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Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Kamea Quinn of McDonald Elementary, Bryson Kilmer of Spokane Valley receive year-end PACE awards

Fifth-grader Kamea Quinn receives a PACE year-end award in front of McDonald Elementary School in Spokane Valley, Wash. (Courtesy)
Fifth-grader Kamea Quinn receives a PACE year-end award in front of McDonald Elementary School in Spokane Valley, Wash. (Courtesy)

The Partners Advancing Character Education program had to do things a little bit differently this year, handing out their year-end awards in front yards and on school lawns instead of having a banquet for award winners and their families.

Each month during the school year, a different good character trait is recognized and a student at each school is given an award for their efforts to embody that character trait. At the end of the year one of those monthly winners is selected to be the PACE representative at their school.

Educators fanned out across Spokane County last week to present the year-end awards in a flurry of small ceremonies. Fifth-grader Kamea Quinn got her award on the lawn outside McDonald Elementary School in the Central Valley School District on Thursday.

“Kamea is always cheerful and hard-working, willing to do whatever is asked of her,” her nominator wrote. “She is a truly kind and caring student that is always looking out for the well-being of others, offering to help tutor younger students or volunteer to take out recycling. She is very polite and respectful and is a trustworthy and caring friend.”

Quinn said she enjoys helping out in her school.

“I was in Community Service Club,” she said. “We help clean up the school. We put together care packages for Meals on Wheels.”

She said she was surprised when she was told she had won the year-end PACE award. “I was surprised that I was nominated to represent our school,” she said.

Fifth-grade teacher Danielle Johnston was at the brief award ceremony and said she nominated Quinn for an award.

“She just exuberates kindness,” she said. “She really, truly lives the golden rule. She treats people the way she wants to be treated. She works incredibly hard in class.”

She greeted her teachers and principal on the lawn, who gave her a yard sign, an award, flowers, small gifts and a “banquet in a bag” before taking a socially distant picture with everyone in front of the school sign.

The bag included a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant to replace the typical banquet, said Central Valley School District spokeswoman Marla Nunberg.

“All the sponsors, in this unique way, allowed the program to continue,” she said.

The end of year award is a big deal in the PACE program, Nunberg said.

“It’s for showing character all yearlong,” she said.

Last week 52 PACE award winners were recognized in the Spokane Valley school districts and 18 in the West Plains.

“We’re doing all 70 this week,” Nunberg said.

Across town, Spokane Valley High School valedictorian Bryson Kilmer, wearing his cap and gown, gathered on his front lawn with his family. In addition to receiving his PACE award, the principal of his school and other staff members were there for a small graduation ceremony as well.

“It’s a great honor,” West Valley School District spokeswoman Sue Shields said of the PACE award. “This one is just for great kids.”

Spokane Valley High School Principal Larry Bush spoke highly of Kilmer to his parents. “He’s a young man you can be really proud of,” he said. “He’s captured just about every award we have.”

The person who nominated Kilmer also thought highly of him, writing “Bryon is an outstanding young man at Spokane Valley High that models responsibility, integrity and a passion for learning. He is respected by his peers for his natural leadership attributes and caring personality.”

Kilmer said he appreciated that representatives from his school and the district came out to give him an award and a short graduation ceremony.

“I think it was pretty cool,” he said. It’s the next best thing to being with everybody. I was just super grateful for all my teachers and what they’ve done for me.”

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