Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Antioch High graduates largest class in six years

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Deontay Currie and Kaeli Cavallo are all smiles as they head to Eells Stadium for the Class of 2017’s graduation commencement on Friday, June 9. Photos by Trine Gallegos / Antioch High School.

Antioch High Student Body President Chelsea Abillano speaks to her classmates.

By Luke Johnson

Associated Student Body President Chelsea Abillano was brought to tears at the end of Antioch High School’s commencement ceremony, when graduates formed the traditional “block A” on the football field.

“It was when I had one of my last encounters with a teacher who made a big impact on my life,” Abillano said.

She was referring to Student Government teacher Sean Taylor who embraced her with a hug while graduates threw their caps into the warm, nighttime sky over Eells Stadium.

“Mr. T was a teacher who always taught life lessons,” Abillano said. “It was always fun and memorable.

Approximately 368 students received their diplomas Friday, June 9. This was the most for AHS since 2011 – the last year before Dozier-Libbey Medical High School started graduating classes in the same district.

Najee Harris with Principal Louie Rocha.

Abillano said in her four years spent on campus she will remember athletes and coaches turning around the school’s athletic program.

When she was in 8th grade the boys’ basketball team finished 0-22, and when she was a freshman the football team went 1-9. However, before she graduated she witnessed the football team win a league championship for the first time in 31 years and the basketball team win a playoff game for the first time in six years. On top of that, the boys’ volleyball team won its first league title in two decades.

The school’s most famous member of the Class of 2017, who helped create some of that sports success, Najee Harris returned from the University of Alabama to walk with his classmates and participate in the commencement ceremonies.

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Dozier Libbey Medical High School says farewell to Class of 2017

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Antioch School Board Vice President Debra Vinson addresses the Dozier-Libbey Medical High School graduating Class of 2017 on Friday, June 9, 2017.

By Allen Payton

The 149 graduates in the Class of 2017 at Antioch’s Dozier-Libbey Medical High School and their families, friends, faculty and staff celebrated their achievement during commencement ceremonies on Friday, June 9. They heard humorous, inspiring and encouraging messages from top classmates, their principal, and a representative of the Board of Trustees

Antioch School Board Vice President Debra Vinson representing the trustees, shared her thoughts and offered encouragement to the graduates.

“Many of you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. I’m on my fourth career. So’ there is hope,” she said to laughter.

Vinson reminded the graduates of the Six Pillars of Character, from the Character Counts program, which is promoted in all Antioch district schools: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

She also referred to The Four Agreements, from the book by author Don Miguel Ruiz. The first is “Be impeccable with your word.”

“Only speak bright, positive things about your future,” Vinson said. “Don’t Take Things Personally” and “always give your best.”

“You are now the creator of your life,” she continued.

“Keep a list of loyal friends. Make sure your pastor is on that list. It’s OK to ask for prayer,” Vinson shared. “Learn to listen to your heart. It’s now your life. You’re responsible for it.”

She finished by reading the poem, “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” to some laughter from both the graduates and the audience and ended with “Congratulations graduates.”

Dozier-Libbey graduates receive their diplomas, displaying special messages on their caps.

Valedictorian Angela Geronimo, wearing “UCSD” on her cap, where she is college bound, spoke to her classmates about their shared experience.

“The fears, anxieties and mood swings have ceased for now,” she stated. “We all started out…in baggy scrubs.”

Geronimo spoke about the various teachers and what they taught the students and of “juggling AP (Advanced Placement) work with projects after project after project.”

She spoke of Raul Martinez a fellow classmate who had passed away, then lightened the mood by joking about “anxiety attacks and melt downs.”

“We struggled to gain extra credit points,” Geronimo shared, and “Mr. Libby’s depressing documentaries,” eliciting laughter from the grads.

She then thanked “our amazing staff, faculty, family and friends. We appreciate you more than we can think of.”

“We conquered the most difficult school in Antioch, California,” Geronimo declared.

Next to address the graduates was a fellow student, Erron Williams who had a different, interrupted experience at Dozier-Libbey.

“I left Dozier-Libbey in my junior year for a real campus experience,” he shared. “I realized the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

“I’m grateful and proud to be a graduate of Dozier-Libbey,” Williams stated. “The school has taught us to never give up. Never lose hope in who you want to become.”

He thanked the teachers, saying “you’ve made an impact deeply on my life. I see now you are our biggest ally.”

To his fellow grads Williams concluded by saying, “I want you to know you’re absolutely amazing.”

The final speaker was Principal Scott Bergerhouse, sharing his pride in the class.

“Tomorrow is the beginning of a brand, new future,” he stated. “I’m proud to stand before excellence.”

He spoke of the achievements of the students.

“We have three valedictorians and two salutatorians…55 students out of a class of 149 with a 3.5 GPA (Grade Point Average) and above. 26 with a 3.85 and above. And 14 of those 55 with an above 4.0 GPA” and “19 unbelievable students of mastering two languages.”

