Walnut Valley Trustees Celebrate Star Students, Community Partners

By Kelli Gile

 WALNUTIn keeping with tradition, the Walnut Valley USD Board of Trustees honored outstanding students and community partners during the November 15 meeting.

C.J. Morris Elementary fourth graders Kailyn Park and Nyla Rivera authored “Everyone Has A Right”, a friendship book they wrote to raise awareness about students with special needs.

The caring students were commended with the Super Star Student Award.

Kailyn and Nyla spend time at recess getting to know students in the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) class.  They model how to care about others and value differences.

Their advocacy work has created a more inclusive environment on campus. To date, they have donated nearly $200 to the ASD class from the book’s proceeds.

“They truly embody what it means to be I.B. students by showing that they not only care, but dare to act to make a difference,” said Principal Shehzad Bhojani.

Longtime parent volunteer Sheila Wright received the Partner in Education Award.

Sheila has been president of the C.J. Morris Community Club for the past four years.  Under her leadership, fundraising efforts, parental involvement and school spirt have steadily increased.

“She embraces an inclusive philosophy to address the needs of our culturally, ethnically and socio-economically diverse parent community,” Bhojani said.

Sheila has strong interpersonal skills and utilizes multiple platforms to communicate with the parent community.  She is a good listener who validates the ideas brought up by her team, and is open to suggestions in improving the effectiveness of the programs that are offered.

“Sheila is fully committed to improving the educational experience of our C.J. Morris students,” he added.

Parent volunteer Tom Jordan received the Partner in Education Award for South Pointe Middle School.

For the past three years, Tom has been an active member of the school’s Community Club and currently serves as president. He is also a School Site Council and District LCAP Committee representative.

If Tom isn’t providing the parent voice at a meeting, he is selling snacks at home games and performances, or organizing fundraisers.

“His innovation, enthusiasm, and infectious positive energy inspire parents, teachers, and students alike,” said Principal Susan Arzola.

South Pointe 8th grader Yssael Gutierrez, a.k.a. Ironman, was unanimously voted by staff, out of over 900 candidates, to receive the Super Star Student Award.

“He has inspired all of us to embrace life’s challenges and tackle them head on,” Arzola said.

Last year was probably the toughest of this young man’s life and yet he was able to overcome a huge challenge, she said.

“Yssael came back this year with a strong, positive “can do” attitude. We know nothing can hold him back!”

He is proud to be a Panther and cheers on his peers every chance he gets.  He puts his whole heart into all that he does from fundraisers to athletics.

“Yssael exemplifies the strength of character and community we can all only aspire to,” Arzola added.

Additionally, the Walnut High School boys baseball and girls swim teams received special recognition for reaching the highest level of success as Division 3 CIF Champions.


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