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The third annual Colorado Succeeds prize awards ceremony aired to the public Thursday night, Sept 19, bringing good news to Chaffee County. Longfellow Elementary, located in the Salida School District, was one of 18 schools in the final competition for a portion of the $150,000 Colorado Succeeds prize awards. The funds were split among six different awards. Longfellow won its category and took home $15,000, and runner ups awarded $5,000.

Longfellow Elementary School’s Chuck McKenna accepting the Succeed Prize at the 2019 ceremony. (Screenshot courtesy of 9 News video coverage)

Longfellow Elementary was one of three in the category “Finalists for Transformational Impact in an Elementary School” Award, which was sponsored by T-TEC. Three sponsors hosted the award ceremony: 9News, MindSpark Learning, and Colorado Succeeds. The other two school finalists in the category were Aurora Quest K-8 of Aurora Public Schools and Manassa Elementary School in the North Conejos School District.

Rodgrio Monroe, vice president and chief counsel international for T-TEC presented the award to Longfellow Elementary Principal Chuck McKenna. Joining McKenna were some Longfellow Elementary teachers who joined him on stage.

“Wow! First of all, to our kids in our community in Salida, nicely done everybody! Thanks to everyone who is part of bringing this together,” said McKenna during his acceptance remarks.

“We can’t say enough about an effort to value our teachers and people who work with kids in school.  It never happens enough, and it’s a wonderful thing to see happen.”

McKenna continued, “As it was stated, we have such great community support. The school board and superintendent came up with a goal of ‘we are the education community’ – a vision – several years ago, and the community has bought into that. They gave us new schools, and they gave us the capability of drawing an amazing group of teachers together who collaborate and work together to make it as great as possible for our kids.”

McKenna’s closing remarks spoke to the small-town community that aims to make an impact in their schools. “We finish every day  — and I’m so proud of this —  the last thing the kids hear when they leave school every day is “we love you all” and we love all of you too.  Thank you…”