Abel Guzman is the Executive Director-Rural Initiatives leader of the Bakersfield College Delano campus.

He became interim director of the Delano campus and Rural Initiatives in April 2017. The interim tag was removed near the first of December.

Guzman, 32, born and raised in Delano, said that “Thanks to the support of outgoing director and now Dean of Instruction Richard McCrow, the team and I were able to continue expanding our services throughout Kern County.

“We have new programs such as our HVAC program which launched in the fall of 2018. Students can complete the full program in Delano. Our Early College partnership with Wonderful College Prep Academy, Delano Joint Union High School District, McFarland High School, Wasco High School, Arvin High School and Shafter High School has continued to grow.”

Guzman reports that nearly 70 percent of all dual enrollment at Bakersfield College happens in rural Kern County high schools.

“We have also increased our capacity of serving the adult learner population by collaborating with local adult schools to build seamless transitions to higher education and career training opportunities, Guzman said.”

“In the next five years I see us establishing more Early College pathways for high school students in rural communities like Delano. In the past, the purpose of centers such as the Delano campus was to help adults get a kick start on their education. Although we are still committed to doing that, we know that it is important to provide equitable access to a college education earlier on in a child’s life. Additionally, I see us growing our physical capacity to offer more courses, not just in Delano but throughout rural Kern County.”

Guzman’s role has evolved from overseeing the operations of the Delano campus to ensuring that instructional and student support service programs are available to students in the communities of Delano, McFarland, Wasco, Shafter, Arvin, Lamont and Lost Hills.

“We have a phenomenal Rural Initiatives team spread throughout Kern County that is dedicated to supporting students closer to their homes. Transportation is a big obstacle for many of our students, so we are doing our part to help them out,” Guzman said.

“We have continued to see an upward trend in enrollment for rural communities. Combined in all rural communities we serve about 2,000 full-time equivalent students. However, we serve many more students each semester who may be taking one or two classes at a time. As we bring on more programs and continue to expand in our Early College Initiatives, I expect this upward trend to continue.”

Anyone interested in the college programs should check out www.bakersfieldcollege.edu. The Delano campus has a page within the main website. Additionally, the college encourages everyone in rural Kern County to follow “Bakersfield College Rural Initiatives” on Facebook for regular updates.

Guzman, a son of Abel and Silvia Guzman of Delano, graduated from Delano High School in 2004. He earned a bachelor of arts in Political Science from UC Santa Barbara in 2008 and a masters in Public Administration from CSU Bakersfield in 2011. In progress is obtaining a doctorate-Organizational Change and Leadership from University of Southern California.

Guzman spent four years at CSUB as an educational adviser for the educational talent search program and then for two years was education program supervisor for the Wonderful Company. The next two years he was Youth 2 Leaders Education Foundation executive director.

Starting in 2016 for Bakersfield College, he spent two and a half years as program manager for adult education, was interim director of the Delano campus and Rural Initiatives and as of December 2018, gained the executive director title.

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The Delano Joint Union High School District is the only district in Kern County and the only district in the San Joaquin Valley south of Lemoore to be honored as a 2019 California Exemplary District.

Delano High School and Cesar E. Chavez High School are among the 162 middle and high schools honored under the 2019 Distinguished Schools Program, an honor for which they were previously nominated.

Sponsored by the state Department of Education and California Casualty, the program recognizes outstanding education programs and practices. Schools are awarded for achieving exceptional student performance for two consecutive school years of closing the achievement gap between two school years.

In a news release, Tony Thurmond, state superintendent, said, “I would like to commend these schools for fighting for a better future for our students, closing achievement gaps, and improving academic performances. Thanks to teachers, administrators, classified employees, and parents working together, these schools meet the needs of all of their students, provide high-quality educational experiences, and put kids on a pathway to great careers.”

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A Feb. 28 meeting of the Delano Homeless Collaborative drew more than 20 people to the DADD office.

