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North County schools are back in session and ready for a new beginning

More North County schools were back in session today. Thousands of students returned to campuses in Oceanside, Vista, and Bonsall Unified School Districts. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez tells us Poway Unified opened with some big changes.

More North County schools were back in session Wednesday. Thousands of students returned to campuses in Oceanside, Vista, and Bonsall Unified School Districts.

35,000 students also returned to Poway Unified, the county’s third-largest school district.

Many of them started the fall semester at least an hour later than in past years. High school and Middle school students across the state are adjusting to California’s new late-start law.

Ari Knik, 17, is a senior at Rancho Bernardo High School who likes the new start time. He said, “I think the late start is a very good idea because we have so much of a course load. We’re very pressured.”

Knik joined other upperclassmen who showed new freshmen around campus. Rancho Bernardo High is one of 41 school sites in Poway Unified.

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M.G. Perez
Ari Knik, 17, is a senior at Rancho Bernardo High School. He helped new freshmen during orientation on the first day of school, Poway, Calif., August 17, 2022.

The campus benefited considerably from $14 million in renovations and improvements. That included significant climate-friendly landscaping and infrastructure.

Also new this year: more counselors, thanks to additional state funding for student mental health. On the Rancho Bernardo campus, the staff now includes two new psychologists and a full-time social worker.

Hans Becker has been principal for three years.

“Not every student after a pandemic feels like they belong at school because of everything they’ve gone through, a lot of emotional things,” Becker said, “They belong here and I want to make sure everyone feels they belong here.”

Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps kicked off the school year with the debut of PUSD’s annual music video, set to the song “Brand New” by Ben Rector.

“Every year, I pick a song that will inspire us for the new school year. The lyrics for this song convey a sense of hope, optimism, and promise that the new year brings,” said Dr. Phelps.

The video, which follows students and staff as they prepare for the first day of school, was produced by the Communications Department with the help of student interns.

Poway Unified: Brand New (2022-23 Back to School Music Video)

Changes have also come to school cafeterias.

Poway Unified, like all other districts across the state, now offers free breakfast and lunch to all students no matter their needs.

Mia Whitman, 17, is student body president at Rancho Bernardo. She is looking forward to her senior year and a new beginning for the district.

“I really hope we have a year of normalcy, but I just really want to make it different and more fun and more engaging,” she said.

North County schools are back in session and ready for a new beginning

Corrected: August 22, 2022 at 3:47 PM PDT
A previous version of the story incorrectly stated the campus received $41 million in renovations and improvements. The amount was $14 million. The story has been updated to reflect that.
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