Benicia High School Panther Post

September 2019 - 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

Parents, Students & Staff Working Together for Our Community

This school year we are continuing our work on Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (also known as MTSS) across the district and at Benicia High School. We will be working throughout the year in a few focused areas and hope you will connect with us to learn about this work and to continue it at home, through discussions and attending school events together. Our work includes awareness of and support in the areas of mental health, emotional health, and social behaviors. Please read below for some of the work we have planned and the events you can participate in to improve our community:

September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. We will be providing opportunities for students to watch the documentary The S Word, which we have screened in the past for students and the community. The goals of this film include increasing awareness about suicide prevention and resources, including alternatives that reach outside the box, expanding the conversation about suicide, and removing the shame and judgement from talking about suicide ( BHS Counselors, school psychologists, and our mental health clinician will be on hand to discuss this topic with students as they view the film.

Sources of Strength at Benicia High School. The mission of Sources of Strength is to prevent suicide by by increasing help seeking behaviors and promoting connections between peers and caring adults. Our Sources of Strength group who were recently featured on an episode of PBS News Hour! Please watch the video below to hear from our own BHS students about what Sources of Strength is and how it helps other students. More information will be coming soon from our adult leaders and student leaders, including how students can join Sources of Strength! Please call our Counseling Department for more information.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Benicia High School will be working with staff and students throughout the year to bring attention to this important topic and to provide strategies on how to address bullying, both at school and online. Our September Staff Meeting will focus on this topic and we will be doing a number of activities during the month of October, including asking everyone to wear orange to take a stand against bullying for Unity Day on October 23rd.

What can families do to help address bullying? When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time ( Be an upstander rather than a bystander. Report bullying and harassment to school administration. Often, this behavior goes unreported. Take note of our own behaviors with one another and model kindness rather than negative interactions, in person and online. When students observe adults engaging in negative behaviors, they receive the message that this is acceptable and they continue the behaviors modeled for them. Let's show each other kindness and spread kindness in our community!

September 25th - Community Event - Free Screening of Finding Kind. In preparation for Bully Prevention Month, we will be providing free screenings of Finding Kind. Please see information and the film trailer below to learn more about this film and this event. We encourage all parents to attend, elementary through high school, and to bring their students as well. We will provide an opportunity for our students to watch the film during Access Period also. During the second semester, BHS will also offer a free screening of The Upstanders, a documentary about resilience and the power of peers to end bullying. We hope you will attend one or both of these events.

If you would like to learn more about any of these events, future events, or share suggestions, resources, and possible funding to support additional opportunities, please contact the Counseling Office or Ms. Kleinschmidt. We appreciate the partnership we have with the Kyle Hyland Foundation and Benicia Teen Center, and our Mentorship Program provided by community volunteers, all of which work with BHS to provide multiple layers of support to all of our students. Additional resources and events are included further on in this newsletter.

Go Panthers!

Brianna Kleinschmidt, Principal

Suicide Prevention: How Can Schools Help?

BHS Presents: Finding Kind

Wednesday, Sep. 25th, 6:30pm

Benicia High School - Hayley Horn Auditorium

As part of our work to prevent bullying and to increase kindness among our students and in our community, we are proud to present a FREE screening of the documentary Finding Kind.

In 2009, filmmakers Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson set out on a 10,000 mile long cross-country journey of discovery and education, interviewing hundreds of females across America about girl-against-girl bullying. Paul and Thompson find, among personal accounts, universal truths about the pressures of being a girl and how those pressures can take a toll on our relationships with other women. In addition to the deeply moving stories that they collect on their adventure, Paul and Thompson sit down with respected experts and authors in the fields of psychology, education, and the interrelationships of women and girls.

By entering school hallways and talking with hundreds of students, Lauren and Molly learn how bullying is evolving and the life-threatening impact it can have. As they combine their experiences and passion to uncover the harsh reality within "Girl World," Lauren and Molly learn more about themselves, the truth behind the issue and our cultures influence. The journey is sprinkled with hysterical moments as Lauren and Molly attempt to conquer the road and everything America has to offer. While there are plenty of fun moments, their emotional roller coaster around the country reveals shockingly raw and personal stories. With the goal of establishing a national school program for girls, Lauren and Molly hope to put an end to the hate and FIND KIND.

