Benicia Middle School drum major reflects on undefeated season – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Meadow Iniguez had an incredible season with her school band. She was an undefeated drum major, picked up several awards and got to compete in the high school division.The catch? She is only in middle school.

The incoming eighth-grader at Benicia Middle School has been performing music since she was a member of Joe Henderson Elementary School’s band. Meadow enjoys being able to take several different pieces of music and turn them into a cohesive work of art.“You can tell a story through music,” she said. “It’s a type of expression.”

For the last two years, Meadow has been a member of the BMS Viking Band under the direction of Glenn Walp. Along the way, she has won awards in conducting, parade band, drum major and an Outstanding Performer Award.A big achievement for Meadow was when she got to compete in Rodriguez High School’s Winter Band Review.

Source: Benicia Middle School drum major reflects on undefeated season

Bond committee will discuss possible future Measure S projects over summer – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District trustees heard an update on Measure S projects completed to date and potential projects for the future at Thursday’s school board meeting. The presentation was delivered by Roxanne Egan, the Measure S bond director.

Measure S was a ballot initiative approved by Benicia voters in 2014 to provide $49.6 million in bond funding for projects for the district’s seven schools. The bond funds were initially going to be issued in three series: Series A, B and C. Due to low interest, Series B and C were consolidated into one bond issuance. Series A projects were announced in 2014, and 11 have been completed so far: technology infrastructure upgrades at all the schools, phone system upgrades at all the schools, renovated playgrounds at all the elementary schools, fixing the roofs at Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary, fixing the softball field bleachers at Benicia High School, repainting the exterior at Benicia High, installing new camera security systems at all the schools, upgrading the fire alarm system at Benicia Middle, upgrading the IT server and replacing the clocks, bells and PA systems.

Two projects are currently in construction at Benicia High: a renovation of the George Drolette Stadium and fire alarms. The former is expected to be completed over the summer while the latter is estimated to be completed by October, Egan said.

Source: Bond committee will discuss possible future Measure S projects over summer

School board reinstates previous graduation requirements – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

After more than a month of hearing people’s concerns, the Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District voted for Benicia High School to revert back to its previous graduation requirements at Thursday’s meeting.

On Jan. 14, the board held a study session to discuss proposed new graduation requirements for Benicia High and went into further detail at its regular March 16 meeting. The proposed requirements— which would go into effect starting with the class of 2022— aimed to increase college readiness for all students and were modeled after the UC system’s A-G requirements. These conditions included requiring an extra year of science, an extra year of math, two years of the same world language, one year of a visual or performing art and one year of a new ninth-grade course titled “Get Focused.” The requirements were unanimously approved as part of the consent calendar at the board’s April 6 meeting.

Source: School board reinstates previous graduation requirements

School board to vote again on graduation requirements – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will be holding another vote on the graduation requirements for Benicia High School at Thursday’s meeting before it embarks on its summer recess. Staff is recommending the board revert back to its previous graduation requirements in an effort to hold further discussions with the community.

On Jan. 14, the board held a study session to discuss proposed new graduation requirements for Benicia High and went into further detail at its regular March 16 meeting. The proposed requirements— which would go into effect starting with the class of 2022— aimed to increase college readiness for all students and were modeled after the UC system’s A-G requirements. These conditions included requiring an extra year of science, an extra year of math, two years of the same world language, one year of a visual or performing art and one year of a new 9th grade course titled “Get Focused.” The requirements were unanimously approved as part of the consent calendar at the board’s April 6 meeting.

Source: School board to vote again on graduation requirements

Benicia High’s special education department to undergo changes – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia High School is in the process of changing its special education model to allow students with disabilities to have greater access to general education courses, according to a letter sent out by Dr. Carolyn Patton, the director of special services for the Benicia Unified School District.Patton said a number of things influenced the district’s decision to move away from Benicia High’s current model, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District which stipulated that Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) should give students higher standards in education. Another was the California Department of Education, which requires districts to increase the percentage of students who spend 80 percent of their day in the general education environment.

Patton said the district had also been looking into laws provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990.“There’s always been an emphasis for kids to be in the general ed environment with correct support,” she said in an interview with the Herald. “Districts are supposed to start with that premise that if a student can be educated in general ed with support from the special education department, then that’s where they’re supposed to be.”

