By Glen Kusic
Benicians continue to step up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Teresa Van Woy, president of the Benicia Middle School band boosters was sad when the year was cut short and wanted to give back to the community and express herself creatively.
She has created a YouTube video for the band students and has taken over 80 individual portraits of graduating seniors and eight graders all around town to showcase Benicia’s beauty. All for free of course.
Source: Benicia parent makes video; takes photos to commemorate grads
By Todd R. Hansen
Susana Perez had just been announced as the Classified School Employee of the Year for the Dixon School District when it also was announced that she was the 2020-21 Solano County Classified School Employee of the Year as well.
Perez has been a paraprofessional and bilingual parent liaison for Maine Prairie High School for 18 years.
Source: Dixon schools paraprofessional earns Solano’s top classified employee honor
By Thomas Gase
With the coronavirus outbreak changing education with distance learning, many school districts have made changes to their grading policies for the spring semester.
The Vallejo Unified School District announced last month that third-quarter grades will be used for final grades, unless those grades go up during the final semester. This is the same for Fairfield and West Contra Costa County, while the Dixon Board of Supervisors announced they adopted a pass/no pass policy.
Other counties going to a pass/no pass or credit/no credit policy include Napa, Santa Clara, Sonoma and San Mateo. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted a credit/no credit policy (after initially adopting a policy that would have given all students “A’s.”
Source: Coronavirus: Vallejo School District changes grading policies, but Benicia stays the same – Times-Herald
By Emma GoularteEvery student has different home lives and it is unrealistic to believe that all students will have the same opportunities as others. Some people live in different places and some have limited access to what they need. It is inequitable to expect that everyone has the same circumstances.
“Learning online has decreased my actual understanding of many school topics,” said Benicia High School (BHS) senior Jett Walker. “In order to fully comprehend topics to their full extents, I need to really get involved in person. Online schooling does offer this to a certain extent, but it lacks the actual ability of becoming fully engaged in certain topics.”
Source: Benicia students, teachers work to bridge ‘digital divide’
By Richard Bammer
Most Vacaville area school district leaders say that — for the time being, at least — they are scheduled to reopen classrooms in mid-August, despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Tuesday pronouncement about public schools restarting possibly in late July.
“We are paying close attention to Governor Newsom’s comments throughout this pandemic, and making sure we are working with our local partners to ensure we are prepared for any executive order or directive we need to follow,” Vacaville Unified Superintendent Jane Shamieh wrote Thursday in an email to The Reporter.
Shamieh, whose district includes more than 13,000 students enrolled at more than 15 campuses, made no additional comment about Newsom’s proposal, which is not set in stone and caught state schools chief Tony Thurmond by surprise.
Source: Coronavirus: Area education leaders await final decisions on school-reopening dates – The Reporter
By Thomas Gase
Benicia High School’s staff has not seen its school’s seniors in person for weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean teachers and administrators have forgotten about them.
When a project was brought up to honor the students, it didn’t take long for all of them to “sign” off on it.
A drive-through event was held for Panther seniors as they picked up not only their caps and gowns but also a free sign they could put in their front yard acknowledging that they belong to the Class of 2020. A free lunch was also given as teachers, faculty and even some other students held up their own signs and offered congratulations.
Source: Coronavirus: Sign of the times at Benicia High – Times-Herald
Last week Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that schools will be physically closed until the end of the school year.
“While schools might be physically closed, class is still in session,” he said. “This agreement is good news for students and parents, and the announcement means that more Calif. kids will have tools to learn at home during this crisis.”
Distance learning was made possible for Benicia schools after the high school and middle school received chromebooks at the beginning of the year to ensure the 1:1 learning ratio. These devices make learning outside the classroom possible with multiple outlets that are being used to continue educating students.
Source: Benicia teachers and students work together during COVID-19 pandemic to succeed at distance education
By Richard Freedman
School buses may be grounded, but schools remain rolling from home computers and it’s all about a team effort, said two Benicia school principals and a Solano County Board of Education trustee.
