Principal's Newsletter


January 2020


Happy New Year Pirate families!


How quickly time flies. The panic over Y2K could not possibly have been two decades ago, yet here we are in the 20’s already. I hope that you all had a joyful holiday season with family and friends and I wish you the all the best in this new year.


The return to school after Christmas break signals the beginning of our second semester. After the brief respite of the holidays, teachers will be submitting first semester grades this week and should be available on the Parent Portal as early as Thursday. Be looking for a notification from Aeries Communications when they are posted. Getting back into a routine after a long time away from it is difficult for anyone, but returning to school after a break can be especially difficult for teenagers. You can help your child to get a great start to the semester by ensuring that he or she returns to regular eating and sleeping habits and by monitoring school work to be sure your teen doesn’t fall behind academically in the critical first weeks of the new semester.


On the subject of academics, let me remind you that this spring we will once again be administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the California Science Test to all juniors. These are the mandatory state tests used to assess student and school performance and progress. Four things you should know about the Smarter Balanced and the CST are that (1) they are computer-adaptive, meaning that they are administered on a computer and adapts to student responses to more accurately measure student mastery;  (2) they are not strictly multiple choice, but include written responses and a variety of other process-oriented question types made possible by the fact that they are administered on a computer; (3) they only assesses English language arts, mathematics and science skills; and (4) they are only administered once during high school, in the junior year.  These tests are important to the reputation of our school in the larger academic community—including colleges and university admissions office evaluating our graduates’ applications. It will be critically important that this year’s juniors rise to the challenge and ensure that SYVUHS retains it’s strong standing in the academic community. You will be hearing more from me on these tests in the coming months.


I would like to mention the generosity I observed from our students last month. For as busy as they are, it never ceases to amaze me that our students take the time to give back so graciously to the community that has given them so much. In December, the Associated Student Body and several student clubs conducted various drives to make the holiday season happier for under-privileged Valley families. I am inspired by the selflessness of our students and their initiative to reach out to our community.


In closing, please note that there will be no school on Monday, January 20 in recognition of Martin Luther King Junior Day.


Mark Swanitz

Class of 1985


Go Pirates!