Soaring Support

When Del Norte High School opened in 2009, two dedicated parent-driven organizations put in roots as well. The Del Norte High School Parent Teacher Student Association, currently led by President Judy Simeroth, hosts a variety of annual programs ranging from the Reflections art competition to Red Ribbon Week to the celebratory Grad Nite at the end of each school year. The Del Norte High School Foundation, under the direction of President Jeff Erwin, helps fund school supplies, student counseling, professional development, and more. We spoke with each president to learn more about how the PTSA and Foundation unite the community in supporting local students.

Q&A with Del Norte High School PTSA President Judy Simeroth

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What is the history behind the Del Norte High School PTSA?
Del Norte PTSA formed when the school opened in 2009-2010. Each Poway Unified school is encouraged to create a PTSA to support the students, teachers, and staff. We continue to grow as our student body grows both in numbers and needs.

What is the overall mission of the DNHS PTSA?
The overall purpose of PTSA is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.

How do you go about following that mission?
Through collaboration with the staff, commitment as a board, understanding the diversity in our school, respect of our volunteers and their contributions, and accountability to our members to achieve our mission statement.

Why is it important for schools to have PTSAs?
We provide programs such as Red Ribbon Week, Reflections, scholarships to seniors, Teacher/Staff Appreciation, Adopt A Family, Mock SAT/PSAT Testing, and Student Services.

How did you get involved with the DNHS PTSA, and what is your current role?
My current role is president. I was asked to serve because I have presidential experience. I was PTA president at Stone Ranch Elementary for two years and remained on the board for the following four years in different board positions.

What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role with the PTSA?
I have been given the wonderful opportunity to work with caring and responsible board members, and I have been able to connect with many old and new faces in our community. The most challenging aspect is getting the word out to our parents that PTSA matters in high school. Parent participation is needed and valuable. We have challenges in our school and as an involved parent the best weapon is to be informed. Stay connected and support your PTSAs through the high school years.

What is most exciting about being a part of the PTSA?
I enjoy being involved and being included behind the scenes in my child’s high school experience. It is exciting to watch how the students become leaders when they help with our programs.

Can you tell us a bit about some of the other key players in the PTSA?
The Del Norte PTSA Board is filled with fantastic people. Mr. Mizel and his staff are always there to support us when we ask and we support them to the best of our ability.

The officers on the board include: Executive Vice President Claudia Deney – she is our beating heart of gold; First VP Membership Jillian Tribble – creativity runs through her veins; Second VP Programs Susan Sullivan – keeps us on track; Third VP Ways and Means Kim Zupnick – never see her without a smile; and Fourth VP Grad Nite Brandi Louis – organized and hard-working, and every senior will appreciate her.

Officers also include: Financial Secretary and Web Master Lynn Aguilera – our board angel; Recording Secretary Kathy Garriott – sweet and catches every word; Treasurer Denise Mooradain – a wiz with numbers; Auditor Stephanie Brinsfield – keeps us in good standing with the IRS; Historian Debi Renken – she has a wealth of knowledge; Volunteer Coordinator Arlene Ashton – our fearless past president; Parliamentarian Evi Haux – she can quote rules with a smile; Character Counts Co-Chair Agi Barad – always willing to pitch in and help; and Character Counts Co-Chair Ana Rubio – our middle school connection.

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Can you highlight any upcoming significant dates?
We are hosting Grad Nite for our seniors the evening after graduation. It is a safe and fun all-nighter at Miramar Speedway. We load our seniors in buses and take them to the destination. There are security guards galore who ensure nobody comes in and nobody goes out. An evening filled with food, fun, games, entertainment, and an alcohol-free environment where grads are safe from the roads.

Does the PTSA hold fundraisers throughout the year?
Our main fundraiser is membership. It costs $11 to become an adult member and $7 for students. We also participate in the eScrip programs through Ralphs. Income is generated by registering your Ralphs card.

How can the community help contribute to the work that the PTSA does?
We support and encourage the leadership of our student body. We acknowledge that our student body is very diverse and we support all children. I encourage parents to become members of the PTSA so that we can continue to financially support all of our programs.

If someone wants to help the cause, how can they be a part of the PTSA?
It is easy to be part of the PTSA. Arlene Ashton is our volunteer coordinator. Her contact information is on our website, which can be accessed through the Parents drop-down menu on the Del Norte High School website. You can be put on our volunteer email database and we will reach out when we are in need of volunteers during the year. You can also contact me to discuss any leadership roles.

What are your long-term and short-term goals for the DNHS PTSA?
My long-term and short-term goals are the same. Increase membership and increase awareness for parent involvement.

What are you looking forward to the most in regards to this upcoming year?
I look forward during my term as president to supporting and speaking on behalf of children and youth in our schools, in our community, and before governmental bodies that make decisions affecting our children.

How can people go about finding out more information about the PTSA?
Go to the Del Norte High School website, hover over the Parents section of the menu, and select PTSA from the drop-down menu.


At-A-Glance PTSA President Judy Simeroth

Name: Judy Simeroth
Community: 4S Ranch
Education: B.A. Liberal Arts
Family: Husband – Jesse; daughter – Jodi; son – Jake
Hobbies: Swimming, knitting, hiking


At-A-Glance Del Norte High School PTSA

Name: Del Norte High School PTSA
President: Judy Simeroth
Website: www.delnortenighthawks.com
Email: jsimeroth@cox.net


Q&A with Foundation President Jeff Erwin

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What is the history behind the Del Norte High School Foundation?
The DNHS Foundation was formed to help provide our students with whatever resources necessary to assist in their success. Funds for our schools from the state of California have for many years fallen short. For example, several of our departments have a high demand for consumable products. Science and art specifically have items in the classrooms that need to be replaced on a regular basis. In addition, the culture of the school starts at the top and cascades down. We are here to support our great teachers who are setting the tone for learning on a daily basis. No one is too old to be appreciated and when someone feels good about themselves it reflects in their overall performance.

Every year we gain a little more momentum as we are able to provide more for the school and become more visible on campus and the neighborhood. We started out very modestly with simple campaigns to raise money for the school.

What is the overall mission of the Foundation?
Our Foundation’s mission statement is: Funding our Future, Supporting our Nighthawks. Today’s students are the future of our country and we want to give our Nighthawks a leg up on the competition.

How do you go about following that mission?
The Foundation works very closely with our fearless leader and principal Mr. Greg Mizel. I can’t begin to tell you how fortunate the Nighthawk Community is to have such an inspirational leader. His passion for learning and support for his team is unwavering. We very much look to Greg to see where we can be most effective with our gifts to the school. One project was particularly telling to me. We helped to fund an additional counselor whose sole mission was to reach out to those kids who won’t necessarily advocate for themselves. This just confirmed to me that every student is important, not just those who excel.

Why is it important for schools to have Foundations?
Historically, a nonprofit foundation helped to provide nice extras for the schools. This is no longer the case. Unfortunately district funding to schools has been cut short in many ways. It is important to have a Foundation to help fund those programs that are either short in funding or have been completely defunded by the school district.

How did you get involved with the DNHS Foundation, and what is your current role?
I am the president of the Foundation. It seems as if I am the consummate volunteer. My wife and I have a strong belief in being involved in our children’s lives and giving back to the community. We have been involved in youth sports programs in various positions and when it was time for the kids to move into high school this seemed a natural environment for me to get involved.

What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role with the Foundation?
In that we are a volunteer organization, it can be difficult to keep everyone focused on our target. Lets face it, we all lead very busy lives. Most people have wonderful intentions but life oftentimes gets in the way. In this position I know that we may not have the participation level needed to provide all that we hope to achieve. But whatever effort we are able to provide certainly will enhance the experience for our children and staff.

What is most exciting about being a part of the Foundation?
The most exciting part is knowing that we play a small part in making the lives of others better. If we can help provide the tools to make high school a better experience and touch the lives of today’s youth in a positive manner, that is exciting.