Source: Benicia High’s special education department to undergo changes

Joe Henderson Elementary celebrates 30 years with schoolwide birthday bash – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The 2016-2017 school year marked a major milestone for Joe Henderson Elementary School. Benicia Unified School District’s second youngest elementary school turned 30 back in January and celebrated with a major party this past week. The event was spearheaded by fifth-grade teacher Kelly Hughes and featured appearances by alumni, former staff and even the school’s first two principals.

Hughes began planning the event after realizing in the fall that it was Henderson’s 30th year as a school.“I felt that it was a huge milestone that we couldn’t let pass us by,” she said. “With the permission of our principal, I began making plans for a big celebration. I wanted it to be a day where the whole school came together to learn about the history of our school, and celebrate together.”

Source: Joe Henderson Elementary celebrates 30 years with schoolwide birthday bash

Benicia High class of 2017 goes out in style – Times Herald

By Katy St. Clair

When a school’s graduation rate averages 94 percent, you know that commencement will be epic. Such was the case with the Benicia High School Class of 2017’s final walk toward their diplomas on Saturday.

The weather couldn’t have been more lovely — blue skies, a soft breeze and family and friends taking their seats in the bleachers to the sounds of the Beatles and Frank Sinatra. Great metaphors for staying power and doing it “My Way,” as any hard-working student can attest.

This year’s ceremony was a little different, taking place on the field of Diablo Valley College due to construction at the Benicia stadium. But royal-blue gowned students seemed to fit like a glove and the ample parking was helpful.

Source: Benicia High class of 2017 goes out in style

Benicia Middle School music teacher retiring – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Today is not just the last day for students throughout the Benicia Unified School District. It is also the last day for many teachers who have served the district for a long time. Glenn Walp, who left an impact on the musically inclined youth as Benicia Middle School’s music teacher and band director, has played his final notes as an educator.

“The time and the years of experience I put in are adding up to the right thing,” he said of his retirement.

Walp first became drawn to music at the age of 4 when he saw a violinist perform on his family’s black and white TV.

“I asked my mom, ‘Could I do that?’” he said. “She said, ‘No.’ I had to wait until I was 7. On my 7th birthday, I took my first piano lesson and have been involved in music ever since.”“Sometimes I think having my parents make me wait was a good thing,” he said. “It whetted my appetite a little bit more.”

Source: Benicia Middle School music teacher retiring

Benicia High School 2017 top graduates share secrets to success – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia High School’s Class of 2017 is unique in a lot of ways. They are the last class to have been born in the 20th century. They are also the last class that would have had students that attended Mills Elementary School, albeit only as kindergarteners. On Saturday, their K-12 journeys come to an end as the many talented graduates of the Class of 2017 use the skills they learned for the next chapter of their lives.

However, as always, only one student can walk away with the title of valedictorian. This year, that honor goes to Stella Li.

She is in good company though. Coming in just behind her at the salutatorian level are twin brothers Brian and Michael Chou.

“It’s nice,” all three said of their achievement.

The three top graduates were very productive during their time at Benicia High, spring time in such student clubs as Key Club, Model UN, Red Cross Club and Asian Culture Club. They also took a variety of Advanced Placement and Honors courses with the likes of such teachers as Dan Frazier, Alexander Tuiolosega, Melanie Voss, Vreni Huebner and Kim Thompson. Taking several high-level courses each year did give the three of them skills beyond the curriculums. For Li, that skill was “the ability to work under pressure.”

Source: Benicia High School 2017 top graduates share secrets to success

School board approves 5 new BHS courses, delays vote on 2 – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District approved five new Benicia High School courses— advanced engineering design, basic welding and automotive, Construction & Building Trades 1, introduction to medical careers, and yoga— and held two— physics of the universe and “Get Focused”— for further discussion at Thursday’s meeting.

Dr. Leslie Beatson, the assistant superintendent of educational services, presided over the discussion of the new courses. She immediately requested pulling physics of the universe, a required course for 9th-graders, from that night’s agenda because she wanted it to be agendized for the June 15 meeting when proposed pathways for the science courses as well as California’s Next Generation Science Standards will be discussed. She then introduced Benicia High Principal Brianna Kleinschmidt to go over the other courses. She described the basic welding and automotive course as the first course in a two-part pathway that also serves to resurrect a previous long-time Career Technical Education (CTE) course.

