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CVHS activities director Merchant picks up award
• CADA hands out award at convention held in Reno
Jon Merchant and group
Jon Merchant (back row, left) was hired as Central Valley High School’s activities director seven years ago. He was honored for making a difference on campus this past week. Merchant was named the California Association of Directors of Activities Area A Bob Burton Spirit Award winner on Friday. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Central Valley High School Activities Director Jon Merchant was thrilled when he found out he was being honored by the California Association of Directors of Activities.

He was quick to heap praise on others after being named CADA’s Area A “Bob Burton Spirit Award” winner.

“The award is cool,” said Merchant, “but it’s a reflection of our students and campus. My kids are the ones that are outstanding and amazing. They’re the ones that put in all the work. That’s what I’m really proud of.”

Merchant, 35, was presented his award at the CADA State Convention on Friday at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.

Just one winner was selected from Area A, which is made up of 28 counties in Northern California.

“I didn’t apply for it. I was chosen. It was a surprise. It’s pretty flattering.”

The Bob Burton Spirit Award is presented to a person who makes a positive difference and emphasizes inclusion with all students and members.

Former Ceres High School Activities Director Linda Cooper nominated Merchant for the honor. She attended the ceremony, along with CHS Activities Director Amanda Casas and FFA Advisors/Agriculture teachers Brian Mortensen and Mardel Runnels.

“Linda has been one of my mentors,” Merchant commented. “I’ve been asking for help from her for a long time. She’s a CADA Hall of Famer.”

Merchant teaches two leadership classes at Central Valley.

The high school has 20-plus clubs and 25 sports teams.

“We’ve added a lot of events that focus on all the students,” Merchant said. “We try to keep everybody connected and engaged on campus. We try to make sure everybody is seen and heard.”

Merchant played an instrumental role in establishing Multicultural Week and Kindness Day at Central Valley.

 “We try to celebrate diversity. We try to highlight everybody on campus.”

Merchant has been employed by Ceres Unified School District for the past 10 years, including seven as Central Valley’s activities director.

He began his career in education as a history teacher at Central Valley. He filled that position for three years. 

Merchant also helped coach basketball.

“Central Valley is a fun and safe place for everyone. The best part of my job is getting to mentor kids and watch them grow. I get to know them so much. That’s the coolest part.”

Jon Merchant mugshot
Jon Merchant