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School district reaches out to churches Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Oct 22 2011 12:00 PM

Sweetwater Unified High School District Superintendent Ed Brand on Wednesday met with representatives of the South Bay's churches to open what he hopes is an ongoing dialogue.

At the district's Professional Development Center, approximately 25 pastors, youth and worship leaders and directors gathered to work with Brand in rebuilding trust specifically within the religious community by telling them students are the number one priority.

During the presentation, Brand discussed topics including Prop. O, the district budget, legal and food services and synthetic drugs.

Brand said the district should have synergy with local churches.

"School districts, like churches, come in all different shapes and sizes," he said. "We want to tell you our story and have you give us suggestions on how we can do things more efficiently."

Brand said it's about continuous improvement.

Robert Dominguez, who is a facility chaplain at the South Bay Detention Center but is also a volunteer coach with a local high school, is interested in the legality of Bible clubs on campus.

As a teacher, Dominguez writes "scripture" on the walls in ways that depict positive messages to students, such as treat others with kindness.

"Principals won't allow ... philosophical statements in classrooms," he said.

Pablo Gandara is a 22-year-old worship and youth leader at G 3:16 who said that bullying in schools is a big issue and can result in suicide for the victim.

"Many kids don't understand that they have a specific purpose in life," he said.

Cesar Lopez from Faith Assembly in Imperial Valley said that many adults underestimate kids.

"Many parents were incarcerated, going through a divorce or a custody battle," he said. "The church is a bridge between school and the community. Why can't they (kids) know both the secular and Christian world?"

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