For every high school in the William S. Hart Union High School District, except Bowman, Tuesday night marked Back-to-School Night. And for Castaic High School, it was another first for the new school.
Walking around during the event were parents, siblings and district staff being guided by Castaic High’s associated student body members, taking each tour group to meet teachers and tour classrooms.
The long-awaited school opened its doors for the first time three weeks ago, and some of the students acknowledging their families moved to Castaic for the privilege of calling themselves Coyotes, the school’s mascot.
Imudiase Aimiuwu II and his twin sister, Isiuwa Aimiuwu, both transferred from the Saugus area to attend Castaic High, join the school’s ASB and participate in iCAN Academy — a program that provides dual enrollment in both Castaic High and College of the Canyons classes.
“It’s been really nice, and the teachers are amazing, too,” said Imudiase, adding his classes have about 15-20 students in each.
“I just didn’t want to leave my friends, but I ended up meeting a whole new group of friends, and I enjoy coming here every day now,” Isiuwa said. “I love my health science class because my teachers are sweet, and they take it really slow with us.”
Both their parents said they loved seeing the turnaround in Isiuwa, who had at first been resistant to coming to school. Once she and her brother got enrolled in their programs at the new school with new classmates, they shared an excitement going forward.
“We heard about the school and the programs that were being offered, and it didn’t seem like something to miss,” said Tawanna Aimiuwu. “And so we made the switch.”
Hart District Superintendent Vicki Engbrecht, who’s been a part of the effort to build and open the school since she became superintendent in 2015, discussed the evening itself as a career highlight.
“It’s terrifically exciting, and the reality even surpasses what the vision was,” Engbrecht said. “This event is even more special to me than the ribbon-cutting ceremony a couple of weeks ago because now we see the kids. It is one of the proudest moments of my professional career.”
Teachers at the school acknowledged that with a new school comes new challenges, such as new teacher training programs, new technology instruction, or an unforeseen shortage of printer paper on the first day.
However, several teachers discussed how going through the experiences together brought them closer as a campus community.
“It’s been really exciting actually (because) the kids have been amazing, and everyone is excited to be here,” said Sarah Avanessian, an English teacher at the school. “The kids know that we’re all doing this together, so we’re all learning together — and I think they’ve all risen up to doing this as almost a little family.”