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It’s Smiles All Around at Sunnyside High Campus



Sunnyside High's 'Project Smile' was unveiled Monday. (Facebook/Sunnyside High School)
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Check out my other School Zone columns at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

Photography students from Sunnyside High School unveiled “Project Smile” on Monday, 268 large black-and-white posters of smiling students and staff that have been attached to pillars, walls, and the face of each staircase.

More than 100 Sunnyside students spent part of their Saturday hanging up the 3-foot by 4-foot posters to surprise their schoolmates on Monday.

The big photo display, taken by teacher Tamela Ryatt’s classes, will remain on campus through the end of the school year. The goal of the project is to promote happiness, the district says.

“This project, wonderful smiling faces of Sunnyside staff and students, will bring joy to the campus and the Sunnyside community. Our students are practicing real-world skills while also honoring our district’s value of people and our community,” Superintendent Bob Nelson said in a news release.

Also in School Zone: 

  • CSU joins UC in dropping SAT, ACT testing requirement.
  • This district is closing the digital gap.
  • Check out these college scholarships.

SATs, ACTs No Longer Required by CSU

Speaking of smiles … there may be more happy campers among high school students who won’t have to sweat out the standardized testing that previously was required for admission to California State University.

The CSU Board of Trustees voted last month to permanently discontinue requiring students to take the SAT or ACT tests. The tests had been temporarily discontinued when testing sites remained closed because of the pandemic. The University of California had already decided to end the requirement, and the board’s vote made the ban permanent. Critics say students from affluent homes tend to do better on the SAT and ACT, giving them an unfair admissions advantage.

Clovis Unified spokeswoman Kelly Avants said the CSU decision came too late for the Class of 2022, who submitted their applications in the fall of 2021 and had already previously tested. She said the district does not expect any change in the number of students applying for college now that the CSU doesn’t required the SAT and ACT. However, the testing will continue and the district will monitor and report the results on its website, Avants said.

Although the SAT and ACT are no longer required for the UC and CSU as well as many colleges and universities nationwide, students who are hoping to enroll at the highly competitive Massachusetts Institute of Technology will still need to score big on those tests. MIT announced last month that it is reinstating the two tests, which the admissions dean says help the university assess students from all backgrounds.

Biola-Pershing Kids Get Free Wi-fi

Central Unified keeps working on closing the digital gap for students whose family can’t afford internet services or to buy the devices they need to access the web.

The district recently installed a radio antenna tower at Biola-Pershing Elementary School, using CARES Act money, that gives students in the community access through the district’s filtered Wi-Fi service.

And on Friday, the district handed out devices to families that students will use to connect to the district’s Wi-Fi.

Fresno Unified also is in the process erecting radio towers at some of its schools, starting in southwest and southeast Fresno, so students and their families can access the internet.

Need Scholarship Help?

Here are a couple of scholarships that Valley students going to college can apply for:

    • The California Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation started accepting applications on Friday for its $250,000 scholarship program. Scholarships will be awarded to students currently in college or accepted for admission. College students must be in good academic standing, and high schoolers must have a grade point average of at least 2.5. For more information on the application process, go to the foundation website. The deadline to apply is June 1.
    • High school students from westside high schools — Avenal, Coalinga, Firebaugh, Hanford Joint Union High Schools, Lemoore, Mendota, Riverdale, and Tranquillity — are eligible to apply for scholarships offered by Westlands Water District. The district will provide $1,000 scholarships to 10 students. Applicants will be judged on their academic performance, school activities, essay, and community leadership. For an application and list of instructions, click here or call the public affairs office at (559) 241-6233. Applications and all supporting documents must be received by the district no later than 11:59 pm on May 22.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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