The top 5 percent of the Rio Rico High School 2017 graduating seniors and their invited special educators were honored at the 6th Annual Excellence in Education Banquet sponsored by the Friends of the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35 Foundation. The event was held at the Tubac Golf Resort.
The fifteen students were honored for their educational achievements and given the opportunity to thank and, in turn, honor the educator making the biggest impact on their academic success.
The evening began with a patio reception with the Rio Rico Jazz Band playing background music. Band members included Luis Fierro (Trombone/Clarinet), Matt Gray (Piano), Eduardo Acuna-Arizmendi (Drums), Diego Soto (Bass), and Jon Soto (Trumpet).
The evening’s program was hosted by Rod Rich, Foundation President, and Francisco Padilla, President-Elect.
Guest speakers were Carolina Ley, 2013 Rio Rico High School graduate who was recognized at the 2nd Annual Excellence in Education Banquet, and Mike Sullivan, former Governor of Wyoming and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.
Honorary Speaker Ley described how her career goals in the field of medicine changed during her four years at the University of Arizona, and encouraged students to “not give up.”
“It won’t be easy,” cautioned Ley. “Your options may change. Yet with hard work, dedication and perseverance, new opportunities may surprise you and appear. I encourage you to go after your dreams.”
Mike Sullivan, Keynote Speaker, said he wanted the students to “affirm that they have unlimited potential and opportunity to succeed in living a good life,” and encouraged them to consider three attributes helpful in achieving a well-lived life:
- Self confidence. Know yourself. “I don’t mean to suggest ‘arrogance,’ but a confidence that comes with modesty. [A confidence] that understands ‘here is the person that I am’ and ‘here is the person that I can be’ because I’ve benefited by those things that so many of us take for granted” – good education, and caring, supportive family and friends.
- Curiosity. “It can be focus, observation, conversation. The educators you celebrate here tonight taught you how to be curious. Continue it in all forms of life. Be curious about the world around you.”
- Relationships. “Any of us that have reached that ‘mature stage’ can attest that what really counts as you go through life are relationships. In the end, it is the quality and the health of the relationships that you make that can provide the most sustenance and satisfaction to a well-lived life.”
Students were presented with a certificate of achievement and a $500 scholarship. The evening concluded with a video recording of each student explaining why they chose their guest teacher as the educator that made the biggest impact in their educational lives.
“As we complete our sixth year honoring our top students and their most influential educator,” said President Rich. “We are once again reminded of what makes a difference in teaching and learning. It’s the ‘connection,’ the ‘relationship’ that develops between student and teacher – a relationship full of high expectations, respect, encouragement, and belief that anything is possible.”
Students and honored teachers were:
|Valeria Arvizu||Kit Rendon|
|Richard Brennan||Patrick Echlin|
|Valeria Cabello||Michelle Gibbar|
|Isabel Campos||Morgan Falkner|
|Halle De Witt||Melisa Lunderville|
|Areli Diaz||Loree Johnson|
|Patrick Hays||Rene Ramirez|
|Jonah McCoy||Edward Agnew|
|Paloma Orozco||Nagesh Kumar|
|James Quijada||Gayle Clark|
|Rafael Romero||Roxana Brown|
|Victoria Salcedo||Lisa Baker DiGiacomo|
|Alexandra “Allie” Schadler||Teresa Potter|
|Sam Sneed||Lourdes Vasquez|
|Jose Velasquez||Hallie Birkett|
Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35 is a growing, dynamic school district covering approximately 267 square miles. The district operates five schools. Approximately 3,450 students are enrolled during the 2016-2017 school year.