Oak Ridge High School students congregate Monday morning to share schedules and catch up after summer vacation. Village Life photo by Julie Samrick

News

It’s back to school for Oak Ridge’s largest ever student body

By From page A1 | August 09, 2017

Some knew exactly where they were going while many other students stopped to study their schedules on Oak Ridge High School’s first day back to classes Monday morning. Helpful administrators and smiling student leader Link Crew members were visibly present to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Later on the first day students attended the traditional Welcome Back rally, but in the football stadium, as the gym floor is being replaced due to damage suffered in a recent storm. Because the gym was completely renovated in 2013, the work is being covered by insurance, Principal Aaron Palm explained, and will reopen in six weeks. “Luckily the CSD has been very accommodating by offering us space to teach our Life Fitness classes right across the street,” Palm said. “We have a great partnership with the CSD and we help each other out all the time.”

And while Oak Ridge is experiencing its “largest student population ever, and growing,” at 2,500 students, Palm reiterated there is a place for everyone’s tastes and interests, including 60 student clubs and 59 sports teams. In September students will have the opportunity to learn about the different ways to get involved on Club Day.

There are some exciting new additions this year, Palm continued, including new assistant Principal James Wrede, who comes from Gunderson High School in San Jose, where he also served as assistant principal. “James just moved his family here for the position,” Palm said. “We are lucky to have him.”

A new stadium scoreboard is being installed and should be ready before the first home football game. “I am working hard to spread the word that we did not use any educational dollars on it,” Palm said. “Advertising, boosters and sponsorships are paying for the scoreboard.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 32 percent of all students leave high school qualified to attend four-year colleges, yet Palm noted that Oak Ridge’s student achievement data continue to grow each year. “We now have 70 percent of our students college ready, which is incredible,” he said. “We also continue to increase the numbers of students passing AP tests and taking AP classes.”

Palm said during the 2017-18 school year emphasis will continue to be placed on ensuring all students achieve academically, in large part via the Advancement Via Individual Determination elective program. AVID is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap by training teachers to prepare all students for academic success across all subjects. “Last year AVID was an incredible success and we have added another class as planned,” Palm said.  “All of the students in the class were successful and are moving on to AVID year 2.  And we have a new group of AVID ninth-graders coming in.

“AVID was one part of reaching our goals,” he continued. “To remediate struggling students within the classroom, we have begun a partnership with the Assessment Training Institute to help us ensure that all students learn.”

Palm explained that alleviating student stress is always a goal as well. “We want to bring balance to our students’ lives and reduce the amount of stress that they are experiencing in school and life,” he said. “To that end, we have partnered with Stanford University’s Challenge Success program to help us redefine our definitions of success and to ensure that our school is designed to minimize student stress.”

For more information or for ways to get involved visit orhs.eduhsd.k12.ca.us.

Julie Samrick

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