David Landry photos
BONSALL – The California Department of Education awarded five schools in Bonsall Unified School District with the prestigious Purple Star award for their exceptional support of military families, Thursday, March 30.
Out of over 10,000 schools in California, only 59 were selected to receive the Purple Star award, and Bonsall Unified School District's five schools were among the recipients. The honor recognizes schools that demonstrate a strong commitment to meeting the unique needs of military-connected students and their families, such as providing social emotional support, academic resources, and community outreach.
The event, held outdoors at Bonsall West Elementary School, was attended by several local and military community leaders, as well as students, staff, and families of the honored schools.
The event featured speeches by several notable guests, including Superintendent Joseph Clevenger, President Larissa Anderson of the Board of Trustees, and Lieutenant General George W. Smith, Jr., Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force. General Smith shared a personal story about how a dedicated teacher made a significant impact on his life as a military child, inspiring the audience with the importance of supporting military families.
A patriotic performance by kindergartners from Bonsall West Elementary singing about soldiers and freedom was followed by award presentations to the principals of each school by Superintendent Clevenger, Lieutenant General Smith, Lizzie Castanos from the office of Congressman Darrell Issa, Marisol Edrozo from the office of County Supervisor Jim Desmond, and Corey Uhden from the office of Assemblymember Marie Waldron.
Community leaders assisting with the ribbon-cutting ceremony included Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton School Liaison Rose Solomon, Chief Keith McReynolds of the North County Fire Protection District, Lieutenant John McKean of the Oceanside Police Department, Tom Kennedy of the Rainbow Water Municipal District, Mary Jane Poulter of the Bonsall Woman’s Club, and Brigadier General Ryan Rideout, Deputy Commanding General of I Marine Expeditionary Force.
The event concluded with a heartwarming rendition of "God Bless America" by students from the audience and Corporal Kassie Wagner of the 1st Marine Division Band. Despite the rainy weather earlier in the day, the skies cleared up in the early afternoon, creating a beautiful and memorable evening for everyone involved. Chocolate cake was served afterward to celebrate the schools' achievements.
"We are incredibly honored to receive this recognition from the California Department of Education for our dedication to supporting military families," said Superintendent Clevenger. "Our schools have worked hard to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students, including those with military ties. We are grateful for this recognition and proud of our community for coming together to make this event such a success."
Submitted by Bonsall Unified School District.