West Ranch High School helps senior citizens celebrate a prom of their own

Prom season is in full swing as hundreds of young men and women around the Santa Clarita Valley finalize their dates, outfits and plans before heading out to party on a night that hopefully everybody will remember. When two young students offered a group of senior citizens a chance to do the same as their high school-aged counterparts, more than 50 seniors jumped at the opportunity to be transported decades into their past during a unique celebration created by two West Ranch students. Continuing a series where every school in the William S. Hart Union High School District is tasked with presenting an interesting aspect about itself to the board, West Ranch High School highlighted the impact that a teacher and two students had on an entire community. “As I started to think about all the different programs we have,” Principal Mark Crawford said, highlighting his school’s band, athletics and Advanced Placement programs. “The program I chose to focus on tonight is something that doesn’t just affect our school community, but the community as a whole.” Haley Fernandez and Grace Waterman, a duo of juniors from West Ranch High School, had a profound impact on the seniors who attended the inaugural Senior Prom, an event where seniors in the SCV community dressed up and danced the night away. Fernandez and Waterman raised money for their event by hosting a bake sale at the SCV Track and Field Club. The two said they also took a survey of seniors to help determine the theme of the event. With the money they raised, the two hit the store to purchase the colorful balloons, checkered tablecloths and glitter-lined accessories that would fill the halls of the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, where the prom occurred Thursday, April 12. Seniors selected a 50s theme, so many of them could be transported back in time to the time of their proms, the girls shared at Wednesday’s meeting of the board. “We have a video of the prom that will give you an idea of what it was like.” The prom project was a result of anatomy and physiology teacher Ron Manalastas and his unique teaching style. While attending the CUE Conference in Palm Springs, Malanastas saw a section labeled ‘20 percent time.’ The teacher decided to take a peek and was immediately hooked on implementing the project into his classroom, the member of the NGSS implementation team said. “Twenty percent time is actually a business model put on by Google,” Manalastas said. Creations like AdSense and Gmail are a direct result of 20 percent time. Manalastas believed the new project would instill the same reading, writing, speaking and listening skills that the district was trying to implement with Common Core and NGSS. Throughout the year, Manalastas allowed students 20 percent of their time, which is every fifth class meeting, to strictly work on a project that they were passionate about. The teacher said the projects could’ve been anything as long as students improved their world in some way. Fernandez and Waterman said they sought to help the community around them, as opposed to themselves, with their project. “A lot of times as we go through school we focus so much on our CAASPP scores, how many students passed our AP exams and what rankings we have as high schools,” Crawford said, “we sometimes lose that focus on something that’s very important, which is relationships.” The principal added that it was “heart-touching” to witness the actions of these two young girls and their teacher for a very significant and important group in the community.

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