Benicia High School will provide an optional screening of the film during Access Period on September 25th for students. The evening event is open to all students and families, from all grade levels.

Finding Kind Official Trailer
Be sure to check out the Benicia Unified School District's Food Services web page for several important items including weekly menus, application for Freed or Reduced meals, and access to set up and maintain a student meal account. We encourage all families to online set up their "My School Bucks" account for convenient access to meal balances, purchases, and to make payments from your computer or phone. BHS now offers a range of meal choices, including vegan and vegetarian options.

Benicia High School does not allow food deliveries during school hours as we are a closed campus and work to minimize disruptions to class time as well as maximize school safety. Students can purchase breakfast, snack, and lunch at multiple locations on campus with cash or their 'My School Bucks" account.

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Benicia High School invites you to Back School Night on Thursday, September 12th

6:00pm - Band Performance in Main Quad & Opportunity to Visit School Organizations

6:20pm - Principal's Welcome in Main Quad

Parents & Guardians - Please bring your student's schedule and follow their classes:

6:35pm - Early Bird Classes in Gym

6:52pm - First Period Classes Begin

Each class visit/presentation is 12 minutes long, with 5 minutes passing to the next class.

Bells will ring to signal the schedule.

8:30pm - Event Ends

During class time, teachers will review their curriculum for the 2019-2020 school year. Time in each class period is brief, so we encourage parents/guardians to email your student’s teachers through PowerSchool to set up an appointment if you’d like to discuss your student’s individual progress.

Friday, September 13th, is a Minimum Day Schedule with 12:20pm dismissal.

Nutrition Night for Fall Sports

Learn how to fuel your body for athletic success! Cross Country/Track Coach Sara Randolph is hosting a Nutrition Night in the BHS Student Center on Tuesday, September 10th at 5:30pm. A brief talk will be given about how to fill your plate for meals and the sugar content of various drinks that teens often consume (using the guidelines and information from a registered dietician).

Learn about how to maximize your options at lunch with information about what the BHS Food Services offers for student meals. Student-athletes will be invited to sample the food.

There is no cost for this event. Athletes and their parents are invited to attend. This information was presented to the cross country and track teams last year and parents/athletes found this information helpful so we want to expand this to all of our in-season sports.

To attend, the student-athlete must RSVP to their coach. If you have any questions, please contact the BHS Athletic Director, Craig Holden, at

Student Grief Group at Benicia High

Grief is always difficult, but it can be especially isolating for students who feel like they are all alone in their grief.

Starting in October, Benicia High School Counselor Megan Guenther and BUSD Mental Health Clinician Rosalind Daniel will be offering a Grief Counseling group for students who have experienced the death of a parent/guardian/or sibling. The group is voluntary and the purpose is to make connections with other students in similar circumstances, build community, allow students to express themselves, and learn/practice coping skills. Over the course of 8 weekly meetings that will take place during Access period, students will participate in a verbal check in, have a snack, do an activity that encourages self expression, and then have a few minutes at the end to socialize with each other before returning to class.

For more information or to refer a student to this group, please contact Ms. Guenther at The counselor will meet with referred students and provide a consent form if they wish to attend. Thank you for your help in developing this group!

Sources of Strength at BHS

High School can be a really fun and amazing time, but it can be challenging at times as well. Sources of Strength is a group of students (peer leaders) and adults from many different corners of our school and community who’s goal is to make students aware of the supports and resources all around them and to give students a positive and multifaceted way of considering their feelings. It connects them to each other, to staff, and to the school community.

Leaders do this by encouraging their peers and other students to tap into their own strengths in times of difficulty and to break the silence when someone is struggling and connect them to the help the need. Strengths which are focused on include: Positive Friends, Mentors, Healthy Activities, Generosity, Spirituality, Medical Access, Mental Health, and Family Support.

