Gateway: Living

‘There’s a lot of energy’: Peninsula School District preps for new year

Richard Vanberg, left, receives the sixth annual Hugh McMillan District award for volunteer service from Superintendent Rob Manahan during last week’s Kick Off ceremony at Gig Harbor High School.
Richard Vanberg, left, receives the sixth annual Hugh McMillan District award for volunteer service from Superintendent Rob Manahan during last week’s Kick Off ceremony at Gig Harbor High School. Special to the Gateway

School may have started Wednesday for Peninsula School District students, but district administrators, teachers and staff members have spent the summer training and preparing for the new school year.

This training culminated in the annual PSD Kick Off event held Aug. 23, which brings together community partners in Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula at Gig Harbor High School to show their support for the district.

Peninsula School District Board President Rand Wilhelmson said the event is a good way to boost morale and get staff excited for the first day of school.

“After this, I’ll go into the schools and they’ll all be fired up. There’s a lot of energy,” he said. “It’s a really good session and a really good way to get started.”

You have the most important job on the planet ... I would much rather invest in our kids and education in the front end than prison and unemployment on the back end. You are dealing with all the problems of the world that come into your classrooms. You are magicians. You are magical.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer

Joining the event to show their support were U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, whose children attend PSD schools, and state Rep. Michelle Caldier, as well as representatives from the community and local businesses.

Kilmer spoke briefly to the assembled staff, thanking them for their dedication for their work.

“You have the most important job on the planet ... I would much rather invest in our kids and education in the front end than prison and unemployment on the back end,” he said. “You are dealing with all the problems of the world that come into your classrooms. You are magicians. You are magical.”

He also promised his continued support, in the community and nationally, to prioritize education.

“This community values the work you do,” Kilmer closed. “I just cannot thank you enough for the work you do. Have a great school year and we’ll fight like hell to have your back.”

Kids need to see that an adult other than their teachers gives a damn. I give a damn. We have to convince the entire population to give a damn.

Hugh McMillan

Community figure and longtime Gateway contributor Hugh McMillan spoke also to the crowd — after receiving a standing ovation lead by Kilmer — to provide his contact information and support for the teachers and students in their classroom.

“Kids need to see that an adult other than their teachers gives a damn. I give a damn,” McMillan said. “We have to convince the entire population to give a damn.”

McMillan’s presentation was finished up by Peninsula High School teacher Jonathan Bill, who provided his fellow teachers with a catchy way to remember McMillan’s contact with a song.

This community supports you and our students and our district in amazing ways. We can no longer be stuck in the industrial age, we have to prepare kids for the technical future.

Robert Manahan, Peninsula School District superintendent

Glenice Espeseth was the recipient of the Bill Simpson award, awarded to those who have given service to the Peninsula Education Association and given back to both students and colleagues.

The sixth annual Hugh McMillan Award, given to a volunteer working behind the scenes to promote instruction and education, was awarded to Richard Vanberg.

Superintendent Robert Manahan wrapped up the event by encouraging the staff on the importance of their jobs and emphasizing the support they have from the community.

“This community supports you and our students and our district in amazing ways,” he said. “We can no longer be stuck in the industrial age, we have to prepare kids for the technical future.”

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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