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Navarros donate $25K to schools for scholarships

SALEM — It’s not every day that someone walks in off the street and hands over a check for $25,000 to help kids in need.

But that’s exactly what happened recently at Salem High School when Flor “Shorty” Navarro showed up with his checkbook.

Superintendent Sean Kirkland shared the story with school board members Monday, relaying how Navarro, the owner of the Stadium GM Superstore, came to the school during off hours and introduced himself to Amie Cochran, who had been in the weight room, and said he wanted to make a donation.

She was super excited when she told Kirkland and handed over the check.

“I immediately called Mr. Navarro and his wife to personally thank them,” Kirkland said.

He learned that Navarro didn’t speak English when he came here and learned the language. He started working at a local gas station at a young age and eventually, he owned the station.

The money will be used to establish a scholarship and a committee is being put together to figure out how to distribute the money.

“We’re really grateful and thankful and can’t say enough about how nice and generous that was by the Navarros.” Kirkland said.

During his report, he also shared another story, this time dealing with a former student. Kirkland relayed how he received an email from a gentleman named Jon Allen Green from Oregon who sent him a 1917 Certificate of Completion of Elementary Education for Ruth Cox.

A former resident of Salem who never married, Cox was described by Green as a “highly respected, 20th Century piano teacher in the Portland, Oregon area.”

He took lessons from her himself from 1947 to 1953 and said she lived with him and his wife and children for about six months in her 80s until she found a permanent residence in a Portland nursing home where she lived until her death.

While cleaning recently, he found her certificate and couldn’t bring himself to throw it away.

“I felt that someone or some place would find it of value. Her life was so full of service to others. It needed to be remembered,” he wrote.

The document was signed by teacher Elisa M. Bridge and Superintendent John S. Alan and he wanted to offer it to Salem City Schools for district memorabilia. Kirkland told him the district would be honored to receive it and he would contact the Salem High School Alumni Association about displaying it.

“Year in and year out, we have quality students that graduate here and go out all over the world and make an impact,” Kirkland said.

Prior to the regular meeting, the board organized for the year, choosing Brittany Zamarelli as the new president and Dianna Barley as the vice president. Meeting days will remain normally the third Monday of the month at 7 p.m., with the following dates set: Feb. 22, March 15, April 19, May 17, June 28, July 19, Aug. 16, Sept. 20, Oct. 18, Nov. 15 and Dec. 13.

In other business, students are scheduled to return to their physical classrooms Tuesday, with Kirkland hopeful for no more positive cases of COVID-19. He provided numbers of total positive cases overall, with 51 students, representing .026 percent of the student body, and 31 staff, or .118 percent of the total staff. The numbers include: 20 students and seven staff at the high school; nine students and four staff at the junior high; seven students and four staff at Southeast; nine students and seven staff at Reilly; and six students and four staff at Buckeye. There were also three staff in transportation and two staff in administration. Currently, he said there are only two active cases, one junior high student and one student at Southeast.

He said he’s looking forward to staff getting the vaccine when that happens.

Treasurer Michael Douglas reported some good news, saying the district received a rebate check of $136,849 from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, which is four times the premium the district paid in 2019. Typically rebates are $30,000 to $40,000 per year.

Under personnel, the board approved Ty Graham as an assistant junior high track coach and approved moving Bethany Glasser up the pay scale from BA105 to MA.

The board approved the memorandum of understanding between the school district and Kent State University for the College Credit Plus program for the 2021-2022 school year and accepted a donation of $5,000 from Eastern Star for scholarships.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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