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Valley High school has won the heart of Naya. Naya is my daughter. A sixth grader who as of last week made her mind up about which high school she wanted to attend.
Last night, Valley had their first football game of the season and Naya and I came along, as we sometimes do, with dad to cheer on the team. I, being a VHS alumni, truly enjoy attending Valley events. As a VHS alumni and district employee, I often run into former students and staff that I can reconnect with. I embrace those moments, as they connect me to the greater sense of our SAUSD community and Santa Ana as a whole.
So, as the game went on and the cheering continued, Naya pulled out a paper from her pocket. She was already wearing her VHS t-shirt, she had layered on a borrowed VHS sweater from dad and she was now showcasing her Valley sign in support for her favorite high school.
So where does all this love come from? Maybe it’s the fact that I graduated from Valley. Maybe it’s that my husband is the tech at that site or that my brother is a teacher there. It actually is more compelling than that. Last Sunday, as Luis, my husband, worked on computer set-ups in classrooms, we dropped off lunch for him and on the way out, stopped by my brother’s classroom to see the progress with his new room. My brother, Jose, is a new media arts teacher at Valley and his room is equipped with audio and video recording equipment and a recording studio. Naya’s eyes grew wide as she looked around the room. It was like the equipment called her.
Last night, after the game ended, VHS players huddled on the field. Naya took her sign, pressed it against the chain link fence in the direction of the players and proudly shouted “Valley!” As we walked back to our car she says, “You know mom, I can’t wait to go to Valley and try out the cameras. I think we could make videos and post them on YouTube!”
Hmm. I now understood the source of this groupie’s passion.
I thought about the impression the new media room had made on my daughter and that made me think about SAUSD’s effort in showcasing the special programs of our schools. As we as a district work on connecting our younger students to a purpose for higher education, I say let’s get students into our high schools. Let’s go as far as having them experience the eye catching equipment and gadgets and involve them in activities our high school students experience every day. Let’s hook them in now!
And this is how a vision begins. How can I connect elementary and middle school students to the high school experience so that they themselves have a vision for where they want to go next and be motivated to take that next big step? Stay tuned…