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From the Principal's Office

 Acalanes

 
Message from the Principal
 
 

 
June 9 
 
Dear Acalanes Community, 
 
I cannot believe we are on the last day of another school year!  As I reflect on the year, I am once again reminded of how proud I am to be a Don!  Our instrumental and choral music programs have been awarded at various competitions and put on amazing performances throughout the year.  Our drama productions, along with the musical Bye Bye Birdy, were superb.  Our 2D, 3D, and Digital art students continue to show off their talent.  Blueprint produces one of the top student run newspapers in the nation.  Our athletic teams have shined throughout the year with numerous outstanding achievements and championships, including one STATE championship!  From Automotive Technology to AP Mandarin 5, our students span the gamut of academic achievement!  Clearly our faculty and students have worked hard and are ready for a well-deserved summer vacation.
 
There is palpable excitement amongst our seniors as today, June 9th, they took their last high school final and went through our graduation rehearsal.  We will be graduating 306 seniors tonight at 6:00.  95% of them are college bound with 73% attending a four year college. Roughly 30% of our students will be leaving California to attend different out of state colleges.   Students staying in California will mainly attend schools in the UC and CSU system.  We wish them the best of luck.
 
As we say good-bye to the Class of 2017, we also say good-bye to several of our staff members as they retire from Acalanes.  We congratulate the following staff members on their retirement and thank them for the years of service to our students and our school. 
 
Robert Barter - Social Science
Bear Begelman - Career Technology
Bruce Downing - Math teacher
Susan Lane - Digital Design
LeeAnn Martini - Administrative Assistant to the Principal
 
Looking ahead to next year, we are excited about some of the upcoming changes including our transition to block schedule as well as the embedded "Academy" period for student support.  Please continue to check the website for updates and look for the summer mailer sent out in July.  It will have important information regarding the 2017-2018 school year and your on-line registration information. 
 
Thank you for a wonderful year and enjoy your summer vacation!
 
As always, GO DONS!
Travis Bell
Principal
 
Here are a few important dates to keep in mind:
Monday, June 12 - Teacher work day
Friday, June 30 - Acalanes HS offices will close for the month of July
Friday, August 1 - AHS office open to the public
August 3 - August 11 - Residency Verification & Athletic Clearances (in the front office)
Tuesday, August 15 - Dons Day (walk through registration) 7:30AM - 1:00PM
Wednesday, August 16 - Freshmen & New Student Orientation
Monday, August 21 - First Day of School
 
 

  
 
May 10
 
Dear Acalanes Parents and Community Members,
 
As you most likely are aware, for the next two weeks Acalanes and the Acalanes Union High School District will be participating in the statewide testing program, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).  All 11th graders will be taking the ELA and Math CAASPP tests and all 10th graders will be participating in the California Science Test for Next Generation Science Standards. These tests provide the school and the district with valuable information about students' progress and readiness for college and career helping us to inform our instructional practices and staff professional development.
 
In order to best accommodate time for the testing, we will be on a special testing block schedule for the next two weeks, starting Monday May 15 through Friday May 26. The testing schedule is linked here for your reference:  2017 CAASPP Testing Schedule
The schedule is also on our website. 

Monday, May 15
Tuesday, May 16
Wednesday, May 17
Thursday, May 18
Friday, May 19
Per 1     8:00 - 9:30
Brunch 9:30 - 9:40
Per 2     9:45 - 11:15
Lunch  11:15 - 11:50
Per 3   11:55 - 1:25
Per 0    1:35 - 3:05
Per 4     8:00 - 9:30
Brunch 9:30 - 9:40
Per 5     9:45 - 11:15
Lunch   11:15 - 11:50
Per 6     11:55 - 1:25
Per 7     1:35 - 3:05
Per 1     8:00 - 9:30
Brunch 9:30 - 9:40
Per 2     9:45 - 11:15
Lunch  11:15 - 11:50
Per 3   11:55 - 1:25
Per 0    1:35 - 3:05
Per 4     8:00 - 9:30
Brunch 9:30 - 9:40
Per 5     9:45 - 11:15
Lunch   11:15 - 11:50
Per 6     11:55 - 1:25
Per 7     1:35 - 3:05
Per 1     8:00 - 9:30
Brunch 9:30 - 9:40
Per 2     9:45 - 11:15
Lunch  11:15 - 11:50
Per 3   11:55 - 1:25
Per 0    1:35 - 3:05
Monday, May 22
Tuesday, May 23
Wednesday, May 24
Thursday, May 25
Friday, May 26
Per 4     8:00 - 9:30
Brunch 9:30 - 9:40
Per 5     9:45 - 11:15
Lunch   11:15 - 11:50
Per 6     11:55 - 1:25
Per 7     1:35 - 3:05
Per 1     8:00 - 9:30
Brunch 9:30 - 9:40
Per 2     9:45 - 11:15
Lunch  11:15 - 11:50
Per 3   11:55 - 1:25
Per 0    1:35 - 3:05
Per 4     8:00 - 9:30
Brunch 9:30 - 9:40
Per 5     9:45 - 11:15
Lunch   11:15 - 11:50
Per 6     11:55 - 1:25
Per 7     1:35 - 3:05
Per 1     8:00 - 9:30
Brunch 9:30 - 9:40
Per 2     9:45 - 11:15
Lunch  11:15 - 11:50
Per 3   11:55 - 1:25
Per 0    1:35 - 3:05
Per 4     8:00 - 9:30
Brunch 9:30 - 9:40
Per 5     9:45 - 11:15
Lunch   11:15 - 11:50
Per 6     11:55 - 1:25
Per 7     1:35 - 3:05
NEW NGSS Science (Pilot) Test - All 10th Grade Students will take the science Test during their PE 10 class Thursday/Friday, May 25 or 26.
 