Peer leaders go through training in the Fall semester to identify their own strengths and support systems, as well as how to help people in their peer group connect to support. Our students have the power to promote change through campaigns on campus, access events on mental health and promoting protective factors, classroom presentations, and daily interactions with their fellow students.

To indicate interest in becoming a peer leader, students can either talk to a current Sources of Strength Peer Leader, or reach out to Counselors Mr. Keppel ( or Ms. Guenther (

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BHS School Site Council Vote: Parent & Community Members

Benicia High School's Site Council is composed of students, parents/community members, teachers, non-teaching staff, and the principal. Each members group is selected at large by other members of their group - students by student vote, parents/community members by parent vote, and teachers by teacher vote. The school is required to meet certain numbers of representation for each group of membership, at least 12 voting members: the Principal, 4 or more teachers, 1 or more classified school staff, 3 (+1 alternate) parent/guardian members, and 4 or more students (one from each grade level +1 alternate).

School Site Council meets once a month, generally on the second Tuesday of the month unless a school holiday or event requires a change of date. Meetings are held from 3:30pm to 5:00pm. The meetings focus on bringing stakeholders together to participate in reviewing the work of the school, progress towards goals, and participate in decision-making for Benicia High School as we work towards our Vision and Mission. Meetings are open to the public, with a time for public comment, and agendas are posted in the school office one week prior to the meeting.

We want to thank all of the parents and community members who have served on our School Site Council and those who have submitted their interest to participate this year. Please select three individuals listed below that you would like to serve as a parent or community member on the 2019-2020 Site Council.

Voting closed on Wednesday Sept. 4th in order to determine members prior to the first meeting of the school year.

Thank you to those who voted and congratulations to our new parent & community member representatives: Neeley Silberman, Heather Still, and Steve Sillen!

BHS Site Council - 9th Grade Student Representative Needed

The Benicia High School Site Council is looking for a 9th grade student representative for the Class of 2023. Interested students are asked to submit an APPLICATION with your name and reason for wanting to join Site Council by Friday September 13. After that date, a vote will be held for the 9th grade class to elect one representative for their class and one alternate.

Student representatives serve for a 2-year term with the option to continue after the two years. They are expected to attend all meetings or arrange for their alternate to attend in their place should they not be able to attend. Student representatives that miss two meetings will be considered to have vacated their seat and their alternate will have the opportunity to become the class representative.

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Student Forum Returns - New Format

Benicia High School is changing how we facilitate our Student Forums to increase participation and student-involvement in school decision-making. School administration is partnering with our Associated Student Body President and student-elected representatives to hold monthly Student Forums during Access Period, on the first Thursday of each month. Each Student Forum will have a few pre-planned topics based on student interest and school planning deadlines. The meetings will also provide information on upcoming events and opportunities. The remainder of the meeting will be open for topics provided by student representatives.

Are you interested in being a student representative?

  • Each Access Period class will have one student representative who will hold that position for the semester. That student can continue as the student representative for the second semester, or have another student step in at that time. Access Period teachers will hold a process to determine who the student representative will be. That person is responsible to attend the meetings and to prepare for the meetings as noted below.

  • Each Access Period class will have a second student representative which will remain open and appointed each month based on interest on the monthly topic or other ideas/concerns they want to bring to the meeting.

Student Representative Responsibilities:

  • The semester-long student representative is responsible to review the monthly topics ahead of time and gather feedback, ideas, and at times take a vote in their Access Class, with the purpose of including all students. They can do this through discussion in Access Class on the Wednesday of the Student Forum week (if the teacher allows) or by passing around the Student Forum Feedback sheet so that students can write in their questions, ideas, concerns, and suggestions.

  • For every concern brought to Student Forum, there must be a suggestion provided as well. Student representatives are expected to work with their classmates to consider suggestions and solutions.

