By Thomas Gase
As the COVID pandemic took over conversations throughout the nation, the Benicia High School Class of 2022 dealt with the kind of interruptions their predecessors couldn’t have imagined.
Yet there the students were on Saturday morning at Drolette Stadium, their voices heard loud and clear during a joyous, 361-senior celebration.
“We usually think of interruptions in a negative sense — as a disruption or distraction,” Benicia High principal Brianna Kleinschmidt told students, families and friends. “But interruptions can provide opportunity also. Interruptions remind us that things aren’t what we expect or need them to be. In the same way, each of you can interrupt expectations as you continue to discover the world and experience new things.”
Source: Benicia High Class of 2022 ‘interrupts’ summer to graduate – Times-Herald
Twelve fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from across Solano County will compete Tuesday in the final round of the Solano County Elementary School Spelling Bee.
The event will start at 6 p.m. at Journey Downtown Coffee, 308 Main St. in Vacaville. The top two spellers will advance to the state competition May 14 in Stockton.
The initial round of the county competition was held March 27 with the top 12 moving on to the final round. There were 79 participants in the preliminary competition.
Source: Final round of Solano County Spelling Bee is Tuesday
Congressmen Mike Thompson and John Garamendi announced on Thursday that Solano County schools will receive $3,944,431 from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Connectivity Fund Program (ECF).
This includes $2,013,524 to the Vallejo City Unified School District and $657,375 to the Benicia Unified School District.
The ECF program, which was created as part of the American Rescue Plan, helps schools and libraries ensure that students can connect to the internet at home, allowing them to take advantage of online learning and do their homework. Known as the “homework gap,” students who lack access to the internet at home often fall behind their peers as curriculums and educational opportunities rely more and more on the ability to conduct online research and connect to the web.
Source: Thompson, Garamendi announce nearly $4 million for Solano County schools – Times-Herald
By Thomas Gase
Dr. Charles Young said that “If you can find a profession that matches your values, then you’re in a good place.
”For more than three decades, Young was in a good place, with the last seven years being the Benicia Unified School District superintendent.
However, Young has decided to step away peacefully as he announced earlier in the month that he will be retiring after the end of the 2021-22 school year. Young has been the superintendent in Benicia since July of 2015. Young has also been the associate superintendent of Educational Services for the Palo Alto Unified School District.
Source: Benicia Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Charles Young retiring after end of school year – Times-Herald
By Thomas Gase
On Tuesday night, the Benicia City Council lifted its mask mandate with 4-1 vote. The one vote against the motion belonged to Benicia Vice Mayor Tom Campbell.
Benicia will now follow the Solano County Public Health and California Department of Public Health State’s masking requirements, according to its website. Businesses may continue to require patrons to wear masks and individuals are free to continue wearing masks.
Students at schools in the Benicia Unified School District, however, are still required to wear masks.
Source: Benicia lifts mask mandate, is Vallejo next? – Times-Herald
By Katy St. Clair, Bay City News Foundation
Benicia Unified School District Superintendent Charles Young has announced he will retire at the end of the school year, according to a message posted on the district’s website.
Young said it was a “difficult” decision to retire after 35 years of public education service, the last seven of which were as superintendent in Benicia.
“My career as an educator has been profoundly gratifying and humbling,” he said. “I am profoundly grateful for each student I have taught, each teacher, principal, administrator, staff member of the many departments with a school district, and parent I have had the opportunity to work with.”
Source: Benicia USD Superintendent Charles Young To Retire | Benicia, CA Patch
By Tony Campbell
As the surging Omicron variant raises the number of COVID-19 cases in Solano County, local parents are increasingly concerned about keeping their kids in the classroom.
The rapid growth has been on the mind of Vallejo and Benicia school districts as they wrestle with the question of halting in-person instruction.
“As has been the experience of school districts throughout the region and across the state of California, the Vallejo City Unified School District has seen a steady uptick of positive COVID-19 cases among its staff and students,” district spokesperson Stephen Nichols said in an email to the Times-Herald on Thursday afternoon. “In alliance with the state and county public health agencies, the district continues to provide multiple and robust safeguards within its schools, offices, and classrooms to prevent the spread of the virus. At this time, absentee rates in the district average 20-25 percent overall, but it should be noted this includes all categories — not just COVID case absences, which is a fraction of the total absences.”
