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VVUHSD introduces new district-wide security system and other big changes

VICTORVILLE, Calif. ( — The Victor Valley Union High School District is kicking off the school year with big changes including a new middle school, smaller class sizes, a new district-wide security system, and a lofty college readiness goal for its 11,500 students.

Speaking to more than 1,000 staff members recently at the district’s annual Kickoff event, Superintendent Carl Coles outlined the district’s new direction and emphasized VVUHSD’s ultimate goal.

“Our purpose is to prepare all of our students to live a life of unlimited potential,” Coles told the energetic crowd at High Desert Church’s Powell Auditorium. “Every day we give a little piece of ourselves to our students, so they can use the skills that you teach them in the classroom, on the field or on a stage so that they can succeed and thrive. … But when the rubber meets the road, we must put our money and our resources where our mouth is.”  

(Victor Valley Union High School District Superintendent Carl Coles speaks at the recent VVUHSD Kickoff event. Coles has laid out goals for the district, including the highest college readiness rate in the county.)

VVUHSD christened its 10th school on August 7 as Larrea Middle School opened its doors to seventh-graders. Nearly the entire staff showed up for the first day in Larrea gear, and Principal Joe Williams said the first week has been “excellent.”

One of the goals of Larrea is to ease overcrowding at Hook Junior High School and Lakeview Leadership Academy, providing another option for students in grades 7-8. Coinciding with the new school is a reduction in core class sizes to 25-to-1 in middle school and 32-1 in high school districtwide. The new school and the smaller classes have allowed the district to hire approximately 100 new staff members, including 60 teachers. 

Another big change for VVUHSD is the implementation of a districtwide safety system — the first of its kind in the High Desert. The Evolv system, used at venues such as SoFi stadium, is now active at all VVUHSD sites.   

(Cobalt Institute of Math & Science Security Officer Angela Espinoza poses with the school’s new Evolv security device. VVUHSD is the first local district to begin using Evolv.)

“Unfortunately we live in a world where the unimaginable can happen on school campuses,” Coles said in explaining the impetus for acquiring the Evolv devices, which are placed at school entrances and can detect weapons or other contraband items. 

“It’s been working great,” Cobalt Institute of Math & Science Principal Dr. Clarissa McNally said. “We’re still training the kids on what to take out of their bags before coming in (such as eyeglass cases or metal water bottles) but they’re adapting and getting used to it.”

At the Kickoff event, Coles celebrated the success of Adelanto High School’s Heritage Program, which focuses on college readiness for African-American seniors. With Heritage in place last school year, the number of college-ready African-American seniors at AHS was more than seven times higher than the previous year. On the back of that resounding success, Heritage has been expanded to the district’s two other comprehensive high schools (Silverado and Victor Valley), and a similar program for Latino students called Legacy has also been added at all three schools.

Heritage and Legacy are part of a broader district initiative to expand college readiness for all students. Coles laid out an audacious goal for the students’ completion of A-G coursework — a battery of classes that qualifies a student for acceptance to a University of California or Cal State education. With the district’s A-G rate currently hovering around 40 percent, Coles set a goal of 75 percent, which would make VVUHSD the most college-ready district in all of San Bernardino County.

Acknowledging that the goal is audacious and won’t be attained easily, Coles quoted John F. Kennedy’s famous speech about reaching the Moon: “We choose to do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”   

“We see A-G as a goal that will demand the best of our energies and skills,” Coles said. “It’s a challenge that we are willing to accept, that we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”   

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