Denair High adds intro EMT course to career pathways thanks to $200,000 state grant

Denair High students potentially interested in medically related careers will be able to learn more about them beginning this school year thanks to a $200,000 grant the school received from the state.

The money will allow the high school to create its sixth career technical education (CTE) pathway, this one focused on providing “foundational information and skills needed to pursue a career in the medical field,” according to Principal Breanne Aguiar.

Already, almost 60 students have signed up for the first yearlong course – Emergency Medical Training (EMT) 1 – which will begin when school resumes in August. The class will be taught by Melissa Treadwell, a longtime employee in the district whose background includes certification to teach this subject. 

The $200,000 from the Golden State Pathways Program will pay for the materials needed to give students a real-life sense of various medical careers – items such as a gurney, a hospital bed, stethoscopes, training mannequins, a defibrillator and touchscreen smartboards. Aguiar said students will learn about basic human anatomy as well as medical terminology and related concepts. In addition, students will have the opportunity to earn their BLS (Basic Life Support) certification.

The class could be the starting point for students who may want to pursue a career as an EMT, a nurse, an X-ray technician, or various other medically related roles. Even for those who don’t attend college, the class could position graduates for entry-level positions at a local hospital or medical facility, Aguiar said.

As with Denair’s other CTE courses, Aguiar said the EMT 1 class “creates post-secondary opportunities for students and help them identify their interests for what they may like to do as a career.”

The EMT 1 class will be followed by an EMT 2 course in the 2025-26 school year.

About half of Denair High’s 300 students take one or more of the campus’ CTE classes. The other career pathways include agriscience; ag mechanics; arts, media, and entertainment; criminal science investigation; and floral design.

“We want to help students develop interests early on to set them up for post-secondary success,” Aguiar said.

The Golden State Pathways Program is an arm of the California Department of Education. Its purpose is to provide local school districts with the resources to promote pathways in high-wage, high-skill, high-growth areas, including technology, health care, education, and climate-related fields that, among other things, allow students to advance seamlessly from high school to college and career and provide the workforce needed for economic growth.

Aguiar invited students or parents Interested in learning more about the EMT class or Denair’s other CTE pathways to call the high school office at (209) 632-9911. 

Denair FFA students enjoy success at Stanislaus County Fair

No one associated with the Denair FFA will forget the oppressive heat they endured at the 2024 Stanislaus County Fair. The high temperature soared past 100 degrees each day during the fair’s 10-day run, which wrapped up Sunday. 

“It was a crazy, hot week,” summed up Denair High ag instructor Roger Christianson.

But for some of Denair’s 21 students who entered animals or projects at the fair, their memories will include more than just the hot weather.

Freshman Makenzie Miguel – competing in her first fair — finished with two first-place market sheep in their classes. She also had Grand and Reserve Grand Champion Breeding Ram. She also was a finalist for outstanding exhibitor for sheep.

“She really hit the road running this year,” Christianson said.

Miguel also was a state finalist in the Agriscience Fair and is waiting to hear back about qualifying for nationals. 

In horticulture, Jaydah Rodriguez had an amazing fair. She entered 10 plants and was rewarded with eight firsts, one second and one third. Zac Christianson also won two firsts in floral for his Lego projects.

In poultry, Salvador Virgen received second place in Novice Showmanship and earned first, second and third as well as best of breed with his bantam Serama chickens.

For swine, 2023 Denair High graduate Dakota Rutherford returned for her final fair to earn first place in her market class and eighth place for showmanship. Rutherford – about to be a sophomore at Modesto Junior College – will put on her FFA jacket for the final time in October when she receives her American Degree. Christianson said Rutherford is the 21st person in the Denair FFA chapter’s 96-year history to earn the award, which is the organization’s highest honor.

In ag mechanics, Denair had two students win first-place ribbons – Landon Rock with a 350-block coffee table and Brenna Cole with a removable sheep stand.

In goats, Ryan Rohn won first in his market class and third in the heavyweight division.

Ethan Ibarra placed third in FFA Advanced Showmanship and earned first- and second-place ribbons for his geese as well as a second and third for his blue laced Wyandotte chickens.

Summer school wraps up successful month long run in Denair

For the more than 200 Denair elementary, high school, and special education students involved in summer school in the past month, vacation season finally can begin. That’s true as well for the dozens of teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, food service workers, and other staff members who devoted four weeks to those same students.