By Thomas Gase
There is no arguing it, Benicia High sophomores Gabriel Stockwell and Micheal Delgado know how to debate.
Stockwell and Delgado won gold and came in first place last week in the sixth annual Cal Parli Debate tournament. The tournament, normally held on the UC Berkeley campus, was much larger in 2021 due to it being online. The event drew teams from southern California and as far away as Connecticut. Still, it was Stockwell and Delgado that stood out above the rest.
“These two young men are talented, natural debaters, and they are supported by a skilled coaching staff and a dedicated group of fellow team members,” Benicia coach Michele Gaines said. “Michael and Gabe went the distance. We were all ecstatic. They were exhausted.”
Source: Making a case: Nobody argues like Benicia sophomores – Times-Herald
By Richard Freedman
Returning to Robert Semple Elementary School in Benicia is pure déjà vu for Kelli Huettenhain. Her first time in Room 9, she had no idea what déjà vu meant.
Huettenhain was in kindergarten, naturally oblivious that 49 years later, she would return to the school to teach fifth grade. And as much as Huttenhain tried to focus on Tuesday’s chaos of opening day, she couldn’t help but recall the memories after spending time in the hallowed space last Thursday and Friday as she prepared for this year’s challenges.
“The corner wall door is where I remember Mrs. Conway had a rocking chair,” Huettenhain said. “She would read books to us, sing songs, things like that.”
Source: Benicia teacher back in same classroom 49 years later – Times-Herald
By Maggie Fusek
Back-to-school planning has already begun in Benicia, with calendars available to help parents prepare for the first day in the Benicia Unified School District.
The first day of school for students in Benicia is Tuesday, Aug. 17.
Heading into the upcoming school year, some dates are subject to change as the coronavirus pandemic nears its year-and-a-half point. A mix of in-person, virtual and hybrid learning is still possible in Benicia, though Gov. Gavin Newsom recently reaffirmed his desire to see students back in the classroom so they can receive the social and emotional benefits that come with full-time, in-person learning.
Source: Back To School: Benicia 2021-22 School Calendar | Benicia, CA Patch
By Thomas Gase
Benicia High School graduate Olivia Mackey says she felt great that she was able to recently end her college softball career with a bang. And by “bang” she means a clutch triple off her bat that helped lead Southern Oregon to another NAIA Softball World Series title.
Although it was the second time in three years (there was no winner in 2020), Southern Oregon won the second of its back-to-back titles last week with a pair of same-day wins over Oregon Tech. Southern Oregon won the first game 3-2 in Georgia to force a second game, which it took 7-5 behind Mackey’s two-out RBI triple for a valuable insurance run in the ninth inning.
“I was getting thrown outside pitches all game but I was still hitting the ball to left,” Mackey said. “That final at-bat, I kept looking for an outside pitch to drive to the opposite field and I finally got one that seemed like a gift. When I got to third base I was so juiced up because we needed to score that huge insurance run. Words can’t describe how super dramatic that was for me.”
Source: Benicia High graduate Olivia Mackey helps Southern Oregon go back-to-back – Times-Herald
By Thomas Gase
Benicia High Student Body President Brode Alava received a few laughs when he brought up the line often said by teachers for four years — “The bell doesn’t dismiss you, I do.”
However, on Saturday morning, Alava and his Benicia class of 2021 were officially dismissed from high school.
Instead of a bell ringing there was plenty of whistles, applause, stomping of feet in the bleachers and yes, an endless amount of pomp and circumstance blaring from the loud speakers as the students graduated and celebrated with loved ones. The 122nd ceremony took place at Drolette Stadium, just two months after some students had returned to in-person instruction after a year of learning from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: ‘Resilient’ Benicia High graduates class of 2021 – Times-Herald
Nearly 30 school district staff, community members and one student have been selected for the annual Solano County Community Advisory Committee Recognition Award.
This year’s selections were specifically chosen “for demonstration of outstanding accomplishments and services for individuals with special needs during the 2020-2021 (Covid-19) pandemic.”
Among the qualities attributed to the nominees are “knowledgeable, approachable, welcoming, energetic, enthusiastic and 100% student-focused.”