Rhonda Barnhart, special projects manager for behavioral health and recovery services, said that two grants to Kern County will fund two recovery centers in Kern, one already set for Bakersfield and a second that may be placed in Delano.

Barnhart said that for just a few hours the facility could provide treatment for persons rather than have them serve jail time.

Delano Mayor Joe Aguirre said that an outline of the proposed program and the needs in Delano would be studied at a March 18 City Council meeting. Barnhart said her group wishes to be present at the council meeting.

Sal Moretti, chief of staff for Kern County Supervisor David Couch's office, said the next meeting of the local group would be Thursday, March 28.

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The 50th reunion of Delano High School’s Class of 1969 is planned Oct. 19 at the Delano Elks Club.

Class spokesman Darcel Jaussaud reported that by April, most class members should receive information by email from reunion organizers Kathleen LaVallee or Andy Cesare.

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Delano’s Relay for Life is presenting tonight “Paint It Purple Paint Night” starting at 6 p.m,.at Tony’s Firehouse, 502 County Line Road. A $30 fee will benefit the Relay for Life.

For the April 13 Relay for Life on the Delano High campus, individuals wishing to submit pictures for the luminary ceremony may do so by sending via email to mrdoofus@hotmail.com.

People are reminded to include the individual’s first and last name and if it is in honor or in memory of someone. Anyone wishing to purchase luminaries may contact anyone on the committee or team members.

Leading this year’s Relay are Glenda Muldrow, Committee lead; Janet Rabanal, Accounting lead; Rosa Lugo, Team Captain lead; Cheryl Hill, online accounting; Krystal Mascarinas, accounting; Lizette Gonzalez and Michael Fowler, entertainment; Claribel Gutierrez, registration; Andrew Mendoza, sound; Daniel Navarrette, activities; Alex Lopez and Jonathan Nunez, logistics; Teresa Gonzales and Arnold Morrison, luminaria; and Laura and Melinda Kemph, survivors.

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Delano High track and field team members sparkled at the recent Dinuba Invitational.

For varsity boys, senior Pablo Alonso pushed the shot 44-4.5 for second place and Mauricio Gonzalez hurled the discus 113-2 for second. For frosh-soph boys, Ruben Lopez reached 39-8.5 in the shot put for third and hurled the discus 100-9 for second.

Delano’s frosh-soph 4x100 relay ran second with a team of Miguel Osorio, Santiago Ontiveros, Diego Quintero, and Andrew Carrasco. Quintero, Ontiveros, Carrasco, and Miguel Lorenzano ran third in the sprint medley relay and Quintero, Omar Gutierrez, Lorenzano and Carrasco ran third in the 4x400 relay.

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First Tripleheader basketball games at Delano High School on  March 1 were close battles in the 31st annual edition sponsored by Delano boys’ basketball and cheerleaders

Delano High’s Future Business Leaders of America behind 14 points by DHS’s frosh-soph scoring leader Kristine Almajano eased by the cheerleaders, 22-18. Ruthchie Galanta and Stormie Kates sank 7 each for the cheerleaders.

The Robert F. Kennedy High choir rebounded from an early deficit to tame Delano High’s choir, 48-41. Mayra Santos sank 16 and Christian Bunot 14 to lead RFK while Katie Juan swished 11, Freggie Ochinang 6, and Cyrus Gorospe 5 for Delano High’s choir.

Delano High staff held off a late Kennedy staff rally, 75-72, after many of Kennedy’s staff arrived late due to a basketball awards night earlier in the evening. Luis Gomez canned nine treys and 32 points total and Aaron Estrada five treys and 27 points total to lead DHS. Roxanne Salinas, a coach for RFK girls, potted eight 3’s and 26 points total and Byron DeLeon and Sammy Buccat 14 each to pace Kennedy’s staff team.

The second Tripleheader March 8 was to match Delano and Cesar E. Chavez high school teams.

Gary Girard is a longtime resident of Delano. He can be reached at 661-725-8803.

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