On Wednesday March 23rd, a crowd gathered inside the Veteran’s Memorial Building to honor some of the brightest, gifted, and up-and-coming students that Clovis Unified School District’s High School’s have to offer.
Both the 2021 and 2022 Students of Promise were celebrated with a red-carpet walk, candelabra dinner, and presentation ceremony. In a press release by Clovis Unified, the Student’s of Promise scholarship was started as a way of recognizing “at-risk students who have been attending school on a regular basis, showing responsibility and succeeding academically, while at the same time facing challenging life circumstances outside of school.
According to Chairperson for the Foundation of Clovis Schools, Mike Fennacy, some of the students are taking care of siblings, parents, and doing “whatever they can to succeed”. He then went on to state that the students do not nominate themselves but are rather nominated by teachers, counselors, or other staff who observe students day to day and help get students selected without their knowledge. Fennacy described it as a blessing to be able to see students at the event and be recognized. He was especially excited to honor the two sets of students who were selected for the Students of Promise both from 2021 and 2022, as the foundation could not throw the celebration last year due to Covid-19 concerns.
“This is one of my favorite things I do in the foundation.” Fennacy went on, “It’s wonderful. The thing I really look forward to is we try to honor fifteen to sixteen students a year and the students last year didn’t get celebrated, so we’re doing twice as many tonight.”
“These are kids who understand the value of education, they’re actually having to go through just horrific things in their life.” Fennacy finished, “They don’t have everything going for them, but they realize, the best thing to have in life is to get a good education.
In speaking with Chief Communications Officer Kelly Avants, she issued “Tonight is one of our favorite nights in Clovis Unified because it really is celebrating the very thing that we’re about, which is helping students unlock the potential that they have within them.” She then went on to illustrate “[A student may] have a health issue, family issue, a loss of a parent or both parents sometimes, yet they’re just persevering and quietly going to school and having such amazing promise which is where the name comes from.”
When asked about the work that Clovis Unified does with the Foundation for Clovis Schools, Avants voiced, “The volunteer directors who are themselves incredibly busy and very influential business people in their own right give up their free time to come alongside us as a school system, recognizing that Clovis Unified is actually one of the lowest funded unified school districts in Fresno County, and that creates funding gaps, that creates challenges of doing things in the classroom that we want to do. So our Foundation for Clovis Schools has been amazing in coming alongside and flipping both through scholarships like tonights and classroom grants for teachers who have an innovative idea but who’s budget just doesn’t quite meet that need, they’re able to step into that gap.”
One of the promising young students, Pratham Singh from Clovis High School, who was gracious enough to speak with reporters before the event and dinner, spoke about his challenges. “Feeling down because I wasn’t like the normal kids, I never let that stop me, and neither did my friends and neither did my family, and I really appreciate them for that.” He went on to praise Clovis High School, “From the first day I felt like I was wanted, or like they noticed me.” Singh still doesn’t believe that he was lucky enough to be mentioned with the other students as a Student of Promise and to be able to receive the $2000 scholarship that is awarded for their futures.
Singh, asked permission to do a quick shout out to a few of his fans. “I would like to shout out my mom and dad first of all. They’re my inspiration, they’re my idols. I wanna make them proud and I know with the Student of Promise I’m doing that. I’d also like to shout out Tyler, Aiden, Caleb and Chance. Those four guys made me feel normal, those guys took care of me when I was going through stuff or feeling down.”
The event wore on and the students like Pratham were celebrated for their accomplishments with speeches given by Mike Fennacy, Superintendent of Clovis Schools Dr. Eimear O’Brien, and 2005 Student of Promise recipient Coreen Campos. Each student from the 2021 and 2022 classes were called to the stage at the front of the room where they could be celebrated and commended for their accomplishments.