Source: SELPA advisory committee recognizes 28 for work with children who have special needs
By Thomas Gase
The days of watching a graduation ceremony from the passenger seat of a car seem to be over for local high schools.
Vallejo, Jesse Bethel, St. Patrick-St. Vincent, Benicia, American Canyon and John Finney high schools will all be returning to a more traditional commencement event during the next few weeks, starting with St. Pat’s this Saturday. Some schools, such as Vallejo, Bethel and possibly Benicia, will be doing two events on the same day, with certain students showing up at one time and the other half at another time later in the day based on what letter their last name begins with.
St. Pat’s has 107 students in its 2021 graduating class, according to the school’s dean of students, Lane Hawkins.
Source: Local high schools going back to traditional graduation ceremonies – Times-Herald
By Thomas Gase
With the end of the school year on the horizon for the Vallejo and Benicia Unified school districts, focus is now starting to switch to the fall and whether or not the new school year will involve only in-person instruction.
Vallejo is moving toward mostly in-person instruction while keeping the option of distance learning, according to Vallejo City Unified School District spokesperson Stephen Nichols.
Nearby school districts have been back to hybrid or some form of in-person instruction for months, but VCUSD returned just recently with 7th grade through high school coming back on April 19 and kindergarten through sixth grade on April 12.
Source: Vallejo, Benicia schools aim for in-person instruction in the fall – Times-Herald
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
A U.S. history and ethnic studies teacher in Vacaville and a skills trades technician with the Benicia School District took home top honors Tuesday as the Solano County Office of Education honored classified and certificated employees.
Laura Roberts, who served time in the military prior to teaching, took home the top educator award.
She grew up in Vacaville, graduating from Will C. Wood High School. Roberts referred to herself as one of the students who fell through the cracks.
Source: Vacaville teacher, Benicia skills trades technician take home SCOE awards
Seven teachers and eight classified employees have been nominated as the top educators in Solano County for 2021-22.
The certificated educators nominated are:
Kelly Hughes, a fifth-grade teacher in the Benicia School District; Jenny Campbell, a response to intervention and English language development K-3 teacher at Dixon School District; Joseph Arbizu, a math, Algebra II, integrated math and geometry high school teacher in the Fairfield-Suisun School District; Ronald Major, a multiple-subjects (8-12), teacher for the Solano County Office of Education; Kylie Negin, an English and journalism high school teacher in the Travis School District; Laura Roberts, a U.S. history and ethnic studies (11-12) teacher at Vacaville School District; and Vivet Beckford-Nelson, a biology and engineering design and development high school teacher in the Vallejo City School District.
Source: SCOE to honor top 2021-22 educators, school staff
By Richard Bammer
The nominations are in, and the Solano County Office of Education will name the county’s two educators of the year during a virtual celebration on Tuesday.
Every year county school districts nominate one teacher and one classified, or school-support, employee to be recognized as the best of the best for the year.
During the online celebration, which begins at 3 p.m. on the SCOE Facebook page and at www.Solanocoe.net, each nominee for the 2021-2022 awards will be honored.
Source: SCOE names educator nominees of the year – The Reporter
Allison McCabe, a Benicia High School student, was the overall winner of the recent 2021 Virtual Science and Engineering Fair.
McCabe also took first in the Physical Science category in the Senior Division, in which high school students competed. There were also Elementary (third through fifth grades and Junior (sixth through eighth grades) divisions. McCabe is a sophomore.
“Our goal is to inspire more students to consider a career in science, engineering or a related field. The fair is an excellent opportunity for our elementary, middle and high school students to apply science and engineering skills to investigate problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and develop conclusions. Events like the Science and Engineering Fair have the potential to spark a lifelong interest in a related field.” Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement announcing the winners.
Source: Benicia High student tops all others at science, engineering fair
On Monday, the Benicia High School football team released its five-game football schedule for the spring.
The Panthers will host a scrimmage against Northgate on Friday and then start the regular season March 19 at home against Campolindo.
Benicia will travel to Miramonte on March 26 and then host Acalanes and Will C. Wood on April 2 and 9, respectively. The Panthers will conclude the season April 16 at Las Lomas.
Except for the game against Wood, all of the games are against Diablo Athletic League opponents.
Source: Local Roundup: Benicia High releases completed football schedule – Times-Herald