McKinley Students Celebrate after Winning State Gold Ribbon Award

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Todd Finnell, Imperial County Superintendent of Schools, congratulating the students of McKinley Elementary on their newly acquired award on Friday morning.
Todd Finnell, Imperial County Superintendent of Schools, congratulates the students of McKinley Elementary on their newly acquired Gold Ribbon award Friday morning.

EL CENTRO — “Education opens up your world, and McKinley starts your journey,” said principal Patti Weeks to her students of McKinley Elementary during the school’s award celebration Friday morning.

The school was recognized with a 2016 California Gold Ribbon Schools Award in honor of creating a positive learning atmosphere for students.

“We wanted to celebrate being awarded the Gold Ribbon award from the state of California for 2016,” explained Weeks. “They [the school] worked really hard. You have to apply, you have to put together a very comprehensive application in all of the things that you’re doing in some of the state standards and their priorities. We had an exemplary application and we didn’t need any validation. They gave us the award outright. In Imperial County, we were the first to receive it. All the other schools had to be validated. It was the first, as far as we know, because the history of McKinley has been forever. (It’s the first) award McKinley has ever received and what the school says is that it’s going to be the first of many. One of our mantras is going to be ‘primero de muchos’.”

The school was recognized as one of 772 California Gold Ribbon Schools of 2016. This was a direct result of the dedicated, creative, and talented staff of the school and the supportive school community, according to Weeks.

“As an entire school community, we pulled together and really looked at the some of the areas we needed to improve,” said Weeks. “It took the entire school community to pull together to look at our challenges and really see if we could meet those challenges and make a difference, and we were able to make some gains.”

Students, staff, and parents gathered around the front of the school’s campus to celebrate during an award celebration ceremony held to congratulate the students on their success. A decorative backdrop was created that displayed gold ribbons and a sign that read “Education Opens Up Your World.”

Multiple guest speakers congratulated the students, including Todd Finnell, Imperial County superintendent of schools, and Principal Weeks. The ASES students, with the help of Mr. & Mrs. Gomez and a guest singer, put together a dance performance using the song “Hall of Fame.”

A teacher at the school then rallied the audience together to perform a synchronized dance to the song “All-Star.” The event ended with the students cheering and celebrating while Central Union High’s pep band performed various songs such as “Uptown Funk.” The newly-awarded students were not eager for the band to leave as they demanded encore after encore, each resulting in louder and louder cheers from the students.

“I think today’s event turned out great,” commented Weeks. “It was really important for us to celebrate because we want to celebrate our successes. I think the kids had a good time and we recognized everybody and their part that they played in making this school a success and being able to be a Gold Ribbon school. It takes everyone, and our goal is to have this to be the first of many.”

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