“It is a very special day,” said Gov. Mendoza in his congratulatory address, “Congratulations to all the students on your achievements.”
The awards ceremony was held at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa. It recognized many students from Head Start through high school seniors in various categories. According to Namingha, the Governor’s Scholar Planning Committee received 100 nominations for the Honorable Mentions category, 62 nominations for the Governor’s Scholar Award and 16 for the Citizenship Award – which is exclusively for high school seniors.
The dinner was organized and run by the Tribal Education Administration, Johnson O’Malley staff and volunteers. It featured clear, pottery-shaped statuettes for Governor’s Scholar Award and Citizenship Award recipients, which were custom designed by the event’s lead orchestrators Benny Thomas, Assistant Education Director, and Amber Namingha, Education Secretary. Mr. Henry Pino, President of the Blackwater Community School Board was the emcee.
On-reservation school principals, off-reservation school JOM staff, the Boarding School Coordinator and various counselors and community liaisons submit student award nominations. Parents are also invited to submit nominations.
Nomination criteria include GPA consideration (for high school students only), excellent attendance, participation in extracurricular activities, the demonstration of positive behavior and participation in community service.
Recipients of the Citizenship Award are given the opportunity to participate in an educational journey to the nation’s capitol in late June where they will visit various national monuments and museums.
Education is a high priority in Gila River, said Education Standing Committee Chairman Terrance B. Evans. He claimed that the event was important for it showcased to the public where we are as a community in terms of academics and how we continue to grow.
In his address, Gov. Mendoza reaffirmed his commitment to education and offered words of encouragement: “I believe that the more support and encouragement students receive from their teachers, families, friends, and from Community leadership, the more likely they will be to succeed in their educational endeavors . . . Continue to strive for excellence in academics, leadership and in all that you do.”
In closing, Gov. recognized the most significant contributors in the students’ lives: “Parents, thank you for being involved in your students’ education and lives. Thank you for encouraging and supporting them. Continue to do so as they take on new and bigger challenges in their lives.”
To close the ceremony, Mario Molina, Education Director, thanked his staff for all their hard work and reminded the audience that the education department has a new slogan: “Something for everyone.” That is to say, it doesn’t matter if you are young, fresh out of high school or haven’t taken a course in years; if you want to get back into school, Student Services wants to help you.
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