Hello Valencia High School Community,
I am thrilled and honored to have been given the opportunity to serve as VHS principal! This is my 4th year at Valencia (3 as assistant principal) and my 26th year in high school administration. I have had the pleasure of serving as principal at two excellent high schools in Orange County, but I am completely amazed at the quality of programs and commitment of the staff, students and community of Valencia High School. This truly is a remarkable school, as you know already or will come to discover.
VHS boasts top tier programs for everyone. We are an AVID National Demonstration school and nearly our entire staff is trained in effective AVID instructional techniques. We have the largest and most successful International Baccalaureate (IB) program in the County with double the amount of diplomas as the nearest competitor. Our Val Tech program offers deep curriculum in technology (including programming, networking, cybersecurity robotics, mechatronics and more), media production, graphic design and business. Val Tech students complete a 150 hour internship doing the work in their chosen field. VHS is now a Cambridge International school as well, offering yet another highly respected international diploma to prepare students for the most competitive universities and the demands of global problem solving. VHS offers a full culinary program for those aspiring chefs, a building and industrial trades program (BITA) for construction careers and an aspiring teachers’ pathway Tigers Leading Cubs. We reach out to all students with a comprehensive English Language Learner program, GEAR Up and HOUSE for students who may have struggled in the past, and a highly trained Special Education team for those with disabilities and unique needs.
Update March 13, 2021:
I am writing this on the one year anniversary of the day we announced to staff and students that we would be closing school for the next two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What an amazing year it has been. As teachers and parents, our jobs changed overnight and our skills were reset to near zero. How will we continue school without attending in person?
Fast forward and I am amazed at the skills and resilience demonstrated by teachers, staff and most of all, our beloved Tigers. And while nobody enjoys getting up in the morning and spending 6 hours on Zoom, we found ways - and are still finding ways - to engage students and push forward with a viable curriculum in the classroom and online - at the same time. Next week, our teachers will begin visiting each others’ classes to share effective strategies for engaging, teaching and supporting students in meaningful and more interesting ways. While we are all thinking “aren’t we done with this yet?” we recognize the need to keep refreshing our skills to find another way to reach one more student. Our Mission statement says we are committed to supporting every student through high expectations in a nurturing environment to ensure success now and in the future, and we are striving to live that mission every day.
Somehow, in the midst of this pandemic, our Academic Competition Teams reached heights collectively we have never reached in the same season before. Recently, our Science Olympiad team finished 4th out of over 40 teams in the County and earned a spot in the State competition. Our Academic Decathlon team finished third in the County and will also be going to State. The VHS Mock Trial team made it to the final round for the first time ever and was narrowly defeated by University High in a three-hour battle, and finally our Chemistry Olympiad team finished in 1st place of 32 teams and will be moving on to higher level competition. Any one of these finishes is remarkable. For all of these teams to reach these heights in the same year, during a pandemic is nearly unimaginable. And it’s not for lack of competition - there were just as many teams and participants as always. Somehow - the nearly 100 students in these programs excelled under crazy, unfamiliar conditions.
That said, we know there are also hundreds of students who are not thriving right now and who desperately need us to return to in-person learning as quickly as is safe to do so. Rest assured we are working on that as a site and as a District.
Feel free to visit my Principal’s Corner page that I will use to post updates, thoughts and resources from time to time. Browse the website for information regarding all that is offered at Valencia High School.
Chris Herzfeld - Principal