Sunday, April 29, 2012

And Another Tradition Started

Last Monday night, we started a new tradition for the Douglas Unified School District.  We started what I hope to be an annual event called "Douglas Diamond Scholars."  We honored all students from fourth through twelfth grades.    It was an amazing evening!!

We honored the elementary students at 5:30 in the James A. Brenden Auditorium and then the middle and high school students at 7:00.  A fifth grader spoke at the elementary program about the importance of grades.  At the middle and high school ceremony, we had a sixth grader and a junior speak.

Many years ago, my mentor and former superintendent, Wally Delecki, started doing this in Gilbert.  He felt that we honored athletes and musicians, which is very important, but we didn't honor the students who did well in school. So he started this ceremony many years ago.

When I came to Douglas, I wanted to do something similar.  Because of our high poverty rate and our high second language learners, we spend a lot of time concentrating on improvement.  This is everywhere in our schools today because of the unreasonable demands made on us by politicians.  

Our Diamond Scholar Night was incredible and focused on the things that are going well.  So often the average and above average students get lost in the focus.  

We practiced with the students in the morning.  I talked to them about the importance of being respectful during this ceremony.  I asked them to please remind their families that this was a very important and serious event.  Parents can cheer at sporting events, but I asked them to remember the seriousness of this honor.  Both programs were amazing!!  The audience could not have been any more respectful.  The students walked across the stage and were given a medallion around their necks by our Governing Board members.

One of the wonderful teachers who works in our Curriculum Department coordinated this event for us.  She did an incredible job making everything work so smoothly!!

Dr. J.D. Rottweiler, the President of Cochise College, was our keynote speaker.  We could not have picked anyone better for this first ceremony.  He spoke to the students about the importance of education and gave them statistics about their future with an education.  He talked to them about how they are now a "diamond in the rough."   With their continuing education, that diamond will become what a true diamond looks like!!   He is an excellent speaker and tied everything we were trying to do into his speech.

After the second ceremony, I went out to go to my car.  It was about 15 minutes after the conclusion.  As  I walked out of the auditorium, it seemed that most of the families were still out in front.  They were in different groups talking and laughing.  That in itself was wonderful!!!

Both ceremonies filled the auditorium.  One of the fourth grade teachers told me that his student had 21 family members there.  I even had a Facebook friend (from Douglas who I didn't really know) there to see her nephew.

I have received so many compliments about this evening.  I am hoping to make it a tradition here in Douglas.  We have wonderful students and families and we need  to celebrate that!!  As I told the students, I am proud to be their superintendent!!

Despite what  grade our District has received from the state and federal government, I know we are doing a good job for our students.  It is time to acknowledge the wonderful jobs our teachers and administrators are doing!!!

What a wonderful end to this school year Diamond Scholar Night has been!!

Front page of the Douglas Dispatch was covered with pictures and the article.  Here is the link: