To help mark its 125th anniversary this school year, Scottsdale Unified School District has designed a coin that will recognize the special achievements of SUSD students, teachers and staff. The newly minted Excellence Recognition Coin features a raised, five-point gold star on one side, symbolizing the unity of SUSD’s five learning communities, and a state flag-like map of Arizona with a heart, to reflect the district’s location, on the other.
Both sides feature a braided cord, representing how the learning communities are interwoven with each other and the district, as well as the district’s connection to the State of Arizona, according to a press release. The SUSD Recognition Coin program began last school year as a way for the superintendent to offer public appreciation and a token of recognition to students and employees for exemplary contributions to their school, department and the greater SUSD community. The coins are part of the student and staff celebrations portion of monthly Governing Board meetings.
This year’s 125th anniversary edition coin focuses on the achievements and core activities that bring the district together as a large, diverse and unified family academics, arts and athletics. Last year’s coin centered around the district’s core values being student-focused, responsive, growth-minded and humble. In addition to the superintendent, the principals of SUSD’s 29 schools and SUSD department leaders receive their own supply of recognition coins to distribute as a way to celebrate the accomplishments of those who go above and beyond on a more local scale.
Desert Mountain High School Principal Dr. Lisa Hirsch says the keepsake coin is different from any other kind of award the school gives. “For me, being able to deliver a recognition coin in the classroom, with the people present who know a teacher or student best, is an impactful, memorable and personal way of recognizing their outstanding actions,” she said in a prepared statement. Dr. Hirsch says she intends to hand out recognition coins to more students this school year.
“Narrowing down the list of worthy recipients is a good challenge to have,” she said. Using a coin to commemorate heroic actions dates back to World War II, during which U.S. military officers presented coins to recognize soldiers’ acts of bravery. Recent SUSD recognition coin recipients include two high school juniors who rescued a pair of swimmers in the waters off a San Diego beach this summer, the district’s English Language Development coaching team and the five U.S. military academy appointees from SUSD’s class of 2020.