Desert High School boasts several achievements

LOS ANGELES -- Kaitlyn Wright (left) and Lindsey Lewis (center), Desert High School seniors, explain their project to one of the judges during the California State Science Fair at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on May 22. Ms. Lewis and Ms. Wright received first place for their plant biology project. Kehly Kirk, another DHS student, placed third, also for plant biology. Robert Thurman and Keith Hines, both DHS seniors, also received a special award for doing a low-cost and hands-on project. (Photo by Dawn Waldman)

LOS ANGELES -- Kaitlyn Wright (left) and Lindsey Lewis (center), Desert High School seniors, explain their project to one of the judges during the California State Science Fair at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on May 22. Ms. Lewis and Ms. Wright received first place for their plant biology project. Kehly Kirk, another DHS student, placed third, also for plant biology. Robert Thurman and Keith Hines, both DHS seniors, also received a special award for doing a low-cost and hands-on project. (Photo by Dawn Waldman)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Posted across some of the walls in the Desert High School main office are laminated clippings cut from newspapers of the past school year. 

These are not just ordinary clippings. These are testaments to the achievements of Desert High students and teachers. 

"I am proud of these achievements," said Jackie Payne, DHS assistant principal. 

Desert High has more than 400 students enrolled. 

Ms. Payne said that because of the small numbers of students, the teachers know their students, and the students know each other well. 

Although Desert High has a small number of students, the school has many achievements, she said. 

One of their achievements was $1.9 million worth of scholarships the senior students received 2006. 

"These students are ready to go to the next stage of their life," Ms. Payne said. 

Desert also performed well with sports last year. The girls' volleyball team went to the playoffs. The school was the High Desert League champions in boys and girls basketball and girls softball. 

"Our students have some talents and ability," Ms. Payne said. "It is a great help that the coaches assist the students in focusing their abilities and talent." 

However, the school is not only focusing on their students' athletic skills. Students also need to perform well in their academics. 

"It is an expectation," Ms. Payne said. "They need to be successful in the classroom or they don't get to play." 

She said the school encourages the students to play sports. 

"We do everything we can to get them on the team, retain them and be successful," Ms. Payne said. "We don't want them to be academic bookworms, nor do we want them to be only sports jocks. We expect them to do both." 

She said the school also performed "superbly" in academics. The school competed in the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles and received awards including first and third place in plant biology project and special awards. The school's Academic Performance Index was also the best in Antelope Valley. 

For the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, Keith Hines, last school year's Desert High JROTC commander, was the No. 1 cadet in California and the entire United States. 

Ms. Payne said the school's achievements were because the families, staff, teachers and students themselves are very interested in education. 

"I think of it like a diamond," Ms. Payne said. "They are small, but they are strong, hard and brilliant."