Courtesy of San Benito High School District Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum:
With the 2018-19 school year just completed at San Benito High School, it’s a good time to reflect on the many people and programs that make our school and district Baler STRONG. All of our success is rooted in a support system for our students that includes faculty, staff, the administration, the Board of Trustees, parents and guardians, and our community.
There cannot be sustained success without regular attendance, and our students certainly showed up this year, with an average daily attendance rate of just more than 96 percent, which was a three-year high.
SBHS was recognized for excellence in various ways this year, from being named for the second straight year to the Educational Results Partnership Honor Roll for high achievement in student success to recognition on the U.S. News Best High Schools list. The school was awarded a full, six-year accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and it is recognized by the Special Olympics as a Unified Champion School. We also want to thank our community for voting us as the Best Public High School in San Benito County in the recent “Best Of” poll sponsored by the Hollister Free Lance.
This year 650 Baler seniors earned diplomas, 103 of whom earned more than a combined $275,000 in scholarships. As noted in the school’s mission statement, which pledges to educate all students to their highest potential so they will have the greatest range of personal options upon graduation, members of the Class of 2019 are setting off on various paths, from the military to trade and technical schools to junior colleges and four-year universities or straight to the workforce. Our co-valedictorians are headed to MIT and UCLA, respectively, and our salutatorian will be attending Stanford.
The senior class featured 197 Golden State Seal Merit Diploma qualifiers, a three-year high. These students demonstrated mastery of the high school curriculum in at least six subject areas, including English language arts, mathematics, science and U.S. history. Ninety-one seniors earned the State Seal of Biliteracy for being proficient in one more more languages in addition to English and passing the Smarter Balanced Assessments in English language arts at the proficient level or above.
The October 2018 release of Advanced Placement data showed that SBHS students outperformed both the state and global passing rate averages for the second consecutive year in AP courses including English Literature, European History, U.S. History, Psychology, Spanish Literature, Studio Art and French. More than a quarter of the approximately 3,000-student population was enrolled in at least one AP course in the 2018-19 school year, continuing a five-year trend in which enrollment in the 19 courses offered on campus has increased by 351 students. The number of AP exams taken has increased by nearly 500 over the past half-decade and seven of SBHS’s AP courses now have an enrollment of 100 or more students.
What’s more, there is no disproportionality in the percentage of white and Hispanic students enrolled in AP courses compared to the overall school enrollment.
The number of SBHS taking four AP tests has doubled and the number taking five tests has tripled in recent years, according to data released by the school.
San Benito High School’s student-athletes — representing a quarter of the student body — performed well inside and out of the classroom, earning at or near a 3.0 grade point average in the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons. More than 500 varsity student-athletes were named to an all-academic team this year.
Thanks to the support of bond measures from voters in our community, campus construction and refurbishment continues this summer, with the stadium/aquatics center/softball field project nearing completion ahead of the Aug. 24 grand opening and alumni event at Andy Hardin Stadium.
This past year, we were proud to open the 177,000-square-foot multi-use field, made possible through Measure U funding. The facility provides a safe surface that multiple sports and physical education classes can use throughout the year. The field also served as the site of this year’s graduation ceremony, which was attended by thousands.
Work continues on the state-of-the-art Science and Robotics Building, which will feature 12 next-gen classrooms and a robotics facility. The building is scheduled to open by the second semester of this upcoming school year.
Studio 205, the new on-campus game design and video production studio that will be used by students and staff to create videos, broadcasts, games and more, debuted in the Spring, and the old campus pools were demolished and filled in to make way for a student pathway that will provide safe, convenient access across campus for students, faculty and staff each day.
We are proud that half of the tens of thousands of hours put in on campus projects have been by members of the local-area workforce, having coming from either San Benito, Monterey or Santa Cruz county.
In addition to the new construction, our maintenance and custodial staffs have worked diligently each day to make the campus shine. Drought-tolerant landscaping, fresh paint, new trees and improved lighting and signage are just a few of the ongoing improvements on campus.
Fiscal Responsibility and Financial Oversight
As the school continues its multi-year expansion and improvement of facilities, we have stewarded the resources available to us to maintain fiscal solvency and stretch every dollar through planning and efficiency measures. In addition to continued balanced budgets, we have worked to save taxpayers millions of dollars through construction and planning efficiencies.
The debt service on Measure G is $27.3 million less than what was proposed and Measure U is just under $17 million less. We have realized more than $7 million in savings on construction work through the bundling of projects and our energy-efficiency efforts on campus have saved more than $172,000 in utility costs — ahead of an expected $13 million in long-term budget savings due to new LED lighting systems, building automation systems for heating/cooling, added air conditioning for the Library and Administration Building, and Solar PV covered parking systems.
Collaboration and Safety
Collaboration with local government and law enforcement agencies was a key tenet of this year at SBHS, where we worked with the City of Hollister, the County of San Benito, the Hollister Police Department and the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office to ensure the safety of our campus and surrounding neighborhoods.
This year, the city put in reverse-angle parking in front of the main administrative building on Monterey Street, added speed tables on streets near campus and we advocated for the installation of a four-way stop sign at the intersection of West and B streets. Working with the city and county, we were able to close Nash Road where it intersects campus to through traffic between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily, allowing for the safe passage of students from one side of campus to the other.
We were also proud to work with the city, county and the Sunnyslope County Water District on the opening of the River Parkway west and south of campus, providing a way for vehicular traffic to bypass campus.
Career Pathways, New Courses
We were excited to roll out 17 college and career pathways, with the “a-g” default option for students to complete the minimum requirements for applying to a U.C. or CSU called the “University Pathway” and the “Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathway” being an opt-in option that puts students on a predetermined pathway that prepares them to be industry-ready so they can continue their post-secondary education at a community college, trade school or apprenticeship.
The Board of Trustees this year approved new courses that will begin in the upcoming school year, including yoga (as a P.E. course), drama improvisation, a game simulation course, environmental studies and Spanish 1 for heritage language speakers.
The grading practices pilot was expanded to 10th grade this year and will expand to 11th grade in the coming year, continuing the effort that offers students multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery, with grades reflecting competency and performance rather than compliance (just turning work in).
Our AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program graduated its first four-year cohort of 76 seniors this Spring. Four AVID teachers worked with 395 students in all four grades this year, providing academic instruction and other support to prepare students for college eligibility.
The co-teaching model that supports inclusionary practices continued its success and growth this year, and in the coming year will expand across all four grades.
San Benito High School offers numerous clubs, organizations and extracurricular activities that provided students with opportunities for fellowship and leadership. We are proud that our ASB’s annual Benefit Drive raised a record $30,000.04 for alumnus Eddie Matthews, who was injured in an ATV accident, putting a strain on his young family.
Hollister FFA also set a fundraising record with $68,000 brought in during its annual Ag Mechanics Dinner and live auction, in which students selling projects they created.
More than 1,800 meals were served to students each day on campus, and our new backpack snack program debuted, offering enough shelf-stable food for two breakfasts and two lunches for students to supplement their diet throughout the weekend. This coming year, SBHS plans to offer free meals to all students at the end of each day.
The Year Ahead
Our drive and goal at San Benito High School is for continuous improvement in all phases — academics, athletics, student life, community service and financial stewardship. We hope you have an enjoyable summer and we look forward to seeing the community at our Aug. 24 athletics facility grand opening and alumni event. We also look forward to welcoming students back to campus in early August. Thanks again to our community for its ongoing support. It’s a great day to be a Baler!
San Benito High School District Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum