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Willmar Middle School celebrates Beckie Simenson

Beckie Simenson, Willmar Middle School assistant principal, poses with a group of students Friday during an all-school celebration held in Simenson’s honor for being named Minnesota Assistant Principal of the Year. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR — When it comes to honoring one of their own, the Willmar Middle School knows how to throw a party.

They even got the top education official in the state into their gym Friday morning to honor Assistant Principal Beckie Simenson, who was chosen last week as the state’s assistant principal of the year for secondary schools.

A student band played and the cardinal mascot offered hugs and high-fives as the entire student body, many dressed in red, filed into the gym. Then the mascot led the way as Simenson entered the gym with Cassellius.

A row of girls with T-shirts spelling out “Mrs. Simenson Rocks!!!” lined up along one wall of the gym.

Simenson wiped away tears often during the half-hour program. She was honored by Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard and Middle School Principal Mark Miley and received a resolution from the Minnesota House of Representatives honoring her.

School staff members had developed a tribute video in the style of an old newsreel. It included testimonials from kids and teachers. “You’re a wonderful lady and a role model for all of us,” one staff member said.

Student Council members presented roses and balloons to Simenson and gifts to Cassellius.

Cassellius praised Simenson and said Gov. Mark Dayton had asked her to convey his congratulations.

“We are so proud of you in Minnesota,” Cassellius said, adding that she looked forward to having Simenson represent the state next spring in Washington, D.C.

It takes “great adults” to help students learn and grow, Cassellius said. She had all the teachers to stand up so their students could applaud for them.

“To say I’m overwhelmed is an understatement,” Simenson said when it was her turn to speak. She turned to her family members and said, “Don’t I work in the best place ever?”

Simenson thanked the people who had nominated her and choked up as she talked about the students and her colleagues.

Some of the students she’s known since they were kindergarteners and she was an elementary principal. But regardless of how long she’s known them, she said, “You make me proud, each and every day; you are shining stars.”

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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