“You will be leaders of our future,” Bergerhouse continued. “All of you have touched the hearts of the teachers and myself.”

He mentioned a variety of students by name and the memorable things they did.

“Those valuable memories will never be forgotten,” the principal said.

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go to the wilderness of your intuition,” Bergerhouse shared, quoting actor Alan Alda.

“The teachers and staff are proud of each and every one of you,” he concluded.

The graduates were then presented their diplomas as each of their names was read aloud to the cheers from the crowd.

Congratulations to the Dozier-Libbey Medical High School Class of 2017!


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Antioch Eagle Scout graduates from Coast Guard Academy

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

McNell is congratulated by President Donald Trump at the Coast Guard Academy graduation, May 17, 2017.

Bradley McNell accepted his commission from his Commander in Chief, President Donald Trump during the U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017.

After completing four years at the Academy in New London, CT and    receiving a Bachelor of Science degree McNell’s first tour of duty will be as an Officer on the 418 foot National Security Cutter, USCGC Waesche – whose homeport is Alameda, CA.

He is an Eagle Scout from Troop 450 and a 2012 graduate of De La Salle High School.

To watch the speech by given to the graduates by General John Kelly, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, click here and to see highlights of the graduation, click here.

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Deer Valley High graduates one of its smartest classes

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Valedictorian Henry Rausch, left and other Deer Valley High Class of 2017 grads celebrate and get hyped during the ceremony on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Photos by Luke Johnson

DVHS alum and Vice Principal Blair Wilkins addresses the graduates.

By Luke Johnson

An unlikely dream came true for a Deer Valley High School alumnus.

Blair Wilkins – who ranked No. 317 out of 400 students in DVHS’s first graduating class in 1999 – spoke during the commencement ceremony for the Class of 2017 as the school’s vice principal.

“For me graduating 18 years ago – half my life ago – it’s been very surreal for me to come back and it’s been a great pleasure to serve as a vice principal,” Wilkins said.

Approximately 475 diploma recipients filed in on the campus’s football field Thursday, June 8, on an unusually cloudy evening for this time of year with an estimated 3,000 loved ones in the stands.

A grad cheers on one of his peers.

Wilkins said this was one of the school’s most successful years academically with nearly one-fourth of graduates finishing with a 3.5 GPA or higher.

“We have had a lot of growth with our students – most recently being recognized as a California Honor Roll School,” Wilkins said. “Which to me is a great honor and really shows how great of a school community we have.”

Every year students and administrators agree that DVHS has an unfair negative reputation. However, Valedictorian Henry Rausch believes the school took a step forward this year in progressing public opinion.

A grad celebrates as she receives her diploma.

“From the inside, we don’t have a bad reputation. We all like the school,” Rausch said. “It’s just a small fraction of the school that’s making trouble and giving us bad press, and from the inside we don’t see any of that.”

Before the event began, everyone in attendance had a moment of silence to pay tribute to Reggina Jefferies, who was on pace to graduate that day but tragically passed away in a mass shooting in Oakland last summer.


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Antioch High to introduce Puente Project next school year

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Antioch and Pittsburg High School students and staff work together to present the Puente program. Top left to right: Stephon Cartwright, Ivana Zelda , Danni Le, Andrea Zárate, Jennifer Swatzell and Violeta Orozco. Bottom: Daniel Villafan and Jesus Cano.

To offer students a bridge to college, community service

By Jesus Cano

Established in 1981 at Chabot College in Hayward, according to their website, “the Puente Project is a national award-winning program that…has improved the college-going rate of tens of thousands of California’s educationally underrepresented students. Its mission is to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students who enroll in four-year colleges and universities, earn college degrees and return to the community as mentors and leaders to future generations. The program is interdisciplinary in approach, with writing, counseling and mentoring components.”

The program’s headquarters are located at the University of California, Berkeley but expand all over the Golden State as north as Woodland all the way the way down south to Coachella Valley.

Some of Puente’s statistics include having 800 students in Northern California, but the number that left the families in the room most impressed, was a 79 percent, four-year university acceptance rate amongst program members.

The word puente in Spanish means bridge, and the program helps provide a bridge for students to college and community service.

“Bringing Puente to Antioch High is one of my biggest successes,” Antioch Vice Principal Stephon Cartwright said. “The immediate goal is to build up a Puente Family.”

Since Antioch will inaugurate their first year of Puente, they will be receiving a lot of assistance from eight year Pittsburg High School Puente counselor Danni Le and her staff. In fact, Le brought four of her elite Puente students to speak at the meeting in order to provide personal experience about the program.

“The biggest advantage about being in Puente is having a family bond with your fellow Puentistas,” Le said.

