Michelle Bayless - It is my pleasure to introduce our next guest, Byron Rice. Many of you know Byron because he was once your principal at Copper Center School. You might also know him because you have grand-kids in school, and he has become one of their very first best friends. You might also know him because he hosts’ annual potlatches in the school, invites our Elders and family members to participate and truly tries to embrace our Ahtna Culture. He has made Copper Center School a comfortable place, with a welcoming atmosphere; it’s hard not to feel at home in his school.
Many of you know that the School Board has made a decision to close Copper Center School this year. I know this decision was not easy, and it marks the end of a long hard fight championed by Byron himself. I know from personal experience during my tenure on the school board that Byron has been, and remains Copper Center Schools strongest, most vocal, most demanding advocate. Over the past ten or fifteen years the student enrollment has dwindled, along with our budgets, and he very stubbornly fought for every bit of the budget that was allocated to Copper Center School year after year after year.
Though it is sad to close the doors to Copper Center School, it is a great deal of comfort to know that he, along with his staff, will be transferring to Glennallen with our students. We trust that the small school atmosphere, values and attention to our students will remain strong.
Tonilee Jackson - Byron, we know we kind of tricked you into coming to this meeting under the pretext of reporting to the Tribe about the current standing of Copper Center School, but we really wanted to surprise you.
In recognition of your dedication to the students of Copper Center School for the past 17 years, we would like to honor you with this certificate of recognition for those years of service to our kids. And because an inside source tells us that you are a devote Cowboys fan, we would also like to present you with a gift honoring both your love for the Dallas Cowboys and your love for the students of Copper Center School. And Byron, just so you know, we look forward to next year’s potlatch at GES!
Posted by: MJ