Benicia High School Panther Post

May 2020 - Monthly Newsletter

BHS Vision Statement

Benicia High School will inspire learning with integrity in order to find personal success in an ever-changing world.

Expected Student Learning Results:

  • Communicator and Collaborator
  • Critical Thinker and Problem Solver
  • Creator and Innovator

Distance Learning - Remember to Check In!

A reminder as we begin the month of May and have just 5 weeks of school remaining that it is important to check in with your teachers, your Google Classrooms, and do your best to complete the learning tasks assigned by your teachers. Each class should require about 3 hours of work per week and is based on the essential standards that teachers identified as necessary to complete the class.

If you have missed assignments or have fallen behind, contact your teacher and set up a plan to turn in late work, or focus on future assignments so that you learn the essential items needed to complete this class and move on to your next classes in the Fall.

Hello Panthers & Families,

To our students - Let me start by saying that the BHS Staff sincerely miss you and miss being at school with you. We hope that you are doing well, trying to be positive and keep an optimistic outlook, continuing to learn and grow, and we look forward to when we can return to campus and see you again. We hope that you have kept up with you academic learning and are able to persevere through this challenging time with the support of your teachers, family, and friends so that you continue working towards goals. We are hard at work creating your class schedules for next year and planning for what our return might look like in the Fall. As we get more information about that, we will share that with you. Please, stay connected with your teachers and with one another. While we continue to keep physical distance for safety, we want to stay socially connected and supportive of one another.

It has been incredible to see the excellent work, creativity, and spirit of our students during distant learning. BUSD was one of the first districts to transition to distance learning and our teachers have been hard at work to provide the best learning experience for our students so that they receive the essential standards to complete their courses and are prepared to continue next school year.

In an article out earlier this week, educators across the country shared that while distance learning has brought many challenges, they are also finding that students are thriving and shared lessons from thriving students in order to help all students and families. For students who struggle with the distractions that occur at school, they are better able to focus at home without the social aspects of school. Self-pacing brings benefits to many students who prefer independence and being able to have more choice over their schedule. Working at their own pace allows the flexibility of taking a break when needed or spending more time on a subject than a school's bell schedule would allow. Students who would typically be overextended due to a heavy class schedule, extracurricular activities, and other commitments now find that they have more time and less anxiety. The reduction of content for all classes to essential standards, with reduced number of hours per class per week, and more lenient grading has helped many students feel empowered to learn. Teachers also noted that student success may be tied to the fact that students are getting more sleep and not feeling exhausted each day. (

We recognize that students and families are experiencing a range of successes and challenges at this time and we are here for you. Please reach out via email to your Counselors, Teachers and Administrators with any questions or to work together to make this time successful. If you are not sure who to contact, you can email and we will have the proper person contact you within one school day.

Updates & Announcements:

Benicia High School Named a 2020 Best High School

Benicia High is a 2020 Best High School, based on rankings that U.S. News & World Report published in April which placed BHS in the top 18% of schools in the country. The organization numerically ranked nearly 18,000 schools nationwide, and schools within the top 40% received recognition as a top high school. The Best High Schools rankings are produced in conjunction with RTI International, a global research firm using data from official third-party sources, such as AP data from the College Board, state assessment data, and graduation rates.

BHS Bell Schedule

We are excited to announce that a recent vote by our staff has solidified the current Modified Block Bell Schedule as our permanent schedule going forward. This Spring ends our three year pilot of the new schedule, which has tested favorably based on students, parent, and staff surveys over the three year term. In addition, we anticipate moving to a later start time in Fall 2021, as required by recent state legislature (start time not yet determined).

No Final Exams this Semester

Benicia High School classes will not be administering final exams this year during the last week of school as we have in the past. Instead, the last week of school will be used to complete needed instruction of essential skills and concepts, and to finalize assignments/projects.

Expanding Curriculum in English Language Arts

As the result of a collaborative effort this year with the English Language Arts Department and BUSD's Educational Services Department, we are excited to announce that we will be transitioning our course offerings to expand our college-preparatory programs, with Expository Reading and Writing (ERWC), Pre-AP, and Advanced Placement (AP).

