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Casa Grande High School
#153
2018-2019
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Casa Grande High School
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Casa Grande High School
in 2018-2019
#114
2018-2019
Best of SNO Rank for
Casa Grande High School

Strength In Numbers

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Strength In Numbers

A statue stands in the English and social studies wing of the school.

A statue stands in the English and social studies wing of the school.

Grace Yarrow

A statue stands in the English and social studies wing of the school.

Grace Yarrow

Grace Yarrow

A statue stands in the English and social studies wing of the school.

By Lauren Doran and Sue Jacob

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Casa Grande High School is one of a few schools within the Petaluma School District and is the largest out of all of them, with a student population of 1,700. Throughout the years, Casa Grande has experienced many milestones and achievements. Aside from the outstanding and wide selection of AP classes provided on the Casa campus, the academic curriculum and extracurriculars that are available to students are merely one fragment of the countless factors that sets Casa apart from other schools. Chuck Wade, a teacher and district employee, elaborates on one of the programs that Casa is invested in, known as the Rooster Fellowship.

We realize[d] in sort of an honest moment that we needed to design a program to reach this particular audience.”

— Eric Backman

“The Rooster Fellowship looks at: how teachers can be better teachers, how the entire system can work to support the learning experience for students, and the educational experience in general. There’s a district administrator on the team, there’s a site administrator on the team, there’s a teacher, and there’s a support professional as well — all of whom are working together to figure out what kinds of things we could change to improve student engagement. That means not only how interested they are in the material, but their general sense of belonging and the sense of how meaningful the work they’re accomplishing is — not only now, but later in their lives as well,” said Wade.

Wade further expresses the benefits the Fellowship has on the Casa community.

“This is an opportunity to get real-time feedback from students every day to see if the things that we’re trying in the classroom increases student engagement. If we learn something that works there, then we can spread those ideas throughout the district. It’s a pretty novel approach, and there are only a handful of teams in the county working on this, and Casa is one of them,” said Wade.

Not only limited to the Rooster Fellowship, Casa’s Jump Start Program that bridges the high school to the Santa Rosa Junior College (referred to as the SRJC or just the JC), is a program that has flourished and created positive impacts. Principal Eric Backman expands on the details of the program and the influence it has constructed on high schoolers this past decade.

“Let’s go back ten years — most of Casa’s college readiness resources were devoted to students who are four-year college bound, which represent about 30 percent of the graduating class. Whereas 50 percent of the graduating class go to the JC; so, when we did the analysis of our postsecondary enrollment data showing where Casa students actually go to college, we did a 10-year study that revealed that more than half attended the Santa Rosa Junior College,” said Backman.

The discovered statistics which illuminated a substantial percentage of the student population that was driven to attend the community college, Backman describes how the Jump Start program began and the intentions behind bridging the gap between college-bound students and the Santa Rosa Junior College.

“We realize[d] in sort of an honest moment that we needed to design a program to reach this particular audience. And to really raise the level of respect afforded to kids who are JC bound. Beginning with, [changing the mindset of] ‘I’m just going to the JC’ [and switching the mindset to], ‘I’m going to college. I’m going to the JC’,” said Backman.

The positive perspectives embedded behind the program has resulted in a rapid growth and interest among the students of Casa Grande.   

“Something that is really unique to Casa is that Casa created Jumpstart. We were the first high school in the county to build this early enrollment program for seniors that are JC bound. We’re in our fifth year, and we’ve seen tremendous growth since the beginning. The first year we had a cohort of 30 or 32 kids. And we now have 170 signed up for the program. The JC has since adopted the timeline developed by Casa and are using it in all the high schools in the whole North Bay. So Casa is the model,” said Backman.

Backman lastly shares his final thoughts on what is meant for the school in years to come.

“I wouldn’t suggest that it’s a utopia at Casa by any means, we have lots of work to do in continuing to bridge the racial-ethnic language gap here. And that’s really exciting and important work,” said Backman.

Among the school’s myriad of accomplishments, there is still progress to be done. Although many goals have been met, there are endless visions and hopes that Casa always strives to improve.

This story was originally published on The Gaucho Gazette on December 5, 2018.

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