About Pine Valley Principal's Monthly Message Key Contacts Staff Directory Bell Schedule Campus Map Policies San Ramon Valley Unified School District Framework for Excellence
Classes Library/Media Center
After-School Sports Resources for Students 8th Grade Information Pine Cone ASB Election Video
Pine Valley Education Fund Pine Valley PTA Pine Valley PTA Site Council
Pine Blog 2/24/12

Pine Valley Welcomes New Staff!!!

Mr. Brisentine- Special Ed. By: Charlotte Tan

This year, Mr. Brisentine has joined Pine Valley’s staff to dutifully help the students at our middle school. He is a Paraeducator, meaning his main job is to help Special Ed. kids. Mr. Brisentine also works in the Learning Center and is often spotted in Mr. Wulff’s room, talking to both pupils and teachers. Though he is a new teacher, he works easily with the students, helping all the scholars who work in the Learning Center.

“My favorite time of day is morning because I like the sensation of looking forward to whatever the rest of the day has in store for me,” Mr. Brisentine says. He likes the color orange and appreciates all the help and influence from the past teachers he has had. He loves to work with middle school students and the great staff at Pine Valley. Welcome aboard, Mr. Brisentine!


Mrs. Housley - Special Ed. by: Allison Schiffman & Stephanie Yip


Mrs. Housley came to Pine Valley from Quail Run Elementary School. She had worked there for five years, but she decided she could make more of a difference in middle school. She currently works in the learning center, Special Day Class, study skills, and as an assistant teacher in Mrs. Herrera’s class. 


She likes a lot of things about this school: The kids, the staff... you guys are pretty amazing here. As a teacher and part of the Pine Valley staff, she sees potential in every kid and hopes they use the tools and resources theyre given. She loves the moment when the lightbulb goes off and someone realized their own potential. In addition to working all day as a teacher, she still finds time to go to her kids sporting events like lacrosse and soccer. She loves to read and run with her dog. A quirky thing about her is that she only drinks water with a lemon slice in it. So, next time you see her anywhere around school, ask her about the lemon.

Meet New Assistant Principal Mrs. Snow by: Stephanie Yip


Mrs. Snow, our Assistant  Principal, is a new addition to the wonderful staff at Pine Valley.  Many of us have seen her around campus on yard duty at lunch talking and laughing with us. 

Before coming to Pine Valley, Mrs. Snow was the principal at Green Valley Elementary School in Danville. Although Mrs. Snow is busy being our Assistant Principal, she still loves to ride bikes and like many of us, loves to shop. She expects us to treat each other respectfully and, of course, try our best.  

Mrs. Snow said, “I love the students because they have a ton of integrity and they seem to stand up for what they like.” So, let’s prove to her that she is right! She believes that we’re “more fun to talk to than elementary students” as well.   

You may have noticed a change in Mrs. Snow since school started in the fall.  She is expecting her first child this summer!  So, Pine Valley let’s warmly welcome Mrs. Snow!

Debates in Different States by: Akarsh Rao


Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul: these are the leading Republican candidates in the 2012 election. But who will be the one to go against Democrat President Barack Obama in the final round? Well it all depends on the debates. People may ask, “Why do we need these debates?  Why can’t we just vote for someone?” Well these debates are there for a reason; we need these because we as the voters need to know who we can depend on to lead our country and get us out of debt to other countries and far away from war. Also comes the debate amongst people of who may have a solution to decrease our tax payments, but another may have a plan for better health benefits. So the question is what will we gain or lose if we (the citizens of the United States) vote for this person?

The debates take place in many states. But that’s not all a candidate can do. Most of them visit the top most cities and give an interview for the press. You may also see election ads where they discuss what they would do for our country. “I like the voting because, it lets citizens vote for who they want to be their leader.” said Aaron Gytoku. “My favorite part about the presidential race is the voting.” said Andres Dele Torre. “I think Ron Paul tells the truth to America’s citizens, he doesn’t just promise things that could benefit our country like others do,” said Collin Judd.

February Dance Postponed Due to Low Ticket Sales by: Kaitlin Groleau


On January 20, 2012 Mr. Law made an important announcement over the loud speaker that caught everyone’s attention: the dance was postponed. Many students were shocked and surprised. Due to the lack of tickets purchased, the three day weekend, and weather, the dance was moved to February 3, 2012. Courtney Colston stated that, “When I heard the shocking news about the dance, I was disappointed because I had my whole day planned out already.” Leadership had worked very hard to decorate for the dance and it was heartbreaking that all their hard work was for nothing. 

In order to sell more tickets, Mr. Law and Leadership invited the sixth graders to come so all grades would be able to have an amazing time at the dance!

Cheating? At Pine Valley? by: Sydney Quilalang


Cheating at Pine Valley, or anywhere, is a serious issue that can make you face major consequences. Some kids don’t know how much trouble you can get into if you cheat on a test or homework. If you get caught cheating, you lose your Honor Roll. When you cheat, your guilt finally eats you up. 

Danaka Katovich said, “I think that cheating is a horrible thing to do and it’s a way of losing confidence in yourself, thinking or knowing that you don’t have the answer after you cheat. I know I would feel terrible and guilty. I would know that I didn’t earn the grade.”  

You may just be lazy, but just study!  Cheating helps you nowhere in your future and you won’t learn anything. Just face the facts, if you study and try hard, you’ll earn the grade you deserve and tried hard to achieve.

Cyber Bullying - Is Electronic Communication Helping or Hurting Us? by: Brandon Graham


Cyber bullying is very hurtful. You might not know that you’re hurting somebody as badly as you are, but their feelings are getting crushed. Saying things online like “You suck” or “No one needs you in this world!” is really offensive. Cyber bullying is being bullied over technology like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Formspring, or texting. You might not be trying to hurt somebody, or you might be joking, but as soon as you hit the send button, it can change their life. 

Cyber bulling can really hurt people’s feelings. Some people get really upset and change the way they see themselves.  They look at themselves as if they aren’t a good person and that they’re not wanted in this world. If you are being cyber bullied or bullied at all, you need to get help from an adult immediately. You don’t necessarily have to be the person getting bullied. If you see anyone at all getting bullied you need to get an adult. Social networking and other forms of communication are interesting, but some people take it way too far. So next time you post something or share something, make sure that it isn’t offensive and it won’t hurt anybody’s feelings.

Students Prepare for Physical Fitness Test in PE by: Lela Reagan


The physical fitness test is coming around the corner and most students are preparing for it in their P.E. classes. This test will cover sit and reach, sit ups, pushups, pacers, and the mile. 

A lot of students are dreading it, but some think it’s no big deal. It is important to stay fit, but Tyler Montalvo says, “I don’t think we should have [the test] because some people might be embarrassed.” True, some students may not be the best athletes, but then again we should push ourselves and live a healthy lifestyle. 

However, you might wonder why can’t we exercise on our own and not take a test? We take tests in our other classes, so what makes P.E. so different? So even if you don’t like and appreciate it, the physical fitness test is here to stay. Just put it into your mind that it’s for health and any score would be a good score as long as you try.

Guess the Teacher ????? by: Savannah Garcia


Started teaching 7th grade in 2011

Taught 6th grade from 2005 to today

Likes to look for puppy pictures on the internet

Is a married woman

Has  2  children

Answer:  Mrs. Irvin


Sixth Graders Need Time to Mature by: Stephanie Jahncke


Sixth graders are always eager to go to the two dances that they are allowed to every year but, some people think that it’s best if the sixth graders don’t go at all. 

There are many reasons sixth graders should go but what about them running around and playing games in the middle of the dances? Some of them get too hyper when they have too many sweets or hang out with their friends for too long. Some people may say that 7th and 8th graders are just as bad but really 7th and 8th graders have had more time to mature so aren’t normally as wild and crazy. 

So should sixth graders be allowed to go to more of the dances? I think that it’s fine just how it is and that sixth graders should just wait until they are in a higher grade until they start going to more dances.

“The Hunger Games” Mania by: Alisa Horiike


 The Hunger Games, a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, has been what everyone is talking about.  The New York Times bestsellers have received multiple awards and have been dominating the bestseller lists for weeks in a row. 

        People all over the world are raving and picking up the books, waiting in anticipation for the upcoming movie adaption starring Oscar nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence and actor Josh Hutcherson. There are blogs, discussion forums, fan sites, and reviews of the books all over the internet. 

        So what’s all the hype about? Aryana Nabavizadeh says, “I like the books because of the suspense, thrilling moments, and all of the emotional parts. It’s really action-packed and a good book.”

        The Hunger Games is a good book for just about anyone, whether you’re a guy, girl, parent, or teacher, it might just fit your tastes. While the books aren’t about wizards, vampires, or werewolves, they do include a sixteen year old girl who is skilled with a bow and arrow and a boy who can make a mean loaf of bread. 

        The books include subjects like survival, friends, family, fighting against bad guys, and, yes, romance. They also include touchier subjects like war and loss. 

        So if you haven’t picked up the books, go to the library and stick your nose in it!

Dear Puma... by: Kieran O’Connor


Dear Puma,

I am in the third quarter slump, with terrible grades and I need to get out of it. Any advice on what I should do?

