Showing Options and Building Confidence
By Michele Townsend
A community meeting was held and hosted by Washington Unified School District for the families of Holy Cross Academy to introduce them to our school district. Many of the students that attend HCA are the second or third generation in their families that have attended that school. WUSD wanted to reassure the families that if their children transfer to Washington Unified, at HCA’s closing this spring, their children will not be forfeiting the quality of their education. “Our school district is nothing like it was 15 years ago,” said Superintendent Linda Luna.
Many years ago our school district was very poor. The buildings needed updating, not a single one of our schools tested at grade proficient, and our curriculum in all grades needed a complete updated overhaul. WUSD, every level of the entire staff, and all of the students and families have completely changed that.
Superintendent Luna explained the structure of our district, followed by an introduction of the Board of Education members in attendance, assistant superintendents, other administrators and principals from several elementary schools. She explained their positions, and the duties they perform. In addition she explained how we have evolved to our current district structure. As our district has grown and changed, there has been a need of altering existing positions and developing new ones. The teachers have all learned the new curriculum first, so that they can effectively teach it. New schools have been built, old schools have been renovated, and technology has been brought current. We now have award winning schools and students. We have students being recruited and being awarded scholarships from major universities nationwide, and we have a 95 percent graduation rate! We are definately NOT the district we used to be.
In preperation of school enrollment, many parents look at our schools state test scores and become concerned. However, if you look at a school’s state test scores, it does not project an accurate picture of their eduaction quality. Here’s why… Testing is done at a certain time, and ALL students must be tested. There are many sub groups that the children are grouped in to, however they do not include, and do not make adjustments for things like how long the student has been in the country, what kind of education were they getting prior to coming here, what language do they speak, is the test given in their language and in a structure that they understand, etc? As you can imagine, the accuracy of those numbers representing our quality of education quickly becomes faulty. So WUSD would like those interested in enrolling in our district to look what we have to offer, and the outstanding things that are occuring with our students and schools. Washington Unified has amazing programs and technology at every level for almost every demographic of student. Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Services, Amber Lee said “We try to know every student by name and by need, and if there is a need that we cannot help you with, we do our very best to rectify that!” The beauty of the programs that WUSD has addopted, is that they arent just “a class”, they are life changing, career building programs that are set up to transition from primary to secondary to college to career.
River City High School is now an amazing place. If you have never taken a tour of it, you really should! (They offer them every year shortly before the new school year begins – however you can arrange it if you need to at any time) The departments and special programs range from robotics, to forensics, to engineering, to culinary, to farming to the fine arts and so many more. We have career and community building opportunities and more students attending college than ever in the history of school in West Sacramento.
One mother of an HCA student expressed her concern of bullying. Amber Lee in combination with Westfield Elementary Principal Roxanna Villasenor explained that in addition to the no tollerance rule, they go beyond that by teaching and incorporating anti-bullying techniques on a daily basis.
They bring in the Reach One Alliance, with Kevin Bracy throughout the year. (He is amazing!) Principal Villasenor also told about a monthly get together for coffee between parents and principal that is informal and casual where they discuss any topic, creating a family type of community within the school.. Another father/grandfather of HCA students asked about prayer, and religeon practices at school.
Much to most people’s surprise there is a Bible club at River City, as well as a group of Muslim students that pray together. One thing that was consistant throughout every administrator, principal, board member or teacher who attended the meeting was that there is an open door policy throughout the district. All families are encouraged to call, come in or log onto the district website with any questions, concerns, or needs!