Assistant supe provides update on LCAP goals to school board – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District heard an update on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) at Thursday’s school board meeting.

The LCAP is a plan that is required by all public schools in California to receive funding provided through the Local Control Funding Formula, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013. BUSD’s LCAP has outlined three goals for the district:To create a collaborative team of highly engaged staff that supports the academic, emotional and social success of all students for college and career readiness.To modernize and improve infrastructure to provide a learning environment that offers opportunities for 21st-century teaching and learning.

To increase community and parental involvement through awareness and engagement.Assistant Superintendent Dr. Leslie Beatson and Educational Services Coordinator Stephanie Rice presented an update on the LCAP, which Beatson described as “a wrap-up from last year’s (strategic) plan.”

Source: Assistant supe provides update on LCAP goals to school board

School board to consider reappointment of 2 Bond Oversight Committee members tonight – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will be voting to reappoint two members of the Measure S Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) at tonight’s meeting.Per the general obligation bonds of Measure S which was approved by Benicia voters in 2014 to provide funding for facility improvements at Benicia schools, the district is required to have a CBOC with seven members who meet quarterly to go over bond expenditure reports. The seven members consist of one person representing a local business, one person representing a senior citizens’ organization, one person representing a taxpayers’ organization, a parent or guardian of a Benicia Unified student, a parent or guardian of a Benicia Unified student who also serves on a parent-teacher organization or school site council, and two at-large community members.

The term for each member is two years, and the terms of two— at-large member Ron Arrants and taxpayers’ organization representative Pat Lopes— are slated to end on Oct. 1. Per CBOC bylaws, members can not serve more than three consecutive terms and the school board has the ability to appoint members based on the recommendation of the superintendent.Superintendent Dr. Charles Young is recommending that the board reappoint Arrants and Lopes for two-year terms that run through Oct. 1, 2019. Both members had previously been re-appointed in 2015.

Source: School board to consider reappointment of 2 Bond Oversight Committee members tonight

Benicia High grad launches weekly mystery story podcast – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Raul Vega, a 2005 graduate of Benicia High School, recently published a mystery story using his hometown as an inspiration for the setting. It is not a book or even a video series, but in true 21st-century fashion, the story is presented as a downloadable or streamable podcast published in episodic installments.

Vega, who is also a musician, said the Rose Drive Podcast started as something he could write music to.

“I didn’t have any projects lined up, so one day I decided with my roommate, ‘Why don’t we create our own?” he said. “We decided to go for it and come up with different ideas.”Rose Drive Podcast tells the story of Markus Hill, a man still haunted by a man named Forrest Sutherland who ruined his family before the end of Hill’s senior year and suddenly disappeared. Ten years later, Hill relocates from New York City to his hometown of Southampton where he overhears two classmates talking about the recent 10-year high school reunion and learns that Sutherland was at the reunion. The podcast focuses on Hill as he tries to learn information on Sutherland’s whereabouts.

Source: Benicia High grad launches weekly mystery story podcast

BOTTG at top of its ‘Game’ at Arty Awards – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Old Town Theatre Group (BOTTG) had a good evening Sunday night. The local theater company took home five trophies in the Arty Awards for its fall and spring productions, including the top prize for its Sherlock Holmes-inspired comedy “The Game’s Afoot.”“Game” took home three awards in the ceremony honoring theater productions in Solano and Napa counties, held this year at Solano Community College’s theater. It was voted as the outstanding adult comedy production, and Paul Hughes and Natasha Harris took top honors as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

BOTTG’s other production of the year was “Intimate Apparel,” an adaptation of Lynn Nottage’s play about a young African-American woman who travels to New York to fulfill her dreams of becoming a seamstress. Dan Clark won top honors for directing, and Chelsea Bearce– herself a Benicia High School graduate– was named as the best leading actress. Due to a tie in the voting, the award also went to Heather Buck for her performance in Lucky Penny Productions’ “The Miracle Worker.”

Source: BOTTG at top of its ‘Game’ at Arty Awards

Renovated Benicia High School stadium officially open – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

It is finally here. After more than three years of planning, discussing and numerous construction delays, Benicia High School’s stadium is open for play, following a grand opening ceremony Thursday.

In 2014, Benicia residents voted to approve Measure S, a ballot initiative aimed at providing $49.6 million in bond funding for improvements at Benicia Unified School District’s seven schools. One of the largest projects to be funded by the initiative was the renovation of Benicia High’s George Drolette Stadium, which was constructed around 1966. The renovation of the stadium, which consists of a football and soccer field as well as a track, was expected to be completed in Oct. 2016 but due to various delays— including one of the Bay Area’s rainiest winter seasons in years— the construction kept getting pushed back. Now the field is ready for play, and the school celebrated with a ribbon cutting Thursday.

