Matilda Torres High School Update
By Oracio Rodriguez, Area Assistant Superintendent and Sabrina Rodriquez, Principal, Matilda Torres High School
IF YOU’VE DRIVEN north on Country Club Drive lately, you may have seen construction on a 57-acre development at the corner of Road 26 and Martin Street. Several impressive buildings have taken form, increasing anticipation for a grand opening to match the incredible design. In August 2020, Madera Unified School District will do its best, opening the doors to its third comprehensive high school campus, Matilda Torres High School.
The school’s late namesake, Matilda Torres, spent decades as an educator, both as a teacher and counselor, and mostly served students from within Madera Unified School District. Known for her tireless service to all students, she championed education for all and spent time learning about her students’ lives and aspirations for a better future. As a school guidance counselor she not only focused on her student caseload but on the entire school community and their families as well. A common phrase heard throughout school during her tenure was, “You need to go see Mrs. Torres, she’ll know how to help.” The naming and opening of Matilda Torres High School school marks a focus on delivering on the school district’s Community Compact and Student Champion commitment to improve services to students, parents and staff.
We are meeting the need for improved services by updating existing schools and renovating outdated learning spaces and facilities. We are building new schools that meet modern learning requirements to prepare students to be both college and career ready. The new high school will provide immediate relief to the overcrowded conditions at Madera South High School, which currently serves 3,500 students and occupies 10 additional classrooms from the adjacent Duane E. Furman High School. This overcrowding limits seating space at the independent study high school. By this time next year, Duane E. Furman High School will have regained possession of its ten classrooms, thereby expanding capacity to add students and reduce existing waitlists. Moreover, Madera South High School will open with approximately 900 fewer students next year — reducing congestion inside and around the school site.
Additionally, Madera High School, established in 1894, is limited by its 15-acre footprint, and currently holds a densely packed student enrollment of nearly 2,100. The location of the third high school reflects considerable interest in the community to house a school in the northern portion of the school district’s attendance area. This will reduce travel time and traffic congestion, from school buses and parents crisscrossing busy city streets every morning before the opening bell. The need for additional school campuses was evident in voter turnout, with overwhelming community support for bond Measure G, which enabled Madera Unified to raise funds to relieve overcrowding at our current high schools.
Matilda Torres High School’s modern campus will deliver on the commitment to provide 21st century facilities for a learning experience that ensures all students are college and career ready. The school design and layout blend modern architectural concepts, flexible learning spaces, and an inspiring atmosphere. Design elements were intentionally considered by district leadership with input from industry partners, experts and current educators. This resulted in a mix of the traditional learning environment, specialized industry aligned equipment, collaborative spaces, and large meeting areas. Classrooms are designed for flexible seating arrangements that facilitate the use of technology and collaborative learning. The campus features all the amenities of a modern learning institution, including a phenomenal gymnasium, Olympic-sized pool, a multipurpose stadium equipped with a track and field, baseball and softball fields, and tennis courts. In partnership with Camarena Health, the campus will house a school based medical facility to meet students and staff healthcare needs.
All three high schools in Madera Unified will offer Career Technical Education (CTE) programs including Arts, Media and Entertainment, Business and Finance, Education and Child Development, Health Science, Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation, Information and Communication Technology, Marketing Sales and Services, and Public Services. However, each high school will also offer unique programs, where Agriculture and Natural Resources will be available at Madera South High School. Madera High will be home to the Building and Construction Trades, as well as the brand new Transportation and Heavy Truck program. Matilda Torres High School will provide pathways for Engineering and Manufacturing, and modern facilities will house MadTown 1323, Madera’s current world champion robotics program.
With the addition of a new high school, Madera Unified will now be home to three academic pyramids. Each with its own feeder pattern of schools and specialities in Career and Technical Education offerings. Matilda Torres High School will join the blue Madera High pyramid and purple Madera South pyramid.
In August 2021, Matilda Torres High School will open its doors to approximately 900 freshman and sophomore students. Current 8th grade students at Desmond Middle School and Dixieland Elementary School will move on to the school. Also attending will be any current 8th grade student in the district who would like to join the Engineering and Manufacturing pathway using the Career Academy of Special Interest (CASI) process. Handled through the district’s College and Career Readiness Department, CASI enables students from any attendance area to attend a high school for a specific Career Technical Education Program. Current 9th grade students at Madera South High School who live in the Desmond Middle School attendance area will also have the opportunity to transition to the new high school during the 2020-2021 school year as 10th grade students. Each subsequent year, Torres will add one grade level and expand its services, leading to the first graduating class of 2023. Parents, staff and students can soon expect information regarding the various opportunities to move to the new school.
Newly announced principal Sabrina Rodriquez will collaborate with district leadership to undertake the exciting work of recruiting and hiring the school site’s leadership team and staff. The school leadership team, with the guidance of parents, students and community stakeholders, will begin to craft the vision and mission of the school in alignment within the District’s Community Compact, thereby propelling it toward a much-anticipated opening celebration.
Students and the community have been actively involved in the adoption of the school’s naming, colors, and mascot, the Toros. The importance of stakeholder feedback and involvement has been crucial since day 1 of the initial planning stages. Matilda Torres High School is said to be the flagship of our district. It will embody the principles of the Madera Unified Community Compact by guaranteeing “fair and equitable opportunities to empower students to learn deeply and live long healthy lives with the widest array of career opportunities.”