Highland Happenings

Fall 2021

Principal's Message: Here we grow again!

We are excited to welcome our students back to in-person learning this fall. Our beautiful campus is filled with over 2600 students this year, and we have hired new staff, counselors, and teachers to meet the growth. The campus has expanded to the ag farm and beyond the gym, and the grounds crew has done an amazing job in maintaining facilities. Our cafeteria is serving students from three different areas (main cafe and two kiosks), and our students have noted that the food is improved this year, especially the salads and fresh fruit.

With the increase in enrollment and the move from a single lunch to two, we have had to streamline our office and attendance operations:

  • A written note is requested by 9:30 am for same day check out.
  • Notes must include the time and reason for check out and include a parent signature and phone number.
  • When a parent/guardian comes to the office without notice to check out a student, THERE WILL BE A DELAY.
  • Please do not call to check out your student. Attendance lines are to clear absences, not to request a release.
  • Students cannot be checked out through the office during lunch and before the end of the school day, so please plan accordingly.
  • An ID is required and release information accurate on the student information screen.
  • If a student becomes ill during the school day the student must report to the health office. The Health Clerk will contact a parent and release the student to go home.
  • We do NOT interrupt instruction or lunches with messages, materials, money, balloons, bouquets, or outside food deliveries.
  • Students are not to leave class without an off-campus pass from the Attendance Office.

We appreciate your support this year. Already these small changes are having a positive impact on operations.

Debra Vigstrom, Principal

Highland hosted a "virtual" Back to School Week, September 20-24, 2021. We kicked off the event with our first "Coffee with a Principal." Ms. Vigstrom shared the school mission and vision as well as school expectations, or what we call "PLAID." Then, parents/guardians were invited to "visit" teachers by clicking on teacher-created videos to learn about course expectations and where to find assignments and grades.

Please visit our website if you did not have the opportunity. Videos are still available to watch.

Highland High Parent Center

For assistance with ParentVue or Canvas, please contact Mr. Vargas in the Parent Center.
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Highland Highlights: Activities, Athletics, and Academics

Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Football Game

On Friday, October 15th the football program honored Breast Cancer survivors at its annual football game. The stands were packed and the student section was pinked out for the game!

Our honorees were deeply touched by the tributes. Thanks to Coach Gutierrez, his coaching staff, the athletic boosters (Mrs. Yubeta and Mrs, Johnson), and young men who greeted each survivor.

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Softball Team honored at half-time

The regional and valley championship Lady Scots softball team was honored for their accomplishments at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. The season did not conclude until July, so we applauded their accomplishments during half-time. Congratulations to Coach Jackie Puente, Coach Moreno, and staff for bringing back the "bling" to HHS!

Team: Caitlyn Brewster, Shelby Machado, Alexia Castro, Elisa Gonzales, Chloe Garcia, Briana Solis, Mariyah Montoya, Roxane Garza, Marissa Campos, Madison Edwards, Natalie Macias, Shelby Hernandez, Natalie Moreno, Micayla Yubeta, Sadie Salas, Emily Hernandez, Jennifer Padilla, Lucia Jano, and Emily Moreno.

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Drama Dominates Shakespeare Fest

Justin Thompson's' drama ensemble took 1st place at Kern Shakespeare Festival, beating perennial favorite Liberty. Their 10-minute performance of Hamlet earned top nods, with Outstanding Performance in ensemble going to Katie Johnson (Laertes), Elyse Holladay (Shakespeare), Kelly Burdick (Gertrude), and Jesse Magdaleno, (Hamlet). Earning 1st place in duos/trios: Kelly Burdick, Jesse Magdaleno, and Else Holladay; and 4th place in monologues: Jordan Procell.

News Flash: Girl's Golf and Tennis Earn 1st Place in League (SEYL)


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2021 Fair Highlights

  • Ayden Gartenlaub, Class of 2021, is a national finalist for Poultry Production and will compete in the finals in Indianapolis on October 29, 2021.
  • Christy Sue Lopez, Breeder of Kern Bred & Fed lightweight champion
  • Ethan Allen, Reserve Grand Champion English Market Beef
  • Highland Ag Teachers were honored nationally with the "3-star Chapter" designation and teacher Amber Carter was recognized with the 2021 California Ag Teacher's Association Teacher of Excellence Award.


Red Cross Club

ASB and Red Cross Club "plaid up" to help Kern Valley and Native American Families

Many families in the Kern Valley area lost their homes and possession to the French Fire this past September. Highland staff and students held a coin drive that raised over $750. Three classes raised over $100 each: Mr. Wykoff, Mr. LeClair, and Mr. Romero. Last week Victoria Martinez, Red Cross Club Advisor, presented Principal John Meyers with 15 $50 gift cards to Vons/Albertsons.

If you are looking for pumpkins this season, stop by the Wesley United Methodist Church on Oswell & Niles. The pumpkins are grown on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, so proceeds support Native American families . The Red Cross Club volunteered their time and energy to unload and set up 2000 pumpkins. One student commented, "Mrs. Martinez, my arms are so sore!" If you stop by the pumpkin patch and see our students, please appreciate their community Service.

Victoria Martinez, Red Cross Advisor

When I think of Mrs. Martinez, I think of PLAID! This month she has proudly represented HHS. Mrs. Martinez was recently selected by the local chapter of The Red Cross to be the Red Cross Club Coordinator for the entire high school district! Highland is one of four local chapters, and her goals are to coordinate training opportunities for hands-on CPR and disaster preparedness. She will also encourage other schools to start a chapter.


