Young Observers: Early December Edition

Sunny Hills High School ranked among the top schools in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). “The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s PISA measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges” ( This program randomly selects schools from each participating country/entity to test their student’s knowledge on reading, science, and math. The results per country or geographic entity (such as Hong Kong and Macao) were published as early as 2019, but the results for each school were sent individually to the schools. Sunny Hills just received them last month according to SHHS Principal Allen Whitten. Details on SHHS ranking are shown below:

1) Sunny Hills vs. 162 USA participating schools

•Sunny Hills: 1st place in all categories (reading, science, and math)

Overall, USA ranked 25th out of 79 participating countries/geographic entities)   

2) Sunny Hills vs. participating schools from 79 countries/geographic entities

(If Sunny Hills were a country, below are Sunny Hills’ ranking for each category):

a. Reading:

•1st Place: Sunny Hills, B-S-J-Z China (B-S-J-Z China is the acronym for the four Chinese provinces: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zheijiang)

•13th Place: USA

b. Science:

•1st Place: B-S-J-Z China

•2nd Place: Sunny Hills, Macau, and Singapore

•18th Place: USA

c. Math:

•Top 4 countries: B-S-J-Z China, Singapore, Macao, and Hong Kong.

•5th place: Sunny Hills, Japan, South Korea, and Taipei.

•37th place: USA

Seventy-nine countries participated in the international assessment. This means if Sunny Hills were a country, it would end up in the top 5. Principal Whitten is unaware if there were other schools in Fullerton that participated in the testing but with Sunny Hills being part of the Fullerton Joint Union High School District (FJUHSD), the school’s impressive performance reflects the District’s learning strategies that are likely being implemented among all the schools in the district. For high school students and their families, and the entire  community, this is a significant achievement that  reinforces confidence in the quality of education offered in Fullerton.

Asked if Sunny Hills has a special recipe for student success, Principal Whitten shared that the minute-by-minute interaction between teachers and students in the classroom is the most important thing that happens on campus each day, and the challenge is in making these interactions as inspirational, productive, efficient, and positive as possible. Reflecting on his six-year experience leading Sunny Hills, he added, “Our faculty takes a lot of pride in maximizing these interactions to ensure students are realizing optimal learning growth. This starts with positive relationships, high expectations, expert level instruction, a focused differentiated approach by the teacher, and dedication and commitment from the students. Add in the Sunny Hills secret sauce—a fun and exciting student-centered culture and there you go—a top-performing school on a global scale.”  Prior to joining SHHS, Mr. Whitten worked as assistant principal for La Habra High School for four years and as FJUHSD  administrator for 10 years.

Yet again, social media platform TikTok is blowing away the Internet with an entire production of a fan-made musical based on the Pixar film Ratatouille.

From marketing departments to costume designing, TikTokers are literally taking this musical adaptation better known as Ratatouille: The Musical, to the next level. Some have even arranged a whole Playbill cover and set design. With hashtags, “ratatouillemusical,” “remytheratatouille ” and “ratatouillethemusical,” Gen Z content creators have been sharing their creative talents to contribute to the making of the performance. And yes, people are taking this rendition seriously and seem quite invested. What started off as a joke, has now become a full-blown production, ready to head to Broadway.

Everyone loves the combination of cookies and milk, especially around the holiday season. December 4 is National Cookie day, so you can enjoy a simple snack with many flavors to choose from, including chocolate chip, sugar, snickerdoodle, and more. Cookies have been an enjoyable treat in America since the 18th century, first appearing in 1703. They’ve evolved drastically since that time, with the production of Oreos, and more unique cookies.

To celebrate National Cookie Day, you could try baking your own cookies at home. You could make cookies from scratch or even just from premade mixes. If you’re a talented baker and feeling up for the challenge, you could also try to make a unique type of cookie in the kitchen. If baking is not your strong suit, you could always visit bakeries nearby to buy cookies on this holiday. It is also a great opportunity to share some cookies safely and spread the love to those who are in homeless shelters, nursing homes, and the many people who have to rely on soup kitchens for their meals.

It is almost that time of year, the time when many families all around the world gather to have fun and share joy with each other. It is a fun time of the year that brings everyone far and near together to have a jolly time (likely via Zoom this year). Although we are still under the curse of the pandemic, it shouldn’t stop us from getting excited about the holidays. As a matter of fact, due to all the miseries that the pandemic has brought upon us, many sought to cheer up their homes earlier this year by putting up Christmas decorations right after Halloween.

Here are three activities you can do to get extra excited for the holidays, specifically Christmas, if you do celebrate. The first two you may have already been doing, but the last one might be new to you. First, one of the most important things about Christmas is the tree! Nothing is better than a nice, decorated tree for Christmas. To add a nice touch to my family’s tree, we like to decorate it with ornaments, snowflakes, and lights. We also put a shiny star to top it all off. A Christmas tree is a nice way to give some more pizzazz to your home.

Second, another thing you could do to decorate your house is to put up Christmas lights. They don’t have to be too flashy, but a couple lights on the front of your house show that you are in the holiday spirit. Along with the lights, my family has a snowman with lights inside of it that we put up near our door each year for Christmas. A lot of my neighbors go all out, but some simple lights and a decoration or two should do the trick.

The last activity you could do for Christmas is a fun one for the kids. My family has a small wooden tree with each day of December leading up to Christmas on it. It also comes with ornament magnets. Each day that goes by, starting on the first day of December, you can let your kids place an ornament on the tree counting down the days before Christmas while you work your way up the tree. On the day before Christmas, once you put the last magnet all the way at the top, then that’s when you know it is time for Christmas! Anyways, those are three activities you can try at home to celebrate Christmas. Stay safe, and happy holidays!

3 replies »

  1. Great news for Sunny Hills! Thanks for the report, Francine, and thank you to all of the Young Observers who keep us abreast of what’s going on in our schools.