KCHS seniors make the grade in Reedley College course

Graduating seniors at Kings Canyon High School make history as the first at KCHS to take Reedley College courses

Students eat lunch beneath a canopy on the Kings Canyon High School campus May 29, 2024. The mural in the background is a favorite of students and staff, and Site Administrator Chris Boswell said he tries to incorporate school colors and artwork across the entire campus to make it more inviting. (Serena Bettis)
Serena Bettis
Published June 3, 2024  • 
3:00 pm

REEDLEY – Around 30 Kings Canyon High School seniors celebrated a first for the school this spring when they took a “college and life management” course at Reedley College — and all passed with a B-plus average. 

As the continuation and alternative education school in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), KCHS is focused on ensuring its students, who have fallen behind on credits, graduate from high school. Getting a head start on a college degree is not necessarily at the forefront of the school’s mission, but setting its students up for success in life is. 

Passing the class not only meant earning college credits, but for many students, it showed them that they are more than capable of continuing their academic careers. Taught by Aaron Eubanks, a dual enrollment and high school enrichment counselor at Reedley College, the course focused on connecting students to resources available at Reedley College and getting them ready for life after high school.

“A lot of us were very iffy about going to college because it’s a new step for us, and we don’t really know the campus and we’re not comfortable, so they really put that out for us and they made us feel comfortable with the campus,” KCHS senior Savannah Peralta said.

Eubanks said the course covers a wide variety of topics, including personal and academic growth and development, success strategies, healthy lifestyles, career options, budgeting, cultural awareness and campus resources. He said his main goal for the class is for students to be prepared to “take classes mainstream” and have a leg up on the services offered by the college. 

“I think the main thing is them really knowing what kind of career they’re looking at and how they’re getting to that career,” Eubanks said. “This course really gives students a well-rounded experience into college life.”

After taking the course, Peralta and her friend and classmate Vianca Villasenor — who both graduated this past week — are not only certain that they want to go to college, but they are set up with financial aid, registered for fall and spring classes and know what they want to study: early childhood education. 

They both credited the KCHS staff for getting them to this point and said they really pushed a lot of the students to give the course a try. One of the key aspects of KCHS is that it gives students who may otherwise get lost in the shuffle of a large high school campus a chance to be seen and valued. 

“They never leave us behind,” Villasenor said.

This opportunity came from the need to give students — who were already set up to graduate — a valuable way to fill their time in the spring, KCHS Administrator Chris Boswell said. In previous years KCHS students would graduate as soon as they completed their credit requirements; beginning this year and moving forward, however, students must stay for the full academic year.

With that in mind, Boswell said KCHS wanted to make sure its students were truly getting the help they needed to be successful after high school. He said it’s beneficial in the long run to keep students throughout the entire school year, because they can provide more instruction not just on core classes, but on how to excel in college or in a career.

“Our goal was, ‘how can we better use their time to make it much more worthwhile for everybody,’ and that’s what this thing drove from — was that sense of basically give them a purpose, because otherwise they would just sit here,” Boswell said.

From chance encounter to student success

Offering this specific Reedley College course was “just pure circumstance,” Boswell said. Last fall, KCHS counselor Leticia Tasy was attending the State Center Community College District’s (SCCCD) annual High School Counselor Conference when she saw a presentation from Eubanks.

Students play volleyball and enjoy the sunshine on the Kings Canyon High School campus May 29, 2024. Site Administrator Chris Boswell said the atmosphere on the campus is very calm and positive, which can be a big change from a traditional high school campus during lunch. (Serena Bettis)

“She approached me and said, ‘hey, this would be a fantastic idea to really give our students at our school an opportunity to take a college course for the first time,’” Eubanks said.

With KCUSD and Reedley College already having a strong partnership, and KCHS students already taking courses at Reedley College through the Valley Regional Occupational Program (VROP), it was smooth sailing for KCHS to get its students set up with the course and bussed over to the college campus for two afternoons every week. 

Eubanks and KCHS have received a lot of positive feedback from the students who took the class. 

“Since we are an alternative school, I just think it’s great and I think it’s something that they should keep doing so students can see more of what college is,” Villasenor said.

Oscar Hernandez, lead teacher at KCHS, said it has been good for seniors to have a greater sense of independence while they’re transitioning into adulthood.

“They feel that freedom; they’re already feeling like they’re young adults and not so structured in rules and things as they have here on this campus, so we figured it would be a good experience and from what they’ve said, it has been,” Hernandez said. 

Further, Hernandez said that students in both the Reedley College course and the VROP courses have shown a lot of pride in what they’re doing, proudly sporting their firefighting gear or nursing scrubs on the KCHS campus, which sets a good example for students in the junior class who can see where they could end up in a year. 

“A lot of people think that we’re kids that have no potential in the future and everything like that, and this is showing people that we do have potential and we graduated from a college class,” Peralta said.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter