News from Patrick Henry High School – Nov. 18

By Elizabeth Gillingham

Alumnus returns to Henry to give back

AVID (Advancement Via Individualized Determination) teacher extraordinaire Jodi Haff had a wonderful class surprise. A student who had graduated from Patrick Henry in 2006 came back to her classes to share his post-secondary experiences and how he discovered his career and business.

Abdullah Moalin was a student in Ms. Haff’s AVID class and remembers fondly her gentle prodding and pushing to help him do well by taking some AP classes along the way. His life story includes going to Grossmont and SDSU and becoming a manager for Western Dental. He then created his own business to help patients who needed dialysis get reliable transportation to and from a hospital known as Aaria Transportation, LLC and MM Traffic School (for people who get tickets). After explaining in more detail about what he got out of having AVID as a support class, he donated $1,000 to the program to show his gratitude and belief in the program.

AVID is a nationally-recognized program that helps students get ready for the rigors of college. The program’s philosophy includes learning about scholarships and giving back opportunities to others (which often involves tutoring others in the class).

Abdi proved he learned his lessons and more by sharing his story and paying it forward to others through his generous gift. Nothing perpetuates great teaching than seeing the product of your work 10 years down the road. Thank you Abdi Moalin for being a proud Henry graduate!

PHHS Girl’s Golf 2016

Patrick Henry Girl’s Golf team had an incredible season. This year, the girls were led by co-captains, Alison Nguyen and Darla Christensen. One of the team’s accomplishments was their outstanding record of 15 wins and one loss, which was a new record for the team.

Nguyen and Christensen, along with fellow varsity players Hilary Mast, Phoebe Nguyen, Madison Simmons, and Laura Peleaz participated in the City Conference on Oct. 10. Alison Nguyen, Chistensen and Mast advanced to match play the following day. Both Alison Ngyun and Christensen advanced to the final 16 players. On Oct. 14, Christensen — who advanced to the final eight — played at Rancho Bernardo Country Club.

The team’s on-course accomplishments were astonishing, as many of the players were new to the game of golf. Yet the real success was meeting the team’s true goal of personal growth. The team embraced the sport as it focused on respect, truthfulness and moral principles. They took these values to heart, and exhibited them on and off of the course. The team has learned to care about each other’s successes, while being gracious with those that they played against. Being a cohesive team was of great importance to them.

Girls’ Golf has been coached by Chad Miller for 11 years and he continues to show his devotion to them as he relentlessly supports and recruits for the team. He has been assisted by Russell Christensen for the past few years and has recently been joined by Patrick Henry High School NJROTC instructor, Ron Flaherty. The team would like to sincerely thank Matt Pennington, general manager at Mission Trails Golf Course, who provided a home golf course. He is joined by his staff, who throughout the years has welcomed the team. Jim McFarland has again shown his support by providing the team with uniforms.

This year, in memory of Ai Nguyen, My Loan Vu and Alison Nguyen have continued their generous contribution to the team. The team has also had other supporters: Pat Diaz (Riverwalk Golf Club), Russel Imamura (The Golf Mart), Pro Kids-The First T and Lisa Mast. These individuals have believed in the team and the team members, and without them, this spectacular season would not have been possible. Thank you all again!

PHHS teacher recognized by SDUSD

Congratulations to Mr. James Achenbach who received a Certificate of Recognition from the Special Education District Department office for his outstanding work in the field of communication.

According to special education program manager Carrie Rea, Achenbach’s’s recognition was for “thinking creatively to work across disciplines in support of the communication and educational needs of students.”

(l to r) Carrie Rea, Jim Achenbach, and Henry Vice Principal Bill Miller (Courtesy of PHHS)

(l to r) Carrie Rea, Jim Achenbach, and Henry Vice Principal Bill Miller (Courtesy of PHHS)

His collaborative work with district occupational therapists, para educators and teachers was impressive and impactful in meeting his student’s needs. Specifically, Achenbach’s ability to work with the team to target students’ learning of symbols, operation of their devices, and generation of messages through collaborative intervention put him in a special category for amazing speech therapists.

In his work with the students at Henry, he has developed scripts for students and staff to use so all could learn location of vocabulary and messages, as well as when to use them. This process is appreciated because it creates a meaningful and long-lasting approach to facilitate successful communicative interactions for his current students and for staff to use with future students. Bravo, Mr. Achenbach!

Break Free Run

Very early on a Saturday morning in October, students in the community that make up Patrick Henry High School rose up to fight. And they were well prepared.

The Patrick Henry High School student community turned out in numbers be a part of the 2nd Annual Break Free 5k/10k Race to End Human Trafficking. The R.O.T.C. students raised the flag at 7:30 a.m. — then ran the race and even placed; the cheerleaders lined the start and finish lines to cheer on the runners; the dance team celebrated all with dance performances; while teachers offered water to runners along the course. Each group showed up to fight human trafficking with two of the best weapons they have — their time and their talents!

When a community shows up to fight for good, fight for those that cannot, lives change. When you can reach down to pull others up, give when someone else can’t, and you do it simply because you can, you create change. Students became aware, some for the first time, that human trafficking is something that is very much alive and present in their world.

Saturday, Oct. 8 gave each of them a chance to stand up and say, #ITSNOTOKAY. Break Free runs, together with 3 Strands Global (, unite communities like Patrick Henry to take a stand in whatever way they can to fight to end human trafficking.

Special thanks to Henry teacher and adviser, Terri Clark, who was on hand.

“I was both honored and proud to participate alongside some pretty amazing kids,” she said.

Henry Student of the Month

Adrienne Banh is thoughtful, conscientious and one of the most caring students we have at Patrick Henry, according to Vice Principal Jennifer Pacofsky.

(l to r) Carrie Rea, Jim Achenbach, and Henry Vice Principal Bill Miller (Courtesy of PHHS)]

(l to r) Carrie Rea, Jim Achenbach, and Henry Vice Principal Bill Miller (Courtesy of PHHS)]

Banh was selected to be recognized at the monthly Kawanis breakfast as Henry’s second named Student of the Month. She was selected because she is noted as being a great peer mediator who reaches out to students when she sees them struggling or hurting. When she sees or hears about a student having a difficult time, she talks with them and shares with an adult that may know the student to get them support or help get the problem solved. When there is a conflict around her she tries her best to problem solve it and find a resolution — not just in official mediations. She is very active with the Japanese Club, her temple, and club HOPE (Helping Other People Every Day).

Banh has been working hard this year at keeping the peer mediation program alive and has even taken on the task of teaching lessons to the underclassmen. Her role is more behind the scenes and taking care of what needs to be done that people don’t usually see or notice her actions. She led students to write chalk encouragement notes on the sidewalk for Bullying Prevention Month, so that everyone could see a positive message when they walked around campus. We are proud to select Banh because she makes the atmosphere at Henry a warm and caring place!

—Elizabeth Gillingam is principal of Patrick Henry High School.

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