Submitted by Trever Jobinger, Student Journalist for Minarets Press
O’NEALS – Would it surprise you to know that since 2016, the number of students living in local valley towns, such as Fresno and Madera, who choose to attend Minarets has vastly increased?
The graduating class of 2016 reported less than 30 valley students while today, of the total 500 or so students in grades 9-12, 110 students reside in the Fresno/Clovis area, and 65 students reside in the Madera/Madera Ranchos area, according to school secretary Autumn Alford. Because of this, 35% of kids have, on average, at least a 20-45 minute commute just to come to school, whether by car or bus. When there are other high schools much closer, why is it that students choose to make the hike up the hill?
One answer can be seen in the multitude of signs displayed at the entrance to campus, showing off the school’s greatest achievements, such as national FFA awards, Slickrock Film Festival Best In Show winners, volleyball championships, and more. Additionally, Minarets employs a project-based learning curriculum, with a student-teacher ratio of 23:1. Compared to most schools in the valley, Minarets is half the size, allowing for tight-knit relationships between students and teachers and more personalized attention to assist with schoolwork.
High school traditions are also slightly different at Minarets. To avoid a popularity contest for the Homecoming Court, nominees for Mr./Ms. Mustang awards are nominated by staff members for their outstanding character and their connections to their community. Instead of regular Back to School Night, Minarets puts on Fall Showcase where students showcase their work to their parents and community. The last day of the fall semester is focused on community service through the annual Community Day, where students participate in a multitude of service projects for the surrounding community. These are only to name a few.
Because the charter aspect of the school draws from so many different towns in the area, geographical diversity has become an important aspect of Minarets as well, creating a melting pot of campus culture. According to 2016 graduate Lexi Lanfranco, “The small school atmosphere was very appealing to me and the students and teachers were very welcoming. Fast to make friends and became like a tight-knit community. Offered a vast array of activities allowing you to find just the right thing for you. The staff was very supportive and saw to each student’s way to learning.” Lanfranco was one of the first students from the valley to attend Minarets High School and one of the first to influence students from the west side to attend Minarets.
When the pandemic first hit over a year ago, many valley schools struggled to communicate with students and maintain distance learning. Fortunately, being an Apple Distinguished School meant each student was already provided with a Macbook laptop that allowed them to easily convert to online learning.
Whether it be in normal or unprecedented times, Minarets has many selling points to draw students from all across the valley and mountain communities. No matter what, we Go Big, Go Pro, Go Now, and keep going!
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