The stadium boasts a number of new features including aluminum bleachers that can seat up to 3,300 people, an 8-lane all-weather track, upgraded lighting, a new concession stand relocated to the front of the stadium, a “memory brick” circle emblazoned with the names of past and present Benicia High Schoolers, and a new entryway with signage welcoming Panthers. The only element remaining from the previous stadium was the scoreboard.

Source: Renovated Benicia High School stadium officially open

New Drolette Stadium ready to shine on Friday night – Times Herald

By Thomas Gase

Times-Herald sports staff Michele Drolette was born in 1954 in the middle of George Drolette’s 21-year run at Benicia High School.

His daughter therefore does not necessarily recall all of the X’s and O’s of her father’s legendary football career with the Panthers. She does, however, know how everyone remembers her dad.

“People come and go and sometimes people pass away and you don’t always recall that much about them but people still tell stories about my dad,” said Michele, who still lives in Benicia. “People really loved him and had a fondness for him. It’s really amazing to me.”

 

Source: New Drolette Stadium ready to shine on Friday night

BUSD names new educational service coordinator – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

At Thursday’s school board meeting, the Benicia Unified School District welcomed Stephanie Rice as the new coordinator of education services. In this role, she will be working at all grade levels and curricular areas to support instructional programs and practices at each school.

Rice graduated from Benicia High School in 1992, attended Sonoma State University and the University of Southern California and has a master’s degree in education. She has been an educator for 18 years, 16 of which have been with BUSD, including a period as a fourth-grade teacher at Robert Semple Elementary School. For the past two years, she was a Teacher On Special Assignment, with a particular focus on math and science. She helped implement the district’s current elementary math program, promoted vertical articulation with Benicia Middle School math and science teachers, assisted with the adoption of Next Generation Science Standards at Benicia and Liberty High and worked closely with Benicia High’s math and science departments.

Additionally, Rice was also a camp coordinator at 2016’s C-STEM Girls in Robotic Leadership Camp, in which female Benicia Middle Schoolers got to spend a week learning lessons in robotics and coding and even got to go on an excursion to UC Davis.Rice has two daughters, a fifth-grader at Robert Semple and a seventh-grader at Benicia Middle.

Source: BUSD names new educational service coordinator

BUSD chief business official discusses declining enrollment – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District’s chief business official went over the district’s decline in enrollment at Thursday’s Governing Board meeting.Tim Cahill noted that BUSD has been experiencing a slight decrease in enrollment over the last few years, although prior to that enrollment numbers had been stable for a number of years.

“It was a little bit up in enrollment, a little bit down maybe within 10 students in some cases,” he said.

However, this year BUSD was anticipating 89 fewer students. When the 2017-18 school year actually began, there were actually 106 fewer students than the previous year.Rahill said that enrollment numbers have been monitored every day since the start of school through monthly checks.

“We take a look at the first Monday enrollment count each month,” he said. “We started that in September, will do that in October, do that in November and that gives us kind of a monthly check on where we’re at in enrollment.”

Source: BUSD chief business official discusses declining enrollment

School board to discuss dwindling student enrollment – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District’s student enrollment for the 2017-18 school year is smaller than initially anticipated. Chief Business Official Tim Rahill will discuss the current enrollment numbers at Thursday’s school board meeting.

At a meeting in February, Rahill noted that prior to the 2016-17 school year, BUSD had five to eight years of stable enrollment but had decreased by 100 students in the 2016-17 year. The district was expected to have 90 fewer students in the 2017-18 year, but when school started in August, there were actually 106 fewer students, consisting of 78 fewer at the middle and high school levels and 28 at the elementary level.

There were some areas of slight growth. At the transitional kindergarten level, five more students were enrolled than the previous year and the district’s initial projections for the current year. There was also an increase among first-graders, a very slight increase among eighth-graders and a large increase among 10th-graders.

Source: School board to discuss dwindling student enrollment

BHS senior spends summer doing medical research at UC Davis – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

How did you spend your summer? Did you go to the pool? Did you go on a trip? Did you spend some much-needed relaxation around the house?

You probably did any combination of the above plus some additional summer activities, but you probably did not spend your summer doing research at UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine. However, Benicia High School senior Jason Own certainly did.This summer, UC Davis put on its Young Scholars Program where academically inclined sophomores and juniors take part in research in the fields of biological and natural sciences. The program is more than 50 years old and only accepts up to 40 advanced high schoolers. This year, Own was among them.

