DUSD board gives voice to student experience

During the workshop, students gave feedback on things like school safety, college and career preparedness, school culture and more.(Serena Bettis)

Students meet with Dinuba Unified School District’s governing board to provide feedback on school environment

DINUBA – Class was in session for the Dinuba Unified School District (DUSD) Board of Trustees as they took notes from students on how the district can better support them in their academic and extracurricular pursuits.

In the Dinuba High School library, 10 high school students from across the district spoke to the board during its annual student voice workshop on March 21. Students provided feedback on school safety, college and career preparedness, school culture and more, and had consistently positive things to say about DUSD.

“Over the years, the board members tell me ‘this is our favorite workshop,’ and it’s because it’s about students, and what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling,” DUSD Superintendent Joe Hernandez said. “We want to know about your experience here at Dinuba High School so we can learn from what you say and make it better.”

Students from Dinuba High School, Ronald Reagan Academy and Sierra Vista High School participated in small group discussions with board members and answered a series of questions about their experiences, depending on their grade level.

From seniors specifically, the board wanted to hear about how prepared they feel for their post-graduation plans, what those plans are and what led to them making that decision.

For freshmen and sophomore students, the board wanted to know about the transition into high school and to see how knowledgeable the students were about the A-G requirements for California universities.

One district employee involved in the discussions reported that the first-year students present were very informed about the A-G requirements, which district staff were excited to hear given the work they have done to increase awareness of four-year university admissions requirements.

Regarding college preparation, Area 5 Trustee Miriam Cendejas said that the students she spoke with wished that DUSD counselors put more emphasis on the option of attending a four-year university after high school, especially for students who receive high grades.

Cendejas said those students want to have counselors teach them more about grants, scholarships, loans and financial aid options for anyone who may want to – or who has the ability – to go straight to a four-year university instead of taking the two-year community college route.

Students had minimal complaints about their experiences with DUSD, but some did mention that the restrooms could be cleaner and they are concerned about their peers who use the restrooms to vape. Additionally, students said that there are a few teachers who could be more involved, and students mentioned that it’s important for teachers to “bother to learn” their names.

Overall, the students who participated said they felt very comfortable at their school and had positive learning experiences. Multiple students commented that they transferred into DUSD from a different district and have had much better experiences with Dinuba than their previous schools.

Ronald Reagan and Sierra Vista students said that they were grateful for their principal, Jonathan Torres, and significantly benefited from the alternative and smaller learning environments provided to them.

The board members also asked students for their thoughts on the new Dinuba High School, and while students are excited, they all expressed they are concerned about safety and passing periods on a bigger campus.

Hernandez commented that students will need to have the chance to walk around the new campus, as it is larger than the current high school campus in downtown Dinuba, and the district will look at how much time is allotted between classes to ensure students can get from one end of the new campus to the other with plenty of time.

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