Everyone deserves a well-earned break. That’s because it won’t be long until regular classes resume in mid-August.

For roughly 130 elementary students, summer school was a chance to continue building their ability in core academic subjects like math and English in a fun, grade-free environment. Classroom lessons were augmented by sessions in art or music … or something like Water Day that was held on June 14 as a way to beat the heat.

“I thought that was a highlight of our program this summer,” said elementary Principal Robert Moore.

Students were able to access obstacle courses, slip ‘n’ slides, sprinklers, shark bowling with a beach ball, and an obstacle course. There also was a bean bag toss game, a shaving cream activity table, and a bubble station. 

“This was a great event and staff, students, and families all pitched in to make it a success,” Moore said.

For the first time during summer school, 12 girls in fifth and sixth grades also were able to take part in the ROX (Ruling Our eXperiences) program led by counselor Kara Binkley. ROX is intended to empower girls by teaching them how to handle conflict, create and manage better relationships, and think positively and differently about their futures. Binkley covered 20 key lessons in just 21 days.

Next door at Denair Charter Academy, the day-to-day mood was a little more serious for the 80 or so high school students who were involved in credit recovery. They needed to retake and pass classes they didn’t do well in during the regular school year. Earning those all-important credits was the way to get back on track toward graduation.

“If it gets to a point where they have too many courses to recover, that leads to a hard conversation between the (high school) counselor and the student and their families,” explained Principal Anajanzy Montoya.

An important component of this year’s summer program in Denair was the inclusion of special education students – 25 of whom took part in the district’s Extended School Year program. The students worked with the same teachers they had during the regular school year and also took part in community-based instruction opportunities and educational field trips throughout the summer program. 

Moore singled out the special education teachers and paraprofessionals for their hard work. The special education students began their days on the high school campus and then transitioned to the elementary campus in the afternoon.

“These staff members did such a great job making sure that all of our students had access to the fun activities we had available for them in the afternoon and were always flexible to help in any way that we needed,” he said. “The special education staff along with the rest of our summer school staff really went above and beyond this summer to provide a fun and safe place for students to extend their learning and continue their growth.”

Students at all grades during summer school once again benefitted from the dedicated food service team, which provided a daily average of 128 breakfasts, 178 lunches, and 65 snacks during summer school – all for free.

Beginning July 8 and lasting through July 19, free breakfast, lunch, and supper will be offered to community members. Breakfast is served at Denair Middle School from 7:30 to 9 a.m., lunch is at DMS from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and supper is served at Denair High School from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Denair trustees to ask voters this fall to approve a $34.3 million bond

Only moments after approving a bare-bones budget for the 2024-25 school year, Denair Unified School District trustees decided Thursday night to ask voters to pass a $34.3 million bond measure that would provide much-needed money to modernize facilities, add classrooms, keep pace with technology and enhance security.

With minimal comment, trustees voted 5-0 to place the bond measure on the Nov. 5 ballot. To pass, 55% of voters must say yes.

A key factor that swayed trustees to go forward with the bond proposal is that – should it pass – it would not add to the property taxes landowners in the district already pay. That’s because the new bond would not take effect until Measure P – approved by voters in 2001 — is paid off in 2028. Like Measure P, the new bond would collect $100 for each $100,000 in assessed property value.

District officials stressed that the new bond would not be a new tax, but rather just an extension of the same tax community members have been paying for more than two decades.

In a survey taken in April, nearly 70% of potential voters in the district said they would support a school bond as long as it doesn’t raise current property tax rates.

Trustees have been discussing facilities needs and how to pay for them for more than a year. Some of Denair’s classrooms and other buildings are 50 to 70 years old. Their age – coupled with the expected growth in enrollment – makes it important that district leaders plan now for the future. The bond would give the district an identified funding stream to provide a match for school construction money from the state.

The money would be used to replace aging and leaking roofs; repair and upgrade classroom heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems; upgrade classrooms to support instruction in science, technology, engineering, and math; and improve school safety and security through security cameras, gates, fencing and security systems at all schools.

The bond proposal requires that a citizens’ oversight committee be formed to evaluate how the money is spent.

Earlier in the meeting, trustees approved a conservative $20.8 million budget for the next school year.  The plan anticipates spending about $800,000 less than the year before. For the first time since the COVID pandemic, the proposed budget contains no special one-time funds from the state or federal governments. That money will all have been spent by the end of the current fiscal year.

