Pajaro Valley High School (PVHS) is located in Pajaro Valley Unified School District, Watsonville, California. PVUSD serves approximately 19,000 students, making it one the largest school districts in Northern California. PVHS opened in 2004-05 with a small learning communities structure beginning with 9th grade. The 2007-08 school year was the first year we implemented the vertical 9-12 SLC structure. We are not a conversion school; PVHS has developed as a small learning community from the ground up with teachers actively involved in the design effort.
Pajaro Valley High School serves students who live in the city of Watsonville, which has a largely agricultural-based economy and a large mobile population of farm laborers who maintain ties with Mexico. High poverty and overcrowding exceed other cities located within the county, and the surrounding area has one of the highest housing costs in the country with one of the lowest per capita incomes. 80% of our students participate in the free/reduced lunch program, and 26% are children whose parents attended college (compared to 59% statewide). Many of our students’ parents do not speak English. Pajaro Valley High School’s student population is 89% Hispanic, 2% Filipino, and 9% Caucasian or of mixed race. The percent of English learners is 46% and continues to grow.
PVHS has a standards-based curriculum with programs coordinated in a broad spectrum of academic and educational areas. 95% of our courses are college-prep, and 90% of PVHS students are enrolled in college prep courses. Aside from our ELD program, English learners are integrated into content area courses, and courses are “leveled” to offer challenging curriculum to all students. Integrating curriculum across content areas is germane to our program. Because our site is located adjacent to a designated wetlands area on the Central Coast, a curricular focus is environmental science. Our partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Wetlands Educational Resource Center support our efforts to give students opportunities to become “stewards of the environment.” As well, we offer a menu of programs and activities that build our culture, including a sports program, a variety of clubs, visiting groups and speakers, a school newspaper, assemblies, visual and performing arts classes and productions, and field trips.
Closing the achievement gap is clearly our goal and challenge, and we are committed to preparing ALL students to go to college. We have laid the important groundwork for high levels of student achievement and teacher accountability. We must now capitalize on this work and focus efforts on further improvements in school leadership and organization, curriculum, instruction, assessment and accountability, and school culture and student support.
We envision a future for our students where:
v Each student’s education is optimized in the areas of physical, social, emotional, cognitive and linguistic development.
v Each individual seeks to intelligently manage the environment and available resources to further enhance the well being of society.
v The value of diversity is shared and understood by all.
v Student participation in a global, multicultural environment demands responsible civic and ethical behavior and effective interpersonal skills.
v Students value timely, effective and honest communication with their peers, faculty, staff, family members and community members.