Standout campus programs defy negative stereotypes


Kevin Gutierrez

Junior Frankie Briones crouches low to be able to pick out the white flowers in the basils. If they don’t pick them out the white flowers will kill the basil and the whole plant will be ruined. Students usually tend to the garden during fifth period.

Seeing only the surface, people may overlook the opportunities their school provides. Describing the school’s culture, they may be superficial, not insightful. There is much more to a school than its sports facilities and successful athletic teams. There is much more than negative stereotypes.

Senior Krissi Dougherty values parts of this school that cater to the intellectual side of students. “It’s important to have more things that involve intellectual abilities rather than being physically active,” she said. “You can do stuff with your mind rather than your body.”

For years the English Department here has proven to have one of the strongest out of the four comprehensive high schools in Stockton Unified School District, according to Assistant Principal Gurvinder Chauhan. She compares the English test scores to those that come from other schools. “We have had the highest SBAC scores out of the comprehensive high schools since 2016 in the ELA portion,” she said. “They’re even better than Franklin’s IB.”

Programs such as literary magazine, journalism, and agriculture offer opportunities not easily found at other district schools. In just its third year, the literary magazine has become an award-winning publication. Junior Penelope Bowden has been a part of the production for two years and tells about the creative freedom students are able to have. “Lit mag is such a great class, it’s different from a normal creative writing class,” she said. “Even though we do the writing every day we have a product at the end of it. It’s all student done.”

This agricultural program has major plans for the years to come. Now led by Daniel Barrett, the program is in the process of building new facilities. Experimental orchards, garden beds, vineyards, an outdoor classroom, and a green house will be in place next semester. This class serves as a pathway for students interested in agriculture.

Looking to boost electives, administration has introduced drama, coding, and speech and debate. “In speech and debate we’re putting a lot of emphasis on the idea that students, no matter the age, are put on pedestals where they have to deliver messages that ought to be clear, concise and well informed,” English teacher James Medrano said. Speech and debate is much more than the presentation of arguments put on by whining teenagers. It teaches them skills needed in everyday life, how to properly elaborate ideas and communicate with others. Medrano plans to lead a group of students to trophies in upcoming years. “I want to bring glory to Stagg through speech.”

Senior Jacob Stillwell favors electives such as these. “Classes like drama allow students to develop a creative side of thinking and make sure that they’re not forced to be analytical and critical their whole school year. We should be proud. We are lucky to have all the classes we have.”

With every district high school having special education, what sets this campus apart?

“We have the best vocational program,” Principal Andre Phillips said. Campus Cafe, Lawn and Garden, Autoshop, and the Boss Center all teach special needs students skills related to occupations and everyday life. “The program has been popular,” he added. “It teaches some of the kids a skill they can use when they graduate and get a job.” Much more than learning basic math equations and how to write an essay, the vocational education prepares these students up for the real world.

Teachers and administration are trying to set students up for success in the future. One of the many ways they do this is through Career Technical Education pathways. These pathways are designed to connect high school classes with college classes. With the education pathway, led by Social Studies Department Chair James Marrone, the end goal is to get students interested in the teaching field. “Starting next year we will hopefully be able to link up with UOP and Delta,” he said. “Hopefully they will come back to us as teachers later.”