SBAC Tests - All 11th Grade Students
5/15 or 5/16 - ELA Test during English 3
5/17 or 5/18 - ELA Performance Task during English 3
5/19 or 5/22 - Math Test during US History
5/23 or 5/24 - Math Performance Task during US History
5/25 and 5/26 - Make up tests for juniors who were absent: 8:00 AM
 
For more information including practice tests, tests structure, or purpose of the assessment, please visit the California Department of Education CAASPP webpage at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca/ 
 
If you have any questions regarding the schedule or the CAASPP, please e-mail your child's associate principal as outlined:
Students with last name A-L: Erin Pope, epope@acalanes.k12.ca.us 
Student with last name M-Z: Andy Briggs, abriggs@acalanes.k12.ca.us 
 
Thank you for your support of Acalanes and continuing to trust us with your child's education.
 
All the best and GO DONS!

Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 
 
 

 
 
May 4 
 
Dear Acalanes Community,
 
It is hard to believe that the end of the school year is quickly approaching.  There is so much going on it is hard to keep up!  Currently, students are taking Advanced Placement exams.  We wish them all the best as they go through two weeks of exams. Our State Testing for all Juniors will start May 15th.  We will be on a two week Block Bell Schedule to accommodate time for the testing.  I will be sending more information on that next week.
 
The DramaDons did a wonderful job with their Spring production of "Metamorphoses" last week.  The Choral department performed their Spring concert and our singers are now preparing for the upcoming "Pops" Concerts on May 23rd and 25th.  Our talented band students are preparing to showcase their skills at the Spring Instrumental Concert on May 17th and 18th.  Check our website for more details and ticket information as well as a complete list of all the events happening in May including our annual Battle of the Bands, end-of-year Spirit Week, and Senior Ball. 
 
Spring sports are nearing the end of their seasons.  It has been a successful season for many Acalanes athletes and we wish them good luck as they enter their post season. The success of our Athletic programs is made possible, in part, by the generous support of the parent community to our Athletic Boosters.  Over the last three years, Boosters has taken on major facility improvement projects restoring the trainer's room, reconditioning the softball field, refurbishing the main gym, and replacing all five scoreboards on campus.  Now, they are beginning their biggest project yet - renovating the middle practice field.  Today, the poor condition of the field leaves it completely underutilized.  It is a huge expense that will benefit all of our sports teams; the field will be used for pre-season, in-season and off-season workouts, pre-season evaluations, and post-season picnics.  Plus our entire student body and the community at large will benefit: the freshman and elective PE classes, the senior picnic, the Lafayette conference swim meet, and the Contra Costa County swim meet, are just a few examples.  The plan is to break ground in June and complete a significant portion of the work during the summer so the middle practice field will be in use by the fall. Boosters needs your generous support to make this a reality.  They are holding their annual Booster Bash this Saturday at the Jennifer Russell Building at the Lafayette Community Center starting at 6:00PM.  To purchase tickets, and for additional information, see their website or click on this link: Booster Bash 2017 
 
We will have our last Friday Forum of the year tomorrow, Friday, May 6th.  The meeting will be held in the new Collaboration Room located off the front quad and will begin at 8:30 am.  Tomorrow we will hear an update on the curriculum of our new Human and Social Development class for Sophomores, an information session from our Crisis and Intervention Counselors provided by Parent's Club, and an outline of our Senior Symposium.  There will also be time for questions and answers.  I hope to see many of you there.
 
Thank you for reading and, as always, GO DONS!

Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 
 
 

 
April 20  
 
Dear Parents and Guardians,
 
On Thursday, April 20, Acalanes High School will be presenting the Up2U Assembly to all students.  Up2U is a powerful high school student assembly, using real-life scenarios and live presentations to impart the far-reaching consequences of drug and alcohol abuse to teens, and the importance of choice in their lives.  Acalanes hosted this assembly 3 years ago and the student response was overwhelmingly positive.
 
This is a professionally produced program that involves short videos and live presenters.  The program involves current Acalanes students and has been a collaborative effort between our staff, students and parents.  Our goal is to demonstrate dangers and choices open to teens and the physical and emotional impact of their decision-making; not only on themselves, but on others around them including friends, family, and others.
 
In addition, parents will have an opportunity to view the assembly students have seen that same evening at 7:00PM in the Performing Arts Center.  It will be followed by an opportunity for questions and answers.  Admission is free.  We feel that there is an increasing need for such programs and would like to be partners with the community in guiding our teenagers toward making good choices in their lives.  We encourage all parents to come and view the presentation.  Acalanes staff will be present in the evening to speak about available school resources.
 
In the past, the Up2U Parent Presentation was a highly attended event and resulted in an overwhelmingly positive feedback.  We hope to once again, have a full theater and see most of our community members attend the presentation.
 
We feel very strongly that there is a need for this type of awareness in our school community.  Acalanes High School is pleased to host this event and we encourage all parents to ask their child about the event as well as attend the parent presentation.
 
Thank you,

Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 
 

  
April 13
 
Dear Parents/Guardians:  

As you are likely aware, Acalanes High School has been engaged with Challenge Success since 2015.  The initiative has provided a great opportunity for us to systematically examine and modify practices to improve and enhance the student high school educational experience. 
 
As part of our effort to examine the student high school experience, address challenges, and improve as a whole, we will be administering the Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences.  It is our hope that all students will participate with this survey. 
 
We also administered the same survey in 2015 at a similar time of the year and have baseline data.  This year the survey will be administered at the following times:
  • 9th graders will take the survey during their PE class on Wednesday, April 19th 
  • 10th graders will take the survey during their PE class on Friday, April 21st
  • 11th graders will take the survey during their English class on Wednesday, April 19th
  • 12th graders will take the survey during their English class on Friday, April 21st
The Survey is an online, fully anonymous survey that measures student perspective on homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, physical health, stress, expectations, academic engagement, academic integrity, and teacher support.  This data will help guide improvement efforts, continue our work with Challenge Success, and help us to focus on our most pressing needs.  When we administered the survey in 2015, we gained a great deal of invaluable information from the results of the survey, including what students see as stressful and challenging as well as sources of support within the school. 
 