From,  Sinking Ship

Dear Sinking Ship,

The third quarter slump is a very hard time to deal with.  Some kids just get lazy, while others are excited that summer is close by and are far too busy planning about vacations and other summer events to think about schoolwork.  My advice for this is ask your teachers for extra credit assignments, or an A.P. pass so you can get your grade back up.

Dear Puma,

I am in eighth grade and I still am very short.  I get teased a lot and called Shorty instead of my real name.  It is starting to annoy me.  I have already tried to tell them to stop but they won’t listen, what should I do?

From,  Still Short

Dear Still Short,

I know that being short can be a difficult thing, especially when there are people continuously calling you a name like “Shorty” or “Leprechaun.”  Believe me I know! Don’t get down on yourself.  Instead of thinking of yourself as too short, think of yourself as just a late bloomer.  If they are still calling you names like Shorty even after you told them to stop, tell a counselor, like Ms. Damgen.   Counselors are there to help you. Follow my advice and chances are that your friends will stop.

Dear Puma,

I have been having trouble seeing the board at school.  My mom brought me to the doctor and it turns out I need glasses.  I don’t want people to make fun of me for wearing glasses.  What do I do?

From,  Blind as a Bat

Dear Blind as a Bat,

Not being able to see the board is a major problem, so don’t nix the glasses.  Many cool people wear glasses and there are lots of amazing new styles from which to choose.  Why don’t you check out some photos in your favorite magazines for some style ideas?

The Pine Cone Staff:


Editor in Chief:

Tracy Elizabeth Schluntz 


Staff Writers: Nicole Baer, Shaelah Burke, Sarah Chi, Sophie Cipolla, 

Tracey Counts, Savannah Garcia, Rachael Gasparini, Noah Gonzales, Brandon Graham, Kaitlin Groleau, Alisa Horiike, Stephanie Jahncke, Emma Kroger, Sammy Morgan Nicholson, Kieran O’Connor, Jamie Quilalang, Sydney Quilalang, Lela Reagan, Allison Schiffman, Charlotte Tan, Sophie 

Vergara and Stephanie Yip.


Blogmaster: Akarsh Rao



Questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?

Contact Mrs. Schluntz at


Or leave a note in her box in the office.

Ms. Flowers - Speech Therapist by: Sammy Morgan-Nicholson



Ms. Flowers is only one of the few new teachers this school year. In her free time she enjoys skiing, reading, hiking, and playing with her three year old and her five year old. 

Ms. Flowers had a few jobs before coming to Pine Valley. She was a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)/ a contractor for Jakubowitz and Associates, for two years. For about six months, Ms. Flowers was a Lead Clinician/SPL for L.E.A.D. Foundation in Canada. She was a Speech Language Pathologist/ Supervisor Spectrum Center, for 1 ½ years. She was the owner of Speech Language Pathology Private Practice, in Pleasant Hill, and also Speech Language Pathology (SPL) at Valle Verde Elementary School in Walnut Creek.   Ms. Flowers says that she is enjoying Pine Valley so far! Ms. Flowers said she likes Pine Valley because “1) How welcoming the staff, students, and parents have been. 2) How supportive the staff and teachers are towards one another!” Her favorite part of her job is “Working with, and helping students to work towards achieving their academic, language, and social potentials!” 

Ms. Stiving - Science by: Nicole Baer


“I like Ms. Stiving because she’s fair and she doesn’t lose our homework.” said Emily Chun. Well isn’t that true. Who doesn’t love Ms. Stiving? Have you ever wondered why Ms. Stiving became a Science teacher or what her job was before she came to Pine Valley? When asked she said, “I became a Science teacher for a couple of reasons. First of all, I love working with students! They bring a lot of energy to the job, and they keep me on my toes. I also love Science, especially Life Science, and I think it’s a subject that provides a great way of hands-on learning. I enjoy going to work every day, and every day brings something new! Teaching is awesome!” 

Before coming to Pine Valley Ms. Stiving used to be a substitute teacher for elementary through high school classes. Before substituting she was a manager at Abercrombie. 

US Begins Withdrawing Troops From Iraq by: Noah Gonzales


On October 21, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that 40,000 American troops will be withdrawn from Iraq.  After 9 years, over 4,000 troops died and 32,000 wounded in the war, the war in Iraq is over.  Although the war is over, 250-300 troops will be kept in Iraq, due to ongoing violence, and bombing.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the U.S. more than 1.3 trillion dollars.  Even though the war is over, Obama did not declare victory.

