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New school to debut
Dedication ceremony set for Friday morning
Beaver school
Ceres Unified School District officials are holding a ceremony on Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. to dedicate the newest Ceres school Patricia Kay Beaver Elementary School at 4927 S. Central Avenue in the country. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

The public is invited to the Friday dedication of Patricia "Kay" Beaver Elementary School which has opened at 4927 S. Central Avenue just north of Grayson Road.

A 10:30 a.m. ceremony is planned will include speeches and a presentation by students.

The school opened in the middle of last month with the youngest daughter of the late Mrs. Beaver, Libby Beaver Holmes, serving as the first principal.

Ceres Unified School District recently opened an innovative magnet school program at Beaver Elementary School. The 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. Mrs. Beaver, who died at age 49 on Mother's Day in 2001 after battling breast cancer, taught history and social studies at Ceres High for over a decade beginning in 1990. She was the advisor and teacher for the Cereal yearbook class on campus. At Ceres High School Beaver helped initiate the ‘S' Club, a high school version of the Soroptimist International of Ceres. She was also active in the Ceres Dolphins swim program, PTSA Sober Grad Night and Ceres High Boosters Club. Kay also served on the Miss Ceres Scholarship Pageant Committee.

"A lot of what my mom did as an educator is wrapped into the leadership and character development piece," said Holmes, who called her mother a lifelong learner who went back to school to learn to be a teacher after serving as a legal secretary as her daughters were growing up. "She always loved being a part of education. We continue to hear former students mention how she really helped point them into the right direction ....and she strived to make every student think they can be a success."

Holmes said that being selected as the first principal of a school named after her mother is an honor.

"I want to say it's a once in a lifetime opportunity but it's more than that. It's a huge honor for me to be able to build the school."

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.

"We expect it to grow at a reasonable rate," said CUSD Supt. Dr. Scott Siegel. "It will relieve crowding all over the district so it's acting like a pressure valve. We're getting full. We have continued over the last few years to grow at a very fast clip and it's putting pressure on places. Sinclear is full and Hidahl is close to capacity."

Siegel said Hanline Elementary School, being built next to Central Valley High School on South Central Avenue just south of Service Road, will be finished next year. It will be ready for the influx of new students that are expected when building starts.

Beaver Elementary was constructed farther south of Ceres in the country because when CUSD was deciding where to build new schools about five years ago, it was believed that Ceres' growth would go in the area south and west of Central Valley High School based on the Copper Trails master plan. However, since the next wave of growth is expected to take place in the West Landing annexation miles to the west, CUSD petitioned the state to move Beaver to the West Landing annexation area but was denied.
City officials believe that West Landing will develop before Copper Trails.

The $22.7 million campus was funded entirely by state funds.

Assistant Superintendent Debbie Bukko said the district sought the feedback of parents who suggested they would be interested in a magnet school with the theme of leadership and character development.

"It's very easy to infuse into the curriculum," said Bukko. "And it's not leadership like we have high school leadership programs that organize rallies and activities. It's more of a ‘I want my child to be a leader and not a follower' and what are the characteristics of leaders."

Bukko said the school's leadership and character component will seek to develop academic learning with a focus on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and leadership skills needed for success. Curriculum will also apply 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 will 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 will also help foster literacy, imagination, competency and creativity in an academic environment infused with arts and Spanish language instruction.

"The focus will be 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."

The daughters of Patricia and Steve Beaver themselves became leaders. Amy Peterman is the principal of Central Valley High School.

Holmes herself started working for CUSD in 2006 as a special education teacher at Carroll Fowler Elementary School. From there she went to an instructional coach position and then became a special education program specialist. Two years ago she moved over to CUSD's Educational Services Department to work on coaching staff and professional development. She obtained her administrative credentials in 2009.

"It was something I knew I wanted to do at some point," said Holmes of becoming a principal.