RCHS Cougar Relays Receives Golden Bell Award


Photo Courtesy - Daniel Fernandez

Cougar Relays received the Golden Bell Award in December of 2021 for its excellence in unifying special needs and general education students.

The California School Board Association (CSBA) recently awarded RCHS Cougar Relays, an annual event hosted at RCHS for special needs students from schools across the Chaffey Joint Union High School District, with the Golden Bell Award to recognize its excellence as an outstanding educational and supportive program.

On Friday, Dec. 3, RCHS Cougar Relays claimed the Golden Bell Award for its ability to engage students of all abilities in friendly competition. 

According to the official California School Board Association (CSBA) website, the Golden Bell Awards “promote excellence in education and school board governance by recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices of school boards.”

In other words, RCHS chemistry teacher and NHS advisor Ms. Kristin Herchenroeder said, “It is an award given by the California school board association for programs that try, and make a positive difference for their school and community.”

Moreover, Herchenroeder provided a timeline as to how exactly Cougar Relays won the award, saying that after applying and completing an interview, RCHS was invited to receive the Golden Bell Award.

Cougar Relays’ recognition and success is well-deserved. The program has had a significant impact on many RCHS students and has etched itself into RCHS legacy through its ability to forge a strong bond between students of different abilities, providing a place for everyone regardless of their conditions. 

RCHS Special Education teacher and Best of Buddies advisor Mr. Daniel Fernandez said, “[Cougar Relays] provides students with special needs a chance to take part in a district-wide event and show off their abilities in friendly competitive activities as well as provide opportunities for neuro-typically developing peers to encourage their peers towards success.” 

This award-winning program was kick-started by a student at RCHS. Herchenroeder said, “The idea for cougar relays was started by a former NHS president, Ellen Paige, who wanted to create a fun day of activities and events for the club members and the special needs students in the district to get together and have time to interact and spend together.” 

Little did Paige know that her incredible idea would go on to win the CSBA Golden Bell Award for creating a place of fun and inclusivity for those with special needs. Cougar Relays has undoubtedly left and will continue to leave an impression on RCHS students, the Chaffey District, and the surrounding community.