It is an honor and a privilege to serve as the Ukiah High School principal. For the past decade, that’s been my opening line in public speaking. I will share this sentiment for the last time at the Ukiah High School Class of 2023 graduation ceremony in June. And then I will retire. Honor, privilege and service are true sentiments, shared with love and confidence. The Wildcat Nation, from staff to students, is a great team. More than 2,000 people strong. Ukiah High School is a great school.
Strength through diversity. Walk onto our campus, and you will see a slice of what makes this nation great. People from diverse backgrounds sharing joys and challenges, supporting one another. Walk into more than 80 classrooms and see diverse programs. This diversity allows us to tell students with confidence - your first job is to discover your passion. Your next job is to celebrate the passion of others; in doing so, you will create a community of compassion and love.
Academically, Ukiah High School outperforms most of our southern competition in Sonoma County. There’s a lot of data to support this claim. Most critical is the percentage of students that graduate with the ability to attend a four-year college directly upon graduation - 45% in the past five years. This is equal to the highest level of performance in the school’s history. This work is especially rewarding because just 20% of our student’s parents graduated from college. These students are now in the position to make choices beyond high school. This level of achievement is founded on the work of more than 80 dedicated teachers and dozens of programs. Discover your passion, celebrate the passion of others.
Ukiah High School likely offers the most extensive Career Technical Education (CTE) program in Northern California. The school board is to be commended. Fifteen years ago, this district chose to sustain these programs in the face of the great recession. In the last ten years, the expert leadership of our state senator, Mike McGuire, resulted in funding increases for these vocational programs. UHS chose to grow these programs aggressively. Our students now have twenty career pathways in ten industry sectors taught by twelve teachers. Many of these are currently partnered with Mendocino College courses. Notably, our machine shop and fashion design students produce equipment used by NASA on the International Space Station. Discover your passion, celebrate the passion of others.
Ukiah Unified is also to be commended for committing to reinvigorating the visual and performing arts. While every arts program has been expanded, a significant effort was put forth to rebuild the band. A decade ago, few students experienced instrumental music classes. Today, music teacher Audrey McCombs conducts four instrumental groups, including our newest offering, Musica Norteno Ensemble. This group, celebrating traditional music from Northern Mexico, joins the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band as a premier performance group. She has restarted our marching band outfitted in the first new uniforms purchased in nearly a half-century. The results are stunning. UHS sent six students to the Northern California honor band, a level of representation greater than almost all other schools in the program. Last fall, the voters of California approved a bond initiative supporting arts. UHS looks forward to adding the equivalent of two more art teachers next year. Discover your passion, celebrate the passion of others.
Wildcat athletes have been equally successful. Ukiah High School is routinely in the top three of the 12 large schools in our athletic league. Our athletes have earned 12 championship pennants, 7 for athletic championships and 5 for North Coast Section (NCS) academic championships this year. Our boys' wrestling team finished second in the NCS out of more than 160 schools. We are the highest-ranked public school in NCS wrestling. This winter, our championship teams included both soccer teams and boys' basketball. We earned our dozen pennants in just two seasons of sport. Spring teams are currently competing. Your Wildcats are the reigning North Coast Section baseball champions. UHS was the only public school to win an NCS Baseball championship in the six competitive divisions that include more than 250 schools. Championships result from commitment and hard work by the athletic director, coaches, and student-athletes. While most schools struggle to maintain athletic programs in the wake of the pandemic, UHS has maintained our high level of student participation and capitalized on the opportunity to earn championships. Discover your passion, celebrate the passion of others.
These diverse programs serve our diverse students. They also create a campus where students are connected and hopeful. Achievement builds confidence. Confident people make better choices. That’s what the high school experience is all about. Truly, it’s been an honor and a privilege to serve you as the principal of Ukiah High School. Ukiah High School, you are great. Ukiah, celebrate your high school!