SSUSD gives Rose Awards

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

SSUSD gives  Rose AwardsA week after Sierra Sands Unified School District honored its outstanding employees of the year, each school site (and the district at large) selected a volunteer who exemplifies the spirit of collaboration and dedication to educational excellence.

Although the News Review had gone to press before honorees were recognized at last night’s SSUSD Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Ernie Bell took a moment to reflect on the value contributed to local schools by the countless members of our community who give of their time and resources.

“You know, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes to really make things work,” said Bell. “Our wonderful volunteers are responsible for a lot of that work.”

This year, Rocky Maida was selected for the SSUSD Community Service Award.

“While there were many worthy candidates, we would like to recognize Mr. Rocky Maida for his fundraising efforts that directly benefit Sierra Sands,” said a spokesperson.

Over the last three years, the 760Mopar Carz for Kidz shows have raised some $12,000 in school supplies, sports equipment, P.E. uniforms and more.

“Sierra Sands would like to thank Mr. Rocky Maida and a host of volunteers for their selfless generosity and devotion to our students.”

Individual school sites also select a “Rose Award” winner in recognition of outstanding contributions to schools.

“I don’t know if people in our community understand the positive financial impact of people donating their time to our schools,” said Bell. “These individuals volunteer hundreds upon hundreds of hours of work and dedication.”

For the Rose Award, Faller Elementary School chose Holly Cook — who has served the school in numerous capacities during her 10 years of service. She has also been credited with boosting the school’s box yop collection efforts — taking the fundraising totals from $600 to $2,700 annually.

Mark Wonnacott, father of 10, was honored by Gateway Elementary School for his many hours of service on field trips, in the classroom and as Junior Olympics coordinator. With his youngest moving on from the school this year, “the Wonnacott team will be missed, but are always welcome to come back!”

Jason Powell of Inyokern Elementary School has been a volunteer for 15 years, and is praised for his respectful demeanor and positive attitude. This year, he devoted hours each week to supervising the new game room at the school. “He helped us believe that achieving overly ambitious goals was possible!”

The Maturango Museum docents are the collective beneficiaries of the Rose Award from Las Flores Elementary School. Docents visit monthly (or more often) to share hands-on learning opportunities that enhance science and social study lessons through fun activities.

Veronica Hernandez has been honored by Pierce Elementary School for her countless hours of service “not merely with her child, but many students, teachers and educators as a whole,” said a spokesperson. She has assisted on campus and in classrooms with numerous activities this year.

Richmond Elementary School honored Amber Gray for her year “full of great ideas to help improve the school and a willingness to help make them happen.” She was commended for her upbeat and encouraging attitude and her contributions (particularly of the culinary variety) to Richmond activities.

Monroe Middle School President Misty Siebert won the Rose Award for her leadership and help with the Fall Carnival, Valentine Dance, fundraisers and many other activities. She also volunteers on the Superintendent’s Council for the school. “We are very fortunate to have her!”

Murray Middle School honored Tia Roberts, fund-raising coordinator for the school. She researches opportunities and implements programs to raise funds to improve her school. “You can give her a task, or she has an idea, and boom — it’s done!”

Burroughs High School past PTSO President Stephanie Hudson won the Rose Award for her countless hours during the four years she spent supporting student and staff activities. She is also a member of the Safe Grad Committee. She has continued to contribute even though her daughter has since graduated from BHS.

Sgt. Jacob Gamboa won the Mesquite High School Rose Award for going “way beyond his duties as the Army recruiter assigned to our site,” said a spokesperson.

Gamboa regularly stops by to visit with or tutor students, while also attending school events and personally donating to Mesquite causes.

“We keep saying how very special our community is, but it’s nice when others validate our belief,” said Bell. On Tuesday, members of the Governor’s Military Affairs Council met with top district officials and toured local campuses.

“They notice how involved our parents and our community are. They were just like, ‘Wow!’ It takes a partnership to build what we we have here. It cannot happen with school personnel alone.”

Bell said that new families moving to Ridgecrest always ask about the relationships between schools and our community.

“There is no doubt in my mind — or anyone else’s — that we have a unique community. The support our students and our schools receive from our families and residents is just outstanding.”

Story First Published: 2019-05-17