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YUHSD’s annual all-staff Kick Off marks start of 2019-2020 school year

Yuma Union High School District celebrated the start of its 110th school year with its annual staff Kick Off Monday, July 29, 2019 at Gila Ridge High School. Staff interact with AWC booth

The event was highlighted by keynote speaker and renowned psychologist Dr. Michele Borba as well as presentations from YUHSD Superintendent Gina Thompson, Associate Superintendent Lisa Anderson, who introduced Dr. Borba, GRHS Principal Shawn Wehrer, and a rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” by members of the Gila Ridge High School choir and presentation of the colors by the Kofa High School Marine Corps JROTC chapter.

The morning began in the Gila Ridge cafeteria where more than 900 employees received Ready Now Yuma tote bags and were provided continental breakfast, which was paid for by community members and partners; a group that included more than 28 businesses and non-profit organizations. It served as an opportunity for certified and classified staff members from across the district to network and share a morning together before the 2019-2020 school years gets underway on Thursday.  

“I feel extremely fortunate to live in a community that celebrates education,” YUHSD Superintendent Gina Thompson said. “Our annual kick-off event is the one time during our academic year that we gather as an entire district, connecting friendships and partnerships. We do amazing things in YUHSD 70 by working together and bringing our very best to the students of Yuma County. For all of us in education, it’s the true Happy New Year!”

Michele Borba The predominant theme of the Kick Off was promoting empathy, something Borba spent her hour-long presentation addressing. Prior to Borba taking the stage, Thompson celebrated data points, including the district’s dropout rate continuing to plummet, reaching one of the state’s best marks at 1.43 percent. The Superintendent, entering her second full year in the role, also implored staff to remember they are not just teaching “stuff” (content), but people.

Thompson’s remarks set the tone for Borba’s presentation, which broke down several ways to weave empathy into classroom instruction and, more importantly, staff members’ daily lives. The message resonated with some of the students in attendance.

“I think motivation is one of the most important things to have because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” San Luis High School senior Jorge Niebla said. “You always have to keep something in mind to stay on track and do something for the community or just for the school.”

Niebla was one of several Career & Technical Education leaders on hand to capture content for the event as well as plan activities, such as oversized Jenga and a flip-cup challenge, for staff prior to the keynote address.  

All YUHSD faculty and staff returned to their work sites at noon on Monday. The first day of school is Thursday, Aug. 1.

Below is a list of organizations who participated in the 2019 YUHSD Kick Off:

AEA Federal Credit Union


All Yuma Center


Arizona Educators Association

Arizona Furnishings

Arizona Western College

BSN Sports

BWS Architects, Inc.

Cradic Chiropractic

Gateway Mortgage


Go Ag

International Medical Solutions

Long Realty

McCarthy Construction


University of Arizona

Wells Fargo

Young Democrats of Yuma

Young Living Essential Oils

Yuma Insurance

Yuma Investment Group

Yuma Sun – Newspapers in Education

Yuma Teaching Supplies

Eric Patten