Learning briefs | TheUnion.com

Learning briefs

Nevada Union High School seniors Katie Avansino and Clare Velasquez competed the weekend of Feb. 12 at the Stanford University Debate Invitational and took third place, competing with 130 teams from all over the country. Their showing earned them an invitation to the prestigious Tournament of Champions at the University of Kentucky in April.

Both debaters have been part of the policy debate team at Nevada Union for four years. Last year, both were the top-ranked juniors in the state. At the debate nationals in Salt Lake City this past June, both were among the top high school students in the nation.

Avansino and Velasquez participate in a policy debate, competing in teams of two and debating a topic chosen by the National Forensic League. The topic this year is “United States Support of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.”

Avansino and Velasquez are coached by Nevada Union instructor Gary Mullennax and attorney Stephen Goldberg.


Wells Fargo Bank is seeking nominations for its 2005 Teacher of the Year award. Community members are invited to nominate their choice for a Teacher of the Year Award, and nomination forms are available at Wells Fargo Grass Valley locations until March 31. After the nomination period, a committee of community members and Wells Fargo team members will review nominations and choose 15 Teachers of the Year, each of whom will receive a $500 grant for their classroom.

The top winner will receive an additional $1,000 for their classroom and the winning teacher’s schools will receive a $2,000 matching grant.

Nomination forms are available at Grass Valley locations at 214 Mill Street and 629 Freeman Lane.


Marianne Slade-Troutman, president of the Nevada County Board of Education, was recently honored by County Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer and board members for 25 years of dedicated service to the board.

“Marianne is the longest-serving board member in the school community and she is so deserving of our tribute,” said McAteer. McAteer pointed to Slade-Troutman’s accomplishments, including spearheading SB 1893, which was signed into law by then-Gov. Pete Wilson in 1994, eliminating lifetime health benefits for part-time board members. “That action alone has saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Slade-Troutman also chaired the facilities committee, which purchased the existing superintendent of schools office.

Recently, she fought to keep funds flowing to the 3R Community Day School and succeeded in the drive to reduce the county board of education from seven to five members, an action that passed in 1995.

Slade-Troutman has worked for three county superintendents: Jerry Hund, Skip Houser and McAteer.


A total of 70 students participated in the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools’ writing tournament held Feb. 10. The students were judged on three styles of writing: Expository, where students were asked to write about a talk given by Randy Oliver, who spoke about beekeeping. For creative writing, students were asked to write compositions about an Etch-a-Sketch toy. For the letter-writing competition, students were asked to write a letter to the editor expressing their views on the movie-rating system.

The winners were:

Sweepstakes: Tara Sherman, Magnolia Intermediate, seventh grade; and Brittany Blake, Union Hill, eighth grade.

Seventh grade, expository writing: First place, Tara Sherman, Magnolia; second place, Katey Corippo, Magnolia; third place Ashley Simpton, Union Hill; fourth place, Alicia Parker, Union Hill; fifth place, Rose Allen, Nevada City School of the Arts.

Creative writing: First place, Amanda Sparling, Forest Lake Christian; second place, Michael Jensen, Magnolia; third place, Ashley Simpton, Union Hill; fourth place, Tara Sherman, Magnolia; fifth place, Christina Miller, Pleasant Valley.

Letter writing: First place, Rose Allen, Nevada City School of the Arts; second place, Sadie Weinberger, Seven Hills; third place, Kelly Hoff, Seven Hills; fourth place, Tara Sherman, Magnolia; fifth place, Jason McCreery, Mt. St. Mary’s.

Eighth Grade, expository writing: First place, Caitlin Billingham, Magnolia; second, Emily Sidnam, Forest Lake Christian; third place, Brittany Blake, Union Hill; fourth place, Samantha Robinson, Seven Hills; fifth place, Taylor Kane, Pleasant Valley.

Creative writing: First place, Mathilda Moore, Nevada City School of the Arts; second place, Chris Edwards, Seven Hills; third place, Brittany Blake, Union Hill; fourth place tie, Michelle Granstrom, Forest Lake Christian, and Kevin Trapani, Pleasant Valley; fifth place, Emily Albaugh, Mount St. Mary’s.

Letter Writing: First place, Ryan Philips, Yuba River Charter; second place, Samantha Robinson, Seven Hills; third place, Laurel Marks, Yuba River Charter; fourth place, Emily Sidnam, Forest Lake Christian; fifth place, Brittany Blake, Union Hill, and Marie Kneemeyer, Magnolia.


Melinda Sproch, a senior majoring in social sciences was named to the Dean’s List at the University of Washington in Seattle for the autumn quarter.

To qualify for the Dean’s List, a student must be taking at least 12 graded credits and have a grade point average of at least 3.50 out of 4.

She is the daughter to Ginny Jones of Nevada City.


Got local education news? Contact David Mirhadi at 477-4229 or davidm@theunion.com.

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