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Longtime Ceres School Board members step down
• Davis, Welsh retire as trustees for CUSD
Betty Davis retires
Retiring CUSD board trustee Betty Davis (center) was surrounded by family during her send off. With her, front row, left to right: are her sister Karen Kajioka, daughter Cheryl Davis, Betty, grandddaughter Kailee Davis and friend Candy Brown; (in back row, left to right) are: grandson Corbin Davis, brother-in-law Eugene Kajioka and son-in-law Jason Morrow. - photo by Photos courtesy of Ceres Unified School District

Betty Davis was recognized while attending her final public meeting as a Ceres Unified School District board trustee on Nov. 17.

Unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, fellow retiring Ceres School Board member Mike Welsh was honored on Oct. 20 by his colleagues.

Welsh and Davis were both given clocks and CUSD also shared a tribute video.

“It’s nice to have people say they appreciate what you’ve done,” said Davis, 80. “You work hard and do everything you possibly can to keep things congenial. I’m happy this board made it a habit to give competitive salaries and raises to every employee. We’ve worked hard to make our classrooms great for kids.”

“It was emotional because it was the last time I was going to be up there with everyone,” said the 71-year-old Welsh. “We’re all in it for the same reason – for the kids. We want to give them a quality education. That’s our No. 1 focus.”

Davis opted to not seek re-election to the Board Trustee Area 6 seat due to health reasons.

“I only quit because physically I can’t do the job on a regular basis,” she said. “My arthritis doesn’t allow me to be as active as I want to.”

Davis served on the Ceres School Board for 17 years. She was first elected in 2005 and was re-elected in 2009 prior to running uncontested in 2013 and 2017.

“I ran immediately (for Ceres School Board) after I retired,” said Davis. “I thought we needed a teacher on the board – someone who knows what’s going on in the classroom and community. I understand the difficulties. My goal was to be on every school campus during the year. I’ve seen a lot of awards given to kids and been to a lot of graduations. Those are highlights. I’m never satisfied. There’s always more I want for our teachers, staff members and students.”

“Betty brought a wealth of knowledge from that point of view,” Welsh said. “We needed her expertise.”

Davis’ teaching career spanned over 32 years, first as a fifth grade teacher from 1965 to 1967 at Carroll Fowler. Davis was a librarian for three years (1970-73) at Don Pedro and Westport schools. She taught kindergarten for six years (1983-89) at Walter White Elementary and for 16 years (1989-2005) at Virginia Parks Elementary. 

“I knew I wanted to be a teacher in the sixth grade. I love to learn. I’m the eldest of six children. Four of us are college graduates. All of us went to MJC.”

Davis came to Ceres in 1954 with her family who moved from Arkansas. She attended junior high at Whitmore School, which became Walter White Elementary School following her eighth-grade year in 1956. After graduating from Ceres High School in 1960, she left for college but later returned.

Davis will continue to lead a busy life. She attends Turlock Methodist Church and is a member of the Persephone Guild of Ceres. She also likes to read and go to concerts. Davis is also involved with her family which consists of two daughters and three grandchildren.

Welsh chose to not run for re-election to the Board Trustee Area 2 seat, eyeing instead the sale of his Ceres business and retirement to Nevada. Mike and Maureen, his wife of 34 years, will settle into a new 2,300-square-foot home they had constructed two years ago in Minden.

“The plan is to spend more time there,” said Welsh. “It’s where we’re going to retire at some point. Hopefully, by the end of the year. But I still have obligations in Ceres.”

Welsh served as a board trustee for 18 years, appointed in 2004, elected in 2005 and re-elected unopposed in 2017, 2013 and 2009.

“It was very fulfilling,” he said. “I got to work with terrific people. I made a lot of lifelong friends. I loved what I was doing. I tried my best every day. The most joyous part was handing out diplomas. Being a part of the success of our kids, I felt good about that. There are still challenges. There will always be.”

A lifelong resident of Ceres, Welsh attended Walter White Junior High, Whitmore Elementary School and Carroll Fowler Elementary prior to graduating from Ceres High School in 1969. Walter White Jr. High and Whitmore Elementary no longer exist.

“I’m proud of how our schools look, how our teachers teach and how our administrators do their job,” Welsh said. “The district is in a great position right now. They’re doing well. A lot of peoples’ hard work got us there.”

The new Ceres School Board will consist of newcomers Cynthia Ruiz and David McConnell and incumbents Valli Wigt, Lourdes Perez, Faye Lane, Hugo Molina and Brian de la Porte.

Ruiz and McConnell are replacing Welsh and Davis, respectively.

Mike Welsh retires
Retiring CUSD board trustee Mike Welsh was presented a clock for his service by Board President Valli Wigt. - photo by Photo courtesy of Ceres Unified School District