Ray Huard … Stepped up programs in the arts, robotics and computer science are in the works at Rancho Buena Vista High School as the school year gets underway.
Principal Charles Schindler is particularly keen to work out a plan that would let students interested in the arts focus on what they love while meeting requirements to graduate with the course work and skills they need to qualify for admission to four-year colleges.
“I just believe in a well-rounded student,” Schindler said. “I’m a big advocate of having a flexible schedule for kids to take what they want and still go to college.”
The problem is that with six class periods a day, students are hard-pressed to cram in all the courses they need to graduate college-ready and have time to take elective art courses.
“How do we design a pathway, if you will, for college-bound students? It’s an ongoing project, but I love it,” Schindler said.
Superintendent Devin Vodicka said Schindler’s goal for an arts path is a good fit for the school.
“Rancho Buena Vista High School is an established leader in the region with respect to arts education,” Vodicka said. “The school is well-known for a world-class theater program, an award-winning band, exceptional dance teams, and strong visual arts opportunities. It makes sense to build on those strengths to better prepare students for a dynamic future where creativity and collaboration will be essential for success.”
Schindler also is committed to forming a Rancho Buena Vista robotics team to compete with other schools, along with stepped up programs in computers.
“I’d really like to see us get to that level of having team competition,” Schindler said.
Rancho Buena Vista’s robotics program “is an excellent illustration of the power of connecting students with real-world problems,” Vodicka said.
“Creating robots is an interdisciplinary challenge that requires coding skills, engineering, creativity, critical thinking, perseverance, and collaboration,” Vodicka said. “I am looking forward to seeing this innovative program continue to grow and provide additional opportunities for students to learn and showcase their talents. “
During the 2015-2016 school year, Rancho Buena Vista offered a computers principles course and in the coming year will expand on that by offering an Advancement Placement (AP) computer course and a computer science course as part of its CTE (Career Technical Education).
“CTE focuses on the programming and how do I use the programs to make games and aps,” Schindler said.
The course will focus on showing students how to use various coding programs.
“AP will be looking at the social and global implications of computer science, how technology is used,” Schindler said. “The AP asks them to think more deeply about that. They’ll be asking kids to respond to the implications of computers.”
Like other AP courses, the AP computer course will be accepted for college credit at many colleges and universities.
This year, Rancho Buena Vista also is adding a science design course as part of its International Baccalaureate Program, Schindler said. “I think it’s kind of neat. It asks kids to look at a problem and really apply scientific method and problem solving to real world problems –identify a problem, develop a hypothesis, research, and come up with a solution,” Schindler said. “It really pushes kids. Dance also will be added to the IB program this year, Schindler said. “Ultimately what the kids will have to do is plan and perform their own dance,” Schindler said. “Our IB is really strong at Rancho Buena Vista.”
Rancho Buena Vista has had an International Baccalaureate program since the school opened in 1987 and about 200 of the school’s 2,300 students take IB courses, which are especially demanding. The school is continuing a drive to get more students enrolled in IB and AP courses.