By Tony Cagala
While they may not be guardians of a national treasure, the Free and Accepted Masons of the Santa Maria Lodge No. 580 proved guardians of their philanthropic code when they honored students, teachers, administrators and parents during their 12th annual Public Schools Awareness Night.
Nine sixth-graders were chosen by their teachers — seven from Ramona elementary schools, one from Julian Union Elementary, and one from Spencer Valley Elementary — for their good grades, school spirit, and leadership abilities. Each of the students received a certificate and a $50 savings bond.
Also honored was Ramona Unified School District Teacher of the Year Robin Koch for her successes in the classroom.
“We are a community-oriented organization and we try to do things that are of a service to the community and to the schools,” said Richard W. Swafford, public schools recognition committee chairman.
Among the winners were: Isabell Johnson, Barnett Elementary; Karina Martinez, Hanson Elementary; Kathryn Flynn, James Dukes Elementary; Kinley Jorgensen, Mt. Woodson Elementary; Randee Roed, Ramona Elementary; Kristina Garcia, Ramona Community School/Montessori; Shannon Linder, Ramona Community School/Mt. Valley Academy; Emilia Gregor, Julian Union Elementary; and Camryn Nelson, Spencer Valley Elementary.
Bob Weldon, master of the lodge and former middle school teacher, praised parents, elementary school teachers, and administrators for the jobs they do in helping their students achieve a high level of success.
These students are the very best of the very best, said Ramona Unified School District Superintendent Bob Graeff, Ed.D.
They are the students that participate, that study, that work hard, and that have a good attitude; they come to school regularly, Graeff added.
Kristina Garcia said she was happy about receiving the award. She added that she is inspired to excel in school because of her family and friends.
Graeff thanked the Masons for their continued support of public schools and the children of the local communities at a time when public schools are the “punching bag” of the state budget.
The Santa Maria Lodge of Ramona received its charter in 1924 and has more than 100 members today. Masonry is based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to help make the world a better place.
“The goal of it is to make good men better,” said Jim Anthony, secretary.
“One of the primary goals of Free Masonry is a public education and supporting children.”
The lodge meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. and welcomes the public to visit and learn about Masonic history. They are at 310 Ninth St.
For more information, call 760-787-9727.