SBHS junior off to Stanford for summer

San Benito High School junior Jasmine Rosales Castillo, pictured in the middle with her supporters, will be earning college credits at Stanford University this summer. Submitted Photo

San Benito High School junior Jasmine Rosales Castillo will be spending part of her summer at Stanford University, after being selected for the prestigious institution’s eight-week Summer Session Horizon Scholars program.

Rosales Castillo earned the residential scholarship opportunity designated for low-income, high-achieving incoming high school seniors to participate in the High School Summer College program, according to the district.

Castillo and the other Horizon Scholars will take seven to nine units of college credit during the summer, including an introduction to college writing course. They will have access to tutoring, academic advising and academic skills workshops while also participating in pre- and mid-summer advising sessions to support academic success.

“I honestly can’t believe that I will get to do something so amazing because I never knew this could be possible,” Castillo said. “I’m excited to get an early college experience. I’m worried the classes will be difficult and I may get homesick, but all of this will prepare me for college. I’m ready.”

Castillo and her fellow students will attend a series of workshops focusing on college preparatory skills and have a calendar filled with off-campus excursions throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

The value of the scholarship, which was open to a competitive pool of applicants, is nearly $17,000.

Castillo found out about the scholarship opportunity from San Benito English teacher and counseling intern Lorena Fernandez, who guided her through the process.

English Department Chair Carissa Alvarez, who helped Castillo on her three essays required as part of the application, said she had Castillo in her English 9 Advanced class two years ago, “and ever since, she’s come to my classroom every Monday morning to do homework.”

“She is an extremely hard worker and super motivated,” Alvarez said. “She really deserves this.”

English teacher Dr. Tom Rooth wrote a letter of recommendation for Castillo and Counselor Tim Pipes supported her through the application process.

Larry Lagerstrom, associate dean and director of the Stanford Summer Session, said the program’s goal is to “foster a strong group of Horizon Scholars through specialized academic programming, as well as promote a diverse student life community through the residential experience with all of our High School Summer College students.”

Castillo said she plans to study environmental engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she plans to play in the university orchestra.

San Benito earns Special Olympics honor

San Benito High School was recently recognized as a “Unified Champion School” through the Special Olympics Northern California for its “commitment to provide an accepting and inclusive campus for students,” according to a staff report.

The school will be presented with a banner May 10 and has been awarded $550 in funding for this school year “because it provides inclusive sports and whole-school involvement activities such as Gifted Soccer, Gifted Cheer, the Gifted Games, Circle of Friends and more.”

Among its many inclusive programs, San Benito offers a Life Skills Prom, has a peer helpers program and has Circle of Friends make Ability Awareness Presentations to all freshmen in Biology classes early in the school year.

The Gifted Cheer team, consisting of Life Skills students and with the help of the Baler cheerleading squads, performs at rallies, football games and basketball games. Circle of Friends also sponsors Ability Awareness Week in May.

“San Benito High School has demonstrated everything that Special Olympics Unified Sports aims to accomplish; giving youth the power to be leaders of change in their campus communities,” said Cameron Ahmadian, the area and regional unified sports manager of the Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program. “SBHS, through Gifted Soccer and their other inclusive campus activities, is a campus that gives students of all abilities an equal chance to participate in various campus activities.”


VAPAA building, art gallery ribbon-cutting ceremonies

San Benito High School District formally unveiled the new Visual and Performing Arts and Academics building and a new student art gallery with an April 18 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

School staff, teachers and administrators were joined by local elected officials for the opening and a proclamation from Assemblywoman Anna Caballero’s office was presented.

Guests toured the two-story structure which houses dance, ceramics and art spaces along with other classrooms, including history and American Sign Language.

“The vision for these classrooms were next-gen, 21st Century mobile classrooms with a flexible learning environment,” District Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum said.

After the tour of the new building, another tour and ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in the hallway of the main administration building on Monterey Street, where a hallway between the principal’s office and the student support office has been transformed into a student art gallery. The naturally-lit, windowed walkway features framed art pieces from students as well as ceramics project and a video screen that scrolls through a video presentation highlighting more student work from the performing visual and performing arts department.

Tennenbaum said the hallway gallery is designed to “accentuate the award-winning art that is coming out of this district and also have a showcase in perpetuity for our students.




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