By Kelli Gile
WALNUT, CA—The Board of Trustees celebrated stellar members of the Walnut Valley family during the February 17 meeting.
Maple Hill Elementary parent volunteer Saralie Ekowibowo was acknowledged with the Partner in Education Award. For the past six years, Saralie has served on Community Club and the Hawk Shop weekly after-school shopping experience featuring candy, handmade ornaments, Boba, pizza, and gifts. “The Hawk Shop was Saralie’s brainchild,” lauded Principal Kelly Morris. Saralie also volunteers every Thursday in the reading intervention group for first and second graders. She has helped hundreds of students learn how to read and to foster a love for it. Last year, she organized yard sign deliveries, drive through celebration with swag bag, and virtual activities to celebrate promoting fifth graders. “Putting kids first each and every day is her anthem – Saralie is a champion for kids!” Morris added.
Fourth grader William Lee received the Super Star Student Award. In 2nd grade, William lost his mother. Mrs. Lee was one of the school’s most dedicated parent volunteers. During this life-altering event, William has demonstrated great perseverance and character. When he returned to school, William chose peace, kindness, and persistence, Morris said. “We saw the beauty of William’s true character in the face of adversity and we witnessed the abundant love of his parents. ”William is gentle to others and a caring citizen. He continues to have a brave heart, strong mind, and brave spirit – the school’s motto. “We could all take a page out of William’s book,” Morris added. “Life will present us all with challenges, we can turn to sadness or we can do what William did and move towards hope and resilience.”
Quail Summit Elementary fourth grader Anjelica Liu was lauded with the Super Star Student Award. Last summer, in the midst of the pandemic while many children were playing or watching television, Anjelica decided to start an online business called Charity Girls to raise money to help others. The nine-year-old began creating small beaded items with all funds donated to the Feed America non-profit organization. Anjelica said she knew that a lot of people didn’t have money for food and clothing and she just wanted to help. “Anjelica makes us extremely proud!” said Principal Frances Weissenberger. “What you want most of a student is that they demonstrate not only high academic standards, but also characteristics that show empathy, kindness and love – and Anjelica demonstrates all of these!” Anjelica’s items are available at: www.etsy.com/shot/CharityGirlsCo.
Quail Summit Elementary parent volunteer Nicole Zhou was honored with the Partner in Education Award. Nicole always goes above and beyond in everything she does. She is supportive of all teachers, works diligently in the classroom, and participates in Community Club, School Site Council, and the Superintendent’s Parent Leadership Seminar. Before distance learning, Nicole was a regular figure in the hallway, always working on projects to help students. “We have always relied heavily upon Nicole and she never waivers in her support of our school,” Weissenberger said.
The school is most appreciative of all that she does, but funnily enough Nicole is the one that always takes the time to show her appreciation. This year, she gave every staff member perfume as a gift during the holidays. “Nicole not only supports us with her help, she helps us smell good in the process!” the school leader shared.
The Board of Trustees presented a special recognition to the 2020 Classified Employee of the Year, David Arionus. David is a morning aide at Suzanne Middle School. Since joining the team he has provided exceptional customer support while connecting with students and staff on a personal level. Due to the pandemic, the annual Cornerstone Awards was held virtually this year. Twelve classified employees were lauded for outstanding customer service, culminating with the Classified Employee of the Year announcement. “David is a people person, and he is someone everyone really loves and respects!” lauded Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor. “We’re just super proud of him!”