There's a lot going on at Bakersfield High School these days, but most people outside of the school's walls might not be aware of it all.
Students are digging through items from the past several decades, utilizing the only dark room in the district and learning all that goes into fashion.
Community members had the opportunity to learn all that and more during the Kern High School District's annual Principal Partners' Day Wednesday. More than 400 individuals from local businesses, media, museums and other educational institutions participated in an "open house" at each of the local high schools to get an in-depth look at school programs and resources.
For two principals — Ben Sherley at BHS and Megan Gregor at West High School — it was their first one as school leaders.
"This is great," Sherley said at the beginning of the day, ready to showcase Driller Pride for his school and students. "I'm having a blast."
Something he aimed to do with this year's "open house" was put students front and center. BHS students led guests on a tour through the school's several buildings and classes.
"It's better to get it from students' eyes," Sherley said.
With career and technical education as a focus for KHSD, students led guests to different classes that demonstrate different skills students are gaining that help them as they move on to college or careers.
BHS offers fashion as a for-credit class, and students learn how to use sewing machines, work with different fabrics and the history of fashion in each of the different classes offered.
The class, as teacher Sarah Claborn explained, exposes students to trends seen in the fashion industry. For example, students repurposed clothing from local Goodwill stores for one project, and the industry itself is focusing on ways to be less wasteful — one of which is by repurposing clothing.
Guests were also taken to classes that have a focus on science, technology, economics, art and mathematics. Choir students sung pieces from a recent concert, while a calculus class worked through problems using derivatives — a topic that appeared to go over guests' heads.
Courtney Ansolabehere, with the Kern Economic Development Foundation, attended Frontier High School's Principal Partners' Day last year and said she enjoys participating in the annual event in order to see first hand how students are engaging in STEM fields.
Its signature event is the Kern County STEMposium, which brings students and businesses together for an expo where students showcase their best STEM projects, and businesses demonstrate equipment and skills required to be successful in the workplace.
"We don't have a list of every program available at each school site, so this helps me see it," she said.
The tour ended with a visit to the BHS archiving department, where teacher and local historian Ken Hooper laid out old yearbooks for former Drillers to reminisce about their high school days while viewing photographs and other forms of memorabilia.
Principal Partners’ Day concluded with the presentation of the KHSD’s Jim Burke Light and Liberty Award to Fuchsia Ward for service to Kern County education.
Ward is a graduate of South High School and was employed with KHSD for 40 years, holding roles such as affirmative action supervisor, site administrator at Vista East High School, director of alternative education and principal of alternative education.
Previous winners include Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin, The Jockey Club, and Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall.