Principal's Welcome Letter

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"The only thing that is constant is change"              -Heraclitus 

No where is that sentiment more true than at a newly forming school. As all our returning students can attest, constant change is our one true constant. They also recognize the reality that some change is to be celebrated, some to endure, and that all create growth. I appreciate the way BHS students embrace change and the learning and growth that comes with it. 

A few back to school thoughts:

  • The class of 2021 has joined us with a bang!  120 students--more than double the senior class--have joined our school family.  In spite of several technical challenges with their schedules, this group of students has entered high school with focus, smiles, and a desire to prepare for the future.  Many 9th graders I spoke with over the last few days are eager to explore career options already. We are so pleased with their contributions and welcome them to BHS!! 
  • The class of 2018 has officially stepped into adulthood with the majority of the students focusing on work and college.  Their leadership is palpable: strong, and collaborative.  This class will forever be defined by their willingness to jump into a new school and build it from the ground up. They are literal builders of the future and continue to inspire me with their kindness and support of BHS. I see growth and maturity across all of our returning students in grades 10-12 and look forward to seeing the work they will produce this year.
  • Our new C day on Thursdays has already gained momentum with staff and students.  Please read more about C day here.  We will also be reviewing C day at our Back to School Night next Wednesday, August 23rd if you would like to hear more about it.

On a more personal note, it is such an honor for me to have the opportunity to work with your students.  Normally on the first week of school, I spend time in classrooms, observing and getting to know the students as a group.  This week, however, I spent time with students 1:1, asking about their interest in the future as we discussed possible options for scheduled classes.  I was heartened by student enthusiasm, patience, and general eagerness to make the right decision in their best interest.  It reinforced for me the joy of working with young people and I invite you to spend time in our school as your schedule permits to experience the wonderful community of students and teachers at the high school.

I also was reminded that while elective classes can enrich a student's learning experience, at Bonsall High School, we think that every class should provide access to career development, hands-on learning and real-world application.  We think that every class should care about student passion and interest.  We think that every teacher has an obligation to engage students with the outside world and reveal the possibilities of post-secondary training and education. 

We appreciate your support and partnership and look forward to a year of learning together as we prepare our first graduating class to enter the world distinguished in their preparedness for college, work, and onto jobs that haven't even been invented yet.

PSAT Testing

Today Bonsall High School students took the Khan Academy practice PSAT. Because of the length and number of sections in the PSAT, the test took the entire day.  While we know this test is long, we provide the practice twice a year because we strongly believe that every student should have the choice to go straight to college until some may develop alternative plans.

The majority of high schools leave it up to students to find the time and resources to practice and take college entrance exams independently of their regular school experience.  This approach severely limits opportunities and can inadvertently prevent possible career pathways. Some families might not be familiar with the testing system, cannot afford the test, or, perhaps like my own family, in spite of knowing what needs to be done, have busy schedules and can accidentally miss flyers or deadlines.  We hope that by providing the PSAT to your student at no additional cost to you and embedded within the school day, it reassures you that BHS is attending to college readiness and your student's future.  

For students who do not choose to go directly to a 4-year college right after high school, standardized tests will still matter to them. Instead of the SAT students might take one of 40 ASE certifications in the automobile industry or PHCC assessments for plumbing among thousands of other professional exams.  These tests are not required for all fields but there are few industries today in which assessment doesn't drive pay increases and promotional opportunities.

It was exciting to see students celebrate their own personal growth and watch our juniors become laser focused on improving their chances at college success. I am so grateful to work in a district that allows us to make this resource available to all students and watch our students' advantages in the college applicant pool grow as a direct result.

GPA Focus

We consider providing so many opportunities for SAT practice prior to the actual test in spring of 11th grade fairly rigorous test preparation.  When students ask how to improve their scores, we recommend focusing on academic preparation by getting good grades in 9th and 10th grade. Focusing on scores may detract from much more important factors like academic excellence, community service, and extra-curricular participation. 

What Matters Most to Colleges?

Probably not the SAT.  Research increasingly indicates that the most important factor for success in college is high school GPA. Students who work hard, turn in assignments, and overcome even potential deficiencies in test-taking tend to be successful in college. While colleges use entrance exam scores as a guide to help offset imbalances in high school variations, universities recognize that the score is only part of a complex whole person and there is increasing demand to change the admissions process in general from within admissions departments just as much as external pressures.  

Understanding Your Scores

The redesigned SAT is out of a possible 1600. The College Board designates 1000 as a score indicating "readiness" for college, a number that we expect to start to see by 10th grade. Scores above 1200 are in the top 25% of all students nationally and generally considered competitive.  For 11th graders who score below 1000 we recommend test preparation through Khan Academy and the College Board Daily Practice app after our fall administration. 