“We used to have an auto shop program,” she said. “It was very popular, and that went away for a few years, so we’re happy to be bringing it back.”

Source: School board approves 5 new BHS courses, delays vote on 2

Community makes plea for support at Thursday’s BUSD school board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Hundreds of students, alumni, parents and teachers filled the Benicia Unified School District office to address concerns over Benicia High School’s new graduation requirements, scheduled to go into effect for the class of 2022, at Thursday’s school board meeting. In fact, the turnout was so large that the majority had to watch a livestream of the meeting that was set up in the Liberty High School gym.

On March 16, the school board held a discussion on proposed new graduation requirements to more closely resemble the University of California and California State University requirements. The proposed changes were as follows:

* Health and the semesterlong elective that accompanied it would be replaced by a new yearlong course titled “Get Focused,” intended to help freshmen be successful by identifying their life and career goals early on and developing a pathway to prepare for that field, according to its description in the 2017-2018 course catalog.

Source: Community makes plea for support of arts, electives at Benicia High School during Thursday’s school board meeting

Longtime Benicia High School, Liberty administrator to retire – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

After more than 30 years as a teacher and administrator with the Benicia Unified School District, JoAnn Severson is ready to call it a career.

In Severson’s 33 years of working in education, 31 have been at BUSD, including 26 at Benicia High School and five years at Liberty High School, where she has served as principal. However, she is ready to start a new phase of her life, spending time with family and seeing the world.“It’s time,” she said of her retirement.

Severson received her bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, teaching credential from San Jose State University and administrative credential from St. Mary’s College in Moraga. She began her teaching career in Fremont, but she got a job at Benicia High in 1986, where she taught fashion design and biology for 13 years. In 1999, she was promoted to vice principal. In 2003, Severson got to fill in as principal when Bob Palous was temporarily called to take over for Mike Bowers as the district’s head of personnel, according to a 2003 article in the Herald. When Palous left the principal position in 2004, Severson got to fulfill the role again, this time for three years. When Patrick Holland took over in 2007, Severson went back to being vice principal, a position she held for the next five years.

Source: Longtime Benicia High School, Liberty administrator to retire

A golden day at Benicia High School – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

On Wednesday, May 31, the Solano County Office of Education presented Benicia High School with a Gold Ribbon Award, which honors schools throughout the state for exemplary programs. Since BHS was being honored for its visual and performing arts program, several art-related activities were available throughout campus.

Source: Photos: A golden day at Benicia High School

Armijo, Public Safety Academy celebrate academic achievements – Daily Republic

By Ian Thompson

Armijo High School and the Public Safety Academy proudly took possession Wednesday of the banners that announced them as 2017 Gold Ribbon Schools.

The Public Safety Academy also garnered additional recognition for receiving the state’s Career Technical Education Exemplary Program banner.

“Your determination and dedication are what made this school a success,” Public Safety Academy Principal Laurie Halcomb told the students gathered on the school’s Parade Deck.

Source: Armijo, Public Safety Academy celebrate academic achievements

End-of-year events honor Solano successes – Daily Republic

By Mayrene Bates

There are so many sad and terrible things happening at home and around the world that it brings tears to one’s eyes from time to time, but it’s also the time of the year that I get the opportunity to attend wonderful events that honor the successes of our schools, parents and business community partners.

Throughout history there have been few events of significance that have occurred purely by accident, someone once said. And, this time of the year, educators, parents, students, volunteers and business partners come together at many sites around Solano County to honor and celebrate educator and student accomplishments.

I try to attend as many events as I can and even for the ones that I do attend, this space would not come anywhere near covering all of them. This is, indeed, a great thing that there are so many accomplishments to celebrate.

Source: End-of-year events honor Solano successes

Benicia High School informational meeting draws concerns over new graduation requirements, funding for PAB – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Parents, students and teachers packed the Benicia High School Performing Arts Building for an informational meeting Monday night about the new school board-approved graduation requirements where they voiced their concerns about their potential impact on art and elective courses.

At the March 16 school board meeting, the board held a discussion and first reading of the proposed new requirements to go into effect for the class of 2022, which Superintendent Charles Young said were modeled after the University of California and California State University requirements, although with some modifications. The required amount of units for graduation would remain at 220, but some of the units would be redistributed to additional requirements. The proposed changes were as follows:

* Health and the semesterlong elective that accompanied it would be replaced by a new yearlong course titled “Get Focused,” intended to help freshmen be successful by identifying their life and career goals early on and develop a pathway to prepare for that field, according to its description in the 2017-2018 course catalog.

