U.S. Secretary of Education visits El Rancho High, Rio Hondo College

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U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Rep. Linda Sanchez visited Rio Hondo College and then one of its many feeder schools, El Rancho High School, on Tuesday, March 29.

Tony Thurmond, California’s superintendent of public instruction, was also present at El Rancho.

Cardona and Sanchez, D-Norwalk, met with Río Hondo College Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss, Director of Student Life and Leadership Shaina Phillips, and students from the HOPE Scholars Program at Rio Hondo and toured El Rancho calculus and robotic classes.

  • Sophomore Antonio Moreno gets tested for Covid-19 at the El Rancho High School gymnasium before a visit and tour of the campus from Rep. Linda T. Sanchez and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    Workers prepare test kits for Covid-19 at the El Rancho High School gymnasium before a visit and tour of the campus from Rep. Linda T. Sanchez and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    Sophomore Antonio Moreno gets tested for Covid-19 at the El Rancho High School gymnasium before a visit and tour of the campus from Rep. Linda T. Sanchez and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    Freshman Julian Acero gets tested for Covid-19 at the El Rancho High School gymnasium before a visit and tour of the campus from Rep. Linda T. Sanchez and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center, Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, left, and Principal Kendall Goyenaga, right, visit El Rancho High School, as the band plays on during a tour of the campus in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, center left, and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center right, visit El Rancho High School, as the school band plays on during a tour of the campus in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center, greets the El Rancho High School mascot, as the band plays on during a tour of the campus in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, left, speaks at El Rancho High School, with Rep. Linda T. Sanchez during a briefing about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center, greets the El Rancho High School mascot, as the band plays on during a tour of the campus in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center, speaks with El Rancho High School robotics students during a visit of the campus on a tour, and a briefing about students recovery from the pandemic, and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, above left, visits with El Rancho High Students robotics class with California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, right, and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, second from right, during a tour of the campus in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center, speaks at El Rancho High School, with Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, right, and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, left, during a briefing about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, right, works the controls of a robot during a visit and tour of a robotics class at El Rancho High School with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, second from right, in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, left, speaks at El Rancho High School, with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez and Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, right, during a briefing about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center, tours El Rancho High School, with Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, left, and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, second from right, and Principal Kendall Goyenaga, right, to see a Covid-19 testing site on the campus, visit classrooms and to talk about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center, tours El Rancho High School, with Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, left, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, right, and Principal Kendall Goyenaga, second from right, to see a Covid-19 testing site on the campus, visit classrooms and to talk about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center, tours El Rancho High School gymnasium, with Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, right, to see a Covid-19 testing site on the campus, visit classrooms and to talk about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, second from right, speaks at El Rancho High School, with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, second from left, and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, left, during a briefing about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    An El Rancho High School student, right, asks a question for U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, left, and Rep. Linda T. Sanchez during a briefing about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center, speaks at El Rancho High School, with Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, right, and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, left, during a briefing about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, left, speaks at El Rancho High School, with Rep. Linda T. Sanchez during a briefing about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

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    U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Sanchez, center, speaks to calculus students at El Rancho High School, with Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, left, and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, right, during a briefing, about students recovery from the pandemic and to connect them with high-quality opportunities in Pico Rivera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

Cardona said he was impressed with what he saw at both campuses, such as “students performing with smiles on their faces” at El Rancho.

“I talked to a student in a calculus class who said connections are what she valued the most about schools,” he said.

Cardona also praised how El Rancho has used federal American Rescue funds to reopen schools. make sure students have adequate testing and mental health support.

I’m thrilled to see it,” he said.

He also liked what he heard at Rio Hondo, where at a roundtable event the group discussed the need for support programs to help meet students’ basic needs such as housing and food security.

“I’m just inspired by employees and students and their resilience and their drive to succeed despite challenges,” he said.

Cardona also heard from a young man, who said Rio Hondo College staff has helped him find a studio apartment to live in. The students asked that their names not be used.

Río Hondo College was one of five colleges in the country to recently receive a grant for almost $1 million from the Department of Education that will help address some of these basic needs, Sanchez announced in an emailed release on Tuesday.

In an email on Tuesday, Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss said she was impressed with how quickly Cardona was able to build a good rapport with Rio Hondo’s Hope Scholars.

“I am so grateful to Congresswoman Sanchez for inviting Secretary Cardona to our campus since it gave our students a chance to proudly represent the college and provided them a valuable opportunity to build relationships with national leaders,” Dreyfuss wrote.

Sanchez also praised El Rancho High.

“A good K-12 education opens opportunities for the next generation,” she wrote.

“This is especially true in neighborhoods just like Pico Rivera, where many students are the first generation in their family to attend high school in the United States,” Sanchez said. “The programs offered at El Rancho High School – from English-learning classes to the STEAM program – ensure that every student can succeed. It was my honor to share El Rancho High School and all it has to offer with Secretary Cardona today.”

Cardona is scheduled to return to Los Angeles County Wednesday to visit with students and families from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

On Wednesday morning, he will visit Los Angeles High School of the Arts with Thurmond and LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, discussing the district’s use of American Rescue Plan and other pandemic-relief funds to support students.

Following the school tour, they will meet with a group of parents to discuss efforts to support students’ mental health as schools emerge from the pandemic.

City News Service contributed to this report.