OAKHURST – Nervous energy was palpable at Yosemite High School on Monday, Aug. 18, as students filed in to resume their quest for annual metriculation.
Young people ambled around the campus and coalesced outside the library to see if their schedules would change. They had no idea just how much would change before the day was over.
Photos by Virginia Lazar. Click on images to enlarge.
On Monday, Badgers gathered in the bleachers for a welcome assembly, where new teachers were introduced and students from each grade participated in a rarely seen academic ritual: the hula hoop challenge.
Next, Principal Randy Seals took on his own challenge which featured a tub of ice water to the head, delighting the crowd. Following the fun and games, we caught up with Mr. Seals, who spoke enthusiastically, and seriously, about the year to come.
“We are extremely excited about the 2014-2015 school year in Badger Country,” he said, adding that Monday’s schedule was “all about celebrating a return to school for our students and staff.”
Mr. Seals feels that YHS is an “amazing place, filled with exceptional people.” He shared handshakes, fist bumps, high fives and hugs with returning students and others, throughout the day.
Already the year was off to an auspicious start, which suddenly became even more memorable when the Junction Fire broke out in Oakhurst, ultimately burning over 600 acres and causing the temporary evacuation of thousands of local residents.
“Yes, the mood of the day certainly took a turn Monday afternoon,” Mr. Seals later commented later.
“We had our students in the gymnasium with a guest speaker presentation when the fire started. We immediately began monitoring the situation closely with regard to the safety of the YHS campus. We were able to dismiss students at our normal release time, but in the interest of safety we cancelled all after-school practices and other activities. The situation became more intense as the afternoon and evening progressed.”
As it turned out, school was cancelled for two days following the fire’s outbreak on Monday, and finally, on Thursday, Aug. 21, YHS students are returning to school. Mr. Seals looked back on that day with a mixture of feelings.
“While the first day of school was very successful, the tragedy that we as a community endured soon after, forced us all to experience the full spectrum of emotion on Monday — happiness, excitement, and exhilaration quickly turned to fright, frustration, helplessness, anger, and horror. Those who experienced the loss of their homes and businesses continue to be in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers.”
While mop-up continues on the now-historic Junction Fire, and students prepare to return to their studies, the landscape of Oakhurst may have changed, but one thing hasn’t: “It’s a blessing to be part of the Badger Family,” said Principal Seals, “and we are certainly looking forward to a tremendous school year!”
New teachers this year at YHS include Jordana Shandor in Agriculture, Ryan Collings in Science, and Francisco Marquez in Instrumental Music (Band).
The school also has a new Director of Security in Dave Maynez, and Brandi Cresci is the new Health Aid. Welcome!