In order to be accepted into Puente, you must complete a summer session, where members interact with each other in order to have that early family aspect. Le states that the summer session is one of the most pivotal moments in the program’s duration.

Antioch High is currently recruiting 8th graders that will be attending the school in the fall. The process will consist of submitting an application, then following an interview. However, not all students will be admitted.

Principal Louie Rocha made an appearance and introduced the Puente staff who will include Violeta Orozco – Puente Counselor, Stephon Cartwright – Puente Vice Principal and Jennifer Swatzell – Puente English Teacher

Personally, I am part of the Puente program at Pittsburg High School and it is a very beneficial program to be in. It heavily improved my writing and opened my eyes about college and my future. If you are a parent wanting to enroll your child in this program, do not hesitate. This is a positive life changing program that any student must take advantage of.

To apply contact Mrs. Orozco at or call (925)729-7550 ext. 40230.

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Baccalaureate for all high school graduates in Antioch to be held this Sunday, June 4

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

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Antioch School Board to pursue live streaming, videotaping meetings

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

By Allen Payton

Following efforts by this newspaper, and at the urging of a new majority of members, the Antioch School Board agreed, on May 10th, to bring their meetings into the 21st century and offer greater transparency to the residents, parents and students in the district. They agreed to move forward with efforts to begin live streaming their meetings on the internet and videotaping them for possible later showing on a new local cable, education TV channel.

In the past, a majority of school board dismissed the idea, using the excuse that it was too costly. The issue was included as a question during the forum for school board candidates sponsored by the Herald during last fall’s election. Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White supported the idea then, and at the meeting.

The latest effort, requested by Board Vice President Debra Vinson, included an option of moving the board meetings to the Antioch City Council Chambers, where TV equipment for the live broadcast and streaming of their meetings, already exists – and has for over 20 years.

However, Joseph Gengler, the school district’s IT Manager is recommending an alternative approach that keeps the board in their own chambers and still allows the public to watch the meetings either live or taped.

During his presentation to the board, he explained the options of “the high cost of entry for equipment” for live television inside the board room, versus streaming, which has a “low cost of entry and only requires an internet connection.”

Audio of board meetings “is already posted on YouTube,” he explained. “We can use the same medium at no cost to us to add video to this. New TV’s have the YouTube app on them.” His recommendation, “instead of TV, we just livestream our events” including others at the schools.

“We can use existing district resources,” Gengler continued. “We can get more advanced and have the high school students come in and they can use the equipment to live stream their events.”

The system “integrates with Board Docs,” the district’s newly implemented online board meeting agendas, he added.

While there would be no additional internet fees for the district, there will however be some cost for equipment, such as purchasing and installing one or more cameras in the board room. It will cost about $600 for the box to stream to convert the signal and about $1,500 for a camera, Gengler explained.

In comparison, “it would cost $12,000 to $15,000 for the box to do live broadcasting,” he stated.

Vinson said “I like the idea of live streaming. Any way we decide to go it would be a positive.”

Board President Walter Ruehlig said “I would be supportive of pursuing” the effort.

Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray, who in the past worked for Comcast, asked where the archives would be stored, either on YouTube or “on our own server. Do any cities do both?”

“I would just record on the camera and keep it as an archive,” Gengler responded.

Gibson-Gray then explained that the “local cable access channel, they already collect a 1% tax” and said she “wanted to see if they have funds to pay for this.”

Gengler will continue to work on the effort and bring back a detailed proposal for future board adoption.

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Ruehlig wants city council to fund more Antioch library hours

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Dear Editor:

As the President of the Antioch School Board and as Antioch’s former (thirteen years) Representative to the County Library Commission and two-time chairman of that organization, I am no stranger to the needs of libraries.

Speaking, though, strictly or myself in the role of a private citizen, I am convinced that libraries are not a luxury but are an economic necessity. Great cities have great libraries. Libraries are simply a gateway to community engagement and cultural enrichment.

They are today’s veritable Meccas and crossroads, serving as a hub of traditional quiet reading, study and research while intersecting with modern technology. Call them the 21st century town square as they bring together people of all ages, interests and economic and social strata.

As people look to buy into communities with good schools they also take an interest in the available educational and cultural support system.

Libraries do, then, matter in the big picture and they matter on many levels.

Consider the tale of two cities. Deer Valley High has a great library and is fortunate to be across the street from Prewett Park and the modern library there. Our downtown library, though, suffers from wear and tear.

It is also cramped and in need of more hours of service because of the fact that, invariably, less families in the downtown have computer access than in more affluent S.E. Antioch. As  is, the downtown library is open 28 hours and Prewett Park 35. That’s, plain and simple, an inequity, particularly to our youth and seniors.

The City is now in the process of apportioning excess funds. I urge our Council at their next meeting to vote in favor of using some of the newfound money for extended library hours for the 18th Street location.

Walter Ruehlig


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