Customized Practice Resources

Technology has vastly changed practice tools for students. Students can login through Khan Academy and track progress on both official and unofficial practice tests. Additionally, as they record their scores and connect their account to their College Board results, they will be guided to practice specifically in areas they missed on the test. If you need help in finding these tools for your students, please contact the BHS office for assistance.

Information for 11th graders

NMSQT

BHS provides PSAT practice in the fall on Khan and then the formal test on paper through College Board in the spring.  However, for students who score well above average range (1200+), we recommend an additional test formally through College Board in order to help them qualify through NMSQT.  See here for further information on the NMSQT.  BHS will provide tests for the 15 top scoring juniors from the Khan practice for an October administration. If you would like to make sure your child has a chance to take the exam but you aren't sure if they are in the top scoring group, please notify the front office.  

SAT Subject Tests

For students who already have interest in a specific field, taking an SAT subject test can help highlight skill in that field.  While BHS does not provide practice or assist specifically in registering for this test, students can practice and register through the College Board website.

Principal's Welcome Letter

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BHS families,

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year complete with our first year of juniors and a new building! 

We are excited to give our students the kind of environment they really deserve, a place that shows them physically what a professional learning environment looks like.  The most common response from parents as they have walked through the halls?  "I want to go to Bonsall High School."  

As a new school, we face the typical questions about whether or not as a small and new school we can provide the kind of socialization and activities of a larger, more veteran school. I believe these questions come from a place of concern and care about our children: can our students become thriving, successful adults if they experience a non-typical high school?  Even movies we watch remind us that high school is supposed to be a certain way: Rallies, football games, and being a part of a large crowd all feel like cornerstones of the high school experience. 

As a principal I care deeply about the future of our students and the social aspect of learning.  But as an educator passionate about small school environments, I think about those movies too.  Movies that depict the anonymity and disengagement of students in large high school environments inspire me to personalize the learning, to ensure that every last student gets a chance to pursue their own passions and interest to actually enjoy the classroom.  A few years ago, I remember reading an article entitled Anybody? Anybody? What Ferris Bueller Got Right.  The article highlighted something that Superintendent Justin Cunningham recently shared with the BUSD staff coming back to school: Student engagement and interest in school sharply declines as students get older.

For me, engagement is about more than attending activities.  It is about having the opportunity to participate meaningfully in creating a path for your own future.  Here are a few numbers at Bonsall High School:

-Last year We had over 30 business partners come from the community to work with students in hands-on projects.  This means that every student had multiple opportunities to work with someone from the community who is an expert in their field.  This number will only grow--which reduces the amount of time a teacher might be lecturing with outdated information and increases the amount of time that current, real-world expertise is in the classroom.

-BHS students spent over 1000 hours providing community service last year.  For a small army, this is a mighty contribution.  Students spent time at the Fallbrook Food Pantry, working with our local Education Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, and numerous other community organizations. Most young people are unaware of careers in community service and exposure can help with motivation and more altruistic opportunities for students drawn to that kind of work.

-BHS students were in a video spot for a new technology created by HP.  Students had over 40 hours access to developers who asked their input, videographers and interviewers who showed them high quality production tools and techniques, and international experts learning together with our students how to implement bleeding edge technology.

-BHS students trained a group of educators from across the United States and provided a simulation experience to help adults learn about the work of Ecolife, a non-profit helping with indoor air quality in Uganda.  The students' workshop was featured in Education Week, the premier educational news source in the United States.

BHS offers dances, we participate in CIF sports, and we will continue to grow our student activities to provide a healthy balance of fun for young people.  But our hope is that our students come to school for learning and enjoy socialization on the side--instead of coming to school only for the student activities.  My hope for this year is the same hope as Executive Director from Gallup Brandon Busteed quoted in the article mentioned above:

If we were doing right by our students and our future, these numbers would be the absolute opposite. For each year a student progresses in school, they should be more engaged, not less. ... The drop in student engagement for each year students are in school is our monumental, collective national failure. Imagine what our economy would look like today if nearly eight in 10 of our high school graduates were engaged -- just as they were in elementary school.

 

Bonsall High School is about redefining engagement, not just for all students, but for each student. My commitment to you for the 2016-2017 school year is that your student will gain more confidence in their pathway towards the future, that the opportunity to access meaningful and challenging work will be rich, and that your student will be distinguished in their preparation for college and career because of our core belief that engagement truly matters.

Have a great first day and I look forward to getting to know our new students as quickly as possible.

Lee Fleming

Principal