Denair Students on the Move – Trips Set This Year to Fresno, Magic Mountain and Disneyland

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Students at Denair High School and Denair Charter Academy soon will be logging some miles traveling up and down Highway 99 to Fresno and Southern California.

School board trustees approved three upcoming trips at their meeting Thursday night.

The first is April 22-25 when as many as 19 FFA students from Denair High are expected to attend the state FFA convention in Fresno. The conference is one of the high points of the FFA calendar each year, anticipated almost as much as county fairs where animals are shown and projects are judged.

The convention provides leadership training, networking and growth opportunities for students. An estimated 5,000 teens from across the state attend each year. Denair’s attendees are selected based on their participation in FFA events, their grade-point averages and the effort they put forth in classes.

“There are sessions with speakers and other breakouts on different topics. It’s very popular and important for students,” Denair High ag teacher Molly Hanson told the board. She, fellow teacher Matthew Marshall and at least one other adult will chaperone the Denair contingent.

Trustee Ray Prock Jr. went to the convention with his son three years ago and said it was a terrific experience. “This is something to see. The only thing that rivals it is the national convention in Indianapolis.”

A second trip involves soon-to-be graduates at DCA, an independent study program separate from the traditional high school. For the first time, there will be a senior trip for graduates to a Southern California theme park. Only instead of going to Disneyland, as many schools do (Denair High grads will go May 10-11), DCA students will enjoy the roller coasters and other thrills at Magic Mountain in Valencia. Continue reading “Denair Students on the Move – Trips Set This Year to Fresno, Magic Mountain and Disneyland” »

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Class Act! 10 Questions for Esmeralda Villa

Name: Esmeralda Villa, principal’s secretary at Denair Charter Academy

Family: Jose (husband), Mariah (daughter), Nicholas (son), Christopher (son), Roxlin (granddaughter), Alexander (grandson) and Christopher (grandson)

School: Denair Charter Academy

Experience and education:  17 years’ experience as an administrative assistant

What most inspires you about working in Denair Charter Academy?  I am most inspired by our staff member, Mr. Barry Cole.  He inspires me to believe we are blessed with a DCA teacher who loves what he does, for the love of children. Teaching students to believe in themselves with his classes of science, culinary, woodshop and landscaping.

What are your biggest challenges as a classified staff member? My biggest challenge to being a classified member is the pay. I do believe and pray one day the district would invest more in maintaining staff with a higher pay wage and continued training.

What is your favorite support tool or activity? My favorite tool would be my social skills that work wonders with parents and students. Through my experience as a secretary, I have received training and actual public exposure to a wide spectrum of situations where I have been complimented and regarded for my skills in working well with the public and staff in difficult situations.

What do you want your students to remember? I want them to remember DCA as the school that made a difference in their high school experience.

How can parents support what you do? I feel that our DCA parents do support our office. We have built relationships with our parents where they respond to us with respect and understanding.

What will it take to improve academic success in DUSD schools? Continued training in the area of our school needs and programs. Success comes with understanding program procedures and policies with accurate and structured instruction.

What’s next in the office? We are promoting our Senior Events: 2017 Grad Night at Magic Mountain, Central Valley Prom, Cap and Gown. And we are excited about our first yearbook to be issued this year.

What would surprise people about your job? How much fun it can be. My job is very demanding, but definitely rewarding.

What do you do for fun? I enjoy traveling to San Francisco for great sightseeing and delicious food with fun company.

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DHS and DCA to Use Block Grants to Beef up Programs; DMS Teachers Given More Time to Collaborate

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Additional academic assistance, enhanced college preparation and tangible ways to improve study skills among high school and middle school students were approved Thursday night by the Denair Unified School District board.

Trustees voted 5-0 to accept two $75,000 College Readiness Block Grants from the state – one each for Denair High School and Denair Charter Academy.

Board members also unanimously adopted a proposal to immediately add nine additional staff collaboration opportunities at Denair Middle School. The impact will mean shorter days for students every Friday beginning March 3.

The block grants at DHS and DCA are part of $200 million in state funding directed at high schools to better prepare students for college. The goal is to increase the number of students who enroll in traditional or vocational colleges and complete their undergraduate degrees within four years.

At Denair High, Principal Kara Backman told board members that the majority of the money will be used to implement AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination. AVID is a research-based system used nationwide to provide teachers “with training and methodologies that develop students’ critical thinking, literacy and math skills across all content areas,” according to its website.

All teachers will undergo five days of training before the next school year, Backman said. Most importantly, AVID will be the basis for a new requirement for next year’s freshman class to teach study skills to all students. The goal is to enable them to better prepare for Advanced Placement and other college-prep courses, Backman said. Next year’s sophomores also will be able to enroll voluntarily to sharpen their skills, she said.

A piece of the state grant also will pay for a computerized testing program intended to better identify students’ weaknesses and allow educators to provide targeted intervention more quickly, Backman explained. Continue reading “DHS and DCA to Use Block Grants to Beef up Programs; DMS Teachers Given More Time to Collaborate” »

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February MAC Meeting Posted

Submitted by Denair Municipal Advisory Council

The Denair Municipal Advisory Council has posted the MAC Agenda for their February meeting, scheduled for February 7, 2017. The meeting starts at 7:00 pm. The meeting will be held in the DUSD Board Room.

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Hispanic Youth Leadership Council Coming to Denair High

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Students at Denair High School will again have a chance to participate on a Hispanic Youth Leadership Council after the club unanimously was approved Thursday night by school district trustees.

There are HYLC groups at more than 25 high schools in Stanislaus County, trustees were told during a presentation by organizer Luis Jimenez. He is the senior outreach executive for the Boy Scouts of America is this region, which shares oversight of the HYLC clubs with the Hispanic Leadership Council.

Denair High once had an HYLC chapter, but interest waned and it was folded. Now, said Spanish teacher Sandra Cisneros, there are plenty of new students. Freshman Christian Obando already has been chosen as president. Cisneros will be the on-campus advisor.

HYLC groups are open to all students, regardless of ethnicity. The goals are to foster leadership, community involvement, higher education and cultural awareness among students, Jimenez said. He said HYLC members in Stanislaus County already have contributed more than 18,000 volunteer hours this school year.

The organization’s motto is “Nunca Te Rindas” … “Never Give Up.” There are monthly meetings, social activities, career awareness and college information, speech contests, and community service projects at parks, animal shelter, Earth Day and other events.

In other action, trustees:

  • Agreed to re-open negotiations on salaries, sick leave and stipends with the Denair Unified Teachers Association for a contract that would run from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019.
  • Approved the attendance of 11 Denair High students at the FFA Leadership Conference Jan. 20-21 in Monterey. Ag teacher Matthew Marshall said the conference focuses on FFA leadership and showing animals, classroom participation and access to ag classes, and student projects.

Reviewed a proposal for two $75,000 block grants – one each at Denair High School and Denair Charter Academy — to improve college readiness among students. The program could include increased preparation for Advanced Placement testing and assistance to help teens take better notes and foster more efficient study habits, among other ideas.

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