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Welcome Back Convocation

SALINAS -- The Alisal Union School District launched the 2019-20 school year with our annual convocation, an all-employee gathering at Sherwood Hall in Salinas that has the feel of a family reunion. Everyone was welcome at the door by Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter and cabinet members, and by AUSD top administrators.

Koenig welcomes employees

After a tasty burrito breakfast (provided by our fabulous food services staff), teachers, maintenance personnel, counselors, administrators, and everyone who serves students heard encouraging words from our leadership. Alisal Strong and Alisal Fuerte chants were led by Mr. Martin Gutierrez, Jr., principal of Bardin Elementary; and Ms. Monica Anzo, director of curriculum and instruction. 

Food worker serving burritos

Interim Superintendent Jim Koenig welcomed everyone with a brief overview of all the great activities taking place at the Alisal Union. Afternoon extended learning programs such as foklórico dance, drumline and mariachi are commanding the attention of everyone in Salinas and beyond. If the mariachi students performed at every event they’re requested to be in, they would not have time to attend classes, he said. 

Koenig addressing the crowd

“Most importantly, Alisal students are learning,” he said. “Focusing exclusively on our most recent district test scores, the Smarter Balanced released show an increase of 5.75 percent in the number of students who meet or exceed standards in both English and math. That’s tremendous.”

Alisal employees also received words of encouragement by Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter, Salinas Councilman Scott Davis, Alisal Trustees Guadalupe Ruiz-Gilpas and Robert Ocampo, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Ricardo Cabrera, and Assistant Superintendent of Whole Child Education Jairo Arellano. 

Mr. Cabrera announced the names of Alisal employees who are celebrating milestone anniversaries with the district. He also welcomed new employees and those who were raised in Alisal and returned to give back, our “Homegrown Heroes.” Messages were also delivered by Rebecca Bishop, president of the Alisal Teachers Association, and Solange Keiko Inoue, president of CSEA Local 577.

Employees being recognized  

Our keynote speaker was Dr. Macheo Payne of the Flourish Agenda. Dr. Payne described the stressors everyone faces day-in and day-out, particularly in communities of color, and how to overcome those stressors through “healing practices.” The Flourish Agenda will be working with all Alisal USD schools in the coming year to help all our educators become better support for our students and each other. 

Macheo Payne

Dr. Deneen Newman Guss, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools, delivered a welcome back video message. Our fantastic student performers, Mariachi Juvenil Alisal and All-Star Drumline bookended the ceremony with their presentations. 

Mariachi Juvenil Alisal performing

Thank you, Dr. Guss, Dr. Payne, the Whole Child Education Department, and everyone who made our convocation a memorable event. For more photos of the event, click here. Have a great 2019-20!