Activities Director Bryan Speed Leading the Charge at Torres High School.
By Sabrina Rodriquez, Principal, Matilda Torres High School
WHILE THE OPENING of Matilda Torres High School has not necessarily been what we had envisioned, we are still off to an amazing beginning. Building our school culture can be difficult especially in a digital environment; however, we have an amazing staff committed to creating a positive school culture through strategic planning. Leading this wonderful charge is our very own Activities Director, Mr. Bryan Speed.
Mr. Speed comes to us from Clovis Unified School District as the former Activities Director at Clovis West High School. He was an English teacher and is now serving in his 6th year as an Activities Director. Mr. Speed is an Area C Council Member of the California Association of Director of Activities (CADA). He has been a CADA Camp Director for the last 2 years and has presented at both Student and Advisor Conferences around the state.
It was Mr. Speed’s own high school experiences, in Student Leadership, that inspired him to pursue a career in education, with the goal of, one day, becoming an Activities Director. During his high school years, Mr. Speed served as an Associated Student Body (ASB) Class Officer for several years and graduated his senior year serving as ASB President.
The role of an Activities Director is an incredibly important one. A great deal of time and thought was put into the hiring process for this position. Mr. Speed was one of many highly qualified candidates who applied for the role. His interview process was intense. The initial round of interviews included a panel of Desmond ASB Elected Student Body Officers, as well as our own MHS and MSHS Activities Directors. The second round of interviews included district staff. In the second round, the top candidates were asked to present a practicum of their vision for Matilda Torres High School. Mr. Speed was hands down the unanimous 1st choice. In a position that works directly with students, the desire to have students involved in the hiring process was an absolute necessity. I can honestly say they made a phenomenal choice.
Activities Directors are supposed to help promote a positive campus culture through the facilitation of events and activities that promote student voice, engagement, and an overall memorable high school experience. Mr. Speed has repeatedly said he has his dream job and that it is “all about connecting kids and instilling a sense of pride in their school community.” As we build out what it means to be a Torres Toro, Mr. Speed will play an integral role in communicating that message to our students and getting them excited to live out our We Are T.O.R.O.S. mantra.
Mr. Speed is an extraordinary student advocate. He understands the importance of relationships and is excited to lead our Toros in creating a school culture that is positively infectious and unparalleled. By modeling excellence in all his endeavors, he has already started to build our own Associated Student Body Officers’ capacities by inspiring them to be ambassadors of hope.
Our students leading this charge include the following ASB Officers:
- ASB President, Jovanni Manzo,
9th Grade, Desmond
- ASB Vice President Business, Daniella Fernandez Ortiz, 9th Grade, Ezequiel Tafoya Alvarado Academy
- ASB Vice President Activities & Student Board Trustee, Annelise Stephens, 9th Grade, Desmond
- ASB Treasurer, Ashley Rico-Diaz,
10th Grade, formerly Madera South
- ASB Secretary, Martin Corona,
9th Grade, Mitchell Senior M.S.
Our Toro ASB Officers and student leadership members have set a goal this year to give students as many opportunities for connection and involvement as they can handle. Events that we have hosted thus far include:
Week of Welcome
We hosted a virtual week of welcome to get students engaged and involved online the first week of school. Students had the opportunity to interact and connect via our Instagram story, participate in a virtual scavenger hunt, and sport their Toro Gear for our first ever Toro Spirit Friday!
Virtual Club Rush
Over the summer students had the opportunity to submit ideas for clubs they wanted to see on campus. We took that information and, with the support of our amazing teaching staff, created clubs built around student interest. On September 3rd, we hosted our first ever Virtual Club Rush where students were able to access 10 minute club informational meetings via our various Club Websites. We had over 16 clubs represented!
Virtual Spirit Week
We hosted our first virtual spirit week of the school year in mid-September. The week was a journey through the decades, as students and staff alike donned their 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s apparel.
September also brought our first Virtual Rally, The THS Game Show. Students had the opportunity to participate in a variety of games, learn a spirit chant, and even experience their first THS Cheer Performance. Our second Virtual Rally took place on October 28th (Zoom of Doom) following a week of “Horror Fest” Spirit Dress-Up Days.
Weekly Toro Spirit Activities
Every week our ASB Leadership class hosts a Friday afternoon activity or competition. Students have the opportunity to log on, connect with friends and participate in friendly competitions to win a variety of prizes.
Student and Staff Member of the Month Program
We love finding ways to recognize outstanding students and staff members on our campus. Each month staff members have the opportunity to select one student to be their Student of the Month. Our Activities Director visits their virtual class to recognize their achievement and mails them a prize pack that includes a certificate, THS stickers, and a special prize.
5-Star Student Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) Incentive Program
At Torres, we are all about creating a fun, inclusive and safe culture. This year we started our first ever PBIS Incentive program. Students have the opportunity to earn points for following our, “We are Toros Pillars of Trustworthiness, Optimism, Resilience, Open-Mindedness, and Selflessness.” At the end of the semester, students will have the opportunity to redeem those points for different prizes.
Central Valley Activities and School Culture League
We are currently in the midst of a bi-weekly competition along with 15 other schools in the Central Valley, including our sister schools Madera High and Madera South, battling it out in virtual spirit games in an effort to connect students and give them something to look forward to during distance learning.
Needless to say, our goal is to make certain that all our students graduate knowing that they are part of a culture they helped create that values relationships and connection above all else. At the helm of this charge is Mr. Speed, our Toro staff, and our student body. All in all, it’s a great year to be a Toro!