Can you tell us a bit about some of the other key players in the Foundation?
We are very happy to have Michael Sadegh as our treasurer. Michael just joined the board this year as his daughter Deena was an incoming freshman. Michael is a graduate of San Diego State University and has been exceptional in watching over our finances. Special Events Chair Carol Ware has joined us this year, also with an incoming freshman. Director of Social Media Christine Bilange has been on the board for about four years and has been instrumental in helping with everything. There is nothing that she won’t get involved with. We are also very happy to have Missi Faucher on the board. Missi is our secretary. She took a small sabbatical after graduating her first daughter and then having her daughter Kyra start at Del Norte in 2013.

Can you highlight any upcoming significant dates?
As of now, the board is leaning towards hosting a gala event in the spring. As soon as we have details we will be reaching out to our parents and the community.

Does the Foundation hold fundraisers throughout the year?
Absolutely. We start our planning process about a month before the start of the academic year. Following the planning process, we kick off our first fundraising campaign during the registration week, followed by our back-to-school night event. We also have a big direct mailer campaign toward the middle of the school year. In addition, the Foundation coordinates email efforts with the school in order to keep the Foundation in the minds of our parent as they can always make an electronic donation at www.dnhsfoundation.org/donate/donate-online.

How can the community help to contribute to the work that the Foundation does?
Without our donors we cannot survive, and our parents are the greatest resource and reason for the Foundation’s existence. We can never thank them enough for all of their generous donations. In addition, most employers have policies that match employee donations. This matching policy is probably the single most effective way to increase value for any donation. So, I plead to our parents to spread the goals and mission of our Foundation to other parents and their employers so we can flock together and soar.

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Left to right: Jillian Tribble, Debi Renken, Judy Simeroth, Missi Faucher, Carol Ware, Brandi Louis, Agi Barad, Kathy Garriott, Claudia Deney, Jeff Erwin, Michael Sadegh, Arlene Ashton, Lynn Aguilera, Denise Mooradain

If someone wants to help the cause, how can they be a part of the Foundation?
We are always looking for help at the Foundation, and more specifically we need help in the web development area now. But in general, we hold meetings the first Monday of every month that are open for anyone to attend. If you are interested in just helping with specific projects you are welcome to go to our website and send us an email. We will absolutely have someone reach out to recruit you!

What are your long-term and short-term goals for the DNHS Foundation?
My goal for this fiscal year is to reach our goal of raising $80,000 for the school. I hope that as I step down at the end of the year someone will step up and continue to improve on the path that we have started.

What are you looking forward to the most in regards to this upcoming year?
The Foundation has been looking for a signature event that we can host annually as our main fundraiser. We were circumvented by fire a couple years ago from holding a golf event and this year we are working hard to identify and actually host our first annual!

How can people go about finding out more information?
The school puts out a Month at a Glance calendar which lists our meeting times and dates. For more information you can go to our website or see us on Facebook at DNHS Foundation.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
We wanted again to publicly thank all of our donor parents, their employers, and local businesses that support the Foundation. We greatly appreciate the awesome hard work of principal Greg Mizel and the rest of the Nighthawk staff, faculty, and volunteers. You are all the reasons for allowing our students to achieve more at school. Thank you.


At-A-Glance Foundation President Jeff Erwin

Name: Jeff Erwin
Community: Escondido for 17 Years
Education: San Diego State University
Family: Wife – Sharon; son– Kai; daughter – Madison
Hobbies and Interests: I enjoy camping and cooking. When I say cooking it is more the love of my wife’s cooking! She is a gourmet cook and I am really just here to do the grilling. As far as interests, I enjoy entertaining and hanging out with friends. We all work so hard we need to remember to slow down and enjoy life and what better way to do that than with the people you care about.


At-A-Glance Del Norte High School Foundation

Name: Del Norte High School Foundation
President: Jeff Erwin
Website: www.dnhsfoundation.org