Denair Campuses Have Big Plans to Mark Red Ribbon Week and its Message Against Drug Use, and Other Unsafe Behavior

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Next week is Red Ribbon Week at schools across the country. Red Ribbon Week began in 1980 as a way to discourage drug use among children while promoting healthy behaviors. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan was one of the original proponents.

The campuses in the Denair Unified School District have a number of events planned starting Monday. All are being coordinated by staff as well as student members of the PHAST (Protecting Health and Slamming Tobacco) Clubs. The theme is “Life is Your Journey: Travel Drug-Free.”

Last year, Denair High finished second in Stanislaus County in the contest for best decorated campus. “We are hoping for first place this year,” said adviser Melissa Treadwell.

Denair High School

  • Monday: Crash scene. There will be a wrecked car on the grass near the student store unveiled about 8:40 a.m. The car will be an example of what can happen if people drink and drive, text and drive or are under the influence of drugs and drive. The car (donated for free from Myers Towing) will be there all week as a reminder to students. There also will be games for students to play.
  • Tuesday: “Drunk Goggles,” where students try to walk a straight line while wearing goggles that simulate impairment. Fire hose game, where students partner up to use an actual fire hose to knock down cones. Firefighters will be on hand. A selfie station where students can take photos in front of a themed backdrop and with Cosmo the Coyote. A “Dunk Drugs” game where students can try to dunk staff members in a water tank. Special Red Ribbon menu choice at the cafeteria.
  • Pinko Game (a drug education board).
  • Thursday: Educational props and materials. The “Drunk Goggles” experiment will be repeated.
  • Friday: A prize wheel where students can win cool stuff.

Denair Middle School

  • Monday: PJ Day. Students can wear pajamas to school. The theme is “Reach for Your Dreams, Don’t Let Drugs Get in Your Way.”
  • Tuesday: Sports Day. Students can wear their favorite team’s jersey. The theme is “Team up Against Drugs.”
  • Wednesday: Beach/Hawaiian Day. Students can wear their favorite beach clothing (no bathing suits, but flip flops are OK). The theme is “Catch the Drug-Free Wave.”
  • Thursday: Color Day. Each grade level and staff has a color: sixth-graders (white), seventh-graders (orange), eighth-graders (yellow) and staff (purple).
  • Friday: Backwards Day. Students can wear their clothing backward. The theme is “Turn Your Back on Drugs.”

Denair Elementary Charter Academy

  • Monday: “Red instead (of drugs)!” All students are encouraged to wear red.
  • Tuesday: “We’re crazy about being drug-free!” Students are encouraged to wear crazy socks or do their hair in a crazy style.
  • Wednesday: “Put a cap on drugs!” Students can wear their favorite hat.
  • Thursday: “Team up against drugs!” Students can wear their favorite team or sports uniform.
  • Friday: “Put drugs to rest!” Students can wear pajamas to school.

Denair Charter Academy

  • Monday: Pajama Day. Students can wear pajamas to school.
  • Tuesday: Disney Day. Students can dress up as their favorite Disney character.
  • Wednesday: Sports Jersey Day. Students can wear their favorite team’s jersey.
  • Thursday: Fandom Day.
  • Friday: Wear Red Day.

Denair Unified District Office

  • Monday: “Red instead (of drugs)!” All employees are encouraged to wear red.
  • Tuesday: “We’re crazy about being drug-free!” Employees are encouraged to wear crazy socks or do their hair in a crazy style.
  • Wednesday: “Put a cap on drugs!” Employees can wear their favorite hat.
  • Thursday: “Team up against drugs!” Employees can wear their favorite team or sports uniform.
  • Friday: “Put drugs to rest!” Employees can wear pajamas to work.

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Denair Scores Early and Often in 36-6 Homecoming Win

Submitted by Denair High School

DENAIR – There are fast starts … and then there are faster starts.

Friday’s 36-6 Denair blowout of Delhi clearly falls into the second category.

The Coyotes scored on four of their first five plays of the game, built a 29-0 lead at halftime and coasted the rest of the way in front of a raucous homecoming crowd at Jack Lytton Stadium.

