Fresno’s University High School finished its school year earlier this month with a two-day, on campus, socially-distanced graduation ceremony.
The celebration marked the end of high school for the school’s 116 graduates—and the end of an era for the Head of School Dr. James Bushman, who’s been with the school since 2006.
“It’s a great cause for reflection,” Bushman says of his tenure ending, acknowledging the school’s impressive streak of achievement over the past two decades. “Not every charter school makes it to almost 20 years.”
Dr. Bushman poses for a picture with a graduating senior during UHS' ceremony.
Music, liberal arts, and the sciences are the bedrock of UHS’ accelerated college prep program.
And on Bushman’s watch, the school has cemented its status as an academic powerhouse, earning enough state and national awards to fill multiple trophy cases. Most recently, the school was ranked as the fourth best public high school in California and the top charter public school in the state by U.S. News & World Report.
Of this year’s class, Bushman points out they’re one of the most creative he’s ever seen and a shining example of academic excellence. Fifty four of the 116 graduates finished with a 4.0 GPA or higher. Numerous students were accepted into 12 ivy league schools.
The graduates also share a tight bond. Most of them experienced the four-year journey together, a testament to the smaller charter school model, Bushman points out.
UHS senior offers congratulatory, optimistic words to her classmates after accepting her diploma.
“That leads to so much more camaraderie, more of a family feeling,” he says. “The family feeling made [graduation] a more emotional experience.”
By the time of the ceremony, students had felt fatigued over distance learning. But there was genuine excitement about a shorter ceremony and seeing their teachers after months apart.
UHS senior celebrates graduating with his family
“[Students] all liked it. They were impressed with the process. And enjoyed the closure that the event brought for them,” Bushman says.
Like his students, Bushman is focused on the positive as he makes his exit.
“The pandemic doesn’t take away from the success we’ve had.”
Earlier this month, CCSA’s Central Valley Advocacy team recognized Dr. Bushman for his long-standing commitment and dedication to ensuring students in Fresno and surrounding communities receive a quality education. Not only has he been a north star within the region; his steadfast contributions continue to have an enduring impact on students, families, and staff. His retirement is well deserved. And this small token of appreciation is the least that we could do as he enters the next phase of his endeavors.