Student achievements highlight KCUSD board meeting

Kings Canyon Unified School District celebrates its students and community while moving through regular business at the most recent Board of Trustees meeting

A student from Grant Middle School performs the book "No, David!" by David Shannon at the Kings Canyon Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 28, 2023. (Serena Bettis)
A student from Grant Middle School performs the book "No, David!" by David Shannon at the Kings Canyon Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 28, 2023. (Serena Bettis)
Serena Bettis
Published November 30, 2023  • 
1:00 pm

REEDLEY – Parents and administrative officials filled up the Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD) board meeting room on the Tuesday after their Thanksgiving break, showing their commitment to the community and their children’s education.

The KCUSD Board of Trustees’ Nov. 28 meeting was standing-room only for the first half of the meeting, as families came out to support their students who demonstrated their co-curricular learning for the board. After an efficient meeting, Superintendent John Campbell commented on the dedication KCUSD officials have to their work and how evident it is that they have a special, strong community.

“People really are doing a great job,” Campbell said. “Our people are out there working hard. … I see all the hard work going on and the things that are being done for our kids.” 

To get the meeting off to a running start, Taylor Cardenas, recreation coordinator for the city of Reedley, presented student awards from the Gnardog Crossfit Fiesta Run/Walk held on Oct. 14. The district provided students with transportation to the event to ensure that students from all KCUSD schools could participate.

Elementary and middle school students from Kings Canyon Unified School District pose for a group photo after performing memorized poems for the KCUSD Board of Trustees at the board meeting Nov. 28, 2023. (Serena Bettis)

Lincoln Elementary School received the award for most participation with 71 students — 25% of their student body — taking part in the race, and Orange Cove High School received the award for most school spirit. Cardenas said it was the Orange Cove football team that put the school over the top.

“Throughout the entire run, they stuck together and never left anyone behind, and that is the true meaning of being a team — sticking together even when you’re tired,” Cardenas said. 

Following awards, students from four different schools recited poems that they memorized for the KCUSD Oral Interpretation Festival. Oral interpretation is the performance of spoken word, which according to the KCUSD website “offers students a unique opportunity to showcase their communication skills.”

Jimmy Loomis, the district’s Visual and Performing Arts coordinator, said there were 600 students who performed their oral interpretation pieces across 15 campuses for this year’s festival. All of the students who performed at the board meeting received a “superior” meeting at their festival and hope to perform at the Tulare County Poetry and Prose Festival in April 2024, Loomis said.

“I am proud to say that we are providing an opportunity for our students to really learn and take skills beyond just elementary and middle school, and then to the rest of their lives,” Loomis said.

Students from McCord Elementary, Washington Elementary, Alta Elementary and Grant Middle School performed for the board and a large crowd of family members there to cheer them on. Crowd favorites included the exasperated lines of “Saw my teacher on a Saturday” by Dave Crawley performed by McCord first-graders and “My teacher’s going crazy” by Bridget Hilinski performed by McCord fifth-graders.

The board then approved all action items with minimal conflict or discussion. Items passed by the board include the official school calendars for the next two years, contracts with various third-party service providers and an agreement with the city of Reedley for use of the Reedley High School pickleball courts.

The 2024-25 school year will begin on Aug. 14, 2024, and end on June 6, 2025, according to the calendar approved by the district. The 2025-26 school year will begin on Aug. 13, 2025, and end on June 5, 2026.

Thanks to the amended facilities use agreement passed by the board, the city of Reedley will now be able to offer select times for residents to use the new pickleball courts on the Reedley High School campus, as the city does not have courts of its own for the popular new sport. 

Sarah Reid, the community services director for the city, said she is working with the high school athletic director and principal to identify the days the city will be able to use the pickleball courts; they are looking at Wednesdays and Saturdays currently. The city will make the courts open for public use when they iron out those details.

“Since the city doesn’t have public pickleball courts at the moment, we’re not gonna charge to have that open to the public, but they will be manned and watched after while they’re open,” Reid said.

The board’s final meeting of the calendar year is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Dec. 12.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter