By Oryla Wiedoeft, Ed.D. – Venice High School Principal
It was such a great semester with so many positive things, it’s hard to know where to begin.
The Associated Student Body (ASB) and school newspaper, The Oarsman, worked together to really increase school spirit. The pep-rallies, supported by our growing marching band, were highly attended and enjoyed by both students and teachers. The turn-out at the Homecoming game was one of the biggest in seven years, and the Homecoming dance sold-out and was fun for the students and the staff and parents who volunteered to support the student dance.
With the support of our new College Counselor, Mr. Guy Cerda, we expanded our commitment to a college-going culture at Venice High. We hosted an increased number of college fairs and speakers from colleges and universities, and Wednesdays became College Day, when the staff wore shirts and gear from the university they, or sometimes their kids, attended, and the students wore gear from the universities they hope to attend. It has been a nice way for our students and staff to connect. Also, there is a very healthy rivalry between the many Bruin staff members and the handful of us who are Trojans. As a testament to the success of Venice’s college-going culture, we are proud that one of our seniors, Miranda Rector, was accepted to Yale under the early decision process, to which more of our seniors are applying.
LAUSD graciously provided Venice with an instrumental music teacher, Mr. David Lee, to grow our large ensemble and marching band programs. We have enjoyed having band students from the neighboring middle schools play with our students on the Venice campus. Students from Palms, Twain, Marina, and Wright came to play with our band during a football game in October, and we are looking forward to the orchestras playing together in the spring.
Our choir program continued its legacy of success, led by Mrs. Sarnoff, by having three students earn spots in the California All-State Honor Choir. Our choir students were invited to perform at many community events this semester, and they enjoyed caroling in the Venice and Del Rey communities at the fire and police stations.
Venice High expanded our community partnerships this semester. Google Venice had previously supported Venice High through grants to our Robotics and STEMM Magnet. This December, 12 Googlers voluntarily spent a Saturday training Venice High teachers and staff — also voluntary — on the use of Chromebooks, Google Classroom, Aps, Hangouts, and Expedition. Our staff is looking forward to ensuring that Venice High students have a cutting edge 21st Century educational experience during their four years.
Gjelina restaurant has partnered with Venice High’s Earth Justice Academy to develop a Farm-to-Fork culinary arts program. The students work with Gjelina chefs, who are volunteering their time, to grow produce in our school garden, then create culinary masterpieces in our Culinary Arts room. Currently functioning as an after-school program, the class was so popular that a second after-school session was added. We hope to grow this program into a regular course sequence and add entrepreneurship, marketing, branding, and business management to engage our students.
The University of Southern California’s Games program has partnered with our Media Academy. USC Games represents a collaboration between the School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media & Games Division and the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science. We will soon offer an after-school program combining computer programing and graphic arts design, and the program will serve as an articulation pathway between Venice Students and USC.
Our Dual Enrollment program with Santa Monica College, which offers Venice High students both college units and high school credit, expanded. In addition to Graphic Design and Media Arts classes, we are now offering Film Making and adding Broadcast Journalism.
The World Languages Magnet, with the support of Donor’s Choose, took all 450 to see a preview of He Named Me Malala at Arc Light in El Segundo.
For another consecutive year, Venice High Japanese students welcomed a student cultural exchange with Japanese students from Oguni High School. Gifts were exchanged, games were played, songs were sung, and cultural activities were conducted. Both Oguni and Venice students truly enjoyed the visit.
We had a surprise visit from the U.S. Treasurer, Rosie Rios, whose signature is on dollar bills. She graciously spoke to students in our Economics classes during her visit to Los Angeles. After speaking with students about the path and challenges she faced getting to her current position and encouraging them to find their passion, Treasurer Rios took photos with students and autographed dollar bills for them.
Our sports teams did very well. The Girls Golf team won the City Title, the Girls Volleyball team won Reserve City Champions, Boys Cross-Country won the City Individual Championship, and the Varsity Football team is the Western League Champion for the 13th time in 14 years.
We are looking forward to an exciting spring semester. We will have ambitious plans to continue to develop and expand our great programs, so that Venice High is the star school of Silicon Beach!