The annual Salute to Education luncheon Wednesday brought together the best students and some of the most dedicated education partners in our community.
The event honored the 23 valedictorians of 2012 from Central, Senior, Skyview and West high schools. And the gathering recognized the dozens of partnerships between local businesses and organizations and our Billings Public Schools.
Those high-achieving students who will be graduating at the end of the month are shining examples of success in our local parochial and public schools. Those schools are successful because they have community support.
Partners in Education, a program of the Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools, this year reports 62 partnerships. Some schools have multiple partners; some businesses partner with more than one school, but altogether more than 40 businesses, civic or government agencies partner with K-8 schools and others partner with the Career Center. With 16,000 Billings students in 30 buildings, the opportunity and need for volunteers is tremendous.
Krista Hertz, foundation executive director, shared a few of the partnership stories Wednesday:
As part of its continuing partnership with Ponderosa Elementary, KOA sponsored Kamping Day to share their love of camping and to bring the Ponderosa community together.
ConocoPhillips provided funding so more than 150 students from Newman, Ponderosa, and Orchard could learn about wetlands conservation from a senior naturalist at the Audubon center.
Cellular Plus employees go to Burlington to read in the classroom with students and during lunch teach students games on the playground.
First Interstate Bank donated fleece fabric so students from Bitterroot could make tie-blankets for residents at Eagle Cliffs Manor during the holidays.
Altana Credit Union employees are at Boulder every day working with students.
Last spring 115 students, parents and teachers from Broadwater Elementary took part in the Heart and Sole run sponsored by St. Vincent Healthcare and The Gazette. They prepared for the run throughout the school year thanks to the collaboration of the health enhancement teacher at Broadwater and St. Vincent.
Each spring a new home is finished in Billings thanks to the Home Builders Association and Career Center partnership, which has been going for more than 30 years.
Each year, McKinley Elementary students attend Career Day at Billings Clinic.
ExxonMobil volunteers host Family Science Night at Bench Elementary.
St. John’s Lutheran Home/Mission Ridge have partnered with Arrowhead Elementary for many years. This year that partnership is growing with a garden to be located on St. John’s campus where fourth grade teacher Linda Auch will use a greenhouse to provide learning opportunities for students in science, math, history, and literature. Volunteers will be Mission Ridge residents, grandparents, master gardeners, and garden enthusiasts who all live next door to the school.
“Because of what you do, seeds of opportunity are planted each day in classrooms across the community,” Hertz said. “Students gain self confidence and assurance knowing that there are many caring people in our community dedicated to their education.”
The Gazette is pleased to sponsor the Salute to Education luncheon, along with the foundation, St. Vincent and Gainan’s. We congratulate all of the valedictorians and appreciate all the school partners.