“These are unprecedented times to which we need to rise up and unite against this terrible disease,” said Christina Moore, principal at Robert Semple Elementary, adding that she’s “in awe of how teachers and staff, district personnel, parents and students are adjusting to distance learning.
”Moore described Semple’s teachers as “warriors.”
“When we received the call that we would be closing school, teachers jumped into action without batting an eye,” Moore said. “They logged every student into Google Classroom, fed them lunch, packed up their rooms, and sent their students home with all of their textbooks not knowing when we would see each other again.”
Source: Benicia principals: ‘We’re all in this together’ – Times-Herald
All Solano County schools will be closed until at least May 1, Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Adam Clark announced in a message to parents Thursday.
Clark said the decision was made as a “coordinated response that represents a continued effort to reduce the number of affected individuals with COVID-19 and to keep our communities as safe as possible pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order N-33-20, the current Solano County Order to Shelter At Home, and in consultation with Solano County Public Health.”
“The safety and wellness of students, school personnel, and the community are our highest priority,” Clark added.
Source: Solano County schools to remain closed through May 1 amid COVID-19 outbreak – Times-Herald
By Nick Sestanovich
Solano County Office of Education has advised public school districts and charter schools to continue distance learning through at least May 1.
The guidance was issued after consulting with Solano County Public Health and is in accordance with both the county’s stay-at-home order and the similar executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom, SCOE officials announced in a news release Thursday.
Previously, the superintendents of Solano County’s school districts had announced closures with tentative dates for reopening beginning in late March and then rescheduled to mid-April. However, since Newsom has called for individuals to stay home and prohibit mass gatherings of more than 10 people indefinitely, SCOE — as well as school district superintendents and charter school leaders — settled on May 1 as a tentative return date but would work with state and local health officials to determine if the date will be extended further.
Source: Coronavirus: Solano County school closures extended through May 1 – The Reporter
Senior Tristan Keene and sophomore Juhi Yadav became the first Benicia High students ever to qualify for the state finals in debate on Saturday, March 7, beating 26 other teams of debaters from some of the Bay Area’s best schools. But what really surprised the people who know them wasn’t that Tristan and Juhi did so well at their qualifying tournament in Union City.
It was that they showed up at all.
Five days earlier, Tristan was ready to call it off. Between a nearly full-time job washing dishes and her demanding schedule of school work, she felt overwhelmed.
Source: Benicia High debate team first ever to qualify for state tournament; tourney canceled due to COVID-19
By Emma Goularte,
COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, has been a non-stop talked about topic in the news and social media. This new virus attacks the respiratory system and shows itself by illuminating flu-like symptoms such as a fever, dry cough, sore throat, and in extreme cases difficulty breathing. It can be spread through human contact by a person infected with the virus by coughing, sneezing, or saliva.
This infectious virus can be deadly when it is contracted by older generations or people who have preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease. This makes people more susceptible to the virus and can make symptoms more severe.
Source: Benicia students; faculty impacted by school closures due to COVID-19
By Thomas Gase
There is a popular spiritual saying that goes, “Remember, the teacher is always silent during the test.” It seems as if the Benicia and Vallejo school districts didn’t get that message.
Although the world is facing a test of high proportions with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, local educators have made more noise than an elephant in a library this week. Since the announcement last Friday that schools would be closed until at least mid-April, educators have rallied to create ways for distance learning with online classes, activities and instructions.
Instead of hearing Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” kids have instead been turning up Google Classroom, a free web service, developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments in a paperless way. Other programs being used include YouTube, Clever and Zoom.
Source: Despite COVID-19 crisis, Solano County teachers rally to continue lessons online – Times-Herald
By Maggie Fusek
All public and charter schools in Solano County are closed beginning Monday because of the situation surrounding the coronavirus — COVID-19 — the Solano County Office of Education announced Friday.
“In light of the ever-changing situation with COVID-19, Solano County superintendents and charter school administrators have made the difficult decision to close schools for two weeks beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020,” SCOE said in statement. “Superintendents and charter school administrators will make a determination at that time about any further closures.”
