Denair High Student Merrick McIntire Remembered by Trustees

There were plenty of moments of celebration at Thursday’s Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting, which ended on a somber note with the announcement of the death of a Denair High student earlier this week.

Merrick McIntire, 17, died Monday night from a brain seizure. He, his father and two of his six siblings were seriously injured in June 2016 when their minivan was rear-ended in a multiple-car collision on Highway 165 near Hilmar.

Merrick suffered a serious brain injury in the wreck. He was sitting in the back of the van when it was struck from behind by a speeding Ford pickup driven by Hilmar woman.

At Thursday’s meeting, Denair High Principal Kara Backman paid tribute to Merrick, a junior who was a popular member of the school’s Project Life program for disabled students. Already, signs of tribute have popped up on the campus, including special T-shirts designed by players on the girls soccer team.

“He was an amazing young man,” said Denair Superintendent Terry Metzger. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”

Merrick’s funeral is being planned for Friday, Dec. 20.

Earlier, trustees recognized a number of teachers and staff members who have made significant contributions to the district.

  • High school ag teachers Holli Neilson, Taylor Doo and John Hultgren were honored for their efforts to build up the FFA program, which recently received an Outstanding Medium Program award.
  • High school art teacher John Stavrianoudakis, Hultgren and others were acknowledged for their contributions to Denair’s float in the Turlock Christmas Parade on Dec. 6. The theme was “Christmas at the Arcade.” Denair’s float – which depicted a coyote playing a video game — won the award for Best Themed entry.
  • Retiring employee Cindy Citti also was thanked for her service over many years.

In other action, the board:

  • Received a positive financial report from Chief Business Official Linda Covello, who shared that although enrollment continues to increase expenses continue to increase as well resulting in deficit spending over the next two years. While the District is not currently expecting deficit spending in 2021-22, Covello cautioned that the newest economic reports show signs of downturn that same year. Metzger said district officials look forward to attending the governor’s budget workshop in January with DUTA President Lori Cole and CSEA President Gayle Schell, and then returning to negotiations on new contracts with the two unions.
  • Heard a report from Metzger about the district’s continued improvement on the most recent California School Dashboard State Indicators, which monitor student performance in key areas.
  • Adopted Pearson MyWorld as the new history/social studies curriculum at Denair Middle School.
  • Discussed and adopted a new board policy that outlines appropriate adult-student interactions, including electronic interactions.
  • Heard a report and watched a video from FFA students who attended the national convention last month in Indianapolis.
  • Listened to a report from teachers Melissa Perez and Vickie MacFarland about the K-8 home-school program at Denair Charter Academy.

Thanked Trustee Regina Gomes for serving as board president in 2019. Trustee Crystal Sousa was elected to be the 2020 president while Trustee Kathi Dunham-Filson will be the clerk .

Denair High Boys Have High Hopes in Basketball

Submitted by Denair High School:

It’s a busy time for the Denair High boys basketball team. The Coyotes are in the midst of playing 11 games in 18 days – including hosting their own tournament later this week. By the time Christmas arrives, they’ll only have one non-league game remaining. By then, the players and Coach R.J. Henderson should have a pretty good idea of what is working and what the team identity will be.

If the first six games are any indication, Denair (5-1) will be an athletic, determined and tough opponent, with more depth than any of Henderson’s previous seven teams.

A case in point was Saturday’s game against Ripon Christian for third place in the Riverbank Tournament.

The Coyotes spotted the always powerful Knights a nine-point lead at the half, then fell behind by 19 points with about two and a half minutes left in the third quarter. But just when it looked like they might get blown out, the Coyotes ratcheted up their defense, created some turnovers and rode the hot shooting of Jack Henderson and Austin Upfold to score 12 straight points.

Henderson and Upfold both hit 3-pointers, and Mario Plasencia and Elvis Silva sparked Denair’s defense, which clamped down on the taller Knights and stifled their offense. The run that began late in the third quarter continued through the fourth, when Denair outscored Ripon Christian 25-6 en route to an impressive 68-58 victory.

“Did we celebrate? Yes,” said Henderson, who believes it might be Denair’s first victory over R.C. in 15 years. “The kids were feeling pretty good about what they did.”