Own has had an interest in the medical field since a child, when he frequently visited hospitals as he was afflicted with iron deficiency anemia. Despite being a very difficult experience, Own took away from it a love of medicine.

Source: BHS senior spends summer doing medical research at UC Davis

Benicia High graduates try to stay safe in middle of Hurricane Harvey – Times Herald

By Thomas Gase

This weekend Tropical Storm Harvey strengthened into a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico and eventually made landfall near Corpus Christi, Tex. on Friday night. The hurricane was classified as Category 4 as winds reached 130 mph. The hurricane became a Category 3 and eventually caused wreckage from Corpus Christi to Houston.

Houston is right in the middle of where Benicia High graduates Chanler Powell and Cassidy Jannson are attending college at Texas Southern University.

During the last four days, Jannson, a star volleyball player at the school and a two-time Solano County Athletic Conference MVP at Benicia, has been living with Powell in her apartment complex. Powell is a star softball player for the Tigers. She helped Benicia win a Sac-Joaquin Section title as infielder in 2014.

Although Powell and Jannson are currently safe and have electricity in the apartment (about a five-minute drive away from the campus in Harris County), their location has been right in the middle of the storm.

Source: Benicia High graduates try to stay safe in middle of Hurricane Harvey

Grants available for Solano’s K-12 teachers – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Money for some school programs generally is hard to come by and it may be more difficult to get if the Trump administration’s 2018 federal budget proposal, which will slash $9 billion from the Department of Education, is approved,

In the meantime, with area school districts starting the new academic year, the Solano Community Foundation has made available money for Solano County K-12 students in public schools.

Money from the foundation’s Education Plus! Grant Program supports classroom projects, after-school, and mentoring programs. Teachers and educators with innovative programs may apply for the financial support, Samantha Fordyce, the foundation’s development associate, wrote in a press release.

The program’s focus is two-fold: 1) development of grade-level reading skills, preferably by the end of the third grade; and 2) attainment of math skills to allow proper course placement at ninth grade. However, the foundation will fund projects that work toward achieving or improving reading and math skills for K-12 students at all levels, noted Fordyce.

Source: Grants available for Solano’s K-12 teachers

Measure S director: Finishing touches being put on Benicia High stadium – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

The renovation of Benicia High School’s George Drolette Stadium has just a little more work to be done before it can be opened for use, according to an update provided by Measure S Bond Director Roxanne Egan on the voter-approved initiative at Thursday’s school board meeting.In 2014, Benicia residents voted to approve a ballot initiative that would provide $49.6 million in bond funding for improvements at each of the Benicia Unified School District’s seven schools. One of the largest projects to be funded was a remodel of Benicia High’s football and soccer stadium and track & field, including such changes as a new 8-lane all-weather track, upgraded lighting and new bleachers.

The previous stadium had been demolished in July 2016, and a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facilities was held one month later. Construction was expected to be completed in the spring, but several delays in construction— including one of the wettest winter seasons in a long time— pushed its potential opening back to the fall. A grand opening ceremony was slated for August, but Egan said more work remains to be done.Further work includes completing painting on the team room buildings— including blue striping and yellow trim, painting a Benicia Panthers logo on the backside of the press box, custom painting the restroom building and applying stucco to the concession building.However, Egan noted that a lot of work has been done in the last couple of months, including applying stucco to the restroom building, adding color to the press box and adding lettering to the track. Egan said the last item was a good symbolic representation for the current stage of the project.

Source: Measure S director: Finishing touches being put on Benicia High stadium

New Benicia High School bell schedule, special education model discussed at BUSD board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Two of the biggest changes at Benicia High School this year are the adoption of a new bell schedule and the switch to a new special education model. Items on both were presented at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Bell schedule

The implementation of a new bell schedule at Benicia High has been in the works ever since it was suggested as a goal by a Western Association of Schools and Colleges visitation team more than two years ago. After two years of conducting research, soliciting feedback from the community and presenting various possibilities for a new schedule to go into effect in the 2017-2018 school year, Benicia High announced a new schedule in May. Rather than students having a non-rotating six-period schedule for all five days of the week, students will only have that schedule for three days of the week. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, students will have a block schedule consisting of three 86-minute classes each day. Odd-numbered classes will meet on Wednesdays, even-numbered classes will meet on Thursdays, and school will end for students 30 minutes earlier.