To make the night even better, the Coyotes got some help from Orestimba, which knocked off Waterford. The left Denair alone in second place in the Southern League standings and firmly in control of its own playoff destiny with two weeks left in the regular season.

The Coyotes (7-1 overall, 4-1 in the league) play at Mariposa this week before hosting Waterford on Oct. 26.

Unbeaten Ripon Christian (8-0, 5-0) – which beat Denair 35-7 four weeks ago – is cruising to the Southern League title. But two more victories would assure Denair of second place all alone and, more importantly, a high seed and home game when the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII playoffs begin Nov. 2.

“The only thing we can control is the next two games,” said Denair Coach Anthony Armas. “The CIF is going to rank us where they rank us. There’s nothing we can do about what other teams do.”

Friday night, the Coyotes made quick work of the Hawks (0-8, 0-5).

On its second play from scrimmage, Denair scored on a 28-yard run by Hunter Musgrave. After forcing a Delhi punt, Musgrave struck again, sprinting 88 yards on the first play of the next drive. He finished with 144 yards rushing on just four carries.

The score-on-the-first-play sequence was repeated on Denair’s next two possessions – first by Drew Pritchard on a 72-yard run and again when quarterback Elvis Silva connected with Steffin Winston on a 60-yard TD pass.

“We’ve got some good athletes all around,” said Armas of his offense, which is averaging more than 43 points a game in the Coyotes’ seven victories.

Denair led 29-0 at halftime. Silva threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Scott Badal in the second half, which was played almost entirely with a running clock.

The Coyotes’ defense also made its presence felt, forcing two more turnovers – a fumble recovery by Winston in the first half and another interception by Pritchard in the second half.

“It seems like Drew intercepts a pass every week,” Armas said.

Creating turnovers is not a fluke. It is a point of emphasis each week in practice in what is known as “Turnover Tuesdays,” Armas said.

“It was something we really harped on in the off season,” he explained. “Our defensive coaches do some drills where we work on stripping the football (out of opponents’ hands) or working on tips to get interceptions. Our kids really started flying around on defense in the Gustine game. Turnovers swung the momentum then and have been paying off in the past few weeks.”

JV Game: Delhi 13, Denair 6. The Coyotes are 1-5-1 overall and 1-4 in league play.

This week: Denair will play on homecoming for the fourth week in a row, this time at Mariposa (2-6, 1-4). Facing the Grizzlies the road always is a challenge, Armas said. It’s a 90-minute bus ride to a one-of-a-kind venue. “They play at the fairgrounds,” he said. “It’s just different. There are concrete and steel and car parts all around. A few years ago, they put sawdust on the field after it rained to soak up the water. It’s just a different environment.” … Fullback Dylan De Silva is expected to play after serving a one-game suspension after being ejected two weeks ago against Orestimba. … This is the first time Denair has won at least seven games since 2006, when the Coyotes made it all the way to the Section Division VI championship game. They lost to Lindhurst and finished 8-4 overall. … Denair remains No. 2 in the Modesto Bee’s small-school rankings behind Ripon Christian.

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Denair High Celebrates 2018 Homecoming

Submitted by Denair High School

Denair High School celebrated its 2018 football homecoming with a community parade on Friday afternoon. The procession started Down Coyote Way to Denair Elementary Charter Academy, turning down Fresno Street, before returning to the High School. The Denair High School Band led the parade followed by FFA, the homecoming court, class floats, and the football teams and cheerleaders. A photo gallery is available for your viewing pleasure.

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Denair Unified Trustees Will Not Seek Parcel Tax or Write New charter to Cover All Campuses

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees reversed course Thursday night, abandoning plans to seek a parcel tax next year and write a new districtwide charter for all grades.

The decisions came after back-to-back presentations by Superintendent Terry Metzger and Chief Business Officer Linda Covello, who briefed the board and the audience. Trustees began exploring the two concepts earlier this year.

The parcel tax was pitched as a way to restore employee salaries that were slashed by as much as 11% during budget cuts in 2013 and have not been fully reinstated. It would have added $85 to $95 annually to each property owner’s tax bill for no more than five years.

