As we approach the end of the year and make plans to gather with family and friends, I want to reflect on the past five months with my new community. I am thankful for how warm and welcoming you have made me feel on every visit, meeting, and gathering. I enjoyed each one of my school visits and plan to continue to tour each campus until I have toured all 54. The passion and dedication that I have seen from this community has been overwhelming, and I am proud to be a part of it.
I love the diversity of our community and the way we have embraced one another in difficult times, especially following the presidential election. I want to reiterate that we support ALL members of our community and their families. I want to ensure that you, your children, and your family are safe at our schools. Heading into 2017, we will now more than ever honor and defend our district and community’s diversity. It is our diversity that makes us who we are. We must continue to unite around one another and embrace our differences.
The more people I meet and see our district’s diversity, the more my excitement grows for the future and what lies ahead in 2017 and beyond. There are numerous things to be excited about and celebrate.
Academically, our graduation rate (84.7 percent) is the highest it has been in at least five years. And, more of our students are graduating prepared for college and beyond. Our students have made strides in all aspects of school life. On the athletic field, Kennedy High School had its best football season in close to 30 years with the Eagles reaching the North Coast Section Division IV semifinals and finishing the season 10-2. Hercules’ senior Ryan Cutter had the highest finish of any district cross country runner in at least 12 years, coming in 4th at the state cross country championships.
The students in our award winning Visual and Performing Arts are gearing up for the winter concert season and a number of our high schools have debuted theatrical plays from “The Diary of Anne Frank” to “Arabian Nights”. These are just a few things to celebrate, and I encourage you to check out the wonderful talents of our students.
While we are celebrating, I also recognize that there is still much work for us to do. We must find ways to ensure that more of our students, especially our historically underserved students, are prepared for college and beyond. It is critical that we continue and build on the ways in which we support our families, teachers, principals, school staff, and more importantly our students. This work will require collaboration from all of us.
You have rallied around us and supported our students. Thanks to you, Measure T passed with more than 75 percent of vote. Measure T will help maintain lower class sizes, keep our students safe, and ensure that more of our children are prepared for college and life. So, thank you for the support.
The holiday break and end of the calendar year is less than three weeks away. So let’s lean in and close the year with positive energy. It has been a great five months for me, and I am excited for the new year and what it holds for our community. Enjoy the holiday season and continue to embrace each other and our wonderful community.
With much gratitude,