Source: New Benicia High School bell schedule, special education model discussed at Thursday’s school board meeting

Benicia Heads Back to Class: What’s new, what to expect  – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

As indicated by the cooler weather and flood of advertisements for school supplies, summer is winding down. On Monday, Aug. 21, Benicia students at all grade levels will head back to school for the start of the 2017-2018 school year. However, no matter which school they are attending, all of Benicia Unified School District’s sites will have something different they did not have the year before, whether it is a new crop of teachers, new administrators, new construction or even a new schedule. The Herald recently caught up with the principals at all seven schools to let students know what they can expect as they start the new school year.

Source: Benicia Heads Back to Class: What’s new, what to expect at Benicia Unified’s 7 schools in 2017-2018

School board to kick off 2017-2018 year with Measure S update – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District schools are nearly back in session for the 2017-2018 year, and so are the Governing Board meetings. As is usually the case, one of the items on the agenda is devoted to providing an update on the status of Measure S bond projects.

Measure S is an initiative approved by Benicia voters in 2014 to provide $49.6 million in bond funding for renovation and upgrades of school facilities. Bond projects completed to date include upgrading the technology infrastructure at all seven schools, playground enhancements at all four elementary schools, exterior painting at Benicia High School and repairing the roofs at Benicia Middle School and Mary Farmar Elementary School.Bond Director Roxanne Egan will deliver an update on items that were discussed at the July 25 BUSD Citizens’ Oversight Committee meeting, as well as updates on items being funded by Measure S.

Source: School board to kick off 2017-2018 year with Measure S update

Benicia High grad earns Gold Award for efforts to refurbish Mare Island center – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

After 13 years as a Girl Scout, Emily Radtke of Troop 20640 received the highest honor she possibly could: a Gold Award. The award was a culmination of more than 8 months of work to address Vallejo’s homeless problem.

Radtke, an 18-year-old recent Benicia High School graduate, joined the Girl Scouts at the age of 5 at the Daisy level. She continued with the organization until she recently graduated at the Ambassador level. As one of her final tasks Radtke, chose to work toward a Gold Award, which is no easy task. A scout has to put in a minimum of 80 hours completing an individual service project that address in issue in their community.

Radtke decided to help the homeless population in Vallejo and did so by partnering with the Global Center for Success on Mare Island, a nonprofit organization that aims to help the homeless and lower-income members of Vallejo’s population through such services as life skills counseling, financial and computer literacy classes, GED training, and health and wellness education. Radtke learned about the Global Center for Success after visiting Vallejo’s Christian Help Center, a partner of the center. She decided she would focus her project on helping out there.

Source: Girl Scout, Benicia High grad earns Gold Award for efforts to refurbish Mare Island center

New Liberty High School principal highlights goals for new year – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

As always, there will be new faces at Liberty High School this year. Chief among them is the person in charge, Zachary Pless.

Pless is the new principal at Liberty High, taking the reins of JoAnn Severson who retired in June after 31 years with Benicia Unified School District. Pless received his master’s degree in educational leadership from UC Berkeley and has lived in Benicia with his family since 2003. However, during that time he has mostly been working in other districts. He was a history and theater teacher at Rodriguez High School in Fairfield, a coordinator for summer and after school programs at Berkeley Unified School District and a vice principal at Martinez Junior High School, where he has worked for the last three years. Now Pless will join Benicia Unified as the new administrator at Liberty, and he is excited to be able to work in the district.

Particularly, he is looking forward to being able to work at a continuation high school.“We have a lot of flexibility at a continuation high school,” he said. “It’s a small staff, small community, small classes. This is a school where every single kid is known by every single staff member. You can’t ever say that at any comprehensive high school of any significant size.”“There are students who often times have struggled in school in the past,” he added. “It really is an opportunity and an ability for us to turn things around.”

Source: New Liberty High School principal highlights goals for new year

Robert Semple Elementary honored for positive behavioral support efforts – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Following last year’s designation as a California Gold Ribbon school, Robert Semple Elementary has another honor it can claim: a Silver level recognition by the California PBIS Coalition.

Last week, Robert Semple was one of many schools throughout the state to be honored for its implementation of Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (PBIS), an educational approach aimed at helping schools adopt educational-based interventions to improve social and academic outcomes for all students. Goals of PBIS include developing a continuum of behavior, social emotional and academic interventions and supports; using data to help make decisions and solve problems; creating a problem-free environment; encouraging positive social skills and behavior; implementing evidence-based behavioral practices; and continually monitoring student performance and progress. The developed continuum has three tiers: one that provides universal interventions for all students (Tier 1); one that puts together targeted interventions for students that need additional social, emotional and behavioral support (Tier 2); and one that creates individualized interventions for students in parents in need of additional social, emotional and behavioral support (Tier 3).

Source: Robert Semple Elementary honored for positive behavioral support efforts

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