In praise of 'heroism and bravery' at Weed schools

Steve Gerace
Weed High School students and staff gathered with Siskiyou County Board of Education representatives, school board trustees and District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff after last Wednesday's Boles Fire plaque presentation in the school gymnasium.

The Siskiyou County Board of Education presented plaques last Wednesday at Weed Elementary and Weed High schools recognizing students and staff for “extraordinary acts of heroism and bravery during the Boles Fire” last Sept. 15.

County Superintendent of Schools Kermith Walters read the plaques during afternoon assemblies at both schools and said the Board of Education’s recognition effort was spearheaded by Weed area trustee Brenda Duchi.

Weed Elementary superintendent Kathi Emerson said much was learned because of the fire, including “how strong we are, how brave we are, how much we care about each other, and how much other people care about us. I don’t think we’ll ever forget the kindness that’s been shown to us.”

She presented certificates of recognition from State Senator Ted Gaines and Assembly member Brian Dahle to four WES staff members whose efforts during the fire went above and beyond: Jack Leiffer, head of maintenance; Kim Coots, representing the teachers association; Shanna Machado representing the classified staff association; and principal Alisa Cummings.

Walters recounted his experience of hearing about the Boles Fire and hearing that Weed Elementary School was on fire just before he boarded a plane for a flight from Seattle to Washington, DC.

Unable to get any more information during the flight, he said those four and a-half hours “were one of the most frightening things I’ve ever had to go through. It was very scary for me; I can’t imagine what it was like for every one that was here.”

Representing the Board of Education during the presentations at both schools were trustees Brenda Duchi, Harriet Alto, Sherry Crawford, Bill Enos and John Bennett.

District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff also attended.

Four Siskiyou Union High School District trustees were introduced at Weed High School: board president Sue Tavalero, Jana Blevins, Gregg Gunkel and John Hines.

Weed High School principal Mike Matheson said, “On behalf of students and staff, thank you Kermith Walters, thank you Siskiyou County Board of Education.”

Then he directed the entire student body and all others involved to gather in front of the gymnasium wall for a group photo.

The plaques presented to both schools were identical except the name of the school. They read:

“In recognition of extraordinary acts of heroism and bravery exhibited during the Boles Fire on September 15, 2014, the Siskiyou County Board of Education and the communities represented duly commend the teachers, staff and students of Weed Elementary School for their actions in keeping our students safe. ‘When horrific events occur, the true strength of character emerges.’”