujillo, who also runs the catering business, Farm to Table Catering. For years he has cooked for large crowds and college campus settings. With a son who just started his freshman year at Nevada Union, Trujillo is excited about the new changes to the lunchroom menu. "We're kind of planning on the future here," he said. Contact freelance reporter Laura Petersen at or 530-913-3067.

Nevada Union High School to tighten security after threat

Nevada Union High School is taking extra safety precautions on campus after an anonymous threat was scrawled on a campus bathroom wall. The message, which was written on a wall in the boys' bathroom in the school's S-wing, was "basically a threat to do harm to individuals at the school during finals week," which begins on Monday, said Principal Dan Frisella. School staff was alerted to the message early last week and immediately contacted local law enforcement, Frisella said. The school has been reviewing security camera footage and working with the Nevada County Sheriff's Office to track down the threat's author and determine its credibility, Frisella said. A similar threat appeared in the same bathroom in advance of the school's winter finals week in December 2014; the school was unable to determine who wrote that threat, but there were no unusual incidents during that finals period, he said. Still, "if someone threatens to do some random acts of violence on campus, that's something that needs to be taken seriously," Frisella said. He said the school plans to have additional law enforcement presence on campus next week as a precaution. The school expects to send information about campus safety measures home to parents early next week. "We definitely keep the safety of our students and our staff our number one priority, and we're going to take all steps possible to ensure their safety," Frisella said. Nevada Joint Union High School District Superintendent Louise Johnson said the district is offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the threat. Anyone with information can call 1-800-78CRIME or the sheriff's office at 530-265-1471. Nevada County Sheriff's Lt. Stephen Tripp said the sheriff's office takes all threats seriously, and said the office "will look into all leads that are given to us." To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email or call 530-477-4230.

Potential bomb threat at Nevada Union campus

A potential bomb threat at Nevada Union High School was discovered late Tuesday morning in a student bathroom. According to Principal Dan Frisella, the threat was written with a Sharpie pen and found inside a bathroom stall in the school's S-wing, near the NU library. The unknown author of the graffiti threatened to cause destruction to an undisclosed area during the school's final exams. "We are working closely with law enforcement to assess the validity of the threat," District Superintendent Louise Johnson said. Frisella said the school and district is working with the Nevada County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Clinkinbeard to substantiate the threat, and plans to add extra levels of security and law enforcement, including contraband-sniffing dogs, at the school during final exams, which will be held from Wednesday to Friday of this week.  There are currently no plans to evacuate students, but school officials are asking students to leave all backpacks, duffel bags, and large purses off campus during final exam days.  If you have information, call 1-800-78-CRIME. To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

NU’s Social Justice Club travels to Chico State

Members of the Nevada Union Social Justice Club went on a field trip to California State University, Chico on December 7. Fourteen students attended in all, along with parent volunteers, library staff member Annie Hestbeck, principal Dan Frisella and NU librarian and club advisor Jill Sonnenberg. The primary purpose of the trip was to attend a Social Justice Fair, but the students were also provided with an in-depth lecture on Islamophobia by Comparative Religious Studies professor Dr. Sarah Pike. Following the lecture, the students were generously treated to a catered lunch by the student leadership of Chico State, with several student activists from Chico State in attendance. The activists provided information to the club members about their respective organizations, and encouraged them to be active members of their future college communities. Throughout the day, students engaged at a collegial level to better understand the issues that were presented to them. The Social Justice Club is one of the largest, most active clubs on the Nevada Union campus. They effectively worked to change the dress code last year. They meet once a week with the goal of effecting positive change on campus. The students discuss topics including feminism, the Syrian refugees, homophobia, gender inequality and issues with sex education. They enjoy a positive relationship with the school's administration, as well as groups throughout the community, including FREED and Creating Communities Beyond Bias.

