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Resources for Helping Students Cope with Tragedy in the News

DUSD Newsletter January 2017

Denair Boys Ready to Host Basketball Tournament

Seven games into the season and on the eve of hosting their own holiday tournament, Denair High School boys basketball coach R.J. Henderson is beginning to understand his team.

The Coyotes are exceedingly young, they are more athletic than they have been in years and they’re still figuring out how to play together.

An opening night victory over Turlock Christian was followed by four losses in a row – three of them at the Riverbank Tournament two weeks ago. Then came blowout victories last week over Millennium and Stone Ridge Christian.

“I think we’ve definitely turned the corner,” said Henderson, now in his sixth season as head coach. “We really struggled to shoot it in Riverbank. The effort was there, but it was very disconnected.”

Part of the early season growing pains could have something to do with youth and unfamiliarity. The Coyotes only have nine varsity players – two seniors, four juniors and three sophomores. Henderson expects them all to “play and contribute.”

What little depth Denair has already is being tested. Senior center Dylan Mann – the tallest player at 6-foot-5 – rolled his ankle in Riverbank and may not play until the Southern League schedule begins in January. The other senior, forward Justin Short, suffered a broken nose last week against Stone Ridge. He’s out at least a couple of weeks.

That means the Coyotes will have seven healthy players when they take on Waterford on Thursday at 8 p.m. in the first round of the Denair Holiday Classic. Denair’s other games in the round-robin tournament are Friday at 8 p.m. against Turlock Christian and Saturday at 2 p.m. against Hughson.

Still, Henderson is confident the players who are available will continue to work together – even if rest will be at a premium this week. Continue reading “Denair Boys Ready to Host Basketball Tournament” »

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Denair FFA Hosting Drive Thru BBQ on December 15

Denair FFA is having a Drive Thru BBQ from 5:00-8:00 pm, on December 15, 2017. Tickets are available from any FFA member for $15, or you can stop by Denair High School. Please make checks payable to Denair FFA.

All donations will go to Denair FFA members so they can attend the National FFA Convention, State FFA Convention, and many state and local leadership conferences.

Thank you for supporting Denair High School’s FFA students!

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DHS Students Show Off Wreath-Making Skills

The offices of the principals and other administrators in the Denair Unified School District are more festive than ever this holiday season thanks to the students in the high school floral design class.

Last week, teacher Taylor Doo paired up her students with top officials in the district. Their assignment? Have the teens show off the skills they’ve learned this fall by leading the adults in a collaborative wreath-building exercise.

“I believe that the true level of mastery is when you can teach someone else your craft, skill, or trade,” explained Doo. “At some point in their career, they will have to teach others what they know. This is one way for the students to prepare for that. Also, I just thought how cool would it be for the roles to be reversed. Students think so highly of their teachers, but they also forget we are human, too. We are learners, too. We have the same struggles with gaining a new skill as they do.”

The fun project required each team to come up with a clever name that described the theme behind their wreaths, which began as rounded 8-inch metal frames. So were born the “Christmas Angels,” the “Ornaments,” the “Doo Crew,” the “Presents,” the “Snowflakes” and the “Reindeer.”

Students Courtney Frazier and Alexis Climer partnered with Principal Kelly Beard of Denair Elementary Charter Academy. They dubbed themselves the “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Their wreath sported black and purple ribbons with some plastic skull ornaments Courtney attached with a glue gun. Not quite the holiday motif other teams strived for.

“We wanted to be different,” said Alexis, a junior.

Nearby, the “Presents” team of junior Hailee Padgett, freshman Nicole Johnson and Denair Charter Academy Principal David Naranjo were working on something a little more traditional. Their wreath consisted of crinkled purple ribbon with white “DUSD” letters attached.

Simple … and effective.

