Sunday’s storm and earthquake didn’t dampen spirits for Santa Barbara Unified School District’s first day of classes on Monday.
Dos Pueblos High School will open a new wing on campus this year with a media arts and communications center to host the school’s DPNews and yearbook programs.
The school is also launching a new wellness center which will provide mental health support and school supplies.
“I want us to also track and find a way to measure how happy students are at school, like how do they feel being here?” Principal Bill Woodard said. “I want to measure student success in smiles.”
Dos Pueblos is coming out of a “banner year,” according to Woodard. Last year, 72% of students met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts, which is the highest result in the school’s history.
The Goleta high school also set records for the highest number of first generation students going onto four-year universities.
“I really do feel we are heading into the DPHS Renaissance,” he said.
DPHS’s associated student body president Valeria Tiburcio Romo aims to make leadership more welcoming this year. For her, being involved in student government allows her to make real change.
“You could always talk about things you would like to add or things you would like to take away but unless you’re in a student government position, you can’t really do much about it,” she told Noozhawk.
As a Latina student she wanted to get involved in student government because she saw a lack of Latinx representation.
At La Cumbre Junior High School, staff are excited about the possibility of becoming an International Baccalaureate school.
IB schools empower students to take ownership of their education and give them career ready skills, they said.
“That framework that really is going to support the whole child,” teacher Hayward Kwit told Noozhawk. “Having teacher leaders on campus that recognize the whole child is important. I’m really excited about that.”
La Cumbre Principal Bradley Brock says faculty and staff are focusing on putting the mental health and wellness needs first to improve students’ learning environment.
“I think La Cumbre is more than a school this year,” Brock said. “It’s a community where we have trusted adults that care, that build relationships with students.”
Starting the school year three and a half years after the COVID-19 pandemic started, Brock said the school wants to reframe its mindset around the pandemic and stop using it as a crutch, while still acknowledging the way it impacted students.
“We’re not going to make up for the learning loss from the pandemic in a year or two. It’s going to take time,” Brock said. “Tending to not just the cognitive but the social, psychological, affective, biological, the whole child and tending as well to our community.”