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Breakfast serves up recognition from Glendale Educational Foundation

Checks, awards and an abundance of acknowledgements were handed out Thursday during the 14th annual State of the Schools Breakfast, organized by the Glendale Educational Foundation, or GEF.

Nearly all of the 57 tables set up in the Glendale Civic Auditorium were filled as the foundation paid tribute to its donors. Glendale Unified also presented an analysis of its 26,000 students, 2,600 employees and 32 schools.

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“I can sum it up in a simple phrase,” Supt. Winfred B. Roberson Jr. said of district’s prospects. “The future forecast is sunny and bright.”

Roberson thanked the foundation for its $10,000 donation to help fund a one-year pilot college-savings program called Scholarshare 529 in February for students attending Cerritos Elementary School and Roosevelt Middle School.

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As for district accomplishments, the superintendent touted many, including Clark Magnet, Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Hoover high schools all being ranked in the top 12% of high schools nationally, according to this year’s U.S. News & World Report.

Roberson also spoke glowingly of the district’s seven language academies.

“No one else is doing that in the country,” he said. “We lead in languages, which honors cultures, honors diversity and it’s something that I’m very proud of.”

The theme of Thursday’s breakfast was “Music Matters,” and Roberson was quick to point out that the GEF had given $360,000 in donations to the district since it began giving scholarships in 2005 to help with the district’s music programs.

Overall, GEF has given $3.2 million to the district, which included this year a check for $128,000 handed over by the foundation’s executive director Elsa Chagolla and president Eric Hamilton to Roberson and Greg Krikorian, school board president.

Roberson also spoke highly of Glendale Unified’s educators.

“No district in the county has more teachers that have been nominated and promoted as Teacher of the Year than the Glendale Unified School District,” he said.

On cue, the GEF also handed out two Excellence in Education awards to lawyer and former GEF board president Lynn Miyamoto and to Betsy Astor, chair of special education at Glendale High and one of 16 instructors recently named Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year.

Though Astor has been a teacher at Glendale High for over two decades, the Hoover High alumna made a confession.

“I may wear red and black and I love my school, but I bleed purple,” said Astor, in reference to her alma mater’s main color.

The Glendale High Jazz band opened the festivities, Hoover High senior Rechenza Puno sang the national anthem and the Nitros Marching Band finished the breakfast with a strong musical performance.

The unsung heroes on Thursday were the 40 or so members of the Glendale High culinary program, or bistro, who cooked and served the food at the breakfast.

“As long as people get their food item on time and frequently, then we’ve done our job,” said sophomore Alexander Markaryan, who is a member of the program. “This is a good experience, even if you don’t want to go into the culinary field.”

The breakfast was coordinated by Chagolla, who admitted she exhaled at the event’s conclusion.

“It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun,” Chagolla said. “We’ve been planning this event for the last six months. So, it’s a committee of board members, district staff and myself meeting every month until today to make sure all the details were down.”

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