Schools welcome students back from summer break

The first day of the new school year was a bustle of activity at the campuses of three of the five school districts in Colusa County.

Pierce Joint Unified and Williams Unified students went back to school last Wednesday, following what seemed like a short summer break, and Princeton Unified got underway on Thursday. Maxwell and Colusa students return to school today.

It was a new beginning for some and the beginning of the end for many students. From kindergartners, who timidly let go of their parents’ hands and marched into their classrooms like troopers, to seniors, who knew that they would be walking the halls of their high school for the last time, pretty much everyone felt the excitement of starting anew.

“I’m really excited because I got the teacher I wanted,” said Evelyn Guevara, 10, a fifth grader at Williams Upper Elementary School, on Aug. 8. “I’m also excited because this year we get two teachers, and I’ll get to see how it feels to have two. When we go into seventh grade, we start with seven teachers, so this is like a first experience to learn how it’s going to work every time we have to switch. It’s also exciting to learn new things. I love learning new things.”

Leslie Villanueva, who graduated 8th grade from Johnson Junior High in Arbuckle, in June, walked into Pierce High School last Wednesday a freshman, and anticipated that her school experience was about to change.

“It’s going to be a lot more difficult; there’s a lot more rules here than there is over there,” Villanueva said, pointing to the neighboring junior high campus.

Like many students, Villanueva said she plans to balance her studies with activities.
“I play volleyball, basketball and track,” she said, adding that she would play all four years as long as it didn’t interfere with her studies.
Pierce seniors Sara Vann and Emma Doherty also have big expectations to do well in their last year of high school, balancing sports and raising market animals while doing advanced coursework.
Vann plans to go into the Air Force Special Forces after high school, and Doherty plans to go to a four-year university to study agriculture, possibly viticulture and enology, so that she can return to Arbuckle to work in the family business.

“This is our last year at Pierce, so we really need to make it count,” Doherty said.
All three districts had a number of new administrators to welcome students back to school.
Pierce High School’s new principal, David Vujovich, who came from the El Dorado County Office of Education, said the first day was incredible.

“There’s about 440 happy kids, and everybody is just doing what they are supposed to do and hitting the ground running,” Vujovich said. “We’re going to keep raising the level of achievement. We’re starting off on a good road, and because of the hard work the teachers are putting in, and the community’s support, we’ll be moving forward at a really good pace. There’s a lot of excitement.”

In Williams, former Vice Principal Hector Gonzalez took over the helm at Williams Upper Elementary School, and former Williams High School Vice Principal Leticia Castaneda took over as principal of Williams Elementary School.

Castaneda, in an open letter to the community, said she plans to establish trusting relationships, implement a system of open communication, and develop a sense of shared responsibility and accountability in order to ensure that a culture of educational excellence is realized.

“My commitment to and passion for education guides my work as a leader for equity, visionary change, healthy relationships and school culture, family and community partnerships, instruction and learning, and effective operations and organization,” Castaneda noted.

Korey Williams, Princeton’s new superintendent and principal, also got off to a great start, and with high expectations for the school year, including unifying the two campuses under one leadership team, new educational programs, and a host of new facility improvements.
“I am excited about being a part of this awesome team and looking forward to great things this year,” he said.

Williams, originally from Chico, comes from his previous post as former assistant principal at Fortuna High.