The entire combat mission in Iraq will not be over until 2014.  Until then America is helping train and equip Iraqi forces.  President Obama said,  “After a decade of war, the nation that we need to build and the nation that we build is our own.”   Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough said that one assessment after another of the preparedness of the Iraqi forces conclude that these guys are ready; they are capable; they are proven; importantly, they’re proven because they’ve been tested in a lot of kinds of threats that they are going to face.  

Source: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/10/Obamas-withdrawal-Can-Iraq-cope-556466/1#.Tzw2ZubC6j8


Spreading Art in Vietnam by: Sarah Chi


On December 27, 2011, Mrs. Grame flew to Vietnam with a goal to share her talent and to introduce art to children in orphanages. Mrs. Grame went to  start an art project for orphans at the Viphson Montagnard Orphanage in Kontun, Vietnam. 

The Viphson Montagnard Orphanage houses approximately 750 children which are mostly girls. Mrs. Grame shared the season of caring by bringing written stories, notes, small gifts, donations, and postcards from her students participating in ‘art pals’, corresponding with art and short notes. 

Jenna Curran states, “I liked being able to write the postcards to the children in Vietnam, it was fun to communicate with people in a different country through art.”   

In addition to the Viphson Montagnard Orphanage, Mrs. Grame visited five other needy orphanages. Art supplies, posters, donations, and toys are being generously accepted to be taken to Vietnam when she hopes to return in the summer or spring. 

Besides visiting orphanages, Mrs. Grame hopes to display the work of Vietnamese women artists whose work has never been on display in exhibitions. Mrs. Grame’s trip will be remembered as a mission reaching out to share her passion and taking a stance to contribute to Vietnam.  

Weird Winter Worries Many by: Rachel Gasparini


The winter of 2012 is apparently never beginning for the citizens of Contra Costa County. Whether it’s global warming or if it’s just a mild winter, this has been one of the warmest winters in memory.  There’s fog  in the mornings with lots of overcast clouds and then it turns into a bright sunny afternoon. 

Is Mother Nature just toying with us? Or has time just not come for us to give up our flip-flop’s, beach weekends, and shorts?  There are times when the weatherman predicts lots of rain coming our way and nothing happens, it’s just a slight drizzle.  There’s a big chance that this could be due to global warming and all the pollution that is put into the oceans and gas put into the air, destroying our Earth’s atmosphere. 

Mrs. Herrera said, “Some scientists are predicting that this year (winter/spring) is a La Nina year. La Nina happens when strong cooling of the ocean waters in the central Pacific Ocean. The cooling changes formation of storms and where they usually occur, so atmospheric water vapor cools around the world. So we may have less rain because of this. Global warming is always a thought, but dramatic changes from year to year MAY not be a likely result.”  

La Nina may be the reason this winter has been so confusing for us and mother nature.  Stay warm!

How to Avoid the Third Quarter Slump by: Shaelah Burke


First semester is over and June is only four months away! We can forget about school, right? WRONG! Some kids forget about school and fall into what we would call a “third quarter slump”. Kids from all grades stop caring because the semester is over. Their grades go down and the distractions get higher and higher and higher. Teachers get frustrated with students all the time, so you’re not alone.  It’s now your time to get out of your slump and get up and jump!

How do you stay out of the third quarter slump? Well here’s some advice. “Always do your homework and your grade will stay up. When tests and quizzes come up just study and you’ll do fine,” says Mrs. Rowland. There are tons of things you can do to raise your grade. Just remember to do your homework and don’t let those missing assignments build up one by one. Seventh grader Bridget Koch says, “I study for all tests and quizzes, do all of my homework and do all of my make-up work.” Don’t be afraid of your teachers.  Reach out to them if you feel like you are falling behind.  Mrs. Stiving says “My advice is to stay organized and use your binder reminder; and if you need help, ask your teacher because they’re there to help.” Another thing some people don’t do is extra credit.  That will help bring your grade up. “I don’t give up and I’m always organized,” says seventh grader Shelby Pedersen. Of course, you should never give up. Don’t start failing because the semester has ended.  Find out what works for you and take action so you don’t get stuck in the slump! 

Alexander Graham Bell Would Never Have Imagined This by: Allison Schiffman


Ever since cell phones were made practical, schools have been making rules against them. Right now, there is a rule at Pine Valley that cell phones are only allowed after school is over. This is to minimize distraction and cheating. It’s also disrespectful to use your phone instead of listening to the teacher. 

But is this a good rule? You might think that almost all students wish cell phone use was permissible; of course they want to call or text their friends, and of course they want to play games. However, many students actually believe that cell phones shouldn’t be allowed in school. 

