By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Students Come To Oakdale For Ideas
Renaissance program motivational presenter and former NFL player Keith Nord, left, gives instructions in an interactive workshop for students during the Central Valley Renaissance Conference hosted by Oakdale High School at the Gene Bianchi Community Center on Feb. 21. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

The Josten’s Renaissance program is about recognizing and awarding students for academic achievement. Whether students are maintaining good grades or improving their grades, the point is to reward them for their efforts and encourage them to continue focusing on academics.

Sharing ideas on how to improve Renaissance programs in junior highs and high schools was the purpose of the Central Valley Renaissance Conference hosted by Oakdale High School on Feb. 21 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center. The event brought students from many different area high schools, some from as far as the Bay Area. There were 19 schools represented and 200 people in attendance, which also included Renaissance advisors.

OHS college counselor Denise Hitch has been actively involved with the Jostens Renaissance program for several years and currently serves on the Josten’s advisory committee. She said this is about the fifth year that Oakdale has hosted the conference and explained why she believes OHS continues to host it.

“We’ve tried a lot of different student incentive ideas, celebrations,” Hitch said. “It’s a chance to share.”

There were workshops for students as well as advisors that were interactive and included direction on planning Renaissance program activities and being leaders, fundraising and incentive ideas, changing school culture to get buy-in, year-long events, and more.

“I have more presenters than ever, which is exciting – new ideas,” Hitch noted about this year’s event.

She reported that there were presenters from schools such as Enochs, Hughson, Inderkum, Ygnacio Valley, and Wheatland, as well as motivational speaker and former NFL player Keith Nord and representatives from Jostens.

Kaylin Azevedo, a junior at Enochs High School in Modesto, was part of the founding Renaissance group at her school last year. This was the first time she’s attended a Renaissance leadership event.

“It was really interesting listening to other people’s ideas for fundraisers. I’ve learned a lot of other ideas to get people more involved,” Azevedo said.

“Jostens does (Renaissance) to assist school to recognize achievement… (It’s) to help our schools find the tools to encourage kids who’ve achieved in one way or another,” said Jan Keiffer, Jostens representative.

She added that Hitch is instrumental in promoting Renaissance in the area.

The Oakdale Academic Boosters and Jostens were sponsors for the event. DJ George Gonzalez from Sounds In Motion donated his time and musical entertainment for the event during lunchtime and Frito Lay provided snacks. Leadership student volunteers from OHS and Oakdale Junior High School also helped with event set up, barbecuing lunch, and serving the meals.