“I’m going to put it in my office,” said Naranjo. Continue reading “DHS Students Show Off Wreath-Making Skills” »

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Denair High Earns County Recognition for Red Ribbon Week

Denair High School was awarded second place among all high schools in Stanislaus County for its enthusiastic and persuasive programs associated with Red Ribbon Week on Oct. 23-27.

High school, middle school and elementary campuses were evaluated by officials from the county Office of Education, who made site visits. They used a point system that factored in student, staff and parental involvement as well as decorations and signs associated with Red Ribbon events.

Schools across the country celebrate Red Ribbon Week, which began in 1980 as a way to discourage drug use among children while promoting healthy behaviors. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan was one of the original proponents.

At Denair High, student members of the PHAST (Protecting Health and Slamming Tobacco) Club worked with staff advisor Melissa Treadwell to orchestrate an informative and fun series of events.

On Monday the 23rd, students arrived on campus to see the wreckage from a car accident. The scene was a sobering example of what can happen if people drink and drive, text and drive or are under the influence of drugs and drive. A video was shown to students the previous Friday introducing the topic.

The rest of the week included a drug dog demonstration, a presentation from Denair Fire Department, and plenty of music, games and prizes supporting the message. The California Highway Patrol used goggles worn by students sitting behind the wheel of a car that simulated what it was like to be drunk and try to drive.

“The kids did a great job coordinating everything,” Treadwell said.

Denair Principal Kara Backman said Red Ribbon Week is an important part of preparing teens for the future and teaching them to make good choices.

“We believe in providing opportunities for students through academic rigor and extracurricular activities,” she said. “We believe that awareness and grit help guide students emotional maturity toward a successful college and career path.”

Treadwell and five Denair PHAST Club members will be honored at a ceremony Dec. 12 at the county schools office in Modesto. Hughson finished first among high schools.

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Denair Freshman Wins Section Cross Country Title

Denair’s Pablo Flores won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V cross country championship on Saturday and his teammate Julian Zavala finished third.

Flores covered the 2.1-mile course at Willow Hills Reservoir in 14 minutes, 3 seconds while Zavala was clocked in 14:50.

Denair sophomore Johnny Ibarra was 11thoverall in his race, finishing the dirt and gravel course next to Folsom High School in 14:58.

Coyote head coach Matthew Groom said he was proud of all his runners.

“We had a great team this year,” he said. “Their attitudes were great and I am pleased with the effort they put out. My next goal is to qualify a varsity runner for the Section meet. … I also want to thank (senior) Alex Flores for being the team captain over the past two years. He showed tremendous leadership and everyone on the team looked up to him.”

Groom said Pablo Flores and Zavala have discussed possibly playing football next fall instead of running cross country. If they return, they and Ibarra likely will form the backbone of what could be a strong team in the Southern League.

He said Flores and Zavala could run varsity races in league and still be able to compete as sophomores in the invitational and Section meets, improving their chances of strong individual finishes.

The top varsity teams and individual qualifiers from the Section meet advance to the state championships in Fresno on Nov. 25.

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Three Denair Runners to Compete at Section Meet

Three underclassmen from the Denair High School cross country team qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Cross Country Championships this week in Folsom.

Leading the way Saturday at the Sub-Section Meet at the Frogtown Course at the Calaveras County Fairground was freshman Pablo Flores. He finished first in the Division V race on the 2.2-mile course over dirt and pavement with a time of 13 minutes, 31.4 seconds.

Finishing third in the freshman race was Julian Zavala in 15:18.4.

Flores and Zavala both will advance to Friday’s Section meet at Willow Hills Reservoir. They will be joined by sophomore Johnny Ibarra, who was clocked in 15:45 to grab the ninth individual Division V qualifying spot. Brigg Wenstrand finished 20th overall at 15:49, narrowly missing a qualifying spot.

In the varsity boys race, Denair’s Alex Flores completed the 3-mile course in 19:39. He was 66thoverall and did not qualify for Folsom.

