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The Madera Tribune

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Chawanakee Unified breaks ground

February 7, 2018

More than 100 educators, school leaders, students, business and community leaders celebrated the official Feb. 1 groundbreaking of Hillside School, Chawanakee Unified’s newest school planned to open in the 2018-19 school year to serve students in transitional kindergarten through eighth grade.


“We are thrilled to welcome Hillside School to our Chawanakee Unified family,” said Barbara Bigelow, Chawanakee Unified Board of Education President. “We have a strong tradition of excellence, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to extend our footprint, as we welcome students and parents to this new exciting school.”


Hillside School is located in the Tesoro Viejo master-planned community in southeastern Madera County just north of Highway 41 and Road 204. The school will feature state-of-the-art facilities, including a library/media center, music room, outdoor learning spaces, and athletic facilities with gymnasium.


“We are building an exciting instructional program with a strong focus on science and technology,” said Jared Pierce, founding principal of Hillside School. “Our state-of-the-art facilities will support project-based learning, a trademark of Chawanakee Unified in which students learn by doing.”


Situated at the foot of Little Table Mountain, Tesoro Viejo is a 1,600 acre-site of rolling hills and vistas that has been designed to capture the scenic surroundings and natural beauty of the land. Students will benefit from the natural resources of the community that will include hundreds of acres of open spaces, parks, recreation, and a vast network of trails.


“We are so fortunate to have this opportunity to build a school in this beautiful setting — this community has it all from the unique topography, planned walking trails, and open spaces, there is tremendous opportunity for our students to have unique learning opportunities inside and outside of the classroom,” Pierce said.


Students will benefit from the district’s technology program where students have access to a dual-platform program equipped with iPads, Chromebooks, and MacBook air computers. 


Hillside will feature a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum, as well as a college and career exploration program that gives students an opportunity to learn about careers in the medical field and biotechnologies.


“We’re excited that the first on-site school is under construction and will be ready from the beginning for the residents of Tesoro Viejo,” said Brent McCaffrey, Tesoro Viejo Development President. “Hillside School was strategically placed to be in the heart of the Hillside Village, providing easy access for students and residents and helps bring our vision of providing a quality education for students and families at Tesoro Viejo.”


Hillside School is the district’s third TK-8 school, serving students in transitional kindergarten through eighth grade. Chawanakee Unified is an award-winning school district, serving 1,200 students in eastern Madera County at seven schools and prides itself in delivering a rigorous educational program in a small learning environment with a student-teacher ratio of 25 students to one teacher. 


“The building of Hillside School represents a new chapter for Chawanakee Unified,” said Chawanakee Unified Superintendent Darren Sylvia. “We look forward to serving the students and families of this new neighborhood and know that this exciting school will deliver an education that our students and families deserve.”

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