The senior class of 2020 have decided. Patterson seniors have come to a decision they would rather wait for full ceremony graduation. The graduation will occur when it is advisable to do so. The senior class took a vote online to decide the matter.
Patterson Joint Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Phil Alfano was unsure when the district would be able to hold a full ceremony in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he assured the school board that the district is looking at a few different options.
Ultimately, when a full ceremony can occur will be entirely dependent on when the state or county has made the call to allow gatherings. It may mean the class of 2020 may have to wait a long time before attending their ceremony. It could be until 2021 that the class of 2020 finally gets its time in the sun. Only time will tell how this develops.
In the meantime, the district will hold a series of events honoring the graduating class. There are already photos of the senior class up around campuses as part of their Six Feet Apart event.
Friday Night Lights
Every Friday evening, the Patterson Community Stadium lights have been turned on for 20 minutes and 20 seconds to honor the graduating class.
The final event will take place on Thursday, May, 28 at 8 p.m. at Patterson Community Stadium.
It is important to note that no one will be permitted to enter stadium grounds. Stadium access will be restricted. Anyone wishing to visit can park in the visitor’s parking, sit or stand around the stadium to view the celebration.
Roads will not be closed for the event. Visitors should be mindful of this and not obstruct traffic.
There will be a screen on the north grass area showing a video put together by ASB.
The district will also bring the cannon “out of retirement” to ring out to Patterson residents again. The cannon used to be present at every home Patterson High football game.
It would go off anytime the Tigers scored to celebrate and signal to the rest of town within earshot.
First responders will also be in attendance not as a safety precaution but to honor and recognize the class of 2020. They will circle the stadium and flash their lights as a sign of support for the graduating class.
Unfortunately, Dr. Alfano was not able to offer any specific timetable on when schools would be able to return to a classroom setting.
The superintendent shared that the district is preparing for an array of possibilities. What course they take will depend on when the area gets the green light to forge ahead.
Regardless of whether the district can open at full or partial capacity, Dr. Alfano shared that they will have to implement new guidelines to adhere to social distancing recommendations. Significant events will have to be canceled and stated that “sports programs are still very much up in the air.”
Dr. Alfano also recommended that schools will likely not be able to host traditional fundraisers such as selling candy or products due to the additional risk of moving additional products and money in and out of campuses could pose. Other ways this could impact schools could come in the form of asking payments and fees to be paid online. The yearbook, for example, has traditionally accepted checks or cash payments, but the district may have to move away from that model in favor of payment online for the time being.
He hopes to get students back to in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so.
“We’ve done a really good job as a district. Our teachers have done a good job with online instruction, but it is certainly not a substitute for classroom teaching,” Dr. Alfano said on May 18.
There are still a lot of unknown variables that PJUSD is trying to grapple with as the subject of reopening schools will certainly amplify in the discourse as California rolls out Stage 2 of the reopening process.
PHS construction and “El Solyo Ranch Elementary”
The board opened up for public comment on two construction projects set to take place in the district. There was no public comment on either of the projects.
Patterson High School will begin construction of a new theater, two-story classroom and a gymnasium on three acres of land located in the central and eastern portions of the existing campus.
A new project dubbed “El Solyo Ranch Elementary” is also set to be in the works. The project is proposing a new elementary campus on approximately 19.5 acres north of Walnut Grove School in northeast Patterson. The site will be located west of North Hartley Street and between Olive Avenue and Walnut Avenue
Dr. Alfano shared that the name “El Solyo Ranch Elementary” is just a placeholder name for the time being to get the project on its feet and underway. The name is not the final name of the campus and will be subject to change once the project materializes.
The land for the project has not been acquired and is still going through appraisal.
The board approved three contracts of employment for two teachers and a counselor for the upcoming school year.
A district employee has submitted their resignation as of June 30.
Two district employees have also announced their intention to retire.
Anna Lee and Mary “Jan” Ross have both retired as teachers. Both retirements are effective June 30.
Accepted votes on Measure N
The school board unanimously accepted and approved the votes on Measure N on Tuesday.
The Patterson Joint Unified School District placed Measure N on the March 3 Presidential Primary Election ballot. Stanislaus and Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters received the certified results.
The board is required to take action and accept the results.
Measure N did not pass earlier this year. A total of 61.99 percent of participants voted no on the proposal.