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Hilmar wins $10,000 math, science grant
Hilmar Grant
Superintendent Isabel Cabral-Johnson stands with members of the Monsanto Fund and Hilmar Unified School District principals. Cabral-Johnson, Bret Theodozio, Eric Hixson, and Darlene Carvalho securely hold the check just outside of the Strom Gymnasium. - photo by BROOKE BORBA / The Journal

Hilmar High School students will now be developing a stronger proficiency in science and mathematics for the upcoming New Year, thanks to local farmers.

Hilmar High School was selected as a winner of the Monsanto Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant competition, after being nominated by area farmers. Hilmar was one of the four winners in California, and received a $10,000 grant to augment science and mathematical opportunities for 6th to 12th grade math teachers.

“We are very excited. Math is one of the areas that we are focusing on to work with our students, and this grant gives us the ability to provide professional development and support in these economic times for our teachers,” said Hilmar High Principal Bret Theodozio.

Hilmar Unified celebrated its newfound success with the community Friday morning during the elementary school’s Christmas show.

A large $10,000 check was presented to Superintendent Isabel Cabral-Johnson, Theodozio, Hilmar Middle School Principal Eric Hixson and Irwin Colony High Principal Darlene Carvalho to begin the ceremony.

Theodozio said the effort was communal and the opportunities arose from local farmers committed to furthering students' education.

“Monsanto had a certain criteria. We needed letters of support from the farmers in our community, and they stepped up as they always do for the schools here in Hilmar. With their support and their help, we were able to receive the grant,” he said.

Local farmers gained recognition for their efforts as their names were called out individually during the Christmas ceremony. This year 61,000 farmers showed their support for the thousands of school districts that put in their grant applications.

After the nomination process, school districts completed an online application. The finalists were chosen by ineligible school districts' math and science teachers. Twenty-six farmers from across the country on the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council then reviewed the finalists' submissions and selected the winners.

The Monsanto Fund is investing $2.3 million into rural education through the program this year and has expanded to 1,245 eligible counties in 39 states.