The new school year starts today but Ceres and Central Valley high school students were on their campus last week picking up textbooks, schedules, buying student body card and PE clothing and posing for school pictures.
It was all part of the annual ritual - the school's registration and orientation session.
Many of the students attending both events were unsure how to feel about the start of the new school year but hopeful. Central Valley High School senior Myles Brown said the end of summer "was kind of a drag because I'm not a big fan of school." He said he's hoping for a good year of making friends and memories as he sets his sights on entering the Air Force or becoming a doctor.
"Summer went by really fast," noted Abel Verduzco, a Ceres High School senior. "I'm looking forward to the new year. I want to be successful so I can go to college."
"Prom was really fun the last two years," said senior Maya Narvaez. "It's going to be extra fun this year because it's senior year. Everything is so special because it's the last time."
Principal Amy Peterman said there are no drastic changes for CVHS for the 2013-14 school year but there has been an addition of eight new teachers as well as the reassignment of Alfonso Navarro as a new assistant principal. He replaces Edith Rodriguez who went to become assistant principal at Walter White Elementary School.
Changes are also being made to the area of counseling for the approximately 1,700 students.
"We have a great new counseling team," said Peterman. "The way that we are dividing up the student caseloads, we're going grade level specific for our learning director teams so instead of having three learning directors we now have five which means the student to counselor ratio has gone way down."
Those five counselors are set up as two teams. The ninth and tenth grade team helps students transition into high school while the 11th and 12th grade team helps them stay on target to meet graduation requirements and prepare for college.
The new learning directors are:
• Paula Loeffler, who is new to the campus from Blaker Kinser Junior High School;
• Michelle Parrish, who was the CVHS athletic director;
• Angie Mariscal, who was an administrative assistant.
Central Valley's athletic program is being overseen by new athletic director Greg Magni, who was previously the Hawks' varsity baseball coach.
Peterman said the school has the goal to get onboard with new federal curriculum standards.
"We are knee-deep in the transition to the common core state standards," said Peterman. "That means there are now new curriculum standards that we will be able to use to assess how our students in California are doing compared to students around the country. And it's much more based on having literate, critical-thinking young adults who are really ready to problem solve and deal with the complexities of our world."
Each state must decide if they wish to adopt those standards, but most already have, she said.
"It's a huge transition. Dr. (Scott) Siegel has stated that it's one of the biggest transitions we will ever see in our lifetime when it comes to the education world ... It's kind of requiring the blending of all of the disciplines instead of having English be responsible for English. It's developing connections between all of those things so students can figure things out and really think for themselves. It's a huge thing but it's a good thing."
Central Valley opened nine years ago.
Enrollment at Ceres High School has increased by about 120 students from last year.
"It's going to be a great year," noted Ceres High School Principal Linda Stubbs. "We'll be doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure we give the students what they need inside the classroom."
Stubbs said she has challenged her staff to work together toward a common goal: "We want our students to feel connected to the school. Our teachers are good at doing that. We definitely have a family-friendly feeling here. Over half of our kids are involved in extra-curricular activities, athletics and clubs."
Changes at CHS include the addition of a full pathway for Vet Science and the implementation of Ag Biology "which we haven't had in 10 years."