Dear Benicia Community.
We are 38 days into the school year, and I hope you and your children are settling into another positive and productive school year. This is always my favorite time of year as the seasons change and we move to cooler days and nights. My family also loves this time of year, I believe, because I start cooking more as the weather necessitates, like my mother used to say, steaming pots of soup and comforting stews.
Managing Social Media: As I go through each day as your superintendent, my thoughts often center on the role of parenting and the challenges you now face in our society. One of the biggest challenges I believe is social media and that powerful little handheld computer known as the smartphone. I am including a link to Common Source Media as a reference tool to help with the management of social media in your home. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
Further, I was drawn to this opening paragraph from an article (link below), regarding the importance of balancing computer screen time with other, important activities: Cutting back on screen time, along with the right amount of sleep and physical activity, is linked to improvements in cognition among children, a study suggests.
Communication: One of our goals as a school district centers on effective communication with our families. The following link (link here) will take you to an infographic illustrating the tools the District utilizes to communicate with our families. If you have any feedback for us regarding our communication, please feel free to email us at info@Beniciaunified.org.
Measure S Update: We continue to make excellent progress with our bond projects and have also applied to the State regarding Proposition 51 funds. (Link to bond projects list here.) If awarded, these funds could help us leverage our current bond dollars. The total cost for all projects outlined in our facilities master plan is approximately 150 million dollars which unfortunately is not atypical for school districts who have facilities bonds. As a reminder, as we sometimes get questions on this, the solar project was not part of Measure S.
Budget at a Glance: This link will take you to a recently created infographic that provides a snapshot of the District’s budget and primary expenditure areas. A more detailed view of the District budget can be found on the website under the Business Services tab.
Our Amazing Schools: The list would be extensive if I were to include all of the exciting efforts taking place for students at our schools. I checked in with our principals, asking for items they thought would be nice to highlight. They include:
Elementary: Our elementary students are experiencing Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in their classrooms. We are using a resource called Mystery Science to supplement instruction. Students are involved in learning about science through hands-on investigations. In addition, many classrooms are using technology integration tools with their classroom teacher and our instructional coach, Mr. B! Students are involved in coding, making movies, and solving problems for break-out boxes.
Middle School: The bell schedule was adjusted to provide breakfast, brunch, and lunch for all students. This shift means students and staff have a brunch break after the first two periods of the day, providing an opportunity to enjoy one another’s company and release energy through play. To further support 6th-grade students transition to middle school, the lunch schedule was adjusted so 6th graders have their own lunchtime which proceeds the 7th and 8th-grade lunch. These shifts have been implemented to enhance the experience of both our students and staff.
Benicia High School: The amazing Speech and Debate class, taught by Ms. Gaines and now in its third year, is proving to be a resounding success and exciting class for students. In a recent competition, two teams competed and brought back trophies! A team of two eleventh grade students went undefeated and a team of two ninth-grade students won two of their three debates. The judges were impressed. “Benicia HS is sharp in finding holes in opponents’ speeches and good in raising follow-up questions,” one said. Wrote another: “They outlined their contentions in a linear fashion that was very easy to follow.”
Also, the Panther TV Crew at BHS, who produce a weekly school news/entertainment program, hosted Benicia Middle School students to teach them about the process of creating their show and to help the students get started on their own future production. The Panther TV Crew also recently visited BMS to serve as guest speakers at their class and are enjoying this new partnership.
Additionally, Nine classes from eight different teachers are working together on a Project Based Learning assignment to design, plan, and create a Haunted House experience at BHS. They have taken over three rooms on campus as they construct the space, complete with robotics elements, student-created posters, and more. The classes include a variety of math, visual arts, construction, and robotics.
Liberty High School: In our ongoing effort to prepare our students for college and the world of work, the staff has designed a robust and exciting internship program for students to start in January. Exciting!
It is an honor to serve as your superintendent.
Charles F. Young, Ed.D.