MUSD honors students for special achievements

Jonah Dunstan from Yucca Valley High School was recognized for her tremendous accomplishments at school as part of National Disability Awareness Month.

JOSHUA TREE — It was a night of celebration at the Morongo Unified School District board of education meeting Tuesday night as students in special education were recognized for their achievements both in and out of the classroom.

Trustees kicked off their meeting with a presentation in honor of National Disabilities Awareness Month.

“Tonight we’re celebrating 45 years of providing special education services to the Morongo Basin,” said Heidi Burgett, director of the area’s special education programs. “But what we’re really here for is to celebrate our students.”

MUSD provides services to approximately 1,300 students with special needs. These services can include special academic courses, student aides, speech language pathologists and high school programs for students to transition to life after school and get ready for the workforce.

Administrators asked schools to nominate one of their students with disabilities to be honored by the board of education.

The first student recognized was Jonathan Redmond from Friendly Hills Elementary School.

“Jonathan came into my program last year as a fifth-grader,” said his adviser, David Greenly. “When I first met Jonathan I was impressed.”

Greenly went on to note how mechanically minded Redmond is and how he expects that Redmond will go far in life.

Wyatt Vaught from Morongo Valley Elementary School was chosen by his teacher Kristina Brook for his positive behavior and helpfulness in the classroom. Brook also noted that Vaught’s parents were incredibly supportive and she thanked them for their help with the entire class. 

“He has super-amazing parents as they are supporting him; they just bought our class community garden plants,” she said. “It’s such a great thing that we can all team up together.”

Onaga Elementary student Jacob Masonis was up next and his principal, Deanna Skinta, noted that although this is her first year at the school, she has already seen how sweet and silly Masonis is.

“He’s really sweet and really kind,” she said. “He’s endlessly inquisitive a little silly sometimes but we’re real proud of him.”

From Yucca Valley High School, Rebecca Pessa recognized sophomore Jonah Dunstan.

“She greets everyone she meets with a smile and showers them with positive words,” Pessa said.

Principal Jennifer Sands from Black Rock High School recognized student Franklin Fort.

“This is his second year at Black Rock,” she said. “He’s going to graduate this year and he just got a job.”

Also recognized were Byanca Powell from Joshua Tree Elementary School, Athen Toledo Jaimes from Landers Elementary School, Nolan Buck from Yucca Mesa Elementary School and Mirage Zavits from La Contenta Middle School.

Students from Twentynine Palms will be recognized at the next board meeting, starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at Palm Vista Elementary School.

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