Thousands of Clovis Unified employees celebrate the start of the new school year

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- To get ready for the 2018 to 2019 school year Clovis Unified School District held a massive rally for its employees at the Savemart Center.

Kelly Avants, the Chief Communication Officer for the school district, said they hold this rally every year. They call it their General Session.

"We are celebrating the theme Better Together, which really speaks to what we have planned for our kids when they come next week. That we all bring unique perspectives, we all bring different value to the conversation, to our classrooms, to our school campuses."

The rally was not just for the teachers in the classrooms, they had bus drivers, groundskeepers, and even accounting clerks. Each school representing their pride, cheering loud and pumping up one another.

Monica Castillo, who works in the Student Responsibility Center, was at the rally and loves that the district has this event.

"You leave with like a, you are ready to do this, you are ready to go out and be with kids. You are ready to soar with them and you are ready to take them to the next level. It really gets you going for the school year."

It is also a time to be reminded of their goals for the year.

"My goal is just to build relationships with kiddos. While I have sometimes had to give hard information, I always want them to know I'm there for them. I'm here to help them, guide them, teach them strategies, good choices, and get their student achievement up," Castillo explained.

Avants mentioned the school district will welcome over 43,000 students next week. This makes them the 15th largest district in California. Avants said last year they were ranked the 16th largest.

"We've always felt that growth is a good thing. It has its positives. We want every child to be welcomed on our campuses but we also recognize as you get larger it's harder to be a single team."

Avants explained General Session is just one event to remind them they are one.

"When students and parents come next week they find all that they love about Clovis Unified," Avants noted. "This year we are really focused on supporting our students in every area, that mind, body, spirit trifecta that we focus on in Clovis Unified. So there are social-emotional resources. There's safety resources and training that's been taking place. Then certainly all the focus on curriculum and instruction to be able to help students achieve their academic best."

Avants mentioned safety is their top priority and with several school shootings in 2018 they did some more training.

"We recognize kids can't perform to their best until they feel safe at school and until they feel their social-emotional needs are met," she explained.

"We did training this year, we have in years past also done active intruder training with law enforcement. We are always looking at our school safety plans, all of that is in place but we can refine it, stay up-to-date with best practices. So there was a lot of work over the summer in that respect."

Classes for Clovis Unified start on August 20th.
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