• October 2017
    SYHS Medallion

    As the first full month of school draws to a close, I would like to celebrate  academic achievement this month. To get started, how about the fact that 50 current and former Santa Ynez Valley Union High School students have earned AP Scholar Awards in recognition of their exceptional achievement on AP Exams?

    The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) provides willing and academically prepared students with the opportunity to take rigorous college- level courses while still in high school, and to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both for successful performance on the AP Exams. Only about 22 percent of the 2.2 million students worldwide who took AP Exams performed at a sufficiently high level to also earn an AP Scholar Award. The College Board recognizes several levels of achievement based on students’ performance on AP Exams. 

    One of our graduates last year qualified for the highly prestigious National AP Scholar Award by earning an average score of 4 or higher on a five-point scale on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams. Jessica Lutz earned this honor as a member of the class of 2017. 

    Eleven current students and graduates qualified for the AP Scholar with Distinction Award by earning an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams. The AP Scholars with Distinction are Madison Benson, Isabella Deleon, Jessica Hadley, Kyle Jonas, Mary Kavaloski, Robert Meyer, Kayla Plater, Erik Sorenson, Cole Sparkman, Zane St Andre-Jackson and Caleb Wright. 

    Twelve current students and graduates qualified for the AP Scholar with Honor Award by earning an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams. The AP Scholars with Honor are Jasper Beckmen, Riley Brewer, Neil Collison, Flora Elmcolone, Nathan Escobedo, Elias Haws, Eva Hennessee, Wyatt Meyer, Benson Moore, Nolan Morrison, Gloria Sevilla and Angel Valdez-Ordonez. 

    Twenty-five current students and graduates qualified for the AP Scholar Award by completing three or more AP Exams with scores of 3 or higher. The AP Scholars are Artem Borysuk, Brontee Cintron, Francesca Davis, Liam Edwards, Alexander Elliott, Bryn Fieldhouse, Logan Hernandez, Braxton Johnson, Madison Johnson, Morgan Lee, Michael Limotta, Megan Maccuish, Isabella Manfreda, Kiersten Marymee, Chloe Monahan, Natalya Nielsen, Alec Peterschick, Abigail Sanger, Cesar Santana, Erika Spaar, Matthew Stahl, Kadin Swets, Sophia Taylor, Ethan Usher and Steven Weitz. 

    Of last year’s award recipients at Santa Ynez High School, 19 were juniors at the last AP Exam administration: Jasper Beckmen, Madison Benson, Neil Collison, Francesca Davis, Alexander Elliott, Logan Hernandez, Braxton Johnson, Madison Johnson, Isabella Manfreda, Robert Meyer, Wyatt Meyer, Benson Moore, Nolan Morrison, Cesar Santana, Erika Spaar, Kadin Swets, Zane St Andre-Jackson, Ethan Usher and Angel Ordonez-Valdez. These students still have the 2017-18 school year, their senior year, in which to complete college-level work and possibly earn a higher-level AP Scholar Award.

    Congratulations to all of our AP Scholars. We are all extremely proud of the accomplishments of these students. Their distinction as AP Scholars is testament not only to their individual hard work and dedication to educational excellence but to the overall high quality of our AP program. The caliber of education being delivered by our AP teachers is clearly world-class. 

    This is also the time of year that we have results of state testing to discuss. On September 27, California released the results of the California Assessment of Performance and Progress (CAASPP) which officially replaced the now defunct Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program in 2014-15 as the State’s measure of school accountability. In its current iteration, CAASPP consists of just two tests—both for juniors. Students are tested in language arts and mathematics using the computer-adaptive Smarter Balanced Assessment. This new online test provides each student with a custom testing experience. Once a student has demonstrated understanding of a standard, the computer recognizes that and moves on to questions on a different standard. In English language arts, 63% of our juniors met or exceeded the standard. The average in Santa Barbara County was 55%. In mathematics, 50% of our juniors met or exceeded the standard. One traditional high school edged us out for the top spot with a 56% while the rest were 45% and below. The average in Santa Barbara County was 29%. Though these scores represent a modest decline from last year, they equal  our baseline scores from two years ago. As a faculty, we are still feeling good about our results and with how we compare to other schools, particularly in mathematics. It reaffirms what we are doing; we know that the curricular changes we have made in math, especially, and the on-going professional development in which both our English and math teachers are engaging will only serve to better student learning and lead to improved test scores in the future.

    I am excited to announce a new opportunity for parents this year, our inaugural class of SYHS Parent Ambassadors. Parent Ambassadors learn more about SYHS and help us share with the broader community all of the great things happening here at Santa Ynez High School. Additionally, they speak for the parents and let us know the parent perspective about issues facing the high school and our students. It’s not too late to apply to be a Parent Ambassador. The deadline has been extended to October 11. Look for the application packet elsewhere in this newsletter.

    A few noteworthy calendar items in closing: the first quarter ends on October 14, so be watching for quarter grades to come out in the mail near the end of the following week; there is no school on Monday, October 9 as the teachers across the Valley will be gathering at the high school for professional development in the eighth annual Valley Schools Conference; and finally, Friday, October 13 will be a minimum day, so students will be dismissed at 12:11 to head downtown for the Homecoming Parade. Thank you for the continued support you show Santa Ynez High School each year.

    Don’t forget that SYHS Homecoming is a community-wide event. Please join us Friday, October 13 at 12:30 PM on Copenhagen drive in Solvang for our Homecoming parade  and come out to root on the undefeated Pirates in some hometown football that same night for the homecoming game against Cabrillo. Go Pirates!


    Mark Swanitz


    Class of '85
    View Mark Swanitz's profile on LinkedIn

    Go Pirates!