Clovis Unified kicks off 2017-18 school year in style

Clovis Unified School District employees kicked off the 2017-18 school year with their annual General Session rally at the Save Mart Center on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. (Photo by Ron Sundquist/Clovis Roundup)

The morning of Tuesday, Aug. 15 was filled with energy and excitement as 5,500 Clovis Unified School District teachers, administrators and faculty members filled the Save Mart Center to celebrate the start of the 2017-18 school year.

School spirit was prominently displayed at the District’s annual General Session back-to-school rally as teachers and classified employees donned spirit wear and other accessories to represent their respective schools.

The two-hour event also featured student drumlines, cheerleaders performances and messages from administrators, including CUSD Deputy Superintendent Don Ulrich and new Superintendent Dr. Eimear O’Farrell.

Ulrich, who was promoted to his post June 28 after previously serving as Assistant Superintendent of Facility Services, shared his passion for CUSD and highlighted some of the District’s accomplishments both in and out of the classroom.

A view of the General Session rally at the Save Mart Center on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. (Photo by Ron Sundquist/Clovis Roundup)

“I have to say this is my favorite day of the year just like it is for some of you. It’s so wonderful to see all of Clovis Unified come together one time every year,” Ulrich said during his speech. “We’ve been performing at a high level for decades and I’m here to tell you right now that Clovis Unified is operating on all cylinders. I’ve been fortunate in my career to be able to travel around and become familiar with other school districts across the country – lately even school districts in the state – and I can say from that experience that you just don’t see our accomplishments anywhere else. From performing arts, academics, co-curricular activities, athletics, we do it all and we do it as a fantastic level.”

During her speech, O’Farrell’s showed gratitude and thanked the District for allowing her to serve as its leader. Her message also included this year’s CUSD theme inspiring all employees to “Be the Difference.”

New superintendant Dr. Eimear O’Farrell addresses CUSD employees during the General Session rally on Aug. 15. (Photo by Ron Sundquist/Clovis Roundup)

“I can literally feel the pride and excitement up here [on stage],” O’Farrell said during her address. “This is truly one of my favorite things we do in Clovis Unified.  I love how we carve out the time every year to gather together under one roof to celebrate the achievements of our close-to-43,000 students and to recognize the amazing dedication and commitment of a team of over 6,000 of the best educators in the nation. To think that I have the privilege of standing here and serving this incredible team is truly humbling and the honor of a lifetime, and I thank you for it.”

O’Farrell, a  native of Dublin, Ireland, was appointed as Clovis Unified’s new Superintendent on May 30 and assumed the position June 30 following the retirement of former Superintendent Janet Young.

“While our strategic plan keeps us on course on time, our annual theme is a message or a guiding thought for the time that we find ourselves in the given year,” O’Farrell added. “Don’t you love our theme this year? ‘Be the Difference.’ I love our guiding thought for 2017-18, however, ‘Be the Difference’ is nothing new for our Clovis Unified team. But as a theme, it certainly is a reminder to us that every day we are difference makers.”

By choosing to to commit ourselves to a career in education, particularly Clovis Unified, we are positioned to make a difference every day. The question I would like to challenge you with today is, ‘What kind of difference will you choose to make this year?’”

CUSD welcomed 43,000 students back to school on Monday, Aug. 21.

A native of Woodlake, Daniel Leon is a recent graduate of Fresno State with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. Daniel served as Sports Editor at The Collegian, Fresno State’s student-run newspaper, prior to joining the Roundup. Got a story idea? Email him at