“I think cell phones should only be allowed after school, like if you need to call someone,” said Belle Goodson, “During class, it’s annoying if someone’s phone goes off or if they’re playing a game.” She went on to tell a story about one time when someone was playing “Angry Birds” next to her in one of her classes. 

While there are many reasons why cell phones shouldn’t be allowed in school, there are still some good things that come from using phones in school. For example, you can take a quick picture of the notes the teacher writes on the board instead of having to copy them down. If you finish all of your homework and had absolutely nothing to do, you could pass the time by playing games or by going on Facebook. 

There are definitely pros and cons about using cell phones, and some people who don’t care either way. Some people text in class, no matter what the rule is (they often get caught, it’s fairly obvious when someone is looking intently at their hands which are conveniently hidden under their desk), and some people don’t have cell phones.

Should Dances Include the 6th Grade? Dances Should be for Everyone at Pine Valley by: Sophie Cipolla


Remember those far-off days when you were a sixth grader? Looking back, it’s hard not to feel sympathetic for the sixth graders not being able to attend all of the school dances. 

Why should they not always be given a chance to come when they’re just as much a part of the school as everybody else? It almost seems like an advertisement, as just another way to persuade seventh and eighth graders to show up. 

If the sixth graders want to attend, why not let them attend? Why put the wants of some grades above others? Seventh and eighth graders have no more right to enjoy the dances than the sixth graders do.

Second Semester Begins With New Hopes by: Tracey Counts


Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth graders start a new life in second semester. Second semester is a chance for students to have a fresh start and to set new goals. 

“My second semester hopes are to have fun. I want to have a good year and to be happy,” says Olivia Duba. Second semester doesn’t have to be boring, or stressful, it can also be really fun. 

Even though you may not have one of your friends in one of your classes or lunch you can still have a good time and make new friends. Some students get mad or disappointed because they don’t have a friend in a class. Sixth graders are the luckiest because they are the most likely to have a friends in classes. Seventh and eighth graders are not as lucky because since they are used to Pine Valley they don’t need to have friends in their classes because they will fool around. Also, the administration wants to have the sixth graders have a good time for their first year at Pine Valley. 

Students want to try their best in second semester because they can get Honor Roll. But, sometimes when students try their best they can also try too hard and are harder on themselves than in first semester. Some students didn’t like their grades in first semester because they didn’t try hard enough, got really confused or they were fooling around. Since the students weren’t happy in first semester about their grades they can try to have better grades in second semester. 

Now, let’s go on with second semester and we can see how much we can have fun!      

Top 10 Songs of 2011 by: Emma Kroger


2011 was a year with ear-popping new music as songs hit the charts. Everybody, but especially kids, explore the internet to discover new songs to play over and over again. 

Number 10 on the MTV chart was “Firework” by Katy Perry.

Number 9 was the popular rap song by Chris Brown, “Look at Me Now,” with multiple remixes or covers made, getting kids to bust a rhyme from time-to-time. 

“Paris” took the spot of 8th most popular. 

“Pumped Up Kicks,” by Foster the People as number  7 on the charts, people sung the most popular line making people not help but listen to it themselves. 

Number 6 was “Give Me Everything” by Pitbull, even though Pitbull is said to be “Music’s most underrated hitmaker,” this song still managed to push close to the top. 

Getting half way to fame, number 5 was “Born This Way,” by Lady Gaga. It lifted the spirits of many who look down upon themselves and reminded them that they’re perfect the way they are. 

Number 4 is “Party Rock Anthem,” by LMFAO.  Kids shuffle and dance out to the song whenever it pops onto the radio. 

Nearing the top is number 3, “We Found Love,” by Rihanna.  It took dance music to the next level. 

Number 2 on the chart, “Super Bass,” by the one and only, Nicki Minaj, is so popular that kids rap to this song like it’s the national anthem trying to keep up to her pace.  

The number 1 song, get ready, is of course, “Rolling in the Deep,” by Adele, which we all listened to uncountable times on Youtube. This song is about moving on, making MTV title Adele, “The Queen of Pain.”

Upcoming Events at Pine Valley by: Sophie Vergara


February 27 - 3rd Quarter Progress Report cut-off date

February 29 - CJSF Field Trip

February 28 - March 1 - Planning for your future 8th grade core classes

February 29 - Dine for Pine @ Rice Garden

March 1 - Spring Pictures Taken in PE

March 3 - Youth to Youth Conference at DVHS

March 6 - 7th Grade STAR Write

March 8 - 9  - NO SCHOOL

March 13 - Cal High Counselors Visit 8th graders in Science classes

March 13 - Course Selection Assemblies for 6th & 7th graders

March 14 - 16 - 11:15 Dismissal for Parent/Teacher conferences