  • When a vote is requested, the student representative should share the question/topic with their classmates and take a straw vote, asking students to raise their hands to vote for the option of their choice, and record the votes. Those will be added to the other Access Period votes to provide an overall tally and student majority.

Possible Student Forum Topics:

Ideas for best use of Access Period. How can BHS better help struggling/failing students? How can BHS better incorporate education, recognition, and celebration of diversity and cultures? What are students experiencing that they need help with and how can we best provide that support? What would you like to see at BHS that is not currently offered here?

SAT Prep Class

Starting on October 3rd, students can take a SAT Prep course at BHS during Access Period. The course will be held on Thursdays through October 24th. Students can sign up in the Finance Office with their student ID card and payment of $25 to cover the cost of the book/materials. The course includes access to a pre-test and a post-test to track the student's progress. This is a great opportunity and great savings for Juniors and Seniors planning to take the November 2nd SAT. Space is limited - sign up soon!

Questions? Please contact Gina Marwick in the BHS College & Career Center at

College Application Labs

The College & Career Center is offering College Application Labs each Wednesday, during Access Period, from October 23rd through November 20th, in room O-107. Bring your application materials!

Questions? Please contact Gina Marwick in the BHS College & Career Center at

Don't Miss It - This Year's University of California College Application Deadline is November 30th - during the Thanksgiving Break!

Parent Volunteers & Representatives Needed!

PTSA: Parent-Teacher-Student Association

While many parents join the PTA & PTG when their students are in elementary school, high schools often do not see the same support. We ask that you and your student consider joining our PTSA and improving your student’s school experience by donating your time or resources to our programs. Learn more at the PTSA table at one of our back to school events or at a PTSA meeting (first Wednesday of each month at 6pm). Recent projects and programs sponsored by our PTSA include: library renovation, N-2 renovation, staff appreciation, Teacher Innovation Grants, Student Project Grant, and student scholarships. Seniors planning to apply for a PTSA scholarship must be a member to qualify. Join PTSA today!

ELAC: English Language Advisory Committee

BHS invites you to join our English Language Advisory Committee for parents/guardians, staff, and community members working together to support our students who are English Learners. This group will meet five times this year to discuss our current programs and supports, ideas for growth to strengthen our programs, explore ways to better connect with our families, and more. Meetings will be held on Tuesday evenings at 6:00pm at Benicia High School. If you are interested in joining ELAC or have questions, please email Vice Principal Dwight Rogers at

PTSA Fundraiser - BINGO at The Chill

Sunday, October 13th at 4:30pm

100% of the Proceeds Benefit the Benicia High School PTSA

$25 for 7 Games with Prizes & Snacks

362 First Street, Benicia

Guests 21 and over

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!
Class of 2020 Senior Photos

If you have not already had your Senior Photo taken for the yearbook, be sure to schedule your appointment soon so that you are included in the special Senior Section of the yearbook!

Local Leadership Opportunities for BHS Students!

Congressman Thompson is supporting two high school programs this year and is inviting Benicia High students to participate: Congressman Thompson’s Congressional Student Leadership Council and the Congressional App Challenge.

Congressional Student Leadership Council: Congressman Mike Thompson has launched a Congressional Student Leadership Council; an exciting, semester-long program that allows local students to work directly with the Congressman and his staff to develop leadership skills, get to know how government works, and engage with our community first hand. The Council is open to all high school students in California's Fifth Congressional District.

Applicants should be passionate about helping their community and eager to learn more about federal, state, and local government. This is a semester-long commitment where students will be expected to meet several times a month and complete a final project. Applications are due September 12th. Students can find the application and submission instructions at:

App Challenge: In order to participate, students will create a software application for mobile, tablet, or computer devices on a platform of their choice. The competition is open to all high school students in California’s 5th congressional District. Students may register for the competition before September 15, 2019 at and must submit their completed entry online no later than November 1, 2019 at noon EST. The submissions from our District will be judged by an appointed panel of local experts, and the winning app will be featured on the U.S. House of Representatives’ website ( and will be put on display in the U.S. Capitol.

