Summer orientation programs translate
into school-year success at Clayton Valley

By Jay Bedecarre on August 25, 2014

CVCHS School starts_9364_for websiteSeniors Brody Rogers (standing left) and Sara Wood meet with a group of freshmen during the second week of school at Clayton Valley Charter. Rogers is a commissioner in the Link Crew Leadership class and as such “captains” between 60 and 70 freshmen during the school year. The Link Crew maintains connections all year with first-year students on the Concord campus.

The first thing the administration of new executive director Dave Linzey did when Clayton Valley Charter High School became a reality in the spring of 2012 was set up a summer school program for its students who had failed classes or needed credits to catch up with their graduation track.
It worked, as the senior class at CVCHS this past school year had a 95 percent graduation rate compared to 83 percent two years earlier.
Right after that summer school got underway they put together a week-long orientation program, Summer Transition, for all incoming CVCHS students from ninth through 12th grades. The school places such a high value on this program— now in its third year—that it is a graduation requirement, says director of administrative services Neil McChesney.
Faculty member Kat Marzel’s Link Crew Leadership students play a key role in the Summer Transition program and then as mentors for freshmen during their first year on the Alberta Way campus.
The Link Crew comprises sophomores, juniors and seniors. Commissioners such as senior Brody Rogers ‘captain’ teams of 60-70 freshmen while others on the crew handle smaller teams of 10-12 frosh.
This year’s program ran the mornings of Aug. 4-8 with the 480 freshman class joined by transfer students in the three upper grades. McChesney estimates that 90 percent of the Transition students were ninth graders. “I can’t begin to explain how beneficial this is in setting a positive tone, establishing their CVCHS experience and getting the school year off to a smooth beginning for these new students,” he says.
“Transition students spend Monday in a walk-through to handle all their administrative duties such as getting their picture taken, class schedule, locker assignment and text books and completing paperwork,” McChesney said. The next four days include personalized tours to show students their classrooms, the library, gymnasium and locker rooms, lunch room, office and other school facilities they will be using during the year.
There’s a fashion show to visually explain the school dress code and a thorough review of the student handbook so newcomers understand school policies and procedures. All of the administrative and office staff are on hand and introduced as well.
“There are team building, games, group activities and socialization exercises, many conducted by the Link Crew,” McChesney says. The school alumnus has been an administrator for two years after a decade on the faculty.
New teachers trained too
Not to be outdone by student needs, CVCHS has a separate orientation for new faculty members. This year 11 teachers joined the faculty and about a third are first-year teachers. Their intensive two-day orientation covered myriad topics, from meeting all the administrators and office staff to a full review of the school’s philosophy, policies, procedures, protocols and programs.
“We go over all the nuts and bolts so that our new faculty members have the tools they need from the first day of school,” McChesney says. Topics from grading to using the school website to disaster preparedness are covered. A number of school managers and administrators lead sessions.
One of the pivotal educational tools CVCHS introduced in its inaugural charter year is Achieve3000. The online program has more than 20,000 Associated Press articles on a wide range of subject matter that can be accessed by CVCHS faculty for their students, filtered to the individual’s reading level which is set and adjusted each school year.
The school has seen a marked increase in the use of Achieve3000 across the curriculum from year one to this current school year.
Stadium construction still ongoing
In other school news, facilities manager Alison Bacigalupo reports that Measure C-funded renovations to Gonsalves Stadium have a completion target date of Sept. 19, in time for the second home football game. It was originally hoped to be completed by the first home game Sept. 5.
Additional bleachers, a large entrance walkway and snack shack, ticket office, bathrooms and storage area are all under construction. When the new projects are complete the current snack shack will be converted to a sports medicine facility.
The Eagles host Tracy on Sept. 5 with accommodations made for areas and facilities not completed by then.
Also set to be finished in next few weeks are the conversion of the wood shop to a fitness studio and a new outdoor weight training area.

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