School board member retires

From left, Chelsie Miller, board member; Ismael Vivanco, superintendent; Grant Daniel, retiring board member; and Jan Merriman, board president. (Empire Press photo/Darlene Paterson)


By Darlene Paterson
Empire Press Correspondent

Orondo School Board members began their monthly meeting on May 28 honoring retiring board member Grant Daniel for his 28 years of service.

In addition to the board, Daniel’s daughter, several community members and former superintendent Millie Watkins attended the meeting.

When construction began on the new school building in Orondo, Daniel’s work on the construction and planning committee caught the attention of the school board chairman. Recognizing Daniel’s love for the school and gifting with people, he asked Daniel to serve on the board.

Daniel’s 80-acre orchard surrounded the school property. “I could stand at my window and look down on the school,” he said. “It was a fascinating time with the new building going up — a big step up for the Orondo community.”

As an orchardist, Daniel was also familiar with local issues. His property supplied water for the old school before the new building was constructed.

“It is funny that we keep calling it the new building. And it’s what, 28 years old,” he laughed.

“It has been a pleasure to serve on the board,” Daniel said. “One of the highlights of my career as a board member was helping hire the core group of teachers. Many of those teachers are still here today. We also hired Millie Watkins who served our school for many years.”

Another highlight for Daniel occurred in 1992 when Orondo School received the KCTS-9 Golden Apple Award.

“Orondo was selected as one of the outstanding schools in Washington State,” Davis reminisced.

The Golden Apple Award, presented by the Public Television station, recognizes individuals and programs making a dramatic difference in Washington State education. This award program began in 1992, making Orondo one of the first to be given that honor.

Daniel has enjoyed a long career of work and service. As a young orchardist, he completed the Washington State AgForestry program. He has also served as an Orondo volunteer firefighter and EMT for many years.

When asked his plans after retirement Daniel replied, “Oh, I still work full time. I spent six hours today in Omak at the 12 Tribes Casino helping teach 50 apple growers about new requirements for the Federal Safety Act. It was a long day.”

Soon after the board meeting was called to order by President Jan Merriman, Superintendent Ishmael Vivanco acknowledged Daniel.

“We really appreciate your 28 years of service to our school,” he said.

Other people present shared memories and appreciation.

“Your participation on the board was a highlight of my time here,” Millie Watkins said. “You were part of a board that was thoughtful, considered all possibilities and looked at the big picture. You were always an encourager and I just want to say thank you.”

Former business manager Linda Sorensen said, “The stability you brought to the board helped everyone work together. You were always supportive no matter which way things went.”

Vivanco then presented Daniel with a card and gift of appreciation for his years of service.

“It’s been a blessing to be a part of this and to see the school succeed,” Daniel concluded.