For Nevada Union’s new principal Dan Frisella, communication is key

While the school year is over for Nevada Union's students, it's just beginning for the school's new principal, Dan Frisella, whose contract begins on July 1. Frisella says his first priority as principal is to improve communication on all levels. "We're revamping our website this summer, and we have a new learning management system that we're getting," Frisella said. "That should help with our communication with teachers, students and parents. Our use of technology is behind, however, we do have the infrastructure in place. We're also shifting to Gmail as a school, so we'll be using Google docs and shared drives, which should be helpful." Frisella said the faculty will be collaborating with NU's new technology director, Bob Lyons, to get training for both classified and certified employees. "We have a lot of teachers that are stepping up to the plate as leaders and staff that want to get involved," Frisella said. "Recently we spent two hours re-evaluating our values as a school and our core beliefs. Everybody had a voice in the conversation, and we got it whittled down to 12 belief statements and nine vision statements. So we're meeting again as a group to narrow it down again." Originally from San Mateo, Frisella graduated from Serra High School, a Catholic school in the Bay Area. Frisella received his bachelor's degree in recreational administration with a focus on outdoor and adventure education from Chico State University, and as a student he worked in outdoor programs and activities. Upon graduation, Frisella began to work for Outward Bound Wilderness in Oregon, an educational program that focuses on teaching students through hands-on outdoor activities. Frisella later obtained his teaching credentials and went into special education. "It was just a good group of kids that I felt like my work would have an impact on," Frisella. "I learned a lot from that experience." Frisella, a snow sports fan, said he then moved to Sacramento to "get closer to the mountains" and continued his education at Sacramento State, where he earned a master's degree in special education along with an administrative credential. It was there that he became an assistant principal in the Natomas High School District. "It was great, the second most diverse school district in the nation, tons of ethnic diversity and just a very rich cultural experience," Frisella said. "It was the inner city so there were challenges with drugs, violence and gangs and stuff like that. So they were all kids in need, a lot of broken families down there, so there were just a lot of good connections I got to make with kids who are in need, especially of male adult role models." Frisella served for two years in Natomas before becoming NU's assistant principal. "It was kind of a culture shock. But what we lack up here in ethnic diversity, we make up with cultural diversity," Frisella said. "We have anyone from as far right-wing as you can possibly get, to as far left-wing off the grid as you can get. So I initially had to get my bearings, but I've learned to appreciate all the different culture that there is to offer up here and the different people." Over the past three years, Frisella said NU has seen a dip in violent acts on campus. But the school has issues with drugs and alcohol, which is one of the reasons it is reverting back to a closed campus during lunchtime. "We're still looking to combat the issues with drugs," Frisella said. "Consistency, communication and articulation of what's out there for our students and our discipline policy and how we handle things around certain parts of campus, all those things need to be communicated better to our school's stakeholders in the community." In the classroom, Frisella says teachers have been doing a superb job, but with the statewide changes being implemented, such as Common Core, he wants to make sure that he helps teachers and staff collaborate more. "My job is to give our teachers the professional development and training that they need to develop their classroom around Common Core, but really the information is going to go to them, and they as teachers are going to share in collaboration what works and what doesn't," Frisella said. "There's really so much we can learn if we are systematic in how we teach things and share results and what we all learn as educators." Frisella said he has a "loose-tight" management style and has high expectations for the school's faculty and teachers. "I plan on being out and about in the hallways and in classrooms," Frisella said. "I need to see what's going on in order to do my job. Our students spend almost six hours a day in classrooms, so that's where the magic happens, that's where the learning happens, and if I want to have influence on them, that's where I need to be." In recent years, the district has gone through several changes in the principal position. In 2011, the district decided to transfer three of its administrators to new positions. Cathy Peterson, a longtime administrator at NU, was moved to Bear River High School. Mike Blake, who was then Park Avenue Alternative's principal, was reassigned to Nevada Union to replace Marty Mathiesen, who took over at Park Avenue. Mathiesen served as NU principal for seven years, the longest stint at NU since Kurt Stenderup's 10 years came to an end in 1999. Frisella will become the seventh principal hired at NU in more than 15 years. When asked about his thoughts on turnover rates, Frisella said he's not worried. "I moved my family up here a month ago, I'm invested in being here," Frisella said. "An individual personality can keep the boat afloat and help it sail, but you can't survive in this job without some systems in place. So my goal is to put some systems in place that will help with longevity, and that will help with my sanity, because I'm planning on being here a long time." Addressing NU parents concerned about having a second principal in less than four years, Frisella added, "I'm grateful to be here. I'm going to give them 110 percent, and my doors are open. I want to involve them and involve the students in making this school the best place it can be." To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.