Buchanan High School is the middle child of the Clovis Unified School District. It’s not the oldest high school and it’s not the newest. But it’s certainly carved out a niche for itself in this competitive district through strong academic achievements, outstanding volunteerism and a sprawling campus capped off by Veterans Memorial Stadium, which is dedicated to Buchanan alumni who lost their lives in combat.
Ricci Ulrich’s been involved with the school in some capacity for about as long as it’s been open. She’s been principal at Buchanan for the past 7 years and has been involved with the school and it’s feeder intermediate school, Alta Sierra, for much of her 32-year career in public education.
At a glance, Buchanan is a school of roughly 2,500 students in grades 9-12. The school opened in 1991 and graduated its first class of students in 1995. Located on Minnewawa Avenue between Teague and Nees, the neighborhood around the school has gone from rural to suburban in just a few years.
Buchanan has received several awards over the years, including being named a California Distinguished School 3 times. And physics teacher Paul Lake was named California’s High School Educator of the Year in 2014.
Here, Ulrich talks about what makes her school great, why she got into education to begin with and what surprises her most about the students at Buchanan. She also talks about the enduring legacy of the school’s graduates who went off to war and didn’t come home. Because before they were soldiers, they were bears.
Keep up with what the students of Buchanan are doing on Facebook.