Starting in Fall 2020, all 9th grade students will take Pre-AP English 9, all 10th grade students will take Pre-AP English 10, 11th grade students will have the choice of AP Language & Composition or ERWC 11 (Expository Reading and Writing Course), and 12th grade students will have the choice of AP Literature & Composition or ERWC 12. The Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC) is a curriculum created by a team of high school teachers and college professors focused on preparing students for college level reading and writing, part of the CSU Student Success initiative. ERWC offers full year curriculum for grades 11 and 12, with some units designed for 9th and 10th grades. The Pre-AP Program is a program offered to schools by College Board. Pre-AP courses deliver grade-level appropriate instruction through focused course frameworks, instructional resources, and learning checkpoints. Pre-AP challenges students to build critical thinking skills through four shared principles: close observation and analysis, evidence-based writing, high-order questioning, and academic conversations.

Student Belongings at BHS & Textbooks

Information will be sent out to students and parents in grades 9-11 regarding dates and times for students to pick up their belongings from campus (clean out their lockers and PE lockers) as soon as possible We anticipate this will likely happen after the last day of school. We will also provide information as to how students will return their textbooks and other school materials. Students returning to BHS next year will keep their Chromebooks over the summer. Students who are not planning to return to BHS next year can return their Chromebooks along with their textbooks or may email to make other arrangements.

BHS Class of 2020 Graduation Celebration

Every student, family, and friend is invited to celebrate the Class of 2020 on Saturday, June 6th for their graduation ceremony as we broadcast the graduation for the first time ever. We are proud to announce our alternative plan for our 2020 BHS Graduation Commencement that will continue to include and honor all of the special traditions that we have enjoyed for many years. We will create a polished and professional graduation ceremony that will be broadcast via YouTube and the Benicia Government Access channel (Comcast channel 27 or AT&T U-Verse channel 99). Following the broadcast of the ceremony, the graduates and their family will drive to Benicia High School to receive their diploma, a special graduation photo, and other items in a drive-thru style distribution from 1:00-2:00pm. We encourage all of our Benicia residents to come outside at 1:00pm to wave, cheer, and celebrate our Benicia High School Class of 2020 graduates from a safe distance as they make their way to the school. It is our sincere hope that we will be able to provide a special event for the Class of 2020 at a later date to bring the class together in celebration when the state and local guidelines allow for gatherings again as we recognize that they have missed many special events. Additional details about the graduation ceremony plans have been sent to Seniors and their families via email on April 27th.

While this process will take many hours and the cooperation of our staff, students, and families, we feel this will best capture the true celebration of this significant accomplishment in their lives and continue the traditions of the Benicia High School ceremony for the Class of 2020. We want to thank our staff, volunteers, and many others for their time and generosity in support of the Class of 2020. A special thank you and recognition of the team at Northgate for their partnership and their donation of the production of the ceremony with film, editing, and creation of this special graduation program for us. Now is the time for us to come together as a school community to celebrate the Class of 2020, remember the amazing times they have shared, the difficulties they continue to overcome, and the incredible adventures ahead of them.

Go Panthers!

Brianna Kleinschmidt, Principal & Proud BHS Alum

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Meals for Students During School Closure

During the school closure, BUSD Food Services is providing meals for all of our students, at no cost. Meal distribution is available Monday through Friday, from 11:00am to 1:00pm and includes a warm lunch for that day as well as breakfast for the next day. Please remain in your car and pick up meals in a drive-thru process to keep all families and employees safe.

There are three locations available for meal pick up:

  • Benicia High School - enter from Plaza de Oro, enter through gate to upper parking lot, and follow signs.
  • Robert Semple Elementary School - Entrance of staff parking lot.
  • Burgess Point Complex, 91 Riverview Terrace in Benicia

If you have any questions, please contact Director of Food Services, Tania Courtney at

Panther TV continues to run with a weekly episode out each Thursday. A HUGE THANK YOU to the amazing Panther TV crew for their work during school closure to keep us informed and connected. You can subscribe to their YouTube to get all new episodes and to find old episodes.

New Support for Students: Counseling Corner

The BHS Counseling department will be offering a weekly grade-level drop in Zoom counseling group through the end of the school year--we are calling this "Counselor's Corner." Each one hour group will be attended by two staff members from our Mental Health team: a counselor and either a school psychologist or Mental Health Clinician. Students are welcome to drop in whenever or as often as they would like. We anticipate sharing stories, offering support, and having this be a place where students can connect with one another.

