REEDLEY – It’s an even dozen years this fall for one of the academic gems of the Kings Canyon Unified School District, Reedley Middle College High School (RMCHS).
The dual enrollment school on the Reedley College (RC) campus – the first middle college high school in Fresno County when it opened in August 2012 – begins its 12th school year of instruction in 2023-24. The partnership between KCUSD and Reedley College offers college pathways in both agricultural business (ag prep) and general transfer.
The pathways allow high school students to earn college credits for transfer during their high school days; even enough to earn an associates degree in addition to a high school diploma. In the recent Class of 2023 commencement, 80 percent of the 53 graduates also took the walk with associate’s degrees this past spring during RC commencement.
This year, RMCHS has a new principal, Josh Darnell, who also is taking over as administrator for KCUSD Educational Options that includes Kings Canyon High School, Kings Canyon Adult School, Kings Canyon Online and Mountain View School. Previous Ed Options Ron Pack has been promoted to administrator for the district’s educational programs.
“It’s a great program, to be able to not only take high school classes but to take the college classes and get an individualized plan for them to go through high school and their first couple of years of college,” Darnell said.
Each year, RMCHS takes between 70 to 75 students through a lottery system after students fill out applications and present their qualifications. The program began with an initial 20 applicants in 2012, and classes initially were held in portable trailers on the RC campus. But growth and success came quickly, and RMCHS was recognized in 2017 as co-winner of the 2016-17 Exemplary Program Award by the Community College’s Board of Governors.
The district and college dedicated a new two-story main building for RMCHS in April 2019 at the northwest portion of campus, adjacent to the RC Ag Farm, after just 11 months of construction.
“It’s really given us an opportunity to become what I would call a real school as opposed to just using some rooms on the college campus,” Darnell said, adding that the close proximity to the Ag Farm has allowed for the Ag Prep program to flourish. The program has sheep, goats, pigs and some beef cattle, along with chickens laying farm fresh eggs.
Darnell said this year’s batch of students on campus are preparing an individual plan through their counselor for their educational goals, called the Student Educational Plan. It sets up the pathway to determine each students’ particular educational goal. Also new to the staff this fall is George Ruiz as a learning director.
The official start of classes for most RMCHS students is Wednesday, Aug. 16, along with all other Kings Canyon Unified Schools. However, many students already began their associate’s education on Monday, Aug. 7, in conjunction with the start of the Fall semester at the college.