Support for Local Education
Gualala Rotary supports scholarships for all kinds of learners in our local community, from academic achievers in grades 6-12, to high school seniors bound for college or for vocational education, to those already in the workplace who wish to take the next educational step in their profession.
2020 High School Scholarship winners:
Dylan Freebairn-Smith, Leroy Gustafson
Student Achievement Awards Program.
Each year Gualala Rotary honors more than 30 outstanding student-scholars from our local schools in grades 6-12 for their academic achievement. Selected by their teachers, the students gather at the Community Center with their parents, school administrators, and Rotarians for a special luncheon in their honor. Each student receives a $50 check in recognition of his or her achievement.
Although the program was suspended in 2021 due to the coronavirus, it will resume in 2022.
Due to the coronavirus, awards in 2020 were given out by mail.
Point Arena Joint Union High School
12th Grade: Dylan Freebairn-Smith, Loden Haught, Jason Belleza
11th Grade: Sadie Hanson, August Riehl, Chanille Malik
10th Grade: Caitlin Huse, Josue Sanchez, Yazmin Carbajal
9th Grade: Sean Freebairn-Smith, Nayeli Orozco, Ava Sexton
PCC High School
12th Grade: Logan Duggan
9th Grade: Brenda Walsh
South Coast Continuation School
12th Grade: Christi L. Cobarrubia
7th Grade: Ku’ulani Makaiwi
Arena Union Elementary
8th Grade: Kyle Caughey, Sidney Regelbrugge
7th Grade: Roselyn Aguilar Villagomez and Leonor Olalde Bernal
6th Grade: Alexa Ferreyra, Giana Blackburn
8th Grade: Ethan Miller
7th Grade: Fathom Williamson
6th Grade: Jean Carlo Bolanos, Nayeli Zamora
Pacific Community Charter K-8
8th Grade: Oliana Marzoratti
7th Grade: Elijah Garcia
6th Grade: Jesenia Rodriguez
8th Grade: Madison Mertens
7th Grade: Belen Vazquez
6th Grade: Joaquin Faiella
The Mobile Hot-Spot Project
On March 17, 2020, due to COVID-19, Point Arena Schools had to close their campuses to on-site instruction. The Schools implemented Distance Learning on-line. But, it soon became glaringly apparent that not all households had access to the internet. Thus, some students were not able to participate virtually with their instructors and classmates.
Two Rotarians, Jim DeWilder and Ron Miles, who were trustees on the school board at that time, came up with a plan. Gualala Rotary and the Schools would purchase and install “hot spots” for buses to be parked in remote areas where students could readily access and connect to Wi-Fi.
Together with fellow Rotarians, Ron and Jim were able to secure a grant to purchase these Wi-Fi “hot spots.” School employees Howard Cole, Sherri Baker and Armando Ramirez installed them in two school buses and one van. Depending on topography, connections can be made at distances up to 300 feet away from the buses and van.
When students are again allowed to safely attend classes on campus, the Wi-Fi equipped buses and van will benefit students on long bus/van rides to/from school, on field trips, or traveling for school sporting events.
The Radio Station Project
High School students at Point Arena High School will soon learn how to run a radio station. They will attend classes for credit and then do hands-on work in the new school radio station. Those who wish can become a Certified Radio Operator, part of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Our team consists of Gualala Rotarians, teachers, and students, with consultant Blake More and the support of Superintendent Warren Galletti. (Photos below, including Jim DeWilder for Gualala Rotary. In Fall 2021, we will visit other high school radio stations, buy the parts, and assemble a test station at PAHS. Teachers will develop and test the curriculum, and the “Pirate Radio” station will be up and running in fall 2022.
8the Graders Visit Sonoma State
In 2018 Gualala Rotary, in a project spearheaded by Annan Paterson, took local 8th graders to Sonoma State University. For many, this was their first trip to a college campus.
The Dictionary Project
In past years, Gualala Rotary helps build literacy in our elementary schools by providing dictionaries to all third graders. In conjunction with Rotary International, we give grade-appropriate dictionaries to third graders from six local schools– Manchester, Pt. Arena, Charter, Horicon, Kashia, and Ft. Ross. For some kids, this is their first “real” book they have received as a gift. Students can take their dictionary home, a key benefit for students who do not have internet access after school. Since 2001, Gualala Rotary has distributed about 750 dictionaries. Nationally and internationally, Rotary has distributed more than 30 million of the school dictionaries since 1995.
Other Past Projects
We’ve sponsored Career Day with Gualala Rotarians, and funded the motivational movie “Spare Parts” for grades 10-12. This movie, from 2015, is based on the Wired magazine article “La Vida Robot” by Joshua Davis, It’s the true story of a group of students from an underfunded, mainly Latino public high school, who won the first place in the 2004 Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition sponsored by NASA, on a budget of $800 plus “spare parts” from local merchants. (They bested students, with a team budget of $10,000, from a world-class, private engineering school.) Hopefully, all of our local students will aim as high as these kids.
Gualala Rotary has also provided a PC and publishing software to produce school newspapers, and a ramp at Point Arena High School for those with limited mobility. For several years, we sponsored a poetry contest for all grades.