If you think that your child would like to attend this group, please send your child's counselor an email indicating that your child has permission to do so. Once the email permission is received, an email with a link to the zoom session will be sent to the student. Groups will meet at the below times:

Freshmen: Thursdays at 1:00 with Megan Guenther at

Sophomores: Wednesdays at 1:00 with Justin Keppel at

Juniors: Wednesdays at 1:00 with Kathleen Wallace at

Seniors: Wednesdays at 1:00 with Jody Smith Alford at

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AP Exam Information

For students registered to take one or more AP exams this month, there have been many changes and information continues to be updated by College Board. To review the latest information, please go to:

At-a-Glance Changes:

  • AP is now providing free online learning resources. This includes AP review lessons provided by AP teachers from around the country. These are available live at scheduled times and available by video to access after the live session.
  • AP exams will now be taken on your own device - a computer, tablet, or smartphone. You also have the option to write your exam response by hand and submit a photo. We recommend that you use a personal computer or BUSD Chromebook that has been assigned to you this year.
  • AP exams have changed and will be 45-minute online free-response exams, with one or two free response questions. No multiple-choice.
  • Students taking Spanish or French world language and culture exams will complete two spoken tasks.
  • AP exam content will focus on what most schools were able to complete by early March.
  • AP exams will be secure, with College Board using a variety of digital security tools and plagiarism detection software.
  • AP Art Classes that require portfolio submission (Art and Design: 2D, Art and Design: 3D, and Art and Design: Drawing) - the submission deadlines have been extended to May 26.
  • AP Capstone Classes (Research and Seminar) - Digital Portfolio deadlines have been extended to May 26.
  • AP Computer Science Principles - Digital Portfolio deadline extended to May 26.

AP exams will be given May 11 - May 22nd (view full testing schedule here).

Please continue to communicate with your teachers and work through Google Classroom or other platforms provided to complete your course and prepare for the AP exam.

NEW DATE for 13th Annual Benicia Education Foundation Run for Education!

BEF announced that they have rescheduled their annual Run for Education for August 30, 2020. All registrations for the March 29th date will be honored for the new race date and the registration period remains open.

Visit for information on the race and to register for the 5K run/walk, children’s fun run, Shop & Stroll, or “Hit the Snooze” 5K. Proceeds from the race help support programs and events at all seven BUSD schools.


Please contact your school principal if you may be in need of financial assistance to participate.

Amazon Smile - An Easy Way to Donate to Your PTSA!

Shopping on Amazon? Be sure to use Amazon Smile and select "Benicia High PTSA" as the charitable organization of your choice. A small percentage of your purchase will benefit Benicia High School thanks to the PTSA's projects, scholarships, and grants.

Amazon Smile is now available on the Amazon app also!

BHS Sources of Strength Video Awarded Honorable Mention

The film “Becoming Me” submitted by BHS students and Sources of Strength members Madison Hathaway, Isis Iverson, Felicia O'Haver, Mason Donabedian, Milo Wade and Sofia Arroyo was selected for Honorable Mention recognition in the Suicide Prevention category for the region. The film was selected from more than 1,000 entries for this recognition and will be included on the Directing Change organization website, as well as their film library which is available across the state.

Directing Change is part of statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. Please check out the BHS video submission below.

Becoming Me Directing Change

Upcoming Events at Benicia High School

  • CAMPUS CLOSED FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE 2019-2020 SCHOOL YEAR - All school activities cancelled during this time. All classes continue online, through Google Classroom.
  • Monday May 11 - Friday May 22: AP Exams according to national schedule
  • Monday, May 25: No School in Observance of Memorial Day
  • Friday, June 5: Last day of school for the 2019-2020 school year
  • Saturday, June 6 at 11:00am: Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2020 (see information above)
  • Friday, June 12: Semester 2 grades posted via PowerSchool
  • Monday June 15 - Friday June 10: Summer School in Session (online classes only)
The Paw - Benicia High School's Student Newspaper

Stay in the know with our online newspaper; including student articles about school news, arts & entertainment, sports, opinion pieces, politics and more. You can also access Panther TV, with weekly episodes on all that's happening at Benicia High!

District programs, activities, and practices shall be free from unlawful discrimination, including discrimination against an individual or group based on race, color, ancestry, nationality, national origin, immigration status, ethnic group identification, ethnicity, age, religion, marital status, pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or related recovery, parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or genetic information; a perception of one or more of such characteristics; or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

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