The Board of Education of the Public School System has declared the week of May 17-21 as “Service Members Appreciation Week” to honor and extend the school district’s appreciation to the 63 men and women of the U.S. armed forces who are also its employees.
In a ceremony held Monday at the Charley’s Cabaret of Pacific Islands Club Saipan, BOE members, PSS leaders, lawmakers, and other officials highlighted the important roles that these service members play within PSS. These service members are employed as program directors, Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps instructors, Leadership Corps instructors, classroom teachers, and teacher aides on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota’s public elementary, middle and high schools.
“Many of us civilians and educators have never walked in your shoes as service members. We don’t know or we can only imagine your life as service members. …On behalf of the CNMI Public School System, we appreciate all that you do and have done for us,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred B. Ada.
BOE chair Andrew L. Orsini, who signed the proclamation on behalf of PSS, also hailed these employees’ sacrifices. “We honor all of you for what you have invested in our country—your life to protect what we value the most: our freedom. We also honor you today for what you have invested in our Public School System: the growth and success of the children of our islands through education.”
BOE vice chair Herman Atalig, who himself is a retired U.S. Army sergeant major who saw action during the Vietnam War, said: “Continue what you are doing: keep that fire in you in serving our community.”
He also led everyone in a “moment of silence to pray to all service members that are still deployed overseas and hope they’d come home to their loved ones.”
BOE member Gregory Borja, who is a Marine, thanked his fellow service members for “bringing the values to our students, the leadership, skills and learning” through PSS’ programs particularly “the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps for high school students and Leadership Corps for middle school students.”
Dr. Ron Snyder, who is the private schools representative on the BOE and served in the U.S. Army military intelligence as a signal intelligence voice interceptor with Egyptian Arabic, emphasized the value of giving-back to the community. “In giving back, we give the opportunity for students to learn,” he said. “Once a sense of service is put into our school, the level of community participation also increases.”
BOE secretary/treasurer Maisie B. Tenorio, who also spoke at the event, said: “You are all extraordinary men and women who continue to help my family, our community and our country. …I will continue to advocate for you. I hope today is the start of many great things that would come your way.”
‘Benefits for all’
Orsini said he will be working with his colleagues in the BOE and with Ada in ensuring there is “uniformity when it comes to benefits and resources” afforded to all service members employed by PSS.
Orsini said he would look into the CNMI central government’s employment benefits that are offered to service members and mirroring that in PSS. “We have to take a look at other benefits and programs that our CNMI government have for our service members and see if that is something we can implement within PSS. We have to make sure that our service members will have every support they need,” Orsini added.
Good news: Buses
In his closing remarks, Associate Commissioner for Administrative Services Eric Magofna announced the acquisition of six new school vans for all JROTC units on Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and central office.
Tinian Jr. Sr. High School JROTC’s school bus/van was expected to arrive on Monday. Rota’s Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr. Sr. High School’s JROTC bus/van has already been shipped. Kagman High School, Marianas High School and Saipan Southern High School were scheduled to be picked up also on Monday.
“These vehicles will be used to transport our cadets and this is such a huge help. On behalf of all the instructors, the board, the commissioner and everyone, please know how much we appreciate this,” TJSHS’s JROTC Battalion Capt. Joseph Santos said.
Ret. Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Basa of Saipan Southern High School, said: “With this new vehicle, please expect that we—our cadets and students—will be more out helping our community.” (PR)