Math Lab Now Available - Free Math Tutoring

Math Lab is held in Mr. Guinon's classroom, B-204 on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for one hour. All students are welcome to attend no matter their level of math class. Along with Mr. Guinon's help, volunteer tutors from Valero Refinery in Benicia are on hand to assist students.
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BHS Debate Team's First Home Competition

Benicia High is hosting our first-ever Bay Area debate tournament on Saturday, Sept. 14, Great students from some of the Bay Area's best schools will be on campus all day, arguing issues we all care about, and Benicia's new and accomplished team is helping to run the event. The debates are closed to spectators, but If your student is interested in becoming a part of our team, they should talk with Mrs. Gaines in room G-4.

Grad Night Information & Volunteer Sign Up Meeting

September 24th at 6:30pm

Benicia High School - Room L-116

Benicia Grad Night is a safe, sober, and substance-free celebration for BHS graduates that is entirely created by the community. The success of Grad Night is dependent on parent volunteers from all classes for the planning committees, procuring donations, and working the event. This is the 32nd year for this spectacular event. Please come to the meeting, bring a friend, and help make this event a success for the Class of 2020!
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!

Local Parent/Family Learning Sessions Available:

Student ID's Can Now Be Used as Library Cards!

Benicia High School and Middle School students are now able to use their Student IDs to check out books and access other resources at the Benicia Public Library. For more details, visit the BPL website.

Upcoming Events at Benicia High School

  • Monday, September 2nd: Holiday, School Closed
  • Thursday, September 5th, during lunch: Class Meetings with Class Advisers
  • Thursday, September 5th, during lunch: UC Santa Barbara presentation in room N-2
  • Friday, September 6th, during lunch: UC Irvine presentation in room N-2
  • Thursday, September 12th, during Access: Valero Job Skills Workshop in room L-116
  • Thursday, September 12th, 6:00-8:30pm: BHS Back to School Night
  • Friday, September 13th: Senior Sunrise
  • Friday, September 13th: Minimum Day - 12:20pm Student Dismissal
  • Saturday, September 14th: Debate Competition hosted at Benicia High School
  • Monday, September 16th: Improv Team Auditions begin
  • Friday, September 20th: Safety Drill on campus
  • Saturday, September 21st: Color Vibe Run at BHS - see flyer in newsletter for details
  • Monday, September 23rd: High School Voter Registration Week begins
  • Wednesday, September 25th: Documentary Event for Finding Kind - free event!
  • Thursday, September 26th: Student Blood Drive
  • Friday, September 27th: Club Fair at Lunch
  • Friday, September 27th: CPT Day, 2:00pm student dismissal
  • Saturday, September 28th: SBAC Incentive Event for Qualifying 12th grade students

BHS Communication Guide

Communication is a key component to a successful school community. Our team of administrators, counselors, teachers, case managers, and staff members work to provide the best communication possible throughout the year and ask that you partner with us in this effort.

An area of concern regarding communication is the online forums and apps such as the “Benicia Happenings” group on Facebook, Next Door app, and similar pages/social media sites. It has been brought to our attention that on several occasions incorrect information has been posted and negative or bullying remarks have been directed towards the school, staff, parents, and other individuals. Spreading false information is extremely disruptive and may compromise the work of the school and school safety. Posting negative and disparaging comments damages the positive school culture we work to create every day.

In grades 9-12, we encourage students to grow to be self-advocates and to communicate for themselves. Most concerns can be addressed and solved when the student proactively and positively communicates directly with their teacher or their counselor. For further assistance, we provide a communication guide on our website with information on who to contact and the timeline to expect a response.

In an effort to provide high quality communication, we ask that questions be directed to school staff via email or phone call so that correct information can be provided. When in doubt, contact the school. Our Main Office number is (707) 747-8325. We also recommend use of our website, school-operated social media accounts, and monthly newsletter to access accurate and timely information. We thank you in advance for your support in this effort.

Link to BHS Communication

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.