While waiting on Gov. Sam Brownback to arrive Tuesday afternoon, the Woodrow Wilson Elementary students served as the warm-up act for the ceremony in their honor.
They sang the school song and told jokes (Q: “What do you call a sleeping bull?” A: “A bulldozer”).
The joyous occasion was part of the celebration of the school’s recognition as a 2013 Governor’s Achievement Award recipient – one of 42 elementary schools in the state to receive the honor.
Each school had to be among the top five percent in both reading and mathematics on state assessments at its respective level, and meet one additional measure concerning attendance.
Woodrow Wilson principal Deb Nauerth said countless hours were spent to get students to the level they reached.
“In life, there are people who make things, people who watch things and those who wonder what just happened,” she said. “I am so proud of our entire Woodrow Wilson family, because truly you are the people who make things happen every single day.”
Nauerth said everyone in attendance, from students to faculty and staff to guardians, helped the school get its “gold medal.”
“Excellence is not perfection,” she said. “It’s striving to be the best you that you can be.”
After Brownback received a howling welcome from the students, he congratulated them on their accomplishments and encouraged their continued educational growth.
“You just got a great launch, but you have to keep going,” he said.
Brownback’s appearance was in response to an invitation from USD 383 school board president Curt Herrman to present the award to the students.
The visit also allowed Brownback to promote his all-day kindergarten initiative.
Brownback’s proposed fiscal year 2015 adjustments include the start of a five-year process to phase in all-day kindergarten with $16.3 million next year.
USD 383 currently has all-day kindergarten, but the state only funds half of it, with the district’s at-risk funding responsible for the rest.
After the ceremony, Brownback visited the school’s kindergarten classes and read with some of the students.
He said a child reading well by the fourth grade opens up the world to them.
“If they can’t, and unfortunately too many of our kids can’t read by the fourth grade, their world starts to get smaller because they just don’t have the opportunity,” Brownback said.
Brownback said support for all-day kindergarten is growing, but legislators remember the difficult budget times in the recent past.
“Everybody is leery because of the difficulties of what we’ve been through, but we’re in a position where we can do it now,” he said.