Source: Solano County Schools To Close For 2 Weeks: Coronavirus | Dixon, CA Patch
Often times in the art world, to be considered a professional artist means that you show your work in galleries and/or sell your work to others. This is certainly not the only definition for being a professional artist, but at least fourteen art students at Benicia High School will have earned the right to use it and can now call themselves “professional artists.” Last Saturday, at an artist reception at Arata Art Gallery seven works were sold to visiting art patrons, paintings that were a part of “Panther Perspective” an art show featuring the art submitted by Benicia High School students in Beth Seilonen’s art classes.
At the reception the following students were honored for their impressive art now on exhibit: Gabriel Pliego, Zoe Roberts, Fiona Lovett, Jay Lightfoot, Mackenzie Bradley, Charlotte Austria, William Bergeron, Spencer Owen, Allison A. Avery, Renee Cola Francesco, Marlie Fitzgerald, Hannah Marie Williams, Jamison Woy, and Mia Bonotan.
Source: ‘Panther Perspective’ a huge success: BHS students sell seven art pieces at Arata Art Gallery
Children’s Author, Andre’ Lewis, in partnership with Valero, is giving back to our community. On Feb. 11, Mr. Lewis visited all four elementary schools in the Benicia Unified School District. Mr. Lewis visited to share, Let’s Steam Ahead with third grade students. The central theme of Mr. Lewis’ book is to inspire a love of reading and writing through the exploration of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
Representatives from Valero helped with funding to cover costs and assist Mr. Lewis in providing all third grade students with a free book to enjoy and share with their families. Present were representatives from the STEAM field.
Source: Let’s Steam Ahead author reads to Benicia students to inspire a love of reading
Who doesn’t love a challenge? The Little Art Shop, one of Benicia’s premium art galleries on First Street, recently put forth a challenge to five Benicia High School students – create a work of art inspired by Scott Zoog’s sculpture, The Light Harp.
In 2017 a collaborative effort for Public Art began between Joe Lopez, owner of the Tannery Building and Rejina Christopher, owner of The Little Art Shop inside the Tannery Building. Together they commissioned Zoog to create a beautiful steel and glass piece which was installed in Dec. of 2018 behind the Tannery Building on the Carquinez Waterfront. Viewers have varied interpretations of the flowing lines of Zoog’s sculpture and declared it a pelican, fish, angel, butterfly or gymnast.
Source: Light Harp Challenge showcases Benicia High art students’ talent through fundraiser
13-year old Benicia Middle School student Bella Cannon was recently accepted into ArtEmotion, an elite summer ballet intensive (sister program to Ballet West Academy) in Cleveland, OH. Girls from all over the country auditioned and only 100 were accepted by invitation only.
“She is very excited and honored to have this opportunity,” said Bella’s mother, Becca Cannon.
At the academy, Cannon will be studying ballet technique, pointe, stage character, choreography, studio and professional etiquette, dance history, nutrition, injury prevention, and more. The girls will have an intense schedule where they dance from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily. The program is intended to advance dancers who are preparing for professional company ballet life.
Source: Benicia Middle School student accepted into prestigious ballet academy
By Daily Republic Staff
Benicia High School’s Friday Night Live student club has been named as the recipient of the Tobacco Free Solano Coalition’s annual Alvina Sheeley Memorial Advocate Award, according to a press release.
The award was presented at the coalition’s annual luncheon meeting Jan. 22 by the mayor of Benicia, Elizabeth Patterson. The student club along with their community partners were recognized for their efforts to encourage and support new tobacco ordinances that not only ban smoking in public places including multiple-unit housing, but also ban the sale of flavored products within Benicia.
Source: Good News: Benicia students earn tobacco-free coalition award
Interested in painting a mural? The Benicia Arts & Culture Commission in collaboration with the Benicia Unified School District are accepting applications for this Spring’s art mural installation on Military West.
This multi-panel art installation is designed to showcase student expressions in a highly visible public art location.
This is the third year in a row that student art has been displayed near the entrance to Mary E. Farmar Elementary School at W. 10th and Military West.
Source: Student muralists wanted!