Continue reading “Denair High Boys Have High Hopes in Basketball” »

ROX Teaching Important Lessons to Girls in Denair

Submitted by Denair Unified School District:

It’s not easy to be a pre-teen or teen-age girl, especially today. Unique pressures and expectations are felt from many directions – family, friends, classmates and, especially, social media. Many girls struggle with their confidence and self-esteem, finding their authentic voice, girl bullying, unhealthy dating relationships and sexual violence, and lack of strong friendships and support systems.

It’s because of these distinct circumstances facing only girls that ROX – Ruling Our eXperiences – was created.

“ROX is not just a curriculum, it’s a movement,” according to an introductory video on the ROX website.

ROX began in Ohio about a decade ago and has since spread to 400 schools across the country. The Denair Unified School District became just the second district in California to introduce ROX in the spring semester of 2019.

“ROX is a powerful program, not only because of the comprehensive curriculum, but because it provides our girls with excellent mentors who really invest time, energy and care in developing healthy relationships with them,” said Denair Superintendent Terry Metzger.

The program is specially tailored for girls in fifth through 12th grades. It is intended to empower them by teaching them how to handle conflict, create and manage better relationships, and think positively and differently about their futures.

Continue reading “ROX Teaching Important Lessons to Girls in Denair” »

Denair Falls in Overtime to Mariposa for Section Title

Submitted by Denair High School:

Three days after Denair’s wrenching 17-14 overtime loss to Mariposa for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI football championship, Anthony Armas was not in a reflective mood. The emotions were still too raw. The disappointment was still too real.

The Coyotes were just a few plays from their second consecutive Section title. Instead, they suffered what might have been their most painful loss in recent memory.

“I think it’s a good thing we don’t have school this week,” Armas admitted Monday morning. “I think we all need a little time to decompress. Football people know how good Mariposa is and how hard it is to win a Section title, but it would be hard to have all the kids coming up and asking, ‘What happened?’ ”

The two Southern League rivals – meeting for the second time in a month – played a physical and defense-dominated first half in which neither team scored.

“Both teams have good defenses. It was a typically tight, tough playoff game,” Armas said.

But the momentum swung quickly after Denair (9-3) received the second-half kickoff. Senior running back Jorge Yanez, playing with a sore shoulder that Armas though might force him to miss the game, ripped off a 56-yard run on the first play. Then on the next snap, Dylan De Silva sprinted 21 yards to the end zone to give Denair a 7-0 lead.

The drive took all of 23 seconds.

Continue reading “Denair Falls in Overtime to Mariposa for Section Title” »

Denair Defeats Le Grand, Will Play Mariposa for Section Title

Submitted by Denair High School:

Dylan De Silva’s ankle is just fine. Denair’s senior fullback – who had been limited for three weeks while nursing the injury – reminded everyone Friday night that he’s the main man in the Coyotes’ ground-pounding offense. De Silva ran for 248 yards and two touchdowns as Denair outlasted Southern League rival Le Grand 21-14 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII semifinals at Jack Lytton Stadium.

The victory sets up a rematch for the Section championship against another Southern League opponent, Mariposa. The Grizzlies earned their spot in the title game with a dominating 52-27 win over Vacaville Christian in the other semifinal.

Denair (9-2) narrowly defeated Mariposa 14-13 at home on Oct. 25, stopping a two-point conversion attempt late in the game that would have given the Grizzlies the lead and then watching as Mariposa missed a short field goal with 40 seconds to play.

“They’re a good team,” said Denair Coach Anthony Armas of Mariposa (7-4). “They’ve got a good quarterback. They like to spread out their offense and they’re physical on defense.”

It was in the first game against Mariposa that De Silva was hurt. He rolled his ankle early in the third quarter and went to the sidelines. He didn’t play the next week in the regular-season finale against Waterford, then had more chance to rest as top-seeded Denair earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

Friday, it was clear from the start that De Silva was fully recovered.

“He was making all the cuts he usually makes,” Armas said. “He was running well. He didn’t have any long runs, but he had seven or eight plays were he got pretty good chunks of yardage.”

Jorge Yanez was the other Denair running back who took advantage of the gaps being created by the Coyotes’ line, scoring Denair’s first touchdown on a 4-yard run in the opening period.

“Our offensive line was really getting after people,” Armas said.

Continue reading “Denair Defeats Le Grand, Will Play Mariposa for Section Title” »