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DECA Students Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

For some students at Denair Elementary Charter Academy, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) already is an important part of their family culture. For hundreds of years , it has been a time for Latinos to honor friends and relatives who have passed away.

But for non-Latino DECA students, Wednesday was a learning experience, an opportunity to understand how others remember and celebrate loved ones who are no longer alive.

Dia de los Muertos occurs Nov. 1-2 each year. Though the timing is close, it is not the Latin version of Halloween. Artistic skulls often are part of the altars created at home or at cemeteries, but Dia de los Muertes is about family, not candy.

“It’s a way to show love and respect for one’s ancestors,” said Bibiana Alonzo Sandoval, DECA’s Spanish language lab instructor and one of the coordinators of Wednesday’s event.

More than 500 kindergarten through fifth-graders were ushered into the DECA gym during the time they typically had either a physical education period or their twice-weekly Spanish class.

In the gym, teachers spoke about Dia de los Muertos in English and Spanish as part of a Power Point presentation. Five altars created by students were arrayed around the gym along with a mural of student artwork.

Sandoval and DECA learning director Laura Cardenas led students from altar to altar, taking time to explain the significance what was on display. There were photos of grandparents and others being remembered, along with other traditional items like marigolds, candles, paper skulls, cookies and various decorations.

In many Latin American countries, children who have died are celebrated on Nov. 1 while adults are remembered on Nov. 2.

It is the second year that DECA has included Dia de los Muertos as part of its lessons across all grade levels.

“This is a joyful tradition in Latin American countries that honors relatives who have passed away,” said Principal Kelly Beard. “I believe it is important to help all children understand different cultures.”

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Seven Denair High Students Honored for Language Skills

Seven students at Denair High School have earned prestigious recognition for their bilingual speaking and writing abilities.

Seniors Natalie Soto, Oscar Garcia, Alex Flores, Litzy de la Cruz and Daisy Lopez; junior Analdo Moreno; and sophomore Elvis Silva were awarded the coveted Seal of Multilingual Proficiency in a ceremony Nov. 1 at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto. The designation will be specially noted on their high school diplomas, certifying that they are fluent in English as well as Spanish.

This important recognition helps graduates when they apply to colleges, compete for scholarships or submit job applications.

“This is a verification of their skills,” said Maria Olivas, a Spanish teacher and coordinator of the English Language Development programs in the Denair district. She also serves on the language committee run by the Stanislaus County Office of Education.

This year, about 1,000 students from more than a dozen Stanislaus County high schools applied for the Seal of Multilingual Proficiency. Of that group, 260 were certified as meeting the bilingual standards, according to the County Office of Education. More than 20 different languages were represented.

All students must submit an autobiography in English, followed by a 300-word essay in their other language on a designated topic. Those who pass the first step then went to the county office for face-to-face interviews in both languages. The scores from the autobiography, the essay and the interviews are combined to determine which students qualify for the seal.

“Being proficient in multiple languages enhances a student’s education and value in the marketplace,” said Tom Changnon, the county superintendent of schools. “Our economy is tied to that of other nations, and Californians who participate across international borders bring strength and potential to this state’s global enterprises.”

In the five years of the Multi-Lingual Seal recognition program, 23 Denair students have been awarded certificates.

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The California Department of Education (CDE) is currently engaged in litigation with two non-profit associations comprised of parents and guardians of children with disabilities. The plaintiffs in that litigation have requested numerous documents, as well as student data collected and stored by CDE, which may include personally identifiable student information.

To comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), CDE has been ordered, among other things, to inform parents and students of the disclosure of such information. CDE has requested that school districts and SELPAs post the following link to CDE’s website: The link provides a Notice and Objection Form to allow parents to object, by April 1, 2016, to the disclosure of personally identifiable information related to their children.


Please understand that the district is not a party to the litigation and is not required to disclose any student information, nor does it intend to do so. For more information, please contact CDE directly at (916) 319-0800.

Nondiscrimination Statement -  Click here for more information