The application period opened today for parents who
would like to enroll their children into kindergarten and transitional
kindergarten for the next school year at Denair Elementary
For the first time, the process will be entirely
online. Parents should go to www.denairschoolmint.net to fill out an application.
Here is the key information:
The initial application period will
be open from Jan. 21 through Feb. 11
From Feb. 16 through Feb. 19, DECA
officials will send offers to register for the 2021-2022
receiving an offer to register, parents must complete the registration process
between Feb. 22 and March 31
registration, families need to complete all online forms and upload all
required documentation. Completed registration packets must include a copy of the child’s
birth certificate, updated immunization records and proof of residency (such as
a utility bill).
registering children for the dual language immersion program also must attend a
Zoom orientation meeting, then complete a form denoting their understanding of
and commitment to the program. Meeting dates are
listed in the registration packet. Office staff will provide families with a
Zoom invitation link to attend the orientation meeting following the date
Denair Unified School District is partnering with a
renowned Stanford psychiatrist to make it easier to discuss mental health
issues potentially facing staff, students and their families. The arrangement
is believed to be the first of its kind in Stanislaus County and among just a
partnership began Tuesday, when the first in a yearlong series of videos was
posted on the district’s Facebook page. In the video, Dr. Neha Chaudhary, a
child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist, and Denair Superintendent Terry
Metzger introduce the program and talk about the first topic – childhood
After each video is posted,
Chaudhary will host live Zoom calls on the next two Tuesdays, giving parents
and others an opportunity to discuss questions and concerns and get additional
information. For instance, the Zoom follow-ups to the issue of childhood
depression will be on Tuesday, Jan. 26 from 10 to 11 a.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 2
from noon to 1 p.m. Links will be posted on the district website.
Spanish translation of
the videos and the Zoom calls will be available upon request.
The program is being
funded through a grant from Legacy Health Endowment in Turlock, which has worked with the district on a variety
of other health initiatives in the past few years.
The timing of the new
program is directly related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Denair’s
1,300 students, their families and school employees, Metzger said. Most
students have been taught exclusively via distance learning since Denair’s four
campuses were closed in March. The situation has created stress at every level of
the education system.
work with Dr. Chaudhary … is a result of conversations with Legacy Health
Endowment about preparing the school system for the return of students to
campus,” Metzger explained, adding that Legacy CEO Jeffrey Lewis “has been very
concerned about mental health issues for some time — and not just for
children, but also for adults.”
comes to the project with impressive credentials. She is double board-certified
from Harvard and is the founder of Stanford Brainstorm, which was started in 2016 as the world’s first academic lab dedicated
to mental health innovation and entrepreneurship.
described Chaudhary’s role as instructional rather than clinical. The goal is
to give parents tangible resources and information that will help them with any
issues their children may be experiencing.
the first video, for instance, Chaudhary said that “depression may look a
little different for everybody.”
lot of kids I’m seeing today are struggling with signs and symptoms of
depression,” she said. “Parents aren’t sure what’s going on or whether they
should be worried. Now, if kids are expressing anything that’s concerning from
the safety perspective, like having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, that’s a
more clear signal that you need to seek professional help. But what about when
it’s less obvious?”
then described some of the symptoms that children may experience — crying and
being emotional, lack of motivation (to get dressed, to complete schoolwork,
not wanting to have fun, holed up in their room), being angry or lashing out at
family and friends, difficulty with sleep, poor appetite and low energy.
She advised parents to “trust your gut,” that
“you’re going to know” if something is wrong with their child. She also assures
them that depression is “perfectly treatable” and that recognition is the first
step in that process.
The hourlong Zoom calls on the two Tuesdays
after a video is posted will give parents an opportunity to talk directly with
Chaudhary and ask questions.
Metzger said there are other free resources
for families who need help. She advised them to call the guidance counselor at
their child’s campus, who will then direct parents to “in-house or
community-based mental health clinicians.” Chaudhary will be working with the
“School counselors are not therapists so
while they have some training in behavioral health, it’s not their main focus,”
Metzger said. “Dr. Chaudhary will be doing some teaching of what to look for
and how to support mental health needs to better equip our counselors to refer
families to the right resources.”
A second part of the mental health
initiative involves the district surveying teachers about mental health
topics they’d like to discuss with an expert. Once that information has been
collected, Metzger said, Chaudhary will conduct a combination of teaching and
drop-in sessions “to help teachers build their own understanding and hopefully
apply their learning to their work with students as well as in their own lives
the Legacy Health CEO, said the goal of the mental health series is “to ensure that when students return to school in person,
everyone is ready and prepared to help them.”
He said Denair was a natural place to start because of its
“outstanding leadership.” He also would like to extend the program to other
districts, saying, “Results will dictate where we go from here.”
Legacy already has piloted mental health programs locally aimed
at school superintendents and other administrators.
“Now, our focus turns to school counselors who have to
address the myriad of problems students have and will return to school with,”
said Lewis. “We believe that we have to ensure that public school professionals
are healthy both mentally and physically – if they are not, the transition back
to school for students could be even more challenging.”
has funded free mental health services in Denair Unified to students and their
families since the fall of 2018 in partnership with Sierra Vista Child & Family Services of Modesto. A
full-time mental health clinician is stationed at Denair Middle School to work
with students and their families from all DUSD campuses.
Caleb Wilson dreams of being an Air Force
pilot, even though he’s only flown in a plane once in his life and that was so
long ago he barely remembers it. He realizes that pursuing a college education
will be part of making that ambition come true. With that in mind, the 17-year-old senior at Denair Charter Academy already is enrolled in a pre-calculus and trigonometry class
at Modesto Junior College.
His goal after
graduation from DCA this spring is to earn his diploma from MJC in two more
years and then either get an appointment to the Air Force Academy in Boulder,
Colo., or continue college at Purdie University in Indiana as part of an ROTC
program that will lead to eventual Air Force enlistment. He wants to pursue a
double major in mechanical engineering and aeronautical engineering.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom over the delivery of
education all across the country. It is no different in the Denair Unified School District, where half
the campuses will remain on 100% distance learning for at least another week
because of health concerns.
Superintendent Terry Metzger delivered an update on the district’s
situation Thursday night to trustees and the public. In her report, she pointed
to dismal statistics from Stanislaus County and the San Joaquin Valley that
continue to show rising coronavirus cases and a scary lack of hospital space.
““We seem stuck,” Metzger said. “Conditions in our county and our
region don’t seem to be getting better.”
Former Denair Unified School Board Trustee John
Plett is being remembered as a big man with an even bigger heart who had a deep
love for his family and strong affection for the Denair community, especially
its schools. Mr. Plett died Sunday. He was 70.
Mr. Plett was elected to the school board in 2011
after a career in law enforcement. He was re-elected in 2015 and served until
August 2019, when health concerns forced him to resign.
was a tall, strong man with an affable nature and a quick smile. He and his
wife, Kathy, lived in Denair for nearly 40 years. He was known for the pride he felt
for the greater community as well as the students and staff on Denair’s four
Superintendent Terry Metzger said
Mr. Plett’s loyalty and dedication to the community were evident right from the
“When I met him, I immediately
recognized him as a champion for the district,” she said. “John attended events
at every school throughout each year. It gave him great joy. Our conversations
were always about how to make the district better for kids and the community.
He had incredible respect for teachers and staff.”