Calendar of Year-End Activities at Denair Charter Academy Includes First-Ever Senior Trip for Graduates

Submitted by Denair Charter Academy

As with most high school seniors, the final three weeks of the school year for the 95 soon-to-be graduates of Denair Charter Academy are filled with a mixture of stress, anticipation and excitement.

And, for the first time, there also is a Senior Trip to look forward to and a yearbook to sign.

Both experiences were the idea of first-year Principal Brian LaFountain and his staff, who wanted to add some of the traditional high school experiences to the county’s premier independent study program.

As its name suggests, independent learning provides the flexibility for many students to complete their studies even while holding a job or helping with family obligations. In the past, many DCA students only spent one day a week on campus to meet with teachers and assess their academic progress.

That still holds true for some students. But LaFountain and his team have brainstormed other ways to engage teens and give them a reason to spend more time on campus – and with each other. Popular electives like wood shop and yearbook were added and clubs created, all to expand opportunities. The former DCA office was turned into a student center, providing a place to share lunch, complete homework and socialize.

“We’ve got a group of kids who are getting involved in everything. Every elective. Every club. There are the same faces we see everywhere,” LaFountain said. “There is no reason they can’t come here and make lifelong friends, just as they might on a traditional campus.”

One of the incentives LaFountain felt especially strong about adding this year was a Senior Trip. For decades, seniors across California often have bussed to Disneyland for a chaperoned overnight party. Denair High School students will be doing that in a couple of weeks. Continue reading “Calendar of Year-End Activities at Denair Charter Academy Includes First-Ever Senior Trip for Graduates” »

Denair Unified Campuses to Host Open Houses on Thursday

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Thursday is Open House night across the Denair Unified School District — a chance for parents and community members to discover first-hand all the educational achievement occurring in Denair classrooms.

Here is the schedule:

Denair Elementary Charter Academy: 5 to 7:30 p.m. The event begins with a book fair, where parents can buy books for their sons and daughters. The Open House begins at 6 p.m.

Denair Middle School: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Teachers will be on hand to talk about what’s going on in their classrooms.

Denair High School: 6 to 9 p.m. Open House will be the first hour, followed by the annual awards ceremony starting at 7 p.m. in the Coyote Center. Dozens of students will be recognized for their academic performance and earning scholarships.

Denair Charter Academy: 6 to 7 p.m. Open House for the independent study program.

About 100 Enthusiastic Residents Celebrate Denair Night at Modesto Nuts Baseball Game

Submitted by Denair Charter Academy

It was Denair Night on Friday at the Modesto Nuts baseball game and about 100 hearty Denair residents and students braved a cold, windy night to support their community.

Denair Unified Superintendent Aaron Rosander threw out the honorary first pitch — a strike to home plate — as the crowd cheered.

The event was the brainchild of Brian LaFountain, the principal at Denair Charter Academy and, for the next month, at Denair Middle School. Special tickets were sold for $7. The money raised will help offset a portion of the cost of the first-ever DCA graduation trip May 18-19 at Magic Mountain.

Beard Takes Over as Denair Elementary Principal; LaFountain Temporarily Moves to Middle School Campus

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Kelly Beard, who began this school year as the first-time principal at Denair Middle School, will finish out the year as principal at Denair Elementary Charter Academy.

Beard spent 13 years as a first-grade teacher on the elementary campus before moving into an administrative role last summer. She replaces Lucy Zamora, who resigned to care for a family member facing a health crisis.

Beard’s appointment is permanent, Denair Unified Superintendent Aaron Rosander said Friday afternoon after a joint meeting with the staffs from the elementary and middle schools.

“We wish Ms. Zamora the very best as she navigates the challenges ahead,” Rosander said.

Brian LaFountain, the principal at Denair Charter Academy, will temporarily fill Beard’s position at the middle school for the final month of classes. Recruitment to hire a full-time principal already has begun, Rosander said. He hopes to have a new leader hired by early June.

“DMS is sure to be in good administrative hands for the remainder of the school year,” Rosander said. “Mr. LaFountain will return to DCA for the 2017/18 school year.”

Beard takes over a DECA campus that, along with the independent study program at DCA, has fueled the district’s enrollment growth the past two years. Part of the appeal to parents at DECA has been the addition of a dual immersion language program in which students are taught in English and Spanish. Each year, another grade level is added. The first students will be in second grade next fall.

The charter school also features traditional classes for kindergartners through fifth-graders. All students are introduced to the concepts promoted by the No Excuses University program, which aims to instill a college-going culture in youngsters.

“Kelly is well-liked and respected, and definitely will be welcomed back,” Rosander said. “All the programs that have been added the past few years will remain.”

DHS’s 2016 Grad Rate Continues to Exceed State and County Averages

Submitted by Denair High School

Denair High School long has been a leader among all Stanislaus County campuses when it comes to graduating its students. That trend continued with the Class of 2016.

Denair compiled a 97.1% graduation rate – 66 of its 68 seniors earned a diploma last spring. That compares with an 83.8% rate among all schools in Stanislaus County and 83.2% in California.

In the past seven years, graduation rates at Denair High have been as high as 100% (2010-11) and never lower than 93.7% (2013-14). By comparison, Stanislaus has fluctuated between 74.9% and 84.6% while  the state was as low as 74.7% as recently as 2010-11.

“Student graduation rates reflect the dedication of our community and schools to the education and success of our students,” said Aaron Rosander, superintendent of the Denair Unified School District. “We are proud as well of our teachers and staff who continue to raise the academic rigor that best prepares today’s students for their challenges that await them in college and their professional careers.”

Many of Denair’s graduates attended public and private universities in California, while others have been accepted at prestigious colleges out of state.

College attendance is emphasized and encouraged at all grade levels, there are college application workshops, presentations from schools from the UC and CSU systems, and Denair High School’s counselor works with students and their families on enrollment, grant and scholarship applications.

“Going to college improves students’ job opportunities,” said Cherie Gresham, the counselor and college advisor at Denair. Continue reading “DHS’s 2016 Grad Rate Continues to Exceed State and County Averages” »