Last Monday’s board meeting was a short but special one that kicked off with Superintendent Phil Alfano introducing board members to Patterson Township Historical Society President, Linda Briggs. Briggs presented the first annual John V. Azevedo Memorial Scholarship to Patterson High School 2021 graduate, Anthea Gines. The Scholarship was established by Azevedo for Patterson High students who put in hard work and effort towards the National History Day Competition. The competition, according to its website, challenges students in middle school and high school around the world annually to conduct original research on historical topics of interest.

“John was born here, raised here, went to school here and graduated from Patterson High,” said Briggs. “...He helped organize and start our Historical Society. He did a lot of things for our community.”

The board met the presentation of the scholarship to Anthea Gines with a round of applause followed by a group picture. Alfano praised Gines work on her National History Day project which featured research on a case prior to Brown vs Board of Education, the historical case that found segregation in schools unconstitutional. Gines’ case revolved around a family in California that was having to travel over 30 miles with their children to attend a residential Mexican-American school.

“[My friends and I] decided to create a project based on representing people of color,” said Gines. “Because we each are a type of person of color. We decided to think about what will fit the best of the theme which was, “Triumph or Tragedy.” As we were looking through we weren’t interested in previous National History Day [projects] and we didn’t want to repeat a bunch of historical events that are already in the textbooks. We had found a certain court case that was a precedent to Brown vs Board of Education that was not actually in my AP U.S. History Textbook…[We felt] it fit best with the triumph because they were the first court case to be heard in California and California was actually the first state to have integrated schools. The tragedy was that the parents of who we interviewed, Sylvia Mendez, Mendez’ parents had to bring their kids more than 30 miles to a residential school just for Mexican-Americans and it was not right because as we were looking through the transcripts they were calling them derogatory terms...This case wasn’t only important to us but to California as a whole.”

Next up on the agenda was the School Operations Update given by Superintendent Phil Alfano. Alfano talked about the recent guideline updates from the California Department of Public Health and Stanislaus County. In previous meetings Alfano remained cautiously optimistic that things could return to normal by the start of this new school year, however, recent announcements have seemed to sway towards things staying the same as they were at the end of the school year.

“Contrary to what we were told before the break, which was that [the California Department of Public Health] would simply mirror what the CDC adopted, they actually put something in place a little more restrictive,” said Alfano. “But it’s almost identical to where we left off at the end of the year, which is that masks will still be required inside classrooms for youth and teachers in a youth setting regardless of vaccination status. Pretty much status quo to where we were June 15th. The good news is we won’t have to quarantine if students are tested. We would just implement rapid-antigen testing on the spot with parents permission twice during that 10-day period and if the student tests negative they don’t have to go home or quarantine so that was a good change...You probably heard there was just an announcement today from County Public Health and they are recommending masking indoors for everybody regardless of vaccination status. So at this point it’s a recommendation and not a requirement...So we’re kinda waiting to see what the final guidance would be.”

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