It was as if a long-lost child had been found at an orphanage and adopted by its real parents when Geneva Steel and Geneva Elementary School officials met Tuesday night.
In an adoption celebration at the elementary school, Geneva Steel President Joe Cannon received adoption papers from Geneva Elementary and presented Principal Wayne Crabb with a check for $2,000 and committed at least $25,000 for remodeling projects at the school.The money will be used to help the school expand its media center, install new walls and doors to provide more classroom space and to help in the Positive Action Program - a program with a self-image/esteem building curriculum.
According to Cannon, the monetary contribution is just the beginning. "We want to give more than just the check. We want to get involved with the kids coming out to the plant and plant employees coming to talk to classrooms."
The relationship between the two entities spans 40 years. The school opened in 1948 and was named after the steel plant that was built just six years earlier.
"We are her namesake and proud to be a part of that heritage," Crabb said.
Cannon said Geneva Steel is "extremely excited with this opportunity to have a direct impact on children in this school. We hope this partnership will serve as a model to other industries in the state."
Crabb is quick to add that Geneva Steel's contribution is greatly needed, especially at an at-risk school like Geneva Elementary. Last year 17 percent of the school's parents were unemployed. The school also has a high number of single-parent and low-income families.
"This is a special partnership between education and industry," Crabb said. He came up with the idea of going to an industry for help last year when he realized the school needed assistance and the district was unable to provide any additional money. With the help of the school's Parent Involvement Committee, Geneva Steel and other businesses were approached about helping the school.
"We are grateful they approached us because it's a great opportunity," Cannon said. "Students here are the greatest resource to the state of Utah. This is the kind of thing that if it catches on would be great for the future of the state."
Alpine School District Superintendent Steve Baugh said, "What a wonderful thing it is when you think of the marriage of industry and education. It must happen in this age. I commend Geneva Steel for leading out."
Cannon challenged other industries to do the same and find ways to support schools.
Before a large crowd of students, parents, teachers and Geneva Steel employees, Crabb introduced Cannon by saying he is "doing for Geneva what Lee Iacocca did for Chrysler."
Cannon said: "You students can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be. Maybe you will grow up and own a steel mill one day. Just think of goals and do it."