Armijo Royals volunteer at local food bank

11th graders Melissa Montaro (left), Micayla Hines (right) bag carrots at the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano Counties.

11th graders Melissa Montaro (left), Micayla Hines (right) bag carrots at the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano Counties.

Nicole Piazza, FSUSD Interim Communications Manager

Armijo High School IB students volunteer at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties.

FAIRFIELD, CA – The beginning of any school year can be a time of significant adjustment for students. Balancing club and sports schedules, building homecoming floats, and making sure the final touches of classroom assignments are completed before progress reports are examples of students’ daily tasks. One could easily argue that the first few months of a new school year are packed with plenty of activities to keep high school students busy. For some Armijo High School International Baccalaureate (IB) students, however, it is just the beginning.

The IB Program, hosted at Armijo High School, is a highly regarded internationally-minded program that promotes rigorous inquiry, critical thinking, and a strong sense of social justice and cultural awareness. Those wishing to enroll in the IB Program are required to complete an application, submit to placement tests, and abide by the program’s high expectations. Once enrolled in the program, students must maintain a grade point average of 2.75 or higher each semester while participating in sequential and rigorous coursework. In order to stay enrolled in the program, students must also complete Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) hours during their junior and senior years.“I think CAS is an important part of the program,” said Ms. Vanessa Walling-Sisi, 11th-grade Theory of Knowledge teacher. “It encourages a well-rounded education that is rooted in service to our community at large.”

The International Baccalaureate is more than its educational programs and certificates. The IB Mission Statement includes the following: ‘At our heart, we are motivated by a mission to create a better world through education.’ Regarded as a shining beacon of IB values, CAS enables students to grow as unique individuals and to recognize their role in relation to others. “Volunteering is a service you are giving to the community,” explained Dulce Bernal Ortiz. “It also makes you feel accomplished.”

As a part of their CAS requirements, IB students at Armijo High School often participate in service opportunities with local agencies. Their Theory of Knowledge teacher leads by example. “I encourage all my students to volunteer,” said Ms. Walling-Sisi, “I let them know when I plan to be volunteering and they can sign up, too. Once they see how easy and fun it is to do, they are more likely to sign up on their own.”

On Saturday, September 25, Armijo Royals had their first opportunity of the school year to serve with the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano Counties. Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano Outreach and Volunteer manager Sharon Zeppegno said, “Vanessa Walling-Sisi and her Armijo High School students are amazing. It is obvious they want to make a difference in their community.” Ms. Zeppegno continued: “There were 20 volunteers helping us on the 25th. They were able to bag produce that helps us serve more than 240,000 people in our communities every month.”

Assistant Principal Lori O’Connor explained, “The IB program allows students to learn more about themselves including their areas of strength as well as areas for personal growth.” When volunteering students were asked about their experience, the feedback was positive. “I would definitely volunteer at the good bank again.” Bernal Ortiz went on to say, “Volunteering is a new experience for me, and was a step outside of my comfort zone, but I’m very glad I did it.” By the end of their senior year, IB students will have completed a minimum of 180 CAS hours, documented in a portfolio and approved by IB professors.

In November, IB Royals have a tradition to partner with the Food Bank of Contra Costa &; Solano counties and assist with their “Feed the Need” campaign. Volunteers are assigned to local Safeway stores and ask patrons to donate to the food bank as they checkout. Food Bank officials report that having AHS students participate nearly doubles the total donations they receive during that campaign.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano can sign up for shifts at

For more information about the International Baccalaureate program at Armijo High School, please visit or contact Armijo High School IB Coordinator and Assistant Principal, Lori O’Connor at (707) 399-4285 or [email protected]

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