During multiple town hall meetings and conversations with staff, parents and other community members, Metzger came to realize there was not nearly the level of support needed for the parcel tax to pass. It would have required two-thirds approval of those who voted.

“Public support of a parcel tax today does not seem to match the earlier reports” said Metzger, referring to a phone poll of potential voters completed in the spring.

She also cited concern from employees who live in the district and felt it would be unfair for them to be taxed more to increase their own salaries.

In addition, the district would have had to bear the cost of a special election, estimated at up to $50,000.

After the presentation, trustees reaffirmed their commitment to restoring salaries as soon as it is fiscally sustainable. They directed Metzger and Covello to review this year’s budget in an effort to find potential savings that could be applied to pay as well as approach next year’s budget with salary restoration as a priority.

Metzger and board members emphasized that increasing enrollment and attendance are intertwined with salary restoration. Enrolling 20 more students would increase revenue by about $150,000, Covello said. A 1% increase in attendance across the district would be worth about $100,000.

Full salary restoration would cost about $428,000 a year.

The district currently is in salary negotiations with both of its employee unions.

Denair already operates charter schools for elementary, homeschool and independent study students. Extending a charter to the middle and high school campuses was envisioned as a way to allow greater flexibility in programming and teacher assignments across all grade levels.

But serious questions were raised, Metzger told trustees.

One of them involved money. A few months ago, the district believed it would be in line for as much as $1.5 million in federal start-up money. That no longer is certain.

“Without the influx of funding, it would be difficult to build all the programs at one time and attract new students,” Covello said.

“That’s a concern for me,” said Trustee John Plett.

Equally important were worries about whether Denair High School’s six-year accreditation – received just last year – would have to be recertified under a new charter. That is a complicated and time-consuming task for administrators.

Also unclear was whether the high school’s popular 135-student FFA club – a fixture on campus for 58 years – would have to disband and reapply as a new school.

And while a charter was viewed as a potential magnet to attract new students from out of the district, it also made it easier for current students to transfer out, Metzger said.

The bottom line, she believes, is that the district can implement the kinds of forward-thinking, innovative and integrated programs it has discussed under its current structure. For instance, Metzger said the district can extend the popular Spanish/English dual language immersion program now offered at Denair Elementary Charter Academy into middle school without being a charter district.

“Personally, I think we can do what we want to do, but use a different vehicle,” said Board President Ray Prock Jr. He also suggested the district can more aggressively seek state and federal grants to pay for new programs.

“We went into this with good intentions – the charter as well as the parcel tax – along with building good programs,” said Trustee Crystal Sousa.

In other action Thursday, trustees:

  • Unanimously agreed to apply for a state Career Technical Education facilities grant to build a farm and technology center. The goal is to boost student skills, especially with agribusiness dominant in this region. The project is estimated to cost $3.9 million; the grant would cover half, with the district using bonds to pay its share. The project would be built on the basketball courts behind the middle school. The farm would have an amphitheater and outdoor classroom, room for livestock and land to grow plants. It could be the site for a farmers market on the weekend. The technology center would have six temperature controlled classrooms and a lab in the middle, providing many opportunities to use the most current technology in the agriculture and natural resources sectors.
  • Upheld, in closed session, the expulsion of three students who violated the district’s code of conduct.
  • Raised construction fees charged on new homes or commercial buildings built within the district’s boundaries. The fees were raised 43 cents to $3.79 per square foot for new residential developments and increased 7 cents to 61 cents per square foot for new commercial construction. They will become effective on Dec. 10. The state allows districts to raise fees every two years. It has been 3½ years since Denair’s last increase.
  • Heard a report about the possibility of reintegrating 13 special education students in grades 7 to 12 who live in the Denair district but now attend Turlock schools. Among the goals are to allow those students to attend mainstream classes, teach them lifelong academic and social skills, and save on the costs of outsourcing. The process begins with the submission of a letter to the Stanislaus County Office of Education.
  • Approved formation of a boys volleyball club at Denair High School. If there is enough interest, the club could become a competitive team in time for the spring 2020 season. The club will be led by Christy North, who also coaches the school’s girls team.

Pritchard Stars as Denair Defeats Orestimba 35-28

Submitted by Denair High School

NEWMAN – Drew Pritchard hasn’t carried the ball a lot this year for Denair. He’s spent more time at wide receiver and as a key part of a ball-hawking secondary on defense.

But Friday night he has desperately needed on offense. The senior responded in a big way, carrying the ball 14 times for 139 yards and three touchdowns as Denair posted an impressive 35-28 road victory over perennial Southern League power Orestimba.

Pritchard was pressed into service after starting fullback Dylan De Silva was ejected in the first half after an altercation with an Orestimba player. De Silva has been part of a dynamic backfield that includes Steffin Winston and Hunter Musgrave, but the Coyotes didn’t miss a beat with Pritchard filling in.

“Drew’s a good athlete who does well when he gets the chance on offense,” praised Coach Anthony Armas. “He’s had some long runs earlier this year. We really needed him Friday and he came through.”

Pritchard also made his presence felt on defense, intercepting a pass in the first quarter to snuff an Orestimba drive. It was the first of three picks for the Coyotes. Will Knox stepped in front of an Orestimba pass deep in Denair territory late in the first half and Winston intercepted another throw in the second half in the end zone off a tip by Elvis Silva.

“I think something clicked in the Gustine game,” said Armas, referring to Denair’s 49-14 victory two weeks ago. “Our guys were just flying around on defense. They’re really playing fast and creating turnovers.”

The win kept Denair (6-1, overall, 3-1 in the SL) in a second-place tie with Waterford (6-1, 3-1) behind undefeated Ripon Christian (7-0, 4-0). Denair and Waterford play Oct. 26 on the final night of the regular season – a game that figures to go a long way to determining each school’s playoff seeding.

Friday’s game in Newman also had postseason implications.

Orestimba (4-3, 2-2) has dominated the Southern League in football. The Warriors ripped off a 23-game winning streak against SL teams on their way to three league titles in a row, but that’s history now after back-to-back losses to Ripon Christian and Denair.

Against the Warriors, the Coyotes did what they’ve done in each of their six victories – control the line of scrimmage on offense and keep Orestimba’s defense off-balance with a clever combination of misdirection running plays.

When Pritchard wasn’t ripping off big chunks of yardage, it was Winston (15 carries, 99 yards) or Hunter Musgrave (14 carries, 93 yards, 2 TDs).

The Coyotes thrived despite an inordinate number of holding penalties – “It sucked in the moment, but in the end, it kept the clock going because we made first downs,” Armas said – as well as the loss of one of their key blockers, left guard Hayden Haile.

Haile, a senior, suffered a broken left fibula (the small bone in the lower leg) and will miss the rest of the season.

Denair led 14-7 at halftime thanks to scoring runs by Pritchard and Musgrave and Knox’s interception late in the second quarter.

The Coyotes never trailed in the second half. They led 35-20 with 2 minutes when Orestimba scored a TD and 2-point conversion. Orestimba’s onside kick went out of bounds and Denair was able to run out the clock.

JV Game: Orestimba 41, Denair 0. The Coyotes are 1-4-1 overall and 1-3 in league play.

This week: It’s homecoming for Denair against Delhi (0-7, 0-4). Though the Hawks are winless, Armas expects the fact it’s a rivalry game to motivate both teams. “It won’t take much to get our kids excited. It’s Delhi,” he said. … A scheduling quirk has Denair involved in four consecutive homecoming games – its own this week, plus Gustine and Orestimba the past two weeks, and Mariposa on Oct. 19. “The kids are talking about going 4-0 in homecoming,” Armas said. “Orestimba was a great atmosphere last week. They had their kids come running out through a tunnel of motorcycles. I’m sure we’ll do something special this week, too.” … Friday’s homecoming parade starts at the school at 11:45 a.m. and goes down Monte Vista Avenue into town. Game time is 7:15 p.m. at Jack Lytton Stadium. … Though Armas doesn’t want to look ahead, he said his players know where they are in the standings. “The kids aren’t stupid, but we’ve got to focus week to week on who we’re playing,” he said. “We’ve got to keep our eyes on the prize each week. Our goal is to not just make the playoffs, but have a long run in them.”