Denair High Graduates Make Lasting Impression on Younger Students at DECA

The Denair High School Class of 2017 provided real-life inspiration to their much younger peers Thursday morning, donning their purple and white caps and gowns and marching through the Denair Elementary Charter Academy campus.

It was the first step in a daylong series of events, including a mid-morning graduation practice walkthrough, leading up to Friday night’s commencement ceremony. Graduation begins at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Lytton Stadium.

Thursday’s first-ever Grad Walk was the brainchild of high school Principal Kara Backman and Amanda Silva, the district’s assistant director of special education. It was patterned after similar events discussed at a No Excuses University conference in January, Silva said.

NEU is an educational model built around the belief that every child has a right to be prepared for college, starting at the elementary level. Denair schools have embraced that philosophy and are working toward NEU certification.

Beneath their robes Thursday morning, Class of 2017 students wore T-shirts from their colleges of choice. Backman said 47 of the 70 graduates plan to attend a college or trade school of some kind.

The march to DECA campus was intended to be a vivid reminder of the educational journey the elementary students have just begun. Continue reading “Denair High Graduates Make Lasting Impression on Younger Students at DECA” »

Denair High Golf Program Finishes First Year on High Note With Drew Pritchard Earning Medal at Section Tournament

Robert Henderson, R.J. Henderson, Greg Gaudio, Seth Martinez

Submitted by Denair High School

Baby steps, capped off by an impressive and rewarding individual performance. That’s one way to describe the first-ever Denair High golf team this spring.

The Coyotes have never fielded a golf squad before. But Athletic Director Darrin Allen and co-coaches R.J. Henderson and Greg Gaudio explored the possibilities, determined there was sufficient interest and decided to give it a go.

Three players – sophomores Drew Pritchard and Seth Martinez and senior Robert Henderson – comprised the fledgling team. A minimum of five players are required to compete in Southern League matches, but Denair overcame that by partnering with Waterford – another small team – to ensure enough players were available for opponents.

There were no team scores for Denair and Waterford, but their individual players earned points based on results to potentially qualify for playoff events.

Home matches were held at Oakdale Country Club, thanks to Waterford. The River Oaks Golf Course in Ceres provided practice facilities for the Coyotes.

“It was wonderful having Waterford as partners and I bet the two teams made some good friendships,” Gaudio said.

The highlight of the season was Pritchard accumulating enough individual points to earn a spot in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI tournament on May 8 at Elkhorn Country Club in Stockton. He did himself and his school proud by firing an 86, good enough for a tie for sixth place in the field of 105 players, earning him a medal.

“Putting together a first-year program was a very unique and pleasant experience,” said Henderson.

Denair Retirees Honored for Combined 171 Years of Service

Denair retirees May 2017

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Five accomplished and influential teachers and a popular maintenance man have announced their retirements from the Denair Unified School District at the end of this month. Combined, they have 171 years of service in schools.

Those retiring are:

  • Patti Greer, second grade teacher, Denair Elementary Charter Academy
  • Carol Hammond, reading intervention specialist, Denair Elementary Charter Academy
  • Mary Worman, preschool teacher, Denair Elementary Charter Academy
  • Colleen Vickery, eighth grade language arts teacher, Denair Middle School
  • Johanna Hoyt, seventh grade language arts, Denair Middle School
  • Charlie Asbill, maintenance man, Denair Middle School and Denair High School

All were honored and presented with inscribed clocks Thursday night at an emotional Board of Trustees meeting. There were smiles, hugs and more than a few tears – of gratitude and happy memories, and from close friends who won’t be seen quite as frequently.

Superintendent Aaron Rosander referred to teaching as “a lifelong calling” as part of his tribute to the retirees. “I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with you. Thank you for all that you’ve done.”

The Pulse reached out to all six employees; four of them responded.

Patti Greer, 29½ years in the district (40 overall): Greer expects that she will miss her colleagues as well as the eager faces of her students.

“When you teach in a district as long as I have, you develop friendships that last a lifetime,” she said. “I might have a visit once in a while to get a kid fix.” Continue reading “Denair Retirees Honored for Combined 171 Years of Service” »

Denair Unified Employees Granted Additional One-Time 3% Salary Payments

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

All employees of the Denair Unified School District were granted an additional one-time salary payment of 3% by trustees Thursday night, the latest sign of the district’s improved financial health. Combined with previous raises totaling 5%, the money brings employees’ compensation this year to what they were in 2013.

“I know it’s only a one-time (payment), but it’s movement toward full salary restoration,” said board President Kathi Dunham-Filson.

The vote was 4-0, with Trustee Robert Hodges absent. Both unions already had approved the agreements. The payments for members of the Denair Unified Teachers Association and California State Employees Association will cost the district $215,650.

It is the second time this school year that trustees have approved one-time payments for Denair employees. Last October, all teachers who were on staff in 2015-16 received payments representing 2.37% of their salaries, matching those given classified staff members earlier in the year.

The payments are part of the plan to gradually restore wages that were slashed four years ago, when the district faced a financial crisis based largely on declining enrollment, overstaffing and reduced state funding.

Salaries for classified staff were reduced 12%; pay for teachers and administrators was cut 8%. Some employees were laid off.

Superintendent Aaron Rosander and Chief Business Officer Linda Covello – who both arrived in 2014 — initiated a financial recovery program that maximized the use of so-called “restricted” funds to pay for people, programs and equipment while reducing the burden on the general fund. Continue reading “Denair Unified Employees Granted Additional One-Time 3% Salary Payments” »

Top Denair High Students Obando, Martinez Reflect on Quality of Education and Academic Success

Libby Martinez and Hector Obando

Submitted by Denair High School

Hector Obando is the Denair High School Class of 2017 valedictorian by virtue of his 4.17 grade-point average. The salutatorian will be Elisabeth “Libby” Martinez, who compiled a 4.15 GPA in her four years.

The graduation ceremony will be May 26 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Lytton Stadium. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets are not required.

Obando and Martinez recently took time to answer 10 questions about their high school experiences.

Question: What are the key things other students should know about your academic success and how you achieved it?

Obando: Other students should know that hard work is universal. Anyone can push themselves to their limit and succeed. Perseverance is also something that helped my academic achievement.

Martinez: My academic success is from my perseverance and determination. I may have procrastinated to get things done, but at the end of the day, I knew I would have to do them, so why worry about them later?

Q: How much time outside of class did you spend studying or doing homework?

Martinez: Outside of class, I would spend about an hour every day doing homework or trying to study.

Obando: I spend approximately an hour or more, if needed, studying and doing homework.

Q: Which classes and/or teachers at Denair High had the most influence on you?

Obando: All my teachers have really inspired me throughout my four years, including but not limited to Mr. Wagner, Mr. Cumberland, Mrs. Hilton, Mr. Allen, Mr. Stav and Sra. Olivas. In each of their courses that they taught me, I have learned many valuable lessons for the next step in life.

Martinez: My art classes with Mr. Stav have been influential and are the reason I am going to major in Fine Arts in college. My junior English class with Mrs. Schutcherman was also inspiring and gave me the motivation to read again for fun. Continue reading “Top Denair High Students Obando, Martinez Reflect on Quality of Education and Academic Success” »