Public Schools Month 2018
During this year's Public Schools Month in April,
many wonderful memories and connections grew between the California Masonic Foundation, Public Schools Advisory Councils, and Masons and public schools statewide – from San Diego’s Foussat Elementary School to Williamson Elementary School in Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento.
“California Masons have always supported public schools through a variety of programs and initiatives,” says Greg Cherry, director of Masonic philanthropy, Southern California. “It is through this narrative that Masons currently partner with Raising A Reader to support childhood literacy and family engagement in public elementary schools throughout the state.”
“We would not be able to do this work if it were not for the hard work and dedicated efforts of all of our Public Schools Advisory Council (PSAC) members,” says Cherry. “They are an invaluable part of our work in public education.”
California Masonic Foundation Celebrations
The eight Public Schools Month celebrations organized throughout the state by PSACs included performances from kindergarten and first grade classes, speeches from the school principal and teachers, and remarks by Grand Master Bruce R. Galloway or other Masonic dignitaries. During these ceremonies, several checks were presented to the California Masonic Foundation by lodge leaders to recognize their support of elementary literacy.
In some schools, teachers and parents expressed their deep gratitude to the visiting Masons for their generosity and support. The Masons in attendance felt a tremendous sense of pride in their efforts to help support public education in their local communities.
“At Potrero Elementary School in South El Monte, we heard from a mother who had adopted a child from Oaxaca, Mexico,” recalls Cherry. “They boy was scared, shy, and could barely speak English. But when his school started receiving the red bag of books through our partnership with Raising A Reader, he would bring books home to read with his family. It became a great bonding experience.”
“My personal favorite times were when the kids got excited to receive their Raising A Reader bags and found books they liked, or were familiar with inside,” says Grand Standard Bearer Carlos Diez Jr., a Public School Advisory Council member and past master of Solomon’s Staircase Lodge No. 357. “This program still has so much potential to grow, and I look forward to expanding our impact in the coming years.”
The California Masonic Foundation recognizes the following lodges for their local recognition of Public Schools Month:
Yorba Linda Lodge No. 469 donated a gift to the California Masonic Foundation in recognition of Public Schools Month.
Bellflower Lodge No. 320 awarded three students and one teacher from their school district for their academic commitment.
Downey United Lodge No. 220 hosted a well-attended celebration for their school district, at which they recognized and awarded four individual teachers and students.
Solomon’s Staircase Lodge No. 357 hosted a celebration at their lodge where they recognized 14 sixth-graders for their high academic achievements.
Cornerstone Lodge No. 659 awarded scholarships to two high school seniors and presented several awards to teachers and school district officials.
Crow Canyon Lodge No. 551 hosted a celebration to recognize teachers at a local elementary and high school for their outstanding efforts in the classroom.
Olive Branch Lodge No. 269 sponsored an annual patriotic essay contest for fifth graders, and awarded finalists a trophy and bicycle.
Artesia Sunrise Lodge No. 377 hosted a celebration to award students and teachers with certificates of recognition.
Though Public Schools Month has concluded for this year, California Masons’ work to support public schools will continue. Cherry and Candler Gibson in Northern California are planning even more publicity and outreach for Public Schools Month events next year as the California Masonic Foundation works to expand Raising A Reader to more school districts. They also hope to encourage more members to participate in PSACs.
Did your lodge plan a Public Schools Month event that’s not listed above? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your lodge name and a description of your celebration.