CONCORD -- When Clayton Valley High converts to a charter school in the fall, many students will benefit from the legacy left behind by this year's seniors who advocated tirelessly for the change.
Three such standout graduates were Kendall Winship, Ted Hall and Derek Weinmann, according to those who worked with them during Clayton Valley High's last year as a Mt. Diablo School District campus.
"It was great to see those kids get behind it because we needed that," said Clayton Councilman David Shuey, who was a driving force behind the charter. "Without some eloquent and committed students, I don't think we would have had the steam to get the public support and the pressure that we got."
Winship and Hall spoke at school board meetings that went late into the night. Hall also participated in a public service academy project that came up with ideas for how to improve the school, including changing the finals schedule.
Weinmann has been active on the charter steering committee, which worked on the new summer transition academy, student handbook and dress code. All three said they learned valuable lessons that will help them in the future. And they all plan to come back to visit, to see the fruits of their labor.
"I love the charter," said Winship, 19, who will attend the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall. "Their whole goal and the mission, I think, was very honorable. I really genuinely wanted the best for the generations that are going to come. I had seen firsthand what the district did and the district was just mediocre. I really liked that the charter offered kids the chance to grow and to flourish."
Hall, 18, said he felt the charter would be a positive change for students, so he wanted to spread the word about it while drawing from its heritage, including the campus' eagle mascot.
"I just wanted to help the school do what's best for itself, even though it wouldn't personally affect me," said Hall, who is heading to Claremont McKenna College in Southern California. "Because, once an eagle always an eagle."
Weinmann worked alongside Shuey and others on the charter's student services committee, helping plan the school's transition to an independent campus run by its own governing board, overseen by the Contra Costa County Office of Education.
"I wanted to leave a legacy at Clayton Valley, because I want to be a teacher when I get older," said the 18-year-old, who will attend Cal State Fullerton. "I think you should want to better a school for your classes and I really felt the charter would do good things. I think it's going to bring more pride to our school and really push students to think outside the box. Test scores are probably going to rise. We're going to get more student clubs and more student involvement, which is something I wanted."
Winship compared the fight for the charter to a revolution, which leaves many unknowns.
"It's kind of scary -- freedom -- because something may happen," she said. "But, it's kind of awe-inspiring, this power that these kids are realizing they could have. And the parents are looking around saying, 'This can change.' I think we gave kids the ability to give themselves that."
All three said opposition to the charter made them realize the importance of sticking up for their beliefs.
"It became a heated issue," Hall said. "I have friends who went to other schools. It was kind of eye-opening to me to see how opinionated each side would get. That was definitely something to see -- that there will be push-back, sometimes. And if you stand for the change, then you can make a difference."