Denair High Class of 2020 Will Be Honored With Drive-Through Graduation On May 22

A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has forced all sorts of once-in-a-lifetime adjustments, including for the Denair High School Class of 2020 graduation ceremony next week.

When it became clear in mid-April that face-to-face classes would not resume this year because of the coronavirus outbreak, Denair Principal Kara Backman and her team began thinking ahead to what social distancing requirements and shelter-in-place orders would mean for graduation.

Clearly, a traditional ceremony with graduates sitting side-by-side at the football stadium with proud family members and friends crowded into the bleachers was a non-starter. Backman came up with three options, and then recorded a video posted on the school’s Facebook page asking the 67 members of the Class of 2020 to vote on them.

  • Option 1: A drive-through graduation at the stadium on May 22.
  • Option 2: A virtual graduation online May 22 with graduates’ names announced, pictures presented and speeches delivered.
  • Option 3: Wait until late July in the hopes that social distancing rules would be relaxed enough to allow a more traditional graduation ceremony.

Backman received responses from 58 seniors, 47% of whom preferred a drive-through ceremony. A close second (41%) was waiting until July.

“I didn’t have a preference,” Backman said. “I just want it to be special for the kids. … They’ve had a lot of things taken away — no prom, no senior trip, no getting to sign yearbooks. We want to do something that they can remember.”

Here is how Backman imagines the drive-through graduation will work May 22:

At 6:15 p.m., cars, trucks and vans – each one with a graduate and up to nine people he or she has been sheltering in place with – will begin to line up at the Monte Vista Avenue entrance to Jack Lytton Stadium. No buses or limos are allowed. Vehicles can be decorated.

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DHS Special Education Teacher Leverages Technology to Connect with Her Students, Their Families

The coronavirus pandemic dramatically altered the education landscape this spring. Beginning March 19, all Stanislaus County school districts – including Denair Unified — were forced to suspend on-campus classes and move to a distance learning model. Today, in the second of a three-part series, we talk with a Denair teacher about distance learning, some of the challenges and the lessons that can be learned.

Teacher: Renee Hall

School: Denair High School

Grade/subject: Education specialist

What does a typical school day for you look like now? How do you organize your time?  

A typical school day for me is I start servicing my special education students via Zoom about 8:20 in the morning. Some students I see three times a week about 15 minutes per session. Other students I see two times per week about 20 to 30 minutes each session. I determined their time based on their individual needs and capabilities. I do not service students on Friday. I use Friday to do paperwork, data and planning.

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DECA Teacher Deftly Balances Her Students and Her Own Children Under Distance Learning Reality

The coronavirus pandemic dramatically altered the education landscape this spring. Beginning March 19, all Stanislaus County school districts – including Denair Unified — were forced to suspend on-campus classes and move to a distance learning model. Today, in the first of a three-part series, we talk with a Denair teacher about distance learning, some of the challenges and the lessons that can be learned.

Teacher: Nicole Janz

School: Denair Elementary Charter Academy

Grade/subject: 3rd grade dual immersion Spanish

What does a typical school day for you look like now? How do you organize your time? 

On a typical day, I have to switch back and forth as a mom home-schooling my own children and working from home. I organize my time by mirroring my home-school schedule and work when my children are doing their school work.

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Denair Schools Roll Out Distance Learning Assignments

The Denair Unified School District began distributing distance learning assignments Monday to all students to enable learning to continue even as children are required to stay at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Like all other public schools in Stanislaus County, Denair closed its four campuses March 19 because of health concerns. Initially, enough class work was sent home with students to last a month. That changed earlier this month when the district – following the lead of local and state officials – announced face-to-face classes would not resume.

Denair quickly pivoted to distance learning – a combination of online instruction led by its teachers as well as worksheets, assignments and other written materials parents and students were asked to pick up. Included in the plan were Chromebook computers loaned to families who need them as well as free wi-fi access to the Internet.

Monday would have been the first day back from spring break and the countdown to the final five weeks of school. Instead, families in cars lined up in Denair’s various parking lots to gather assignment packets.

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Denair Unified Modifies Hours of Free Breakfast, Lunch Distribution

The Denair Unified School District continues to distribute hundreds of free breakfasts and lunches daily to students, but has made some key changes that parents should be aware of.

Beginning April 20 and lasting through May 21, distribution will occur on two days a week – Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Denair Middle School parking lot.

On Mondays, two breakfasts and two lunches will be provided. On Wednesdays, three breakfasts and three lunches will be distributed.

In addition, there are three remote distribution locations, also on Mondays and Wednesdays:

  • 4033 N. Gratton Road from 10:35 to 10:45 a.m.
  • The apartment complex at 4424 Main St. from 10:50 to 11:10 a.m.
  • The apartment complex at 3515 Merced Ave. from 11:25 to 11:45 a..m

In all cases, each child 18 or younger who wants a meal must be present to receive one. District officials said they made the change to reduce the burden on food service employees and enhance their safety during the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than working five days a week, they now can prepare the same number of meals in just two days.