Now and Then

| Community | October 18, 2018

Castaic High School is scheduled to open next fall with a ninth grade class of about 400 freshmen, and when listening to founding principal Melanie Hagman’s enthusiastic description of the new school, it’s hard not to share her excitement over the “state of the art curriculum that is being designed to match its state of the art physical structure.”

“The drive up the mile and a half road to the campus ends in a most imposing sight,” said Melanie. “A magnificent two-story science building that dominates the landscape.

“Equally impressive will be the gymnasium and performing arts buildings which will add a full spectrum of enrichment opportunities to a robust curriculum that will offer pathways in diverse pursuits like manufacturing, health and medical, and college preparation.”

Open enrollment will be offered at the 58-acre campus, which is expected to ultimately house 2,600 students. The first graduating class will be donning caps and gowns in 2023.

Melanie says that Castaic High School 9th and 10th graders will be able to take college courses along with their regularly scheduled classes. “It will be a lot like the Academy of the Canyons on the College of the Canyons campus, which graduates its students with AA degrees along with their high school diplomas,” explained Melanie.


“We will work closely with COC instructors to keep education meaningful and relevant. We will also introduce the ‘Block Schedule’ concept, which will allow students to continue working on projects long after the ending class bell sounds. Included will be collaborative group work in English, math, and science.”

“By including pathways to careers in occupations such as media arts and advanced technology, as well as college prep, we hope to teach employability and soft skills along with the traditional curricula,” concludes Melanie. “We want to partner with community businesses to develop internships that will highlight all aspects of a student’s chosen career.

Castaic will join the six other high schools in the William S. Hart School District: Hart, Canyon, Saugus, Valencia, Golden Valley, and West Ranch, which also offer Career Tech education in courses such as nursing, construction, plumbing, welding, and arts media. All six schools have been named Silver Medalists by U.S. News and are in the top 10 percent of high schools around the country. The district-wide success in Career Tech is a key component in the high ranking of the schools, and Hagman is proud to acknowledge that Castaic will share in the programming.

Hagman graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts degree and has two Master’s Degrees from Cal State Los Angeles. She began her teaching career in 1996 with the LA Unified School District and also served as a counselor at Granada Hills Charter High School.

Additional credentials in teaching, pupil personnel services, and administration made her a natural to serve as assistant principal at Hart High School for seven years. Melanie was named principal of Castaic High School in March of this year, and will move to her new offices when the administration building opens in May of 2019. A few classrooms will open a month later in June.

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About Linda Pedersen

Linda Pedersen is a 50-year resident of the Santa Clarita Valley. She has alternated being a columnist and feature writer with volunteering in the community.

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