Source: Benicia High School informational meeting draws concerns over new graduation requirements, funding for PAB

Students monitor health of Solano waterways – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Solano Resource Conservation District announced Thursday that a group of students from Benicia High School completed the last in a series of projects to monitor the health of creeks throughout Solano County.

Nearly 300 high school students participated in the program throughout the year, including students from Fairfield, Vacaville, Dixon, Rio Vista, Vallejo, Jesse Bethel and Benicia high schools, as well as the Mare Island Technology Academy.

The creeks studied included Laurel and Union Avenue Creeks in Fairfield; Alamo and Ulatis Creeks in Vacaville; and Blue Rock Springs, Chabot, Rindler and Sulphur Springs Creeks in Vallejo. The general purpose is to monitor the water quality in different areas throughout the county to help local officials make informed policy decisions, the district stated.

Source: Students monitor health of Solano waterways

iQuest students reflect on life skills learned in senior internship – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

For the past year, students in Annette Fewins’ iQuest class at Benicia High School have been interning at local businesses to gain skills in the fields of their choice. Last week, students began discussing what they learned as part of their finals.

This was the first year the iQuest course was introduced to Benicia High’s Career Technical Education department as a way for seniors to get hands-on experience outside the classroom. In the past year, students have interned at the Benicia Police Department, Benicia Fire Department, Solano County Friends of Animals, Flat Iron Civil Engineering, the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum and more.

Cheyenne Reeves detailed what she had learned from working in Dr. Barry Parish’s office at Benicia Family Dentistry, including how to suction, how to take notes, working in the sterile room and ask questions of patients. She also started a blog about her experiences for the class and shared it as part of the final. Reeves plans to go to Diablo Valley College in the fall to take general education courses and prerequisites to eventually apply to a hygienist program.Andrea Wilson delivered her final on her experiences as a social media intern at Coldwell Banker, which she did for a year.

Source: iQuest students reflect on life skills learned in senior internship

Grad Night fundraiser, pasta dinner to be held at Clocktower tomorrow – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia High School’s Grad Night Board and Committee will be holding its first ever pasta feed, fundraiser and silent auction tomorrow night at the Clocktower. The proceeds will benefit Grad Night, an evening of safe, sober fun for new Benicia High and Liberty High School graduates on the grounds of the BHS campus, featuring games, crafts, karaoke and a whole lot more.Funds are needed to bring these activities in, so the Grad Night Committee puts on several fundraisers throughout the year, often at local restaurants. The silent auction at the Clocktower will not only help benefit Grad Night, but it also will give attendees the chance to come home with some really cool prizes. How cool?

Source: Grad Night fundraiser, pasta dinner to be held at Clocktower tomorrow

Seniors, parents vote to hold BHS graduation at DVC this year – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

After an online poll indicated that Benicia High School graduating seniors and parents would rather hold their graduation at Diablo Valley College than at the school’s own George Drolette Stadium, school administrators made DVC’s stadium the new graduation location.Throughout the 2016-2017 school year, the Drolette Stadium has been under construction due to a renovation plan funded through Measure S. With several rainy days in the early months of 2017 delaying construction, administrators began exploring other possible locations, including the lower baseball fields, Vallejo High School’s Corbus Field, Solano Community College, Alhambra High School in Martinez and DVC. However, with the weather clearing up in March, quick progress was made on the field, increasing the likelihood of the graduation being held at Drolette Stadium, as it has been for many decades.

In April’s Panther Post newsletter, administrators noted that if the graduation were held at the stadium, it would remain an active construction site except for the time alloted to host graduation. In talking to other area high schools, Benicia High administrators learned that it is common for schools to use tickets and issue two to six per student, Principal Brianna Kleinschmidt said, so they decided to try it out at Benicia High for this year. As noted in the newsletter, seniors would only be allowed to invite six guests, and those who did not need all six tickets would be encouraged to give them to seniors who needed extra tickets or turn them into the main office to be raffled off in a lottery system before graduation.

Source: Seniors, parents vote to hold BHS graduation at DVC this year