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Sheriff’s Foundation Teams With Oakhurst College To Save YHS Criminology Class

OAKHURST – When a social studies teacher at Yosemite High unexpectedly resigned late last year, administrators thought they would have to cancel the school’s popular criminology class.

But the Madera County Sheriff’s (MCF) Foundation and Oakhurst Community College came to the rescue of the would-be criminologists, with the college assigning one of its adjunct instructors — at no charge to the high school — to teach the course and the foundation purchasing new textbooks for the class’s 12 students.

“We are very grateful for the generous support” from both the sheriff’s foundation and the college, YHS Principal Regina Carr said this week.

The school’s criminology class, which is a dual enrollment course, has been very popular at YHS.

“We had a number of students who were not in the cohort from the start of the year that joined at semester,” Carr said.

Yosemite High is a “dual enrollment” partner with Oakhurst Community College, an arrangement that allows YHS students the opportunity to take advanced courses that qualify for credit at State Community College Center District (SCCCD) campuses.

Carr said the partnership with SCCCD “is creating opportunities for high school students through career awareness and experiences that prepare youth for their careers.”

The high school is expanding its dual enrollment course offerings “every chance we get,” Carr said. Next year, a new dual enrollment culinary course will be offered at YHS.

According to Carr, about 50 YHS students are currently taking dual enrollment classes, earning approximately 150 college credits.

Johnnie Smith, an adjunct instructor at Oakhurst Community College, is teaching the YHS criminology course this semester.

“SCCCD and Johnnie have been great in coordinating and creating these opportunities for students,” Carr said.

Beyond the purchase of textbooks, the MCS Foundation is also playing an expanded role in supporting the YHS criminology program.

The nonprofit foundation, which was created in 2016 by Sheriff Jay Varney and Madera County businessman Don Dufer, is run by Amy Varney, the sheriff’s wife.

The foundation’s objective, according to its website, is to “promote civic spirit of law enforcement and to enhance the ability of the Madera County Sheriff’s Office to work even more safely and effectively.”

The nonprofit has already awarded three scholarships to Madera County students pursuing law enforcement careers and Varney said helping to save the criminology class at YHS “falls right in line with our mission.”

At the request of the MCS Foundation, Varney said Explorer Post 104 Command Staff will be making a presentation to the criminology students later this semester.

“The Explorer program is designed to give young people ages 14 to 20 an inside look into the exciting and challenging career of law enforcement,” Varney said. “Explorers have the opportunity to ride with sheriff deputies and also attend Law Enforcement Explorer Leadership School and Emergency Response Training courses.”

Explorers also compete in competitions designed to test their law enforcement and emergency response-related skills and knowledge, Varney added.

“The MCS Foundation is thankful for the education institutions in Madera County,” Varney said. Collaborations like the one between YHS, Oakhurst Community College and the MCS Foundaton “can help make a difference in our community.”

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