Art Club Students at Via Arte

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Fall Band & Orchestra Concert Returns

LifeChanger: Robert Valdez

Highland Math Teacher and Coach nominated by parents for his contributions

Robert Valdez, Highland grad and now-teacher, has made a difference in his short time at Highland, and parents want the community to know about it! Last year online schooling was rough, and it was challenging to get kids engaged in class, but Mr. Valdez was always trying something new. Not only did he think outside the teaching box to engage students, he also focused on making math meaningful. To be considered for a LifeChanger of the Year award, nominees must:

  • make a positive impact in the lives of students
  • enhance their school's atmosphere, culture and pride
  • demonstrate leadership at the school level
  • posses a proven record of professional excellence
  • show commitment to building a nurturing environment that supports learning
  • adhere to highest ethical and moral standards.

Visit the link to nominate by December 31st: www.LifeChangeroftheYear.com


November Beanstack Reading Challenge: Read Grateful

Beanstack is a simple program, accessible on Chromebook, PC or mobile app, that allows students to track their own daily reading minutes and participate in fun challenges. Visit the Highland Library page on the website for details.

School-wide Independent Reading

At Highland High School and the Kern High School District we use the STAR Reading test (reading comprehension and vocabulary) to assist in placing students in classes and monitoring reading progress. We test in the fall, and we monitor progress in January and again in May. Some classes (ACCESS and ELD) monitor progress every six weeks.

There were many changes to the bell schedule this year, including returning to double lunches, so we determined we would no longer have 15 minutes of Silent Sustained Reading as part of our schedule. That does not mean we no longer support independent reading. Many English classes incorporate independent reading within the period or have an expectation for reading 15 minutes beyond the school day. To make books readily accessible, English teachers have classroom libraries available for student selection, and the library is open to check out books on a regular basis. Students read from a "book of choice," and English teachers show students how to set reading goals, for example how many books they will read each quarter.

Why do we support 15 minutes a day independently reading? Our goal for students is to GROW in their ability to comprehend what they read and improve their vocabulary so they will be successful in and beyond high school.

2021 STAR Fall Reading Diagnostic Results (Average Grade Equivalency of student readers @ HHS)

Overall: 7.2 (Seventh grade, 2nd month of school)

9th- 6.4

10th- 6.7

11th- 7.5

12th- 7.2

Collective Reading Commitments from Students

  • Read independently every day for 15 minutes
  • Set weekly reading goals
  • Read at least one book per quarter

Collective Reading Commitments from Parents & Community

  • Donate books (gently used or new, all levels, including books written in Spanish)
  • Ensure students read nightly, including for pleasure
  • UNPLUG! Try modeling reading for pleasure
  • Talk to students about what they are reading
  • Participate in literacy events when able (Join the Parent Center Book Club!)

Collective Commitments from Staff

  • Support 15 minutes of independent reading daily
  • Minimize classroom interruptions
  • Model reading for pleasure and talking about books
  • Ensure school-wide literacy remains a priority
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*Counselors' Corner*

Meet our new Cal-SOAP Student Success Coach

Johana Tolis is our newest Student Success Coach. She is available in the Career Center (LMC) on the following days to assist students with college and career exploration:

  • Mondays, 7:30 - 12:30 pm
  • Tuesday and Thursdays, 7:30 - 3:30 pm

Chats with your Counselor (SB 813)

Freshman parents: please call or email the Counseling Secretary, Evelyn Navejas, to schedule your appointment (evelyn_navejas@kernhigh.org or 661-872-2777)

College Application Mondays

Seniors: Mondays from 2:30 PM in the College/Career Center (LMC).

Cash for College Workshop-- FAFSA

Seniors: Thursday, October 21, 2021 6:00 - 8:00 PM in the Library

By the Numbers


At Highland High School and the Kern High School District we use the STAR MATH test to assist in placing students in classes and monitoring MATH progress. We test in the fall, and we monitor progress in January and again in May. Some classes (BOOST) monitor progress every six weeks.

2021 STAR Fall MATH Diagnostic Results (Average Grade Equivalency of students @ HHS)

Median: 7.6 (Seventh grade, 6th month of school)

9th- 6.2

10th- 8.3

11th- 8.2

12th- 8.5

Coffee with the Principal via ZOOM

Monday, Nov. 8th, 6-7pm

Highland High School Parent Center, Royal Scots Way

Please contact Mr. Vargas for the link.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.


The Kern High School District (KHSD) is committed to ensuring equal, fair, and meaningful access to employment and education services. KHSD prohibits discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), intimidation, or bullying in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics of age, ancestry, color, ethnic group identification, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information, immigration status, marital status, medical information, national origin, physical or mental disability, parental status, political affiliation, pregnancy and related conditions, race, religion, retaliation, sex, sexual orientation, military or veterans status, homelessness, foster status, or any other basis prohibited by California state and federal nondiscrimination laws consistent with Education Code 200 and 220, Government Code 11135, and Title IX. If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), intimidation, or bullying you should contact your school site principal and/or the District's Equity Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Debbie Thompson, 5801 Sundale Avenue, (661) 827-3173, debbie_thompson@kernhigh.org, and/or Section 504 Coordinator, Sandy Niday, Director of Special Education/SELPA, 5801 Sundale Ave, (661) 827-3100, sandy_niday@kernhigh.org. A copy of KHSD's Uniform Complaint policy and Nondiscrimination policy are available at www.kernhigh.org and upon request.