The attached form HERE should be reviewed by all parents (and students over 18).  The Survey is a research instrument at the Stanford School of Education and has been reviewed by their Institutional Review Board.  If you do not give consent for participation in this research study, please complete the form and return it to the front office to be given to your child's Associate Principal. (Erin Pope, last names A-L and Andy Briggs, last names M-Z)  Students who do not participate in the survey will have an alternative activity.  
 
Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or would like to see a copy of the Survey.  Thank you for your support with this important initiative.  I look forward to sharing more about our work with Challenge Success in the months to come.
 
Sincerely,

Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 
 
 

   
April 11
 
Dear Dons Community,
 
I hope you and your family had a wonderful Spring Break and are feeling rested and ready for the last quarter of the school year!
 
Acalanes students are currently participating in a student recognition project, Project LPIE. Students were encouraged to submit a project in one or several of the fourteen different categories.  This is a great opportunity to highlight and celebrate our talented student body to the greater Lafayette community.  Cash prizes will be awarded to the winning projects.  The project submission deadline is tomorrow, Wednesday, April 12.  Please visit http://www.lpie.org/project-lpie to learn more about this exciting recognition event.
 
Next week, we will be continuing our participation with "Challenge Success" and conduct the Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences.  As you may recall, all students take this survey every other year.  This is an important survey, as it is one of the ways that we measure our critical needs that we established through our WASC Self-Study process.  I will send more information in a separate e-mail including survey times. 
 
While it is not May yet, Advanced Placement exams are around the corner. Students taking AP exams should speak to their specific AP teachers or Ms. Welling in the Counseling Office to obtain additional information.
 
On Thursday, April 20, Acalanes High School will be holding the Up2U Assembly for all students.  This program is supported jointly by the Acalanes Parents Club and Leadership Class.  This is a powerful assembly focusing on the importance of choice in our lives.  We encourage all parents to attend the evening presentation of this assembly that same day starting at 7:00PM.
 
Junior Prom will be held on Saturday, April 22, at the Blackhawk Auto Museum.  All students attending prom must take transportation provided by the school.  Prom tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased on our webstore or during lunch in front of the main office. More information can be found on our website.
 
Lastly, the April Friday Forum is scheduled for this Friday, April 14 in the Collaboration Center located in the middle of the front office.  Friday Forum is open to all parents and starts at 8:30AM. I hope to see many of you there.
 
Thank you for reading and, as always, GO DONS!
As Always, GO DONS!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 
 

 
  
February 14
 
Dear Acalanes Community, 
 
This is a reminder that tomorrow, Wednesday, March 15, we will be following an adjusted bell schedule.  There is no "late start" for students, instead there is an "early out".  Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is currently visiting Acalanes High School for our accreditation and the visiting committee will be presenting to the staff at the end of the day. 
 
The adjusted schedule is below.
WASC Wednesday Schedule 3/15/17
        (no late start for students)
Period 1              8:00 - 8:45          45 minutes
Period 2              8:50 - 9:35          45 minutes
BRUNCH           9:35 - 9:45          10 minutes
Period 3              9:50 - 10:35        45 minutes
Period 4              10:40 - 11:25      45mintues
LUNCH              11:25 - 12:00      35 minutes
Period 5              12:05 - 12:50      45 minutes
Period 6              12:55 - 1:40        45 minutes
Period 7              1:45 - 2:30          45 minutes

Thank you, and GO DONS!

Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 
 
 

 
 
February 10 
 
 
Dear Acalanes Parents and Guardians, 
 
As you most likely already know, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) will be visiting Acalanes High School next week.  In order for our diplomas to be honored at colleges in the United States and beyond, Acalanes must be accredited.  WASC is one of a few agencies that has the ability to accredit high schools.
The accreditation visiting committee is comprised of six volunteer educators from a variety of places.  The committee will be here from March 12th through March 15th.
In order to accommodate required WASC meetings, we will be following an adjusted bell schedule this Wednesday, March 15th.  Please note that school will begin at 8:00AM and end at 2:30PM.  The adjusted schedule is below. 

WASC Wednesday Schedule 3/15/17 
       
(no late start for students)
 
Period 1              8:00 - 8:45          45 minutes
Period 2             8:50 - 9:35           45 minutes
BRUNCH          9:35 - 9:45            10 minutes
Period 3             9:50 - 10:35         45 minutes
Period 4             10:40 - 11:25        45 minutes
LUNCH              11:25 - 12:00       35 minutes
Period 5             12:05 - 12:50       45 minutes
Period 6             12:55 - 1:40         45 minutes
Period 7             1:45 - 2:30           45 minutes  
 

Thank you and GO DONS! 

Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School

 
 
February 27
 
Dear Dons Community,
 
It is hard to believe that February has almost come to a close. Students submitted course requests last week and we are in a full sprint towards the end of the school year!
 
Students have been staying busy with their studies, various co-curricular activities and athletic teams. I would like to congratulate the Academic Decathlon Team on taking 2nd  place in the county and Acalanes Mock Trial with a fantastic win in the quarterfinals, competing for 3rd place today. The Jazz Ensemble and Wind Ensemble played at the El Cerrito Jazz Festival for a panel of nationally known adjudicators and did a wonderful job. Outstanding performance certificates went to Ryan Kapoor, Kenny Workman, and Jake Kallick. We also had 6 students selected by audition for this year's Contra Costa County Honor Band, the county's highest honor for high school musicians. Congratulations to James Cain, Julian Camilleri, Lucas Dandelet, Ryan Everly, Justin Otterson, and Kenny Workman for that honor. Additionally, Lucas Dandelet was selected and performed with the California All-State Honor Band in February in San Jose. I would like to congratulate all our students on these great accomplishments.
 
