August 15, 2012
Dear St. Helena High School Families,
It is my great privilege to address the St. Helena High School family. As we head into a new school year, I have been reflecting upon the many accomplishments of ourstaff and students, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic learning community. This year it is our intention to continue to improve student achievement and celebrate the effort and hard work of everyone involved in the mission to make St. Helena High School the best school in California. We have new state of the art career and technical educationfacilities that include a school barn, an agricultural laboratory, an agricultural workshop/biodiesel facility, horticultural classroom, and a culinary arts building. These new facilities will provide opportunities for our students to be college and career ready and meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Given its positive reception, we are continuing with our two day block schedule and refining our Freshmen Transition Program. We look forward to working with your children and are committed to providing them with an educational experience that gives them tools to be successful learners, equipped with the essential cognitive and functional skills that will prepare them for postsecondary education or the workforce. Students will be expected to think critically, analyze various forms of information, write extensively, understand international perspectives and global issues, experience a diverse curriculum, be exposed to the vocational arts, and learn a second language.
We welcome and encourage parental and community involvement in the high school, via participation at our numerous events and within our parent organizations. I request your support for our Parent Group, Saints Athletic Association (SAA), Ag Boosters, Performing Arts Boosters, English Language Advisory Committee (ELAC), and School Site Council (SSC.). With your collaboration, St. Helena High School and its students will continue to thrive and excel.
I would like to highlight certain aspects of St. Helena High School that we believe are of particular benefit to our students.
* St. Helena High School offers a wide selection of academic and vocational educational classes including Advanced Placement courses, college preparatory courses, and career and technical education courses. There is a strong commitment for our students to become bilingual and biliterate, and students may earn the Seal of Biliteracy if they meet the necessary requirements upon graduation. Students have an opportunity to select seven courses per year in diverse subject areas from traditional curricula to philosophy, to agricultural and personal finance courses.
* We have two full-time academic counselors who work individually with each student on course selection, college admissions, or admission to other secondary programs. One of the advantages of being a small school is that our staff knows each student. Our two counselors are able to provide exceptional personal counseling to effectively guide each student in the best direction for that student because they know him/her and work with him/her on a one-to-one basis. Our counselors also recommend students for education abroad experiences, summer programs, scholarships, and financial aid opportunities. The counselors hold Parent Information Nights and FAFSA (Financial Aid Application) workshops in the evenings to help families with completing Financial Aid forms. In addition, our counselors coordinate SAT and ACT preparation sessions, and analyze student results and data related to these practice exams, as well as the PSAT and the actual SAT and ACT exams. Our counselors also act as liaisons between students and the community, connecting students with businesses and individuals for Community Service opportunities.
* We have an incredible Student Assistance Program (SAP) with support services to meet students’ needs and provide them with a place to discuss problems, concerns, and issues that may be hindering their academic and social progress. Our Student Assistance Program provides mentoring, grief counseling, drug and alcohol prevention, gang prevention, and opportunities for developing positive relationship with peers, families, and the community.
* The school library media specialist and the teachers collaborate on lesson plans, curriculum, research instruction, and technology development to make certain our students acquire 21st century learning skills sets in preparation for college and life. Our teachers and the library media specialist also work together on collection development of print and online resources. The high school and public librarians work closely together to provide students with access to online and print resources, to coordinate summer reading selections, and to assist students with research projects.
* Student clubs are active and thriving at SHHS. There is a rich extracurricular focus at our site, ranging from sports and music to a fabulous Drama Advocacy Group.
* Our Leadership class organizes and coordinates our school activities and events, beginning with Homecoming Week in October, and including dances, rallies, food drives, and other community events. The Associated Student Body and its officers also play an active role in working with site administrators to improve school climate and culture.
* Our thriving AVID program, geared toward those who are the first members of their families to attend college, is a tremendous success. Our AVID instructors guide students through the college application process, scholarship application process, and the financial aid application process.
* We have a continuous cycle of well-attended visits from college representatives from across the country. Representatives discuss qualities of their colleges and students have ample opportunity to ask questions in a relaxed and positive atmosphere.
* Everyone at St. Helena High School is proud of the extraordinary academic achievement enjoyed here, and we all recognize the combination of high quality teaching staff with a hard working student population. We look forward to enjoying a great school year!
Julie Synyard, Ed.D.