San Benito High School Principal Adrian Ramirez and Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum on Aug. 13 presented a joint State of the District address for faculty and staff in the school auditorium.
They reviewed the district’s accomplishments from last year and discussed how new and continuing initiatives will continue the school’s focus on educational excellence, inclusion and opportunity for all students.
Under the umbrella of the Board of Trustees-supported Strategic Plan, which builds capacity and promotes shared leadership, they noted that whole system engagement defines the school’s how, it’s what and it’s why, while the indicators of success provide clear targets for continuous improvement.
Among the highlights from last year were the school being voted the best public school in San Benito County in the “Best Of” poll in the Hollister Free Lance, SBHS being named to the U.S. News Best High Schools list for 2019, the second consecutive honor roll school designation by the Educational Results Partnership, the full, six-year accreditation granted by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Unified Champion School designation granted by the Special Olympics.
Ramirez noted that SBHS welcomed representatives from a number of high schools throughout the state last year, as they were looking at the school’s best practices. He also said that “what we celebrate communicates to the community what we value.”
From the record $30,000 raised by ASB student leaders for a local family to the 56 club advisors, 51 ASB officers and 75 class officers, student engagement is a hallmark of the district.
He pointed out that 1,129 student-athletes participated on one or more of the 58 teams the athletics department offers, and 102 students earned $275,000 in local scholarships.
Tennenbaum said the daily attendance rate has increased nearly 2 percent in the past three years, coming in at just under 96 percent last year — more than 2 points ahead of the state rate.
Nearly 800 students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes last year, Ramirez said, and there was no disparity in the percentage of Latino students enrolled in these courses as compared to the general student population. SBHS AP students surpassed state and global test passage rates for the second consecutive year and the number of exams taken and passed also increased.
The first four-year cohort of AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) graded 76 students in June, 91 percent of whom took an AP class.
This year’s seniors are the first class to have four years of the a-g university pathway, and SBHS gas outperformed the statewide college-going rate in three of the past four years. The principal and superintendent also noted that the Career Technical Education pathways have been developed and solidified in recent years, with nearly 500 students enrolled in capstone classes.
On the inclusion front, the number of co-taught classes has more than tripled from seven to 25 in the past four years as the school moves to Year 4 of the co-teaching model, Year 3 of standards-based learning and the 0 to 4 grading practices model, Year 2 of the Homeroom/Academic Focus Time effort and full implementation of MTSS (multi-tiered systems of support) and PBIS (positive behavior intervention systems) for students.
Tennenbaum noted how the school’s facilities, maintenance and transportation teams have improved the school grounds, safety, lighting, signage, energy efficiency and upgraded the student transportation fleet. He celebrated how district partnerships with local agencies have led to the Nash Road closure for student safety, the opening of the River Bypass, and improved traffic safety around the campus.
The district has opened a multimedia studio on campus, is developing a campus greenhouse to promote a farm-to-table model, and is preparing for its third year of working with Gavilan College to offer classes on campus. Hartnell College of Salinas is launching a dual enrollment program at SBHS as well.
San Benito High School has embraced 21st Century technology, with the opening of the Science and Robotics Building on campus scheduled for the Spring semester. More than 1,600 Chromebooks were refreshed this year and there are more than 4,000 of the student computers deployed around campus. Tennenbaum also pointed out how the district is committed to communication and transparency, sharing messages through social media, a weekly newsletter, and the local media.
“Our future is bright,” Tennenbaum told faculty and staff. “We’re continuing to work on shared leadership” as the school works to become a California Distinguished School, an AVID National Demonstration School, a Green Ribbon School for energy efficiency and has applied for Golden Bell recognition for the Special Education and AVID programs.
“It’s a great day to be a Baler!” Tennenbaum said.