We have had a very exciting winter sports season with most teams being represented in the NCS playoffs. A huge congratulations to the boys soccer team for winning NCS this weekend in a thrilling game that went into double overtime. Also, congratulations to our NCS Wrestlers; specifically Jeremy Ridge who placed 3rd and qualified for the CIF State Championships and will compete this weekend. Girls Basketball continues in their pursuit of the NCS title as they play this Wednesday in the semifinals. 
 
This year's musical, Bye Bye Birdie, opens on Thursday and will continue through Saturday. Countless hours have been spent by our incredibly talented students for the production of this musical. It is a true testament to the hard work and collaboration of the Drama, Instrumental, and Choral students. You can buy tickets and reserve your seats online at www.acalanesmusical.org
 
On March 9, Acalanes High School will host our annual Career Day.  All students have had a chance to sign up for workshops of their interest.  They will be attending two presentation by one of our over 40 scheduled speakers.  We are excited to host so many presenters and have them share their expertise in a variety of careers.
 
We will be holding our monthly Friday Forum this Friday, March 2nd, in the new Collaboration Center located in the middle of the main office. We are excited to show off the new space! The Faculty Dining Room has been retired and the space is currently undergoing construction to become our new Textbook Room with mobile storage book shelves to maximize the storage capacity.  There will be a lot of valuable information presented at this Friday Forum; we will hear from Superintendent, Dr. Nickerson about district-wide initiatives, Bruce Lengacher will talk about the musical, Randy Takahashi will highlight our athletic programs, and Amy Bellomo will talk about Special Education at Acalanes. We encourage parents to come and become informed on school and district issues. Also, in visiting our campus it will give you an opportunity to see our new mural on the side of the cafeteria wall, a gift from the class of 2015.
 
Lastly, there is no school for students next Monday, March 6th, as the teachers participate in a Staff Development Day. We will be working to prepare for the transition to next year's Block Schedule and are looking forward to an effective day. Enjoy the three-day weekend!
As Always, GO DONS!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 
 

 
  
February 3
 
Happy Friday Dons Community,
This is a reminder that next week, February 6 - 10, will be our Block Schedule Trial Week. The purpose of this week is to help inform professional development opportunities so that we might be better able to work with, train, and prepare our staff for next year's new school-day schedule.  The week was strategically picked in order to provide a full week's rhythm and still allow time to reflect and plan an effective Staff Development day on March 6th. There will be an opportunity during Thursday's Academy period for all students to take a brief survey providing feedback on their experience from the week.  The schedule is below and linked for your reference:  Block Schedule Trial Week February 6 - 10.


Please note that there are three late start days for students, with classes beginning at 8:35AM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The library and cafeteria will be open for any student that arrives early and would like a place to be before classes begin.  Additionally, we will be running our Academy periods as outlined during the trial week but due to lack of training, time, and availability, they will not be able to serve the intended purpose of targeted intervention and student enrichment as they will next year.  Thank you in advance for understanding.  Students will have an opportunity to use the academy period as a study hall or sign up through Naviance to hear about specific elective opportunities. 
 
Specific information was shared with your child during his or her English class. You can access the information shared about next week's Academy periods on our website or through this link: Academy and Block Week Student Presentation 
 
The presentation includes a list of all academy period opportunities for students as well as the structure and outline of week.  It also includes a step by step outline on how students can sign up through Naviance for an Academy period presentation specific to this week.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and, as always, GO DONS!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 

 
 
February 1 
Dear Acalanes Community,
 
I would like to invite you all to attend the Acalanes Open House this Thursday, February 2, 2017.
The evening will begin with a Parent Club hosted reception at 5:45pm, followed by a meeting for current 8th graders (incoming 9th graders) in the Acalanes Large Gym.  The formal Open House program, open to all incoming and current parents and students, begins at 6:30 pm.
 
The purpose of Open House is to highlight current and future class offerings, provide time to ask questions about core and elective courses, showcase current student work and provide information regarding recommended course pathways. 
 
We encourage all incoming and current parents and students to attend this event.  Our program will include formal and informal presentations and visitors will have an option to attend a variety of demonstrations as well as visit with our teachers.  A detailed program outlining all presentations is on our website and available through this link: AHS Open House 2017.
 
I hope you plan to attend our Open House and look forward to a wonderful evening.
As Always, GO DONS!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School

  
January 27
 

Dear Acalanes High School Community,

With fall semester finals thankfully behind us, we can now look ahead at all the exciting opportunities that await in spring semester.  There is a lot of important information below about some upcoming events and schedule changes so please take a moment to read and follow up with your son or daughter.

On Thursday, February 2nd, we will be holding our annual Open House. We encourage all incoming and current parents and students to attend this event.  The purpose of Open House is to showcase current and future offerings, provide time to ask questions about core and elective courses, showcase current student work, and provide information regarding recommended course pathways.  The evening will begin at 5:45PM.  More specific information, including a link to the electronic program for the evening, will follow next week. We hope you see you there.

February 6 - 10 will be our Block Schedule Trial Week. The purpose of this week is to help inform professional development opportunities so that we might be better able to work with, train, and prepare our staff for next year's schedule.  The schedule is below and linked for your reference: Block Schedule Trial Week February 6 - 10

 Trial Week Feb. 6-10

Please note that there are three late start days for students, with classes beginning at 8:35AM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The library and cafeteria will be open for any student that arrives early and would like a place to be before classes begin.  Additionally, we will be running our Academy periods as outlined during the trial week but due to lack of training, time, and availability, they will not be able to serve the intended purpose of targeted intervention and student enrichment as they will next year.  Thank you in advance for understanding.  Students will have an opportunity to use the academy period as a study hall or sign up through Naviance to hear about specific elective opportunities.  Specific information will be shared with your child during his or her English class.

Lastly, all Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors will start the course selection process for the 2017-2018 school year next week.  Counselors will be going into classrooms to discuss course requests  Jan 31-Feb 2 and returning to collect course requests Feb 14-16.  The presentation slides and hand-outs will be posted on the counseling portion of the website next week.    Counselors will be updating students on course offerings and requirements as well as discussing time management as students consider balancing course work, extra-curricular activities, family time and preparation for life after high school.

