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Daxon: Those fabulous Coyotes on Wildcat Way

Did you know Brea Canyon High School, established in 1989, is an alternative or continuation high school with an amazingly positive learning atmosphere?

The school’s mascot is the Coyotes and its motto is “Brea Canyon High School Coyotes H.O.W.L to Success.” H.O.W.L. stands for Honorable, Organized, Well-Rounded, Learners. Pretty cool.

Brea Canyon was honored on March 10 as a model continuation high school by the California Department of Education. Only 36 schools in the state received that honor.

Principal Kristin Risberg gave me a tour of the campus at 689 Wildcat Way, adjacent to Brea Olinda High School.  It is a welcoming learning place with 63 students attending classes on campus, 20 on independent study and 20 early graduates.

“All of our students earn a diploma,” said Risberg.

With such a small enrollment, the teachers and staff really get to know the students, and in a caring, learning environment that prepares students for learning and life beyond high school. The On Your Own class is a senior requirement for students planning to apply to Fullerton College.

Students also get hands-on experience taking care of the school’s Coyote Care Closet. Housed in a storage unit on campus, the Coyote Care Closet includes donated clothing and a community pantry of packaged and canned food. Students are welcome to take what they need, no questions asked.

The Coyote Care Closet began in the 2018-19 school year as the Kindness Corner in history/social studies teacher Jesus Horta’s classroom. Horta started it when he brought some of his unwanted clothes to class for students to take instead of them shopping at thrift stores. They called it the Kindness Corner because it took up a corner of his classroom.

By the 2021-22 school year, the Kindness Corner outgrew the corner and moved to the on-campus storage unit, and became the Coyote Care Closet. It got a big boost after Risberg spoke about it at a Brea Rotary meeting and the Rotarians jumped on board with donations of clothing, canned foods and cash.

Horta supervises the students who stock the closet and keep it organized. Students in a Student Leaders course plus other students spend two to four hours a week maintaining, categorizing and managing the closet.

Horta said the students built the racks and are also responsible for rotating can goods and checking expiration dates.

“Community members can always drop off clothing, hygiene products and canned goods at our campus,” said Horta. Donations are always welcome.

The Brea Rotary continues to be a big supporter. Carrie Flanders, club president and BOUSD board of directors’ president, said the club donated $2,000 that Risberg plans to use to purchase a large refrigerator/freezer for providing perishable foods.

During the pandemic shutdown last year, Risberg and the teachers checked on the students and their families, bringing food, home supplies and diapers to those in need. Not surprising, especially since Risberg said they know every family, their needs and situations.

The campus remained open for students to use the school computers to zoom classes with their teachers who were teaching remotely.

Also in the plans, said Risberg, is a fully functioning print shop on campus next year, offering the students more hands-on job training.

Terri Daxon is a freelance writer and the owner of Daxon Marketing Communications. She gives her perspective on Brea issues twice a month. Contact her at  [email protected]

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