First Day of School | What’s New on Campus?

South Pasadena Unified School District launches new programs, activities for students and welcomes 16 new teachers to the city’s five public schools

FILE PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | South Pasadena High School

Even the youngest crop of students, explained South Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Geoff Yantz, will experience hands-on activities related to the arts, engineering, biomedical and computer science and business/finance, “exposing them to college pathways of the future,” he said.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | First day of school at SPHS

Times are a changin’ in the classroom as a digital world is today’s norm, and Yantz knows the future is bright for those just setting sail into the educational world, for those eyeing their senior year anticipating graduation, along with every student in between provided an exceptional opportunity to learn in a high-achieving school district.

New Programs Implemented

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“New opportunities for continuous learning within our district are plentiful,” Yantz wrote in a letter to parents in the district, welcoming their children back for the 2019-20 school year starting Thursday.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Superintendent Geoff Yantz

“At all levels, we consistently focus on improving ways for our students to become active participants in the global community,” he explained.

Yantz recognizes that technology is a major part of a person’s everyday life, noting: “We are helping students develop a conscientious approach through our digital citizenship program, experienced in different ways depending on the age of the student.”

Google explains digital citizenship as showing respect and responsibility for yourself, for others, and for property. It involves setting up a proper program of digital ethics and best practices for all. Such a program focuses on safe and respectful behavior in any online environment.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | News | First day of school at Marengo Elementary

Kindergarten through eighth grade science teachers, said Yantz, will explore and evaluate what known as New Generation Science materials as part of this year’s curriculum. A new eight-week elementary school dance program will also be introduced to first through 5th grade students this year.

Wikipedia describes Next Generation Science Standards as a multi-state effort in the United States to create new education standards that are “rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education.”

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | First day of school at SPHS

At South Pasadena High,” Yantz said the World of Difference Institute will be implemented “for teachers and students to build a deeper understanding of the value and benefits of diversity and intergroup relations.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) website, informs readers that “anti-bias education is a comprehensive approach to learning designed to actively challenge prejudice, stereotyping and all forms of discrimination. ADL’s A World of Difference Institute provides a structure for the development of the necessary knowledge and skills to support all school stakeholders in becoming leaders in system level efforts to create respectful, inclusive school culture and communities.”

PHOTO: Delilah Rabina | News | First day of school at Arroyo Vista Elementary

Earlier this year, South Pasadena High School opened its new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) building. Much more work and efforts to improve school conditions are on the way.

Bond Measure Efforts

Construction has begun on repurposing and renovating the old gymnasium at South Pasadena Middle School into a new black box theater, along with a new art and STEM lab. The project is set for completion at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | News | The old gymnasium at South Pasadena Middle School is being transformed into an arts building and black box theater. Construction will take about a year

Another major project, calling for updating the athletic facilities at South Pasadena High School is in the pipeline. Yantz said the project will create a “higher quality and safer environment for student-athletes and a more welcoming and enjoyable space for parents and the community.”

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | News | First day of school at Monterey Hills Elementary

The two projects are being funded through a $98 million bond measure passed by local voters.

In addition, a new engineer lab is opening at the high school in the STEM building along with a couple of new engineering courses.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | News | First day of school at SPMS

Sixteen new teachers come to the district this fall, joining many who have taught locally for many years.

Maintenance, custodial, and office staffs, noted Yantz, have been working throughout the summer months to prepare the schools for Thursday’s opening while teachers have been developing lesson plans for the year ahead.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | First day of school at SPHS

“I’m always impressed by how hard our staff and faculty work in the summer,” Yantz wrote in his letter. “Teachers participate in summer training, staff works on projects such as updating technology, cleaning and maintaining the campuses, logistics, and communications; administrators forge ahead with meetings, short-and long-term planning and preparation for strategic decisions to be implemented during the school year. We are all better because of the hard work completed by our amazing SPUSD employees.”

PHOTO: Delilah Rabina | News | First day of school at Arroyo Vista Elementary

Kicking off the new school year, Yantz encourages parents and community members to continue to support the South Pasadena Educational Foundation – the district’s fundraising arm – to join the PTA’s at local schools and show strong support of the booster clubs at both the local high school and middle school.

PHOTO: Bill Glazier | News | First day of school at SPMS

“This support allows our district to continue to be a destination for families, both now and for future generations,” he said.

Yantz stressed that the start of a new school year is always an exciting time for everybody. “We look forward to opening our doors to returning students from last year as well as new students in the community,” he said.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | First day of school at SPHS