There are some changes in requirements starting with the class of 2020.  Next school year, all Sophomores will take Human and Social Development for a semester and have an opportunity to take a PE class or a different semester-long elective course for the alternate semester.  We will have 3 options from the PE department for semester courses; net sports, yoga and weight training.  Additionally, students can consider Global Studies, Character Design and Animation or Intro to Computer Programming.  The class of 2020 will also have increased flexibility in meeting the PE requirements.

Current Juniors will also see some new offerings for next year in English with some special themes in English 4 options; specifically English 4: The Mysterious, Grotesque and Fantastic or English 4: Don't Tread on Me: Rebels, Outcasts and Iconoclasts.

For more detailed information about course descriptions and graduation requirements see our course catalog online at: www.acalanes.k12.ca.us/coursecatalog .   If you have specific questions regarding your son or daughters schedule, please reach out to his or her counselor.

As I said, a lot of important information.  I appreciate you reading and look forward to seeing you at our Open House next Thursday!

As Always, GO DONS!

Travis Bell

Principal, Acalanes High School



  
January 4
 
Welcome back and Happy New Year Dons community!
 
I hope you have had a restful break and enjoyed the holidays with family and friends.  There is a lot going on as we wrap up the first semester and our students are already back and in full swing!
 
First Semester Final Exams will be held Tuesday January 17th through Friday January 20th.  We will be on our Fall Finals Schedule with an 8:00AM start time, and two finals each day concluding at 12:20PM.  You can click the link or see our website for a detailed finals schedule. Next Wednesday, January 11th,  teachers will be holding office hours for students from 7:30AM - 8:25AM for additional support if needed.  We will also be holding our third annual "Exam Jam" after school on Thursday January 12th from 3:05 - 5:00 in the cafeteria.  There will be teacher representatives from most departments to help students study and prepare for finals along with complimentary snacks and a food truck for larger meals to purchase.
 
We know this can be a stressful week for your son or daughter.  We encourage you to check in with your student and assist him/her in organizing their studies and planning for the exams in order to better manage their study time and minimize stress.  Thankfully, Monday, January 16th, school will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr Day.  While we know students will use part of this day to continue preparing for the upcoming finals, this is also a great opportunity to do something as a family to help take the focus off finals. Additionally,  
Monday, January 23rd is a teacher work day and there is no school for our students. 
 
This Friday, January 6th,  is our "Friday Forum" starting at 8:30AM in the Faculty Dining Room. There will be a presentation from our lead counselor, Anne Schonauer, on 2017-2018 course sign ups along with a student perspective on time management.  We will also hear from the department chairs of Math, Art, and Career Technical Education.  I hope to see many of you there.
 
Acalanes High School will host its annual Open House on Thursday February 2nd.  Please mark your calendar to attend this informative event.  All parents and students are encouraged to attend.  Additional information will be sent out closer to the actual date.
 
The week of February 6 through 10 will be a district-wide test week for our new 2017-2018 block schedule. The purpose of this week is to help inform professional development opportunities so that we might be better able to work with, train, and prepare our staff for next year's school year schedule.  The week was strategically picked in order to provide a full week's rhythm and still allow time to reflect and plan an effective Staff Development day on March 6th.  More information will follow closer to the week.
 
Lastly, winter sports are off to a great start.  Please note that all schools may be charging admission to events.  All parents holding the booster card will not be charged admission at home events; however will have to pay at away games.  While Acalanes High School may not charge admission at some events, we ask our parent community to respect the decision of other schools to do so.  Athletic teams are costly and many schools are struggling to continue funding the athletic programs.  
 
Thank you for reading and your continued support.  All the best and GO DONS!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 
 
December 22 
 
As we come to the close of 2016, it is easy to look back and see all the amazing ways Acalanes is enriched by our generous parent community.  Our programs are highly dependent on parent contributions and support.  Acalanes Parent Club and Lafayette Partners in Education fund many core programs at Acalanes, including classroom supplies, technology, electives, writing programs, science labs, music, art, support counselors, and much more.  To maintain the caliber of education for our students, we depend on their fundraising efforts.  We are very fortunate for the support provided by our parent organizations and community members. 
 
If you have not had a chance to donate to LPIE, please consider donating or making a pledge today.  Every donation, no matter the amount, is appreciated and gets us closer to the goal.  There are a variety of donation options, including a monthly installment plan, payable over 6 months.  Click here to make your commitment today.
 
I am honored to be a part of a community that values education and works tirelessly for our students to succeed and thrive.  Thank you for your support of our students and school - we can't do it without you.  Additionally, thank you for your generous support and partnering with these two critical organizations!
 
I wish you a very happy and healthy Holiday season and wonderful start to the new year. 
As always, GO DONS!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School

 
 
December 8 
Dear Acalanes High School Community,
 
It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but I still can't believe we are coming to the end of 2016!  I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we are looking forward to some time off and gathering with friends and family to celebrate the Holidays.
 
There is no better season to say thank you all for your support of Acalanes and helping to make it such a great school.  As I reflect upon this last year there is so much to be thankful for and many reasons to celebrate being a Don.  Having heard previews of the choir and seeing the band performances this week and next, our students once again showcase their incredible talent.  Last Friday our College and Career center held a #DonsApplied party to congratulate all seniors being "mostly" done with their college applications.  Our students continue to perform at high levels academically.  Our leadership class has once again organized the "Adopt-a-Family" program wherein 3rd period classes have an opportunity to give to families that are less fortunate.  We have continued with our stellar elective programs and opportunities and I can't help but be amazing by the quality work in fields such as journalism, automotive technology, and computer programing, to name few.  Acalanes students and staff continue to give us reasons to be very proud of our school and its accomplishments.
 
