Friday, Aug. 10, 2012
Senior spirit is contagious at Pacheco
School is complete with all 4 grades as year begins
By Thaddeus Miller / firstname.lastname@example.org
Seniors at Pacheco High School made their first appearance this week at Panther Pounce and at least some were enjoying their senior moment.
"It's exciting," said senior Louis Lopez. "We're going to be the first to graduate and all the kids are going to look up to us."
Pacheco High held the first day of Panther Pounce, an orientation, Thursday. Across town, Los Banos High kicked off its own Tiger Prowl. The introductions continue today, and Los Banos Junior High's Tiger Prep is Tuesday and Wednesday.
Lopez, who was looking at class rings Thursday, said he wants to hit the books at a junior college before enlisting in the Marines. Pacheco High's senior class can choose a commemorative ring, made especially for the school's first graduates by Jostens.
Grace Taylor, assistant principal, said Pacheco High will have more than 1,500 students enrolled when classes begin Aug. 17. "We're actually near capacity," Taylor said.
Taylor called seniors a "specialized population," and the school filled a new position with Learning Director Rebecca Richardson to meet those needs and coordinate senior activities.
"She's going to ensure that every single student meets with the counselor and has a four-year plan," Taylor said, adding she'll work on getting students to college.
Los Banos High's Interim Principal Dan Sutton said splitting the seniors led Los Banos High staff to rearrange classes and personnel.
"The population shift between two schools, (we're) adjusting for that," Sutton said.
Enrollment is around 1,160 this year and growing, he said, but that's 200 fewer on campus than last year.
Sutton said T-dap vaccinations, which were required last year after new legislation, are not an issue this year. Extra staffing at 2011's Tiger Prowl took care of that, he said.
Los Banos High added three part-time teachers this year -- two math and one art; they will split time between both campuses. The campus also has a new counselor, who filled an empty spot.
Christina Fuentes, who worked as a counselor at California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock, is in charge of freshmen, sophomores and juniors with last names starting with L to Z.
That's a new division this year. Traditionally, a counselor would be assigned by grade level and follow those students as they moved up. All of the seniors will have the same counselor.
"Seniors have different needs," Fuentes said, adding 12th-graders need to know their post-college options.
"Having just one counselor that takes care of all the seniors is more streamlined," she said.
New to Pacheco High are counselors Mary Beth Schmidt and Grace Long, who split the four grades alphabetically. The school will also have about 20 new teachers.
Schmidt, a former employee of Gustine High, will also focus on leadership teams and scholarship funding for those teams.
A Los Banos High graduate, Long said her additional focus will be testing -- PSAT, CAHSEE and CELDT. Formerly a government employee, Long's made a career change.
Taylor said the counseling staff at Pacheco has planned more than nine new workshops throughout the coming year. The topics range from study habits and decision-making to bullying and eating disorders.
"We're trying to be proactive with our counseling," Taylor said.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at email@example.com.