In other action Thursday, trustees:

  • Approved a new three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), which has three distinct goals, all with multiple actions to implement. The first goal is that all Denair students will demonstrate skills that contribute to post-secondary success in the areas of technology, academics, social-emotional wellbeing, and life skills. The second goal says that by the end of the 2026-27 school year, an additional 20% of students will demonstrate, through local and state measures, authentic literacy (reading, writing and speaking) in all content areas, with an emphasis on math literacy (numeracy). The final goal says that 100% of Denair schools will be safe and positive school campuses, where all students can be successful.
  • Heard a report from Superintendent Terry Metzger on the district’s local indicators for the CA School Dashboard. Local indicators are reported annually, at the same time the LCAP is approved, and cover topics such as the condition of school facilities, implementation of standards, school climate and parental engagement. The district met standards for all local indicators.
  • Approved an overnight field trip July 31 to Aug. 2 for the Denair FFA Officer Team Leadership Retreat. Students and staff will spend two nights and three days planning and organizing the 2024-25 FFA Program of Activities. 

Summer school draws more than 200 Denair students

At Denair Elementary Charter Academy, summer school includes a different kind of academic focus in the morning and plenty of fun, enriching activities in the afternoon.

Next door at Denair Charter Academy, summer school is an important chance for high school students to earn required credits toward graduation in classes they didn’t pass in the school year just ended.

Either way, there is plenty happening in Denair classrooms during June.

On the elementary campus, there are 125 youngsters in transitional kindergarten through grade five. Some grade levels have as many as 20 students; others fewer than 10. There are also classes for students in the Dual Language Immersion program.

Priority for enrollment was given to elementary students identified by their teachers as needing additional help, especially in core academic subjects like math and English. And while it’s important that they receive that extra attention, no grades are given in summer school. The learning environment is no less serious, but there is a different methodology at work.

“We want to continue their learning, especially in reading and math,” explained Robert Moore, DECA’s learning director during the regular school year and principal this summer. “But we also include more engaging-type activities. We’re trying to lean away from paper and pencil and into more hands-on activities. We want to make students want to be here because we’re doing fun things.”

In DLI teacher Araceli Fernandez’s classroom of fourth- and fifth-graders, that means reading the same book in English and Spanish in the morning to improve comprehension in both languages, and then exercising their creative juices with an art project in the afternoon.

“It’s nice to do something interesting that makes them want to come back to school,” Fernandez said.

Though classes don’t begin until 8:30 a.m., many elementary students arrive at 7:30 to take advantage of the district’s Extended Learning Opportunities Program (ELOP), which lasts until 4:30 p.m. Free meals are provided daily for all students – breakfast before class begins, lunch at 11:30 a.m. and a mid-afternoon snack.

Also at DECA this year for the first time during summer school, 12 girls in fifth and sixth grades are able to take part in the ROX (Ruling Our eXperiences) program led by counselor Kara Binkley. ROX is intended to empower girls by teaching them how to handle conflict, create and manage better relationships, and think positively and differently about their futures. Binkley moves quickly through the curriculum, covering 20 key lessons in just 21 days.

At DCA, the learning atmosphere is decidedly more serious than what exists next door at DECA. That’s because – for many students – the ability to earn a high school diploma is literally on the line. Students who have failed classes must retake them to receive those all-important credits that will allow them to graduate.

“Students are strongly encouraged to attend,” said co-Principal Anajanzy Montoya. “If it gets to a point where they have too many courses to recover, that leads to a hard conversation between the (high school) counselor and the student and their families.”

There are two tracks toward credit recovery available at DCA. Both have roughly 40 students enrolled this summer.

The first is independent study – where the students do the bulk of their work at home on a computer and come to campus once a week to meet with their teacher. This is the path taken by students who attend DCA the rest of the year. They can choose from courses in math, English, careers, art, history, science, physical education and computer literacy.

The second option is cyber high, which requires students to physically come to campus five days a week from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. This is the favored alternative of students who attend Denair High and need to make up classes in math, English, health or social science. They typically take one intensive online course at a time. Once they pass the first, they move on to the next one.

In addition to the classes being held at DECA and DCA, 25 special education students also are taking part in the district’s Extended School Year program. The students work with the same teachers they have during the regular school year, and also enjoy community-based instruction opportunities and educational field trips throughout the summer program. 

School began May 29 and will be finished on June 26.