Of course, most noteworthy, as I reflect on the close of 2016, our girls varsity volleyball team competed in the Division III State Championship match this last weekend in Orange, CA and came home with the title!  They are only the third team in Acalanes history to compete for a state title and second team to win, the last being girls basketball in 1999. Huge congratulations to head coach Ernie Rodriguez and our Division III CIF State Championship girls volleyball team!
 
On Thursday, December 8th I held two separate student meetings (Bonding with Bell and Student Senate) to discuss current happenings on Acalanes.  Much of the discussion was around the new school day schedule for 2017-2018 and some follow up from the California Healthy Kids Survey.  Additionally, of note, I shared with the students that for the 2017-2018 school year the school will hold a combined Junior and Senior Ball instead of keeping them as two separate events.  This conversation started primarily with administration and class parent liaisons last year as a response to concerns with ticket prices and the offerings at the events.  As you know, each event is a huge undertaking and expense, both for the families and for the school.  There is pressure on the class parent liaisons to raise enough money to help subsidize the cost of each event on top of other class activities.  Additionally, there were nearly 150 non-seniors who attended Senior Ball last year, roughly the same as previous years.  The conversations continued with last year's and current Sophomore and Junior officers who weighed the pros and cons of having a combined event.  Ultimately, the decision was made by the class officers in conjunction with leadership, class parent liaisons, and administration.  The current class officers have already booked a venue (to be announced at a later date) and are excited to start thinking big and planning all the fun activities that can now be offered at a lower cost to each student.

Lastly, we will be holding our Friday Forum on Friday, January 6 in the new year.  I will share the current progress on our school goals and we will have the opportunity to hear from the  Visual and Performing Arts, Career Technical Education, and Math departments along with an update from the counseling department on course signups for next school year.  This is a great opportunity to obtain answers to any questions you may have and I hope to see many of you there.
 
Thank you again for your continuous support; this school would not be what it is without it.  I hope you enjoy time off with family and friends.
 
Happy Holidays and GO DONS!
 

 
November 10  
Dear Acalanes High School Community,
As you might know, many high schools across our country as well as in the East Bay have experienced a student protest to the recent election results in the form of a walk-out. It has come to our attention that some students at Acalanes may be planning on doing such a walk-out this Monday, November 14.
 
While we as educators support the students' right to express themselves as well as encourage them to be socially-conscious and engaged in their community, we do not support the idea of a walk-out. I want you to know that if it is discussed by your son or daughter it is not a school sponsored activity nor is it condoned and organized by any staff member.
 
However, our first priority is to make sure that all students, regardless of political views, feel safe on our campus. While free speech is valued, encouraged, and protected, hate speech is not. To that point, today during lunch, in response to the recent political climate, staff and administration held an open forum in a classroom on campus. It was a safe place for students to share their feelings and experiences over the last few days. The idea behind this time was to allow a space for students to engage in safe, monitored dialogue as they process emotionally as well as provide an avenue for student voice. On Monday, we will hold that space again where students can gather and be heard.
 
Additionally, please know that any missed class due to a protest or walk-out is considered an unexcused absence and appropriate consequences will follow.
 
I thank you for your trust in our staff to teach our students and I wish you all a wonderful three-day weekend.
 
United together, go Dons!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
  
 

 
NOVEMBER 8
Happy November Acalanes High School Community,
 
It is hard to believe that a quarter of the school year has already passed and we have fallen back an hour to welcome more light in the morning.  This Friday, November 11, as we recognize and honor our veterans that have served in the US Armed Forces, there will be no school.  We thank those that have served our country and are grateful for their service.
 
October 28th marked the end of the first quarter and grades were published via School Loop on Wednesday, November 2nd.  Should you have questions regarding your child's grade, please contact the teacher directly for answers, updates and explanations.  If you need help getting on to or navigating School Loop, please contact the front office who can direct you to the appropriate person.  Additionally, if your child needs support in any of his or her classes, please contact the teachers or counselors.  I would like to remind you to encourage your child to visit our Peer Tutoring center.  The Peer Tutoring center is open daily at lunch, during 7th period and after school; it is a phenomenal resource of our students.
 
While we are only in the second quarter, it is never too early to start looking ahead in anticipation of the changes next year will bring.  As you are probably aware, at the November 2nd Board meeting, the following proposed schedule was reviewed and approved.Click this link to see the outline of the school day schedule.  The schedule has longer instructional blocks and an embedded, unnamed, "Intervention" period twice a week. It also includes more valuable collaboration time for our teachers and three days of a later start (8:35AM) for our students on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  More information can be found through the District's website as well as a staff created Frequently Asked Questions document, which can be found here: FAQ 
 
Lots has been going on with our Visual and Performing Arts as well as our Athletic teams. Last week the audience was wowed by the DramaDons production of "Radium Girls".  Our Stagecraft class designed an amazing stage to match the outstanding performances. The annual Fall instrumental concert highlighted the incredible talent of our students.  Our fall sports teams are wrapping up their season over the next few weeks.  I am proud to say that this year, all AHS Fall teams qualified to the NCS playoffs.  We wish our teams that are still playing the best of luck as they continue through playoffs.
 
This Wednesday, November 9th, students and parents are invited to the screening of "Miss Representation".  This promises to be a powerful evening that we hope will challenge your own perspectives.  The event is free to you, sponsored by our Parent Club. You can reserve your spot through this link: Miss Representation
 
The November Friday Forum will be held on Friday, November 18 in the Faculty Dining Room at 8:30am.  This is a monthly meeting held to inform parents of various programs offered at Acalanes.  On the agenda for this Friday Forum is the English Department, World Language Department, and the Science Department who will update us on pathways as well as the Next Generation Science Standards.  Additionally, there will be time designated for the "state of the school" and I will be answering any questions you might have about next year's schedule.  I hope to see you there!
 
