Drake Direct

Our February Community Newsletter

D-Nice Say-High: A Tribute to Shayne

A Relection. By Liz Seabury, Principal

This year’s theme for Drake High School is “D-Nice- Say High”. We pick these themes to anchor our first day of school activities and serve as a motivator and message for the school to be connected around. This year’s theme was a take-off of one of our favorite cheers, “D-High- You Know!” with a little twist of D-Nice and Say-Hi. We have had some wonderful themes in the past from “GRIT” to “Take the Helm” and every year we try and have the message resonate with something we think our students need. This year was no exception. When the leadership teachers came together last April to develop this theme, there was one recurring issue we could not shake - our freshman class needed some inspiration.

Over the course of last winter, the staff were all sharing their thoughts and issues with this class. The freshman class, now sophomores, appeared to know each other very well. They are a close group with strong common histories and, some might say, a little too much time together. What we found, as the adults who were getting to know these students, is their familiarity and closeness made them a bit less aware of each other, a bit less respectful of each other and a bit less nice to each other. Surprisingly, when the teachers tried to talk with them about this, they did not recognize the behaviors they exhibited to each other- because they were used to how they interacted with their friends. They had treated their peers like this for years. We decided they needed a reminder….Be nice and say hi. The most fundamental and common understanding of how to be nice is to say “hi”. We thought we would start there.

It is ironic that Shayne Rebbetoy is a member of this sophomore class as he radiated our theme in his very soul. Obviously, our message was aimed at the totality of our student body, with a focus on our sophomores, yet the tragic death of this sophomore boy is that he is one who was the living embodiment of “D-Nice.” Shayne’s infectious smile, buoyant approach to friendship, and jovial greetings radiated the best of being nice.

This may be why so many of us are affected by the death of such a spirit. I have heard that some of his closest friends are confused that so many people are reacting to the news of his death and I can only surmise that it was Shayne’s intrinsic and infectious ways of being nice that impacted so many people. That is the beauty and sorrow in death. It is not a lonely experience. No matter your relationship to the people who have died, most people have a relationship with death. From his closest friends, his brother, his neighbors, and the kid who sat by him in class, all of us know death and can relate to the loss of Shayne in some personal way. Then you add to this common experience the effervescent joy Shayne shared with everyone he came in contact with and we all feel a relationship to this death. It is why we are all grieving, those close to and distant from Shayne. That is the beauty and sorrow we share.

We have five more months of school and five more months to live our message, D-Nice Say-Hi. I can think of no better tribute to Shayne than all of us working on being the embodiment of niceness. It is sometimes magical the way things can transform when sadness overwhelms. I am thinking about how to lead forward in a school that is so sad and so moved by this tragedy. I feel a sense of honor to show Shayne that he inspired me to be nice, to be more Shayne. So, my Pirates, my ask of you is that we pay tribute to our lost Pirate, learn from him and D-Nice and Say Hi.

Drake's Small Learning Communities: An Update

(For previous articles about our SLC Reimagining, please see our website.)

Drake's Small Learning Communities are continuing to shift to our new model that will place our 9th and 10th grade students into seven small learning communities that integrate English, social studies and their science classes. Current 9th grade students have chosen their electives for next year and will continue with their SLC student group when possible. Incoming 9th grade students also chose their electives and will be placed into SLCs where their 10th grade peers will mentor and support them in the beginning of their high school experience.

The teachers involved in the SLCs have been working on the curriculum, approach to project-based learning, grading practices, and our community culture. They are excited to be given the opportunity to reimagine how we approach learning for all 9/10 Pirates. This work is important and motivating for us to give time and energy on how to best meet the learning needs or our students.

Teachers are also working on developing their SLC teams. Students will be placed in these new SLCs randomly. Students will learn of their teams when they receive their schedules in August. Again, our hope is to create a more aligned AND unique learning community for all of our students. We appreciate our community supporting our work and knowing we are deeply invested in the work we are doing. We are Pirates and we will work to the bone for our kids.

State Testing Information- Pirate Pride!

California’s academic standards—the knowledge we want students to know and be able to do—are designed so students graduate ready for college and a career. One way we measure their progress is through the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) assessments. These Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC) are computer-based and adaptive, including a bank of test questions aligned to standards, and free-response performance tasks. The questions are open-ended and require students to explain how they arrived at their answers, support their responses with evidence and solve real world problems.

For more detailed information about Common Core State Standards and/or the Smarter Balanced assessments, please reference the Parent/Student tab of the CDE CAASPP Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/

All Juniors will be participating in the Smarter Balanced assessments in English and math. In addition, all seniors will participate in the state science test aligned to the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Our Drake testing will take place on March 30 and 31. On these dates, we will have a modified bell schedule, which will be sent out during the month of March and will be posted on our website then. Freshman and sophomores will be attending classes in their Small Learning Community and will participate in offerings from our Wellness and Peer Resource programs during junior testing time.

If you have any questions on testing, please contact Chad Stuart at cstuart@tamdistrict.org.