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Beaver School dedicated
CUSDs newest school focuses on leadership
Students at the new Patricia Kay Beaver Elementary School sing a song highlighting seven habits of highly effective people as outlined by author Stephen R. Covey. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/The Courier

Family slides from the life of Kay Beaver were flashed on a screen as the Central Valley High School band played at the outset of a Friday ceremony to dedicate a school in her honor. The little girls in those family scenes are running two schools in Ceres, one being that of Patricia "Kay" Beaver Elementary School, which opened last month.

Holm choked up after saying she promised herself she wouldn't cry but then said it was a great honor to represent the school named for her mother. She then thanked a number of family members for attending, including her father and stepmother, Steve and Janet Beaver, her grandmother Deanna Alkire, aunt Sandy Avelar and her sister, Amy Peterman, who is principal of Central Valley High School just north of the new campus.

Approximately 200 others turned out to help students, staff and Ceres Unified School District officials formally dedicate the school in honor of the late former Ceres High School teacher.

CUSD Board President Betty Davis called Mrs. Beaver a positive role model for her daughters and her students who knew her before her passing in 2001 at age 49 to cancer.

Larry Alkire called his sister "a true leader by example.

"She had the qualities that great people have. While all of the kids here will never know her, she was just an incredible person. She loved people. She loved kids particularly ... she cared so deeply for children and you can see that in the way she lived life."

Alkire mentioned how Kay was "always learning all of the time," which is why she tried different careers before becoming a teacher.

To his niece Libby, Alkire said "I could not be more proud of you. This is a tremendous responsibility for you and you have an incredible amount of courage. You're very graceful in all the adversity you face in your life and I'm just really proud of your personal growth as a person."

Kay's sister, Carla Pitts, who is employed in another school district, said Beaver would have qualified to receive her "Believe It Or Not I Care" (BIONIC) staff award. Pitts said the award would go something like this: "I nominate Kay Beaver for the BIONIC staff award because she is always there for her students and staff. She is not afraid to go the extra mile, not afraid to try new and exciting things and always strives to be the best person she can be and wants and expects the same from her students."

Beaver taught history and social studies at CHS from 1990 until her death. She also was teacher and adviser for the Ceres High Cereal yearbook class. She was also instrumental in developing the S Club on campus and was active in the Ceres Street Faire and Miss Ceres Scholarship pageant in the 1990s.

The program included a presentation in which students highlighted values of the school based on Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." They are: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand then to be understood, synergize and sharpen the saw.

Beaver Elementary School is the district's first leadership and character development magnet program. District officials say it's only appropriate that the school emphasizes leadership and character development since Beaver had a passion to stir students to do their best.

Assistant Superintendent Debbie Bukko said the school's leadership and character component seeks to develop academic learning with a focus on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and leadership skills needed for success. Curriculum is also applied academic learning through the study of earth science systems, natural phenomenon, social issues impacted by science, alternative energy, and green living using inquiry and project based learning. There is also be a manufacturing and robotics component that encourages students to develop problem-solving skills, critical thinking, creative and innovative reasoning through application of communication, science, and mathematics learning to real-world engineering and robotics projects.

Beaver also helps foster literacy, imagination, competency and creativity in an academic environment infused with arts and Spanish language instruction.

"The focus is on critical thinking, communication, collaboration with service groups in the area," said Holmes. "We want to be developing leaders that are cooperative, responsible, risk takers. Want to give kids the opportunity to try new things and learn from those experiences."

As a magnet school, Beaver Elementary draws from the attendance boundaries of all existing schools, not necessarily its geographical region. Beaver Elementary is sized for 650 students, mostly because of the inclusion of a science lab.

The $22.7 million campus was funded entirely by state funds and built south of Central Valley High School on S. Central Avenue just north of Grayson Road.
Among those attending the event were school namesakes M. Robert Adkison and Mildred Lucas.