Lastly, there will be no school the week of November 21 for Thanksgiving break.  With all that is going on, this is a perfect time to pause and practice gratitude.  I encourage you to use this week to celebrate each other and truly give thanks for all that we do have.  Let those close to you know that you are thankful for them.
 
Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great November!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 
 

 
October 3 
 
 
Happy October Dons Community,
 
Fall is in full swing around the home of the Dons; the summer heat is gone, the smell after our first rain is still lingering in the air, Friday night lights bring cheers from our Football stadium, and Pumpkin Spiced lattes are back!  There is a lot to love about fall but my personal favorite is, of course, HOMECOMING!
 
This year's homecoming theme is "All Roads Lead to Acalanes".  The Class Sub Themes are as follows: 
Freshman Class: Las Vegas Strip
Sophomore Class: Main Street Disney
Junior Class: Fifth Avenue New York
Senior Class: Hollywood Boulevard 
 
Homecoming festivities kick off next week on Monday with our annual Hallway Decorating Contest between classes.  There is no school but students are encouraged to come help decorate their class hallway between 10AM - 4PM.  You can see the rest of the week outlined below.
 
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Dress Up Theme:
Road Trip (Comfy Clothes and PJs.)
Dress Up Theme:
Driving Cross Country (West Coast beach Attire, East Coast Preppy)
Dress Up Theme:
Your Class Theme (Disney, Vegas, Fifth Ave, NY, Hollywood)
Dress Up Theme:
Class Shirts
Lunch Time:
Drive Thru French Fry Eating Contest
Lunch Time: Student Dodgeball Championship Game & Tunnel Vision Contest
Lunch Time:
Staff .vs. Student Dodgeball Annual Game
Rally after 4th period!
Evening Event:
Annual Class Dodgeball Competition 7-9PM in Gym
   
Evening Event:
Homecoming Football Game & Halftime Ceremony
 
 
The culminating Homecoming celebration is our annual Homecoming Dance on Saturday from 7pm - 10pm.  There will be a professional DJ, games, snacks, and special surprise activities throughout the night. Students can purchase tickets online.  Additional homecoming information can be found on our website through this link: AHS Homecoming 2016 
While we look forward to a successful Homecoming week, there are a lot of other great opportunities to get involved.
This Thursday, October 6th, Acalanes will host Dr. Kelly McGonigal, from Stanford University, on "How to Make Stress Work for You".  Dr. McGonigal, will discuss how stress can make us stronger, smarter, and happier-if we learn how to embrace it.  She is the author of The Upside of Stress and has one of the most viewed TED talks of all time.  You can  Register Here.  Tickets are free for students and we encourage you to attend with your child if able to do so.
   
Our monthly Friday Forum is this Friday, October 7 at 8:30 a.m. in the Faculty Dining Room. This meeting will feature Ginger Jessop from the College and Career Center, Anne Schonauer our Lead Counselor, and a representative from our amazing Peer Tutor Program.  I will also be sharing our results from the California Healthy Kids Survey.  As always, there will be an opportunity to hear about current news from the campus and ask questions related to campus issues.  I hope to see you there. 
 
Last week marked the deadline for the first progress reports.  Grades were shared through School Loop.  If you have not registered, please make sure to do so.  From our website, click on the Acalanes School Loop link to register and follow the steps outlined.  If you have questions regarding your child's grade and progress, please contact the teacher directly.  He or she can provide you with the most up to date and accurate information. 
 
I would like to remind you that Monday, October 10 is a "no school" day for our students. While there is no school, the campus will be busy with Homecoming Hallway Decorating as well as all our teachers participating in a professional development opportunity as we continue to learn how to best engage and support our students. 
Thank you for reading and as always,  GO DONS!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 

 
 
September 12 
 
Dear Acalanes Parents and Guardians,
 
The excitement of the new year...picking out your "first-day" outfit... meeting your teachers for the first time... finding out who else is in your class... figuring out the fastest route between classes... that's right, it's time to go BACK TO SCHOOL!
 
Please join us this Thursday, September 15, for our annual "Back to School Night". This is a great opportunity to follow your student's schedule and meet our staff.  The teachers are looking forward to sharing with you their curriculum plans and class expectations.  Please keep in mind this evening is for adults only and is not a time for individual conferences regarding your child.  If you wish to schedule an appointment with a teacher, please email the teacher.
 
The night will kick off with a general parent meeting in the Large Gym at 6:00 p.m.  Acalanes Parent Club will be serving refreshments between the gyms from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm.  Classroom visits begin with "Zero"period at 6:15 p.m., 1st period at 6:30 p.m. and extend until 8:10 p.m., providing each teacher 10-minutes to cover the year's plans.  Please ask your son or daughter to complete the schedule below then print the schedule for your use during the evening event.    Additionally, parents in need of support using School Loop may visit the Library and receive assistance from a staff member.
 
Parent Class Liaisons are asking all parents to attend class meetings held immediately following the formal Back to School program. Parents of 9th graders will be meeting in the Cafeteria, 10th grade parents will meet in the Large Gym and the 11th grade parents will meet in the Performing Arts Center.  Class of 2017 (12th grade parents) will not be meeting during this time and will instead hold their meeting on Tuesday, September 27th along with the College and Career evening.
 
The evening's brochure is HERE with the below schedule and a list of teachers and their location for your convenience.
 
Acalanes staff would like to take this opportunity to let parents know how much we appreciate LPIE and Parents' Club as an important revenue source for our education program.  Their direct financial support contributes to our goal to provide a world-class educational program and experience for our students.
 
Period Time Class Teacher Room
0 6:15 - 6:25      
1 6:30 - 6:40      
2 6:45 - 6:55       
3 7:00 - 7:10        
4 7:15 - 7:25       
5 7:30 - 7:40       
6 7:45 - 7:55       
7 8:00 - 8:10       
 
We look forward to meeting and working with you and the students of Acalanes High School.
 
Acalanes High School "Back To School Night"
 
When:             Thursday, September 15, 2016
 
Times:             General Parent Meeting:                    6:00 p.m., Large Gym
                         Classroom Visitation:                         6:15 p.m. - 8:10 p.m.
                         9, 10, and 11 Class Meetings:             8:15 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
 
I look forward to seeing you there!
As Always, GO DONS!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 
 

 
September 1
 
Dear Acalanes High School Community, 
 
September is here and with it comes the welcomed routine of the school year.  We have had an excellent start of the year and I am continually impressed with our students!  The climate around our campus is that of excitement for the new year and students are positively engaging with their teachers and one another. At our "Welcome Back" dance last Friday, students were polled upon entering "What is your favorite thing about Acalanes?" and the most common response was "Our School Spirit"! Go Dons!
 
There are a variety of things coming up this month that I wanted to make sure you are aware of and encourage you and son or daughter to get involved.
 
All this week, in an effort to continue having an open and clear communication with our students, the administrative team is presenting to all students through different classes about school culture and expectations. In this presentation we review school guidelines, procedures and main issues that are affecting our students. Most of the procedures are listed in the student handbook and we strongly encourage you to take a moment and review these guidelines. Additionally, we want to encourage you to ask your son or daughter about the presentations and what they learned. 
 
Tomorrow, September 2, is the first Friday Forum of the year. This is an Acalanes Parent Club sponsored event and I am looking forward to discussing Acalanes trends, topics, and exciting tidbits about the Dons. It starts at 8:30 and is held in the Faculty Dining Room, located next to the cafeteria in the covered hallway. Agenda items will vary each month. Tomorrow we will introduce our new Administrative team, hear from LPIE and ASB Student Representatives, and look at goals for the 2016-2017 school year along with highlighting the district and school-wide initiatives. I hope to see many of you attend these informational sessions throughout the year.  
 
While Friday Forums are designed for our parents, "Bonding with Bell" is an informal lunch meeting for students to ask me questions and hear about relevant issues regarding student life on the Acalanes campus. Our first "Bonding with Bell" will be held next week on Thursday, September 8 during lunch in room 314. Encourage your son or daughter to attend - and if they won't take your advice, let them know there is free pizza on a first come first served basis for any student that shows up. 
 
Club applications are now available online and in room 314. They are due by September 15. Our annual Fall Club Day will be held on September 30 in the front quad. This is a great way for students to connect with other students that have similar interests and get plugged into the Acalanes community. 
 
There are a lot more events in September; too many to list in one e-mail blast. I encourage you to read the daily bulletin and check our website for other ways to get involved. Additionally, you can follow along on Twitter @AcalanesDons for up to date information and read about highlights throughout the school day.
 
Thank you for reading and I hope to see you tomorrow at our first Friday Forum. As always, GO DONS!
 
Travis Bell, Principal
Twitter & Instagram: @MrTravisBell| @AcalanesDons
 

 
 
    August 22
Welcome Back Dons!
 
 
I hope everyone had a great first day of school!  I certainly did as I had an opportunity to get into almost every classroom and see our teachers working to make connections, foster community, engage in curriculum, and set the stage for a successful year.  I encourage you to ask your child about his or her schedule and how teachers welcomed their classes on day one. I think you will be impressed, as I was, to hear about the level of engagement on the first day.
 
There are some great opportunities for students to get plugged in this week.  On Friday, remind your child to wear their Dons attire to the first rally of the year and then make sure to come back for our Welcome Back Dance that evening from 7:00PM - 9:00PM.
 
Also, this is an early reminder that the following Friday, September 2nd, will be our first Friday Forum from 8:30AM - 10:00AM in the Faculty Dining Room under the covered hallway located by the cafeteria.  Friday Forums are designed for parents to come and hear about updates and programs offered at Acalanes as well as receive information from Acalanes Parent Club and Lafayette Partners in Education.
 
I am looking forward to a great school year!
 
As always, GO DONS!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School
 

 
August 9 2016
Dear Acalanes Community,
 
Welcome to all new families and welcome back to all returning! I hope you all have had a restful and rejuvenating summer and are feeling ready for the 2016-2017 school year.  As the new Principal of Acalanes, I am extremely excited to welcome the class of 2020 to the home of the Dons and eager to continue the high caliber of education and extracurricular programs for which Acalanes is known.
 
The ability to support the academic environment necessary for our students to thrive is due in large part to the funding provided by Lafayette Partners in Education (LPIE), Acalanes Parents Club (APC), our Booster Organizations (Acalanes Performing Arts Boosters and Acalanes Athletic Boosters) and our Associated Student Body. Every one of these groups is a significant and vital part of Acalanes. Without the support of all of these groups, Acalanes would not continue to be the pride of this community.
 
Specifically, I would like to encourage you to see the brochure provided in your summer mailer about supporting LPIE and APC during the 2016-2017 Annual Giving Campaign. As you can see in the brochure, LPIE has increased the funding to Acalanes High School by more than $30,000 for a total commitment of $742,420! That money goes directly into providing class sections to reduce class sizes and support a 7th period day, 1:1 technology to augment and enhance student learning, and additional support for all academic and elective courses. APC has committed to providing over $200,000 to help fund robust academic clubs, college and career center support, peer tutoring, crisis and intervention counselling care, staff professional development, and programs to enrich our school culture and community. 
 
With the start of the 2016-20017 school year, I want to encourage you to make a donation that strengthens the educational experience for all Acalanes students. LPIE and APC would not be able to fully support these endeavors without your generous support of both organizations. Your support truly makes a difference in providing Acalanes students with a meaningful and valuable educational experience. To make a donation you can go online to our webstore or make a payment at Dons Day (our walk-through registration) on August 16 from 7:30 - 1:00 starting in the small gym. You can find a pdf of the map and FAQs here: Dons Day Map & Dons Day Info Sheet
 
I am looking forward to another great school year and thank you in advance for your continued support of Acalanes High School.
 
Go Dons!
Travis Bell
Principal, Acalanes High School 



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