ARIZONA CITY — Casa Grande Union High School District Superintendent Steve Bebee has come up with a way to get students to appreciate what they're given and to give back to the community.
He decided to start the Superintendent's Challenge, where he's challenged the students to go out and serve the community.
For any 50 hours of community service a student completes that can be verified by an adult, the student will receive a varsity letter.
"We're giving kids a varsity letter and we'll roll that forward," Bebee said. "Just like they do in sports, they'll get a pin the next year and things like that. But I took it one step further and any student in this district who gets 200 hours over a four-year period, we're going to honor you in the graduation program and I'm going to give you cords to dignify that you have done that amount of service in the community."
As the guest speaker at the Arizona City Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday, Bebee asked that businesses that have opportunities for community service contact him.
Since he took over as superintendent in 2018 the district has made great strides in becoming more technologically advanced, he said.
According to Bebee, while most schools around the state are struggling to get an individual learning device for each student, the CGUHSD has already reached that goal.
Additionally the district rolled out Wi-Fi hotspots that students can check out and take home to help them work on their homework. Bebee is looking to take things one step further next year by experimenting and adding Wi-Fi to buses that travel more than an hour.
"Kids can take advantage of that and do their homework or do what they need to do while they're on a bus ride home," Bebee said.
This year the district also created an enrichment period of 40 minutes where students have the same teacher every day to stay in touch with the kids and help them keep their grades up.
He added that another focus for both schools is having career and technical education classes that provide a springboard into some of the programs offered at Central Arizona College. Two new classes added this year are automation robotics and graphic digital design.
Bebee added that there's a big need for skilled labor in the area with additions at Lucid Motors and Nikola Motor Company plants.
"Not all high school students are going to go to college when they leave," Bebee said. "Not because they don't have the ability to go to college but because that may not be the career path that they want to go down. Some of our best and brightest students in the district who can get into some of the most prestigious colleges in the country, they choose to go to a two-year program or a two-year career path that's going to lead them into a job."