When you arrive at Rockford School in Porterville, California, the first thing you will notice is the beautiful scenery. On one side of the school you’ll find sheep roaming around and on the other a corn field. You will see kids laughing and running around the vast playground and teachers attending to the needs of each student. You will also find Principal and Superintendent Caron Borba meeting with parents, helping teachers, and building a relationship with each student that walks into her office.
Caron has been the Principal and Superintendent of Rockford School for the last 2 years. Prior to that she was a teacher at the school for 17 years. With nearly 20 years in education, Caron has shown dedication to teaching her students what it means to be a patriotic American citizen.
Back when Caron was a middle school history teacher she started Freedom Fridays at Rockford. The 8th graders would each interview a local veteran about his childhood, branch of the military, what war he served in and how the war subsequently affected his life. Then, once a month an 8th grade student would read the biography over the loudspeaker to the entire student body. This project not only carried on the legacies of local veterans but also taught the students an interesting history lesson. As Caron noted,
“One of the things the students gained the most out of it was depending on the time period the veteran had served it manipulated how much information they received. If they talked to somebody from World War II [the veteran] gave lots of information and told their story proudly. Now when it came to a Vietnam Veteran, they downplayed a lot of the information and I think it comes as a result of how they were received when they came back to America.”
The idea for Freedom Fridays originally came from the previous Superintendent, Andrew Schultz, who was inspired by a local radio show that interviewed a new veteran every week. Caron carried on the tradition for 6 years while she was the middle school history teacher. In addition to hearing the biography, each classroom displayed a picture of the veteran to carry on the legacy and get the whole school involved.
Rockford School was founded in 1862 and in 2012 teachers and students celebrated the 150th anniversary by participating in the Porterville Veteran’s Day Parade. Each year the middle school band participates in the parade and in 2012 Rockford teachers and students created a float for the event. The theme was Old School vs. New School. Superintendent Schultz dressed up as Abraham Lincoln and students on the Old School side of the float sat in antique desks and dressed to period. On the New School side, the float was decorated with modern-day desks and students dressed in their 21st century clothes.
If you’re lucky, before you leave Rockford School you may get to see a fire drill. Caron and Rockford continue to keep American traditions alive by having a student carry the American Flag out of each classroom and lead the class with it. This is the type of patriotism you will only find at a school with leaders like Caron Borba who put so much emphasis on keeping traditions alive.
The next time you’re driving through California’s Central Valley we recommend stopping by Rockford School and saying hello to Caron. She will most certainly welcome you into her office with open arms and tell you all about Rockford’s great history. Plus, she may even show you the where to find the sweetest blueberries at the farm next door!