Before completing her eighth grade year at Rancho Milpitas Middle School, 14-year-old Misha Chaturabul left a lasting impression with her artwork titled, “Thank You,” which was a winning selection of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s 2020 Young Artists Showcase and Silicon Valley Reads Competition.
“The funny thing is I didn’t submit my artwork voluntarily,” said Misha, a promising art student in James Coulson’s class this past year at Rancho. Coulson gave his students a five-month notice for submitting to the Young Artists Showcase and required all of them to enter their artwork.
“I had forgotten about the competition because of the pandemic,” added Misha, whose mother notified her that she was a first-place selection in the competition. “I was really happy and a bit shocked.”
The theme for the 2020 Showcase was “My Voice,” with an idea that reflected emotion, imagination, creativity, and originality. It was something that Misha gave deep thought to while developing her acrylic-painted piece. View her winning artwork here.
“It was something that I was a little conflicted about at first. I was going to do something on global warming. A few days later, I changed up the entire idea completely,” said Misha of her thought process. She finally decided on “a dedication to all the people in my life--family, friends and teachers--who have been there for me and supported me and helped me grow as a person.”
Misha’s art piece has two central figures embracing in a hug, as images of lightness and darkness fill the background, with a message stating “don’t worry, I’ll be here for you” and her response of “Thank You.”
“The hug was symbolism of them being there for me,” shared Misha. “I wanted to use symbolism in my piece so I researched different birds and flowers to see which ones were associated with hope, kindness, peacefulness and light.”
Her use of doves and dandelions on the light side, and ravens and ghosts on the dark side were the result of her research into symbolism.
“(Art) is my favorite class. I like the creativity and that art can be subjective, realistic or abstract, and that there are a variety of mediums to use, both traditional and digital,” said Misha, who attended Zanker Elementary prior to Rancho and is headed to Milpitas High School in the fall.
Misha’s artwork, along with all the 2020 winners, will be displayed in the building of the Santa Clara County Office of Education which hosts the largest collection of student adjudicated art in the state, according to organizers.
“Programs like the Young Artists Showcase and Silicon Valley Reads are crucial to the educational experience, and give students a platform to express their talent and creativity towards a cause that is important to them and our community,” said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools.
Misha was one of two Milpitas Unified School District winners. Russell Middle School seventh grader Thi Le was a first-place winner in the Silicon Valley Reads competition for his piece on Annie Kenney, a women’s suffragette and leading figure in the Women’s Social and Political Union. View Le’s winning piece here.
Marking the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, the contest asked students to create a physical or digital poster based on a historical figure that best represented this year’s theme of “Women Making it Happen,” which explores impressive historical accomplishments, and looks toward the future as women are defining who they are as a gender as well as what is achievable. Le was one of seven students selected to win the prestigious award based on how well they conveyed factual information about the individual, the impact of their work, and how we can continue their fight for equality.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted school district budgets throughout the country, Milpitas Unified School District’s continuous track record of fiscal responsibility has allowed for a proposed balanced budget for the 2020-21 school term.
“As you know this year, 2020, is a very different year that we will probably never forget,” said Assistant Superintendent Wendy Zhang, whose Business Services Team led the 2020-21 Budget Study presentation preceding the June 9, 2020 Board of Education meeting. “The financial impact caused by this COVID pandemic is huge.”
Unexpected COVID-related expenditures coupled with Governor Gavin Newsom’s 10-percent reduction to education in the proposed state budget have forced MUSD to shift about $15 million in reserve funds to help balance its 2020-21 budget.
“When Governor Newsom proposed the reductions to education, he did not release much detail on how to implement the cuts of the subsequent years following 2020-21,” Zhang explained. “With this large scale reduction to education, it leaves us with no choice (but to tap our reserves) to have a balanced budget.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, the County Shelter in Place Order and the implementation of distance learning impacted MUSD in many ways, such as:
“Since the pandemic has created a new reality, we will have to come up with a comprehensive adjustment to our operation and allocate our budget accordingly,” said Board President Hon Lien. “We definitely need all hands on deck.”
MUSD’s 2020-21 budget estimates $127.7 million in expenditures, and because education doesn’t happen without teachers and staff, 84 percent of the budget is in people. Meanwhile, MUSD’s 2020-21 revenues are projected to be $125.8 million. A major factor is about $7 million less in Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funds from what MUSD received from the state for the current school year. LCFF funds make up 70 percent of the district’s revenues.
“A 10 percent cut to education in one year is significant. Many school districts are facing the same challenges,” added Zhang, who was joined by Director Linh Le, Supervisor Duc Vu and Accountant Lilia Cortes for the June 9 budget study session. “In order for us to weather through this financial storm, we need to look for opportunities to generate ongoing revenues.”
MUSD recently launched a school district-business partnership program, called MUSD Alliance Partners for Future-Ready Learners, to build mutually beneficial relationships with the City of Milpitas, colleges, and local businesses to assist in economic recovery and student career skills. One founding business member, KLA Corporation, donated $100,000 for the district’s COVID-related expenses such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and technology for its EducatEveryWhere distance learning program.
“If we don’t start thinking differently as a district, we fall into that constant cycle of being at the whim of the economy,” said Superintendent Cheryl Jordan. “It is imperative that we think differently about developing new revenue streams.”
The June 9 budget study session, which can be viewed here, includes cost projections for:
The 2020-21 Proposed Budget handbook can be reviewed here and hard copies are available upon request.
Milpitas High School junior Shivali Gulati is using her renowned Girl Genius communications platform to help raise funds for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Gulati, 17, founded her nonprofit Girl Genius in December 2018 “to connect, inspire, and empower female change-makers in STEAM worldwide.”
“Since our start, our nonprofit has impacted over 150 high school and college girls from 40 locations and seeks to ensure females (non-binary and trans-inclusive), as well as people of color, are given a voice through our three mediums: magazine issues, blog posts, and YouTube videos,” Gulati explained.
The nonprofit recently partnered with Makers for COVID-19, an international group of about 200 people with 3D printers who are making 20,000 PPE for more than 30 hospitals each week. Gulati teamed up with Makers founder Karina Popovich, a 3D printing activist and student at Cornell University who is passionate about closing the gender gap in engineering for this endeavor.
Gulati’s Girl Genius art team designed a special COVID-19 sticker, based on artwork used in the magazine, which is being sold on Redbubble.com, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward funding the production of PPE. Purchase a sticker here.
“Girl Genius appreciates any amount of money you can contribute towards Makers For COVID-19, and encourages you to purchase a sticker from our Redbubble shop,” Gulati said.
To learn more about Girl Genius, visit the nonprofit’s website.
Check out these Girl Genius videos: