IT IS A GOOD DAY TO BE A ROADRUNNER
By Helen Vannucchi, Principal
RIPPERDAN HAS COME a long way since its opening in December of 2014. It serves up to 65 students, grades seven through twelve; however, many more go through the doors during a school year. Students are met by a caring team of teachers and support staff. This is a unique setting utilizing interagency collaboration to provide structured support to youth who need a hand up in order to achieve their goals.
This year, project based learning was offered across the curriculum. Restorative justice support is provided to students in every classroom. Ripperdan has completed its second year as a Positive Behavior Intervention School. Drug and alcohol education is offered all year long. Students are offered social, emotional, academic, and family counseling. Hip Hop therapy is offered for students drawn to poetry and music beats. It is WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accredited and students are expected to progress through the same core subjects offered at the comprehensive sites.
Ripperdan students participated successfully in a spirit week and other events including an art competition for Black History. At lunch students were busy in credit recovery, chess club, or leadership activities. All students were assigned staff mentors, and lunch time was often a time for students to connect with staff and share their challenges and successes. A wellness room was made available for students to reset and be mindful of their goals.
This year in keeping with its philosophy of service, Ripperdan students were connected to the community in many areas. The Hip Hop group performed at two MUSD middle schools. Students volunteered to assist with the cleaning of planes throughout the year at Air Castle Museum. They participated with Rivertree Volunteers and learned how to canoe on the San Joaquin River. They served the community with the Madera Foodbank and visited the Madera Rescue Mission.
Mr. Garcia, the social science teacher, coached students through the development of three impressive history exhibits. Students were required to produce the displays, write a paper, and be interviewed at the competition. They received accolades from Fresno County History Day Judges, were reported in the Madera Tribune, and invited to compete at the state level in Rocklin, CA. Students were able to display their work and compete, representing Madera County as the only school from Madera present. It was an amazing experience. Wait till next year!
Ripperdan also competed in tournaments for alternative education in football, basketball, soccer, and volleyball. There were wins and losses, yet they received two separate trophies for sportsmanship. A group of Ripperdan students received first aid and CPR training, resulting in certification of CPR for all participants. Assemblies were held monthly and supported by guest speakers on various topics and included visitations by district office directors and administration.
When I go out into the community, I see our alumni on athletic teams, in college, working at various businesses, and other capacities. They are strong, unique, and talented overcomers who, for a time, need an opportunity to find their true potential and realize their ability to learn and progress. Among its outstanding alumni is a member of the Madera Unified world champion robotics team and a member of the state champion soccer team. Our students have many individual goals from vocational paths to applications into the UC system.
This year the Ripperdan student body has shown the brilliancy of its true colors. The students have demonstrated their positive contribution to Madera, given the opportunity to be true to themselves, and make an impactful difference in their community.